Flybe to suspend London City – Dublin from 31 May 2015

London Air Travel » Page 124

Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft
Flybe Bombardier Q400 aircraft (Image Credit: Flybe)

Flybe is to suspend its London City – Dublin route from 31 May 2015, a little over six months after Flybe opened a base at the airport.

Passengers have been offered either a refund or an alternative flight on Flybe. The London City – Dublin route is also served by CityJet and British Airways. The amount of capacity on the route is a likely factor behind Flybe’s decision.

Travel to London’s airports over Easter 2015

London Air Travel » Page 124

London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

The forthcoming Easter weekend marks one of the busiest travel periods of the year. As is now commonplace, there are extensive engineering works taking place on the London Underground and the UK’s national rail network which may affect travel times to London’s airports.

In addition to the works listed below, there are no trains to and from London Euston over the weekend.
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Lord King & Sir Richard Branson “Desert Island Discs”

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British Airways Concorde
British Airways Concorde

We recently browsed the archives of BBC Radio 4’s long running series “Desert Island Discs” and found two recordings from over 20 years ago, featuring two giants of aviation.

The first is Lord King, the former Chairman of British Airways who, together with Colin Marshall, oversaw the transition of BA from a nationalised industry to the “World’s Favourite Airline”. The second is Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic.

The interview with Lord King was first broadcast on 19 April 1991. The interview with Sir Richard Branson was first broadcast 9 June 1989. Both were interviewed by Sue Lawley.

Whilst the interview Lord King covers much of his time at British Airways, the interview with Sir Richard Branson barely touches on Virgin Atlantic – the main focus being Virgin Records which at the time was owned by Virgin. At the time Virgin Atlantic was just five years’ old. Interestingly, the relationship between the two airlines, which was to later sour significantly, isn’t mentioned in either interview.

The contrasting styles of Lord King and Sir Richard Branson are very much evident in the interviews.

That said, whilst Lord King does come across as a little cold at first he does warm up later into the interview. Furthermore, whilst Lord King’s style is seen as very much from a different era of business, so much so that Financial Times journalist Lucy Kellaway once wrote of his “bombastic rudeness” (legend has it that Lord King personally ordered the removal of BA advertising from the Financial Times after he took exception to a profile of him written by the paper), it is clear he has a genuine passion for business.

Furthermore, there is little Lord King says in the interview that many current aviation CEOs of today (Willie Walsh of International Airlines Group or Richard Anderson of Delta) would disagree with, particularly the references to the need for rational decision making and that sometimes painful decisions have to be made in the long term interests of the company.

Lord King also complains about government regulation and the barriers to true consolidation in the industry – two issues which are very much alive today.

As far as music choices go, neither interviews yield little surprises. The Flower Duet from Lakmé, famous for its use in many BA ads, features in Lord King’s choices. Many famous tracks from the Virgin Records back catalogue feature in Sir Richard Branson’s choices.

You can listen to the Lord King interview here and the Sir Richard Branson here.

Sadly, there was one other programme we would have loved to have covered here. That is an interview with the late Alan Whicker from 1967 but, alas, there is no audio online.

A reminder about frequent flyer account security

London Air Travel » Page 124

British Airways Executive Club Cards
British Airways Executive Club Cards

In recent weeks we’ve received e-mails from two major frequent guest programmes (Hilton Honors and Starwood Preferred Guest) advising us to change our account passwords.

We’ve also seen anecdotal claims online regarding Avios frequent flyer miles having been stolen from British Airways Executive Club accounts, with BA also temporarily freezing accounts following suspected unauthorised access. The Mandarin Oriental hotel group was also recently the subject of a data theft.

This is a timely reminder that frequent flyer miles and hotel reward currencies do have a substantial monetary value (in redemption terms) and accounts should be treated as you would an account for any other financial instrument.

Given how big the frequent guest and flyer industry has become with many travellers having accounts across a range of hotels and airlines, it’s often difficult to keep track of every account and fraudulent activity can easily go un-noticed.

Some of the methods we have heard fraudsters adopt to access accounts have bordered on the ingenious and there can be no immunity against the risk of fraud – particularly when it is airlines and hotels that are compromised. However, there are some simple steps that can be followed to improve account security:
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BA launches London Gatwick – Vienna from September 2015

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London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)
London Gatwick Airfield (Image Credit: London Gatwick Airport)

British Airways is to launch a new route from London Gatwick to Vienna from 17 September 2015.

BA will fly from London Gatwick to Vienna daily, except Saturdays. The service will reduce to four weekly from the start of the winter timetable from late October 2015.

Flight BA2560 Depart London Gatwick 16:00 – Arrive Vienna 19:10
Flight BA2561 Depart Vienna 20:00 – Arrive London Gatwick 22:30
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Ryanair reasserts its plans to launch transatlantic flights

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The Financial Times today, 16 March 2015, reports that the board of Ryanair has given approval for the airline to launch transatlantic flights.

This has been an oft repeated ambition of Ryanair, with Michael O’Leary once notoriously promising “beds and blowjobs” for premium passengers.

Now it seems that Ryanair wants to follow in the footsteps of Norwegian and Lufthana’s Eurowings and launch low cost long-haul flights.

But what are its plans exactly?

Update 19 March 2015: Ryanair has now confirmed, this time through an announcement to the stock exchange that it has no intention to launch a transatlantic airline.

Here’s what we know from the FT article:

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Air France launches its new campaign “France Is In The Air”

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France Is In The Air (Image Credit: Air France)
France Is In The Air (Image Credit: Air France)

National and regional origins always played a part in the marketing and brand identity of legacy airlines. Whether it’s the understated professionalism of British Airways or the gracious Asian hospitality of Cathay Pacific or Singapore Airlines.

However, a balance has to be struck. If it’s forced too hard it can be overwhelming for international passengers. And for local passengers it can feel contrived, or plain cringe-worthy.

Air France has taken the concept of national carrier branding a step further with the strapline “France Is In The Air”.

Following a print campaign last year, Air France has launched a new TV advertisement which will be shown in France as well as Italy, Brazil, the United States, China and Japan:

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Eurowings launches low cost long-haul flights

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Eurowings Airbus A330 tailfin
Eurowings Airbus A330 tailfin (Image Credit: Eurowings)

We have to admit to have always been sceptical about the concept of low cost long-haul travel. Whilst the concept has been much talked about and there have been a number of low cost long-haul carriers in Asia Pacific (such as Qantas offshoot JetStar), it has not gained traction in Europe.

That is until now. Norwegian has established a small base at London Gatwick, albeit this has not translated into financial success. And now Lufthansa has launched a low cost long-haul carrier under the name Eurowings.

It will be based in Cologne and initially offer flights to Bangkok, Phuket, Dubai, Varadero and Punta Cana. Flights will launch from late October 2015 and connections are available from London Heathrow and other UK cities.

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Cathay Pacific special fares to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji

London Air Travel » Page 124

Cathay Pacific Brushwing Sign
Cathay Pacific Brushwing Sign (Image Credit: Cathay Pacific)

Cathay Pacific has launched a fare sale for travel from London Heathrow, via Hong Kong, for travel to Australia, New Zealand and Fiji.

Eligible destinations in Australia are Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Perth, Sydney and Melbourne.

There are sale offers for both economy and business class. However, not all destinations are on offer in economy.

Bookings must be made by 17 March 2015 for travel between 13 April and 12 May 2015 in economy and 1 April 2015 and 31 May 2016 in business class. There are also minimum and maximum stay requirements.

Bookings are non-refundable but can be changed for a fee.

The economy fares do look very good value from £531. The business class fares less so from £3,909 for travel from London. It should be noted that business class fares are substantially cheaper travelling from Manchester.

Here are full details of the economy class and business class fares.

BA removes seat selection for Executive Club members on “Hand Baggage Only” Fares

London Air Travel » Page 124

British Airways Short Haul Economy Cabin (Credit: British Airways)

Two years ago, British Airways introduced “Hand Baggage Only” fares on its short-haul route network. As their name suggests, passengers purchasing these fares have to pay a separate fee if they wish to check in a bag into the hold of the aircraft.

BA has long claimed that these fares have been a success. They enable the airline to keep headline fares low when competing against low cost carriers (who have the advantage of generating considerable ancillary revenues from pasengers).

In a somewhat surprising move, BA has today announced that Silver and Gold Executive club cardholders will no longer be able to choose a seat free of charge at the time of booking when booking a hand baggage only fare from Thursday 26 March 2015.

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