Cyprus Airways is to withdraw from London Heathrow airport from 13 September 2014 after the airline sold its pair of departure and arrival slots to American Airlines for some $31 million.
As Virgin Atlantic celebrates its thirtieth anniversary later this month, here are more images from the airline’s history.
Whilst Virgin Atlantic’s route network is relatively small compared to its major rivals, when it does launch a route, the airline can never be accused of not making an entrance:Embed from Getty Images
Virgin Atlantic celebrates its thirtieth anniversary later this month.
On 22 June 1984, flight VS1 departed London Gatwick for Newark airport, operated by a Boeing 747-200 aircraft bearing the name “Maiden Voyager”. The airline has grown significantly since then. It now flies to approximately thirty destinations worldwide, principally from London Heathrow and London Gatwick airports.
Whilst Virgin has struggled in recent years with the airline losing money for four of the past five years and it suspending a number of routes (Accra, Nairobi, Sydney), it remains one of aviation’s most iconic brands, marketing itself with a confidence and flair that few can match, and is known for punching well above its weight in terms of its profile in the industry.
Flight VS1 still operates to Newark today, but from London Heathrow which is now the airline’s principal base for flights to North America. New York continues to be one of Virgin Atlantic’s most important routes with the airline operating a combined six flights a day (nine if you add Delta codeshares) to Newark and New York JFK airports combined.
Here is the first of a collection of images from Virgin Atlantic’s 30 year history, starting with the launch of the airline in 1984 and its inaugural flight:
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on 8 March 2014 continues to be one of the greatest aviation mysteries in recent times.
In spite of the fact that more than three months have passed since the loss of the aircraft, its black box has yet to be located.
Furthermore, whilst it was thought that the aircraft was lost in the southern Indian Ocean, this has now been discounted after an extensive search operation.
On Tuesday, BBC2’s Horizon tells what it claims to be the inside story of the search for flight MH370, with access to those on the frontline in the southern Indian Ocean and the British satellite engineers who tracked the plane’s final hours.
The film reveals how MH370 disappeared in a radar blind spot; what investigators believe happened to the aircraft in its last minutes; and how the area in which it could be found is still to be searched.
Horizon also examines the new technologies, like black box streaming and enhanced air traffic surveillance, that mean an airliner should never vanish without trace again.
A few years ago, British Airways earned itself the moniker “London Airways” amongst some frequent flyers.
A long struggling regional operation (latterly known as “BA Connect”) offering flights from Birmingham, Manchester, Southampton and other regional airports was sold to Flybe in late 2006.
BA’s sole remaining international flight from a non-London UK airport, Manchester to New York JFK, was cancelled a couple of years later. This left BA (excluding franchise partners) operating international flights only from London airports.
Whether this was the right move strategically depends on your point of view. There is the argument that BA is right to focus on London which is one of the largest centres of premium business traffic in the world. There is also the argument that BA failed to make the necessary moves to adapt its cost base to changing market conditions and maintain its resonance in the UK market.
Yet tonight (Sunday) the very last departure of an any airline at Edinburgh airport is a BA Airbus A320 operating as flight BA8990 direct to Ibiza.
The flight will arrive on the white island shortly after 2.30am. One hour later it will return to Edinburgh as BA8991 to land in Edinburgh at 05:40. Just in time for one of the first of 25 flights BA will operate from Edinburgh to London Heathrow, Gatwick and City airports on Monday.
So what’s going on?
For some clues, we can look at the Civil Aviation Authority statistics on aircraft utilisation by different airlines.
An easyJet Airbus A320 aircraft spends, on average, 10.9 hours a day in the air. The equivalent number for British Airways is 8.4.
The difference can in part be explained by Heathrow. Parking and slot restrictions and the need to offer business friendly timetables for “out and back in a day” business travellers mean that not all aircraft can return to Heathrow overnight.
Nonetheless the difference is significant as far as profitability is concerned. Legacy carriers have traditionally lost money on short-haul operations but have relied on more profitable long-haul operations to offset them. Rising fuel prices and intense competition from new entrants means this is no longer possible.
Some airlines, like Lufthansa, have transferred some short-haul operations to lower cost subsidiaries. In Lufthansa’s case this is Germanwings.
BA seems to be opting for a number of initiatives to improve short-haul profitability. And this is one of them. By flying from Edinburgh to Ibiza overnight the aircraft is working for six hours that would otherwise be spent idle on the ground in Edinburgh.
The one downside is of course that if the aircraft decides it doesn’t want to leave La Isla Blanca there will be a lot of disgruntled commuters in Edinburgh on Monday morning!
At the moment this is just a tentative step with two weekly return flights to Ibiza, increasing to three later in the peak of the Ibiza season. However, if this is considered a success then expect the initiative to be extended to other regional airports next summer.
Heathrow Terminal 2, “The Queen’s Terminal”, opens to the public next week, on 4 June 2014.
The new terminal, the first to open since Terminal 5 in 2008, has been designed by Luis Vidal + Architects.
It will house all Star Alliance member airlines at London Heathrow who are currently split across Terminals 1, 3 and 4. These include United Airlines, Air Canada, Singapore Airlines, SAS, Swiss and Air New Zealand.
The terminal will also house non-alliance members Germanwings (a subsidiary of Lufthansa) and Aer Lingus, as well as Virgin Atlantic’s domestic “Little Red” flights to Manchester, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
As has been widely reported in the media, on 22 May, the Royal Thai Army imposed Martial Law in Thailand. The military authorities in Thailand have imposed a nationwide daily curfew between the hours of 10pm and 5am. Broadcasters such as the BBC and CNN have also been taken off air.
British Airways and Thai Airways fly daily and twice daily respectively from London Heathrow to Suvarnabhumi International airport Bangkok under the following flight numbers: