In the three weeks that have passed since the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 much of the media coverage has been of highly variable quality.
With so few facts but insatiable demand from audiences (CNN in North America has doubled its audience in its main demographic by devoting near blanket coverage to the story), news organisations have had to rely heavily on speculation and guess work.
We have to admit for having known for some time that British Airways has been trialling in-flight WiFi on a single Boeing 747 aircraft.
However, as there has been no way of knowing whether this aircraft will be available on a specific flight (we understand this was intentional) the trial has not been particularly newsworthy.
Based on this an update issued by BA it seems the trial is now being targeted to a single specific flight. That flight is BA183 from London Heathrow to New York JFK. However, we cannot currently verify that this is case.
We’re not quite sure what has prompted this, but British Airways has today, 13 April 2014, e-mailed large numbers of members of its Executive Club who hold blue or bronze cards offering a complimentary Silver card (which affords privileges such as access to business class check-in desks and lounges) if they book a business class return from London to New York, subject to certain booking restrictions, in the next 90 days.
British Airways continues to battle to regain lost market share in the European short-haul market from easyJet.
The airline has today, 5 March 2014, announced a new fare enabling passengers to do “out and back in a day” trips to a number of short-haul destinations in the UK and mainland Europe on Saturdays and Sundays.
The lead-in return fares are £79 to Dublin and Geneva, £89 for Edinburgh and Rome and £99 for Vienna and Munich. These fares are available for booking now and we note that relatively short notice weekend fares for these destinations are significantly cheaper than others.
BA claim that these fares may be extended to other short-haul destinations in due course. We infer these fares are something of an experiment to help fill otherwise relatively quiet early morning and late night flights on weekends.
That said, this is a welcome innovation and certainly something we can see ourselves taking advantage of.
If the experience of “Hand Baggage Only” fares is anything to by, it should be extended across the network very quickly.
If you’ve flown through London Heathrow recently you couldn’t have failed to notice the progress in the building of Terminal 2, “The Queen’s Terminal”, which opens in three months from today, on 4 June 2014.
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.
Today, 3 March 2014, at 12:35, a Boeing 787 operating as British Airways flight BA191 will depart from London Heathrow Terminal 5. 10 hours and 25 minutes later it should land at Bergstrom International airport in Austin, Texas, completing the inaugural flight from London Heathrow to Austin.
Initially the service will operate five times a week, increasing to daily from 5 May 2014.
This is the first new transatlantic route launched by BA since Las Vegas in 2009 and San Diego in 2011.
It is noteworthy as this is the first route launched specifically for the Boeing 787 which has, to date, been used to either replace Boeing 767s on transatlantic flights or Boeing 777s on “thinner” Asia routes.
Although much has been made by BA and its parent company International Airlines Group that the Boeing 787 will aid the launch of new routes between London and Asia, we expect further transatlantic routes to by opened up by the 787, particularly because of the support provided by BA’s transatlantic joint-venture partner, American Airlines.
Not only do more routes give BA network strength against Delta and Virgin Atlantic, but also the Middle Eastern carriers who have only begun to scratch the surface of the North America market.
Qantas has just published its half year results. In the past week there has been a frenzy of speculation in the Australian media following prior warnings from Qantas that it would incur heavy losses resulting in a significant restructuring of the airline and possibly drastic changes to its route network.
The losses themselves are as feared with Qantas reporting a loss before tax of AUD$252 million. Qantas has announced significant job cuts and disposals of aircraft and deferrals of aircraft deliveries.
There has been much speculation about the future of Qantas daily Airbus A380 services from London Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne, following anecdotal reports of weak demand on the London Heathrow – Dubai sectors of the London – Melbourne routes.
Qantas has today confirmed that the two daily London Heathrow services will remain. However, the London – Melbourne route (currently a late night departure from London and early morning arrival, resulting in significant downtime of nearly 17 hours for the aircraft) will be retimed from November 2014.
We do not yet know what the new times are. One possible option is to retime the departure to late morning, as Qantas used to have to Sydney and Melbourne when it had four daily services from London Heathrow.
Over the past few years there has been something of an industry in the development of in-flight safety demonstrations that seem designed just as much for sharing on social media as they are for advising passengers of aircraft safety procedures.
The leader in this field has been Air New Zealand and the latest contribution to this genre comes from Virgin Atlantic. Here is its new safety demonstration which will be featured on aircraft from 1 March 2014.