Disruption due to strike by Air Traffic Controllers in Italy on Monday 20 March 2017

Air Traffic Controllers in Italy are due to take industrial action over a period of four hours from 12:00 to 16:00 GMT on Monday 20 March 2017.

This is likely to cause disruption with delays and cancellations.  As a consequence the following airlines have issued guidance for affected passengers.

It is also understand the certain unions represent airport workers are also taking industrial action on Monday. As such, there may be disruption to some airport ground services.

Please note that this page does not provide live flight information so any cancellations listed are proactive cancellations made in advance, and do not necessarily include any delays/cancellations made on the day.

You can check live flight information on the websites of Gatwick, Heathrow and London City airports.
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easyJet to launch its own frequent flyer programme “Flight Club”

The narrowing of the gap between the traditional “full service” network airlines and low cost carriers continues as easyJet has today announced it is to launch its first frequent flyer programme “Flight Club” across Europe in 2016.

Details are scant at the moment, but at first glance it does not appear to be a traditional miles-accrual based programme.  

Instead, Flight Club, offers a defined set of benefits based on eligibility criteria.

Passengers will be invited to join Flight Club based on a minimum number of easyJet flights taken in a 12 month period and/or minimum spend.

In return, passengers will receive benefits such as fee-free ticket & name changes, special offers and access to a dedicated contact team.  

There’s no news of any other airline or hotel partners yet.   This programme will also run in parallel to easyJet Plus.

What information is available is contained in this easyJet press release.

easyJet provides a glimpse into the future with its Innovation Day

easyJet held its “Innovation Day” today at Milan Malpensa airport.

The airline has outlined a series of innovations under consideration to improve the operating efficiency of the airline and improve the passenger experience.

These include the use of automated drones to perform visual inspections of aircraft (video below), the use of 3D printing to produce spare parts, virtual reality technology in cabin crew training, and (in partnership with Airbus) the use of real-time flight information to predict aircraft maintenance requirements.

Passengers affected by disruption will also be able to book hotels (paid for by easyJet) on a new easyJet smartphone app.
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easyJet to add an extra row of seats to all of its Airbus A320 aircraft

Just as British Airways finishes retro-fitting extra rows of its seats to its much of its London Heathrow short-haul fleet, the quest for ever more dense seating configurations on short-haul flights in Europe continues.

easyJet has today announced that it is to add an extra row of seats to all of its Airbus A320 aircraft.

This will increase the number of seats from 180 to 186. It is understood that the amount of leg room will remain the same and the extra seats will be accommodated through reconfigured galley and toilet spaces. By way of a comparison, BA has 162 seats on an equivalent sized aircraft.

The new configuration will apply to deliveries of new aircraft from May 2016. It will be retrofitted to existing A320 aircraft from late 2016. The programme should be complete by 2018. In the interim, easyJet will continue to take delivery of new aircraft with 180 seats – it is due to receive 20 new Airbus A320s this year.

The Airbus A320 aircraft represents approximately one third (81 of 230 aircraft) of easyJet’s fleet, with the remainder being smaller Airbus A319 aircraft.

What is perhaps most noteworthy is what easyJet hasn’t done. The airline has introduced a number of measures to increase its appeal to business and premium leisure travellers by introducing allocated seating, flexible tickets and fast-track ground facilities. However, it has stopped short of introducing a fully dedicated business class cabin to compete directly with BA Club Europe and equivalent products from other European airlines – including fellow low cost airlines Vueling and Germanwings.

British Airways to move to London Gatwick South terminal in November 2016

British Airways today confirmed that is to move its entire London Gatwick operation from the North terminal to the South terminal at an as yet unspecified date in November 2016.

The purpose of the move is to allow easyJet to consolidate its London Gatwick operation in the North terminal.

Gatwick Airport has confirmed details of the move.

BA will benefit from an upgraded check-in area and a new lounge facility for eligible passengers. BA has confirmed that a new lounge for eligible customers will be constructed in the North terminal.

As BA’s London Gatwick operation involves approximately 60 departures a day, we expect the move will take place in phases.

Perhaps what is more significant are easyJet’s ambitions once it consolidates operations in one terminal.

easyJet currently has 45% of departure and arrival slots at Gatwick, compared to just 16% for BA. Ten years ago, BA had 30% of departure and arrival slots, and easyJet had 13%.

easyJet has made a number of moves in recent years to move it closer to the traditional full service carrier model, such as offering allocated seating and fast track ground facilities.

The one thing easyJet doesn’t do is interline with other airlines (this is where an airline will transfer your bag to another airline’s flight on a connecting ticket). Nor does it codeshare with other airlines. Nor does it offer connections.

Currently, a passenger wishing to fly from say, Edinburgh to Tel Aviv via Gatwick would have to “self-connect” and buy two separate tickets (and hope for the best if things go wrong!).

If easyJet was to move to a traditional “hub” model offering connections and codeshares with other airlines, this could radically change its position in the market and that of London Gatwick. There is certainly precedent for a low cost carrier to do this, as Vueling does at its hub in Barcelona.

This would of course add cost and complexity to easyJet’s operation (which it may be keen to avoid) but connecting traffic could support many more routes from Gatwick.

One other point of note is that Aer Lingus (currently a takeover target for BA’s parent company International Airlines Group) also operates in the South terminal and a consolidation of operations may allow for greater co-operation between BA and Aer Lingus at Gatwick.

Cyprus Airways ceases operations with immediate effect; rescue fares for stranded passengers

Last year we wrote of how Cyprus Airways withdrew from London Heathrow after selling its one pair of departure and arrival slots to American Airlines for $31 million.

The airline since moved its London – Larnaca route to London Stansted. The European Commission today ruled that financial support received by the airline was deemed to be state aid and had to be repaid.

Cyprus Air has confirmed on website that it has now ceased operations after nearly 70 years’ flying.

When airlines do go out of business, it is standard practice for other airlines to offer assistance to stranded passengers and those with future bookings. This usually takes the form of offering seats at special fares or for the price paid for the original ticket, known as “rescue fares”.

Ryanair Rescue Fares

Ryanair has confirmed it is offering rescue fares from €49.99 on the following routes: Athens – Paphos; Thessaloniki – Paphos; and London Stansted – Paphos. Bookings can be made at the following link until next Friday 16 January.

British Airways Rescue Fares

British Airways flies to Larnaca from London Heathrow (Terminal 5) and Gatwick (North Terminal). BA is offering a special fare for travel up to the end of January 2015. This can only be booked via a BA call centre or at a BA ticket desk at Gatwick, Heathrow and Larnaca airports.

There’s more on ba.com The numbers of the BA call centre are 0844 493 0787 (UK) +800 92556 (Cyprus) and +44 203 564 5911 (elsewhere).

easyJet also flies to Larnaca from Gatwick. We should hear in the coming days if it is willing to offer assistance to stranded passengers.

Middle East Conflict: Rebooking options for passengers on London – Tel Aviv flights

Following recent events in the Middle East, both US and a large number of European airlines had suspended flights to Tel Aviv on the basis of advice from regulators in the US and Europe.

The Federal Aviation Administration in the US and the European Aviation Safety Agency have subsequently changed their guidance.

British Airways continues to fly to Tel Aviv twice daily from London Heathrow. easyJet has resumed flights from London Luton and London Gatwick to Tel Aviv.

BA is allowing passengers booked to fly to Tel Aviv up to 25 July to rebook on any flight up to 7 August 2014. No refunds are available.

More details are on BA’s trade website.

easyJet was also offering passengers the opportunity to rebook that but this seems to have been withdrawn.