Posts Tagged ‘British Airways’

Virgin Atlantic declares interest in BMI deal

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

As German flag carrier Lufthansa looks at ways of disposing of BMI, Emirates confirms that it is not interested in acquiring the loss maker. A spokesman for the Middle Eastern giant said that although Emirates is looking to continue expanding, it is not currently looking to do so by purchasing another carrier. Etihad, also rumoured to be interested in the British airline, has said it will not comment on speculation.

Earlier in the week, British Airways said it would be interested in talking to Lufthansa about taking over BMI’s landing and take-off slots at Heathrow. However, because BA currently owns 44 per cent of the capacity at the London hub, there could be some monopoly issues.

Virgin Atlantic has also said it might be interested in a tie-up with BMI.  A deal could help Virgin as it competes with British Airways on transatlantic routes. The British flag-carrier recently tightened up its relationship with American Airlines.

Although it is yet to comment, Air France is also reportedly interested in BMI. Lufthansa has been trying to turn the carrier’s fortunes around by concentrating on flying services on the oil routes. This includes flights out of Heathrow to Russia, The Middle East and Scotland. Unfortunately for BMI the social and political problems in the Middle East have impacted on its earnings.

For the first half of this year, BMI made losses of 120 million euros. The first six months of 2010 saw the carrier lose 93 million euros. Lufthansa has said that any improvement at the moment looked unlikely.

British Airways declares interest in BMI Heathrow slots

Monday, September 12th, 2011

German carrier Lufthansa is looking at ways in which it can dispose of struggling subsidiary BMI. The airline has asked investment banks to examine options for breaking up the company or finding a buyer. Lufthansa took control of BMI in 2009, but has been unable to make the carrier profitable.

British Airways has said it would be interested in negotiating for BMI’s slots at Heathrow. Boss of parent company International Airlines Group, Willie Walsh, would like the take off and landing slots as Heathrow continues to stretch to capacity. BA currently controls 42 per cent and any attempt to increase its share is likely to attract the interest of monopoly regulators.

BMI is the second largest holder of slots at the hub with 11 per cent, the value of which was estimated to be in the region of £770 million three year’s ago. IAG, which is presently looking at the possibility of acquiring Portuguese airline TAP, is unlikely to make a bid for BMI itself. A spokesman confirmed that Lufthansa was aware of BA’s interest in the slots and that IAG was now waiting for a response.

In 1999 Lufthansa purchased 20 per cent of BMI. At the time the carrier was supposedly worth around £450 million. However the value dropped to around £96 million after the German flag carrier took control in 2009.

In the first half of this year BMI lost £105 million. Lufthansa has put former executive at Scandinavian Airlines, Vagn Ove Sorensen, in charge of handling the disposal of the airline.

Currency sales increase in 2011 for long haul destinations

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

A recent survey by the Post Office has revealed that UK holidaymakers have been attracted by long-haul destinations this summer, as the demand for currency to countries such as Mexico showed a sharp increase. Cheap, all-inclusive deals to Mexican resorts such as Cancun saw demand for the currency jump by 144 per cent over the past 12 months. Travel to Cancun may also have been encouraged by the fact that British Airways now offers a direct service from Heathrow.

Croatia also seems to have been a popular choice for a summer holiday, as demand for the kuna in August rose by 36 per cent and saw an increase in demand of around 15 per cent over the three months from June.

The survey also showed that there was an increase in demand for destinations including Thailand, Barbados and Australia. Earlier this year, British Airways also added direct services to Buenos Aires which may in part account for increased sales of the Argentine peso.

The Post Office’s Sarah Munroe said this year had again seen destinations farther afield encouraging visitors from the UK. She added that August saw the highest levels of growth and that this could indicate that there will be strong demand over the coming months from customers seeking some winter sun.

Closer to home, Switzerland and Iceland saw strong demand from Brits for their currencies, and sales of the euro were up by two per cent on June to August last year; through August demand increased by five per cent.

Airmiles loyalty scheme to be overhauled

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

Airline customers who collect Airmiles in order to exchange them for free flights will soon have to pay charges, fees and taxes as the loyalty scheme is given an overhaul. The programme is to be renamed Avios as of 16 November. The scheme is run by the Mileage Company, which has said that offering completely free flights to anywhere in the world is no longer financially viable.

According to Andrew Swaffield, chief executive of the Mileage Company, costs have been increasing over the past few years, meaning that fully subsidised flights are no longer tenable. He added that the changes to the scheme would make it more like other loyalty programmes.

Holders of Airmiles will still be able to book flights as normal until 15 December. Swaffield said the call centre had been primed for an increase in the number of bookings before that date. Charges on a return flight to Europe will be capped at £27 for collectors who have picked up an Avios point in the last 12 months. However, the charges and taxes on flights to other destinations will be unlimited.

Passengers using their Avios points to fly to New York from London and back could face having to pay around £300. Collectors of Airmiles will continue to be able to pick up points through the partnership the scheme has with Shell, Lloyds TSB and Tesco, and will still be able to earn them whenever they fly with Iberia or British Airways.

BA initially launched the Airmiles programme more than two decades ago.

Hurricane Irene causes flight cancellations in New York

Monday, August 29th, 2011

Holidaymakers in New York who may have had their travel plans disrupted by the arrival of Hurricane Irene are being advised to monitor the situation on the website of the US National Hurricane Centre as well as on local new stations. Major airlines are also asking passengers intending to use the New York airports to phone ahead and check whether the service is still running before leaving home.

British Airways cancelled a number of flights at the weekend and said it was assessing the situation. A spokesman said the airline was in contact with the authorities and hoped to begin operating at some point on Monday. Virgin Atlantic also cancelled services but hopes to be operating again later today.

Irene has now been downgraded to the level of tropical storm. However, she is still able to do damage and there is some risk of flooding. Continental and United said that were currently looking at how much damage has caused at airports including La Guardia, JFK and Philadelphia International.

According to the Association of British Travel Agents there could be as many as 10,000 Brits currently in New York City. Over the weekend around 9,000 services had to be cancelled as Irene brought strong winds and rain.

British Airways has said that any customers who had a flight cancelled would be entitled to their money back. BA has also advised that anyone wishing to change a ticket for a flight up until 30 August to a later date would be welcome to do so.

Off duty British Airways crew asked to behave

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

British Airways is worried that the party lifestyle of some of its younger cabin crew members could end in it having to scrap services. Captains have been asked by senior management to do there best to ensure that crew staying overnight in a hotel behave in a respectable manner.

The airline has been receiving complaints of wild parties and disruptive behaviour by off duty BA staff from a number of hotels including its crew hotel in Nairobi. A memo has gone out to captains explaining that because this is the only hotel in the Kenyan capital which can be used by crew because of the security situation; if BA has its contract cancelled the airline might have to pull out of the route altogether.

Long-haul flights to and from Nairobi are currently worth millions of pounds to the airline. A source at BA explained that the problem was due to mixed fleet crews. These consist of young new recruits who are jetting to far off destinations and spending the night in luxury hotels. The fact that they are not being paid much does not necessarily matter as there is discounted alcohol on the aircraft.

Another source explained that when away from home cabin crew often kept themselves entertained by drinking cheap alcohol in expensive hotel rooms. He said that the rumours about who was sleeping with whom and who did what would be discussed on what airline staff refer to as Galley FM.

A spokesman for BA said the airline took all complaints extremely seriously and continued to remind crew of the high standards expected when they are overseas.

British Airways passenger charged after air rage incident

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

An American man flying with British Airways to London from Phoenix, Arizona has been arrested at Heathrow after a bout of drunken air rage. Tim Bradley, a mortgage consultant, had allegedly been drinking beer and wine for much of the trip which lasts for close to 10 hours. The 32-yer-old apparently became angry with cabin crew and other passengers after he was told that he had probably had enough and would not be served any more alcoholic drinks.

According to witnesses, Bradley started to stumble around the aircraft swearing and spitting. He then cornered the head steward in the plane’s galley and demanded to know why he was not allowed more to drink, according to onlookers.

One passenger said Bradley then returned to his seat holding what appeared to be a shard of glass. Other passengers started to get more worried after Bradley reportedly threatened to use the glass to stab the pilots of the airliner. The consultant was removed from the Boeing 747 after it landed at Heathrow early on Saturday afternoon and placed under arrest.

He has been charged with common assault and being drunk while on a plane. On Monday he appeared in front of Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court after which he was told that he would be remanded in custody. Bradley is due to face Isleworth Crown Court on 23 September when he will be sentenced.

A British Airways spokesman declined to comment in detail on the case but said the airline would not tolerate its passengers or staff being abused.

Aid agency appeals to airlines for help in Africa

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

In a bid to save on the cost of transporting vital aid to the Horn of Africa, airlines are being asked to provide cut-price or free cargo space by the United Nations Children’s Fund. UNICEF spokesperson, Marixie Mercado, explained that the cost of paying for air transport is often as expensive as the food and supplies being carried. Several airlines have already said they will help including British Airways and Lufthansa.

Millions of people are facing starvation as drought grips many parts of Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti and Ethiopia. Humanitarian chief at the UN, Valerie Amos, said the famine was likely to spread to other regions if a large increase in funding is not supplied.

Ms Mercado warned that well over two million children were already suffering from acute malnourishment and that without food aid half could succumb to starvation within weeks. UNICEF needs to transport around 5,000 tonnes of supplementary and therapeutic food each month from storage facilities in Italy, France and Belgium.

Although the agency intends to ship some supplies by sea it warned that this can take weeks and that flying supplies into Nairobi was a preferable solution. Louis-Georges Arsenault, emergency programmes director at UNICEF, said the problem was extraordinary and that he was positive that the air transport community would find a way to help.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees has said that it is having difficulty distributing aid within Somalia because of the continued fighting in Mogadishu. Although it remains a war-zone, the drought is forcing tens of thousands of displaced Somalis to enter the capital seeking respite from starvation.

BA compensates Kate and William for lack of entertainment

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

British Airways has issued an apology to passengers on-board a flight to Heathrow from the US for a lack of in-flight entertainment in its first-class cabin. Among those who did not get to watch films such as The Fighter, The Tourist and Gnomeo and Juliet were royal newlyweds William and Kate.

According to a source, the couple, and fellow passengers, were a little put out about the announcement on their 10 hour journey from Los Angeles, but were also in good humour about the situation. The duke and duchess will both receive a voucher to spend in the duty-free shops worth £200.

Kate and William were returning from a tour of Canada and parts of the US when the glitch occurred. A fellow passenger said that having made themselves more comfortable by changing into the pyjamas available to all first-class ticket holders, the happy couple made conversation with fellow travellers.

The pair were flown to Canada as guests of the country’s air force, a flight on which there was a DVD player and a working television. Tickets to fly up-front in the Boeing 747 cost around £5,000 a seat, but the source said BA’s offer of compensation seemed to be accepted with good heart by all those affected.

By deciding to return to the UK on a commercial jet, the royal couple will have saved many thousands of pounds. Their next scheduled trip is to be to Scotland, the itinerary of which is still to be announced but will probably begin with an appearance at the Braemar Gathering

Rapper kicked off British Airways flight

Monday, July 11th, 2011

Dizzee Rascal, the rap star, has been removed from a British Airways flight bound for Portugal for apparently hurling abuse at a member of the airline’s cabin crew. The incident took place in the first-class cabin of an Airbus A320 which was being delayed because of a technical problem.

One witness said the rapper had become frustrated because of the delay and threw a tantrum with a member of the cabin crew. He was travelling with a friend and members of his band. Flight 506 was bound for Lisbon but had been delayed for about an hour when the outburst occurred.

The police were radioed and Rascal had to return to terminal 3. British Airways said he would not be making the journey to Portugal onboard any of its other services. The airline confirmed that two passengers had been taken off the flight because of their disruptive behaviour. However, no arrests were made.

A source at Heathrow said that such behaviour could not be allowed, adding that BA could well impose a lifetime ban on the rapper. He and his band had been due to perform alongside acts including Foo Fighters and Coldplay at the Optimus Alive! music festival.

A spokesman for Rascal said the fracas had been caused by a stewardess behaving in an unprofessional manner. He added that the singer had decided by mutual consent with staff to disembark from the flight and was very sorry that he had been unable to perform in Portugal for his fans.