Posts Tagged ‘British Airways’

Arab carriers grow capacity at Manchester airport

Monday, March 21st, 2011

A number of Middle Eastern airlines have recently announced that they will be increasing passenger capacity out of Manchester Airport. Emirates has said that because customer demand was consistently high from the northern city it would be adding a service to Dubai on 1 May. Fellow Arab carrier Qatar Airways has also announced that it will be adding capacity between Manchester and Abu Dhabi on 1 August and Etihad will be doing the same between Manchester and Doha on 1 June.

All three are currently engaged in growing the size of their fleets. Emirates will add 45,000 seats through Dubai with an order which will grow its A380 superjumbo fleet to 90 planes. Etihad has 100 new passenger jets on order and Qatar a further 178.

By targeting Manchester, the Middle Eastern carriers are hoping to challenge the large international carriers operating out of the UK’s busiest hub, Heathrow. British Airways, which quit flying long-haul operations from Manchester in 2008, said it was not worried by the challenge because the airlines were not posing a threat on current services.

Willie Walsh, BA’s former CEO, said the carrier had tried to make a profit out of Manchester and had failed to do so. The airline, which recently merged with Iberia to create International Consolidate Airlines Group, is concentrating on growing its presence across the Atlantic to North and Latin America.

According to Irene Hulme, of luxury agents Travel by Design, many customers prefer to begin their journey in Manchester rather than suffer the crowds at Heathrow.

Radiation levels in Japan monitored by airlines

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Airlines from around the globe are assuring passengers that they will keep a close eye on the situation in Japan as most continue to operate scheduled services. One of the main fears is that levels of radiation in the atmosphere could become dangerous following explosions at one of the country’s nuclear power plants.

German carrier Lufthansa said it had already checked several planes returning from Tokyo for high radiation levels but admitted that all of its aircraft had been declared safe. The airline said that because of disruption and backlogs at Tokyo’s main airport it would now be flying to either Nagoya or Osaka.

Lufthansa spokesman, Thomas Jachnow, said that by avoiding Narita airport customers would be assured of a more stable schedule. He also confirmed that the airline had replaced the Airbus A380 which usually flies between Frankfurt and Tokyo with a smaller Airbus A340-600. He explained that the reduced capacity would be sufficient for the time being.

Other European carriers including Air France, British Airways, Alitalia and Swiss have said that although they will continue to fly as per schedule they were continuing to monitor events in Japan including potential nuclear reactor leaks. All advised that customers check before leaving their homes for the airport in case the current situation suddenly changes.

The US Federal Aviation Administration said it was working closely with the authorities in Japan to ensure that air travel remains safe. The Japanese aviation authority currently has restrictions in place to keep civilian aircraft away from the damaged nuclear facility in Fukushima.

UK airlines hit out at Spanish airport strike threat

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

A decision by airport workers in Spain to go ahead with a number of planned strikes could spell misery for many Brits planning to visit the country over Easter. Last year, Spain was the most popular destination with holidaymakers from the UK with 28 million boarding planes to soak up some sun, according to the CAA.

The walkouts have been announced because airport staff are unhappy with the government’s plans to privatise the country’s airports authority, Aena. If the industrial action gets the go-ahead, strikes could start on 20 April and run through the summer. Additional travel misery could be added if air traffic controllers also decide to walk out in support. This would mean the closure of Spanish airspace and disruption to services flying to Malta and Portugal.

Ryanair has said that it would be forced to cancel 300 flights over Easter if the strikes happen. This would affect 57,000 passengers. Because it serves 17 airports in Spain, easyJet would also be hit hard by the industrial action.

Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s CEO, has already demanded that the Spanish government prevents the stoppages. He said that the airline had also contacted the EU over the matter. He added that the Aena workers were behaving in a selfish manner.

British Airways, also being threatened with strike action by its cabin crew, has also been in contact with the Spanish authorities over the issue. The flag-carrier said it would do everything in its power to make sure that its customers suffered as little disruption as possible.

Sir Jackie Stewart taken ill on British Airways flight

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

Sir Jackie Stewart has been admitted to hospital after falling ill on a flight. The Formula One champion was flying back from the Geneva Motor Show when he passed out during a trip to the toilet. A British Airways hostess was on hand to deliver assistance. The crew of flight 727 asked air traffic control for permission to make an emergency landing in order that medical assistance could be given to a passenger.

After landing at 12.10 Stewart was driven to Hillingdon Hospital in London where he is stable. A spokeswoman said he was undergoing a check-up. Oliver Anderson, Stewart’s private secretary, confirmed that he was receiving medical attention but that he was conscious and that a full recovery was expected.

His son Paul said he had spoken to his father and was on his way to visit him. He added that although Stewart had passed out on the flight everything now seemed to be fine. He went on to say that something had obviously gone wrong and that it was important to establish what it was.

Stewart remains the country’s most successful racing driver ever. He won the world championships three times and came first in a total of 27 races. He set the record in 1973 when he retired from the sport and it would not be until 1987 that the record would be broken by Alain Prost.

Since retiring, Stewart has been a dedicated campaigner to making motor racing safer. He is also loved by fans of the sport for his commentary skills.

IAG prepares for drop in demand in the Middle East

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

The newly formed International Airlines Group has announced a €90 million net profit for the final quarter of last year ending 31 December. The figure is an improvement on a deficit of €130 million recorded for the same period a year earlier. The reversal of fortune is mainly due to better yields and revenue on a limited growth in capacity.

IAG’s chief executive, former BA boss Willie Walsh, said the airline was following the events in the Middle East and watching for the impact on the price of oil. He added that the group was prepared to begin reducing capacity in the region if the price of oil began affecting demand.

Both Iberia and BA recently passed on around 50 per cent of the increasing price of oil to customers as a fuel surcharge. However, the airlines claim that so far they have not seen any significant drop in demand from passengers on long-haul services. Walsh went on to say that if Middle Eastern traffic was to fall away it would only affect some six per cent of IAG’s business.

The group said it continued to see strong performance in its long-haul services across the board, especially in the premium sector. Short-haul business in Europe is however still struggling against extremely strong competition, especially from the budget carriers.

Before completing the merger with Iberia, BA was able to turn a loss of £245 million in 2009 into £170 million net profit in 2010. This was despite continuing problems with cabin crew, air traffic control strikes and disruption caused by severe winter weather in December.

British Airways plane because of bed bugs

Monday, February 28th, 2011

A Californian business executive has set up her own website after she was dissatisfied by British Airways’ response to complaints about bed bugs on their aircraft. Zane Selkirk, 28, claims she first saw the creatures when she was travelling from Los Angeles to London. She describes how there was a bug on the seat in front of her when the aircraft was taxiing for take-off and that she saw more of them on her shirt when she visited the toilet later on in the flight.

On a flight to London from Bangalore, Selkirk claims she was bitten some 90 times. On her site, the businesswoman describes how she was horrified not only by the bed bugs but also by the way she was treated by the airline’s staff.

According to Selkirk, BA offered its apologies after the media started to take an interest in her website. She also asserts that the carrier has offered her financial compensation for her ordeal, although she claims to have turned it down

A spokesman for BA has confirmed that the aircraft in question, a Boeing 747, has been removed from service so that the problem can be dealt with. He added that complaints about bed bugs on BA flights are extremely rare and that the airline took the problem very seriously when it did occur.

There has been a resurgence in complaints about bed bugs recently in New York clothing stores and hotels. There have also been complaints from guests staying in hotels in Paris and London.

American Airlines union to enlist global help

Friday, February 25th, 2011

The largest union representing the interests of workers at American Airlines is hoping to exert added pressure on the carrier to reach a deal over contracts by joining up with other unions under the Oneworld alliance banner. The Transport Workers Union is hoping that a coalition will help to conclude negotiations started in November 2007.

The group said in a news conference that it aims to encourage union members working for other Oneworld airlines including Japan Airlines and British Airways to picket American Airlines’ desks in their respective countries.

A meeting of some of the union heads is scheduled to take place in April in Washington. The discussions will involve how best to manage the coalition and how to develop plans for the long-term. Air transport international vice president of the Transport Workers Union, Garry Drummond, said he was keen to see some real movement. He added that a labour council formed on a global scale would have the ability to make a striking difference.

Oneworld currently has 12 member airlines from around the world. American Airlines is still to issue a statement concerning the union’s plans. Bob Zimmerman, head of Transport Workers Local 565, said as well as being able to exert added pressure on airlines on behalf of their workers, the unions would also be able to work out strategies to boost the revenues of Oneworld members.

The Transport Workers Union represents around 22,000 American Airlines employees and is currently working to secure contracts for ground handing and maintenance staff at American Airlines’ hubs across the US.

Virgin Atlantic targeted by Delta and Air France

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Airline giants Air France-KLM and Delta have expressed an interest in taking over Sir Richard Branson’s 51 per cent share of Virgin Atlantic. The airline has appointed Deutsche Bank to look at the various options available. According to many analysts, Sir Richard will have to be prepared to let go of his controlling stake if he wishes to attract serious offers.

Singapore Airlines holds the other 49 per cent which it acquired in 1999 for £600 million. The carrier has made no secret that if the right offer came along it would be prepared to sell. Singapore would prefer to concentrate its efforts in growing in the Asian market, currently the fastest growing airline market in the world.

Sir Richard has been conducting an operational review ever since British Airways merged with Iberia to form International Airlines Group. The airline has also entered in to a deal across the Atlantic with American Airlines, a move which Sir Richard has never been impressed by.

Airline mergers and tie-ups are a way for carriers to combat economic issues. By signing a codeshare deal an airline has access to a wider market without have to invest in growing its fleet. The advantage for passengers is the increased number of destinations and connections.

Virgin Atlantic has never joined with an airline alliance. If something does happen with Air France and Delta there is likely to be some pressure for Virgin to join SkyTeam, of which they are both members. Abu Dhabi based Etihad has also expressed an interest in Sir Richards Virgin stake.

British Airways celebrates growth in UAE

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

To celebrate regional growth in the United Arab Emirates, British Airways has announced discount fares on business class travel to Europe and the US. The UAE is one of the territories in which the airline industry is seeing rapid growth. BA is keen to tap into this by offering customers who book before the end of February a range of cut-price opportunities.

In January, BA saw an increase of 7.4 per cent in premium class travel on the same period in 2010. Middle East regional commercial manager, Paolo De Renzis, said BA is keen to sustain the increased activity, whether people are travelling for pleasure or for business, by rolling out some unbeatable offers on business class tickets. Those booking tickets before the end of the month will be able to use them in Club World until the end of September.

De Renzis said BA was determined to continue to offer competitive prices to customers flying to and from the UAE in order to maintain growth in the area. He added that BA was also striving to improve the services it offered. The airline is currently investing £100 million in introducing an upgraded first-class cabin on all Middle Eastern routes.

By the end of February, a newly refurbished premium class lounge is due to be unveiled to the public at Dubai International Airport.

Customers flying to the UAE in Club World are already able to experience seats which have been made 25 per cent wider and beds which are designed to lie fully flat.

British Airways cabin crew to vote on industrial action

Monday, February 14th, 2011

British Airways cabin crew are preparing to go to the polls once more to vote on whether further strikes are deemed necessary. The airline and its employees have been engaged in a battle over working conditions, pay and travel privileges since the end of 2009. If crew members decide to vote in favour of a walkout, disruption could potentially upset the plans of those aiming to travel with the airline at Easter or over the bank holiday marking the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton.

Leader of Unite, Len McCluskey, has said it is unlikely that members will want to strike over the holiday period, but if they do, they will receive his full support.

Last year saw 22 days of industrial action cost BA around £150 million. The flag-carrier has since employed ancillary staff to make sure that all of its long-haul services will operate as usual in the event of a strike. A recent ballot was declared invalid after lawyers for the airline made objections over how the ballot was conducted.

A spokesman for BA urged Unite to go back to a deal struck at the end of last year. Although union bosses agreed that deal, more militant members said it remained unacceptable.

Although the recent vote was not declared valid, 5,700 union members appear to have been keen to continue their fight with BA. The latest ballot is expected to be conducted before the end of this month meaning strike action could take place as soon as April.