Posts Tagged ‘British Airways’

BA flight makes two unscheduled stopovers

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

British Airways passengers travelling from India to the UK this week, on Flight BA 142, were frustrated by two unscheduled stopovers which meant they landed in London nearly 13 hours later than they were supposed to. The first city added to the itinerary was Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The pilot requested permission to land after a female passenger was taken ill.

Unfortunately, because the woman did not have the required visa for the country, the authorities would not allow the plane to depart without her. According to reports, the pilot was not keen to take to the air again with a sick passenger on-board. The situation was eventually sorted some six hours later and BA 142 was once again on its way.

However, the crew had by now used up the number of hours they are permitted to operate an aircraft, so the second city passengers were treated to was Istanbul in Turkey. The plane landed briefly to take on new crew and to feed and water the increasingly agitated BA customers.

The flight then left for London without any further changes to its itinerary and landed at Heathrow at 7.40 pm local time when it should have touched down nearly 13 hours earlier.

A spokesperson for BA said the carrier offered its apologies to the affected customers explaining that the onward journeys after both stopovers were made as soon as it was practical to do so. The spokesperson added that BA hoped passengers would appreciate that it looked after their safety first and foremost.

Qantas looks to protect international business

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Qantas Airways is looking at a number of options for protecting its market share of international business both to and from the country. Recently, the flag-carrier has been faced with strong competition from rivals including Virgin Blue and Emirates. The airline’s boss, Alan Joyce, has assembled a team of around 20 experts to examine the situation.

Joyce said he was looking at a possible international tie-up with another airline similar to the alliance agreed between Virgin Blue and Etihad. He will also be underpinning new routes with more fuel efficient planes such as the superjumbo A380 from Airbus. From 2012, older aircraft will be replaced by the delivery of the first Dreamliners from Boeing. The carrier currently has an order for 50.

Managing director of the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation, Peter Harbison, admitted that the opportunities for Qantas within Australia were limited and that it will become a key aspect of its expansion programme to form an alliance with another large operator.

Qantas has dabbled in tie-ups before. A potential deal with Malaysian Airlines floundered and in December 2008 a possible deal with British Airways was abandoned. Joyce said that Qantas was currently being supported by other arms of the business and that this had to stop.

Last month, Qantas agreed a deal with American Airlines on routes to and from the US. Transpacific services were once the most profitable for the carrier. However, since 2008, Qantas has witnessed increasing competition from Delta and Virgin Blue which now share the route.

British Airways faces fresh wave of strikes

Monday, January 24th, 2011

British Airways customers planning to go away with the airline over the school half-term or at Easter may have to rethink their plans as cabin crew once again vote in favour of industrial action. Although no dates have yet been confirmed, the union has not ruled out staging strikes over the holidays.

The latest ballot to strike was supported by 78.5 per cent of those who turned out. According to Len McCluskey, the general secretary elect of Unite, the vote proves that staff at BA are still unhappy with the way in which they are being treated.

In October last year it looked as if the long-running row between BA and the union had come to an end as the airline’s chief executive, Willie Walsh, and joint general secretary of Unite, Tony Woodley, finally agreed on a solution. However, more militant members of the union were not happy and called for the latest ballot.

According to a spokesman for BA the latest ballot was only supported by 43 per cent of crew members. He added that since the dispute started 2,500 members of the airline’s cabin crew have actually left the union. He went on to say that contrary to what union bosses claim, the percentage of those voting in favour of industrial action is falling every time a ballot is announced.

He urged Unite to look again at the deal which was agreed in October pointing out that it guaranteed pay rises for staff over the coming two years and secured conditions which are already the best in the British airline industry.

Tour companies scramble to get Brits out of Tunisia

Monday, January 17th, 2011

British Airways customers are angry that while many tour companies were doing everything in their power to get customers out of riot torn Tunisia, the airline was continuing to take passengers in. One woman claims she called the airline after seeing reports of the violence to ask if everything was alright. Apparently BA said it was, even though the foreign office was issuing danger warnings.

Thomas Cook said it managed to get most of its 1,800 customers out of the country on Friday by providing and extra six flights. It also added services over Saturday and Sunday, according to a spokeswoman. British Airways said it has no plans to lay on extra services and that the next flight out with the flag-carrier would be on Wednesday.

A spokesman for Tui, which owns Thomson and First Choice, said it had now managed to get all of its customers out of Tunisia. Many Brits fleeing the violence have described how unofficial roadblocks have been erected by those searching out supporters of the deposed President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

Reports are that around 100 have already lost their lives in the fighting. One of the President’s nephews has apparently been stabbed to death and three policemen have been lynched.

Passengers arriving home at Gatwick Airport have described scenes of carnage and dead bodies lying in the streets. There are reports that tensions are beginning to grow in neighbouring Libya and the leaders of countries across North Africa are likely to be concerned.

BA accused of bullying by Unite

Monday, January 10th, 2011

A survey conducted by the union representing the interests of British Airways’ cabin crew suggests that most employees of the airline have witnessed or been the subject of bullying. The result of the poll of 2,000 employees is unlikely to ease tensions between the flag-carrier and its staff.

A dispute between cabin crew and the airline is entering its third year with no sign of a resolution. The row started out as a protest against staffing cuts, but has since morphed into a battle over travel perks. If the latest vote is in favour of industrial action then cabin crew could walk out by the end of January.

Tony Woodley, Unites outgoing general secretary, urged BA boss Willie Walsh to return to the negotiating table. He said the company’s war on its workforce was ruining what was once a great airline. BA has assured passengers that if fresh strike action goes ahead it will still be running all long-haul flights. Services will also not be affected at either Gatwick or City airports.

Len McCluskey, Unites new leader, will be talking to members of the union at a meeting at Kempton Park today. He is expected to announce his total support for BA’s cabin crew for as long as it takes them to reach a deal with the carrier.

A spokeswoman for BA said it completely disagreed with any accusations of bullying in the workplace. She added that the carrier had very strict regulations in place for dealing with such behaviour and that these regulations had been agreed upon with Unite.

BA concludes engine deal with Rolls Royce

Friday, January 7th, 2011

The conclusion of a deal with British Airways for new engines will help Rolls-Royce’s confidence after a rocky end to 2010. The deal is worth $5 billion and will see Rolls-built engines powering the airline’s new Dreamliners from Boeing and its fleet of A380 superjumbos from Airbus.

Safety concerns with the Rolls-Royce Trent 900, used to power a number of airlines’ A380s, were raised after one exploded on a Qantas superjumbo shortly after it had taken off from Singapore. Although the plane was able to land safely, Qantas made the decision to ground its fleet while investigations into what went wrong were undertaken.

Australian safety officials concluded that a manufacturing defect in one of the engine parts could lead to future catastrophic engine failure in the Trent 900 if not fixed. British Airways boss, Willie Walsh, said he was pleased that the deal with Rolls-Royce had been concluded adding that it put the airline in a strong position heading into the future.

The order consists of Trent 900s for 12 A380s, with an option for a further seven, and Trent 1000s for 24 Dreamliners, with options for a further 18. The Trent 1000 is already being tested on the 787 and will be the engine used to power the first to be flown by All Nippon Airlines.

Among the other airlines with which Rolls-Royce has agreements is Middle Eastern carrier Emirates, which placed an order worth $1.2 billion in November and Air China which has agreed an order worth $1.8 billion.

Snow hit airline passengers still waiting to be reunited with luggage

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

Manchester airport has said it is resorting to storing the piles of lost luggage it has accumulated because of December’s bad weather in cargo bays. Many airline passengers who could not get onto connecting flights over the festive period are still to be reunited with their bags.

Manchester was one of the airports which managed to stay open when others, including Gatwick and Heathrow, were forced to close their runways. However, the closure of connecting airports and the disruption to schedules meant that some passengers had to be booked onto new services.

The system was unable to cope and some luggage became separated from its owners. A spokesman for Manchester said extra workers had been drafted in to help deal with the problem. He added that the problems were due to weather issues, full flights and disrupted services. He went on to say that airport chiefs were looking into methods of making sure this issue was not one that reoccurred in the future.

British Airways also said it had asked for extra help to reunite passengers with their bags. The flag-carrier added that it was still dealing with a four-day backlog. A spokeswoman for the airline said it apologised for the inconvenience caused to passengers, but that December had been a month of extraordinary weather conditions.

She added that the carrier had drafted in contractors to help clear the problem. Lost luggage is the latest in a long line of issues airports and airlines will be looking into as they proved, once again, that they were woefully ill prepared for the snow and ice.

Qantas investigates turning rubbish into fuel

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Qantas has announced plans to construct a biofuel plant which would enable it to produce greener fuel for its fleet. The nation’s flag-carrier is currently in discussions about the project with Solena, a US based fuel supplier. According to reports, the plant would be built in Sydney and would create some 1200 jobs.

If construction goes ahead, the operation would be the second in the world to produce biofuel on a commercial scale. The plant would convert everyday rubbish, including household food scraps, tree cuttings, grass and industrial and agricultural waste into jet fuel.

A similar project is already underway in the UK. British Airways has teamed up with Solena to build a plant in London which, when up and running in 2014, will turn half-a-million tonnes of waste into over 70 million litres of jet fuel every year. BA claims this will be enough to run two per cent of the airline’s fleet out of Heathrow.

Airlines are coming under increasing pressure to reduce the amount of CO2 they currently pump into the atmosphere. Industry guidelines stipulate that a saving of 1.5 per cent on fuel efficiency be achieved by the end of the decade. The UN would like to see efficiency improve by two per cent.

By 2020 airlines are aiming to become carbon neutral and by 2050 carriers are aiming to have reduced emission levels to half those recorded in 2005. Spokeswoman for Qantas, Olivia Worth, said the agreement with Solena meant the carrier had committed itself to examining the feasibility of creating jet fuel from rubbish.

Recession responsible for 25% drop in air travel

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

An analysis of airline statistics by the Civil Aviation Authority has revealed that the number of people travelling in premium class plunged by nearly a quarter as the world’s economies went into recession. In 2008, after the Lehman Brothers’ collapse, there was a 4.6 per cent drop in travel in and out of Britain by air.

In 2009, according to the CAA, there was a further drop of 22.2 per cent. Over the first half of 2010 a fall of 28 per cent was recorded on a year earlier. However, it is important to note that as well as the recession, carriers were hit by the effects of airline strikes and an ash cloud which closed European airspace for six days.

Worst hit through 2009 were flights between Europe and the UK which were down by 25 per cent. Travel between the US and the UK was also badly affected as numbers plummeted by 20 per cent. As well as less people boarding aircraft there was also a significant shift away from premium class tickets to budget carriers and economy class.

British Airways’ chief executive, Willie Walsh, said he saw no real reason why those travelling on short-haul journeys would decide to reverse the trend for choosing no frills travel.

CAA regulations director, Harry Bush, agrees with this, pointing out that price cuts to companies travel budgets were likely to remain in place and, although there is evidence that some are returning to premium class, many may have been converted to the cash saving advantages of economy.

New British Airways strike could happen during Royal Wedding

Thursday, December 16th, 2010

Leaders of the union representing British Airways cabin crew have said they cannot rule out the possibility of industrial action during peak holiday periods in the first part of the New Year. If the result of a new ballot is for fresh strikes then the half-term holiday is under threat as is Easter and Prince William’s wedding on 29 April.

Unite’s militant leader, Len McCluskey, warned families against booking with BA. The latest strike ballot will begin next week and is set to run until 21 January. After this, assuming the vote is in favour, Unite will need to give BA a weeks notice that strikes will take place. Those strikes can then happen over a period of three months before a new vote is called.

Mr McCluskey has made no secret of the fact that he is in favour of industrial action to prove a point. He is well known for saying that he feels strikes can never be irresponsible and has also challenged the strike laws in the UK.

In parliament Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned the hard-line leader for his attitude adding that he could not believe Mr McCluskey had been voted into the top position of one of the largest unions in the country.

The disagreement between Unite members and BA began last November when the airline introduced plans to reduce cabin crew numbers on flights and freeze wages. Since then the fight has focused on issues such as the confiscation of travel perks and punishment of union members taking part in industrial action.