Archive for February, 2013


[Economic Times] MUMBAI: In what is seen as a step towards closing its proposed investment plans in Jet Airways, Etihad Airways on Wednesday said it has paid $70 million to buy three slots of the Naresh Goyal-promoted airline at Heathrow airport in London.

Etihad, which is in talks with Jet on possibly taking a stake in the firm, said discussions about further investment were continuing.

Etihad, which is in talks with Jet on possibly taking a stake in the firm, said discussions about further investment were continuing. Picture: Wikipedia

“Etihad Airways can confirm that it has concluded a transaction with Jet to purchase Jet’s three pairs of Heathrow slots for $70 million. The purchase is part of a sale and lease back agreement signed yesterday,” Etihad said in a statement.

The statement further said Jet will continue to operate flights to London utilising these slots.

The deal further strengthens the existing commercial relationship between the two airlines, which came into effect in July 2008, making provision for code-sharing, Etihad said.

On the ongoing stake sale talks between the two, Etihad said they continue to progress with discussions about further investment in Jet.

However, on the 24 per cent proposed stake sale toEtihad, Jet sources said, Jet has reportedly agreed to cede more management control, including more board positions to Etihad. However, this could not be officially verified with either Jet or Etihad officials.

This is to enable sealing the deal that has of late hit some air pockets with the UAE-based airline saying that it wanted to re-look at its investment plan in Jet……

Read the full story at The Economic Times of India…..


Economic Times
27th Feb, 2013



[Biometricupdate.com] Terminal 1 passengers at London’s Heathrowairport are being invited to take part in a two-month ‘self-boarding’ trial in partnership with South African Airways.

“We are working in partnership with our airlines to trial this technology..... ” Ian Hanson, Heathrow’s Terminal 1 Director said.

“We are working in partnership with our airlines to trial this technology….. ” Ian Hanson, Heathrow’s Terminal 1 Director said. Photo: Geograph,org

Using these self-boarding gates, passengers pass through an automatic electronic barrier which takes an infra-red scan of their face. This information is checked against the biometric data that was taken at the check-in stage. If the data matches, the barrier opens and the passenger can pass through and board their flight.

According to a statement from the airport, this now means that a passenger’s identity needs to be checked by airline staff only once in the entire departure process.

“We are working in partnership with our airlines to trial this technology which should help make our passengers’ journeys smoother and simpler. Since its introduction we have had positive feedback from both airlines and passengers,” Ian Hanson, Heathrow’s Terminal 1 director said.

Reported in BiometricUpdate.com, similar self-service gates at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam have by now processed over one million passengers.

The gates at the Schiphol airport were made by Vision-Box, a Portuguese company specializing in automated border control systems and have also recently installed self-service gates at Riga International in Latvia.

Likewise, the Gardermoen Airport in Oslo, Norway, is allowing passengers to check themselves through the gates using a biometric EasyPASS gate system.

Read the original story at Biometricupdate.com…..


Biometricupdate.com
26th Feb, 2013



[Travolution] Mobile check-in is being made available by Brazilian carrier TAM Airlines on flights from Heathrow.

The service is available for both internet-enabled phones and tablet devices.
The service is available for both internet-enabled phones and tablet devices. Photo: Wikipedia 

Passengers can check in remotely between 72 hours and up to two hours before the scheduled flight departure time.

Electronic boarding passes are sent by email or text message or can be saved directly on to the mobile phone or tablet through an application called Passbook which has been developed to store and view boarding passes of different airlines. This is available for iPhone, iPad and Android platforms.

Code scanning is carried out at the airport directly through the device’s screen. The mobile boarding pass is valid at baggage drop locations, document checkpoints, tax-free shops and at aircraft boarding.

More than one person can be checked in at the same time, as long as all passengers in the group have the same reservation code.

Read the original story at Travolution.co.uk…..


Travolution
26th Feb, 2013



[ReutersHeathrow Ltd, the British airport operator formerly known as BAA, posted a strong rise in full year profit, largely driven by an increase in the fees it charges airlines.

The group also last week unveiled a 3 billion pounds five-year investment plan, which could see passengers facing a rise in ticket prices.

The group also last week unveiled a 3 billion pounds five-year investment plan, which could see passengers facing a rise in ticket prices. Photo: Wikipedia

Ferrovial‘s Heathrow on Monday said its 2012 earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 11.6 percent to 1.26 billion pounds on revenues 2.46 billion pounds.

The operator has increased airport tariffs by an average of 12.5 percent since April 2011.

The company said passenger traffic at London’s Heathrow, Europe’s busiest airport, rose 0.9 percent to 70 million during the year, while traffic at London Stansted fell 3.2 percent to 17.5 million.

The group last week unveiled a 3 billion pounds five-year investment plan, which could see passengers facing a rise in ticket prices.

Read the original story at Reuters…..


Reuters
Reporting by Rhys Jones, Editing by Brenda Goh
21st Feb, 2013



[IOL Travel] British Airways is to take on budget airline rivals by charging less if passengers travel with just hand luggage.

British Airways is to take on budget airline rivals by charging less if passengers travel with just hand luggage.

British Airways is to take on budget airline rivals by charging less if passengers travel with just hand luggage. Photo: Wikipedia

The airline said the cheaper fares – initially to be offered on flights from Gatwick to five destinations – will give passengers “more choice”.

Holidaymakers with luggage to check in will not pay more to compensate for the lower “hand baggage only” fares, BA insisted.

The move will be seen as an attempt to compete with low-cost airlines such as Ryanair and easyJet.

Peter Simpson, BA’s director at Gatwick, said: “The introduction of our hand baggage only fare is all about giving our customers more freedom to choose the kind of flying they want. Many British Airways customers on Gatwick short-haul breaks choose not to check in a bag as they’re already taking advantage of our generous two-bag hand luggage policy.

“Those who still want to check in a bag will simply pay the same price they do now.” …..

Read the full story at IOL Travel…..


Daily Mail
21st Feb, 2013



[Business Traveller] Until now Europe’s traditional airlines such as Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa have prided themselves on not burdening passengers with ancillary charges as do the budget carriers.

Dutch carrier KLM is the first to break ranks & charge for checked baggage.

Dutch carrier KLM is the first to break ranks & charge for checked baggage. Photo: Wikipedia

But Dutch carrier KLM is the first to break ranks. Reports today in the Dutch media, now confirmed by KLM, state that starting in April KLM will charge short-haul passengers fees of either €15 (when paid in advance) or €30 (when paid at the airport) for pieces of checked baggage.

Hand luggage will remain free and the charges will not apply to passengers flying long-haul. All members of KLM’s Flying Blue loyalty scheme will also escape the new fees.

At the same time, it’s understood KLM will strictly enforce rules for hand baggage. According to the reports, any bag which doesn’t meet KLM’s 55x25x35 cm, 12 kilos allowance will be placed in the hold and the unlucky passenger will be charged €30 at the gate.

In its defence KLM says that 60 to 70 per cent of its short-haul passengers carry only hand luggage. The airline says that passengers would prefer to pay less for their flights and that is why it has decided to bring in the fee.

Most large airlines lose money flying within Europe yet cannot…..

Read the full story at Business Traveller…..


Report by Alex McWhirter,
Business Traveller
13th Feb, 2013



[BBC News] Air France-KLM, the Franco-Dutch airline, says it made a big loss in 2012, blaming sharply rising fuel costs and trouble with its cargo business.

Air France-KLM has been struggling to reduce its debt mountain in the face of high fuel costs

Air France-KLM has been struggling to reduce its debt mountain in the face of high fuel costs. Photo: Wikipedia

Net losses increased 47% to 1.19bn euros (£1bn; $1.57bn), after a 471m-euro restructuring charge and a 890m-euro increase in its fuel bill.

But operating losses fell to 300m euros, from 353m euros the year before.

Revenues rose 5.2% to 25.6bn euros, thanks in part to increased prices on its North Atlantic routes.

Debt fell from 6.51bn to 5.97bn euros after sell-offs and spending cuts – the company plans to reduce its net debt by 2bn euros by the end of 2014.

Chief executive Jean-Cyril Spinetta said in a statement: “The year 2012 was characterised by a slowdown in global growth and recession in Europe, but nevertheless saw a sharp increase in the fuel price.

“In 2013, we will maintain strict discipline in terms of capacity management, investments and costs.”

Air France-KLM is renegotiating pay and conditions with its staff and cutting more than 5,000 jobs, as high fuel costs and competition from low-cost airlines take their toll on the debt-laden company.

The airline managed to increase…..

Read the full story at BBC News…..


BBC News
22nd Feb, 2013



[Daily Mail] A British Airways flight was forced to make an emergency landing at a remote Canadian town after suspected toxic oil fumes were reported on the flight deck.

The co-pilot started to feel nauseous before unscheduled stop was made at Goose Bay, Newfoundland.

The co-pilot started to feel nauseous before unscheduled stop was made at Goose Bay, Newfoundland. Photo: Wikipedia

The Boeing 777, carrying 158 passengers from Heathrow to Philadelphia, made the unscheduled stop at Goose Bay, in Newfoundland, in temperatures of -30C after fumes started to cause eye and throat irritation halfway through the eight hour flight. The co-pilot also became incapacitated after he started to feel nauseous nearly half an hour later.

Oxygen masks were then required for the captain and first officer, so they could make the landing last Sunday, according to the Sunday Express.

The news comes just two weeks after the first picture was released of one of two top BA pilots who died within days of each other after complaining about being exposed to toxic oil fumes on passenger planes.

Last month it was reported Richard Westgate, 43, died after instructing his lawyers to sue BA for health and safety breaches days before fellow pilot Karen Lysakowska, 43, passed away.

Both claimed they had been poisoned by the fumes that can contaminate cabin air and which regularly force pilots to wear oxygen masks.

Read the full story at the Mail Online…..


Mail Online – James Rush
10 Feb, 2013



[Reuters] British travel group Thomas Cook plans to merge its German, British and Belgian airline operations, appointing a new airline management board to run the business.

Condor, Thomas Cook Airlines UK and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium will become one airline segment within the group from 1st  March.

Condor, Thomas Cook Airlines UK and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium will become one airline segment within the group from 1st March. Photo: Wikipedia

The world’s oldest travel group said on Tuesday that Condor, its German airline brand, Thomas Cook Airlines UK and Thomas Cook Airlines Belgium would become one airline segment within the group from March 1.

The move is part of a turnaround plan, the effects of which began to kick-in late last year. The company, which was thrown a lifeline by lenders last May, has seen a steady improvement in its finances and a pick-up in demand in recent months.

The new airline management board will be chaired jointly by Christoph Debus, group head of air travel, and Ralf Teckentrup, Condor’s chief executive, the company said. Former easyJet and KLM executive Cor Vrieswijk will take the reins as chief operating officer of Thomas Cook Airlines UK next month.

“At time when the European airline industry is experiencing major change, we believe that our airline will be stronger as one integrated business,” said Debus.

Frank Pullman will retire as managing director of Thomas Cook Airlines UK next month, the company said…..

Read the full story at Reuters…..


Reuters
5th Feb, 2013



[News1130] A Canadian tour operator says it’s considering suing a Cape Breton family for the estimated $40,000 cost of a flight diversion to Bermuda caused by what it claims was unruly behaviour and smoking during the trip.

The plane resumed its journey on Saturday afternoon.

The plane resumed its journey on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Courtesy HappyTime Tours (httours.com)

Daryl McWilliams of the Sunwing Travel Group says the plane was flying from Halifax to the Dominican Republic and was forced to make an emergency landing at L.F. Wade International Airport in Hamilton, Bermuda, on Friday.

McWilliams said the airline had to put up 180 passengers overnight and bring in a mechanic — and it may try to recover those costs in a civil action.

He said from Toronto that the airline decided to land because flight attendants believed the family was smoking. He said he understood it was done openly. However, a charge of smoking on the aircraft was denied by a family member and then dropped.

The plane resumed its journey on Saturday afternoon.

But three members of a four-person family were arrested by the Bermuda police and appeared in Magistrates’ Court in Hamilton, Bermuda, to face charges on Monday.

Prosecutor Carrington Mahoney alleged that David McNeil Sr., 54, Donna McNeil, 52, and David McNeil Jr., 22, disobeyed orders to return to their seats after a dispute with flight attendants about using the lavatories during takeoff.

The court heard that minutes into the flight, the younger David McNeil rose from his seat to use the washroom.

Prosecutors said crew members asked him to return to his seat and told him that he was not allowed to walk around the cabin until the captain had turned off the seatbelt sign.

Prosecutors alleged the father also attempted to access the washroom and was also instructed to return to his seat. The court heard they were then joined by Donna McNeil, who asked that her son be allowed to use the toilet.

When the seatbelt sign was deactivated, the son used the washroom and returned to his seat. Prosecutors said the father then went into the washroom, cursing at a flight attendant while doing so.

Prosecutors also said that two hours later, a crew member noticed David McNeil Jr. leaving a washroom smelling strongly of cigarette smoke.

The court heard that after an unsuccessful search for a cigarette butt in the washroom, the crew made the decision to divert the flight to Bermuda to remove the family.

The father pleaded guilty to behaving in a disorderly manner by using abusive and offensive language, while Donna McNeil pleaded guilty to disobeying a lawful order by a flight attendant.

David McNeil Jr. denied a charge of smoking on the aircraft, while he and his father both denied disobeying a lawful order……

Read the full story at News1130…..


News1130 – Canadian Press
4th Feb, 2013