Thursday, April 29, 2010

Etihad commences non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Baghdad

Etihad commences non-stop flights between Abu Dhabi and Baghdad

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has commenced non-stop flights from its home base in Abu Dhabi to Baghdad, becoming the first airline in the UAE to operate to the Iraqi capital.

VIP passengers on the inaugural flight, which departed from Abu Dhabi Airport at 10.00 am yesterday (April 26) included the His Excellency Abdullah Ibrahim al-Shehhi, the UAE Ambassador to Iraq, and Dr Abdulelah Al-Jumaili, Cultural Attache and Mr Ahmed Jaber, Acting Charge d’Affairs, of the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq.

Etihad Airways’ Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said: “These new services are an important step for Etihad and for the UAE, reflecting a commitment to strengthening ties in the region.

“We believe demand on the route will build quickly, particularly from government and business travellers. We also expect to see strong interest from people from Iraq connecting through Abu Dhabi to Etihad’s extensive global network.”

Etihad operates five return services per week to Baghdad, using two-class Airbus A320 aircraft, and will expand its operation with two additional A320 return services to a second Iraq destination – Erbil – from June 1, subject to government and regulatory approvals.

Etihad’s flight EY555 to Baghdad departs Abu Dhabi on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 10.00am, arriving at Baghdad’s international airport at 11.25am the same day. The return flight, EY554, departs Baghdad on the same days at 12.30pm, arriving in Abu Dhabi at 3.50pm.

All times quoted are local times.

bmi brings style and comfort to The London Room

This week, bmi, the second largest airline operating out of London Heathrow, unveils its newly refurbished lounge for customers travelling to destinations in the UK and Ireland. The London Room is available to Gold and Silver Diamond Club members, bmi’s frequent flyer programme and also to all customers travelling on the recently introduced Flexible Economy and Economy Extra tickets.

The London Room shares key design features with bmi’s flagship international lounge (The Great British Lounge) such as feature walls covered in the dramatic Designers Guild black flock wallpaper and black mirrored glass tiling around the entrance and exits. With inspiration taken from the lounge’s name, a series of black and white photographs of unusual London scenes including pearly kings and queens, Borough Market and Camden Lock, adorn the walls. As well as the bespoke “London” wallpaper featuring key London symbols (City of London crest, a pod from the London eye, Beefeaters and London taxis) which was exclusively designed for bmi’s new lounge.

Other enhancements in The London Room include an improved work area which includes six PCs available for customer use and free Wi-Fi access throughout the lounge; redesigned servery and washroom areas.

There is a new menu offering Continental breakfast until 11am, snacks throughout the day and a delicious choice of afternoon tea cake served from 4pm; this month choose between Chocolate Fudge and Lemon and Blackcurrant Drizzle cakes. Customers who are pressed for time can stop off in the lounge and help themselves to a ‘coffee to go’ served in a ‘coffee shop style’ cup enroute to the gate, a feature developed following customer feedback during the lounge design. Another new British feature is the inclusion of free retro British sweets, such as blackjacks, rhubarb and custards and lemon sherbets, for customers to help themselves to as a treat before they leave the lounge.

bmi has collaborated with Miller Harris since 2009 and as part of its offering in The London Room, will provide Miller Harris’ Citron Citron hand wash and hand lotion in the newly refurbished washrooms. To celebrate the opening of The London Room, bmi is proud to offer customers The Bergamot, which is a fragrant and flavoursome tea, created by Lyn Harris, founder of Miller Harris, which visitors to the lounge will be able to enjoy in a tea tasting session in The London Room on the 26th -28th April between 4-6pm

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Cuts continue at Japan Airlines

Cuts continue at Japan Airlines

Troubled carrier Japan Airlines (JAL) has confirmed it will cut a further 15 international routes from its schedule as it seeks to cut costs.

The flag-carrier confirmed vast financial losses earlier this year, with the airline presently being administered by the Japanese government.

Swathes of job cuts – expected to total at least 16,450 staff by March 2011 – have been implemented, while international and domestic passenger capacity is set to fall by 40 and 30 per cent respectively from 2008 levels.

“JAL has restructured its overall network with the clear objective of returning to profitability as swiftly as possible,” the airline said in a statement.

Combined with previously announced route cuts, the airline will stop operating 28 international routes over the coming months, while 50 domestic routes will be shed.

International routes to be closed include flights from Tokyo to Amsterdam, Milan, Rome and Sao Paulo.

The airline is undergoing a major restructuring after filing for bankruptcy protection on January 19th. At the time the airline was declared “hours from bankruptcy” before government support offered a lifeline.

Questions have also been raised over possibly malpractice at the airline before it entered administration.

Monday, April 26, 2010

BA price-fixing cartel heads to court

BA price-fixing cartel heads to court

The trial of three ex-British Airways executives and one current employee on has began in London on accusations of fixing the price of fuel surcharges.

The four defendants agreed with each other along with others at Virgin Atlantic “to make and implement agreements which would lead, and which in fact did lead, to price fixing”, Southwark Crown Court heard today.

The charges relate to price-fixing over a period of 18 months, between 1 July 2004, and 20 April 2006, when fuel surcharges rose from £5 to £60 for a typical long-haul return ticket.

The accused include BA’s current sales and marketing director Andrew Crawley, former head of communications Iain Burns, its former head of sales in the UK and Ireland Alan Burnett, as well as former commercial director Martin George. All four deny a cartel offence under the Enterprise Act 2002.

Richard Latham QC, prosecuting for the Office of Fair Trading, told the jury that the “crucial element” was that of dishonesty in a secret price-fixing arrangement.

“No one complains because no one knew what was going on,” he said. “But every single purchaser is a victim.”

He said the four defendants dishonestly agreed with Virgin Atlantic executives Paul Moore, William Boulter and Steven Ridgway to fix the price of fuel surcharges.

However he said by blowing the whistle on the criminal cartel, the three Virgin executives would be granted immunity from prosecution.

“The situation may arise where the defendants are little more culpable than the prosecution witnesses,” he said.

“But if Virgin executives had not admitted their participation in price-fixing with British Airways the illicit activities would almost certainly have remained hidden to this very day.”

The case continues.

Friday, April 23, 2010

OFT launches Virgin Atlantic price fixing probe

OFT launches Virgin Atlantic price fixing probe

Britain’s Virgin Atlantic airline is to face an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation into allegations of price fixing on its London to Hong Kong route.

In a statement issued earlier today, the OFT outlined allegations the airline had colluded on the cost of passenger services on the route with rival Cathay Pacific over a number of years.

The matter was brought to the OFT’s attention by Cathay Pacific under the government body’s leniency policy, where a company which is the first to report its participation in cartel conduct may qualify for immunity from penalties.

Provided it continues to cooperate, Cathay will be immune from any penalty imposed in this case

Ali Nikpay, OFT senior director of cartels and criminal enforcement, said: “For a market economy to work effectively it is vital competing companies determine their pricing strategies independently of each other and do not seek to avoid the rigours of competition through unlawful coordination.

“The parties will now have an opportunity to respond to our proposed findings before we decide whether competition law has in fact been infringed.”

The case concerns a number of alleged contacts between employees of the two airlines over a number of years which it is alleged had the object of coordinating the parties’ respective pricing strategies regarding passenger fares through the exchange of commercially sensitive information on pricing and other commercial matters.

“At this stage it should not be assumed that the parties involved have broken the law,” added Mr Nikpay.

“The OFT will decide if the law has been breached after it has reviewed any responses to the statement of objections.”

In a statement Virgin Atlantic denied the allegations, saying it planned a “robust defence”.

The transatlantic airline also pointed out the allegations were historic, dating to the period between 2002 and 2006.

“The airline does not believe it has acted in any way contrary to the interests of consumers,” concluded a statement.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Ryanair U-turn - it WILL compensate ash-stranded passengers

Ryanair U-turn - it WILL compensate ash-stranded passengers

Ryanair has made a dramatic climb down from an earlier decision to refuse to pay the hotel and food bills of passengers stranded by the ash cloud. Instead the budget carrier has bowed to passenger outrage following its flouting of strict EU regulation that requires coverage of costs.

Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: “While competitor ferry, coach and train operators are obliged to reimburse passengers reasonable expenses, this reimbursement is limited to the ticket price paid to those operators. Yet the airlines are required by regulation to meet potentially unlimited expenses, in circumstances where there has been a catastrophic closure of European airspace over the past seven days, as EU Governments and Regulators wrongly applied a blanket ban on flights over European airspace.

The airline confirmed that it was also operating a full schedule of flights between Ireland and Continental Europe and the UK and Continental Europe, together with a programme of extra flights from the UK and Ireland to Spain, Italy and the Canary Islands to re-accommodate passengers caught up in the disruption.

O’Leary had earlier told passengers his airline would not meet hotel and subsistence expenses incurred while they were stuck abroad, but just the original price of their air ticket.

The main European and international airline industry bodies have also attacked the regulations and demanded an urgent review on the basis that they were not intended for extraordinary situations such as the ash crisis.

Mike Carrivick, chief executive of the Board of Airline Representatives (BAR), which represents more than 90 airlines, said the relevant regulation was intended to apply when airlines had individual delays or cancellations. “It was never intended to apply to wholesale shutdown of the airways system imposed by governmental rulings and without any limitation of time.”

The regulations, said the BAR, were “draconian, disproportionate and impractical”.

The row came on an otherwise hopeful day, as air travel started to return to normal with flights coming in and out of Britain on a regular basis for the first time in almost a week.

Lord Adonis, had granted special permission for planes to land through the night at Heathrow. British Airways said it would take time to return to a full flying programme as many of its planes and crew were out of position.

The international airline association, IATA, says the volcano crisis has cost airlines more than $1.7bn in lost revenue.

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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

UK airspace reopens following CAA decision

UK airspace reopens following CAA decision

Airlines in the United Kingdom have begun the huge logistical task or repatriating international travellers following a decision by National Air Transport Services (NATS) to reopen British airspace.

Following new guidance from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on restrictions to UK airspace, the air traffic control body removed flight limitations late on Tuesday night.

However, delays and cancellations remain commonplace as European airlines struggle to clear the backlog of passengers and luggage across the continent.

Virtually all UK airspace had been closed for six days as volcanic ash from the Eyjafjallajokull Volcano in Iceland drifted across Europe.

As many as 95,000 flights have been cancelled over the period, with as many as 150,000 British holidaymakers unable to secure travel home.

Eurocontrol – the European aviation body – said it expected 75 per cent of planned departures to go ahead today, totally around 22,000 flights.

Financial Cost

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has estimated the crisis cost airlines a total of $1.7 billion in lost revenue over the past six days.

“At the worst, the crisis impacted 29 per cent of global aviation and affected 1.2 million passengers a day,” said IATA director general Giovanni Bisignani.

“The scale of the crisis eclipsed 9/11 when US airspace was closed for three days.”

Health & Safety

The CAA had previously advised against all aviation activity amid volcanic ash, in line with international procedures. However, under intense pressure from airlines, the government body re-examined ash levels in which it is safe to fly.

The decision has left commentators questioning whether the decision to suspend air traffic was necessary.
“The major barrier to resuming flight has been understanding tolerance levels of aircraft to ash,” explained the CAA.

“Manufacturers have now agreed increased tolerance levels in low ash density areas.”

Following the decision airport operator BAA said the situation was gradually returning to normal.

“BAA’s airports are open and ready for business, and are operating a limited number of flights today,” read a statement.

“It will take some time to return to normal operations as planes and crews are out of position.

“Until further notice, it remains important that passengers contact their airline before travelling to the airport.

“Not all flights will operate during the early period of opening, and we will do everything we can to support airlines and get people moving,” added BAA.

Take a look at the BAA website for the latest information.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BA jet lands safely at Heathrow

BA jet lands safely at Heathrow

A British Airways flight has landed safely at Heathrow airport as UK airspace reopened after test flights proved planes can withstand volcanic ash, and the Civil Aviation Authority agreed to lift the blanket ban on airspace. Calling it a ‘situation without precedent’, the CAA added: “The major barrier has been understanding aircraft tolerance levels to ash.”

National Air Traffic Services (NATS) is to reopen airspace over parts of northern England for the first time since Thursday, allowing airlines to begin alleviating backlogs.

Scotland and Northern Ireland will also see airspace open until at least 01:00 on Wednesday morning, NATS confirmed.

Following the latest MET Office advice, the air traffic control body stated Aberdeen, Inverness and Edinburgh airports will be open until at least 01:00 tomorrow.

Newcastle, Glasgow and Teesside airports are all likely to reopen during this period, however, the “situation will continue to be variable”.

Some 150,000 British travellers are presently estimated to be trapped overseas, with volcanic ash from Iceland continuing to disrupt services across Europe.

“NATS is maintaining close dialogue with the Met Office and with the UK’s safety regulator, the CAA, in respect of the international civil aviation policy we follow in applying restrictions to use of airspace,” explained a statement.

“We are working closely with government, airports and airlines, and airframe and aero engine manufacturers to get a better understanding of the effects of the ash cloud and to seek solutions.”

Airlines have accused the government of overreacting to the situation, with many now arguing for compensation.

However, transport secretary Lord Adonis argued the safety of air passengers remained the “paramount concern”.

The minister added: “All decisions being taken by the aviation regulators are intended solely to protect the travelling public, and I will not compromise passenger safety.”

While there had been earlier hope of reopening all affected airspace, NATS did confirm UK airspace above 20,000ft would now be available, allowing carriers to repatriate aircraft.

The move will also allow flights between Europe or the Middle East and North America, which would normally fly through UK airspace.

NATS said there would be no London flights until at least 19:00 this evening, with further delays expected.

However, a number of carriers - including Ryanair, easyJet and British Airways – have already cancelled short-haul flights in northern Europe until Wednesday morning.

Ash continues to spew from the Eyjafjoell volcano


In Europe, Eurocontrol expects some 14,000 flights to take to the air today, representing just over half of the scheduled air traffic.

On a normal Tuesday, the European Organisation for the Safety of Air Navigation would expect between 27,000 and 28,000 departures across Europe.

As the disruption enters its sixth day, Eurocontrol now estimates more than 95,000 flights will have been cancelled since Thursday April 15th.

New procedures agreed yesterday may allow for an increase in traffic over the coming days, with planes now offered access to airspace above 20,000 feet.

However, air traffic control services are not being provided to civil aircraft, or are being provided with significant restrictions, in the lower airspace primarily in north-western Europe.

Airspace is closed in Denmark, Estonia, Finland, north France, north Italy, Latvia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ukraine and the UK.

Approximately 600 transatlantic flights take place each day, 300 in each direction. Of the 300 flights that would usually arrive in Europe, 219 flights have arrived in Europe today, and 233 have left Europe, Eurocontrol confirmed.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Ash fiasco now “worse than 9/11 attacks”

Ash fiasco now “worse than 9/11 attacks”

The head of the International Air Transport Association has slammed Europe’s governments for their handling of the volcanic ash crisis, which he said was costing the aviation industry $200 million a day in lost revenue.

As the no-fly ban enters its fifth day, Giovanni Bisignani said: “This is a European embarrassment and it’s a European mess”.

He said the scale of the crisis facing the airline industry is now greater than at the time of the 9/11 attacks.

“We are far enough into this crisis to express our dissatisfaction on how governments have managed it - with no risk assessment, no consultation, no coordination, and no leadership. This crisis is costing airlines at least $200 million a day in lost revenues and the European economy is suffering billions of dollars in lost business. In the face of such dire economic consequences, it is incredible that Europe’s transport ministers have taken five days to organize a teleconference,” he said.

He urged a re-think of the decision-making process.

“Europeans are still using a system based on a theoretical model which does not work… instead of using a system and taking decisions on facts and on risk assessment.”

“Governments must place greater urgency and focus on how and when we can safely re-open Europe’s skies. This means decisions based on risk-management, facts and utilizing operational procedures that maintain safety,” said Bisignani.

EU transport ministers are to hold emergency talks by video conference on the crisis.

EU Transport Commissioner Siim Kallas said: “We cannot just wait until this ash cloud dissipates.”

Flying bans remained in place across much of Europe, with air-safety organization Eurocontrol saying that only 30% of scheduled European flights were expected to take place.

Some smaller airports reopened, and European officials hoped that flights could return to about 50 percent of normal on Monday if the skies were clearing.

European and international agencies were in urgent talks to try to ease the chaos, UK
Transport Secretary Andrew Adonis said. “We want to be able to resume flights as soon as possible, but safety remains my paramount concern,” he said.

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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Ryanair cancels flights till Wednesday

Ryanair cancels flights till Wednesday

Ryanair is cancelling all scheduled flights to/from the UK, Ireland, Scaninavia, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Poland and the Baltic States until 1300hrs on Wednesday due to the continuing emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere over Iceland.

Ryanair flights from Spain, the Canary and Baleric islands, the south of Italy (including Pisa, Rome, Sardinia and Sicily), Malta and North Africa will continue to operate just domestic and southbound routes. This advice is based on the current stable weather trends which continue to blow potentially dangerous volcanic ash across the British Isles, Scandinavia and Europe.

This decision has been taken by Ryanair in order to allow passengers to apply for a full refund or rebook onto flights later this week, when the airline hopes that improved/changed weather conditions may allow normal flight schedules to resume.

Announcing these further cancellations today, Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: “This spreading cloud of volcanic ash is unprecedented in Ryanair’s experience, and we are continuing to work around the clock to minimise its effects on our schedules and passengers. Ryanair’s flights in Spain, Southern Italy and Northern Africa will continue to operate Southbound and domestic routes.

“We hope that by cancelling all Ryanair flights over the above affected countries until at least 1300hrs on Wednesday 21st April next, we can give passengers as much notice as possible to allow them plenty of time to apply for refunds or rebook alternative Ryanair flights.

“We apologise sincerely to all Ryanair customers whose travel plans have been disrupted by these cancellations. We have teams of people sending email advisories to all passengers affected by these cancelled flights to give them as much notice as possible to allow them to change their travel plans. We hope that either the prevailing winds will have changed direction or the ash cloud will have dispersed sufficiently to allow flights to operate safely across the British Isles and Northern Europe by Wednesday afternoon next.

Ryanair will continue to monitor the situation closely and will release further flight info and travel advisories to intending passengers on our website at”

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Friday, April 16, 2010

Ryanair cancels all UK weekend flights

Ryanair cancels all UK weekend flights
Irish carrier Ryanair has cancelled all flights due for departure from the UK until Monday, as the cloud of volcanic ash from Iceland continues to spread across Europe.

With no sign of the potentially hazardous cloud abating, the airline has also decided to cancel all flights from Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, Northern France, Northern Germany, Poland and the Baltic States until 13:00 on April 19th.

Announcing the cancellations Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary said: “This spreading cloud of volcanic ash is an unprecedented event in Ryanair’s 26 year history, and we are continuing to work around the clock to minimise its effects on our schedules.

“All of Ryanair’s flights in central and Southern Continental Europe are operating as normal, but we cannot take any safety risks with our aircraft, passengers or people in the British Isles, Scandinavia or the Northern Europe coastline, as long as current meteorological forecasts suggest that the prevailing winds will continue to spread this volcanic ash across the airspace of these countries.”

The decision comes despite earlier suggestions from NATS British airspace may be able to reopen as early as 7:00 tomorrow morning.

Ryanair explained the decision has been taken in order to allow passengers to apply for a full refund or rebook onto flights operating later next week, when Ryanair hopes that improved weather conditions may allow normal flight services to resume.

“We hope that by cancelling all Ryanair flights over these affected countries until Monday, we can give passengers as much notice as possible to allow them to apply for refunds or rebook alternative Ryanair flights later next week, instead of – as has been the case for the last two days – allowing people to rebook on flights tomorrow, only to find that those rebooked flights are then cancelled as a result of this continuing volcanic ash problem,” concluded Mr O’Leary.
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Thursday, April 15, 2010

BMI pins hopes on £100m restructure to thwart break-up

BMI pins hopes on £100m restructure to thwart break-up

BMI expects a major restructuring programme will halve losses this year, and save the airline from imminent break up.

The £100m plan aims to reverse the fortunes of the UK-based carrier, which suffered a £156m loss last year. It will include 800 redundancies, cutting the aircraft fleet by 10 and axing unprofitable routes.

In his first interview since taking the reigns at the airline last October, Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, said the airline would be kept as a going concern.

“We have no intention of breaking up BMI. It will be here to stay,” he told a delegation of reporters in London.

However he added that he could not rule out a possible sale of BMI, which is owned by Lufthansa, in the long-term due to the volatility of the aviation industry.

“To say now the door is shut forever would be not right because there are so many combinations going on,” he added.

“Right now, the focus is on restructuring and then we’ll see what kind of opportunities arise later. We want to create a valuable asset for the Lufthansa group and the owner can always then make the assessment of what to do with this asset.”

Plans on the table include increasing flights to continental Europe and North America, although this was only an option at this stage.

If there airline were to broken up, British Airways would be one of the front runners. BA chief executive, Willie Walsh, is particularly keen on BMI’s 10 per cent of the take-off a landing slots at Heathrow, the highest number of any airline after BA.

Virgin Atlantic has also expressed an interest, and has held regular talks with Lufthansa about the future of BMI.

However Prock-Schauer said no talks were taking place at present as the group focuses on restructuring.

Prock-Schauer confirmed that, BMI had sold a number of slots to other airlines in the Lufthansa group, which includes Brussels Airlines, Austrian Airlines and Swiss.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Page appointed Emirates US sales manager

Page appointed Emirates US sales manager

Industry veteran Michael Page has been appointed as the new sales manager for the United States at Emirates Airline.

Mr Page, who has over 20 years experience in the airline and travel industry, has previously spent a number of years with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS), including time as the airline’s director of passenger sales for the Americas.

The role saw him developed and implemented new business strategies to increase SAS product awareness, revenue, market share and company profitability.

Page also held positions with the company including head of SAS sales for the UK and Ireland, business sales manager and key account manager.

Based in New York, Mr Page will report to James Baxter, Emirates’ vice president for North America.

Announcing the appointment Mr Baxter stated: “We are delighted to welcome Michael Page to the Emirates team.

“His proven track record in our competitive industry will be invaluable as Emirates continues on its path of international growth.”

A UK native, Michael Page received a BA with honours in business studies from the University of Bristol after receiving a Higher National Diploma in travel management from the University of Plymouth.


BA cabin crew receive pay hike despite strikes and record losses

BA cabin crew receive pay hike despite strikes and record losses

British Airways cabin crew received a 5 percent pay rise last year despite the flag carrier making record losses, and its rivals cutting or freezing salaries.

New figures released by the Civil Aviation Authority show that the average annual salary of BA’s 12,000 cabin crew rose to £31,400 last year, up 5 percent from £29,900 in 2008.

The findings comes as the airline has submitted new proposals on pay and staffing levels in a bid to avoid a third round of industrial action.

BA said that the recent round of strikes cost it £45 million as the carrier scrambled to book passengers onto other flights and hired outside planes and crew to boost services. This also resulted in 200,000 fewer passengers flying with the airline.

In this week’s staff newsletter, British Airways News, Chief Executive Willie Walsh said: “I very much hope that our customers are not once again disrupted by unnecessary action,” adding that he “genuinely” believes the new offer will be acceptable to cabin crew. “But I am confident that we are ready.”

Last year the airline lost £401 million and is forecast to lose a further £600 million this year. As part of its cost cutting programme, it aims to reduce cabin crew budgets.

It cut the number of crew on its long-haul services in November, prompting the union to make a ballot for strike action. It also gave hundreds voluntary redundancy but says it need to make further reductions in its battle for survival.

Unite must give a week’s notice of any new industrial action. The union also has to start a strike within 28 days of the last one, meaning that it would have to announce a walkout by April 20, unless British Airways agrees to extend the authority granted by the ballot.

Unite spokesman Andrew Murray said talks with British Airways were making “serious progress”, but neither the union nor BA would discuss terms of the proposals.

The level of BA cabin crew wages has been criticised within the industry. Virgin Atlantic’s crew had their pay frozen at £14,400, whilst bmi crew had a 6.5 per cent average reduction to £17,200. Thomas Cook and Monarch cut crew pay by about 13 per cent.

BA’s pilots are also amongst the best paid within the industry. Average salaries of BA pilots rose marginally last year to £108,400. This compared with a 10 per cent cut in pilot wages at easyJet, which paid an average of £64,500.

The CAA salary figures for 2009 include gross basic pay, overtime, flying bonuses and subsistence allowances.
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Sunday, April 11, 2010

China Airlines appoints new General Manager UK&Ireland

China Airlines has appointed Allen Sun as General Manager United Kingdom and Ireland to oversee operations of the first ever non-stop London-Taipei service, which launched on March 28th.

Sun brings a wealth of experience to the role having spent over 30 years with China Airlines. He comes to the UK from San Francisco, where he held the position of General Manager North West USA and is no stranger to Europe having held previous management posts in Italy, Germany and the UK.

Additional Taiwan based roles, including Assistant Vice President Marketing Planning and Assistant Vice President Corporate Planning, ensures Sun brings in-depth knowledge of the airline to the London based team.

Commenting on the appointment Philip Wei, Chairman China Airlines said “With his extensive European experience and intimate knowledge of the China Airlines product, Allen is the perfect candidate to lead the UK team at this exciting time of expansion for China Airlines.”

The new thrice-weekly route forms an historical link between the two countries as the first time that the UK has been connected by a non-stop service to Taiwan.

The route will offer passengers more flexibility in planning business or leisure trips to Taiwan and onward destinations including mainland China, Bali and Sydney.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Air India in $190m deal for SITA’s Horizon Passenger Services System

The National Aviation Company of India (NACIL) today announced that SITA, the aviation IT specialist, has been selected to provide its hosted Horizon Passenger Services System (PSS) to Air India on a turnkey basis following a global competitive tendering process. The deal with the 13.5 million passenger airline is valued at $190 million over ten years.

SITA’s Horizon platform provides hosted PSS services to 140 airlines boarding 120 million passengers and will be used to deliver a single airline code in order to allow the seamless integration of the former domestic carrier Indian Airlines with Air India for the first time since they merged in August 2007. Another early deliverable will be enabling Air India to meet the requirements for joining the Star Alliance.

In addition to the core Horizon PSS suite, SITA will also implement an efficient online booking engine, departure control system, check-in and automated boarding control, baggage reconciliation system (BRS) and a frequent flyer programme.

Arvind Jadhav, NACIL Chairman and Managing Director, said: “Implementation of the Horizon Passenger Services System will complete the merger of Air India with the former domestic carrier Indian Airlines, and enable us to align processes and systems to meet Star Alliance standards. Air India will then be able to leverage the complementary strengths and synergies of the single new carrier to the maximum, resulting in a more competitive, customer friendly and world class airline with significant improvement in our passenger yields.

“This will be achieved through maximum flexibility in our “Go to Market” strategy and provision of an easy–to-use booking engine by SITA which will provide us full control over our own ticket distribution and drastically reduce our distribution costs.”

Francesco Violante, SITA CEO, said: “It is a great honour for SITA to be the chosen technology partner of Air India as it begins in earnest the journey towards business transformation.

“SITA has been providing Air India with mission-critical services for more than 50 years, including network connectivity at all their domestic and international stations, check-in, air-to-ground communications, fares management and baggage tracing. Air India is now invited to join our Horizon Advisory Board which sets the strategic direction for SITA as it engages with Oracle and other partners to deliver a next generation Passenger Services System which will greatly benefit Air India as it exploits new technology and open systems architecture.”

This announcement follows the recent successful migration of two major Asian airlines to the SITA Reservations platform.

Four months ago SITA set a new industry benchmark with the smooth transition of the Kuala Lumpur-based, 14 million passenger carrier, Malaysia Airlines, to the SITA Reservations platform in an operation that took 13 hours and involved the successful transfer of almost 1.5 million passenger records.

Earlier this year, Sriwijaya Air, Indonesia’s six million passenger carrier, also announced the completion of a successful migration to SITA’s Horizon passenger management and distribution platform.

SITA, which has won substantial new business on the sub-continent in recent years, is leveraging its growing presence in India to the maximum for the benefit of the Air India project. SITA’s workforce in India along with its local partners – NIIT and Mindtree - now stands at almost 1,000 highly skilled personnel.

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Beijing set to overtake Heathrow as world’s second busiest airport.

Beijing Capital International is poised to overtake Heathrow as the world’s second busiest airport.

In the first two months of the year it handled more passengers than Heathrow - 5.3 million in February and 5.4 million in January, compared to 4.8 million and 4.6 million respectively at Heathrow.

Last year, Beijing handled only 500,000 fewer passengers behind Heathrow at 65.4 million people, making it the third-busiest airport in the world.

Atlanta, a hub for USA traffic, remains the world’s busiest airport.

Only a decade ago, Beijing did not appear in a list of the world’s 30 busiest airports. But a massive rise in domestic travel has led to a surge in passenger numbers at Beijing.

The airport has also benefited from a huge new terminal, which opened just before the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. The $3.5 billion Terminal 3 was designed by Norman Foster and is reputed to be the world’s third-largest building.

Heathrow’s Terminal 5, which opened in 2008, has increased its capacity significantly but the airport’s BAA has argued that to meet growing demand and compete with other international airports it needs a third runway.

BA makes “serious progress” with cabin crew

British Airways has headed off a third round of industrial action by cabin crew next week as talks with unions attempting to resolve changes in working practices make “serious progress”.

Tony Woodley, the joint leader of Unite, confirmed talks with the airline would continue over the next few days. It is the first time the two sides have met since the seven-day strike last month, which grounded hundreds of flights and cost the airline £45 million.

Unite had threatened a third walkout from April 14, but according to sources at The Times no new dates would be set with negotiations to continue over the coming days.

Woodley said: “I am pleased that some serious progress has been made over the issues which have divided us.

“However, there is more work to be done, and further discussions will take place with the company over the next few days. I reported to representatives of our cabin crew today and explained that it would be unnecessary to set further strike dates while these talks are continuing and making progress.”

Union says that BA make an offer that is at least as good as the one withdrawn on March 12 when Unite announced strike dates. It also insists that travel concessions withdrawn from striking cabin crew members must be reinstated as part of any deal.

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