British Airways announces resumption of flights to mainland China

After a two-year absence, British Airways has announced it will resume flights between the UK and mainland China. Tickets have gone on sale for flights to Shanghai from 23 April and Beijing from 3 June.

Noella Ferns: We can’t wait to welcome our customers back to Shanghai and Beijing

British Airways first flew to China in 1980 and continued to do so until the pandemic.

The airline has been working to reintroduce these important routes to enable passengers to resume trips to and beyond these crucial destinations.

  • From 23 April, flights will operate daily between London Heathrow and Shanghai Pudong International Airport – flight numbers BA168 and BA169.
  • From 3 June, flights will operate four times per week between London Heathrow and the new Beijing Daxing Airport – flight numbers BA88 and BA89.

Noella Ferns, British Airways’ Head of Sales, Asia Pacific, said:

We can’t wait to welcome our customers back on board our flights from Shanghai and Beijing. We know they’ve been looking forward to reuniting with family and friends, coming to study in the UK and resuming business between China and the UK.

We have an incredibly rich history of flying to mainland China, having connected the two countries for more than 40 years. We look forward to resuming these routes again.

In a statement, the airline said “safety has always been at the heart of everything British Airways does and the airline has a number of measures in place at the airport and on board to look after the safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew. The air on all British Airways’ flights is fully recycled once every two to three minutes through HEPA filters, which remove microscopic bacteria and virus clusters with more than 99.9% efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards. Additionally, British Airways always follows local regulations to ensure customers experience safe and smooth travel.

Shanghai and Beijing flights are now available to book through Global Travel Management.

The last ever 747 delivered to its customer by Boeing

Boeing and Atlas Air Worldwide joined thousands of people – including current and former employees as well as customers and suppliers – to celebrate the delivery of the final 747 to Atlas, bringing to a close more than a half century of production.

Boeing employees who designed and built the first 747, known as the “Incredibles,” returned to be honored at the Everett factory where the journey of the 747 began in 1967. The factory produced 1,574 airplanes over the life of the program.

Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said

This monumental day is a testament to the generations of Boeing employees who brought to life the airplane that ‘shrank the world,’ and revolutionized travel and air cargo as the first widebody. It is fitting to deliver this final 747-8 Freighter to the largest operator of the 747, Atlas Air, where the ‘Queen’ will continue to inspire and empower innovation in air cargo.

John Dietrich, president and chief executive officer, Atlas Air Worldwide said

We are honored to continue our long history of flying this iconic aircraft for our customers around the world. Atlas Air was founded over 30 years ago with a single 747-200 converted freighter, and since then, we have spanned the globe operating nearly every fleet type of the 747, including the Dreamlifter, Boeing’s 747 Large Cargo Freighter, for the transport of 787 Dreamliner parts. We are grateful to Boeing for their shared commitment to safety, quality, innovation and the environment, and for their partnership to ensure the continued success of the 747 program as we operate the aircraft for decades to come.

As the first twin-aisle airplane and “jumbo jet,” the “Queen of the Skies” enabled airlines to connect people across vast distances and provide non-stop trans-oceanic flights.

Its development solidified Boeing’s role as an industry leader in commercial aviation. The aeroplane’s core design with its distinctive hump and seating in the upper deck has delighted generations of passengers and operators alike.

Boeing continued to improve on the original design with models like the 747-400 in 1988 and the final 747-8 model that was launched in 2005; across all the models, the jet has delivered unmatched operating economics and efficiency to travel and air cargo markets.

As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial aeroplanes, defence products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries.

More than two-thirds of business travellers want to increase their use of lower carbon modes of transport

New research by rail booking company Trainline has revealed more than two-thirds (72%) of UK business travellers surveyed would like to take a higher proportion of trips in 2023 by lower carbon modes of transport, such as rail.

More than six in ten business travellers also expressed concern as to their carbon footprint from business travel in 2022.

Champa Magesh:
usiness travellers are increasingly thinking about their carbon footprint”

More than half (53%) of the respondents stated their volume of business trips in 2022 was either similar to, or higher than, the number they took annually pre-pandemic.

In 2023, sustainability will ultimately be an important consideration for more than three-quarters (78%) of business travellers.

Trainline states that the survey results demonstrate the potential for changing behaviours when it comes to business travel, with clear support for using alternative travel options.

The research of 1,004 UK employees who travel for business (not commuting) was conducted by independent research company Censuswide in January 2023.

Champa Magesh, President at Trainline Partner Solutions, said,

We’re seeing a societal shift in the increasing importance people place on sustainability, which is naturally crossing over into their working lives. As this survey shows, this means business travellers are increasingly thinking about their carbon footprint, and likewise businesses are examining how travel contributes to their carbon disclosures. The good news is rail provides a natural answer to these challenges, offering a sustainable option to travellers and businesses alike.

Global Travel Management offers a full travel management service, including domestic and international rail.

Scott Pawley, Managing Director of GTM, said,

It’s great to see more travellers looking to increase their use of lower carbon transport like rail.  We’re happy to support all our customers by helping to plan, book, amend and service bookings on their domestic UK rail journeys as well as high speed, international rail trips across Europe and beyond. 

For businesses looking to reduce their environmental impact, GTM provides a comprehensive programme of reporting as well as the ability to plant trees which sequester carbon from the atmosphere. The GTM Carbon Offset Programme was introduced to enable business travellers to monitor and offset carbon emissions from flights. It has now been enhanced to include rail travel as well as car hire and hotel rooms.

Scott Pawley added,

Our customers are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint.  And many are determined to take the necessary action to address their carbon emissions and reduce their impact.  So we’re delighted that the GTM Carbon Offset Programme now enables business travellers to offset the carbon emissions from rail travel, as well as flights.  

You can learn more about the GTM Carbon Offset Programme in the article below.

easyJet appoint new Group People Director

easyJet has announced that it has appointed Jane Storm to join the airline as Group People Director in the spring.

Jane Storm

Jane will succeed Ella Bennett who has decided to leave easyJet after nearly five years at the airline.

Jane will join easyJet from Saga Group where she is currently Chief People Officer.

Prior to Saga, Jane built her career in HR and retail at Tesco where she worked in a variety of roles over a period of 19 years.

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said,

I am really pleased that Jane will be joining easyJet. Jane has experience of working in international plc businesses and brings with her strong transformation skills and commercial acumen alongside a strong focus on culture, talent and succession planning.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Ella for her huge contribution, commitment and passion over the past five years at easyJet.

Air France unveils the names of its seventeen partner chefs

To mark the Bocuse d’Or 2023 event of which Air France is an official partner from in January 2023, the airline has unveiled the names of the renowned chefs with whom it will be working this year.

In 2023, seventeen talented chefs promoting French excellence will take turns to sign exceptional dishes in La Première and Business and in airport lounges over the coming months.

By partnering with so many distinguished names in the world of cuisine, Air France is reasserting its role as ambassador of French fine dining around the world.

The airline plans to introduce its customers to the quality and diversity of France’s gastronomic heritage, as part of an increasingly responsible approach, by focusing on fresh, seasonal and local produce and a systematic choice of vegetarian dish in all travel cabins.

Air France designs these menus with the help of some of the most prestigious chefs with the expertise of its catering partner, Servair, a global leader in in-flight dining and its culinary Studio.

On board long-haul flights from Paris, French Michelin-starred chefs Arnaud Lallement, Régis Marcon, Anne-Sophie Pic, Emmanuel Renaut and Michel Roth will this year take turns to sign exclusive dishes for Air France on the La Première and Business cabin menus.

For the first time, Mauro Colagreco and Thierry Marx will also be contributing their unique skills to this exceptional team of chefs. With vegetarian compositions, red and white meats from France, and fish from sustainable fishing, all the chefs are committed to showcasing the local produce of their regions in France and sharing their culinary heritage and passion.

In the La Première suites, the company’s most exclusive travel cabins, the Meilleur Ouvrier de France pastry chefs Philippe Urraca and for the first time Angelo Musa will bring an elegant and sweet touch to the menus in this cabin worthy of the finest restaurants.

Air France also continues to offer menus signed by top French chefs on long-haul flights departing from airports worldwide. The company continues to work with the triple Michelin-starred chef Julien Royer in the La Première and Business cabins on departure from Singapore. Originally from Auvergne, Julien Royer is at the helm of the Odette and Claudine restaurants in Singapore.

On departure from Reunion Island, in the Business cabin, the menus are designed by chef Jofrane Dailly from Reunion Island, who works at the Diana Dea Lodge in Sainte-Anne.

In 2023, Air France will offer menus created by chef Olivier Perret on flights departing from Air France’s destinations in Canada (Montreal, Toronto, Quebec and Vancouver). He will focus on offering French gastronomy with fresh ingredients for menus in the Business cabin. Originally from Burgundy, the chef also presides at the restaurant Le Renoir at the Sofitel Montréal Le Carré Doré.

Air France intends to further develop its partnership with these exceptional signature chefs, notably on departure from the French Caribbean, USA and Japan.

On its medium-haul network, in the Business cabin, Servair corporate chef François Adamski, Meilleur Ouvrier de France and Bocuse d’Or winner, offers the lunch or dinner dishes served on board all year round.

Air France also collaborates with several chefs in its Paris airport lounges.

At Paris-Charles de Gaulle, the Alain Ducasse teams have thus created dishes for the Air France La Première lounge. And in the other lounges located in terminal 2 E (halls K, L and M), Ducasse Paris regularly unveils new dishes to be enjoyed among the entire offer. In the lounge located in terminal 2F, François Adamski teams up with talented chefs to sign innovative, seasonal menus. Following in the footsteps of Chloé Charles, Amandine Chaignot will be illustrating her talent for the company’s customers. At Paris-Orly, Guy Martin, who is used to signing the menus served on board Air France flights, will for the first time sign a dish on offer in the long-haul lounge at Orly 3. Finally, in the short-haul lounge at Orly 2, customers will be able to continue to enjoy the choux pastries signed by pastry chef Philippe Urraca.

Currently, on all its flights departing from Paris, Air France commits to offering 100% French meat, dairy produce and eggs as well as fish from sustainable fisheries in all its travel cabins and its lounges at Paris airports. The airline offers a selection of fresh, local and seasonal products. A vegetarian option is also available in all cabins and dishes are systematically labelled with Nutri-Score A or B certification in Economy and Premium Economy cabins. In addition, kids and infants’ menus are exclusively made from organically sourced products.

Air France is also committed to recycling and eliminating 90% of single-use plastic on board its aircraft by the end or March 2023. On board its flights, the company continues to roll out plastic-free containers including paper cups, small dishes made from cellulose, serving dishes made of bagasse and Kraft paper “Bon Appétit” bags. On the ground and on board flights, the company pays particular attention to the selective sorting and recycling of catering items. In accordance with French regulations, it also provides its customers with water fountains in its lounges in France. In its fight against food waste, Air France also offers its long-haul Business customers the possibility to pre-select their hot dish prior to departure. This service combines the guarantee of customer choice and a more rational consumption.

Gatwick arrival: Greggs

London Gatwick Airport is set to welcome its first Greggs store this summer, with the leading food-on-the-go retailer landing at South Terminal arrivals.

Opening this summer, it will be the first Greggs store at a London airport, providing passengers, staff and commuters with a range of products including the chain’s famous Sausage Roll, Vegan Sausage Roll and Steak Bake.

Customers will also be able to purchase a variety of breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, sweet treats and Fairtrade coffee.

Pam McCarthy, Director of Retail, Gatwick Airport said

Greggs will be a fantastic addition to the South Terminal at Gatwick, providing arriving passengers with a great taste of Britain, or a warm ‘welcome home’.

Situated immediately opposite the arrivals gates, the store will also be ideally located for those using the newly refurbished Gatwick Airport train station to grab a coffee or quick breakfast on their way to work, and for those awaiting the return of loved ones from a trip abroad.

Greggs celebrated its 400th franchise shop opening in October 2022 and has an ambitious target to reach 3,000 shops in the UK.

Greggs Outlet shops are an initiative set up in 1972 to support socially deprived areas and to redistribute unsold food items. The 30th Greggs Outlet shop opened in London in December 2022.

Gillian Long, Retail Operations Director, Greggs said:

We’re excited to be opening a shop at Gatwick Airport’s South Terminal, bringing local jobs to the area as well as providing customers with a modern, convenient new place to experience their favourite Greggs food.

Greggs will be the first new food and beverage outlet to open at Gatwick Airport in 2023. Other food outlets available at the airport include Cafe Nero, Costa, Itsu, Nando’s, Pret a Manger, Shake Shake, Starbucks, Wagamama and many more.

Emirates to expand mainland China operations, resumes passenger services to Shanghai and Beijing

Emirates will ramp up its operations in China ahead of the New Lunar Year in response to strong travel demand, boosting connectivity to its gateways Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing as the country reopens its borders and eases its Covid-related entry restrictions.

Shanghai: service resumption from 20 January 2023 with twice weekly service, gradually increasing to daily service from 1 March

Emirates will resume passenger services to Shanghai starting with two weekly flights operated by an Airbus A380 aircraft from 20 January 2023, with EK302 departing from Dubai to Shanghai non-stop and EK303 making a short stop in Bangkok before returning to Dubai. This service will ramp up in frequency to four weekly flights operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from 02 February 2023.

Emirates will further boost its Dubai-Shanghai route from 1 March 2023 with a daily non-stop service.

Guangzhou: daily nonstop from 1 February 2023

Emirates currently operates a non-stop flight from Dubai to Guangzhou as EK362, and a return flight from Guangzhou to Dubai via Bangkok as EK363, four times a week.

Starting from 1 February 2023, the airline will increase services between Dubai and Guangzhou with EK362/EK363 operating as daily non-stop flights with the flagship Emirates A380.

Beijing: service resumption from 15 March 2023

Operated by a three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, Emirates’ flight EK308/ EK307 will return to China’s capital city Beijing with a daily non-stop service from Dubai, starting from 15 March 2023.

This will bring the airline’s operations in the market up to 21 weekly flights, providing increased choice and flexibility for business travellers.

Emirates has been serving China for nearly two decades and has established its presence in the Chinese market through strategic partnerships and a continued commitment to the local community throughout the pandemic.

Emirates offers travellers increased connectivity to 24 domestic points via Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai,  as well as six regional points via Guangzhou through its partnership with China Southern Airline, while simultaneously providing its partner-airline’s customers access to six destinations within the Middle East and Africa regions.

Travellers can also benefit from Emirates’ existing interline agreements with Air China, China Eastern and Cathay Pacific to access even more domestic Chinese cities.

The Emirates A380 experience remains highly sought after by travellers offering fourteen First Class suites, 76 lie-flat seats in Business Class and 426 ergonomically designed seats in Economy Class.

The airline states that “customers travelling to and from Guangzhou can look forward to enjoying its spacious and comfortable cabins, signature products that offer travellers the best experiences in the sky like the Onboard Lounge, First Class suites and Shower Spa. Customers travelling to and from Shanghai and Beijing can benefit from Emirates’ award-winning service and industry-leading products on board the airline’s three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which offers eight private suites in First Class, 42 lie flat seats in Business Class and 304 spacious seats in Economy Class”.

London Gatwick serves 32.8 million passengers in 2022, up from 6.3 million in 2021

Annual traffic results published by VINCI Airports show that London Gatwick Airport served 32.8 million passengers in 2022, which represents 71% of 2019 numbers.  This follows the airport welcoming only 6.3 million passengers in 2021.

Gatwick Airport’s strong recovery is further evidenced by its increased long-haul connectivity, with the airport now serving 42 global routes – 68% of the number flown pre-pandemic.

The airport’s long-haul network was recently boosted by an announcement Air India will fly to four new destinations – Goa, Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Kochi (Cochin).

Delta Air Lines also returns to Gatwick, flying the airport’s fourth daily flight to New York, while British Airways will operate new routes to Vancouver, Georgetown and Las Vegas this summer, in addition to their services to the Caribbean, North and Central America, the Middle East and Mauritius.

Jonathan Pollard, Chief Commercial Officer, London Gatwick Airport said:

Today’s figures are extremely positive and clearly show London Gatwick’s continued strong recovery. We still have some way to go but we’re looking forward to welcoming even more passengers this year, including those flying to our growing choice of long-haul destinations.

There were 213,952 total aircraft movements at London Gatwick in 2022, which is 76% of the number in 2019 (281,000).  52,000 aircraft arrived or departed the airport in 2021.

London Gatwick Airport welcomes Air India with four new long-haul routes

London Gatwick, part of VINCI Airports’ network, is set to welcome its latest new airline this summer, with Air India announcing four new routes to Goa, Ahmedabad, Amritsar and Kochi (Cochin), starting from 26 March.

These new routes strengthen established, strong community links between the UK – particularly London – and India. 

The Indian flag carrier will be operating 12 flights a week between London and the four Indian destinations on 787-8 aircraft, with 256 seats across business and economy classes. These include:

  • Three flights a week to Goa, on the western coast of India, famed for its beaches and Portuguese heritage
  • Three flights a week to Ahmedabad, in western India, and the largest city in the state of Gujarat
  • Three weekly flights to Amritsar, the second largest city in the state of Punjab in north-western India
  • Three flights a week to Kochi (Cochin), a major port city on the south-western coast, known as the financial, commercial and industrial capital of Kerala

Tickets for these new flights are now on sale.

These new services reflect VINCI Airports’ commitment to serve communities and sustain business growth by developing air connectivity. They also highlight Gatwick’s competitiveness to attract vital new routes.

Stewart Wingate, Chief Executive Officer, Gatwick Airport said:

The arrival of Air India and its four routes to London Gatwick is fantastic news for the airport and passengers across London and the south-east.

India not only offers wonderful cities and beach destinations to explore but provides a wealth of opportunities for businesses and wider connectivity. These connections are also hugely important to our local and regional communities, with people looking to visit family and friends across India.

The first retrofitted Emirates A380 enters service

The first Emirates A380 to be completely refurbished under the airline’s $2 billion retrofit programme has been deployed today on the Dubai-London Heathrow service, operating as EK003.

Below, you can see a timelapse video of the retrofit work done on A6-EVM, the first of 120 Emirates aircraft to have completed its refurbishment.

Emirates A380 retrofit

Sir Tim Clark, President Emirates Airline said:

Customers will notice the difference the moment they step onboard – the spacious A380 will look and feel even more impressive and comfortable.

With our latest interiors and products, this newly refurbished aircraft elevates our inflight experience in all classes of travel, and enables us to offer more Premium Economy seats to meet customer demand.

I’m particularly proud that this refurbishment work was designed, conducted and completed inhouse at our facilities in Dubai, to the highest standards of quality and safety. It reflects the world-class aviation capabilities and infrastructure that exists within Emirates, and here in the UAE.

Refreshed: Emirates A380 shower spa includes a hand-stencilled Prosopis cineraria – the ghaf tree – motif

The fully refreshed A380 features Emirates’ latest products and interiors across all cabins, including 56 Premium Economy class seats on the main deck, and new colour palettes evident in the carpeting and wall panels.

Comfort: Emirates A380 has a new, lighter colour palette and beautifully-refurbished, leather-clad seating

On the upper deck, First and Business Class seats sport Emirates’ latest cream-coloured leather upholstery and lighter-toned wood finishing, similar to the airline’s.

Emirates’ signature ghaf tree motif also features prominently throughout the interiors, including hand-stencilled panels in the First Class Shower Spa.

Onboard Lounge: “sometimes it’s hard to believe you’re on a plane”

The next Emirates A380 aircraft lined up for its make-over is A6-EUW, and work is expected to be completed by the end of this month.

As the program progresses, engineers will work simultaneously on two aircraft. This means that one aircraft in the fleet will be withdrawn from service every eight days and transferred to Emirates Engineering facilities. By 2024, all 67 A380s assigned for refurbishment will have returned to service. Emirates will then begin work on its 53 Boeing 777s earmarked for this project. The airline expects to complete the programme in 2025.

To deliver the largest known aircraft refurbishment program in aviation history, Emirates recruited 190 new project personnel, and is working with 48 major partners and suppliers who have also hired hundreds of skilled workers.

Teams of engineers and technicians have worked round the clock, taking apart the entire interior of the A380 and refitting the parts again in a carefully planned and tested sequence.