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United kicks off largest transatlantic expansion in its history

United Airlines has kicked off the launch of its largest transatlantic expansion in its history, in anticipation of a strong recovery in European travel.

Patrick Quayle: We have long anticipated a strong demand recovery

In total, United will launch or resume 30 transatlantic flights from mid-April to early June. This includes adding new nonstop flights to five destinations no other North American airline serves including Amman, Jordan; Bergen, Norway; Azores, Portugal; Palma de Mallorca, Spain and Tenerife in the Spanish Canary Islands.

The airline is also launching five new nonstop flights to some of Europe’s most popular business and tourist hubs including London, Milan, Zurich, Munich and Nice. United is also resuming fourteen Atlantic routes the airline has historically served and adding frequencies in six others.

United’s transatlantic route network will be more than 25% larger than it was in 2019.

With this expansion, United will serve more transatlantic destinations than every other U.S. carrier combined and will be the largest airline across the Atlantic for the first time in history.

Patrick Quayle, senior vice president of international network and alliances at United said,

We have long anticipated a strong demand recovery, evidenced by our large, strategic expansion in Europe, and with these new flights, we’re proud to offer our customers more options and access than ever before. United continues to leverage its leading global network in new and exciting ways to help our customers make meaningful memories and experience new cultures around the world.

In light of the increased demand for European travel, United is also launching new services to some of Europe’s most iconic cities, including:

  • New daily flights between Boston and London Heathrow, which began on 14 April, and is United’s only trans-oceanic point-to-point flight from Boston. This flight complements United’s nonstop service to London Heathrow from all seven of United’s hubs.
  • New daily flights between Denver and Munich, which began April 23 and joins existing service from Denver to Frankfurt and London. United is the only U.S. airline to offer transatlantic service from Denver.
  • New daily flights between Chicago and Zurich, which began April 23. United now offers more nonstop service between Switzerland and the U.S. than any other U.S. airline, and is the only U.S. airline with nonstop service to Geneva.
  • New daily flights between New York/Newark and Nice, beginning April 29. United will offer more premium seats to Nice than any other U.S. carrier.
  • New daily flights between Chicago and Milan, beginning May 6, joining existing seasonal flights between Chicago and Rome. United will be the only airline to offer nonstop service between Chicago and Milan, adding to its existing service between New York/Newark and Milan.

In addition to these new flights, United is increasing service to popular European travel destinations, including:

  • Second daily flights between New York/Newark and Dublin, which began 23 April.
  • Second daily flights between Denver and London Heathrow, beginning 7 May.
  • Second daily flight between New York/Newark and Frankfurt, beginning 26 May.
  • Second flight between New York/Newark and Rome five times weekly, beginning 27 May.
  • Adding a third daily flight between San Francisco and London Heathrow and increasing service between New York/Newark and London Heathrow to seven daily flights, beginning 28 May. With this additional service, United will offer 22 daily nonstop flights from the U.S. to London Heathrow.

To help generate excitement about these new routes, earlier this month United launched two unique out of home campaigns, including digital billboards in downtown Boston to highlight the airline’s new Boston-London Heathrow service. United also teamed up with Saks Fifth Avenue for a series of window displays featuring fashion inspired by United’s five unique transatlantic routes.

In addition to these European routes, United is also growing its presence in Africa as part of this transatlantic expansion. On 8 May, United will increase its service to offer daily flights between Washington/Dulles and Accra, Ghana. The airline will also extend its existing seasonal service to Cape Town to year-round, with nonstop flights from New York/Newark resuming 5 June, subject to government approval.

London City Airport predicts strong passenger recovery in 2022

London City Airport expects pent up passenger demand to fuel a surge in growth in 2022, with the introduction of new routes and the return of top-selling destinations, resulting in more than three quarters of 2019 routes operating at the airport this year.

The prediction follows the announcement of a busy summer schedule for British Airways, the airport’s biggest customer, and the easing of Covid restrictions, which is helping to fuel a return to business and leisure travel.

Flights to Milan, one of the airport’s top performing routes, and which alone carried 275,000 passengers from the centre of London to the centre of Milan in 2019, will be reinstated this year.

Barcelona will return to the London City network for the first time in almost a decade, while new routes such as Thessaloniki join established summer favourites like Split, Mykonos and Faro.

The upturn in confidence at the airport reflects the easing of travel restrictions and the proactive role London City Airport has played to work with and support its airline partners as the industry looks to bounce back from the worst of the pandemic.

Business traffic will be further strengthened in 2022 with British Airways moving the majority of its Luxembourg traffic to London City Airport, to complement the five daily flights soon to be offered by Luxair.

The impact of Covid-19 can be seen in the airport’s 2021 results. 714,000 passengers used London City, down 21% on 2020 and 86% on 2019. However, in the first six months of the year, when extensive global travel restrictions were in place, the airport handled only 75,184 passengers. In the last six months, as restrictions were eased, 638,785 passengers used the airport and very strong month on month growth was achieved.

Business travel returned strongly on all domestic routes in 2021, with Edinburgh the best performer. Internationally, Amsterdam was the airport’s busiest route, with KLM growing to four rotations per day in the autumn, with high passenger load factors. Other key business routes have included Zurich and Geneva, operated by SWISS and Frankfurt, operated by Lufthansa.

In October and November last year, business travel accounted for over 46% of all London City Airport journeys, which was the total year average in 2019. Between late September and late November, over 30,000 passengers used the airport each week, peaking at 37,000 in late October.

The announcement of additional testing and self-isolation requirements by Government to combat the Omicron variant saw passenger demand fall by 40% in December.

Commenting on the year ahead and on the 2021 passenger figures, airport CEO Robert Sinclair said:

At the start of the pandemic we made a conscious decision to work with and support our airlines, as we recognised they were facing the same challenges as we were. Investing in these relationships in the hard times has facilitated what we believe will be a strong bounce back starting with a really exciting summer schedule from London City.

2021 was certainly tough for everyone. However, despite predictions from some to the contrary, we did see the emergence of positive business travel trends, which we believe will continue in 2022 and will be so critical for the economic recovery of London and the UK more widely.

I am optimistic that the restrictions that remain today, particularly for vaccinated passengers, will be eased and in time, removed altogether so we can return to the simple and affordable ways of flying before the pandemic.

London City will be a huge asset for London in the years ahead and we look forward to welcoming more passengers and building relationships with new airlines so we can connect the capital to more destinations and opportunities across the world.

Uneven effect of Covid-19 shakes up the lists of busiest airports

Airports Council International (ACI) World has published its preliminary world airport traffic rankings – covering passenger traffic and aircraft movements for 2020 – showing the dramatic impact of Covid-19 on what are ordinarily the world’s busiest airports.

Global passenger traffic at the world’s top 10 busiest airports decreased by 45.7% in 2020. Overall, passenger traffic at the world’s airports decreased by 64.6% which shows that the impact of the pandemic and the early stages of recovery in air travel has not been uniform around the world.

According to the preliminary data, Guangzhou Bai Yun International Airport in China recorded the most passenger traffic in 2020, with Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in the United States just behind.

Seven of the top 10 airports for passenger traffic are in China with three in the United States. In most cases, domestic air travel is beginning a modest rebound while international air travel remained depressed because of travel restrictions.

Luis Felipe de Oliveira, Director General of ACI World said,

The impact of the COVID-19 on global passenger traffic pandemic brought aviation to a virtual standstill in 2020 and we continue to face threat. The data reveals the challenge airports continue to face and it remains imperative that the industry is supported through direct support and sensible policy decisions from governments to ensure that aviation can endure, rebuild connectivity, and fuel a global economic recovery.

The findings show that the impact remains uneven with different regions experiencing different challenges and requiring different policy decisions and support from governments to lay the foundation for recovery.

With some positive signs of recovery, especially in countries with high rates of vaccination, a sustained global recovery will only be realized with an escalation of vaccination campaigns, the continued development of digital health passes, and coordinated and cohesive policy support from governments.

Air cargo was less impacted by COVID 19, with volumes decreasing by only 8.9%, to an estimated 109 million metric tonnes in 2020, equivalent to 2016 levels (110 million metric tonnes).

For airports, revenues are tightly correlated to traffic levels but, like many other capital-intensive businesses, a large proportion of airport costs remain fixed and do not fall at the same level as traffic throughput and revenues during the crisis. Even with reduced operations, the closure of terminals and staff layoffs, this imbalance remains.

Airports in China occupied seven of the top ten positions in 2020. Atlanta slipped to second position, having seen a reduction in passenger traffic of 61.2%. Chengdu and Shenzen both moved up 21 places, Kunming 29, Xi’an 30 while Shanghai moved up 37 places.
Dubai retained its position as the world’s busiest international airport in 2020. Amsterdam and Heathrow swapped places. Istanbul and Doha both moved up eight positions in the table.

British Airways demonstrates Covid-19 safety at the airport and on board

British Airways has released a video highlighting the measures introduced at the airport and onboard to keep customers safe during the pandemic.

In the video Head of Global Sales Mark Muren interviews Dr Mike Harrigan, British Airways’ medical lead, on the measures in place including:

  • Asking customers to check-in online, download their boarding pass and where possible self-scan their boarding passes at the departure gate
  • Requiring customers to wear a facemask at all times and bringing enough to replace them every four hours for longer flights
  • Social distancing markers and hand sanitiser stations placed throughout airports
  • New ordering system in lounges to reduce contact
  • Cabin crew wearing PPE and a new food service, which reduces the number of interactions required with customers
  • Providing customers with a personal protection pack including a sealable disposal bag, hand sanitising gel and an antibacterial wipe.
  • Enhanced cleaning measures and HEPA filters

They also discuss the latest research from IATA which showed that since the start of 2020 there have been just 44 cases of COVID-19 reported in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight (that includes confirmed, probable and potential cases). Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled, which is just one case for every 27 million travellers.

If you have any questions about Covid-19 safety at airports or on board, or if you simply want to discuss your plans for your next British Airways flight, please contact your GTM Account Manager.

British Airways brings back more flights in August

Throughout August, British Airways is resuming flying to more destinations.

In Europe the airline will resume flights to Bari, Bastia, Bodrum, Bordeaux, Catania, Figari, Frankfurt, Genoa, Kefalonia, Lyon, Luxembourg, Malta, Paphos and Pula, while further afield Antigua, Islamabad and Nairobi join the long-haul line-up.

Frankfurt, Nairobi and Luxembourg are all among cities to which British Airways will be increasing flights this month.

Flights currently start from as little as £31 each way to Europe. Customers whose flights were affected over recent months and who claimed a voucher can use it towards the flights. Alternatively, Avios can also be used towards Reward flights, upgrades, hotels and car rental. When using Avios part payment, customers can pick from a range of savings by destination and cabin and they still collect Avios and Tier Points on their booking.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman and CEO, said:

We’re gradually returning to more of our network and will be flying to some great holiday destinations over the summer with seats from as little as £31 each way.

We know people want to be able to book with confidence, so we’ve introduced a range of flexible booking options to set their minds at rest, such as being able to change a booking free of charge or cancel and receive a voucher for travel at a later date.

British Airways’ has introduced a range of measures, which it requires customers and crew to abide by. These include:

  • Checking-in online, downloading their boarding pass and where possible self-scanning their boarding passes at the departure gate
  • Observing social distancing and using hand sanitisers that are placed throughout airports
  • Wearing a facemask at all times and bringing enough to replace them every four hours for longer flights
  • Asking customers not to travel if they think they have any symptoms of Covid-19
  • Cabin crew wearing PPE and a new food service, which reduces the number of interactions required with customers
  • Asking customers to ensure they have everything they need from their hand luggage before departure, and where possible, storing their carry-on bag under the seat in front of them

The airline is cleaning all key surfaces including seats, screens, seat buckles and tray tables after every flight and each aircraft is completely cleaned from nose to tail every day. 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 over 99.9% efficiency, equivalent to hospital operating theatre standards.

If your business travel plans take you to cities served by British Airways, contact your GTM Account Manager for the latest schedules, fares and availability.

United reinstates some international flights…

United Airlines has announced it will continue to fly six daily operations to and from a number of destinations in Europe, Asia, Australia, South America and the Middle East “in an effort to get customers where they need to be.

The airline has describe the situation as “fluid” but claims that “United continues to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world, especially in these challenging times”.

United Airlines flights continuing until and through May:

  • Newark/New York – Frankfurt (Flights 960/961)
  • Newark/New York – London (Flights 16/17)
  • Newark/New York – Tel Aviv (Flights 90/91)
  • Houston – Sao Paulo (Flights 62/63)
  • San Francisco – Tokyo-Narita (Flights 837/838)
  • San Francisco – Sydney (Flights 863/870)

In addition to the above, United Airlines has reinstated the following flights to help displaced customers who still need to get home.

Flights through until 27 March, outbound

  • Newark/New York – Amsterdam (Flights 70/71)
  • Newark/New York – Munich (Flights 30/31)
  • Newark/New York – Brussels (Flights 999/998)
  • Washington-Dulles – London (Flights 918/919)
  • San Francisco – Frankfurt (Flights 58/59)
  • Newark/New York – Sao Paulo (Flights 149/148)

Flights until 29 March, outbound

  • San Francisco – Seoul (Flights 893/892)

In destinations where government actions have barred the airline from flying, United Airlines are looking for ways to bring customers who have been impacted by travel restrictions back to the United States. This includes working with the U.S. State Department and the local governments to gain permission to operate service.

If you need help planning how to get home, contact your GTM Account Manager.

South African Airways announces plans to close regional, international routes from 29 February

SAA has announced a tranche of urgent measures to conserve cashflow, including the axing of several regional and international routes from the end of February 2020.

SAA will close the following regional and international services from Johannesburg to Abidjan via Accra, Entebbe, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, Luanda, Munich, Ndola, and Sao Paulo. But will continue to operate all international services between Johannesburg and Frankfurt, London Heathrow, New York, Perth and Washington via Accra.

On the domestic route network, SAA will continue to serve Cape Town on a reduced basis. But all other domestic destinations, including Durban, East London and Port Elizabeth, will cease to be operated by SAA on 29 February 2020.

Domestic routes operated by Mango will not be affected by the changes.

The flight schedule for the rest of February 2020 remains unchanged and the airline states that it “does not intend to make any further significant network changes”.

Your chance to try a short-haul flight on an A380…

British Airways is currently flying its new Airbus A380 aircraft between London Heathrow and Frankfurt on selected flights.

The aircraft’s official inaugural flight is on Tuesday 24th September between London Heathrow and LAX. In the meantime, grab your chance of flying on the A380 in Europe. Please call us for further information.

Pilots of Air Dolomiti plan four-hour strike on Wednesday

Bloomberg News reported pilots of Air Dolomiti, an Italian regional airline and partner of Lufthansa, are planning a four-hour strike on 29 May, to protest the dismissal of four crew members and to express concern for the future of the airline.

Air Dolomiti, which provides services from Frankfurt, Munich and Moscow mostly to cities in northern Italy, faces a work stoppage of pilots who are members of the UGL Trasporti Union from noon to 4 pm, local time, on Wednesday, for all flights departing from Italy.

Some connections may experience delays or cancellations.