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British Airways touches down in Islamabad

British Airways today landed in to Islamabad as it began its first service between the UK and Pakistan in 10 years.

Crowds greeted the aircraft in Islamabad as both the Union Flag and Pakistan’s national flag were waved from the cockpit roof hatch. British Airways has officially opened an office in Islamabad for the airline’s local dedicated team, which is testament to the investment the airline is making in the country.

On board the first flight from London was Andrew Brem, Chief Commercial Officer at British Airways, he said:


Brem: The atmosphere on board our state-of-the-art 787 aircraft was spectacular

Today is a great occasion for British Airways as we resume flights to Islamabad after a decade.  The atmosphere on board our state-of-the-art 787 aircraft was spectacular, as was the warm welcome on the ground. British Airways has a proud history of flying to Pakistan – we first operated flights to Islamabad in 1976 – and we couldn’t be more excited to be back.

The International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox MP, said:

The relaunch of British Airways flights between the UK and Pakistan after more than ten years will be a major boost for trade between our two countries. It is no surprise that it is an iconic British airline that is the first western airline to fly return to Pakistan, a symbol of the strong and growing relationship between our two countries.

Fox: strong and growing relationship between our two countries

I congratulate the British Airways team, the British High Commission and the impressive efforts of the Pakistani government for making this happen. We are confident that British Airways will act as a catalyst to bring even more British companies to one of the world’s largest markets.

Flights will run three-per-week on Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday from London Heathrow, operated using a three-class Boeing 787 Dreamliner with World Traveller (long-haul economy), World Traveller Plus (long-haul premium economy) and Club World (long-haul business class). 

British Airways’ Boeing 787 on arrival at Islamabad, celebrating with the Union Flag and the flag of Pakistan

British Airways’ long-haul flights include extremely generous hand baggage allowances – one large cabin bag with a small laptop or handbag – complimentary food and drink, online check-in and free seat selection 24 hours prior to departure. Customers landing in London can connect on to British Airways’ network which includes over 30 destinations across North America, with over seventy flights per day to the US through the airline’s joint business with American Airlines. Customers can also connect to over thirty countries in Europe.

Customers travelling can expect bespoke services to enhance the on-board experience including a halal meal option in every cabin, while the airline will also ensure sauces in every meal do not include alcohol or pork. As with any British Airways flight, customers can also pre-order a range of special meal options including vegetarian and vegan options.

British Airways is amid a £6.5 billion investment for customers, including the installation of the best quality WiFi and power in every seat, fitting 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and taking delivery of 72 new aircraft.

For more information about flights to Islamabad – or any other destination on the British Airways network – contact your GTM Account Manager.

British Airways is the first UK airline to use biometric technology to board flights from the US

More than 250,000 British Airways customers have experienced a glimpse of the journey of the future by using their face as their identity to board a flight from the US in the last 18 months.

The introduction of new biometric facial recognition technology has transformed the airport experience for customers travelling from Orlando, Los Angeles and New York, JFK by streamlining the boarding process and halving the amount of time it takes to board an aircraft. 

The technology means that customers no longer need to present their passport or boarding pass at the departure gate – only when they check in and go through Security. Instead travellers simply look into a camera prior to boarding, wait for their biometric data to be verified and then walk onto the aircraft.

The commitment to this technology is part of the airline’s £6.5bn investment for customers. British Airways was the first UK airline to use biometric technology to board flights from the US, working in close partnership with the US Customs and Border Protection to implement the technology, which has enabled the airline to hugely speed up its boarding process.

At Orlando, British Airways is boarding almost 240 customers in 10 minutes – becoming the first carrier to set up permanent facial recognition gates at the airport.

British Airways was also the first UK airline to use the technology on UK domestic flights. More than 3,000,000 customers have boarded an aircraft this way – with all domestic departures from Heathrow Terminal 5 now boarded biometrically.

For international flights, self-service boarding gates have now been installed at the terminal, allowing customers to scan their own boarding cards to gain access to their flight. It’s the first step towards biometric boarding on international flights from the UK.

Raoul Cooper, British Airways’ Senior Digital Design Manager, said:

We are continuing to pioneer the use of technology and automation to enhance the airport experience and ensure that our customers’ flights depart on time.

The airport of the future will be built upon biometric technology, from check-in and baggage drops to security checks and boarding.

These days, automation is a part of everyday life, as is biometric technology via our mobile phones.

We’re working with our technology partners and the US government to explore how we can use this technology in new and innovative ways to give our customers the stress-free, easy airport experience they tell us they want, while ensuring security is always our top priority.

Dinosaur lands at Heathrow

A 13 metre skeleton of a 155 million year old diplodocus will be exhibited from the first week of April, before being sold by the French auction house Aguttes for an expected £2million.

Heathrow will see over 4.5million passengers travelling through the airport over Easter and Terminal 5 passengers will have the chance to step back in time to experience this historical figure. 

The unique skeleton shows significant impressions of the skin of the dinosaur, never before discovered on this dinosaur type, with a new scientific study indicating the skeleton is from a new species and is a cousin of the diplodocus.

Ross Baker, Chief Commercial Officer at Heathrow said,

What a sizeable welcome for customers travelling this Easter! We’re excited to see the ‘roar-some’ reaction from our passengers, as they encounter this completely unique specimen before heading on their travels with loved ones.

Archaeologist and special adviser to Aguttes Auction house, Eric Mickeler said,

This original skeleton is remarkable. It is currently the only diplodocus in the world with the imprint of its skin and therefore a world first.

The sheer size of dinosaurs awes people, they are immense, and that is part of their fascination for collectors.  Buyers look for big impressive aesthetically attractive and well-preserved examples. It is also a case of supply and demand. There are very few found and so prices grow because there is a strong demand for them.

Scott Pawley, Managing Director of Global Travel Management said,

Heathrow is the most popular international departure airport for our business travellers and I am sure they will welcome the opportunity to see a monster up close and personal.

We help thousands of passengers a day with their journeys to, from and through the airport. Although we typically only deal with humans.

If a diplodocus wanted to book a flight, we would recommend one of our competitors who usually have skeleton staff and are a bit like dinosaurs.

Contact your GTM Account Manager the next time you need to fly from Heathrow Airport.

1,500 children take-off with British Airways

More than 1,500 children were given a unique insight into a career in aviation when they attended a careers event hosted by British Airways and KidZania. The two-day event saw them take the controls of an aircraft and try out the airline’s safety demonstration with cabin crew.

The children were provided with replica uniforms and taught on board the British Airways A319 aircraft, learning some of the important skills needed to become real life flight and cabin crew.  Many received a lesson on the flight deck simulator where they were given the opportunity to fly around London and land into Heathrow Terminal 5.

  • British Airways teamed up with KidZania in Westfield to inspire children to pursue a career in aviation
  • More than 1,500 children from 19 schools visited the Aviation Academy at the two-day careers fair
  • British Airways customers receive 15% discount to the KidZania activity centre

The British Airways Aviation Academy is the most popular activity with children visiting KidZania, and the behind-the-scenes, hands-on training aims to both inspire and enthuse children about future careers they might previously not have considered.

Currently more than 6% of British Airways pilots are women, which is double the national average, but the airline is actively seeking to encourage more women into the profession.

Mel Kose, British Airways’ Community Education Manager said that events like this aim to inspire and excite young girls to see a career as a pilot to be an achievable goal and to pursue STEM subjects at school:

We’re delighted that so many students attended the event, which is just one of many initiatives we offer to inspire children and young girls to enter a STEM career. Last year 600 students took part in our work experience programme across 30 departments at British Airways, and this year we will host more young people than ever before. We’ve also introduced ‘Teacher Take-Off Days’, with teachers taking part in one-day work experience sessions and taking their learnings back to the classroom. Plus, we’ve launched a scheme we call Your Flying Future, where we regularly run events for children to meet our pilots, to encourage them to feel that this is a career available to them.

Goodyers End Primary School in Bedworth, Warwickshire was one of almost 20 schools that attended the event at KidZania. Year 6 Teacher Adele Johnson said:

Lots of our children will have never even been a passenger on a plane before, let alone thought about a career in aviation, so this event provides an invaluable opportunity to inspire the children and raise their aspirations for the future – coming to KidZania is one of the most important things we do all year.

Rachel Woods, Head of Brands Development at KidZania London, said:

The British Airways A319 aeroplane is a big hit in the city, and it was fantastic to have ambassadors offering insights into their careers through a STEM-based interactive activity. The workshop offered hands-on opportunities to support and inspire key-stage 1-3 children through real life experiences.

NATS trials Artifical Intelligence solution for Air Traffic Control at Heathrow

In a move aimed at boosting punctuality at Heathrow, NATS is trialling an Artificial Intelligence solution that could help reclaim the 20% of capacity lost by low cloud reducing visibility from the Control Tower. 

A project is underway, within NATS’ bespoke Digital Tower Laboratory, at Heathrow Airport to test whether a combination of ultra HD 4K cameras along with AI and machine learning technology can be used to help improve the airport’s landing capacity in times of low visibility and improve punctuality.

Heathrow’s 87 metre tall control tower is the highest in the UK and provides commanding views of the airport and surrounding landscape, but its height can also mean it disappears into low cloud, even when the runways below are clear.  In those conditions, extra time is given between each landing to ensure its safety. The result is a 20% loss of landing capacity, which creates delays for passengers and knock-on disruption for the rest of the operation.

NATS is deploying 20 ultra high-definition cameras at the airfield, the views from which are then fed into an AI platform. The platform can interpret the images, track the aircraft and then inform the controller when it has successfully cleared the runway. NATS believes the system will help the airport reclaim all the lost capacity.

Andy Taylor, NATS Chief Solution Officer, said,

Safety is always our top priority and Artificial Intelligence is about supporting air traffic controllers. While they remain the decision makers at the heart of the operation, we can help them make the best possible decisions and improve efficiency and safety.

Right now we’re focusing on when the control tower is in low cloud, where I’m confident we can make a very positive difference, but I am convinced that this technology can totally revolutionise how air traffic is managed at airports around the world.

The trial is part of a £2.5 million investment NATS has made in a ‘digital tower laboratory’ located inside the Heathrow control tower. There, it is working with the airport to understand how technology could support the air traffic operation now and in the future.

Kathryn Leahy, Director of Operations at Heathrow Airport said,

We’re delighted to be working with NATS to bring this pioneering technology to the UK’s only hub airport. Our capacity challenges are unique to our operation and we’re always exploring new and innovative techniques to help us overcome these constraints and improve the passenger experience in a safe and resilient manner.

We’ll be keeping a close eye on this trial, as the technology could have a major role as we prepare for the expanded airport. We will watch how AI and digital towers could be used to monitor all three of the expanded airport’s runways in future.

 

British Airways to celebrate centenary by painting a Boeing 747 in retro B.O.A.C. colours

British Airways has announced it will be painting one of its aircraft in the design of its predecessor British Overseas Airways Corporation (B.O.A.C.) as part of its centenary celebrations.

The livery from the 1964 – 1974 B.O.A.C. era will adorn a Boeing 747. The aircraft will arrive at Heathrow on 18 February, before entering service one day later. This will also mark the 50th anniversary of the first Boeing 747 flights.

British Airways plan to repaint more aircraft with retro liveries, which will fly on British Airways routes.

Alex Cruz, British Airways’ Chairman and CEO, said,

So many British Airways customers and colleagues have fond memories of our previous liveries, regularly sharing their photos from across the globe, so it’s incredibly exciting to be re-introducing this classic BOAC design.

Our history has shaped who we are today, so our centenary is the perfect moment to revisit our heritage and the UK’s aviation landscape through this iconic livery.

Happy anniversary to British Airways, from all of us at Global Travel Management.

Plaza Premium Opens Heathrow T5 Lounge.

Plaza Premium Lounge, an airport services company headquartered in Hong Kong, has opened a new lounge at Heathrow Terminal 5.

The new lounge, which is located on Level 2 of the departures area next to gate A7, will be welcome news for those flying economy, or without the required tier status to access BA’s lounges in T5.

The new lounge has a location overlooking the runway, and is open to all travellers for payment of a fee starting from £40 for two hours. The 465m2 lounge is Plaza Premium’s sixth at Heathrow, and offers hot and cold food, a fully serviced bar, high speed Wi-fi, shower facilities and newspapers and magazines. The opening hours are 05:00 – 22:00 daily.

Plaza Premium also intends to open a, 83-bedroom Aerotel hotel in Terminal 3 next year. The group manages over 150 lounges worldwide in 37 locations.

British Airways logo

Important Change Of Check-In Time At London Heathrow.

From 30th October 2016 the minimum check-in time for British Airways long-haul flights at London Heathrow Airport will be 60 minutes prior to departure.

Check-in for short-haul flights will remain unchanged at 45 minutes.

Terminal 2 | The Queen’s Building Opens Today!

Heathrow Airport’s brand new Terminal 2 opens today, Wednesday 4th June 2014, with Her Majesty the Queen officially opening the building on Monday 23rd June 2014.

The first flight, a United Airlines’ flight from Chicago, arrived at Terminal 2 this morning shortly before 0600 BST. Officially known as the Queen’s Building, Terminal 2 will become home to all Star Alliance carriers, plus Aer Lingus, Germanwings & Virgin Atlantic Little Red.

It is important to note that there will be a phased approach, with all of the aforementioned airlines moving into T2 over the course of the next four months. United Airlines is the first airline to move in today, followed by Air Canada on 18th June, with Air New Zealand, Asiana, SAA & TAP Air Portugal being the last carriers to move across from Terminal 1 on 22nd October 2014.

Enjoy the new Terminal 2, I (PB) was fortunate enough to go on a tour of the building earlier in the year, and it will be a fantastic new terminal from which to fly into and out of.

If you travel through the new terminal in the nest few weeks, do let us know what you think.

Delays at Heathrow for BA travellers

A baggage system problem has caused delays to British Airways passengers at Heathrow Airport.
Travellers were earlier unable to check in baggage at Terminal five (T5) due to a computer problem. The airport says the problem has been resolved, but some passengers face long queues and delays. BBC reporter Keith Doyle said there was a queue of about “500 people waiting to rebook flights”.
Simon Frusher, who was flying to New York, said: “There are now thousands of people with missed flights, as planes went on time.
“Huge queues now for rebooking… unsure as yet what flight we can get.”
An airport spokesperson said: “Our teams have now restored all check-in services and we have additional staff in the terminal to help passengers.”
Passengers were unable to check in baggage. The airport said passengers who wished to take hand luggage on board were unaffected, but others were prevented from checking in and unable to travel.
Mr Doyle said a separate area had been set aside for rebooking flights at T5, which operates British Airways flights.
A BA spokesman apologised for the inconvenience and said “all of our flights continue to operate as normal”.
The problems started at around 09:00 BST and were resolved by 11:30.