Virgin Atlantic plans to increase flights from London Heathrow

Virgin Atlantic has said that it is planning to increase its flights at London Heathrow in an effort to challenge the dominance of IAG, which owns British Airways, at the airport.

The move is also in line with the government’s Aviation Strategy green paper which seeks to facilitate competition between airlines through the allocation of slots at Heathrow. This will offer customers more choice and lower fares, as well as enhanced domestic connectivity and connectivity to international destinations.

Currently IAG holds more than 55 per cent of all take-off and landing slots at Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic said that it will compete on 26 routes where there is an IAG monopoly, including Accra in Ghana, Austin in the USA and Bogota in Colombia. The airline will increase its long haul route network and launch a new inclusive network of domestic and European routes when the airport expands. The plans include a significant increase of Virgin Atlantic’s current network, including flights to exciting destinations such as Kolkata, Jakarta and Panama City, where passengers are unable to fly non-stop currently.

In total, Virgin Atlantic plans to serve 103 domestic, European and long haul destinations – up from just 19 long haul destinations in 2020. Of the 84 new destinations planned, 12 are domestic – including Belfast, Glasgow and Manchester, 37 are European – including Barcelona, Dublin and Madrid, and 35 are global – including Buenos Aires, Tokyo and Santiago.

‘Never has the need for effective competition and choice at Heathrow Airport been more evident than during this summer of disruption, which has brought misery for tens of thousands of travellers,’ Shai Weiss, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said. ‘Britain, and those who travel to it, deserve better than this. Air passengers need a choice and Virgin Atlantic is ready to deliver when Heathrow expands.

‘Heathrow has been dominated by one airline group for far too long. The third runway is a once in a lifetime opportunity to change the status quo and create a second flag carrier. This would lower fares and give real choice to passengers, as well giving Britain a real opportunity to boost its trade and investment links around the world. Changing the way take-off and landing slots are allocated for this unique and vital increase in capacity at the nation’s hub airport will create the right conditions for competition and innovation to thrive.’

London named Best Business City in the world by Business Traveller

London has been named ‘best business city in the world’ for the second time by Business Traveller Asia Pacific magazine, a publication that celebrates the travel and hospitality industry.

The annual travel awards identify achievers in hospitality, travel and business as recognized by readers through a poll conducted by an independent market research company. The award was announced at the Island Shangri-La Hong Kong on September 12, 2019.

Between 2017 and 2019, Chinese business visitors recorded a 104% increase year on year – from 26,860 business visitors in 2017 to 54,830 business visitors in 2019. The rise in travel comes as Chinese businesses are discovering that the UK capital is open for business.

The pharmaceutical industry, at 27 percent, is the largest source of Chinese incentive groups following by the IT sector at 16 percent. Direct sell, automotive, banking and insurance are also important sectors, London and Partners said in a release.

Bingbing Zhao, Chief Representative, Greater China, London & Partners, said: ‘We are honoured and delighted to accept this award on behalf of London. China is a hugely important market to the UK capital in terms of both visits and spend with Chinese business visitors boosting the economy by GBP39 million in 2018.

‘London remains one of the best places in the world in which to grow a global business. It’s convenient, collaborative and connected. It’s a world class city with everything needed to help your business succeed: favourable time zones, access to banks and finance, regulators and government bodies, plus world leading universities and talent.

‘Over 40% of European HQ’s are based in London, which allows quick access to decision makers. And there’s an incredible mix of old and new – highly unique-venues as well, which is very attractive for event planners and delegates. All of this makes London a truly international business city.’

Chinese travellers can now fly direct to the UK from 11 airports, with new options from Changsha, Sanya, Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Xi’an. The new route from Beijing to Edinburgh with Hainan Airlines brings to three the number of UK cities served by direct routes from China alongside London and Manchester.

Loganair to launch Glasgow services from Cardiff Airport in February

Loganair has said that it will launch new flights from Cardiff to the tourist city of Glasgow.

The airline is set to commence a year-round, daily schedule on February 27, which will enable business or leisure trips of different durations – including weekends, long weekends and short breaks. The flight will be operated by a 49-seat Embraer 145 jet aircraft with a flight time of one hour and 15 minutes between Scotland and Wales. Tickets are available to book at www.loganair.co.uk, with fares starting from £44.99.

Loganair commercial director, Kay Ryan said: ‘We’re delighted to launch a new service from Cardiff – connecting Scotland and Wales’s largest cities.

‘This is an important business route, but the city is also popular with leisure customers – as one of Europe’s most dynamic destinations. We’ve got an extremely competitive offering which includes a complimentary baggage allowance and on board refreshments as well as one of the industry’s most attractive frequent flyer schemes so we’re very much looking forward to serving Cardiff Airport.

Deb Bowen Rees, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airport, said: ‘Today’s announcement is very exciting news. We are very pleased that Loganair has recognised the potential that exists within the region and has chosen Cardiff to operate a strategically important route that links Scotland to Wales. I know that our customers will be delighted to know that regular flights to Glasgow are set to continue in the new year.

‘Furthermore, it’s great to welcome a new airline to Cardiff. We look forward to the commencement of the route in February and working closely with the team at Loganair.’

Across all its routes, Loganair provides a complimentary baggage allowance, in-flight refreshments and the option to join Clan Loganair – the airline’s reward programme for frequent flyers.

Virgin Atlantic to offer London Heathrow – Sao Paulo service from March 2020, announce codeshare with GOL to serve 37 destinations

The UK- based Virgin Atlantic and Brazilian domestic carrier GOL have announced a new codeshare agreement allowing customers to connect from Virgin Atlantic’s brand new London Heathrow – Sao Paulo service onto flights across Brazil.

GOL will offer connections to 37 destinations across the country, including Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and Recife. Virgin Atlantic and GOL are also planning to expand their codeshare further with the addition of flights to Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, in addition to a reciprocal frequent flyer programme expected soon.

Flights from London Heathrow to Sao Paulo and onward, went on sale on September 10, 2019. Available for travel year-round from March 29, 2020, Virgin Atlantic will fly daily from London Heathrow to Sao Paulo on a Boeing 787-9. The flight will depart London Heathrow at 22:30, arriving Sao Paulo at 06:25; and on return, the flight will depart Sao Paulo at 16:25, arriving London Heathrow at 07:50 hours.

Juha Jarvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Virgin Atlantic, commented, ‘We’re delighted to announce our codeshare agreement with GOL. Brazil is such a rich and diverse country and we’ll be able to offer seamless connections for customers from our brand new London Heathrow to Sao Paulo service onto 37 destinations across Brazil. With flights on sale from Tuesday 10th September 2019 and the first flight on 29 March 2020, customers will soon be able to enjoy Virgin Atlantic’s signature service to South America’s largest country.’

Eduardo Bernardes Neto, SVP Sales & Distribution at GOL, commented, ‘We’re delighted to partner with Virgin Atlantic ahead of its arrival into Brazil next year. GOL offers a leading route network and high quality service and we’re thrilled to be able to connect even more customers thanks to our new partnership with Virgin Atlantic.’

Virgin Atlantic’s codeshare will offer travellers a range of destinations – the popular leisure favourites include surfer hotspot Florianopolis, the Amazon jungle via Manaus and the beautiful coastline of Recife. For business travellers, connections include the Brazilian capital Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro and industrial hub Curitiba. Both airlines offer Wi-Fi and inflight entertainment across their fleet.

easyJet to commence new Verona service from Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Airport has said that easyJet, the UK-based European regional airline, will commence a new year-round service to the Italian city of Verona starting this December.

The first flight will depart the Scottish airport for Verona on December 7, timed for ski options this winter. It will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays on an A320 aircraft.

On Tuesdays, the flight will depart Edinburgh at 06:35am reaching Verona at 10:05 am; while on Saturdays, the flight will depart Edinburgh at 17:25 – 20:55. For return, on Tuesdays the flight will depart Verona at 10:35 am, arriving Edinburgh at 12:05; while on Saturdays, the flight will depart Verona at 21:25 hours and arrive Edinburgh at 23:00 hours.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport said: ‘It’s great to see easyJet continue to grow at Edinburgh Airport by adding another new destination to its already extensive list, something that increases choice and flexibility for passengers.

‘We know there’s a desire to travel and take in the sights and culture of other cities across the world and we are always working to build and grow our destinations list. We also look forward to welcoming people from Verona to Scotland and showcasing what our fantastic country has to offer.’

Neil Slaven, easyJet’s UK Country Director, said: ‘We are really excited to have announced Scotland’s only direct winter connection from Edinburgh to Verona which will commence this December.

‘We remain committed to expanding our network from Scotland and this is a particularly exciting addition to our base at Edinburgh. We are confident it will provide a popular addition to easyJet’s network.

‘In total easyJet now serves 40 destinations from Edinburgh spanning the UK and Europe and this new route will complement our existing network of leisure and business flights.’

Norwegian launches Autumn sale at London Gatwick to Europe, the US and South American destinations

Norwegian has launched its Autumn sale at London Gatwick, offering travellers savings on over 35,000 flights to Europe, the US and South America.

Customers looking to book their next holiday or city break will be able to obtain discounted nonstop fares from London Gatwick to 16 destinations including Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Rovaniemi, Boston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, San Francisco, Tampa, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Matthew Wood, SVP Commercial at Norwegian said: ‘We are once again giving consumers the opportunity to travel even more affordably across the globe in our Autumn sale. These fantastic offers will allow holidaymakers and business travelers to take advantage of our low fares while enjoying exceptional levels of quality and service on board modern aircraft that reduce our impact on the environment’.

Available for travel from November 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020, holidaymakers can now book a flight to the US from £134.90 one-way, fly to South America from £199.90 or head to Europe from £28.90. All sale prices are on the Low Fare ticket type, and include a 10kg hand baggage allowance, which includes one cabin bag and a small personal item as well as free onboard Wi-Fi. Seats are available to book now at www.norwegian.com/uk/offers/big-sale/, with the fares on offer until 22.59 BST on September 16, 2019.

The flights to Europe will be operated on the modern 186 seat Boeing 737-800 aircraft while passengers travelling out to the US or South America will fly on a 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

One of Europe’s low-cost airlines, Norwegian carries more than 5.8 million UK passengers each year to over 50 global destinations.

Radisson RED to launch in London in 2020

Radisson Hotel Group has announced the signing of the Radisson RED London Greenwich in the UK.

Opening in 2020, the move will bring the Radisson Group’s upscale, lifestyle hotel brand to the English capital, alongside the other UK landmark Radisson RED hotels in Glasgow and Liverpool. The new signing is part of a £8bn project to redevelop Greenwich Peninsula and transform it into a must-visit destination.

Greenwich is a thriving tourist spot and is home to the world’s busiest concert and events venue, the O2 Arena. Located within walking distance, guests will find it easy to get to the O2 Arena from the hotel. The Radisson RED London Greenwich will also put guests within reach of some of London’s famous sights including the famous Prime Meridian, the Cutty Sark, several museums, and the cable car offering views over the Thames, Canary Wharf and the city.

Elie Younes, Executive Vice President & Chief Development Officer, Radisson Hotel Group, said: ‘Radisson RED is for those who wish to stand out of the crowd and it now lands in London. Opening in 2020, it perfectly blends business and play around the O2. A sincere appreciation goes to our partners for their trust in our people and our brands.’

Vivek Chadha, Owner of Nine Hotel Group, said: ‘We’re thrilled to have signed the agreement to bring a Radisson RED hotel to this side of London. Being so close to the multi-purpose O2 arena is hugely exciting, as I believe it’s the number one indoor music arena in the world and hosts the best global talent. Our hotel will be a representation of the culture and talent the arena attracts.’

Vijay Thakkar, Co-owner of the hotel, said: ‘We’re excited to ink the deal with Radisson Hotel Group to bring a Radisson RED property to London. The hotel shall attract both business and leisure travelers, and I am eagerly looking forward to its grand opening.’

With 70 rooms, the hotel will offer a bistro, bar, and a gym. Guests have plenty of travel options to reach the hotel and explore London, including major road links, multiple bus routes and a London Underground station not far from the property. London City Airport is five miles from the hotel.

Guests and professional business partners can enhance their experience with Radisson RED by participating in Radisson Rewards, a global loyalty programme offering benefits and rewards.

Loganair announces new services link for East Midlands Airport with Brussels and Inverness

Scottish regional airline Loganair is launching new routes from East Midlands Airport to Brussels and Inverness from today, an online report said.

The airline will start an early morning and afternoon service to Brussels and a new route to Inverness, in the north east of Scotland. The routes are scheduled for both business as well as leisure customers. The East Midlands-based airline operated flights on routes to 25 European cities, including Aberdeen, Bristol, City of Derry, East Midlands, London Stansted and Newcastle.

Jonathan Hinkles, managing director of Loganair said: ‘I am extremely pleased to announce the expansion of our route map while also beginning passenger services from East Midlands Airport.

‘Both of these convenient airlinks will benefit the overall region, connecting with Belgium’s largest city – home to thousands of multinational businesses while Scotland’s highlands are now just over 90 minutes away.’

The Brussels service will operate from Monday to Thursday, with afternoon services on Friday and Sunday. It will be operated on a 49-seat Embraer 145 and have a flight-time of around one hour and 10 minutes. Services between Brussels and East Midlands ceased on February 16 when flybmi collapsed.

Leon Verhallen, head of aviation development at Brussels Airport, said: ‘We are delighted that Loganair will restore flights to East-Midlands with up to two daily flights, including a convenient connection from and to Inverness, a city without direct services to Brussels.’

Karen Smart, East Midlands Airport’s managing director, said: ‘We’re delighted to welcome a new airline to EMA. This is fantastic news for passengers who will have new routes to choose from. This is also important for the region as it enhances the connectivity between the East Midlands, mainland Europe and Scotland.’

The new route to Inverness takes one hour and 25 minutes, according to the online timetable, setting off at noon with a return service at 2.30pm. There will be six flights a week between East Midlands and the Scottish city on the Moray Firth.

Inverness Airport general manager Graeme Bell said: ‘This is excellent news for Inverness and the Highlands as Loganair’s service will enable passengers to quickly access England’s industrial heartland developing business opportunities or exploring the considerable leisure options in Midlands and the nearby Peak District.

‘It also makes our region more accessible to English visitors keen to discover all that the north of Scotland has to offer.’

British Airways introduces latest mobile technology for cabin crew to deliver personalised customer service

British Airways has announced that all of its 15,000 cabin crew will be issued with iPhone XRs, enabling them to offer a more personalised service to over 45 million customers that travel with the airline every year.

The new phones will feature a selection of apps to help crew offer customers instant additional assistance during their journey. They will also have access to a range of customer information on their phones, including previous flights and meal preferences. The investment for all cabin crew members follows a successful trial of iPads for senior cabin crew on board every flight.

Bradley Smith, one of the first cabin crews to receive a brand-new iPhone XRs, said the phones are enabling a step-change in customer service. ‘Recently, when a customer realised that he had forgotten to order a special meal, he was really impressed when I quickly took out the phone, logged onto ba.com and ordered a meal for his return journey – all within a matter of minutes in the middle of the flight,’ Smith said.

‘It felt so rewarding to be able to immediately resolve the situation for the customer. All my crew reference guides are also loaded onto the phone, so everything I need is in my pocket throughout each flight; it really has made a huge difference already,’ he added.

Karen Slinger, British Airways’ Head of Inflight Customer Experience, added: ‘Our customers spend up to 14 hours with our cabin crew on a single flight and we know from the recent success at the Skytrax Awards that the care provided by our people has a huge impact on the overall customer experience and is what sets us apart from other airlines. This investment is about further empowering our crew and providing them with everything they need to deliver the very best service to our customers while in the air.’

Earlier this year, the airline launched Help Me; a brand-new section of ba.com to help customers make changes to their bookings and find out more about their consumer rights. The airline also announced a multi-million-pound investment in training for its staff based at Heathrow, with every agent now trained to help customers with a range of different queries and personally reach out to them at the airport using iPads loaded with a host of specialist apps, British Airways said.

United Airlines adds year-round service between Heathrow and Denver

United Airlines has said that it will offer year-round service between Denver International Airport and London Heathrow, beginning November 1, 2019.

United began summer seasonal service to London Heathrow in March 2018. While the Denver-London route has grown significantly – nearly 60 per cent since 2017, today around 700 people travel between the two cities in a day. London ranks as Denver’s largest long-haul market, and second-largest international market -next to Cancun, Mexico.

‘We are delighted that United has seen such success with nonstop service to London-Heathrow and will offer the flights year-round beginning this winter,’ said DEN CEO Kim Day. ‘The increased capacity is the reflection of both strong local demand as well as the growth of connection opportunities through United’s hub in Denver.’

United will operate the Denver-London Heathrow flight six days per week November through March and daily during the rest of the year on the 219-seat Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. United’s additional long-haul service from Denver includes year-round, nonstop service to Frankfurt, Germany and Tokyo-Narita, Japan.

With this announcement, Denver Airport now has year-round, nonstop service to London on two airlines, United and British Airways. United’s new service will increase Denver’s nonstop winter capacity to Europe by six percent and increase nonstop winter flight departures to an average of 36 per week.