Wizz Air announces new routes and fleet expansion at London Luton

Wizz Air, a low cost carrier in Central and Eastern Europe, has announced the launch of two new routes and the introduction of two new Airbus aircraft at its London Luton base.

Effective May 25, 2018, Wizz Air will commence its first flights from London Luton to two new destinations, Bratislava and Bari. The airline will operate daily flights to the Slovakian capital Bratislava, while flights to the Italian port city of Bari will operate on Wednesdays and Sundays until April 18, and thereafter increase to four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Fares for both routes start from £26.99 including all taxes, non-optional charges and cabin bag. Tickets are available to book at wizzair.com.

As part of its continued investments into its UK operations, the Hungarian airline will add a new Airbus A320 and Airbus A321 aircraft to its London Luton fleet. Wizz Air now has three aircraft based at London Luton, with a further five by June 2018.

As part of the #WIZZaroundEurope campaign and to celebrate the arrival of the two new aircrafts, one lucky passenger on the first flight operated by each new London Luton aircraft will win £1,000 of Wizz Air vouchers, hidden under a randomly selected seat.

Owain Jones, Chief Corporate Officer at Wizz Air, said: ‘This is an exciting time for Wizz Air and its customers as we continue to expand our network across Europe. Our UK customers now have the opportunity to explore the fascinating cities and surrounding regions of Bratislava and Bari at Wizz Air’s lowest fares and travelling on one Europe’s youngest aircraft fleets.

‘The arrival of two brand new aircraft at London Luton reflects our commitment to our UK operations as we continue on our mission to deliver the lowest fares to some of the most exciting destinations Europe has to offer. I know that the lucky customers who win the £1,000 Wizz Air vouchers on the first flights of the new aircraft will love exploring some of the hidden gems destinations that Wizz Air’s network has to offer.’

South African Airways introduces A330-300 on Johannesburg – London route

South African Airways (SAA) has said that it will introduce the new A330-300 on the London route from March 2018, and will also adjust frequencies on the route to a single daily service.

As part of its network optimisation plan, effective from April 20, 2018, SAA will operate a single daily flight from Johannesburg to London Heathrow replacing the double daily service operating on the route currently.

‘We have decided to focus on those areas of our business that will enhance our efficiencies, bring more value to our customers and produce improved overall performance of the airline. Network optimisation is one such area that can contribute towards containing our costs and we introduced some initiatives that must yield dividends to return the business to commercial sustainability in the shortest time possible,’ said SAA CEO, Vuyani Jarana. ‘We have also decided to upgrade the service operating between Johannesburg and London Heathrow to the new Airbus A330-300 with effect from Sunday, 25 March 2018. This will afford customers a significantly improved on-board Business and Economy product, with state-of-the-art technology, increased comfort and capacity,’ added Jarana.

The new Airbus A330-300 offers the latest technology, are eco-friendly , quieter, equipped with advanced avionics and navigation systems, and have Rolls-Royce Trent engines, resulting in lower fuel burn and in turn, lower carbon emissions. SAA took delivery of five new A330-300 aircraft last year.

The A330-300s offer more Business Class seats than any aircraft in the SAA fleet currently. In total, the aircraft has capacity for 249 passengers, with 46 in Business Class and 203 in Economy Class. Seating in Business Class cabins is in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, offering all customers a forward facing, lie-flat seat, increased privacy and direct access to the aisle. SAA has also introduced an app where customers can download additional entertainment before their flight.

Seating in the Economy cabin will be in the 2-4-2 configuration. Economy Class on the A330-300 feature a 10.1′ high-resolution screen, individual USB charging ports, and access to shared PC power points.

Thomas Cook set to offer more holidays and flight seats from Bristol Airport

After increased demand from holidaymakers in the region and the top performance of the airlines’ Bristol operation, Thomas Cook Airlines @FlyTC is planning to increase the size of aircraft used at the airport from the two existing Airbus A320 to a pair of the larger Airbus A321, Bristol Airport has said.

Accordingly, this summer, there will be a 20 per cent increase in holidays (available at www.thomascook.com) and flight-only seats (available at www.flythomascook.com) on offer with Thomas Cook.

Rob Thompson, Thomas Cook Airline’s Director of Planning, said, ‘It’s more great news for travellers from the South West as we add more flexibility and choice with flights and holidays from Bristol Airport building on the success of last year’s new routes.

‘Bristol Airport is a jewel in our operation, leading the way with on time performance for our fleet during last summer and in the current winter season.’

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, added, ‘We are delighted to see an increase in the Thomas Cook Airlines capacity at Bristol Airport. Thomas Cook is a key strategic partner for Bristol Airport and we will work hard to support the success of the larger sized fleet to ensure we are top of the list for a brand new aircraft.’

In summer 2013, Thomas Cook Airlines Bristol fleet had the best performing statistics across the airline with over 90 percent of flights on time. Larger aircraft will offer more choice and availability for both package holidaymakers and others looking for flight-only offers from the South West airport.

Last year Thomas Cook added new holiday destinations of Gran Canaria and Bourgas in Bulgaria, along with the return of its Kos flight.

 

Airbus’ urges wider plane seats for long haul

Aircraft manufacturer, Airbus, has urged the aviation industry to widen seats for all long-haul aircraft.

Airbus said that a minimum seat width of 18 inches should be set for all long-haul aircraft so that passenger comfort is not jeopardised. The call comes after London-based research showed that sleep quality could improve substantially if seats are a little wider.

Airbus also released details of research conducted by Harley Street medical practice, The London Sleep Centre.

As part of the research, trials were carried out on a selection of passengers, which included monitoring brainwaves, and eye, abdominal, chest, hip and leg movement. The tests revealed that a minimum seat width of 18 inches improved passenger sleep quality by 53 percent compared with the 1950s-style 17-inch standard.

Airbus has always maintained a standard 18-inch (45.72cm) minimum in its long haul economy cabins. ‘However, other manufacturers are eroding passenger comfort standards by going back to narrower seat widths from the 1950s in order to remain competitive,’ the company said.

Dr Irshaad Ebrahim of The London Sleep Centre said: ‘The difference was significant. All passengers experienced a deeper, less disturbed and longer nights’ sleep in the 18-inch seat. They went from one sleep stage to the next as you would expect them to do under normal circumstances. Whilst, in the narrower 17-inch seat the passengers were affected by numerous disturbances during sleep – which meant they rarely experienced deep restorative sleep. When it comes to flying long haul in economy, an inch makes a huge difference on passenger comfort.’

Kevin Keniston, Airbus’ head of passenger comfort, said: ‘If the aviation industry doesn’t take a stand right now then we risk jeopardising passenger comfort into 2045 and beyond, especially if you take into account aircraft delivery timetables combined with expected years in service. Which means another generation of passengers will be consigned to seats which are based on outdated standards.

‘Thankfully passengers these days have a choice and they are choosing to put comfort first. We are encouraging them to be aware of the difference an inch makes in long haul economy,’ he added.

British Airways A380 set for first long haul flight

The British Airways A380 is set to take off on its inaugural long haul flight today (September 24) with the 4.15pm BA269 to Los Angeles.

Dubbed the ‘red carpet route’ due to its destination’s glitz and glamour, the A380 aircraft is the first and only to operate between London and Los Angeles. While more than 318,000 British citizens travel to Los Angeles every year, the launch of the new route is reportedly facilitated by frequent flying celebrities, including Hollywood actress Thandie Newton, actress Gemma Arterton, and South African rugby player, Bryan Habana, to name a few.

The A380 is the world’s largest commercial jet and 16 percent more fuel efficient than its predecessor, the Boeing 747. British Airways’ A380 will have a total of 469 seats over two decks, with four cabins.

Passengers on the inaugural flight will be treated to music from Melanie C and Matt Cardle performing live in Terminal 5, ahead of the flight’s departure. VIP guests on the A380 inaugural flight will be presented with exclusive goodies including luxurious Sunspel pyjamas and a leather Dunhill case. A five-course tasting menu by The Langham is available to First Class customers, including poached lobster, chicken tea and seared scallops.

Thandie Newton, who posed for pictures aboard the aircraft, said earlier: ‘British Airways’ A380 aircraft is like a grand hotel in the sky. It’s luxurious and ultra modern. I feel particularly lucky because I make frequent trips to Los Angeles, and now even a long weekend to LA seems appealing, because the holiday begins as soon as you get on the superjumbo. Who thought travelling could get any more exciting?’

Ernest Wooden Jr, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board, said: ‘The home of endless entertainment, Los Angeles is a plethora of exciting and hip new trends from food to fashion, arts to architecture. After reaching a record 41.4 million visitors last year, we’re prepared to reach new heights and with the help of the new A380 route we’re now setting our sights on the 50 million visitors milestone by 2020.’

Return fares to Los Angeles on the A380 start from £508 in World Traveller (economy), £888 in World Traveller Plus (premium economy), £2,092 in Club World (business class) and £5,904 return in First.

Twelve A380s will join the British Airways fleet over the next four years as part of the airline’s £5bn investment in products and services for customers. The aircraft is due to fly to Hong Kong from October 22 and Johannesburg from February next year.

British Airways’ first Airbus 380 lands at Manston

British Airways’ first Airbus 380, the world’s largest commercial passenger aircraft, has landed safely at Manston Airport, Kent, UK.

The Airbus, a recent addition to British Airway’s fleet, will be based at Manston as part of the airline’s training for its pilots, flight crew and cabin staff before the A380s commence service in September.

The A380 is claimed to generate only a quarter of the noise level of the Boeing 747-400 when landing. It also produces 10 percent less NOx emissions and is 16 percent more fuel efficient than the aircraft it replaces. Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines, built at Derby, will power all of BA’s A380s. Nearly 40 percent of the near £300 million cost of each superjumbo – or around £120million – is ‘British made’.

Keith Williams, British Airways chief executive, had commented previously, ‘The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and an excellent showpiece for British engineering. Our customers are going to love the space, light and comfort on board.’ Each A380 aircraft can carry 469 passengers over two decks with four cabins.

When the plane arrived, Manston Airport’s chief executive, Charles Buchanan, said: ‘The reason that British Airways chose here was because of the capacity that we have available and because of the length of our runway and the handling capabilities of our teams and the professionalism of our staff.

‘We have worked very closely with British Airways for six months on this programme – bringing together all sorts of different elements of what we need to put in place: fire service cover; ground services equipment and all sorts of things like that, to make sure we can handle the aircraft efficiently, and being able to demonstrate that to the aviation community is just going to build our reputation.’

Captain David Thomas, British Airways’ head of flight technical and training, said: ‘We are delighted to be based at Manston for the next few weeks.

‘We’ve been made very welcome by everyone at the airport, and hope that the sight of the A380 in the skies over Ramsgate will be a pleasant surprise for local residents and visitors to the area.

‘Manston Airport has the capacity to serve one million passengers per annum today and a deliverable master-plan that accommodates five million or more.’

The airport handles more than 30,000 tonnes of freight a year and has the capacity to deliver 100,000 tonnes in the existing facilities, growing to 400,000 in the future.

BA’s first A380 superjumbo lands at Heathrow

British Airways has become the first airline in the UK to take delivery of an Airbus A380 superjumbo.

The first of 12 superjumbos ordered by BA, the plane landed at Heathrow airport this morning. BA’s A380 will join 12 daily A380 flights from London Heathrow – two by Qantas, three by Singapore Airlines, two by Malaysia Airlines and five by Emirates.

BA said that that the first long-haul flight on the A380 to Los Angeles will be on September 24, with prices starting from £621 return, and the first to Hong Kong will be on October 22 with prices from £688 return. The planes, the world’s largest passenger planes, can carry 469 passengers each.

BA’s chief executive, Keith Williams, said: ‘The A380 is a fantastic aircraft and an excellent showpiece for British engineering. Our customers are going to love the space, light and comfort on board.’

‘The delivery of these exciting aircraft opens a new chapter in British Airways’ history. We are proud to be leading the way in Europe in operating both these aircraft types,’ he added.

The A380’s arrival follows the delivery of two Boeing Dreamliner aircraft last week. BA is currently spending GBP10bn to upgrade its long-haul fleet. It has also bought six new Boeing 777-300ERs and 18 Airbus A350 aircraft.

‘Over the next 15 months, we will take delivery of new aircraft at the rate of one a fortnight as we put ourselves at the forefront of modern aviation,’ Williams said.

BA is Airbus’ tenth customer. The earlier customers include Singapore Airlines, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas, Lufthansa, Korean Air, China Southern, Air France and Thai Airways. Singapore Airlines was the first carrier to operate an A380, operating its first flight in October 2008. Virgin Atlantic is due to take the first of the six A380s it has ordered in 2018.

Thai postpones A380 London debut service

Thai Airways has confirmed that it will postpone its A380 service on the Bangkok to London route.

The airline was scheduled to debut the aircraft on the London route from December 1, 2013 following the arrival of its fifth and sixth A380s. However, on July 2 the carrier said that it will not be operating the A380 on the London route until October 30, 2014 – a delay of almost one year. Thai regretted the change of plan, which it said was due to ‘important technical modifications’.

The carrier needs two aircraft to execute a daily service and had planned to use the A380 on one rotation and an A340-600 on its second daily service. It now says that it will continue to serve the route with two daily Boeing 747-400 flights through to the end of the summer 2014 schedule, when it will revert to the planned A380 and A340-600 operation. The B747-400 accommodates nine passengers in first, 40 in business and 325 in economy class. In comparison, the A340-600 seats eight in first, 40 in business and 325 in the economy class.

‘The introduction of the A380 will make flying between London and Bangkok an even more enjoyable and unforgettable experience and we can only apologise for the unforeseen delay,’ the carrier said.

Primarily a leisure spot, Gulf carriers have made major inroads in Thailand with their aggressive pricing and extensive networks. In 2012, one single Gulf-based carrier, Abu Dhabi’s Etihad, carried almost 700,000 passengers in and out of Bangkok – a 38 percent increase in carryings over 2011, and making it one of the busiest routes.

However, when it launches its A380 in London Heathrow next year, Thai Airways will be able to offer passengers the latest facilities in T2, which is scheduled to open in June 2014.

Gatwick equipped to welcome giant A380’s

Gatwick Airport, which serves London, UK, is now prepared to welcome the world’s biggest commercial aircraft, the Airbus A380.

A £6.4 million investment at the airport has culminated in the opening of a new, pier-served A380 stand. Stand 110 on pier 6 is officially christened today when Emirates makes a one-off flight to the airport with one of its fleet of A380’s. Following the celebration, Gatwick will be looking to attract regular scheduled flights from other operators of the giant aircraft.

Gatwick’s chief commercial officer, Guy Stephenson, said, ‘Gatwick is delighted to officially open its A380 stand today, marking an important milestone in the development and growth of the airport as a world-class aviation facility. The new stand is a symbol of the major changes that have happened at Gatwick under new ownership. The fact we can now offer current and future airlines a pier-served facility for A380 aircraft demonstrates the scale of ambition we have for the future of Gatwick as we continue on our journey to compete and grow.’

While Emirates has the biggest fleet of A380’s currently in operation, many other airlines worldwide also have them at their disposal, and the Gatwick authorities are optimistic that the airport’s ability to accommodate the aircraft will help it grow its passenger numbers without impinging too much on its available runway capacity. Able to carry 525 passengers in standard three-class configuration, and as many as 853 in all-economy mode, the A380 certainly has the credentials to boost throughput at the airport from the current 34 million passengers per annum, towards the 38 million that it is forecast to achieve by 2020.

Laurie Berryman, Emirates Vice President UK, said, ‘As the largest A380 operator in the world, it is a historic moment to see one of our A380s use the new Gatwick stand for the first time at the official opening. It shows once again that Emirates is the go-to airline when it comes to the A380 aircraft.’

BA confirms first superjumbo routes

British Airways, the UK-based air carrier, has confirmed the first routes to be flown by its superjumbo Airbus A380 aircraft.

From October 15 this year the new aircraft will be flying from Heathrow Airport in the UK to Los Angeles in the US. Tickets for the flights are available to book from today.

Today is also the launch date for tickets for BA’s second A380 route to Hong Kong, with that service commencing from November 15 this year. However, according to the company, other flights could predate these following delivery of the first aircraft in July, with a statement saying, ‘A380 enthusiasts eager to be on the very first commercial services should note that dates for these will be announced once plans for training flights are completed.’

Special inaugural prices are available on both of the newly announced routes, with BA’s World Traveller return tickets to Los Angeles costing £499, and the same grade of ticket to Hong Kong costing £599. For the LA flight, a World Traveller Plus upgrade costs £380, and £3,800 is the starting price for two passengers travelling with the Club World service.

More information on the A380 service is available on BA’s website.

The double-deck, wide-body four-engine A380 is manufactured by Airbus, a European corporation, as its answer to Boeing’s monopoly in the large aircraft market. Currently the world’s largest passenger airliner, several major airports have had to upgrade their facilities to accommodate it. The aircraft’s full-length second deck helps to provide a total capacity of 525 passengers when it is equipped for three classes of travel, or 853 passengers when it is equipped solely for economy class.