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.

Flocks of super planes: Airbus’s vision of future travel

Airbus, a France-based airplane manufacturer that produces approximately half of the world’s jet airliners, has revealed its vision for the future of air travel.

While most of the company’s future concepts are motivated by the growing need for efficiency and the reduction of CO2 emissions, that does not make them any less spectacular, with the prospect of numbers of jet aircraft flying in formation in order to deliver greater numbers of passengers to popular destinations at the same time, just one of the developments being considered.

The plans, which Airbus say could materialise as soon as 2050, also include the reduction of journey times with steeper take-offs, and a reduction in noise and emission pollution by the introduction of glide-in landings. Add to this intelligent aircraft that could select their own most efficient routes, and Airbus predict that average journey times between America and Europe could see a reduction of 13 minutes by the middle of this century.

In a typical year, such a time reduction would save not only five million flying hours, but also nine million tons of fuel and 28 million tons of CO2 emissions.

Airbus engineering executive vice president, Charles Champion, was reported by the Daily Mail as saying, ‘Our engineers are continuously encouraged to think widely and come up with ‘disruptive’ ideas which will assist our industry in meeting the 2050 targets we have signed up to. These and the other tough environmental targets will only be met by a combination of investment in smarter aircraft design and optimising the environment in which the aircraft operates. That is why our latest Future by Airbus Smarter Skies concepts focus on not just what we fly, but how we may fly in 2050 and beyond.’


Air Travel Will Not Replace Online Communication, Says Study

Social media may be changing the way people communicate, but it will certainly not replace air travel, a verdict that comes as a relief to Airbus, an aircraft manufacturer.

A survey conducted by the company, for which around 1.75 million respondents were questioned, revealed that in the future people will still be keen to travel by air, and meeting with others physically will not be replaced by online communications.

By 2050, around 63 percent of people worldwide will be flying more than they are doing currently, according to the survey results. While 60 percent of respondents do not think that social media will replace physical meetings between people, around 40 percent of respondents feel that air travel is now becoming quite stressful, and round 96 percent demand sustainable or ‘eco-efficient’ air travel.

Charles Champion, the executive vice president of engineering, at Airbus, said, ‘Aviation is the real World Wide Web. The results of the survey show that there is nothing better than face-to-face contact. The world is woven together by a web of flights that creates ever-expanding social and economic networks: 57 million jobs, 35 per cent of world trade, and USD2.2 trillion in global GDP.

Since we launched the ‘Future by Airbus’, we have engaged with people in 192 countries in a dialogue about the future of air travel. This resulted in our revolutionary Airbus Concept Plane and Cabin, which offer a glimpse into some of the innovations that could meet evolving passenger trends and environmental considerations. It’s clear that people are really excited about the future of sustainable flight and we want them to be part of shaping that future.’


Airbus Offering Wider Seats for Travel Comfort

Airbus, an aircraft manufacturer, is offering extra-wide seats on its A320 family of aircraft, predominantly as a consideration for overweight passengers.

The company has announced that it is considering replacing some of its standard A320 Family seats, measuring 18 inches in width, with new extra wide aisle seats, having a width of 20 inches in total. The new seats will be offered in rows where the regular seats will need to be reduced to 17 inches in width.

The new seating is expected to be popular with over-weight passengers for whom the extra width will provide added comfort, although the seats will be offered at an additional fare. The new seats are also expected to be popular with business travellers, who are likely to be more comfortable with the extra space when operating their laptop computers, or parents that are flying with very small children.

The company is satisfied that it has been able to offer the extra width on its select seats without making any other changes to its designs or interiors. The extra wide seats are on offer after several airlines reported that they have received complaints from passengers seated next to obese travellers, with regards to the additional restriction on their personal space.

Suzana Hrnkova, the company head of cabin interiors marketing, said in an interview, ‘Over the last 30 years, human bodies have changed. We are bigger and taller, with larger shoulders and larger hips. Even our kids are getting bigger. So we have an idea to offer extra comfort for people who want to pay for it and generate additional revenue potential for airlines.’

Finnair Announces New Route to Chongqing from Helsinki

Finnair, a Finland-based airline, is offering direct connectivity between Europe and inland Chinese destinations.

The airline is to connect Helsinki, the Finnish capital, to Chongqing, one of the fastest-growing cities in China. The new route, the first from any European carrier, is claiming to be the fastest connection between Europe and China.

Chongqing is located in the Tibetan plateau, and has a total population of 32 million, although its population is expected to double in size over the next five years.

The airline chief executive officer, Mika Vehvilainen, said, ‘China is a key part of our Asia-Europe strategy. Western China is an important growth area, and the new route will strengthen our position in the growing Asian markets. I want to thank the Chongqing authorities and the local airport for the excellent cooperation and support for opening this new route. We believe Chongqing has the potential of developing into a hub for travel between Western China and Europe, both for business and leisure travellers.’

Chongqing is the hub of a number of major Chinese industries, as well as for Western companies dealing with electronics, automotive industries and chemicals. Chongqing Airport has recently opened 140 routes to around 80 cities in China and Asia, and continues to expand at a rapid pace.

The Finnish airline is flying Airbus A330 and A340 aircraft on the new route, covering the distance in eight and a half hours. Other Chinese destinations served by Finnair are daily flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong from Helsinki.

After Hotels, Now Flights To Go Adults Only, Say British Passengers

In a survey carried out by recently, around 53 percent of British passengers have cited adults-only flights as their first choice in air travel.

The poll, which canvassed the opinions of around 1,666 adults in the UK, has cited loud children as one of the biggest causes of stress in a flight, ahead of poor quality food and lack of legroom. Around 20 percent of those surveyed also cited reclining seats as causes of discomfort when used by neighbouring passengers, and more than half registered their dislike of airlines that do not provide allocated seating.

The issue of child-free flights, though controversial, seems to have struck a chord with the aviation industry. This week Malaysia Airlines has updated its policy for child passengers, banning them from upper deck of its Airbus A380 fleet.

The policy, which came into force recently, means that families travelling with children below the age of 12 years will be limited to a certain segment of the airplane on these flights. The airline is justifying its decision by saying that an overwhelming number of its passengers have complained about the noise created by children during flights.

Tengku Azmil, the airline chief executive officer, commented that many passengers had complained on Twitter that they had paid a premium to fly first class but had been unable to sleep due to crying infants.

The airline does however have a policy that allows for families with children to board first, as they take longer to organise themselves and take their seats inside an aircraft.

Emirates Airline Offers To Fly ‘Silent’ Airbus Fleet on Heathrow Night Flights

UAE-based airline company, Emirates Airline, has offered to operate nighttime flights to help increase the capacity of Heathrow Airport in the UK, by using the quieter Airbus A380s for overnight operations.

The airline’s Airbus A380 super-jumbo airplane fleet is capable of a steeper landing descent than other airplanes, which may lessen noise pollution close to the airport. However the airline is also proposing an increase in its operating hours out of the airport, by augmenting its daily flights to Dubai, UAE, to seven from Heathrow, instead of the current five.

Currently Heathrow Airport is only authorised to allow 15 flights per night for the summer season, which commences in April and runs until October, less than Gatwick Airport’s 50 flights per night and Stansted Airport’s 32 flights per night.

The UK government’s review of aviation policy will be commencing its preliminary consultations in the summer, and Emirates Airline is planning its aircraft schedules as part of its extended cooperation with the UK government. The noise regulations for Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports were all set to expire in October 2012, but have recently been extended to expire in October 2014.

Earlier, UK aviation minister, Theresa Villiers, said in a statement, ‘As a first step to replace the current regime in 2014, we will launch a first-stage consultation later this year which will seek detailed evidence of the effectiveness of the current regime including costs and benefits and airlines’ fleet replacement plans. This will be followed by a second consultation next year which will enable us to take account of adopted policy when developing our specific proposals.’