bmi regional introduces ‘Flight Pass’ on Norwich-Aberdeen route, increases capacity

UK-based regional airline bmi regional has announced a multiple purchase discount scheme on its Norwich – Aberdeen route along with an expansion of services.

bmi regional is introducing ‘Flight Pass’ – a multiple purchase discount scheme on the Norwich – Aberdeen route offering regular travellers’ savings of between 10 per cent and 40 per cent on the base fare. In addition, starting January 11 2016, the airline will increase capacity on the route, moving from two to three daily return flights.

A valuable offering on the route, Flight Pass is expected to attract a high number of regular travellers. It will enable passengers to achieve savings in excess of £1,000 by booking up to six return trips in advance. Based on a sliding scale of discounts two return trips will attract a 10 per cent discount while six return trips will attract the maximum 40 per cent reduction.

Flight Pass customers will continue to enjoy bmi regional’s services including fast track security at Aberdeen Airport, online check-in, lounge access with a full bar service, 20kg baggage allowance and complimentary drinks and snacks on-board, Norwich Airport said in a release.

Jochen Schnadt, chief commercial officer at bmi regional, said: ‘Flight Pass offers our passengers excellent value for money on this popular route, while the additional daily flights provide added convenience to our passengers.’

Separately, bmi regional announced that it will add capacity on its Paris to Bristol route for dates throughout February and March to meet the increased demand for travel between the UK and France by rugby fans.

Commenting on the plan, Schnadt said: ‘In our effort to constantly improve our customer offering and become more responsive to our customers’ demands, we are happy to announce these additional services between Bristol and Paris so that the many passionate rugby fans and customers looking for some Valentine’s Day magic can conveniently travel between both cities at optimal times with the usual comfort bmi regional offers its customers.’

easyJet set to launch ‘Flight Club’ airline loyalty scheme

British low-fares airline easyJet has announced that it will introduce a new recognition scheme for its most frequent travellers, Flight Club, aimed at rewarding loyalty and providing flexibility for frequent flyers.

The announcement, which follows a successful trial, comes as easyJet’s customer loyalty increased significantly over the last five years. In 2015 nearly 74 percent of the airline’s passengers chose to fly with easyJet again – equating to more than 50 million returning passengers, compared to 34 million in 2010.

The scheme will be rolled out across easyJet’s European network from early 2016 when passengers will be invited to join ‘Flight Club’. The invitation will be based on the qualifying criteria of having booked and flown 20 or more flights and/or making a minimum spend with easyJet over a 12 month period.

Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet, said: ‘I am incredibly proud that more than 50 million of our customers flying with us this year have flown with us before and chose to fly with us again. This is testament to the customer service they receive, our low fares and our unrivalled network across Europe.

‘easyJet’s Flight Club will reward our most loyal, frequent flyers – most of whom will fly with us more than 20 times a year. It isn’t like a traditional airline reward programme because our customers have told us that those schemes can be a source of frustration. This is a loyalty scheme with a difference because it gives passengers benefits they really value and can access immediately.’

Members of the ‘Flight Club’ scheme will receive a range of benefits and features including free flight changes, free name changes, lower price promise, previews of new routes and special offers. The 18 month trial of Flight Club involved around 15,000 high frequency travellers.

easyJet expects thousands of passengers to qualify for Flight Club based on the criteria that match both the airline’s most frequent flyers and its most loyal customers. Full details of the ‘Flight Club’ scheme will be published closer to the launch date, the airline said.

The loyalty scheme will run alongside the easyJet Plus scheme, which launched in 2008 and allows passengers free allocated seat choice, dedicated bag drop and fast boarding, easyJet said.

 

Wizz Air announces new Birmingham to Bucharest route

Leading European low-fares airline Wizz Air has announced a new route from Birmingham to Bucharest.

The route will commence on May 22 and will be operated with two weekly flights on Wednesdays and Sundays. Tickets on Wizz Air’s new Bucharest route are available for booking at wizzair.com from £ 28.49 one way, including all taxes and non-optional charges.

Commenting on the announcement, Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport, said: ‘Great news today that Wizz Air is adding another route to its network from Birmingham Airport. The country of Romania is not currently served directly from Birmingham so this gives our passengers even more choice from their local airport.

The capital, Bucharest, with its commercial centre and the historic Lipscani district just next door has something that appeals to everyone. This new route announcement shows the strength of the WizzAir brand, releasing another destaitnion just two weeks after its inaugural flight to Warsaw.’

Tamara Mshvenieradze, corporate communications manager at Wizz Air, said: ‘We are thrilled today to be adding a fourth route to Wizz Air’s Birmingham network. We have launched our first flights from Birmingham to Poland and Hungary only a couple of weeks ago and today add a third country reachable on Wizz Air’s low fares from Birmingham. The new route to Bucharest provides an opportunity for our business and leisure travellers to explore the capital of Romania on our low fares from only £ 28.49*. Likewise, our low fares are attracting more visitors to the West Midlands, stimulating tourism and hospitality sectors as well as strengthening business relations between the two countries.’

With this new service, Wizz Air offers four routes to three countries from Birmingham, while the airline offers 39 routes to 14 countries from Bucharest. Wizz Air has also announced a new service from Bucharest to Glasgow recently, which will start on May 21, and operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

 

WestJet launches daily direct service between Halifax and Glasgow

Canadian airlines WestJet has announced the launch of a non-stop daily service between Halifax, Canada; and Glasgow, Scotland, with same-aircraft service beginning in Toronto.

The inaugural flight on WestJet’s #TartanTail took off from Toronto Pearson on May 29 at 6:10 p.m. EDT with a brief stop at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, before departing for Glasgow at 10:45 p.m. ADT.

‘Today’s launch of service to the UK marks the start of another exciting chapter in the history of WestJet,’ said Gregg Saretsky, WestJet President and CEO. ‘As Canada’s low-fare leader for nearly 20 years, we have dedicated ourselves to liberating Canadians from the high cost of air travel. With our service to Ireland and the U.K., we are making it more affordable than ever before to travel overseas, whether for business or leisure.’

The Hon. Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, Government of Canada, commented: ‘By taking the initiative to seek out new opportunities beyond Canada’s borders and launching this new air route, WestJet is strengthening the historic ties between Nova Scotia and Scotland, and supporting our economy and communities by connecting Canadians to the United Kingdom and the world.’

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: ‘WestJet’s new Halifax-Glasgow route is a major boost for Glasgow, providing the perfect opportunity to strengthen existing cultural and business links between both cities. Canada is Glasgow’s third-largest international market with 37,000 trips made each year by Canadian visitors who generate GBP12 million for the city’s economy. There will undoubtedly be strong demand for this service, which has huge potential to deliver significant inbound leisure tourism.’

Mike Cantlay, OBE, Chairman of VisitScotland, added: ‘Canada and Nova Scotia in particular represent an exciting diaspora stronghold and a fantastic opportunity for Scottish tourism. Some 4.7 million Canadians have Scottish ancestry, with 24 per cent wanting to visit Scotland in search of those roots. The new WestJet route from Halifax to Glasgow presents a great platform for the tourism industry in Scotland to tap into an ancestral market worth up to GBP450 million over the next five years.’

Tourists and travellers flying with WestJet to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, land at 8 a.m. local time, offering opportunities to connect via 30 airlines to more than 100 non-stop and connecting destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. The return flight departs Glasgow at 9.30 a.m. local time, to reach Toronto at 2.35 p.m.

Scotland’s principal long-haul airport and a charter hub, Glasgow offers tourists the convenience to explore the idyllic west coast islands and Scotland’s wealth of lochs, mountains and golf courses.

 

Vueling launches Birmingham-Barcelona service

Spain’s leading low cost carrier, Vueling Airlines, has launched a new service between Barcelona and Birmingham Airport, according to a release by Birmingham Airport.

Vueling will initially operate three weekly services between Birmingham and Barcelona El Prat Airport. During the peak summer months, the airline will offer up to five flights a week.

William Pearson, Birmingham Airport’s Aviation Development Director, said: ‘It was fantastic to see our newest airline, Vueling, land into Birmingham today. The carrier will add more than 27,000 seats to Barcelona from Birmingham and give passengers a choice of more than 140 destinations on the Vueling network across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

‘We are extremely pleased that Vueling, which is a very successful and strong brand in Europe that offers very affordable fares, has chosen Birmingham for its newest route launch and we look forward to seeing more and more passengers use the new service over the coming year.’

Gabriel Schmilovich, Head of Network Planning, Scheduling and Slots at Vueling, added: ‘We are very happy to announce the launch of the route between Birmingham and Barcelona. With up to five flights per week during summer, passengers from Birmingham will not only be able to reach Barcelona but will also benefit from Vueling’s connections to many destinations like the Balearic Islands or Canary Islands, with a premium product and very competitive prices.’

The new service will add extra 21,600 seats to Barcelona from Birmingham and give passengers a choice of more than 140 destinations on the Vueling network across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Vueling said when it announced the new service last November.

Flights are on sale now with a lead in fare of €54,99 via vueling.com and ba.com or via travel agents. The new service will deploy a 180- seat A320 aircraft.

Vueling, Barcelona’s leading airline with almost 40 percent of the market share, is owned by the IAG group and offers code shares with airlines including British Airways and Iberia. This not only offers customers a multitude of connections across the group’s network, but also allows customers to redeem BA air miles and Avios points.

easyjet passengers get front row seats for total eclipse

easyJet passengers flying to Iceland from the UK today were among a select group people anywhere in the world to have a front row seat for one the most spectacular natural phenomenon’s – a total solar eclipse.

Only visible from two places on earth, the remote Faroe Islands and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, the total eclipse occurs when the moon fully covers the sun – resulting in a complete blackout.

Flights EZY 2295 and EZY 1805, which departed from both Luton and Manchester at 07:45 and EZY 6747 from Belfast at 08:05, should have passed almost directly over the Faroe Islands at the right time, giving passengers one of the closest and least obstructed views of a total eclipse anywhere in the world.

The rest of the UK only got to view a partial eclipse and even then, with the Met office predicting cloud across parts of the country, the chances of those areas seeing anything at all was less likely.

Speaking prior to the event, Ali Gayward, commercial manager for Iceland, said:

‘It’s great that easyJet passengers will be in the right place at the right time on Friday and are set to be rewarded the best view anywhere in the world from 37,000 feet.’

easyJet operates 28 times a week to Reykjavik from eight airports across Europe and carries in excess of 200,000 passengers per year to and from Reykjavik. Tourism in Iceland has increased by 40 percent over the last two years, helped by the introduction of affordable flights.

 

Citywing announces additional flights to Glasgow, to resume Blackpool service

Citywing, an Isle of Man-based company that sells seats on scheduled air flights operated under charter from Van Air Europe, has announced a further increase on its flights between the Isle of Man and Glasgow for summer 2015.

Starting May 01, 2015, Citywing will provide the Island’s community with a regular and frequent direct service with 11 return flights a week. The fares start from £49.95 each way, including all taxes and charges.

With its range of tourist attractions, Glasgow is seen as a fine getaway city break, whether it is shopping, visiting a museum, the annual jazz festival or relaxing in bars and restaurants. Glasgow International Airport also offers travellers an alternative hub to connect to onward worldwide destinations.

David Buck, managing director at Citywing, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to increase our services to Glasgow this summer and believe we have covered all the bases with the changes in our scheduling. Our business passengers can now take advantage of a day return whilst the leisure traveller can enjoy short breaks off the Island with weekend travel now being more available.’

Paul White, business development manager at Glasgow Airport, said: ‘We were delighted when Citywing decided to reinstate this important business and tourism link in 2014.

We wish Citywing continued success with this route, which offers the only direct route between Scotland and the Isle of Man, and look forward to working closely with the airline to ensure its continued success at Glasgow Airport.’

Separately Citywing is expecting its services to Blackpool to resume on April 1, according to an online report by IOM Today.

‘We are endeavouring to have operations up and running by April 1. Negotiations are ongoing,’ Buck reportedly said. However, according to Ronaldsway Airport director Ann Reynolds, security aspects still needed to be resolved, as Blackpool Airport does not have a full commercial licence yet, and with the same security protocols that it once had.

Citywing has been taking online bookings on the route; and if the service fails to resume passengers would be offered a refund or alternative flights.

 

bmi regional launches ‘Be Elvis for a day’ for high flyers

As Elvis Presley’s private jets go up for sale, the UK’s regional airlines bmi regional is offering high flyers the chance to hire a private jet to ‘feel like ‘The King’ for a day’.

Aspiring celebrities can hire a 49-seater bmi regional jet aircraft for day for their own private use, at GBP300 per person per day when fully-booked, including full in-flight service with custom-made menu and bar. Rhinestone-adorned flares and sideburns will also be arranged if required.

The airline, which has received the honour of being UK’s most punctual scheduled airline for nine consecutive years, offers flyers the opportunity to choose their own schedule, a UK departure airport and a short haul destination – and even have their own name on the aircraft exterior. The aircraft can fly and return within the day, after a day out to Cannes, Milan or the Northern Lights of Scandinavia.

bmi regional offers private charter of its 49-seater Embraer 145 aircraft, which may be adorned with personal livery if required. The Embraer is a low wing T-tail aircraft powered by two rear mounted Rolls-Royce turbofans, with a speed of over 800 km/h and a cruising altitude of 37,000 ft. Full in-flight service include hot menus with full bar service, which may be personalised to exact dietary or special requirements.

Based on 49 passengers travelling from a UK airport, a round trip from the UK to the south of France can cost from GBP300 per person return – which includes full in-flight service.

bmi regional aircraft are popular among stars, bands and soccer teams, being hired regularly to jet between performances and games. With a wide range of private charter clients, and 70 years’ of flying legacy, bmi regional claims to be the go-to airlines for customised solutions to suit private charter requirements.

 

Commercial aviation celebrates 100th anniversary

Yesterday marked the centennial of commercial aviation, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has invited everyone interested in aviation to join a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary.

The celebrations will include debates and discussions on what needs to happen to make the next 100 years even more momentous.

On January 1, 1914, a team of four visionaries – Percival Fansler, Thomas Benoist, Tony Jannus and Abram Pheil – came together to organise the first scheduled commercial airline flight, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat across Tampa Bay, Florida.

Beginning with only one passenger on one route on January 1, 1914, today the global aviation industry provides unprecedented connectivity, positively impacting on lives of people across the world.

To cite key statistics:

On average, every day more than 8 million people fly. In 2013 total passenger numbers were 3.1 billion, surpassing the 3 billion mark for the first time ever. That number is expected to grow to 3.3 billion in 2014, almost 44 percent of the world’s population.

About 50 million tonnes of cargo is transported by air each year (about 140,000 tonnes daily). The annual value of these goods is some $6.4 trillion, or 35 percent of the value of goods traded internationally.

Aviation supports over 57 million jobs and generates $2.2 trillion in economic activity, and the global airline industry turnover is expected to be $743bn in 2014.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: ‘Over the last century, commercial aviation has transformed the world in ways unimaginable in 1914. The first flight provided a short-cut across Tampa Bay. Today the aviation industry re-unites loved ones, connects cultures, expands minds, opens markets, and fosters development. Aviation provides people around the globe with the freedom to make connections that can change their lives and the world.

‘Aviation is a force for good. And the potential of commercial flight to keep changing the world for the better is almost unlimited. Aviation has always been a team effort. Growing and sustainably spreading the benefits of connectivity will require the industry, governments, regulators and local communities keep true to the ‘all-in-it-together’ ethos that was the bedrock of that pioneering first flight. And we should be guided by the long-term interests of all whose lives are positively transformed by commercial aviation every day.’

Tyler added, ‘A hundred years is something worth celebrating. And we look forward to creating an equally remarkable legacy for commercial aviation’s second century.’

To host the centennial celebration, a website (www.flying100years.com) was launched on January 1, 2014. In addition to providing reference materials, the website will also be an interactive information hub, depicting the value that commercial aviation provides from personal, economic and other perspectives.

Watchdog investigate Ryanair over £10 charges for emergency exit seats

Budget Airline Ryanair are currently being investigated by safety watchdogs after passengers were made to pay an extra £10 charge so they could sit in seats by emergency exits.

The popular seats offer more legroom for travellers, however the seats located next to the emergency exits have been left empty on hundreds of flights after travellers refused to pay the added cost.

Ryanair passengers buying standard seats are told that they can sit anywhere on the plane apart from the first four rows and the emergency exit rows in the centre.

However passengers in standard seats are still expected to be able to follow directions on the emergency procedures.

The Irish Aviation Authority and UK regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), have launched an investigation into the airline. Suggesting that Ryanair should look at its policy as the issue is described as a ‘grey area’.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has also questioned safety issues on board.

One passenger on a Ryanair flight said that he was asked to make sure that he was aware of how to open a door that he was unable to see.

“I wasn’t allowed to sit in the emergency exit row so I sat in the window seat in the row in front. Before take-off, one of the cabin crew spoke to me, and another passenger who was in the aisle seat.

“Basically, she was saying that, since we were the closest to the emergency exit, we’d have to make sure we’d read and understood the instructions for opening the doors in the middle of the plane in an emergency”.

Adding: “She said emergency row seats could only be used by people who had paid extra. It just seemed ludicrous and mean-spirited.

Stephen McNamara, the head of communications at Ryanair said: “We do not believe this to be an issue, as all Ryanair passengers are provided with the same safety and evacuation information.

“We will continue to discuss the matter with the IAA”.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh