British Airways announces return of Jeddah route

British Airways has announced the return of its Jeddah route at the GREAT FUTURES expo in Riyadh, a flagship event aimed at fostering business engagement between the UK and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

The new route will commence on November 4, 2024, offering year-round service between Jeddah and London Heathrow. Operated by the Boeing 787 fleet, the four-times-weekly service will enhance connectivity to Saudi Arabia, complementing the existing daily service between Riyadh and Heathrow Terminal 5.

Colm Lacy, British Airways’ chief commercial officer, expressed enthusiasm about the route’s return during a speech at Riyadh’s King Abdullah Financial District. ‘We have a long history of connecting families, friends and businesses in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with our home in London. There are significant opportunities for businesses in both countries, so we’re pleased we can re-build our connectivity and strengthen links between the two kingdoms,’ he said.

The planned timetable for the new service, subject to slots and operational constraints, includes departures from London Heathrow at 20:10 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, arriving in Jeddah at 05:30 the following day. Return flights from Jeddah will depart at 07:55, arriving at London Heathrow at 11:45.

To celebrate the launch, British Airways is offering special return fares starting from SAR1905 in World Traveller (economy) and SAR16079 SAR in Club World (business class). These promotional fares are available for booking until June 5, 2024.

British Airways launches daily route to Abu Dhabi from London Heathrow

British Airways has recently announced its return to Abu Dhabi after a four-year hiatus.

British Airways will now operate a daily flight from London Heathrow to Abu Dhabi Zayed International Airport throughout the year, using the Boeing 787-9 aircraft during the summer of 2024. This new route enhances the airline’s extensive global network and strengthens connections between the UAE and the UK, catering to travellers whether they are journeying for leisure, business, or to visit family and friends.

Flight BA073 to Abu Dhabi will depart London Heathrow at 22:25, arriving in Abu Dhabi at 08:30 the next day. The return flight to London (BA072) departs at 10:10 and arrives at London Heathrow at 15:20.

Elena Sorlini, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said: ‘We extend a warm welcome to British Airways as they start operating at Zayed International Airport with a daily schedule that promises to enrich connectivity and invigorate both business and tourism. Our new award-winning and cutting-edge terminal offers visitors an unparalleled introduction to the vibrant UAE capital, where they will be greeted with Emirati hospitality at its finest.’

Calum Laming, Chief Customer Officer at British Airways said: ‘We are really excited to be celebrating our Abu Dhabi route launch. The new daily flight connects Abu Dhabi with London Heathrow and beyond, providing our customers with another amazing destination within our expansive global network and further growing our connections with the UAE. With four cabins to choose from, including First, we are confident customers will enjoy our exceptional and original British Airways service brought to life by our incredible colleagues.’

Heathrow launches annual Whisky Festival

Heathrow Airport is once again hosting its annual Whisky Festival, running from April 15 to May 14, in collaboration with World Duty Free.

This month-long celebration promises immersive events and exclusive product launches, showcasing the diversity and appeal of whisky to travellers from around the world.

With whisky accounting for a remarkable 70 percent of all spirits sales at Heathrow, the festival is a testament to its popularity among holidaymakers. In 2023, an average of three whisky bottles were sold per minute at the airport, solidifying its position as a global hub for whisky enthusiasts.

Fraser Brown, Retail Director at Heathrow, commented: ‘As the world’s most connected airport, the annual Whisky Festival is an opportunity for us to celebrate the growing number of master-crafted world whiskies, as well as the great British brands creating one of our key exports. Whether picking up a bottle as a gift for a loved one or travel souvenir, Heathrow shoppers choose whisky over any other spirit. We are looking forward to hosting an exciting series of events that will introduce passengers to new ways to serve and enjoy whisky when they reach their destinations.’

This year’s festival will feature expert-led masterclasses and unveilings of exclusive global product launches. Brands like FABLE, Wildmoor, and Bushmills will showcase unique offerings, while The Dalmore will introduce its highly anticipated Luminary No 2 2024 Edition single malt. Beyond whisky tastings, foodies can indulge in whisky-infused delights crafted by Heathrow’s culinary experts. From pulled pork burgers glazed with Monkey Shoulder to smoked salmon infused with Woodford Reserve, the festival aims to be a gastronomic adventure.

Heathrow’s Whisky Ambassadors will be on hand to offer personalized recommendations to travellers seeking the perfect gift or souvenir. Additionally, Pernod Ricard experts will conduct complimentary whisky masterclasses, providing tasting and serving tips to participants. Heathrow Rewards members have the chance to win exclusive festival whiskies or the full range of FABLE whiskies adorned with limited-edition label prints inspired by Scottish folklore.

British Airways to expand services to San Diego from London

British Airways is set to increase its flight offerings between San Diego International Airport and London Heathrow Airport starting April 20, 2024.

The British carrier will introduce a second daily nonstop flight on this route, effectively doubling its service. The move comes as San Diego has demonstrated a robust recovery from the pandemic among the top 30 U.S.-Europe passenger markets, with the number of passengers traveling between San Diego and Europe now surpassing pre-pandemic levels by 12 percent. This expansion in flight capacity aims to meet the growing demand for travel to and from the San Diego region.

Since June 2011, British Airways has been offering daily nonstop flights between San Diego International Airport and London Heathrow Airport operating one flight per day. The existing flight schedule (BA273 and BA272) will be adjusted, with arrivals in San Diego from London at 6:10 PM and departures from San Diego to London at 8:00 PM. The new additional flight (BA265 and BA264) will arrive in San Diego at 3:25 PM and depart for London at 5:15 PM.

‘The expansion of British Airways flights between London Heathrow Airport and San Diego International Airport opens up a world of possibilities,’ said Kimberly Becker, San Diego County Regional Airport Authority President and CEO. ‘Leisure and business travellers from San Diego will have added opportunities to explore London and beyond, while giving travellers from the rest of the world increased access to San Diego’s beautiful beaches and year-round sunny climate.’

‘We are delighted to be launching a second daily flight from San Diego, further supporting the growth of business and leisure travel in the city and demonstrating our commitment to the region,’ said Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ Director of Networks and Alliances. ‘This new frequency will offer more options and convenience for our customers and is a welcome addition to our California schedule.’

London, along with Munich and Paris, ranks among the top European destinations for travellers from San Diego. The new flights will be conducted using a 272-seat Boeing 777-200 aircraft for BA264/BA265 and a 214-seat Boeing 787-8 aircraft for BA272/BA273. With the added flights, the seat capacity for travel to London in summer 2024 will increase by a substantial 47 percent compared to summer 2023.

British Airways commences new service to Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen from Heathrow

British Airways has announced the launch of its new service between London Heathrow and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen

Located on the Anatolian side of the city, Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISG) is the gateway into Istanbul’s rich history, culture, shopping and dining.

The new route between London Heathrow (LHR) and Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen (SAW) will operate four times per week on Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays on a mix of A320 and A321 aircraft. Return fares start from £368 in Club Europe (British Airways’ business class cabin) and £130 in Euro Traveller (economy).

British Airways’ Head of Corporate Sales in Europe, Elisabeth Ruff, said: ‘As we continue our investment programme into new products, services, and technology, we’re excited to open up even greater connectivity between two of the world’s leading cities, Istanbul and London.’

Berk Albayrak, CEO, Sabiha Gokcen Airport, said: ‘British Airways has become the 45th airline to operate to Sabiha Gokcen and now our passengers can benefit from its extensive global route network. British Airways serves 200 destinations in more than 65 countries and with their large fleet and renowned services, the addition of this route will undoubtedly further enhance the travel experience of our guests.’

Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen has become the latest destination to join British Airways’ network, with the inaugural flight landing on Thursday June 1, 2023. Sabiha Gokcen serves 154 destinations located across 51 countries via flights operated by 45 airlines.

Loganair commences new routes to City of Derry, Dundee, Orkney and Shetland from Heathrow

Heathrow Airport has announced the launch of new routes operated by Loganair, a regional UK airline.

As announced in April, Loganair has started connecting Heathrow to the City of Derry, Dundee, Orkney and Shetland in addition to its existing Isle of Man service. City of Derry flights commenced from London Stansted on Saturday May 6, while flights to Dundee left from Heathrow for the first time in 40 years on Tuesday May 9.

The move has brought the first-ever link between City of Derry Airport and Heathrow, connected Sumburgh and Heathrow for the first time and restored the air link from Heathrow to Dundee.

Jonathan Hinkles, CEO, Loganair said: ‘These routes really take Loganair’s provision of regional connectivity to new heights and underline our credentials as the UK’s largest regional airline. We’re very grateful to the UK Government and BA for their support in securing these slots for domestic connectivity and it was great to see so many happy passengers boarding the new services today.

‘Maintaining and improving regional connectivity is one of the main levers of a powerful economy and with these new routes we’re offering business connections into the heart of London from some of the most remote communities in the UK.

‘Likewise, we’ve opened the door to enhanced tourism for places like Derry, Shetland and Orkney, while also giving all our passengers access to the incredible onward connections on offer at Heathrow. It truly is a game changer for regional commercial aviation.’

Joanna Taso, Aviation Director, Heathrow said: ‘We are delighted to be celebrating the inaugural Heathrow to Sumburgh via Dundee departure. Loganair’s new domestic routes to Dundee and the City of Derry will open up lifeline connectivity and global business opportunities via Heathrow, the UK’s gateway to the world. Their expanded operations are supported by our domestic passenger discount and demonstrate Heathrow’s longstanding commitment to regional connectivity.’

British Airways announces new daily service from London Heathrow to Florence

British Airways has announced a new daily flight from London Heathrow to Florence, Italy, for Summer 2023.

Starting on April 16, 2023, 07:50, the new flight will operate daily from London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 on an A320Neo aircraft. Return flights are on sale from London Heathrow to Florence now, starting from £114, and can be booked at www.ba.com.

Florence will be one of 11 Italian cities served by British Airways from London Heathrow in Summer 2023, including Rome, Milan, Venice and Naples. The London Heathrow to Florence flight joins a host of new routes starting in the Summer 2023 season, such as London Gatwick to Aruba and Guyana, and London Heathrow to Cincinnati, Ohio.

Neil Chernoff, Director of Networks and Alliances at British Airways, said: ‘We know our customers love visiting Tuscany, which is why we already operate flights from London City to Florence. We’ve added this new route from London Heathrow to the Tuscan capital to offer them even more choice to explore this incredible Italian region.

‘Not only is this good news for UK travellers, but also for those connecting in London to and from US destinations. The flights’ timings have been optimised for connectivity to popular routes, including New York, Boston and Chicago.’

British Airways Holidays is also offering two nights with breakfast at the 4-star Palazzo Lorenzo Hotel Boutique from £279pp, travelling on selected dates in May 2023. The fare includes economy (Euro Traveller) return flights from London Heathrow Airport and 23kg luggage allowance. Bookings can be made before January 31, 2023 at www.ba.com/florence

British Airways to trial biometric technology for international flights

British Airways is to trial the use of biometric technology for international flights, which will allow customers to travel through the airport ‘smartly’ without having to show their passport.

Select customers travelling from London Heathrow Terminal 5 will be invited to volunteer for the trail and will receive an email three days before their flight. Customers who sign up to take part in the airline’s trial will be invited to scan their face, passport and boarding pass on their smartphone or tablet ahead of travel. When trial participants arrive at the airport, Smart Bio-Pod cameras verify their identity in under three seconds.

Participants are still required to carry their passport when travelling and will be required to show it when they reach their destination airport.

David Breeze, Operations Transformation Manager for British Airways, said: ‘Not only is this the first time that our customers have been able to register their biometric information at home, but it’s the first time they can use it for British Airways’ international flights. This is a secure and efficient tool that makes for a smarter and smoother airport experience, which will reduce the time it takes us to board aircraft.’

‘The beauty of this technology is that it also frees our people up to look after more complex customer enquiries and deliver the best possible customer service.’

With the move, British Airways will become the first UK airline to trial biometric technology for international flights. This trial follows the introduction of automated biometric technology on British Airways’ domestic flights in 2017, when it became the first UK airline to introduce the technology, which records customers’ facial scans at Security and matches it to them at the boarding gate.

The trial will run for six months on British Airways flights to Malaga, Spain. Customers who opt-in will be invited to make use of the Fast-Track security lane and will receive complimentary priority boarding.

The technology used in the trial has been created by travel technology company Amadeus, customised for British Airways. If the trial is successful, it will be expected to be extended to more international flights.

Qatar Airways enhances passenger experience at London Heathrow Terminal 4

Qatar Airways is looking to enhance its passenger experience at London Heathrow Terminal 4, with a new Frequent Flyer Lounge, as well as with the reopening of its Premium Lounge.

Situated in Terminal 4, the Frequent Flyer lounge is open to Qatar Airways Privilege Club members, with access available to Joint Business Partners like British Airways Executive Club members, and other oneworld Alliance loyalty members. Eligible customers can indulge in a menu comprising of a hot and cold buffet selection and a range of beverages.

Qatar Airways’ Premium Lounge in Terminal 4 has also recently reopened its doors to Qatar Airways First and Business Class passengers. The premium lounge features a martini bar, a dedicated family area, prayer room and diverse dining options including a full buffet and an a la carte menu both for fine and casual dining.

In addition, Qatar Airways has introduced a new enclosed Premium Check-in Area exclusively for its First and Business Class customers. Within the check-in lobby area, customers may relax in the lounge with beverages while check-in formalities are completed.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: ‘We are proud to be opening our first Frequent Flyer lounge outside of Doha, offering passengers across the oneworld Alliance network an oasis of calm and comfort in one of the world’s busiest airports. Qatar Airways is committed to serving passengers travelling from Heathrow with world-class facilities, and we hope that they will enjoy the warm Qatari hospitality offered at the Premium Lounge, FFP Lounge and the dedicated Premium Check-in area.’

To meet the increased demand for international travel, Qatar Airways operates to more than 150 destinations worldwide, connecting through its Doha hub, Hamad International Airport. Qatar Airways offers UK passengers a wide range of destinations on the airline’s global network, including Australia, Thailand, India, the Maldives and the Philippines.

Qatar Airways currently operates from four UK airports, which includes five daily flights from London Heathrow increasing to six daily flights from London Gatwick, up to three daily flights from Manchester, and a daily service from Edinburgh. In addition to the UK frequencies, the airline operates to Dublin with 11 weekly flights.

British Airways announces plans to cut 10,000 more flights to and from Heathrow

British Airways has announced a further round of cancellations, eliminating 10,000 flights to and from Heathrow until the end of March 2023, The Guardian has reported.

Heathrow’s directive comes as it struggles to find the staff amid post-Covid recovery to meet returning demand from business travellers and tourists, leading to chaos and long queues over Easter, spring half-term and into early summer.

The carrier, owned by International Airlines Group, has decided to reduce its short-haul schedule by eight percent after the London airport extended the summer’s 100,000 daily cap on passenger numbers by six more weeks until the end of October and asked airlines to sell fewer flights.

British Airways said that it will increase cancellations, continuing a trend that began in May as airlines and airports struggled with staff shortages. The airline has already cut thousands of flights over the summer to address the staffing problems faced by airports and the airline itself. It also suspended ticket sales on short-haul flights from Heathrow earlier this month in light of Heathrow’s capacity cap.

British Airways said that more than 600 return flights to and from Heathrow would be cancelled to October 29, while the winter schedule, which runs until the end of March, would be cut by eight percent. The impact is expected to be ‘minimal’ as alternative same-day flights available on most of the routes affected, but some cancellations would be unavoidable.

‘While the vast majority of our customers will travel as planned and we’re protecting key holiday destinations over half-term, we will need to make some further cancellations up to the end of October,’ a spokesperson for BA said.

‘In addition, we’re giving customers travelling with us this winter notice of some adjustments to our schedule, which will include consolidating some of our short-haul flights to destinations with multiple services. We’ll be offering customers affected by any of these changes an alternative flight with British Airways or another airline or the option of a refund.’

The government has allowed airlines to cut their capacity this year via the introduction of a ‘slot amnesty’, announced last month. The facility allows airlines to reduce operations without forfeiting the right to valuable landing slots at Heathrow and other busy airports, which normally have a ‘use it or lose it’ rule, the report noted.