British Airways Offers More In-Flight Entertainment and Retail Experiences

British Airways, the UK-based airline, has recently upgraded its ‘In-flight Entertainment Experience British Airways’ on its long-distance aircraft.

The entertainment experience will vary with the type of aircraft, but most will be offering a wide range of content that will be available from when passengers board the aircraft to when they arrive at their destination.

For passengers in First and Club World and front row seats, screens will have to be stowed away during takeoff and landing, but they may still listen to audio broadcasts.

The airline has also made plans to increase its in-flight retail offers, as recent research amongst Christmas shoppers has found that a third (or 32%) of people are likely to buy their Christmas gifts on board flights.

Around 30,000 people are flying with British Airways on Christmas Day, and the airline is busy stocking additional gift items for its onboard retail programme, during the busiest shopping season of the year.

Peter O’Shea, the airline on-board retail executive, said, ‘December is our busiest month for on board shopping. Customers like to chose from our carefully selected gifts and benefit from a wide range of travel exclusives and tax-free purchases. Many also like the convenience of buying on board, as it means less to carry in their luggage.’

The airline is also planning to offer a charity donation card, designed by Tracey Emin, and available on board flights and online at www.highlifeshop.com from December 3, 2012. The card, priced at £5, will donate money to Flying Start, the airline’s charity partnership with Comic Relief.

Iberia Employees May Go On Strike Before Christmas

Employees of Iberia, the Spain-based airline owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), are planning a strike over Christmas in protest against impending job cuts.

Union officials at the airline have warned of a strike action during Christmas, to protest against an earlier announcement made by IAG for a comprehensive plan to restructure the airline, which includes a reduction of 4,500 jobs, a reduction of network capacity by 15 percent in 2013, and the removal of around 25 aircraft from the fleet.

The strikes are likely to be held on December 14, and between December 17 and December 21, 2012.

A spokesperson for the UGT union, the second largest union in Spain, said, ‘All of the unions are in intense talks to fix dates for action against the plan to dismantle Iberia.’

Earlier, IAG said in a statement, ‘In the short term the transformation will focus on stemming the losses and creating a profitable route network. This will include suspending loss-making routes and frequencies and ensuring there is effective feed for profitable long haul flights.

As well as halting Iberia’s financial decline we will establish a viable business that can grow profitably in the long term. Short and medium haul operations will be transformed to compete effectively with low cost carriers who have successfully established themselves in Iberia’s home market. The plan will see comprehensive productivity improvements and the introduction of permanent salary adjustments to achieve a competitive and flexible cost base.’

In a counter statement, UGT said, ‘UGT, CCOO and SEPLA have indicated to the address of Iberia our absolute rejection of the terms of the proposed plan, reiterating our demand to develop and negotiate a real viability plan and, to achieve them, we are willing to take whatever actions are union accurate.

Said plan is based on the decrease of the company and the segregation of business, loading the failure of management workers

CCOO, UGT and SEPLA are willing to negotiate on the basis of good faith a viable plan for Iberia and return to the land of profitability.’

British Airways Announces New Service to Seoul From London

British Airways, a UK based airline, is opening a new route from London to Seoul, in South Korea.

The airline is introducing its new route between Seoul Incheon Airport and London Heathrow Airport from December 2, 2012.

Drew Crawley, the airline commercial director, said, ‘We have seen significant growth in customers wanting to travel to Seoul for both business and pleasure. It is a vibrant city with a strong economic base.

Equally, we want to ensure that we do our bit in bringing as much business and tourism to the UK as we can.’

The new route will be flying to Seoul with stopovers at Tokyo, Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai, and the flights will be departing from Terminal 5 at London Heathrow Airport. The airline intends to operate a Boeing 777 aircraft, with First class, Club World (business class), World Traveller Plus (premium economy) and World Traveller (economy) grades of seating, and will be offering six flights per week on the route.

Keith Williams, the airline chief executive officer, said, ‘When we decided to launch Seoul, we were basing it on the strong demand from business travellers in both directions given the city’s strong economic base.’

Previously, Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, the airline’s parent company, said, ‘Asia is an opportunity – particularly now we have flights at Heathrow through the acquisition of Bmi.

We are currently under-served in that market although we will not be looking to enter the intra-Asia market as we don’t think we have the expertise to do that. It would also be very expensive and probably loss making.

Our focus is on serving growth markets from Asia into Europe. We are just about to start a route to Seoul and we plan to launch a number of new destinations in Asia.

Lots of airports are keen to see a BA presence and we are in dialogue with them. There’s a significant opportunity to increase our Asian presence in a profitable way – particularly with the delivery of the Boeing 787s next year.

We will further expand into the North American market – it’s always been very important for BA and it continues to be a market where there’s growth opportunity.’

IAG Announces Bid to Acquire Spain-Based Vueling

International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, has announced that it has made an offer to acquire a 100 percent stake in Vueling, the Spain based low cost carrier.

The company currently owns a 45.85 percent stake in Vueling and has made an offer to acquire the rest of the stock for €113 million, for an offer price of €7 per share.

IAG chief executive officer, Willie Walsh, said, ‘With its leading position in Barcelona, European growth strategy and low cost base, Vueling has much to offer IAG. It has significantly increased capacity while remaining profitable, despite the Spanish economic slowdown, and already has extensive commercial arrangements with Iberia. We would plan to retain the current Vueling management team.

This would be good news for Vueling as there are many advantages for the airline in this deal. It will benefit from the financial strength of a larger airline group, making it better able to compete with other airlines and invest in new customer products and services. The airline will also be able to generate some cost and revenue synergies as part of IAG mainly through joint financing and procurement.

This acquisition would be positive for Spain. We would retain Vueling’s Barcelona base and create new Spanish jobs.’

Veloz Holdco SLU, a wholly owned subsidiary of IAG, has made the acquisition offer.

Earlier, IAG had reported a 2012 third quarter operating profit of €270 million, compared to €363 million reported for the same period in 2011. Passenger unit revenue has increased by 9.1 percent for the 2012 third quarter.

IAG Announces Iberia Airline Retructure Plan

International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, has announced its plans to restructure Iberia.

The company has announced a comprehensive plan to restructure the airline, which includes the axing of 4,500 jobs, reducing the network capacity by 15 percent in 2013, and removing around 25 aircraft from the fleet.

The company has issued a statement, which says, ‘In the short term the transformation will focus on stemming the losses and creating a profitable route network. This will include suspending loss-making routes and frequencies and ensuring there is effective feed for profitable long haul flights.

As well as halting Iberia’s financial decline we will establish a viable business that can grow profitably in the long term. Short and medium haul operations will be transformed to compete effectively with low cost carriers who have successfully established themselves in Iberia’s home market. The plan will see comprehensive productivity improvements and the introduction of permanent salary adjustments to achieve a competitive and flexible cost base.’

Commenting on the restructuring plan, Rafael Sanchez-Lozano, the chief executive officer of Iberia, said, ‘Iberia is in fight for survival. It is unprofitable in all its markets. We have to take tough decisions now to save the company and return it to profitability. Unless we take radical action to introduce permanent structural change the future for the airline is bleak. However this plan gives us a platform to turn the business around and grow.

The Spanish and European economic crisis has impacted on Iberia, but its problems are systemic and pre-date the country’s current difficulties. The company is burning €1.7 million every day. Iberia has to modernise and adapt to the new competitive environment, as its cost base is significantly higher than its main competitors in Spain and Latin America.

Time is not on our side. We have set a deadline of January 31, 2013 to reach agreement with our trade unions. We enter those negotiations in good faith. If we do not reach consensus we will have to take more radical action which will lead to greater reductions in capacity and jobs.’

British Airways Announces Code Share with Westjet of Canada

British Airways, the UK based airline, will be partnering with Canada-based low-cost carrier, Westjet.

The airline is currently offering code sharing on flights from Toronto, Calgary and Montreal, to Ottawa, Edmonton and Victoria. Passengers flying to Toronto, Calgary and Montreal airports in Canada will be flying with the airline from UK destinations, predominantly London Heathrow Airport. The customers of both airlines will be able to book fares on each other’s websites and receive frequent flyer miles on code-shared routes.

Lynne Embleton, the director of strategy and business units for British Airways, said, ‘Our partnership with WestJet is great news for our customers. It will enable easier travel from Canada’s gateway cities to destinations that have been more difficult to access from the UK.’

Bob Cummings, the executive vice-president, sales, marketing and guest experience, at WestJet, said, ‘We are very pleased to announce our code-share relationship with British Airways. With an extensive worldwide network, and a reputation for great customer service, British Airways is one of the world’s most iconic airlines. We look forward to welcoming British Airways’ code-share guests on board our WestJet flights. The launch of this new code-share represents another strategically significant milestone for WestJet.

We remain committed to bringing top-quality airlines on board as part of our airline partnership strategy. The success of this strategy has contributed to the strong results we’ve seen so far this year.’

British Airways is one of the founding members of the oneworld alliance of airlines. The airline and its affiliates offer a network of around 170 destinations in 80 countries in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia. The airline has code sharing with oneworld member airlines, as well as with Aer Lingus, Flybe, Loganair and Meridiana.

British Airways and Japan Airlines Commence Joint Operations

British Airways, a UK based airline, has announced a partnership with Japan-based, Japan Airlines (JAL), for services between Europe and Japan.

The two airlines will be combining their operations and introducing a revenue sharing model to operate on the routes between the two regions.

The joint operations are effective from October 1, 2012, and are offering more connectivity between Europe and Japan, a wider range of flight options for passengers, and enhanced frequent flyer benefits. The joint operation will be venturing into more routes soon.

Willie Walsh, the chief executive officer of IAG, the parent company of British Airways, said, ‘We are proud to have served Japan for more than 60 years and are delighted to cement the relationship between British Airways and Japan Airlines. This new venture heralds a bigger and better service for our customers and the promise of greater co-operation in the future.’

Yoshiharu Ueki, the president of Japan Airlines, said, ‘We are looking forward to creating more customer benefits with this deeper level of cooperation with our long-time partner, British Airways. Together with the inauguration of JAL’s brand new seats and services between Narita and London from January next year, we hope to offer our customers an even greater travel experience than before.’

British Airways and JAL are both members of the oneworld alliance of world airlines, and have commenced their code-shared flights between Tokyo (Haneda and Narita airports) and London (Heathrow Airport). Customer options should be greatly increased by the options on offer, not only between the UK and Japan, but also with onward trips to European destinations.

Bmibaby Closes Operations

bmibaby, a subsidiary of UK-based British Midland Airways Limited (bmi), has closed its operations, as of September 9, 2012, as its new owners, International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways, failed to find a buyer for the company.

It was hoped that a buyer would come forward to take on the loss-making airline and its staff, but IAG warned that if that option failed, the company would close. The company’s operations have been closely controlled, with flights being reduced from early June this year.

In a statement the airline said, ‘On September 9th 2012, bmibaby flew its last ever flight. Thanks to everyone who has flown with us over the years. It has been so much fun, baby!’

The airline has ceased its operations after IAG carried out a 90-day consultation process with 450 its employees.

Bmibaby was launched in 2002 by Bmi, as a low cost airline operating from UK airports. The airline was previously owned by Lufthansa, a German airline company, and was only recently sold to British International Airlines Group (IAG). The airline had operated with a fleet of 14 B737 aircraft, providing around 700 services per week.

The routes that the airline flew will be operated by other UK based airlines, including Flybe and Monarch, from East Midlands airport.

Flybe has recently expanded its flights from East Midlands Airport, offering new services to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

IAG has previously sold a sister airline of bmibaby, Bmi Regional, to Scotland based Sector Aviation, for £8 million.

British Airways Increases Service from London Heathrow to Dublin

British Airways, the UK based airline, will be offering double the number of flights between Dublin and London Heathrow airport in its 2012-2013 winter schedule.

The route was earlier operated by British Midland International (bmi) airline, and was recently acquired by UK-based airline holding company and parent company of British Airline, International Airlines Group (IAG).

British Airline has announced its winter 2012 schedule and a new timetable, offering increased daily services to Dublin – from four to eight return flights. The new schedule will be effective from October 28, 2012. The route will be operated using 150-seater A319 aircraft.

Simon Daly, the airline sales manager in Ireland, said, ‘I am delighted to see the British Airways colours back in Dublin after an absence of 20 years. We appreciate the importance of air links to London and are pleased to announce that less than two months after taking over this route, we are now able to respond to customer demand and increase capacity.

Our improved schedule also sees us adding a new early morning departure time from Dublin which will mean that passengers will be able to extend their working day should they need to.

In addition, it offers both business and leisure passengers greater choice in terms of connections to our extensive global network at London Heathrow bringing destinations on the world map closer to Ireland, benefiting Irish businesses, tourism and Ireland as a whole.’

The airline is offering all-inclusive fares, with a 23kg baggage allowance, complimentary online check-in, and choice of seats.

Bmibaby to Shut Operations in September

The UK-based airline holding company, International Airlines Group (IAG), has announced its plans to terminate the operations of its low cost airline, Bmibaby.

Bmibaby, a subsidiary of UK-based British Midland Airways Limited (bmi), is to close its operations from September 2012.

British Airways, also owned by IAG, will be offering work to around 1,500 of Bmi’s 2,700 staff, including pilots and cabin crew. Currently, around 87 pilots and 125 cabin crew members have been absorbed by British Airways.

Bmi, an airline that was previously owned by Lufthansa, a German airline company, has only recently been acquired by IAG. Previously IAG had announced that it would be closing the operations of Bmibaby, reportedly due to its inability to sell the loss-making airline. The Bmibaby operations have been reduced in the last three months, and in September 2012, they will cease altogether.

Willie Walsh, IAG’s chief executive officer said, ‘We completed the employee consultation on August 1 and we have decided to close Bmibaby with effect from September 9.’

The acquisition has opened up 12 London Heathrow Airport slots, which have been given up by British Airways, as part of its agreement to receive approval for the deal from the European Commission.

Said Walsh, ‘We don’t know who is going to take them up (the airport slots). But they are unlikely to be taken up before the start of the summer season which is at the end of March next year.’

Currently all Bmi flights are being offered from British Airways products catalogue, and the airline is being managed by British Airways.