Primera Air to commence direct services to US, Canada, Spain from Birmingham Airport

Icelandic leisure airline Primera Air has announced plans to launch direct low-cost services from Birmingham Airport to New York, Toronto, Malaga, Barcelona, Palma and Crete, effective from May.

The airline will commence its services on May 14 to Malaga and Palma, with New York launching on the May 18 and Toronto on June 23. Crete will start on July 30 and Barcelona on October 1. Flights will operate to New York four times weekly and to Toronto three times per week. Malaga, Palma and Barcelona will operate daily and Crete each Monday. New York and Toronto fares start from £149.00 (one way, all taxes included). Malaga, Palma and Barcelona start from £35 and Crete from £54. Tickets are available on sale via www.primeraair.co.uk, the airport said in a release.

Anastasija Visnakova, Chief Commercial Officer, for Primera Air, said, ‘We are proud and excited to place Birmingham on our route map for 2018. With two transatlantic and four short-haul destinations we are opening our operations here and looking forward to further development of this Primera Air base.

‘This is an important first step for us and significant development for Birmingham Airport and region. With the technology that our brand new fleet offers expensive transatlantic travel becomes a thing of history’.

Chairman of Birmingham Airport, Tim Clarke, said, ‘Primera has seen the enormous opportunities available in the Midlands thanks to its strong trading and cultural links with the US and Canada, and the leisure travellers’ desire to escape to warmer Mediterranean climes.

‘Primera is able to offer low fares due to its brand new fuel efficient Airbus A321 Neos which means that these services are accessible to all pockets – whether travelling on holiday, visiting loved ones or flying for business.’

The airline, which launched its new base in Birmingham recently, will operate brand new Airbus A321 Neos, configured with 16 premium economy seats and 182 economy seats. The new-generation aircraft allows airlines like Primera to fly on routes usually served by wide-body jets. Passengers can also use Wi-Fi on board and the aircraft has full charging facilities for their devices.

United Airlines to operate new service from Edinburgh to Washington DC

Edinburgh Airport has announced the launch of a direct route between the capital of Scotland and the capital of the United States, starting next summer.

This is the first time that a direct route between Edinburgh and Washington DC will be on offer.

Starting May 23, 2018, United Airlines will operate the service to Washington Dulles, offering daily flights between the two capital cities. United will continue to operate its year-round flights to New York Newark as well as extending its summer service to Chicago.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive of Edinburgh Airport, said: ‘This is fantastic news for Edinburgh Airport and Scotland as we connect our two capital cities for the first time. As Scotland’s busiest airport, we are a leader for international destinations and this demonstrates the confidence of US carriers in the Edinburgh market, standing ahead of other parts of the UK with such strong inbound tourism demand.

‘Our partners at United have seen first-hand the positive impact of flights from Edinburgh to New York Newark and Chicago, and we are keen to replicate that to Washington for both a business and tourist audience. ‘The Scottish economy will also benefit as we open up Edinburgh to a new market and as international passengers continue to soar, we will see a positive contribution to the local and national economy.’

Minister for Transport Humza Yousaf said: ‘This new service between Edinburgh and Washington DC will help to strengthen the important economic and cultural links between Scotland and the United States.

‘The launch of a direct route into America’s capital city is great news for Scottish businesses, giving them better access to important US markets through United’s hub operation. It will also help support our tourism industry by making it even easier for visitors to get a taste of the fantastic experiences Edinburgh, and Scotland as a whole, have to offer.

‘I warmly welcome this announcement and wish Edinburgh Airport and United Airlines every success with this new route. I have no doubt it will prove popular with travellers on both sides of the Atlantic.’

Primera Air to start transatlantic flights from Birmingham

Primera Air, an Iceland-based low cost airline, is set to start transatlantic flights from Birmingham Airport to New York and Boston in May 2018.

The new services from Birmingham to US will commence in May 2018 and will be year-round operations. Primera Air tickets are now on sale, with fares starting from GBP149.00, one way, all taxes included. Tickets are available to book on www.primeraair.co.uk.

The new PrimeraAir service to New York will depart from Birmingham daily with Boston departing on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

William Pearson, Aviation Director, commented: ‘We are delighted to be entering in to a partnership with an additional transatlantic airline. Primera Air will offer daily flights to New York and give passengers the chance to visit Massachusetts’ capital and largest city – Boston. This is a brand new route from Birmingham so we are delighted that Primera Air will give people from the region the opportunity to visit this city direct from their local airport.

‘Primera is a low cost, low fares airline that will appeal to all. With its offering of premium economy and economy seats it really does mean that America is just across the pond. We look forward to working with Primera Air and are delighted that they will base these brand new Airbus321NEO’s here at the Airport.’

Andri M. Ingolfsson, the President and Chairman of Primera Air, said: ‘We are very proud to announce our new bases and routes to US. With our brand new Airbus321NEOs airplane, we are opening routes previously traditionally served only by wide-body aircrafts. With unmatched efficiency of these new-generation aircraft, we will be able to offer unprecedented prices to our passengers from Birmingham to the US. At the same time, we are very proud to be offering a low-fare/high quality product and service concept, that will be perfect both for leisure and business travellers.’

As part of the plan, the airline will base its brand new Airbus A321 Neos, configured with 16 premium economy seats and 182 economy seats, at Birmingham Airport. Passengers will be able to use Wi-Fi on board and the aircraft has full charging facilities for devices.

Norwegian commences new direct flight to Rhodes from Gatwick; to US east coast from Edinburgh

Low-cost airline Norwegian has announced an expansion to its routes from the UK with a new direct service from London Gatwick to Rhodes.

Norwegian’s inaugural flight to Rhodes departed on June 17 with a weekly service throughout summer, and fares available from £29.90 one-way.

Rhodes will be the fifth Greek island Norwegian serves direct from London Gatwick, including Corfu, Crete, Kefalonia, and Santorini.

Thomas Ramdahl, Chief Commercial Officer for Norwegian, said: ‘Rhodes is a fantastic addition to our growing UK route network and with affordable fares, we expect Brits to flock to the Greek island this summer.’

In addition, Norwegian has also recently launched new routes to the USA from Edinburgh Airport, commencing its daily service to Stewart International Airport in New York on June 15. Norwegian’s transatlantic expansion to the US east coast include services from Edinburgh Airport to Providence, Rhode Island starting June 16 and the UK’s only direct service to Hartford, Connecticut commencing June 17. With this, Norwegian operates 14 transatlantic flights per week from Edinburgh, with fares starting from £138 one way.

Norwegian Chief Executive Officer, Bjorn Kjos said: ‘Not only is Norwegian transforming transatlantic travel by connecting smaller cities in huge catchment areas but we’re also unlocking affordable direct high quality travel to a new market of travellers.

‘As such, Edinburgh is important to our future UK growth and it will allow us to create more Scottish jobs at Norwegian which in turn benefits the workforce of Scotland’s tourism industry.’

Norwegian now serves over 50 business and leisure summer destinations worldwide- carrying nearly 5.2 million UK passengers each year – from London Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Short-haul flights are operated by a fleet of brand new Boeing 737 aircraft offering passengers free inflight Wi-Fi.

Seats are available to book now at www.norwegian.com. Fares are per person, per one-way flight and include all mandatory taxes and charges, the airline said.

Flybe’s new Dublin route to improve connectivity to North America

European regional airlines Flybe is planning to launch a new route to Dublin from Doncaster Sheffield Airport, and add extra US destinations connecting via the Irish airport.

According to a release by Doncaster Sheffield, Washington and Connecticut will now join the existing North American cities, New York, Chicago, Boston and Toronto in Canada, which are accessible via Dublin from Doncaster Sheffield Airport.

Flybe’s new five times a week flight to Dublin will replace the current Stobart Air service, and will serve all these destinations, with effect from November 1, 2016 under Flybe’s code-share agreement with Aer Lingus. Tickets can be booked directly on the Aer Lingus website www.aerlingus.com or through local travel agents, the airport said.

Steve Gill, chief executive of Doncaster Sheffield Airport, said: ‘This is welcome news for both business and leisure travellers, who enjoy visiting the Irish city and also to be able to extend the local option to travel to destinations in America and Canada via the onward connectivity this route offers.

‘We are really pleased to see further growth and diversity in the routes offered by Flybe since their launch earlier this year. Dusseldorf, Chambery and now Dublin have been added to the original roster, making it 11 destinations available with Flybe from us.

Alexis Krachai, managing director, Counter Context, a Sheffield based company, said: ‘If you’ve ever travelled to the U.S. you’ll know the arrival and getting through customs can be the biggest headache.

‘Travelling from Doncaster Sheffield Airport via Dublin makes all that disappear. The whole experience was by far and away the most comfortable journey I’ve enjoyed during my 20 plus trips to the U.S over recent years. The new motorway link road makes it a quicker and easier to get to the airport as well. These extra destinations are most welcome.’

Vincent Hodder, chief revenue officer, Flybe said ‘Today’s news further strengthens our ‘One Stop to the World’ offering for our Doncaster Sheffield Airport customers who can now travel with us to Dublin and benefit from the convenient, seamless onward connections available from there onwards to the US and Canada with our codeshare partner, Aer Lingus.’

With the new Dublin route, travellers will be able to clear US immigration in Dublin Airport before connecting on to the US, saving time upon arrival into the US. The new service will remove border checks upon arrival in the United States as passengers are classed as domestic arrivals.

Delta, Virgin Atlantic revise Summer 2017 schedule, offer new Portland- London service

Delta Air Lines and Virgin Atlantic have announced changes to their respective summer 2017 schedules to optimise their joint network between the United States and the United Kingdom.

The move seeks to offer customers more travel choices and flexibility. In 2015, the JV connected almost 400,000 customers to over 200 destinations in the U.S., on around 550 routes.

As per the revised plan, Delta will commence a new four times a week service from Portland, Oregon to London Heathrow on May 26, 2017, the first between this U.S. West Coast city and London. 

Beginning March 26, 2017, the US-based airline will add a second Detroit to London Heathrow service, replacing Virgin Atlantic’s daily Detroit to London Heathrow service. The airline will also operate a third Atlanta to London Heathrow service, replacing the second daily service currently operated by Virgin Atlantic, beginning May 25, 2017. Virgin Atlantic will continue to operate one daily Atlanta to London Heathrow service.

Beginning March 26, 2017, Virgin Atlantic will start flying between Seattle and London Heathrow, replacing the daily service currently operated by Delta. In addition, the UK-based airline will launch a daily nonstop service between New York-JFK and Manchester on May 25, 201, replacing the service currently operated by Delta. Delta will resume service for winter 2017.

Erik Varwijk, Executive Vice President, Commercial, Virgin Atlantic said: ‘We are delighted to further optimize our joint services between the U.K. and the U.S. Our most fuel efficient Boeing 787-9 aircraft will add additional capacity to the successful Seattle route, enabling more customers to enjoy the Virgin Atlantic experience on this brand new aircraft. In Manchester, deploying our Airbus A330-300 aircraft on this route will allow us to further meet the growing demand from the Manchester market, now offering a total of six direct flights to the U.S. after the recently announced new services to Boston and San Francisco. The network changes highlight the strength and flexibility of our joint venture, allowing us to make smart decisions that ensure the right aircraft are on the right routes for our customers.’

Commenting on the changes, Dwight James, Delta’s Senior Vice President Trans-Atlantic said: ‘Adding a brand new service to Portland while increasing the scale of Delta’s reach across our Atlanta and Detroit hubs provides a comprehensive network of nonstop and connecting destinations for both Delta and Virgin customers. The flexibility to adjust our operations on routes between the U.K. and the U.S. is a solid reflection of the cohesive strategy we have across the trans-Atlantic. Since 2014, we have been building a partnership that is centered around the needs of our customers while providing network synergies for our airlines.’

With the changes, starting March 26, 2017, the airlines’ joint summer 2017 schedule will feature a total of 42 peak daily nonstop flights between the U.S. and the U.K. Of these, 28 flights will operate between London Heathrow and popular U.S. destinations such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington and 14 flights will operate between Manchester, Glasgow, Belfast, London Gatwick and Edinburgh to popular U.S. cities, Delta said in a release.

BA fined in the US, plans to improve passenger flight experience

British Airways, the UK’s national air carrier, has been fined in the US after its website failed to make discounted baggage fees available to some passengers who booked through agents.

According to the US Department of Transportation (DoT), customers who booked through third-party agents received a ‘system not responding’ message when they attempted to pay baggage fees online. An investigation found ‘a number of consumers who attempted to pay baggage fees at the discounted rates were unable to do so,’ it said.

The airline expressed regret but did not admit a violation of fare rules. It also accepted a token USD40,000 fine, half to be paid immediately and the balance only if there is a repeat occurrence. The carrier said that passengers who contacted it were offered refunds or alternative ways to obtain the discount rate.

British Airways reportedly told US Travel Weekly that it ‘co-operated fully with the DoT and has adequately resolved its concerns’. The DoT said that the issue came to its notice in May 2012.

Separately, British Airways said that it is testing a new electronic luggage tag this month, which could do away with the traditional paper tag. With the electronic tag system, the passenger simply holds their smart phone over the electronic tag, which automatically scans a unique barcode containing their flight details and an easy-to-see view of their bag’s destination.

‘Along with other initiatives we are investing in, we believe it has the potential to revolutionise the way our customers check in and pass through every airport around the world in the future,’ said Frank van der Post, managing director of Brands and Customer Experience at British Airways.

The development of the personalised electronic bag tag is part of a wider strategy by British Airways to improve passengers’ airport experience. Over the next five years, British Airways plans to invest more than GBP5 billion in smarter cabins, lounges and new technologies to make life more comfortable in the air and on the ground, the airline said.

 

UK passengers stranded by US snowstorms

Once again this winter, US snowstorms have brought chaos to travel plans across large areas of the country’s east coast.

UK passengers make up a sizeable proportion of the thousands that are stranded in the US after massive snowstorms forced the grounding of all transatlantic flights scheduled for the area. Heathrow Airport has cancelled 10 inbound flights from the badly affected areas of New York and Boston, along with an outbound flight to Washington. Airlines, including Air Canada, Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, Delta and United have all been forced to cancel flights over the weekend.

Passengers were advised to check with their airlines to see if their flight is affected, and to allow extra time to get to their airport due to the extreme road conditions.

The worst affected area was between Massachusetts and New Jersey, where approximately a metre of snow has fallen, while a hurricane-force wind killed at least eight people when it hit the US eastern seaboard and Canada. The snowstorm, which has been named Nemo, left 345,000 homes and businesses without power.

The latest heavy snow comes only weeks after similar conditions brought chaos to the Midwest and eastern USA, and resulted in similar mass cancellations of flights and disruption to road travel.

Meanwhile, snowfall across the UK, while not of the same intensity as that being experienced across the Atlantic, has triggered warnings from airlines that passengers should allow extra time when travelling to their airport.

Easyjet has issued the warning, ‘Due to the snowfall accumulations across the UK today, easyJet would like to advise passengers to allow plenty of time for their journey to the airport. Furthermore, due to this spell of wintery weather, some disruption is possible but we assure you we will do everything we can to keep any potential delays to a minimum. Before heading to the airport, we would encourage you to check the status of your flight.’

United Airlines Expands London Heathrow to Houston Service

United Airlines, a US based airline, has announced an expansion of its service between London Heathrow Airport and George Bush Intercontinental Airport, in Houston, US.

The airline will be offering a third daily flight from March 31, 2013, with a Boeing 767-300 aircraft. The airline is offering the new flight with six United Global First seats, 26 fully flat Business First seats, and 151 seats in economy, including 67 Economy Plus seats.

The additional flight, UA971, will be departing London at 1335 local time, arriving in Houston at 1810 local time the same day. The return flight, UA970, will depart Houston at 2030, arriving in London at 1205 the next day. The fares for the flights commence at $902 for a return journey.

Bob Schumacher, the airline managing director of sales for the UK and Ireland, said, ‘With strong demand for travel to Houston and beyond via our largest hub, we are pleased to offer customers on the route not only increased schedule options but also the chance to experience our Global First product for the first time.’

The airline is also offering new flights from Chicago, in the US, to Shannon, Ireland, from June 6 to August 26, 2013.

The five times weekly service (UA66) will depart Chicago O’Hare Airport daily, except Tuesday and Wednesday, at 1810 local time and will arrive in Shannon at 0725 local time the following day. The return flight will be departing Shannon every day, except Wednesday and Thursday, at 1100 local time, arriving in Chicago at 1310 local time the same day. The airline will be operating a B757-200 aircraft with 16 seats in BusinessFirst, 45 in Economy Plus and 108 Economy seats on the new route.

Myrtle Beach to focus on wedding tourism

Tourism authorities at Myrtle Beach are to focus on wedding tourism this year.

Officials of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce said that this year it would focus more on marketing the Grand Strand as a wedding destination. The chamber is focussing on weddings because statistics show that last year, 25 percent of all marriage services performed in the US were destination weddings. With more people opting to get married in exotic locales, the demand for unique and bespoke wedding services is high, and authorities at Myrtle Beach are gearing up to meet that demand, which is estimated to be worth about $18bn in the US.

Trends in the marriage industry have changed a great deal in the US. While in the past couples opted marry in their hometowns, education and exposure to new horizons is luring them to the more exotic locations.

Meeting up with media representatives to promote the destination, officials said that they were focusing on the beach’s versatility to attract more wedding planners to the area. Myrtle Beach wedding planner, Cheryl Cox, said, ‘We cover quite a gamut from beach weddings to plantation weddings to weddings if you want something more rustic, whether a barn or country type, Low Country weddings. We offer it all. For example, if the groom wants to come to the Grand Strand, we have wonderful golf courses and we have that opportunity, the ladies can have shopping or spa day, so we also have the wonderful entertainment venues.’

Local officials are hopeful that 2013 will be a prosperous year for the destination, with increasing hotel occupancy indicating that visits are on the increase. There is a general consensus among wedding planners that Myrtle Beach is affordable and has a good reputation as a family destination. With many visitors planning entire vacations around a wedding event, the area has the potential to attract a whole new cliental.