Route Review: January 2018

My first pick of the most important new routes for 2018; from Ryanair to Singapore Airlines, here are the newly developing markets in the aviation industry.


Ryanair – At the end of January, the Irish Low Cost Carrier announced $300 million investment in Manchester airport, with 10 new routes and increased capacity on existing connections. New routes from Manchester include Agadir, Almeria, Barcelona Reus, Cagliari, Palermo, Rhodes (all 2 weekly), Porto, Venice Treviso (both 3 weekly), Ponta Delgada (once weekly) and Belfast International (daily). Throughout the summer season, they will offer more flights on routes to Bologna, Chania, Alicante, Faro, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Ibiza, Malaga, Lisbon, Majorca, Naples, Tenerife and Fuerteventura. The boost for Manchester capacity represents 300,000 extra seats, an extra 9 million customers p.a. and 3,675 new ‘on-site’ jobs.

Ryanair will boost it’s Manchester operations.

Hainan Airlines – Hainan Airlines will be launching direct services from China to the industrial Northern German city – Hamburg. They will move two weekly of the present frequencies between Beijing and Berlin Tegel to Hamburg, from August 2nd. The only direct connection between China and Hamburg will be operated by a mix of Airbus A330 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner equipment.

It is feasible that a combination of 787 and A330 equipment will operate the new route to Hamburg.

Alaska Airlines – As Alaska Airlines pushes Seattle-Tacoma Airport to capacity, they have announced new routes from Everett Paine Field, to begin in autumn 2018. Alaska will operate 13 daily flights to 8 cities from the two gates at the newly constructed passengers terminal. Specifically, Alaska Airlines will fly to San Jose, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Portland, Seattle, Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego & San Francisco. Alaska’s Chief Commercial Officer said “We’re proud to become the anchor tenant of the new terminal at Paine Field. With so many new possibilities for business and leisure travel, we believe this will bring increased opportunities to our communities.”

Alaska initially plans to operate Embraer 175 aircraft from Everett.

Southwest – Similarly to Alaska & United (who will operate services to Denver and San Francisco), Southwest will also begin to fly to Everett. it will operate five flights daily after the new terminal opens in September. It will fly Boeing 737s, larger than the Embraer E175 regional jets that Alaska Airlines and United plan to operate initially. The Dallas-based low cost airline will be the third to announce flights from the new airport, which will have just two gates. Furthermore, the announcement of these flights pushes Everett’s passenger capacity to the limit, with 24 daily departures (50% above the levels airport officials predicted last year).

Singapore Airlines – The ‘Capital Express’ – a route between Singapore, Canberra & Wellington launched with much fanfare not too long ago, with the concept of connecting the capital cities of Australia and New Zealand. Now, Singapore Airlines will change the routings for these flights, but continue to serve both capital cities. The new routings begin on the 3rd May 2018, operating as SQ247 (with a Boeing 777-200) between Singapore-Melbourne-Wellington and SQ288 in a triangular routing between Singapore-Sydney-Canberra-Singapore – increasing the frequency to daily and operating with a newly refurbished four-class Boeing 777-300ER.

The 777-300ER and daily frequency represents a capacity increase for Canberra.

Cobalt Air – From 27th March 2018, the newly emerging national airline of Cyprus, Cobalt Air, will launch services from their Larnaca hub to a third London airport. Adding to Gatwick & Stansted, Heathrow will become their fourth UK destination and will operate with the new Business Class product Cobalt offer. I will be flying the CAPA Start-Up Airline of the Year in February, from Manchester to Larnaca so stay tuned for my review.

Cobalt already flies from Larnaca to Manchester, Stansted & Gatwick in the UK.

That’s it for this month. Next month we’ll see many more new route opportunities for the upcoming summer season!

Another Lifeline for the A380: Fresh British Airways Order Imminent

Airbus’ grand double-decker plan – in the form of the A380 – never really gained traction as the manufacturer hoped it would. Crucially, it was Boeing who judged the mood of the aviation industry more accurately, with its decision to focus on a mid-size, long range, technologically advanced aircraft that could open ‘long and thin’ routes – tapping in to the increasing propensity to fly from local airports non-stop, rather than connecting via a major hub. Boeing withdrew from the ideological and prestige-driven race for the first double-decker aircraft, but Airbus pressed onwards. From a PR standpoint, the A380 with its luxurious apartments and glamorous feel has personified airlines such as Emirates and Etihad. But, this doesn’t translate into versatility or profitability for the airline company. In fact, Reuters even reported that the A380 programme was on the verge of extinction in December:

“If there is no Emirates deal, Airbus will start the process of ending A380 production,” a person briefed on the plans said. A supplier added such a move was logical due to weak demand.

Luckily for A380 enthusiasts, Emirates signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire up to 36 additional Airbus A380 aircraft. The airline has committed to purchasing an additional 20 Airbus A380s, and has an option for 16 more, with deliveries to start in 2020. John Leahy, Airbus’ COO, said that the order ‘underscores Airbus’ commitment to produce the A380 at least for another ten years’.

Emirates A380 leaving London Gatwick.

In addition to this, last Friday, John Leahy suggested another A380 order would come soon. The industry is never usually this specific, when in open conversation with the media, but it looks like we may have a clearer idea about what this order might be.

British Airways is in talks with Airbus over an order for new Airbus A380 aircraft, according to Bloomberg.

Airbus SE is in talks to sell new A380 superjumbo planes to British Airways this year after securing a program-saving deal from Persian Gulf operator Emirates, according to people familiar with the matter.

The U.K. carrier, which currently has 12 A380s in its fleet, had said in the past that it was looking for six to seven second-hand A380s. Now it’s considering taking a larger number of new ones, said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

BA currently operates A380s to destinations such as Johannesburg, Los Angeles & Vancouver. 

IAG has previously indicated they might be interested in purchasing second-hand A380s from airlines like Singapore Airlines (who began to retire their oldest models in 2017). These aircraft are heavier and perform less well than newer examples of the A380, and would also be costly and time-consuming to reconfigure. When all of this is weighed up, it may make more sense for British Airways to simply buy new aircraft directly.

In my opinion, the A380 was designed for airlines like British Airways – with an almost exclusive ‘hub and spoke’ model at a slot constricted airport like London Heathrow. There is clearly a benefit to eliminating two Boeing 777 flights and replacing it with just one A380 frequency. However, with corporate contracts from the city of London in the hands of British Airways, frequency is key – BA have even held back from rostering the A380 on the London-New York route, instead favouring additional timing options for business travellers. British Airways can also control the majority of the market in London Heathrow, meaning they could increase prices with less capacity on a route. So, although further pursuing the A380 may be of benefit to British Airways, perhaps Airbus didn’t weigh up the other factors of running a route dominated by business passengers.

Is the A380 really the best option for British Airways at Heathrow?

Willie Walsh has also indicated that any new A380s could be devolved to other IAG airlines, like Aer Lingus or Iberia. Dublin Airport is currently without commercial A380 operation and, quite frankly, I don’t see a trunk route with enough demand from the Irish capital. Iberia, on the other hand, could use A380s on routes to Latin America – replacing multiple frequencies on routes where sheer capacity matters more than flexibility.

Time will tell whether any new A380 orders from the International Airlines Group materialise but if and when they do, it will be interesting to see how British Airways deploy the new equipment and whether the group sees some use within Iberia or Aer Lingus.

 

Norwegian to Add Hong Kong to its Long-Haul Network

According to the Norwegian Facebook page, Norwegian Air will be adding Hong Kong to its rapidly expanding network.

Norwegian’s 787-9 taxiing at Gatwick.

A comment on the airline’s Facebook page asked whether they were planning to expand further into Asia to which Norwegian replied:

“That would be great…actually Hong Kong is about to come…”

It remains unclear exactly when the new route will begin as when we contacted Norwegian for confirmation a spokesperson said:

“As an ambitious airline with a large aircraft order, we’ve made no secret of our plans to expand our long-haul network and deliver affordable fares to other parts of the world, including Asia. However, we have no immediate plans to serve Hong Kong”.

Norwegian already operates to two Asian hubs in Singapore and Bangkok with Singapore only recently taking flight.

If the new route is operated out of London Gatwick then it will, undoubtedly, be using a Boeing 787-9 aircraft. The aircraft is standard for Norwegian’s long-haul network out of London and is fitted in a two class configuration.

The Premium Cabin – with 35 Haeco 3050 seats

Launching this route would put Norwegian in direct competition with Cathay Pacific which operates the Airbus A350 on the Gatwick-Hong Kong route.

You can read our review of Norwegian’s premium cabin here, a review of their new B737MAX here and their prospects of becoming a ‘Transatlantic game-changer’ here.

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El AL Up: The Israeli Budget Carrier That Never Took Off

Back in 2013 El Al Israel launched a low cost carrier which initially started flying from its base in Ben-Gurion International Airport to Berlin, Budapest, Prague, Kiev and the Cyrpiot city of Larnaca. They began service with fares as low as $69 to compete with other low cost carriers, Wizz, Easyjet and RyanAir. The narrow-body Boeing 737-800 jet was selected to serve the new routes with ‘Up’ borrowing five of the variant from El Al’s mainline fleet. The aircraft were configured with 144 regular economy seats and an upgraded Tourist Plus class with 36 seats. Tourist Plus travelers have more spacious seating and food and beverages at no extra charge, while passengers flying in the lowest fare class will pay extra for food and beverages.

Up by El Al at Berlin (Credit to @ber.spotter on Instagram)

Up followed the trend of other low cost carriers in forcing passengers to pay extra for checked baggage, pre-assigned seats and changes to reservations in their ‘Up Basic’ fare. Passengers also had the option of upgrading their seats on a space-available basis. The Up ‘Smart fare’ class included a range of services such as checked luggage at no charge, seating in the Tourist Plus cabin, use of El Als King David Lounge at Ben-Gurion airport and more flexible ticketing terms.

But what went wrong?

Just this month it was announced that El Al are to discontinue the Up brand. Up will cease operations by mid-October 2018 and all flights and aircraft will return to the El Al mainline fleet. El Al will, therefore, introduce a new fare structure to replace Up.

Up was designed to compete with other low cost carriers and therefore had to keep fares low. They, therefore, lost passengers to the competitors and made Up a loss-making project for El Al.

Credit to @ber.spotter on Instagram)

What now?

El Al has stated that in the next few years it plans to renovate the interiors of its European aircraft, including a gradual replacement of the tourist and business class seats on part of its mainline narrow-bodied fleet.

Instead of a dedicated low cost daughter company, El Al says that tourist class passengers will be given a choice of three types of flight package: a basic package that will allow hand luggage only plus a meal with no possibility of cancelling or changing the flight, a package with choice of seat, checked-in luggage, and the possibility of change and cancellation for a fee, and an all-inclusive package that in addition to the above will allow a second piece of hand luggage, and flexibility over changes and cancellations. All of these terms will be subject to the criteria set by the airline for each ticket and the provisions of the law. Ticket sales in the new format will start during the second quarter of 2018, for flights in the fourth quarter of the year. (globes.co.il)

Enjoyed this post? Why not read our review of the El Al 787 new business class cabin!

Leaked: United to Launch Premium Economy

A company memo that was leaked this week has revealed that United Airlines has plans to launch it’s very own Premium Economy cabin. Although the details have not been finalised yet, we do know that United’s Premium Plus cabins will be rolled out across selected International routes by the end of 2018.

Premium Plus will launch on selected International routes

When these seats come out on general sale within the next few months, travelers will find themselves travelling in more spacious seating as opposed to the airlines international economy seating which offers a legroom of 31-32″. On-board services will also be upgraded with a redesigned menu being served on china dinnerware. Luxury US department store Saks Fifth Avenue will be supplying blankets and pillows for use during the flight.

A spokesperson for United has confirmed that Premium Plus is coming but has not revealed any details other than those leaked in the memo. The move comes after rival airlines Delta and American Airlines both successfully integrated Premium Economy into their own business models over recent years. The upgraded economy cabin has been operated by various European airlines such as British Airways for a number of years, but it seems that only now the US carriers are playing catch up.

A concept image of how the cabin will look

United will certainly be hoping that their Premium Plus cabins are a huge success, especially after the pretty disastrous year that they had in 2017. April saw a passenger forcibly removed from an overbooked Chicago to Louisville flight. Just one month before this incident, United refused to fly two female passengers to their destination as they were “not properly clothed via the Contract of Carriage”. The two passengers in question were not ‘properly clothed’ because they were wearing leggings.

Despite the negative press in recent times, the airline has just launched a new advertising campaign in association with Team USA to celebrate their participation at the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in South Korea. The advert features US athletes such as Jamie Anderson, Gus Kenworthy and Erin Hamlin alongside airline employees with a variety of different job roles. It details their superhero powers necessary for winning medals at the games, and more importantly those needed by United staff to get them and fare paying customers there destination.

The United States Olympic Committee and United Airlines have a long standing history of transporting athletes to and from the games, and this isn’t the first time Olympians have featured alongside airline staff on video. In 2016, Team USA participated in a safety video that was broadcast on the majority of United’s aircraft. As the official airline of Team USA, United flies everything and everyone from athletes to equipment to wherever it is needed.

Video Credit: United Airlines.

 

If you liked this article, why not check out the brand new our review of Emirates’ new cabin or any other of our new cabin reviews including Finnair, Lufthansa and Singapore.

 

Norwegian Cut Hartford Route. Bad Times Ahead?

Norwegian have, this week, announced that they will be suspending flights to Hartford Bradley (BDL) from Edinburgh (EDI) as of March 25th. The route was BDI’s only connection to the UK and was operated by a Boeing 737 aircraft.

The flight were often operated by this 737MAX

The news comes as no surprise if you look at the Scottish Government’s decision to postpone a reduction in air passenger taxes. Reports had stated that the Scottish Government was to halve air passenger taxes. In a statement, Norwegian said:

“Following Norwegian’s launch of affordable transatlantic routes from the US to Edinburgh last year, the prospect of a reduction in air passenger taxes meant we had been planning for continued future growth to Scotland. However, the postponement of such reduction was therefore deeply disappointing and has led us to reduce capacity to Scotland, including cutting the Hartford service and reducing frequencies from other US airports.”

Norwegian did also make it clear that if the Scottish Government were to rethink their taxes, Norwegian would move to open up more low-cost options as well as rethinking their route suspensions.

I flew the low-cost carrier to SWF last year

In regards to other routes out of EDI, Norwegian will be cutting frequency to both Stewart and Providence with Stewart moving from daily to four times weekly.

The news of these cuts could be seen as signs that transatlantic travel on a 737 aircraft isn’t viable as people will more often than not choose to fly to bigger airports on widebody jets.

What will the future look like for Norwegian? Is this the start of a big fall or just a dip? Join the discussion on social media by using #londonspotter.

 

 

Fare Finder: January 2018

YOUR GUIDE TO THE BEST VALUE FARES FOR THE MONTH AHEAD!

We all know that finding and booking flights to your favourite destinations without breaking the bank isn’t easy, so here is a guide that gives you the opportunity to take advantage of the best value air fares. This month our top picks focus on flights that will see you jetting off to grab some winter sun!

 

TENERIFE, CANARY ISLANDS:

The largest island in the Canaries is popular all year round with holidaymakers looking to get some sunshine. The popular resorts of Costa Adeje and Playa de las Americas offer beaches during the day, and vibrant night life when the sun goes down. Tenerife is also home to Siam Park an it’s infamous Tower of Power! Recently voted the worlds best water park on TripAdvisor, it is a must visit for any adrenaline junkie out there! Temperatures this time of year normally hover around the 21C mark, so be sure to pack a light fleece for the evenings.

London Gatwick offer some of the cheapest flights flying with Thomson, TUI as they are now known. Anyone considering spending a fortnight on the island can get there for £69 return. This fare does not include baggage, but with a 20kg case priced at just £46, it won’t break the bank. Visit the TUI site here to book.

dubai, united arab emirates:

There is very little that needs to be said about this destination. With it’s golden sandy beaches, lavish shopping malls and luxurious hotels; this city really is a must visit. If you have a head for heights, be sure to visit the Burj Khalifa which stands at some 830 metres tall. Offering stunning views of Dubai from it’s observation deck, on a clear day it is even possible to see Iran which lies on the other side of the Persian Gulf. Dubai at this time of the year will not see temperatures hit the blistering heights of the summer, but anyone travelling can expect the mercury to be in the high 20s.

London Heathrow is the departure point for the these flights. Flying economy with Emirates on their Airbus A380 aircraft, passengers will be able to experience the world class service offered on board by the Dubai based airline. Return tickets start from just £323pp which includes a very generous 30kgs baggage allowance. You can be taken to the Emirates website by following this link.

Emirates could be jetting you away to Dubai
marsa alam, egypt:

Marsa Alam is on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. It is renowned world over for it’s diving locations. The resort is quieter than its neighbours Hurghada and Sharm El Sheikh, meaning a week of pure relaxation in the sun (If diving isn’t your cup of tea) is just a 5 and a half hour flight away. Diving in these waters can be arranged through one of the many instructors that work in the resort, they will give you the opportunity to see Dolphins, schools of Hammerhead Sharks and even the peculiar looking Dugong! Much like Dubai, temperatures will be on average above 24C.

 

Flights to Marsa Alam can be found via Thomas Cook Airlines as can package holidays to the resort. Birmingham Airport offers the cheapest flights to the Egyptian resort with return tickets starting at £136 per person. Your journey to Marsa Alam starts by booking your flights here.

Marsa Alam has some of the worlds best waters for diving
CANCUN, MEXICO:

As holiday destinations go, Cancun is one of the best. Whether it’s relaxing by the pool with a novel, topping up your tan on your hotel’s private beach or visiting the world famous Chichen Itza, there is something for everyone to do. You can rest assured that the words “I’m bored” won’t be spoken during your time here. At night be sure to tuck into some delicious local delicacies before heading to party the night away in the Coco Bongo nightclub. Only if you’re over the age of 18 though, because going to night clubs under the age of 18 is illegal and wrong and I totally have never done it before, like ever. (Not fooling anyone am I?).

TUI once again are offering fantastic value for this flight. Manchester to Cancun return is £229 per person, this price does not include luggage but TUI currently have some promotions regarding baggage so it’s definitely worth checking them out. If the sound of Cancun wasn’t selling it to you enough, how does flying on their Dreamliner? On board you’ll find complimentary drinks and an in flight meal waiting for you. Love the sound of Mexico? Follow the link to book your getaway.

The ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
in next months fare finder:

In the Fare Finder: February 2018, we will be looking at exceptional value flights to help get you in the Valentines Day mood!

 

Please note that all pricing and availability is correct at the time of publish and is subject to change. This is an independent article and is no way endorsed by any airline or tourist board.

Norwegian: Transatlantic Game Changers?

Gone are the days where your only options to fly from the United Kingdom to the United States and Canada were dominated by the likes of British Airways and American Airlines.  Despite the fantastic service and benefits that these airlines offer throughout your flight, not everyone wants to or can afford to pay the price this comes at. The good news is they no longer have to. Why? The low cost carriers are coming…

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve given our opinion on Primera Air and WOW Air’s chances of cracking the transatlantic air travel market. This week we look at the already established Norwegian and their hopes of making themselves known as the go to airline for flying across the pond. If you haven’t already checked out the articles on WOW Air and Primera Air, be sure to do so before reading the conclusion!

Norwegian Dreamliner LN-LNB seen here taxiing after maintenance in Birmingham

NORWEGIAN.

uk and ireland departures from: london (lgw), edinburgh (edi), belfast (bfs), dublin (dub), shannon (snn) & cork (ork).
CONNECTING VIA: NONE, ALL FLIGHTS DIRECT!
FLYING TO: AUSTIN (AUS), BOSTON (BOS/PVD), CHICAGO (ORD), DENVER (DEN), FORT LAUDERDALE (FLL), ORLANDO (MCO), LAS VEGAS (LAS), LOS ANGELES (LAX), NEW YORK (JFK/SWF), OAKLAND (OAK), SEATTLE (SEA) & CONNECTICUT (BDL).

 

Norwegian really have set the standard for budget transatlantic air travel. Operating the brand new Boeing 737 Max 8 from Irish and Scottish regional airports; whilst also operating the Boeing 787 Dreamliner from Gatwick to a combined total of 14 US airports, I guess you could say they have claimed this sector of the market for their own. Operating the state of the art Dreamliner, an aircraft that is quite frankly something out of your wildest dreams (Get the pun? Too cringey? Okay, I’ll stop, I promise…), this already puts them ahead of their would be competitors WOW and Primera.

The Lowfare option is Norwegian’s basic fare that can be booked. It includes 10kgs of cabin baggage and includes a standard economy seat with 31″ of legroom on both Boeing 737 and 787 aircraft. Optional extras such as seat selection or In flight meals are charged at a premium.

Premium seating on board one of Norwegian’s Dreamliners

Lowfare+ is the next available ticket option to purchase with Norwegian. This fare will see travelers able to check in one 20kg piece of baggage free of charge and the on board meal service from the Nice&Tasty Menu is also free of charge. Seat selection is offered complimentary, this will see passengers allowed to pick any seat on the aircraft, including exit row seats!

Norwegian’s Premium cabin has won some raving reviews including that of LondonSpotter’s very own Raj Stevenson! (You can read his in depth review of this cabin here!). Premium passengers have a whole range of extras made available to them for free when purchasing their tickets. This includes Fast Track Security and Lounge access in the departure airport. When on board a fantastic 55″ of legroom will greet travelers, as will the complimentary food and drink offered by the airlines friendly cabin crew.  Two bags both weighing 20kgs can be checked in on this ticket type.

The airline understands that sometimes travel plans have to change last minute. This is why they offer their Flex and PremiumFlex fares at the time of booking. Both of these come with the benefits of their respective travel classes, but allow the ticket holder to change their booking or request a refund for the cost of the ticket free of charge. All other passengers must pay amendment fees if wanting to change their itinerary and refunds are not available to them.

FLYING DIRECT?

The fantastic versatility of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 787 Dreamliner allow Norwegian to fly direct to all of their Transatlantic destinations. This already puts them ahead of market competitor WOW Air as passengers flying with WOW have to transit in Keflavik before reaching the USA and Canada. Flying direct on the Max 8 will offer passengers an experience that most likely they will have not had before. Equipped with engines specially designed to reduce fuel consumption making the aircraft more efficient to fly, they also feature chevrons that reduce the noise emitted from the engine. Single aisle aircraft making the flight across the Atlantic is becoming more and more common and it opens up the USA to smaller regional airports that simply do not have the capacity to handle a wide body aircraft.

Norwegian offer direct Transatlantic flights on the Boeing 737 Max 8

WHY FLY NORWEGIAN?

Much like Primera, flying direct is a key selling point. Flying direct and all year round from smaller regional airports such as Shannon and Cork has opened up the USA to people who before were having to travel to Dublin or wait for airlines to start their seasonal schedules. The airline does also fly from UK bases that have existing Transatlantic routes, so what makes them stand out against the crowd? The flexibility to pick and choose what you want included in the price you pay is a key selling point. Not everyone wants to travel with checked baggage or lounge access or quite simply, not everyone wants to pay the sometimes extremely high ticket prices that carriers charge.

In terms of the on board experience, it is surprisingly luxurious for a low cost airline. Norwegian are beginning to role out WiFi on their 737MAX fleet to join the -800 fleet. On the Dreamliner, seat back entertainment systems are offered, this allows passengers to access the latest in film, TV shows and even allows passengers to order drinks to be delivered to them from the comfort of their own seat (something which I am a massive fan of personally!). Mobile devices and other similar gadgets can be charged through the USB port offered in the seat back IFE screen.

An example of the economy meal service on board

The on board meal choices a full meal service is offered if your ticket includes it in the price. The airline caters for all taste buds including the fussiest of eaters – kids! A cold starter is offered along with a meat or fish main option served with a range of accompaniments. To finish a sweet treat is offered along with a hot drink. For children a special meal that guarantees to satisfy the pickiest of eaters if offered and if they finish it all, a chocolate cake may be waiting for them! Between meal services a snack bar is open, these options must be paid for by card as the airline is cashless.

The benefits of flying Norwegian seem appealing, but the most important factor of them all that impacts anyone’s decision of who to fly with is the price. The airline offers some fantastic fares such as Shannon to Providence (for Boston) starts from just £97.40 one way. For any Scottish readers planning on taking a trip to the Big Apple, Edinburgh to Stewart (for New York) can be reached from just £136.60 one way. To see how these fares compare against a competitor such as British Airways, we will compare how both airlines shape up when tasked with flying to Las Vegas. The British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Las Vegas will set travelers back £685.61 when travelling in the World Traveler cabin. This gives passengers 23kgs of checked baggage and free seat selection 24 hours prior to departure. Norwegian from London Gatwick to Las Vegas will cost £420.30, a total saving of £265.31! This is travelling economy on the Lowfare+ ticket, giving passengers 20kgs of checked  baggage and free seat selection at the time of booking. Unless you’re a British Airways super fan, I think it will be Norwegian flying you to the Sin City!

Could carriers such as British Airways be forced to change their pricing strategies due to airlines such as Norwegian?

SUMMARY

Having been around for sometime now, Norwegian have made a name for themselves as the airline that offers cheap air fares but cuts no corners on what they offer. The ability to select individually what you want to pay for when booking is fantastic in my opinion, as people can often end up paying for things that they just don’t want or need. Operating the Boeing 787 Dreamliner is a key selling point for the airline, especially when compared to the Airbus aircraft that Primera and WOW are flying. One failure that I have picked out is the fact that they do not offer any routes to Canada. I believe that this would be very popular, especially from airports served by the Max 8 such as Cork and Belfast.

The modern flight deck of the Boeing 737 Max 8

CONCLUSION.

Over the past three weeks WOW Air, Primera Air and Norwegian have been reviewed on the way that they are looking to or changing the way we look at flying Transatlantic. For me writing this, It has been difficult to decide who I think will crack the market and establish themselves as the go to budget carrier. I was torn between two airlines but ultimately, I have come to the conclusion that Norwegian are the Transatlantic game changers! Already being established as a long haul carrier has shown that what they do, they do well. Opening up the United States to Cork and Belfast has saved travelers both time and money when it comes to flying across the pond. As I mentioned earlier, the absence of Canadian destinations disappointed me but hopefully the decision makers at Norwegian reading this will add a Toronto or Vancouver to the schedule soon!

Primera Air were a close second, flying direct from Birmingham and Stansted appealed to me as they are airports that currently lack a direct service to the USA. Much like Norwegian the ability to be flexible with what you choose to include on your ticket is a great help to anyone looking for a cheap getaway to New York or Boston. However, with the airline not yet flying from the UK, it’s very hard to predict if they can deliver the high expectations that I have for them. WOW Air come third as unfortunately the services on offer from the two direct carriers just don’t justify adding the extra time onto your journey when travelling via Keflavik. The sometimes lengthy connection times between services could be a hindrance to travelers.

Be sure to visit Norwegian’s website to take advantage of some amazing low fares.

 

Want more like this? Be sure to check out our Most Read Moments of 2017!

Air Senegal Coming Back? Government places MoU for 2 A330NEOs

The reinstatement of a national airline? As far as the Senegalese Government’s ‘Plan Emergent Senegal’, Senegalese President Macky Sall, and Senegalese Minister for Transport and Tourism, Maimouna Ndoye Seck are concerned – Air Senegal could be on the return.

Background

In April 2016, Senegal Airlines ceased operations and Senegal’s Minister of economy, finance and planning said that “Senegal has initiated the process of creating a new airline..in the coming days, we should have a new airline.”

The Senegalese Ministry of Transport issued a statement on Tuesday, April 12 2016 indiciating the airline’s designation as ‘flag-carrier’ had been revoked after it failed to deliver on its mandate. “Despite the ongoing support of the State of Senegal, Senegal Airlines has not delivered on the development objectives assigned to it in its Concession Agreement. It is recalled that this agreement guaranteed the airline the exclusive use of air traffic rights held by Senegal,” it said. (credit CH-Aviation.com)

What next?

The new national airline, Air Senegal will hopefully start operations in December when the new Blaise Diagne International Airport in Diass, Senegal, is finally opened. During the Paris Airshow of 2017 Air Senegal signed up for two brand new state of the art ATR 72s which it plans to use for its domestic network which the airline will start off serving. These will be delivered in November and plans for further aircraft will evolve over three to five years, with the intention of acquiring two medium-haul aircraft for regional routes and a long-haul suitable aircraft for international sectors, like the Paris–Dakar route. Air Senegal then hopes to expand using mixed fleet to serve regional destinations and then International flights at a later stage. Air Senegal hope to operate a Paris – Dakar route in the late quarter of 2018.

The new airline has appointed its CEO as Philippe Bohn, formerly of Airbus Group as senior business-development executive. Mamadou Lamine Sow has been named Chairman of the Board. Air Senegal hopes that this fresh team of professionals will produce much needed confidence in the new airline following previous attempts. Charman Mamadou expressed that “Failure will be the foundation of success. Air Senegal International’s previous problems resulted from trying to operate with outside partners so that’s why today we have acquired our own assets. We are autonomous.”. Mamadou also expressed that he felt that there is enormous potential in West Africa.

The main objective of Air Senegal is to put Senegal on the map as a major hub for air-travel, increasing passenger capacity from two to five million by 2023 and up to ten million by 2035.

Furthermore, Air Senegal has become the latest customer to sign for the Airbus A330neo, with a tentative agreement for two of the type, they have become the first airline in Africa to select it. Airbus has described the deal as a memorandum of understanding (MoU) during the Dubai Airshow. They hope to use these brand new A330neos, equipped with Rolls Royce Trent 7000s, on their medium and long-haul networks providing the regional sector has developed first.

Do you think this plan will work? Let us know by using #londonspotter on Twitter and Instagram.

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December 2017: Delivery Report

Happy New Year from LondonSpotter and welcome to our final delivery report of the year: December 2017.

If you thought Airbus and Boeing would take their foot off the gas for Christmas, you were wrong. December has been another big month in the airline industry so here goes!

Kicking off the month (literally the first delivery of the month) was the most special delivery of them all. On December 1st, LOT Polish received their first B737MAX (SP-LVA) aircraft. The new MAX is up to 14% more efficient than older 737 models and operates the London – Warsaw route. Londonspotter.co.uk’s James was onboard the inaugural flight. You can read about his experience here.

Onboard the inaugural 737MAX LHR-WAW

In fact, LOT received their second MAX (SP-LVB) later in December, too. Another airline to receive the MAX was Air Canada which we also reviewed in our monthly guest review which you can read here. Other airlines were American Airlines (x2), China Eastern (x3) Hainan Airlines, Air China (x2) China Southern (x4), SIlkair, Mauritiana Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Southwest, FlyDubai, Aerolineas Argentina and finally Garuda Indonesia who picked up their first MAX variant. Blimey that’s a long list! Well done Boeing.

The Air Canada MAX by Will Dalton

Airbus rivaled Boeing with their NEO deliveries as they sent out 38 (YES THIRTY-EIGHT) A320 NEO aircraft to 17 carriers. Air Asia received the most (5), followed by Frontier and Air India (4), GoAir, Idigo, Tianjin and Pegasus (3), SAS, AZUL, Avianca (2) and finally Latam, Vistara, Sichuan, Air China, Hong Kong Express, China Western and Thai Air Asia who all added one to their fleet.

Air India A320 NEO by FlightGlobal

Long Haul

The efficiency battle of the B787 and A350 was won by Boeing in December as they churned out a whopping 12 -9 aircraft and not a single -8.

Hainan took the prize for the most 787s with three and American, Oman Air, Qantas, NEOS, AeroMexico, Air China, Norwegian, Etihad and Korean Air all received one.

I love this ultra-modern business class. Must try. Photo by Boeing

Back at Toulouse, Airbus workers sent eight A350s away to seven airlines. Noteworthy deliveries included Malaysian’s second A350 and Delta’s 6th. Other deliveries went to Qatar (x2), Cathay Pacific, Singapore, Asiana and Vietnam Airlines.

Face to Face with efficiency. photo by aviationweek.

And back to Seattle, we’re really clocking up the airmiles here! The 777 had a very positive month. Qatar added four to their fleet, Philippines Airlines took home two and Turkish and Emirates received one.

Sorry, back to France for this bit…

The sole A380 of December was A7-API – Qatar Airways.

A very different business class from Hainan.

And finally, the A330 was delivered to seven airlines. Lucky Air took home their second A330, Thai Lion Air received two, Hainan received three and China Eastern, Saudia, Shenzhen and Iberia all received one.

That’s all from me this month and this year! I’ll be back in January 2018 with your round up of January’s deliveries. Will Airbus and Boeing workers be slow under the extra weight of Christmas pudding? Come back next month to find out!

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