Wednesday, May 5, 2010

New ash cloud closes further UK airports

New ash cloud closes further UK airports

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has warned volcanic ash from Iceland remains a threat to UK airspace, as more airports suspend operations.

Earlier today the CAA closed airports in Northern Ireland and Scotland, with Glasgow, Prestwick, Stornoway and Benbecula, with thousands of passengers subsequently seeing their flights cancelled.

Belfast City, Belfast International, Ronaldsway (Isle of Man) and Edinburgh Airports were all added to this list at 13:00 today, with operations suspended until at least this evening.

However, Inverness Airport is now open.

The ash cloud Рwhich has blown across the Atlantic from Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland Рhas also spread to northern England, with the potential for the no-fly zone to extend further.

“The situation remains changeable, so passengers expecting to travel today and tomorrow from airports in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the north-west England, Wales and the West Country should contact their airlines to check whether their flight is operating,” said a CAA statement.

At present that CAA does not expect airports in the south of England to be affected, and will present its next assessment at 18:00.

Further Disruption

In response Ryanair has cancelled all planned departures from Belfast, Derry, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports until at least midnight.

Flybe has also cancelled all departures from Belfast, Isle of Man and Glasgow for the remainder of the day.

The government body is offering passengers the latest information on their rights should a flight be cancelled here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Further delays for Boeing Dreamliner

Further delays for Boeing Dreamliner

American aircraft manufacturer Boeing has delayed the shipment of a number of 787 Dreamliner fuselage parts to its final assembly factory outside Seattle.

The hitch is the latest in a long line for the seemingly benighted project, which is already over two and a half years behind schedule.

Boeing – the world’s second largest aircraft manufacturer – cited problems with suppliers for the latest delay, with delivery of fuselage sections for two aircraft delayed for up to a month.

Spokesperson Mary Hanson stated suppliers for the carbon-fibre composite airliner stretched around the globe, but refused to single out the “small number” failing to meet deadlines.

The Dreamliner is unique for Boeing in that the manufacturer assembles largely complete sections of the aircraft at its facility in Washington state, while other aircraft – including the 747 and long-haul 777 – are built from scratch.

Analysts have argued the decision to organise production in this manner has seen the global supply chain stretched, causing delays.

In 2007, a global shortage of metal fasteners led to the initial Dreamliner delay.

However, despite the most recent delay, company officials stated Boeing remained on track to deliver the first Dreamliner to All Nippon Airways by the end of this year.

Weather Testing

Earlier this week Boeing released images of the 787 Dreamliner during a series of extreme-weather tests at Valparaiso, Florida.

A special hangar at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at Eglin Air Force Base allowed the airplane to experience heat as high as 46 degree Celsius and as low as minus 43 degrees.

“We have Dreamliner customers who will operate the 787 in a wide variety of environments throughout the world,” said Scott Fancher, vice president and general manager of the 787 program for Boeing.

“This testing is about ensuring that the airplane meets the expectations of our customers.”

A crew of approximately 100 people travelled from Seattle to support the test operations on ZA003, the third 787 airplane to be built.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Etihad Crystal Cargo launches service to Erbil

Etihad Crystal Cargo launches service to Erbil

Etihad Crystal Cargo, a division of Etihad Airways, has launched a weekly service from its hub at Abu Dhabi International Airport to Erbil in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The service operates an A300-600F freighter to Erbil with a payload of 42 tonnes on the route. Flights commenced last month on March 26 and will operate every Tuesday and Saturday.

Cargo flights to Erbil are Etihad’s second cargo service to Iraq, following a twice weekly service to Baghdad which commenced on September 11, 2010.

Des Vertannes, Executive Vice President of Cargo said: “We are very pleased to be operating our second service to Iraq.

“Our service to Baghdad has built a strong customer base in the country and we look forward to continuing our contribution to developing commercial ties between the UAE and Iraq.”

With its fleet of two Airbus A300-600 aircraft and two MD11, Etihad Crystal Cargo has 22 cargo freighter destinations in the Middle East and Africa and 70 destinations across the globe.

Friday, April 23, 2010

US Airways ends United Airlines merger talks


US Airways ends United Airlines merger talks

Merger talks between US Airways and United Airlines (UAL) have ended, following a decision by the former to walk away from discussions.

Despite continuing to advocate consolidation in the international aviation industry, US Airways took the latest decision in the interests of its “shareholders, customers, and employees”, according to a statement.

US Airways chairman, Doug Parker, added: “We have recently held discussions with United Airlines regarding a possible combination between our two airlines.

“After an extensive review and careful consideration, our board of directors has decided to discontinue those discussions.”

The statement, following four-weeks of talks, was the first official acknowledgment by the firm it had been in discussions with UAL.

The talks were the second round of merger discussions between the firms since 2008.

“It remains our belief consolidation makes sense in an industry as fragmented as ours,” added Mr Parker.

“Whether we participate or not, consolidation that leads to a more efficient industry better able to withstand economic volatility, global competition and the cyclical nature of our industry is a positive outcome.”

UAL did not comment on the US Airways statement.

Around America

In what has been a turbulent period for the global aviation industry, American Airlines posted a greater than expected financial loss earlier this week.

In the first quarter of financial 2009 American’s net loss climbed to $505 million - some 35 per cent more than in the same period a year earlier.

As a result, the company lost $1.52 per share, up from $1.35 in 2009.

Excluding special items, American lost $1.36 – more then analysts expected.

Continental Airlines – which has been subject to merger speculation with American Airways – also reported losses this week.

The fourth-biggest carrier in the US reported losses excluding one-time costs of $136 million, or 98 cents a share, more than the average 86-cent loss expected by eight analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Higher jet-fuel prices raised total operating costs at each carrier, and an easing of the recession prompted businesses to resume travel.

In contrast, Southwest Airlines made $11 million in the first quarter, or a penny per share.

In a statement to markets, Southwest explained it was a modest pickup in business travel, judging from the number of people buying full-fare tickets.

Stuck on the Tarmac

Finally in US aviation, a challenge to overturn government tarmac time limits has failed.

Five American carriers had lobbied the government for exemptions from new rules which prohibit US airlines operating domestic flights from permitting a plane to remain on the tarmac at airports for more than three hours without letting passengers get off the plane.

Despite protests from JetBlue Airways, Delta Airlines, American Airlines, Continental Airlines and US Airways, US transportation secretary Ray LaHood confirmed the new rules would come into force on April 29th.

The rule only affects large and medium hub airports, and also requires passengers to be provided with working toilets and, after two hours, food and drinking water.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Singapore Airlines reinstates full European flight schedule

Singapore Airlines reinstates full European flight schedule

With the reopening of European airspace, Singapore Airlines is returning to a full European flight schedule with immediate effect.

Customers already booked on scheduled flights to and from Europe will now be able to travel as planned.

At this point, we are able to resume operations as scheduled, as all airspace at destinations to which we operate has opened. We are also looking into the possibility of mounting additional flights, and using aircraft with larger capacity on certain routes, where possible. The situation remains fluid, however, and any changes to this plan or updates will be provided through www.singaporeair.com.

As operations return to normal, customers who had their previous flights cancelled will be re-booked on departing flights subject to availability. Priority will be given to special needs or elderly customers, and those with infants or young children. Following that, customers who have the earliest original departure dates will be assigned seats on the flights.

We would like to advise customers to proceed to airports only if they have confirmed tickets, as there is no guarantee that customers will be able to secure a seat on a flight even when they wait at the airport.

* Alternative travel arrangements and re-bookings: +65 6223 8888 or +65 6789 8188
* Flight status and airport closures: +65 6542 3311

Singapore Airlines will waive cancellation and change fees for confirmed tickets to and from Europe. The waiver, which is valid for tickets issued up to and including 15 April 2010, will be for travel up to and including 02 May 2010. The same conditions apply for KrisFlyer redemption tickets.

Singapore Airlines thanks all its customers for their kind understanding as flight operations have been disrupted since 15 April. The Airline estimates the revenue opportunity loss from flight cancellations and disruptions at $40 million, comprising $10 million from cargo operations and $30 million from passenger operations, without taking into account variable cost savings. It is anticipated that a large portion of the $30 million mentioned above will accrue from deferred travel as normal flight operations resume. The Airline separately estimates the cost of hotel accommodation, meals and other facilitation of affected cu

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Airlines return to skies as airspace reopens

Airlines return to skies as airspace reopens

As the volcanic dust settles, so the task of repatriating passengers begins.

All major UK airlines have returned to operations today.

However, many are warnings of delays – potentially into next week – as they battle the logistical headache of returning to normality.

Here Breaking Travel News takes a look at the latest developments.

British Airways hopes to operate all long-haul flights from Heathrow and Gatwick today, but stated there were likely to be delays to short-haul flights until 13:00.

“Safety is always our over-riding priority,” said British Airways’ chief executive Willie Walsh.

“We have many years of experience of operating in areas of volcanic activity all around the world.

“On behalf of the tens of thousands of customers stranded around the globe, we are delighted the authorities have paid heed to the arguments we and the industry have put forward.”

Passengers holding tickets for British Airways flights can check the status of their departure here.

image

In a statement to passengers Virgin Atlantic stated the airline’s flying programme was returning to schedule.

“A small number of flights may have a delay as we reposition aircraft and crews,” explained the airline.

“We have to be cautious as we don’t know if UK airspace will close again but for the moment we are taking full advantage of the opportunity presented to us.”

Passengers can check the status of their flight here.

However, in an effort to repatriate passengers, Virgin stated it would not be accepting new bookings for any flight departing before April 30th.

Luton-based no-frills carrier easyJet confirmed it would also resume operations this morning, but explained delays were likely.

“Due to the extent of the disruption, it will take several days to resume normal operations and delays are likely,” explained the airline.

“Passengers booked on an easyJet flight tomorrow should go to TravelSor.com before travelling to the airport to find the latest status of their flight.”

Regional carrier bmi outlined plans to resume flights from London Heathrow at 12:00 today.

The airline also stated a limited schedule of flights will be operated from regional UK airports, with passengers advised to visit 99Flights.co.uk for travel updates and individual flight status.

“Safety is bmi’s number one priority and the decision to cancel flights is based on continuing advice from the UK Met Office and NATS (air traffic control), who are tracking a cloud of ash which is moving through UK airspace and affecting all airlines,” added a statement.

Jet2.com was warning passengers all bookings for today remained cancelled. However, the airline will return to operations, with passengers urged to rebook their flights with the airline.

Those who have existing tickets for departures today will see the cost of their rebooked flight refunded.

Take a look at the 99Flights.co.uk website for the latest departure information.

image

Around Europe

In Germany, Lufthansa will operate all long-haul flights from today. However, the flight plan for domestic and intra-European destinations will be gradually extended over the coming days.

As Frankfurt and Munich airports are still experiencing disruption, travellers with reservations for departures within Germany are advised to transfer to Deutsche Bahn to ensure connections are met.

“The planned flight operation depends on the current conditions,” read a statement.

“Lufthansa asks its passengers for their understanding, due the extraordinary circumstances short-term changes might be inevitable.”

Air France has issued a “guarantee” to passengers a near normal flight schedule will operate throughout its network today.

“Air France is doing all it can to help repatriate all its stranded passengers back to France and Europe,” added the airline.

Passengers can check the status of their departure here.

In the Netherlands, KLM will resume operations in a phased manner.

As such, the airline has begun to operate European flights into and out of Amsterdam, with all intercontinental flights expected to operate as normal today.

Resumption of normal schedules is expected in the next few days, with normal services to the United Kingdom expected from April 22nd.

Head over the website for the latest information.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BA, Ryanair, easyJet cancel departures


BA, Ryanair, easyJet cancel departures















Three of the biggest UK carriers have cancelled all short-haul departures until at least Wednesday morning, as the Icelandic ash cloud continues to spread.

While National Air Travel Services (NATS) had previously outlined hopes airspace over the United Kingdom may reopen later today, a second ash cloud is sweeping across the Atlantic, causing further disruption.

As a result, airlines across the country are reassessing their positions.

British Airways

Following the latest information from NATS about the path of the volcanic ash affecting UK airspace, British Airways has taken the decision not to operate any short-haul flights today.

The airline had been planning to operate short-haul flights scheduled to depart after 19:00 tonight, but these have now been cancelled.

“We realise this is disappointing for customers, however the circumstances are outside of all airlines’ control,” explained a statement.

“Customers booked to travel on a cancelled flight can claim a full refund or rebook their flight for a later date.”

The airline was still hoping to operate long-haul flights which are scheduled to depart after 16:00. This, however, remains subject to the full and permanent opening of airspace.

easyJet

Adopting a similar line, easyJet has confirmed it will not operate any flights in northern Europe until at least 01:00 on Wednesday April 21st.

“Safety is the airline’s top priority and we are working closely with regulators and the government to ensure we can resume flying as soon as possible,” read a statement.

The airline will continue to offer a limited number of flights in southern Europe, and passengers who are booked to travel with easyJet are advised to visit the company’s website before departure.

“Passengers who are booked to travel on a cancelled flight should not travel to the airport but should instead arrange either a full refund or a free transfer to another flight on the same route within 30 days of the original flight date through our website,” the airline added.

Ryanair

Ryanair also confirmed that, based on current meteorological forecasts and the continuing emission of volcanic ash into the atmosphere over Iceland, it has decided to cancel all flights until 13:00 on Wednesday.

Departures from the UK, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, Poland and the Baltic States will be affected.

However, Ryanair flights from Spain, the Canary and Baleric islands, the south of Italy (including Pisa, Rome, Sardinia and Sicily), Malta and North Africa will continue to operate domestic and southbound routes.

“This spreading cloud of volcanic ash is unprecedented in Ryanair’s experience, and we are continuing to work around the clock to minimise its effects on our schedules and passengers,” explained chief executive Michael O’Leary.