Archive for the 'airline alliances' Category

Delta and Northwest Announce Merger

After month and month of speculation, with four US airlines going under or declaring bankruptcy in the last two weeks, Delta Airlines and Northwest Airlines have finally announced their merger late last night. When the news broke about a possible merger that Delta Airlines is a part of, it was about talks with United Airlines as we reported on the matter earlier. The final couple sounds a little bit more logical, with both of them being members of the same Airline Alliance (SkyTeam) and also sharing membership in the group of 6 SkyTeam members that were given antitrust immunity just last Friday, that allows for integration of their Trans-Atlantic flights under the US-EU Open Skies agreement.

Delta and Northwest planes in Atlanta, Delta\'s Hub Airport

One of the major issues (so far) has been the so-called seniority list of the ~11.000 Pilots at both airlines as the two Pilots’ Unions could not come to agreement earlier. The seniority lists guarantee special rights to Pilots who reach a certain level of experience flying for the airline and actually determines which planes they can fly (which influences their wages…). But if the two airlines merge their lists, the new, combined list may have more pilots with more experience that would move others lower in the list and they would lose or not get their advantages for a few years ahead… Looks like there is a conclusion on the horizon in this issue with Delta offering a pay hike for the pilots as a compensation. As The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published on Monday (14APR2008) “some people familiar with the matter say, Atlanta-based Delta will try to cut a deal with its 6,000 pilots, roll out the merger and then negotiate with Northwest’s 5,000 pilots afterward.

The deal could set off a series of other mergers, “rumours” say that United and Continental could be first in line and that combo would be bigger than Delta-Northwest, and analysts also say that American Airlines would probably intensify its search for a partner. “It’s a very difficult time for the industry,” Delta CEO Richard Anderson told Delta’s 50,000 workers Friday in his weekly “Right from Richard” recorded message. Roughly half are based at the carrier’s huge Atlanta hub. The airline is Georgia’s largest private employer.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has done a very interesting comparison in February when the Delta-Northwest tie-up was first revealed, you can read the numbers here. The new, Atlanta based merged DELTA Airlines will have an annual revenue of 35 billion USD, a fleet of more than 800 aircraft, and 75.000 employees worldwide. The new airline together with its regional partners would have a network of 390 destinations in 67 countries. “We’re announcing a transaction that is about addition, not subtraction, and combines end-to-end networks that open a world of opportunities for our customers and employees,” Anderson said.

by balint01

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Mexicana To Join oneworld in 2009

oneworld and Mexicana logos (by oneworld.com)

This week the oneworld airline alliance has announced on its annual meeting of the Governing Board that Mexicana Airways has accepted their invitation to join the alliance, together with its subsidiary Click Mexicana also to join as an affiliate member.

The integration process is to take about 12-18 months that allows for a full membership sometime in 2009, with the prime sponsor being Iberia while secondary sponsor is American Airlines. The announcement came at the annual meeting held in Los Angeles, where Mexicana is the biggest non-US carrier using LAX as their biggest hub outside of Mexico.

With the alliance’s existing members serving 11 points in Mexico, its addition will expand to more than 130 points throughout Latin America and to 35 points in Mexico only, which is the world’s 11th most populous country, the 12th biggest economy and the seventh most popular tourist destination, attracting more than 20 million foreign visitors a year.

Globally, its addition will expand the alliance’s network to approaching 700 destinations in nearly 150 countries, with a combined fleet of 2,350 aircraft operating almost 9,500 flights a day, carrying 333 million passengers, with annual revenues of US$100 billion. Mexicana operates a fleet of 62 aircraft – 30 Airbus A320s, 20 A319s and ten A318s, and two Boeing 767s – making 300 departures a day. Mexicana offers two classes – Executive and Economy – with in-flight entertainment screens throughout the fleet and complimentary in-flight meals and drinks in both cabins. It has the two-letter airline code MX. Click Mexicana operates 18 Fokker 100s, making 115 departures a day. Its single cabin offers a “coach plus” style of service, with leather-covered seats at a 35 ins (89 cm) pitch. It offers complimentary in-flight drinks and snacks. Click Mexicana has its own flight code (QA) but all its flights also carry Mexicana’s MX code under a code-sharing agreement.

Mexicana boarded 9 million passengers in 2007, with Click Mexicana carrying another 2.2 million. Between them, they employ 6,725 staff.

Mexico City – the world’s second most populous metropolis – is the airlines’ main hub, with Cancun and Guadalajara secondary hubs.

Mexicana has signed a contract to move its main IT platforms to Amadeus Altea – alongside oneworld partners British Airways, Finnair, Iberia, LAN, Malév Hungarian Airlines and Qantas, with Cathay Pacific also committed to transfer to this provider soon.

by balint01

First Low-Cost Alliance: JetBlue and Aer Lingus

I have been talking (and thinking) about the future of the low-cost market around the world with many friends as well as colleagues from the airline industry for a few years. I’m happy to see one of the ideas I always mentioned in these conversations actually happening.

The equation is very easy to understand. In the beginning there was one, then there were two and by today there are a large number of low-cost carriers. Some of them have a really strong brand, but let’s face it, the average is only known to a certain region -close to their home base(s)-, where they concentrate all their branding and advertising. But you have to get business somehow, so you –as just one of the zillions of low-cost airlineswill eventually be forced to add some extra service to be different from the rest. You will either offer a frequent flier program, or drinks on board, or sandwiches on board, or guaranteed seating or satellite XM radio or TV or something, that differentiates you from the other low-costs. Maybe you team up with another low-cost to offer a wider network, more destinations and connections, one of the things that still keeps the costs of traditional airlines a little bit higher than of the low-costs. Until now low-costs only offered point-to-point flights, or maybe a single connection in their hub from their own flight, to their own flight. But now this is changing!

Aer Lingus Logo  JetBlue logo  

As ATW News reported recently American JetBlue Airways and Aer Lingus from Ireland unveiled details of their strategic partnership late last week, nearly one year after the “alliance” initially was revealed, proving that it will actually happen. The tie-up will take effect 03APR2008 and will feature a booking engine on the website of Aer Lingus (airline code: EI) that will allow customers to purchase tickets on EI flights to the US and onboard JetBlue services from New York JFK in one transaction. EI will have a transfer desk in the arrivals lobby of JFK‘s Terminal 4 where passengers can check in and drop their luggage upon clearing customs. Those flying to Ireland will be able to check their bags through from their initial US departure point when first checking in for a JetBlue flight. “Our partnership with Aer Lingus is a perfect fit with our brand and culture and we are thrilled to extend our network,” JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said. Aer Lingus CEO Dermot Mannion said, “We are proud to be pioneering the model of linking low-fare networks.

It’s interesting to see this latest step in the transformation of Aer Lingus. The story so far: a state-owned, traditional airline, that has a domestic, low-cost rival named Ryanair… The strategy has been laid a few years ago: EI needs to move towards the low-cost model to be able to compete with Ryanair and escape bankruptcy. Well, they kept their long-haul operations as the flag carrier of Ireland but have really transformed to a low-cost airline on short-haul routes. They used to be a member of the oneworld alliance, which they quit just more than a year ago, due to being too “low-cost-ish” and not fitting the requirements of oneworld anymore. But it looks like they still need the help of other airlines’ networks, and having the experience of a global alliance membership for years, they are now starting their own new alliance, which happens to be in the low-cost market. Just look at any of the currently operating alliances, they all have a strong European and a strong US founding member. This alliance follows the same idea, but in a different market. Let’s see how far they will go with this alliance, whether if it will remain a marketing solution only (linking booking engines, issuing tickets in one transaction (with internal accounting between the two members) and allowing through-check-in of passengers and luggage), or if they will soon link up TrueBlue and The Gold Circle Club to allow frequent flier point/mile collection on each other’s flights and will roll out other joint services? Maybe new, smaller members will be revealed later on? We’ll see.

by balint01 

Air France – KLM EUR 1 Billion Offer For Alitalia

Alitalia has been struggling with financial difficulties for a long time. In the past few months more airlines were bidding for it, but in the end all of them backed down.

Thus today’s news were surprising, that finally Air France – KLM offered Eur 1 billion for it. According to gossips in the industry another offer is expected from Lufthansa.

Alitalia is making loss of EUR 2 million per day and so far no investors were interested in buying it.

By Szafi 

Flight Review: British Airways

We have been considering writing flight reviews for some time, and now finally here is the first one.

British Airways Logo

Route: BUDAPEST-London/Gatwick-ATLANTA
Operating Airlines: oneworld: British Airways and Malev Hungarian Airlines
Travel Date: 06NOV2007

Ticket Purchase

I have bought the ticket through www.ba.com, which was a very nice experience. The website provides you with lowest price options on and around the days you have searched for showing the options in an easy-to-understand, coloured format. After selecting (confirming) your travel dates, it gives you a detailed list of all the available flight combinations, also colored so that you can easily recognize the cheapest option. What I really liked about the flight descriptions, that it explicitly tells you operational information after or between the concerned flights. For example it would tell you “Warning – your connection will involve travel between airports by coach or bus, the cost of which is not included in your fare.” And this text would be displayed between those two flights, where one arrives at Heathrow, while the other leaves from Gatwick. Really easy to understand, and very visual. After selecting your flights and providing passenger details you can pay for your trip with your credit card and upon successful payment, you receive a confirmation email immediately (as expected). The site also takes you immediately to the “Manage My Booking” section, that provides very usefull information and allows you to manage your booking. For example you can save time at the airport by filling out the APIS data (required for entry to the USA) online, you can also add frequent flier number if you forgot to add it at the time of the booking, and can change or upgrade your flights right from here, but can check the online entertainment options, including the movies you will be offered, too.

Offsetting Carbon Emissions 

You can also follow a link from the “Manage My Booking” page to offset your carbon-dioxide emissions with Climate Care (http://www.climatecare.org/britishairways/calculators/) using a pollution calculator. For this particular return flight my emmission is 1,86 t of CO2, which costed me EUR 20,75 to offset. Climate Care has also sent me a British Airways co-branded Certificate to certify that I have offset the CO2 generated by my return flight.
(Being curious I have also checked the Lufthansa website partnered with myclimate.org, launched a few months ago, and to my surprise for the same route it calculated: 1,705 t of CO2, and suggested a compensation of EUR 34. Where the difference comes from, I don’t know…)

Check-In

To be in control of my seats, I chose to check-in online. It opens 24 hours before the actual flight (each flight opens individually). Unfortunately check-in for the BUD-LGW segment was not available on the BA website, as it is operated by Malev Hungarian Airlines. But for the British Airways flight, I could check-in flawlessly, where I got a pre-assigned seat, which I could change while using a seat-map of the actual aircraft that I was going to fly. The process is very straight forward, and easy to understand I think. After the successful transaction I printed my boarding pass on a normal A4 size paper, that included a bar code for later identification at the airport. The website also gave me check-in summary after completing it. Unlike some other airlines, BA did not replace this home-printed paper with a magnetic stripe “traditional” boarding pass at the airport, this was the only boarding paper I used to get on my flight.

Due to the above mentioned situation I also used the check-in desks at Budapest, where they checked me in quickly for the Budapest-London segment, but they had no information of my other already self-checked-in segment. They could not confirm if I actually have 35A as my seat or not, but she said she can not do anything with my second flight (the systems blocks her) and suggested that I look for a BA transfer desk at Gatwick. She could check-in my luggage all the way, though. Upon arrival to Gatwick I contacted BA Ticket desk in the transit area, and the lady there was also very nice, told me that indeed I have 35A, but even though my luggage was checked-in all the way in Budapest already, she does not see it in the system. So I gave her my bag-tag, which then she recorded in their system.

Malev B737-700 (HA-LOL)

1. BUDAPEST – LONDON GATWICK (BA 4450 operated by Malev: MA 612)

Aircraft: Boeing 737-700NG (HA-LOL), new, clean, comfortable aircraft operated by Malev Hungarian Airlines
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived exactly on time.
Boarding: After a long-long queue at the security (airport’s responsibility) I had to rush to the gate, otherwise it was OK
Seats: Full leather seats in both classes, with average legroom
Flight Attendants: There were 4 of them, 3 young girls and 1 older purser. Two of the girls were very good looking, all of them were very friendly.
Meals: We got hot breakfast of scrambled eggs, beans and a wurst as well as freshly warmed/heated buns. Also got orange juice and tea, could have gotten a wide variety of soft drinks, or wine or beer.
Entertainment: There are LCD screens above the seats per every three-four rows in the aircraft, which play Malev and Hungary PR material throughout the whole flight.

G-VIIF Boeing 777

2. LONDON GATWICK – ATLANTA (BA 2227)

Aircraft: Boeing 777-200 (G-VIIF), not so new, at some places worn-down aircraft operated by British Airways
Class: Economy
Punctuality: Flight took off 10 minutes late, arrived 30 minutes ahead of schedule.
Boarding: The security at Gatwick was very long, I was happy I had a three hour layover so I didn’t have to run, and I could relax while standing in the line. It was confusing that when finally they put up on the screens that we need to go to gate 55, while walking there I caught the last few words of an announcement saying that passenger flying to Atlanta should proceed to gate 59. It doesn’t sound that bad, but the gates are on two different sides of Gatwick, so it would have caused a running excercise if the announcement proves true. As I wasn’t sure if it was about my flight (there was another flight to Atlanta about an hour after mine) I went to the gate which was on the screens – it was a good decision as that was our gate. After the gate-boarding pass check-in there were seats available for only about half of the passengers, so either be there early or arrive late! Other than that, boarding went smoothly.
Seats: Full leather seats with proper legroom, as comfortable as a regular economy seat can get. Tip: if legroom is important for you don’t get a window seat, as the entertainment cables go on the window seat’s chairleg, which reduces free legroom. It doesn’t really leave you the option to put a laptop bag under the seat in front of you for example.
Flight Attendants: They really did their job of serving meals and overlooking the passengers for security. That’s all they did. No special smile or service, dry English manner.

Main meal on BA2227  Snack Meal on BA 2227

Meals: Not so long after take-off we received a small pack of snacks with drinks and later on the main meal. The choice was chicken or pasta, I took the chicken with assorted vegetables (potatoes, broccoli and mashed carrots). The taste was good, just like that of the standard salad (with fish) and the blackberry pie. The Twix chocolate bar tasted as everywhere around the world. The bun was not fresh and not warmed, not tasty at all. The white wine was OK, but it’s probably not award winning, either. Shortly before landing we got another “meal” which was a small pre-packed sandwhich with a small carrot-cake with raisins and a pack of dried fruits. Drinks were served once again. During the flight if somebody wanted to get snacks or extra drinks, the kitchen in the back of the plane was always “open”.

Dangling armrest on BA   Dangling armrest on BA 2.

Entertainment: Every passenger in economy has their own LCD screen and built-in remote control in the armrest. My armrest was really worn-down and actually broken. The dirty looking plastic cover was living it’s own life, as you can see on the pictures above. It should be dangling around like this, it was annoying. Just like the fact that I tried 2 headphones where each had only one side working, then I put on my own headphones which just worked properly. As it is a Skype enabled one, the flight attendants spotted it and brought a third one to try, which finally worked on both sides! It may only be me, but I always get a half- or non-working headphone set on my long-haul flights at first… On the other hand, the radio stations were OK, and the movies, too. The movies start at un-announced times, all movies starting at the same time. I watched three of them: Die Hard 4, Ocean’s Thirteen and Knocked Up.
Amenities: Each economy passenger received a bag of socks, and toothbrush-toothpaste.

Overall Experience

Despite the minor glitches on the BA flight with the entertainment (armrest and headphones) I would take this flight again, I had a good time onboard both oneworld flights. A big advantage was the convenient schedule (leaving Budapest at 7:10 and arriving in Atlanta at 16:25) and the pricetag: this return flight costed USD 1072, with the purchase taking place exactly one week before the departure (so relatively late).

by balint01

New Air India Merging Towards Star Alliance

India being the second most populated country in the world once had two big state owned airlines: Air India and Indian Airlines. The merger of the two airlines was approved by Indian state authorities earlier this year at the end of August, when the Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued its final approval to the application, thus establishing the new National Aviation Co. of India Ltd. that will fly under the Air India name.

Air India Logo

The merger of Air India and Indian will provide an integrated international and domestic footprint, which will significantly enhance customer proposition and allow easy entry into a global airline alliance,” the government said. “The merged airline has given them the opportunity to unlock significant synergies on account of optimal utilization of resources through improvement in load factors and yields on commonly serviced routes as well as deployment of ‘freed up’ aircraft capacity on alternate routes.

The merged carrier will operate a fleet of 112 aircraft, including seven new 777s, 10 A320 family aircraft and four 737-800s introduced this year. The parent company will comprise the mainline (Air India), an LCC called Air India Express, Air India Cargo (which is in the process of acquiring 737 and A310 converted freighters and plans to be operating 10 aircraft within the next year), and ground handling and MRO divisions that will “gain increased focus on the merged entity,” the government said. Each will be managed as a separate unit.

Only one week after the approval of the merger, the new Air India’s board voted to join Star Alliance, according to the United News of India news service and The Economic Times. A formal announcement about Air India’s entry into Star Alliance is expected in December 2007, highly-placed Indian civil aviation ministry sources said – according to The Economic Times. The agreement would come into effect early next year, enabling Air India to provide seamless connectivity to its passengers across the networks of all Star Alliance partner airlines. However, no other details were revealed, and neither the airline nor the alliance issued a statement.

With most of the European, American and Far-Eastern carriers being already enrolled in an alliance the markets left without proper alliance coverage include China, India, Russia, the Middle-East and Africa. India will now be Star Alliance territory, while they will soon have two members in Africa (South-African Airways and Egyptair as AirlineWorld reported yesterday) and also two Chinese carriers are bound to join Star in the mid-term. SkyTeam currently seems strong in Russia and also has a Chinese candidate, while oneworld has Dragonair operating in China as an associated member, but on the other hand has the only Middle-East airline alliance member: Royal Jordanian. It will be interesting to see where the big Russian carriers, the big Chinese carriers and the rest of the African and Gulf Region carriers will join in.

by balint01

Star Alliance Is Expanding Again

Star Alliance – EgyptAir agreement

Yesterday evening the officials of Star Alliance and EgyptAir announced that EgyptAir will join Star Allaince within the next 18 months. There are three more airlines waiting for the official signature day: Air China, Shanghai Airlines and Turkish Airlines. Although EgyptAir’s hub is in North Africa, the goal market for Star Alliance is the Middle-East. Alliances in general are weak in the Middle-East. Only oneworld has a member from that region: Royal Jordanian that joined oneworld this year.

Star Alliance

In Cairo a new airport will be opened in 2009. Fraport has been involved in the construction since it started in 2005. The new Terminal 3 will be able to handle 11 million passengers per year and it will also accomodate the new A380. In addition to the new Terminal 3, Cairo Airport is also constructing a fourth runway, developing the Cargo City, constructing a new Air Traffic Control Tower and increasing its parking facilities. Also new service facilities are on the way like, hotel, business and shopping centers.

Egyptair

EgyptAir is the world-renowned national airline of the Egypt, based in the city of Cairo.
In more than 75 years, EgyptAir has experienced extraordinary growth, taken the lead to be the first airline in the Middle East and Africa and the seventh in the world to join IATA and become a treasured brand.
Currently Egyptair operates 48 aircrafts to 60 destinations in 44 Countries through 1,200 weekly flights, carried more than 6.5 million passengers in 2006/2007, to fulfill the travel needs of both business and leisure travel.

EgyptAir B 737

In 2004, EgyptAir demonstrated the scale of its commitment to the highest standards of safety by being the first IOSA certified airline in the Middle East and Africa.

By Szafi

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