Archive for the 'London' Category

Oasis Hong Kong Airlines Goes Out of Business

On 09APR2008 14:00 Hong Kong time, the first long haul low cost airline has ceased its operations. Oasis Hong Kong has been a story that a large portion of the Airline Industry was following as it was the ice-breaker in the long haul low cost market with its cheap flights between Hong Kong and London Gatwick.

Oasis Hong Kong Boeing 747

They started their daily flights in October 2006 with the above mentioned route and have later added 6 times weekly service between Hong Kong and Vancouver, Canada. Their fleet has grown to four Boeing 747-400s, two are (were) former Singapore Airlines aircraft and two were formerly operated by All Nippon Airways (ANA). They were providing two cabins: Economy and Business starting from just GBP 358 return fare.

The airline was planning new routes to Europe (Berlin, Cologne/Bonn, Manchaster, Milan), North America (San Francisco and Chicago) and Australia (Melbourne and Sydney) “in the near future” according to their website, which plans will probably be cancelled or at least revisited now. Less than a month ago (19MAR2008) they still had news about new appointments in their sales force, but now it looks like those were too late.

Currently the following statement is on their website (www.oasishongkong.com):

It is with regret that Oasis Hong Kong Airlines announces that the airline has applied to the Hong Kong Court to appoint a provisional liquidator on 9 April 2008. The Court has appointed Edward Middleton and Patrick Cowley of KPMG as the provisional liquidators, and they have assumed control of the airline with effect from 1400h the same day Hong Kong time.

Our flight operations have been cancelled until further notice. The Provisional Liquidators are liaising with other airlines in order to help customers make alternate travel arrangements as quickly as possible.

This will probably mean a lot of business for British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Virgin Atlantic, Singapore Airlines and Qantas – who operate most of the flights between Hong Kong and London as well as for Air Canada and Cathay Pacific who fly between Hong Kong and Vancouver.

Looks like after all -in this case- the traditional airlines managed to withstand the promised competition of a low cost long haul operator…

by balint01

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Small Jet Crashes Into a Home – 5 Killed

UK small plane crashAt least 5 died after a Cessna Citation I crashed into two homes in Farnborough, England. The plane took off from London Biggin Airport and was heading to Pau, France. Shortly after take off the pilot reported vibration in the engines. Some minutes later there was a Mayday call and the plane crashed into two houses. One of them was completely destroyed.

There were 5 people aboard. Three of them have already been identified. They were all known peopleUK small plane crash from motor sports: David Leslie, a former tourign car champion, motorsport executive Richard Lloyd and Mike Roberts – the pilot.

Luckily the destroyed house was empty as its owners are on holiday, thus there were no more victims on the ground.

Watch video about the crash here.

Read more about the aircraft type here. 

By Szafi

London Heathrow Terminal 5 Opens

The biggest construction work over the last years is finished and the largest standalone building of the UK has started its everyday business today. The UK’s flagship building is solely to be used by British Airways (BA), the UK’s flag carrier. BA promises that connections will be much faster (~20 mins), and also time spent at the Terminal while departing will also be significantly reduced (~10 mins), as they plan with most of the passengers checking in online before arriving to the airport and then “flying” through the Departures area very quickly. To allow this, 96 fast-bag drops have been installed with the same number of self-service check-in kiosks for those who had no time to check-in from their office, home or mobile phone. According to the website of British Airways, all passengers must be ready to fly (passed check-in and security) 35 minutes before their flights, which means on a normal operational day you can arrive at the airport only 45 minutes before your flight (but this is a theoretical minimum, we believe this means 55-60 minutes in reality…) – if you’re an experienced self check-in kiosk user or have used online check-in and do not have any baggages to check-in.

Terminal 5 banner on ba.com

A Green Building

Following the first idea about a fifth terminal in as early as 1982, construction finally started on the £4.3 billion pound project in September 2002 (5.5 years ago) and has been on time and on budget. 2006 Stirling Prize winner the Richard Rogers Partnership designed the 40 metre high, 396 metres long and 176 metres wide, 5 level Terminal 5. It is built between Heathrow’s two runways, on reclaimed land previously occupied by a sludge works. The project has successfully moved 9 million cubic metres of earth and two rivers have been diverted to create space for the new building. The area now is home to 30.000 woodland plants and 4.000 trees and is planned to have more in the next two years. On top of this green initiative, the building will be operated with as small environmental effects as possible:
  • Water conservation – 85 per cent of the water that falls on T5 will be collected and reused
  • Recycling – 97 per cent of the construction waste was reused and passengers can contribute by recycling their waste at special facilities around the terminal
  • Lighting – the predominantly glass constructed building allows in natural sunlight, reducing the need for artificial lighting (30.000 square metres of reinforced glass and 5.500 glass panels also guarantee the light and airy feel)
  • Heat – 85 per cent of the heat required by the building is provided by waste heat from the existing airport heat and power station

The terminal housing the longest baggage carousel system in the world will be able to handle 30 million passengers every year, raising the total capacity of Heathrow to 90 million from 68 million currently (while the airport was originally designed for 45 million…). The main terminal building is home to Concourse A, while the satellite Concourse B has been finished as well (with dedicated stands for the Airbus A380 superjumbo – already on order with BA), and is connected to the main building by an underground people mover system. The opening of Concourse C is scheduled for 2010. Alltogether, Terminal 5 will have 60 aircraft stands.

All sorts of traffic means are connected to the building, including Heathrow Express rail service as well as the London Underground’s Piccadilly Line. 4.000 cars can be parked in the new Parking Garage, but there are bicycle routes up to the terminal as well, with free bicyle parking in car parks 1 and 1A.

BA will use Terminal 5 as the only one carrier, but Terminal 5 will not be the only one terminal used by BA, as they are forced to keep some of their services on Terminal 3. You can find the list of destinations served by BA and their Terminals here. There will also be a frequent coach service launched between Terminals 3 and 5 to allow BA passengers to easily transfer between the two terminals used by the British carrier.

The first flight to arrive is BA 026 from Hong Kong, piloted by BA’s first woman pilot, Captain Lynn Barton, due to touch down at 4.50am. She has described the role as “a huge honour”. The first flight to depart is heading for Paris at 6.20pm with a further 380 (what a coincidence with the A380…) flights due to arrive or depart at the terminal on its first day. The BA move will involve a convoy of more than 1,000 vehicles, including 360 baggage trailers, 240 cargo containers and 27 short-haul aircraft. More than 2,500 ground staff will also make the move, with another 3,000 to follow on the 30th of April.

Once airside, BA passengers will be able to kill time in an enormous shopping mall and a range of cafes and restaurants – the list of outlets includes Harrods, Prada, Bulgari, Wagamama, Gordon Ramsay, Paul Smith and Carluccio’s as well as Starbucks among many-many others.

by balint01

New A380 Route to London

As we reported earlier, Singapore Airlines has already received their second Airbus A380 super-jumbo, and is planning to take the third one by mid March. While the second one currently serves training purposes and completes a few scheduled flights to Hong Kong, in reality she is only waiting for her sister to arrive so they can start to serve the first European route of the A380: London Heathrow directly from Singapore Changi airport.

The first flight with flight number SQ 308 will take off from Singapore at 9:00 am on 18MAR2008 and will arrive in London at 15:05 the same day. Then late afternoon at 18:55 it will head back to the home of Singapore Airlines (SIA) as flight SQ 319 and will arrive to its Asian destination at 15:35 on 19MAR2008. These two flights mark the official launch of the second route served by SIA after Sydney since October 2007 with the first super-jumbo. This will also be the first commercial flight of the A380 involving a European airport.

Following the special first day flights, the schedule will be similar to other flights on similar routes, please see the table below as provided by Singapore Airlines. The first one is about the interim time between 18MAR and 30MAR (the last day of the Winter schedule for the airline industry) the second table shows the schedule for the Summer season.

Scheduled A380 services (Northern Winter 2007/2008)
 
Flight number Commencement date Departure Time Arrival Time
SQ 322 Singapore-London Daily from
18 March 2008
2320 hours 0525 hours
next day
SQ 317 London-Singapore Daily from
19 March 2008
1100 hours 0740 hours
next day

Scheduled A380 services (Northern Summer 2008)
 
Flight number Commencement date Departure Time Arrival Time
SQ 322 Singapore-London Daily from
30 March 2008
2330 hours 0555 hours
next day
SQ 317 London-Singapore Daily from
30 March 2008
1155 hours 0745 hours
next day

According to the airline, those passengers who already have tickets for these flighs, will be able to fly on those flights, even though they originally purchased their flights not knowing that it would be served by the A380. Those, who already have a booking but not yet received a ticket for it, “may need to check if there have been changes to their fares as a result of the aircraft change.” In other words, their fares have probably been increased at least due to higher demand on these flights. If you manage to get on board the inaugural London flights (SQ308/319) on 18 March, you will receive personalised certificates recognising your participation in the milestone event, as well as limited edition Singapore Airlines A380 souvenirs and exclusive premium giveaways.

The introduction of this route flown by the A380 also marks the first case when a passenger will be able to connect from a flight on the A380 to another flight, also flown by the A380 if they travel between London and Sydney with a transfer in Singapore. In this case they will actually have to spend almost 13 hours in Singapore, but it may very well be worth it!

by balint01

British Airways Boeing 777 Incident at London Heathrow

British Airways flight BA 038 inbound to London Heathrow, from Beijing, China today at 12:42 pm local time (12:42 GMT) has crash landed just a few meters off the beginning of Heathrow’s Southern runway (unlucky?). From another point of view, it crash landed just a few meters off of a congested two way road, just inside the boundaries and fences of Heathrow Airport (lucky!!).

BA Boeing 777 after emergency landing at Heathrow - by CNN.com

According to the first reports by BBC and declined to be commented by British Airways, the aircraft has lost some (or all) of its power and avionics systems while descending to the airport, and it equals to a miracle that the pilot managed to reach the territory of the airport by gliding this huge bird “nose up”, and not crash-land into the heavily populated residential areas of West-London. This is the FIRST Report, only a few hours after the crash, so as investigations will take place, the findings may change the descriptions of the cause.

All 136 passengers and 16 crew escaped the aircraft, with 13 of the passengers (among them 7 British and 3 Chinese) reportedly being treated in a nearby hospital with minor injuries.

Scotland Yard has quickly stated that the incident is not terrorism related.

BA chief Willie Walsh, while praising the crew for doing an “excellent job,” declined to comment on the possible cause of the accident, which is being to be probed by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB). He further added that “The captain of the aircraft is one of our most experienced and has been flying with us for nearly 20 years,” he said.

What is known at this moment, is a few eyewitness explanations:

Eyewitness Neil Jones, who has a general aviation pilot’s licence, said the plane had been making a “very, very unusual approach,” and the engine sounded louder than normal. “The aircraft was banking to the left and it was coming in very low over the surrounding houses. The plane was significantly lower than it would normally be,” he told the BBC. “You could see the pilot was desperate, trying to get the plane down. The aircraft hit the grass and there was a lot of dirt. The pilot was struggling to keep the plane straight. He did a great job,” said Jones. Another witness said the Boeing had come in at a “funny angle,” and, with its undercarriage down, had slid along the grass in a “plume of smoke.” The plane had hit the ground with a “big impact and a loud noise.”

The 6 year old Boeing 777-200ER, registration G-YMMM, was built by Boeing in 2001 and is one of 43 in the British Airways fleet. The plane is powered by two Rolls-Royce Group Plc Trent 895 engines and had accumulated 23,476 flying hours as of Dec. 31, 2006, (according to data on the Web site of the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority) and was immediately surrounded by emergency vehicles, including fire engines and ambulances, as a carpet of foam was sprayed. The wheels of the plane, which had a routine maintenance check in December, were still in the field where it crashed, several hundred meters from the runway.

Officials said delays were expected after one of Heathrow’s two runways was closed for almost two hours with an air exclusion zone imposed to help regulate traffic at one of the world’s busiest airports. The runway has since been reopened for take-offs only.

Update: first good resolution pictures on airliners.net:
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318128/L/
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318132/L/
http://www.airliners.net/open.file/1318205/L/

Update: Video of the Crew’s Press Meeting on Telegraph TV, so you know who made sure that such an emergency situation was handled as best as possible: http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1137942530/bclid1155254697/bctid1381652074 

Update: In the preliminary report The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the flight had been normal until that point but then the Boeing 777 descended rapidly. The report states: “At approximately 600ft and two miles from touch down, the autothrottle demanded an increase in thrust from the two engines but the engines did not respond.” This means that so far the first theory has been confirmed by pre-liminary investigation findings. This was the first ever crash involving a Boeing 777 aircraft, which is considered as one of the most advanced jets in the sky today.

by balint01

Two Planes Collided At London Heathrow Airport

Yesterday evening two planes collided on the runway during preparation for taking off. Nobody was injured, although passengers panicked and about 20 fire engines were called to the scene, which understandably strengthened their bad feelings. The two planes involved were a Boeing 747 operated by British Airways on its way to Singapore and an Airbus A340 heading for the Maldives, operated by Sri Lankan Airlines.

According to witnesses one of the engines of the BA Jumbo fell onto the ground after the other aircraft’s wing hit it. In the picture of AP news agency it is not visible, but it is clear that the 747’s winglet was torn down and cut in half by the Airbus.

Collision at London Heathrow

Passengers were safely evacuated and they were offered compensation. The reasons are not known yet, investigations started and we will hopefully learn about the result very soon. Unfortunately Heathrow is one of the most crowded airports of the world and as AirlineWorld reported it earlier, the new terminal will not be open for passengers earlier than next March. BAA is often criticized for the delays at Heathrow Airport as more than one third of the airlines leave Heathrow more than 15 minutes late.

We will give you updates about the investigation as soon as results will be available. Please make sure you add Airline World blog to your favorites and your RSS reader.

By Szafi

Countdown for Heathrow Terminal 5 Has Started

This week British Airways (BA) received the keys of their shiny new Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport. The new 69 thousand square meters terminal is 5 times bigger than Terminal 4 currently used by BA. The huilding will host 25 restaurants, 6 business lounges and 18 thousand square meters of shops in total. The total costs of the new terminal will rise as high as  GBP 4.3 billion. The designer was Richard Rogers Partnership and construction started in September, 2002. The baggage system is the biggest, single-terminal baggage handling system in Europe, containing 18km of belts and capable of transporting 12,000 bags per hour around the terminal. From now on 30 thousand BA and BAA (British Airport Authorities) employees will work to get prepared for the opening on March 27, 2008.

London Heathrow Terminal 5

 Here you can learn more about the new terminal.

In the meantime UK CAA this week published the Competition Commission report on price controls for London Heathrow and Gatwick airports for the next five-year period. The CC recommended that the maximum per-passenger charge at LHR rise to £10.96 ($22.35) in 2008-09, with charges subsequently increasing by no more than retail price index inflation plus 7.5% each year. For LGW it proposed that charges rise to a maximum £5.48 in 2008-09, subsequently growing by no more than RPI inflation minus 0.5% annually.

The agency also noted that the CC found that both LHR and LGW, “in failing to manage security queuing and queue times to avoid unacceptable delays to passengers, crew and flights, have acted against the public interest,” and that the CC proposed that these problems can be remedied through a broadening and strengthening of existing service quality regulations.

Naturally airlines complained about the high prices as it is against their initiatives to decrease costs and make air travel more cost-efficient for passengers.

 By Szafi

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