Archive for the 'oneworld' Category

Finnair Celebrates 85th Anniversary

Finnair -one of the world’s oldest airlines established in 1923- has turned 85 years old this year and is showing the airline world how such a birthday should be celebrated in true style.

Retro and Current Logos of Finnair

Retro and Current Logos of Finnair

1. Retro Flights in Retro Livery Airplane

First of all painting one of the fleet (an Airbus A319) in the original livery from 85 years ago and naming it “Silver Bird” for years to come:

Finnair Airbus A319 in Retro Livery (c by Teemu Heikkonen on airliners.net)

Finnair Airbus A319 in Retro Livery (c by Teemu Heikkonen on airliners.net)

Finnair is flying the “Silver Bird” from its home Helsinki-Vantaa airport to a number of locations all around Europe, but some of those flights between July 30 and December 31, 2008 are classified as Retro flights, with the crew wearing retro dresses as well. (if interested, read our earlier post about sexy stewardess uniforms.)

2. Retro Marketing on a Dedicated Retro Website

Setting up a special dedicated retro website for a month that looks like it was made out of paper and pack it with video commercials from earlier days (which still advertise the current brand…). Add the list of the above mentioned retro flights to it, (the list may change due to operational reasons of course) together with classic Retro style Destination Guides to the planned destinations: Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, London, Manchaster, Milan, Oulu, Paris, Rome, Stockholm.

Retro Style Finnair 85th Anniversary Website

Retro Style Finnair 85th Anniversary Website

Link to Finnair Retro Commercials

Link to Finnair Retro Commercials

Turning the main Finnair cover website to a Retro looking page with a single banner to the Retro site and a search module – to still allow people to get on with their business and make a booking.

Main cover page of Finnair in Retro Style

Main cover page of Finnair in Retro Style

3. Celebrate the 10 year Alliance Membership with Further Special Livery Airplanes

And finally follow LAN Airlines and be the first European oneworld member to feature a special oneworld livery on the latest Airbus A340 addition to the longhaul fleet as well as on a shorthaul Airbus A319 – to celebrate the 10 year membership in oneworld.

Finnair special anniversary oneworld livery Airbus A340 (c by oneworld)

Finnair special anniversary oneworld livery Airbus A340 (c by oneworld)

Very well done Finnair, this marketing campaign should be copied by others!! Besides the website and the retro commercial videos, having three special livery aircraft at the same time will have all plane-spotters around the world looking out for anniversary Finnair airplanes!

by balint01

Special oneworld Airplane Liveries

Following the path laid out by the Star Alliance, oneworld has started to allow their members to paint aircraft in special, airline alliance livery.

The first two, Japan Airlines Boeing 777’s (a -200 and a -300) were joined by a LAN Argentina Airbus (LV-BFO) just recently, when LAN Argentina celebrated its one year membership in the alliance.

By clicking on the thumbnails below, you will be taken to airliners.net where these images are from:

Special LAN livery - c by Baires Aviation Photography  JAL special livery - c by Weimeng  JAL special livery - c by Seno Fumiaki

I’m looking for seeing more oneworld themed special aircraft paintings at American Airlines (with their shiny aluminium design), British Airways or Malev Hungarian Airlines for example.

by balint01

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

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

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

Iberia Airbus Slides Off Runway At Quito

EC-JOH slid off the runway at Quito - by airliners.net 

On  Friday, 09NOV2007, an Iberia operated Airbus A340-600 has slid off the runway in Ecuador at the Quito Airport and caused the airport to be shut down for two days. Arriving from Madird, at 17:06 immediately after touching down the aircraft overran the runway and came to a still in the soft terrain, where it is still standing after two days. According to the Aviation Safety Network’s preliminary report: “The A340 suffered one or more tyre bursts on landing at Quito (UIO). The aircraft overran the runway and came to rest tilting to the left with nr.1 and 2 engines touching the ground.” Such accidents happen every once in a while, but we have seen that they can turn out much worse as in Sao Paolo a few months ago for example.

Fortunately nobody was hurt, all 349 passengers and crew escaped woundless. When I saw the pictures, my first thought was that just in less than a year I have flown the same type of aircraft with Iberia, and when looking at the name just on the side of the cockpit, I realized that it was this same aircraft that took me back from Lima, Peru to Madrid last December… It is a very strange feeling to know that the plane which I once flew in my life and is registered as EC-JOH and named “Miguel de Unamuno” has been involved in such an incident…

At the moment there are only indications as per what really caused the accident, some comments on the internet praise the pilots that they managed to save such a situation without anybody getting hurt, while others blame them for the accident. Only investigations will tell, but I feel sorry for this beautiful bird to damage one wing, three of the Rolls-Royce engines plus basically most of the landing gears including the nose. It will be a big management and technical task to repair it on site by Iberia as I’m afraid Quito lacks the necessary infrastructure for such a repair. The terminal is also operating under some restrictions since the ILS antennas were destroyed and replacement will take 15 days (ILS – Instrument Landing System).

This picture from a different angle shows just how close to residential areas were to this accident…

Iberia EC-JOH in Quito - by Reuters

A slideshow with more onsite pictures on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqfQAm-iyJI

by balint01

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


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