New business airline confident of September launch

All-premium class airline, Eos, is insisting it is still on schedule to launch flights at the end of September between London Stansted and New York JFK.

Eos has recently received its ‘show cause order’ from the US Transportation Department, tentatively approving the airline’s certification, and is currently waiting for the FAA approval that will allow it to start flying.

A spokeswoman said this would be achieved in the next week or so and flights will launch at the end of September as planned.

The privately-owned airline is promising each passenger 21 square feet in space by offering only 48 seats in a Boeing 757 aircraft which can seat up to 200.

David Spurlock, founder and CEO of Eos and former director of strategic development for British Airways, said: “We’ve designed every aspect of the Eos experience specifically with the business traveller in mind. We recognise that time in the air could be better spent relaxing and reviving for an upcoming business trip or to accomplish work along the way in privacy.”

Each ergonomically designed seat, with a privacy shell, is over 21 inches wide when upright and 24 inches wide when fully reclined to a six foot five-inch bed.

All 24 window seats have a direct path to the aisle.

Founded in March 2003, Eos is named after the Greek goddess of the Dawn.

The company has raised $87 million in equity and approximately $100 million in lease financing.

Hyatt unveils a fourth brand

Hyatt Place has been revealed as the name for Global Hyatt Corp’s new limited service brand being rolled out after the group’s purchase of the AmeriSuites hotel chain in January.

The group is investing more than $150 million on renovation and a marketing campaign for the brand, which will sit alongside its existing three brands – Park, Grand and Regency.

Hyatt is currently building a prototype Hyatt Place which will form the basis of the retrofit of the existing AmeriSuites hotels.

Renovation and repositioning of AmeriSuites hotels is due to start at the end of 2005 and be completed in late 2006.

No specific details have been revealed at this stage, but a spokeswoman said the Hyatt Place hotels would offer luxury limited service suites with kitchens. “Each one will have a restaurant, but there will not be room service,” she said.

The 143 AmeriSuites, all in the US, currently have in-room microwaves and refrigerators, high-speed internet access, complimentary hot breakfast daily, fitness centres and pools, business centres and meeting rooms.

Hyatt intends toexpand the brand inside and outside of the US.

AA to boost business class

AA767

American Airlines is making its business class seats more comfortable for passengers wanting to catch up on sleep.

The carrier is introducing lie-flat style seats to business class from next year. The seats will debut on AA’s Boeing 767-300 aircraft, which operate on transatlantic flights from Dublin, Manchester and Glasgow and some flights from London Gatwick.

Passengers flying in business with AA from London Heathrow and most Gatwick services will have to wait until 2007 to try the seats on the carrier’s Boeing 777 fleet.
The lie-flat style seats are described as such because the seat does not recline to a completely flat bed, instead the head and torso of the passenger remains slightly raised. The seats are more comfortable and adjustable with more space for working, plus they are accompanied by improved in-flight entertainment.

Currently the only airlines operating truly lie flat seats in business class are British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, South African Airways, Jet Airways, and from November, Air New Zealand.

In First Class cabins, AA is extending the availability of its Flagship Suites to 20 more aircraft in its Boeing 777 fleet. This will take place over the next two. The seats can be swivelled into different positions and convert to a fully-flat bed. The intention is for passengers to experience the same product every time they fly on the 777 aircraft.

Report by Ginny McGrath and Alex McWhirter

Free internet next battleground for hotels

Free broadband internet access is being offered by an increasing number of hotel chains in a bid to woo business travellers.

The latest hotel group to offer free broadband is Radisson SAS,which is rolling out the initiative as part of its E@syConnect service across hotels in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. It will be available in most hotels by September 1.

Guests can use wired or wireless internet access free-of-charge in bedrooms, public area and meeting rooms. The group completed installation of wireless hotspots in most of its hotels at the start of 2005.

Kurt Ritter, president and chief executive of Radisson SAS parent company, Rezidor SAS Hospitality, said: “Free broadband as a service is what guests want from hotels today.”

The brand’s nine UK properties in Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Stansted, Limavady, Belfast, Edinburgh and Glasgow. For more information go to www.freebroadband.radissonsas.com.

Other hotel groups that offer free internet include Malmaison, which has wireless internet in the lobby and bar areas of its UK hotels and a broadband dataport connection in the rooms.

W hotels, the trendy boutique brand from Starwood also offers free wireless internet access in its public areas, and Staybridge Suites, the new long-stay hotel offering being launched by InterContinental Hotels in 2006, also plans to offer free broadband internet in its rooms.

Report by Ginny McGrath

Hamburg hots up

The announcement of the debut of a low cost airline on the London-Hamburg route is expected to spark a fares war from existing carriers.

Germanwings will launch twice-daily flights between London Gatwick and Hamburg on October 31, and is offering return fares from £68 including taxes and charges.

British Airways and Lufthansa also operate flights to Hamburg from Heathrow but until the announcement from Germanwings, the two full service airlines had been unchallenged by other carriers.

Hamburg is one of Europe’s busiest ports and is less than two hours by train from Berlin and an hour from Hanover, making it a good starting point for a trip in Germany.
In addition to London flights and an existing Stuttgart flight, Germanwings will operate services to Istanbul, Krakow, Toulouse, Warsaw, Zagreb, Munich, Oslo, and Stockholm from October 31, going head-to-head with Lufthansa to the latter three destinations and to Stuttgart.

Other airlines operating out of Hamburg include Air Berlin, which flies to Manchester five times a week among other European destinations, in addition to Deutsche BA and Hapag Lloyd Express. Ryanair flies from Stansted and Glasgow Prestwick to Hamburg Luebeck, which is 30 miles from the city. The other airlines operate out of Hamburg’s main airport, Fuhlsbuettel, which is eight miles from the city centre.

Report by Ginny McGrath

Emirates to open dedicated Gatwick lounge

First and business class passengers flying out of London Gatwick North Terminal with Emirates will be able to use a dedicated lounge from early autumn.

The lounge will also be open to Gold and Silver members of the airline’s Skywards frequent flyer programme.

Designed along the same lines as the Emirates lounge at Dubai International Airport, it will have seating for 255 travellers, comfortable leather armchairs, flat-screen TVs, and full shower facilities.

Emirates has taken over one floor of the British Airways Terraces for the new lounge, which at 1,590 square metres will be its largest lounge outside of Dubai.

Complimentary hot and cold gourmet dishes and a full bar, including champagne, will be served by Emirates staff and a business centre will have 14 computers and six laptop workstations, all with free broadband and wireless LAN access.

The opening is part of a $13million investment to install lounges at key airports across the airline’s network.

Emirates operates three non-stop flights a day from London Gatwick to Dubai, connecting to onward destinations including Sydney, Melbourne, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.