Norwegian to open Barcelona base

Norwegian will open a new base of operations in Barcelona in the spring that will enable it to launch four new routes and increase the frequency on its London Gatwick service.

The new routes will begin in early April and will be from Barcelona to Sandefjord Torp, Hamburg, Berlin and Warsaw.

From March 31, Norwegian’s Barcelona to Gatwick flights will operate daily, up from the current three weekly services on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.

Its Barcelona to Helsinki route will also turn daily, while it will operate 13 weekly flights between the Spanish city and Stockholm.

Norwegian will have three new Boeing 737-800s based at Barcelona-El Prat Airport.

Bjorn Kjos, the carrier’s CEO, said: “We have decided to open a new base in Barcelona to meet the demand for non-stop flights to and from Spain’s second largest city and the capital of Catalonia.

“It is strategically important for us to establish a base in Barcelona, as we are considering the airport for future long-haul operations.”

Barcelona is Norwegian’s sixth base in Spain, following ones in Madrid, Alicante, Malaga, Las Palmas and Tenerife.

Earlier this month, IAG chief executive Willie Walsh dismissed Norwegian’s new low-fare transatlantic service between Gatwick and the US as “not significant” (see news, November 1).

norwegian.com

Graham Smith

SIA adds third daily Tokyo Haneda service

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will add a third daily service to its Singapore-Tokyo Haneda route from March next year, taking the total number of frequencies to the Japanese capital to five a day, including the two daily operations to Narita International Airport.

According to the airline, the third daily Haneda service is being introduced to meet the growing demand for travel to and from Tokyo. The route will be operated by an A330-300, which will add nearly 2,000 extra seats per week to the service. The wide-body aircraft will feature a two-class configuration, with 30 seats in business and 255 seats in economy.

Flight SQ632 will depart Singapore at 0800 and arrive in Haneda at 1600. Meanwhile, the new SQ633 return flight will leave Haneda at 1705 and touch down in Singapore at 2305. The existing SQ633 flight will be renumbered to SQ635.    

Singapore-Haneda new flight schedule (daily service) 

Flight Number

Aircraft Type

Departs

Arrives

SQ 632

A330-300

SIN 0800

HND 1600

SQ 633

A330-300

HND 1705

SIN 2305

SQ 634

B777-300

SIN 1355

HND 2150

SQ 635

B777-300

HND 2255

SING 0500+1

SQ 636

A330-300

SIN 2230

HND 0630+1

SQ 631

A330-300

HND 0920

SIN 1520

 

With the new service, SIA will be operating a total of 63 flights per week into Japan. The Singaporean carrier also offers daily services to both Fukuoka and Nagoya, and double-daily service to Osaka.

For more information, visit www.singaporeair.com

Clement Huang

BA offers 20% discount on US/Canada flights

British Airways has partnered with Fairmont Hotels to offer a 20 per cent discount on any economy flight between London Heathrow and the US or Canada.

To qualify for the discount, passengers must book at ba.com before December 5 for travel by April 14.

A minimum spend of £450 per person, before the 20 per cent reduction is applied, is necessary.

The discount is activated by typing in the promotional code “Fairmont1ZH” when booking, reports headforpoints.com. There is no requirement to stay at a Fairmont hotel.

Codesharing and connecting flights within the US appear to be ineligible.

Earlier this week, BA unveiled a new Club World amenity kit — that comes without an eye mask or ear plugs — and refurbished spa at Heathrow Terminal 5 (see news, November 27).

ba.com

Graham Smith

Hainan Airlines ups frequencies to Russia

Hainan Airlines will increase the frequency of its Beijing-Moscow and Beijing-St Petersburg routes to five times a week from June 15 next year.

Both routes will operate every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The Beijing-Moscow service will depart the Chinese capital at 1600 for a 2035 arrival in Russia. The return leg will leave Moscow at 2235 and land in Beijing at 0940. This service will increase further to a daily operation from July 1 to August 31.

The Beijing-St Petersburg service, meanwhile, will depart Beijing at 1445 and land in St Petersburg at 1925, leaving Russia again at 2125 and touching down in China’s capital at 0905.

A 292-seat A330-300 will serve both routes, offering 32 business seats arranged 1-2-1 and 260 economy seats in a 2-4-2 configuration. An airline spokesperson advised that the above flight times may change in the future. 

For more information, visit www.global.hnair.com

Valerian Ho

 

Hilton to open Jaipur property

A management agreement between Hilton Worldwide and India-based Goverdhandham Estate Private Limited has been signed to establish a new property in Jaipur.

Hilton Garden Inn Jaipur/Amer Fort is scheduled to open in Q4 of 2015, in one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. Jaipur is the largest city in the state of Rajasthan, Northern India. With a population of more than 3 million, the city is the nation’s top spot for savings deposits, according to Reserve Bank of India, and it is also a large exporter of precious stones for jewellery.

The hotel will be located five kilometres from the famous Amer Fort and a 20-minute drive from historical attractions such as the Jal Mahal Palaces, Albert Museum and Jantar Mantar.

It will feature 125 rooms, an all-day restaurant, bar, fitness centre, an outdoor swimming pool and 139 sqm of conference and event space. Many signature Hilton Garden Inn amenities will also be provided, including free internet access, 24-hour business centre services, and the 24-hour Pavilion Pantry convenience mart.

Hilton Worldwide recently celebrated the opening of its 4,000th hotel, the Hilton Shijiazhuang in the Hebei province of China (see here).

For more information, visit www.hilton.com

Clement Huang 

JAL ups Tokyo-New York frequency

Japan Airlines (JAL) will be doubling the flight frequency on its Tokyo Narita to New York JFK route from daily to twice a day.

Starting March 30, the second daily flight will depart from Narita International Airport every evening, while the return flight from JFK International Airport will leave New York in the morning.

The service will be operated by the Boeing B787-8 Dreamliner, and will feature a two-class configuration, with 44 seats in business and 144 in economy.

According to the Japanese carrier, the new service will provide improved accessibility to South America, where demand for air travel has been growing. The improved frequency will also significantly shorten the transit times via New York for passengers going to and from South America. The new daily service will also serve to strength the number of same-day connections to and from various Asian cities such as Manila, Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Taipei and Kaohsiung.

Schedule of additional flight (daily service)

Flight No

Route

Dept. Time

Arr. Time

JL004

Narita-JFK

1110

1105

JL003

JFK-Narita

1315

1625+1

 

For more information, visit www.jal.com

Clement Huang

Ryanair woos business travellers with new bases

Traditionally, budget airline Ryanair has operated out of secondary airports, a business model that has proved to be successful — so far.

But faced by declining growth opportunities, the Irish carrier is now adopting a change of tack by moving into main airports in order to tap lucrative corporate travel.

It also wants to see off competition from IAG-owned Vueling, which is chasing the same passenger profile.

To that end, Ryanair has announced ten new routes from the Brussels’ main Zaventem airport. These will launch in February and will be operated by a dedicated fleet of four planes that are in addition to its existing flights from the less convenient Charleroi airport.

Destinations to be served from Zaventem include Barcelona (El Prat), Lisbon, Rome (Fiumicino), Valencia and Venice.

Expansion is greater still at Rome, where Ryanair will base six aircraft at the city’s main Fiumicino airport by next April, rising to 12 aircraft by the autumn.

Not all new routes from Fiumicino have been announced, but they will include flights to Brussels (Zaventem) and Barcelona (El Prat) in addition to three Italian destinations — Catania, Palermo in Sicily, and Lamezia in the south.

Ryanair will continue to operate from Ciampino which, ironically, is closer to Rome city centre than is the city’s main Fiumicino airport.

Recently, IAG-owned Vueling also announced a huge expansion at both the above-mentioned airports, also targetting the business traveller. It is adding seven new routes from Brussels plus 24 new routes from Rome.

Aviation expert John Strickland, of JLS Consulting, said: “When Ryanair sees a significant strategic threat it responds hard. That was the case when Go competed [against Ryanair] between Scotland and Dublin or Easyjet [against Ryanair] between Gatwick and Ireland.”

Passengers can only win in the latest round of air wars. The losers will be the home airlines, namely Brussels Airlines and Alitalia.

Of course, the latter deliver all the trappings of traditional airlines like better onboard service, lounges, loyalty schemes, business classes etc. But the cost bases of Brussels Airlines and Alitalia are much higher than those of the low-cost carriers.

It means they cannot compete on price and for a good many people it is the price of the ticket which is all-important.

What about Vueling? Well, I have followed the fortunes of low-cost carriers ever since the days of Laker Skytrain in the late ’70s. History shows that only those carriers with the lowest operating costs win in the end.

ryanair.com, vueling.com

Alex McWhirter

Doha’s Hamad International Airport to open in January

Doha’s new Hamad International Airport will open in January, according to Qatar’s transport minister.

Jassim Seif Ahmed al-Sulaiti said that cargo flights at the airport — formerly known as New Doha Interational Airport — would commence as early as next week and passenger flights in the new year, reports the Gulf Times.

The soft opening will see ten carriers initially move to Hamad International, operating out of Concourse B.

These airlines are Air Arabia; Air India Express; Biman Bangladesh Airlines; Flydubai; Iran Air; Nepal Airlines; Pakistan International Airlines; RAK Airways; Syrian Air; and Yemen Airways.

Qatar Airways will continue to fly to and from Doha International Airport, before moving its entire operations to Hamad International later in 2014.

The new airport has been dogged by a series of delays, resulting in its opening being postponed a number of times (see news, April 2).

Once fully open, it will accommodate 28 million passengers, increasing to 50 million beyond 2015.

To watch a video of the airport, click here. For a video of Qatar Airways CEO Akbar al Baker touring the airport with CNN’s Richard Quest, click here.

visitdohaairport.com

Tom Otley

American / US Airways merger finally approved

American Airlines

The merger between American Airlines and US Airways has finally been formally approved by a US federal bankruptcy judge.

The move now clears the way for the creation of an enlarged American Airlines, which is set to complete by December 9.

It follows a deal with the US Department of Justice and six states plus the District of Columbia in which AA and US Airways agreed to relinquish slots and gates to low-cost airlines at seven airports (see news, November 13).

The two carriers will give up 52 slot pairs at Reagan airport in Washington DC and 17 pairs at New York’s LaGuardia. They will also hand over two gates at each of Dallas Love Field, Los Angeles

International, Boston Logan, Chicago O’Hare International and Miami International airports.

The DOJ, six states and District of Columbia had filed a lawsuit in August claiming that the merger would restrict competition (see news, August 13).

As part of the settlement, the newly merged American Airlines also agreed to maintain hubs at Charlotte, New York JFK, Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago O’Hare, Philadelphia and Phoenix “consistent with historical operations” for three years.

The shares of US Airways are due to be delisted on December 6 with American’s parent company AMR Corporation renamed as American Airlines Group on December 9.

newamericanarriving.com

Graham Smith