First US Airways plane painted with AA livery

AA Livery

American Airlines has entered into service the first legacy US Airways aircraft painted in the AA livery.

The Airbus A319 — tail number N700UW — debuted its freshly-painted fuselage between Charlotte and New York LaGuardia on flight 2060 yesterday morning.

First US Airways aircraft in AA livery

First US Airways aircraft in AA livery

It took 13 days to fully makeover the aircraft. First, the existing paint was gently removed, then the aircraft was sanded and washed.

Following this “metallurgical exfoliation”, the seams were sealed, the A319 masked and 80 gallons of paint applied to the exterior.

American Airlines president Scott Kirby said: “[This] marks an important next step in our airlines’ integration and is a tangible way for customers and employees to see the result of our progress first hand.”

First US Airways aircraft in AA livery

First US Airways aircraft in AA livery

First US Airways aircraft in AA livery

He added: “The integration of our airlines, including painting the rest of the US Airways fleet, will take many months as we work to deliver value through this merger for our employees, our customers and our investors.”

An enlarged American Airlines came into being in December after the completion of its merger with US Airways (see news, December 9).

AA will now add its new livery to its entire fleet of aircraft over the next few years.

First US Airways aircraft in AA livery

First US Airways aircraft in AA livery

He added:

A statement said: “Approximately 640 aircraft are in line to receive the makeover, with newly arriving legacy American Airlines aircraft already outfitted in the new colors and US Airways aircraft delivered in the new colors beginning this June.

“By the end of second quarter 2014 American Airlines anticipates that more than 275 mainline and regional aircraft will have been painted in the new livery.”

aa.com

Graham Smith

Eurostar brings in single tickets to Germany

Eurostar passengers can from today purchase through-tickets to six German cities after the operator signed a deal with Deutsche Bahn.

A single ticket can now be purchased from Eurostar’s website for an entire journey from the UK to either Aachen, Cologne, Bonn, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt or Munich.

Eurostar runs up to nine services per day to Brussels where passengers can change platforms to board a Deutsche Bahn high-speed ICE train to the German destinations.

A further six German cities — Hamburg, Berlin, Hannover, Essen, Bremen and Duisburg — will also be available exclusively through Eurostar’s call centre.

Eurostar said that there would be no seat reservations on the Deutsche Bahn part of the journey and passengers would have the “flexibility to take a later train if they would like to spend time in Brussels”.

Eurostar commercial director Nick Mercer said: “With over six million passengers currently travelling by air between London and Germany each year, we see huge potential to encourage more travellers to make the switch from air to high-speed rail.

“In partnership with Deutsche Bahn our fast, frequent and comfortable service to Germany will strengthen the links between the two countries and help transform the way people travel between these important financial and tourist hubs.”

Eurostar recently revealed that it plans to start a route to Amsterdam, to start at the earliest in December 2016 (see news, September 27).

eurostar.com

Graham Smith

BA to up services between LCY and Edinburgh

British Airways is increasing the number of flights it operates between London City and Edinburgh from eight to ten daily.

The carrier is also eyeing the possibility of more services between LCY and Glasgow.

The London City to Edinburgh increase will come into effect this summer, months after Cityjet withdrew from the busy route at the end of October (see news, August 14).

BA Edinburgh lounge

BA yesterday opened a new £1.5 million executive lounge at Edinburgh Airport

BA executive chairman Keith Williams told The Scotsman that the expansion will up the airline’s daily flights between London and Scotland to a new high of 57.

He said: “London City is the business area of London and has become quite a big operation, where we are now the largest player.

“If the demand is there, we will equally fly more from Glasgow too.”

Williams was in Scotland yesterday to open a new £1.5 million executive lounge at Edinburgh Airport.

The 730 sqm development can accommodate up to 200 customers and is almost twice the size of the previous facility.

BA Edinburgh lounge

Lounge: The 730 sqm development is almost twice the size of the previous facility

Its features include a new-style reception area; bistro and coffee area; complimentary bar; business suite with printer and PCs; complimentary wifi with “air printing”, allowing guests to print from their own mobile devices; and private work booths.

Jim Keegan, BA’s regional customer service manager, UK regions, said: “The new Edinburgh lounge, together with our lounge at Glasgow Airport, which opened in March last year, and the refurbishment of our lounge at Aberdeen Airport means that British Airways has invested more than £2 million in less than 12 months to provide our Scottish customers with state of the art facilities unparalleled in Scotland.”

Earlier this month, BA announced it will triple flights between London City and the Isle of Man this summer (see news, January 16).

ba.com

Graham Smith

CX adjusts Middle East schedule

Cathay Pacific has adjusted its services to the Middle East, and the changes will take effective from March 30 when the summer schedule commences.

The airline will stop services to Jeddah, which was launched in 2009 (see story), and Abu Dhabi for “commercial reasons”. Schedule to Bahrain will be increased to daily with a stopover in Dubai, from the existing four-times-weekly with a stopover in Riyadh. Flights to Riyadh will become direct for five times weekly instead of the daily operation with intermediary stops at either Bahrain or Abu Dhabi.

And from May 2 to July 20, passengers flying on CX745 should note that the flight, instead of going Hong Kong-Dubai-Bahrain, will stop over in Abu Dhabi instead of Dubai due to a partial runway closure. But there will be no change for the return Bahrain-Dubai-Hong Kong CX746 flight.

The twice daily schedule for Dubai remains unchanged.

Alternative arrangements will be made for passengers affected.

Visit www.cathaypacific.com

Reggie Ho

Brussels Airlines announces 11 new routes

Brussels Airlines has today announced 11 new routes, the largest network expansion in its history.

The carrier will first launch two year-round services to Poland — Krakow and Warsaw — this spring.

It will also begin flying to nine new summer destinations — Ajaccio, Athens, Bari, Bastia, Cagliari, Figari, Malta, Montpellier and Seville.

Brussels Airlines, which is adding two Airbus A319 aircraft to its fleet, will also increase flight frequencies to Florence, Palermo, Marseille, Catania and Madrid.

In total, the changes will result in an additional 400,000 seats available this year.

The airline has also revealed it will launch a new loyalty programme specifically for its European network, which will co-exist next to the current Miles & More programme.

And, in late 2014, the company will open its new airport lounges at Brussels Airport.

Brussels Airlines CEO Bernard Gustin said: “The many innovations disclosed today illustrate our ambitions. Brussels Airlines is positioning itself more than ever as an airline with an attractive flight offer for both leisure and business travellers.

“We will differentiate ourselves through our focus on service, innovation and competitive prices. This is just the beginning of the new and dynamic Brussels Airlines that is adaptable and flexible in a rapidly changing market environment.”

Ryanair is next month launching ten new routes from Brussels’ Zaventem airport, where IAG-owned Vueling has also announced a huge expansion (see news, November 28).

brusselsairlines.com

Graham Smith

Easyjet to axe Gatwick to Amman route

Easyjet is cancelling its London Gatwick to Amman service in May.

The carrier will stop operating the thrice-weekly route, its sole Jordan service, on May 5.

It launched the route three years ago (see news, March 2011) and was thought to have the potential to open up a new budget market between northern Europe and the Middle East.

Earlier this month, it emerged that Easyjet will axe its Southend to Edinburgh route in June (see news, January 7), while last month the airline announced that it is to expand capacity by a third at Rome’s Fiumicino airport (see news, December 13).

easyjet.com

Graham Smith

Accor unveils quintuple points promotion

Accor loyalty members can earn quintuple points when staying at one of the brand’s participating hotels this year.

The promotion is to celebrate the fifth anniversary of its Le Club Accorhotels loyalty programme.

Members of either Le Club Accorhotels or Accor Advantage Plus must register for the offer online by February 18 and then stay at a hotel by December 31.

The offer is only valid for one stay and a reservation for multiple rooms only counts as a single stay.

A statement reads: “The reservation for the stay must be booked online (via accorhotels.com or the site of one of the brands participating in the Le Club Accorhotels program), using our accorhotels.com mobile application, or through the Accor Reservation center. Other booking channels are not eligible for this offer.”

The loyalty card or member number must be provided at the time of reservation, and must also be presented at the hotel reception desk at the time of check-in.

Earlier this month, Accor announced that it will add a second Berlin hotel to its luxury Sofitel brand this Saturday (see news, January 1).

accorhotels.com

Graham Smith

Hyatt Place to open near Heathrow

Hyatt will open a Hyatt Place hotel near Heathrow Airport in the spring of next year.

The 170-room Hyatt Place London Heathrow/Hayes will be located 15 minutes from LHR and close to Stockley Park Business Park and Brunel University.

It will feature 168 sqm of meeting space, an open food market with made-to-order meals and snacks available around the clock, free wifi and a fitness center.

Peter Norman, senior vice president, real estate and development for Hyatt in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, said: “We are delighted to introduce the Hyatt Place brand to the third busiest airport in the world and the thriving business community in and around Hayes and Hillingdon.

“The UK remains an important hub for international business and leisure travel, with more than 70 million passengers arriving to and departing from London Heathrow in 2012 alone.

“The airport serves 84 airlines and 184 destinations in 80 countries, and the opening of Hyatt Place London Heathrow/Hayes will mark a significant milestone for Hyatt as we continue to introduce the brand worldwide and offer more choice to our guests in key gateway cities.”

Hyatt Place London Heathrow/Hayes will be the third Hyatt Place in Europe, following today’s opening of Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport and the upcoming Hyatt Place Zurich Airport.

It will also be the fourth Hyatt-branded hotel in the UK, joining Andaz Liverpool Street London, Hyatt Regency London-The Churchill and Hyatt Regency Birmingham.

hyatt.com

Graham Smith

Capita signs Virgin Trains loyalty deal

Capita Travel and Events has agreed a deal to offer loyalty club membership with Virgin Trains.

First-class passengers booking train travel through the travel management company can now become members of the Virgin Traveller club, which was previously only available to customers who booked directly through the train firm’s website.

Capita said that the move was designed to encourage travellers to book “via their contracted agency”.

Adrienne Nankivell, Virgin Trains’ business development manager, said: “Virgin Traveller enhances travellers’ experiences by recognising loyalty. This can help ease travel policy compliance challenges faced by buyers.

“As confidence returns to the business travel market, we are opening our scheme to Capita Travel and Events – one of our largest agency partners. It reinforces our commitment to the business travel sector.”

Property management company Places for People has already taken advantage of the new scheme between Capita and Virgin.

Procurement manager Lisa Gallacher said: “We value tools that help us to ensure our travellers stick to our travel policy and use our chosen agency. This gives us a better view of where and why our employees are travelling.

“In turn, we can change policies and supplier programmes to save money and keep our travellers secure and happy.”

Raj Sachdave, Capita’s head of rail product, added: “It is testament to the strength of the partnership with Virgin Trains that Capita Travel and Events will be the first to offer the scheme to its customers.

“Our partners are vital in allowing us to offer compelling benefits that ultimately make rail travel an affordable and valuable option for businesses.”

Earlier this month, Virgin Trains announced that it will refurbish its First Class lounge at London Euston station, starting tomorrow and reopening on March 17 (see news, January 3).

capitatravelandevents.co.uk, virgintrains.co.uk

Rob Gill