Cityjet cuts Cambridge services

Just four months after launching services at Cambridge International airport, Cityjet has announced that it will next month cancel flights to/from the city.

The airline started operating 12-times weekly routes from Cambridge to Dublin and Amsterdam in May (see news, May 12).

But it has now decided to axe both services at the end of October.

The carrier said it may return to East Anglia at a later date.

A statement said: “Working closely with Cambridge International airport, we have taken the decision to discontinue Cityjet routes from Cambridge based on shifting customer demand and scheduling changes for the 2014/2015 winter season…

“Cityjet and Cambridge International Airport have developed a strong working relationship and will continue to explore potential opportunities for future routes.”

Cityjet this summer increased capacity on several London City routes (see news, January 8).

cityjet.com

Graham Smith

Four Seasons to open third London hotel

Four Seasons has announced it will open a luxury hotel in the Ten Trinity Square building overlooking the Tower of London.

The Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square will, once restored, contain 98 guestrooms and suites when it opens in spring 2016.

It will also include 41 private residences – Ten Trinity Square, The Residences at Four Seasons – and a private members’ club.

Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square

Each private residence will feature between one and five bedrooms, while both guests and residents will have views over the River Thames.

The Grade II-listed Ten Trinity Square building originally opened in 1922 as the headquarters of the Port of London Authority.

Four Seasons will open the hotel in conjunction with developer Reignwood Group.

It will be the brand’s third hotel in the capital; it currently has properties in Canary Wharf and Mayfair. Plans to open a Heron Plaza hotel in the City (see news, January 2011) have been shelved.

Four Seasons Hotel London at Ten Trinity Square

Allen Smith, Four Seasons’ president and CEO, said: “We’re thrilled to be working with Reignwood Group on the transformation of this unique and exquisite London landmark.

“As the city continues to be a destination of choice for the world’s most discerning leisure and business travellers, Ten Trinity Square will be an excellent complement to our two existing hotels at Park Lane and Canary Wharf, and expand our presence in this critically important market.”

This December, the iconic Westcliff Hotel in Johannesburg will reopen under the Four Seasons branding (see news, May 6).

fourseasons.com

Graham Smith

United to fly B787-9 one-off to Heathrow

United Airlines will operate a one-off B787-9 Dreamliner service to London Heathrow next month.

The US airline will fly the aircraft between Houston and LHR on October 16/17.

Flight UA004 will depart Houston at 2100 on October 16 and land at Heathrow Terminal 2 at 1205 the following day. Return service UA005 will then take-off from LHR at 1335 and arrive back in Houston at 1745 the same day.

United will also run a one-off San Francisco to Chengdu B787-9 service on October 20, reports airlineroute.net.

It has previously announced it will deploy the aircraft on a direct service from Los Angeles to Melbourne, to launch on October 26 (see news, February 21).

The carrier took delivery of its first B787-9 earlier this month (see news, September 4).

United will configure the Dreamliner with 252 seats — 48 in Business First and 204 in economy, including 88 premium economy seats.

It is the North American launch customer for the B787-9. In August, United converted seven of its eight remaining B787-8 orders to the extended B787-10 model (see news, August 5).

Air New Zealand will start flying the B787-9 from Auckland to Perth 11 days earlier on October 15 (see news, November 7).

united.com

Graham Smith

Air China celebrates first B747-8

Air China and Boeing celebrated the delivery of the airline’s first B747-8 Intercontinental in Seattle yesterday.

The length of the Superjumbo is 76.4m – 5.5m longer than the B747-400, and it can carry 467 passengers. The aircraft will also offer improved fuel consumption and emissions compared to its predecessor and will generate 30 per cent less noise.

Inspired by the Dreamliner, the interior will include a new curved design, giving passengers a greater feeling of space and comfort. More space will also be offered for storing personal belongings.

Song Zhiyong, president of the carrier said, “Air China has been operating B747s since the 1980s. This iconic airplane has played an important role in Air China’s international development and has also witnessed many milestones of the reform and opening-up of China. We are very proud to introduce the new B747-8 into our fleet to continue its tradition into the future.”

The aircraft will arrive at Beijing Capital International airport on October 1, the National Day of China. It will begin operation to Chinese cities starting from mid-October, and will serve international routes such as from Beijing to Frankfurt and Los Angeles towards the end of the year.

In addition to the seven B747-8s, the Chinese flag carrier also has 15 B787-9s on order.   

For more information, visit airchina.com

Valerian Ho

Etihad rolls out first B787-9

Etihad Airways and Boeing have rolled out the carrier’s first B787-9, featuring the airline’s new “Facets of Abu Dhabi” livery.

The livery uses a colour palette reflecting the varying hues of the UAE landscape, from the darker sands of the Liwa desert to the lighter colours seen in the Northern Emirates.  The design has also been painted on the airline’s A380 (see here).

Etihad will take delivery of the aircraft in December and will fly from Abu Dhabi to Düsseldorf and Doha. Services to Brisbane, Mumbai, Moscow and Washington DC will follow.

Ray Conner, president and chief executive of Boeing Commercial Airplanes said, “Etihad Airways is one of the most forward-thinking airlines of the world and we’re proud to have their trust and confidence in the Dreamliner.”

The Gulf carrier is one of the world’s largest customers for the B787 Dreamliner, having ordered 41 B787-9s and 30 B787-10s.

For more information, visit etihad.com

Valerian Ho

 

Lufthansa pilots go on strike today

Lufthansa pilots’ union, Vereinigung Cockpit (VC), has announced it will go on strike between 6am and 9pm (local time) today.

Pilots are protesting against changes to an early retirement scheme, which allows them to retire at 55 and retain some of their pay until they reach the state pension age.

As a result, Lufthansa has been forced to cancel 50 long-haul flights to and from its Frankfurt hub.

This is the fifth strike action to hit the company in four weeks and comes just days after the two-week Air France strike, which ended on Sunday.

“The walkout will again severely damage our reputation and erode confidence in our airline’s reliability. The VC union’s repeated resort to strike action will damage Lufthansa with unforeseeable consequences for all 120,000 employees, including the pilots”, said a Lufthansa spokesperson.

A special flight timetable has been posted on the airline’s website listing cancellations and delays. Passengers whose flights are cancelled due to the strike can rebook or cancel their flight free of charge.

The Lufthansa hub in Munich will not be impacted by the strike, while flights to and from Düsseldorf, and short-haul flights to and from Frankfurt, will also operate as scheduled. Furthermore, flights operated by the Lufthansa Group airlines Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, German wings, SWISS and Air Dolomiti will not be affected either.

For more information see: lufthansa.com

Tamsin Cocks

Lufthansa pilots to strike tomorrow

Lufthansa pilots will stage another strike protesting their early retirement scheme tomorrow.

The industrial action is scheduled to take place at Frankfurt airport between 0600 and 2100 local time.

As a result, the German airline has cancelled 50 long-haul flights to and from the airport, its main hub.

The news comes just hours after Air France pilots this morning called off their two-week strike protesting plans to transfer jobs to Transavia, although an agreement has yet to be reached (see news, September 29).

The Lufthansa strike has been called by the Vereinigung Cockpit union, which is protesting plans to change the current scheme that sees pilots retire at 55 and retain some of their pay until they reach the state pension age.

Earlier this month, Lufthansa pilots went on strike at Munich airport (see news, September 9) and at Frankfurt airport (see news, September 5), while a walkout in late August saw 70 per cent of flights operated by Lufthansa’s budget carrier Germanwings cancelled (see news, August 28).

Two weeks ago, a strike at Frankfurt airport was called off at the last minute (see news, September 15).

And, in April a three-day pilots’ strike saw Lufthansa cancel 3,800 flights (see news, April 1).

The frequent strike action by Lufthansa and Air France pilots is the result of the long-established carriers clashing with unions as they try to cut costs to compete with budget airlines.

Lufthansa said in a statement today: “The continuing strikes by Vereinigung Cockpit cause damage with unforeseeable consequences for all 120,000 employees, including the pilots.”

lufthansa.com

Graham Smith

Qantas launches world’s longest A380 route

Qantas has today launched the world’s longest A380 route, with a 8,755-mile journey between Sydney and Dallas/Fort Worth that lasts 15 hours and 30 minutes.

The Australian airline will operate the new route six-times weekly, on every day apart from Tuesdays.

It is the longest A380 service when measured by distance, but Emirates’ superjumbo route from Dubai to Los Angeles takes longer to complete, lasting 16 hours and 20 minutes.

Qantas Texas livery

To celebrate the launch, Qantas painted the A380 aircraft operating the route with a special livery — the kangaroo on the tail features a Stetson hat with a neckerchief in the American-stars print, with a “G’Day Texas” emblem next to the forward doors.

The airline will also offer passengers on the route a Texas-inspired onboard menu until 5 October.

Outbound service QF7 takes 14 hours and 50 minutes and departs Sydney at 1310, arriving at Dallas/Fort Worth at 1345 local time the same day.

Return service QF8 last for 15 hours and 30 minutes and takes-off from Dallas/Fort Worth at 2215 and lands in Sydney two days later at 0605 local time.

Qantas Texas livery

Through its codeshare partnership with American Airlines, Qantas offers onward connections to more than 100 destinations across the US, with more than 50 of those from Dallas/Fort Worth.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce said: “Today, Qantas is leading the way again with the introduction of the world’s largest passenger aircraft on the world’s longest route, Sydney to Dallas/Fort Worth, with a flying time of almost 16 hours.”

To read our guide to Qantas’ A380 superjumbo fleet, click here.

qantas.com.au

Graham Smith

Boeing rolls-out Etihad B787-9

Etihad Airways’ first B787-9 Dreamliner was last night rolled-out at Boeing’s headquarters in Everett, Washington.

The Gulf carrier will take delivery of the aircraft, which features its new livery design, in December.

Etihad has a total of 71 B787s on order, of which 41 are B787-9s and 30 are B787-10s.

Etihad B787-9

It will deploy the B787-9 onto its Dusseldorf and Doha routes from December, followed by Washington DC and Mumbai from January 1, and Brisbane and Moscow from June 1 (see news, August 28).

Test flights will be conducted with the airline’s first B787-9 prior to its entry into service.

The aircraft will be configured in three classes with eight seats in first, 28 in business and 199 in economy. To view a seatplan, click here.

James Hogan, Etihad’s president and CEO, said: “We have firm orders for more than 100 Boeing wide-body aircraft which include 41 787-9s and 30 787-10s.

“Our new fleet of B787s will set customer service expectations for the airline industry, delivering the highest levels of comfort and choice across all classes of service.”

Last week, Etihad unveiled its new livery design, which will be added to its entire fleet over the next three years, as its first A380 exited the paint hangar at Airbus’ facility in Hamburg (see news, September 26).

etihad.com

Graham Smith

Air France pilots’ strike called off

Air France pilots have called off their two-week strike so that negotiations with the airline can “continue in a calmer climate”.

There is still no agreement between the carrier and pilots’ union SNPL, which is protesting plans to transfer jobs to Air France subsidiary Transavia.

The industrial action has cost the airline hundreds of millions of euros.

It began two weeks ago and was originally scheduled to last for seven days (see news, September 15). Last Monday, the strike was extended until at least Friday, and possibly indefinitely (see news, September 22).

France’s transport minister Alain Vidalies warned the industrial action could place the airline “at stake”.

Now that the strike has been called off, Air France said it plans to speed up the development of Transavia, which it believes is vital for the wellbeing of the company at a time when low-cost airlines are thriving across Europe.

Air France said in a statement: “This ending of the conflict reinforces the company’s determination to makes its economic model evolve in order to cement its leadership.”

On Friday night, the airline rejected an offer by SNPL to end the strike if an independent mediator was appointed.

Air France said flights will “gradually return to normal” from Tuesday, but that those flights cancelled on Sunday and Monday would remain so.

airfrance.co.uk

Graham Smith