BA adds flights to Las Vegas and Seattle

Seattle picture

British Airways will operate additional flights on its London Heathrow routes to Las Vegas and Seattle next summer.

From March 27, the airline will increase its daily LHR-Las Vegas service from daily to ten-times weekly.

On Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays, BA will roster a B747-400 aircraft with flight codes BA270/271. Flights BA274/275 will continue to fly daily.

Outbound service BA271 will depart Heathrow at 1230 and land in Las Vegas at 1510, while return service BA270 will leave Las Vegas at 1715 and land in London at 1115 the next day.

From March 28, BA will add a 12th weekly flight between LHR and Seattle on Mondays.

BA052/053 will now operate five-times weekly — on Mondays (the new service), Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays — instead of four.

Daily service BA048/049 will continue to operate, reports airlineroute.net.

Last week, BA announced it will launch a direct B787-9 service between Heathrow and San Jose, California next summer (see news, August 26).

ba.com

Graham Smith

Flybe launches Cardiff-Munich route

Flybe is launching a year-round service between Cardiff and Munich today.

The regional carrier has rostered a 118-seat Embraer 195 aircraft on to the five-times weekly route, which operates on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

For the remainder of the summer season, until October 24, on weekdays the outbound service will depart Cardiff at 1410 and arrive in Munich at 1700. The return leg will leave Munich at 1735 and land in Cardiff at 1835.

On Saturdays, the outbound service will depart Cardiff at 0950 and arrive in Munich at 1245. The return leg will leave Munich at 1315 and land in Cardiff at 1415.

Flybe opened a base at Cardiff in June (see news, March 5).

This winter, it is adding an extra 22 flights to seven of its 11 existing routes at the airport. These include increasing to double-daily its weekday flights to Dublin, and twice-daily to Edinburgh on weekdays and Sundays.

Paul Simmons, Flybe CCO, said: “We have been very pleased with the level of support received for our new routes from Cardiff since opening our new base. I am delighted that we are now increasing our presence with this inaugural route to Munich and with the many additional frequencies we are now offering on seven of our most popular routes.”

flybe.com

Graham Smith

Pullman Yichang debut for Hubei province

Accor Hotels has announced its debut in the Hubei market with the signing of Pullman Yichang.

The 250-room new-build hotel is set to open in mid-2018 and will be located in the prime district of east Yichang city. This is roughly a 10-minute drive from the Old Town and 15 minutes away from the high-speed railway station. Yichang Sanxia Airport is 25 minutes away by car.  

As part of mixed-use tower, Pullman Yichang will occupy 16 floors of a 35-storey building that will also house Grade A office space. Along with the guestrooms, the hotel will also feature a number of F&B venues, meeting and event spaces, a gym, and other recreational facilities.  

Pullman is the upscale international hotel brand of Accor Hotels, and offers some 93 hotels around the world, with 22 being based in Greater China. The brand is looking to expand its portfolio to 150 properties worldwide by 2020. 

For more information, visit accor.com

Clement Huang

JAL brings back flights to Dallas

Japan Airlines (JAL) is set to relaunch services to Dallas from November 30.

According to airlineroute, the Oneworld member will operate a four-times weekly route between its base in Tokyo Narita and Dallas/Fort Worth. Flights will be served by the B787-8 Dreamliner.

Flight JL012 will depart Tokyo at 1055 every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, arriving in Dallas at 0720. The return service on flight JL011 will take off from Dallas at 1145 and touch down in Tokyo at 1625 the following day. 

JAL B787-8 Dreamliner

Aviation aficionados will remember that JAL first launched a three-weekly Tokyo–Dallas service back in March 1999. Due to popular demand, this soon expanded into a daily operation.

However, following the September 11, 2001 attacks the carrier announced a temporary suspension of the route – which has never been resumed until now.

JAL’s close joint venture partnership with fellow Oneworld member American Airlines, which sees the latter operate a twice-daily service between Dallas and Tokyo Narita, meant that there was always connectivity between the two cities. 

Business class on JAL’s B787-8

However, in am interview with Japanese news site Nikkei.com earlier this year, JAL’s president Yoshiharu Ueki highlighted Texas as a market that the carrier needed to urgently focus on. After all, Texas boasts the second-largest economy in the US after California.

The impending launch of JAL’s service to Dallas may see American Airlines drop one of its two daily flights to prevent competition with its joint venture partner.

Travellers in particular will be pleased with the move, as the JAL B787-8 offers the carrier’s latest business, premium economy and economy products. American Airlines, on the other hand, currently deploys two of its old B777 aircraft, which feature the old angle-flat business seats.

For more information, visit jal.com

Clement Huang

Malaysian flagship has green light for relaunch

Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has been granted its Air Operator Certificate (AOC) from the country’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) ahead of the flagship carrier’s official relaunch as Malaysia Airlines Berhad (MAB) tomorrow.

Having initiated a massive recovery plan in June, which saw MAS lay off a third of its 20,000-strong workforce, MAB will represent a “hard reset” for the company, as described by the airline’s chief executive, Christoph Mueller.

“I would like to stress that we are not just MAS in a disguise. [MAB is] truly a start-up with a new vision,” he said earlier this year.

The granting of a new AOC highlights this, and the DCA confirmed that in doing so, MAB had to undergo months of audit activities during which stringent tests were carried out to assess the airworthiness of the airline, as well as aircraft maintenance and regulatory conformity.

According to Mueller: “The AOC is a testament to all our staff at Malaysia Airlines who have been working hard to fulfil all the necessary requirements and specifications by DCA. We are very excited and focused on MAB’s take-off in September.”

The launch of MAB will see a number of changes to the airline’s operations. In particular, two A380s have been declared “surplus to requirements” and made available for purchase.

The loss of the superjumbos has resulted in the downgrade of the carrier’s Kuala Lumpur–Paris route, which is now operated by a B777-200ER. Further cuts across MAB’s network were implemented earlier this month. For a complete list, see here.

Business class on the old MAS A380

Passengers can expect an improvement in the cabin products available on other aircraft models. Business class on the A330s and B777s, for instance, will be refurbished to feature flat bed seats – something currently only available on the A380s.

MAB is also considering implementing a “modular product model” to offer customers better value and drive up sales. Taking a leaf out of the low-cost carrier model, Mueller stated back in June that he foresees the airline being one that offers basic products with optional premium perks for those willing to fork out the extra cash.

“Customers might book a business-class seat, but opt out of the miles or lounge access. Or they could take a day flight in economy to Australia and return in business overnight,” he said.

For more information, visit malaysiaairlines.com

Clement Huang

Air Astana resumes Dubai service

Air Astana will restart its non-stop service to Dubai this winter.

From October 25, the Kazakhstan carrier will roster an A320 four-times weekly — on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays — between Astana and Dubai.

Outbound service KC207 will depart Astana at 1505 and arrive in Dubai at 1800, while return leg KC208 will leave Dubai at 1900 and land in Astana at 0130 the next day.

Peter Foster, the airline’s president, said: “Air Astana is fully committed to expanding the route network from Astana, with the relaunch to Dubai following the recent introduction of new services from the capital to Paris, Seoul and Tbilisi.”

Earlier this year, Air Astana launched a three-times weekly Almaty-Astana-Paris Charles de Gaulle service (see news, April 1).

airastana.com

Graham Smith

Starwood debuts in Romania

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has opened its first property in Romania with a Sheraton hotel in Bucharest.

Sheraton Bucharest Hotel is located near to Piata Romana underground station and is 18 miles away from Henri Coanda International airport.

It contains 270 rooms, including 27 executive suites and a presidential suite.

Sheraton Bucharest Hotel

Facilities include a club lounge on the 18th floor with complimentary breakfast, all-day refreshments and free wifi; and 1,200 sqm of meeting and event space, including ten conference rooms, two ballrooms and a boardroom.

Elsewhere, there are two restaurants, one serving Romanian cuisine and the other Japanese; a patisserie called Centro Sweets; and a fitness centre, which includes two massage rooms and spas.

Dave Marr, Sheraton’s global brand leader, said: “As a market debut for Starwood and Sheraton, Romania symbolises an important expansion opportunity while also putting Sheraton one step closer to its goal of opening more than 150 new hotels over the next five years.”

Last week, Starwood introduced a new premium Sheraton Grand brand (see news, August 20).

starwoodhotels.com/sheraton

Graham Smith

IHG Rewards Club adds ‘Accelerate’ promo

IHG Rewards Club is launching a promotion to allow members to earn “at least” 50,000 bonus points through personalised and tailored offers.

Members must register for the “Accelerate” promo, which runs from September 1 until December 31, here.

They will then be directed to a dashboard with several offers “based on their current IHG Rewards Club status and booking history”.

IHG said in a statement: “Each offer has a number of bonus points associated with it, ranging from 500 to more than 20,000 and achieving a certain number of these offers generates additional bonus points. The total number of bonus points received for completing the required number of offers will always be at least 50,000.”

Bonus points are earned automatically and count towards qualifying for the next membership tier level.

Non-members who join IHG Rewards Club and enrol in the promo will be awarded one free night at any IHG hotel in the world after booking and completing two separate stays with any IHG hotel brand. Repeat this and new members will receive two free nights.

Bruce LaHood, IHG’s vice president of global loyalty consumer marketing, said: “The Accelerate promotion is another step toward building more value within our programme and opening up more benefits to our valued loyal members worldwide, with rewards and experiences that are personally relevant to them.

“What’s more, this promotion also encourages non-members to join the world’s largest loyalty programme and enjoy the wide range of benefits that we offer to our members across our portfolio of hotel brands around the world.”

Last month, IHG revealed the new top tier membership level for its IHG Rewards Club loyalty scheme as Spire Elite (see news, July 10).

ihg.com

Graham Smith

British Airways to fly B787-8 to Newark

British Airways will roster a B787-8 between London Heathrow and New York Newark this autumn.

The carrier will add the Dreamliner on to daily flights BA188/189 from the start of the winter season on October 25 until December 4. The route is currently operated by a B777.

A spokesman for BA told Business Traveller that the temporary switch is being made “for scheduling reasons”.

Outbound service BA189 departs LHR at 1510 and arrives at Newark at 1825, while return service BA188 leaves Newark at 2125 and lands in London at 0905 the next day.

BA also flies a second, four-times weekly service, BA184/185, between the two airports.

From January 2 until February 4, this will be operated by a B767 instead of a B777, apart from on select dates, reports airlineroute.net.

Earlier this week, BA announced it will launch a direct B787-9 service between Heathrow and San Jose, California next summer (see news, August 26).

ba.com

Graham Smith