Ryanair poised for major Frankfurt expansion

ryanair-aircraft-(7)

Although Ryanair will have a modest start at Frankfurt later next month by October it will be serving no fewer than 24 destinations. Others are set to follow in the future if all goes well.

At a press conference in Frankfurt this morning, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary outlined his plans which, initially, will see two B737s based at Frankfurt with a further five aircraft to follow by late October (which is the start of the winter timetable).   In the long term Michael O’Leary indicated that his airline might base as many as 20 aircraft at Frankfurt.

Ryanair’s first batch of destinations from Frankfurt are aimed at the holiday market: Alicante, Faro, Malaga and Palma.

The good news for readers later this year is that services will include many business locations for routes which are amongst the most important [business routes] in Europe

Some destinations have yet to be revealed but Business Traveller can confirm that they will include three UK cities: London (Stansted), Manchester and Glasgow (Abbotsinch).

Although flights will operate once daily to Manchester and Glasgow the service will be twice daily to London Stansted which will make possible London-Frankfurt (or vice versa) day return trips.

Ryanair’s head of communications, Robin Kiely, said, “We are pleased to announce these routes starting in October as part of our growing UK winter 2017 schedule. These routes will go on sale later this week.”

Until now Ryanair has been serving far-out Hahn as its gateway to the city of Frankfurt.

But as we reported last November (see Online news, November 2), Ryanair has now taken the decision to enter Lufthansa’s “stronghold.”   It will however retain a number of services at Hahn.

Previously Frankfurt was renowned as one of the costliest airports in Europe on account of its high ground handling fees and that is why all low-cost airlines (LCCs) stayed well clear.

But times are changing. It is the LCCs who are now driving the market and if Frankfurt wishes to expand it must encourage them.

Frankfurt is the main base for national airline Lufthansa who is unhappy with the arrival of Ryanair, Wizzair and possibly other LCCs in the future.

In response Lufthansa is saying it plans to operate Eurowings, its own budget subsidiary, out of Frankfurt in 2018.

The news was reported by Germany’s airliners.de earlier this month.

Ryanair has now moved into most of Europe’s main hub airports with the notable exceptions of London Heathrow, Munich and Paris CDG. Of these three it is likely that Munich (with whom Ryanair has already been in discussions) will be next.

ryanair.com

Virgin Trains West Coast to launch six-day sale

Virgin Trains Pendolino

Virgin Trains is launching a six-day online sale, to celebrate 20 years of Virgin Trains on the West Coast.

From the company’s birthday on March 9 to March 14, discounts will be offered on standard and first class fares on the Virgin Trains West Coast route. 

Customers booking in advance to travel on Virgin Trains to West Coast destinations including Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow can save up to 55 per cent for travel between March 25 – August 24, 2017. 

Discounted Standard fares include the below advance single tickets*:

  • London to Manchester: before £22, now £10
  • London to Birmingham: before £8, now £4
  • London to Chester: before £16.50, now £10
  • London to Glasgow: before £30, now £14

Discounted first class fares include the below advance single tickets*:

  • London to Manchester: before £43, now £28
  • London to Birmingham: before £26, now £17
  • London to Chester: before £45, now £28
  • London to Glasgow: before £55, now £35

Discounted tickets will be available to book at virgintrains.co.uk from midnight March 9.

British Airways introduces English sparkling wine to first class menu

British Airways is set to add an English sparkling wine to its first class menu.

The airline will be listing Bolney Wine Estate’s Vintage Blanc de Blancs from the West Sussex-based winery as its guest Sparkling Wine in First for six months. The smooth and full-bodied vintage Chardonnay wine has yeasty undertones complemented by fresh citrus notes.

Served as an aperitif, the wine complements dishes served in First this month such the Loch Fyne Kinglas smoked salmon with tartar sauce, watercress panna cotta and Oscietra caviar, or a fresh seasonal salad with choice of a blue cheese dressing.

Commenting on the new addition, British Airways’ head of catering Colin Talbot said:

“We are delighted to be adding Bolney Wine Estate’s Vintage Blanc de Blancs as our guest Sparkling Wine. This is the first time we have offered an English Sparkling white wine on board and we think our customers are going to love it. All of our wines are blind tasted by experts to ensure we serve the very best and this English Sparkling Wine came out on top.”

Managing director and lead Master wine maker at Bolney Wine Estate Sam Linter said:

“We are absolutely delighted that British Airways considers our Blanc de Blancs one of the finest wines available. It is such a privilege that it will be sampled by British as well as international flyers. We feel this partnership shows the strength of the English wine industry and we are very much looking forward to continuing our relationship with British Airways.”

The sparkling wine will join Laurent Perrier Grande Siècle and Jacquart Mosaique Rose NV on the Champagne and Sparkling Wine menu.
The Bolney Wine Estate Blanc de Blancs is the second wine from the West Sussex based winery to be served on British Airways flights, following the Bolney Estate Pinot Gris – introduced on the wine menu for First customers in 2015.

Last year British Airways’ First customers consumed more than 160,000 bottles of champagne, 133,000 bottles of red wine and 150,000 of white wine on board flights.

The airline also introduced new washbags earlier this year with British brand Liberty London creating an exclusive range for First customers.

ba.com

Plaza Premium to open Heathrow arrivals lounge next month

Plaza Premium Lounge London Heathrow Terminal 2

Lounge operator Plaza Premium Group is set two new lounges at London Heathrow airport.

The two lounges will be located landside at Terminals 3 and 4, joining the group’s existing lounges – see our round-up of Heathrow lounges – which includes the group’s Terminal 2 arrivals lounge which opened in 2014.

The arrivals lounge in Terminal 4 is due to open late March, accommodating 75 people with a lounge and bar, multi-function room and 25 luxury shower rooms. Details for the lounge at Terminal 3 have yet to be revealed, though plans are to open later this year.

Founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Group Song Hoi-see said:

“The concept of the Plaza Premium arrivals lounge was driven by a desire to do something for the majority. Having arrivals lounges benefits not only travellers both before and after their flight but also family and friends who are waiting for someone to arrive into the airport.”

“Our arrivals lounges are designed to bring convenience, comfort and value to passengers who are looking to combat travel ailments, awaken their senses and revitalise their mind and body after a long flight. Our goal is to make every journey enjoyable not only on departure, but also upon arrival.”

The lounge will also feature a new healthy, “herbs and seeds inspired” dining experience called Flight Club.

“Our Flight Club concept is something that we are very proud of and have seen huge success with when it initially launched in Kuala Lumpur last year,” Song Hoi-see added. “We want to encourage people to embrace a healthy lifestyle, even if they are frequent travellers.”

Plaza Premium Lounges currently operate airside in Terminals 2 and 4 and landside in Terminal 2.

plazapremiumgroup.com

United to add new domestic and international services

United Airlines B787 Dreamliner

United Airlines is set to add new and upgraded services within the US and to Europe and the Middle East.

From May 24, the airline will launch a seasonal route between San Francisco and Munich, served by a B787 Dreamliner. The outbound flight departs San Francisco at 1450, arriving in Munich at 1025 the next day, while the return flight departs Munich at 1210, arriving in San Francisco at 1455 the next day.

Launching May 5, the airline is also set to upgrade its daily Newark-Tel Aviv service to a B777-300, which feature’s United’s new Polaris seat. This will be the second route – in addition to its flights between San Francisco and Hong Kong – that will use the new Boeing 777-300ER. Departing Newark at 2345, the outbound flight will arrive in Tel Aviv at 1620 the next day, departing Tel Aviv at 2310 and arriving in Newark at 0435 the same day.

The airline also has plans to grow its domestic network, adding services to 13 cities including four entirely new destinations – Champaign/Urbana, Illinois; Columbia, Missouri; Rochester, Minnesota and United’s shortest flight to Santa Rosa, California.

FromToFrequencyStart Date
DENCOU – Columbia, MODailyAug. 1
DENSBP – San Luis Obispo, CADailyJune 8
EWRSMF – Sacramento, CADailyJune 8
IAHSGF – Springfield, MO2 times DailyJune 8
ORDCHO – Charlottesville, VADailyJune 8
ORDCMI – Champaign/Urbana, IL3 times dailyJune 8
ORDCOU – Columbia, MO2 times dailyAug. 1
ORDRNO – Reno, NVDailyJune 8
ORDRST – Rochester, MN3 times dailyJune 8
ORDGEG –  Spokane, WADailyJune 8
SFOCVG – Cincinnati, OHDailyJune 8
SFODTW- DetroitDailyJune 8
SFOGEG – Spokane, WA2 times dailyJune 8
SFOSTS – Santa Rosa, CA3 times dailyJune 8
SFOBDL – Hartford, CTDailyJune 8

The airline is also introducing a daily summer service in six markets. Flights to Salt Lake City, Fort Lauderdale, Tucson and New Orleans not previously offered in the summer, will now move to year round service. The schedule as follows:

FromToFrequencyStart Date
DENKOA – Kona, HawaiiDailyJune 8
EWRSLC – Salt Lake City, UTDailyJune 8
IADFLL – Fort Lauderdale, FLDailyJune 8
ORDTUS – Tucson, AZDailyJune 8
SFOMSY – New OrleansDailyJune 8
SFOFCA – Kalispell, MTDailyJuly 1

Additional frequencies within 15 existing markets are also set to commence, with the airline adding a total 47 daily round trips to its domestic schedule.

FromToNew Frequency
DENABQ – Albuquerque, NM5 times daily
DENFLL – Ft. Lauderdale, FL2 times daily
DENMCO- Orlando, FL4 times daily
DENTPA – Tampa, FL2 times daily
EWRATL – Atlanta8 times daily
EWRDTW – Detroit7 times daily
EWRPDX – Portland, OR2 times daily
IADJAX – Jacksonville, FL3 times daily
IADPVD – Providence, RI4 times daily
IADPWM – Portland, ME4 times daily
IADROA – Roanoke, VA3 times daily
IAHATL – Atlanta8 times daily
IAHCHS – Charleston, SC3 times daily
ORDFLL – Fort Lauderdale, FL3 times daily
ORDRSW – Fort Myers, FL2 times daily

united.com

 

Westin Hotels and Resorts launches in Pushkar

Westin  Hotels & Resorts, by Marriott International has launched The Westin Pushkar & Spa – the first in Rajasthan and the seventh property in India.

The luxury property is spread across 11 acres and is surrounded by the Aravalli Hills. It features 98 contemporary style guestrooms and two types of villas: Premiere and Royal.

All rooms come with a private patio and include a work desk, in-room electronic safe, round the clock in-room dining services, coffee and tea making facilities, a LED television, an ironing board, free wifi and a mini bar.

There are a variety of dining options on the property: Mix, Splash Bar, Seasonal Taste and the rooftop restaurant, Panorama. In addition, there is a 24-hour concierge desk, a laundromat service and a recreational centre. The 10,000 square feet Heavenly Spa by Westin incorporates seven therapy rooms, which allows guests a chance to rejuvenate.

Additionally, the property has an outdoor pool and a WestinWORKOUT fitness studio. The property also includes banquet halls and meeting spaces for special events.

Other Westin properties in India are The Westin Sohna Resort & Spa, New Delhi; The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi; The Westin Mumbai Garden City; The Westin Pune Koregaon Park; The Westin Chennai Velachery; and The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

starwoodhotels.com

Netra Venkateshwaran

Westin  Hotels & Resorts, by Marriott International has launched The Westin Pushkar & Spa – the first in Rajasthan and the seventh property in India.

The luxury property is spread across 11 acres and is surrounded by the Aravalli Hills. It features 98 contemporary style guestrooms and two types of villas: Premiere and Royal.

All rooms come with a private patio and include a work desk, in-room electronic safe, round the clock in-room dining services, coffee and tea making facilities, a LED television, an ironing board, free wifi and a mini bar.

There are a variety of dining options on the property: Mix, Splash Bar, Seasonal Taste and the rooftop restaurant, Panorama. In addition, there is a 24-hour concierge desk, a laundromat service and a recreational centre. The 10,000 square feet Heavenly Spa by Westin incorporates seven therapy rooms, which allows guests a chance to rejuvenate.

Additionally, the property has an outdoor pool and a WestinWORKOUT fitness studio. The property also includes banquet halls and meeting spaces for special events.

Other Westin properties in India are The Westin Sohna Resort & Spa, New Delhi; The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi; The Westin Mumbai Garden City; The Westin Pune Koregaon Park; The Westin Chennai Velachery; and The Westin Hyderabad Mindspace

starwoodhotels.com

Netra Venkateshwaran

Cathay Pacific to begin direct flights between Hong Kong and Christchurch

Cathay Pacific A350

Cathay Pacific (CX) will introduce a seasonal service between Hong Kong and Christchurch from December 1, 2017 until February 28, 2018.

The new service will directly link the two cities by air for the first time.

The non-stop Christchurch service will operate three times a week, with an A350 being used to serve the route.

Flight schedule is as follows:

Flight noFromToDeparture/ArrivalDays of operation
CX123HKGCHC2045/1255+1

1450/0700+1

Wed, Sun, Fri
CX126CHCHKG1425/2055

0830/1500

Mon, Thu, Sat

The service will join CX current seasonal double daily flights to Auckland and Air New Zealand’s daily service between Hong Kong and Auckland.

Tickets for the new route will go on sale later this week via both CX and Air New Zealand websites.

Cathay Pacific has expanded its long-haul network significantly recently. In March, the airline will commence a four-times-weekly service to Tel Aviv, while July sees the introduction of a four-times-weekly seasonal operation to Barcelona. These new services follow the addition of both Madrid and Gatwick in 2016.

The two airlines have also announced they will extend their strategic alliance partnership on services between Hong Kong and New Zealand for a further five years until 2022.

cathaypacific.com and airnewzealand.co.nz.

Mercure launches instant messenger bot

Mercure BOT

The Mercure brand is rolling out “BOT”, an instant messaging service that provides guests with information about the local area.

Accessible through Facebook and Messenger, users simply need to geolocate and then ask questions about their surroundings such as “What’s behind the facade of 145 rue Lafayette?” or “Where is the world’s smallest nightclub?”

The “humorous and straight-talking” BOT will then provide users with neighbourhood secrets as well as anecdotes from others’ travel experiences under the “Local Stories” tab.

The real-time service will also ask questions and collect data from each user in order to enhance its knowledge base and improve the experience for future users.

Designed by French advertising agency BETC, the BOT is available from the dedicated Facebook page Mercure the Bot, on Messenger and will be soon relayed through the Mercure Facebook page.

mercure.com

New York airports among worst in US for on-time performance

LaGuardia Airport

New York’s reputation as a fast-based business hub where punctuality is demanded does not extend to the city’s three main airports, which are among the worst performers nationally for on-time flight arrivals and departures.

Among the top 29 US airports, New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport ranks 26th, while Newark International Airport is ranked 28th and LaGuardia International Airport is last.

The analysis by the Global Gateway Alliance — a group that advocates for investment in New York’s transportation infrastructure — focused on the first six months of 2016, but noted that the three airports also placed near the bottom of the rankings in 2015.

The report found that only about 75 per cent of flights at JFK and Newark operated on time, while just 72 per cent of LaGuardia flights arrived and departed as scheduled. By comparison, more than 87 percent flights at Salt Lake City International Airport, top ranked in the report, operated on time.

“Despite years of spending on terminals and runway improvements, our New York-New Jersey airports still lead the nation in flight delays, leaving passengers stranded on the runway or in the crowded airways circling our (airports),” said Global Gateway Alliance Chairman Joe Sitt.

“The bottom line is more dramatic steps are needed to relieve the problem.”

The group called for full implementation of the Federal Aviation Administration’s NextGen air-traffic control system and expansion of airport runways to ease congestion.

globalgatewayalliance.org

Swiss introduces “throne” seat reservation fee

Swiss business class

Swiss is introducing a fee to pre-reserve one of the popular solo business class seats on its A330 and B777-300ER aircraft.

Until now the carrier has offered these “throne” seats to business class passengers free of charge.

But from the end of March the airline, a Lufthansa group member, will be charging a stiff price for anyone (except high tier loyalty club members) who wishes to pre-reserve a throne seat.

The seats are available on long-haul flights on the carrier’s A330 and B777-300ER aircraft all of which have a staggered business class configuration.

See the entry displayed on seatplans.com for Swiss’ B777-300ER.

Throne seats are much sought after by knowledgeable solo passengers because of the privacy they provide.

However there is only a limited number of throne seats available on every flight and preference is given to loyalty club members holding HON Circle and Senator status.

At present they remain free-of-charge to ordinary business class passengers. But crucially they can only claim a throne seat very close to departure by which time they may already have been released.

With Swiss charging a fee it means all business class passengers qualify for access to a throne seat.

But (except for the above-mentioned loyalty club members) this fee wll range between Sfr 99 and 199 (£79 to £159) depending on the flight and route.

In a notification to eligible loyalty club members, Markus Binkert, CCO of Swiss, said, “With the remodelling of Swiss business class on long-haul routes we have introduced exclusive single seats that are marked by more space and discretion.”

“Due to the overwhelming demand concerning these ‘Privacy seats’ we will be giving our guests the opportunity to reserve these seats for a fee starting at the end of March.”

“As a token of our appreciation we are delighted to continue offering these seats to you at no charge, as long as they are available at the time of booking.”

This move by Swiss is designed both to raise extra cash but also to enable solo passengers to gain access to some of its better business class accommodation.

The move follows the carrier’s recent decision to allow economy passengers to access its Zurich/Geneva business class lounges for a fee.

swiss.com