Aer Lingus launches transatlantic Saver fare

Aer Lingus Saver fare

Aer Lingus has launched a new Saver fare for its transatlantic services, designed to compete with the growing number of low-cost long-haul alternatives.

The new option, which Aer Lingus says is “our new lowest available fare for transatlantic flights”, unbundles “extras” like checked luggage, seat selection, blankets and headphones.

Customers purchasing the Saver fare will receive a one-piece 10kg hand luggage allowance, as well as an onboard meal and access to inflight entertainment, with other services and amenities available on a paid-for basis.

Those preferring to have the extras included in their fare will need to stick to the carrier’s existing Smart fare.

Saver fares start from €169 each way when booked as a return, and are available for purchase now, for travel from October 1.

Aer Lingus is finding its transatlantic network being squeezed by the growth in low-cost carriers including Norwegian, which recently launched flights from

Aer Lingus recently launched its largest ever winter schedule, with with a new transatlantic route to Miami, and additional seats on short-haul services from Dublin to Birmingham and Heathrow.

aerlingus.com

British Airways launches Premium Transfer Drive service

British Airways Premium Transfer Drive

British Airways has launched a new service for premium customers, designed to eliminate missed connections at Heathrow.

The new Premium Transfer Drive service offers eligible customers a car transfer from their domestic flight to their onward BA short or long-haul service, where there is a risk of them otherwise missing the connection.

The service is available to the following customers when connecting from a UK domestic service:

  • Passengers connecting onto a short-haul flight in Club Europe
  • Passengers connecting onto a long-haul flight in either Club World or First
  • Silver or Gold Executive Club members

BA says that it’s team at Heathrow “will track these customers, and where there’s a risk they will miss their connection, will provide an ‘airside’ car transfer between one flight and the next”.

A message will also be sent to the inbound aircraft, so that cabin crew can inform the customer that a car will be waiting, “thereby alleviating any stress or worry”.

Commenting on the new service Carolina Martinoli, British Airways’ new director of brand and customer experience, said:

“Missing a connection is one of the most stressful situations a customer can experience, so helping them through that journey and keeping them informed is critical.

“The new premium transfer service will enable us to identify customers who are at risk of missing their onward flight, and proactively arrange to collect them by car, whisking them directly to their next flight.

“We’re already receiving great customer feedback from customers who have benefitted from the new service and as wifi is introduced on our aircraft, we’ll also be able to use that to communicate directly with customers about their onward flight.”

BA is currently in the process of investing £400 million in its Club World service, with a new restaurant-style dining service launching on its Heathrow-New York service tomorrow, and new White Company bedding and amenity kits being introduced this autumn.

ba.com

British Airways and Easyjet launch sales

Easyjet-aircraft-2

UK carriers British Airways and Easyjet have both launched new sales promotions, adding to the existing Virgin Atlantic sale which runs until September 20.

BA’s latest World Sale, full details of which can be viewed here, includes a discounted return fare from £568 on the carrier’s relaunched Gatwick-Las Vegas service (originally £699 when the route was announced earlier this week).

Other offers include flights to Boston from £339, Fort Lauderdale from £378, New York from £398, and Dubai from £359.

The sale is valid for bookings made by 2359 on September 26, for Euro Traveller, World Traveller and World Traveller Plus tickets – various travel dates apply.

Meanwhile Easyjet has launched a sale offering up to 15 per cent off 300,000 seats on selected routes to and from the UK.

The sale runs until midnight on September 5, for travel between September 20 and December 13.

ba.comeasyjet.com

Cathay Pacific launching Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen direct flights

Cathay Pacific A350

Cathay Pacific will be launching new non-stop routes to three European capitals next summer – Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen – with the carrier’s A350 set to fly all three.

Both the Brussels and the Dublin routes will operate four times weekly, while Cophenhagen – which will run as a seasonal summer service – will fly three times per week.

First to launch will be Brussels, which is set to take off on March 25, 2018 flying on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. This will be followed by the seasonal Copenhagen flights from May 2 to October 12, flying on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Flights to Dublin will then launch on June 2, scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday operations.

“We’re excited to offer the only direct flights between Hong Kong and Brussels, Dublin and Copenhagen,” said CEO Rupert Hogg. “These are all fantastic destinations and attract business and leisure travellers from the world over. We listened to our customers’ demands for more options and greater flexibility and have responded by building direct air links with these great cities.”

Cathay Pacific’s A350 offers three classes – 38 seats in business in a 1-2-1 set up, 28 in premium economy laid out 2-4-2, and 214 in economy configured nine across. Inflight wifi is also available on the aircraft.

Business Traveller has reviewed Cathay Pacific’s A350 business class and its premium economy class on the Hong Kong-London Gatwick route.

Flight review: Cathay Pacific A350-900 business class

Flight review: Cathay Pacific A350-900 Premium Economy London Gatwick–Hong Kong

The announcement comes on the heels of the airline’s major interim financial loss, which it announced earlier this month. These follow a previous annual loss in 2016 of HK$575 million (US$74 million) – a result that led the carrier to confirm it would be cutting 600 members of staff.

“Growing our reach to new destinations that aren’t served from Hong Kong boosts the city’s status as Asia’s largest international hub and enables us to capture new and important sources of revenue,” Hogg added.

Details of the services are as follows (all times local).

Hong Kong (HKG)-Brussels (BRU):

Flight no.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
CX339HKGBRU00350655Tue, Thu, Sat, Sun
CX338BRUHKG13100655+1

Hong Kong (HKG)-Dublin (DUB):

Flight no.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
CX307HKGDUB00500645Mon, Wed, Thu, Sat
CX306DUBHKG11550705+1

Hong Kong (HKG)-Copenhagen (CPH):

Flight no.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
CX227HKGCPH01100630Mon, Wed, Fri
CX226CPHHKG13550635+1

cathaypacific.com

Qantas to switch Dubai services to Singapore

Qantas A380 flies over Sydney

Qantas has announced plans to reroute its current A380 Sydney-Dubai-London service via Singapore from next year, as part of an extended partnership with Emirates (subject to re-authorisation from regulators).

The two carriers have been working together on flights between Europe and Australia for the last five years, and said that the changes “will see the airlines better leveraging each other’s networks, by providing three options to Australia from Europe – via Dubai and Singapore, and direct to Perth”.

From March 25, 2018, the existing QF1 and QF 2 A380 services will reroute via Singapore, replacing one of the carrier’s existing Singapore-Sydney A330 flights (with the second daily service continuing to be operated by an A330).

On the same day Qantas will upgrade its daily Singapore-Melbourne services (QF35 and QF36) to the A380, as well as increasing a second thrice-weekly A330 flight (QF37 and QF38) to daily.

The changes will coincide with the launch of the carrier’s direct Dreamliner flights between London Heathrow and Perth in March next year.

This service will route London-Perth-Melbourne, and will replace the existing London-Dubai-Melbourne flights, meaning Qantas will no longer offer any services to Dubai on its own metal.

Announcing the news Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said that the carrier’s partnership with Emirates “has evolved to a point where Qantas no longer needs to fly its own aircraft through Dubai, and that means we can redirect some of our A380 flying into Singapore and meet the strong demand we’re seeing in Asia”.

“Improvements in aircraft technology means the Qantas network will eventually feature a handful of direct routes between Europe and Australia, but this will never overtake the sheer number of destinations served by Emirates and that’s why Dubai will remain an important hub for our customers,” Joyce added.

Emirates’ president Sir Tim Clark said that the carrier saw “an opportunity to offer customers an even stronger product proposition for travel to Dubai, and onward connectivity to our extensive network in Europe, Middle East and Africa”, promising updates in the coming weeks.

Tickets for the new Qantas services will be available from tomorrow, and customers with existing bookings impacted by the changes “will be re-accommodated onto the airlines’ new services or will be given the option to change their flights”.

The Australian flag carrier said that the changes would bring an annualized net benefit of more than AU$80 million from FY19 onwards.

The airline said that customer demand from flights from London to Australia via Dubai “will remain well-served”, with a total of 77 weekly Emirates services from Dubai to Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

qantas.com.auemirates.com

Singapore Airlines and Alaska Airlines to begin codeshare

Singapore Airlines' B777-300ER

Singapore Airlines is further expanding its footprint in North America with a new codeshare and frequent-flyer agreement with Alaska Airlines set to take effect from September 27 this year.

The Singapore carrier will begin placing its SQ code on Alaska’s flights to 18 destinations in the US and Mexico. These will be in addition to the existing codeshare flights to 19 destinations within the US flown by Virgin America, which Alaska acquired last year and has since said it will disband and integrate into its own network.

The partnership will enable members of Singapore Airlines’ Krisflyer and Alaska Airlines’ Mileage Plan frequent-flyer programmes to earn and redeem miles on codeshare flights. However, while this is set to begin from September 27 for Krisflyer members on Alaska-operated flights, members of Mileage Plan will have to wait for a later, as-yet unconfirmed date to be able to redeem miles on Singapore Airlines-operated flights.

“Our new partnership with Alaska Airlines enables us to improve connectivity between Singapore and the important North American market, providing customers with more codeshare destinations and enhanced Krisflyer benefits,” said Singapore Airlines senior vice president of marketing planning, Tan Kai Ping.

Singapore Airlines has been placing emphasis on its services to the Americas in recent months. Last year, it launched a Manchester-Houston service, which is now being flown by its A350. In the same month as the Houston route, it also launched its A350 service from Singapore to San Francisco, which Business Traveller reviewed in November.

Earlier this month, the carrier also announced it will begin codesharing with Latin-American carrier Avianca on flights to the Colombian capital Bogota via London and Barcelona.

singaporeair.com

Garuda Indonesia makes changes in London and Amsterdam

Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER first class

Indonesian airline Garuda will changes its operations at Amsterdam Schiphol and London Heathrow this winter.

Premium seating is being drastically reduced on services departing Amsterdam as Garuda will now concentrate on volume. At the same time there will be fewer flights out of London Heathrow.

The changes take effect on October 29 which is the start of the winter timetable.

In the case of London, Garuda will now operate two weekly flights as against three at present. Current schedules see Garuda’s B777-300ERs departing Heathrow every Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday.

Schedules now displayed on the carrier’s website show the Sunday flight axed.

Travellers wishing to travel London-Jakarta on a Sunday will be offered a connection with KLM to Amsterdam.

The news emerging from Amsterdam will be of equal concern to readers because Garuda has decided to cater more to economy than premium fare customers.

First class will be axed altogether from Amsterdam, and business class will be slimmed down.

Dutch website luchtvaartniews.nl reports that each of Garuda’s B777-300ERs rostered for Amsterdam-Jakarta will now provide no fewer than 100 extra economy seats than its B777-300ERs operating from London.

The new two-class B777-300ER features 393 passengers in total comprising 26 in business and a whopping 367 in economy class.

By comparison Garuda’s three class B777-300ERs operating from London accommodate a maximum of 318 passengers with eight in first, 42 in business and 268 in economy class.

One good point is that Garuda will continue to adopt the spacious 3-3-3 layout in its economy cabins.

Garuda tells Luchtvaart that “The decision was made in view of the huge and increasing demand for economy tickets to Indonesia.”

According to Garuda, “This extra capacity means there are plenty of seats available in the high demand period around Christmas and New Year.”

For historical reasons Amsterdam has always been Garuda’s European HQ. The airline also flies more frequently from Holland than it does from the UK.

And it must be noted that a good number of Garuda’s Amsterdam passengers are sourced from areas of the UK, mainland Europe, Scandinavia and so on, thanks to KLM’s comprehensive feeder network.

As readers will know it is far easier for travellers in the UK regions to reach Amsterdam Schiphol than London Heathrow.

Business Traveller contacted Garuda but the airline was unable to provide comment.

For a recent Tried and Tested review of Garuda’s business class service on the carrier’s London-Jakarta route, see:

Flight review: Garuda Indonesia B777-300ER business class

garuda-indonesia.com

Waldorf Astoria to open in the Maldives

Maldives

Waldorf Astoria Maldives

Waldorf Astoria to open in the Maldives

This will be the second hotel in this island cluster by Hilton

Hilton’s luxury brand, Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts has signed a management agreement with Malé-based Ithaafushi Investments. The partnership will open a resort in the Maldives archipelago.

John Vanderslice, the global head of luxury and lifestyle brands at Hilton said, “Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts continues to deliver on its mission to be the world’s fastest growing, most innovative luxury hotel brand, expanding its global footprint with landmark signings in iconic destinations. Waldorf Astoria Maldives will set a new standard for Maldivian luxury, offering global travellers first class accommodations in a unique and inspirational environment where they can experience our bespoke True Waldorf Service, while enjoying an unforgettable getaway in the Indian Ocean.”

The second Hilton resort by Waldorf Astoria in this region, Waldorf Astoria Maldives will span across three islands in South Malé Atoll, and have ten F&B options, including nine speciality restaurants.

Guy Phillips, the senior vice president of development – Asia and Australasia at Hilton says, “We are thrilled to continue our luxury expansion in Asia by introducing Waldorf Astoria in one of the world’s most sought-after destinations. With magnificent natural beauty and an amazing underwater world, the Maldives remains an inspirational choice for world travellers today.”

The Maldives has nearly 1,190 islands and sandbanks, surrounded by crystal clear water. It is home to a large variety of coral and other marine flora and fauna.

Waldorf Astoria Maldives will be part of Hilton Honors, the Hilton loyalty programme for 14 brands under this hospitality group. Members who book directly with through Hilton will have access to loyalty benefits, such as an exclusive member discount, free wifi, and flexible payment options that lets members choose any combination of points and money to book a stay. Members can also redeem their points for free nights.

The opening date for Waldorf Astoria Maldives hasn’t been announced yet.

waldorfastoria.com

Waldorf Astoria Maldives

Finnair to start flying to Nanjing next year

Finnair Airbus A330

Finnair is going to start flying non-stop to Nanjing in China’s Jiangsu province next year, making the city its seventh destination in Greater China during the 2018 summer season.

Set to take off on May 13 next year, the new route will be operated by Finnair’s A330-300, which it configures in two formats of either 289 or 263 seats. The lower-capacity variant has 45 business class seats compared to the 32 in the higher-capacity layout. However it’s worth noting both configure these in alternating rows of either five-across or four-across seating, the downside here being that window seats on the rows with five seats don’t get direct aisle access.

The Nanjing route is planned to operate year-round, though frequencies will vary between the summer and winter seasons. The thrice-weekly service will drop to a twice-weekly operation during the northern winter.

“Finnair is fast becoming one of the biggest and most preferred European carriers operating between Europe and China,” said Juha Jarvinen, the airline’s chief commercial officer. “Next year will also mark a very important milestone in our history as we will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Finnair’s inaugural flight to Beijing and China.”

During the 2018 summer season, the Finnish carrier will fly daily to Beijing and Shanghai, four times weekly to Chongqing and Guangzhou, 10 times weekly to Hong Kong, and three times weekly to Nanjing and Xian.

China, however, is not the only country in Asia-Pacific set to see additional flights in the 2018 summer season. Tokyo Narita will get three additional weekly frequencies, bringing it up to a double-daily offering. Bangkok will also be getting three additional weekly flights, turning it into a 10-times-weekly service during summer and a 16-times-weekly offering in the winter. Finally Delhi is set to get one extra weekly flight, resulting in four flights a week in summer and six in winter.

“Traffic between Europe and Asia continues to grow, and Finnair’s expanding network now offers more choice than ever before for our customers,” Jarvinen added. “We are also adding frequencies and capacity to popular European destinations to serve the needs of our growing customer base both in Asia and Europe.”

Speculation around the possible expansion of Finnair’s Asia-Pacific operations reared its head back in May, when it was reported that the Russian government had granted the carrier additional flyover rights. This enables the airline to operate up to 80 flights a week via the Trans-Siberian route to Asia compared to the 65 it was operating at the time.

finnair.com

The Lodhi joins The Leading Hotels of the World

The Lodhi, New Delhi

The Lodhi joins The Leading Hotels of the World

It is the first Indian brand to be accepted as a member of this collection of luxury hotels

The Lodhi, New Delhi, has become a member of The Leading Hotels of the World (LHW).

LHW is a collection of more than 375 independent and luxury properties in 75 countries. From India, The Lodhi is the first luxury hotel brand to join The Leading Hotels of the World. The project is a project of DLF Luxury Retail and Hospitality.

Dinaz Madhukar, the senior VP at DLF Luxury Retail and Hospitality says, “We are proud to partner with The Leading Hotels of the World as a member of its carefully curated luxury hotel collection. This is one of the most prestigious and respected hotel organisations in the world and we are honoured to represent India as the only member hotel in the country at present.”

A 48-key property, The Lodhi is spread across “nearly seven acres on Lodhi Road near the historic Lodhi Gardens, an extensive parkland area with beautifully designed tombs dating back to the 15th century.”

Sizes of the rooms and suites at The Lodhi range from 51 sqm to 418 sqm in size. Each accommodation type includes a balcony overlooking the hotel lawns, work desk, minibar, free wifi, HD television and a walk-in shower. All guests have access to the three tennis and two squash courts, swimming pool and gym on the property.  Except for the Standard and Garden Terrace rooms, all other categories have a private plunge pool.

Breakfast is served at Elan that includes a bar, OTW opens at noon for lunch and dinner and serves pan-Asian, Middle Eastern and European cuisines, and Pool Cafe by the swimming pool serves snacks such as burgers, sandwiches and salads, as well as a healthy menu. Apart form the spa, there is a hammam and “a stylist curated salon” for guests to book themselves in for a relaxing session.

LHW judges each hotel on a number of parameters, and subjects it to a rigorous evaluation process before accepting it as a member. The Lodhi says, each hotel “must meet the organisation’s (LHW’s) high standards for quality and distinctiveness through architecture, design, cultural experiences and service. Established in Europe in 1928, the association’s mission is to uncover remarkable and authentic travel experiences around the world by selecting outstanding properties with a truly unique character, a bill which suits The Lodhi perfectly.”

Deniz Omurgonulsen, the VP of membership at The Leading Hotels of the World says, “We are very pleased to welcome The Lodhi to The Leading Hotels of the World. Bringing a new level of sophisticated urban resort living to the edge of Luytens’ Delhi, The Lodhi is an ideal addition to Leading Hotels’ portfolio of uncommon, independent luxury hotels. Immersing guests in the best of this dynamic destination, The Lodhi embodies contemporary India through cultural, artistic and culinary offerings, and provides discerning, curious travellers with an enriching and distinctly local experience.”

thelodhi.com; lhw.com