Sunday
Jun192011

Air Canada begins Toronto-Gander non-stop route

Yesterday Air Canada started a seasonal, daily non-stop round trip between Toronto, the largest city in Ontario, and Gander, a town of about 10,000 in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.  The flights will operate between Lester Bowles Pearson International Airport (IATA: YYZ; ICAO: CYYZ) in Toronto, and Gander International Airport (IATA: YQX; ICAO: CYQX) in the interior of the island of Newfoundland.

Toronto is Canada's largest city (2.5 million) and largest metro area (5.1 million), and is home to the CN Tower, the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere.  In the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Gander was lauded as the most hospitable small town in Canada.  Its airport played a crucial role, providing the nearest feasible landing space for 39 aircraft, many flying trans-Atlantic itineraries, which were ordered by NORAD to land as soon as safely possible, in the wake of the attacks.

Gander International Airport's longest runway is 10,200 feet long, plenty long enough to accommodate any jet capable of flying trans-Atlantic.  Incidentally, the Toronto-Gander Air Canada route will be operated with the Embraer E-190, according to Air Canada's press release from this past February.  The departure and arrival times listed on the several-months-old press release are consistent with current search results from Air Canada and from www.kayak.com/flights.

Air Canada's Vice President for Network Planning, Marcel Forget, explained that the new seasonal route enables residents of Gander and the surrounding communities to have one-stop access to all destinations reachable via Toronto-Pearson, emphasizing Pearson's connections to the United States.

For the three days following 9/11 during which airspace was closed, Gander's residents extended incredible hospitality to more than 6,000 visitors, which represented a temporary population spike of more than 50 percent.  In an understated and classically Canadian manner, they rendered assistance quietly, never asking to be recognized on a large scale for their unquestionably large-scale generosity.  This extraordinary collective gesture from Canadians became known as Operation Yellow Ribbon.

VIDEO PLAYED DURING THE 2010 VANCOUVER WINTER GAMES ABOUT OPERATION YELLOW RIBBON

The air traffic control center in Gander is often the last control center in communication with eastbound traffic before the Atlantic Ocean, and is often the first control center in communication with westbound traffic coming in off the Atlantic Ocean.  Because of its historic importance to North American civil and military aviation, many streets in Gander are named for aviators, such as Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, and Eddie Rickenbacker.

Air Canada was founded in 1936 as Trans-Canada Airlines.  It took its current name in 1965.  It acquired poorly-performing Calgary, Alberta-based Canadian Airlines in 2001.  Air Canada operates hubs at Pearson International, Pierre Elliott Trudeau International (IATA: YUL; ICAO: CYUL) in Montreal, Calgary International (IATA: YYC; ICAO: CYYC), and Vancouver International (IATA: YVR; ICAO: CYVR).  Edmonton, Alberta; Halifax, Nova Scotia; and the national capital Ottawa, Ontario are focus cities for the airline.

Air Canada is a publicly traded company headquartered in Montreal, and traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

related story

Air Canada begins flights between St. John’s and London (May 28, 2010)

original story (Air Canada)

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Saturday
Jun182011

United recovering from system-wide breakdown, cancellations

The Chicago-based United Airlines suffered a computer glitch last Friday evening that snarled the airline's traffic on the ground, the reservation system on its website, and its computer systems at a number of airports.  Shutdown was total for about five hours, from about 7:15 in the evening, Central Daylight Time, to the early minutes of Saturday morning, CDT.

Word of the shutdown spread quickly across the country (and world), when ticketed passengers for Friday evening flights took to Twitter and Facebook to vent their frustrations.  Many travelers stayed overnight at the airport where they were stranded.  There was confusion among travelers, some of whom thought the fallout was out of proportion to the actual seriousness of what happened.  As late as Saturday afternoon, no explanation to stranded travelers, from the airline, was forthcoming, according to the Associated Press.

Itinerary change fees were waived for anyone whose United Airlines flight was compromised by the glitch.  Schedules were most negatively affected at United hubs.  The airline's largest is O'Hare International (IATA: ORD; ICAO: KORD) in Chicago, where "it could take several days" for the backlog of stranded travelers to be resolved, according to an Associated Press report printed by the Chicago Tribune.

United Airlines also operates large hubs at Dulles International (IATA: IAD; ICAO: KIAD) near Washington, D.C.; Denver International (IATA: DEN; ICAO: KDEN); San Francisco International (IATA: SFO; ICAO: KSFO); and Los Angeles International (IATA: LAX; ICAO: KLAX).  It operates an overseas hub at Narita International (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA) east of Tokyo, Japan.

United is in the process of merging with Houston-based Continental Airlines.  The Houston Chronicle recently reported that the move will cost Houston 1500 jobs, though the Tribune recently reported that only 1300 jobs will be created in Chicago as a result of the merger.

related stories

Continental jobs will stay in Cleveland for five years (September 16, 2010)

Department of Justice approves United-Continental merger (August 27, 2010)

original stories

United Airlines Resumes Flights Today After Computer Outage (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

United blames outage on network connectivity issue (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

United recovering from canceled, delayed flights (Yahoo Finance)

United Flights Getting Back on Track After Major Computer Glitch (www.dnainfo.com)

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Saturday
Jun182011

Delta Air Lines codeshare with Air Nigeria update

The codeshare agreement recently negotiated by Delta Air Lines and Air Nigeria is being gradually rolled out over the next few weeks.  The codeshare will be one-way, and will be very limited in scope, extending to only two round-trip routes, both operated by Delta.  Earlier this week, one of those routes went into effect, according to press releases from both airlines.  That route is Delta's round trip between its hub at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (IATA: ATL; ICAO: KATL) in Atlanta and Murtala Muhammed International Airport (IATA: LOS; ICAO: DNMM) in Lagos, the largest Nigerian city.  On July 4 this year, Delta's round trip between Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK) in New York and Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (IATA: ABV; ICAO: DNAA) in Abuja, the Nigerian capital, will become part of the codeshare.

High-ranking representatives of both airlines were happy with the agreement.  Kinfe Kahssaye, CEO of Air Nigeria, praised the agreement as an important step toward positioning Nigeria as the primary African gateway between Africa and North America.  Delta's senior Vice President for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Perry Cantarutti, said that Africa is "an important part of Delta's international network strategy."  Delta is the only United States-based airline with two Nigerian destinations in its network.

Negotiations between venture capitalist Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group and the Nigerian government produced Virgin Nigeria Airways in 2004.  Virgin Nigeria Airways commenced operations in 2005, using the aforementioned Murtala Muhammed International Airport as its main hub.  In late 2009, Virgin Nigeria Airways rebranded itself as Nigerian Eagle Airlines.  Then in 2010, it rebranded itself again, as Air Nigeria, following acquisition by new owner Jimoh Ibrahim.

Delta Air Lines was founded as Huff Daland Dusters (a crop dusting company) in Louisiana in 1924.  It changed its name to Delta Air Service, and commenced operations as a passenger airline five years later.  Delta relocated its main offices to Atlanta, Georgia in 1941.  It completed a merger with Northwest Airlines in 2008.  Consolidation was accomplished in 2010.  It is the world's largest airline by fleet size, number of destinations, and passenger revenue.

original stories

Delta Starts Codeshare Flights with Air Nigeria (Delta Air Lines)

Delta Starts Codeshare Flights with Air Nigeria (Air Nigeria)

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Thursday
Jun162011

Korean Air flies first Airbus A380 today

Korean Air will fly the first Airbus A380 operated by any air carrier based in northeastern Asia today.  The flight will operate from Incheon International Airport (IATA: ICN; ICAO: RKSI) in the South Korean capital city of Seoul to Narita International Airport (IATA: NRT; ICAO: RJAA) in the Japanese capital city of Tokyo.  Cho Yang-ho, chairman of Korean Air's holding company Hanjin Group, explained that the company took a "calculated risk" when it signed a memorandum of understanding with Airbus at the Paris Air Show in 2003.

Cho cited the superior fuel efficiency of the A380 (compared to the models the A380 is replacing on many routes worldwide, such as the Boeing 747) as Korean Air's rationale for investing in the A380 less than two years following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011, a time of rising fuel prices and rising costs of doing business in the industry.  Airbus reported that Korean Air ordered a total of ten of the A380 model, with five to be delivered by the end of this year, and the other five to be delivered by 2014.

Airbus also explained that Korean Air eventually intends to use the A380 to operate routes to long-haul destinations from Incheon International, such as Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK) in New York, Charles de Gaulle Airport (IATA: CDG; ICAO: LFPG) in Paris, and Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX; ICAO: KLAX).  Korean Air currently uses the Boeing 777-300ER, Boeing 777-200, and the Boeing 747-400 to operate these non-stop routes, according to search results returned by the airline ticket booking engine at www.kayak.com/flights.

The -800 is the specific variant of the A380 that will be operated by Korean Air, and is the most popular variant of the A380 in use by the six airlines that currently fly the model.  Those airlines are, alphabetically, Air France, Emirates, Korean Air, Lufthansa, Qantas Airways, and Singapore Airlines

Korean Air added some posh touches to its A380s, that in some ways go beyond what the A380s of the other five operators feature.  Its seating arrangement includes 94 "prestige class" seats that lay flat.  The Korean Air A380 passenger capacity will be 407, far lower than the capacities on the A380s flown by the other five carriers.  Korean Air's A380s will also feature a bar lounge and a duty free shop.

[Pictured above is the delivery ceremony at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, France, on May 25 this year.]

original stories

The A380 enters commercial service with Korean Air (Airbus)

East Asia's first A380 goes into operation today (Korea JoongAng Daily)

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Thursday
Jun162011

Air France starts seasonal Paris-San Francisco route in A380

Earlier this month, Air France commenced a seasonal non-stop round trip in the Airbus A380, between Charles de Gaulle Airport (IATA: CDG; ICAO: LFPG) in Paris, to San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFO; ICAO: KSFO).  The route is flown twice a day on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday; and is flown once a day on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, according to search results returned by the airline ticket booking engine at www.kayak.com/flights.  The westbound flight is scheduled at 11 hours 10 minutes long, and the eastbound flight is scheduled at 10 hours 25 minutes long, according to www.kayak.com.

Air France-KLM Group teamed with Delta Air Lines in a trans-Atlantic joint venture, in 2008.  Air France's press release on the seasonal Paris-San Francisco route explains that it is conducted "in partnership with Delta," even though Delta currently has no Airbus A380 airplanes in its fleet.

The seasonal route is scheduled to terminate on September 4 this year, according to Air France.

original story (Air France)

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Thursday
Jun162011

Television documentary produced in the UK about Air France 447

This very informative documentary was produced in the United Kingdom prior to the discovery of the flight data recorders of Air France flight 447.  A number of things that we know now, were unknown at the time this documentary was made.  The second anniversary of the disaster was marked on June 1 this year, by the families of the victims.

The difference among the aspect ratios for the four parts is unavoidable.  This is how they were uploaded to YouTube.

PART 1

PART 2

PART 3

PART 4

related stories

Air France 447 black box data may be readable (April 16, 2011)

Remains of Air France 447 found beneath Atlantic (April 4, 2011)

Families of Rio-Paris crash victims hold memorial ceremonies (June 2, 2010)

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Monday
Jun132011

American Airlines starts Chicago-Charlottesville non-stop

Last Thursday, American Airlines commenced a twice daily non-stop round trip between its hub at O'Hare International Airport (IATA: ORD; ICAO: KORD) in Chicago, and Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (IATA: CHO; ICAO: KCHO) in the Piedmont region of central Virginia.  Chicago-Charlottesville is listed at 1 hour 45 minutes long, and departs each day at 1:10 in the afternoon and 8:55 in the evening, Central Time.  Charlottesville-Chicago is listed at 2 hours 5 minutes long, and departs each day at 6:30 in the morning and 4:25 in the afternoon, Eastern Time.  The route will be operated through the regional affiliate of American Airlines, American Eagle.  The aircraft used will be an Embraer RJ140, according to results returned by the airline ticket booking engine at www.kayak.com/flights.

O'Hare International is located 17 miles (27 kilometers) northwest of downtown Chicago, and was the second-busiest airport in the United States last year, behind Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (IATA: ATL; ICAO: KATL) in Atlanta.  O'Hare International is accessible directly from downtown Chicago on the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) rapid transit ("L") Blue Line.  The airport is at the northwestern terminus of the CTA Blue Line, and the O'Hare Airport station is underneath Terminal 2.  O'Hare International is also accessible via the city's North Central Service (NCS) Metra rail line, followed by a free O'Hare Shuttle Bus ride to the free Airport Transit System, an elevated rail train that stops at each terminal.

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport is 8 miles (12 kilometers) north of Charlottesville, in Albemarle County, Virginia.  There are no regularly scheduled public transportation services on site.  However, Avis, Hertz, and National Car Rental all have kiosks at the airport, and a number of taxi services also connect the airport with the town.

Chicago is the third-most populous city in the United States behind New York and Los Angeles, and is home to the University of Chicago and Northwestern University.  The Willis Tower (formerly "Sears Tower"), and Trump International Hotel and Tower, which grace the city's skyline, are the two tallest skyscrapers in the United States.  Charlottesville is the seat of Albemarle County, Virginia, and has been rated America's "best place to live" by Frommer's Cities Ranked and Rated.  It is home to several cultural institutions and wineries, and is home to the University of Virginia, established by Thomas Jefferson in 1819.

original story (American Airlines)

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Sunday
Jun122011

Volcanic ash wanders across Pacfic; snarls NZ, Australia air traffic

The June 4 eruption of a volcano in the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle Volcanic Complex in southern Chile has affected air traffic as far away as New Zealand and Australia.  Unsafe levels of volcanic ash in the air have stranded upwards of 30,000 air travelers, at airports in those two countries, according to the Associated Press.

In reaction to the hazardous conditions, Australia's flag carrier airline Qantas Airways grounded all of its incoming and outgoing traffic at Tullamarine Airport (IATA: MEL; ICAO: YMML) in Melbourne, indefinitely.  Television New Zealand Online reported that the largest Australian airline did the same thing for all of its traffic at Auckland International Airport (IATA: AKL; ICAO: NZAA).  The New Zealand Herald Online reported that Qantas has cancelled all trans-Tasman flights indefinitely.

Air New Zealand was bolder in its determination to stay on schedule, but was eventually forced to alter several flight paths on account of volcanic ash in the region.  Australia's Sydney Morning Herald speculated that by Monday morning, airports in New Zealand would begin to be affected.

related stories

Iceland's Grímsvötn erupts; only 500 flights cancelled (May 26, 2011)

Mount Merapi erupts; many Jakarta flights cancelled (November 6, 2010)

U.K.-based easyJet will debut a new ash detector (June 5, 2010)

Airlines now criticizing British models of predicted ash movement (May 17, 2010)

Volcanoes in Iceland could affect aviation for decades (May 17, 2010)

Eyjafjallajökull damage report, and spectacular new video (May 13, 2010)

The spread of volcanic ash from Eyjafjallajökull over time (May 4, 2010)

original stories

Volcanic ash strands 30,000 in Australia, NZ (Yahoo News)

Chile volcano forces flight canellations (http://tvnz.co.nz)

Volcanic ash cloud cancels transtasman flights (New Zealand Herald)

NZ flights could face delays from ash (Sydney Morning Herald)

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Friday
Jun102011

Air New Zealand emergency return was not due to bird strike

The Auckland-based New Zealand Herald reported this morning that the scheduled Auckland-Perth Air New Zealand flight, which aborted its itinerary yesterday and returned to the airport (IATA: AKL; ICAO: NZAA), was not compromised by a bird strike, as initially suspected.

The Boeing 767-300ER, operated as Air New Zealand flight 175, sits at Auckland International, undergoing continued inspections, in an attempt to determine the exact cause of the emergency.  Witnesses in the passenger cabin say a plume of fire shot backward from the left-hand engine shortly after takeoff.  Air New Zealand's Chief Pilot Captain, David Morgan, identified the flare as an anomaly that can occur when "airflow through the engine" is interrupted.  The airline indicated that the engine corrected itself, but that the plane was ordered to return to Auckland as a precaution.

Air New Zealand was formed in 1940 as Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), as a joint venture among the British Overseas Airways Corporation, which held a plurality of the shares; Qantas Airways; the government of New Zealand; and the now defunct New Zealand carrier Union Airways.  The airline was nationalized in 1965, when the government of New Zealand bought all shares.  It was privatized in 1989, and re-nationalized in 2001.  Air New Zealand and its subsidiaries operate 99 aircraft to 53 destinations within Oceania, and on the continents of Australia, Asia, Europe, and North America.  Its headquarters is in Auckland, at a complex colloquially called “The Hub.”  As far as airports are concerned, the airline operates its largest hub at Auckland International.  Its focus cities are the national capital Wellington, the nation's second-largest city Christchurch, and the American city of Los Angeles.

As of the time of this post, Air New Zealand is the largest airline headquartered in the land of the long white cloud, and is the only airline to circumnavigate the world.

original stories

Air NZ emergency: 'It was terrifying' (New Zealand Herald)

Air NZ rules out bird strike as cause of emergency (http://tvnz.co.nz)

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Wednesday
Jun082011

Continental starts LAX-Hilo tomorrow, SFO-Hilo this Saturday

Continental Airlines will fly a daily non-stop round trip between Los Angeles International Airport (IATA: LAX; ICAO: KLAX) and Hilo International Airport (IATA: ITO: ICAO: PHTO) starting tomorrow.  It will also commence a weekly non-stop round trip between San Francisco International Airport (IATA: SFO; ICAO: KSFO) and Hilo starting this Saturday.  Executive vice president and chief revenue officer of United Continental Holdings, Jim Compton, explained that these flights will be the only direct connections to the island of Hawaii from mainland North AmericaHawai'i Tourism Authority president and CEO Mike McCartney also praised the route, noting that millions of dollars of direct tourist spending and tax revenue will benefit Hawaii's largest island as a result of the new route.

The Continental press release from last December is generally accurate, as to scheduled flight takeoff and landing times.  But the weekly westbound flight from San Francisco to Hilo has been moved back ten minutes on both the departure and arrival times, from what appears on the chart.

Continental Airlines is headquartered in Houston, Texas.  It is in the process of merging with Chicago, Illinois-based United Airlines.  United CEO Jeff Smisek said today that the merger is moving according to schedule.  But the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents pilots of both airlines, recently said that the joint pilot contract was "nowhere near on schedule."

original story (Continental Airlines)

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Wednesday
Jun012011

US Airways starts Philadelphia-Quebec City route tomorrow

Tomorrow, the Tempe, Arizona based airline US Airways will start flying three non-stop flights in each direction, between Philadelphia International Airport (IATA: PHL; ICAO: KPHL) and Jean Lesage International Airport (IATA: YQB; ICAO: CYQB) in Quebec, the capital city of the eponymous Canadian province.  The thrice-daily departures from Philadelphia are scheduled to happen at 9:30 in the morning, 2:49 in the afternoon, and 8:35 in the evening, local time.  The thrice-daily departures from Quebec City are scheduled to happen at 6:25 in the morning, 12:15 in the afternoon, and 5:30 in the evening, local time.

The departure times from Quebec City differ slightly from what was initially planned, when US Airways first made this announcement this past February.  The estimated flight time is between 1 hours 45 minutes, and 2 hours, in both directions.  According to search results returned by the airline ticket booking engine at www.kayak.com/flights, the route will be flown with a Canadair regional jet, operated by the US Airways regional affiliate Air Wisconsin.

With the introduction of this service by US Airways, the entire state of New Jersey is now within a two-hour drive of an airport that offers non-stop service to the Quebec provincial capital city.  (Continental Airlines flies the route non-stop from Newark.)  Philadelphia and Quebec City are both located in the Eastern Time Zone of North America, and both observe daylight saving time.

The earliest direct predecessor to US Airways was called All American Aviation, and was founded by the du Pont family in 1939.   After a series of name changes, it settled upon US Air in 1979.  It re-branded itself as US Airways in 1997.  US Airways maintains hubs in the American cities of Charlotte, Philadelphia, and Phoenix.  Philadelphia is the airline's primary international hub.

related story

US Airways starts Charlotte-Madrid and Charlotte-Dublin routes (May 16, 2011)

original story (US Airways)

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Wednesday
Jun012011

Delta inaugurates New York-Iceland non-stop route

Delta Air Lines, the world's largest airline by passengers carried, is now the first United States-based carrier in 40 years to operate regular service between the New York metro area and Iceland non-stop.  Late this evening, at 11:35 EDT, the inaugural flight for this new route is scheduled to depart from Kennedy International Airport (IATA: JFK; ICAO: KJFK) in the New York borough of Queens.  The flight will be operated with the Boeing 757-200, according to Delta's press release on the subject, and is scheduled to arrive at Keflavík International Airport (IATA: KEF; ICAO: BIKF), at 9:20 in the morning the next day, local time.  The return flight is scheduled to leave Keflavík daily at 10:50 in the morning, local time, and arrive back in New York at 12:55 in the afternoon, local time.

Keflavík International is 31 miles (50 kilometers) west of the Icelandic capital city, Reykjavík.

Delta's senior vice president for New York, Gail Grimmett, mentioned the airline's emphasis on incorporating "unique destinations" and "growing but underserved global markets" into its list of destinations, suggesting that this new route targets both business travelers and leisure travelers.  Grimmett pointed out that Delta is now the only airline in the SkyTeam Alliance to offer a New York-Iceland route.

Delta Air Lines pilot John Magnusson made a blog post on Delta's official website earlier today, about his thoughts and feelings on being the pilot to fly the inaugural round trip.

The airline that became Delta Air Lines began flying passengers in 1929.  Delta relocated to Atlanta in 1941, and operates its largest hub at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta (IATA: ATL; ICAO: KATL).  It became the world’s largest airline by passengers carried when its merger with Northwest Airlines was completed last year.  Two other airlines fly non-stop between the New York metro area and Iceland.  Iceland's flag carrier airline Icelandair flies the route from Kennedy International and back, and the budget airline Iceland Express flies the route from Liberty International Airport (IATA: EWR; ICAO: KEWR) in Newark, New Jersey and back.

original stories

Delta Air Lines to Connect New York, Iceland (Delta Air Lines)

Captain's View: JFK Inaugural Flight to Iceland (Delta Air Lines)

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Tuesday
May312011

Finnair starts Helsinki-Singapore non-stop round-trip route

Yesterday, the Finnish flag carrier airline Finnair, inaugurated a daily non-stop round-trip route between its hub at Vantaa International Airport (IATA: HEL; ICAO: EFHK) in Helsinki, and Changi International Airport (IATA: SIN; ICAO: WSSS) in Singapore.  According to search engine results returned by the airline ticket booking engine at www.kayak.com/flights, the daily southeast-bound flight will depart Helsinki at 11:40 in the evening, local time, and arrive in Singapore at 4:10 in the afternoon the next day, local time.  The daily northwest-bound flight is scheduled to depart Singapore at 11:30 in the evening, local time, and arrive in Helsinki at 6:35 in the morning the following day.   The route will be flown with the Airbus A340.

 Finnair CEO Mika Vehviläinen praised the success of the airline's "Asian strategy," and identified the airline's "target group of consumers" as being those "travelling between Asia and Europe on business."  The time slots mentioned above were calculated by the airline to provide particular convenience to Finnish-based business travelers flying to Asia on business, and then back to Finland.

Finland is home to telecommunications giant Nokia, the second-largest company in the Nordic countries by revenue, and the most profitable company in the Nordic countries, according to Forbes Magazine's Global 2000 list, released in 2008.  Finland is also the only Nordic country to use the Euro as its currency, perhaps tying it more closely to much of the rest of Europe, and the rest of the world economically, than its Nordic neighbors Sweden and Norway.  Singapore is an island nation off the southeast end of the Malay Peninsula.  It is home to a number of high-profile firms, both regionally and worldwide, including the investment firm Temasek Holdings, the parent company of Singapore Airlines.

Although the route targets business travelers, a coach seat on the Helsinki-Singapore flight leaving tonight can still be paired with a coach seat on any return flight toward the beginning of June, for a mere 709 EUR round trip, according to www.kayak.com (947 AUD; 615 GBP; 81913 JPY; 1239 NZD; 1250 SGD; 1013 USD).  Business class seats for such a spontaneous round-trip itinerary are six times as expensive.

The listed length of the southeast-bound flight (Helsinki-Singapore) is 11 hours 30 minutes.  The listed length of the northwest-bound flight (Singapore-Helsinki) is 12 hours 5 minutes.  The difference is because in the temperate and tropical latitudes, the jet stream moves west to east.  Singapore operates five hours ahead of Helsinki during European Summer Time, and six hours ahead of Helsinki during all other times.

Finnair heavily promotes its non-stop connections to eastern Asia, of which it boasts more per week than any other European-based airline.

original story (Finnair)

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Thursday
May262011

Cuba and Mexico annouce joint project aimed at U.S. tourists

Two neighbors of the United States of America to its south are working on a project that could allow American travelers to visit Cuba purely for educational and cultural purposes.  The project was recently unveiled at the International Tourism Fair, in Havana, the Cuban capital.  It looks to capitalize on recent changes in American policy on its citizens' leisure travel to the Communist country due south of Florida.  The changes permit for certain types of multinational tours involving Cuba to be sold to Americans by tour companies based in a third country (a country other than the United States or Cuba).

Cuba is the Caribbean's third-most popular vacation destination, even without American tourism.  And it is predicated that relaxation of the rules governing American travel to Cuba will cause frustration for those islands in the Caribbean most visited by Americans.  But according to John McAuliff, executive director of the Fund for Reconciliation and Development (FFRD), which lobbies for increased relaxation of rules governing the movement of people between the United States and Cuba, other projects of this kind involving the Caribbean countries already frequented by American tourists, will help lessen the economic impact on those places.

McAuliff also mentioned the Cayman Islands and Jamaica as destinations currently favored by Americans, which could work with Cuba on similar projects.

original stories

Mexico/Cuba packages Could Open U.S. Travel to the Island (www.cubaheadlines.com)

New Travel Regulations Opening Educational Travel to Cuba (www.cubaupdate.org)

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Thursday
May262011

Iceland's Grímsvötn erupts; only 500 flights cancelled

The Icelandic volcano Grímsvötn began spewing ash and smoke into the air last Saturday, but will not cause near the disruption to trans-Atlantic air traffic that the eruption of Eyjafjallajökull did last spring.  Two large Irish airlines, Aer Lingus and Ryanair, have had to cancel dozens of flights over volcanic ash-related concerns, according to the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).  And the total number of flights cancelled across Europe due to the eruption is around 500.

But Iceland itself expects no major disruption to its travel industry as a result.  The country's Director General of Tourism, Olof Yr Atladottir, said that hotel bookings, tour bookings, and other tourist services are not decreasing.  The site www.icenews.is reported that this summer is still expected to be "one of [Iceland's] biggest travel summers to date."  Though there are small amounts of ash lingering over northern Scandinavia and Russia, the (nearly) pan-European air traffic control agency Eurocontrol also expects very little, if any, additional disruption to air traffic over Europe because of the eruption.

original stories

Ireland steers clear of volcano woes as 500 flights in Europe are grounded (Irish Central)

'Little harm done' to Iceland tourism sector (IceNews)

Eurocontrol: No major impact on air traffic anticipated in next 24 hours (Washington Post)

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Thursday
May192011

Delta, Alitalia, and Air France-KLM will reduce capacity this fall

Anticipating a decrease in demand, the trans-Atlantic joint venture comprised of Delta Air Lines, Alitalia, and Air France-KLM has announced it will reduce its capacity in the trans-Atlantic market this coming autumn by "7 to 9 percent."  In a press release, it also cited rising fuel costs as a reason for the upcoming contraction in capacity.  However, the joint venture also plans to introduce seasonal routes via various warm weather destinations for this coming autumn and winter.

Delta Air Lines, an American carrier founded in 1924 and headquartered in Atlanta, is the largest airline in the world by several common measures.  Alitalia is the largest airline based in Italy, and was founded in 2008, following the bankruptcy of an airline with the same name and nearly identical branding, which had been in existence since 1946.  Netherlands-based KLM (established in 1919) and Air France (established in 1933) merged under a single holding company in 2004.

The four airlines established a joint venture last year.

original stories

Delta, Air France KLM and Alitalia to Reduce Trans-Atlantic Capacity in Fall 2011 (Delta Air Lines)

Delta, Air France-KLM Group and Alitalia to Reduce Trans-Atlantic Capacity in Fall 2011 (Air France)

Tuesday
May172011

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia elaborate on new network

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia have each released information on the trans-Tasman alliance the two airlines worked out late last year.  Currently, Air New Zealand operates 70 percent of all commercial flights across the Tasman Sea, and Virgin Australia (formerly Virgin Blue) operates 30 percent.  That ratio will not change under the new arrangement.  The two airlines are working together on a schedule of times and days (of the week) for the trans-Tasman flights that will optimize convenience for air travelers, and will stay within the terms of the alliance, approved last December by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the New Zealand Ministry of Transport (MOT).

Air New Zealand sees four main components of the new alliance.  Those are a trans-Tasman and domestic (for both airlines) codeshare agreement, revenue sharing, reciprocity between the two airlines' respective loyalty programs, and reciprocal lounge access for qualifying travelers on each airline.

Air New Zealand was formed in 1940 as Tasman Empire Airways Limited (TEAL), as a joint venture among the British Overseas Airways Corporation, which held a plurality of the shares; Qantas Airways; the government of New Zealand; and the now defunct New Zealand carrier Union Airways.  The airline was nationalized in 1965, when the government of New Zealand bought all shares.  It was privatized in 1989, and re-nationalized in 2001.  Its headquarters is in Auckland, at a complex colloquially called “The Hub.”  As far as airports are concerned, the airline operates its largest hub at Auckland International Airport (IATA: AKL; ICAO: NZAA).  Its focus cities are the national capital Wellington, the nation's second-largest city Christchurch, and the American city of Los Angeles.

Virgin Australia is the second largest airline based in Australia, behind Qantas.  It was founded in 2000 by the venture capital conglomeration Virgin Group Limited, itself founded by the British venture capitalist Sir Richard Branson.  Its corporate offices are located in the Bowen Hills area of Brisbane, Australia’s third-largest city, and capital of the Australian state of Queensland.  Virgin Australia operates its largest hub at Brisbane Airport (IATA: BNE; ICAO: YBBN), and operates secondary hubs at Tullamarine Airport near Melbourne (IATA: MEL; ICAO: YMML), and at Kingsford Smith Airport near Sydney (IATA: SYD; ICAO: YSSY).

related stories

Air New Zealand-Virgin Blue partnership approved (December 16, 2010)

Virgin Blue-Air New Zealand alliance blocked (September 10, 2010)

original stories

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia Airlines Group Announce New-look Joint Network (Air New Zealand)

Air New Zealand and Virgin Australia Airlines Announce Joint Network (Virgin Australia)

Tuesday
May172011

British Airways and Unite come to an agreement

Britain's highest-profile airline and its most popular trade union reached an agreement last week.  Unite the Union, which represents British Airways' cabin crew employees in labor negotiations, lifted its threat of "industrial action" (specifically strike action), a move which last year cost British Airways upwards of 7 million GBP every day (8 million EUR; 11.4 million USD) in its own estimation, and twice that amount in the estimation of Unite.  British Airways cabin crew employees still must vote, either for or against the settlement.  But according to a press release put out by Unite last week, union leadership has officially recommended that the employees cast their votes in favor of agreement.

Unite's General Secretary Len McCluskey characterized the agreement as one which "recognizes the rights and dignity of cabin crew, as well as the commercial requirements of the company."  McCluskey also cited the retention and restoration of certain travel bonuses and perks for cabin crew members, as a victory for Unite, and for the British Airways cabin crew employees it represents.

For its part, British Airways said in a press release last Thursday that it was "very pleased" at the resolution of the dispute, and at the indefinite shelving of any threatened industrial action.  The airline claimed "acknowledgement by [Unite] that the cost-saving structural changes we have made in cabin crew operations are permanent."

Following the announcement by the two sides, the Daily Telegraph held up the shareholders in the new International Consolidated Airlines Group, of which British Airways is a part along with Spain's Iberia, as the victors of these negotiations.  The Telegraph noted that the industrial action was only ever supported by 43 percent of British Airways' cabin crew employees, and that the travel perks for cabin crew members are actually conditional on "successful implementation over time of new procedures that govern the relationship between the union and the company."  Resolution, according to one writer at the Telegraph, "[ensures] that BA can be run as a business, and not a sinecure with wings." 

The New York-based Wall Street Journal however, speculated that neither party to these months-long negotiations can truly claim victory, "with [Unite] experiencing waning public support, while BA's brand has been tarnished."

British Airways was established in 1974 with the merger of the British Overseas Airways Corporation and British European Airways.  Unite the Union is a British and Irish trade union established in 2007, with the merger of Amicus the Union, and the Transport and General Workers' Union.

related stories

British Airways and cabin crew union adjourn without agreement (August 2, 2010)

Unite says it will strike through summer if demands not met (June 9, 2010)

Unite the Union begins strike series against British Airways (May 24, 2010)

The Unite strikes against British Airways are back on (May 21, 2010)

Unite is barred from going forward with BA strike action (May 18, 2010)

British Airways and cabin crew union are trying to avert strikes (May 12, 2010)

original stories

British Airways Statement on Agreement With Unite (British Airways)

Unite and British Airways reach agreement on cabin crew (Unite the Union)

IAG investors are the winners after BA's cabin crew dispute (Daily Telegraph)

British Airways, Unite Agree Deal; Strike Threat Lifted (Wall Street Journal)

Monday
May162011

Icelandair inaugurates Keflavik-D.C. non-stop route

Tomorrow, Icelandair, the flag carrier airline of Iceland, will commence a four-times weekly seasonal round-trip service between its hub at Keflavik International Airport (IATA: KEF; ICAO: BIKF) and Dulles International Airport (IATA: IAD; ICAO: KIAD) west of Washington, D.C.  The flights are scheduled to depart (in both directions) on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday until September 13, according to results returned by the airline ticket search engine at www.kayak.com/flights.  The same source lists the Boeing 757-200 as the aircraft the route will be operated with.

When the route was announced last October, the airline's General Manager over the Americas, Thorsteinn Egilsson, applauded the decision, and recalled that Icelandair "called [the D.C. area] home for 15 years."  An Icelandic visitor to the aviation message boards at www.airliners.net, writing under the handle "northernlights," explains that in the early 1990s, Icelandair inaugurated a route between Keflavik and Baltimore-Washington International Airport (IATA: BWI; ICAO: KBWI).  The route was established to serve the civilian travel needs of United States Navy servicemen and their families, as they traveled between their bases in Virginia and Maryland, and their facility at Keflavik International, which was operated by NATO, and officially known to American Naval service personnel as the United States Naval Air Station Keflavik (NASKEF).

In September 2006, the United States Navy stopped using the facility, and ownership of NASKEF was turned over to the Icelandic Defense Agency.  Passengers on the Keflavik-Baltimore round trip route had largely been American Naval servicemen and their families.  Demand for the route decreased considerably upon the closure of NASKEF, and the route was dropped by Icelandair.

Icelandair flies year-round between Keflavik and the North American destinations of New York and Seattle.  It flies seasonally between Keflavik and the North American destinations of Minneapolis, Orlando, Toronto, and Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada).

original stories

Icelandair Announces Flights from Washington, D.C. (Icelandair)

Washington D.C. Gets a Taste of Iceland (Icelandair)

Monday
May162011

Air France 447 black box data may be readable

Reuters reported earlier today that information from the flight data recorders of Air France flight 447, which slammed into the Atlantic Ocean nearly two years ago, may be readable.  A transfer of all of the data from the devices, informally called "black boxes," is the first step in determining what caused the fatal crash of the Airbus A330, carrying 216 passengers and 12 crewmembers, in the early morning hours of 1 June 2009.  The Air France-operated aircraft disappeared from air traffic control radar near the equator over the Atlantic, while flying from Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro (IATA: GIG; ICAO: SBGL) to Charles de Gaulle Airport (IATA: CDG; ICAO: LFPG) in Paris.

Earlier this month, Air France-KLM CEO Pierre-Henri Gourgeon made a statement in reaction to the discovery of the flight data recorders.  He thanked the French agency responsible for investigation of civil aviation accidents (the Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses, or BEA) for their hard work, and expressed a "heartfelt hope" that the data extracted would provide answers for the victims' families, for Air France, and for the aviation industry.

Pictured to the left is the very aircraft that went down over the Atlantic as Air France flight 447, according to its photographer Pawel Kierzkowski, who has graciously licensed this photograph under Creative Commons.

The photograph was taken on 28 March 2007, two years before the crash.

related story

Remains of Air France 447 found beneath Atlantic (April 4, 2011)

original stories

Black box data from crashed Air France jet said to be intact (Yahoo News)

Flight AF447 flight recorder retrieved: statement by Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, CEO of AIR FRANCE KLM (Air France)

Statement by Pierre-Henri Gourgeon, CEO of AIR FRANCE KLM (Air France)