Coming to America, go ahead given for Virgin America flights

Posted in Air Travel, Air Travel News, Airport News, Travel by Jeff on the June 14th, 2007

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the virgin group of companies, has been given the go ahead to launch a new Virgin America airline. The inaugural flight will take off from the operations home base in San Francisco to New Yorks JFK airport by mid-summer although no date has been yet confirmed.

The go ahead was finally confirmed after nearly 18 months of negotiations between Virgin and the US competition authorities, a further condition of approval was that Sir Branson limited his interest in the new venture to 25% with the remaining share being owned by US investment banks.

Within the first year of startup, Virgin America is aiming to offer flights to 10 cities within the US including Washington, Las Vegas and San Diego growing to 30 destinations by 2012. Further routes under consideration for future operations currently include Boston, Orlando, Atlanta and New Orleans.

Virgin America hopes to build on the reputation of the virgin group as well as providing a service that betters the conventional US carriers, part of the new operation will be the inclusion of first class cabins on the new services.

Manchester Airport key to BMI network

Posted in Air Travel, Air Travel News, Airport News, Travel by Jeff on the June 12th, 2007

BMI has pledged to retain Manchester airport as a key part of its network of services. With eleven routes that include flights from Manchester to Barbados, Las Vegas, Chicago and Antigua, BMI says that it sees Manchester as a vital part of its ongoing expansion program.

With the signing of the open skies deal between the UK, Europe and the united states, BMI may now opt to fly from Heathrow to the US, BMI chairman Sir Michael Bishop went on to say that such a decision however would not effect the Manchester operation.

As a member of the Star Alliance, the Chicago route is of particular importance to BMI as the city is a major hub for fellow member United Airlines. Although BMI intends to continue providing long-haul service from Manchester in the future, it has admitted that the number of opportunities for long haul services from the airport are limited.

In addition to the existing services that operate to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow, a new Lyon service that operates from London Heathrow airport has been added by BMI Regional.

Short-haul flights from Heathrow cut by BMI

Posted in Air Travel, Air Travel News, Airport News, Business Travel, Travel by Jeff on the June 8th, 2007

BMI, the UK airline that operates cheap flights from the UK to Europe the Middle East and the USA is set to announce a reduction in the number of short-haul services that it operates from Heathrow airport.

Over the next two years, the company that currently operates 19 short-haul services plans to cut back on its short-haul services in favour of it’s medium and long-haul operations. The change has been attributed to intense competition on some of the routes from other London airports, the companies purchase of Bmed from BA and the introduction of the new open-skies agreement between the UK, Europe and the US.

BMI’s chief executive Nigel Turner said that the future reductions in short-haul services would likely affect domestic services as well as flights to Spain, these cuts would be in addition to the 25% cut in short-haul services that had already been made over the past 3 years.

The airline is said to be conducting a review of it’s position and considering it’s options following its £30 million purchase of Bmed from British Airways earlier in the year. The acquisition of Bmed gave BMI an additional 17 mid-haul destinations and several slots at Heathrow airport. Sir Michael Bishop, the BMI chairman said that the slots would be returned back to BA in 2009 meaning that BA would need to rethink its services to fit the medium-haul and proposed US routes into the  restricted space at Heathrow.

Air France Restores Bristol-Paris Connection

Posted in Air Travel, Air Travel News, Airport News by Jeff on the June 8th, 2007

A new service that will restore a link between Bristol airport and Paris is being re-introduced by Air France. The route that was previously operated by BA Connect will provide 3 weekday flights to Charles de Gaulle airport with a less frequent weekend service.

The new service that starts on the 11th June will be operated with a 48-seat turboprop aircraft that will depart from Bristol airport at 06:30, 10:40 and 17:75 Hrs daily. The service is designed to provide direct access to Paris and the AirFrance network as well as the many other long-haul connections that operate from the Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.

Economy return fares are expected to start from £105 and are combinable with KLM’s service from Bristol to Amsterdam providing round-trip options through both the KLM and Air France hubs.

Flying high in the Highlands

Posted in Air Travel, Airport News, Travel by Jeff on the June 8th, 2007

More than 1.2 million passengers took to the skies from the Highlands and Islands airport according to figures released by the Highlands and Islands Airports Limited. This figure represents an increase of 7% in the year to March 31, 2007 on the previous year with overall passenger numbers to the regions airports increasing by 57% since 2000 / 2001.

The increase in passenger numbers is said to be largely due to the introduction of the Scotish Executives Air Discount Scheme in May 2006 and the introduction of new routes.

With the better air connections supporting the population and economic growth in the Moray Firth area, the increase in flights and routes is also helping to support business growth and boost tourism in the more remote island communities.