October 2013

The British Airways officially closed the Zambia route on Saturday after Having announced the route closure a month ago, yesterday 27 October 2013, saw the suspension of the tri-weekly service to Lusaka.

While the Lusaka route has been suspended the traffic in other countries by the British Airways has increased, and BA continues to serve East Africa with a daily service to Nairobi and a thrice weekly service to Entebbe, increasing to four times a week from the start of the summer schedule 2014.

This from the British Airways website, as at 17:20 hrs UK time. (For the latest information from BA go to the BA website on the link here.)

“British Airways has complied with a request from Heathrow Airport to reduce its flying schedule on Monday 28 October as a result of the severe forecast storms. 

The airport has instructed all airlines using Heathrow to reduce their schedules in the following manner on Monday:
Between 0600 and 1100 a 20 per cent reduction in the schedule has been applied
Between 1100 and 1600 a 10 per cent reduction in the schedule has been applied
Between 1600 and 2230 a 5 per cent reduction in the schedule has been applied
All of the agreed cancellations for British Airways are from the European and domestic networks. Other flights, still shown as operating, may suffer from delays.
All British Airways long-haul flights into and out of London Heathrow are currently planned to operate as normal, albeit there may be some delays due to the poor weather.”

BA recommends checking the status of your flight before leaving for the airport.

Heathrow flights reduced 28th October 2013

Stormy weather predicted

As at the time of writing Gatwick Airport are also recommending checking the status of flights before leaving for the airport.  The Gatwick website link here.  Also check whether Gatwick Express, Southern Railway and First Capital Connect services are running. As at the time of this article there are reports that neither Gatwick Express or Southern Railway services will be running early morning.

It would be a good bet to check the status of your flight whichever airport you are leaving from.

Supermodel Georgia May Jagger, fashion designer Alice Temperley MBE, and singer Leona Lewis came together last night (24 October), to fly the flag for Britain, at the ‘Gig on a Wing’ event to celebrate British Airways’ new A380 superjumbo operating to Hong Kong.

Intended to showcase the best of British music, fashion, design and cuisine to an audience of local leaders in travel and entertainment, the event took place inside a hangar at Hong Kong International airport, with the A380 forming the centrepiece of the show.

Georgia May Jagger, daughter of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger took to the stage with British Airways Chief Executive Keith Williams to close the evening, and said: “I’m so happy British Airways invited me to Hong Kong on their first A380 flight. The service, food and flat beds on the long haul flights are second to none and I always arrive feeling well rested. I love Hong Kong too and look forward to returning and spending more time in this great city”.

A380 gig on a wing bus

Gettin’ off the bus

British Airways’ ‘Gig on a Wing’ event launched with a fashion show by British designer Alice Temperley MBE. Fresh from showing at last month’s London Fashion Week, Alice showed guests to her Spring/ Summer 2014 collection from the award winning Temperley London collection. Models descended the steps of the A380 aircraft onto British Airways’ specially created ‘runway’ catwalk. Temperley, who has designed dresses for stars including Keira Knightly, Rihanna, Beyonce and The Duchess of Cambridge, said: “I was thrilled to be asked by British Airways to showcase my new Spring/Summer 2014 collection in Hong Kong and at such a unique and glamorous event. The people here really appreciate cutting edge design, fine tailoring and effortless style, very similar to that of British Airways new A380.”

This was followed by a live performance from former X-Factor winner Leona Lewis. Lewis performed tracks on a specially created stage, flush with the A380’s 261-foot twin-engine wingspan. Leona’s set included a cover of Lenny Kravitz’s “Fly Away”, her number one selling track “Bleeding Love” and “Come Alive”.

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Speaking after her performance, Leona said: “Performing on the wing of the British Airways A380 was an incredible experience and one I will never forget. After singing on top of a double-decker bus at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, I thought that would be a hard act to follow, but tonight’s ‘Gig on a Wing’ event was very special and unique”.

The gig on a wing A380 in the spotlight

The gig on a wing.

It was a truly swish event with the Langham Hong Kong providing guests with a very British affair, treating them to treats that included mini pork pies, Sunday roast and fish and chips canapés, followed by a true taste of home with an afternoon tea boasting a chocolate London bus, a marshmallow Big Ben and an Alice Temperley inspired vanilla shortbread.

This was complemented by Flower Duet cocktails. Luxury five star hotel, The Langham Hong Kong, is located in the heart of Kowloon.

Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) has granted anti-trust immunity to a joint business between Japan Airlines, Finnair and British Airways. (Finnair flies daily from Helsinki to Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya.) This opens the way for Finnair to join the existing joint business between Japan Airlines and British Airways. The agreement will allow all three airlines to cooperate commercially on flights between Europe and Japan. British Airways operates from Heathrow to Tokyo’s Narita and Haneda airports and Japan Airlines daily operates from Tokyo to London and Paris Frankfurt and Helsinki.

Finnair plane flying from Japan


The new joint business is expected to be launched next Spring. The addition of Finnair will further enhance customer benefits by providing better links between the EU and Japan, with more flight choices and enhanced frequent flyer benefits. In addition, this new joint business will allow the three airlines to cooperate on expanding their presence within, to and from this important and growing market.

The revenue-sharing agreement will strengthen the oneworld® alliance and enable it to compete more effectively around the world with other global alliances.

President of JAL, Yoshiharu Ueki, said “Amid the evolving Japanese aviation industry, the ATI will enable us to build a stronger value-creating relationship with British Airways and Finnair that can further benefit our customers as well as our business.”

Pekka Vauramo, CEO of Finnair, said, “We are glad we are now one step closer to starting the cooperation with JAL and British Airways to provide our customers with better connections between the EU Japan.”



Keith Williams, chief executive of British Airways said, “Today’s decision by the MLIT will benefit the customers of all three airlines by allowing us to explore ways to improve the connections between East and West.”




IAG boss Willie Walsh was annoyed to learn that the new aviation minister had declared to the leaders of the aviation industry that the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, was in Hong Kong launching British Airways’ new A380 superjumbo service. Mr. Walsh pointed out that not only was McLoughlin not on board the plane, he had not been not invited, and was not going to be allowed to take the credit.

A a conference on Tuesday Mr. Walsh stated: “The government has not done anything to launch our new services to China.”


British Airways A380 in air possibly  to China

The A380 in flight

In fact, he said, its policies on air passenger duty and Chinese visas were harming British aviation and business.

“It’s not happening. I’m not going to sit here and let the government take credit for something we are doing on our own without their support.”

This was in response to Mr. Goodwill announcing at the opening the Airport Operators Association conference in London which is the air industry’s major annual event that – “The secretary of state, Patrick McLoughlin, cannot be with us here today because he’s in China, promoting our interests.” “He will shortly be launching British Airways new A380 service from Hong Kong – and is coming back to the UK on that maiden flight.”

British Airways Winter Schedule photo of a beach

This will look very inviting come December

British Airways’ winter 2013 schedule starts this weekend with a new winter sun route and increased frequencies to a selection of destinations.

The airline will launch weekly flights from Heathrow to Gran Canaria from October 26 and will increase the frequency of flights to Hot-spot Destinations. We think that Hot Spot Destinations this means destinations which are comparitively warm when compared to the UK in the winter.

British Airways Holidays packages to the Gran Canaria include seven nights at the 3* Club Maspalomas Bungalows from £299 per person for travel in January, including return flights from Heathrow and accommodation on a self catering basis. Alternatively, there’s seven nights at the 4* Paradise Lago Taurito Hotel from £459 per person for travel in January, including return flights from Heathrow and accommodation on an all-inclusive basis. Seven nights at the 5* Lopesan Costa Meloneras Resort is also available from £589 per person for travel in January, including return flights from Heathrow and accommodation only.

Lynne Embleton, director of strategy, said: “Gran Canaria is a fantastic destination for holiday makers, especially families, with over a half a million people from Britain visiting every year.

“We’ve had a really positive response to the destination since it went on sale, which we attribute to great prices on our British Airways holidays and the fact this is the only direct flight from Heathrow to the island.”

British Airways also report other changes to the winter schedule, from that of summer 2013, including increases from Heathrow to Chennai (five to six per week), Seattle (from seven to 10 per week), Miami (from 14 to 18 per week), Rio de Janeiro (from six to seven per week), Mexico City (from three to four per week), Tripoli (from three to four per week) and Freetown (from three to four per week).

Gatwick will also increase services to Marrakech (from seven to 10 per week) and Salzburg (from four to eight per week).

Customer Trials Begin On The Digital Bag Tag

Employees of Microsoft travelling with British Airways through Terminal 5 have begun to test the personalised digital bag tag being developed by the airline. We first reported on the tags in June in our story which you can read here.

The Microsoft employees have been chosen to take part in the month-long trial, using a specially adapted version of the British Airways app, to provide essential feedback that will help shape the final product.

The digital bag tag, which contains all a customer’s baggage details, could eventually do away with the need for a new paper tag every time you fly.

Comprehensive testing of the tag has already taken place to make sure it works in a live airport environment and can stand up to the rigours of airport baggage systems and everyday travel.

Glenn Morgan, British Airways’ head of service transformation, said: “The customer trials take us another step closer to making the personalised digital bag tag a reality for our customers. We’re grateful for Microsoft’s support during the trial, which will help us shape the future of checking in for flights.

British Airways digital bag tag

A blue tag

Customers on the trial will use their Nokia Lumia Windows Phone to check in, chose their seat and obtain their mobile boarding pass. Each will be equipped with a specially adapted version of the British Airways app, which automatically updates the digital bag tag with a unique barcode, containing new flight details and an easy-to-see view of their bag’s destination – just by holding the mobile phone over it.

They can then save precious time by quickly dropping their bag off at a dedicated bag drop desk, before going straight through security to relax before their flight, without the need for a new paper tag to be printed and secured.

The digital bag tag has been designed to be used time and time again, with a battery life of up to five years, and will be compatible with all smartphones.

Development of the personalised tag is part of a wider strategy by British Airways to improve the customer experience through the airport, making it quicker, smoother and easier. As part of this strategy trials have also taken place on self-service bag drops, automated boarding gates, porter services, auto check-in, and meet and greet hosts.

British Airways is investing more than £5bn in new aircraft, smarter cabins, elegant lounges, and new technologies to make life more comfortable in the air and on the ground.

Cliff and children waving goodbye on Dreamflight British Aiways

Waving Goodbye
photo: Nick Moorish/British Airways

‘Dreams come true with Dreamflight’

Sir Cliff Richard was on hand at Heathrow airport today Sunday 20 October to wave off 192 children on a British Airways ‘Dreamflight’ bound for Florida.

Dreamflight is a charity that offers seriously sick or ill children the holiday of a lifetime, to Disney World and Florida and has helped over 5,000 since it was set up 27 years ago. This is the 27th anniversary of the trip, which has been supported by British Airways from the beginning.

The specially liveried ‘Dreamflight’ aircraft will take the children to enjoy a fun filled 10-day trip to Florida, including a visit to Disney and Universal parks, and a swim with Dolphins at Sea Worlds’ discovery cove.

Sir Cliff is a long-term patron of the charity and Charlie Dimmock will be accompanying two children on the trip.

Sir Cliff Richard said: “ Dreamflight is a charity very close to my heart and I’m so pleased I can be part of this day to see the joy, and happiness this trip to Florida brings the children”.

British Airways captain Andrew Bean was honoured to be involved and said: “ I feel honoured to be flying the Dreamflight group of children to Florida. The children are such an inspiration to us all and it’s wonderful to be part of this special trip”.

Dreamflight say “Dreamflight is not just a holiday. The children leave their families behind giving them an opportunity to discover independence, confidence, and a whole new outlook on life. Often for the first time, these children realise that they are not alone, and they are not the odd one out. They see children around them who have also suffered, they gain perspective, and experience things they never thought possible.”

Here is some footage of Charlie in action.

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Four years ago Air France flight 447 fell out of the sky and crashed into the Altantic Ocean killing everyone on board. When the black box was located, two years after the event, it was determined from the data recorded, that the trigger for the event was the pitot tubes, which measure flight speed and altitude, freezing up in severe weather. This stopped the flow of flight speed data, which caused the autopilot to trip out, returning control of the plane to the pilots.

Who is to blame for what happened next remains a contentious issue, but the combination of confusion in the cockpit about what was happening, confusing and contradictory alarms and a lack of any visual information due to it being night and stormy conditions appears to have led to the plane being put into a stall from which it was never recovered.

British Airways A321

British Airways A321

Prior to the crash it had already been recommended that models of Thales pitots were upgraded to a different model or replaced with a model made by Goodrich Sensors and Integrated Systems which are regarded as being more resilient to adverse conditions.

A report issued by the AAIB in September revealed that two British Airways aircraft made emergency landings last year after their systems suffered similar weather induced malfunctions in the same way as flight 447 four years ago.

This time, the training of pilots to deal with just this sort of malfunction appears to have made the difference.

So what are pitot tubes and what is the problem?

Pitot tubes measure the flow of a fluid, in this case air, and based on the data returned, a calculation can be made of an airplane’s height and speed. The probes are fitted with heaters to stop them icing up. But during severe weather conditions the heating to the tubes can be overwhelmed and the tubes freeze up. When the data the aircraft is receiving degrades, the autopilot, rather than try to fly the plane with poor data, trips out and returns the control of the aircraft to the pilots. This happens abruptly and in difficult conditions.

When control is returned to the pilots under such conditions, it can be returned with some of the usual safety controls in place, or even none. The usual safety controls keep the plane in a protective envelope, preventing, for example, the plane being put into a stall. So when the auto pilot cuts out, some, or all, of this protection is lost. Two of the landings were made entirely manually with none of the safety systems operational.

The AAIB report reveals three separate incidents affecting two aircraft.

In the first incident on April 20 2012, a BA Airbus 321 with 183 passengers from Stockholm to Heathrow flew into storm clouds as it approached London. The tubes froze forcing the autopilot to switch off and sending erratic and contradictory data to the pilots. The flight diverted to Stansted, where it touched down safely without the instruments telling the pilot his air speed.

A second incident, affecting the same aircraft, happened on June 16. The plane was flying from Edinburgh to Heathrow with 183 passengers and crew, when its autopilot switched off while it was climbing through clouds. Once again an emergency landing was made at Stansted under manual control.

Despite the same aircraft being affected twice AAIB investigators blame the weather rather than the plane.

And on August 20 a British Airways Airbus encountered a -23C air pocket at 26,800ft, causing the instruments to give conflicting and incorrect information. On this occasion they were reset and the aircraft continued on its journey.

So why, given that there are known problems with the pitots haven’t they all been replaced?

Some people point to the regulation. The pitot tubes performance exceeds that which is required by the regulators, a point which Airbus has made repeatedly. Also, there is a low incidence of the tubes malfunctioning. But when they do malfunction, the results are potentially very dangerous.

Looking like something from the 1970′s and with some pretty funky music to boot, two women dressed in what appear to be genuine British Airways uniforms have a romp in a bath. Actually romp is probably putting it somewhat strongly, as mostly one girl washes the others’ hair, and strangely this is done in the bathtub while for the most part both are fully dressed.

The video has become a YouTube hit and has been viewed nearly 900,000 times.

It has been reported that the airline has launched an investigation to determine whether the girls are really employees of the airline.

Mr. Davies, the head of the Airport Commission is considering 58 proposals,from runway extensions to developing green-field sites and aims to release an interim report in December. The target is for a final report in 2015, Davies said in his first current statements since his appointment.

The commission hopes to produce one option, and in addition to the proposals received, it is considering ideas that were not submitted to them such as connecting Heathrow and Gatwick with a high-speed rail link.

Do that now – we say.

Mr. Davies did say Heathrow and Gatwick may be allowed to build runways to meet expected growth in demand for air travel.

The background to this issue is that it is accepted as fact that flight capacity is approaching capacity at London’s airports, with Gatwick and Heathrow particularly pressed.

Heathrow Airport Ltd. submitted three plans to the commission, each capable of delivering extra flights at a cost of up to 18 billion pounds. The proposals would boost the number of people using the hub to 123 million to 130 million from 80 million today.

But Heathrow is located in an inconvenient location being positioned on potentially very valuable and useful real estate and with a flight path right over central and affluent (and influential) West London.

Boris Johnson would like to shut Heathrow completely and develop a new airport in the Thames estuary with an estimated cost of £65 billion. Boris would also propose to develop Stanstead Airport to the north of London into a hub. The obvious benefit if the Johnson proposal is the 1,220-hectare Heathrow site situated on prime West London land homes for up to 250,000 people.

Gatwick is the world’s busiest single-runway airport and has identified alternatives for constructing a new landing strip to the south of the existing one. Gatwick estimate that it could add a second runway for around 5 billion pounds, this would eliminate the need for a single U.K. hub.

So what will the future bring? Watch this space…

Regular Dreamliner 787 flights have commenced from Heathrow to Newark and Toronto. The service is currently as follows: -

BA Dreamliner flights from London

Source British Airways

British Airways To Launch New Daily Direct Flights To Malta From March 2014

Posted on Friday, October 4th, 2013

Sunseekers flying from Gatwick will have the option of a new summer holiday destination to Malta, with the start of a new direct flight with British Airways to the country’s Luqa International Airport.

Gatwick North Terminal

Patriotic Gatwick

BA announced a new daily service starting from March 30, 2014 in advance of the peak summer holiday season. Hand-baggage only tickets in Euro Traveller (economy) will start from just £55 one-way, including all taxes and charges. Seats in Euro Traveller for customers who chose to take a bag including all taxes and charges start at £67 one-way and in Club Europe (business) one-way fares start at £274.

The new Malta route will be served by a combination of Boeing 737 and Airbus 319/320 aircraft.

Peter Simpson, British Airways’ director Gatwick, said: “We are delighted to be launching this new route to Malta for Summer 2014 allowing us to return to the island, which we last served in 2009. We believe the convenient timings for the services will make the route attractive to tourists as well as those visiting friends and relatives.

British Airways’ holiday flights will be further boosted by more services from Gatwick to Salzburg, Naples, Dubrovnik, Marrakech and Catania during summer 2014.

Peter Simpson, British Airways’ director Gatwick, said:

“Expanding our leisure route network at Gatwick is fantastic news for British Airways customers, offering them even greater choice, along with our range of highly competitive fares, generous hand baggage allowances and great onboard service.”

Willie Walsh said that with today’s final price proposal for Heathrow, the Civil Aviation Authority has left the airport’s customers with the burden of forking out almost an extra £1bn over the next five years.

Mr. Walsh said the CAA had neglected its new primary statutory duty to further the interests of passengers by endorsing a settlement that allows the UK’s monopoly hub to ignore its inefficiencies and over-reward investors by imposing excessive charges on users.

Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh

Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent group IAG, said: “It is a bad day for our customers who have been let down by the CAA. With this settlement, Heathrow will continue to levy charges well above other major hub airports.

“As the only hub airport in the UK, Heathrow exerts monopoly power over its users. Like other airlines at Heathrow, we cannot move to a better-run UK hub that offers customers real value for money. No such alternative exists today but these excessive charges combined with a complacent management team at Heathrow make an alternative hub look more attractive and more realistic.”

“We want a Heathrow that is efficiently run, fairly rewarded and priced comparably with other airports. We will carefully consider our next steps.” What those steps will be is anyone’s guess, but in 2010 pre the merger with IAG Willie Walsh threatened to favour Madrid over Heathrow.