Sunday, September 27, 2009

British Airways sets seat charges

Opinion: BA can afford to do this when they have control of a route. I doubt they will be able to retain customer loyalty on the more competitive routes as this move is not ideal for travel groups

BBC: Friday, 25 September 2009
A BA plane
British Airways said seat charges will give customers "more control"

British Airways passengers will have to pay to choose their seats before they travel from October, the airline says.

The charges will affect those seeking to ensure they sit together on a flight and people with a preference for window, aisle or emergency exit seats.

Prices range from £10 per person for European economy flights, to £60 for long haul trips in business class.

Consumer group Which? said it was "disappointing to see British Airways jumping on the bandwagon".

BA said it would "give customers more control over their seating options". The new charges will come into force on 7 October.

'Extra charges'

The airline currently allows passengers to reserve seats in the 24 hours prior to departure.

We know from our members that people really don't like these extra charges - they'd much rather see a headline price that includes everything
Which? Holiday

The new charge - aimed at passengers wanting to reserve seats earlier than this - will be £20 on long-haul economy or short flights in business class, while a seat in an emergency exit row will cost £50.

This can be booked between 10 and four days before take-off.

A BA spokeswoman said: "Customers frequently request specific seats, but in the past we've only been able to confirm them 24 hours in advance or on the day.

"We know people want to secure them in advance and have real control over their flying experience. This will allow them to do that."

Rochelle Turner, head of research at Which? Holiday, said travellers had become used to budget airlines charging them for a service that used to be included in the "headline price".

"We know from our members that people really don't like these extra charges - they'd much rather see a headline price that includes everything," she said.

"BA is still giving some people the chance to reserve their seat for free in the 24 hours before departure, but if you aren't quick enough off the mark, you could find yourself sitting on the other side of the plane from your family or partner.

"It's no way to start a holiday."

The move comes as the airline attempts to bolster its balance sheet after a £401m loss in the last financial year.

And it follows BA's decision to cut luggage allowances and abolish free meals on short flights.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Iconic Greyhound bus on track for UK launch

View: I've been on the Greyhound 3 or 4 times (before Greyhound was sold to a UK company in 2007), all I can say is that you can meet all sorts of people, some are not pleasant. So this is indeed a fresh perspective for the British traveler, how long will it be before this luxury service hits the US? I think it will be very limited due to the geography that favors air travel

LONDON, England (CNN) -- For almost a century, the old dog has traversed landscapes across the United States, with weary, budget-conscious travelers peeking out of its windows.

Greyhound bus services will run from London to cities such as Portsmouth and Southampton.

Greyhound bus services will run from London to cities such as Portsmouth and Southampton.

Now, the iconic Greyhound is taking to the road in Britain. The company will run hourly bus services from London to select cities, starting Monday.

In contrast to its U.S. services, however, the buses are glitzier and more luxurious.

"The UK service will have wireless Internet, spacious leather seats, more leg room and free newspapers," said Alex Warner, managing director of Greyhound UK. "Obviously, we wanted our services to reflect the nature of UK passengers."

For inaugural Greyhound service in Britain, the company aimed to start with the best the United States has to offer, Warner added.

In North America, the same services are available from New York and Washington to select cities such as Boston and Toronto, Canada.

"There are plans to expand that. Americans should watch closely. We will introduce more of these services based on how well they are received in the UK," Warner said.

Despite the added benefits, fares will still target the budget-conscious traveler in Britain, according to Warner.

The service starts with a few cities -- from London to Portsmouth and Southampton, he said. The approximately 120-kilometer (80-mile) trip will cost £1 ($1.60) if a ticket is bought in advance, Warner said. Prices will go up to £4 or £5, depending on time of purchase.

"We are planning to keep the prices within that range," Warner said.

Greyhound Lines is owned by British transport company FirstGroup, which bought it from its U.S. parent in 2007. It was founded in 1914, and has services in Mexico and Canada, according to its Web site.

In a nod to its cameos in American movies and songs, such as the 1969 film "Midnight Cowboy" and Simon and Garfunkel's 1972 hit "America," Greyhound plans to keep at least one tie to its U.S. origins. Buses in Britain will be named after classic American songs.

The names include "Sweet Caroline" and "Good Golly Miss Molly," Warner said.

Now, everyone in US will know Malaysia better

View: Wow! Air Asia X is pushing new frontiers! That is an interesting route, I checked but it still doesn't have pricing yet

By LIM AI LEE - The Star

OAKLAND (California): AirAsia X has arrived in the United States with “Xcellence” - its Airbus A340 - touching down here on Monday morning.

The no-frills airline is the first from Asia to associate itself with a performance driven National Football League team, the Oakland Raiders.

Newly-appointed Malaysian Ambassador Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis, who was at the Oakland International Airport to witness the touchdown, congratulated AirAsia for promoting a Malaysian brand in the US.

“This is a great step in building bilateral ties and contribute to the development of the tourism industry in this part of the world and in Malaysia,” Dr Jamaludin said at his first official function since presenting his credentials to Deputy State Secretary Dr James B. Steinberg in Washington on Friday.

Also present were the city’s Mayor Ron Dellums, Oakland Raiders owner Mark Davis and CEO Amy Trask, AirAsia X CEO Azran Osman-Rani and director Datuk Lim Kian Onn.

“With AirAsia, we will see new business opportunities in the services sector,”he said.

Dr Jamaludin said he hoped relations between Malaysia and the US would be further enhanced under his tenure.

There are 5,428 Malaysians studying in over 250 universities in the US and AirAsia would provide them with an affordable means of transport.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Airline industry lost over $6 billion in 1st half

Airlines group says global industry lost over $6 billion in first half, some signs of recovery
On Tuesday September 1, 2009, 9:22 am EDT

GENEVA (AP) -- Airline companies lost more than $6 billion during the first half of the year due to the economic crisis, even as fresh figures showed some signs of recovery in the passenger and freight business, an industry group said Tuesday.

A sample of more than 50 airlines found their losses declined to $2 billion in the second quarter from $4 billion in the first quarter, the International Air Transport Association said, noting that the April-June period is usually a strong one for the industry.

"Since the sample of airlines is incomplete, total industry losses in the first half of 2009 are likely to have been in excess of the reported $6 billion," IATA said.

The Geneva-based group, which represents 230 airlines worldwide, said seat occupancy in international markets stabilized in July -- the first time in over a year -- but added that airlines need to further cut capacity to meet demand.

Freight capacity also still exceeds demand despite an 8.1 percent capacity cut in July, IATA said.
"With excess capacity continuing through Q2 it was not surprising that freight rates were down more than 20 percent over the year," it said.

Overall, the industry outlook remains volatile, IATA said.
Airlines are still adding to their fleet because of long-term orders committed to before the downturn.

Figures show companies increased their aircraft numbers by a net of 487, or about 2 percent of their overall fleet."Replacement and expansion of the fleet has delivered significant fuel efficiency savings," IATA said.
The group noted that rising fuel prices are once again eating into airlines' cash reserves.
Airline shares have risen 7.4 percent since the start of the year, lagging behind overall market improvements of 23 percent.
"Nonetheless, stronger equity markets gave airlines an opportunity to raise more -- much needed -- cash," IATA said.
Airlines have raised $3 billion of equity and $12 billion from new debt issues since the start of the year, it said.