Category: IFTTT

Delta May Now Walk Away From Its Old Tokyo Hub

Delta May Now Walk Away From Its Old Tokyo Hub:

The big expansion of flights between the US and Tokyo’s close-in Haneda airport is now set. While every airline that applied got something, some fared better than others. Delta is the big winner here, and it received enough slots that it should be able to close its old Narita hub entirely.

Today, US airlines can only fly into Haneda 6 times a day, and one of those must be overnight during off-peak times. But next year, an additional 12 slot pairs open up. Why does this matter? Well, Haneda is more convenient to most of Tokyo as well as Yokohama. Also…

So why does any airline fly to Narita? There was no choice. Haneda was the main Tokyo airport until Narita was built for international flights. Only in the last few years has Haneda been re-opened to international flying, but it has been heavily restricted. Every US airline has been clamoring for those slots because Haneda is the most preferred airport in Tokyo.

For these 12 new slot pairs, there were four US airlines that applied. Here’s what happened in order of preference as requested by each airline:

  • American
    • Dallas/Ft Worth #1 (Approved)
    • Los Angeles #2 (Approved)
    • Dallas/Ft Worth #2 (Denied)
    • Las Vegas #1 (Denied)
  • Delta
    • Seattle #1 (Approved)
    • Detroit #1 (Approved)
    • Atlanta #1 (Approved)
    • Portland #1 (Approved)
    • Honolulu #1 (Approved)
    • Honolulu #2 (Denied)
  • Hawaiian
    • Honolulu #3 (Approved)
    • Honolulu #4 (Denied)
    • Honolulu #5 (Denied)
  • United
    • Newark #1 (Approved)
    • Chicago/O’Hare #1 (Approved)
    • Washington/Dulles #1 (Approved)
    • Los Angeles #1 (Approved)
    • Houston/Intercontinental #1 (Denied)
    • Guam #1 (Denied)

Curious how the feds came to this conclusion? According to the filing, this is how DOT went about awarding these slots.

…the Department has the ability to pursue a number of public interest goals by bringing first-time U.S. carrier own-metal Haneda service to major U.S. hub cities and U.S.- Tokyo gateways that currently lack U.S.-carrier operated nonstop Haneda service; by promoting a more geographically diverse and competitive U.S.-Haneda market structure; and by adding service and competition at the largest U.S.-Tokyo markets. The Department has tentatively decided that this approach best meets the Department’s stated goal of maximizing public benefits in this proceeding.

This seems like a fair allocation, but maybe I’m just saying that because I correctly guessed how the slots would be broken down by airline. I didn’t, however, get all the awarded destinations right, and I might quibble with a couple of the choices. I think the best way to look at this is by US city and not by airline, because that better reflects how DOT made its moves.

Honolulu

The Honolulu decision giving slots to both Hawaiian and Delta might seem somewhat curious. After all, Hawaiian already flies it once daily with another 4 weekly on the overnight. ANA flies it as well, and it just introduced massive A380s in the Narita-Honolulu market. There is no shortage of capacity between Tokyo and Honolulu. On top of that, this is a market that is highly skewed to benefit the Japanese traveler. Most people on those flights are not originating in the US.

That being said, it is a HUGE market at more than double the size of the LA-Tokyo market, the second biggest. Tourism is the life-blood of Hawai’i, and this will help to grow it further.

Giving one to Hawaiian isn’t a bad idea, especially in light of its pending Japan Airlines joint venture which creates more connectivity on the other side. As for Delta, this may be a mild surprise, but DOT saw an opportunity to create more competition in the market. That’s certainly understandable.

Los Angeles

There are already three daily flights from LA to Haneda (not to mention six daily to Narita), one each on American, Delta, and ANA. The ANA flight, unlike the others, is at night westbound. That created two opportunities.

First, United — ANA’s joint venture partner in the US — will fly to Haneda during the day. That will give the close partners coverage in the morning and night. United also said it would keep its LA-Narita flight, and that was music to DOT’s proverbial ears. This sounds like it might be a bad idea, but having a joint venture with ANA means it’s not completely insane.

Second, American will add a night flight creating competition with ANA. As of now, ANA’s LAX flight is the only night flight from the West Coast to Japan at all. That may be good for travelers, but I expect American will lose its shirt on this, as it does in many Pacific markets from LA.

Dallas/Fort Worth vs Houston/Intercontinental

Unlike in Los Angeles, American has a real chance to make a big, profitable Pacific gateway at Dallas/Fort Worth. That is probably why you saw American ask for two slot pairs to serve Haneda from there. It was given one, and that should have been a no-brainer. This is American’s mega-hub and Haneda service should work. But American wasn’t given the second slot pair. Why not? It’s because the DOT ran out of slots to hand out, and this one just didn’t add enough value to make the cut.

For United, on the other hand, Intercontinental is now the only hub that didn’t win a bid to get a Haneda flight. (Denver didn’t either, but that wasn’t requested.) What’s the difference between Dallas and Houston?

To start, United will have flights from Chicago, Newark, and Washington east of the Rockies while American will only have DFW. To put it another way, people who might only be able to connect via DFW on American would have many other options if they flew United, some that are more efficient than Houston would be.

In addition, United put Houston low on its wish list, after every flight but Guam. Guam may not have won a slot either, but that was a long shot anyway. It shouldn’t have gained a flight. All the other United hubs will serve the US well enough for now. If more slots come available, I imagine Houston would have a decent chance.

Portland vs Las Vegas

In the battle for small market service, Portland and Vegas were going head to head. Delta won the right to serve Haneda from Portland, but American was denied its chance to serve it from Las Vegas. Why?

American did put Vegas as its least preferred option while Delta put Portland as number 4 out of 6, but the problem was more complex than that.

DOT didn’t like that American could only connect people beyond Vegas to other hubs that already have service anyway. It appears the DOT wants connectivity, and Vegas wasn’t going to provide that… but neither would Portland. So what’s the difference there?

The short answer appears to be that there is already sustainable service to Narita from Portland while nobody has made it work from Vegas at all. Vegas is also more of a leisure market that is largely Japan-origin while Portland is more of a business market that has US-origin traffic. In the end, we don’t know if DOT just felt like it owed Delta something since it has no Japanese partner, but it wouldn’t shock me if that was part of the decision-making process.

All Delta’s Hubs But One

Delta really was the big winner here. Outside of Honolulu, it received one slot pair to use for each of its hubs that doesn’t have service today except one. Atlanta, Detroit, and Seattle get a flight, but New York/JFK does not. Of course, Delta didn’t even bother applying for a JFK flight, so that was a non-issue as far as the airline was concerned.

Delta deserved to get slot pairs for all these flights, especially since — unlike American and United — it has no partner in Japan to feed its flights at Narita. This along with the Portland slot should pave the way for Delta to pull out of Narita entirely, something that would be a real milestone for an airline with a long history (via Northwest) of hubbing at the airport. But it is the right thing to do. Tokyo isn’t about connections for Delta any longer, and Haneda is the airport you need to really serve Tokyo best. Delta finally has a substantial presence at the airport with these moves.


I did get some wrong when I was picking winners, and that left me wondering if a couple of these would have been better in other hands. For example, I was really curious to see if a Vegas flight might actually work. Now we’ll just have to see if someone wants to try it from Narita instead… some day And if I were betting, I’d say LA may have too much service. Then again, losing money in LA hasn’t stopped airlines from building up there in the past.

All that being said, these are minor nits. I can’t find much fault with how DOT handled this.

May 20, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

3 Links I Love: WestJet Gets Bought, The Great…

3 Links I Love: WestJet Gets Bought, The Great Airline War, The Long Way Home:

This week’s featured link:

Onex shakes up Canada’s airline industry with all-cash deal to buy WestJetThe Globe and Mail
WestJet is going private again, and this time it’s by a company that has tried to get into the airline industry before. There’s an awfully hefty premium being paid for the airline, so that means Onex must have a plan beyond just “business as usual.” I look forward to hearing what that will be.

Image/Video of the Week: The TWA Hotel is now open, and it is not only the best airport hotel in the US for avgeeks, it is also the only half-nice airport hotel near JFK.

Two for the road:

The Great Airline WarTexas Monthly
This article is just… word’s can’t describe how much I enjoyed reading it. It’s a long piece that dates back to the end of 1975. In it, the author looks at the brawl between Texas International, Braniff, and Southwest in the state of Texas. It is worth the read 100 times over.

This Plane Accidentally Flew Around the WorldMedium
And now, let’s go further back in history. There is a great book about this, but someone has put together a lengthy, multi-part series on Medium talking about the Clipper that had to travel west to get back to the US after Pearl Harbor was bombed. It was a pretty amazing feat to make this happen, and if you have a lot of time to spare, cozy up and have a read.

May 17, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Don’t Waste the Effort, Let Air Italy Fail On …

Don’t Waste the Effort, Let Air Italy Fail On Its Own:

The big three US airlines (American, Delta, and United) have been hammering on the big three Middle East carriers (Emirates, Etihad, and Qatar) for illegal subsidies for many years now. I’ve written about this several times, and I’ve been semi-sympathetic to at least a part of the argument. But recently, the fight has shifted. It now seems to have centered on Qatar’s investment in Air Italy, and that hardly seems worth a fight at this point. The hard part is knowing when that changes.

The overall fight calmed down after some weak and substance-free agreements were signed between the US and the both the UAE and Qatar. The deals made it look like the US was doing something when, in reality, weak economic conditions did more to impact the ability of Emirates and Etihad to grow than anything else. Even heavily-subsidized airlines eventually have to face reality, or a version of it.

Now, the fight has pivoted and the spotlight is shining brightly on Qatar Airways and its investment in Air Italy. Air Italy was Meridiana, a niche carrier based in Sardinia with an aging fleet and not much of a plan. Last year, Qatar bought a 49 percent stake in the company and decided to transform it into Air Italy.

At the time, this felt a lot like Etihad’s investment in Alitalia. It was an attempt to push the brand more upscale, give it some kind of strategy and then magically succeed. As we know, Etihad failed miserably with that plan and lost pretty much everything in Alitalia. I just assume Qatar is on the same path with Air Italy. The airline has already pivoted multiple times. It has gone in and out of routes like they’re going out of style, and it has now decided it won’t take Qatar’s cast-off 787s and will instead stick with Qatar’s cast-off A330s.

That, however, isn’t stopping the big three under the guise of their lobbying organization Partnership for Open & Fair Skies from going guns-blazing on this arrangement. The Partnership has put out a cringe-worthy ad that is being broadcast in DC stroking the President’s ego and trying to get further action to be taken. Watch for yourself if you have a strong enough stomach:

The message is summed up succinctly in this press release:

… Qatar Airways used its government subsidy-backed investment in Air Italy, previously a struggling regional carrier, as a proxy to continue its expansion into the U.S. market. Without Qatar’s subsidized backing, Air Italy’s new U.S. routes wouldn’t be feasible.

Or there’s this statement in response to Air Italy’s announcement that it would add a couple of new routes to the US next summer.

Simply put, the only reason a failing airline like Air Italy can continue to launch new routes without consumer demand is because of Qatari government dollars designed to fuel unchecked growth.

In the past, the only part of the US carrier argument that has really resonated with me is the argument that these Middle East carriers would use subsidies to fund fifth freedom flights that don’t even touch their home countries. You see Emirates doing this in a limited way today with Newark to Athens and JFK to Milan, but that’s really about it so far. Still, that is where I think real peril lies. But if that’s the case, why am I against going after Qatar’s investment in Air Italy? I’ll try to explain.

As the argument goes, Qatar is funneling money through Air Italy to fly between Italy and the US as a proxy. It can use its airplanes to expand its reach around the globe. That sounds pretty sinister, but it just doesn’t look that way right now.

Air Italy is an Italian airline (49 percent owned by Qatar) with Italian costs (mostly, we think) that is failing just like any good Italian airline would. The reality is that Qatar usually invests in successful airlines like British Airways parent IAG. This isn’t the same as the Etihad strategy of throwing money at garbage.

Air Italy previously was a failing regional airline, but that’s irrelevant. Qatar saw the ability to invest in a platform to create a Milan-based hub and have it grow quickly. Alitalia was struggling and had effectively abandoned Milan as a hub. While I don’t think this strategy is going to work, it is a real business plan. If Qatar wants to invest in that like it has invested in others, so be it.

Where it gets fuzzy is in what Qatar is doing beyond the initial investment that saw the airline take 49 percent of the new company. We haven’t seen 2018 financials for the airline, so it’s hard to know what actually happened, but as I understand it, there was a loan that has been at least partially forgiven. And there were loan guarantees for the airline to raise more money from third parties as well. Then there’s the question of how much Air Italy is actually paying Qatar for the airplanes it’s using. It’s all quite murky, but to me, the biggest issue is around how Air Italy is using this money and if it really is distorting the market. So far it looks like an airline that had an initial strategy that hasn’t worked, and it is rapidly hunting for anything that will before it runs out of money.

What is that strategy? Well, there was talk of massive expansion including 30 787s, but that has already fallen apart. Now it will take an unspecified number of A330s instead. Air Italy has gone in and out of many markets and continues to hunt for routes that might work just like any other airline would. So far, I just see an ill-advised investment on the part of Qatar and not much else. This looks like an airline that is actually trying to succeed even though its efforts will probably be in vain.

The obvious question then is… at what point does Qatar’s involvement create a distorted market that requires action? That is honestly something I can’t answer, and I realize that’s completely unsatisfying. It feels like a “I’ll know it when I see it” type of situation. If we see Qatar pump additional funds into the airline after it’s clear that it won’t succeed, or if we find out about below-market questionable lease deals, then there’s a problem. It’s just not as black and white as one might hope… or need if you’re a regulator trying to be consistent.

If Air Italy continues to lose money and ends up flying 30 widebodies, then that is pure insanity. But I highly doubt we’ll get there. Instead, I imagine we’ll see Qatar take a bath on this whole adventure. Those may have been illegal subsidies that they lose, or they may not have been. But at least at this point, it feels like the market is going to guide this one. The day it starts to feel different is when I change my mind.

May 16, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Learning to Fly: Stage 1 and 2 Written Tests C…

Learning to Fly: Stage 1 and 2 Written Tests Complete, Flight Training Underway:

That's us, coming in to land at BFI following my first training flight with Galvin Flying. Photo credit: Huy Do

That’s us, coming in to land at BFI following my first training flight with Galvin Flying – Photo: Huy Do

This is a continuation of my multi-part series on learning to fly. You can read the introduction here.

As of now, I’ve completed the stage one and two ground-school exams. These exams are administered by the ground-school instructor at Galvin Flying and serve as checkpoints; they don’t count toward the FAA exam.

I’ve passed them both, which is encouraging (a passing grade is 70% – I did quite a bit better than that).

We’ve already covered basic aerodynamics, powerplants, flight instruments, airspace, airports, communications, and flight safety. We just wrapped up the comprehensive weather and FAA regulation sections; now it’s on to flight planning, which is where the math starts. We’ll learn to compute things like fuel consumption rates, time/speed/distance, endurance, airspeed, density altitude, and wind correction angles.

Believe it or not, this weather stuff is starting to make sense

Believe it or not, this weather stuff is starting to make sense

Ground school wraps up on May 25th with a comprehensive knowledge test, which is basically a full-on practice version of the proper FAA exam.

Theoretically, if we’ve successfully completed the course, we’ll then be prepared to plunk down the roughly $165 to take the FAA written test; a grade of at least 70% is required to pass.

I’ve also started flight training. I didn’t mention before, but basically my butt is a bit too heavy for the Cessna 152, which is the aircraft I’d originally planned to train in, primarily for the $60/hour cost savings over the larger C172. Putting two 200 lb. adult males (my CFI isn’t a small guy, either) in a C152 means no cross-country flights, as the aircraft’s maximum payload limit leaves room for no more than ½ tank of fuel. I won’t lie, though, I do like the larger plane.

Aviation charts also have a bit of a learning curve

Aviation charts also have a bit of a learning curve

My first lesson with Carl, my CFI, was in a static (meaning not moving, although it does have a hydraulic system that simulates control resistance) FAA-approved, OneG G650 C172 flight simulator. As such, it even has a registered tail number for logbook and maintenance tracking. Galvin also has a full-motion simulator, but I’ve not used it yet.

So, for the first lesson, I basically did a simulated takeoff, a flight to the local practice area, and a return. I managed to crash the sim when landing. It was a humbling experience that felt uncomfortably real.

Maybe it’s because I’m not a gamer and am unused to such experiences, or maybe it’s because I thought I’d just waltz in and nail it, but I went home a bit more shaken than I expected I could be following a simulator flight. Maybe that’s why Carl likes to start people in the sim — it’s a good way to rid folks of any pretenses that this is an easy thing.

My pre-flight briefing for ground-reference maneuvers

My pre-flight briefing for ground-reference maneuvers

My second flight lesson was a real flight in a C172 on a gloriously clear Sunday morning. We started the session by spending 45 minutes on a very thorough training preflight of the airplane, going slowly through all of the checklists, with Carl explaining the details behind each item.

Taxiing is, well, kind of a trip. You don’t steer these planes with the yoke; that’s connected to wing control surfaces that need a lot of wind flowing over them to do their jobs. You steer with your feet, using either the brakes (the top each rudder pedal also serves as the brake for either the left or the right wheel), or the nose-wheel steering, accessed via the bottom of each pedal. It takes some serious practice to keep the plane tracking even close to straight.

Speaking of taxiing, at a Class D airport like Boeing Field you’re in frequent communication over the radio. You need tower clearance to taxi, then takeoff clearance before leaving, along with having to keep in touch with the tower while in the Class D airspace, and then tower acknowledgement to re-enter the airspace, then clearance to land, then clearance to taxi back to the ramp, and so on. Yet another whole set of procedures to learn.

Getting ready to run the checklists

Getting ready to run the checklists

Anyway, once we stopped at the run-up area to do the pre-takeoff engine and electrical checklists, Carl performed the takeoff, handing me the controls at about 200 feet AGL (above ground level; aviation loves its acronyms). I flew for the rest of the hour, traveling to a nearby bit of airspace called, creatively enough, the northeast practice area, which is located about a dozen miles northeast of Boeing Field.

It was somewhat turbulent (Carl later described the conditions as being “a bit zesty”), so it was tricky to keep the turns smooth when we kept getting knocked around. But it made for very good practice – Carl talked me through making level turns, climbing turns, and descending turns while bouncing around a bit. The one-hour flight was over in a seeming eye blink.

Living the dream. Photo: Carl Sanman

Living the dream – Photo: Carl Sanman

The overall nice weather also meant very crowded skies (they don’t call Seattle the Jet City for nothing).

I flew back to BFI, then Carl took over for the downwind leg and landing, because a business jet was on short final to the big runway at the same time as we were lining up behind another Cessna on the smaller, parallel runway.

The jet landed beneath and behind us, and, at the same time, the Cessna ahead of us decided to do a go-around, and then we landed. Everyone was in contact with, and directed by, the control tower. Despite how hectic that sounded, everything went very smoothly.

This learning process has basically turned into a full-time job.

And do I ever have a lot of work to do.

The post Learning to Fly: Stage 1 and 2 Written Tests Complete, Flight Training Underway appeared first on AirlineReporter.

May 15, 2019 at 10:18PM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu

An Evening in Edinburgh (A Cranky Travelogue)

An Evening in Edinburgh (A Cranky Travelogue):

Since this one isn’t about airlines at all, I’m publishing it as a bonus Wednesday post.

I had been to Edinburgh exactly once before, and it was as a senior in college, twenty years earlier to the month. I looked forward to my one evening there this time, if I could keep my eyes open long enough to enjoy it.

A selfie atop Calton Hill, Edinburgh

The tram into Edinburgh from the airport isn’t fast, but it gets the job done. About 45 minutes after the journey began, I was cruising into the last stop at York Place, just a few minute walk from the Courtyard Edinburgh where I’d be spending the night.

The first thing I noticed? There were cranes absolutely everywhere. I couldn’t believe the amount of construction going on every way I looked. The second thing I noticed? There was a truly impressive number of languages I heard while walking around.

Just on the way to the hotel (which involved deftly dodging two construction sights and various drunken pub-goers) I counted three languages. That doesn’t even include Scottish, which at least in Edinburgh sounds like English. (I can’t say the same for Glasgow, however.)

I walked into the Courtyard and got my room. The front desk agent asked if I had been there before, and I mentioned that I had been twenty years prior. The response? “Well, the castle’s still there.” Indeed it was. I couldn’t help but chuckle.

I asked what she’d suggest I do for the night, and she didn’t hesitate to suggest something outside. With the hottest temps of the year nearly reaching 80 degrees, this was no day to stay inside. She told me to go to Calton Hill up behind the hotel, and then walk into the old town for a nice stroll. This sounded like a plan, and one that would keep me awake.

I was put into the “new” part of the hotel which I imagine was built in 1578. In reality, it was just newly-redone and added to the property. The room was perfectly fine, and more importantly, the water pressure was good. It woke me up and got me ready for a brief evening on the town.

A view of Holyrood Park to the south

Calton Hill is an old park filled with monuments that rests on top of some old volcanic land. I’m probably understating it. After all, it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I got the blood pumping as I hiked up the backside, and I was rewarded with sweeping views all around Edinburgh. It was no surprise to see half the city out and about on such a beautiful evening. Again I heard a number of different languages as I hiked the perimeter.

Monuments on Calton Hill

After a brief stop at the top to admire the view, I realized I had to keep moving or I’d fall asleep. So I came down into the old town and squeezed my way through the throngs that were flooding the streets. The energy was festive as people who had probably been cooped up under gray skies for too long finally were able to get outside. Tourists couldn’t appreciate it to the same extent as someone who lives there, but that didn’t prevent everyone from being in a good mood.

Edinburgh

I had been told to try Whiski Rooms for, well, whisky and dinner, so I strolled that way slowly. When I arrived, there just happened to be one table available, so I snagged it. It was then that I had my first whisky of the trip, a violently-peated Octomore which I thoroughly enjoyed.

Haggis with mashed potato and bashed neeps

I also ordered myself some haggis, and eagerly awaited its arrival. When it arrived with mashed potatoes and bashed neeps (turnips), I could hardly contain myself. I dove in and was rewarded with a very rich and delicious meal. Haggis may get a bad rap outside of Scotland, but that’s probably from people who have never eaten it.

I had started to hit the wall, so I paid the bill and walked back slowly to the hotel. By the time I arrived, I was impressed with myself for having stayed up as long as I did. I then promptly conked out and slept for a blissful 12 hours. I woke up refreshed and ready for my last flight before reaching Islay. I departed the hotel, got back on the tram, and went back to the airport.

May 15, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Hei L.A.! Finnair’s Inaugural A350 Flight From…

Hei L.A.! Finnair’s Inaugural A350 Flight From Los Angeles to Helsinki:

Late last year we spent a fun couple of days flying long-haul with Finnair and interviewing the head of their flagship Airbus A350 fleet. But we never actually flew the A350 ourselves, since Finnair’s US routes were all handled by their older A330s. That changed a month ago, when Finnair re-launched flights to LAX after a long hiatus and gave the honor to the A350. Obviously we weren’t going to miss the chance to cover the inaugural, and the folks at Finnair gave us the chance.

The onboard product lived up to the hype, with universal aisle access, lie-flat seats, Nordic style, and even a northern lights simulation on the ceiling. And it was just as fun covering Finnair’s pre-flight festivities on the ground. Clearly this route was a big deal for the Finnair team, getting the honorific flight numbers AY01 and AY02.

Read on for the full scoop on Finnair’s (re)inaugural celebration of its service from Los Angeles to Helsinki.

I had barely walked through the doors at LAX’s Thomas Bradley International Terminal when I saw signs of the day’s celebrations: white and blue balloons around Finnair’s check-in counters.

Compared with most of LAX’s other terminals, TBIT is fresher and airier.

BONUS: LAX’s H Hotel is a Spotter’s Paradise

Finnair’s business class passengers get access to the OneWorld Alliance lounge — a solid place to recharge and relax with a drink and maybe grab a bite to eat.

BONUS: The Private Suite @ LAX – Going Inside Los Angeles’ Brand-New Ultra-Exclusive Terminal

Pre-Flight Festivities

I walked up to the gate and — BAM — the Finnair A350’s bandit mask cockpit was staring me in the face.

BONUS: A Quick Take On Flying Long-Haul With Finnair

The ribbon cutting ceremony started with some words from Ossi Karuvaara, Finnair’s Director of US Airports.

And the short ceremony ended the way ribbon cuttings always do: with a big pair of golden scissors.

BONUS: Opinion – Why the LAX Terminal 4 Connector Matters For You

Passengers got to enjoy a hearty cake, fruit, and snack spread.

With that, it was time to head down the jetway!

Onboard the Finnair A350

Consider me dazzled. Finnair’s A350 cabin design looked great and did the airline’s Nordic roots justice. There’s lots of light tones with deep blue accents — in line with the fleet’s exterior paint job.

The reverse-herringbone seat layout gives every passenger direct aisle access.

All of Finnair’s A350s have eight rows of business class seats between the first and second set of doors. The cabin feels extra spacious since Finnair eliminated storage bins over the center section. The bins on the side of the cabin were plenty large enough to handle everyone’s carry-on bags.

Some of the airline’s A350s have a second business class mini-cabin behind the main one. That cabin has a more secluded feel, but it gets all the economy class foot traffic during boarding.

I was assigned one of the window seats in the mini-cabin — seat 11A. I had two windows to myself and plenty of personal space.

It’s not as private as “suites” with doors like Qatar’s QSuites or Delta’s A350 suites. But compared with most business class seats the privacy factor was still pretty good. I could easily see the person seated across the aisle from me but otherwise nobody else. Anyways Finnair seems like it was going for an open, airy cabin feel over total privacy.

Be aware: these seats’ lap belts are bulky.

The panel beside each seat has a nook with a hook for hanging headphones as well as a reading light, USB port, power outlet, seat controls, and a remote for the entertainment system.

Size-wise the footwell was generous. Relative to the seat it curved slightly to one side, which made sleeping on my side easier when facing the window than when facing the aisle.

BONUS: Hong Kong Airlines’ Impressive A350 Business Class, SFO-HKG

The center section of the lie-flat bed is broad. Since these planes are new the seat padding is still on the firm side.

Taking a peek back at economy, the 18-inch-wide seats looked fresh. In particular the seatback entertainment screens were high-res and relatively large. Also the space under the seat wasn’t cluttered by misaligned seat pylons or big boxes for the entertainment systems.

Finnair’s first few rows of economy are an “Economy Comfort” product with a bit of extra legroom. There’s no true long-haul premium economy product on Finnair’s long-haul fleet … yet.

BONUS: A Tale of Two Airlines – British Airlines vs Iberia in Economy

Finnair scheduled its LAX flights with less than two hours turnaround time on the ground. Given the congestion and frequent delays at LAX, that’s ambitious. Our flight ended up leaving a bit late, but it (and most of Finnair’s LAX-HEL flights since) made up most of the time in the air.

The sun had set just before we pushed back, but LA looks amazing from the air whether it’s day or nighttime.

Inflight Service Begins

In lieu of printed menus — which didn’t get to LA in time for this inaugural flight — flight attendants took a knee by each passenger and explained the meal options.

I love Finnair’s Tapio Wirkkala glasses, which add a beautiful textured appearance to the meal service. They look like something out of Disney’s Frozen, which seems right for an airline whose home country straddles the Arctic Circle.

After a light amuse-bouche I was served a grilled chicken starter. It tasted simple but the plating was beautiful.

The white fish in creamy sauce with rice and vegetables was nice and light, though the flavor factor was light too.

Dessert totally knocked it out of the park. The chocolate cheesecake, chocolates, ice cream, and fruit brought the sweetness. And the cheese plate and port balanced them out well.

Taking a Closer Look at the Finnair A350 Cabin

The cabin lights were a simple white during boarding, but that all changed when we hit cruise altitude and the crew turned on the mood lighting. Finnair and Airbus designed a unique northern lights effect on the overhead panels. The result is honestly gorgeous. I’ve never seen anything quite like it.

This time-lapse exaggerates the effect, but you get the idea.

The home page of Finnair’s A350 inflight entertainment system features a timeline of the flight. In the rush to prepare this inaugural flight someone had flipped the arrival and departure times. So the timeline showed a hilariously long 22-hour flight time. Oops. But inaugural flight mistakes aside, the timeline is a really practical IFE feature.

Finnair’s A350 lavatory design and amenities are straightforward. The lav was spacious and kept clean throughout the flight, which is what counts.

Done with my exploring and full from the meal, I flattened out my seat and conked out.

Approaching Helsinki

I woke up after five hours of restful sleep, just in time for breakfast. The frittata, potato cake, coffee, juice, fruit, bread, jam, and yogurt hit the spot.

Just before our descent, the flight attendants came around with a Polaroid and props so that passengers could have a memento from the flight.

BONUS: The “Bandit” Sneaks Into YVR – Cathay Pacific Begins A350 Service to Vancouver

It was a clear day with great visibility as we started the approach into Helsinki.

I also took a deeper dive into the entertainment system and found lots for an AvGeek to love. For one, the inflight map was sleek and responsive.

It even had a cockpit mode.

Of course, the real star of the show was the A350 tail and nose cams, which I enjoyed all the way through descent, approach, and landing.

BONUS: Come Fly With Me, On the Delta A350, Domestically!

The Verdict

This flight didn’t feel like any old inaugural. Finnair already had a pretty extensive long-haul route network across Asia and North America. But the re-inauguration of service to Los Angeles was an especially big moment for the airline. The flight jumps to the second-longest route in the network, just 150 miles shy of the longest (Helsinki-Singapore). It gets flight numbers #01 and #02, which symbolically is a big deal.

Most of all, it’s the first North American route that Finnair gave to its flagship A350, which (as we can now confirm first-hand) makes for a really nice ride. There’s all the benefits of the A350 design — big windows, better cabin pressurization, less noise. And Finnair did well to pick a great premium cabin seat design and go for a bright and airy Nordic vibe.

BONUS: Reactions After My First Airbus A350 Flight

Based on this experience, Finnair’s A350 is one of the better ways to get from Southern California to Europe in style. These inaugural flights aren’t great for real “reviews” since they involve a lot of one-off positive and negative factors. We were focused on all the fun the Finnair team was having with this celebratory flight. We’ll be back later with a report from our return flight, which was more reflective of the airline’s usual ops.

Now it’s time for us to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments section below. 

Note: Finnair provided us with a premium cabin itinerary for the purpose of this story. All opinions remain our own. 

The post Hei L.A.! Finnair’s Inaugural A350 Flight From Los Angeles to Helsinki appeared first on AirlineReporter.

May 14, 2019 at 10:06PM Source: http://bit.ly/2Ex2ezu

Community Career Fair Hosted by AIM Indianapol…

Community Career Fair Hosted by AIM Indianapolis:

By Jul DeGeus

The Indianapolis campus of Aviation Institute of Maintenance will be holding a career fair for its students, graduates, as well as individuals in the community who are seeking employment.

two guests at an AIM Career Fair

The Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) Indianapolis campus, located just south of the Indianapolis International Airport, will be holding a career fair on Thursday, May 23rd. The fair begins at 2:30 p.m. and will continue until 5:30 p.m. at the campus located at 7251 W McCarty St, Indianapolis, IN. The event will feature a wide range of companies from the aviation industry, as well as a variety of companies from other industries.

Employers attending will lend guidance regarding the application process for their companies, and may even hold on-site interviews for qualified applicants. Guests are expected to attend the career fair professionally dressed, with copies of their resumes and prepared to network. A few of the employers that will be in attendance are GE Aviation, AAR, FedEx, Gulfstream, UPS, Republic Air, The Home Depot, Crew Carwash and many more.  A full list of participating employers can be found at http://bit.ly/2LGiIhq.

“The opportunity to meet face-to-face with so many recruiters; without getting lost in the shuffle of online applications, is something that individuals serious about a career in aviation will definitely want to take advantage of,” says Andy Duncan, Campus Executive Director of Aviation Institute of Maintenance’s Indianapolis campus. “At the same time, the career fair provides an avenue for us to promote the various training options available here at AIM.”

In addition to numerous local and national employers, the Indiana Blood Center’s Bloodmobile and the American Red Cross will be on-site holding a blood drive, for those who wish to donate blood.

The career fair is free and open to the public. No aviation experience is required to attend. For more information regarding Aviation Institute of Maintenance’s career fair, contact AIM’s Indianapolis campus at (317) 243-4519.

About Aviation Institute of Maintenance:

Aviation Institute of Maintenance (AIM) is a network of aviation maintenance schools with campuses coast-to-coast in the United States and headquarters in Virginia Beach, Va. AIM students are trained to meet the increasing global demand of commercial, cargo, corporate and private aviation employers. AIM graduates are eligible to take the Federal Aviation Administration exams necessary to obtain their mechanic’s certificate with ratings in both Airframe and Powerplant. AIM’s campuses are in the following major metro areas: Atlanta, Charlotte, Philadelphia, Dallas, Houston, Indianapolis, Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., Kansas City, San Francisco Bay, Orlando and Norfolk. Visit AviationMaintenance.edu or call (888) FIX-JETS for more information.

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The post Community Career Fair Hosted by AIM Indianapolis appeared first on AIM Blog.

via AIM Blog

Can Thomas Cook’s Airlines Help Lufthansa Grou…

Can Thomas Cook’s Airlines Help Lufthansa Group’s Eurowings?:

Thomas Cook is one of the most storied names in European travel, but it has not been doing well financially. Now the company is looking to sell off its airlines to prop up the rest of the group, and Lufthansa is one of the interested bidders. Could an acquisition be the answer to Lufthansa’s prayers? Probably not, but you know, it also couldn’t hurt if the price is right.

This may sound strange to Americans since tour operators just aren’t quite this big here, but Thomas Cook is a British operator that generated an impressive GBP 10 million (~US$13.1 million) in revenue last year serving more than 19 million customers. It has been around since the 1800s and came to its current state as a result of several mergers and acquisitions through the years. The company has two main divisions – the tour operator and the airlines.

There are currently four separate airlines under the company’s umbrella.

  • Condor operates from German bases (Frankfurt is the largest) to leisure destinations in the Mediterranean, Africa, and the Americas. It has 16 Airbus narrowbodies, 15 757-300s, and 16 767-300s in the fleet.
  • Thomas Cook Airlines has its main bases at London/Gatwick and Manchester, but it also flies from other UK cities to leisure destinations. It is primarily a short-haul operator with more than 30 Airbus narrowbodies, but it does have 7 A330s for longer routes.
  • Thomas Cook Balearics flies 6 A320s from a base in Palma de Mallorca to spots around Europe. Presumably this is an effort to get a lower-cost operation down there instead of basing those planes in higher cost places in the north.
  • Thomas Cook Scandinavia flies 8 A321s and 5 A330s from Scandinavia to warm weather cities primarily in the Mediterranean.

In a strange twist, these airlines seem to be performing well. It’s the rest of the Thomas Cook business that’s suffering. And to keep the rest of the business viable, Thomas Cook thinks it needs to raise some cash. Selling the profitable airline operation appears to be the path forward.

So, who wants to buy an airline… or four? Well, Virgin Atlantic is apparently interested in the Thomas Cook Airlines long-haul business. That could complement the existing Virgin business well. Indigo Partners has expressed interest in at least some of the company. That’s the same company that owns Wizz and Frontier, among others. It’s also the one that almost bought WOW before that airline collapsed. It’s not clear what pieces Indigo wants and what it would actually do with it, but Indigo is always sniffing around something. Rumors suggest that easyJet may want to take a swing at this too. But the most concrete expression of interest so far is from Lufthansa Group with a focus on Condor.

There is a complicated history here. Lufthansa used to own various stakes in Condor over the years, and the airlines continue to interline and sell through fares on each other today. Even though there hasn’t been a financial connection since Lufthansa sold the last of its shares to Thomas Cook in 2009, there is still this spiritual connection. I should also note that while the main interest is in Condor, Lufthansa would consider other parts of the company.

The question is… what exactly would Lufthansa do with Condor? Well, the first thing it would probably do is throw it into the jumbled mess that is Eurowings and then cut capacity.

Eurowings, you may remember, is Lufthansa Group’s frankenbaby of a “low” cost operator. (Yes, I put that in quotes for a reason.) In the last 5 years, Eurowings morphed from being a regional jet operator into an amalgamation of pretty much anything that Lufthansa owned that doesn’t tough Zurich, Vienna, Munich, or Frankfurt. That includes:

  • Acquired 10 new A320s and 13 from Lufthansa to replace the regional jets most to serve secondary cities in Germany
  • SunExpress Deutschland was brought in to operate A330s under the Eurowings brand also from secondary German cities
  • Merged in the old Germanwings low cost operation under the Eurowings brand
  • LGW flies Q400s (soon to be replaced by Embraer 190s) for Eurowings – it was bought by Lufthansa from the airberlin bankruptcy but now it has already flipped to another owner
  • Brussels Airlines is being merged into Eurowings operationally but it will keep its own public brand

I think there’s more, but frankly I’ve lost track. All I do know is that this monster is a huge money loser. How bad? Eurowings had a -32 percent operating margin in the first quarter of this year. Sure, first quarter is generally weak, but -32 percent weak? Yiks.

What’s Eurowings problem besides simply being a dumping ground for wayward airlines? It has many. But one of the big problems is that there’s a lot of short-haul capacity within Europe that’s depressing yields. Buying Condor would certainly give Lufthansa the ability to pare capacity on leisure routes within Europe and make Germany, at least, perform better. That would help offset the massive amount of capacity that raced in to fill the void airberlin left when it failed.

The other problem is that Eurowings is really bad at long-haul. The company has shifted strategies a few times, and the news one is to move away from flying long-haul in secondary German markets and go into Frankfurt and Munich instead. That’s happening this year. In other words, it’s going to try to do what Condor already does well.

Condor has aging 767s that will still last for some time, but Eurowings would probably like to find a way to place its A330s on to routes that might have a shot at making money. As a replacement for the Condor 767s, that might make sense.

The process is just beginning here, and there will be several suitors wanting various different pieces of the company. For Lufthansa, anything that helps reduce capacity will help Eurowings lose less money. It’s not going to suddenly make the airline profitable, but if the price is right, then it wouldn’t be a bad move.

May 14, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and Flybe to Edinburgh (…

Heathrow’s Terminal 2 and Flybe to Edinburgh (A Cranky Travelogue):

I had made it to London, and that meant I had only one flight left that day, my first on the recently re-capitalized Flybe. But first, I had to make it through the gauntlet that is Heathrow, and I had to do it with no sleep. This was my first visit to Terminal 2, also known as The Queen’s Terminal, so it was unfamiliar territory. While it was striking, it appears to have been designed to make you walk as much as humanly possible.

Terminal 2 has a main terminal as well as a satellite — 2B — that lies to the east. I believe that the main terminal will be much bigger once they clean up the old Terminal 1 site, but for now, it seems most flights use the B gates. And Air Canada had parked us at the far end.

Once I got off the airplane, I had to go up to a suspended walkway over the concourse and then down underground past a monstrous Thai A380.

After that, we were herded across to the main terminal, and then I lost all track of where I was. We may have done a loop-de-loop at some point, I can’t be sure. Exhausted and not thinking straight, this is when I made a fatal error.

Had I thought this through, I would have just gone through the line that would have dumped me out into London as a local arrival. Then I could have gone to the arrivals lounge and showered while I waited for my next flight about 2.5 hours away. Instead, I followed the purple flight connections signs since I was, after all, making a connection. That turned out poorly.

First I made it through a painfully-slow security line. Even with Fast Track it probably took me 15 to 20 minutes. They made me take my liquids out and my laptop, as elsewhere in the UK, but then they analyzed every bag going through the x-ray in excruciating detail. It seemed like half of the bags were being pulled aside for further examination after going through the x-ray. The process was downright glacial.

Once on the other side, I went to the passport line for UK/Ireland connections which was very short. I had a mobile boarding pass for my next flight, but it wouldn’t scan in the UK’s verification system. The woman working the desk was brand new and had no idea what to do. She asked if I had any other boarding pass — which of course I did not — so she just kept calling people over the radio asking for help. Eventually someone told her how to override it and she gave me a piece of paper that she said I’d need to give to someone down the line. (Nobody every collected it.) In the meantime, the line behind me had swelled with tired and angry travelers.

After walking through a duty free shop, because, well, London, I found myself in the main terminal, also known as the A gates. I thought to myself, “hey, I bet Air Canada will let me use the lounge since I just got off their flight in business.” The problem is that the Air Canada lounge is a good 15+ minute walk back to the B gates on the satellite. With time to kill, I did it, and I was promptly shot down.

The agent said I could buy lounge access from the United lounge nearby if I wanted, so I trudged over there. It was $59, but that agent was very nice and did the math with me. Because of how far I’d have to walk to get back to my gate in the main terminal, I wouldn’t have all that much time in the lounge. I passed, admitted defeat, and dragged my bags back to the A gates.

At this point, I looked at all the food options and settled on liquid food. I went to the London Pride pub, had an ESB and some chips, and Skyped with the family. The gate posted while I was there, and about 40 minutes before departure I wandered down to the Flybe bus gate area down below.

Boarding was a complete mess. I don’t understand why this happens on a domestic flight, but they required checking passports at the gate. Then for some people, they had to take photos. I couldn’t figure out who got that treatment and why, but I’m guessing it was for non-residents of the UK… and there were a lot of them.

As if that wasn’t creating enough of a slowdown, they kept flagging bags as possibly being too big to carry on the airplane. Were they too big? That agent could bother to help. Everyone had to stand in line to talk to a different agent who would use the sizer to see. This was terribly inefficient. After the agent made me stand in line, the second agent didn’t even measure. She just looked and said that would be fine. It was all so very British.

But oh, that wasn’t the end. This was a bus gate, so we had to board a couple of buses and then get driven out to the airplane on the far east side of Terminal 2, past the satellite. Because of my bag issue, I was on the second bus and we were actually cutting it rather close to departure time. When we pulled up, I saw a big, purple Flybe airplane waiting for us. I squeezed off the crowded bus and got onboard.


April 20, 2019
Flybe 2106 Lv London/Heathrow 230p Arr Edinburgh 405p
London/Heathrow (LHR): Gate A1, Runway 9R, Depart 1m Late
Edinburgh (EDI): Gate 34, Runway 24, Arrive 1m Late
G-PRPA, Bombardier Dash 8-Q400, Purple Body colors, 95% Full
Seat 3A, Coach
Flight Time 1h3m

It took some elbow grease but my bag did indeed fit in the overhead, as I knew it would. (This is why I like duffel bags.) I took my seat and stared at the ad for Avis and Budget in front of me through glassy, tired eyes.

The flight was mostly full, and it took a bit for everyone to get settled. The two flight attendants seemed quite young, but they were eager and friendly. Kudos to them. I can’t imagine that’s easy bouncing around the UK in turboprops at an airline that nearly just failed.

I was surprised after all the chaos that we left only 1 minute late. When we did push back, it was a long slog to the western end of the runways, and there was quite the line, a surprise for Heathrow which always seems to keep airplanes at the gate. At least it provided some great spotting opportunities for everything from the BOAC 747 to a SWISS A220. I love spotting at Heathrow.

Once airborne just abeam Terminal 3, we bounced our way up to 10,000 feet. At one point, there was enough of a drop to elicit an audible yelp from somewhere in the back. I’m not sure if it was wake-related or just bumpy at lower altitude, but it smoothed out quickly. After that, it’s all a blur. I do know that the flight attendants came through selling drinks and snacks, but I didn’t partake.

I had hoped to get some great views out the window since it was sunny the whole way, but the haze obscured that somewhat. More importantly, the windows were filthy, so it wasn’t great for spotting. About 15 minutes in, I lost consciousness. You could say I fell asleep, but it had been far too long since I last slept, so I fell hard. The next thing I remember was the beginning of our descent where the change in pitch from the engines woke me up. We went out over the Firth of Forth and then came back to the west for our landing. This was the best shot I could get out of the window.

Once we landed, the pilots came on and said we were going to do an engine run-up before we parked because the engine sounded louder than it should have on the way in. I’m glad they waited to tell us that until after we landed. The airplane didn’t fly again that day, so I imagine they may have found something to fix.

Glad to be done flying for the day, I hopped on the tram and went into town. I was tired, but I wasn’t about to just go sleep away my one night in Edinburgh.

May 13, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com

3 Links I Love: Branson in the Caribbean, Long…

3 Links I Love: Branson in the Caribbean, Long Beach Slots, The Return of Peotone:

This week’s featured link:

Virgin Atlantic boss expresses interest in investing in LIATThe Daily Herald
Richard Branson has a track record of mediocre performance at best with his airlines, but investing in LIAT would certainly bring the average down. This is just a financial disaster waiting to happen. While normally that wouldn’t rule out a Branson investment, this one is even too bad for him… I think. LIAT is in really bad shape, and this could just be a last gasp effort.

No image of the week this time around

Two for the Road:

Long Beach Airport Redistributes Flight Slots, Welcomes New DevelopmentLong Beach Business Journal
Those 10 slots that JetBlue will gave back in Long Beach have been reallocated. The airport will offer 4 to Delta and 6 to Southwest. What on Earth will Delta do with those 4 slots? And will Southwest have to now cut back its schedule? This is going to get interesting.

Proposed Peotone Airport back in business?Crain’s Chicago Business
Building a third Chicago airport in Peotone was never a good idea. But with O’Hare massive runway and terminal expansion underway, it’s an even worse idea now. So how is it back on the table? File this one under “normal Illinois politics.”

May 10, 2019 at 01:45PM Source: https://crankyflier.com