Route News Stop Press

The latest route news from Inside Traveller is available here, but here are some additional items that missed our editorial deadline:

• Airberlin is launching an up-to five-times weekly Berlin Tegel–Chicago service on 23rd March.

• Air France launches a summer seasonal Paris CDG–Minneapolis service on 21st May, operated daily during the summer peak.

• British Airways is switching from Boeing 747-400 equipment to the Boeing 777-300ER on its daily Heathrow–Singapore–Sydney service from 31st March. It is also cancelling its thrice-daily Gatwick–Manchester service from that date.

• Delta is cancelling its seasonal Memphis–Amsterdam and New York JFK–Valencia services next summer.

• Estonian Air has cancelled plans to launch a Tallinn–London City service, due to start 1st March.

• FlyBe is cancelling its Birmingham–Dundee service, operated by franchise carrier Loganair on 3rd December.

• Lao Airlines launches a thrice-weekly service between Vientiane and Seoul on 21st December.

• Norwegian has announced plans to establish a new base at Gatwick next summer, with routes to 26 destinations in Scandinavia, the Mediterranean and the Canaries, including several in direct competition with easyJet.

Traveller's Tip

Wanting to catch up with UK news when away from home but hard-pressed to find any on BBC World? Try France24′s English service – it’s a breath of fresh air.

All the news that fits

It is rather frightening to read even the most simple airline press release and see how it is used by the press in the most lazy and cynical way.

We all know that airlines are having a tough time at the moment so when Lufthansa issue a Press Release giving details of their winter timetable and begin it by saying “In view of weaker demand…” and go on to say that they are reducing the number of flights by 7.4%, the rest of the story writes itself. This was presented by many newspapers and specialist aviation publications (who should know better) as further proof of the bad state of the airline business.

The story suits everyone. The airline is happy because it shows its shareholders and employees that things are tough and they are taking matters seriously. For the journalist, it is an easy story to write because it fits into their standard themes of “economic hard times” and “a tough winter ahead”.

All very simple – except it is not really the proper story.

Lufthansa are decreasing the number of flights – all airlines do this over the winter, even in good times – but they are actually increasing the number of seats they have for sale!

The real story is that they are withdrawing some smaller aircraft and replacing them with larger ones (especially on short commuter routes). This will reduce the number of flights by 7.4% but the number of seats per kilometer that thay have for sale will increase by 1.1%.

All this is made clear in Lufthansa’s Press Release but it looks as if many journalists could not be bothered to read beyond the first paragraph before writing their story.

Managing the News – the Emirates Way

Every day I wade through aviation news stories from around the world to see what might be of interest to readers of Inside Traveller. On Sunday I spotted a story from The Herald in Australia suggesting fatigue was a major cause of the near-crash of an Emirates Airbus in Melbourne. The article was a typical “shock horror” Sunday newspaper effort – plenty of unquoted opinions but very few facts.

The original incident got very little coverage in the UK though our readers were given the full story. An Emirates Airbus nearly did not manage to take off from Melbourne due to a crass error in in-putting the aircraft weights into the on-board computer. The other pilot failed to notice the mistake and two other pilots on the flight-deck did nothing. This was very nearly the worst accident in Australian aviation history. The two pilots involved were told they were resigning.

The Australian authorities are currently producing their report on the incident which will make interesting reading. Whenever such an event takes place there will be a number of organisations  trying to push their own agenda. Pilots will do everything they can to defend their position and blame the company’s work practices, the airline and manufacturer will want to blame the pilots and local interests might want to stir things up as well. In this case, there are some people in Australia who will be quite happy for Emirates to have their reputation damaged. In other words, if a journalist wants to write an old-fashioned Sunday tabloid story, he will have plenty of amunition.

This is where it becomes very difficult for Emirates. The original story was “news” in Australia for a day or two but would have been unlikely to get outside the country. However, Emirates felt it necessary to produce a detailed rebuttal of the story – and this was sent all round the world and appeared in many publications that would never have bothered with the original story.

In other words, by defending their position, Emirates gave the story a huge publicity boost – and there will be plenty of people who will believe that the truth lies somewhere between the two versions of the event and that Emirates are somehow to blame.

Emirates spend a fortune on publicity but in this instance, they were stuck. Say nothing and appear guilty or defend themselves and give the story a huge boost.

We should wait for the official report into the incident before making judgements but it is fair to say that there were some pilots who complained about the working hours on this particualr trip long before the incident.

July route round-up

Here is a round-up of news items involving London airports announced during the last month:

British Airways is launching its daily London City-New York JFK service on 29th September, using an all-business configuration Airbus A318. Westbound service requires a technical stop in Shannon. A second daily service will follow on 13th October. The airline has also announced several changes to its European winter schedule. From 25th October, Gatwick services to Barcelona, Gibraltar, Madrid, Malaga and Pisa will be transferred to Heathrow, while services from Gatwick to Alicante, Krakow, Malta, Palma Mallorca and Varna will be suspended. A new five-times weekly Gatwick-Innsbruck service will start on 5th December. In other BA news, the airline will increase London Heathrow-Entebbe service from three to five weekly from 25th October, but will be dropping its First Class service to Tel Aviv for at least the winter season, switching equipment from the current four-class B777 service to a three-class one using B767s. Some winter frequency reductions have also been announced, notably a drop from three to two daily services from Heathrow to Newark and Chicago.

EasyJet launches a six-times-weekly Luton-Tel Aviv service on 2nd November. Services from Gatwick to Agadir and Porto start on the same day.  Luton-Sharm el Sheikh follows on 3rd November, and services from Stansted and Luton to Paphos, and Stansted-Fuerteventura are launched on 4th November.

Emirates will be launching a second daily A380 Dubai-Heathrow service on 2nd December.

Kingfisher Airlines is cancelling its Bangalore-Heathrow service on 15th September.

Ryanair will launch a twice-daily Oslo Rygge-Stansted service in October. It has also announced a massive expansion in its services to the Canary Islands this winter. New routes involving London airports are from Luton to Tenerife South, Las Palmas and Arrecife, and from Stansted to Las Palmas and Arrecife.

United Airlines will, for the first time since 2000, be operating a daily service from Heathrow to Brussels this autumn, as an extension from Chicago.

US Airways will be ending its Philadelphia-Gatwick service on 7th September.