Airline News August 2005.


Complaints rise at airlines facing financial trouble. Four airlines with serious financial problems reported a high number of customer complaints to the government in the first six months of 2005, The Washington Post's Keith Alexander reports. US Airways, United Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Independence Air all reported a higher number of complaints compared with the same period a year ago. Aug 16, 2005

Airlines add amenities to attract first-class fliers. Airlines are adding amenities to their first-class service to retain fliers who typically pay top dollar for their tickets. United Airlines, for example, provides chocolate truffles and DVD players on some flights. Meanwhile, some carriers have eliminated coach amenities, such as pretzels and pillows. Aug 15, 2005

Suitcase problems are of course good news for some. Quick to see a positive news angle regarding BA and Heathrow baggage mover First Luggage have issued a press release pointing out that passengers do not have to drag their heavy items down to the airport, even when things are going smoothly. Whether it is a leisure or business trip their service enables travellers to send their suitcases ahead, without it ever passing through the hands of the baggage handlers who have caused so much disruption and frustration. By phone call or online, First Luggage say they will arrange to collect any bags before the day of departure and deliver them by courier service to the customer's destination in time for their arrival. A text message lets them know that it has arrived safely. The same applies for the return trip. It is all done with the help of FedEx. In the States, luggage-free travel is an accepted norm and the company believes that it will also catch on over here. Interestingly a league table compiled by the Association of European Airlines (judged on their lost luggage record) found Turkish Airlines to be the best performer with just four bags out of 1,000 lost or delayed, while among the worst were BA (24.1 per 1,000) and KLM (26.1 per 1,000). 20 million bags are lost by airlines worldwide each year. Aug 12, 2005

Mexico to lower airline prices, increase competition. The Mexican government plans to sell two national airlines, Aeromexico and Mexicana, as well as approve as many as five budget airlines, which will open the doors for airline competition and lower prices for millions of passengers. Officials estimate the move could increase air travel by 15 million trips per year. Aug 9, 2005

AIir Atlantique, the Coventry-based specialist airline is to acquire two ATR 72 aircraft over the next six months with the first due on-line at the beginning of October. The aircraft will be used on backup operations for scheduled operations, executive and holiday charters and sports group travel. The move into the larger 70 seat market comes after the successful introduction over the last two years of three 48-seat ATR 42 'planes (left). Aug 19, 2005

AirTran Airways, the low cost US carrier, is to launch services from Detroit in November, marking the start of fresh competition for troubled Northwest Airlines, which has a hub there. AirTran said it would begin flying from Detroit - Atlanta and Orlando starting 8 November. The Orlando based carrier said it would add a service from Detroit - Sarasota in February. Northwest already flies each of those routes, and the introduction of new competition is set to increase the carrier's financial strain. Airtran has recently added Boeing 737-700 aircraft to its Boeing 717 fleet. Aug 5, 2005

AirTran to start Detroit flights this fall. Discounter AirTran Airways will launch service from Detroit this fall with daily flights to Atlanta and Orlando. The airline will compete against Northwest Airlines, which operates a large hub in Detroit. Aug 4, 2005

Airlines upgrade Web sites to attract more travelers. Airlines are revamping their Web sites in hopes of cutting costs and improving customer service, writes The Washington Post's Keith Alexander. It costs airlines less to sell tickets through their Web sites than through their own reservation agents or through travel agents. Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways recently unveiled new Web sites. Aug 3, 2005

Alaska Airlines launches Los Angeles-Mexico City flights. Alaska Airlines on Tuesday added daily nonstop flights between Los Angeles International Airport and Mexico City. On Sept. 11, the airline will expand the flight, offering one-stop service between Seattle and Mexico City. Aug 4, 2005

American Airlines, in a further bid to attract premium fare passengers, is upgrading its first and business class menus on transatlantic flights from September 1 introducing what it calls "quintessentially American cuisine". The airline has also announced that during 2006 the carrier's long haul Boeing 767-300s will have improved business class cabins installed. It is also introducing its Flagship Suites to 20 more Boeing 777s first class cabins to provide a consistent "treble seven" by 2007. In what some may consider a dig at Oneworld partner British Airways the Dallas-based airline says it has turned to Chefs Conclave, a group of internationally acclaimed chefs, for inspiration. Also new from American is a new Admirals Club at JFK which is located in Concourse C in the airline's new 'state of the art' terminal. Opposite Gate 42 it is convenient to a variety of new shops and the main concession area. Complimentary snacks, juice, tea, coffee and soft drinks are offered. Aug 25, 2005

American hopes new JFK terminal helps win passengers back. American Airlines hopes its new terminal at New York's John F. Kennedy airport will help it regain passengers. The airline will shift flights to the new $1.1 billion terminal from two aging terminals now slated for demolition. JetBlue, American's rival at JFK, will get an $875 million new terminal in 2008. Aug 24, 2005

American to launch "lie-flat" seats in some business class cabins. American Airlines said it will install seats that "lie flat" in the business-class cabins of all Boeing 767-300s and 777s. The airline will also add enhanced in-flight entertainment systems and bigger overhead bins. Aug 16, 2005

American's regional unit flourishes despite downturn. American Airlines' American Eagle unit has quietly become one of the fastest-growing airlines in the U.S. The airline posted a $49 million profit in 2004, a year when most airlines lost money. American Eagle has recently added new jets to its fleet as well as many new destinations. Other airlines are also shifting flights to their regional affiliates to take advantage of a lower cost structure. Aug 29, 2005

Airlines add perks to retain business travelers. Some airlines are adding services and frills for business travelers who generally pay top dollar for tickets. American Airlines said it will improve its business-class menus and offer video on-demand programming. Delta Air Lines will offer personalized dining, and United Airlines will offer three classes of seating on some regional jets. Aug 23, 2005

Avis says that its 'Rapid Return' technology is now available at virtually all major British airports including the five which serve London: City, Gatwick, Heathrow, Luton and Stansted. Avis claims that the system allows for a check-in to take no more than 60 seconds. The system is also being rolled out to the company's 160 European locations with about half now equipped. 'Rapid Return' works in eight different languages. Aug 19, 2005

BA CitiExpress flew as normal during the Heathrow disruption last week offering hot meals as usual on its longer sectors including London City to Edinburgh where it is now up to five return flights week daily (plus one on a Saturday and two on Sunday), a schedule that has proven worthwhile to continue during the normally quiet month of August. The 100% owned division of British Airways says that its...

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