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Alaska Airlines to retire Virgin America brand

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Alaska Airlines and Virgin America today shared their vision for the future of the combined carrier, as the company solidifies its status as the West Coast's premier airline.

After careful consideration, the combined company will adopt Alaska's name and logo, retiring the Virgin America name likely sometime in 2019. However, the combined airline will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America enthusiasts love about their favorite airline, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music and the relentless desire to make flying a different experience for guests. The goal is to create a warm and welcoming West Coast-inspired vibe.

"Our goal from the very beginning of this merger was to become the go-to airline for people on the West Coast, with low fares, convenient flights, a premium product and genuine, caring service," said Brad Tilden, CEO of Alaska Air Group. "Three months in, we've dramatically grown our presence in California and are united behind a new purpose: Creating an airline people love."

Alaska has been actively growing the airlines' newly combined networks since closing the merger in December. Earlier this month, the airline announced 21 new markets with 25 new daily departures out of San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and San Jose, California – marking the largest addition of routes in the company's history.

"We spent the last 10 months conducting extensive research and listening carefully to what fliers on the West Coast want most," said Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines' vice president of marketing. "While the Virgin America name is beloved to many, we concluded that to be successful on the West Coast we had to do so under one name - for consistency and efficiency, and to allow us to continue to deliver low fares."

In addition to low fares, network growth and award-winning service, Alaska will spend the next few years making major enhancements to its already award-winning guest experience and incorporating favorite elements of the Virgin America experience.

IAG to launch new low-cost longhaul airline

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

International Airlines Group (IAG) is launching LEVEL – a new low cost longhaul airline brand that will take to the skies in June 2017 with flights from Barcelona to Los Angeles, Oakland, Buenos Aires and Punta Cana.

LEVEL will fly two new Airbus A330 aircraft branded in its own livery and fitted with 293 economy and 21 premium economy seats. Initially it will be operated by Iberia's flight and cabin crew and will create up to 250 jobs based in Barcelona.

Barcelona has been chosen as the first European city for the launch of IAG's new operation but LEVEL will look to expand its flights from other European cities. Fares start from €99/US$149 one way and tickets are on sale at flylevel.com

Checked luggage (in addition to a free cabin bag), meals, seat selection and the latest movie releases will be complimentary for customers flying in premium economy. Those travelling in economy can chose what they want to buy based on a menu of choices. All customers will have access to next generation inflight technology with a wide range of onboard entertainment options. High speed internet connectivity will be available with prices starting at €8.99.

LEVEL's customers will be able to earn and redeem Avios – the loyalty currency for IAG's airlines. This will give them the opportunity to fly to 380 destinations across the Group's network.

Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, said: "LEVEL is an exciting new IAG airline brand which will bring a stylish and modern approach to flying at prices that are even more affordable. It will benefit from having the strength of one of the world's largest airline groups behind it.

"LEVEL will become IAG's fifth main airline brand alongside Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling. It will complement our existing airline portfolio and further diversify our current customer base.

"Barcelona is Vueling's home base and this will allow customers to connect from Vueling's extensive European network onto LEVEL's longhaul flights.

"This is just the start. We're really excited about the opportunities for expansion and we plan to bring LEVEL to other European destinations."

BA to open London Gatwick to Ft Lauderdale service in July

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Air & Sea

British Airways (BA) said it is launching a new service to Fort Lauderdale from 6 July 2017. It will be the airline’s third route from Gatwick to Florida, and its fourth service to the ‘sunshine state’.

One of the largest cities in Florida, which is situated just 28 miles north of Miami, Fort Lauderdale enjoys average year-round temperatures of 25 degrees and basks in 3,000 hours of sunshine every year.

The route will be served by a 777-200 aircraft operating three-days a week year round (four-a-week during peak summer).

Colm Lacy, British Airways’ head of commercial for Gatwick, said: “British Airways will now serve four Florida gateways, offering more seats from London to the sunshine state than any other carrier. It’s a city that boasts beautiful beaches, Venice-like waterways, an international yachting scene and world-class restaurants, and is also within easy reach of Miami, so customers can visit both destinations as part of a trip to the sunshine state.

Norwegian receives final approval from US Department of Transportation

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Responding to news that the US Department of Transportation has approved Norwegian Air International's (NAI) application for a foreign carrier permit, a Norwegian spokesperson said: "We welcome the long overdue news that Norwegian Air International (NAI) has been awarded a foreign carrier permit by the US Department of Transportation.

"This approval finally makes it possible for us to plan the Cork to the U.S. routes we, and many others, have been looking forward to. We also now look forward to our foreign carrier permit for Norwegian Air UK (NUK) being approved next.

“We would like to thank the many airports, airlines, industry and business groups, politicians and members of the public in Europe, the US, and Ireland in particular who have offered us their continued support over the last three years.

“While the delays Norwegian have faced have been unfortunate and unnecessary, ultimately the decision now made by the US DOT finally paves the way for greater competition, more flights and more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic.

"Above all, it is a victory for millions of passengers who will benefit from more choice and lower fares. We now look forward to working on our plans for Norwegian's continued expansion in the US, delivering the flights, jobs and economic boost we always promised we would.”

BA to launch London Heathrow – New Orleans service 27 March

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Air & Sea

British Airways (BA) has announced it will begin year-round service to London from New Orleans beginning 27 March 2017. This new international non-stop flight departs four times per week from Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) to London Heathrow (LHR). From London Heathrow, British Airways’ passengers can connect seamlessly to over 130 destinations in Europe and beyond, BA said in a statement.

New Orleans is a base port for a number of cruise ships that sail in the Caribbean.

Simon Brooks, Senior Vice President, British Airways, said "We are delighted to be adding New Orleans to the British Airways global network. It’s such a vibrant city and like London, it boasts an iconic music and arts scene. I’m sure it will be a big hit with British visitors. We are also pleased to be connecting our two cities as developing technology hubs and look forward to increased business opportunities as a result of the new service.”

British Airways will be operating a Boeing 787-800 Dreamliner, the newest aircraft of their fleet. Each of the Dreamliner’s 214 seats is equipped with widescreen TVs, an entertainment system capable of connecting with passengers’ devices, and an in-seat chat system for talking to family or friends on the flight.

The aircraft is divided into three cabins with 154 seats in World Traveller (economy), 25 seats in World Traveller Plus (premium economy), and 35 seats in Club World (business). Passengers can enjoy free meals, beverages, and a free checked bag.

The new service will depart from London Heathrow at 3:40pm and arrive at Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport at 7:40pm. The departure will be at 9:10pm from New Orleans arriving into London Heathrow’s Terminal 5 at 12:00 noon the next day.

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