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Emirates inceases capacity on two more U.S. routes from December 2014

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Emirates is adding passenger and cargo capacity in San Francisco and Houston on December 1st and 3rd respectively when it switches from operating the routes with a Boeing 777-300ER to its iconic double-decker Airbus A380.

The A380 will offer an additional 135 seats to San Francisco and 137 to Houston, representing a 38 percent increase in overall passenger capacity, and 80 percent more seats across the premium cabins. In addition to offering a choice of 14 First Class Private Suites and 76 lie-flat Business Class seats, the aircraft offers 399 spacious Economy Class seats to San Francisco and 401 to Houston.

“Emirates continues to see strong customer demand from our U.S. gateways. Since 2007, we have carried over 2.3 million passengers on the San Francisco and Houston routes, and our flagship A380 will allow us to connect even more people and facilitate trade between these important U.S. cities and the Middle East, India, Africa and beyond.” said Hubert Frach, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President, Commercial Operations West. “Everywhere we fly our A380, we receive a tremendously positive customer response, thanks to the unique, award-winning product and service which Emirates offers passenger in all cabins. We look forward to bringing this experience to our customers in San Francisco and Houston.”

The Emirates service from San Francisco operates daily as EK226, departing San Francisco at 3:30PM and arriving in Dubai the following day at 7:25PM. EK 225 departs Dubai at 8:50AM and arrives at San Francisco International Airport at 12:50PM the same day.

Emirates' daily flight EK211 to Houston departs Dubai at 9:30AM and arrives at 4:05PM. The return flight, EK212, takes off from George Bush Intercontinental Airport at 6:25PM and lands in Dubai at 7:05PM the next day.

San Francisco and Houston will be Emirates’ 4th and 5th U.S. gateways serviced by an A380, joining New York, Los Angeles, and Dallas/Fort Worth which is due to commence on October 1st. This latest announcement means that by December, Emirates will be serving both its Texan destinations with an A380 service.

Onboard passengers in all three cabins can enjoy over 1,800 channels of entertainment on ice, Emirates’ multi award-winning in-flight information, entertainment and communication system, while enjoying specially created gourmet cuisine with a regional flavour and specially selected beverages whilst being served by Emirates multi-lingual cabin crew.

The entire upper deck of an Emirates A380 is dedicated to its premium First Class and Business Class cabins, creating a relaxed and exclusive space. Even at 40,000 feet the two First Class Shower Spas allow passengers to arrive feeling refreshed. First Class and Business Class passengers connect in the popular A380 Onboard Lounge to relax, socialise and network over fine wines and cocktails while enjoying canapés prepared by five-star chefs. Whether discussing innovations in technology on flights from San Francisco or the energy and oil & gas business on Houston routes, the Onboard Lounge provides a unique way for people from all places to connect during their Emirates journey. Experience Emirates’ A380 on Google’s Street View here.

Economy Class passengers are also well catered for with comfortable ergonomically designed seats with adjustable headrest and personal 12.1 inch touch screen TV’s, showing the latest in entertainment. Each seat features a laptop power supply and USB port, wi-fi access and mobile phone connectivity allowing passengers to stay connected throughout the flight.

Emirates started flying to Houston in December 2007, directly connecting the city with the energy sector hubs in Dubai and the Middle East. Since then, Emirates has seen steady growth in business and leisure travellers, thanks to the city’s strong international community and corporate industries and last year connected around 190,000 people and over 7,900 tonnes of cargo from a range of industries including the construction and automotive sectors.

San Francisco is a city which Emirates has served since December 2008. As a world-renowned corporate and tourism destination, it offers global travellers access to incredible culture and cuisine from Napa Valley to Silicon Valley. Emirates’ ties to the City by the Bay extend beyond the airport, as a proud supporter of the San Francisco Symphony orchestra.

San Francisco and Houston will be the 31st and 32nd destinations on Emirates network serviced by the A380. Tickets for these routes are available for purchase through customers’ preferred travel agency, Emirates’ ticket offices or online at www.emirates.com

New Heathrow megaterminal starts operations

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

First passengers arrived at Star Alliance's new home at Heathrow The new Terminal 2 - the home of Star Alliance at Heathrow - threw open its doors to welcome its first passengers, marking the start of a new travel experience for the 12 million Star Alliance passengers who pass through this leading UK airport every year.

Star Alliance member airline United is the first to move in to the new facility, known as Terminal 2 | the Queen's Terminal for her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. All 23 Star Alliance airlines operating Heathrow will move over the next six months: the first time all member airlines will be collocated at the airport.

"After many years of planning and construction, tests and optimisation, we at Star Alliance are proud to welcome the first passengers into the new terminal," said Star Alliance CEO Mark Schwab. "It is particularly fitting that one of our five founder members, United, should operate the first flights from this terminal, which sets new standards for Alliance customer service and seamless travel at this important hub airport."

The first flight to arrive at the new terminal was United's service UA 958 from Chicago, which landed at 05:43 local time and reached gate B38 at 05:49, six minutes ahead of schedule. The Boeing 767-300 had 178 passengers and 11 crew on board.

Terminal 2, designed by lead architect Luis Vidal, was jointly developed by Heathrow, Star Alliance and its member carriers, with the aim of establishing a true seamless hub at one of the world's premier international airports.

Optimised for today's air traveller, the facilities of the 23 Star Alliance airlines are integrated to an unprecedented level - laying the groundwork for customer service excellence. Once all airlines are in residence, connections for transfer passengers will be smoother than ever before at Heathrow, with a standardised minimum connection time of just 60 minutes.

Move dates for the remaining 22 airlines have been carefully planned to ensure that each group of airlines has time to embed its operations before the next set of carriers moves in.

Air Canada, Air China and ANA will be the next new occupants, transferring their operations to T2 from June 18th. In July, Aegean, EVA Air, THAI, and Turkish Airlines will move in, together with Avianca - which will launch a service  between London and Bogota on July 4th.

After a break for the European summer holiday period, moves will resume in September with EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines, Scandinavian Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Then finally, October sees the arrival of Air New Zealand, Asiana  Airlines, Austrian, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, South African Airways, SWISS and TAP Portugal.

A positive tone for the passenger journey is set by the architectural design of the terminal, which uses natural light to create an open and airy atmosphere. Its open-plan check-in facility is directly adjacent to the security area. Passengers exit security on the top level of a two-tier international departures hall, with a clear view out onto the airport.

This is just one example of the logical passenger flows that underpin the terminal's design. Departing and arriving passengers pass through the building on different levels, guided by clear signage. Transfer passengers follow a separate channel from the arrival gate to security and then join the departing passengers flow.

Technology is integrated into the terminal experience and will be used throughout to give the passenger control of their journey. The check-in area has been specially designed for speed and efficiency. Airlines are grouped in zones, while a row of 81 common use self-service kiosks can be used by any passenger to check in and/or print a bag tag before they proceed to a bag drop desk to hand their luggage to an agent.

Full-service traditional check-in desks are provided for the use of First Class, Business class and Star Alliance Gold passengers. Premium passengers also have a fast-track option to speed them through the security checks.

Eight out of 12 gates at the T2B satellite will allow self-boarding, meaning passengers simply pass through a mechanical barrier to board their flight.

Four airline lounges will be available for premium passengers, including those with Star Alliance Gold status. These are located in the main terminal building and the satellite, so eligible passengers can relax close to their gate.

The 23 Star Alliance airlines serving Heathrow are Aegean Airlines, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Avianca, Brussels Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, Ethiopian Airlines, EVA Air, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, and United.

Together they operate over 121 flights per day to 45 destinations in 25 countries. Each of these flights acts as a gateway to the full Alliance network of more than 18,000 daily flights to 1,269 airports in 193 countries.

The strong Star Alliance hub at Heathrow is expected to act as a catalyst for growth in global passenger traffic to London and to increase the attractiveness of Heathrow as an international transfer airport. It will enhance Heathrow's standing for the truly frequent international traveller.

Alaska Airliners to increase its Seattle departures by 11% next spring

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Alaska Airlines, which provides travelers with more nonstop flights from Seattle than any other carrier, will increase its departures for its hometown customers by 11 percent next spring. Alaska's daily departures out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport will increase from 253 to 280, giving travelers more options to the places they want to fly most.

"Alaska Airlines has been flying out of Seattle for more than half a century and we're proud to offer our customers nearly four times the departures to more destinations than any other airline," said Joe Sprague, senior vice president of communications and external relations. "With convenient nonstop service to 79 destinations from Seattle, our customers can fly to 80 percent of the places they want to go and this increases to 99 percent when combining Alaska's flights and those of our partner airlines."

Alaska Airlines will add 27 new roundtrips, including one daily between Seattle and Boise, Idaho, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Fairbanks, Alaska, and Palm Springs and Sacramento, California. The airline will also add two more daily roundtrips between Seattle and Los Angeles, and three more roundtrip shuttle flights between Seattle and Portland, Oregon. A Boeing 737 will replace a Bombardier Q400 on two of the 16 daily roundtrip flights between Seattle and Spokane, Washington, increasing the number of seats on Alaska between the state's largest two cities from 3,200 to 3,350 a day. View the additional flights at http://bit.ly/TQMhxb .

The 11 percent increase in Seattle departures also includes previously announced service to six new destinations, including Albuquerque, New Mexico, Baltimore, Detroit, New Orleans, Tampa, Florida, and Cancún, Mexico.

Swiss International Air Lines to increase Miami-Zurich flights for winter 2014

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) will increase frequencies on its popular daily Miami-Zurich route to 14 flights per week during the Winter 2014-15 season. Strong demand on the transatlantic route, which operated 10 weekly flights during the Winter 2013-14 season, prompted Switzerland’s flagship airline to add the four additional weekly flights.

The added frequencies will take effect on October 27 and operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays through March 27, 2015. SWISS operates daily flights between Miami and Zurich year-round and increases flight frequencies during the busy winter travel months. The carrier normally operates the route using Airbus A330-300 aircraft and will add Airbus A340-300 aircraft to help accommodate the additional flights.

“Miami-Dade County continues to be an attractive international destination, and we welcome the news that longtime airline partner SWISS will be increasing their already-substantial flight offerings from MIA next winter,” said Miami-Dade Aviation Department Director Emilio T. González. “As a consistently strong performer that connects two premier cities, the Miami-Zurich route is a natural candidate for this sort of expansion.”

New cabins for SAS long haul aircraft

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

SAS is updating the interior of its long haul fleet with new seats, new entertainment system and WiFi access.

Seven SAS Airbus A330/A340s are having cabin upgrades. The interior design is ultra modern with greater cabin comfort in the shape of new seats in all classes. To make flights even more comfortable, a new on-demand entertainment system with HD large screens is being installed along with WiFi access.

The materials and color scheme in the new cabins have been chosen to create a welcoming and relaxing atmosphere. The seating in SAS Go and SAS Plus is designed with good storage to create extra space. All seats in SAS Business have direct access to aisles and can be folded flat for maximum comfort. The bedding comes from Hästens, the oldest bed manufacturer in Sweden, to ensure that passengers enjoy a high class sleeping experience.

"SAS customers will enjoy a totally new travel experience in our upgraded cabins. The new interior is designed to meet the needs of frequent flyers and substantially enhances our customer offer," says Rickard Gustafson, President and CEO of SAS.

The first plane with the new cabin is expected to go into service in early 2015 and the majority of the SAS long haul fleet will have the new interior within 12 months. SAS currently flies long haul to New York, Chicago, Washington, San Francisco, Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo and Houston (from August 2014).

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