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Law firm urges airlines to follow guidelines to avoid potentially huge Ebola claims

  • Written by Kari Reinikainen
  • Category: Air & Sea

Airlines should follow World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for dealing with passengers travelling from Ebola-infected areas if they are to avoid unnecessary legal action by infected passengers.

 

This call by Sean Gates, Consultant at the international law firm Hill Dickinson, follows recent news that passengers arriving at Heathrow and Gatwick airports and Eurostar train terminals are to be screened for Ebola.

 

He has strongly advised airlines to follow the WHO and the CDC guidelines and any others that may be applicable to ensure that they have no liability to passengers, regulators or third parties in other countries infected by a sick passenger. This follows the recent death of Thomas Eric Duncan at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.  

 

Gates warned in a statement: “If it can be proven that airlines have not complied then they may have to pay claims though they will commonly be insured up to $2bn. This would be fine for passengers but if some court in the US found the airline liable for importing the disease, and that victims were within the ambit of their duty of care, then the exposure could easily exceed the available insurance.

 

“It they breach regulations then there may also be penalties. There is also the commercial damage which could ensue the terms of damage to reputation.”

Please note that Hill Dickinson is available to advise on handling, remediation, exposure and the extent of and responsibility of insurers

Air Canada announces new destinations

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Air Canada announced today it will introduce year-round mainline service to Amsterdam from Toronto beginning in June 2015 as part of the continuing expansion of its international network. Additions to the summer network also include new Air Canada rouge seasonal service from Montreal to Venice and between Vancouver and Osaka.

"Air Canada will continue its international expansion drive next summer, led by the addition of Amsterdam to its mainline global network. Apart from being a popular tourist destination, Amsterdam is also a key business market with longstanding links to Canada. Air Canada is the only Canadian carrier to offer the route year-round and it will complement our existing service to Brussels, giving customers easier access to the Benelux region," said Benjamin Smith, President, Passenger Airlines, at Air Canada. "In addition to Amsterdam, for summer 2015 Air Canada will launch new double-daily, non-stop Air Canada service to Paris from both Toronto and Montreal, and new Air Canada rouge service between Vancouver and Osaka and between Montreal and Venice. It will also offer increased weekly Air Canada rouge frequencies to such popular destinations as Barcelona and Athens."

Highlights of the 2015 summer schedule include

–    Year-round Air Canada service between Toronto-Pearson and Amsterdam operated with a 211-seat, Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with 24 International Business Class pods, featuring fully lie-flat seats. Flights begin June 4, 2015 and will be operated up to six times weekly.

–    Double-daily Air Canada service from both Toronto and Montreal-Trudeau to Paris-Charles de Gaulle, the additional flights will be offered from June to September and be operated using Boeing 767-300ER aircraft with 24 International Business Class pods featuring fully lie-flat seats.

–    New non-stop Air Canada services from Toronto to Rio de Janeiro and from Toronto to Panama City introduced for winter 2014-15 will continue to operate during the summer of 2015

–    New Air Canada rouge twice weekly service between Montreal and Venice beginning May 14, 2015, and, subject to government approval, up to five flights per week between Vancouver and Osaka-Kansai beginning May 1, 2015

–    Air Canada rouge service from Toronto to Athens and Barcelona will increase to daily from five times a week in summer 2014, and service from Toronto to Venice increases to four times from three weekly. From Montreal, Air Canada rouge service to Athens will double to four times weekly and service to Barcelona will increase to three-times weekly from twice weekly in summer 2014. Overall, Air Canada rouge service to Athens, Barcelona, Lisbon, Manchester and Nice will operate a longer season during the summer of 2015 over summer 2014

–    Air Canada rouge will begin operating year-round service between Toronto and Lima, Peru beginning May 2, 2015, subject to government approval, following the transfer of the route from Air Canada.

Finnair reveals cabin design for next-generation Airbus A350 XWB aircraft

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Finnair A350 Business class cabin 1000px

As the European launch customer of the next-generation Airbus A350 XWB (extra wide body) aircraft, Finnair has completed the cabin design of its new flagship longhaul product due to enter service next year. Created by top Helsinki firm dSign Vertti Kivi & Co, also the designer of Finnair’s new Premium Lounge at Helsinki Airport, the A350’s bright and spacious cabin features large panoramic view windows and comfortable seating arrangements in both classes. Gradual changes in dynamic ambient LED lighting ease customers into a relaxing flight experience and help create a calming and fresh atmosphere. All Finnair A350s will also be equipped with Wi-Fi for greater passenger enjoyment and connectivity.

“We have worked hard to create a special customer experience onboard the new A350XWB aircraft and are proud to bring Finnish design to Finnair’s passengers,” says designer Vertti Kivi. “Our Space Alive concept means dynamic lighting, colours and moods to suit the time of day, destination or season. For example, when descending in the East the aircraft can be awash in warm orange tones, or surface interiors may glow in fresh blue hues when arriving in Helsinki.”

The Airbus A350 also features an advanced pure air filtration system that changes the air in the cabin every two to three minutes. Draft-free air management, adjustable multiple temperature zones and a lower cabin pressure also enhance the well-being of passengers and crew.

The 297-seat configuration includes 46 seats in Business Class in a 1+2+1 layout, ensuring direct aisle access to all Business Class passengers. The Zodiac Cirrus III seats convert to fully flat beds, while a 16-inch touch-screen inflight entertainment system comes programmed with films, TV shows, music and other digital content on demand in numerous languages. Seats in Business Class also come equipped with AC and USB power outlets.

The Economy Class cabin features comfortable Zodiac Z300 slim-line seats with a 31-inch seat pitch in a 3+3+3 layout. At the front of the Economy Class cabin are 43 Economy Comfort seats, with comfier headrests, high-quality headphones and four extra inches of leg room. All seats in Economy include an 11-inch touch screen inflight entertainment system and USB power outlets.

“Since Finnair’s founding in 1923, we have had a long history of operations using the most advanced aircraft available,” says Finnair CEO Pekka Vauramo. “As the first European operator of the A350 we are proud to carry forward this tradition on behalf of our passengers, whose safety and comfort remain our first priority.”

Finnair plans to begin operating its first A350s in the second half of next year, initially serving Shanghai, Bangkok and Beijing, with Hong Kong and Singapore A350 service to be added in 2016. Finnair has 11 firm orders and 8 options for A350 aircraft, which will form the backbone of the company’s long-haul fleet and drive expansion plans.

The eco-smart design of the A350 also brings more than 25 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and operating cost over the previous generation of aircraft in its class, significantly reducing the carbon footprint of Finnair and its passengers.

Etihad's Alitalia deal to strengthen Rome and Milan hubs

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Etihad Airways and Alitalia have signed the transaction implementation agreement which will result in a €1,758 million investment to build a reinvigorated Alitalia as a competitive, sustainably profitable business. The recapitalised Italian national airline will now be able to invest in a comprehensive strategic business plan which will see new long-haul routes from Rome and Milan, a revitalized brand, and a greater focus on Italian tourism and trade promotion. Italian travellers will be able to benefit from a wider choice of destinations while new global connections will boost inbound tourism.

Etihad Airways’ investment of €560 million will be provided through a combination of equity injections, asset purchases and other financing facilities and funding arrangements to re-structure the airline’s balance sheet.  This is to be complemented by a further equity investment of €300 million from existing core Alitalia shareholders, including Intesa San Paolo (€88m), Poste Italiane (€75m), UniCredit (€63.5m), Atlantia (€51m), IMMSI (€10m), Pirelli (€10m) and Gavio (€2.5m).

Additionally, up to €598 million in financial restructuring of short and medium term debt has been provided by financial institutions and existing bank shareholders.  €300 million of new loan facilities have also been extended by Italian financial institutions.

Etihad Airways will take a 49 per cent shareholding in Alitalia, for an investment of €387.5 million.  Its total investment also includes €112.5 million to acquire a 75 per cent interest in Alitalia Loyalty Spa, which operates MilleMiglia, the airline’s frequent flier programme, and the purchase by Etihad Airways of five pairs of slots at London’s Heathrow Airport valued at €60 million. The slot pairs will be leased back to Alitalia on an arm’s length basis.  The transaction is due to be completed on 31 December 2014.

Completion of the equity investment remains subject to completion by Alitalia and its key private and public stakeholders of certain conditions precedent and is also subject to final regulatory approvals.

Etihad Airways President and Chief Executive Officer, James Hogan, said: “For Etihad Airways, this is a strategic, long-term commercial investment. On completion, we are committed, with the other shareholders, to build a reinvigorated Alitalia as a competitive, sustainable and profitable business that can operate successfully in the global air travel market.

“We believe in Alitalia. It is great brand with enormous potential. With the right level of capitalisation and a strong, strategic business plan, we have confidence the airline can be turned around and repositioned as a premium global airline once again.

“Alitalia is the perfect ambassador for Italy and all that it represents. As we revitalise the brand, the airline will increasingly embody all that we recognise as quintessentially Italian – the history, culture, food and fashion. It must be an airline of which Italians can be proud.

“However ultimately it has to work as a business and the goal is for sustainable profitability from 2017.”

Mr Hogan said he recognised that many steps had been taken by current Alitalia shareholders, management and workers to stabilise the business ahead of new investment. “Alitalia can succeed and it can grow again but it needs to build from solid foundations.  We have made it clear from the start that our entire investment should be focused on supporting the implementation of the new business plan, which will see this goal come to fruition. “The winners from this successful strategy will be Italian and international travellers, who will see better service, new routes and greater competitive choice; Alitalia’s employees, who can look forward to a brighter future over the long term, in a business which will grow again; and the Italian people, who can be proud once again of their national airline.

“There is a long road ahead, first to complete the transaction and then to deliver this new vision.  Today marks a critical step on that journey and we are proud to take our place as a strategic investor in the new Alitalia.”Gabriele Del Torchio, Chief Executive Officer of Alitalia, said: “This is an excellent outcome for Alitalia. We have had to take some tough decisions in a very robust negotiation process but we have achieved the consensus we require to create the right shape and size for Alitalia in the future.

“This investment will provide financial stability and enable us to position Alitalia, and the travel and tourism industry in Italy, for long-term growth.

“And for this important result I’d like to thank all the Alitalia staff - men and women, managers and workers, pilots, crew and office staff – who have worked with passion and commitment for our new launch.  The transition to a sustainable and profitable Alitalia has required tough decisions but we all share the conviction that this new beginning, oriented towards growth, will bring new opportunities for everyone.”

The comprehensive business plan provides for the revitalization of Alitalia’s brand, to embody all the things for which Italy is renowned – food, fashion, culture and lifestyle – in a ‘Made in Italy’ premium service concept and guest experience.

This will be accompanied by the implementation of measures to drive increased inbound tourism into Italy and to support the country’s economic growth.

While maintaining the relevance of short-haul routes, the proposed network plan focuses on the profitable growth of long-haul flying from both Rome Fiumicino and Milan Malpensa. This will include flights to new destinations, increased frequency in certain existing markets and an enhanced network to Abu Dhabi to capitalise on growing traffic between Italy and the UAE, and provide Alitalia’s passengers with seamless connectivity to Etihad Airways’ global network.

Starting from Winter 2014, Alitalia will increase frequency between Rome Fiumicino and Abu Dhabi from five per week to a daily service, and commence a new daily service between Milan Malpensa and Abu Dhabi. This flying will complement Etihad Airways’ existing daily services on these markets and open up a range of new connecting opportunities for passengers of both airlines.

From Summer 2015, Alitalia will also begin to implement connections between other Italian cities and Abu Dhabi, with plans for direct flights from markets such as Venice, Catania and Bologna.

Rome Fiumicino will emerge as a larger European intercontinental hub, with up to five new routes over the next four years, while long-haul flights from Milan Malpensa will more than double to 25 flights a week by 2018. Alitalia’s widebody fleet is planned to grow by a third, while its narrowbody fleet will be rightsized to meet the requirements of the new network plan.

Members of the MilleMiglia frequent flier program will be able to ‘earn and burn’ on Etihad Airways and partner airlines, with future integration of the programmes planned.

While network integration and optimization will deliver top-line revenue growth for Alitalia, the cost synergies inherent in the partnership will provide substantial opportunities. These include streamlined hub operations, and joint procurement in the areas of aircraft, engines, maintenance-repair-operations, training, catering, ground-handling and fuel. The partnership will also pave the way for the redesigning and automating processes and working arrangements in line with best practice, and the adoption of leading IT platforms.

James Hogan said: “Italy is a hugely important market for Etihad Airways, from both trade and tourism points of view. The UAE is Italy’s top trading partner in the Middle East and North Africa region, and is home to more than 10,000 Italian citizens and 300 Italian companies.

“The possibilities when we knit together our network with those of our existing equity partners, including airberlin, Air Serbia, Etihad Regional, Jet Airways, Virgin Australia, Air Seychelles and Aer Lingus, and of course our strategic codeshare partner, KLM-Air France, will provide the most compelling customer offering.”

Etihad Airways currently operates daily services from Abu Dhabi to Rome and Milan, which complement Alitalia’s five flights a week from Rome to Abu Dhabi. The two airlines also codeshare to a total of 31 other destinations.

Delta announces new service from Amsterdam to Salt Lake City

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Delta Air Lines will launch daily nonstop services from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol to Salt Lake City International Airport in May 2015. The summer service, Delta’s ninth destination from Amsterdam, will be operated in conjunction with joint venture partners Air France, KLM and Alitalia.

The new service will be part of a planned eight percent capacity increase at Delta’s Salt Lake City hub over the next five years. The airline’s existing daily nonstop service from Paris Charles De Gaulle Airport launched in June 2008 and is currently the only trans-Atlantic service offered by any airline from Salt Lake City. Operations from Amsterdam will begin with five flights a week on May 1, 2015 before rising to a daily operation from May 14, 2015.

“Amsterdam has always been a strategically important hub for Delta,” said Perry Cantarutti, Delta’s senior vice president for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “Together with our joint venture partners Air France, KLM and Alitalia, we already offer 28 peak-day flights between Amsterdam and the U.S. and the addition of Salt Lake City to the network will provide customers with even greater choice when flying across the Atlantic”.

The new route brings Delta’s U.S. network from Amsterdam to eight destinations. The airline also flies nonstop to Mumbai, India, from Schiphol. Once in the U.S., customers can connect to more than 66 destinations throughout North America, Latin America and the Caribbean.

The service will be operated using a Boeing 767-300ER aircraft featuring fully flat-bed seats with direct aisle access in a 1x2x1 configuration in the BusinessElite cabin, Customers flying in Economy Comfort, Delta’s premium economy service, benefit from up to four additional inches of legroom and 50 percent more recline than Delta’s standard international Economy class seats, as well as priority boarding. Other product initiatives being rolled out across Delta’s international fleet include the expansion of Wi-Fi service by the end of 2015..

Delta is the largest airline in Salt Lake City with more than 260 peak-day departures to nearly 90 destinations, including seven international destinations. Earlier this month, Delta re-affirmed its commitment to the area with a groundbreaking event for Salt Lake City International Airport’s $1.8 billion terminal redevelopment programme. The first major phase of construction is expected to be completed in 2019.

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