United to increase Polaris class across fleet
United Airlines has announced plans to increase the number of Polaris business class seats on more than 100 of its aircraft. UA’s B767-300ER which currently flies on the Newark-London Heathrow route will receive an additional 16 seats, bringing the Polaris total up to 46. The upgraded aircraft will commence on the route over the next several weeks, with 21 of the B767s to be reconfigured by the end of 2020.
BA & AA announce USD$344m terminal upgrade at JFK
British Airways and American Airlines have announced a USD$344 million upgrade to Terminal 8 at New York’s JFK airport, ahead of their co-location from 2022. The upgrade will include five new gates, new business lounges, premium check-in and many new dining and retail options. Together the airlines offer up to 70 daily flights between North America and London. This investment in JFK will enhance the airport experience for many intercontinental business travellers.
Air France unveils A330 Business Class upgrade
Air France has commenced rolling out its new business class seating for its Airbus A330s, with one aircraft already fitted. The seats will remain in a 2-2-2 configuration but will offer privacy dividers, 2m long recline and an 18.5″ entertainment screen. Business Class passengers can also enjoy a self-service bar and the latest high-speed Wi-Fi service, complimentary for messaging apps. All 15 of the A330-200s are expected to reach completion by the end of 2020.
oneworld to open its airport lounge network
The oneworld alliance has announced it will open its inaugural airport lounge in the second half of 2019, though no details of which airport will host the lounge have been revealed. The oneworld-branded lounges will be available to business class and first-class passengers as well as top-tier frequent flyers holding each member airline’s equivalent of oneworld Emerald and Sapphire status. Another two lounges are expected to open in 2020, with a focus on airports or terminals without a home carrier which belongs to oneworld.
Heathrow Express accepts contactless
As of 19 February, passengers can now use contactless payment including Oyster cards and mobile devices on the Heathrow Express service. New barriers have been installed at Heathrow and Paddington and charge the same Peak and Off-Peak Express prices.
SIA extends meal pre-ordering
Singapore Airlines has announced a new service for passengers travelling in Suites, First Class and Business Class to pre-order main courses from the in-flight menus. SIA has become the first carrier to roll out the bespoke service on all flights, with plans to extend the facility to Premium Economy Class in the near future. Passengers in the premium cabins can view the in-flight menu and pre-order main courses from the SIA website at any time from three weeks to 24 hours before travel.
LHR looks at AI for runway efficiency
London Heathrow airport will soon undergo testing for new ultra-high-definition cameras that will help reduce delays in plane landings by accurately determining when the runways are clear. The cameras will send the live images into an artificial intelligence platform, which will interpret the images and reveal to controllers when a particular aircraft has cleared the runway.
Star Alliance Amsterdam lounge to open 7 March
The new Star Alliance lounge at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport will officially open on 7 March 2019 to business class travellers and top-tier frequent flyers. The upgrade will see increased capacity for up to 200 passengers, with tarmac views and a buffet service to cater to guests’ with limited time before flights.
Changes to Qantas’ London chauffeur service
Qantas is making changes to its free chauffeur service for London business class and first-class passengers. Currently, the service is complimentary up to up 70-mile radius from London Heathrow Airport, but this will be reduced to 50 miles from 1 March. All bookings made on/before 1 March 2019 for travel up until 1 March 2020 will honour the current 70-mile radius.
New Istanbul airport to open in March
From 3 March 2019, the new Istanbul airport (IGA) will begin passenger operation following the final phase of construction. Once open, the airport will have capacity for 200 million passengers annually, making it 3.5 times bigger than Beijing airport and officially the largest airport in the world.
Brisbane Airport trials speedier security check
Trials for a new computed tomography (CT) cabin baggage scanner have begun at Brisbane Airport, which aims to speed up the airport security check by eliminating the need to remove laptops, powders, liquids, aerosols and gels out of their bag. The scanners improve the quality of the X-ray scanning through the use of multiple cameras from different angles, and if successful, will be installed throughout the airport to improve the travel experience.
New Trains for London City
A new fleet of trains for London’s Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is under discussion, with a contract to be signed for the new deal in a matter of months. The trains are expected to commence service from 2020 and are part of TfL’s multi-billion-pound programme of public transport improvements to support London’s growth and new homes and jobs.
Next step for Stansted terminal
Stanford Airport’s terminal upgrade project has appointed Mace as the main contractor, with work to commence in spring 2019. The new £150m arrivals terminal is the flagship project of the airport’s £600m upgrade and will include larger immigration and baggage areas and improved access for transport from the airport.
Iberia shrinks carbon footprint
The first of Iberia’s A320NEO aircraft are already delivering incredible savings of up to 20% in fuel burn per seat. The new engines provide greater efficiency cutting engine noise by almost 50% and giving NOx emissions 50% below the current industry standard. Through wing-tip devices known as Sharklets, the airline has seen an annual reduction in CO2 emissions of around 900 tonnes per aircraft.
Finnair boosts Heathrow to Helsinki
Finnair will boost capacity on its popular Heathrow to Helsinki service from 31 March 2019, for the summer season. The extra daily flight will increase capacity by 20%, while the addition of an Airbus A330 on route will provide greater comfort for passengers, offering fully lie-flat seats in Business Class.
Clayton Hotel City of London
On Thursday 24 January, Clayton Hotels officially opened their City of London property. The four-star hotel is conveniently located next to London’s financial hub, providing business travellers with high quality, affordable accommodation that embraces East End tradition and contemporary creativity.
New Dalata Hotel for Dublin
Dalata Hotels have confirmed plans to open a new hotel as part of Dublin’s Spencer Place development on Dublin’s north quays. The 200-room, four-star hotel is scheduled to open in the last quarter of 2020 and will remain under the Dalata portfolio despite sporting bespoke branding inline with the broader Spencer Place development.
IHG opens newest UK voco hotel
Following the debut of IHG’s voco brand in Cardiff last year, the company has since opened its second property in the UK in the West Midland’s town of Solihull. The newest addition to the franchise, voco St. John’s, Solihull offers 180 guest rooms and over 1,230sqm of meetings and events space covering 13 different rooms. There’s a fully equipped health club featuring a gym, lap pool and sauna, and a newly-refurbished restaurant and bar.
Transformation of Doyle’s The River Lee property
The Doyle Collection has recently completed a multi-million-euro upgrade of its Cork property, The River Lee. The hotel’s ground floor and guest rooms have seen significant enhancements, while a glamorous new event space compliments the hotel’s New York-style bar and terrace.