It seems the current conflict between Israel and Palestine is beginning to impact airlines, after a rocket landing near 1 mile away from Ben Gurion Airport.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Notice To Airmen (NOTAM) stating prohibiting landing at Tel Aviv for 24 hours stating:

“U.S. airlines that they are prohibited from flying to or from Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport for a period of up to 24 hours.  The notice was issued in response to a rocket strike which landed approximately one mile from Ben Gurion International Airport on the morning of July 22, 2014.  The NOTAM applies only to U.S. operators, and has no authority over foreign airlines operating to or from the airport.”

The FAA Press Release with the full NOTAM is at http://www.faa.gov/news/press_releases/news_story.cfm?newsId=16694

All US Airlines have reacted, with US Airways not operating its Philadelphia to Tel Aviv service today, United scrapping its services and Delta diverting one of its services en-route to Tel Aviv to Paris CDG.

Both Delta and United have suspended services for now until further notice.

European carriers are reacting the situation, with airlines making their own plans and actions. Lufthansa Group Airlines (Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Swiss) choose not to fly to Tel Aviv for the next 36 hours as well as Air France and KLMBrussels Airlines will not be operating services for the next three days.

Other carriers are monitoring the situation, with EasyJet allowing changes in tickets, whilst British Airways will continue to operate services until advice changes from other sources.

The Israeli Transportation Ministry has asked the airlines to reverse their decision, saying the airport was “safe for landings and departures” according to the BBC.

Expect changes, delays and cancellations, as well as heightened security on these routes.

 

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It seems as Cathay Pacific moves their fleet around, aircraft are being switched out in favour of different planes.

This is visible in Cathay Pacific’s plans to switch out Airbus A340-300s for Boeing 777-300ERs on their from Amsterdam, Paris and Rome.


Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300ER at London Heathrow – Image GhettoIFE.

First to switch over will be the service to Amsterdam, which will go over to a Three Class Boeing 777-300ER (from an A340-300) on 1st November 2014.

Cathay Pacific Amsterdam to Hong Kong
Amsterdam – Hong Kong – 77W showing.

Rome will follow, a Three Class Boeing 777-300ER (from an A340-300) on 2nd January 2015.

Cathay Pacific Rome to Hong Kong
Rome FCO to Hong Kong – 777-300ER showing.

Finally the 2nd Paris service (which is suspend between 25th October 2014 and 9th January 2015) will operate Three Class Boeing 777-300ER from 10th January 2015 on a three time a week basis on flight pair CX278/279.  Those who want an extra class from Paris to Hong Kong can use CX260/261 pair which continues to operate on a daily basis.

Cathay Pacific Paris to Hong Kong
Paris CDG to Hong Kong – Both showing 777-300ERs

Checking the booking engines, these flights are visible and are available to book.

From a comfort perspective, there are more seats aboard a 777-300ER (in either configuration), with those in economy class probably going to have to get used to a 9 across configuration as opposed to an 8 across configuration aboard an A340.

Still, it adds extra capacity between Europe and Hong Kong – always helpful when trying to locate seats, revenue or otherwise…


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With the MH17 disaster turning into something that it shouldn’t be, lets take a step away and look at some of the repercussions for people intending to fly on Malaysia Airlines.

For those looking at MH17 in the future, the flight number will be retired on Friday, and replace with MH19 as the Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur service.  The new flight pair will operate as:

MH16 DEPART KUL 23:55 ARRIVE AMS 0645+1
MH19 DEPART AMS 12:00 ARRIVE KUL 0610+1

Booked Equipment: Boeing 777-200 
Operates Daily

Data: Airlineroute

Additionally, the KLM code share on this flight - KL4103 – will be retired and renumbered as KL4123. If you have outstanding reservations on these services, it could be worth checking for changes.

For those who are uncomfortable to fly on Malaysia Airlines, the airline is offering rebooking and refunds on all tickets (including tickets marked non-refundable). Tickets that will be open for changes from 18 July 2014 until 24 July 2014, for travel between 18 July 2014 until 31 Dec 2014, and covers revenue bookings as well as mileage redemption bookings for Enrich Members. You’ll need to contact a Malaysia Airlines ticketing office, or contact one of their call centres.

The impact of MH17 will be long-lasting, with Malaysia Airlines loosing two wide-bodied jets will all souls aboard within a period of 5 months.Whilst the airline scrambles to resume a sense of normality, you have to begin to question the long-term viability of Malaysia Airlines… and if it can recover from these devastating incidents.

Meanwhile, airlines are avoiding flying through Ukraine, and taking diversions around the area, whilst those who fly to Kiev are keeping their services under review.  Even the Head of IATA – Tony Tyler – calls the incident “an attack against the air transport system, which is an instrument of peace”

Still, for now – airlines operates as normal as it can be, as does Malaysia Airlines who thoughts are with the 298 souls who lost their lives over the skies of Ukraine five days ago.


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Posted by Kevincm | 3 Comments

It seems Uber isn’t winning any friends in Seoul, with Seoul’s City Council preparing to ban Uber, with the council concerns including  background checks made on drivers, the upkeep of vehicle used for Uber, and the impact Uber has made on traditional taxi services.

Uber was introduced into Seoul in August 2013, operating their “Uber Black” service, but it seems this is too much for Seoul City authorities.

Of course, to help those Uberless passengers, Seoul City Council will roll out its own apps to hail and find taxis. Which is conveniently timed.

Uber isn’t particularity happy about this, with comments that it doesn’t run directly run a taxi service, rather it is “technology company that connects drivers with passengers”. There’s also a rather cutting remark of:

“Comments like these show Seoul is in danger of remaining trapped in the past and getting left behind by the global ‘sharing economy’ movement”

For a lot of people Uber offers a convenient option, without the need to deal with cash and a user interface.  Lyft and other services seem to make people happy when it comes to travel options – rather than running the risk of the local taxi driver.

But some see this as a threat to the traditional taxi trade. Whilst they can both co-exist, some will feel threatened by a change to the norm, and will fight what they believe is “right”.

As a consumer, it’s all down to choice. I opt for a licensed taxi for most of my taxi travels normally (mainly as I don’t trust some of the private operators as far as I throw them where I live, and 2) I’ve got no Uber coverage here), and they are making some signs of modernising (in taking cards, taking online bookings, etc).  Is it enough? There’s always another choice if a taxi I need doesn’t have what I want….

And unlike a lot of Uber posts, there’s no referral credit or sign up requests! ;)

 


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It’s Sunday again, so it must be time for some more Airplane Art.

This week, resting under cloudy skies are a pair of Qantas Airbus A380 aircraft at London Heathrow Airport parked away from the gates as they await their evening returns duties to Australia..

Qantas A380s at London Heathrow - Image (c) GhettoIFE

The image is clickable if you want to see a larger version – and yes you can keep them for your desktops!

More airplane art next week!


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It’s Saturday again, so it must be time for another video to lighten the week.

This weeks video comes from Boeing who showed off their Boeing 787-9 aircraft performance at the Farnborough Air Show this year as it conducts some great manoeuvres during its flying display

The demonstration shows the climb performance, banked turnings, roll performance and a touch and go – things you wouldn’t expect to see in day-to-day flight of a Boeing 787-9… or a commercial aircraft. However, it’s great to see a plane like this do these sort of manoeuvres – and its capable of them.

Another video next week!


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Yes, it’s that time again with the Queensway tunnels that skirt around the city centre of Birmingham to close for 6 weeks over the summer period from 10pm Friday 18th July 2014 until 6am Monday 1st September 2014.

The works are to include renewing the ventilation system, installing new security and communications systems, replacing electrical systems and refurbishing pumping stations and plant rooms. Which is a fancy way of saying they need to close it for a continuous period to get the work done.

These tunnels form part of the A38 – a major artery in and out of the city, connecting the north of the city (via the Aston Expressway – A38M), and the south of the city (the A38). So having a major artery closed like this is going to have a major impact on the ability to get in and out of the city.

Here’s a map of the closures.


Closures this year – Image, Birmingham City Council

So what advice as a local would I give?

  • Give up on getting into the city via either end of the A38. Find a diversionary route if you need to get into the city, which brings me onto my second point
  • Use the Ring Road. The A4540 is a pain of a road, but if you’re looking for a different point to enter Birmingham City Centre with, this could be the main way in if you’re going by car.
  • Use the Bus. Whilst not as developed as Manchester’s bus network or London’s routes, Birmingham has got excellent coverage through the main routes to most part of the city and beyond. National Express West Midlands have special fares going during the roadworks (as well as multiple diversions – check before you travel where you bus will go in and out of the city).
  • Use the Train or Metro – Both have substantial park and ride facilities on their routes, allowing you to skip the the nasty traffic and get into the heart of the city. Network West Midlands has great resources for locating park and ride locations
  • It isn’t THAT bad. Last year there were threats of gridlock would hit the city, and to be honest – it didn’t, because people changed their habits, and traffic was lighter due to the school holidays.

However, delays are expected at peak periods, so plan your journey in advance if you’re coming to Birmingham.


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Emirates seem to have an abundance of Airbus A380 aircraft, and it seems the airline will deploy the double decker superjumbo plane on a 1 hour and 45 minute flight between Dubai and Kuwait.

Emirates Airbus A380 preparing for take off at London Heathrow - Image GhettoIFE a
Emirates Airbus A380 preparing for take off at London Heathrow – Image GhettoIFE.

I think Lucky could probably squeeze in at least one shower during that flight length, but he’d have fight to get to the shower in that flight time and have a meal too (although the term “challenge accepted” does come to mind)!

The flight will switch over from the currently used Boeing 777-200LR operated service to an Airbus A380 on flight pair EK857/858.

EK857 DEPART DXB 16:00 ARRIVE KWI 16:45 
EK858 DEPART KWI 18:25 ARRIVE DXB 21:10

Service bookable from today
Booked Equipment on this rotation: Airbus A380 

The service is available for booking through all classes (Economy, Business and First) after quickly examining the Emirates fare engine:

Emirates A380 DXB to KWI booking
Outbound segment
Emirates A380 KWI to DXB booking
Inbound segment

Emirates offer five flights a day between Dubai and Kuwait, operating a mixture of Boeing 777-300s, 777-300ER and now the Airbus A380.

The addition of an A380 will add more seats between the two cities, which Emirates have connected for 25 years.

However, that’s a lot of extra seats to dump on a route like such as this….


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Posted by Kevincm | 2 Comments

It’s time for one final look at the Farnborough International Air Show, with a final flurry of orders on the last day of the airshow.

The spoils of the final day went to Airbus, who scored some two sets of orders.

First up is a Letter of Intent from TransAero who are seeking to purchase 20 Airbus A330 aircraft, split into 8 A330-300ceo aircraft and 12 A330-900neo aircraft.

Compare and contrast (or play “spot the difference)

800x600_1405586642_A330-300_TSO 800x600_1405589185_A330-900neo_RR_TransaeroThe Airbus A330-300ceo (top) and the Airbus A330-900neo on the bottom. The difference is in the wingtip devices and the engines. Not that difficult.

For the lessors, there was one last order, for 70 Airbus A320neo aircraft from Hong Kong Aviation Capital (HKAC), who will be taking on 40 A320neo and 30 A321neo aircraft.

Over at Embraer, there are a fair few orders to help boost its books with China’s ICBC Leasing placing an order for up to 20 Embraer E-190 E2 aircraft, split by 10 firm orders and 10 options.   Meanwhile Tianjin Airlines will  be taking on 20 E-Jets and 20 E-Jets E2 – making Tianjin Airlines the launch customer of the E2 series of the E-Jets.

Finally, Ilyushin Finance Company have purchased  eight Sukhoi SJ-100 Superjets.

… and that’s it for the commercial orders for Farnborough 2014. As the show switches from the commerical show to the air display and the public displays, there will be plenty to see, and maybe time to reflect recent events away from the show.

None the less – another interesting year of orders, new aircraft and who’s buying what for future.

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Malaysia Airlines Flight Number MH17 has been reported lost at 14:15GMT today (Thursday, 17th July).  Flight 17 was operating its normal service between Amsterdam Schipol Airport and Kuala Lumpur International Airport, utilising a Boeing 777-200 (registered as 9M-MRD) when contact was lost at 33,000ft.

Up until that time, there were no emergency calls, with the flight operating normally.

The aircraft came down near the village of Torez, near Shakhtersk, in the east of Ukraine, around 25 miles from the Russian border.

There has been no formal confirmation how this plane come down (with speculation rife on how it came down).

The flight had 280 passengers aboard, with 15 crew on the Boeing 777.

Malaysia Airlines released the following statement earlier today:

Released at 12:30am/18 July 2014

Malaysia Airlines confirms it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT) at 30km from Tamak waypoint, approximately 50km from the Russia-Ukraine border.

Flight MH17 operated on a Boeing 777 departed Amsterdam at 12.15pm (Amsterdam local time) and was estimated to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 6.10 am (Malaysia local time) the next day.

The flight was carrying 280 passengers and 15 crew onboard.

More details to follow.

-end-

Footage has been released that the plane is down in multiple part over a wide area, however, very little of it has been verified (and some of it quite graphic) on twitter (using the hastag #MH17 WARNING – MAY CONTAIN GRAPHIC IMAGERY ALONG WITH COMMENTARY. READER DISCRETION IS ADVISED.)

Airlines are actively avoiding the area and are diverting flights including  Aeroflot, Lufthansa, Transaero, Virgin Atlantic, Emirates, Air France, Turkish Airlines and British Airways diverting flights around the area. EuroControl and Ukraine has closed the airspace in Eastern Ukraine.

Inquiries are being opened in Malaysia and elsewhere into the incident. As the situation becomes clearer – as well as the recovery of the black box devices and other intelligence may lead to an understanding what happened to bring that plane down.

It’s a very sad time when this happens – especially with the loss of life involved along with the sadness that will radiate from this incident.

As always in these situations, I will keep report the facts that have been known and confirmed, rather than speculation. I will not report on speculation or unconfirmed sources.

 

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Ryanair has been working behind the scenes tidying itself up and trying to shake off its old image – from its booking engine to customer service initiatives and now – to its mobile device applications.

Ryanair 737-800 taxing at Birmingham Airport - Image GhettoIFE.com.
Ryanair 737-800 taxing at Birmingham Airport – Image GhettoIFE.com.

One of the nasty points of its past was when the airline charged for its mobile app – and yes, I documented it – here’s the proof in 2012.

Ryanair App price

Well thankfully, that changed some months ago when Ryanair reduced the price to free.

Ryanair new price
The current price of free (and yes, I’m still amazingly with the same mobile network).

There’s additional good news as Ryanair has boosted the usefulness of its apps – with the latest update of the apps, supporting booking through the app, seat allocation, booking management, purchasing of optional services – and for one which will save money, the ability to check in and generate Mobile Boarding Passes.

For those who forget to print out their boarding passes on Ryanair (which can cost a pretty penny – £20 a time), this could be a money saver for at least one person in your travel party.

The updates are available for Apple iOS via iTunes and the Google Play Store available in English, Italian and Spanish.

It’s another small improvement as Ryanair tries to move away from its old Ultra Low Cost image, and tries to fight for higher margin customers.


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