I freely admit that the BitCoin thing has long passed me by – be it because I can’t be bothered to buy a rig to mine BitCoins or invest some hard cash into a variable digital currency.

Bitcoins have been used for different purposes – some rather shady deals, other for more interesting purposes, for example, Dell selling a server for BitCoins, a KitKat being brought, and so on.

Well, it seems you can buy airline tickets with Bitcoins too, with Air Lituanica, who accept the currency.

According to the airline:

When Air Lituanica customer chooses to pay in bitcoins for the flight, his/her bitcoins are converted into euro or litas at the applicable rate. The virtual currency exchange rate is generated from the bitcoin exchange – Bitmarket. Payment in bitcoins for the flight is available for all types of Air Lituanica tickets.

So how does this translate? Well I did a test booking, and this is what came out.

Air Lituanica booking screenshot without Bitcoin

So a pretty normal booking (604 Lithuanian Litas is about €175) . However, when you head to the payment page, there are different options…

Air Lituanica Payment screen showing bitcoin option

And yes, Bitcoin seems to attract no extra booking fees. Which is nice. For those who want pay by credit card, it’s an extra 75 lats.. or €21 to handle the payment.

For those remotely interested, 604LTL worked out at 0.48353BTC (as of Tuesday Midnight).

Almost seems worth the effort to get some Bitcoins so you can avoid paying the credit card booking fee.

Bitcoins are accepted across Air Lituanica network. They’re also accepted by Air Baltic too.

It’s a reasonable way of turning something that’s virtual into something physical… and get a flight out of it too.


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Posted by Kevincm | No Comments

The plans for Thames Estuary Airport – or to some, better known as “Boris Island” looks like to be heading to the bin, according to the BBC and the Financial Times (Paywall).

Thames Estuary Airport - or Boris Island. Rendering, Foster + Partners.
Thames Estuary Airport – or Boris Island. Rendering, Foster + Partners.

Sir Howard David, who is leading the commission states in its report:

“We are not persuaded that a very large airport in the Thames estuary is the right answer to London’s and the UK’s connectivity needs.

While we recognise the need for a hub airport, we believe this should be a part of an effective system of competing airports to meet the needs of a widely spread and diverse market like London’s.

There are serious doubts about the delivery and operation of a very large hub airport in the estuary.

The need for additional capacity is urgent. We need to focus on solutions which are deliverable, affordable, and set the right balance for the future”

As the Airports Commission prepares to report on how to proceed forward, the ideas for the Thames Estuary Airport seems not to fit, with the commission preferring to examine existing options – namely expanding Heathrow and Gatwick.

Three options will remain on the table:

  • A second runway at Gatwick Airport
  • A third runway at Heathrow
  • Lengthening a runway at Heathrow.

So why is the Thames Estuary Airport idea going to be pretty dead in the water? It’s simple – the lack of any infrastructure to support it as well as the cost of developing the project.

Whilst new roads and rail links could be built, these will come at a cost – and projects in the UK have this bad habit of overrunning in terms of cost. In some respects this is very much like the Hong Kong International Airport project (which itself was a victim of cost overruns).  Even the best estimates placed that cost at £24 billion. Combine this with a distance of 34 miles away from London, and the possible environmental impact (the area in question is popular with migratory birds), and it doesn’t add up.

So with Thames Estuary Airport dead in the water, it will be down to Gatwick and Heathrow to battle for the extra capacity (although if there was real guts, build both Heathrow and Gatwick up to allow them to fight for airlines).

And political will be a key factor. Plans were afoot for a 3rd runway at Heathrow when the current political administration came to power who withdrew support for it.

The final report is due in 2015, after the next general election (and kicking this problem down the line to the next government).

So we’re at the same position, with political powers scared to act. Why?

Lets look at this map below

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 22.21.41
Results of the 2010 General Elections in the London and South East Area – Data – BBC.
Blue = Conservative held seat, Red = Labour held seat, Yellow = Liberal Democrat held seat

With the expansion of Heathrow heading into Conservative territory (and Heathrow falling in the Hayes and Harlington constituency), it stokes the interest of the locals who do not wish for more jet noise – or the change of their land with another runway being muscled in.

Either way, if Heathrow is to expand, it’s going to annoy someone. Even if Gatwick expands (which it cannot do until 2019 at the earliest), it will ruffle the feathers of locals who don’t want to see a bigger airport there.

Any way you cut this, this has a long way to go. But fort Thames Estuary Airport, that idea remains pie in the sky…


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Posted by Kevincm | No Comments

It’s Monday, and I’m still a few days behind on releases – so its time for some Airplane Art Extra as Qatar Airways and Airbus have released images of the the first Qatar Airways A350 to be delivered to the airline.

Qatar Airways A350 outside
The first Qatar Airways A350 rolled out of the Toulouse Hanger – Note the missing engines.

Qatar Airways A350 in the paint shop
The Qatar Airways A350 ready to roll out of the paint shop – Image Qatar Airways/Airbus

The first aircraft to be delivered to Qatar Airways (and the first commercial A350 to be delivered), will be an Airbus A350-900 model akin to the aircraft being used in the certification programme.

Qatar Airways will be the first to fly this class of aircraft, with delivery targeted towards the end of this year, subject to the various aviation administrations certifying the aircraft, and Qatar Airways accepting the plane and its cabin so it is suitable for their passengers.

The A350 programme has been through an interesting time recently, with the plane conducting a worldwide tour as part of its certification campaign, proving it can operate in specific circumstances and segment lengths.

This will be the first of eighty aircraft to be be delivered to the Middle Eastern airline. But this one won’t be going anyone fast, as it is it missing its pair of Rolls Royce Trent XWB engines needed to power this aircraft into the sky.

As the test programme wraps up, and the focus turns to delivering the first aircraft and ensuring Qatar Airways can operate this aircraft safely, more A350s will enter the paint hanger to get the colours of their operator, and hopefully take to the sky.


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It’s Sunday again – and after muggins having spent most of the day doing car shopping (which is another subject for another day) – it must be time for some more airplane art.

This week, taxing out of San Francisco International Airport for the long trip back to Frankfurt, is a Lufthansa Boeing 747-400 looking resplendent in the summer sun.

Lufthansa Boeing 747-400, Image 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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Its Saturday again, so please stow your luggage in the overhead bin, put away your tray table and bring your seat into the upright position as we go to this weeks safety video.

This week, we go back in time a bit as KLM Royal Dutch Airlines demonstrate safety aboard their Boeing 747-400 aircraft with some very classic clothing (something that does tend to date videos a lot!)

Still… a very classic video from KLM.

Another video next week!


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At GhettoIFE, we do like looking at new and shiny aircraft – both those in the air, and those in developement.

COMAC – The Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China – has been working away on its answer to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families (as well as the impending competition from the Irkut MC-21) – The C919.

C919 model, Model COMAC
C919 model, Model COMAC

Their aim is deliver a narrow body jet that compete with other airframers, and break the existing duopoly of Airbus and Boeing.

Progress has been forging forward with the C919 aircraft, with the mid section of the fuselage for the first aircraft ready for delivery.

COMAC C919 Mid-Section Fuselage
C919 Mid-Section Fuselage – Image, COMAC.

The mid-section wwas rolled out from AVIC Xi’an Aircraft Industry This section will form the join between the front and rear of the plane, whilst also joining the wings onto it.

Combined with the rollout of the nose section of the first plane, this new plane is coming together slowly.

 COMAC C919 Nose section
C919 Nose section – Image, COMAC.

First flight of the C919 is targeted for 2015, with first deliveries scheduled for late 2018, with orders for 400 aircraft on COMAC’s books.

Whilst 400 orders on the books is impressive, it has a long way to go to beat recent orders of Boeing (who have orders of 2,099 737-MAX family aircraft order) and Airbus (who have 2661 A320neo family aircraft on order).

Still, it varies the aviation market, and introduces new challenges.


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Posted by Kevincm | No Comments

All is not well with Germanwings, with a strike in the offing from the Vereinigung Cockpit Union tomorrow.

Germanwings Airbus A319 - Image GhettoIFE 2014
Germanwings Airbus A319 taxing at Heathrow – Image GhettoIFE

The strike is over pilots who want the airline to maintain its current retirement benefits -  where they can retire early at 55 and continue to receive some of their wages. Germanwings owners – Lufthansa – wish to withdraw this benefit.  In addition, Lufthansa wishes to raise the retirement age from 59 to 65.

The strike will run from 6am to Midday (06:00 to 12:00 CET), for flights operated by Germanwings. Flights operated by Eurowings are unaffected.

The bad news is that the Germanwings flight schedule is in bits with both German domestic and international services affected.

Some flights have been rescheduled, with the new flights searchable at https://www.germanwings.com/skysales/FlightStatus.aspx?culture=en-GB. The strike will have a considerable impact on flight operations to and from Germany and on domestic German connections.

If you are hit by the strike, you can rebook or cancel your ticket. German domestic flyers can choose to take the train, but Germanwings will only refund you to the value of your ticket.

As always, check before you fly.


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Etihad Airways is fine-tuning its Airbus A380 and Boeing 787-9 operation plans as these new planes are readied to enter service as the airline announced via Twitter yesterday:

Etihad A380 operations annoucement
From the Eithad Twitter feed

The A380 plans call for the superjumbo to operate daily on all three flights between London and Abu Dhabi from May 2015, whilst Sydney will convert to a mixed A380/Boeing 777-300ER destination.

For London operations, the following dates are due for commencement:

  • EY011/012 goes A380 from 27th December 2014
  • EY017/018 goes A380 from 1st March 2014
  • EY019/020 goes A380 from 1st May 2014

These flights are showing in the booking systems

Etihad A380 operations
EY11 commencement

Etiahd EY11/EY17

EY11/EY17 from 1st March 2015

Etihad equipment switch
Etihad Equipment switchover complete by 1st May 2015.

Sydney will get a daily A380 service from 1st June 2015, creating a “Falcon-hop” service between London and Sydney, with a second 777-300ER operate service either operated by Etihad or code-shared with Virgin Australia.

Etihad/Virgin Australia A380 SYD
A380 operations from 1st July 2015.

Etihad will operate their A380s in a four class format:

  • The Residence (Their ultra-premium seating/personalised service
  • First Class
  • Business Class
  • Economy

Looking to  their Boeing 787 operation plans, the planes will be operating to Doha, Düsseldorf, Mumbai, Washington Dulles, Brisbane and Moscow Domodedovo according to their Twitter announcement:

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 07.33.09
From the Eithad Twitter feed

  • Doha will operate on a limited basis from 1st December to 31st December 2014
  • Düsseldorf will operate on a limited basis from 1st December to 31st December 2014
  • Mumbai and Washington Dulles will commence on a daily basis from 1st January 2015
  • Brisbane will commence on 1st June 2015, with the service replacing the existing service that makes a stop in Singapore
  • Moscow-DME will commence on 1st June 2015

Again, these are reflected in the booking engines – you just have to find them:

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 07.47.33
Doha

Screen Shot 2014-08-28 at 07.45.05
Washington Dulles

For those who like flying new planes, and whose flights require them to be on Etihad operated services, this comes as a real boon to you. Just remember schedules do fluctuate – especially when new equipment comes online, and booking a plane ride for a first flight can sometimes be a bad idea when there’s an equipment change and you’re on a fixed ticket…


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Posted by Kevincm | One Comment

Good afternoon on this Bank Holiday evening gentle reader.

Thank you first for bearing with my bad typing, poor grammar over the past few months and years (I’m improving it one post at a time… try being dyslexic – doesn’t help, even with all the spell checkers and grammar checkers in the world… it’s even more fun when they argue amongst each other).

Now, onto the matter at hand… and that posts are going to slow down again for while. They won’t grind to a halt completely, but they may drop down to one-a-day whilst I adjust to life in my new role in the office, as I go from an Active Directory and SQL Server “fiddler” to an IT Engineer (where I fiddle with everything… or more than likely more Active Directory management than I can shake a stick at along with kicking servers).

The Olde office desk. Change happens
The olde desk. Why yes, I have far too many computers around my desk (3 in this picture alone, another 4 on the other side out of shot. In addition, GhettoIFE does not endorse Dell equipment… its the stuff I was issued with).

Or in simple terms someone who works with Servers, Data Services, Switches, Storage systems and all the gubbins that are related to it.

However, as I get into the swing into of the new job, posts to the blog  will slow down for a bit as I adjust to the new workloads.

So, please hang on whilst a new normality establishes itself, and the continuing madness that is GhettoIFE continues to deliver news, miles and such – and the ensuing madness that will be a GhettoIFE trip report that’s due to start soon.

Thank you for reading and your patience :)


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Posted by Kevincm | 5 Comments

It’s Sunday again, so it must be time for some more airplane art.

This week, it’s a bit of a classic (as I found this image in a batch for images for an article I’m writing at the moment), with a Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 aircraft returning to its home base of Hong Kong International Airport, as the thrust reversers are deployed to slow the plane as it lands.

Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 landing at Hong Kong International Airport

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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Posted by Kevincm | No Comments

It’s Saturday again, so it must be time for another video.

This week, the Emirates Airbus A380 fleet grows to fifty aircraft, cementing the airlines position as the lead carrier to operate the type around its world-wide network

Emirates operate 50 Airbus A380s out of the total worldwide fleet of 138 aircraft, and by far and away the largest carrier, with the second carrier behind it operating the type is Singapore Airlines with 19 aircraft, followed by Lufthansa and Qantas with 12 aircraft each.

This won’t the last A380 that the airline will operates – with Emirates having a total of 140 Airbus A380s on order in total, and 90 further aircraft expected.


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