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Airlines Luxury Holidays

FlyBe – What’s left on the table?


A flyBe v2 looks to be on the horizon, and with confirmation of an Operating Licence and the bmi slots at Heathrow there are pieces falling back into place.

However, taking a snapshot over the last 15 years there are a considerable number of routes no longer operated (by any airline), which flyBe previously vacated – not withstanding further possible services which may have been vacated by other airlines.

An airline which specialises in regional services from secondary and tertiary cities could be a compelling plan, serving communities too small for the larger low cost airlines, with smaller efficient aircraft.

Of course, there are some airports which are not open (Waterford in Ireland for example, or Angers in France) – these are just a collection from the past

Newcastle – Rennes, London Stansted, London City, Cardiff, Limoges

Birmingham – Waterford, Hamburg, Newquay, Brest, Limoges, Florence, Rotterdam, Knock, Luxembourg, Deauville, Bastia, Biarritz, Cologne, Oslo, Lyon, Rennes, Avignon, Stuttgart

Leeds Bradford – Knock, Exeter, Dusseldorf

London Heathrow – Guernsey

Southampton – Tours, Avignon, Milan Malpensa, Bastia, Barcelona, Verona, Inverness, Hamburg, Pau, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Beziers, Clermont Ferrand, Hannover, Brussels, Perpignan, Bordeaux, Brest, Cherbourg, Angers, Chambery, La Rochelle, Murcia, Lyon, Paris CDG

Doncaster Sheffield – Paris CDG, Jersey, Newquay, Amsterdam, Chambery, Belfast City, Dublin, Dusseldorf

Cardiff – Berlin, Verona, Paris CDG, Edinburgh, Dublin, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cork

Bournemouth – Amsterdam, Biarritz, Deauville, Dublin, Jersey, Manchester, Paris CDG, Toulon

London Stansted – Isle of Man, Newquay

Inverness – Dublin, Jersey

Exeter – Nice, Barcelona, Avignon, Bergerac, Rennes, Dusseldorf, Newcastle, Brussels, Geneva, Inverness, Murcia

Norwich – Chambery, Isle of Man, Geneva, Guernsey, Alicante, Paris CDG, Murcia, Bordeaux

East Midlands – Amsterdam, Glasgow, Paris CDG

Newquay – Reus, Isle of Man, Southampton, Liverpool, London Stansted, Amsterdam

Manchester – Rennes, Luxembourg, Rotterdam, Waterford, Hannover, Friedrichshafen, Stuttgart

Dundee – Amsterdam

Jersey – Glasgow Prestwick, Belfast City, Dundee, Inverness, Paris CDG, Geneva, London Southend

Guernsey – Edinburgh, Belfast City, Cardiff

Isle of Man – London Luton, Geneva

Belfast City – Paris CDG, Eindhoven, Bristol, Liverpool

Edinburgh – Rennes, Liverpool

Glasgow – La Rochelle, Shannon

London City – Aberdeen, Guernsey, Inverness, Exeter, Cardiff

Categories
Airlines

Can a FlyBe rebirth work?

It has been a year since the failure of flyBe, the first casualty of the pandemic, although a carrier which had got caught in a cycle of bad decision making which had manifested over a long time. It’s planned ‘rebirth’ under the Virgin Connect banner lay in tatters, as the industry headed into hibernation.

One of the investors of the ‘Virgin Connect’ project stayed around, Cyrus Capital and have stayed around, with a purchase of the assets confirmed by the administrators EY. The new owners planning to be up and running in the summer, although there are still question marks at their motives.

As has rightly been reported, many of their former domestic services have been replaced. In some cases by easyJet (which is the largest domestic airline based on the number of seats flown), or regional carriers Loganair, Eastern or Blueislands.

So, it looks difficult on the domestic front at the moment. However, this will be a debtless airline, essentially starting from scratch – a big advantage over those who have struggled financially through the crisis and have been weakened as a result. It could in effect undercut on price and potentially value, and knock others out of the market as a result.

While correctly reported that many of the domestic routes had been replaced, flyBe wasn’t just a domestic carrier and carried the reputation as being ‘Europe’s biggest regional carrier’. They particularly had a close connection to nearby France, with many connections which came and went over the years.

None more so than at Southampton, which has seen its fair share of French connections over the years, including to airports which don’t currently have an air service. Airports included Cherbourg, Angers, Avignon, Rennes, Bordeaux, Brest, La Rochelle, Perpignan, Toulon and Chambery in the winter. Some haven’t be replaced yet, and neither has the 10th busiest route in 2019 – Paris, ad the 14th in Dusseldorf.

Other airports in a similar situation include Norwich. That lost its Paris connection, but flyBe had previously flown to Bordeaux which is also unserved. Exeter, again lost Paris and they also served Bergerac.

You can see many of the cities which could be possible within the range of a Dash-8, those French regional connections – maybe adding Pau or Biarritz, along with places like Berne or Lucerne in Switzerland during the winter. More business orientated services could include Hannover or Stuttgart, Milan, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and regional services to Ireland (possible even reopening services from Waterford).

Still, much is theoretical, although once you look beyond a ‘domestic’ carrier, there are many more opportunities available.

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Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Go – 2002

In the early 2000’s, low cost airlines didn’t have the scale of what we see today. More often or not they would only have a handful of bases, and therefore smaller fleets and a much smaller route portfolio. At the the height of its success in 2002, GO was already operating from three UK bases – the main base at London Stansted, Bristol and East Midlands (all of which were later taken over by easyJet).

At London Stansted, Go operated to:
Belfast International
Edinburgh
Glasgow
Newcastle
Alicante
Barcelona
Bilbao
Bologna
Copenhagen
Faro
Ibiza
Lyon
Malaga
Milan Linate
Munich
Naples
Nice
Palma
Prague
Rome Ciampino
Venice (Marco Polo)

In the smaller base at Bristol, they offered similar destinations:

Belfast International
Edinburgh
Glasgow
Alicante
Barcelona
Faro
Malaga
Nice
Palma
Prague

The same could be said at East Midlands, a base easyJet later closed down:

Edinburgh
Glasgow
Alicante
Faro
Malaga
Prague

There were also flights from Belfast International to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

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Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Norwich

Although similar to other regional airports in the UK, with a mix of city and leisure routes, Norwich had the benefit of flyBe and their attempt at becoming a ‘low cost airline’, with their fleet of 737-300’s and Avro/146’s.

It meant that it had a diverse, and intriguing network spanning across Europe, especially to the popular beach destinations.

flyBe’s network included:
Edinburgh
Manchester
Murcia
Malaga
Alicante
Jersey
Exeter
Glasgow
Guernsey
Bordeaux
Paris CdG
Faro
Dubrovnik
Split
Dublin

In addition, Eastern had three routes to Groningen, Aberdeen and Manchester, with bmi (British Midland) also flying to Aberdeen.

Other airlines included:
Air Southwest – Bristol
KLM – Amsterdam
First Choice – Mahon
TUI/Thomson – Corfu, Palma, Ibiza
Pegasus – Dalaman
Air Malta – Malta
LTE International – Lanzarote
Eurocypria – Paphos, Heraklion
Air Europa – Tenerife South, Gran Canaria, Palma

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: easyJet Luton – Summer 2006

easyJet’s home is at Luton Airport, it was its first base and is where their HQ is to this day. However, 15 years ago their route network was rather different to today, with the furthest services being Athens and Istanbul, neither of which are offered today.

There are a few notable words to say. Firstly, a notable lack of flying to the major cities of Italy (Venice, Rome and Milan), no Canaries or Ibiza, and a lot more flying to Eastern Europe.

Routes included:
Faro
Palma
Malaga
Basel
Inverness
Barcelona
Alicante
Berlin Schoenefeld
Amsterdam
Bratislava
Madrid
Budapest
Warsaw
Istanbul SAW
Paris CdG
Lisbon
Aberdeen
Glasgow
Geneva
Dortmund
Belfast International
Edinburgh
Cagliari
Turin
Nice
Krakow
Bordeaux
Grenoble
Athens
Bremen
Rijeka
Rimini

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Bournemouth

Bournemouth was quite typical of regional airports before the recession at the end of the decade. It had a based airline (usually Thomson), along with charter airlines either from Spain or Turkey supplementing them. However, Bournemouth had a twist – an airline which was named the world’s best airline!

The Thomson destinations included:
Palma
Alicante
Verona
Salzburg
Amsterdam
Pisa
Ibiza
Faro
Jersey
Malaga
Paphos

The other based airline in question was Palmair. The aircraft was operated by European Aviation, a somewhat old 737-200, and was chartered for holidays provided by Bath Travel. (This later ended when Bath Travel was taken over by Hays Travel some years later).

Services included:
Funchal
Faro
Brescia
Palma
Tenerife South
Jersey
Mahon (Menorca)
Lanzarote
Corfu
Alicante
Dubrovnik

Additional services included:
Pegasus – Bodrum
Futura – Palma
SpanAir – Tenerife South
Blue Islands – Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey
Ryanair – Dublin, Gerona
Iberworld – Palma
Air Berlin – Paderborn

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Coventry

It was a rather short-lived project, but Thomson’s reinvention into low-cost airline which saw the acquisition of 737-classics meant that different route portfolio was introduced. One of the key bases was at Coventry, with a small fleet of 737’s.

Routes included:
Malaga
Palma
Ibiza
Faro
Pisa
Paris Orly
Jersey
Valencia
Barcelona
Salzburg
Alicante
Amsterdam

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Cardiff

Cardiff was quite a different place in 2006 compared to 2021, with four based charter airlines – along with a base for low-cost airline bmibaby. They covered all the usual summer sun routes, and overlapped considerably, but there were also a few you might not have expected!

Excel Airways

Fuerteventura
Dalaman
Paphos
Malaga
Tenerife South
Corfu
Gran Canaria
Lanzarote
Palma
Sharm El Sheikh

First Choice Airways

Lanzarote
Tenerife South
Palma
Reus
Dalaman
Bodrum
Naples
Menorca
Alicante
Bourgas
Kefalonia
Larnaca (Scheduled Service)
Paphos (Scheduled Service)

ThomsonFly

Malaga
Bourgas
Paphos
Tenerife South
Gran Canaria
Palma
Gerona
Ibiza
Varna
Jersey (operated by Aer Arann)
Alicante
Monastir
Lanzarote
Zakynthos
Verona
Corfu
Heraklion
Dalaman

MyTravel Airways

Menorca
Dalaman
Tenerife South
Lanzarote
Heraklion
Fuerteventura
Larnaca
Rhodes
Gran Canaria
Alicante
Reus
Palma
Faro
Zakynthos

Bmibaby

Palma
Alicante
Malaga
Faro
Edinburgh
Belfast International
Glasgow
Amsterdam
Prague
Jersey

Additional Short Haul Services

KLM – Amsterdam
Ryanair – Dublin
Aer Arann – Lorient, Cork, Dublin, Galway
Onur Air – Dalaman
Spanair – Ibiza, Palma
Astraeus – Funchal
Futara – Ibiza
Air Southwest – Newquay/Manchester
Eastern – Newcastle

Cardiff Airport – Long Haul Services

Excel Airways – Orlando Sanford
Monarch Airways – Orlando Sanford
ThomsonFly – Orlando Sanford, Cancun, Puerto Plata
Zoom – Toronto, Vancouver

Categories
Airlines

EasyJet’s online system is so frustrating for Flight Club or Plus members…

In 2019 I have travelled more with easyJet than I ever before, and that was really a choice – convenience of flying from my local airport than travelling to the other side of London (at least most of the time).

In all honesty, easyJet are fine. They get you to where you are going mostly on time, the service is fine and most of all its just convenient. However, travelling with them a lot and you notice the pitfalls – and for me that is around their ‘digital offering’.. i.e the website and the app.

I have now become a ‘Flight Club’ member, the airlines invite only frequent flyer club which gives additional benefits such as free name changes and unlimited flight changes. This is great, but I can’t do any of that through the app or website – I have a ‘membership number’ and a phone line which I have to call to make these changes.

Really? This is 2019 and soon be 2020. I would really want my profile I book from to know that I am a Flight Club member, and I can make these changes through the app instead of hanging on a phone line with the antiquated payment.

More so this applied to the paid-for ‘ easyJet Plus’ which gives free seat reservation, speedy boarding and a seat on an earlier flight if available. You can’t just change your flight through the app, you have to go to the ticket desk at the airport and show your card to change it.

This was acceptable a few years ago, but you just expect everything to be available digitally now and it really isn’t difficult to implement as you can already change flights and names on the website – you just need to apply a ‘profile’ in order for it to be free.

If you go even further, they should know my habits when travelling alone on business or with a family – i.e. when I travel in business I like to sit in seat 2C. Really, they should be able to know that and automatically allocate that seat if its available or suggest an alternative.

It might be good for easyJet to claim a win on IT with the auto bag drop (which works fine), or behind the scenes to optimise operations – but its time to pull the front end up to modern standards and embrace digital native…

Categories
Airlines

Could EasyJet introduce ‘Business Class’?

EasyJet and ‘Business Class’ are not what you expect to find next to each other in a sentence, but it could be happening as part of a wider push to create loyalty which includes a new loyalty scheme.

EasyJet already has three products, confusingly easyJet Plus both refers to the onboard ‘upgraded’ product and the easyJet Plus Card which for a yearly subscription gives access to these benefits on every flight and more.

The Plus product is bookable through the purchase of an ‘upfront or extra legroom seat’ after or during the booking process. This also gives you the added benefit of Speedy Boarding and an extra cabin bag, and access to a separate check in desk. The card also gives fast track security in some destinations as well.

A future ‘business class’ product would essentially be an extension of this. It has been rumoured there will be a trail of a separate cabin (the upfront cabin) on some routes from Gatwick, specifically those which are business heavy – Amsterdam, Milan, Zurich etc. They would come with a higher fare, and like many other European business class products, the middle seat would remain free – giving more space onboard. These would be designated by different coloured head rests.

Although not actually specified, you would have thought the existing easyJet Plus and possibly easyJet Plus benefits would remain – the separate check in desk, speedy boarding and fast track security.

Currently easyJet Plus isn’t a frequent flyer scheme, but appeals to frequent flyers due to the value proposition, it only pays if you fly a few times a year. For those who fly a lot (at least 20 one-way flights, or £1500 in value) there is the mysterious easyJet Flight Club, of which I am a member. While it isn’t a traditional scheme, it does have nice benefits such as changing flights free of charge (plus any additional fare) and name changes on a dedicated phone number.

A new Frequent Flyer scheme would appear to merge the two together, combined with a new loyalty proposition. Effectively fly so many flights and get one free. There will be tiers as well, which come with added benefits – but unlike traditional schemes you will be able to pay for membership of that tier, effectively in a similar fashion as you do at the moment with easyJet Plus. The top tier may also include independent lounge access, at the airports which have them.

So, is it really business class? Probably not in the way we know it, but it is a recognition from easyJet there is a demographic which would appreciate these changes, especially where they are taking market share from the legacy carriers.