Wednesday, 26 November 2014

‘Hidden City’ Tickets- What Are These?

Hidden City Tickets is the name given to a practice of booking the connecting flight tickets and then alighting from the airline at the stopover destination,before reaching the final destination. You must be wondering why is this practice wrong and after all it is passengers’ right to deplane even before it reaches its destination. In this respect, two points are noteworthy. One, there might be a cheaper fare for a connecting flight than the direct flight which might prompt one to book a connecting flight instead of a one-way trip. Secondly, there are concerns of public safety and delay of departure which might create logistical problems.
Hidden City ticketing is different from the Opaque Tickets, which is another form of a ticketing practice which is forbidden by the airlines and their governing bodies. In case of opaque ticketing, the travel agents publish the lowest airfare to clear their inventories but do not inform the passengers about the airline on which they would be travelling till the last minute of booking.
Both of these practices are rued by the airlines and cause friction between the carriers and the travel agencies.
Recently, hidden city ticketing method was resorted to by which was sued by the United Airways and Orbitz.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Jet Airways Begins Lucknow to Abu Dhabi Flight

It is a known fact that the aviation markets of the Metro and the Tier I cities has reached a maturity level and the hope for expansion of the airlines lies in the aviation traffic of Tier II and Tier III cities. The budget and the full service carriers of India are mindful of this fact and pinning their hopes on these cities for fueling their expansion plans and improving profitability. Jet Airways, one of the two full service carriers presently operating in the domestic and the international sector, has begun flights from Lucknow to Abu Dhabi. Since the passenger traffic is increasing exponentially in Tier II cities, this opens new markets for the carriers.

Jet Airways flies connecting flights from Abu Dhabi to other parts of the world, such as North America, Africa, West Asia and other part of the Gulf region. So, the passengers from Lucknow and its hinterland would have easy connectivity with the cities of Gulf and beyond. India holds immense aviation potential and there is a considerable impetus given by the government for improving the airport infrastructure in smaller cities. There is also a proposal to revamp airports and upgrade to international status. There are about 4 lakh international visitors who currently use Lucknow airport on an annual basis. However, all of the international air services are confined to the Arabian peninsula or Gulf region only. More international destinations are also likely to be added from this airport. 

Monday, 24 November 2014

The Berlin Charter- Will it strengthen the Relations of Airlines with Corporate Entities?

Past few years have seen greater impetus being put on the business and the first class travelers by the airlines. A number of airlines from all over the globe have come up with many products, services and offers for these high spending travelers. In the wake of increasing importance of these travelers has come another initiative, this time from a Global Business Travel Association, called the Berlin Charter, which aims to strengthen the bonding of corporate travelers with the airlines further. 

This initiative is being taken in the wake of the IATA’s initiative of reinventing the airline distribution capability through its New Distribution Capability (NDC). As NDC begins to take shape and is expected to be implemented soon, there corporate community has realized the need to bring to notice of IATA the vital role played by the corporate traveler. To that extent, the charter is expected to be a interest group that would present a strong case to leverage NDC in its favour. 

Paul Tilstone of GBTA has clearly said in an interview , “airlines shall understand the need of a corporate client... rather than focus on only needs of traveler”. The aim is clearly to put the needs of corporate buyer in focus. The charter, once ready, will be asked to be signed to by the airlines and, by doing so, the airlines will be committing themselves to the requirements of the charter. In case of failure to observe their duties as per the charter, the airlines will be shown how corporate travelers might be affected and, in extreme cases, they might even be removed from the Charter.
The  Charter is expected to be ready by the end of this year.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Etihad’s Opulence Unlimited at ‘Residence’ Suites

Etihad Airlines, a premier airline of the Gulf region, has been successful in getting its all ‘Residence’ suites booked for the 10 flights. The opulent suites are the next closest thing that you would have in a private jet. Emirates had priced these First Class suites at $20000 and it found many takers for these. These suites are being offered on superjumbo A380s. So, what is it that makes these really special?
‘Residence’ is not just a seat that comes with the usual benefits and facilities. It is more like an apartment in the sky. This suite has a living area, a bedroom and a private shower as well. It covers an area of 125 square feet. There is a 32 inch flat screen TV and a private butler to attend to you all the time. There has been a lot of competition in this class of travel from the rivals Singapore Airlines and Emirates Airlines. For this reason, by booking of these suites, Etihad seems to have positioned itself correctly in this space of luxury air travel.
There have been many studies worldwide which point to the fact that First and Business Class travelers provide a good percentage of revenues to the airlines. They hold the key to airlines getting better yields. While these travelers might be less, but they contribute substantially to airline revenues and profitability.

FAA to Review Policy to Enable Commercial Use of Drones

There has been a lot of anticipation since years that the FAA would soon be formulating the guidelines and policies for the use of drones (called Unmanned Aircraft Systems or UAS) for commercial purposes. These planes are believed to be particularly helpful for a number of purposes including use in films and for delivery of products. It is noteworthy that while the recreational drones are already in use y the general public, their commercial use has been prohibited. 

Under the new 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, Congress has asked FAA to develop suitable regulatory guidelines for permitting use of small UAS in domestic airspace. Since there is a year to go for its implementation, the agency has worked to define the preconditions for its usage. It is likely that the small UAS of less than 55 pounds would be allowed for commercial purposes. Though there is a permit to fly the recreational drones to heights less than 400 feet and away from the airports, a much more relaxed ruling is expected in favour of the UAS. 

The permission to fly drones currently have to be taken as exemptions under Section 333 of the Modernization and Reform Act.

Indian Government Mulling Dropping 5/20 Rule for New Airlines to Fly International

The Government of India, which brought out a rule that every new domestic airline will not be allowed to fly international till the time it has got 5 years of operational experience and a fleet of 20 aircraft, is now considering removing this restrictive rule and letting the players go international. With airline profits bleeding for many years now and new players being reluctant to enter this industry, which many call as a death knell for airlines, this positive move would open the way for exploring more profitable routes and market driven expansion.

The move has been pushed by the new entrant Tatas into the aviation sector.With partnerships in full service carrier Air Vistara (in which Tatas hold a 51% stake and Singapore Airlines the rest of it) and budget airline AirAsia India, the rule has been much of an unwarranted restriction.
However, the current airlines that have been the victims of this ruling for all these years now, are opposing the move saying that the rule shall be applicable for new entrants as well.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

gogo- Pioneers of in-flight Connectivity Technology



Very recently, FAA has granted two more Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs) to gogo for installing Ku-band satellite connectivity instruments on two more types of aircrafts- Boeing 757-200 and 767-400s operated by Delta Airlines. The company has to receive one more STC before its the goahead to deploy its instruments on full fleet of Delta Airlines.

gogo is a the new avatar of the former Aircell and is a leading provider of in-flight connectivity solutions to the civil airlines and business airlines of USA. By providing the wi-fi access to the passengers during the flight, it enables them to remain connected via internet all the time during the course of flight on both the domestic and the international routes of the carriers. Its services are not limited only to the in-flight wi-fi, but also cover entertainment, text  messaging, voice based services and a number of communication related services.

As of now, gogo has provided its services to 2000 commercial and 6000 business aircrafts, and even to heights beyond 30000 feet.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

KLM to connect Amsterdam with Edmonton

The Dutch carrier, KLM, will soon be adding another destination to its route map-Edmonton, in Alberta in Canada. KLM will begin this nonstop service between Edmonton and Amsterdam which is the first from Edmonton airport to mainland Europe. Edmonton is connected to Iceland and London with service from Icelandair and Air Canada respectively. 

KLM will be operating 3 weekly flights on this route from May 2015. Soon thereafter, there will be 4 weekly flights. The airline will use Airbus A330-200 jets on this route which are 243 seaters and three classes of service. 

Besides other destinations in Canada, Edmonton is connected via nonstop flights to Cancun, Mazatlan, Puerto Vallarta and San Jose del Cabo in Mexico; Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Orlando, Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Francisco and Seattle in USA; Montego Bay in Jamaica; Punta Cana in Dominican Republic; Reykjavik in Iceland.
Edmonton is famous as the oil and gas rich region of Canada. It is the second most populous city of Alberta, behind Calgary. This city has been doing well on economic front in recent years, buoyed by its energy resources. The move of KLM will help in developing people-to-people links to Europe.

AA Will Not Move Away From Miles Based FFP

American Airlines is set to merge its frequent flyer program with that of the US Airways early next year. However, unlike the other mergers of the major US airlines in recent times that have changed the basis of their loyalty programs from miles-based to spending-based, AA will not move in same direction. There has been some mystery over this issue for quite sometime now, as AA was not telling its plans. But, in a recent statement, AA has made it clear that the merger of respective plans will be continue to be based on miles flown criteria only.

Here are some of the highlights of the new program:
  1. Leisure travelers will benefit the most.
  2. Occasional flyers of US Airways and Dividend Miles members will fly occasionally.
  3. Those US Airways fliers who fly more than 25000 miles will feel the change.
  4. There will be no more complimentary upgrades for US Airways silver, gold and platinum members. For flying more than 500 miles, they will have to pay more miles. For less than 500 miles, all levels will get free upgrades but only on North American flights.
  5. Only topmost level fliers, who fly more than 100000 miles per year, i.e. US Airways chairman’s preferred and American executive platinum members will get upgrades facility.
  6. The tier of US Airways passengers who fly 75000-100000 miles a year, will disappear. This will be merged into AA’s Platinum and US Airways Gold members.
  7. Those who fly both airlines will be able to merge their accounts into one early next year, whereas those US Airways fliers who do not have AA account, will have one created.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Jet Airways to Fly From Abu Dhabi to Goa from 14 November

Goa is a prominent beach destination of South Asia where people from all over the world come to enjoy sun and sand. Winters are generally the time when there is a great rush of travelers as they come from the northern countries having cooler climes in winters than are present in Goa. Add to it the opportunities of fun and frolic and Goa provides all that makes for a perfect vacation.

Interestingly, a major part of the international travelers who come to Goa arrive on Chartered flights. As per statistics of 2013, out of a total number of 4.45 lakh international tourists, a vast majority came via chartered flights. So, the direct traffic that lands here from scheduled flights is less. There have been efforts to provide direct connectivity to Dabolim airport so that number of free independent travelers can increase as well.

A recent step that will meet this end is the launch of a new flight from Abu Dhabi to Goa by Jet Airways, the only other full service international carrier of India besides Air India. With the introduction of this flight, the total number of Middle East cities that connect Goa have increased to 5. Dubai, Sharjah, Kuwait and Doha already offer this direct connectivity.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Inaugural Flight of Emirates to Budapest

It is time for the Hungarian capital to enhance connectivity with Middle East region.With Emirates being the latest Gulf carrier to be among the Big 3 carriers for connecting Budapest with Dubai, there been accomplishment of a long standing demand of passengers. Besides Emirates, Etihad and Qatar airways are the other two carriers to be flying to Dubai from Budapest. Apart from these carriers, the Budapest based carrier, Wizz Air, flies to Dubai.
Emirates will be plying two Airbus A330s for this route. This is a 278 seater plane having two classes of travel. There will be a daily flight connectivity between the two cities. It is also expected that about 2 lakh passengers will fly every year from Dubai to Budapest using this service of Emirates.This will also enable the Budapest airport to provide more onwards flights destinations to passengers.