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News of November 2009

KLM tests a biofuel made from weeds

26 November 2009

With airline passengers getting increasingly concerned about their carbon footprint, the Dutch airline KLM has turned to oil made from the seeds of the camelina plant. On Monday, a KLM Boeing 747 that was partly fueled by camelina oil flew over the Netherlands in a test flight with about 40 passengers aboard.

Airlines have been searching for alternatives to conventional jet fuel. Last January, Continental used a combination of algae and jatropha, a tropical shrub, on a short flight. And Japan Airlines tested a camelina mixture earlier this year.

source: NY Times

Ryanair named worst family brand in poll

26 November 2009

Ryanair has been named the worst ‘family’ brand in a list dominated by airlines.

The low-cost carrier was described as doing little to look after family values and not enough to listen to customers.

The only travel company to make it into the top 50 family-friendly brands was Virgin Atlantic which took 44th place. Many of the other airlines were listed below banks.

Struggling British Airways was placed in 61st place with easyJet at 88.

source: Mail Online

Financial crisis could force bmi out of business in under a year

20 November 2009

British Midland (bmi) has admitted that it may not be able to continue as a going concern beyond next year in the face of an acute funding crisis at the airline.

The airline’s funding situation is sufficiently precarious for Deloitte, its accountant, to warn that there is uncertainty about whether the airline can carry on. The accounts were signed off on October 23 and Deloitte made it clear that there was no guarantee Lufthansa would stand behind its British subsidiary or give it further financial support.

Lufthansa took control of bmi when Sir Michael Bishop, the former chairman, exercised an option to sell his 50 per cent stake to the Germans for about £220 million. Much of bmi’s value lies in its ownership of 11 per cent of the landing slots at Heathrow. Slot pairs have traded for tens of millions of pounds in the past but their value has fallen in the recession. The airline has cut the value of its slots by 20 per cent from £770 million to £616 million.

source: Times Online

Ryanair sued for allegedly buzzing German granny

20 November 2009

Members of a small community near the northern German city of Lübeck have filed a lawsuit against Irish budget airline Ryanair after a low-flying plane allegedly put an 82-year-old woman in the hospital.

The woman apparently suffered a serious shock after a Ryanair jet coming in to land at the Lübeck-Blankensee airport flew so low that it sent several roof tiles crashing into her garden. She is now in the hospital with heart problems.

A spokesman for state prosecutors in Lübeck confirmed they were investigating, but Ryanair rejects any responsibility for the incident, saying the plane was not flying at an unusual altitude or speed.

source: The

Business travel helps easyJet to ride storm

18 November 2009

The recession has put travel budgets under pressure at most companies and easyJet said that it had benefited from passengers trading down from traditional, full-service carriers.

Its strong performance in this market was reflected in its results for the year: Revenues rose 13 per cent to £2.67 billion and passenger numbers were 3.4 per cent up at £45.2 million. Profits fell 65 per cent to £43.7 million largely thanks to an £86 million increase in its fuel bill.

EasyJet also warned of a “tough winter” as rising unemployment hits demand for travel. It has sold about 45 per cent of its winter schedule, but yield — the amount of money it makes from each seat — has fallen as it cuts prices to fill flights.

source: Times Online

Airbus sells first 840-seat airliner

18 November 2009

The planes have been sold to Air Austral, the flag carrier of Reunion in the southern Indian Ocean. The island is officially part of France, and the airline has nine flights a week to Paris. Gerard Etheve, the airline’s president, said it had decided that the future of its routes to mainland France lay in providing low-cost mass transit.

As well as reducing fare prices to passengers, the large numbers on board will, according to Airbus, make it the most fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft flying today.


British Airways and Iberia agree to merge

17 November 2009

British Airways Plc agreed to a $7 billion merger with Spanish carrier Iberia Lineas Aereas de Espana SA, ending more than a year of talks on a tie-up aimed at fighting a slump in travel and closing the gap with competitors.

Under the all-share deal, British Airways investors will own about 55 per cent of the business, to be led by Willie Walsh, the UK carrier’s chief executive.

British Airways needs a bigger network to compete with larger rivals Air France-KLM Group and Deutsche Lufthansa AG. The combination will meld the UK company’s web of US routes with Iberia’s Latin America services, extending its leading position in the lucrative trans-Atlantic market and consolidating its status as Europe’s third-largest airline.


Ryanair reimburses 6000 Euro to passengers for cancelled flights

17 November 2009

Three Ryanair passengers have received 6000 Euro after a court in Dublin as reimbursement for a cancelled flight from the Irish capital to Carcassonne (France) in 2007. This sentence could become a decisive previous in the consumer-air companies relationship regarding airlines in both general and European cases.

source: Avionews

Iberia set for more strike action

12 November 2009

Unions representing Spanish airline Iberia’s cabin crews have announced a further eight days of strikes unless a pay agreement can be reached. The dates for the proposed strikes are 30 November to 2 December, and 14 December to 18 December.

The airline has already been forced to ground hundreds of flights this week due to strike action.

Most of the affected flights have been short and medium-haul.

source: BBC

Pilot charged after airport arrest

11 November 2009

A United Airlines pilot was arrested at Heathrow airport following a failed breathalyser test as he was trying to board a plane carrying 135 passengers bound for Chicago. The 51-year-old man was scheduled to take charge of the transatlantic flight.

According to a Metropolitan Police official, the pilot was apprehended at noon on Monday and subsequently released on bail.

Because of the cancelled fight, the 124 passengers and 11 crew members had to be transferred to another aircraft.