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Fastjet takes EasyJet low-cost model into African airspace

18 November 2012

The low-cost model pioneered by Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou that rocked Europe’s traditional airlines is spreading across Africa. Tickets went on sale last week for the first flights on Fastjet, the latest brainchild of the Greek entrepreneur, which will start flying from Dar es Salaam in Tanzania at the end of the month for prices starting at 32,000 Tanzanian shillings (£13) – plus the inevitable baggage charges and taxes.

Africa is ripe for aviation investment, with huge distances between cities and poor road and rail infrastructure. However, a poor safety record has blighted African airlines, with many carriers barred from European airspace by safety regulators.


Ryanair extends booking fee to Cash Passport cards

11 November 2012

Ryanair customers who went to the trouble of using the airline’s own credit card to avoid paying a £6 admin fee will no longer have that benefit after the firm announced that all passengers will have to pay the charge. Anyone taking a Ryanair flight after 1 December will be required to pay the £6 a person fee for each single journey as part of the headline ticket price, irrespective of how they pay.

Until now, customers who took out a Ryanair Cash Passport Mastercard could avoid the credit card fee, which adds £48 to the cost of booking a return journey for a family of four.

IAG to buy Vueling for 113m euros

11 November 2012

International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) is making a cash tender offer to buy 100 per cent of the share Vueling, the Spanish low-cost airline based in Barcelona.

IAG’s subsidiary Iberia owns 45.85% of Vueling’s shares currently and the Iberia board has agreed not to tender them in the offer. This means that Iberia would retain its shareholding in Vueling with IAG seeking to acquire the remaining 54.15%.

The offer will be €7.00 per ordinary share of Vueling with the total cost of acquiring 54.15% anticipated to be €113m. It will be funded using internal IAG resources.

Spirit Airlines to charge up to $100 for carry-on luggage

7 November 2012

With little less than three weeks left before the busy Thanksgiving weekend, Spirit Airlines has just released some harsh news that will leave many of its customers rethinking their packing choices.

Starting today, the budget airline will charge up to $100 for each piece of carry-on luggage brought on board a flight.

According to Spirit, the ‘Bring Less, Pay Less’ campaign is expected to help not only the airline, but its customers by cutting down on waiting times and saving millions of gallons of fuel.

Ryanair half-year profits up 10%

5 November 2012

No-frills airline Ryanair raised its guidance for the year as profit rose 10 per cent in the first half of its financial year and traffic increased.

The airline said it would raise its profit guidance for the year from between €400 million and €440 million to between €590 million and €520 million after a strong performance in the six months to September.

Revenues were 15 per cent higher for the six-month period at €3.11 billion, with profit after tax rising to €596 million compared with €544 million in the six months to September 2011.

WOW Air acquires Iceland Express

30 October 2012

Icelandic low-cost carrier WOW Air has taken control of rival airline Iceland Express.

Following the takeover, all Iceland Express services will operate under Wow branding.

From next spring Wow Air will operate four Airbus A320 aircraft from its Reykjavik base on a summer timetable that will include 15 European destinations: Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, London, Lyon, Milan, Paris, Stuttgart, Vilnius, Warsaw, and Zurich.

WOW Air says that no disruption is expected for passengers currently booked on Iceland Express flights.

AirAsia X to create child-free quiet zone

27 September 2012

No-frills carrier AirAsia has announced plans to introduce a “quiet zone” on its AirAsia X flights, allowing passengers to avoid the screams of babies and young children.

Passengers booked on AirAsia’s X flights next year can opt for the seats for an additional cost of RM 35 (US$11) or RM 110 — the standard fee charged for picking specific seats in economy class and in the “hot seats” section, which provide more leg room.

AirAsia’s competitor, Malaysia Airlines, started flying this year with kid-free first class cabins as well as a kid-free upper deck economy section on its A380 service.

EasyJet to roll out allocated seating

17 September 2012

EasyJet has decided to expand its summer experiment in allocated seating to the entire fleet from November, after determining that assigning passengers places did not add to costs but brought in more revenues than the old “speedy boarding” option.

The budget carrier started assigning seats on six routes in April, charging passengers who wanted to choose where they sat between £3 and £12. It later expanded the trial, eventually covering about 5 per cent of the carrier’s network, always with a full roll-out in mind.


Bmibaby ceases operations

10 September 2012

Bmi’s low-cost subsidiary Bmibaby took its last flight over the weekend, after just over a decade of operation.

Bmibaby was launched in early 2002, with initial flights between its base at East Midlands airport and Malaga. Over the course of the next decade further bases were opened at Cardiff, Durham Tees Valley, Manchester, Birmingham and Belfast City.

When BA’s parent company IAG agreed to buy Bmi from Lufthansa, it had originally been hoped Bmibaby would be sold as a going concern, with several groups entering discussions to buy the budget carrier (see online news February 2 and March 5).


Ryanair to send SMS alerts for certain flight delays

13 August 2012

Ryanair has announced that passengers who experience Ryanair flight delays of over 90 minutes will now receive free text message updates to advise them of the likely duration of the delay and their new departure time.

The service is a new addition to Ryanair’s existing email/text and website passenger communications. The company says it will be particularly useful during periods of severe disruption such as bad weather, strikes or widespread airspace closures (eg volcanic ash).