British Airways to launch new service to Morocco from Heathrow

British Airways is planning to launch a new direct service to Marrakech from Heathrow in autumn.

The airline has said that it will be adding a new four-per-week service from Terminal 5 to the Moroccan holiday destination starting October 28, 2018. During the winter season customers will be able to fly direct to Marrakech from British Airways’ London-hub, with services taking off on Thursday, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

The return fares start from £132 in Euro Traveller and £332 in Club Europe, and customers may choose to cut the cost of flights by using Avios part payment. They can choose from a range of savings by destination and cabin while still collecting Avios and Tier Points on their bookings, the airline said.

Sean Doyle, British Airways’ Director of Network and Alliances, said: ‘Marrakech adds another exciting destination to our leisure network at Heathrow and is a fantastic starting point to explore Morocco; from trekking in the Atlas Mountains to discovering the amazing deserts and beaches and soaking up the atmosphere of the many medinas. Marrakech is one of the key tourism destinations in north Africa, so we’re excited to serve it from two of our London airports.’

The airline already flies to Marrakech from Gatwick, operating eight times a week with different flight times.

British Airways is also increasing the number of flights that it operates to other city break destinations from Heathrow this winter, with more flights to Prague, increased from 27 to 34 per week; Budapest, increased from 20 to 23 per week and Barcelona increased from 46 to 53 per week, as well as increasing the frequency to winter sun destinations such as Gibraltar from 9 to 13 per week; Larnaca from seven to 10 per week and Malaga from four to six per week.

The airline has also added Nashville to its long-haul network from Heathrow and a connection onward to the South African city of Durban with the introduction of a direct service from Terminal 5, starting October 29.

Wizz Air introduces fours new winter routes from London Luton

Wizz Air, the Hungary-based airline group with a new base in the UK, has announced the launch of four new winter routes from its London Luton base.

The new services are to the Israeli seaside resort of Eilat, Ovda; Grenoble in France, Verona in Italy and Tromso in Norway, considered one of the best spots for viewing the Northern Lights.

The new flight service to Eilat (Ovda) will operate on Wednesdays and Sundays, commencing on October 28, with fares starting from £26.99; to Grenoble will operate on Tuesdays, Saturdays, commencing on December 15, 2018 with fares starting from £26.99; to Verona on Tuesdays and Saturdays commencing on December 15, 2018 with fares starting from £26.99; and service to Tromso on Mondays and Fridays commencing on December 14, 2018 with fares starting from £26.99. Seats on the new routes are now on sale and can be booked online at wizzair.com, with fares starting from £26.99. The fares are all one way including all taxes, non-optional charges and cabin bag.

Wizz Air Chief Corporate Officer, Owain Jones, said: ‘WIZZ continues to grow and invest in the UK. Our new winter destinations from London Luton to Eilat, Grenoble, Verona and Tromso takes our London Luton network to 51 destinations in 25 countries. The new routes will be welcomed by our UK customers looking for an exciting winter break, whether that’s winter sunshine, mountain sports or experiencing some of the finest sights that nature has to offer.

‘2018 has been a milestone year for WIZZ in the UK with the continued expansion of our London Luton operations and the launch of Wizz Air UK, the newest British airline, giving our UK customers even more opportunity to travel to some of Europe’s most exciting destinations at the lowest prices, enjoying the fantastic service on-board one of Europe’s youngest and most efficient aircraft fleets.’

For Wizz Air, the new winter routes mark the next phase of growth of its UK operations, following the launch of Wizz Air UK, which is now operating eight new Airbus aircraft from its London Luton base. The four new routes bring the total of new WIZZ destinations from London Luton launched this year to 12, including the services to Larnaca, Tirana, Tallinn, Bratislava, Lviv, Athens, Keflavik and Bari.

With the introduction of the new routes, Wizz Air now has 7.9 million seats already on sale for the next year, offering 51 destinations in 25 countries from London Luton, the airline said.

Wizz Air announces new routes to Cyprus and Ukraine from London Luton

Wizz Air, a low-cost airline operating in Central and Eastern Europe, has announced the launch of two routes to Larnaca in Cyprus and Lviv in Ukraine from London Luton.

Wizz Air launched its service from London Luton to Lviv city earlier this month, and is the only direct route from Luton to the UNCESCO-listed city. Flights will operate Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Flights to the coastal city of Larnaca will begin on May 21 and will operate daily. Fares for both routes start from £55.99 one way including all taxes, non-optional charges and cabin bag. The new routes expand Wizz Air’s London Luton network, with more than 7.4 million seats on sale to 47 destinations in 23 countries.

In addition to the new routes, Wizz Air has also announced the allocation of two new Airbus aircraft to its London Luton fleet. The newly allocated Airbus A320s will be the sixth and seventh of eight aircraft to be deployed at Wizz Air’s London Luton base by June 2018.

Sorina Ratz, Acting Head of Corporate Communications at Wizz Air said: ‘Wizz Air’s continuing expansion at London Luton brings even more opportunities for our customers to travel to a diverse range of destinations at truly low prices. I encourage passengers to visit the fascinating cities of Larnaca and Lviv, whilst travelling on one of Europe’s youngest aircraft fleets. The arrival of a further two brand new aircraft at London Luton underlines our continued commitment to our UK operations, fulfilling our mission to provide great value flights and a unique and unforgettable travel experience.’

Currently the second largest operator at London Luton, Wizz Air carried over 5.5 million passengers from Luton in the past 12 months, representing 11% growth year on year, the airline noted.

InterContinental Hotels Group adds 13 luxury and upscale hotels in UK

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has said that it will expand its luxury and upscale estate, establishing itself as one of the leading luxury hotel operators in the UK.

Accordingly, IHG has entered into a conditional agreement with Fonciere des Regions (FdR), to rebrand and operate 12 high quality open hotels (2.2k rooms) and one pipeline hotel (185 rooms) into its portfolio across the UK. The move will expand the InterContinental brand, and enable IHG to launch its luxury boutique brand, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants in the UK, adding multiple hotels for the brand in major city centres, including London, Manchester and Edinburgh.

The agreement is a major step as IHG plans to take the brand global, expanding on the first signings for Asia and China last year, and will act as a catalyst for Kimpton’s growth in Europe. This agreement aims to strengthen IHG’s position in the upscale segment in the UK, and will establish a presence for its new upscale brand. These hotels will represent the IHG brand in its largest market within the Europe, Middle East, Asia & Africa (EMEAA) region, where it will initially be launched later this year.

Keith Barr, chief executive officer, IHG commented: ‘We are focused on continuing to expand our leadership in luxury and upscale, which are both high-value segments with significant growth potential. Bringing Kimpton to such an important market as the UK is a key part of our plans, as is the introduction of our new upscale brand, which will provide an exciting, differentiated offering to both guests and owners. Together with the recent addition of Regent Hotels & Resorts to our portfolio, we are building real momentum behind our plans to deliver industry-leading net rooms growth.’

Following FdR’s acquisition of the hotel properties and operations, IHG will operate the hotels that currently operate under the Principal Hotels and De Vere Hotels brands under long-term ‘managed leases’ as part of its luxury and upscale portfolio. The hotels include The Principal London, The Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square, The Principal Edinburgh George Street, The Principal Met Hotel (Leeds), The Principal York, De Vere Oxford Thames, The Grand Birmingham (pipeline), The Principal Manchester, The Principal Blythswood Square (Glasgow), The Principal Grand Central (Glasgow), The Principal St David’s (Cardiff), The Principal Oxford Spires and De Vere Wotton House.

Ryanair announces two new routes from London Stansted to Ukraine from October

Ryanair, the Irish low fares airline, has announced the launch of two new routes from London Stansted to Kiev and Lviv as the airline plans to commence a service to Ukraine.

These new services will commence from the end of October, as part of Ryanair’s new winter 2018 schedule. The new London Stansted-Kiev route will operate five times weekly, while the London Stansted – Lviv route will operate thrice weekly.

The new Ukrainian routes are now on sale on the Ryanair.com website.

Ryanair’s Chiara Ravara said: ‘We are pleased to launch these two new routes from London Stansted to Kiev and Lviv in Ukraine, our 36th country. These new services will operate from the end of October, as part of our Winter 2018 schedule.

Seats from £19.99 are already on sale on Ryanair.com, and UK consumers and visitors can look forward to even lower fares and the latest “Always Getting Better” improvements including reduced checked-in bag fees, Ryanair Rooms with Travel Credit, connecting flights at Rome, Milan and Porto, and Ryanair Transfers.’

The new London Stansted routes are part of the 15 new Ryanair routes from Kiev and Lviv starting in October 2018. As per the plan, Ryanair will deliver 800,000 customers p.a. at two major Ukraine airports with 10 new Kiev routes to Barcelona, Bratislava, Gdansk, Krakow, London Stansted, Poznan, Stockholm, Vilnius, Warsaw and Wroclaw and five new Lviv routes to Dusseldorf, Krakow, London Stansted, Memmingen and Warsaw, the airline said.

In addition, Ryanair has recently announced the extension of its flight partnership with Air Europa. With the move, Ryanair’s customers can browse and book Air Europa connecting flights from 15 European cities to Madrid and onward to 16 countries in North, Central and South America, including Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Mexico and the United States.

Gatwick adds new double daily service to Qatar, expands service on transatlantic routes

London Gatwick is planning to increase the global connectivity it provides for passengers with the introduction of a new route to Qatar operated by Qatar Airways, starting May 2018.

In addition, Norwegian has announced plans to offer passengers more choice with additional frequencies, on transatlantic routes, adding 150,000 extra seats from Gatwick this summer. The airline also starts new routes to Austin and Chicago this March – adding to its new Buenos Aires service that was launched in February.

Gatwick Airport Chief Executive Officer, Stewart Wingate, said: ‘I am delighted to welcome Qatar Airways – one of the world’s premier airlines – to Gatwick for this exciting new double-daily service to Doha. Our existing airlines are also providing even more choice for passengers with Norwegian starting routes to Austin and Chicago this month while also adding 150,000 extra seats on their transatlantic services from Gatwick this summer.’

Gatwick, which was named London Airport of the Year at the London Transport Awards in February, registered its 60th month of consecutive growth in February. The airport marked five full years of month-on-month growth as 3.0 million passengers travelled through last month, an increase of 0.7 per cent compared to 2017.

Commenting on the continued growth at the airport, Wingate said: ‘Our February traffic figures mark five consecutive years of growth and during this time Gatwick has been transformed by our ongoing GBP2.7 billion investment programme. Our passengers now have a wealth of choice through an extensive route network – including over 60 long haul routes – a variety of airlines plus world-class airport facilities.’

‘February’s passenger figures are the latest demonstration of Gatwick’s importance as a vital piece of UK infrastructure providing global connectivity at a time when the country needs it most. We have exciting plans for growth maximising the use of our existing facilities whilst we also offer the country the prospect of a financeable and deliverable new runway scheme,’ he added.

Gatwick announces new peer-to-peer car rental scheme, partners with Car & Away

London Gatwick has announced plans to host a new peer-to-peer car rental scheme that allows people to rent out their vehicles to others while they are away.

Gatwick is the first UK airport to introduce such a scheme. The airport is partnering with a start-up company, Car & Away, to provide a new ‘Rent & Earn’ service for passengers, in addition to the other existing long stay parking options at Gatwick.

Vehicle owners looking to participate in the scheme may register the service, via the Gatwick parking website, where they are provided with information about Car & Away’s qualifying criteria and the renting process. Their vehicle will also receive a mini valet service. Small vehicle owners can expect to earn up to GBP80 per week in rental income, while owners of larger cars can expect to earn up to twice that amount.

Renters can find Car & Away’s available vehicles via Rentalcars.com when searching for rental cars from Gatwick. On finding a suitable service, the vehicle is available for collection from Car & Away parking bays located in the valet arrivals area of the South Terminal, the airport said.

Gatwick Airport’s Head of Car Parking, Gary Wallace, said: ‘We are always searching for ways to provide new, innovative and ground breaking services so we are pleased to be hosting this exciting new scheme with Car & Away. The new service offers passengers an alternative option when it comes to renting vehicles from the airport and gives them a chance to offset their parking costs.

‘Our goal is to help as many people as possible to travel for less, in a convenient way, and airport peer-to-peer car sharing services are another way of achieving this.’

Car & Away will ensure that all vehicles are fully insured, cleaned and meet RAC approved vehicle roadworthiness checks before being offered to renters. Octo Telematics systems will be installed to monitor the vehicle driving patterns. When the renter returns, the vehicle passes through the same checking processes and will then wait in the Car & Away parking bays for the owner’s return, the airport said.

Norwegian announces new route to Buenos Aires

Norwegian, a low-cost long-haul airline, is planning to launch a new direct service from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires.

The airline will operate a year-round service of four weekly flights from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport, with fares starting from £259.90 one-way to Buenos Aires.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said: ‘Today we have marked the start of our new expansion into South America by bringing a taste of Argentina to London Gatwick. I am delighted to bring our high quality long-haul flights to another continent as we launch the only direct flight from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires, giving leisure and business passengers affordable access to South America.

‘Our first flight to Buenos Aires from the UK marks another milestone for Norwegian. As our first South American route takes off, it is also a first step towards ambitious plans for international and domestic growth in Argentina, ahead of flights to Chicago and Austin from London Gatwick next month.’

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: ‘The launch of Norwegian’s first ever South American route is another exciting landmark in Gatwick’s ongoing mission to connect the UK to more and more long-haul destinations. The airport now offers 63 long-haul connections – with many, including Buenos Aires, operated by low-cost carriers – making Gatwick the busiest departure airport for low-cost long-haul services in the world.

‘We’re going to continue breaking new ground this year and remain focused on strengthening Gatwick’s global reach at a time when worldwide connections are crucial for the UK. In fact, two new Norwegian routes to Austin and Chicago will follow the Buenos Aires service into Gatwick’s schedules next month alone.’

Norwegian’s long-haul flights from London Gatwick will be operated by a fleet of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft. The new 56 seat cabin configuration will offer passengers more than a metre of legroom, complimentary meals, baggage allowance and airport lounge access, with Premium fares available from £699.90 one way.

Buenos Aires will be Norwegian’s 11th route from London Gatwick in the past four years and by the end of March, Norwegian will operate 13 direct long-haul routes following the launch of Singapore in September, Buenos Aires in February and Chicago and Austin in March 2018, the airline said.

South African Airways introduces A330-300 on Johannesburg – London route

South African Airways (SAA) has said that it will introduce the new A330-300 on the London route from March 2018, and will also adjust frequencies on the route to a single daily service.

As part of its network optimisation plan, effective from April 20, 2018, SAA will operate a single daily flight from Johannesburg to London Heathrow replacing the double daily service operating on the route currently.

‘We have decided to focus on those areas of our business that will enhance our efficiencies, bring more value to our customers and produce improved overall performance of the airline. Network optimisation is one such area that can contribute towards containing our costs and we introduced some initiatives that must yield dividends to return the business to commercial sustainability in the shortest time possible,’ said SAA CEO, Vuyani Jarana. ‘We have also decided to upgrade the service operating between Johannesburg and London Heathrow to the new Airbus A330-300 with effect from Sunday, 25 March 2018. This will afford customers a significantly improved on-board Business and Economy product, with state-of-the-art technology, increased comfort and capacity,’ added Jarana.

The new Airbus A330-300 offers the latest technology, are eco-friendly , quieter, equipped with advanced avionics and navigation systems, and have Rolls-Royce Trent engines, resulting in lower fuel burn and in turn, lower carbon emissions. SAA took delivery of five new A330-300 aircraft last year.

The A330-300s offer more Business Class seats than any aircraft in the SAA fleet currently. In total, the aircraft has capacity for 249 passengers, with 46 in Business Class and 203 in Economy Class. Seating in Business Class cabins is in a staggered 1-2-1 configuration, offering all customers a forward facing, lie-flat seat, increased privacy and direct access to the aisle. SAA has also introduced an app where customers can download additional entertainment before their flight.

Seating in the Economy cabin will be in the 2-4-2 configuration. Economy Class on the A330-300 feature a 10.1′ high-resolution screen, individual USB charging ports, and access to shared PC power points.

Primera Air to launch new London Stansted to Washington route in August

Icelandic budget airline Primera Air has announced plans to launch five direct flights a week from London Stansted to Washington Dulles from August 22, 2018.

The fares to Washington will start from £199. The airline, which is set to start its new flights from Stansted to New York and Boston in April and Toronto in May, is also increasing planned flight frequency to Toronto from August.

‘Andri M. Ingolfsson, Primera Air President and owner of Primera Air, said: ‘We’ve been planning to add Washington from the beginning of the transatlantic flight project. We see a strong demand for this route and we are the first low-cost airline to start operations between both cities, offering people an affordable way of transatlantic travel.’

Ken O’ Toole, London Stansted’s CEO, commented, ‘We’ve already seen a very positive response from passengers to Primera’s previous announcement of new services to New York, Boston and Toronto, and the addition of Washington will provide even more choice and connectivity to the east coast of the USA.

‘We have made clear our ambition is to provide more services to the USA, and add routes to China and India, so this is another step towards that goal. We look forward to the launch of these exciting new services in the coming months.’

Following increased demand for flights from London Stansted to Toronto, Primera Air has decided to increase flight frequency from three to five flights per week. The airline has previously announced plans to open a new base at London Stansted for flights to New York, Boston and Toronto along with new routes to Malaga, Palma de Mallorca, Alicante, Barcelona and Chania.

Primera Air, which has 20 new Boeing MAX9-ER aircraft on order, will also expand its presence on current bases and add new transatlantic routes and bases over the next two years, it said.