Sunday, 26 August 2012

Virgin steps it up a level

THE roll-out of Virgin Atlantic’s new Upper Class suite has begun this summer in what is proving a busy year for the carrier.
The development of the new cabin comes at a cost of £100million, with rollout continuing across its fleet of new A330 aircraft. It will also feature on Virgin’s order for B787 Dreamliner aircraft when delivery begins in 2014.
Virgin’s CEO Steve Ridgway says, “Upper Class was a brilliant revolution when it was first launched [in 2003], but this takes the concept to another level.
“It has really stood the test of time. It’s all about features that take away the pain for business travellers. We have other people interested in this design and ultimately we will probably market it and sell it on – but not to overt competitors,” he adds.
                                                                               Virgin Atlantic A330

Virgin has already launched services from London Heathrow to Vancouver (in May) and London Gatwick to Cancun (July 7th), is re-launching operations to Mumbai in the autumn and adds a sixth daily service between London Heathrow and New York at the end of October. It also hopes to launch services from Heathrow to Moscow in 2013.
“New York remains a big market and we have an unassailable product on this service now with the new Upper Class suite and lounges at JFK and Newark airports,” says Ridgway.
“It’s where it all started with our first flight from London to Newark in 1984. Last year we carried more than half a million passengers between Heathrow and JFK. We have managed to grow our customer numbers across the Atlantic in the face of increased capacity and bigger airline alliances.”
The carrier has also opened a new $7million Clubhouse at JFK and is expected to open another at Newark later this year.

Lufthansa to fly the Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental to Bangalore starting on September 13

                     Copyright Photo: Nick Dean. Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental D-ABYD departs from Paine Field near Everett.
Lufthansa‘s (Frankfurt) passengers can now book flights to the latest Boeing 747-8 destination. Tickets for flights on the Frankfurt-Bangalore route with the Lufthansa flagship are now on sale. From September 13, the “Queen of the Skies” will depart daily from Frankfurt for Bangalore at 12.15 hours, operating under flight number LH 754. The scheduled arrival time in the Indian metropolis is 0.30 hours local time. Two hours later, LH 755 will return to its home base in Frankfurt, landing at 08.25 hours.
Lufthansa will soon take delivery of its third Boeing 747-8 and add the final touches to the aircraft, which will bear the registration of D-ABYD. As soon as it is ready to enter into service, it will be deployed on the route to Bangalore – the third Lufthansa destination to be served by the new jumbo jet. The Boeing  747-8 Intercontinental currently flies to Washington (Dulles) and Delhi.
On board, Lufthansa passengers can enjoy the new Business Class, which includes a seat that can be converted at the press of a button into a horizontal sleeping surface measuring 1.98 metres in length. The new seat offers exceptional comfort for passengers in a sitting or recumbent position, intuitive adjustment features, additional storage space and enhanced entertainment system.
The Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental is a completely new aircraft that builds upon the positive features of the Boeing 747 series, Lufthansa’s long-haul workhorse for more than 40 years. The aircraft’s wings have significantly improved aerodynamics and newly developed wingtips. The aircraft also provides tangible improvements in terms of eco-efficiency. The GEnx-2B engines consume less fuel and achieve a 15 per cent improvement in fuel efficiency and CO2  emissions per passenger. In addition, noise emissions have been reduced by 30 per cent.
In 2012, Lufthansa expects to take delivery of a further Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental, which is scheduled to operate flights to Los Angeles. To date, Lufthansa has ordered a total of 20 Boeing 747-8 aircraft.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Lufthansa Cabin Crew Delay Strike Decision

Lufthansa cabin crew will decide next week whether to strike over pay, a move that could cause widespread flight disruption at Germany's leading airline.
The UFO union, which represents more than 10,000 flight attendants and pursers in Germany, said on Friday it had rejected Lufthansa's latest offer but expected the airline to make a new proposal by the middle of next week.
UFO chief negotiator Dirk Vogelsang told journalists that a strike seemed increasingly likely.
The strike threat comes as Lufthansa cuts 3,500 jobs - about 3 percent of its global workforce of 117,000 - and freezes investment to boost profit squeezed by high fuel prices and fierce competition from low-cost and Middle East carriers.
Lufthansa has also shifted contracts of pilots and flight attendants at Austrian Airlines to a lower-cost subsidiary and boosted cooperation between its main Lufthansa airline and low-cost carrier Germanwings.
UFO is pushing for higher pay after three years without an increase and a pledge by Lufthansa not to staff flights with temporary workers.
The union's head Nicoley Baublies would not say what form a strike could take but that even just stopping work for a few hours could have knock-on effects for days.
"There are economic difficulties yes, but while they are paying out a dividend, they are clearly not a restructuring case," Baublies said, adding that the union had offered "painful" concessions, such as fewer days off.
Flight attendants backed industrial action in a vote earlier this month but UFO said it would delay a decision on a strike until Lufthansa had presented its new offer.
The union had hit back at plans by Lufthansa to hire temporary staff as flight attendants on its routes from Berlin, but a German court backed the airline earlier this year.
(culled from

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

LONDON 2012: My Story

The application was followed by series of written and oral interviews and then two months of waiting for the background check by the homeland office. Then at the accreditation venue, I had to stand under the scotching summer sun for three hours to get my accreditation card (popularly called PASS). And when it was finally my turn, I was told there had been a (stupid) mix-up in my passport details. My date of birth and my passport expiry date had been swapped with another person’s. The young man that attended to me was kind and understanding and within a few minutes the mistake was corrected but the change in my passport details triggered another round of background check by the homeland office which would take another 24 hours.  Eventually, my accreditation card was ready when I went back 24hrs later but that was just the beginning of the protocol. At the Olympic park gate, I and some others had to stand again for hours to collect the upgrade pass without which the accreditation card was invalid; of course the security was water tight. It took only three hours because our team leader had gone to collect the cards on our behalf. Finally, with the accreditation and the upgrade cards, I was cleared for the common domain area of the Olympic park. It should have been called Olympic village (rather than park) as it’s an amazing and very large sports village. It was so big that you needed a map to navigate in and around the park. The highly spectacular architectural sports venues, the artistic impressions, the technologically advanced facilities, the well paved walk ways, it was just awesome. Then the crowd, by far the largest crowd I had ever seen, there must have been more than one million people in the Olympic park at any given time during the games.  There was a palpable presence of the press crew led by the BBC which had a two-storey structure in the middle of the park housing their live studios.
Then the medals started pouring in. The likes of Usain Bolt, Mo Farah, Jessica Ennis and many others had their moments of glory and euphoria. They had made their preparations; they had run their race and then came their well deserved medals.  Then came the Con te partiro, the time to say good bye, the closing ceremony. It was music-driven, very colourful, well rehearsed...and very emotional. While a lot of athletes left the games with their heads high, a lot of others would always wish they did things differently. But in any case, there will always be another Olympics so...

...See you at Rio 2016. By the way, I didn't forget my camera at home.
By Chidozie Mario
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