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SIA fare type changes unlikely to push passengers away: Experts

SIA's move to charge some economy passengers for advance seat selection might have drawn some flak, but aviation experts said this will not deter customers from flying with the airline. From Jan 20 next year, advance seat selection will be chargeable under the new Lite category of economy fares, starting from US$5 per flight segment. Currently, this can be done across all economy fares without a charge. “This is a fairly modest move, so I wouldn't expect it to greatly impact SIA's customers, especially those who fly business class,” a Flightglobal editor said. “The idea of passengers paying a few dollars to select a seat may be new for SIA, but it's by no means new in the industry.” Among the other changes in economy class, passengers who pay for Flexi fares will get an increased baggage allowance of 35kg, up from 30kg
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Trade balance played role in Vietnam Airlines 787, A350 buys

Political considerations were an element in Vietnam Airlines' decision to obtain both the Boeing 787-9 and A350-900. Vietnam Airlines executive VP Le Hong Ha says that from an airline perspective, it is useful to have exposure to aircraft technology from both Europe and North America. He adds, however, that there was a political dimension behind the acquisition of two similar types, given the trade balance between Vietnam and the west. Vietnam is a major exporter of apparel, electronics, and other goods. "The govt still owns 80% of Vietnam Airlines and this has a strong influence on our decisions," says Le. "We are a national flag carrier." The A350 deal originated from an Oct 2007 memorandum of understanding, the 787s from a commitment with Boeing 1 month later.
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British Airways slips to third from bottom in annual passenger satisfaction survey

British Airways has slumped to third from bottom in an annual survey of passenger satisfaction. The airline achieved a customer score of just 52% in the short-haul category in the annual poll by consumer group Which?. This figure was down from 67% in 2016. In a year when BA ended free catering for economy passengers on short-haul flights, the airline was given just 2 stars for its food and drink. The same poor rating was given for seat comfort and value for money. Ryanair came in joint last place with Vueling with a customer score of 45%. BA was also rated the third worst long-haul carrier, behind TUI Airways and Thomas Cook for the first time. Its customer score dropped from 60% in 2016 to 50%. United Airlines was ranked the worst long-haul airline (39%), followed by American Airlines (46%).
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EasyJet confirms Air Berlin asset purchase approval

EasyJet confirmed it has received EC approval to acquire part of Air Berlin’s operations at Berlin Tegel Airport. The E40m (US$47m) deal includes leasing former Air Berlin aircraft and acquiring Berlin Tegel landing slots. EasyJet said it will also employ about 1,000 ex-Air Berlin crew members to operate the 25 Airbus A320s it will fly from Tegel. The carrier said the Commission had confirmed that there are no competition concerns relating to the purchase agreement. The Commission in its ruling said the Air Berlin slots EasyJet will acquire at congested German airports, and particularly Berlin, are “unlikely to have a negative effect on passengers.” EasyJet will continue to face strong competition from large carriers such as Lufthansa and Ryanair on routes to and from Berlin.
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US: Power outage at Atlanta airport, the world's busiest, grounds flights

A power outage at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, the world's busiest, ground operations to a halt Sunday. The FAA ordered a ground stop on flights, meaning planes are held at their departure points, the airport said. Flight-tracking site Flight Aware said departing flights were delayed by more than an hour. Delta Air Lines is diverting some Atlanta-bound flights and expected delays as a result of the loss of power, a spokesman said. The airline is based in Atlanta and the airport is its main hub. Southwest Airlines cancelled the remainder of its flights to and from the Atlanta airport Sunday. It was not immediately clear what caused the outage, but Georgia Power and the airport said they were investigating. The tower is still functional but equipment in the terminals is not working, the FAA said.
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The Queen continues to fly west: Delta’s final regularly scheduled 747 service ends this week

Tuesday, Delta Airlines is saying goodbye to the Queen of the Skies as the 747-400 returns from Seoul Incheon to Detroit. It will be the final passenger flight on a regularly scheduled route that Delta will ever operate with a 747. Once Delta’s farewell flights are complete later this month, the 747 passenger planes with a widget on the tail will completely disappear from the skies. Delta is the only remaining major domestic airline flying the passenger version of the iconic 747. United Airlines retired their fleet in November. The 747s will be brought to the airline boneyard in Arizona in January. Delta’s new flagship passenger plane is the Airbus A350.
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American Airlines: ‘We are confident we will not cancel any flights due to pilot staffing’

On the eve of what many feared would be a wave of cancellations due to pilot scheduling problems, American Airlines says it has pilots in place to cover flights for the remainder of December. The airline has not canceled any flights and “we are confident we will not cancel any flights due to pilot staffing,” said a spokesman for American Airlines Group. “Our pilots are stepping up to cover open trips and we have reserve pilots on hand to utilise as needed,” he added. “The bottom line is, customers can rest assured we will get them where they need to go during the holidays.” Last week, the airline acknowledged a scheduling mistake allowed many pilots to drop their December flights, putting thousands of flights at risk of cancellation.
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EasyJet expands Switzerland operations

EasyJet plans to further expand its Switzerland operations by basing 2 additional Airbus A320s at Basel/Mulhouse from summer 2018. The move increases EasyJet’s Basel-based aircraft to 11 and destinations from 57 to 63. In 2017, EasyJet transported 13.5m passengers from Switzerland, up from 12.3m in 2016. The carrier operates from Swiss airports Zurich, Geneva and Basel. EasyJet Switzerland/Germany country director Thomas Haagensen said with the new Basel-based A320s “we will transport 500,000 additional passengers [to and from Basel].” New routes from Basel include Athens (Greece), Belgrade (Serbia), Vienna (Austria), Menorca (Spain), Pula (Croatia) and Lamezia (Italy). Also, frequencies on existing routes will be increased.
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Germany: Chaos-plagued Berlin airport won't open before 2020

German authorities said Friday that Berlin's new international airport would not open before 2020, 8 years behind schedule for a project that has become an enduring political scandal and national laughing stock. Planners said after a committee meeting they were confident they now had a viable roadmap to address the technical defects that have plagued in particular the ultramodern new main terminal of the BER airport. "With today's supervisory board meeting we are starting the last phase of the completion of the terminal and thus of the opening of BER," airport chief Engelbert Luetke Daldrup said. Daldrup called the new opening date target of Oct 2020 "credible and reliable" but acknowledged that the US$7.1b price tag would, as widely expected, continue to rise.
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Ryanair offers pilot unions recognition to stop strikes

In a surprise move, Ryanair has offered to negotiate on union recognition for its European pilot groups. The move is an attempt by Ryanair to head off a series of strikes, with the first, a 4 hour stoppage by its Italy-based pilots scheduled for Friday. The airline said it has written to pilot unions in 6 countries - Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain and the UK - offering talks to recognise the unions as the representative body for Ryanair pilots in each of the countries, but with the proviso that they establish committees of Ryanair pilots to deal with Ryanair issues. The airline said it will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines in Ireland or elsewhere. CE Michael O’Leary has been strongly opposed to union recognition, with the airline saying as recently as Tuesday that it would “face down” the Irish pilot union intention to strike.
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