Europe News: British Airways Looking For New JV, New OneWorld Option To South Africa, KLM Ups San Francisco Service & More

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A look a the news coming out of various European airlines in the past few days, including British Airways looking for a new Trans-Atlantic joint venture, KLM increasing its operations to San Francisco an easyJet competition and a new option for OneWorld flyers to South Africa.

British Airways Looking For A Joint Venture With Latam

Latam Airlines Group SA is the parent company of LAN airlines (of Chile) and TAM airlines (of Brazil) an they’re being courted by British Airways for new Trans-Atlantic joint venture agreement.

Skift are quoting Willie Walsh (CEO of British Airways parent IAG) as saying:

It’s a group that we would like to have closer ties to. There is certainly scope for us to look at developing a closer relationship, potentially a joint venture. Whether that leads to anything in terms of M&A is a big question that I think is unanswerable at this stage.

Walsh appears to be particularly keen on a tie-up with Latam to help reduce IAG’s reliance on the northern hemisphere summer vacation market but it’s not all easy-going in the southern hemisphere right now. Brazil is in a recession, Argentina’s economy is about as stable as a tower of jello and Chile is suffering the effects of the falling price of Copper (its main export) – hardly foundations for an aviation bonanza.

British Airways Looking For JV With LANImage courtesy of Eric Salard via Flickr

LAN & TAM are already part of the OneWorld alliance in which British Airways is a major player – so there is an existing relationship between the airlines – and the similarities between a potential JV with Latam and the JV that British Airways now has with American Airlines are clear to see.

It will be interesting to see how this progresses – will IAG be satisfied with a JV or will the highly acquisitive group go for yet another take-over? They’ve only just finished the acquisition of Aer Lingus for $1.6bn and it wasn’t that long ago that BMI and Vueling were added to the IAG stable. Add to that the rumors surrounding IAG’s interest in Finnair (Finnair forced to deny IAG takeover rumors) and you start to get a picture of an airline group that’s very keen to continue expanding.

KLM Increases San Francisco Operations

KLM is increasing its summer San Francisco service from 7 weekly flights to 9 thanks to the introduction of a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to the route.

As things stand the airline flies a 747-400 aircraft between Amsterdam and San Francisco on a daily basis during its summer schedule but, from 4 May 2016, a 787-9 will join the route on Wednesdays and Sundays:

KL605 AMS 09:50 – 11:45 SFO (Daily)
KL607 AMS 12:40 – 14:45 SFO (Wed, Sun)

KL606 SFO 13:55 – 09:15+1 day AMS (Daily)
KL608 SFO 16:45 – 12:15+1 AMS (Wed, Sun)

KLM 787-9 San Francisco RouteKLM 787-9 – Image courtesy of KLM

KLM’s 787-9 Dreamliners come in a 3-cabin configuration (Economy/Economy Comfort/World Business) but the 9-across seating makes things a bit tight in the rear 2 cabins.

Economy Class seats have 31″ seat pitch and a seat width of 17.5″ while Economy Comfort is only and improvement if you like more leg room – the seat width stays at 17.5″ but seat pitch is increased to 35″.

The KLM 787-9 carry up to 294 passengers and, with their 747-400 counterparts on this route carrying up to 408 passengers this will see a 20% increase in KLM’s capacity on this route – which should be good for award availability.

EasyJet Plane Spotting Competition

EasyJet have launched a fun and easy competition that will see four entrants win a pair of flights to Europe.

As part of their 20th birthday celebrations easyJet have repainted one of their newer Airbus A320 aircraft in a special livery

easyJet 20th Birthday Livery

Here’s a close up…

easyJet 20th Birthday Livery

EasyJet is asking its Facebook and Instagram followers to track down its 20th birthday plane and snap a picture of it.

As only one plane has this livery (reg G-EZOX for the Av Geeks out there) it may not be that easy to find but, if you do see it, snap a photo and share it with easyJet’s social media teams on Twitter or Facebook using the hashtag #PlaneSpotting. You’ll then be entered into a random draw with a chance to win the tickets for flights to Europe.

Closing date for the competition is 9 February 2016.

Iberia to fly to South Africa

IAG owned and OneWorld Alliance member Iberia is to recommence service between Madrid and Johannesburg for the first time in 4 years.

A quick ITA Matrix search revealed that, as things stand, the only non-stop route between Europe and Johannesburg operated by a OneWorld carrier is the London – Johannesburg route operated by British Airways…with the same being true of the Cape Town route – so this comes as welcome news to OneWorld flyers.

Iberia will commence 3 x weekly operations to Johannesburg from 1 August 2016 on the following schedule:

IB6051 MAD 23:45 – 09:55+1 day JNB (Mon, Thur, Fri)
IB6050 JNB 20:15 – 06:35+1 day MAD (Tue, Fri, Sat)

Iberia will use their Airbus A330-300 aircraft on this route.

Economy Class seats on this route will have the almost-industry-standard 31″ seat pitch but they do have a better-than-normal seat width of 18″ and that will definitely help on such a long flight.

The Iberia A330-300s come equipped with Iberia’s latest Business Class all-aisle-access offering called “Business Plus”

Iberia Business PlusImage courtesy of Iberia


AirBerlin To Introduce 3G Onboard

AirBerlin has announced that, together with AeroMobile, it plans to install 3G connectivity throughout its long-haul fleet.

According to the AirBerlin press release the first aircraft to receive the upgrade will be an Airbus A330-200 with the registration D-ABXC.

Passengers can use their own 3G-enabled mobile devices to send text messages and surf the internet with the same quality as on the ground. Telephony will remain prohibited on airberlin flights.

Passengers should not that this isn’t the same as having WiFi onboard as passengers will have their charges set by their home mobile service providers. Presumably this means that if you’re traveling with a foreign cell phone you could rack up horrendous roaming charges if you’re not careful.

The service is easy to use: passengers simply switch on their mobile device or smartphone, disable airplane mode and connect to the on-board 3G network. Charges are set by passengers home mobile service providers and added to their monthly bill.

Until I get a fuller understanding of what the charges for this service are like I’m going to reserve any enthusiasm. With traditional onboard WiFi you know exactly how much it’s going to cost you but, with this service, it would appear that you’re at the mercy of the mobile phone companies…and that’s never good.

Featured image courtesy of NATS.