Air Berlin continues talks with easyJet and Lufthansa 

Insolvent airline Air Berlin is pushing ahead with talks with Lufthansa and easyJet about a possible sale.

Air Berlin, which has around 8,000 employees, filed for insolvency last month after major shareholder Etihad said it would stop providing funding. 

However, the company is still flying after a £130 million rescue loan from Germany’s government. Air Berlin said that talks will continue with the two airlines until October 12 to sell parts of the business in the hope that ‘roughly 80 per cent of Air Berlin’s staff will likely have jobs if the respective purchases go ahead’.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of IAG, said at an industry conference that ‘it would not come as any surprise’ if Lufthansa was the ‘main winner.’ 

Flybe losses treble 

Regional carrier Flybe has recorded an adjusted loss of £19.2 million for the year to March 31 – nearly triple its result in 2016/17. 

However, the loss before tax improved to £9.4 million and group revenue was up 6.4 per cent to £752.6 million. 

The results come as the airline continues a restructuring plan aimed at improving its financial performance, which has included cutting capacity on some routes and returning some of its leased aircraft. 

Virgin update interiors 

Virgin Atlantic is giving its new fleet of planes a style revamp, and has unveiled the latest interiors for its A330-200 aircraft, due to be rolled out from November.

The update includes a new Love Suite in Upper Class that includes side-by-side seats that convert to fully-flat double bed in the sky.

Customers can also pick a Corner Suite or Freedom Suite, giving them either window or aisle access.

The premium cabin will feature 35 seats with a 38in pitch and all cabins will have mood lighting and high-speed WiFi

easyJet Heathrow fares ‘to be 30 per cent less’  

easyJet has said customers should expect a 30 per cent fall in fares on UK and European routes when the carrier launches from HeathroweasyJet expects to begin serving UK and European cities from Heathrow from 2026, if the third runway is built.

The airline says this will allow it to serve destinations such as Belfast International, Jersey, Naples and Bordeaux which are not currently served from Heathrow. 

According to easyJet UK director Sophie DekkereasyJet fares from Gatwick to Amsterdam are currently 148 per cent cheaper than Heathrow’s, while fares to Milan are 70 per cent lower.  

Latest Ryanair news

Ryanair to fly from London Southend Airport in 2019. 

Ryanair will begin operating flights from Southend next year. The airline said it will base three planes at the airport from April and fly 13 routes to eight countries, including Spain and Greece. More than 55 flights a week will see Ryanair carry an estimated one million passengers per year. Southend will be the fourteenth base for the low-cost airline and ‘create 750 jobs’, according to research. Planned new routes include five flights per week to Alicante and Malaga in Spain, twice daily flights to Dublin and other flights to Portugal, Italy and Venice. 

Ryanair’s new check-in rule kicks in, with the window reduced from four days to 48 hours.

Ryanair’s new check-in policy has come into force last week, reducing the free check-in time from four days to 48 hours – unless passengers pay to reserve a seat. The piece says millions of passengers booked with the Dublin-based carrier will have to pay an extra £4 on bookings for an assigned seat if they still want to be able to check-in for flights 60 days in advance. The new policy could increase the likelihood of passengers having to find internet connections while abroad to download return-journey boarding passes on their smartphones, because many currently do this at home before setting off. And if passengers don’t download or print their passes before turning up to the airport, the airline can charge them £55. Two years ago, customers could check in up to seven days before their flight, which worked well for those on longer breaks as they could download passes for both legs of their trip at the same time. It was then reduced to four days. The reduction to just 48 hours has prompted some passengers to take to Twitter to slam the new rules, saying they are confusing. 

Ryanair agrees to recognise Unite.

Ryanair has signed a landmark agreement that recognises its UK cabin crew’s union. The agreement with Unitenables its representatives to negotiate pay, hours and holiday on behalf of around 650 crewIt follows reports that the airline asks cabin crew to pay ‘thousands of pounds’ during training and imposes sanctions on staff who do not meet sales targets. Many crew remain indirectly employed via agencies like Crewlink, so will not come under the remit of the Unite deal. Ryanair’s Chief People Officer, Eddie Wilson, said the agreement was a sign of the progress the airline had made since its announcement that it would recogniseunions. “We are confounding those sceptics who claimed that our decision was not real or genuine,” he said. 

Airbus may finally crack Ryanair as O’Leary touts order prospect 

Airbus may end up with a significant new customer as Ryanair looks to beef up a newly acquired airline unit that uses planes from the European manufacturer. 

Ryanair, which previously operated only Boeing aircraft, will expand the fleet at Austria’s LaudaMotion to as many as 50 A320s over four years.

The narrow-body model could eventually account for 20 per cent of the group’s overall roster, CEO Michael O’Leary said in an interview. That might amount to more than 100 jets. 

Ryanair COO says pilot staffing situation has stabilised

Ryanair has said its issues with pilot staffing have stabilised, with would-be Ryanair pilots ‘queueing up’ to join after the company decided to recognise unions and offer direct contracts. 

Along with direct employment contracts for new joiners, plus agreements to recognise unions in some countries, Ryanair has also dropped the cost of some training, known as a type rating, ordered more simulators and has 100 new training pilots.

When asked about whether Ryanair would be interested in Norwegian Air Shuttle at the CAPA conference in Dublin, Ryanair Chief Operations Officer Peter Bellew told reporters that Ryanair had its hands full. But he added that if IAG or Lufthansa ended up buying Norwegian and having to give up airport take-off and landing slots then Ryanair would be interested in those. 

easyJet to help small number of pilots with cost of training 

easyJet has said it will cut the cost of training for a small number of pilots as part of a drive to attract a more diverse range of people to fly its planes.

The article suggests that flight schools and airlines are moving to sponsor more courses, or cut the cost of training, amidst a global shortage of trained pilots.

It notes that newly qualified pilots who are chosen will have to pay £8,648 for their so-called type rating course, with easyJet making up the balance of the bill, which is typically around £30,000. 

Norwegian Air to press ahead with Dublin Airport base 

Norwegian Air International is continuing with its plans for a Dublin Airport base despite announcing that it would cut services from Cork and Shannon later this year. 

The carrier confirmed earlier this week that low demand prompted it to cut its services from Cork and Shannon airports to Providence, Rhode Island, from October to March 2019. 

A spokeswoman for the airline said that it was continuing with plans for a base at Dublin Airport, which was announced last year. “Norwegian opened a new pilot base in Dublin last year and has since created a cabin crew base with more than 40 cabin crew positions recruited for the Dublin base so far,” she said. The airline held open days for pilots interested in joining the operation late last year and reported strong interest at the time. 

Ryanair-backed LaudaMotion to open Berlin Tegel base 

LaudaMotion, the latest venture by aviation entrepreneur Niki Lauda, is to open a Berlin Tegel base on June 1, 2018 and launch flights to 17 destinations from the German capital. 

It will operate services to Barcelona, Brindisi, Corfu, Faro, Fuerteventura, Heraklion, Ibiza, Kos, Lanzarote, Las Palmas, Malaga, Milan Malpensa, Palma de Mallorca, Pula, Rhodes, Rijeka and Tenerife. Four aircraft will be based at the Berlin airport.