Bits: A380s to Iberia and Aer Lingus?, Qatar Airways raises stake in IAG

News in brief:

Aer Lingus and Iberia to be A380 customers?

In this interesting article, Willie Walsh – Chief Executive of BA’s parent IAG – says that he is considering A380 aircraft for both Iberia and, as a one-off, Aer Lingus.

The last of the 12 aircraft ordered for British Airways will arrive next month and, back in January, Walsh also spoke of adding another 5-6 to the BA fleet.

Malaysia Airlines was looking to offload its A380 fleet of six aircraft.  These come with the Rolls-Royce engines which IAG is insisting upon in order to match the existing fleet.  This deal is now apparently off the table with Malaysia deciding to hold on to the planes.

Amazingly, Emirates is already planning to sell it first batch of A380s as being ‘too old’ but these are primarily GE / Pratt & Whitney powered.  Five early Singapore Airlines A380 aircraft with Rolls-Royce engines may also become available soon if, as is believed, Singapore does not renew their lease.

BA A380

Qatar Airways raises its stake in IAG

Qatar Airways announced yesterday that it has raised its stake in IAG, parent of British Airways, to 12%.

The airline had held 9.99% of IAG since last January.  Under European Union law, Qatar Airways is not allowed to buy more than 49.99% of IAG although there is no sign at the moment that it is interested in going that far.

Some commentators believe that Qatar is looking for ‘open skies’ slots in order to launch additional routes to the US and that Heathrow would be an obvious stopping point if BA can be persuaded to help out.

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  1. James67 says:

    Not hard to imagine what BA cabin crew might think of increasing Qatar influence on IAG.

  2. Charlie says:

    Raffles for CEO of BA. You know it makes sense!

    • +1

    • I hope not after reading his comments in the Southend article today. If Raffles was CEO, free food and drink would be removed from BA short haul and we might as well be flying easyjet. I enjoy my BA breakfast en route to Glasgow. Returning during the day they offer some rather delicious lemon biscuits from a small bakery on the Isle of Mull. If in the evening, I enjoy a whisky, small bottle of wine or perhaps a beer with some crisps. The BA short haul economy catering is so much better than in the days of the dreaded “All-Day-Deli” a few years ago

      • BA short haul economy food is a joke as we all know. I am sure some people actually choose ‘buy on board’ airlines in preference to BA because they would rather pay a few quid for something decent rather than get a free pack of pretzels.

        I have no interest in running BA! It would have been interesting to have Frank Van Der Post’s old role as ‘head of consumer experience’ although I also think I would have followed Frank out of the door when I realised I was simply a PR tool for the airline and they refused to actually put up the money required to do the things I wanted to do.

        • I don’t know why you think it is “a joke”. It is not fair to compare it to a business class meal. I normally fly business long haul and economy for short haul. The cooked English breakfast on the GLA and EDI routes is rather tasty but perhaps not good for the waistline. Nevertheless always welcome on an early morning flight and I would rather have an extra 30 minutes in bed than going to the Galleries lounge for a bacon roll at that time in the morning. Their biscuits from Isle of Man are very tasty mid morning. On a recent flight from
          LCY to Zurich I had a rather tasty light lunch served including couscous salad…and washed down with some white wine. On an evening flight a whisky or gin and tonic is always very welcome with a pack of nibbles on the side. I don’t understand why you think this is a “a joke” in the economy cabin. I think it is a real benefit. On the low cost carriers you have to wait an age to get served (unless in front or back row) whilst passengers find right change, look for credit cards etc. Then on Easyjet etc, business people have to go to bother of submitting an expenses claim or picking up cost themselves. Long Live BA economy class catering – it is most definitely not “a joke”.

          • Perhaps you would if you accepted the entire planet doesn’t share your particular culinary tastes… I think the lemon biscuits are disgusting and don’t drink alcohol during the day, so I generally end up with just a juice. On other flights I often get a mini wrap with an edible but bizarre flavour (yogurt and falafel for example).

            I now take my own snacks on BA flights just like I do with Easyjet. If I was more “frivolous” I’d therefore much rather have the choice of a range of hot and cold food than whatever BA come up with. A US style offering would be best, free soft drinks then pay for alcohol/food.

            • So as long as that meant a corresponding reduction in price (which it probably wouldn’t)?

            • Or deciding not to increase the price instead – effectively the same thing, though invisible.

            • flyforfun says:

              I remember my first couple of short haul flights in the early 90s. Olympic Athens to London I got a full 3 course hot meal that was really tasty, so much so that I ate smoked salmon for the first time willingly. (I normally hate most fish but was so hungry I ate it!). More surprisingly was when I flew KLM Amsterdam to London and got a similar sized hot 3 course meal for a 45 minute flight!!

              On my recent trip to BCN we got a bite sized roll and some abomination of a sweet roll, so slimy the icing stuck to the wrapping. Coming back from Paphos into LGW we got a cold box meal that was pretty poor. Very disappointing.

              It’s interesting how catering got “enhanced” to save money, but now that prices have gone up, the food element is still poor. I felt like I had to have a drink to get value for my ticket on BA. I’d rather have better food and paid for alcohol.

            • You’re delusional. Flying is a fraction of the cost it was in the early 90’s…

            • For me the BA short haul catering is irrelevant when you can stuff yourself silly in the lounge for free before the flight, then take a banana, can of pop and some kettle chips on the plane with you. Can’t do that on sleazyjet, unless you have some other method of lounge access.

  3. Frankie says:

    What is meant by a ‘one off’ for Aer Lingus? They are getting one?

    • Walsh thinks they could use one but only one, yes.

      • Londonbus says:

        I suspect that would be DUB-JFK; this would work with Dublin taking most of its feed from UK regionals. Pre-clearance at Dublin would mean that the product would be very attractive – Terminal 2 is excellent and your overall times from check in at the outstaiton to leaving JFK would be a lot less than you’d think.

  4. I am 50/50 about the A380 – it personally makes for a great flying experience and i know friends who will make sure they book the A380, but with the A350 – it seems to offer better fuel efficiency so airlines prefer it.

    I would love more A380’s on BA’s fleet, but the issue is – with the higher that other airline ticket prices, would BA fill them without their feeder airlines (Aer Lingus / Iberia and maybe soon Qatar – not really a feeder)?

    • If passengers numbers are high enough on a particular route, the A380 makes sense. The A350 whilst smaller, is also a most comfortable aircraft. I flew with Qatar from Doha to Singapore on the A350 and really enjoyed the experience. The A350 was most comfortable and has the same spacious business class seating as the Qatar A380. I thought the plane was also noticeably quieter and with better air quality than Dreamliner which I find a most disappointing aircraft. I also walked back into the steerage cabin on the A350 which looked far more comfortable than the Dreamliner where the airlines tend to pack in nine rows across despite the width of the fuselage being too narrow.

  5. Always thought IAG would get some more A380s.

  6. What people forget about A380s is that the vortex they create on take off means that there is a big separation required before the next take off. It does not therefore improve capacity at ‘full’ airports like Heathrow because another take off has to be scrapped due to the extra couple of minutes gap required.

    • Titus Adduxas says:

      The extra time for wake turbulence behind an A380 is 1 minute. Air traffic controllers do try to mitigate this by sending aircraft off in size order.

      • You see you always learn new things!
        Though, reading some documents, it seems it depends on the type of the airplane behind and can be up to four minutes.

        Said that, when I was at the Paris Air show last year the airwaves from the A380 hit us people standing on the field just in front of the runway almost 1.30-2 mins after powering the engines and starting takeoff. and believe me, it was strong. it was raining grass all over.

        • A380 followed by another A380 = 1 minute
          A380 followed by a Heavy vortex (747/777/A350 etc) = 2 minutes
          A380 followed by a Medium vortex (A320/B737) = 3 minutes
          A380 followed by a Light vortex = 4 minutes

          Titus is entirely correct, the idea is to group all the same category together so to minimise vortex ‘gaps’

          Bizarrely it would be easier if there were MORE A380s, as now they often turn up individually so a minute is automatically lost when they depart. I have once or twice managed to get 3 to depart in a row…

  7. Dublin airport already has planning permission to alter some of its stands to accept A380, which currently none have the capacity to do. A380 boarding requires, amongst other things, air bridges on two different levels. As I recall, the initial timeline was for it to be already completed, but I think it was put back.

    Many assume the planning permission is related to Emirates/Etihad flying out of Dub, but an A380 capability might also play into EI plans.

    • Londonbus says:

      I think DUB also has planning for a second runway. Which would support the A380 approach and hubbing from the UK.

  8. blackberryaddict says:

    I read the Walsh interview as well – I spoke to some Iberia route planners earlier this week, and when I suggested their boss was going to send some A380s their way they were very surprised, and quite strong in their opinion it wouldn’t work on any of the routes Iberia currently operates – not even the busy ones to South America.

    Clearly if Walsh decides that this is what he wants to do, he will do it – but word on the ground was that the A380 just isn’t the right aircraft for Iberia.

  9. The A380 is the best aircraft to fly long haul on, IMHO. As mentioned already there are a not insignificant number of people who always choose the A380 if available, even if it’s less convenient (myself included).

    I do hope IAG acquire some more.

    • Specifically BA’s? I’ve been on Qatar’s and didn’t notice the slightest difference. Unless you’re referring to business.

  10. OT email just in from Curve confirming the bug has been fixed for online and CNP transactions.

  11. OT
    I need to book a 241 soon and the 241 certificate is on my wife’s BAEC account but most of the Avios are in my name. Should I create a family account in BAEC? If so do I need to move the Avios to my BAEC account first? How easy is it to split the account afterwards?
    Alternatively, I could create an Avios joint account and then split it leaving all of the points in my wife’s name; would that be better?

    • Genghis says:

      Hi Mark. Is it you and your wife that want to fly using the 241? If so, create a BAEC household account (HHA) so your avios are pooled in the HHA. Then when you book a redemption, avios are taken from each individual avios account in proportion of the individual’s avios balance. Not too sure how easy it is to split afterwards – Avios accounts I believe are more fiddly.

      • Thanks Gengis. Splitting Avios accounts is very simple: you just download a form, complete, sign and return it and it happens quickly. You also have complete control over how the points are split.

        • Genghis says:

          OT but my MIL has a few thousand avios with no use for them. She lives in a different property to us. What’s the easiest way of transferring them to me?

          • She can temporarily live with you then it’s easy, just change her Avios address & add her to HH a/c.

  12. Sussex Bantam says:

    Massively OT but – I took out an Economist subscription 12 months ago via the enhanced Iberia offer for 12,000 Avios IIRC. I want to renew but the current offer is only 4400 Avios.

    Anyone know how often the enhanced offer comes round ?

    • Genghis says:

      Not sure exactly but I signed up in Jan 16 for the 12k avios offer. A quick Google of ‘Head for Points Economist’ shows the offer was around in Nov 14 too.

    • Are you sure that you will get the points on a renewal?
      To make sure, I let mine lapse and took out a new one in my wife’s name.

  13. Back to the A380 likes / dislikes. I have now flown BA A380 in business class 4 times and once seated I cannot tell the difference between being on an A380 or a 747. The business class seating layout and the actual seat used I think are exactly the same. Perhaps someone can correct me or point out what I am missing.
    However, for boarding and disembarkation, I have found that there are simply more people, so bigger queues for everything and what I find a particular nuisance is waiting for baggage on arrival: more people=more bags=more time.
    As a result, my preference is for anything BUT the A380 with BA long-haul.
    Cannot comment for the apparent excellent in-flight experiences with the likes of Qatar and Emirates which Raffles has described elsewhere, as I’m a regular Amex 2-4-1 long-haul Avios optimiser!

  14. Going back to food on BA in Europe – I agree the sandwich & sweet bun thing are a waste of time – but the salad or veggie option is usually pretty good – at Easter it was a rather tasty cous cous/ Moroccan dish. And they can’t really spoil the booze, it might not be Champagne but of course the spirits are good, the beers are good & the wines are not too awful; coffee perfectly OK.

    I’d miss them!

  15. O/T Amex – applied for Gold on Monday, cards arrived today – is this a record? :)

    Naturally for 22000 + 9000 bonus points.

    [Incidentally, DVLA are pretty good at turnaround on driving licence renewals – I did mine online 2 weeks ago, they used my passport photo (ie already held by Govt agency) and the new licence arrived 2 days later!

    For my hat-trick, last year my passport renewal was an amazingly fast turnaround, about 5 working days – pays to apply out of season and they just add on any spare months from the old one to your new 10 years validity.]

    • Genghis says:

      I thought you’d be a platinum, Harry? 35k+18k

      • I don’t actually like to game it that much with cards, ie I’ll not really churn the Golds, just time it to not pay £140 year 2. With platinum, to make it stack up I’d be obtaining, spending through then cancelling again inside a month (to reduce the fee) – & I’m personally not over-happy with that idea. I know that plenty here do that, no problem you reprobates :) . I know others justify the fee with the insurance & PP benefits plus hotel status – I couldn’t do that either.

        • Pretty much where I am on the Platinum debate. Still not using Gold either so should really rectify that for wife and myself :)

    • Not “any spare months”, up to 9. (Not me just being pedantic! My passport will need to be renewed 2 years early as it’s almost full, but will only keep 9 of those months).

  16. OT. I got sent some Tesco codes including
    XXJJHJ 500pts for £50 wine (by 22nd May)

  17. John Wallace says:

    O/T. Whilst you are talking about CC . I am fairly new to generating avios via credit cards . I did take out a lloyds dual card 18 months ago and are still using for a very low amount of avios each month. Although I do spend 1K per month. I have read the curve discussions and think I understand the concept . So, my question is if YOU were going to apply for another Amex would it be BA PP or Amex Gold / Plat ? . Who has the best sign up deals at the moment ??? . Then I would need to open Curve also to ensure Amex can be used everywhere ??

    Thanks for the help !

    • Johnnycl says:

      Check out the April Credit Cards tab at the top of the page for the current offers. Personally I would go for the BA card now due to the extra points offer then move on to Amex Gold for a free 20k points in a couple of months.

    • IMO it depends whether you are going to aim for a 241. Remember that BAPP has a £195 annual fee including the first year. The sign up is about the same. Of course you can have the other once you have met the spend requirement.

      • Genghis says:

        To add to what’s already been said, depending where you want to go, a 241 is only good to go for if you already (or will) have a stack of avios

  18. John Wallace says:

    Johnny / Mark

    Appreciate the advice . I think I will do that and as you say keep my options open for the Amex Gold later . thanks again

  19. mark2 says:

    On A380, I notice that BA flights to Vancouver are currently on A380 according to the timetable but in October it changes to 747. Has anyone got any idea why, other than that I shall be flying after that date?