Bits: Qatar buys 10% LATAM & 49% Meridiana, BA cuts Rio flights, SPG Moments deal TODAY

News in brief:

Qatar Airways to buy 10% of LATAM and 49% of Meridiana

I mentioned in the Accor article yesterday that the Qatar Investment Authority has now become a shareholder in Accor Hotels by part-funding the acquisition of Fairmont / Raffles / Swissotel.

Qatar Airways is also on the march.  As well as making noises about increasing its shareholding in IAG, owner of British Airways, it has just announced its intention to purchase a 10% stake in LATAM.  This is the holding company for the South American airlines LAN and TAM which are now being jointly rebranded at LATAM.

As well as providing a necessary financial boost for LATAM – Qatar is buying new shares and not purchasing from existing investors – the airline is also hoping that it can increase its presence in Asia and the Middle East, presumably through codeshare agreements.

Separately, Qatar has also announced the purchase of 49% of struggling Italian airline Meridiana.  Meridiana uses Avios for its reward programme although – as it isn’t part of Combine My Avios and reward flights carry huge taxes and can only be booked by telephone – it is unlikely to trouble you.

If Qatar can drag the airline into the 21st century it may become more interesting.  The fact that Meridiana is still flying MD-82 aircraft tells you all you need to know.

It is unclear if these partnerships will run deeper.  Etihad has been very aggressive in working with those airlines in which it has acquired minority stakes, with aircraft and pilots now swapping between airlines and areas like training and purchasing being harmonised.  Air Serbia, for example, is launching a service between New York and Belgrade using an aircraft borrowed from Jet Airways of India.  This deal was brokered by Etihad which owns stakes in both.


British Airways cuts Rio frequencies

If Rio is expecting a boost in tourism next year after hosting the Olympics, they didn’t tell the people at British Airways.

For the Spring 2017 timetable, which starts on 28th March 2017, British Airways is scrapping the Tuesday and Thursday services.  This means that there will only be five flights per week to Rio.

BA has been selling tickets for these flight.  If you have a Rio booking for 2017, you might want to check that it has not been cancelled.  This is why I recommend using the free My Flights app to track your BA bookings as it would notify you within 24 hours of any changes being made – BA will take a few weeks to get around to calling people directly.

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Hotel Danieli Venice

SPG Moments deal in Venice

Finally, there is an EXCELLENT SPG Moments package in Venice closing at NOON today.  At the time of writing there are no bids but the reserve is 40,000 Starwood points.  This would be a snip.

The dates are fixed – 20th to 22nd July.  You get:

2 nights with breakfast in a Dandalo Suite at the Hotel Danieli, photo above.  That is worth €2,900 based on paying cash for the same dates.

VIP seats for two to the performance of The Merchant of Venice at Hotel Danieli on 20 July 2016

Cocktail dinner for two featuring a menu inspired by the play and prepared by Executive Chef Dario Parascandolo

Private guided tour for two: ”Venice, the Jews and Europe, 1516–2016” at Doge’s Palace on 21 July 2016

The only reason I am writing about this instead of buying it for myself is that I will be away on the 22nd, otherwise I would have been all over this deal.  Hopefully a reader can get it instead.  Remember that bidding ends at noon.

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My review of the InterContinental New York Barclay hotel
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  1. Peter Taysum says:

    OT(ish) BA Flightchanges

    Like many I benefitted from the BA sale – thanks Rob for pointing out the bargains!

    I got texted by BA with a flight time change BEFORE my flights picked it up. It meant I couldn’t get back to NCL from LHR returning from Iceland. As BA keeps randomly (?) cancelling the last flight LHR to NCL (grrr) there was no way of getting back…

    Via BA Gold call centre (don’t know if that made a difference) was offered an extra night for free (booked as a holiday) so they could get me and friend back…

    Very helpful lovely lady at BA and no charge for the extra night (including Breakfast) given the BA change…

    • Genghis says:

      Was the whole trip (NCL-LHR-KEF return) with hotels booked as a ‘holiday’?

  2. Oh Rob you do make me laugh “BA will take a few weeks to get around to calling people directly” I consider myself lucky to get an emal from BA within a week telling me of a flight change, let alone a phone call!

  3. gumshoe says:

    Strange that BA’s cutting its Rio schedule when all we ever hear from Heathrow is how Britain’s losing out because there’s not enough capacity to meet the insatiable demand for flights to the emerging BRIC economies.

    Yet when BA decide to start a new service to some obscure airport in Denmark – oh look, 11 slots a week suddenly materialise. Strange.

    • That’s all nonsense. Look at all the India routes BA tried and failed. Chengdu is on life support.

      • Londonbus says:

        Chengdu has significant high-value freight flows. This might be why it keeps going despite the poor load factors.

    • I’ve read more than one article about how Brazil’s tourism has been hit by Zika. It wouldn’t be surprising if this was a factor.

    • Anthony Dunn says:

      It’s not just Zika, the entire Brazilian economy has gone into a tail spin and this has not been aided by the Brazilian government being shredded (from the President down) with corruption scandals. It is a perfect storm of economic and political turbulence, so no particular surprise that BA is reducing frequencies. Maybe this will free up slots to other LatAm destinations.

      • Brazil’s economic problems make it cheaper for UK tourists, and I doubt many are put off a holiday by political corruption scandals – Zika scares them away.

        • Why go to Brazil with your money when you can go to so many other places? Would be my thinking.

          If it’s safe, go there in a few years’ time.

          Not that I’m planning on getting pregnant.