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New routes: BA launches Edinburgh to Chambery, Virgin Atlantic to launch Tampa?

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News in brief:

British Airways launches Edinburgh to Chambery

British Airways has launched a new weekend route for the Winter season from Edinburgh Airport.

From 17th December, the airline will operate a weekly ski service to Chambery in France.

It will run all the way through to 15th April 2023.

Flights will operate on Saturdays only, with a 9.30am departure from Edinburgh and a 2pm departure from Chambery.

The services will be operated by BA CityFlyer on behalf of British Airways using an Embraer E190 aircraft. British Airways likes to operate regional routes over the weekend using these aircraft which are grounded due to the closure of London City Airport.

Flights are already bookable, for cash or Avios, on Remember that the E190 fleet has 2×2 seating so there is no ’empty middle seat’ in Club Europe.

Virgin Atlantic to launch Tampa

Virgin Atlantic to launch Tampa?

The slot allocation report at Heathrow for the upcoming Winter schedule (which starts on the 29th October) has just been published.

We’ve already reported on JetBlue gaining permanent slots at Heathrow but there have been a few other changes.

Whilst most of the ‘new’ routes are simply extensions of existing summer slots, it looks like Virgin Atlantic could be launching a brand new flight to Florida, complementing its Miami and Orlando flights. This would be in the form of a new direct flight to Tampa.

The slot allocation is for one flight per day, seven days per week.

This seems relatively sensible, given that leisure travel demand is still outstripping business travel and with Florida one of Virgin’s key destinations. It also integrates well with Virgin Holidays.

Whilst Virgin has received slots for the route, there is no guarantee it will actually launch the flight. It could still back out – we will have to wait and see.

Apart from JetBlue and Virgin Atlantic, other slot gainers – all of which have come from Russian carriers – are:

  • Avianca – four flights per week
  • WestJet – three flights per week
  • China Airlines – four flights per week
  • Vistara – seven flights per week

What isn’t clear is what will happen when the Ukraine crisis ends, Russian sanctions are lifted and the Russian carriers request new Heathrow slots. Unless they are made available, it is very likely that UK airlines would be blocked from flying to Moscow in retaliation.

H/T London Air Travel and Edmond Rose via LinkedIn.

Comments (38)

  • ChrisC says:

    I noticed this on London Air Travel

    Government is implementing a temporary slot waver from July 9th to 30th October whereby if airlines hand their slots back with 14 days notice they will be excluded from the current 70-30 use/lose policy

    Should help some airlines have more robust schedules if they aren’t at risk of losing slots, Of course it needs the receiving airport to have a similar waiver in place as well.

  • qrfan says:

    Has chambery improved over the past decade? A weekend ski season departure from that airport used to be damn near the worst airport experience on offer. Sitting on the floor for endless delays is my main recollection.

  • WaynedP says:

    Unless Putin’s successor agrees to and delivers full restitution of Crimea and all other annexed territory to a sovereign Ukraine, pays full war reparations, delivers all Russian war criminals up for international justice and supports Ukraine’s unencumbered ambition for full EU and NATO membership, I hope and anticipate a long delay to normalised relations with Russia that extends long after military conflict has ended.

    • Lady London says:

      That’s our current official position. However for the sake of safety in Europe, which may turn out to be illusory, (Neville Chamberlain anyone?), the status quo will eventually quietly end up with P. keeping most of it with some token givebacks and many,many deals done in background.

      Is it an accident that Russia’s slots were not lent to the major worldwide politically comnected airlines that have the clout to really kick up a stink when those slots are quietly handed back?

      • ChrisC says:

        Plenty of spare capacity in the system at the moment with airlines needing to protect their existing slots without them taking on even more.

        • Brian says:

          Yep. Heathrow passenger numbers, for example, were only 80% of pre covid levels in May

          • JDB says:

            And will only be at c. 67% of 2019 figures for the full year based on today’s increased forecast of 54.4m pax.

          • ChrisC says:

            I’m talking about slots not passengers.

            No airline with any sense will take on new slots when they are struggling to meet their current flight programmes even with a reduction to 70-30 use-lose.

      • Colin MacKinnon says:

        I have been trying to work out what has been driving Putin.

        How about the new Istanbul canal to the Black Sea, bypassing the Lausanne Agreement and thus potentially allowing the US navy to look at a naval base in Ukraine?

        Can see how the Russians see that as a possibility and a threat – just like the USA thought in regard to Cuba!

        • Colin MacKinnon says:

          Ooops. Meant Montreux Convention!

        • Erico1875 says:

          I think he possibly had valid points on NATO expansion.
          He has just dealt with it atrociously.
          No way back for him now

          • WaynedP says:

            NATO’s expansion (which is the only fact in Moscow’s narrative) has been BY INVITATION by countries who would rather seek membership of a stable, military DEFENCE organisation that has NEVER been the initial aggressor throughout the history of its involvement in conflicts.

            Contrast that with the Warsaw Pact imposed on Soviet satellite states by a belligerent, expansionist Russia, with military reprisals for citizens who challenged their vassal status, and you can see why Russia is not trusted by former Soviet Union states.

            Don’t be fooled by the propaganda encouraging sympathy for the Kremlin. There is no objectively authentic justification for Putin’s actions other than paranoid megalomania.

            The Russian people deserve far better, just as the Americans did when the fool in the White House unwittingly undermined the perceived resolve and credibility of NATO and foolishly played right into Putin’s hands.

            It’s depressing when educated adults are unwilling or unable to distinguish objective truth from distortions and fabrications.

  • Martin says:

    Chambery from Edinburgh has been operating as a charter for many seasons. Looks like they have consolidated into the schedules.

  • Froggitt says:

    “Unless they are made available, it is very likely that UK airlines would be blocked from flying to Moscow in retaliation”

    Not sure anyone would be flying to Moscow for any reason in the next 40 years or so.

    • Rob says:

      People have short memories. Weekend breaks to St Petersburg would restart within days of restrictions lifting.

      • G says:

        Providing one has a Russian visa and the correct medical documentation (such as lack of a spine or moral fibre) of course.

        • Brian says:

          Didn’t you have to do something silly like go to Edinburgh in person to get a Russian visa previously?

          Not sure anyone would bother with a weekend break with that sort of nonsense to deal with (not that they ever were from the U.K.)

          • Matarredondaaa says:

            Yes you have to go to the Russian consulate in person and pay a huge amount of money (can’t recall exact figure) for a Visa. Did it myself 3 years ago in London for a week in St Petersburg which was a tremendous place to visit. Also took the high speed train to Moscow and both were excellent.

          • Richard M says:

            The whole visa regime was designed to frustrate ordinary tourists in both directions, all the while Russian oligarchs and GRU operatives were able to swan in and out of London unimpeded.

          • John says:

            The visa nonsense was, I thought, just a tit-for-tat reply to onerous restrictions imposed by the home office for people applying for British visas.
            Of course I don’t know about your experiences, but my own personal experience with the British visa system (from both inside and outside of the UK) has been significantly worse than my experience with any other nation, including Russia.

  • Paul says:

    Tampa is a great airport if you are doing the Florida theme parks. The only European airlines that currently fly to Tampa are BA and Lufthansa/Eurowings which means immigration is very quick.

    Drive time to Kissimmee is about an hour which is probably less time than you will spend in immigration at MCO in the peak of summer.

    • Lady London says:

      I would land in and depart from Tampa anytime sooner than Orlando or, worse, Miami as it seems a nicer airport. It’s not that hard to get around Florida and you have the USA thing that mostly you see to be able to drop a rental car at a different location than the one you picked up from, without any extra charges provided it’s in the same State.

      • Yorkie Aid says:

        I’m hoping it’s a temporary thing but in March this year all the main car rental companies I tried in Florida were charging at least $200 one way fees even for drop offs within state.

    • dougzz99 says:

      +1 for Tampa, great airport. But like all the better airports it’s really about numbers, passenger numbers increase, airport experience decrease.
      I’m not convinced the current leisure travel numbers are sustainable long term at current price levels, particularly true of the US. Much pent up desire for travel, as that works it way through all looks fine. 2023 onwards people will have to face reality of shrinking real incomes.

  • elguiri says:

    So I guess we have direct flights to Colombia again with Avianca…

    • SamG says:

      Already running daily, just flew it last night. Was very busy, lots of people connecting to Lima and other places. Suspect they want to add another flight to improve connection opportunities

      • elguiri says:

        Any improvement in their business offering? Last time flew with them very unimpressed.

        • SamG says:

          haha. I suspect it has got worse – the food was comical – a 1970s style microwave chicken dinner, presented to me still with the lid on and a M&S style ham and grains salad! Bread but no butter or oil. Wine, OJ, water or coke. Then lights off and behind the curtain until 90mins out. Breakfast an economy omlette and more dry bread. It’s a shame as the seat itself is up to standard.

          I had a little chat with the staff when I went to get water and they said there are problems getting catering in London, we were given a letter saying the same as well. Not sure if it’s just that they’re not paying for it or genuinely they can’t get a caterer to serve them.

          I was going to Bogota and had paid a bargain 52500 Turkish M&S points for my ticket, so no major worries from me. I’d have been more upset had I been connecting onwards and had a choice of carrier for my journey

          Random tip if anyone is flying with them – Singapore Airlines will not let you in their lounge at the B gates until 8.30pm and the others are closed. Stay at the A gates and go to Lufthansa first if you are early

  • chris1922 says:

    TPA is by far my preference for Florida/Orlando area, a couple of days at the gulf coast beaches to chill out, easy trip up the I4 to Kissimmee area, then back to coast to chill for a few days before home. TPA is a much better passenger experience than MCO.

    • laughingplace says:

      yep, TPA is a great airport. Miles better than most US airports.

      • The real Swiss Tony says:

        I used to think the same and had some very slick arrivals processes at Tampa, but last time I drove from Disney to TPA it took two hours in solid traffic. And flying into Orlando in April we walked straight up to an immigration desk. I mean the agent was still overly aggressive, but I don’t think it’s as clear cut as it used to be.

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