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Global carriers to local airlines for a worldwide audience

Three things that have been fundamental to our vision for Alternative Airlines from the very start are: (1) A very easy to book web site (2) a unparalleled choice of airlines and (3) a customer base from countries across the globe. With the help of talented programmers in India plus very helpful giant technology company Amadeus, we are working hard to make our booking process simpler and importantly quicker; we have dedicated people building strong relationships with airlines of all sizes, everywhere and, looking at last nights bookings, we have residents from as far afield as Australia and Greenland (yes, Greenland!) regularly making bookings through our site. It's a competitive market place and we've learnt that there is no substitute for hard work and attention to detail, Alternative Airlines continues to grow and as we move into the last quarter of 2011 we are already thinking about the challenges - and opportunities - of 2012.

Hong Kong Airlines trying something new

Yesterday the Chinese carrier, Hong Kong Airlines, announced that in March 2012 it will start flying from Hong Kong to London with a new "half-price business class" service. Their intention is to undercut the existing premium fare market using a specially configured Airbus 330-200 aircraft equipped only with 18 first and 98 business-class seats. The market they are aiming at is affluent Chinese. Sometime before the global banking crisis, SilverJet, MaxJet and EOS tried something similar on the London to New York route but all failed. The British Airlines subsidairy called Open Skies still flies to two US destination from Paris in an all business configuration, but it has the backing of BA and the support of BA's powerful executive club. So will HKA's new initiative be successful ? WE HOPE SO! The Chinese outbound market is growing dramatically both in terms of passnger volume and ticket revenues, which is a good sign but the Hong Kong to London route is crowded and well served by top class carriers including BA, Cathay Pacific, Virgin, Qantas and Air New Zealand - each of which has outstanding business class offerings. It will be intersting to watch the level of fares that are set for London originating passngers and Alternative Airlines will keep you informed as and when they appear.

Rwandair leads East African Air travel market expansion drive

Every week there is a different airline forum, exhibition or conference somewhere in the world and this week it is the Africa Routes Forum held in the expanding capital of Mali, Bamako. As Africa is personally one of favourite continents and corporately one of biggest selling regions we have take a close interest in the news coming out of this important gathering.

The top headline this week tells the story of RwandAir's expansion introducing an additional daily flight between Kigali and Nairobi as well as adding a fourth weekly rotation between Kigali and Johannesburg. The Rwandan carrier already operates two flights per day to the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, but will add a third rotation, which will introduce an additional two banks of flights, providing passengers greater flexibility.

“Nairobi and Johannesburg are key hubs on the continent for travellers and we feel the need to give our guests more flexibility and options. We are experiencing increasing demands on both destinations hence our move to avail more seats,” said Alice Katiti, General Manager – Commercial, RwandAir, adding that its recently launched Kigali – Gisenyi domestic route will also increase from four to six flights per week.

Rwandair will further enhance its operations in August when it receives its first Next-Generation Boeing 737-800 with a second is due to follow in September.  

Beneath this headline is the understanding that  Rwandair is aiming to be become a major East African network carrier, connecting North and South Africa Gateway to regional East African cities. Many African carriers have got carried away trying to be domestic, regional and long haul airlines, often choosing expensive aircraft types to serve routes already well served via intermediary points and missing out on good opportunities nearer home. By choosing to develop strong links between major North (Nairobi) and South (Johannesburg) gateways and regional east African markets where they can dominate the competition, Rwandair seem to have chosen the right formula for significant growth over the next decade. Well done to a strong and focussed management team, well backed by a determined Government.

 

Libyan Airlines ban lifted by European Union

Good news for an airline we have had close ties with over the years as European sanctions against Libyan Airlines have just been lifted following the recent political developments in Libya. The lifting of the ban which started on March 02nd 2011 will allow Libyan Airlines to restart flights into Europe - and we hope London. As yet, the sister company of Libyan Airlines, Afriqiyah has not been given the go-ahead but we believe that his is just a matter of time although what serviceable aircraft remain across the fleets of the two airlines is as yet unclear. The role of these two airlines is going to be important in the establishment of the new Libyan regime and Alternative Airlines will keep you informed as to the progress of the re-launch of services.

 

Viking Hellas start Manchester to Baghdad

From March 11th 2011, Viking Hellas will start a new scheduled service between Manchester and Baghdad with Alternative Airlines being one of the main booking agents for this exciting new route !

The new flight will initially operate once a week leaving Manchester on a Thursday at 13:00 local time arriving Baghdad at 01:40 on a Friday with the return flight leaving Baghdad on a Friday at 03:15 arriving Manchester the same day at 12:00.

The new Alternative Airlines booking facility will show the very best prices for this new route which is part of Viking Hellas development of flights to three cities in Iraq: Baghdad, Erbil and Sulaimaniyah.

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