Europe reaches peak temperatures
The countries of Austria / Belgium / Czech Republic / Denmark / France / Germany / Hungary / Luxembourg / Netherlands / Switzerland / United Kingdom / Italy are expected to experience high temperatures as a heat wave sweeps across Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Temperatures are expected to rise to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit) from central France to northern Spain, while temperatures of 35 degrees Celsius and above are expected across other European countries. Authorities have issued alerts across Western Europe and implemented measures, such as opening fountains, pools and mist machines, and limiting the circulation of vehicles in larger cities, as a means to combat the rise in temperatures. Bus and train operations in several countries have been disrupted due to malfunctioning air conditioning and due to the temperatures of the train tracks. Officials have warned of continued transportation disruptions and asked people to stay hydrated and avoid getting overheated. Hot air moving north from Africa caused the heat wave and is expected to continue to cause above average temperatures until 30 June.
Virgin Trains Break Ground On Orlando Track Expansion
Orlando Sentinal reports Virgin Trains, formerly Brightline, broke ground Monday to expand passenger rail service to Orlando in a $4bn effort, the nation’s largest privately funded infrastructure project. This will serve to transport travelers, including cruisers, between Orlando International Airport and South Florida. ‘Connecting Orlando and Miami, two of our nation’s greatest cities, will provide tremendous economic and environmental benefits that will be an asset to Florida for generations,’ Virgin Trains President Patrick Goddard said at a commemorative ceremony. Goddard noted the service will ‘effortlessly connect the “Tourism Capital of the World” to the “Cruise Capital of the World.”‘ Virgin Trains’ Virgin MiamiCentral hub is located near PortMiami, and the Miami-Dade County Commission is deliberating the feasibility of a station directly at PortMiami.
JetBlue Can Now Expand Europe Long-Haul Strategy With Airbus XLR Order
Skift reports JetBlue Airways’ European strategy became clearer when the airline committed to an airplane capable of flying not only from the US East Coast to London or Dublin but also from Boston and New York to south, central, and northern Europe. JetBlue became the third US carrier to say it plans to fly Airbus’ newest narrowbody jet, the A321XLR. Airbus introduced the single-aisle airplane, which should fly as far as 4,700 nautical miles,last week at the Paris Air Show. American Airlines committed to 50 earlier in the week, while Frontier Airlines said it would take 18. In April JetBlue announced it would fly from its Boston and New York focus cities to London by 2021. But JetBlue didn’t say where else in Europe it might fly, likely because it didn’t have the right aircraft for Continental Europe. For London JetBlue had committed to the A321LR, which has a 600-mile range gap compared to its XLR cousin. JetBlue said it will take 13 A321XLRs, with first delivery in 2023.
Emirates Is First Major Airline To Launch Basic Business Class Fare
Skift reports Emirates has fired the first salvo in the unbundling of business class fares. Now you can buy just the seat, with none of the other trimmings that travelers are used to with top-tier carriers. It’s a brilliant and pragmatic strategy, one that gives more choice to travelers. The tension will now be maintaining that great luxury brand halo and still letting the premium cabins do the marketing hard yards for the carrier. The airline industry has seen a lot in terms of unbundling of economy fares. For better or for worse, that segment of the market now has a ton of options for consumers. As Skift forecasted in our 2019 Megatrend that premium mediocre has gone mainstream, travel companies, hotels, tour operators, and yes, airlines too, are increasingly looking for new ways to sell average products at luxury prices. You can buy a deeply discounted, basic economy fare that doesn’t include any overhead space, or, if you want more perks, you can pay incrementally more for priority boarding and civil treatment. The same currently cannot be said for business class. Typically you’re all-in on the fare, sometimes as much as $7,000 from New York to Paris. In some cases it comes standard with extras, like chauffeur service and lounge access, and in other cases it comes with a sad meal in a preflight lounge and a non fully flat bed.
Tim Clark, CEO of Emirates, told Skift when asked of the prospect of discounting business class: “You might just say, ‘OK, I’ll give you a special price, just for the [business-class] bed. I won’t give you the incentives. I won’t give you ground. You’ll get the business product in the air only, and that’s it.’ No chauffeur drive, no business-class lounge, no expedited [security] search. No uplifting your baggage allowance, et cetera. You just pay for the bed. I’ll give you a price for that. Maybe, if you’ve got business class seats going begging, that’s the easy way to go, rather than create a completely new product, which is going to upend the distribution systems, upend service delivery, and upend the logistical management on the operational side.” Emirates has rolled out what they hinted at two years ago. With a new slate of fares, dubbed “special fares,” customers are essentially just buying the seat. There’s no lounge access (unless you qualify with status), there’s no chauffeur-driven car, there’s only selecting a seat when check-in opens, and predictably, there is reduced mileage earning. Not only has Emirates rolled out this basic business-class seat but in 2020 the airline will also launch premium economy, thereby offering two different stepping stones for flyers ready to upgrade. Emirates is testing out the special fares on select routes and appears to be rolling them out slowly.
Passport Agency Boosts Minimum Routine Application Wait Time By 50%
WaPo reports just after news broke about the possibility of longer lines at airport security checkpoints, information now emerges about longer waits for international travelers before they get to the airport. The State Department’s Passport Services agency has increased the processing time for routine service to six to eight weeks. Until May 31, the interval between application and delivery was four to six weeks, meaning the new timeline is a 50% increase for the minimum wait. For those who can’t wait, expedited service is available at a cost. “Customers who need their passports more urgently than our routine processing time allows may request expedited service for an additional $60,” said a State Department official who requested anonymity. “For expedited service, processing time remains two to three weeks door-to-door.” Once they get inside the airport door, international and domestic passengers could face longer security lines. Earlier this week we reported that the Trump administration requested a 2.5 percent increase in airport checkpoint screeners for fiscal 2020 but expects a 4.5 percent increase in airline passengers. That’s a recipe for long lines. The department official declined to answer several basic questions about the longer wait, including the reasons for it. But the department did provide information indicating short staffing is the cause. In each of the past two years, more than 21 million passports and passport cards were delivered, “all-time record numbers,” according to the State Department. About 18.6 million applications are expected this fiscal year. In fiscal 2018, 137.5 million citizens had valid passports, representing a growth of almost 100 percent over the past decade. “To address high passport workload levels this summer,” he said, “the Department is leveraging all available resources to ensure processing times do not rise further and that they return to lower levels by September.” Leveraging includes temporarily assigning employees to assist with increased demand and setting up two satellite passport units with employees from other parts of the department.