Wizz Air has today, May 13th, announced its next base: Rome Fiumicino. This becomes its 43rd base at which it’ll add 32 new routes along with four A321neos, each of which has 239 seats. Despite serve Fiumicino for years, Wizz Air has barely grown at the airport – until now. Coronavirus has changed that, presumably because of lower charges.
Wizz Air’s new Rome base opens in July, less than two months away, to capture peak summer demand, especially outbound to key tourist destinations. Speaking at the press conference in Rome, Wizz Air’s Chief Commercial Officer, George Michalopoulos, said:
“I am delighted to announce our newest base in Rome Fiumicino Airport. Wizz Air’s fifth Italian base underpins our commitment to continue to invest in Italy supporting both Italy’s economic recovery as well offering consumers a wide range of affordable destinations at low fares.”
32 routes from Rome Fiumicino
The coming routes are summarised below, with all but one beginning in July. Given the need for bilaterals to Turkey, which requires an Italian or Turkish air operator’s certificate, it is surprising that Antalya and Bodrum are to begin. It is believed that it has ‘Italian jurisdiction’ to launch these services.
Combined, the 32 routes have 88 weekly departures, meaning each aircraft will operate about three round-trips per day. At an average of 989 miles, most routes will still be in the less-than-two-hour sweet spot for low-cost carriers.
|From Rome Fiumicino to…||Weekly departures||Start date|
|London Luton||7||July 1st|
|Satu Mare||2||July 17th|
|Sharm El Sheikh||2||July 17th|
|Tel Aviv||3||July 16th|
|Tenerife South||2||July 3rd|
|Tirgu Mures||3||July 1st|
14 routes to have head-to-head competition
14 routes will see head-to-head competition in July, particularly Tel Aviv, Mykonos, Santorini, Nice, and Split. Tel Aviv starts on July 16th and will be three-weekly. It’ll compete directly with Alitalia (27 weekly departures), El Al (five), Ryanair (three), and Blue Bird (two). In all, there will be 40 departures that week, down from 51 in the same week in 2019.
Only one route – Luton, Wizz Air’s largest airport – will be served seven-weekly or more. This route, which will arrive back into Rome at 00:55, was previously served by both Monarch (2012-2017) and easyJet (2014-2020).
Rome becomes fifth base in Italy
Wizz Air has developed very significantly in Italy in the past year. It announced its first base, at Milan Malpensa, in May 2020. Now, 12 months, later Rome Fiumicino becomes the fifth and also its second-largest base, as follows.
- Milan Malpensa: five based aircraft
- Rome Fiumicino: four
- Catania: three
- Bari: two
- Palermo: two
You’d be forgiven for not keeping up with Wizz Air’s rapid expansion, which in the past two weeks has included multiple new routes from across Italy, including Catania and Bari to Abu Dhabi. Both routes start on September 21st; Catania has fares starting from €59.99 one-way.
24 new airports added to Wizz Air’s network
The Wizz Air Group will add 24 new airports to its system in 2021, as summarized in the following tweet from Sean Moulton. The ULCC’s new Fiumicino base is responsible for adding Antalya, Dubrovnik, and Hurghada. While Wizz Air has served Croatia for years, mainly Split, it has avoided Dubrovnik – which it dropped in 2011 – because of high charges. How things change.
Wizz Air add flights 3 new airports to its network:
Sharm El Sheikh
— Sean M 🌈✈ (@SeanM1997) May 13, 2021
Live: Queensland shuts to 7 NSW LGAs, more border closures expected
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced her state’s border will shut to seven additional New South Wales local government areas, as the Bondi cluster grew by 16 cases overnight.
The new rules, which come into effect as of 1:00am on Thursday, include travellers from Sydney City, Bayside, Woollahra, Canada Bay, Inner West and Randwick, along with the previously-declared hotspot of Waverley Council.
It comes as NSW braces itself for more states to strengthening their entry requirements or close their borders after Premier Gladys Berejiklian introduced some of the strictest COVID restrictions since the initial lockdown last year. Late on Tuesday, Victoria’s chief health officer Brett Sutton Sutton declared seven Sydney local government areas red zones, effectively banning them from entering, joining similar action from the NT.
Sydney’s Bondi cluster now stands at a total of 31 cases.
Those who have visited a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days will be refused entry to Queensland, or otherwise require an exemption to enter the state.
Meanwhile, returning Queenslanders who have been in a hotspot will be required to under go mandatory hotel quarantine at their own expense.
NSW recorded 10 locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm last night, seven of which were already announced yesterday morning.
NSW Health has also been notified of 13 new locally acquired cases overnight. These cases will be included in tomorrow’s numbers. pic.twitter.com/OFxWSq0ocb
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) June 23, 2021
Palaszczuk said the decision to shut the border to thousands of Sydneysiders was made over “serious concerns” surrounding the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, which is currently spreading in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.
‘We can’t afford to have this variant out,” she said.
Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young again warned Queenslanders against travelling to Greater Sydney or Wollongong during the upcoming school holiday period.
“At the start of this pandemic, I spoke about 15 minutes of close contact being a concern – now it looks like it’s five or 10 seconds,” Dr Young said.
“We’re seeing very fleeting contact leading to transmission… the risk is so much higher now than it was only a year ago.”
On Tuesday night, Victoria said those entering from seven municipalities of NSW would be sent into hotel quarantine if they didn’t have a permit. The NT also declared the Woollahra and Waverley LGAs Covid-19 hotspots, meaning visitors from there will need to go into quarantine for 14 days from Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, New Zealand announced it will pause the trans-Tasman bubble to NSW for the second time on Tuesday night for three days.
New Zealand’s COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said that while the risk to health remains low, there were still “several unknowns” that led to the country taking a “precautionary approach”.
The news comes just one day after both Queensland and South Australia announced they would open their borders to Greater Melbourne ahead of the school holidays after Victoria on Tuesday recorded its sixth consecutive day with one or fewer local COVID cases.
Despite it being just 10 days since the state last reported an ‘unlinked’ case of community transmission, Queensland’s Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the Sunshine State will lift its border restrictions on greater Melbourne from 1am on Friday.
“That is great news for people there,” Premier Palaszczuk said, “I know there are a lot of people that would have had their holidays booked to Queensland.”
The news marks a quiet end to Queensland’s previous contentious policy that specified it would only ease border restrictions following 28 days of no unlinked cases via community transmission.
The 28-day policy previously caused strife between Premier Palaszczuk and her NSW counterpart Gladys Berejiklian, during Sydney’s second wave of infections.
Victoria has seen just 10 days since its last unlinked case of community transmission, which health authorities believe likely occurred in a shared facility within a low-rise townhouse and apartment complex in the City of Melbourne.
Meanwhile, South Australia has also announced it will ease border restrictions on travellers from greater Melbourne from 12:01am on Friday, however will still require those travelling from the Victorian capital to undergo a COVID-19 test after entering SA and isolate until they receive a negative result.
Another FAA Smackdown: More Fines For Misbehaving Passengers
The United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has just proposed another round of fines for poorly behaved airline passengers. Eight new airline passengers are in the regulator’s sights, with proposed fines ranging from US$9,000 to $22,000.
The second round of FAA fines in a week
Only a week ago, the FAA shamed four passengers with $43,800 in fines relating to misconduct that occurred in February. As part of its campaign to crack down on bad inflight behavior, on Tuesday the FAA added to the growing rollcall. The regulator says the latest offenses range from assaulting flight crew, drinking alcohol brought aboard the plane, and refusing to wear facemasks.
In one of the latest cases, a Southwest Airlines passenger flying to Albuquerque (ABQ) on February 22 repeatedly refused to wear a face mask before boarding and after boarding, causing the aircraft to return to the gate. A Southwest Airlines supervisor then boarded the flight to escort the male passenger off the flight. He threw his mask at the supervisor, hit him on the jaw, and continued to refuse the wear the face mask. Police subsequently intervened. The FAA wants to fine the man $21,000.
In another instance, a passenger on a SkyWest Airlines flight from Phoenix (PHX) to Hermosillo (HMO) became agitated when the plane returned to Phoenix due to bad weather. The passenger began hitting the ceiling of the aircraft. When a flight attendant intervened, the passenger demanded crew names and employee numbers. He also began filming a female flight attendant, forcing her to switch workstations. Other passengers were put on standby to assist if the passenger’s behavior deteriorated further. It did, but not until the flight landed. The passenger then struck a neighboring passenger. Police were called. The FAA wants to fine this gentleman $19,000.
Female Endeavor Airlines passenger faces a $14,000 fine
Simple Flying searched the list of the eight latest miscreants for a badly behaved female passenger in the interests of equal opportunity. But only one female passenger made the list of FAA shame. On an Endeavor Airlines flight to Portland (PWM), a female passenger was also not abiding by face mask rules. Further, while the “Fasten Seat Belt” sign was illuminated, she unbuckled and stood up. The pilots alerted the police, who met the plane on arrival. The FAA wants to fine this lady $14,000.
The FAA doesn’t name passengers they propose fining. But the regulator says it is adopting a zero-tolerance position on bad inflight behavior or failure to obey crew instructions. So far this year, the FAA has proposed $563,800 in fines against unruly passengers. They say they’ve received around 3,100 reports of unruly behavior from airlines. Around 75% of the reports relate to facemasks.
Airline industry groups call for criminal prosecutions
A group of ten organizations, ranging from Airlines for America to pilot and flight attendant unions, have written to US Attorney General Merrick Garland asking for criminal instead of civil prosecutions.
In the letter dated June 21, the signatories ask Garland to do more to deter the more “egregious” types of inflight misbehavior.
“The federal government should send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with federal law and upholding aviation safety are of paramount importance,” the letter says.
The group argues the US Government already has the power to do this. Section 46504 of Title 49 of the US Code prohibits the assault or intimidation of a flight crewmember or flight attendant that interferes with the performance of a crewmember’s duties or lessens the ability of the crewmember to perform those duties. With a maximum penalty of 20 years already in place, the letter suggests a few criminal prosecutions might focus attention on the issue. And no more hiding behind the FAA’s veil of anonymity.
“Making these prosecutions public will put a spotlight on the serious consequences when breaking the law and will act as an effective deterrent against future onboard disruptions.”
What do you think? Would the threat of criminal prosecutions and jail time rein in the spate of bad passenger behavior? Post a comment and let us know.
Icelandair Is Coming To Baltimore Using A Boeing 737 MAX
There is some very good news for passengers flying out of Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) in Maryland. Starting in 2022, Icelandair will fly a Boeing 737 MAX 8 to the airport from its hub at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) in Reykjavík, Iceland. This new service comes as BWI sees travelers return and flexes its muscles as a major airport in the Baltimore-Washington D.C. metro area.
Icelandair is coming to BWI
Starting on May 13th, 2022, Icelandair will launch flights between BWI and KEF. Utilizing a Boeing 737 MAX 8, flights will run four times per week.
Flights are scheduled to depart BWI at 20:30 and arrive in KEF the next morning at 06:25. This flight is blocked at five hours and 55 minutes. Flights to Maryland depart KEF at 17:10 and arrive at BWI at 19:30. This flight is blocked at six hours and 20 minutes. All times are local.
Icelandair will fly to BWI’s Concourse E. This is where the airport handles international arrivals. Icelandair will be the only carrier flying nonstop between Baltimore and Iceland. The route will start just in time for the busy summer travel season.
Governor Larry Hogan stated the following on the new link:
“As Maryland continues to recover from the global pandemic, we welcome new opportunities for international tourism and trade. This additional service connecting Maryland to Iceland – and beyond – is a positive sign for the economy here and abroad.”
Meanwhile, Bogi Nils Bogason, CEO of Icelandair, stated the following:
“Iceland is now open to all vaccinated U.S. passengers, and Europe is beginning to open their borders, as well. We are pleased to return to Baltimore/Washington International Airport with nonstop flights to Iceland and beyond. Our return shows the promising future of air travel and our commitment to better serve the Baltimore-Washington area. We look forward to offering travelers more options when traveling to Europe and welcoming BWI aboard again.”
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About the aircraft
Icelandair flies both the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9. The MAX 8 will run flights to Baltimore and is outfitted with room for 160 passengers onboard.
At the front of the plane, there are 16 recliner-style business class seats. This cabin is branded as “Saga Premium” and is outfitted in a 2-2 configuration. Behind this are 144 economy class seats in a 3-3 configuration.
Icelandair advertises a seat pitch of 40″ in business class, with 20.5″ wide seats. In economy, Icelandair’s MAX 8s have 31-32″ of pitch, and seats are 17.2″ wide. This is pretty standard for narrowbody aircraft.
The good news for passengers is that Icelandair offers on-demand seatback entertainment at every seat. Passengers will also find power in the form of outlets and USB ports onboard to charge their devices before landing.
This is not the first time Icelandair has served Baltimore to Reykjavik. The airline previously served the airport in 2018 and ended operations in early 2019 during the less busy winter travel season. Given the MAX grounding that hit in March 2019, ahead of the busy summer season, it is not terribly surprising that Icelandair could not bring the route back. With the MAX back in the air and travel coming back, it is clear that Icelandair sees potential at BWI.
Icelandair will be able to target Baltimore-area passengers who want to visit Iceland and those who are also looking for a connection onward to Europe. The flight is timed for passengers to be able to catch those connections.
Baltimore has had nonstop flights to Europe in the past. British Airways previously operated nonstop from BWI to London-Heathrow (LHR). That flight is currently scheduled to resume in August, though it may be pushed back if the UK does not open.
To Frankfurt (FRA), passengers could previously catch a Condor flight. The airline has not yet indicated when it will return to BWI.
In the Washington D.C.-area, international passengers looking for nonstop options generally turn to Washington-Dulles (IAD). A major hub for United Airlines and many carriers’ preferred airport for serving the Washington D.C. area, BWI sometimes gets overshadowed by Dulles when it comes to international service.
However, BWI is far more convenient for travelers originating in Baltimore than Dulles. The airport also has a history of sustaining long-haul flights, as evidenced by both British Airways and Condor offering services to Europe.
Icelandair does service Dulles and continues to keep Dulles on its schedule, even with BWI service. The airline can likely sustain two services to the Washington D.C. metro area, especially given that it is not adding a lot of capacity with four weekly flights.
Nevertheless, this is good news for travelers returning to the sky. Passenger counts are hitting new highs at BWI as people plan their vacations again and are ready to see the world. Icelandair is hoping to tap into that demand with summer 2022 flying.
At present, Iceland is open for customers who are fully vaccinated or else have proof of a previous COVID-19 infection. Until July 1st, passengers will also have to undergo a test on arrival to KEF. By 2022, more of those travel restrictions are expected to ease.
Are you going to fly Icelandair nonstop between BWI and KEF? Let us know in the comments!
Emirates’ Airbus A380 Returns To Sydney
Once a dime a dozen at Sydney Airport, an Emirates A380 made a now unusual appearance in Sydney on Tuesday. EK414 is now normally operated by a Boeing 777-300ER, but an Airbus A380-800 was substituted on this flight out of Dubai.
Emirates first A380 flight to Sydney this year
According to flight-tracking website FlightRadar24.com, an Emirates A380-800 registered as A6-EOM departed Dubai (DXB) at 02:27 local time on Tuesday, operating EK414. After 13 and a half hours in the air, the plane touched down in Sydney (SYD) at 21:54 local time on the same day.
After 24 hours on the ground, A6-EOM is due to push back in Sydney at 21:10 local time on Wednesday evening. The Airbus A380 is due to arrive back in Dubai at 05:20 local time on Thursday.
Back in the giddy pre-travel downturn days, Emirates was a big operator at SYD. The airport was one of five Australian airports the airline serviced, often several times a day. Allowing for some seasonal tinkering around the edges, Emirates typically ran four services a day to Sydney, including a couple of A380 services.
Emirates ends A380 flights to Sydney in 2020
The good times came to an abrupt halt last year. Most of Emirates’ A380s were parked. The airline’s global network was trimmed, and frequencies culled. Cities like Sydney saw their A380s swapped out for Boeing 777s. Before everyone stopped flying, SYD was something of an A380 hotspot, with several operators sending their A380s in.
Simple Flying reported Emirates sending an A380 to Sydney last November. We wondered why, later discovering it was a special flight carrying Australian and Indian cricketers. But until last weekend, that appears to be the last time Emirates has sent an A380 to Sydney.
RadarBox.com data suggests until Saturday’s flight, no EK414 or EK416 services to Sydney this year have been operated by an A380. No A380s have operated return EK415 or EK417 services back to Dubai this year.
The Emirates A380 makes a comeback – but not yet in Sydney
Last week, Simple Flying reported the Emirates superjumbo was making somewhat of a comeback. The Dubai-based airline planned to fly 30 of its A380s this northern summer. According to Emirates, the big planes will wing their way to cities in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. But the only city the Emirates A380 is slated to fly to in the Asia-Pacific region was Guangzhou.
Over the last year, Emirates has kept a handful of A380s in the air. Doing so had a dual purpose. There were a few routes where demand remained relatively strong, and bulging cargo holds made flying A380s worthwhile. But there’s also a matter of keeping crews certified and maintaining their minimum hours.
Most A380 operators have small fleets and could walk away from the plane – as several airlines have. But Emirates is the world’s largest operator of the A380, with 119 in its fleet. Walking away from the A380 was never an option in Dubai. Retaining the capability to fly the planes when demand normalizes means flight crews need to stay flight-ready. Keeping some A380s in the air assists this.
Even with strict caps on the numbers of passengers allowed into Australia, there are several reasons why Emirates sent an A380 to Sydney on the weekend. But one scenario we can rule out is a full planeload of passengers
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