Lufthansa buys BA/Air France, Ryanair charges for air, Air Canada-Emirates to codeshare

Delta CEO Richard Anderson confirmed rumours that Delta will move its hub operations from Atlanta to Chattanooga, Tennessee stating that, “Atlanta has just become too big and too congested”. Company spokespersons noted that only with Delta’s departure could the airport “simplify its complex operations.”

When asked why Chattanooga had been chosen, Delta management noted that it is fun to say and that flight attendants were tired of saying Atlanta, which is almost impossible to say in a funny way. “And anyway, with all this talk about fast trains, we thought we should get on board,” he let slip, disclosing the real reason for the move. Rumours of a new theme tune for Delta involving its new hub’s name have not been confirmed.

Qantas CEO Alan Joyce announced that the airline will add the letter “u” to its name, noting that “most of the rest of the world already adds the letter when writing Qantas (now Quantas)” and it will bring Australians “up to speed” with the rest of the world. Mr Joyce confirmed this would have no impact on the company’s theme tune.

British Airways’ Willie Walsh has announced that he will step down as CEO in order to become a flight attendant for the carrier, citing numerous openings and the opportunities for close camaraderie, developed during enviable periods of time off. Observers called the decision “striking”. Mr Walsh has reportedly become so popular in his adopted role that he is now considering an offer to become General Secretary of Untie, the attendants’ new union.

Air Canada has announced that it will commence codesharing with Emirates Airline with effect from 1-Apr-2010 on all routes in the carriers’ networks. The new commercial agreement is especially designed to reroute all passengers on Emirates’ system through Vancouver. Air Canada CEO, Calin Rovinescu, announcing the deal yesterday, said “this innovative move will transform the global aviation model and hopefully take peoples’ minds off our government’s silly aviation policy.” Vancouver Airport officials were not immediately available for comment.

Southwest Airlines has given a USD5 million grant to the Centers for Disease Control to fund research on peanut allergies. The company noted that if the condition were to be eliminated, they could save considerable catering expense by returning to an “all-peanuts-all-the-time” menu.

Singapore Airlines is currently test marketing its latest innovation that promises further improvements to its A380 First Class in flight product. Airport lounges around the world will be expanded to include gourmet shops staffed by roving bands of TV celebrity chefs available to suggest meal combinations to the boarding premium passengers. After choosing the requisite ingredients, the chef will prepare the meal on live closed-circuit broadcasts directed to the passenger’s suite. Chef Jamie Oliver refused to be a part of the program when informed that “flambeau” menus of any sort were prohibited.

CNN has revealed plans for a new reality show, titled “Just step over here and take your socks off”, to be filmed at airports around the world. Contestants will be unsuspecting travellers passing through security checkpoints staffed by a special group of screeners. Hidden judges will assess the screeners’ ability to find ways to subject passengers to intrusive search techniques, without doing jail time. Criteria will include, but not be limited to, rudeness, inane requests and the number of passengers delayed long enough to require a sprint to the gate. Bonus points will be awarded for missed flights. Network executives are convinced the show will be a winner. However, observers have suggested it will flop, as there is nothing new that can surprise anyone who has previously passed through TSA screening.

Ryanair’s chief, Michael O’Leary announced the latest ancillary item to be offered on board – air. In a move long expected, the carrier, in order to save fuel, will reduce the air recycled on its aircraft to the minimum necessary to sustain consciousness. However, resources may be insufficient for those engaging in activities such as conversation or laughing, which waste oxygen. The carrier has entered into Europe-wide agreements with supplier Air Liquide to provide supplementary oxygen at the passenger’s seat for GBP1 per 3 minutes. Cash and credit cards will be accepted, but passengers are warned to plan their needs in advance while still able to access the attendant call button. Mr O’Leary stressed that this was not a tax on laughter, noting “we have further plans to deal with anyone who thinks this is funny”.

In breaking news, Lufthansa is to acquire a majority shareholding in British Airways and Air France. The move is designed to simplify the European aviation network and help rationalise the airport hub system. Lufthansa CEO, Wolfgang Mayrhuber, said “we’ve bought nearly everyone else in Europe and these two were sticking out like sore thumbs. This way we can combine our flight attendant unions and have much more impressive strikes too.” A European Commission spokesman, asked about the competition implications of the purchase, suggested the Commission would look favourably on the acquisitions, saying “we are getting really fed up with all these applications for antitrust immunity and this should make the whole thing a lot easier for everyone”. SAS CEO, Mats Jansson, when asked for comment, said “we are awfully peeved that we are now the only ones who haven’t been bought. We could bring another 30 unions to the party, so I really don’t understand why we are being left out.” No new theme tune has yet been announced for the mega-airline.

AirAsia is to introduce first class seating on all flights, according to CEO, Tony Fernandes. “I am having trouble these days fitting into our existing seat configurations and also, lots of people say they like big flat seats, so we thought we’d give it a go. Plenty of other airlines have these nice comfy beds and so forth and some of them even seem to make money.” A further modification, designed to be more children-friendly is to modify overhead bins as sleeper compartments for full fare-paying children under the age of 18. The new configurations will be rolled out as soon as the airline takes delivery of the 15 new Airbus A380s it ordered last week.

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