Air France (Paris) on Saturday (February 21) diverted its flight AF 007 from New York (JFK) to Paris (CDG) to Manchester. The prestigious flight was operated with an Airbus A380. The 460 people aboard the Air France flight were diverted to Manchester at 11.30 am (1130), but were not allowed off the Super Jumbo until around 6 pm (1800) on the same day.
It all started in New York, where passengers’ tempers were already being tried after flight AF 007 had been delayed from taking off by around four hours at New York while the aircraft had to be de-iced.
But once the aircraft entered UK airspace, the few hundred people were begging to get off.
The 4 hour delay meant that the flight crew would have exceeded their allowance of flying hours, so the captain decided to take a sommeil (pardon my French) in my beloved Manchester. At the time, Manchester was experiencing torrential rain, I might add.
The aircraft touched down at 11:30 am (UK time) and that is where it happened. Six and a half hours on the grounded plane with reported no food or water.
Air France had originally told passengers it would send a new crew to fly the plane onto its destination. However, while pre-flight checks were being carried out a technical fault was then discovered in the cabin. The airline then said it would fly three extra planes (two Airbus A318s and an A320) over to collect the passengers, but these relief aircraft took hours to arrive. After being eventually let off the double decker A380, passengers were taken to a waiting room near departures, where they say around 50 burgers were provided.
You can already imagine the tweets and statuses by the passengers. With the common denominators being “awful experience” and “worst flight of my life”.
The story that really shocks me is of a woman who’s destination was actually Manchester, but almost wasn’t allowed to end her journey prematurely.
She had been due to get a connecting flight back to Manchester from Paris – but refused to get on the later service and went home without her luggage.
The woman, who lives in south Manchester, told the Manchester Evening News: “They wouldn’t let us off the plane – I kept saying ‘I only live down the road, please can you let me off?
“But there were other people on there flying to all over Europe from Paris. There was no food whatsoever. There were kids who hadn’t eaten since leaving New York the previous day who had had no food.
“There was a lot of frustration on the flight, people were getting quite annoyed. Eventually, about 6 pm they let us off into a secluded area near departures and 50 Burger King burgers were sent down.”
“About 13 of us who live in the UK refused to get on the later flight to Paris so eventually they let us go, but our bags had to go on the original plane and I am still waiting to get my luggage back.”
Manchester Airport did not comment.
Air France said in a statement it “understands well the exasperation of its customers in this situation”.
Air France (Paris) and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines (Amsterdam) have issued details of their winter schedule from October 26 through March 28, 2015. Overall group capacity will only increase by 0.7 percent as Air France tries to recover from its devastating pilot strikes. However Transavia will see a 13.3 percent increase in capacity as the group tries to drive more operations to the lower cost divisions. Air France is cutting dome domestic AF services with the goal of breaking even by 2017. Here is the full report:
For the 2014-15 winter season (from October 26, 2014 to March 28, 2015), Air France-KLM Group capacity is scheduled to increase by 0.7%, with an increase of 0.1% for passenger operations(Air France, KLM and HOP!) and 13.3% for low-cost leisure operations (Transavia in France and the Netherlands).
Short and medium-haul capacity at the Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol hubs will increase slightly (+3.1%). In the same way as last summer, point-to-point short and medium-haul capacity will continue to decrease (-11.3%). Transavia capacity will increase by +13.3%, with growth concentrated on the French market (+56%).
Air France-KLM has chosen to move upmarket with the progressive introduction of new products and services of the highest global standards.
On the long-haul network, 22 Boeing 747-400s have been equipped with KLM’s new World Business Class and 777-200s will be finished before the summer of 2015, followed by implementing the new World Business Class in the 777-300s. By the end of 2016 about 80% of the KLM fleet will be done. Air France continues to roll out its new Best cabins: five Air France Boeing 777s will be equipped by end-2014. Flights to New York, Singapore and Jakarta have already been equipped with these brand new products. Services to Tokyo-Haneda, Shanghai, Dubai, Houston, Sao Paulo, Douala and Malabo will gradually be added to this list in winter 2014.
Furthermore, this winter the Company will operate two new destinations by Airbus A380: Miami and Abidjan, in addition to Los Angeles, New York, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and Shanghai already served by the super jumbo this summer.
Long-haul: + 0.3%
On the long-haul network, Air France-KLM Group capacity is up slightly compared with winter 2013-14 at +0.3%.
On the North American network, capacity is up +2.4% compared with winter 2013-14
KLM is once again increasing capacity to Atlanta, from 7 to 12 weekly flights, in response to market demand. These new frequencies will facilitate connections with the Delta Air Lines network in Atlanta, one of the main hubs served by the Air France-KLM partner.
The Air France Airbus A380 will be flying the Miami route as from early December. Three U.S. destinations will thus be operated this winter by the A380 on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle – New-York-JFK, Los Angeles and Miami.
In Mexico, KLM will increase its frequencies to Mexico City, from 7 to 9 weekly flights in November and December, in line with seasonal demand. Air France capacity on a code-share basis with Aeromexico is increasing with 13 new destinations in Mexico and Central America on departure from Mexico City.
In Central and South America, Group capacity is up +1.1%.
Air France continues to serve Brasilia (Brazil) three times a week and Montevideo (Uruguay) is served daily in continuation of Buenos Aires (Argentina). The Company is increasing capacity to Panama City, increasing from three to five weekly frequencies by B777-200 and benefits from Copa’s Central American hub thanks to the commercial agreement between the two airlines.
Air France-KLM continues its close cooperation with the Brazilian airline GOL in order to take advantage of its joint network in the region and offer its customers improved connecting opportunities with the Brazilian domestic network this winter.
In the Caribbean, Air France-KLM capacity is revised downwards (-2.2%). Between mid-December and mid-January, Air France will operate 13 weekly flights (instead of 14) to Pointe-à-Pitre and 11 weekly flights (instead of 14) to Fort-de-France. KLM will increase capacity in the Caribbean in response to increasing demand for these destinations.
In Asia, Group capacity is up slightly at +0.7%.
In continuation of the summer schedule, Air France is continuing to serve Tokyo-Haneda airport up to 11 times per week in addition to the daily flight to Tokyo-Narita, providing connecting opportunities to Noumea (New Caledonia). Services to Jakarta (Indonesia) in continuation of the Singapore flight are also maintained on a daily basis.
To take advantage of the seasonal nature of certain destinations, Air France is increasing capacity during the peak winter season between mid-December and mid-March to Bangkok (Thailand) (one daily flight) and Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) (addition of a fourth frequency).
In China, capacity to Wuhan is being increased by one weekly frequency, with three weekly flights. Guangzhou will be served by four weekly flights.
KLM continues to cooperate with its Asian partners to offer customers a wider choice of connecting flights and even more destinations in Asia.
Africa: capacity slightly down by -0.8%
In Africa, Group capacity is slightly down to -0.8%.
Air France is adjusting its flight offering and reinforcing its most buoyant routes such as Abidjan (Ivory Coast), with the entry into service of the A380, and Pointe Noire (Congo) with the introduction of a sixth weekly frequency.
In East Africa, KLM is reorganizing its network to adapt it to specific market expectations. Capacity to Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Entebbe (Uganda) is up. The two cities are now served directly three times a week. On the other days, they are served via Kilimanjaro (Tanzania) and Kigali (Rwanda) respectively. KLM has suspended direct service to Harare (Zimbabwe) and Lusaka (Zambia). These two destinations remain in the Group’s capacity and are currently served by Kenya Airways via Nairobi (Kenya).
In the Indian Ocean region, Air France-KLM is adjusting capacity (-2.8%). From mid-December to mid-January, Air France will offer 11 flights to Reunion island (instead of 12) and an additional flight to Mauritius.
Middle East: capacity down by -5.2%
In the Middle East, Air France-KLM capacity is down by -5.2%. KLM is again increasing capacity to Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) in combination with Bahrein, as a result of its optimized cooperation with Etihad Airways, Air France-KLM’s partner. KLM will serve this destination using an Airbus 330-300, instead of an A330-200. Dubai will be served by the Air France B777-300 equipped with the new Best cabins in early 2015.
On the medium-haul network, the 2014-15 winter season sees the full effect of the measures of the Transform 2015 plan.
On departure from the Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Amsterdam-Schiphol hubs: capacity increases by +3.1%
Air France and KLM continue to serve the routes launched this summer: on departure from Paris-Charles de Gaulle, Stavanger (Norway) with two daily frequencies; on departure from Amsterdam-Schiphol, two daily flights to Turin (Italy), one daily flight to Bilbao (Spain) and Zagreb (Croatia).
KLM strengthens its position in Scandinavia by increasing frequencies to Bergen (Noway) with three daily flights and five daily flights to Billund (Denmark). KLM will also increase capacity to Moscow (Russia) and Bordeaux with three daily flights.
Air France aims to better seize connecting opportunities to the rest of the world and maintain capacity adapted to variations in demand between winter and summer: for example, one daily frequency is being suspended to Munich (Germany), Bucharest (Romania), Moscow (Russia), Rome (Italy) and Bremen (Germany).
On departure from Paris-Orly and the French provinces: capacity down by -11.3%
This winter, point-to-point short and medium-haul capacity (Air France, HOP!) is down by -11.3%. Seasonal adjustments are more pronounced, with the aim to return to operational breakeven by 2017.
On departure from Paris-Orly, Air France suspends one daily flight to Bordeaux and two daily frequencies to Toulouse. From the provinces, structural adjustments continue, notably with the suspension of several destinations in Europe and North Africa on departure from Toulouse and Marseille.
HOP! capacity is slightly up in France and to major European cities on departure from the French provinces. With its 26 destinations, Lyon is the Company’s main base, giving customers from the French regions access to a vast network of connecting flights.
Low-cost leisure operations
Transavia: strong increase in capacity of +13.3%
Transavia France, a low-cost subsidiary of the Air France-KLM Group, will continue to develop as outlined in the Transform 2015 plan. During the 2014-15 winter season, Transavia France will operate nine new routes launched this year on departure from Paris-Orly – Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Budapest, Madrid, Malaga, Barcelona, Athens, Pisa and Prague. On departure from Lyon, Transavia will also inaugurate a service to Tel Aviv as from October 2014.
Copyright Photo: Christian Volpati Collection/AirlinersGallery.com. As previously reported, Air France is bringing the Airbus A380 to Miami this winter. A380-861 F-HPJI (msn 115) taxies at the Paris (CDG) hub with the special 80 And (Years) markings.
Air France (Paris) from March 30, 2014, will be offering a new service to Tokyo-Haneda Airport, in addition to its flights to Tokyo-Narita. In this way, Air France will offer two daily frequencies – one day flight and one night flight – to Tokyo-Haneda and one daily frequency to Tokyo-Narita.
Air France is the only airline to offer night flights between Tokyo-Haneda airport and Paris-Charles de Gaulle.
The day flight to Tokyo-Haneda will be operated by Boeing 777-200 ER aircraft, with a capacity of 309 seats (35 in the Business cabin, 24 in Premium Economy and 250 in Economy). The night flight will be operated by Boeing 777-300 ER aircraft, with a capacity of 303 seats (8 seats in La Première, 67 in Business, 24 in Premium Economy and 200 in Economy).
In other news, starting on January 12, 2014, Air France will increase by 25 percent its capacity to Kuala Lumpur with a Boeing 777-200 equipped with a new “leisure” configuration offering additional seats for customers. The aircraft will offer a seat capacity of 309 seats (35 in Business class, 24 in Premium Economy and 250 in Economy) compared with 246 when this frequency was first launched. Spurred by the successful launch of this destination in April 2013, the Company is thus increasing its service to the Malaysian capital.
Starting on June 16, 2014, Air France will also launch a new frequency between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Kuala Lumpur with four weekly flights.
Copyright Photo: Michael B. Ing/AirlinersGallery.com. On October 7, 2013, Air France celebrated its 80th anniversary. For the occasion, an Airbus A380 is now sporting AF’s birthday colors. The aircraft, a reference in terms of comfort and eco-friendliness, will bring AF’s passion for adventure and innovation high into the sky. And it will not be the only aircraft to do so: a new A320, equipped with “Sharklet” winglets, will also be decorated for AF’s 80th birthday. Airbus A380-861 F-HPJI (msn 115) with the special 80 ans-years logo arrives in Los Angeles.
Copyright Photo: Wim Callaert. The sole SAAB 340A (HS-HPY) arrives back at the HKT base.
Happy Air (Phuket) is a new airline which started scheduled operations in late Happy Air (Phuket) is a new airline which started scheduled operations on October 31, 2009 with this single SAAB 340A registered with the appropriate registration of HS-HPY (msn 115). The company flies from the Phuket base to Hatyai/Genting and Langkawi in southern Thailand and Malaysia.