15 SEPTEMBER 2014

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AOA on Liberal Democrats

Normally an organisation treading carefully when it comes to politics, the Airport Operators Association (AOA) has responded forcefully following the publication of the Liberal Democrats pre-general election manifesto.

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Chengdu St Regis

St Regis Chengdu, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, opened last week exactly 110 years after the first St Regis hotel in New York City was inaugurated in 1904.  With this event the brand reaches 33 hotels around the world.

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Dublin to Helsinki

Finnair is to come back on the Dublin to Helsinki route from which it withdrew in 2005.  The airline will operate the service six days per week with a 100-seater Embraer 190 aircraft starting from 30 March 2015.

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Londonís Mondrian to open

The impressive building on London’s South Bank that is Sea Containers House, designed originally as a hotel, is about to reopen as the Mondrian London with 30 September as the target date (see BTN 21 July).

With 359 guestrooms and suites the hotel will also house an exclusive rooftop bar with breath-taking views across the city.

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COMMENT: Heathrow Express Ė Cheap or expensive

There seems to be a feeling that the Heathrow Express (HX) is a very expensive railway from the airport to Paddington.  The International Air Rail Organisation (IARO) has come out with a statement defending the prices and also throwing some light on what other airport rail operators charge.  Paddington is certainly not the centre of London.  Your means of getting to and from the airport often depends on location.  However it is central and has good onward connections with the Underground system.

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Train changes at London airports

Today (15 September) sees a new era for Gatwick and Luton airport travellers to and from London.  The rail line which connects the two airports, and in fact Bedford to Brighton, becomes Govia Thameslink Railway, joining together Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink.

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Bank Station London

Business travellers, and others, who have cause to use the Underground station below the Bank of England, will be pleased to learn that plans are under way to completely rebuild the complex by 2021.  Presently the station, all beneath street level, is a complete maze and includes Monument on the District Line and misnamed Circle Line.

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CAA route statistics

The CAA has published the UK airlines domestic statistics for May.  These show easyJet with 592,417 passengers and an 81% load factor comfortably ahead of British Airways with 438,717 and 74.1%, Flybe coming in at 396,452 and 72.9%.   www.caa.co.uk/docs

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Copenhagen Airport adds Regus

Following the successful opening of the Regus Express executive lounge at Heathrow T5 (See  1  September), the global workplace provider is to open a drop-in business centre at Copenhagen Airport.  As well as helping business travellers to meet and work, it will enable arriving long haul passengers to shower and grab breakfast before heading to meetings.

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European expansion for Emirates

Emirates is expanding its operations into Europe with the August introduction of a daily non-stop service from Dubai to Oslo, on 5 September Brussels, and 27 October Budapest.

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Garuda at Gatwick

Gatwick Airport gave the return of Garuda, the Indonesian state carrier and Skyteam member, a rousing arrival when the Jakarta-based airline landed at the South London airport last week.  Operating initially five times per week (except Tuesday and Thursday) via Amsterdam the airline gave the broadest hint that by next summer it may well be flying non-stop to Jakarta, at around 15 hours easily the longest ex-UK route.  In the meantime the Gatwick – Amsterdam sector is on sale for First and Business Class, perhaps the world’s most luxurious short haul operation. No.1 Traveller comes as part of the package.

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Hello Kitty at 40

Taiwan’s EVA Air, is celebrating Hello Kitty’s 40th birthday by bringing its themed aircraft to Europe.  From 29 October, the carrier will start flying its special edition Boeing 777-300ER between the capital cities of Paris and Taipei, in a move that will mark the aircraft’s debut in Europe.

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MAX scores with Ryanair

Boeing has launched the newest member of the 737 MAX family today with a commitment from Ryanair for 100 aircraft plus 100 options.

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North Atlantic upgrade

Norwegian Air is offering lounge access and improved in-flight service to its customers with premium tickets on intercontinental routes including its controversial North Atlantic flights.  The airline’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners offer 32 seats in the Premium Cabin.

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ON TOUR: Edinburgh Festival

The madness that is The Fringe

Alison Chambers and family went north last month for The Fringe.  Up on Little Red and back on BA.  And through the airport onto the tram.  All very good.

It is said that by the time the last promotional flyer from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (1-25 August) is removed from the Royal Mile, the world’s largest arts festival is ready to roll around again.  Established as part of the Edinburgh International Festival in 1947 in a post war event effort to provide a ‘platform for the flowering of the human spirit,’ the month of August transforms the usually quiet and sedate Royal Mile into a sea of vibrant colour, absurd costumes, juggling chain saw acts and singers from all over the world – the US, Japan, Samoa, all bringing their own special cultures to the Old Town.

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AND FINALLY: Pure entertainment

With an air travel interest of course.

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andelís Hotel Lodz five years

Last week Business Travel News experienced andel’s Hotel Lodz.  A full ON TOUR of Lodz (pronounced Woodge, rhyming with huge) will appear in a forthcoming BTN but since the occasion was the property’s fifth birthday a very honourable mention is deserved at this point in time.

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CSeries flies again

After halting the programme on 29 May when a Pratt & Whitney engine experienced total failure and fire during ground testing at Mirabel, damaging one of the four test aircraft, a Bombardier CSeries development aircraft has taken to the sky again.  CSeries FTV2 (second flight-test vehicle) returned to the air on Sunday 7 September with a 35-minute flight around Mirabel, where the final assembly for the aircraft and the engines will be undertaken.

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Fastjet news

Based in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Fastjet, claimed to be Africa’s first budget airline, is to launch a route between its hub at Julius Nyerere International Airport and the Ugandan capital Entebbe.

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HOP and Transavia

When Helene Abraham, Executive VP Commercial of the Air France subsidiary HOP, speaks at the Low-Cost Conference  in London on Tuesday (16 September) she might throw a little light on the situation regarding Air France/KLM and its regional marketing strategy.

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MH 17

Dutch investigators have issued their first report on the disaster that overtook Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine on 17 July.

Dutch prosecution service chief, Fred Westerbeke, who is leading the international enquiry into the tragedy, said that the investigation was focusing on the theory that a surface-to-air missile had been used to shoot the plane down.  The aircraft appeared to have broken apart due to the impact of a large number of metallic items, produced typically by a fragmentation warhead.

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Moscow airport hotel

Sheremetyevo Airport Moscow, the Russian capital’s home for the Skyteam consortium, which includes Aeroflot, now has a linked Radisson Blu Hotel.  The new property offers 391 rooms.  Sheremetyevo has a direct rail to Belorussky one of the Russian capital’s main stations.  This hotel opening brings the group’s portfolio in Russia to 30 hotels and more than 8,900 rooms in operation.

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Premium Economy for Lufthansa

Lufthansa has unveiled its new Premium Economy class, a very promising product featuring a claimed 50% more leg room, one piece table and plenty of foot room.  At the same time the airline has launched a world first mobile app – the "Premium Economy Augmented Reality App" – for iPad and iPhone to help raise awareness of the product.

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