13 APRIL 2015
The Business Travel News
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Finnair has made a bid to pick up traffic from Ireland to the Far East introducing a six times weekly service between Dublin and Helsinki. Flight time is three hours with a two-class Embraer 190.
The airline competes with Heathrow and the Gulf airports for connecting traffic pointing out that Helsinki is far less congested and a very congenial changing point. For most destinations the total travel time is shorter.
VisitorsCoverage, an international travel insurance solution company, recently launched new social website VisitorsConnect.com. VisitorsConnect is an easy-to-use site that helps visiting parents and relatives from around the world meet alike visitors during their stay in the USA.
Wizz Air is to introduce direct flights between Glasgow and the Hungarian capital of Budapest. It will also add flights to the Polish city of Lublin.
Ken O’Toole, the former Route Development Director of Ryanair, has been appointed as Managing Director of Manchester Airport with the previous holder of the post Andrew Cowan taking on the role of Chief Strategy Officer at M.A.G, the holding company for Bournemouth, East Midlands, Manchester and Stansted airports. Ken has been M.A.G's Chief Commercial Officer since 2012.
easyJet is to be complimented on the way it dealt with last week’s French air traffic control strike, admitting there were problems, and coming out with a bold statement setting out the way the airline was dealing with the complicated situation that arose. (also see 'Air Traffic chaos' in this issue.) Besides being Britain's largest airline (in terms of passenger numbers) it is the second biggest in France too.
On the Wednesday 8 April easyJet cancelled 248 flights and the following day 331 including 78 to and from the UK. The airline offered a free of charge transfer to another flight or a refund. easyJet provided hotel accommodation and on the Wednesday booked 3,103 rooms accommodating 6,066 customers. It also laid on five ‘rescue’ flights concerning schoolchildren.
One issue has been more or less neglected so far from the forthcoming General Election debate and that is air transport. The Aviation Commission says it will report after the voting day. This could be as short as six weeks away. But will the Government of the day agree to what it has to say? This needs to be confirmed now.
Sir Howard Davies recommendations concern the future of London as the international centre of the world. Sadly, and as important as it is, air transport has not been an issue with the hustling except for the Prime Minister conceding that there will be “unfair tax competition” for airports in the north-east of England if Scotland abolishes Air Passenger Duty and muttering about fares. There have been misguided short-term noises in Kent over Manston where Nigel Farage is attempting to get into Westminster as a local MP. Boris Johnson’s decision to go for Uxbridge has raised questions in some quarters.
Still mulling over whether to restart a London service Air Asia X is to introduce a Hawaii route from 1 November. It will be four times per week and, initially at any event, includes a refuelling stop at Osaka (Japan).
This week Hamburg hosts the 16th Aircraft Interiors Expo (Tuesday 13 April – Thursday 16 April). It is the largest ever staged with over 530 exhibiting companies from 30 different countries spread over seven halls including a record size IFE Zone which has grown by 31%.
Based on reports from 1,095 airports worldwide, ACI's (Airport Council International) preliminary passenger traffic results for 2014 show that the top four ranked positions with respect to the world's busiest airports in overall passenger traffic have not changed as compared to 2013.
In terms of overrule traffic London easily remains internationally the most popular aviation centre, its six gateway airports attracting around 145m two way passengers, with New York in second place (117m) and Paris third (91m).
Prime Minister David Cameron has told the Newcastle-based Northern Echo that a list of options would be drawn up within months of an election victory, to examine how to vary rates of Air Passenger Duty (APD) and conceded that there will be “unfair tax competition” for airports in the north-east of England if Scotland abolishes Air Passenger Duty.
Whilst technically not part of the £100m transformation of Luton Airport now getting underway, the motorway extension from J10/M1 to the existing Airport Way dual carriageway is now useable, eliminating the notorious roundabout at the London Road (A1081).
It seems that London City Airport is not the only downtown operation caught up in the mire of politics. Toronto City’s (Billy Bishop Airport) planned expansion is facing opposition from an airline. This is Air Canada, is now very much the junior carrier at the airport, but actually an established operator when Porter Airlines, currently the prime mover, arrived in 2005. (See BTN 30 March)
New figures published by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reveal annual passenger numbers at UK airports have grown for the fourth consecutive year and are now just fractionally short of the 2007 peak. In total, UK airports handled 238m passengers during 2014, an increase of 4.4%, around 10.0m. (See also Airport traffic 2014 – Worldwide in this issue)
Good news for both Gatwick and Luton airports – and London too.
Andrew Sharp was for many years a stalwart at the then British Rail with senior posts in marketing and commerical, retiring when it was privatised in 1997. That year he became Director General of the International Air Rail Organisation (IARO) and is presently the policy adviser to the organisation. He seemed the perfect person for Business Travel News to send to Germany following an invitation for an update on the new trains that will serve much of London’s commuter services in the years to come.
On Test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring
A 4x4 Par Excellence
Following the surprise announcement that Tony Douglas has resigned as Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports (See BTN 30 March) Mohamed Mubarak Al Mazrouei has been confirmed as his replacement. Currently he serves as a Board Member of Abu Dhabi Airports and is also a Board member of Abu Dhabi Ports Company. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of North Carolina.
Renowned London-based Greek fashion designer Sophia Kokosalaki has presented Star Alliance member Aegean’s new uniform design. In choosing Kokosalaki to design the company’s new uniforms Aegean says that it is reaffirming its commitment to promote the work of Greeks around the world, hence highlighting the Greek nature of its operations.
Travellers on flights normally routed over France faced disruption last week as the French air traffic control union SNCTA called out it members on a 48hr strike. Airlines attacked what was described as “selfish attitude of a small number of workers” who threatened to cripple air travel throughout the continent. (Also see 'COMMENT EXTRA' in this issue)
Dubai now has a Four Seasons hotel, arguably the nearest sea-adjacent 5-star property to Dubai International Airport (DXB), about 10 miles away or 20 minutes by car. It is situated towards the eastern end of the Jumeirah Road, 12 miles from the entrance to The Palm with the Dubai Mall complex four miles away or 10 minutes by motor transport. The Dubai International Finance Centre is close by.
The latest 100% electric Nissan LEAF model has been introduced by Hertz to the fleet at its main London locations, providing tourists and local residents with an affordable and sustainable driving option.
Following something of a change around of carriers there are now 12 direct flight routes between the UK and Isle of Man, including Belfast, Birmingham, Gatwick, Glasgow, Liverpool and Manchester airports.
The future of Kent’s Manston Airport has become part of the UK election battle with the Transport Secretary giving his support to campaigners and local politicians fighting to save what is (or was once) Britain’s most easterly airport. Loss making for many years, and unable to attract viable operations, it was closed by owner Ann Gloag, co-founder of the Stagecoach Group. She subsequently sold the site to developers. (See also APD and the Prime Minister in this issue).
It might well be that Business Travel News (and other on-line publications) may drop the use of images. You can now take a close look around SAS’s new long haul cabin using Google Street View. SAS is the first airline in Europe to offer a virtual tour on board a long haul aircraft, letting users experience what it is like to travel in the upgraded cabin.