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Whilst the Mayor of London pontificates with his grandiose scheme for an international airport somewhere in the Thames Estuary (see also AND FINALLY)) he should take a look at a not dissimilar scheme that went disastrously wrong in Montreal (Canada). Perhaps at Eton they do not take in modern history. Certainly the Australians recognised the absurdity of the project, quickly scrapping a proposed new Sydney Airport, 40 miles from the largest city in that southern continent.
Mr Johnson should take a flight from Heathrow to Montreal Dorval, once planned to be the largest airport in the world. Now named officially Montreal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport after the Canadian Prime Minister who promoted Mirabel – crazy. (Will they rename Heathrow 'Boris International' following the same logic?). What Mr Johnson will find at Mirabel is a totally underused air cargo operation and a massive semi-derelict industrial complex.
In the 1960s the Government of Canada decided that Montreal required a brand new international airport to relieve the existing Dorval just 12 miles from the city centre. In 1968 Montreal won the 1976 Olympics. The two projects came together and on 4 October 1975 Montreal–Mirabel International Airport was opened, 34 miles from town. The cost at current terms was put at Canadian $2bn. All long haul flights were transferred to the new airport.
The Olympics came and went. Mirabel's distant location and lack of transport links made it unpopular with airlines and travellers. Montreal's economic decline, relative to Toronto, kept passenger volumes from rising to the levels originally anticipated. The international airlines were allowed to return to Dorval.
In 1997 Montreal Mirabel closed for scheduled airline traffic.
Today it is recognised as one of the world’s largest white elephants, rather like the New South China Mall in the city of Donnguan in the Pearl River Delta, the largest on earth but 99% empty.
Boris needs a rethink.
Thomson Airways, whose £5m promotion campaign for the Boeing 787 had to be embarrassingly withdrawn early in the New Year, is finally expected to receive its first Dreamliner at Manchester on Friday 31 May. The 291-seat 787-8 will fly in direct from Everett, Seattle, with Managing Director Chris Browne on board.
The first UK-registered 787 will be followed within days by two more, the 291-seat aircraft planned to go into service with some regional flights soon afterwards, before the big launch on 8 July with Gatwick, Glasgow and East Midlands joining in as send off airports.
Thomson Airways is quite unique as a British carrier as it does not sell direct to the public. Its one and only customer (except for special winter charters) is owner holiday giant TUI. This does not mean that aviation minded passengers are not aware of the 787 arrival, the reception “exceptional” according to Ms Browne. With not all long haul routes this summer totally 787, many clients are looking for the aircraft on the timetable within the holiday brochures and happy to pay a £10 per sector supplement. As was pointed out “business travellers go on holiday too”. ((See Thomas Cook Airlines)). www.thomson.co.uk
Star Alliance member Aegean Airlines is to introduce a Saturday and Monday service between Manchester and Athens on 25 May. It will compete with an existing easyJet operation that flies on Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. With airlines, for the most part, selling tickets per single flight this means that Manchester will now be connected to the Greek capital with non-stop services every day except Tuesday.
Aegean Airlines is Greece’s largest full-service airline carrying 6.5m passengers in 2011. The carrier operates a two class cabin and courtesy in-flight refreshments are provided. The latest Airbus A320 arrivals also have a full IFE installation.
The route departs from Manchester on Mondays and Saturdays at 21:05, landing in Athens at 02:50. The return flight departs Athens at 18:15, arriving into Manchester at 20:20. Flight time is around 3hrs 45mins. www.aegeanair.com
Painting of the first A350 XWB ‘MSN001’ has been fully completed and shown to staff at the Airbus plant at Toulouse.
The aircraft painting was achieved in less than seven days and follows the recent completion of MSN001’s flight-test-instrumentation (FTI) verification. Last month the aircraft underwent its engines' installation, and passed a subsequent intensive phase of ground vibration tests. MSN001 will soon start the final tests before its maiden flight this summer.
Orders for the aircraft stand at 617 with Qatar eventually due 80, Emirates 70, Cathay 46 and Singapore 40. The first flight is now said to be planned in June with airline deliveries set to commence hopefully late 2014 with Qatar Airlines the first customer. www.airbus.com
Travelodge strengthens its presence in Spain by opening its biggest property in the country’s second largest city, Barcelona. The new purpose-built 250-room hotel which is situated in the heart of the most innovative district in Barcelona called 22@ – also known as the city’s ‘Silicon Valley’ representing an investment of €30m.
Barcelona Poblenou Travelodge is the company’s fifth hotel in Spain and is also the first of two new Spanish hotel openings for the budget hotelier this year.
The second hotel will be located in the famous Julian Camarilo commercial district in Madrid and is scheduled to open this summer.
These two new properties boost Travelodge's Spanish portfolio to six, comprising of three hotels in Madrid, two in Barcelona and one in Valencia.
With over seven million visitors annually visiting Barcelona, the new Travelodge hotel has got off to a flying start with a high level of bookings. Room rates start from €20. Each room has en-suite facilities, a luxury king size bed, air conditioning / heating, a flat screen TV and internet connection. The hotel also has a Bar Café which offers a 24hr food and drink service and has two meeting rooms and underground car-parking. www.travelodge.co.uk
Monday 13 May was an important day for rapidly expanding bmi regional, once Aberdeen-based but now with East Midlands Airport as the centre of its operations. As its name implies it is truly regional and operates 18 Embraer jets with a one class set-up cabin. All flights include complimentary food and drink on-board, free 20kg hold baggage allowance and 30-minute check-in.
The airline launched six new routes, creating over 100 new jobs in Birmingham and Bristol.
• Bristol to Munich, Milan, Hannover and Frankfurt
• Birmingham to Toulouse, Gothenburg and Lyon
bmi regional was recently awarded the accolade of the UK’s most punctual airline for the eighth consecutive year.
Cathal O’Connell, CEO of bmi regional, said: "The launch of these six routes is a continuation of bmi regional’s promise to serve key economic and tourism hubs across Europe. These new routes are incremental to the four new routes rolled out since bmi regional established itself as an independent airline in 2012 (Bristol to Aberdeen, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Manchester to Antwerp). With increasing congestion in some London airports, Bristol and Birmingham are a great alternative to those who recognise the benefits of less crowded airports, speedy boarding, good shopping and eating facilities". www.bmiregional.com
Another week of Airport Commission lobbying and news saw Sir Howard Davies' panel suggest that analysis by the CAA pointed to Gatwick as a second hub. In a comprehensive 58-page document published last Thursday 16 May Davies concluded that it might be possible for one of the three global airline alliances at Heathrow to move to another airport without any large scale damage to their operations.
This is in fact in some ways a reincarnation of previous Government policy when British Caledonian (ultimately unsuccessfully) provided an alternative at Gatwick to Heathrow and British Airways. Virgin Atlantic took over the role but today Gatwick does not even serve the world’s busiest long haul air route, London – New York.
Heathrow also published its submission to Davies' 18-strong committee stating that it did not want mixed mode (which would meet the December Commission pronouncement “Proposals for making the best use of existing capacity in the short and medium terms”) with the third runway its answer to the hub dilemma. The difficulty with the Heathrow proposal is that it cited noise as a mixed mode problem, highlighting this obvious condition, which would be the same for runway three. http://mediacentre.heathrowairport.com
QantasLink is to upgrade the interiors of five Boeing 717 rear-engined twin jet aircraft to include Business Class and in-flight entertainment for all passengers.
First flown as the DC9 in the 1960s, the aircraft has had a remarkable flying history being updated over the years in various guises including McDonnell Douglas. Delta Air Lines is currently replacing much older aircraft with 88 Boeing 717s formerly with Air Tran.
Executive Manager, John Gissing, said that the additional five aircraft, which Qantas announced in January 2013, will be in addition to the existing fleet of 13 B717 aircraft operating across Australia.
"QantasLink will introduce a full business experience on these aircraft, including market-leading seats, premium food and drinks and exceptional onboard service", Mr Gissing said.
"We will also be providing individual in-flight entertainment for all customers – both Business and Economy – and are currently testing the latest technology”.
QantasLink is Australia’s largest regional airline and operates a network of 58 metropolitan and country destinations across Australia as well as to Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea). www.qantas.com
Kennedy Airport New York will later this week see the official opening of Delta Air Lines new main home in Terminal 4. Sadly this means the demolishing of its former quarters at the futuristic old Pan Am Terminal 3. For the future all international services will use the brand new US$1.4bn facility whilst domestic flights, and that includes Honolulu, are housed in Terminal 2. A major feature will be an open air rooftop executive lounge, a first for the airport in the modern era.
Out of the UK the Atlanta-based airline will offer this summer three daily Boeing 767-300 services from Heathrow to New York and a daily 767 from Manchester. Dublin has 10 flights per week with a mixture of both 767 and 757, whilst Shannon is daily with the 757. Both the Irish airports offer US customs and immigration pre-boarding, a real bonus given the US airports' current poor reputation for arrival clearance. It can be up to three hours at Miami! www.delta.com
A free fast track security service is to be introduced by easyJet under the airline’s plan to attract more business travellers. The new service will be provided as an added benefit when buying the airline’s flexi fare
and will be initially provided at 27 key airports amounting to 54% of the airline’s network.
Carolyn McCall, easyJet’s CEO, explained how easyJet is targeting business travellers: “Above all else business travellers want frequent, punctual flights to leading airports, with friendly service and at great fares – and that is why 10 million of them choose to fly with easyJet every year.
“Building on that platform we want to give them other services that they truly value and which we can deliver without changing our simple efficient operations. By teaming up with our airport partners we can now offer fast track security which enables time sensitive business travellers to reduce their journey time through the airport.
“easyJet doesn’t offer a Business Class but we do make business sense”.
easyJet flexi fare passengers can change the date of their flights up to two hours before the scheduled departure time, choice of seats, speedy boarding and a hold bag included at no extra cost. www.easyjet.com
The last British-registered Lockheed Electra L188 (G-LOFC, aged 54 years) has departed from Coventry Airport to a new life flying for Buffalo Airlines in Canada.
The Electra only ever flew as a cargo aircraft in the UK, Air Atlantique (later West Atlantic, Europe’s largest independent air freight carrier) the main operator from 1994. The airline at one time operated eight of the four-engined turboprops, which offered much the same freight capacity as a Boeing 737-200.
The Lockheed Electra was developed in the 1950s following the success of the Vickers Viscount in the United States. It was a larger aircraft and competed with the Vickers Vanguard. In the end both were overtaken by the introduction of the larger and faster pure jets such as the Boeing 737 and Douglas DC9. Just 170 civil versions were built but its military derivative (the Lockheed Orion, 757 delivered) remains in service today. The Orion is a sister aircraft to the extremely successful Lockheed Hercules originally sharing much of the technology and engines.
A long time customer of West Atlantic was quick with praise. “With the phase-out of G-LOFC, DHL Aviation bids farewell to an excellent aircraft and also an entire fleet that has certainly played an important role in ensuring reliable and on-time services in the Europe network for more than 20 years”. www.westatlantic.eu
Last week was mixed in term of financial results for easyJet and Virgin Atlantic. Both announced losses but for the Luton-based carrier they were positive in that they were less than the same period last year with a fine 12-month forecast. Virgin, under new management, stated that things were bad but forecasted good times in 2015.
easyJet half year losses nearly halved to £61m from £112m last time. Revenue increased 9.3% to £1.6bn. Record 12-month profits could be on the cards. A big new aircraft order is expected with a Paris Air Show announcement possible. The airline is also rumoured to be negotiating with Flybe for the sale of Gatwick slots.
Now under the command of former American Airlines' senior executive Craig Kreeger, Virgin Atlantic said last week that poor economic conditions and the Olympic Games in London, which dented demand for business travel, were factors in the airline's latest loss of £93m for the year to 28 February.
Mr Kreeger said: "I am confident we have concrete plans in place to take Virgin Atlantic forward and return the business to profitability within a two-year frame".
Virgin hopes that its proposed tie-up with Delta will be approved next month and help it compete more forcefully in the lucrative transatlantic market. www.easyjet.com www.virgin-atlantic.com
Southern’s summer 2013 timetable came into effect on Sunday 19 May and because of changes to platform availability at London Bridge, passengers are being advised to check train times carefully before travelling.
London Bridge station is being developed as part of the £6bn Thameslink Programme which will see better connections and a bigger, brighter station capable of accommodating around 66% more passengers by 2018.
As a result of this work, platforms 14, 15 and 16 will be temporarily closed from 19 May, meaning that Southern will be operating from six platforms rather than the current nine. However, as a result of these changes, only one Southern service into London Bridge will be affected (the 07:25 Tonbridge/07:43 Gatwick Airport to London Bridge service will divert to Victoria). All other Southern services will remain.
There are normally four direct trains per hour with a scheduled time of 28 or 29 minutes stopping only at East Croydon. These times will be improved once the full upgrade is implemented, confirming London Bridge as the fastest gateway to Gatwick. www.southernrailway.com
Today (20 May) sees the launch of former IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani’s semi autobiographical book Shaking the Skies. It is bound to be controversial.
Bisignani became Director General and CEO of IATA following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He made it his mission to break up the rules of the game that had been drafted at the end of WWII. His achievements led to the transformation of the airline business and the travel experience.
He presents a unique analysis of what happened in the immediate aftermath of the twin towers attack and the subsequent worsening of the security checkpoint process for passengers. Bisignani championed a new risk-based precautionary idea that looks for bad people and not just bad objects. At his last IATA AGM in 2011 in Singapore, Bisignani was able to present “Checkpoint of the Future”. The concept has been accepted by the United States, the European Union and the International Civil Aviation Organization. Fully automated it will be introduced in phases beginning in 2014 and do away with the 100ml liquid rule.
Shaking the Skies is claimed to be the book for those who want to understand what makes the industry tick. www.goldmercury.org www.iata.org/whatwedo/security/pages/checkpoint-future.aspx
The Great Northern Hotel, sited at the crossover between King’s Cross and St Pancras stations, has had a ‘soft’ opening, following a comprehensive £40m rebuilding programme. Rooms are currently available from £160.
First opened in 1854 as the first of the new generation of Victorian railway hotels it offers 90 rooms, houses a ground floor bar and on the first floor the Plum + Spilt Milk restaurant, destined to become a neighbourhood dining room with views overlooking London’s newest public square, the King’s Cross square, and St Pancras International. Set in an elegant yet informal space, it has been created for people to meet, eat, work and socialise. There is an intimate mezzanine lounge overlooking the bar, bound to become popular for small business meetings.
The hotel is in some ways very much Victorian classic with an overwhelming sense of space and light offering high ceilings, sweeping staircases, large sash windows and wide curved corridors that are hallmarks of the original architecture. Every floor offers guests a complimentary pantry with a selection of home cooked snacks and drinks, daily newspapers and books. www.gnhlondon.com
Langham Place, Fifth Avenue has joined the New York City luxury hotel landscape with Langham Hospitality taking over the management of The Setai Fifth Avenue.
“We are excited that the launch of the Langham Place brand in North America is in New York City, the crossroads of the world’s business, culture and fashion industries”, says Brett Butcher, Chief Executive Officer of Langham Hospitality Group. “Langham Place, Fifth Avenue is a milestone in our global expansion in the world’s most important destinations and it will be a welcome addition to the group’s North American portfolio, which includes The Langham hotels in Pasadena (Los Angeles) and Boston, as well as Chicago and Toronto, which are both joining the Group in July 2013”.
Langham Place, Fifth Avenue boasts 214 guestrooms and suites that are among the largest in the city; a selection of well-planned spaces for executive meetings and social events; and around-the-clock services. Centrally located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 36th Street, Langham Place, Fifth Avenue provides easy access to the city’s important financial, commercial, fashion and cultural centres, and is a short walk from many major tourist and shopping attractions. It is a sister hotel to the group’s flagships property, The Langham, Langham Place in London. www.langhamhotels.com
Now owned by Electra, the major private equity investment firm, (See BTN 13 May) OAG, the aviation data specialist, has launched OAG Connections Analyser, an innovative tool that generates accurate flight connections information based on real-time data.
The first product of its kind, OAG Connections Analyser makes use of OAG’s global schedules to deliver what is claimed to be the industry’s most advanced flight connections engine. It provides the tools which analysts need to identify trends, spot commercial opportunities and monitor competitor activity. Users are able to analyse the benefits of altering existing flight schedules and explore the viability of potential new services through the creation of ‘phantom’ flights, which can be compared to existing services.
The product offers data on single and double connections while utilising Minimum Connect Times (MCT) Exception Tables. This will enable network planners, scheduling teams and aviation consultants to evaluate carrier and airport networks that involve multiple connections. Users are also expected to include airport marketing and commercial teams, tourist boards and government bodies.
In the next stage of development, low-cost carriers’ (LCC) potential connections will be added to the tool. This will provide the industry with another way of analysing the impact of LCCs and a growing trend of customers building their own connections. www.oag.com
A new name has been given to the agency which produces all UK passports – Her Majesty’s Passport Office. Formerly the Identity and Passport Service, the new name is designed to make the service more easily recognisable to British citizens at home and abroad. It marks a watershed moment in the agency’s departure from its association with the National Identity Service and ID cards.
Paul Pugh, Interim Chief Executive of the agency, said: “This new name firmly establishes Her Majesty’s Passport Office as the official government service. Our business is to issue passports to British citizens in the UK and abroad, and it is essential our name clearly reflects that.
It is also important that our customers can easily recognise official government services online and save themselves money by avoiding companies who charge for information and services which are available free or much cheaper from Her Majesty’s Passport Office”.
The Identity and Passport Service was created in 2006 by a merger of the UK Passport Service and the Home Office Identity Cards programme. It is no longer responsible for government policy on identity.
The service processes more than five million applications for passports each year. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/passports-introducing-her-majestys-passport-office
Charter airlines might not count as business travel operators but business travellers certainly use them, if only for their own family holiday.
Just like the scheduled airlines the quality of the in-flight arrangements has improved dramatically over the last few years with Thomas Cook Airlines (created in 2003) last year recruiting TV chef James Martin to oversee the on-board catering.
“My in-flight dishes reflect the passion I have for the food I create for my own restaurants, and feedback tells me they’re going down a treat, whether people are going off on holiday or returning home”, said James.
Starting from just £6 per meal, the latest in-flight menu features well-loved, traditional dishes such as slow braised beef with bourbon glaze and baby baked potatoes, breaded chicken goujons with triple cooked chips and James’ own ketchup on the children’s menu, a twice-baked cheese soufflé with roasted leeks as one of the vegetarian options and classic treacle sponge pudding and custard for dessert.
Passengers can now book in-flight dining for inbound flights even if they did not order one for their outbound flight through their Thomas Cook or Airtours holiday representative in resort. With some holidays the meal is included. www.thomascook.com/flights
Norwegian has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Virgin Atlantic allowing the hitherto low-cost airline to tap into Virgin Atlantic’s expertise on long haul operations, while Virgin Atlantic’s instructors will receive pilot training on board Norwegian’s brand new 787-8 Dreamliners. Norwegian’s first Dreamliner is due for delivery at the end of June.
“Introducing a new aircraft type to an airline is an extensive affair. It is therefore important that we learn from each other”, says Director of Flight Operations Norwegian Long Haul, Torstein Hoås.
“Virgin Atlantic is a successful long haul airline with almost 30 years of transatlantic experience. It will be very beneficial for us to receive this support. At the same time, we are looking forward to helping Virgin Atlantic introduce the 787 Dreamliner to its fleet. The cooperation will be a great advantage to both parties”, he continues.
Virgin Atlantic will be the launch customer in Europe of the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, a slightly bigger version of the 787-8 Dreamliner (as flown by LOT and in the future British Airways). In the agreement Virgin Atlantic states that it will train a number of Norwegian pilots on board its future Dreamliners. www.norwegian.com www.virgin-atlantic.com
SAS Group, in another cost cutting move, says it plans to sell 80% of its Wideroe regional airline to Norwegian interests. The Bombardier Dash 8 operator has been on the market since last year. The change of ownership will not change any commercial arrangements between the two airlines and could result at some point in the future of a total takeover.
The sale will reduce SAS debt and allow the struggling airline to concentrate on cost cutting measures and a more vigorous marketing approach. Links with Lufthansa have been dropped although some code shares remain and SAS remains part of Star Alliance.
Widero serves 41 domestic and six international destinations. www.wideroe.no/en
Alison Chambers of Emerald Media has been over to Hungary.
Over 4,000 face to face meetings, 1,100 aviation delegates, 115 airlines, 350 airports, 50 international exhibitors – last week’s annual Routes Europe gathering looked and felt more like a mini World Routes. There was an eagerness to do business in the halls of the capacious SYMA sports centre which had been converted into a Excel look alike for the three-day networking event. The vodka bar, popular in Tallinn last year, had given way to a snazzy red cappuccino and expresso bar – centrepiece of host Budapest Airport’s stand and the place to head to in the meeting breaks.
All eyes were on hosts BUD. It has had its problems (see below). Last year’s event in Tallinn had been very good. Together with Hungarian Tourism, Budapest gave us an indoor football match, a walking tour of historic Buda and Pest and a glitzy dinner in the historic old terminal one building, former home to the airport’s low-cost carriers – for the annual marketing awards.
This year Munich took the main award, a reflection of its marketing efforts. Athens was the winner in the four-20 million passenger category and in the under four million group Aberdeen, Routes Europe’s host in 2015. Turismo de Tenerife scooped the tourism marketing award. It had reason to celebrate with confirmation at the close of Routes that Vueling is to launch flights from Tenerife North to La Coruna twice weekly.
Budapest Airport, which dramatically lost its national carrier Malev in February last year, reflected on that life changing time. “We spent €100m on a new terminal (SkyCourt) and a year later our national airline went bust. Airports must be flexible today. The romantic model of the past is broken", declared Aviation Director Kam Jandu. “It really taught us to change our way of thinking. A new low-cost carrier came in and said we do not want a bridge, we do not want a bus – low-cost carriers are changing airport thinking in the way it does business". This proved to be a major theme in Routes’ Summit discussions.
Wizz Air CEO, József Váradi, a former Malév executive himself, said: “We all had a duty to work with the airport and re-establish customer confidence. The paradigm of how airlines and airports used to be set up is changing. Budapest represents those changes and this shows there is life beyond national airlines”. He added too there are actually many airlines for sale in Europe because their owners/governments simply don’t know what to do with them.
There are still some markets that are not fully recovered since Malev’s demise, said Budapest Airport CEO Jost Lammers. The goal now is to close the white spots on the map – more services from Spain, Germany, France – and New York, Toronto, Bangkok and China are on the wish list. Today, it offers 81 scheduled destinations, served by 35 airlines. In order to encourage more traffic the airport announced an incentive scheme for thin routes where airlines would qualify for a 50% reduction in charges for the first year. Subject to Hungarian CAA approval, BUD hopes to implement this in June.
Wizz Air, Hungarian centralised, is heavily focused on launching its new Dubai World Central services this autumn and is fostering ambitions to move further into East Europe. More services to Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina are on the agenda to further bolster the already strong route map. It is restricted in terms of range as it will not consider moving to bigger aircraft (as a dedicated Airbus A320 operator). There are only two genuine low-cost carriers left in Europe, said Varadi, and we are one of them. It is not doing connecting flights either. However, if passengers do want to take advantage of our low fares and fly London Luton – Budapest and then on a separate ticket to Dubai that is welcome, he said. While 15% of its business today does not have any competition he is mindful the market evolves all the time. This was the problem with SkyEurope, he opined. They didn’t see Ryanair coming.
Adapting to challenging economic conditions is exactly what SkyWork Airlines CEO, Tomislav Lang, has been doing, since he became a 40% owner in the company. Things like company cars have gone and there have been new working packages for pilots and cabin crew. Even senior management took pay cuts. It isn’t about the money, he said, it is the passion. “Our goal is to break even by the next Routes Europe”. He also hinted that a new route base to complement its Bern hub was on the cards – “and they speak German”.
Sunday’s Strategy Summit was the platform for 12 high-profile speakers from Europe. Routes chairperson Nigel Hayes asked them for their predictions over the next 12 months. Among the answers were that Berlin Brandenberg would still not be open and that Turkish Airlines would have an ownership change in the next year. (Alison’s prediction is that Richard Maslen, Editor of Routes Online, will have one, if not two people helping him next year. With his tweeting, videoing, blogging and interviewing, he was averaging three hours’ sleep).
Christian Schneider, CEO of Darwin Airline said that 44 new regional carriers started in the past five years, but 22 disappeared inside a year. There was also discussion on the rise of the Middle East carriers with references to alliances – Star, OneWorld and Skyteam blurring with Emirates, Etihad and Qatar Airways.
Francois Bouteiller, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s nasair, newly joined from Baboo, stressed: “We have to operate in a very different environment. We pay more for fuel than airlines in Europe, customers always want the best service for the lowest cost, how too can you compete on a route where Emirates is offering three A380 flights a day?”
Fernando Estrada, Strategy & Alliance Director at Vueling commented that 20% of its traffic in Barcelona is now connecting traffic and it’s still growing, but it will reach a limit. “But we won’t change our model. We are profitable on a point-to-point basis, and the moment you change that you have lost your edge”.
If Vueling is edging more to a hybrid model, so too is Germanwings – which has taken over all of Lufthansa’s short haul services outside the main hubs. How to keep Germanwings low-cost DNA while harvesting the advantages of the Lufthansa Group, that is our challenge, noted Dirk Kokott, Director of Business Development.
Vijay Poonoosamy, VP International & Public Affairs, Etihad Airways led the debate on Europe’s contentious emission trading scheme. “If the EU hadn’t stopped the clock, the emission trading scheme (ETS) have cost the aviation industry €3.5bn in 2012 and more every year after that”, he said, hitting out at the various national taxes on aviation in countries such as the UK and Germany. European Low Fares Airline Association Secretary General, John Hanlon, said that the reduced scope means that only 12.5% of European aviation emissions fall under EU ETS now.
Next year, Routes Europe will be held in Marseille (France), an airport which experienced a 13% passenger growth this year, but delegates in Budapest are already planning for Las Vegas and the 19th World Routes – 5-8th October 2013. Among the speakers are expected to be Akbar Al Baker and James Hogan. www.routesonline.com
Flight International has been on the ‘Davies’ trail too
From a recent ‘Straight and Level'
London Mayor Boris Johnson – whose pet project remains a new hub airport in the Thames estuary – recently told opponents of a third Heathrow runway that such a project would “desecrate” the capital with “hundreds of thousands, if not millions of great flying fleets of fortissimo flatulence”.
That image of large, noisy objects descending from the sky over London, often unable to land… it reminded us of something. Not sure what.