9 DECEMBER 2019

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London City Airport tunnel

Access to London City Airport is on the way to being improved after Transport for London (TfL) finalised the contract for the controversial Silvertown Tunnel project under the Thames between the Royal Docks and Greenwich.

Falling within the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ), the £1bn structure (below) is designed to ease congestion around the nearby Blackwall Tunnel. Work is expected to be finished in 2025.

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A reminder that next Monday (16 December) Business Travel News will again be running its hugely popular end-of-year quiz. It will stay live until the closing date for entries, Friday 3 January 2020.

This year’s quiz is again supported by easyJet plus Gatwick Airport and there will also be supplementary prizes. Heathrow Express has also come in with Business First tickets. Rod Simpson of Air-Britain is again the quizmaster.

To enter, you must be a registered with BTN. Subscribe here for free by entering your email address, which we use only for the weekly BTN newsletter and do not pass on to third parties. 

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SOAPBOX SPECIAL: Commercial flights at RAF Northolt

Last week BTN highlighted the recent and controversial reopening of RAF Northolt. ‘Controversial’ because the airport accepted commercial flights on 11 November following a £23m runway renovation without carrying out the necessary regulatory assessments and without consulting local residents – conditions many other commercial airports would have to meet.

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Aviation Club moves to the RAC

Speaking to a packed lunch last Thursday (5 December) at the Institute of Directors, Aviation Club UK chairman Karl Brünjes announced the club was literally moving down the road to a new home at the RAC. Guest of honour for the lunch was Rolls-Royce CEO Warren East (see Rolls-Royce and the Trent 1000 in this issue)

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Brandenburg opening date maybe

After almost 14 years of construction and delays, the new Berlin Brandenburg Airport was reported last week to be on track to open 10 years late at the end of October next year, the start of airlines' winter season.

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Branson to keep control of Virgin

Transatlantic expansion plans by Air France-KLM in partnership with Virgin Arantic and Delta are still on track, the group said on Friday, despite Virgin Atlantic chairman Richard Branson’s decision not to sell part of his stake in his airline to it as part of a joint-venture (JV) deal.

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EasyJet relaunches holiday arm

A choice of more than 5,000 hotels across 100-plus destinations and more than 330 aircraft flying up to 670 routes a day to beach and city locations are features of easyJet’s holidays programme which the airline has just relaunched.

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Hong Kong Airlines back from the brink

Another aviation near-collapse was averted last week after Hong Kong Airlines met a government deadline to raise new funds or risk losing its licence to fly. Local media said on Saturday the carrier had secured the investment in time to head off the sanctions.

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Manchester Airport new-look preview

A first look inside the new terminal building set to open next summer was unveiled last week by Manchester Airport as it revealed progress to date on its £1bn transformation and what facilities passengers can expect.

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Norwegian granted Heathrow slots

In a surprise decision, Norwegian Air last week was granted take-off and landing slots at Heathrow, giving it a foothold to launch low-fare long-haul services in competition with British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, among others.

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Rolls-Royce and the Trent 1000

Members and guests of the Aviation Club were given a no-holds-barred account of Rolls-Royce’s problems with the Trent 1000 engine last week with the manufacturer’s CEO Warren East appearing as guest speaker at the sold-out December lunch.

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SAA given cash lifeline

Hopes of saving South African Airways from possible collapse rose slightly last week after the carrier was given a lifeline with a rescue plan which saw a cash injection of R4bn (about £207m) from the South African government and existing lenders.

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ON TOUR: BTN goes on Air Force One

Air Force One is a flying White House which could become the command centre of the United States in a serious emergency situation.

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AND FINALLY: Au revoir Virgin Trains

This week, AND FINALLY means what it says – it is the final farewell to Virgin Trains, which handed over the West Coast intercity route to First Trenitalia yesterday, 8 December.

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Aspire Lounge opens at Eindhoven

Swissport International is further expanding its lounge business in Europe with the opening of a new Aspire facility at Eindhoven, its third opening in the past three months after Gatwick South and Edinburgh.

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Aston Martin Concorde edition

Fans of Concorde and fast cars – and with £321,350 to spare – can now indulge both passions by putting in an order for Aston Martin’s latest creation, the DBS Superleggera Concorde Edition, produced in partnership with British Airways.

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BA moves forward on accessibility

The Valuable 500, a global movement to make accessibility a business priority, gained a powerful new backer last week after British Airways joined the organisation and pledged its commitment to passengers who need extra help when travelling.

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Bournemouth West Cliff unveils new look

Results of a major £1.4m refurbishment which has transformed the reception area, bar, lounge, restaurant and indoor swimming pool have been unveiled by Bournemouth’s West Cliff spa hotel.

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Brooklyn comes to Manchester

A new design-led place to stay that draws inspiration from one of New York’s best-known boroughs is set to open in the heart of Manchester in two months’ time in the shape of the 189-room Hotel Brooklyn.

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Grosvenor reopens as an Amba

Fresh from a multi-million pound refurbishment, London’s historic Grosvenor Hotel in Buckingham Palace Road will open its doors tomorrow, 10 December, as the all-new 4-star Amba Hotel Grosvenor.

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Hyatt luxury brands to the fore

An ambitious programme of more than 20 new luxury hotels and resorts to be opened worldwide by the end of 2020 was announced last week by Hyatt Hotels, covering six brands.

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New CEO as United picks A321

Coinciding with news of a change in leadership and in a blow to Boeing, United Airlines announced last week it was “setting a course for the future” with an order for 50 Airbus A321XLRs, which would "improve operational efficiency and reduce environmental impact".

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Qantas adds to First Lounge portfolio

Singapore’s Changi Airport last week became the home to a Qantas First Lounge, a luxury space spread over 1,000sq m which will operate in tandem with the airline’s existing International Business Lounge.

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SAS reveals routes for A350

Another new Airbus A350-900 takes to the skies in a few weeks with Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) introducing the first of eight of the aircraft it has on order to its Copenhagen – Chicago route on 28 January.

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