© 2022 Business Travel News Ltd.

AERBT gets ready for the holidays

AERBT has got into the holiday spirit by attending the lighting up of Norway’s traditional Christmas tree gift in London’s Trafalgar Square.  On the same theme of the holidays, Transport for London (TfL) has published details of services over the festive period.  ING Direct will sponsor free travel on New Year's Eve.  The Festive Travel Guide has full details of Tube, London Buses, Docklands Light Railway (DLR), Tramlink, London Overground and Riverboat services as well as the suspension of the Congestion Charge throughout the entire festive period, from Thursday 24 December 2009 to Friday 1 January 2010.  And as noted above AERBT takes a two week break. www.tfl.gov.uk

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Boeing counts down the Dreamliner days

BOEING is counting down the days for the 787 Dreamliner's maiden flight with the whole of the (aviation) world watching.  We are told that the static test aircraft has completed the validation of the side-of-body modification that was required and that the results should be known by the end of the week.  If all is OK a reasonably firm target date can then be made for the first flight.  The aircraft manufacturer has also announced the establishment of a second assembly facility at North Charleston, South Carolina. www.boeing.com/commercial

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Embraer gains certification

EMBRAER has received both type and production certificates from Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Authority for the Phenom 300 Very Light Jet.  This milestone comes only 12 months after the first delivery of its smaller sister the Phenom 100.  Embraer says that the new aircraft has either met or succeeded its design targets.  The Phenom 300’s maximum range, originally designed to be 1,800nm (3,334km), has been extended to 1,971nm (3,650km) with six occupants and full reserves.  Runway requirement has been reduced dramatically and the aircraft now only requires a maximum runway length of 3,138ft (as against 3,700 previously), and 2,621ft for landing.  Operations at London City Airport are now a distinct possibility.  AERBT hopes to offer an impression of the Phenom 100 in an early 2010 edition. www.embraer.com

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Gulf Air commitment

GULF AIR’S Chief Commercial Officer, Willy Boulter, has reaffirmed the airline’s commitment to Europe following the announcement of its new strategic direction as reported in AERBT Monday 30 November.  Essentially the plan is to make Gulf Air a sustainable and profitable business by 2012 with a more focussed international network and a simplified, modern fleet.  Mr Boulter explains: “Questions have been raised as to Gulf Air’s commitment to Europe under the new strategy.  Gulf Air fully intends to continue flying to all our strategic European points including  London, Frankfurt, Paris, Istanbul, Athens and Larnaca.  In the not too distant future we plan to strengthen our presence in Europe, leveraging Bahrain’s position as the financial hub of the Gulf and connecting it with leading financial centres in Europe.  Expansion into Europe becomes more viable, under the new strategy, not less.” www.gulfair.com

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Hong Kong expansion for tourism guild

THE GUILD OF TRAVEL AND TOURISM, the travel industry lobbying organisation, is to establish its first International chapter in Hong Kong with the official launch in March 2010.  The Guild was established in 1994 as a travel trade association open to membership from both individuals and corporates in the industry.  It acts as a networking resource, as well as a high-powered lobbying force for the industry and has representation in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.  The Guild says that it plans to ensure a presence at key industry trade shows including WTM (London), ITB (Germany and Asia), ILTM (Cannes) and also at PATA. www.traveltourismguild.com

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Korean Air flies the British Museum

KOREAN AIR has become the sponsor of a new handheld multimedia guide system introduced by the British Museum.  Airline President Yang Ho Cho said his own experience as a student back packing around Europe was a major reason why he said yes to the deal.  “Strangely enough I could not find Korean spoken anywhere.  The new guides cover Korean of course, and ten other languages.”  There is also children's and British sign language multimedia as well as an audio for the visually impaired.  A brief trial showed that the machines were easy to use and most informative.  Entrance to the museum is free but the guides are £4.50 to hire.  Korean will finally receive its first Airbus A380 in 12 months’ time but in a surprise announcement has also announced a five-aircraft order for the all new Boeing 747-8 becoming only the second airline, after Lufthansa, to add the advanced aircraft to its fleet. www.koreanair.com

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South Africa improvements

SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS (SAA) has introduced a new international to domestic transfer facility at O R Tambo International Airport Johannesburg.  It is situated on the ground level of the arrivals terminal just after customs and before the exit into the atrium.  With this service SAA passengers can easily re-check baggage, making progress much easier.  Also new is a much enlarged departure section of the Central Building at Cape Town Airport which triples the effective size offering now 74 shopping outlets. www.flysaa.com

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HAPPY TALK: At the Aviation Club

Monarch Managing Director Tim Jeans was the guest of honour of the Aviation Club at London’s Institute of Directors last week.  Tim is a football fan and originates from Newcastle,

“We live in the age of soccer clubs owning television  channels,” he said.

“Manchester United has MU TV”.

“Chelsea has Chelsea TV”.

“Newcastle United has the History Channel”.

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In a wide-ranging report, the Transport Select Committee (House of Commons) called on the Government to ensure that the UK's major airports, particularly Heathrow, are connected to a future high-speed rail system.  Committee Chairman, Louise Ellman MP, said:

"Aviation is important to the UK economy, both in the southeast of England and in the regions. Regional airports are important for regional economic growth and transport. Heathrow is a major European hub airport but only six UK cities have flights into it. Even with expansion, we need to improve direct access to Heathrow from the national rail network in order to maximise the economic benefits and to reduce the environmental impacts?"

The Committee concludes that the 2003 White Paper, The Future of Air Transport, continues to provide a sound basis for aviation policy but warns the Government that it must update its assessment of the economic value of aviation for the UK economy regularly and ensure that its figures are subject to independent external scrutiny.

In view of the economic benefits to the UK, the Committee endorses the Government’s support for a third runway at Heathrow, subject to the effective application of tough environmental conditions. However, it questions the need for a second runway at Stansted and asks ministers to reconsider whether Gatwick might prove to be a better location for expansion after 2019.

Stressing the need to curb pollution from aviation, the Committee calls for higher environmental standards to reduce CO2, air pollution and noise. 

With regard to carbon emissions from aviation in the UK, the Committee sets out a number of principles that it believes should be applied to future UK policy in this area, and looks forward to the Committee on Climate Change’s report (8 December) detailing how the aviation industry can sensibly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions over the coming decades.

Calling for decisive effort by Government to ensure older and noisier planes are taken out of use promptly, the Committee also asks the Government to review the adequacy of current research into the effects of noise and to revisit its impact assessment procedures and compensation arrangements.

The Committee recognises the importance of Air Passenger Duty (APD), but is concerned that, when setting the level of APD, the Government needs to be mindful of the vulnerability of the aviation industry in the current economic climate. It also needs to take account of competition from other European airports.

Looking to air travellers, MPs repeat a previous call for the ATOL levy to be increased and extended to cover all international flights and not merely package holidays. They also ask the Government to clarify how much revenue is raised from aviation taxes and to set out the basis for its claim that an additional £10bn could be raised if VAT and fuel duty were applied to aviation.

This is the full text of the report.

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Airbus to fly

AIRBUS MILITARY says that the maiden flight of its long-delayed A400M airlifter will take place “sometime this week” from the EADS Seville plant.  That is weather permitting and assuming no more technical problems get in the way.  The A400M is Europe's biggest ever defence contract, and the flight will be keenly awaited by the eight nations buying the plane: Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Spain, Turkey and United Kingdom. www.airbusmilitary.com AERBT 16 November 2009

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Cathay adds to Europe

CATHAY PACIFIC is to launch direct flights to Milan and also strengthen services to North America.  The four times weekly non-stop service will be operated by a Boeing 777-300ER in a three-class configuration.  Cathay has been flying to Rome since 1986.  In North America the airline will next summer increase services to both Los Angeles and Toronto, and with a timetable switch will now offer day or night flights across the Pacific to San Francisco. www.cathaypacific.com

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Finnair pre-flight duty free

FINNAIR has expanded its concept of pre-flight duty free orders, possibly an airline first.  Starting 12 January 2010 passengers can order cosmetics, jewellery, sweets and other gifts from a wide selection shown on the airline’s web site.  Previously pre-orders could be made for the flight towards Helsinki from 23 European cities.  Now orders are also available for flights leaving from Helsinki.  The 11 new pre-order destinations include Berlin, Copenhagen, Gothenburg, Hamburg, Kiev and Oslo. High-quality wines are also available for flights departing from Helsinki. www.finnair.com

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Hampton by Hilton UK expansion

HAMPTON BY HILTON, essentially a Hilton business traveller economy brand, is to add three UK properties in the first part of 2010.  Located in Birmingham, Braintree, and Shrewsbury each one is a conversation.  They join the recently opened Hampton by Hilton Liverpool John Lennon Airport and Corby/Kettering.  All the hotels offer standard guest rooms with king size beds.  Amenities include a 24-hour snack area featuring light entrees and sandwiches and a bar area for guests to connect after meetings.  Also on site is a fitness centre and meeting space.  Last week AERBT reported on Hampton by Hilton expanding on the continent.  

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Irish airline gets tough

AER LINGUS new CEO has made a harsh impact with the Irish airlines’ trade unions issuing a statement noting capacity reductions and "compulsory" redundancies.  This follows the breakdown of negotiations early last week.  His main wrath was clearly the Irish Airline Pilots Association who offered "only temporary savings over a short few years" and "asked for very high compensation in return."  In another move the loss making airline has applied for a UK Air Operator’s Certificate, seen by some as the first step in re-locating, on a technical basis, the entire airline in Britain.  The carrier already has substantial bases at Belfast and Gatwick. www.aerlingus.com

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New York airport taxis

NEW YORK is no different to London when it comes to the problems of unlicensed taxis (see last week’s issue).  The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ), which operates both Kennedy and Newark airports, has announced a crackdown on unlicensed taxi drivers who hustle passengers.  Recently 18 people have been charged with illegal solicitation of ground transportation.  Arrivals should note that the rules are the same as for most airports.  Go to the official taxi line and make sure the driver switches on the meter.  The Taxi & Limousine Commission is conducting a flat fare programme for trips between (to and from) Manhattan and JFK International Airport with a charge of US$45 plus any tolls.  The meter will not be turned on and the night surcharge will not be added. www.jfk-airport.net/taxi.html

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Southampton bridge opens

SOUTHAMPTON AIRPORT’S much requested passenger footbridge to the northbound tracks of the adjoining Parkway station was finally opened last week.  The existing bridge at the other end of the platform served the long gone original terminal.  The new link includes lifts making it much easier for those passengers travelling with luggage or with young children, and providing much needed access for disabled passengers to get from one side of the station to the other.  Southampton Parkway is on the main line from Waterloo with the fastest train just 1hr 6mins. www.southamptonairport.com

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ON THE SOAPBOX: David Radcliffe is the CEO of Hogg Robinson Group (HRG)

David Radcliffe is the CEO of Hogg Robinson Group (HRG), one of the leading international corporate travel services companies operating in nearly 120 countries around the world.  HRG’s client base spans a broad range of industry sectors including: automotive, banking and finance, manufacturing, oil and gas, pharmaceutical and telecoms.  Mr Radcliffe has worked in the business travel sector for over 30 years, and is a respected and popular figure in the industry.

“2009 has been a challenging year for the travel industry and business travel has been no exception to the rule.  The global economic crisis has forced companies to rethink the way they travel, by questioning the need to travel and by keeping a close eye on budgets.

Unlike previous recessions, this one has been markedly different.  Whereas other crises have been consumer oriented, what we are now facing is something that has its roots in the financial systems and is affecting whole corporations.  We don’t expect the recovery to be quick and it may not be painless, but levels will return – the unknowns include when, how and in what shape.

The way companies have been purchasing business travel has changed over the past year, with a sharp refocus on value.  Corporates want to see their money go further.  During the recession we have seen companies downgrading from Business Class to Economy, particularly on short haul flights, and advanced bookings and pre-trip approvals have also become commonplace, as companies look to gain better visibility of their travel spend.  This has started to change, especially in the Far East where the economy is showing small signs of recovery and restrictions on travel have started to ease.  In Europe and the US the picture is mixed and the future remains difficult to predict.

We expect some of the fiscal discipline and justification of travel to continue once the economy picks up.  It is good business sense to question the value of travel.  However, we strongly believe that there will always be a need for face-to-face meetings.  Human beings need to meet each other to do business, a handshake after all goes a long way.  Because the nature of corporate travel has changed, the use of meeting technology such as video conferencing will continue to have a place in the mix of doing business.

The biggest challenge for corporates over the next four to five years will be to maximise the benefits of travel expenditure.  As the economy emerges from the recession, the need to travel will increase as new business opportunities arise.  The challenge lies in managing travel expenditure to generate the most value and ensuring there are policies and mechanisms in place to facilitate this process.  Travel Management Companies play an important role in this scenario, by ensuring companies can choose from the best available fares to suit their travel needs.”

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Bahrain airshow only weeks away

BAHRAIN’S inaugural international airshow (BIAS 2010) is now only just over six weeks away with the site build up very much under way.  Farnborough International, joint organisers of the event, say that stand space is virtually sold out with a very high quality of exhibitors.  Participants include, among others: Airbus, BAE Systems, Blenheim Capital Partners, Boeing, Cessna, DHL, Gulf Air, Lockheed Martin and Rolls Royce plus the UKTI Defence & Security Organisation (DSO) who will be hosting an outdoor demonstration area displaying products and equipment and featuring the groundbreaking attraction of UAV flying displays.  BIAS 2010 - which is being held under Royal patronage - will be one of a kind in the aerospace events calendar.  Comprising only 40 chalets and no exhibitions halls, companies taking part will be afforded tailor-made opportunities to network with highly important delegations and procurement executives from the industry and associated industries.  Airshow trade tickets are available at US$30 each, per day. www.bahraininternationalairshow.com

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easyJet and luggage

EASYJET, in what could be termed a rebuke to one of its main rivals, has launched an online check-in facility for passengers with hold baggage.  The new service enables passengers to visit the easyJet online site, print out a boarding card and when arriving at the airport simply take their cases to the bag drop.  Whilst passengers are likely to find online check-in a much more convenient and more attractive process, the airline will continue to offer the standard check-in desk facility at the airport.  There will be no charge for either online check-in/bag drop or the existing airport check-in process.  The facility will be available straight away at 94 of easyJet’s 112 departure points with the remaining to follow over time. www.easyjet.com

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Gatwick formally gets a new owner

GLOBAL INFRASTRUCTURE PARTNERS (GIP), the new owners of Gatwick Airport, in formally taking over from BAA have promised to kick-start a new era of competition between London’s airports.  Sir David Rowlands, Chairman, said: “Gatwick is now a major independent airport company and from today, for the first time ever, it is competing directly with Heathrow, Stansted and Luton, as well as with our other airport, London City, in a competitive London airports market.  Gatwick will be competing vigorously against all London airports for point-to-point, short haul and long haul routes and passengers.  Our plan is to gain a competitive edge by modernising Gatwick, providing more efficient operations for airlines and a better experience for passengers and to do this as cost effectively as possible.  We intend Gatwick to become the airport of choice for airlines and passengers in our target market.”  GIP also announced the appointment of Stewart Wingate as Gatwick Chief Executive Officer.  Mr Wingate was previously Managing Director at Stansted, CEO at Budapest Airport and a former General Manager at Black & Decker. www.gatwickairport.com

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Heathrow early risers

HEATHROW is now accessible even earlier by public transport following an initiative between BAA, Transport for London (TfL), the London Borough of Hillingdon and British Airways.  The four organisations are funding timetable changes to various bus routes so that they start up to an hour and a half earlier, getting both airport workers and passengers to Heathrow for around 04:00.  Routes 423 (Hounslow to Terminal 5 via Hatton Cross), 482 (Southall to Terminal 5 via Hounslow West and Terminal 4), 490 (Richmond to Terminal 5 via Twickenham, Feltham and Terminal 4) and 555 (Shepperton to Heathrow Central Bus Station via Sunbury, Ashford and Terminal 4) all now leave their starting points at around 03:20 each morning.  Routes 350 (Hayes to Terminal 5 via Stockley Park and West Drayton) will join the early starters on 19 December.  In addition to the new earlier buses, there are already several TfL bus services running 24 hours a day.  These are the 105, 111, 140 and 285.  Night bus N9 also runs from Central London to the airport from around midnight to 06:30. www.heathrowairport.com/commuter

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Japan Air Lines ownership

JAPAN AIR LINES might be losing money but its ownership is a very vital one as far as the world’s airlines are concerned.  Currently it is a member of oneworld and the members would like it to stay that way.  Skyteam, led by Delta and Air France, and having just lost Continental, would like to add the carrier and with it a major foothold in the Japanese market.  With American Airlines leading oneworld has put together a rescue package which claims to be worth US$1.8bn of investment and additional revenue.  Also involved is the TPG investment group.  Oneworld also points out that unravelling the complex inter-airline associations, typically lounge and travel card arrangements, would be very expensive and non-productive. www.jal.com

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Paddington - Heathrow check-in


PADDINGTON STATION’S Heathrow check-in facility is to return after being dropped as a cost cutting exercise by British Airways.  This time however the service will use automated common use self-service machines.  It is the first time these machines have been used at a UK railway station with the next step to have them installed on board the trains, particularly suited to the Heathrow Express and its tunnel friendly internet facility.  Delta Air Lines, Iberia and United Airlines are initially on the system and will be followed at a later date by British Airways, Finnair and Virgin Atlantic.  Departure display boards are also being introduced, which will also hopefully eradicate any confusion regarding which airport terminal to go to. www.baa.com

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ON TOUR: Tenerife

Thirty years ago Tenerife, and indeed all the Canary Islands, were the popular winter sunshine holiday destinations from the United Kingdom.  Just four hours flying time from London they offered a friendly climate and inexpensive Spanish pesetas.

The cheap dollar and the emergence of cost effective long range aircraft and aggressive marketing by worldwide competition has intervened over the years.  However Tenerife proved resilient, 1.8m Brits visiting the island in 2008. 

In recent years the cruise ship market has expanded with over 300 ships arriving last year.  Tenerife has the infrastructure to accommodate the surge of often 10,000 people arriving in a single day when four large ships dock within an hour of each other at Santa Cruz.  Fortunately the once rather drab port city is now much revitalised as a serious holiday destination.

Tenerife says that the current grim economic situation has not influenced this market, the rising air costs working in its favour, and with a capacity to adjust to the high price of the Euro for those from the UK.  VAT is 5% helps and the shops are keen to move on electronic goods even if the margins are low.  However 90% of the agricultural requirements are imported so do not expect bargains when it comes to meal times, except of course for fish. 

Tenerife’s greatest virtue is the sunshine.  The temperature never falls much below 15°C and in the peak of the summer 30°C is seldom reached.  The wettest month is December, with perhaps 4/5 days of rain but in June, July and August you will not require inclement weather protection.

For 2010 there are direct non-stop flights from most British airports with the notable exception of Heathrow, including easyJet, Flyglobespan, Jet2, Monarch, Ryanair and Thomsonfly.  The island is served by two airports, aptly named Tenerife North (TFN) and Tenerife South (TFS).  The old airport, TFN, these days serves the capital Santa Cruz, the old government centre of La Laguna, and the resort of Puerto de la Cruz.  Iberia and Binter Canarias offer flights from the modernised airport and re-built terminal.  TFS, 40 miles to the south, was opened in 1978 and is about to be brought up to date as regards to public facilities, but not before time.  Its introduction started off a building boom in the south of the island, Las Americas expanding significantly from a small sleepy resort area to today’s holiday extravaganza, nearby Los Cristianos, and Los Gigantes.

Hire a car when on the island.  It is not expensive.  At the end of the day you can’t go far, typically Playa De Los Cristianos to TFN is only 50 miles, and petrol is cheaper than in the UK.  However if you are staying in one of the towns the public transport system is good and pensioners are entitled to free travel.  There is an excellent tram system linking Santa Cruz and La Laguna, which is a World Heritage site.

Conferences, business events and incentive marketing opportunities are particular targets of the island’s tourism industry typified by its choice as the ABTA destination for the 2007 convention.  Collectively called the meetings and incentive market (MICE) Tenerife now has a great deal to offer, in particular modern conference facilities and some of the highest quality hotels and apartments in Europe.  It claims to have more five-star hotels than either Barcelona or Madrid and a more temperate all-year-round climate than either of the Spanish cities.  The island also has eight golf courses.

In terms of facilities the new, 2004, Tenerife Auditorium, for which the Sydney Opera House must take credit for the external design, was created by the famous Spanish architect and Engineer Santiago Calatrava.  Located on the seafront in the centre of Santa Cruz its curved contours are impressive.  The main hall, with its steeply raked seating, has accommodation for 1,658, whilst downstairs the Chamber Music Hall seats 428.  There are ten breakout rooms of various sizes.  The whole complex overlooks the spectacular lido Parque Maritimo with its seawater swimming pools built around an ancient fort.  A nice touch is the decorative painting of the local gasworks which loom in the background.  Much better than drab grey.  The Auditorium offers a full year round programme of musical and stage events including Mamma Mia which is on over the New Year holiday period.

Other MICE facilities include the avant garde Tenerife South Convention Centre with accommodation for up to 2,500, the International Trade Fairs and Congress Centre with nearly 15,000 sq metres of exhibition space; the Congress Centre of Puerto de La Cruz set in a sub-tropical garden with space in the main conference hall for 1,700 and finally the Arona Pyramid Convention Centre set in the luxurious Mare Nostrum resort, suitable for up to 2,000 delegates.  As our picture shows the main theatre has a 350m stage which opens up to views of the stunning Roman pool complex under a star studded sky.

Tenerife's central mountain, Mt Teide, stands at 12,200ft, and it is the highest in Spain.  A cable-car ride to the summit offers unrivalled views of the lunar-like landscape of the volcanic slopes.  The view from its peak on one of the frequent crystal clear days is simply breathtaking.  If you decide to make the trip take some warm clothing with.  It can be very cold 10,000ft above sea level in a rarefied atmosphere.

Tenerife really does have something for everyone.  Many British retirees have settled on the island and find the pace of life perfect (and English spoken everywhere).  For the little ones there are safe beaches and some outstanding attractions highlighted by the AquaLand Water Park and Loro Parque.


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