5 APRIL 2010

YOUR WORDS


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A380 for Manchester

MANCHESTER AIRPORT will begin Airbus A380 services when Emirates Airlines replaces the Boeing 777 with the new superjumbo from 1 September.  The airport is the first regional airport in the world to accept the A380 and will be the most northerly point for Emirates Airlines A380 services.  The aircraft used for the flights includes a shower unit for First Class passengers, the upper deck given over entirely to premium class passengers.  Last year Emirates opened its own lounge at the airport, virtually a mirror image of the facility it is introducing at all the points around the globe served by the 517-passenger aeroplane. www.emirates.com

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BA and Iberia. What happens next?

BRITISH AIRWAYS AND IBERIA have failed to meet their own self-imposed target date for the proposed merger.  The Iberia board was supposed sign it off last week, was making the right noises, but for whatever reason postponed any action.  BA has other matters on its mind but a spokesperson told Dow Jones the delay "is due to technical issues that need to be resolved and we anticipate that the agreement will be signed in due course."  Interestingly the spokesperson added that those issues are not related to BA's pension fund deficit.  The plan must be presented to the UK Pensions Regulator by June 30.  Shareholder approval is also required. www.ba.com www.iberia.com

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Etihad goes even further East

ETIHAD AIRWAYS, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), has commenced non-stop flights from its home base in Abu Dhabi to Tokyo, a parallel service to that offered by Emirates, who fly from Dubai, just 70 miles along the fine dual carriageway costal road.  Etihad will operate five non-stop flights per week to Tokyo, in addition to the services it offers to Nagoya.  The services will be operated by three-class Airbus A330-200 aircraft and will feature in-flight services dedicated to the Japanese market, including a tailored menu, local in-flight entertainment content and cabin crew consisting of a number of Japanese speakers and nationals.  Etihad's Tokyo services follow the commencement of the airline's flights to Nagoya in February this year and a code-share agreement ANA. www.etihadairways.com

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Grand Hyatt Santiago re-opens

SANTIAGO GRAND HYATT, on the outskirts of the city in a quiet residential area, has resumed business after being inspected by structural engineers following the 27 February earthquake.  The engineers have passed the hotel’s structural integrity and all rooms, services, restaurants and spa are now available to guests.  The nearby Santiago International Airport suffered internal and external damage.  Essential repairs have been completed and the airport is once again accepting international and domestic flights.  The port of Valparaiso, a popular cruising terminal, is about 80 miles away down a fine dual carriageway. www.santiago.grand.hyatt.com

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KLM gets new uniform

KLM, now a partnership with Air France, is going its own way as far as uniforms are concerned.  Involving some 11,000 female cabin attendants, ground staff and pilots the uniform is being quickly rolled out.  "It's great to see the wonderful outfit that has been created.  I hope it will be worn with pride," said  KLM President & CEO Peter Hartman.  The design is completely new, but the uniform is still the same KLM blue originally introduced in 1971.  "By introducing this new uniform in these challenging times, we underscore our faith in the KLM brand," said Mr Hartman.  The uniform was designed by Dutch couturier Mart Visser. www.klm.com

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OAG April figures

OAG (Official Airline Guide) scheduled database indicates that airlines worldwide will operate 4% more flights in April 2010 as compared to April 2009 with seats increasing by 6% as airlines ground more narrow bodies and A380s are introduced.  However North America, the largest market by far, continues a worrying declining trend and remains the only major region to have negative growth.  Frequency and capacity have reduced by 3% and 2% respectively.  Flights to and from US/Canada have increased marginally by 1% and offered seats by 2%.  The number of flights and seat capacity within Middle East is scheduled to rise by 13% and 15% respectively but this represents 45,000 flights, a token number compared with the 2.5m in North America.  As compared to April 2009, flight operations within Europe have increased by 13,098 flights to 562,304, an increase of 2%.  All these figures include non-IATA budget airlines. www.oag.com

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Qatar to South America

QATAR AIRWAYS is to introduce non-stop daily flights from Doha to Sao Paulo (and onwards to Buenos Aires) from 24 June.  With an actual flight time of between 12 and 13 hours this is not the airline’s longest sector, Doha – Houston scheduled 16 hours 20 minutes taking the record.  A pair of brand new Boeing 777-200 LR aircraft will be used on the service kitted out with 42 lay flat Business Class seats (2+2+2) and 217 Economy (3+3+3).  The flights will offer convenient connections from key markets across Asia and the Gulf to South America.  They signal the completion of a busy period for the airline with new services introduced to Bengaluru (Bangalore) and Copenhagen very recently, Ankara today (5 April); Tokyo on 26 April; and Barcelona from 7 June. www.qatarairways.com

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HAPPY TALK: The helicopter ride

Morris and his wife, Esther went to the State Fair every year.
 
Every year, Morris would say,
 
"Esther, I'd like to ride in that helicopter."
 
Esther always replied,
 
"I know Morris, but that helicopter ride is 50 dollars and 50 dollars is 50 dollars."
 
A few years later, Esther and Morris went to the fair.
 
Morris said, "Esther, I'm 85 years old.  If I don't ride that helicopter now, I might never get another chance."
 
Esther replied, "Morris, that helicopter is 50 dollars and 50 dollars is 50 dollars."
 
The pilot overheard the couple. He said,
 
"Folks, I'll make you a deal.  I'll take the both of you for a ride if you can stay quiet for the entire ride and not say a word,
 
I won't charge you! But if you say one word it's 50 dollars
 
Morris and Esther agreed --- and up they went.
 
The pilot did all kinds of fancy manoeuvres.
 
But not a word was heard.
 
He did his daredevil tricks over and over again,
 
But still not a word.
 
When they landed, the pilot turned to Morris.
 
He said, "By golly, I did everything i could to get you to yell out, but you didn't. I'm impressed!"
 
Morris replied, "Well, I was going to say something when Esther fell out but 50 dollars is 50 dollars."

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ON THE SOAPBOX: John McCulloch, Managing Partner, oneworld alliance

John McCulloch has been Managing Partner oneworld alliance since 2003 and was previously Vice-President Marketing.  He is based in Vancouver (Canada) where global headquarters was established when the alliance was created in June 2000.  He began his airline career with Cathay Pacific, covering roles in marketing, sales, country management, distribution, yield management, operations and technology, living and working in most countries in Asia in a five-year period.  Before joining oneworld, he worked for HSBC, one of the world's largest financial institutions.  As its Head of Group Marketing, based in London, he was responsible for implementing its re-branding in 1999/2000.  He speaks intermediate Japanese and basic Bahasa Indonesia and is an active sportsman and lover of the outdoors.  He is married to Yuko, a Japanese national, and has three children.

"Someone once said a week is a long time in politics.  Today, a year in the airline alliance business seems like an era.

This time 12 months ago, oneworld was celebrating its 10th birthday.  As the Chief Executives of our member airlines gathered on a chilly Madrid spring morning to mark our first decade, none of us could have imagined the pace of change we would face in the year ahead.

Since then, we have added one more leading airline, signed two more significant recruits, progressed membership negotiations with further key candidate carriers, fought a fiercesome defence to retain one of our lynchpin members and seen the biggest progress in our history in deepening links between our existing partners.

We’ve also completed our biggest yet airport co-location project, bringing all our on-line airlines from across all five passenger terminals at our largest European hub, London Heathrow, into just two.  We have increased our lead too in offering the widest range of alliance consumer fares and taken other important steps in broadening our customer offering.

We’ve watched as our competitors too have undergone key developments also, including the addition – and loss – of major members.

Meantime, our industry has confronted the worst recession any of us have experienced in our lifetimes.

As if all that was not enough, our oneworld’s members have rallied round as one of them, LAN, has had an earthquake close its main hub, Santiago, for several days, another, British Airways, has faced its first strike in something like 15 years and the alliance has seen its first carrier enter court-supervised restructuring, in JAL. 

Momentous times then for oneworld, its member airlines and the airline alliance sector in general.

When oneworld first took off in 1999, our line-up featured American Airlines, British Airways, Cathay Pacific and Qantas.  In the next decade, we added Finnair, Iberia, Japan Airlines, LAN, Malév Hungarian Airlines and Royal Jordanian, along with some important affiliates, like Dragonair, LAN Argentina, LAN Ecuador and LAN Peru.

We believe oneworld today features the leading quality carriers from each region.  And quality of complementary networks is the main driver behind our membership expansion.

We already offer the world’s most global network as the only alliance with member airlines from every continent bar Antarctica and the only alliance with partners based in the Americas south of Mexico, in Australia or in Asia’s Middle East.

But as the world – and our main target market, the frequent international business traveller – become increasingly global and as emerging economies gain in importance, there are some key strategic regions where we have wanted to increase our network presence.

So in November we welcomed Mexico and Central America’s leading carrier Mexicana on board as our 11th member, along with its regional affiliates MexicanaClick and MexicanaLink.

Later this year, we will add Russia’s leading domestic operator S7 Airlines to our fold.  We have also just signed Kingfisher Airlines, India’s biggest airline – and the country’s only five-star carrier, as rated by the SkyTrax quality research organization.

As I write, we are in a three-way tussle with our competitors to recruit the only major China Mainland airline not currently part of an alliance, China Eastern, based in the country’s commercial capital, Shanghai.

We are also in membership talks with other leading airlines based in a number of other parts of the world.

In February, oneworld was successful in retaining Japan Airlines, still Asia-Pacific’s leading carrier despite the financial turmoil it has been undergoing.  JAL had been reviewing its alliance strategy as part of its overall restructuring programme – with SkyTeam mounting an aggressive play to lure it away from oneworld.

Within days of it reaffirming its oneworld membership, it had filed with American Airlines for anti-trust immunity for a joint business agreement across the Pacific.  Similar plans are afoot with British Airways between Japan and Europe.

Elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, the Australian competition authorities have given a tentative go ahead for BA and Qantas to continue with their joint business agreement on the kangaroo route between Australia and Europe.

And finally, after almost 15 years of trying, American Airlines and British Airways look set to gain regulatory approval on both sides of the Atlantic, with Iberia and their other oneworld transatlantic partners, for anti-trust immunity (ATI), enabling them to compete on more equal terms with their competitors in SkyTeam and Star who have enjoyed ATI for many years despite having a far bigger presence at their own European hubs than their oneworld counterparts have at theirs.

For us, the key aim of all this membership activity is simple – to establish oneworld firmly as the premier airline alliance, delivering both our customers and members with services and benefits beyond the reach of any individual airline and making it easier and more rewarding to reach more places more easily on a quality network of some of the best brands in the business.

From a standing start a decade ago, the three global airline alliances now account for two-thirds of airline industry’s total capacity.  Alliances are now a critical element of virtually every network carrier’s strategic armoury.

Against that background, we do not necessarily aspire for oneworld to be the biggest – but to be the best".

John McCulloch

www.oneworld.com

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Aer Lingus continued "uncertainty"

AER LINGUS has beaten  its internal targets for the past three months, but is still unable to give full-year earnings guidance amid continued "uncertainty" over bookings later in the year.  The comment came as the Irish flag carrier presented its 2009 results.  The top-line figures were released by the accountants two weeks previously but the company delayed its presentation until all the unions signed up to a crucial cost-cutting deal.  New Chief Executive Christoph Mueller hinted at a better start to 2010, noting that trading so far this year was beating the 2009 numbers.  Last years loss was €130m was against €110 for 2008. The gamble of basing five aircraft at Gatwick clearly did not come off, the number reduced to three. www.aerlingus.com

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Brooklands in money raising mood

BROOKLANDS, the spiritual home of motoring racing, is having a bit of a whip around to raise funds.  Called Banking on Brooklands the scheme is to digitally divide up the famous members’ banking into 33 strips, giving a total of 2,000 virtual squares.  Priced at £95 upwards they are named after some of the greats of motor racing including John Cobb, Sir Malcolm Campbell and Kay Petre who managed in 1935 to get around the banked circuit at 135 mph in a narrow tyred Delage.  Brooklands is a fantastic place to visit, the home of Vickers Aircraft, with aeroplanes galore including Concorde, an amazing gathering of road and racing cars, and a terrific bicycle collection as well.  Just off the M25, the plan is to add 25% more visitors this year from the 110,000 in 2009.  The website is unusual and worth looking at. www.bankingonbrooklands.co.uk

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European flights banned

BANNED from Europe are all airlines from the Philippines and Sudan following a new blacklist issued by the European Union (EU).  All carriers from 17 countries, with 278 companies in total, are now excluded.  Most of the carriers targeted operate out of Africa.  "We are ready to support countries that need to build up technical and administrative capacity to guarantee the necessary standards in civil aviation.  But we cannot accept that airlines fly into the EU if they do not fully comply with international safety standards," said Commission Vice President Siim Kallas, responsible for transport.  The commission warned Albania's air carriers to improve safety urgently, and said it was following closely the performance of Egyptian air carriers.  It also changed an operating ban into restriction on airlines from Angola and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).  The Angolan flag carrier, TAAG Angola, is allowed back under certain strict conditions with specific aircraft. www.ec.europa.eu/transport/air-ban/list_en.htm

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IATA reports strong growth in February 2010

IATA has reported that February 2010 international scheduled air traffic showed an increase in demand over the same month in 2009. Compared to February 2009 passenger demand was up 9.5% and cargo up 26.5%. According to IATA these are strong gains but February 2009 was the low point for passenger traffic during the global economic recession. To return to pre-crisis levels passenger demand must rise another 1.4% and cargo demand another 3%. Giovanni Bisignati, Director General and CEO of IATA said that it is moving in the right direction and that in two or three months the industry should be back at pre-recession traffic levels. He warned that this is still not a full recovery and that the task ahead is to adjust for the two years of lost growth. www.iata.org

 

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Middle East business aviation show

DUBAI will again host the Middle East Business Aviation biennial airshow, this year from 7 to 9 December.  Two years ago it attracted some 250 exhibitors from 30 countries and over 5,500 visitors, with more than US$1.5bn worth of deals claimed to be struck.  The fourth running of the series in December promises an increase in exhibitor numbers to some 350, judging by an already strong interest in the event among business aviation companies, and commitments to date.  First-time exhibitors include AN Aviation, Honeywell and Rizon Jet, which are joining returning organisations such as Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), Al Jaber Aviation, Jet Aviation and Sikorsky.  Up to 85 business aircraft will be displayed on the outdoor static aircraft park, which will also feature more company pavilions than in previous shows. www.meba.aero

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On-board immigration

GARUDA, Indonesia’s national carrier, will introduce an ‘Immigration on-Board’ service on the new Amsterdam – Dubai – Jakarta route starting 2 June 2010.  This initiative will allow passengers entering Indonesia to have their travel documents processed on-board, eliminating the need to queue at immigration counters upon arrival.  Customers will be able to purchase ‘Visa on Arrival’ vouchers available at Garuda Indonesia check-in counters at both airports.  During the flight, immigration officers on the aircraft will conduct passport checks and issue ‘Visa on Arrival’ and a card that must be returned to ground immigration officers before exiting the airport.  First introduced on the Tokyo – Denpasar – Jakarta route in February 2010, it was very well received by passengers.  With the start of ‘Immigration on-Board’, foreign travellers can save up to two hours during peak times. www.garuda-indonesia.com

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Virgin does well

VIRGIN ATLANTIC has reported a 9% increase in passengers per flight since British Airways first announced strike action back in November.  The fiercely independent carrier only flies long haul, a market BA has tried to protect during its conflict with the cabin staff union.  “This year we have carried about 14% more Upper Class passengers on each flight than we did over the equivalent in 2008,” a Virgin spokesperson said.  “Some routes, like New York, have been an even more impressive with a 38% rise in Upper Class passengers.”  March is traditionally a time of the year when traffic picks up from the weak January/February period, although the date of Easter can distort the figures.  As already noted by AERBT bmi have been offering BA gold and silver card holders complementary use of their lounges, and also running newspaper adverts. www.virgin-atlantic.com www.flybmi.com

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Just a short note to remind readers that the Farnborough International Airshow is only four months away and runs from Monday 19 July until Sun 26 July, the last weekend and the Friday public days.

There is still some exhibition space available but this is limited.  To highlight the very latest opportunities available is an ‘Exhibitor Special’ version of the show's FIRST magazine. Simply click below to view the excellent packages.

Amanda Stainer
Exhibitions and Events Director
Farnborough International Ltd

VIEW MAGAZINE : http://cde.cerosmedia.com/1S4baa4de5d7072731.cde

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Australia gains more Boeings

VIRGIN BLUE, Australia’s second largest airline, has confirmed an order for 50 Boeing 737-800s, 25 options and future purchase rights for a further 30 aircraft.  Delivery is scheduled from 2011 to 2017.  It is probably the largest aircraft order in the last couple of years and a real fillip for Boeing.  The order also marks the arrival of John Borghetti as Chief Executive, a Qantas veteran.  Virgin Blue has half-year net profits of A$62.5m, Qantas only making A$58m.  The airline operates a two-class system.  V Australia is a sister company with long haul routes to the USA and South Africa. www.virginblue.com.au www.vaustralia.com.au

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Cairo hotel

KEMPINSKI is shortly to open its brand new Nile Hotel.  It is located at the heart of Cairo, in the lively and prestigious Garden City district and on the banks of the River Nile.  The 191-room, low rise, boutique property has been designed by world-renowned French architect Pierre Yves Rochon, and offers Egyptian styling and state-of-the-art technology.  Each suite has a private balcony overlooking the Nile.  Interestingly the Blue Restaurant and Grill, the hotel’s signature international restaurant, offers an unique feature in that there is no official set menu – all dishes are made to order.  Guests are given a list of the fresh produce sourced that day and then work with the chef to create their perfect meal.  Turkish, Lebanese or truly local cuisine can be sampled at Osmanly, the hotel’s Ottoman restaurant which is fully equipped with a traditional Egyptian bread oven and show kitchen. www.kempinski.com/en/cairo

 

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Farnborough hotel

FARNBOROUGH INTERNATIONAL AIRSHOW takes place at the end of July (see above) and already the momentum is building up.  New for the 2008 event, the Aviator Hotel, virtually on the site and owned by Farnborough operator TAG Group, is seizing the opportunity to offer innovative corporate hospitality packages.  “A chalet without a chalet,” is how General Manager Michael Helling is describing what they have on offer, pointing out that the hotel is virtually on the site and is a discreet, comfortable place where business can be discussed, quietly, away from prying eyes.  “Not all companies or individuals want to go to the expense of a chalet or a stand for the whole seven-day show,” he said.  “Aviator’s packages have been designed to offer all the exclusivity of a hospitality chalet without the cost.”  He pointed out that from the terrace clients can watch the air display too.  Both high powered visitors and crew from the executive jet centre use the facility on a daily basis. www.aviatorfarnborough.co.uk

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Indian passenger expansion

SITA, the specialist air transport IT company, says that Indian domestic aviation could carry 180m passengers by 2020.  A new and comprehensive report in association with the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) also suggests that international traffic will exceed 80m per annum.  Today less than 2% of Indians fly in any given year.  In the United States 651m people flew domestically in 2009, a drop of 5.2%.  In forecasting substantial growth over the next ten years, the report notes that India's domestic air travel market is currently just 20% of China.  In order to meet predicted growth over the next ten years airlines will need to invest US$120bn in new aircraft and a further US$20bn in the airport sector. www.sita.aero

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Nice Airport

NICE AIRPORT will officially open its brand new VIP terminal to cater for executive jets and the like towards the end of April.  This much needed facility replaces the requirement for passengers in private aircraft to use the main scheduled services facility not designed for celebrity use, or important arrivals wishing for anonymity.  The bad news for the airport is that this year the Cannes Film Festival clashes with the Monaco Grand Prix during the weekend of 15/16 May.  Aircraft parking, runway and air space will be at a premium. www.nice.aeroport.fr

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OnAir departs from Ryanair

ONAIR, the in-flight internet and telephone provider, and Ryanair, have parted company after a 12-month relationship described as “extremely positive”.  It did seem at the time of the launch that the two companies were incompatible, the phone ideal for long and medium haul operations, but perhaps less so with an average flight of around one hour.  OnAir is not expensive at £1.50 per minute for voice calls and 40p per text.  Neither company will comment on the fall-out but it seems obvious that with the Ryanair policy of financial prudence there had to be a parting of the ways.  OnAir currently operates with six airlines and has a portfolio of 23 signed agreements with national carriers worldwide.  The company will also be launching its services with six more airlines during the course of this year. www.onair.aero  www.ryanair.com

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ON TOUR: Transport Times Conference

Behind France, Germany, Korea, China and possibly the US, it seems a decade late, the UK is joining the 21st Century’s railways.

With this in mind Transport Times, the surface transport publication, organised a London conference following on from Lord Adonis’ railway report published in early March.  

Adonis’ proposals have a Y shaped back-bone from London to Birmingham where the new, purpose-built high speed lines split to run north either side of the Derbyshire Dales and onto Manchester and Leeds.  Journey times tumble, capacity is massively increased and the airlines quiver. 

North of Manchester and Leeds the service, still using High Speed rolling stock, reverts to a “classic” railway and chugs onto Glasgow and Edinburgh respectively. 

Nearly all agree it’s a fine idea and the folk who have the environment in their hearts eulogise about the impending demise of domestic flights to Heathrow from our northern and Scottish cities.  Modal shift from air to rail is the prize.

Lord Adonis himself was the keynote speaker and  presented a resounding and well-crafted case.  He seems to have gathered cross party support as well as the ear of the rail industry and business, councils and the like from the regions, not to mention an appreciative conference audience. 

Adonis is respected by all other than from a rather petulant and election-happy Teresa Villiers, whose Conservative Party agree it is a desirable project.

However the Tories seem to be trying to claim it as their idea but will not agree on detail or provide alternatives, yet.  The Liberal Democrat’s Transport Shadow Tom Baker, accurately described her as “unhelpful and posturing for the general election”.

This decade’s major transport infrastructure project will be Crossrail which should be operational by 2016/17. 

In another piece of joined up thinking, Adonis makes the case that all the experience and skills associated with Crossrail can seamlessly move over to HS2.   

The Crossrail team can start again on a multi-billion pound, ten-year construction programme.  And HS2’s earliest operational date is 2026.  That is someway off!

Two main points cornered the debate.  One, whether HS2 will serve Scotland as a genuine high speed product in the first phase of the build; again this is currently not in the Adonis plan.  Such is the belief in the economic benefit that those cities with access to HS2 will gain, those excluded (i.e. Newcastle, Wales and the West Country) are naturally concerned they will be left behind. 

The second main point is Heathrow.

Adonis has appointed Lord Mawhinney to look at whether Heathrow is served from an interchange ten miles away at Old Oak Common, HS2 runs through the airport or something in between. 

The Tories are linking the routing debate with their opposition to the third runway.  Greengauge 21, a railway lobby group, put their solution up, which essentially is still high speed but using for the most part existing railway paths. 

There is no clear consensus other than Heathrow is a major factor in what the final product will look like and who it will serve.

Heathrow is recognised as being a major asset for the UK.  HS2 is accepted as being critical to the UK’s economic development and well being.  The two will have a significant effect on each other and the wider economy; the decision on how they interact is therefore critical.

Finally, it was Christine Dejean, Head of Northern European Market for SNCF and the 7th presenter of the day who was the first to talk directly about “the customer”.

The preceding speaker had identified benefits in terms of time savings but it was Christine who actually used the word customer.  She said “it is our customers who make our projects successful”. 

Councillor John Shipley, Leader of Newcastle City Council also recognised that if flying from Newcastle to Heathrow remained the most convenient option, then that is the one the customer will choose, HS2 or no HS2.

Whatever the final option for HS2 and Heathrow, whichever government leads this project, it needs to put the passenger is at the heart of the solution and make sure the traveller is not just an afterthought. http://www.transporttimes.co.uk

 

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