19 JULY 2010

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Airport figures for June

BAA passenger traffic in June was affected by the British Airways cabin crew industrial action at the start of the month, the Spanish-owned airport operator handling 9.5m passengers through its six operations, a drop of 1.7% on the same period last year.  Without the impact of industrial action, it is estimated that Heathrow would have seen 140,000 more passengers, a 2.5% increase. The group's Scottish airports at Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow were all affected by the industrial action, with drops of 7%, 4% and 2% respectively compared to June 2009.  Southampton recorded a 3.7% increase and Stansted a decrease of 5.2%.  www.baa.com

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Continental Airlines goes flat

HEATHROW is all flat beds now for Continental Airlines.  The Houston-based carrier, soon to merge with Chicago’s United, has now completed 25 aircraft with its new BusinessFirst seats, and all flights out of Heathrow are fitted thus.  The carrier's flat-bed seats made their operational debut in November 2009 and are being installed on aircraft used on long haul international routes.  Priority for the seats are on the airline’s Boeing 777 and 757-200 fleets, with 11 777s and 14 757-200s completed.  In addition, Continental will take delivery of two new Boeing 777 aircraft outfitted with the flat-bed seats by the end of July.  The BusinessFirst flat-bed seat reclines 180 degrees and provides 6 feet 6 inches of sleeping space in the fully extended position on the Boeing 777 (6 feet 4 inches on the Boeing 757-200).  It is one of the widest business class seats in the air, measuring up to 27 inches (25 inches on the 757-200).  Laptop power, headset and USB plugs are provided as is iPod connectivity.  The new seats feature 15.4-inch monitors. www.continental.com

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French hotel chain expands in the UK

MERCURE, part of the French Accor group, has opened the new Dolphin Hotel in Southampton.  In fact new is not the right word there having been a Dolphin Hotel on the site for well over 500 years.  The 90-room 4-star property is a Grade II listed building and has been the subject of an extensive refurbishment.  Situated in the High Street it offers wi-fi and two meeting rooms with 150 and 100 seating capacity.  It also has 80 car parking spaces, vital in a very busy port and commercial city. www.dolphin-southampton.com

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Hong Kong gains quality mid-market hotel

TRADERS, the 4-star brand of the Shangri-La Group will open its first hotel in Hong Kong on 1 August.  Traders Hotel, Hong Kong, is located on Hong Kong Island in Queen’s Road, Western District, the heart of buzzing street life, traditional shops, temples and numerous local eateries.  Previously operated as Hotel Jen, the hotel has 280 guestrooms.  The Traders Lounge on the 28th floor is available to Club guests during the day and offers a variety of benefits including private check-in/out, complimentary buffet breakfast, afternoon tea and evening cocktails.  It is open to the public after 19:30, an ideal spot to enjoy after-work drinks with a view. There is a rooftop outdoor pool with adjacent gym. www.shangri-la.com

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Luton Airport and Blue Air from Romania

BLUE AIR, the Romanian low cost operator, is to offer 13 flights per week from Luton Airport this winter to Bucharest Baneasa Airport.  They have appointed Flight Directors Ltd as general sales agency to promote the services.  The airline flies daily and will also continue with three flights per week to the provincial cities of Sibiu and Bacau.  Blue Air is the largest operator from Bucharest’s number two airport, this summer operating 160 weekly departures to 24 destinations.  The airline points out it is closer to the city centre than Otopeni, the main international gateway. www.blueairweb.com

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Toronto City Airport to have vital upgrade

PORTER AIRWAYS will be the main beneficiary of a multi-million dollar tunnel which is set to link Toronto’s controversial but highly successful downtown island airport with the foreshore.  Geoffrey Wilson, CEO of The Toronto Port Authority, the federally run authority which owns and operates the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has said that the project will go ahead starting in January and will take two years to compete.  Porter introduced services from the airport in October 2006 and has steadily built up their operation with flights to 12 destinations including Boston and New York.  Currently passengers need to use a one-every-15mins ferry to reach the terminal.  The tunnel will eliminate this bottleneck. www.flyporter.com

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Victoria Station hotel upgrade

THE GROSVENOR HOTEL, actually part of the structure of London’s Victoria Station, is to receive an £18m upgrade from owners Guoman.  This major project is scheduled to be fully complete ahead of London 2012.  It will sensitively restore the hotel’s intricate English Heritage listed features as part of its stylish design overhaul whilst remaining sensitive to the property’s heritage as a Victorian railway hotel.   Included in the project is The Grand Imperial a high-end, authentic Cantonese restaurant.  Additional features to the hotel will include the ambitious development of a self-contained executive accommodation tower with striking views over the city and the introduction of a Guoman Club Lounge.  The 357-room building is one of Guoman’s four London landmark properties; Charing Cross, The Cumberland, The Royal Horseguards and The Tower. www.thistle.com

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A SPECIAL ON THE SOAPBOX: Shaun Ormrod Farnborough boss

Shaun Ormrod joined the Farnborough International Airshow in April 2008, just prior to that year’s event.  His career has been spent in the events industry arriving from London’s famous Alexandra Palace where he had been General Manager.  His previous appointments include Group Operations Director with NEC and six years as Managing Director of The International Centre, during which time it was awarded Investors in People status and The Events Best Venue UK (in 2004).

 

Can I welcome you to Farnborough International 2010 which we believe is the finest aerospace exhibition ever staged.  In very simple terms we are hosting over 1,300 exhibitors from 39 countries and 22 international pavilions including for the first time Brazil, China, Morocco and Portugal.  There are eight regional pavilions from the UK.  On display are over 150 aircraft.  It is the world’s largest temporary exhibition covering 247 acres with anticipated attendance of 250,000 visitors from around the globe.  In spite of difficult economic times I am sure we are in for a spate of orders and significant announcements.

 

We are proud that both Airbus and Boeing have chosen Farnborough for the first overseas display of the A400M and 787 Dreamliner respectively.  These two major airframe projects epitomise what our show is all about.  It is both a military and commercial centre-stage for airframe manufacturers and component suppliers to showpiece both the finished article and those in the process of development.

 

May I strongly suggest, perhaps in the morning of your visit, that you take time to view the four air conditioned exhibition halls.  I myself took a look around last week as the finishing touches were being applied.  As essentially a newcomer to the industry its shear complexity and originality is truly amazing.  Yes we do host the international industrial giants from around the globe but also represented are tiny suppliers (with equally small booths), vital in the complex chain that leads to the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 and their operations worldwide. 

 

Can I praise one manufacturer and highlight another.  Congratulations to Viking in resurrecting the Twin Otter after 22 years out of production.  It’s a long flight from Sidney, British Columbia at 180 knots.  And also to Britten-Norman whose Islander was first shown in 1966.

 

The Farnborough International Airshow 2010 will feature a number of new innovations that we hope will benefit both exhibitors and visitors.  This year, each day has been themed around the core industry sectors for which the event caters with the aim of facilitating better networking and business opportunities.  The themes for each day are Monday – Aerospace, Tuesday – Defence, Wednesday – Space, Thursday – Security and Friday – Futures.

 

Central to this theming is the A|D|S Conference Programme.  Discussing some of the major issues affecting the industry today, the programme will give a platform for senior figures in industry and government.

 

Can I remind you that Monday to Thursday is for the trade, with Friday 23rd Enthusiasts Day with an extended flying programme.  The public are welcome on Saturday and Sunday where the air display will again include the Airbus A380, the world’s largest commercial jet.

 

I have to finish with a suggestion.  In 2012 the Farnborough Airshow will start a week early on Monday 9 July.  There is a certain event centred on Stratford East London which would otherwise clash.  However I do recommend getting your booking in early.  Remind your hotelier that you will be back in two years’ time.  The last Olympics in London was in 1948, and before that 1908. 

 

Shaun Ormrod

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Boeing 20-year forecast

RANDY TINSETH, Boeing Vice President of Marketing, was in London last week to present his company’s (46th) annual commercial passenger and freighter aircraft forecast.  Mr Tinseth and his team foresee a market for 30,900 new commercial passenger and freighter aeroplanes by 2029.  He could not resist the opportunity to have a dig at Airbus for not only their poor forecasting but also perpetual spin.  With Farnborough about to start he noted than in the last five years Boeing has announced 477 Airshow orders, as against 1,261 by Airbus.  However at the same time actual net orders have been more or less equal 4,234 against 4,263 with Seattle slightly in advance.  The impressive presentation is on line and had nearly three quarters of a million visits over the last 12 months.  How many were by Airbus we do not know. www.boeing.com/cmo

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Easter Island flights

LAN AIRLINES will begin services between Lima and Easter Island in January 2011 offering two flights a week on Wednesdays and Sundays.  Easter Island, one of the most inaccessible spots on earth, is famous for its moai monumental statues.  Presently the island is only connected to the South American mainland via Santiago (Chile).  The new routing is far more practical from North America and Europe.  LAN Peru will operate the services using two-class Boeing 767-300s. www.lan.com

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German airlines

LUFTHANSA boss Wolfgang Mayrhuber, not one normally lost for words, in English or German, was left speechless when in the middle of the IATA conference last month Chancellor Angela Merkel announced a one billion euro airline departure levy.  According to a draft law published last week airlines will be taxed according to the distance their passengers travel.  Start date is 1 January.  For shorter trips within the European Union and a number of other countries less then 2,500 kilometres away, the tax is set at €13.  For longer trips, €26.  "We see this tax as a distortion of competition," a spokesman for Air Berlin, Germany's second-biggest airline said.  However the figures are miniscule compared with what airlines using Heathrow and other British airports, will have to add onto the ticket price, premium class passengers having to pay at least twice that levied on economy cabin travellers. www.lufthansa.com

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Hotel group expands

TRAVELODGE, which claims to be the UK's fastest growing budget hotel chain, has announced the largest transaction in the hotel sector since 2008, by acquiring the leases of 52 Innkeeper's Lodges from restaurant and pub operator Mitchells & Butlers.  This deal will boost Travelodge's estate to 452 properties.  The 52 hotels, which include a number of grade ll listed buildings, are all adjacent to Mitchells & Butlers hostelries.  Travelodge will embark on a £10m investment programme to convert the hotels to bring them in line with the Travelodge brand.  It is anticipated that this will take four months. www.travelodge.co.uk

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Magnifica

ALITALIA, or as some would prefer, ‘Alitalia reborn’, has received its first new Airbus A330-200.  The aircraft is configured in a high comfort three-class layout and is the first Alitalia plane to feature the new Premium Economy ‘Classica Plus’ class and a completely updated ‘Magnifica’ Business Class.  Seating 230 passengers with 181 in Economy, 21 in Premium Economy and 28 in Business Class, the aircraft will be deployed on Alitalia’s transatlantic routes.  It is the first of batch of 11 aircraft to be delivered by 2013. www.alitalia.com  

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Transport Committee named

HOUSE OF COMMONS backbenchers have now confirmed membership of its powerful Transport Committee.  They are Louise Ellman – Labour [L]/Co-operative – Liverpool Riverside (Chair, previously holding the post), Angie Bray (Conservative [C] – Ealing Central and Acton, Lilian Greenwood – L, Nottingham South, Tom Harris – L, Glasgow South, Kelvin Hopkins – L, Luton North, Kwasi Kwarteng – C, Spelthorne, John Leech – Liberal Democrat, Manchester Withington, Paul Maynard – C, Blackpool North and Cleveleys, Angela Smith – Penistone and Stocksbridge, Iain Stewart – C, Milton Keynes South, Julian Sturdy – C, York Outer. www.parliament.uk

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ON TOUR: A Farnborough preview

Whether Farnborough, or its Paris equivalent at Le Bourget, is the world’s number one Airshow is really neither here nor there.  They both have their defects, and also very good points.  This time around the gathering south west of Heathrow probably wins the day with the first overseas public appearance of two major aircraft programmes, the Airbus A400M military freighter, and Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner.

One thing for sure Farnborough has never looked back since its move two shows ago from an early September date to what is now fast becoming the traditional third Monday in July every even year.  The event runs through until Sunday.  Sadly Boeing’s much anticipated Dreamliner is only around until lunchtime Tuesday when it will depart for Seattle, rejoining the high pressure certification programme.  We ought to be thankful that Boeing valued Farnborough so much that the nearly 10,000 mile roundtrip is taking place. 

An Airbus A380 is due to fly each day and the US Air Force will demonstrate a Boeing B-52 on Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  It is amazing to think that the original prototype B52 first flew on 15 April 1952 and the last of 744 rolled off the production line in 1962. 

Never failing to thrill is the RAF's Red Arrows display team.  For lovers of classic aircraft, Farnborough promises a feast:  Spitfire, Messerschmitt ME109, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and a return of a 2008 Farnborough star, the only remaining airworthy Avro Vulcan, fully restored to its delta wing Cold War glory.

And, in another first for Farnborough, the organisers have secured agreement to allow unmanned aircraft systems to be demonstrated as a regular part of the display programme.  Taking a real look into the future of military – and even civil – aviation, it is expected that a dedicated UAV display will take place before the start of the flying display.  Depending on the level of interest, the display could run as long as one hour.

Military and commercial mix together in what is very much a two faceted show – military and commercial.  On the defence side, government budgets in North America and Europe are under heavy pressure, but key priorities remain intact.  Do not bet against the Hampshire site hosting more than a little drama in the running battle of words between Boeing and EADS over the looming award of the US Air Force's US$35bn KC-X aerial refuelling tanker contract.  Boeing just about won the war of words after the World Trade Organisation seemed to come down in its favour, but the Airbus division of EADS did not suffer a knockout blow and has come back strongly with a fearsome attack.  They argue that with assembly in the US it is an American aircraft also.

AERBT is however more interested in business travel and this preview highlights that aspect of the show.  Debut aircraft are the Russian Sukhoi Superjet 100 and the Viking Twin Otter 400, being revived in turboprop form 22 years after de Havilland Canada ended production of the original classic.  ATR will have on show the latest version of its highly successful regional turboprop the ATR 72-600.  Somewhat upscale Airbus, too, will be making an impact, with an Etihad A330, a A330F freighter and a British Airways A319.  Business jet enthusiasts will not want to miss the Bombardier exhibition.  On display is a Learjet 60XR, Challenger 605 and Global 500, alongside the Canadian airframer's Q400 turboprop and CRJ900 regional jet airliners.  Talks will be of the huge industrial company’s (Bombardier makes trains in Derby) C series aircraft, a serious competitor to the smaller Airbus and Boeings.

Dassault brings elegance in two sizes at Farnborough, its Falcon 2000LX and Falcon 7X.  Cirrus will be showing its SR-22 and SF-50, and an ambitious, six-aircraft display from Hawker Beechcraft ranges from the T6 trainer to the King Air C390GT.  Britten-Norman's Islander appears on the ground and in the flying display, Pilatus will be showing both its turboprops – PC-6 and PC-12.  See also the Antonov An-158 regional jet, a stretched version of the 148, which has been in service with Aerosvit Airlines since this time last year.

While the event is predominantly an aviation industry showcase, there will also be a number of airlines represented at the show including British Airways, Qatar Airways and Thomson Airways. Thomson Airways, part of Tui Travel UK and Ireland will be the UK launch customer for the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and will be hosting a media event while the Boeing aircraft is at the show. 

As the Show Director Shaun Ormrod says in ON THE SOAPBOX Farnborough is not just about complete aircraft but is very much about what makes the industry tick.  The four massive display halls offer a plethora of the complex infrastructure of the aerospace industry.  Make time to walk around.

A four-day conference programme is an integral part of this year's show. Taking place over the first four days, the aim is to offer visitors and exhibitors greater focus to their visit and to give them the opportunity to network and discuss key issues affecting aerospace, defence, space and security.

Monday 19 – Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills with the day theme of Aerospace.

Tuesday 20 – Rt Hon Liam Fox MP, Secretary of State for Defence with the day theme of Defence.

Wednesday 21 – Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science with the day theme of Space.

Thursday 22 – Rt Hon the Baroness Neville-Jones, Minister of State for Security and Counter-terrorism with the day theme of Security.

Other speakers include European Space Agency Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain, Bombardier Aerospace Chief Operating Officer Guy Hachey, EADS Chief Executive Louis Gallois and Finmeccanica UK Chief Executive Alberto di Benedictis.

Futures Day on the Friday is sponsored by Airbus and kicks off a programme aimed at encouraging young people to pursue a career in aerospace.  Highlights include a UK versus USA versus French schools rocketry competition and a Royal Aeronautical Society – Boeing – Light Aircraft Association ‘Build a Plane’ challenge.

Over the two public days, Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 July, under-16s are once again given free admission courtesy of Rolls-Royce.  Attractions include the Bloodhound Super Sonic Car world land speed record attempt project; the Space Zone; funfair rides and climbing walls; and two flight simulators recreating the experience in the cockpit of a Spitfire and Red Arrows BAE Systems Hawk trainer.

Other spectacles include Team Extreme, the skateboard, BMX and in-line skate display team. 

www.farnborough.com

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787 finally arrives

BOEING’S 787 DREAMLINER finally made its international debut t Farnborough yesterday (Sunday 18 July 2010. Powered by a pair of Rollsl-Royce Trent engines, the third prototype is taking time out from an intensive flight test programme in order for its nearly 60 customers, and an expectant public, to see what will become the world’s most flown-in wide-bodied aircraft sometime in the next decade.  Somewhat late, and with even the first delivery to Japan’s ANA later this year rumoured to again be in trouble, the 787 is undoubtedly a major breakthrough in terms of efficiency, environmental acceptance and passenger friendliness. www.boeing.com/commercial

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British Airways boss stands firm at AGM

WILLIE WALSH’S unpopularity with certain members of his workforce was for all to see last Wednesday (14 July) at the airline’s AGM, in theory at any rate, the last in its current form.  The BA Chief Executive endured a volley of attacks by shareholders, many of them employees, at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre in Westminster, over the strikes that have cost the loss making airline up to £150m since March.  The former Aer Lingus boss, with a reputation as a hard man, said that he made no apologies for telling staff things they may not wish to hear, prompting a flight attendant to retort: “I’m not a child Mr Walsh.”  Mr Walsh can stand firm whilst he has the backing of the institutional investors and the city.  Shareholders will be able to vote on the merger with Iberia later in the year.  The results of the latest strike ballot are due tomorrow (Tuesday 20 July). www.ba.com

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Flybe in French liaison

FLYBE, which is 15% owned by British Airways and is thought to be seeking a stock market listing in the not too distant future, is to strengthen its already friendly relationship with Air France.  A new codeshare agreement that will give Flybe passengers access to five additional routes between the UK and France as well as seven new French domestic and 11 international routes.  A further benefit is that all Flybe services into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport will arrive in Terminal 2E allowing seamless and easy access to Air France’s extensive international services.  From the start of the winter season the airline will switch its Southampton – Paris services from Charles de Gaulle to Orly Airport whilst AF will drop its own Southampton – Orly flights, pulling out from the Solent airport.  The codeshare agreement should be effective by the end of October 2010. www.flybe.com

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Heathrow hits record numbers

NATIONAL AIR TRAFFIC SERVICES (NATS), the UK airspace co-ordinator has released figures showing that it handled 1.4% less traffic in June 2010 than in the same month the previous year.  The numbers indicate that traffic is returning to previous levels, before the volcanic ash cloud and BA strikes impact.  On 29 June, Heathrow Airport reached a new daily record of 1,385 movements (arrivals and departures).  This record figure at Heathrow comes before the main holiday season begins. www.nats.co.uk

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IHG develops its Indigo brand

HOTEL INDIGO, InterContinental Hotels Group’s (IHG) latest boutique brand is growing with a second London property added.  The first international Indigo property worldwide was opened in Paddington, west London in January 2009.  Located on Minories between Aldgate and the Tower of London, London Tower Hill has 44 bedrooms and two suites.  There are now 34 Indigo's around the globe with a further 53 in various stages of development.  IHG plans to introduce the brand into Asia later this year with the Hotel Indigo Shanghai on the Bund.  It will also arrive in Thailand with Hotel Indigo Bangkok Wireless Road expected to open by the end of 2012. www.hotelindigo.com

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Shanghai gets second Hong Kong connection

CATHAY PACIFIC has welcomed the announcement by the HKSAR Government that Hongqiao Airport in Shanghai will be added as a destination for scheduled air services between Hong Kong and the mainland of China.  Before the completion of Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport in 1999, Hongqiao served as the city’s main international gateway.  It is just ten miles to the west of the central area and earlier this year was added to the Metro network.  Pudong is 25 miles to the east and whilst it does have the advantage of the high speed Maglev train its Shanghai terminus is outside the central area.  Cathay Pacific currently operates three flights daily between Hong Kong and the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai. www.cathaypacific.com

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Turkish Asian airline expands

ANADOLUJET, a budget division of Turkish Airlines, and based at Istanbul’s alternative airport called Sabiha Gokcen, on the Asian side of the Bosphorus, is to expand.  From 2 August all the domestic and international round-trip flights carried out by Turkish Airlines from the airport will be operated by AnadoluJet.  Created in 2008 it now has a fleet of 22 Boeing aircraft.  From August it will serve the international destinations of Amsterdam, Arlanda, Copenhagen Nahcivan (Azerbaijan), Nicosia, Stansted, Sheremetyevo (Moscow) and a whole series of domestic cities. www.anadolujet.com

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HAPPY TALK: O'Leary eats humble pie

We thought it would never happen but that exuberant Irishman Michael O’Leary has had to eat humble pie.  Even he, a man never usually lost for words, was restrained when trying to respond to a question by a BBC reporter, “Mr O’Leary the judgement was quite clear, you are required to apologise unreservedly to Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, have you done so!”  

 

“Yes,” said the Dubliner.

 

Stelios was more forthcoming, “I would like to dedicate this little victory to all those members of the travelling public who have suffered verbal abuse and hidden extras at the hands of O’Leary.”

 

Michael O’Leary and Ryanair will be taking care of all legal costs, and Sir Stelios is donating his £50,000 damages to a charity.

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