2 AUGUST 2010

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Airbus increases A320 production

A320 SERIES production will reach the 40 units per month mark during the first quarter of 2012, the EADS-owned company has announced.  This is broken down by 40, production will be at four per month in Tianjin (China), 22 in Hamburg and 14 in Toulouse.  By the end of June 2010 a total of 6,563 aircraft of the A320 family have been ordered and 4,326 delivered, leaving a record backlog in excess of more than 2,200 A320 family aircraft.  By contrast Boeing produces the 737 at a single factory in Renton near Seattle with a target next year of 35 units per month rising from the current 31.  The company says it is considering further increasing the rate but is carefully looking at the supply chain.  To date around 6,400 aircraft have been delivered, with the outstanding order book at just over 2,000. www.airbus.com

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BA to introduce new World Traveller Plus

BRITISH AIRWAYS has become the first UK airline to take delivery of the ultra long-range Boeing 777-300ER.  The aircraft is expected to go into service in September with a four-class configuration: First, Club World, World Traveller Plus and World Traveller.  All passengers will benefit from a new in-flight entertainment system that features more than 230 TV shows, 70 films and 400 CDs.  For once it is the back end of the aircraft that is entirely new with the premium economy section (World Traveller Plus) for the first time featuring a purpose-built Recaro shell type seat that features the cushion angle, changing automatically when the backrest is placed in a reclining position.  When the passenger stretches his legs out, the flexible front edge yields to reduce pressure on the back of the thighs.  This combination enables a more comfortable seating position for relaxed flying.  Refreshment offerings are as per the normal Economy section. Readers can view a BA video on youtube
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxZPRXpBVgY&feature=related

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Concept plane by Airbus

FARNBOROUGH visitors who did not bother to visit the show halls would have missed one of the most interesting aircraft at the show, and one that will never fly.  'The Airbus Concept Plane' is what Toulouse experts in aircraft materials, aerodynamics, cabins and engines came up with for a design which is an ‘engineer’s dream’ to meet future passengers expectations.  Ultra long and slim wings, semi-embedded engines, a U-shaped tail and light-weight ‘intelligent’ body all feature to further improve environmental performance or ‘eco-efficiency’.  The result: lower fuel burn, a significant cut in emissions, less noise and greater comfort.  Registration has opened for ’Fly Your Ideas’ – an Airbus global competition challenging University students to develop new ideas for a greener aviation industry.  The winners will share the top prize of €30,000; the runners-up €15,000. www.airbus-fyi.com

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iPhone airline added

BRITISH AIRWAYS Executive Club iPhone users can use the airline’s App to display mobile boarding passes on their phones.  These can be scanned at check-in to speed up and enhance the boarding process.  The new App ensures customers have even greater functionality and have access to real flight information about their upcoming bookings, full integration with their Executive Club details and will smoothly guide customers through each stage of their flight process.  In addition, customers using Android and Blackberry devices will now be able to benefit from a version of the BA App.  British Airways says it was the first airline to develop an App for customers for the launch of the iPhone in the UK. www.ba.com

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Manchester sees the new Virgin first

VIRGIN ATLANTIC has unveiled the first changes to its livery and brand identity since 2005.  It will be applied to all 38 aircraft in its fleet, as well as signage, communications and advertising.  Passengers looking out the windows will also be in no doubt who they are flying with, as winglets will now carry the Virgin script on the inner side.  The airline says that the flying lady sported on the front of the carrier's aircraft will also receive a "subtle cosmetic makeover and enhanced detailing," and will now carry a large Union Jack.  The new design has already been applied to one of the carrier's Manchester-based Boeing 747 aircraft, and will be rolled out across the existing fleet.  The carrier’s future A330, A380 and Boeing 787 aircraft will also feature the design. Whilst reporting the worse loss in it's history, £132m in the year to March 2010 (£68.4 profit for the previous 12 month) Virgin says that its load factor for the last quarter was an excellent 82% with Upper Class numbers up by 15%.  www.virgin-atlantic.com

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Rio gets choice of airlines

TAM, the Brazilian airline established with a daily Heathrow – Sao Paulo service, has confirmed the start of its three times weekly operation from London to Rio de Janeiro on 10 August.  The route is operated by a three-class Airbus A330.  British Airways is also established on the route, having last summer introduced a non-stop service from Heathrow, likewise three times weekly.  Post Farnborough TAM has announced a firm order for another 20 A320s family aircraft and five A350 XWBs.  The airline has currently a backlog of orders for 65 Airbus A320s, two A330-200s and 27 A350 XWBs. www.tam.com.br

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Tesco in airport offering

GLASGOW AIRPORT, part of BAA Ltd, has been chosen by Tesco, the UK's largest retailer, for its first foray into the air traveller market.  A new Tesco Express store will open in the domestic arrivals area later this year.  The products on sale will reflect the needs of passengers returning from holiday and business travellers who need to stock up before heading home, as well as departing passengers and airport staff.  Meeters and greeters will be able to use the facility too.  The store will be open round the clock and will offer a wide range of goods similar to those seen in Tesco Express stores across the country including dairy products, ready meals, breads, sandwiches, snacks and drinks. www.glasgowairport.com

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ON THE SOAPBOX: Tim Jeans - Managing Director, Monarch Airlines

With the school holidays upon us it seemed a good idea to invite Tim Jeans, Luton-based, but a man of Manchester, to head ON THE SOAPOX for August.

Tim started in the travel industry as a P&O trainee when Britain’s oldest transport operator still operated scheduled ships to the Far East.  His career took him to Ryanair where in a seven-year stint as Commercial Director he developed that airline's European operations.  A short period followed as Chief Operating Officer at MyTravelLite before joining Monarch in 2004 and heading up the expansion of the airline's scheduled services.  He became Managing Director in 2007.

If there is anything to be thankful for in the world of aviation this year, it is that the volcanic ash cloud chose to appear during April and not at the start of the UK summer school holidays which are now upon us.  As an airline whose primary market is in leisure travel Monarch is now operating at maximum capacity and if we thought recovering from the ash crisis was difficult in April, the task now would have been near impossible.  Charter programmes in the next two months will call for utilisation in excess of 20 hours per day, with all the related pressure on their resources, notably crews.

With this level of utilisation, the last thing we need is our third party suppliers to disrupt normal operations with industrial action.  But yet again, just as the summer peak season begins, Spanish air traffic controllers begin a "sick day" protest; their French colleagues don't even bother, they go on strike anyway, plus Greek suppliers from ground handlers to air traffic protest by biting the very hand that feeds them.

Whilst it is fair to say that most airlines are able to work around the operational disruption this action causes, it is our paying passengers who suffer, and yet again we all face an uphill struggle to convince people to spend their hard earned income on foreign travel when even sitting in a traffic jam on the M5 might seem a more preferable way to start a holiday.

Never more so than at this time of year do we realise that virtually all airlines are reliant on their service providers both on the ground and in the air to keep their operations intact.  We cannot solve other people's industrial or economic issues for them, but what we can do is acknowledge and reward the effort and teamwork from a myriad of different sources that go into dispatching an aircraft on time.  Often, only when things go wrong, do we spare a thought for our check-in agents who have had to rise at 3.30 in the morning to check in the first wave of flights, or the baggage handler who stayed late to unload a flight delayed by the air traffic strike.

So let's not forget that it's teamwork that counts, we are all in this together.

TIM JEANS 

August 2010

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Airline financial results

AIR FRANCE/KLM, BRITISH AIRWAYS and LUFTHANSA all announced their second quarter financial results last week with some marked differences regarding the bottom line.  Every European carrier was affected by the ash problem but clearly BA would always come in with the worst figures due to both loss of customer confidence and flights owing to the continuing cabin staff problems.  Loss before tax was £164m (2009: -£148m).  Passenger revenue was down 3.4% with a loss of capacity 11.2%.  BA says without the disruption during the period, passenger revenue would have increased by some 11% year-on-year.  By contrast AF Group posted a net profit of €736m for the first quarter ended June 30, reversed from a €426m loss from the same three months a year ago, although this did include the sale of assets.  Lufthansa’s results are much more complex with it suffering from the losses incurred by recent acquisitions Austrian Airlines and bmi.  However the mainline operations seem to be doing well with a second quarter net profit of €94m. www.airfrance.com www.ba.com www.lufthansa.com

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Cathay gains new Heathrow lounge

HEATHROW passengers departing on Cathay Pacific flights from London to Hong Kong now can enjoy the airline’s new First Class and Business Class lounges located at T3 in the central concourse.  The 923sq-metre lounges feature the airline’s signature Noodle Bar, a popular feature at the airline’s lounges worldwide and also a much improved buffet area with a wide selection of Western and Asian food and drinks.  There are five fully equipped shower suites in each lounge.  The new lounge is in addition to the oneworld lounge hosted by British Airways. www.cathaypacific.com

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Copenhagen from London City

CIMBER STERLING passengers on the London City – Copenhagen route will have a much faster alternative when British Airways introduces a twice daily Embraer 190 service from 12 September.  Currently the route is daily with a 50-seat ATR 42.  BA will offer four times the capacity with a double daily service and an aircraft twice the size of its competitor.  The Embraer is also a great deal quicker than the ATR.  The introduction of the service is seen as a BA marketing move in Scandinavia from London City, a twice daily service to Gothenburg being recently announced.  London City to Stockholm is currently not being served. www.ba.com

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Langham brings elegance to Hong Kong

HONG KONG’S Langham Hotel has opened The Langham Club for guests describing it as European elegance, a total of seven separate rooms each with its own distinct character and design “a truly enchanting wonderland for guests to escape to after a busy day in Hong Kong.”  The Ante Room is the private check-in area and has been designed to welcome guests in a most stylish manner.  Handmade chairs, sourced from a London-based fashion designer, stand smartly in the entrance of this room.  It typifies the whole arrangement, each area sumptuous.  The Langham Club is open from 06:30 to 23:00 daily, serving breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktails and canapés. http://hongkong.langhamhotels.com

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Merger goes ahead

CONTINENTAL AIRLINES and UNITED AIRLINES have received unconditional clearance from the European Commission on the airlines’ proposed merger.  “Approval from the European Commission is another important step toward completing our merger with United,” said Jeff Smisek, Continental’s Chairman, President and CEO.  He will hold the same position with the amalgamated airlines.  “The combination of United and Continental brings together the two most complementary networks of any US carriers, with minimal domestic and no international route overlaps.  Together we will offer customers unparalleled global access".  The companies announced their plans for an all-stock merger of equals in May and expect the transaction to close in the fourth quarter of 2010. www.continental.com www.united.com

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Singapore pushes forward with Open Skies

BRAZIL is the latest country to conclude an Open Skies Agreement (OSA) with Singapore, the island state also recently adding Barbados, Jamaica and Rwanda, at the International Civil Aviation Organisation Air Services Negotiation Conference 2010 held early July in Montego Bay (Jamaica).  Singapore has been at the forefront of Open Skies, the arrangement bringing wide economic benefits to the partner countries, and not affecting Singapore Airlines' financial performance in any way, probably adding to it.  Singapore now has OSAs with over 40 countries. www.caas.gov.sg

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ON TOUR: The holiday season

With the holiday season in full swing, Samsonite in the UK have put their 100 years of travel knowledge into a handy packing guide which we thought would be of value to readers.  This is full of practical hints and tips to help holiday preparation be as stress-free as possible.  The list is not finite, it got us thinking and we have added to it.  You may disagree with some of the suggestions, and have even better ones.  We would be pleased to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


SAMSONITE'S TOP PACKING TIPS

Samsonite has been behind some of the great luggage landmarks of the last century.  Since the company was started in Denver Colorado in 1910, Samsonite has been in the forefront of high quality luggage products rich with innovation and they always looked to utilise the latest developments in raw materials, technology and design to help make travellers' lives as easy as possible.  In July 2007, finance investor CVC Capital Partners took over Samsonite for US$1.7bn.

Certain airlines are trying to seemingly stop passengers from taking luggage with them, but travelling with goods is as old as travelling itself. 

With famous firsts including the launch of the attaché case in the 1960s, the use of materials such as polypropylene for ultimate protection of belongings, through to the latest innovation called ‘Curv technology’, found in the Cosmolite range, Samsonite does have the credibility in this area of travel.

Curv® technology is better known for being used in bullet-proof vests, skates and skis.  It is an advanced impact-resistant strong material which enables the weight to be as low as 2.2kg.  When some airlines limit carry on baggage to just 10kgs, and a miserable 15kgs for hold luggage it is essential that one’s case and bags are as light as possible, but retain their strength.

Most of the following is common sense but as an aide-mémoire hopefully you may find it useful.  This piece was written with holidays in mind but the rules are much the same for a business trip.  A decision has to be made on just how much to take with.  It is said that on cruises passengers often travel with 50% extra gear!  Be ruthless!

BEFORE YOU START:

Research:
Research is the foundation for stress-free packing and travelling.  There are three key areas to check:

Know your destination:
Before piling half your wardrobe into a suitcase, do your homework:  What is the expected weather?  What type of holiday are you going on?  Is any special clothing/equipment required?  Will you have access to laundry facilities?

Check your airline website:
Be aware of restrictions on the weight and number of bags you can take on your flight.  Many airlines charge a hefty fee for every checked in or overweight bag.

Choose your case:
It is essential for ease of packing to have the right suitcase.  For a short trip when you do not want to waste time at baggage reclaim choose a lightweight carry on case to ensure you can fit in as many items as possible without going over the weight limit.

Choose a case with wheels so you are not carrying a heavy bag on your shoulder.  Four wheels are even better than two for maximum mobility.

Think about what you need to carry and choose a case accordingly.  If you are carrying fragile items choose a hardside suitcase for extra protection.  For work trips choose a sleek, business model to ensure a professional look and one that will protect your laptop and business equipment as well as your personal belongings. 

If you have a very small weight allowance consider a super lightweight case and use your baggage allowance for your belongings and not your suitcase.

For extra peace of mind, invest in a set of travel scales so you can weigh your case before leaving home and avoid check-in queue anxiety.

GET PACKING:

A numbers game:
Before you start packing, decide how many items you will need – it is a numbers game: one pair of trousers, two skirts or a couple of pairs of shorts, five versatile tops (dependant on laundry facilities) and a couple of pairs of shoes.  A light weight cardigan is the perfect layering piece whilst pashminas make for great sarongs or beach cover-ups as well as a soft blanket on the plane.

Make a list of what you need and then check items off as you pack.  Take the list with you and check it off again on your return journey, to ensure you do not leave anything behind.  Don’t forget it might be cheaper and less demanding to use the hotel laundry service than carry the extra item.

Create a capsule wardrobe:
Concentrate on one or two main colour palettes.  This will enable you to create a variety of different outfits.  Superfluous items will sit in your suitcase during your holiday, taking up valuable space.

Downsize:
Carry miniature sized toiletries and hair appliances as this will save on space.  How many times do you use a whole bottle of shampoo on holiday?  Do not forget to always place liquids in a protective bag in case they leak in transit and also the 100ml rule remembering that items have to go in a see-through plastic bag.  Items over this size need to go in hold baggage.

The Packing Sequence:
Pack larger heavier items first, so as not to squash any delicates.  Ensure you have a flat level surface at every stage of packing to help avoid creasing.  Use sarongs and beach towels to help create layers and section the suitcase so you can easily find something in a hurry.  Shoes should be put inside plastic/fabric bags so they do not dirty clean clothes.  Place them along the edge of the suitcase to help fill in gaps.  Place socks, underwear/swimwear and toiletries inside your shoes to utilise every inch of space.  Wrap electrical items in clothing to help protect them in transit.

To roll or to fold?
That is the much disputed question!  Rolling works well with trousers, skirts and shorts.  Lay the item face down and roll from the bottom up. However, when packing a shirt, it is essential to fold and lie flat in the case to prevent unwanted creases.  An alternative method is to lay the items unfolded on the case and fold the overhanging parts inwards together (see photo).  In this way if there are creases they will not be so pronounced.

Folding Bags:
If you like an extra bag, invest in a folding bag.  These fold away neatly in your suitcase, are great for use at your destination, and they easily double up as a beach/excursion bag.  Use them on the way home for duty free shopping too!

Security Savvy:
Always remember to have two identity luggage tags on your case, including one on the inside, in case the outside label gets ripped off.  This will guarantee your case will always be able to find its way back to you.  Just add the name of where you are staying and a mobile number rather than your full home address as this can warn people you are away from home.  Do not check in valuables, keep them in your hand luggage.

Put a unique identity onto your case, such as a colourful label or ribbon on the handle, so that you can recognise at a distance your luggage from all the similar cases on the conveyer belt.

Enjoy your holiday.  But if it is a business trip enjoy that too.

 

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Air Lease Corporation (ALC)

STEVEN UDVAR HAZY may not be familiar to regular business travellers but during the Farnborough Air Show his new Air Lease Corporation (ALC) signed up for 136 aircraft including 31 Airbus A320s, 20 Airbus A321s, 54 Boeing 737-800s and 15 Embraer E-190s for delivery beginning in 2012.  ALC will be a powerful player in the years to come in aircraft trading and purchase with the pendulum of airline transactions swinging back towards leasing rather than direct sales and finance deals.  Born in Hungary, he and his family escaped the then Soviet dominated state in 1958 and today is living in the United States and reckoned to be around 300 in the list of the world’s wealthiest persons.  He is the former Chairman and CEO of International Lease Finance Corporation (ILFC), one of the two largest aircraft lessors on the planet (the other being the GECAS arm of General Electric).  ILFC itself is owned by AIG, still under a shadow following the 2008 financial crisis. www.airleasecorp.com

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ATOL problems for travellers

BRITIAN’S SUPREME COURT says it will refuse the Civil Aviation Authority’s (CAA) leave to appeal in a case affecting Travel Republic, a tour organiser it accused of breaking its ATOL rules.  The case covered a point of law, the CAA wanting to prove that if someone booked a flight and the land arrangements at the same time any emergency costs (a failure by one of the participating parties) should be covered by the ATOL (insurance) scheme.  This decision now leaves a large number of holidaymakers at risk in the event of a travel organiser failing says the CAA.  It is urging the Government to move quickly to reform the ATOL scheme and introduce the proposed ‘Flight Plus’ financial protection in order to restore cover to consumers who may wrongly believe that they are currently financially protected.  Direct flight-only bookings are not protected by the scheme although many people take out their own insurance.  Research published by the Air Transport Users Council (AUC) showed that a third of people did not know if their last flight was financially protected or not, and 34% of respondents were not aware if their travel insurance policy included financial protection. www.caa.co.uk

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Chinese airline changes allegiance

SHANGHAI AIRLINES is conducting an amicable divorce regarding its arrangement with Star Alliance.  Shanghai has been aquired by China Eastern, itself a Skyteam member.  Air China continues with Star.  The split becomes finite on 31 October with the real question whether Shanghai joins Skyteam or succumbs to overtures by oneworld.  It is more than likely Shanghai will finish up as part of Skyteam although nothing is ever clear with the Chinese airlines and the sibling arrangements.  Travellers on Shanghai Airlines will have a period of perhaps two years without alliance benefits but existing Star Alliance awards on the airline for travel after October will be honoured. www.shanghai-air.com

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German airline for oneworld

AIR BERLIN, Europe's fifth largest airline and Germany's second biggest carrier, is to join the oneworld alliance.  Austria's NIKI, an Air Berlin group member, will become an affiliate member.  The airline is expected to start flying as part of oneworld in early 2012 – just weeks before the opening of the new Berlin Brandenburg International Airport, which is being built as a major new hub for Europe.  As an important player in the European air travel market, Air Berlin serves around 160 destinations in some 40 countries.  Last year it carried 28m passengers operating a fleet of 165 aircraft, including Austria's NIKI.  Members of Air Berlin's frequent flyer programme will be able to earn and redeem rewards on any oneworld carrier and the airlines will begin to work together from this winter onwards. www.airberlin.com

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London City to the Olympics

THE LONDON OLYMPICS may now only be two years away but the opening of the new Docklands Light Railway (DLR) from Woolwich London City Airport to Stratford International is even earlier and is scheduled for the autumn of this year.  The train time from the airport to the Olympic site via Canning Town will be about 18 minutes. It will also allow passengers an easier connection to Stratford Regional, as the original Stratford is now called, serving both Overground and Underground.  The DLR has now taken delivery of all its new three-coach train units and is using them as and when required. www.dlr.co.uk

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Papua New Guinea arrival for Bombardier

AIR NIUGINI has taken delivery of its first brand new Bombardier Q400 Next Generation aircraft at Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea) with a second due in September.  Both are kitted out two-class with hot galleys, considered essential for longer routes.  The airline is an established de Havilland / Bombardier customer going back to the Dash 7.  Long haul passengers for Papua New Guinea can connect through a number of major hubs including Kuala Lumpur, Sydney and Tokyo. www.airniugini.co.uk

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Stansted takes the big jets

STANSTED’S ambition to raise its global profile has received a major boost after gaining approval for both the Airbus A380 and the new Boeing 747-8 to operate from the airport.  The official CAA go-ahead, which follows months of work to demonstrate the airport's operational readiness to handle these aircraft, now opens the door for new airline growth for both passenger and cargo operations.  Stansted has up to ten aircraft parking stands that could accommodate both aircraft. www.stanstedairport.com

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HAPPY TALK: The latest scam

After Nigeria was eliminated from the world cup the Nigerian goalkeeper personally offered to refund all the expenses of fans that travelled to South Africa.

He said he was so very very sorry for what the team did, and embarrassed all the Nigerian fans, and that if they will just let him have their bank details, and pin number, they will receive a full refund the next day by Western Union!

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