21 FEBRUARY 2011

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Air New Zealand launches online airport taxi booking service

As electronic consumer technology gets more and more involved with airline passenger assistance Air New Zealand (ANZ) has come up with an innovation that is bound to catch on.

ANZ travellers to and from Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Wellington airports are now being offered a fixed price cab ride with the guarantee of the lowest available rate from the participating transport provider.

In practice this means travellers no longer have to pay extra to travel at peak times.  Air New Zealand GM Australasia Bruce Parton says: “It’s one low fixed price, booked and paid for in advance, regardless of what time of day you’re travelling.  So if you travel at peak time you don’t end up paying extra to sit in traffic.

“Along with the lowest available rate, there’s also an on-time guarantee.  If you’ve booked transport to the airport and it’s not at the specified pick up point within 15 minutes of the booked time the whole trip is free.” www.airnz.co.nz/taxi

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Alitalia and China Eastern

Rome is to be connected with direct flights to the two main Chinese cities, Beijing, the political capital and Shanghai, the economic centre.  Whilst codeshares are nothing new, this arrangement between Alitalia and China Eastern, is somewhat unique with one airline operating one city pair, and its partner carrier the other.  Alitalia is a member of Skyteam and it is planned that China Eastern will join this year.

During summer 2011, China Eastern will introduce flights between Shanghai and Rome.  There will be four weekly services operated with an Airbus A340 in a three-class configuration.

On 1 June Alitalia will start a four times weekly schedule (five starting in October) between Rome and Beijing.  This will be flown by an Airbus A330 in a similar layout.

Thanks to these new services, Alitalia will strengthen its operations in the Far East (where the company today is the only carrier offering a direct service between Italy and Japan) and China Eastern will launch its operations on the Italian market. www.chinaeastern.co.uk www.alitalia.com

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Aviation Club takes on Sustainable Aviation

Jill Brady, Director of HR & External Affairs at Virgin Atlantic and Chairman of Sustainable Aviation will launch its third progress report at an Aviation Club lunch on Thursday 24 March.

Sustainable Aviation is a unique UK industry coalition of engine and airframe manufacturers, airlines, airports and air traffic control.  It was set up five years ago to determine the roadmap for growth of aviation. 

The Government goes to consultation in March on a scoping document for a new aviation policy framework.  It is expected to cover noise, air quality, CO2 and other emissions, biofuels and technology.  There is a renewed environmental emphasis on all sides – and continued pressure from groups concerned about both the global and local impacts of our industry. 

Jill will make the point that it has never been more important for aviation to demonstrate it is serious – and united – in addressing the environmental impact.  Equally it must not allow policy makers to lose sight of the importance of air travel as a key driver of economic growth.  Aviation is central to the global economy in a globalised world.  She will emphasise it has shaped the world we live in today and cannot be replaced either by high-speed rail or video conferencing. www.aviationclub.org.uk

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CAA published 2010 airport statistics

In 2010 the UK’s 57 scheduled service airports moved 214m people, a drop of 3.4%.  Heathrow with 66m passengers virtually held its own against the previous year, the only one of the major operations to do so.  The CAA figures were published last Friday. In 2007 the record figure was 240m.

Of the significant regional operations of interest to business travellers George Best at Belfast was the only airport to increase business with numbers up by 4.5% to 2.7m nearly the same as London City, which was down only 0.6%.  Belfast International again was a major loser with 4m passengers passing through, down 11.6%.  In 2007 5.3m used the airport.

Gatwick was down 3.1% to 31.3m (but still the world’s busiest single runway airport), Stansted -7% at 18.5m, Manchester -4.2% at 17.6m and Luton (8.73m), Edinburgh (8.59m), Birmingham (8.56m), all down and jockeying for position. www.caa.co.uk

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Hong Kong Needs a Third Runway?

Virtually straight from London, where he criticised the UK Government, IATA Director Giovanni Bisignani, was raising much the same topic at the Aerospace Forum Asia in Hong Kong last week.  This time his target was the authorities governing the special administrative zone of China.  He called on them to move forward with plans for a third runway at Hong Kong International Airport.

“Hong Kong outperforms its population size on the world stage because of its connectivity.  That drives the economy and creates jobs.  The current two runways are near saturation."

Hong Kong International Airport was planned in 1992 to handle 87m passengers and 9m tonnes of cargo.  Growth has been faster than anyone could have predicted.  At the same time, the 60 movements per hour cap limits capacity to much less than this.  Even raising runway movements to 68 per hour as proposed by the Civil Aviation Department, capacity will only be 55m passengers.  In 2010, the airport handled 51m passengers so it is already operating at about 90% of capacity.‬ 

“If Hong Kong wants to continue to gain the economic benefits of a growing aviation industry a third runway will be needed,” said Bisignani. www.hongkongairport.com

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Ryanair in Barcelona pull out

Barcelona is what Ryanair would like the public to call Girona Airport, 50 miles to the North East, and a good hour’s drive away.  At the end of February it is to make a major retraction of services at Barcelona (Girona), reducing its fleet by five and closing 18 routes and reducing frequencies on a further 17.  Five aircraft will be re-located.

Ryanair is blaming the new government of Catalonia in failing to honour the five-year extension agreement it says it reached with the outgoing administration in December.  As often is the case Ryanair has put out a most preposterous claim saying that 1.7m passengers and 1,700 jobs would be lost.  At five operational crews per aircraft and six flying personnel Ryanair will reduce its base staff by about 150.

Besides Girona, Ryanair also operates from Reus, which it also calls Barcelona and is 70 miles south west of the city, and since September El Prat Barcelona’s main airport.  Its future plans in the region remain to be unfurled. www.ryanair.com

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Venice gains Qatar

Qatar Airways is to fly to Venice on a daily basis from 15 June.  It is the airline’s third Italian destination after Milan and Rome to where the airline also operates seven days per week.  At Venice International Airport passengers are able to arrive by water from the heart of the historic city.

Venice becomes the Doha-based airline’s 26th European destination in a remarkable period of growth which has seen seven new routes introduced on the Continent over the past 12 months.  Qatar Airways has launched flights to Ankara, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Nice, Bucharest, Budapest, Brussels – the latter three in January alone – taking its European portfolio to 24 cities.  From 6 March, scheduled services begin to the German automobile manufacturing city of Stuttgart.

The new route, non-stop from Qatar Airways’ Doha hub, will be operated with the airline’s newest Airbus A320 aircraft, featuring seat-back TV screens offering a choice of over 700 interactive audio and video entertainment programming.  The aircraft has 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.

Passengers travelling from Venice can connect to a range of business and leisure destinations served by Qatar Airways across the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, via Doha. www.qatarairways.com

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COMMENT: Airports for sale?

The ruling by Britain’s Supreme Court that it will not revoke the Competition Commission's judgement that BAA must sell Stansted and one of either Edinburgh or Glasgow airports (subject to a final re-appraisal) opens up some interesting scenarios.  BAA is owned by ADI which comprises of Ferrovial of Spain (56%), CDPQ, a major Quebec pension fund (26%) and GCI, the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (18%).

Assuming the sale goes ahead what are the airports worth and will they be sold individually or as a pair?  Secondly, who might wish to buy them?  And thirdly, what is required by way of investment?

Taking the issue of value, this is very much tied up with who the purchaser might be, and whether that buyer is prepared to make a huge gamble.  As things stand, for the life of this Parliament, there will be no runway expansion in South East England.  All could change in the future.  The Stansted owner might easily dust down the existing plans for a second runway at some future point.  The sale presumably would include land purchased (and held) for this expansion. 

Stansted is currently running at well under 20m passengers per annum and could easily add 50% more passengers taking it up to a 30m throughput without any expansion.  In the case of the Scottish airports a great deal depends on which one of the two is disposed of, and that airport’s development possibilities bearing in mind serious competition from its former sibling.  Glasgow for years dominated due to its limited success with long haul flights, but Edinburgh has prospered since devolution and now has the larger throughput and is presumably the more profitable.

Gatwick was sold as airports struggled in the recession, for £1.5bn, to Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), a fund backed by Credit Suisse and GE.  Shareholders who have since bought stakes in the airport include Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, National Pension Service of Korea, California state fund Calpers and Future Fund of Australia, leaving GIP with 42%.

GIP was also the purchaser of London City Airport (LCY) in 2006 for £750m, this time at the top of the market.  Compare the numbers.  Gatwick’s passenger throughput in 2010 was 31.3m and London City 2.78m.  Gatwick is currently having £1bn spent on it, whilst the investment at LCY is notional, although important in the way it is being done.

Assuming all does go ahead one would take for granted that the purchaser(s) of the airports will be the buyer with the largest bid, ADI only interested in obtaining as high a price as possible. 

The AERBT view is simplistic in that the question of railway access is vital for the future of all three airports.

In the case of Gatwick its train station is essential to the well being of the operation, which has been recognised by GIP, with investment at the present time, and some ambitious plans at a later date.  With LCY pleas by the prospective airlines for the evolving DLR to be incorporated into the initial plans by Mowlem, the airport developers, were ignored with distain, the building group later (embarrassingly) departing with a fire sale price.  The new owners persuaded Government that the DLR should be re-routed, today 50% of passengers arriving by that route.

Stansted has a railway line, but it is a single track spur off the secondary London to Cambridge tracks.  Nicknamed the “Stansted Slow”, the Stansted Express belies its name and stops twice, takes at least 45 minutes from Liverpool Street, and is expensive.  It is not the sort of service that will attract airlines. 

BAA has virtually ignored any development of a modern train service into London.  For Stansted to prosper, with one or two runways, there is a great need for a fast (monorail?) link to Central London.  The same goes for Scotland too.  Both the airports have rail link plans, with tracks running parallel with the runway at Edinburgh and a tramway actually under construction.  The Scottish Government in 2009, highly controversially, cancelled plans for a train service to the centre Glasgow.  They need resurrecting.

Let us hope that the Monopolies Commission's deliberations finally put an end to the legal fracas, and that those involved with the management of the airports can get on with investing money on the future and not literally wasting it via the bottomless pit from which only the lawyers benefit. 

Malcolm Ginsberg
Editor in Chief

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Airbus A330 joins the South African Airways fleet

South African Airways has become the latest operator of the A330 family aircraft.  Seating 36 passengers in Business Class and 186 in Economy, the aircraft features the latest in-flight entertainment and will be used primarily on long haul routes from the airline’s bases in Johannesburg and Cape Town.

The new A330 will join South African Airlines existing Airbus fleet of 11 A319s, 14 A340-200/300s and 9 A340-600s, the airline benefiting from the manufacturer’s cockpit and operational commonality.  This allows airlines to use the same pool of pilots, cabin crews and maintenance engineers, resulting in operational flexibility and significant cost savings.

With a typical range capability of 7,250 nautical miles (for a two-class configuration), the A330-200 has the versatility to cover all ranges from regional to true long haul – ideal for point-to-point operations.  Typically from Cape Town the aircraft can make Sydney non-stop, and also New York. www.flysaa.com

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All flat-bed on international widebodies by 2013 says Delta

Delta Air Lines has confirmed that it plans to install 34 horizontal flat-bed BusinessElite seats on each of its 32 Airbus A330 aircraft used on international flights by 2013.  The cabin layout has been so designed that each passenger gains individual access.

The new A330 seat, manufactured by Weber Aircraft LLC, will be 81.7 inches in length and 20.5 inches wide, similar to the flat-bed product currently offered on Delta's 777 fleet.  It will also feature a 120-volt universal power outlet, USB port, personal LED reading lamp and a 15.4 inch personal video monitor with instant access to 250 new and classic movies, premium programming from HBO and Showtime, other television programming, video games and more than 4,000 digital music tracks.

With the completion of the A330 upgrade it is expected that all the 150 aircraft used on international long haul flights will have flat-bed seats. www.delta.com

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BAA Ltd to sell two airports

Whilst still subject to a final ruling by the Competition Commission it looks like Ferrovial, the Spanish owner of Britain's BAA airport group, will have to dispose of London’s Stansted Airport and either Glasgow or Edinburgh airports in Scotland within two years.

In March 2009, the Commission ordered the airports’ operator to sell Stansted and one of the two Scottish airports.  Various legal shenanigans followed but last week the Supreme Court turned down an application by BAA for a hearing at the UK’s final point of appeal.

The Competition Commission has said in a statement that it was examining whether there had been any significant developments since the original decision back in March 2009 that could cause it to reconsider.  It said BAA and other interested parties had submitted their views and that it should report back towards the end of next month. www.baa.com

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Continental goes United

United Airlines popular Economy Plus seating is to be added to Continental’s aircraft beginning in 2012, a further indication of the way that the once innovative product has now caught on with airlines all around the world.

United Continental Holdings Inc says the decision to maintain and expand Economy Plus across the combined operation marks a significant milestone in the product integration of United and Continental.  When fully deployed, the new United’s fleet will include more than 40,000 Economy Plus seats, claimed to be the largest amount of extra legroom economy seating available to customers of any airline in the world.

United introduced Economy Plus in 1999, offering up to five inches of additional legroom to customers seated in the forward section of the rear cabin.  There is no divider as such, just more space. www.united.com

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London W Hotel opens

W Hotels Worldwide last week premiered with a soft opening its first UK property, the W London-Leicester Square.  It is built on the site of the old Swiss centre in the heart of the West End’s entertainment district.  The discreet entrance is in Whitcomb Street with the reception on the first floor.

The building stands 10 storeys tall and is veiled in translucent glass that changes colour according to the time of day, the ambience of the area or happenings within the hotel. The introduction of W London marks a significant milestone in the W brand’s global expansion, coinciding with the opening of W Taipei.

The London hotel features 192 guestrooms, including 17 suites, three WOW suites and one Extreme WOW suite as well as the UK’s first Spice Market, a signature restaurant by three Michelin-starred chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

In Taipei the 405-room W Taipei, which is located in the central business district of Xinyi, is also encased in glass.  Rising 31 floors, offering a panoramic vista of the iconic 101 Tower, one of the world’s tallest buildings.  Guests can choose from 405 guestrooms and suites. www.starwoodhotels.com

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Science Museum in aerospace tours expansion

London visitors, and indeed London residents, might like to know that the Kensington Science Museum, with its fine aviation collection will be offering a selection of exclusive group tours, hosted by the museum’s own specialist curators, this summer.  Each tour, which will run for up to an hour, will highlight key objects in the collection and the museum’s expert guide will reveal hidden stories behind objects that have changed our lives.

Tours will be based on three fascinating subjects: Space, Medicine and Flight.  Learn about the dazzling number of satellites and rockets that have been launched into space and what it is like there.  Find out how the Beatles led to the first CT Scanner in a medical tour of Making the Modern World.  Starting in 1700, you will be guided through some of the medical milestones and practices of the last 300 years.  Take in the delights of flight, from ballooning mania, via flying pioneers the Wright Brothers and Amy Johnson, to modern jump jets.

Tours must be pre-booked and can be tailored for groups. www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/groups

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ON TOUR: The World's Quirkiest Museums

A survey by Virgin Atlantic has revealed that sightseeing and experiencing culture are the most popular activities for Brits when they travel abroad.  35.6% of the respondents chose sightseeing as their favourite holiday activity compared to 22.1% who chose lying in the sun and 4.3% who prefer to shop. 

Many travellers are familiar with cultural institutions such as the Met, the V&A, the Guggenheim and the Getty Centre.  What Virgin has done is to make some suggestions for tourists with the obscure, less well-documented and the just plain bizarre destinations.  There is only one catch (which is not too obscure) and that is all the suggestions are on the Virgin Atlantic route network.


The Bunny Museum, Los Angeles
27,351 Bunny Items!  Multiplying Daily!  Most Bunnies in the World! states the rather exuberant website of Pasadena’s Bunny Museum.  Located in the private home of bunny devotees and married couple Candace Frazee and Steve Lubanski, the ‘living museum’ is a testament to their longstanding love of the fluffy animal, and is jam-packed with bunny matter, real and stuffed. www.thebunnymuseum.com

The Meguro Parasitological Museum, Tokyo
Try to think about parasites without a feeling of fear, encourages Tokyo’s Meguro Parasitological Museum. It’s a good piece of advice, because a trip here will put visitors face to face with more than 300 specimens, including the world’s longest tapeworm which – at almost 9 metres – was pulled out of its human host.  There’s a gift shop too, so you can stock up on flea key rings and tick t-shirts. http://kiseichu.org/english.aspx

Musee Mecanique, San Francisco
Home to one of the world’s largest privately owned collections of mechanically operated antique arcade games and musical instruments; the Musee Mecanique is a truly enchanting dose of nostalgia.  Bring pocketfuls of quarters to play some of the ancient pinball machines, and don’t miss the toothpick fairground, handcrafted by the inmates of San Quentin prison. www.museemechanique.org

Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, New York
Heaven on earth for cartoon and comic book fans, MoCCA takes its stated mission to promote the appreciation of cartoon and comic art very seriously.  Every conceivable variation of the genre is represented within its collection, from animation and political illustrations to graphic novels and computer art.  It even organises an annual two-day festival which attracts thousands of fans, artists and publishers from across the globe – the next is 9-11 April 2011. www.moccany.org

The Propaganda Museum, Shanghai
With modern China forging a path towards prosperity, it’s easy to forget the extent to which the collective consciousness of the Chinese people was influenced by Mao and his Red Guard groups in the Cold War and Cultural Revolution eras.  The artworks of the Shanghai Propaganda Poster Art Center played an enormous part in attempting to create a sense of optimism, leader worship, industriousness, brotherhood and reverence for past glories, and this remarkable museum documents and preserves more than 5,000 examples. www.shanghaipropagandaart.com

The Museum of South African Hip-Hop, Cape Town
Newly opened this year, the first hip-hop museum in South Africa charts the turbulent course of the country’s hip-hop scene, from the voter education campaigns of Prophets of da City to award-winning rapper Zulu Boy.  More than just a museum, the ‘urban music emporium’ sports a production studio and practice facilities, and aims to promote hip-hop as a positive choice of activity for South Africa’s youth. www.samuseum.africanhiphop.com

Sulabh International Museum of Toilets, Delhi
The humble loo is displayed here in all its guises, from early privies to decorative chamber pots and bidets to fancy thrones.  Put your Delhi belly jokes to one side however, because the this museum is actually the side project of Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, who runs a well-respected non-profit organisation which campaigns for the expansion of sanitation to India’s poorest villages. (Maybe Embraer should sponsor this one – see AERBT above) www.sulabhtoiletmuseum.org

Tao Heung Museum of Food Culture, Hong Kong
Any museum that has a “Rice Zone” and a “Seasoning Zone” is surely worth a visit.  The Museum of Food Culture in Hong Kong, previously known as Foods of Mankind, was established to promote an understanding of different food cultures around the world and, along with various simulated restaurant settings; it offers guided tours of tableware, utensils and containers. www.taoheung.com.hk/eng/corporate/charityevents.jsp

The Mob Museum, Las Vegas
Although not set to open for another few months, the Mob Museum is already causing controversy with debates raging in Sin City between those who view a museum dedicated to the Mob as glamorising organised crime and those who see it as a genuine attempt to tell the real story behind what made Las Vegas the city it is today.  The museum, which aims to “provide fresh insights” into Vegas’s battle with crime over the past 70 years, will be located within the former federal courthouse and US Post Office, one of the last remaining historically significant buildings in Las Vegas and it is hoped it will help to revitalise the downtown area. www.themobmuseum.org

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Air Namibia goes all jet

With the planned acquisition of three Embraer ERJ 135 Air Namibia will, for the first time, be an all jet airline when the final delivery is made in June of this year.  The first aircraft has joined the fleet and last week began service life on routes to and from to Windhoek, Maun and Victoria Falls plus domestic sectors.  The Air Namibia fleet will then consist of two Airbus A340s, four Boeing 737-500s and the three Embraer ERJ 135s. 

The 37-seat aircraft replaces 19-passenger Beechcraft 1900D turboprops previously used on all domestic routes within Namibia.

With the majority of shares government-owned, Air Namibia is the national carrier of Namibia and is a niche carrier serving domestic points within Namibia and the immediate regional markets of Angola, Botswana, Ghana, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe.  The European gateway is Frankfurt. www.airnamibia.com.na

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Airport Conference in London

London’s Radisson Blu hotel in Portman Square is the venue for the third ACI (Airports Council International) conference and exhibition on 1 and 2 March 2011.

ICAO and IATA, in their most recent forecast of airline industry profits published in December 2010, have increased the estimate for 2010 net post-tax profits to US$15.1bn.  The forecast for 2011 is a little more wary, with net profits forecast to slip back to US$9.1bn.  The reasons cited for this more cautious outlook in 2011 is further oil and jet fuel rises and problems in some of the heavily indebted European countries.

A more profitable and growing airline sector, with an accompanying increase in passenger numbers and cargo traffic volumes, are a welcome development for the world's airports and their business partners.  However, the cyclicality of the aviation industry and the complexities of the global market place and regulatory environment ensure that there will always be new challenges to address and overcome.  ACI says that the conference will focus on the key issues relating to the sound financial management and economic sustainability of airports. www.aci-europe.org

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American Airlines and British Airways launch Tokyo - Haneda flights

Tokyo Haneda has now returned as a destination for oneworld partners American Airlines and British Airways after a 23-year gap.  Back in 1978 both airlines moved to the then brand new Narita, 40 miles from Tokyo, Haneda losing its status as a long haul gateway. 

The opening of a further runway at Haneda late last year has enabled a number of carriers the opportunity to offer both Japanese gateways.  AA and BA both introduced new operations, yesterday, Sunday 20 February.

American is now offering the only flights between Tokyo Haneda and New York, with its daily JFK schedule complementing fellow oneworld member Japan Airlines' already established services between Haneda and San Francisco and Paris CDG. www.aa.com  www.ba.com

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Blue1 goes double daily at Heathrow

Star Alliance member Blue1, the Finnish arm of SAS, has gone double daily from Helsinki to Heathrow.  Since 1 January it has been a full member of Star Alliance and is in the process of replacing its 84-seat Avro RJ fleet with 115-seat Boeing 717s (which started life as the MD 5).

For summer 2011, Blue1 is adding three new European mainly leisure destinations.  Helsinki – Edinburgh will operate on Mondays and Fridays from 29 April; Helsinki – Marseille on Tuesdays and Saturdays from 31 May and Saturday only services to Pula (Croatia), located on the Adriatic Sea on the Istrian Peninsula, will operate every Saturday from 28 May until 24 September. www.blue1.com

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Heliport for London?

A report in The Sunday Times suggests that a new London heliport is under serious consideration using the redundant HMS Ark Royal as the platform.

Due to be paid off shortly Ark Royal, moored somewhere east of Tower Bridge, could provide for a landing operation, accommodation and also as a memorial to Britain’s aircraft carrier fleet and in particular the role they played in the Falklands War.

Air traffic control should prove to be no problem as the Thames effectively provides for the H4 helicopter route, the actual positioning of the ship more critical, quick access to Canary Wharf and other prime locations essential.  London City Airport, from which helicopters are banned under the original planning authorisation, could play a role in the operation.  HMS Belfast has proved that keeping elderly ships is very expensive but a combination of commercial activities and voluntary support should make it work financially.

London’s only other effective heliport, Battersea (owners Von Essen Hotels also the operator of PremiAir) would probably welcome another landing area on the other side of town.  Ark Royal has two sister ships, Invincible due to be scrapped at the end of March, and Illustrious, which will continue as a command vessel until 2014. www.royalnavy.mod.uk

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Oxford Airport update

Perhaps better known historically for its professional pilot training (Willie Walsh gained his pilot's licence at the airport, ab initio flying still representing 56% the airport's movements) Oxford Airport will this summer host scheduled flights to Mallorca as well as the established Jersey services.  With its location close by both the M40 and the meeting point of the A34, A40 and A44 it is an easy alternative to Birmingham.

New Airport Director Chris Orphanou said “Oxford has already made its mark in business aviation and is now attracting interest for niche, shuttle-style regional commercial flights.  The airport has supportive investors and mature development plans”.  Mr Orphanou replaces Steve Jones who departed at the end of 2010 for a new role as General Manager at Al Bateen Executive Airport in Abu Dhabi.

A 4,440m2 (47,800sq ft) hangar was constructed on the south side of the main airport site during 2010 and there are plans for another major hangar (55,000sq ft) to be constructed during 2011.  Oxford points out that it is one of only two General Aviation/Business Aviation airports in the UK with full DEFRA approval for the importation of domestic pets.  Owners of dogs, cats and ferrets can transport their pets on flights into the airport from overseas under the Pet Travel Scheme (PETS). www.oxfordairport.co.uk

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Shangri-La introduces the Kerry Brand

With the opening of the Kerry Hotel Pudong, Shanghai on 18 February Shangri-La has debuted a completely new 5-star brand.  Unique for a Shanghai hotel it brews its own beers.

“Kerry Hotels will appeal to the business traveller who prefers a vibrant and relaxed environment without compromising on service or quality.  The hotels are contemporary in style and provide a seamless link between business, entertainment and recreation.  Extensive leisure facilities are designed to become a social activity hub for both hotel guests and the local community,” said Greg Dogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd.

The Kerry Hotel Pudong has 574 guestrooms and suites, ranging in size from 42 to 168sq m, with sweeping views of Century Park or the city.  All rooms are equipped with 40-inch flat-screen televisions, iPod docking stations and complimentary broadband and wireless internet.  Seven floors are devoted to Club accommodation, including 33 suites, where guests can enjoy round-the-clock butler and Club concierge services and complimentary daily breakfasts and evening cocktails. www.shangri-la.com

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AND FINALLY: A place for nervous passengers

AERBT reports on a serious press release issued by Embraer which states that the  European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has approved for a private rest room at the rear of its entry level Phenom 100 executive jet.

“This much-awaited product improvement comes to enhance the Phenom 100’s seating capacity, and is a result of listening to our customers,” said Mauricio Almeida, Embraer Vice President, Programs – Executive Jets. “Embraer is committed to offering unique, customer centred solutions, and continues to work hard to further improve this successful and highly popular airplane.”

Translated into simple language this means that a nervous passenger can actually sit on the facility for the landing.

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