This review was revised 18 October
* items include readers letters
16 MAY 2011
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Nick West, current Chairman of the Aviation Club of the United Kingdom, has joined Raytheon UK as Communications Director responsible for a broad range of marketing and communications activities. For the last seven years he held a similar position with Boeing UK.
Nick was educated at Wymondham College in Norfolk, and served with the Royal Marines, initially with 40 Commando in Northern Ireland. He trained as a helicopter pilot with the Army Air Corps and then flew Lynx helicopters with the Commando Brigade Air Squadron for four years, including a five-month period as the detachment commander in Belize and saw operations in Kurdistan during the relief operation Safe Haven in 1991. In 1994 after passing the Junior Command Staff Course at Sandhurst, he served as a second in command and Company Commander, as well as Intelligence Officer on the 45 Commando Northern Ireland tour in Fermanagh. As a Royal Marine Captain he concluded his service time with the Directorate of Naval Staff Duties in the Ministry of Defence.
Nick is one of the few to have actually flown the new Boeing 787 simulator at Crawly. “They gave me a hard time,” he said. www.raytheon.co.uk
Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey gave a very erudite and informal press briefing last Thursday lunchtime before addressing BA cabin crew at a mass meeting to update them on talks between the union and airline bosses. He praised new BA CEO Keith Williams and refused to be drawn into any discussion regarding Willie Walsh. At this gathering nearly 2,000 members of the trade union’s cabin crew branch, the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA), gave a go-head for a dispute settlement. This still has to be confirmed by postal ballot of the 9,000 members, but this in considered a formality.
Under the settlement staff travel concessions, one of the key issues holding up an agreement, has been returned to the strikers. A two-year pay deal was also confirmed which, subject to productivity improvements, will result in staff receiving increases of 4% and 3.5% each year respectively. In return, Unite has accepted the introduction of ‘new fleet’ changes, which will see fresh recruits employed on less generous terms than existing personnel. Such proposed changes to working practices were the key trigger for industrial action in the first place. www.ba.com www.unitetheunion.com
Emirates has confirmed that Johannesburg will be the next destination slated for its flagship A380 aircraft. The daily A380 service will start 1 October 2011.
The announcement of Emirates’ first scheduled A380 service to Africa comes as the airline unveiled its full year financial results for 2010-11. These revealed a surge in the number of South African travellers flying with Emirates – with total passenger growth up 12% over the previous financial year. Overall revenue from the South African market also rose sharply, up 34% from 2009-10.
Emirates currently operates a three times daily service to Johannesburg, a double-daily service to Cape Town and a daily service to Durban; while the airline’s fleet of 15 A380s operate on services from Dubai to Heathrow (double-daily), Manchester, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Toronto, Seoul, Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Jeddah, New York, Hong Kong, Sydney and Auckland.
Emirates currently serves 19-passenger and cargo destinations across the African continent. www.emirates.com
Turkish budget airline Pegasus has introduced a three times a week connecting flight from Stansted to Tehran's Imam Khomeini International Airport via Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen. Iran's capital Tehran is the 27th international destination to a network of flights across Europe, Russia and the Middle East. The Stansted – Istanbul sector is a daily operation and, just as with the onward routing to Tehran, is flown by a single class Boeing 737-800. Services operate outbound Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays.
Competition is provided from Heathrow with non-stop flights by both bmi and Iran Air.
Pegasus Airlines was founded in 1989 and today has a fleet of 35 Boeing 737 aircraft, the vast majority 800 series. It is the largest private airline in Turkey. www.pegasusairlines.com
easyJet is backing Luton in two ways. Britain’s second largest airline, based at the airport of the same name, is much to the forefront of a campaign to rename the whole conurbation as the City of Luton (Luton City International Airport?).
At the same time the airline is the shirt sponsor of Luton Town Football Club, where controversy reigns as to whether the club need alter its moniker should the whole place change its designation.
In the meantime the soccer team has more important issues at stake, including promotion to the Football League, many in agreement that next Saturday’s (21 May) match v Wimbledon is the most important in the club’s 125 year history.
easyJet is doing its bit by offering the team a three day-beachside holiday in Barcelona if they win. The airline flies twice daily from Luton and in total comes into Spain’s second largest city from 16 points in Europe. www.easyjet.com www.lutontown.co.uk
OAG, the airline database provider, is introducing a new product that will offer the most flexible information solution, delivering notifications about the latest schedule changes as soon as they happen. Called OAG Alerts it will ensure that the information is right up to date.
The fully-automated system can be personalised by users to cover airlines, airports, particular routes and even codeshare partnerships. The flexible alert parameters mean that OAG customers can amend the search criteria as and when they choose enabling revenue management, commercial planning and operational teams to make informed decisions about the latest changes in the market to gain a competitive advantage. No longer will users have to wait for the monthly update. www.oag.com
The first Vodafone Union Jack branded Heathrow Express train has gone into service as the mobile phone company opens a campaign that coincides with widespread network improvements across London.
The carriages are wrapped in an iconic Union Jack design, along the length of the train and bear the slogan “Connecting People in 198 Countries” highlighting Vodafone’s global network at home and abroad. The design is made up of 600 place names from all around the world.
Over recent months, Vodafone has made heavy investment in improving its network across the capital, adding new sites and improving existing ones. All seven trains that operate the service are expected to be wrapped by the end of June. www.vodafone.co.uk
On Friday 10 May 2002, your Editor in Chief was emerging from an occasional visit to a gym in Darkes Lane, perhaps 100 yards from Potters Bar Railway Station. He heard what he described at the time, as an almighty bang, followed by an eerie silence. The Potters Bar rail crash had taken place. Six passengers were killed plus a pedestrian walking in the street. A small memorial garden today sits at a point just by the station where much of the debris fell.
It has taken 10 years for the truth of the accident to emerge. Last week Network Rail, the successor to Railtrack, and responsible for the maintenance of the permanent way, accepted the blame.
At St Albans Crown Court, Network Rail was fined £3m, the money paid out of the public purse. None of the officials responsible, nor at Jarvis, the contractor who actually performed the work on the railway track, were named or fined.
Network Rail has issued the standard statement saying that safety is their paramount obligation, a phrase now used in many industries as a plain cover up. Is safety really an overriding factor or is the chase for profit (or a bonus) the ultimate goal?
Have you had a look at your local railway station recently? What you will generally see is an appalling trackside mess with dense foliage everywhere that has not been dealt with for years, sometimes six feet tall. What lies within this growth no one can tell. Here is a recipe for disaster, whether the weeds undermining the track or those of a certain mindset using the undergrowth as cover for dastardly deeds.
More elderly readers may be reminded of the wonderful station gardens that abounded under British Rail. OK the organisation left a lot to be desired but at least it took pride with its product and the infrastructure. Stationmasters competed nationally and there were nominal prizes galore.
AERBT has been unable to verify a timescale but it seems obvious that at some point over the last decade Network Rail decided that cleaning the trackside was not for them and a big money saving could be achieved by cutting it out. Personal bonus's might also be realized and nobody would notice how the targets were met.
The result of this policy is noted above.
In 2012 the nation is being showcased with the London Olympics. The whole place is being tidied up. But not the railways.
How long are we to continue with the current situation? Who will carry the blame once an accident/incident occurs? Will those ultimately responsible once again get away with their delegation of duty scot-free?
Network Rail is not a pretty sight.
With Europe’s major business aviation show, EBACE, taking place at Geneva this week (17/18/19 May) leading aviation law firm Gates and Partners, has seen a positive start for the business aviation market in 2011.
The London-based firm is seeing a more robust market and notes that sources of finance are becoming more enthusiastic. Aoife O’Sullivan, a Partner, comments: “Whilst there is still a long way to go to achieve previous activity, we have certainly seen an increase in business jet transactions. Demand for the mid to heavy jets is still high, but the lighter end of the market is also picking up pace.”
She attributes this to the increasing openness of banks who are returning to the table to finance deals. “Financiers remain quite strict about the calibre of their buyers, but they are now eyeing up deals that six months ago they would not have considered,” says O’Sullivan. “Terms may be stricter considering factors such as age of aircraft, stability of purchaser’s finances, origin of buyer, etc, but there is general acceptance that the industry is regaining value.” She says that the show is a marvellous opportunity to wander around and gauge the business feeling. www.gatesandpartners.com www.ebace.aero
Once the largest hotel on the whole of the French Riviera, and still one of the most prestigious, the Hotel Martinez, has had 30 prestige sea view rooms added. The 405-guestroom property is to the quieter eastern end of the main Cannes Bay facing the beach on the Boulevard de la Croisette. The hotel’s La Palme d’Or restaurant has a Michelin 2-star rating.
Whilst designed in the hotel’s Art-Déco style the new rooms’ state-of-the-art equipment has not been forgotten. The spacious white marble bathroom features an elegant black mosaic.
Starting in June, the 11 Penthouse Junior Suites on the hotel’s prestigious top floor will be completely redecorated. The end of the year will see the transformation of the bar and ground floor terrace around the pool. In total, a budget of €10m has been allocated in 2011 to carry out these works. www.hotel-martinez.com
US Airways, not a high profile operator in Europe, has introduced a daily summer service between its major US hub at Charlotte, North Carolina, and Dublin. The two-class Boeing 757 operation complements the airline’s all year round flights from the Irish capital to the airline’s international gateway at Philadelphia.
Now essentially the very successful America West Airlines, rebranded, and based at Tempe, Arizona, US Airways is the sixth largest American carrier with a fleet of 341 aircraft including Airbus, Boeing and Embraer 190 series. The airline is a member of the Star Alliance.
US Airways is one of the few operators to offer both Gatwick and Heathrow, with a daily service from the major London airport to Philadelphia, and with also a single flight every day, from the south London operation to Charlotte. British Airways supplies competition to Philadelphia but for Charlotte it has the route to itself. www.usairways.com
Biggin Hill Airport in Kent, just off the M25, has been chosen as the site for Business Aircraft Europe 2011 on 14-15 September. Organised by specialist show organisers MIU Events Ltd it will expand on the Light Jets Europe and Very Light Jets conferences which have been run successfully by the same company for the past five years.
The new event will comprise an expo of 30+ stands, a static display of aircraft, a paid-for conference and a networking party. The event last year was held at Oxford Airport, but without the display stands.
MIU says it will also create a unique showcase for companies looking to target those travelling into London ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Whilst the aircraft and stands are for the most part self-explanatory, the whole enterprise will essentially evolve around the conference programme, which last year offered a diversified programme on all aspects of executive aviation and kept delegates very busy over the two days. The networking aspect of the gathering also proved to be of great value. See last year's gathering. www.aerbt.co.uk/a/201039#2598 www.miuevents.com
With excitement beginning to rise in anticipation of next year’s London Olympic Games all the details are beginning to fit together. At Geneva, later this week (Wednesday), Dawn Lindsey, London 2012 Olympic Airspace Planning, Directorate of Airspace Policy, UK Civil Aviation Authority and Phil Dyckins, Head of International Air Services at the UK Department for Transport, will discuss aviation security with special emphasis on next year’s UK events.
Also as part of the lead-up to London 2012, more than 10,000 volunteers, 8,000 athletes from more than 50 countries and more than 250,000 spectators will be invited to take part in a 12-month rehearsal from May 2011 to May 2012.
Organised by LOCOG (London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games), a programme will focus on testing the sporting fields of play; results, timing and scoring systems; how teams work together and how people move around venues. There are different groupings of events: events which LOCOG is organising and ticketing, events run by LOGOG that are not ticketed, and events which are not organised by LOCOG.
The four ticketed LOCOG events this summer are:
Mountain Bike: 31 July – Hadleigh Farm, Essex
Beach Volleyball: 9-14 August – Horse Guards Parade
Basketball: 16-21 August – Basketball Arena, Olympic Park
BMX: 19-20 August – BMX Track, Olympic Park
An aircraft solely powered by the sun made an international flight over the weekend in a publicity stunt to show the potential for pollution-free air travel. The Solar Impulse took off from Payerne in western Switzerland and landed at Brussels after a 13-hour flight. Geneva to Brussels International takes a little over one hour by scheduled jet.
"The objective is to demonstrate what we can do with existing technology in terms of renewable energy and energy savings," project co-founder and pilot Andre Borschberg said by telephone during the flight. He believes such solar-harnessing technology can be used to power cars and homes.
The Solar Impulse project began in 2003 with a 10-year budget of €90m and has involved engineers from Swiss lift maker Schindler and research aid from Belgian chemicals group Solvay.
The aeroplane, which requires 12,000 solar cells, embarked on its maiden sortie in April 2010 and three months later completed a 26-hour flight, a record flying time for a solar powered aircraft. A larger prototype is scheduled to fly around the world in 2013. The aircraft is registered HB-SIA. www.solarimpulse.com
London’s Southbank, the historical Bermondsey, used to be a pretty rundown area of former wharfs and warehouses.
Severely bombed during World War II, its renaissance begun 60 years ago with the Festival of Britain, the Festival Hall, the world famous concert hall, now the only reminder of what was a very successful short term project. Sir Michael Cain and Tommy Steele were born in the area. It stretches from what was once was County Hall to Tower Bridge.
Today it is vibrant and plays host to the London Eye, the National Film Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, the resurrected Oxo building plus City Hall, the oddly named headquarters of the Greater London Authority. Ken Livingstone, the previous Mayor, titled it thus in a thwarted bid to take over the square mile which is the real City of London.
Bermondsey is home to many other famous and interesting buildings too, including Her Majesty’s Ship Belfast.
HMS Belfast, permanently moored in the Pool of London, opposite The Tower, is the largest currently preserved former Royal Navy vessel. It is in fact a light cruiser, and not a battleship or major aircraft carrier, and says something for the way Great Britain looks after its waterborne heritage. In the United States the final class of big battlewagons has been grabbed by the sponsoring States and sit massively as a memorial to a glorious past.
In truth London and the Thames should be proud of HMS Belfast, a proud World War II warrior, built at Harland and Woolf in the city it is named after, launched on St Patrick’s Day 1938 and a veteran of the Arctic convoys to the Soviet Union during 1943. She played an important role in the Battle of North Cape, assisting in the destruction of the German warship Scharnhorst and was involved in the D Day landings. Belfast saw further combat action in 1950-52 during the Korean War. In retirement she was acquired by the Belfast Trust and opened to the public in 1971 and is now part of the Imperial War Museum (IWM). Today she is one of London’s most popular tourist attractions with around 250,000 visitors per year. She is popular with schools, who can easily manage the ship and nearby IWM in a day. Very educational. Also used for conferences BAE Systems recently chose the ship for its recent media briefing on its Regional Aircraft activities. Private rooms are available for functions including the Wardroom.
When Belfast was first opened to the public, visitors were limited to the upper decks and forward superstructure. Today nine decks are open to the public. Access to the ship is via a walkway.
The official guidebook to HMS Belfast divides the ship into three broad sections.
The first of these, 'Life on board the ship', focuses on the experience of serving at sea. Restored compartments, some populated with dressed figures, illustrate the crew's living conditions and the ship's various facilities such as the sick bay, galley, laundry, chapel, mess decks and NAAFI.
The second section, 'The inner workings', below the waterline and protected by the ship's armoured belt, contains core mechanical, electrical and communication systems. As well as the engine and boiler rooms, other compartments include the transmitting station (housing the ship's Admiralty Fire Control Table, a mechanical computer), the forward steering position and one of Belfast's six-inch shell rooms and magazines.
The third section, 'Action stations', includes the upper deck and forward superstructure with the ship's armament, fire control, and command facilities. Areas open to the public include the operations room, Admiral's bridge and gun direction platform. To emphasise the range of the ship's armament, the forward six-inch guns of A and B Turrets are aimed at the London Gateway service area on the M1 motorway, some 12½ miles away on the outskirts of London.
One of the 4-inch gun mounts and a 4-inch shell hoist are kept in working order for use during blank-firing demonstrations by the Wavy Navy re-enactment group. The group also stage recreations of wartime activities, such as the battle of North Cape.
In 2002 Belfast introduced 'Kip in a Ship', allowing school and youth groups to stay onboard Belfast overnight, sleeping in bunks on a restored mess deck. At £38 per night it includes bed but no breakfast!
In addition to the various areas of the ship open to visitors, some compartments have been fitted out as dedicated exhibition space. Permanent exhibitions include 'HMS Belfast in War and Peace' and 'Life at Sea'. From time to time current warships berth alongside, and also cruise ships.
The ship’s relationship with Russia remains to this day. Two of the ship’s badly corroded masts were re-manufactured at the Severnaya Verf shipyard near St Petersburg, with financial support from Russian businessmen. On 19 October 2010 the new masts were unveiled at a dedication ceremony attended by HMS Belfast veterans, Prince Phillip and officials from the Russian Embassy and Government.
Getting to HMS Belfast could not be easier. Either take the splendid riverside walk or find your way to London Bridge Station. Hays Wharf, once exactly what it says, but now an up market shopping and restaurant area, is well sign posted and beyond that sits Belfast. Also very close by is The Shard, destined to become the tallest building in Europe when completed next year. Within its structure the London Shangri-La is being fitted out.
The visit cost is £13.50 (2011) but children under 16 are free and there are various concession prices. All visitors are provided with a free hand held personal Acoustiguide sound guide with an earpiece and available in English, French, German and Spanish. http://hmsbelfast.iwm.org.uk
Korean Air is the latest carrier to ready itself for the introduction of the Airbus A380 into its fleet. The flight and ground tests are being carried out from the Airbus facility in Hamburg, where the aircraft has undergone painting and full cabin furnishing before flying to Toulouse for the delivery ceremony. Korean Air will become the sixth operator of the A380 when it begins flying the aircraft in June.
During the checks all cabin systems will be thoroughly tested, including air flow and air conditioning, lighting, galleys, washrooms, seats and in-flight entertainment. Special on-board passenger amenities include the world's first onboard Duty Free Showcase. Korean Air’s A380s will have a total of only 407 seats: 12 ultra luxurious First Class suites and 301 Economy Class seats on the lower deck with the whole of the upper deck devoted to the business traveller with 94 spacious ‘Prestige’ class seats.
Korean Air has ordered 10 A380 aircraft with the first five due by the end of 2011 and an additional five by 2014. The carrier will initially operate the A380 from Seoul to destinations in Asia, followed by non-stop transpacific services to New York and Los Angeles. www.koreanair.com
easyJet has made a return to Belfast International Airport from Luton. The airline transferred the service to George Best Belfast City Airport in January last year, but says it makes commercial sense to come back to Belfast International.
Ali Gayward, easyJet Commercial Manager, said: "Moving to Belfast City was always a trial, but in over a year we saw no tangible benefits.
"Our 20 other routes operate from Belfast International and we are now consolidating our overall operation by reinstating our Luton flights from there as well.
"Luton is a popular route for both business and leisure travellers, and dovetails well with our other London area services from Belfast International to Stansted and Gatwick. We now operate up to 140 return flights to London every week which has been welcomed by the business community."
There will be up to three flights daily from Belfast International to Luton. www.easyjet.com
HiAir, a Lincoln-based corporate travel operation, is to test a Doncaster (DSA) to Amsterdam (AMS) scheduled service later this year. Monday 5 September has been confirmed for the maiden flight. The airline aims to deliver a business class service with an economy price tag for customers utilising a fully pressurised BAe Jetstream 32 – 19-seat aircraft – creating what it calls “a personal approach to flying”. HiAir says it is keen to trial the route in a bid to attract business people and holidaymakers alike, who wish to fly locally and buy into their one class, one price and one standard philosophy.
Mike Morton, Doncaster Sheffield Airport Director, said: "This is a great opportunity for the region to get behind a local company who are committed to offering travellers a high quality service to a key European airport. We know from past experience that Amsterdam is a destination that businesses in particular are keen to see served from this airport and we hope that interest from passengers will see this service come to fruition later in the year.
“HiAir offer something different for passengers and we will work closely with them over the coming weeks to help promote the benefits of their service and the convenience of flying from Robin Hood Airport."
Departure time is 07:30 to arrive 10:00 local. The return trip leaves Schiphol at 18:40 arriving 19:10. www.hiair.co.uk
Propellers may have been all the rage at East Midlands Airport (EMA) years ago, but attached to aircraft. They have now made a, sort of, comeback but this time firmly fixed to the ground, and installed as wind turbines. EMA is the first UK airport to install turbines of this magnitude.
After making a commitment in December 2006 to make ground operations carbon neutral by 2012, the airport sought to implement this innovative project, never yet achieved by a British airport, to generate energy from wind power.
After a comprehensive process and working in partnership with experienced specialists, the airport successfully managed to produce a comprehensive and robust safety case that has allowed commercial scale wind turbines to be installed on an airport site.
Accepted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the safety case will now be produced into an off the shelf product for other airports and businesses, both in and out of the aviation industry. The turbines measure 45 metres including the rotor blades, which have a radius of 15 metres and together they will produce 5% of the airport’s electricity, enough to power 150 houses. www.magworld.co.uk
For this coming winter’s programme Lufthansa is launching a new service from Munich to Jeddah via Riyadh. The route will be flown by an Airbus A340. Riyadh, the capital and largest city in Saudi Arabia, is currently served with a Boeing 737-800 operated on behalf of Lufthansa by the Swiss business jet operator PrivatAir.
In the winter timetable, Riyadh and Jeddah will be served thrice weekly from Munich, supplementing the daily flights already operated from Frankfurt.
Jeddah is Saudi Arabia’s main port and has a population of 3m. The city is considered to be the principal gateway to Mecca and has many historic sights to offer. Jeddah is also an important industrial centre on the Red Sea. www.lufthansa.com
Three more diverse routes it is difficult to imagine, but Qatar Airways announced simultaneously last week services from its Doha hub to Baku (Azerbaijan), Tbilisi (Georgia) and Entebbe (Uganda). The three new routes will be operated with Airbus A320 aircraft in a two-class configuration of 12 seats in Business Class and 132 in Economy.
Daily non-stop scheduled flights to Uganda’s second largest city of Entebbe are due to begin on 2 November, marking the carrier’s first new route to the African continent since early 2007. Four weeks later, effective 30 November, the airline expands into Central Asia introducing daily non-stop flights to Baku, which continue onto Tbilisi, the capital cities of Azerbaijan and Georgia respectively.
The statement comes as the carrier prepares for a busy few months ahead with the launch of scheduled flights to Shiraz, Venice and Montreal in June; Kolkata (Calcutta) in July; Sofia in September and Oslo in October. www.qatarairways.com
A brand new executive facility, called the ‘Breeze Priority Lounge’, has opened at Southampton Airport. Located on the terminal’s first floor it is available to all departing passengers aged over 18, at a cost of just £17.50 per person and can hold up to 30 people at a time.
Passengers who pre-book access can use the facilities for up to three hours before their flight. The price includes; priority security access, comfortable seating, laptop and mobile phone charge points, complementary wi-fi, flight information screens, as well as a selection of high quality locally produced snacks and drinks. Refreshments include hand-made biscuits, natural mineral water and top quality local wines all sourced from Hampshire-based award-winning companies Little Rose Bakery, Hildon Water and Wickham Vineyards.
Southampton Airport is owned by BAA Ltd who also operates Heathrow. However the airport is in competition with the UK’s main hub for destinations to the north and points out that passengers can transit the building in a far shorter time than Heathrow. Parking is cheaper too and the airport has its own railway station now connected by a bridge. www.southamptonairport.com
AERBT is pleased to announce that the unnamed major aerospace company who attempted to offer journalists one-way way tickets from EBACE to a European plant has backed down and is now offering up to US$300 for hacks to buy their own return flights to anywhere in Europe. You have to make your own arrangements, which is fair enough. A win however for AERBT!
We are not giving away too many clues, it would just not be fair, but the destination is served by two airports, very recently the subject of a major budget operator jumping ship and returning to its former base. The aerospace company’s advanced manufacturing operation should gain good coverage.
Geneva here we come! (It’s this week). www.ebace.aero