21 MAY 2012

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Air Nigeria arrives at Gatwick

Tracing its heritage back to Virgin Nigeria, Air Nigeria has arrived at Gatwick and has introduced a daily service to Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos.  The carrier faces indirect competition at Heathrow from another national carrier Arik Air, and both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Departing from Gatwick at 09:50 the flight will arrive in Lagos at 17:50 with the returning flight leaving Lagos at 23:50 and landing at Gatwick at 05:50 the following day.  The A330-200 aircraft is configured 24 Business Class and 244 in Economy.  Flight time is around seven hours.

Air Nigeria began operations in June 2005 and today operates domestic and regional flights across 15 locations in Nigeria and in the West and Central African region. www.myairnigeria.com

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Berlin delay continued

More details have emerged concerning the delay with the opening of the new Willy Brandt Berlin International Airport (see last week’s issue).  After regulators raised concerns about fire-safety systems, it will not now open until the end of the airline winter season in March 2013.

What has annoyed many people, both travellers and those involved in the airline industry, is the fact that the delay announcement was made less than one month before the new airport was due to open.  Staff at the existing Tegel had either been made redundant, or promised re-location to the new site.  Airlines were planning new routes and schedules.  Lufthansa says that their new services to both Birmingham and Manchester will nevertheless go ahead but to Tegel.

Air Berlin indicated this week that it would seek compensation for the delay.  Others are sure to follow.  German efficiency has been called into question.

When completed the airport will have a capacity of 27m passengers a year, or about half that of Frankfurt.  Tegel is currently moving around 15m.  There are plans to further expand the airport when it finally opens. http://preview.berlin-airport.de/en

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Central London Premier Inn

Just 12 months after it was announced (see AERBT 30 May 2011) Premier Inn has officially opened its new 83 guest room hotel at No1 Leicester Place, Leicester Square, in the heart of London’s theatre district.

Premier Inn intends to open 20 properties across London by the end of 2013 as part of a major expansion drive for the hotel chain, with Heathrow and the Westfield shopping complex at Stratford the most recent.

Premier Inn is the UK’s biggest hotel chain and is currently the largest provider of budget hotels within the M25 area.

The new hotel is also a leader in innovation with ‘floating’ bedrooms equipped with double soundproofing to ensure guests get a good night’s sleep despite being within walking distance of many popular theatres, shops and London tourist attractions.

Each guest room caters for up to two adults and two children (aged 15 and under) and includes an en-suite bathroom; a king size bed; remote control TV with Freeview; tea/coffee making facilities, and a spacious desk area with 30 minutes free wi-fi internet access.  The hotel also offers the All You Can Eat ‘Premier Breakfast’. www.premierinn.com

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Delta International Media Summit

Fifty journalists from all over the world jetted into Atlanta last week for Delta Air Lines well organised International Media Summit.  A 15-hour non-stop flight from Dubai set the record.  The event coincided with the opening of Atlanta’s new Concourse F (see elsewhere in this issue).

Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson, for may years a stalwart at Continental, introduced the briefings.  Richard joined Delta in 2007 and led the very successful buyout of Northwest Airlines, with the integration now essentially complete.  Mr Anderson emphasized teamwork as being one of the major factors in the airline's success.  Last year Delta carried 163m passengers and made profits of US$800m+ at a load factor of 82%.  It currently employs 75,000 staff and has a fleet of around 740 aircraft.

Asked about fleet renewal Mr Anderson said that there was an ongoing monitoring of the situation but the airline was not interested in being a lead carrier for a new type (787).  He ruled out the Airbus A380 saying that it was not for Delta and asked about airline mergers with emphasis on American, he dismissed the question with a sharp “no discussion”.  Regarding international service (40% of the business in money terms), origination is split 50/50 from either end. www.delta.com

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Hertz electric

A discussion with representatives from the Office of Low Emissions Vehicles, Transport for London’s Source London and PricewaterhouseCoopers on the electric vehicle (EV) revolution was hosted by Hertz last week.  The car hire giant chose the occasion to release figures which show that the average electric vehicle rental is six hours, with an average journey of 16.81 miles.  Hertz offers a diverse fleet of EVs and plug-in hybrids including Chevrolet, GM, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Renault, Tesla and Vauxhall.

Whilst electric vehicles have become a reality in London, the speakers suggested that collaboration will be key to accelerating EV adoption more widely throughout the UK for both consumers and businesses.

Speaking at the event, Michel Taride, President, Hertz International and Executive Vice President, Hertz Corporation, said: “The car rental industry, local and central government, charging station providers, businesses and consumers now need to come together and each play their role in spreading the EV revolution throughout the UK.”

In less than a year, Hertz’s global EV programme and strategy, which is part of the Hertz rental offer and Hertz on Demand car share, has grown from a vision to a market reality in more than 10 cities across three continents. www.aerbt.co.uk/article/3921&phrase=hertz

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Oxford Aviation Academy

Once known as the Oxford Air Training School, and established around 1965, the Oxford Aviation Academy (OAA) has been acquired by Montreal-based simulation and training specialist CAE for C$314m (US$309m).  The deal will add seven training centres and 40 full-flight simulators (FFS) to CAE’s worldwide base of facilities.  Over the years the school has trained many thousands of ab-intio pilots, particularly for British Airways, and internationally too starting with ANA in 1970.  It became the first educational establishment of any kind to win the Queen’s Award for Industry.

"Civil aerospace market fundamentals are strong and we are increasing our position at an opportune time.  With this acquisition, CAE responds to market demand with an increased footprint and a complete end-to-end solution for commercial aviation," said CAE President and CEO Marc Parent.

CAE-operated flight schools will now be branded CAE Oxford Aviation Academy. OAA’s seven facilities are located in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the UK and Hong Kong, providing flight crew, cabin crew and maintenance training for Airbus, Boeing, BAE Systems, Embraer and Saab aircraft.  Its four ab-initio flight academies are based in Australia, Hong Kong, the UK and the US.   www.cae.com www.oaa.com

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Starbucks & Flybe

Flybe passengers who are coffee aficionados or just simply avid devotees of the world’s best known coffee brand can now enjoy a cup of the Seattle invented brew.  Not just a range of freshly made Starbucks coffee but also tea and hot chocolate on board.

Simon Lilley, UK Director of Marketing at Flybe, comments: “In Starbucks we have found a like-minded partner that is committed to exceptional customer service, doing business responsibly and to serving the best coffee possible.  We are very pleased that our passengers will now be able to enjoy an enticing selection of this well-known product that will provide that extra special quality edge to their travel experience with Flybe.”

Starbucks VP of Marketing, Ian Cranna, added: “Customers told us that they now expect the best possible coffee wherever they are.  With Starbucks now found in many new places, we are delighted to be partnering with Flybe to bring the great taste of Starbucks onboard to make passengers’ travels even more enjoyable.”
 
The Starbucks products now available on all 200-plus Flybe flights are VIA Colombia Medium Roast coffee, Tazo teas, namely English Breakfast, Earl Grey and Mint, and Starbucks Hot Cocoa. www.flybe.com

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Please note that from next Monday 28 May AERBT is being renamed The Business Travel News (BTNews).  We have a new website too, and that can be found on www.btnews.co.uk.  Why the change?  We just found the old name something of a mouthful.  Please ensure newsletter@btnews.co.uk is on your 'white list' if you receive our email newsletter.

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COMMENT: A tale of two airports

Opening new airports, or even launching upgrades, is not easy.  Somehow the two main parties concerned, the airlines and the airport operator, have to be brought together for a common cause and common objectives.  In fact satisfying the airlines is not the most difficult of tasks.  In very simple terms the schedules and the ground handling have to be co-ordinated, and that is it.

For the airport it is very much more complex. 

They have the airlines breathing on them – the local (and sometimes national) politicos; the various design and engineering boards concerned with safety; border guards and security; fuel and other suppliers; ground transport; health and safety.  The list goes on and on.  It is not easy.

Over the years there has been delivery successes with new airports/terminals – Munich Terminal 2 (2002) for example, but many, many failures, some more serious than others.  The original Paris Charles de Gaulle (and more recently with terminal expansion – walls collapsing); Madrid Terminal 4 (2006) and of course Heathrow Terminal 5 (2008) which had problems.  Each one of them was sorted out. 

As you will read in this issue of AERBT (the last AERBT in its present form) due to open within weeks of each other were Atlanta Concourse F and Willy Brandt Berlin International Airport, both essentially new terminals built on existing sites.

Atlanta has met its target date and Berlin failed.  In two or three years’ time no one will be interested in the American accomplishment and Berlin’s problems will be forgotten.  However for now it is cause for celebration in one place and commiseration (and perhaps repercussions) in the other.

Today’s Atlanta Hartsfield International Airport is the product of far sighted city leaders from the 1960s, perhaps the same visionaries who won the 1996 Olympic games for the capital of Georgia, not one of America’s largest municipalities with a population of less than half a million.  It is however the world’s largest airport.  The fine new terminal (whilst not quite complete in some respects) has been delivered more of less on time and on budget.  All involved are to be congratulated.

The former East German Berlin gateway of Schönefeld is currently a bit of a mess in terms of its reincarnation as Willy Brandt Berlin International Airport with a date in March 2013 now being suggested for the official opening.  The late cancellation of its inauguration has been a serious embarrassment for both the city authorities and Lufthansa.  Perhaps it is some kind of retribution for the unnecessary politically inspired closure of Tempelhof, Berlin’s inner city airport (which could still be resurrected).

At the end of the day Berlin International will work.  One could even question if 12 gates for the core worldwide gateway at Atlanta is enough. 

There is no such thing as the perfect airport.  Hartsfield will soon be picking up awards for the best global gateway.  Berlin will probably do so in the future.

Role on 12-12-12 when New Doha International Airport is due to open.   The world will be watching.

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Atlantic terminal opening

Delta Air Lines flight 295 to Tokyo-Narita became the first flight to depart Concourse F at the impressive new Maynard H. Jackson Jr International Terminal at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport last Wednesday 16 May.  Shortly after flight 295’s departure, DL 177 from Dublin (Ireland) inaugurated arrivals.

Atlanta is the world’s largest airport and Delta the world’s biggest air carrier.  The airline is profitable too.  Atlanta could be described as the hub of America, 92m people passing through last year.  Of these only 10m were international traffic, and of that number just 3m were either departing or terminating at Hartsfield.

Essentially Concourse F, this latest innovation, is a separate structure from the main airport with its own highway access, 12 air bridges (jetways) and no less than 40 passport control positions.  It is a large and impressive structure and never likely to feel busy.  Concourse E, and its 42 gates, will also be used for international services but inbound passengers for Atlanta are directed (via a short train ride) to Concourse F for immigration and landside access.  A full report on the new terminal will appear shortly. www.atlanta-airport.com

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Birmingham Hilton

The Hampton by Hilton at Birmingham Broad Street has opened.  It is the largest Hampton outside of the US.  The 284-room property is the 10th of the mid-priced brand’s hotels in the UK, joining Hampton by Hilton’s already established hotels in locations such as Braintree, Croydon, Liverpool and Newport.

The hotel offers the brand’s signatures including free high-speed internet access throughout, free hot breakfast, 24-hour snack area featuring light dishes and a full bar and features a fitness centre.

The Birmingham Hampton by Hilton is located in the heart of the city’s main thoroughfare and is a short walk from the International Convention Centre (ICC), the Brindley Place development and the Bullring shopping centre.

Upcoming Hampton by Hilton openings in the UK include Hampton by Hilton St George’s Park in Burton-upon-Trent and Hampton by Hilton London Waterloo, the brand’s first hotel to open in central London. http://hamptoninn.hilton.co.uk

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Business Travel Market

Now only weeks away (13/14 June) Business Travel Market has announced a raft of new and returning exhibitors to this year's event, offering key meeting opportunities to business travel buyers and managers.  Back once again are Airplus International, Carlson Wagonlit Travel, Eurostar, Flybe, HRS, Qatar Airways, Starwood Hotels, Travelodge and Virgin Atlantic.  They will be joined for the first time at Excel by the likes of American Express Corporate Card, Avis, Hertz, Hong Kong Airlines, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels and Park Plaza.

It is the quality of the brands that Event Director Paul Robin sees as fundamental.  “These leading brands offer the wide range of products and services demanded by our high quality buyers.  Many of those on our Hosted Buyer Programme are regular attendees from all over the UK and Europe who enjoy their choice of pre-arranged appointments, networking with their peers and the opportunity to attend relevant educational sessions provided by ACTE – it is a powerful mix.”

“We have an event that represents the very best of the industry in terms of providing practical solutions and contacts to help those managing travel for their organisations to meet the challenges they face.”  Visit The Business Travel News stand 746 (opposite the Qatar Airways sponsored lounge)  www.businesstravelmarket.co.uk

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Emirates Air Line

Travellers on the DLR to London City Airport were surprised last week as testing started on the Emirates Air Line, London Gateway, between North Greenwich Arena (O2) and Excel, the cable car operation hanging above the rail units.  All 34 cabins were in action as they took off for their inaugural load testing flight.  The service is expected to open during the summer, well in advance of the Olympics.  Both venues are competition centres for London 2012 events.

The innovative link will provide a much needed new river crossing with the capacity to carry up to 2,500 people per hour in each direction – the equivalent of 30 buses per hour.  It is likely to become a major tourist attraction in its own right.

When the Emirates Air Line opens, passengers will have spectacular views of the city including St Paul’s Cathedral, the Gherkin, Thames Barrier and the Olympic Park.  It will also be possible to see as far as Wembley Stadium Arch, 15 miles away.  www.tfl.gov.uk

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Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco

San Francisco’s Mandarin Oriental hotel has had a major upgrade to coincide with the property’s 25th anniversary.  It was the Hong Kong-based group’s first hotel in the United States.  Located in the heart of the city the hotel offers unparalleled panoramic views of the bay and beyond from the top 11 floors of San Francisco’s third tallest building, 345 California Center.

Regulars will quickly notice an entirely new Italian travertine marble lobby.  Mandarin Oriental, San Francisco’s 158 guest rooms include seven suites, which offer dramatic views of San Francisco and the Bay.  Each room is individually designed, with a furnished, 800sq ft landscaped terrace.  The interiors have been thoroughly modernized and decorated in lush textures with a cool blue and silver palette.  Spacious bathrooms provide a spa-like ambience with luxury rain head showers and freestanding sculptural bathtubs furnished with Molton Brown bath amenities to allow guests to indulge in comfort and relaxation. 

Later this summer the hotel will unveil more than 5,000sq ft of elegantly designed, versatile, and technologically-advanced function rooms.  All of the hotel’s function space is conveniently situated on the second level, with outdoor space for intimate gatherings located on the 40th floor. www.mandarinoriental.com/sanfrancisco

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Route cancellations

Airlines continue to be less than ambitious when it comes to announcing route cancellations and therefore Virgin Atlantic are to be applauded for confirming that their Heathrow – Nairobi service is to be dropped from 23 September.  This leaves British Airways and Kenya Airways on the route. 

Chief Commercial Officer Julie Southern said:  “We have taken the difficult decision to withdraw our services between London and Nairobi.  Despite the best efforts of our employees, external factors including the high price of fuel, increasing aviation taxes in the UK and insufficient passenger numbers throughout the past five years have contributed to the decision.”  Unanswered is what will happen to the slots and the Airbus A340 used on the service.  Things could change.  Virgin has twice cancelled Chicago and twice reinstated.

Flybe is dropping Belfast City – Bristol from 10 June.  SIA is to cancel Athens – Abu Dhabi "before the end of the year".

Also dropping a major route is Lufthansa who is to cancel its twice daily London City – Munich flights from 26 October, the end of the summer season.  Munich is served by 56 flights a week out of Heathrow, 19 from Birmingham and 20 Manchester.  French readers should note Air Austral is dropping its St. Denis de la Reunion – Sydney – Noumea service from 12 August. www.airfrance.com  www.virgin-atlantic.com www.lufthansa.com

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Toronto Four Seasons

The home city of the Four Seasons hotel group since it was founded in 1961, Toronto, is again to host one of its outstanding properties.  The brand new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto, located in the city’s glamorous Yorkville neighbourhood, is now accepting reservations for guest stays starting on 1 October 2012 and beyond.

Consisting of two towers, the 55-storey main block and a 26-floor residential building, the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto is designed to represent the new generation of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts worldwide with 259 state-of-the-art guest rooms, an elaborate spa and fitness centre, function rooms and an international style restaurant.

“The city doesn’t feel the same without having a refuge in Yorkville where our guests can escape to,” explains Dimitrios Zarikos, Regional Vice President and General Manager of the Hotel.  “It is our goal to have guests back inside a Four Seasons Hotel in Toronto in no time at all." www.fourseasons.com

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ON TOUR: EBACE Geneva

Cautious optimism as Europe’s business aviation fraternity starts to rebound

The big aircraft orders of yesteryear may have been missing, but last week’s annual European Business Aviation Convention and Exhibition (EBACE) didn’t fail to disappoint exhibitors and visitors.  There was a distinct international flavour too this year with new initiatives such as the founding of the African Business Aviation Association and a tie-up between Qatar Airways and Bombardier’s fractional partner FlexJet announced here.  Airline boss CEO Akbar Al Baker flew in to announce the partnership whereby the carrier’s premium passengers flying from the Middle East to its North American destinations (Houston, Montreal, New York and Washington DC) will have the opportunity to charter FlexJet’s 50-strong fleet of Challenger 605 and 300 business jets, in a unique deal with Qatar’s expanding business jet division, Qatar Executive.  Al Baker also disclosed that Qatar Executive was in talks with Bombardier regarding firming up a Letter of Intent for 10 new Global 7000s and 8000s. 

Now in its 12th year, EBACE has become a firm fixture for those, primarily in the EMEA region, looking to do business and network. 

The show welcomed 12,638 visitors from 99 countries – similar to the previous year – despite the new Sunday to Wednesday format (owing to the Ascension Holiday).  Out on the static 60 aircraft were on show in an area 10% larger than previous years.  A total 491 exhibitors occupied a record-breaking 2,280 booth spaces in Halls 5, 6 and 7 of the Geneva Palexpo Centre venue.

Importantly, the gathering presented an opportunity to voice the challenges EBAA’s 500-plus members are facing to influencers and EU officials.  “This year is going to be a pivotal year in the European theatre,” Chief Executive Fabio Gamba warned earlier at a pre-show press luncheon, sponsored by Dassault. 

With a general mood of ‘cautious optimism,’ the theme of this year’s EBACE was ‘flying the return to growth.’  Policy makers were called to the opening session of EBACE 2012 to hear that proposed new rules on airport slots – due to be voted on in September, ETS (emissions trading) – discriminatory and confusing and the fierce taxes being imposed by certain cash-strapped European governments – are all conspiring to hinder industry growth. 

Officials were reminded that business aviation contributes €20bn annually to the economy and generates €5.7bn in salaries and wages.  Ed Bolen, US NBAA President, further warned that ETS, already threatening to spark a trade war following decisions by the US, Russia, India and China not to comply with the scheme, will also harm US Part 91 bizjet operators flying into Europe. 

Bombardier and Cessna unveil new aircraft models

Highlights from the manufacturers included Bombardier’s announcement of two new models, the new Learjet 70 and 75, successors to the iconic Learjet 40 and 45XRs, but more significantly underlining the manufacturer’s belief that the light to mid-sized business market (sluggish compared with the super mid/large jet market) will make a strong recovery.  Both aircraft, with a 2,000nm range and more powerful new Honeywell TFE731-40BR engines, feature significant cabin upgrades over the existing models.  The new aircraft are set to enter service in 2013.  Tellingly, these two new aircraft are the first brand new models Bombardier has launched at an EBACE Show.  It usually unveils new aircraft at the larger NBAA Show.  But with the RoW (rest of world) taking over from North America now in terms of new aircraft deliveries, EBACE has grown in stature. 

Cessna too announced it was offering a stretched version of its new midsize cabin Citation Latitude, the Longitude, and the largest jet yet in the Citation family.  New President and CEO Scott Ernest pledged the aircraft will be able to fly 4,000nm at Mach 0.82.  Maiden flight will be in three years’ time.

Gulfstream takes the fast route to EBACE

But when it came to speed, Gulfstream played the ace card this year, flying its all new ultra large cabin, ultra long range Gulfstream 650 to Geneva to mark its European debut.  The aircraft flew an unconfirmed record flight of 3,780nm miles (7,000km) from Washington Dulles in just 6hrs 55mins, cruising at Mach 0.90 to Mach 0.92 throughout.  First customer deliveries are due this year.

Hawker Beechcraft reassured customers, suppliers and media here that it was business as usual despite its recent Chapter 11, protection from creditor status.  To prove a point it announced new UK Service Centre agreements with Gama Aviation and Harrods Aviation for its King Air/Premier and Hawker business jet series, respectively and led the pack with order announcements trumpeting contracts for 11 aircraft, including three Hawker 4000 super-midsize business jets, a Hawker 400XPR, six King Air 350i turboprops and a King Air 250, worth more than US$120m.

New ventures and bases

Business aircraft operators took the opportunity to air their news about new ventures and bases.  Farnborough, UK headquartered Gama Group announced the establishment of a Swiss base in Geneva and the opening of an office in Hong Kong where it is positioning to offer aircraft charter and management opportunities.  Sister company Gama Engineering also showcased its new Infant Seat – the only one in the world certified for take offs and landings on most business jets.  William Gordon, aged three and a half, and EBACE’s youngest visitor demonstrated the seat’s comfort and safety value aboard a Challenger 300 out in the static.

Exhibiting UK business aviation airports attracted interest from visiting operators and charter brokers keen to hear about their preparations for the Olympics.  Northolt Airport stressed it wasn’t just restricted to Head of State flights only, Southend highlighted its closest proximity to the Stadium, Oxford Airport was exhibiting with London Heliport for the first time, now under shared ownership, and talked up synergies and financial incentives of selecting the two bases.  Chauffeur company First Class Cars announced the opening of a base at Farnborough Airport this month where it will support clients coming in to both the airport and staying at the adjacent Aviator hotel, which reports brisk business for July’s air show too.  The TAG-owned airport, which has just opened new office and hangar facilities, is confident it will pick up a third of the additional 3,000 business jet movements anticipated over the period of the Games.

Marshall Group-owned Cambridge Airport too, one of a handful of regional airports to be open 24/7 during the period, was at EBACE talking up planned further development on the south side of the airport.  Its FBO partner ExecuJet Europe held a Pimms party on its stand to celebrate six months at its new UK base, where it now employs 45 staff having started to transfer its operations and dispatch from Zurich to the UK.  Switzerland’s business and charter management company Perfect Aviation SA is also bolstering its presence in the UK at Biggin Hill, having added two more aircraft – a Learjet 45 and Challenger 605 – to its managed fleet.  However, CEO Will Curtis is encouraging his clients from the Europe and Russia to fly to the Med instead this summer.  He believes UK-based operators will likely be disadvantaged operating from bases lying within heavily restricted airspace.

As usual, business aviation interiors were a big interest at EBACE.  Flying Colours of Canada exhibited at the show talking up its most ambitious CRJ 200 conversion project tshower which when completed to ExecLiner configuration will feature a bedroom, shower and office and state-of-the-art IFE including high speed internet through Viasat Ku Band.  “Clients coming to us want an aircraft personalised to their requirements so they can achieve the benefits of a wide body jet but at a competitive price," said Eric Gillespie, Director and Project Manager. 

EBACE next year returns to a Tuesday through to Thursday format, running from 21 May to 23 May 2013. www.ebace.aero

Words by Alison Chambers and pictures by Anthony Quayle - both of Emerald Media www.emeraldmedia.co.uk

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AND FINALLY: Life before the computer

 *    Memory was something that you lost with age

*    An application was for employment

*    A programme you purchased at the theatre

*    A cursor used profanity

*    A web was where a spider lived

*    A virus was the flu

*    A keyboard was the working part of a piano

*    A hard drive was a long trip

*    A mouse pad was the home of a mouse

     And if you had a 3½” floppy a visit to the doctor was called for

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BA childrenís Olympics

British Airways is launching London 2012 Olympic-themed entertainment packs to be given out to children on BA flights during the Olympic and Paralympic games.

Read full article   Index

British Airways new routes

BA is in the continued process of introducing new routes (and perhaps losing frequencies) following the bmi take-over.  Readers should watch carefully the airline web site as announcements do not always seem to be synchronised. 

Willie Walsh has now stated that the airline is intending to operate from Heathrow to Leeds Bradford (UK), Rotterdam (Holland) and Zagreb, the capital and largest city in Croatia.  Leeds Bradford is particularly interesting as in the distant past it was serviced by the then BMA and has been the subject of unsuccessful attempts by both bmi and Flybe with flights to Gatwick.  It also has good rail connections to London but very limited international flights. 

BA has already announced a new route from Heathrow to Seoul commencing 2 December.  Also new for BA is the introduction of a Gatwick – Las Vegas service 29 October on a three times a week basis.  A three-class Boeing 777 will be used on the route.  The airline also flies to Las Vegas daily from Heathrow, as does Virgin Atlantic. www.ba.com

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Cimber keeps flying

Reports from Copenhagen indicate that bankrupt Danish airline Cimber Sterling is to keep flying under the Cimber name (see AERBT 4 May).  Its former Ukrainian owner Igor Kolomoisky will buy Cimber Air Maintenance and Cimber Air Data units with the current management taking control of the airline itself.  No financial details have been given.

"The deals mean that a significant part of Cimber Sterling's activities have now been sold and not least, that between 200 and 260 jobs have been saved," the company said.

Cimber says it will focus on wet leasing and charter, operating flights for other companies.

The airline, listed on the Copenhagen bourse in an initial public offering in 2009, had tottered on the brink of insolvency last year, but was rescued by Kolomoisky.

SAS has confirmed an agreement with Cimber to continue to operate four aircraft for the Star Alliance partner. www.cimber.com

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Etihad to Addis Ababa

Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, is to be added to the Etihad Airways global network from November 2012.

The airline will also start flying to the Indian city of Ahmedabad in the same month.  The two new cities will expand the carrier's reach to 86-passenger and cargo destinations around the world.
 
The new routes will be served by a two-class Airbus A320 and support the aims of Etihad Airways to connect key strategic cities with its home base of Abu Dhabi, enhancing commercial and leisure travel with the UAE’s capital city.
 
Flights between Abu Dhabi and Addis Ababa, its ninth destination in Africa, will initially operate five times a week, increasing to daily in 2013.  Services will operate daily between Abu Dhabi and Ahmedabad, the airline’s ninth destination in India.  Ethiopia is the largest African market that Etihad Airways is yet to serve and the second most populous country in Africa.  It is expected to contribute strong business and leisure traffic within the airline’s network.
 
The airline anticipates strong traffic flows from Ahmedabad to Abu Dhabi and onto its European and US destinations. www.etihadairways.com

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OAG and Routes Europe

Routes Europe opens today (21 May) at Tallinn, the annual coming together of airlines and airports.  OAG, the travel data specialist, has chosen this vital gathering to launch “Migo” an innovative online product designed to deal with the problems caused by volcanic ash clouds, snow, strikes and last minute operational situations grounding flights.  The Luton based company has devised this new aid to enable airport and travel agency handling teams to instantly identify alternative travel options for passengers - not just by air but by land and sea as well.

OAG Product Director Emma Swinnerton commented: "Travellers generally recognise that severe weather and extraordinary events like the ash cloud are going to have a significant impact on flights.  The real frustration comes when they encounter huge difficulty in finding alternative ways to get to where they want to go and the understandable inability of airport and airline staff to give all the options."

"For the first time, Migo delivers all those answers in one easy-to-use, instantly accessible package and which will provide those companies with a real customer service advantage.  They will quickly, easily and reliably be able to re-route and re-book travellers and get them round whatever the problem may be," Swinnerton added. www.migo.aero

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St Johnís Canada from London

Air Canada, a member of Star Alliance, has re-launched a daily non-stop seasonal operation between St John's, Newfoundland and Heathrow.  The service also provides two-way easy access from the most easterly part of Canada to Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Indian sub-continent.

Flights will operate using a 120-seat Airbus A319 aircraft in a two-cabin configuration offering a choice of Executive Class and Economy service.  Air Canada has expanded the selection on its In-flight Entertainment System to offer customers twice as many movies to choose from than previously.  The enriched personalised seatback system will give each customer free access to a menu of up to 150 movies designed to suit every taste, ranging from the latest Hollywood blockbuster to classic art house and international films.

Air Canada's seasonal St John's – Heathrow service will complement the carrier's daily non-stop flights to London from Calgary, Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver.  In 2012 the carrier will offer up to 84 flights each week from Canada to Heathrow. www.aircanada.com

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