20 AUGUST 2012

YOUR WORDS


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Aviation Club speaker

The September luncheon of the Aviation Club of the United Kingdom (Thursday 13 September Institute of Directors, London) at which Keith Williams CEO of British Airways is the guest speaker, is now sold out.  A wait list has been established.

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Buyers meet at Luton

Luton Airport has launched ‘Meet the Buyer’, due to take place on 18 October 2012. 

The event is hosted in conjunction with Luton Borough Council, the local Chambers of Commerce, the University of Bedfordshire and the Federation of Small Businesses.  The aim of the day is to give local suppliers the opportunity to showcase their services to airport related companies.

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Garden Inn Netherlands

Hilton Garden Inn, a mid-market hotel brand, has announced the opening of its first property in The Netherlands.  Hilton Garden Inn Leiden is situated in the key business region between The Hague and Amsterdam and brings the total number of Hilton Worldwide properties in the country to seven.

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Liverpool DoubleTree

Hilton DoubleTree’s expansion in the UK continues with the announcement of a franchise agreement with Municipal Annex Ltd for management company Sanguine Hospitality to introduce an upscale property in Liverpool. 

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Ryanair low fuel

Air safety, always a priority with Ryanair, seems to have been compromised with no less than three aircraft forced to make emergency landings at Valencia (Spain) within minutes of each other in late July when the aircraft ran low on fuel.  Mayday calls were made (although the authorities have yet to confirm).

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UK train operator

From Sunday 9 December the First Group will take over the UK main line train service known  as ‘InterCity West Coast’ from Virgin Trains. Rail Minister Theresa Villiers made the announcement last week.  It is a fourteen year contract.

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COMMENT:

Stratford International Airport – In the London Borough of Newham

Your Editor must express an interest in the following.  As an Executive Board Member of Brymon Airways back in 1987 he actually conjured up the name London City Airport.  At the time the airport developer, John Mowlem and Company, were wrestling with a designator for the former quay in what was then a pretty remote part of Docklands.  Name it after the company was one thought and Churchill International another.  A chance remark by Brymon Chairman, the late Charles Stuart, that his wife Anne had attended City of London School for Girls clicked with yours truly and a press release suggesting London City Airport for the new operation ensured.  The title was clearly the correct one and quickly caught on.  Not so the three letter IATA code LCA which Brymon tried to pinch from Larnaca (which it still has).  LCY is in fact fine.

Following a story in The Business Travel News (see BTN 6 August), London City Airport has put out one of the daftest press releases of recent times complaining bitterly regarding the official IATA designation of Southend Airport as London Southend.  Never mind that LCY is not in the City but in the London Borough of Newham.  Heathrow is partly in Hounslow, another London Borough.

Is London City, now under a new Chief Executive, worried about the competition?  It should not be.  It is a fine airport, well linked into the capital’s transport system via the DLR and moving around three million passengers a year, mostly on business trips.  Southend, which dates back to 1915, has had a new lease of life under the Stobart ownership.  It will move around half a million passengers over the next 12 months, and has, as its main operator, easyJet, whose aircraft cannot even get into LCY.  It certainly deserves the London designator.  Readers may recall that one of the best schemes for a new London airport, scuttled by the Wilson government in 1974, was at Maplin, just to the east of Southend. 

Commenting on the IATA decision, Matthew Hall, Chief Commercial Officer of London City Airport, suggested that the actual number of airports entitled to call themselves ‘London’ airports is one.  “Giving the ‘London’ designation to an airport which is nearly an hour away by train is faintly ridiculous and extremely misleading.  You have to feel for the visitor who expects to land in London and ends up in a field on the east coast”.

No doubt he will also blame Michael O’Leary for this nonsense.  It is interesting to note that Carcassonne, 60 miles from Toulouse, after which he controversially named it, has now been relegated on the Ryanair website, probably half its customers going east rather than west.  It stands on its own feet as Carcassonne Airport.

London Southend must be delighted with the publicity surrounding the LCY move.  Yes, you can fly to Barcelona from both, but not New York.  Both have a railway station.  And both are very easy to transit.  Parking is cheaper at Southend.

Everyone agrees that if London is to move ahead it needs further airport capacity.  People are geographically not as daft as London City is trying to make out.  They know where they are going too.  Ryanair has proven that.

The London airports need to work together to ensure that our city remains the commercial and tourist capital of the world.  London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted and London Southend. In this publication, however, we tend to omit the word London when writing about these airports to  keep each story to a maximum of 200 words. www.londoncityairport.com

Click below for the LCY press release

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BA and ice cream

British Airways is making sure that youngsters know all about the airline from the youngest age.  Customers at Gatwick are being helped to get into the holiday mood with a summer send-off courtesy of the airline and Gatwick Airport.

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Embraer hotel?

Whilst the Olympic Games of 2016 might seem a long way away, Brazil stays in the headlines with the soccer World Cup in 2014, and also Embraer building on its position as the world’s fourth largest aircraft producer.

With São José dos Campos, Embraer’s home, just one hour’s drive away the Botanique Hotel & Spa, Campos do Jordão, opens in November. 

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IAG and the Euro

The owner of British Airways and Iberia, IAG, has rung the alarm bells on its exposure to the Spanish financial problems, announcing contingency plans for a Euro exit by that country.  A team has been set up to study the impact on the business if Europe's fourth largest economy left the single European currency.

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Luton secures future

London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), effectively the local Council, and London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL), owned by Spanish conglomerate Abertis, have signed a contract which gives security to the Barcelona-based company as it develops its investment through to 2031.
 
Later this year LLAOL will submit a development application which will be subject to the statutory consultation process including public consultation by the Local Planning Authority.
 
Any increase in capacity at the airport will take place within the existing boundary and use the existing runway.
 
Passenger through-put generates income in the region of £10m to Luton Borough Council that is critical for maintaining services to its community and supporting its capital programme.  Current revenue provides a further £14m invested in local communities through supporting charitable organisations.  Income would increase with future passenger growth.

Luton Airport is the UK’s fifth biggest airport.  It is a headquarters for easyJet and is a major base for Wizz Air, Ryanair and Monarch.  The airport continues to be the largest employer in the Luton area. www.london-luton.co.uk

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Stansted hotel

A brand new Premier Inn at Stansted Airport has officially opened.  It is sited close by the Mid-Stay Car Park on the main approach road to the airport.   It is about a five-minute ride away from the main terminal building and the airport railway station via a courtesy shuttle bus which operates every 30 minutes. 

Each of the 303 air-conditioned rooms 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 wi-fi internet access.  At the on-site Thyme restaurant you can take the All You Can Eat ‘Premier Breakfast’.  During the day it offers a mix of traditional and contemporary dishes. www.premierinn.com

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Voronezh Russia

The city of Voronezh, situated 300 miles south of Moscow, will host a Marriott Hotel in 2015. 

With a population of nearly one million it has limited air links westward.  Its major claim to aeronautical fame being the home of the Russian supersonic airliner known as Concordski, Tu-144.  One still remains in storage.

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ON TOUR: The Olympics

As Editor in Chief of The Business Travel News just occasionally I write an ON TOUR piece for my own enjoyment and record.  This is the case with the Olympics. 

What follows is a sort of diary of my own time over an enthralling 16 days. It is not a commentary on any individual sport.  I will leave that to the experts in their field.

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AND FINALLY

Senior citizens are the nation’s leading carriers of Aids

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Airport numbers down

British airport operator BAA reported a 4.1% fall in July passenger traffic on last year as Britons stayed home to watch the Olympics and tourists deferred their travel until after the Games.

BAA, owned by Spanish infrastructure group Ferrovial, said 9.6m passengers passed through its five UK airports last month, compared with about 10m in July 2011.

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Berlin delayed again

Willy Brandt Berlin-Brandenburg Airport, the new hub for the German capital, looks set for yet another embarrassing delay.  Reports coming out of the city indicate that the latest opening date, 17 March 2013, is unlikely to be met.

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Environmental targets

NATS, the UK’s major provider of air traffic services and essentially a partnership between the Government and the UK airlines, has released the second quarter of performance data for its world-first environmental flight efficiency metric.

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Kuala Lumpur daily

Malaysia Airlines has introduced daily non-stop A380 flights between Heathrow and Kuala Lumpur (KLIA) as its second Airbus superjumbo joins the fleet.  This comes six weeks after the airline celebrated the launch of the inaugural A380 service, which operated three times per week up until now.

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Phuket for Emirates

Emirates continues its network expansion with the announcement of the start of daily services to Phuket in Thailand.  This popular holiday destination is the country's largest island.

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Stelios fails

EasyJet shareholders have rebuffed an attempt by the budget airline's founder and largest shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou to oust Chairman Michael Rake.  This was the latest attempt by the entrepreneur to change the direction that the airline is going, the challenge brought about due to Rake’s involvement with Barclays Bank, where he is Deputy Chairman.

Once the Haji-Ioannou family investment is taken away it is very clear that the vast majority of shareholders, mostly from The City, are pleased with the airline’s results.

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Windjet grounded

Italy's beleaguered budget airline, Windjet, has stopped operations Sunday with aviation authority ENAC revoking its operating licence.  Passengers were stranded overnight at Rome's Fiumicino airport.

The cash-strapped carrier was in negotiations with Alitalia regarding a take-over but these broke down.  It was founded in 2003 by Antonino Pulvirenti, owner, Chairman and CEO and the power behind Calcio Catania, Serie A soccer club.  It currently operates 12 Airbus A320 aircraft

ENAC said Windjet had about 300,000 bookings through October. http://w3.volawindjet.it

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