8 OCTOBER 2012


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Air Canada future plans

Canadian Star Alliance carrier Air Canada has unveiled a fleet plan providing for international growth at both the mainline operation and its new low-cost leisure airline to be launched in 2013.

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Cathay’s new Recaro seats

Business Class passengers on Cathay Pacific regional flights might get lucky over the next few weeks as the airline begins to take delivery of its first new Recaro modular units. 

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Kingfisher nears collapse?

Indian airline Kingfisher, an offshoot of the beer company with the same name and ownership, failed to operate a single flight last week due to strike action by staff who say that they have not been paid for up to seven months.  No flights are planned until 12 October at the earliest.

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oneworld's big news

Rumours gaining much exposure last week indicated that Qatar Airways is about to become a member of the oneworld Alliance, joining British Airways, American Airlines, Qantas and Cathay Pacific, and soon Malaysia, amongst others.

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Paul Wait to GTMC

The popular Paul Wait, Virgin Atlantic’s GM UK, global and multinational sales, has been appointed Chief Executive of the GTMC, the UK’s leading professional industry body representing travel management companies, and will take up the role from 2 January 2013.

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Shepherd's Bush Ibis

Ibis London Shepherd's Bush will open this month close by the Westfield shopping complex and Shepherd's Bush Underground station.
The hotel has 128 rooms, all featuring the new ergonomically-engineered concept bed “Sweet Bed by ibis”, designed, so they say, to deliver the ultimate good night's sleep. 

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Check THE DAILY UPDATE at www.btnews.co.uk first thing in the morning (Tuesday to Friday).

BA’s experimental service

As part of its £5bn investment programme to make travel more comfortable and convenient for customers, British Airways is trialling a new service which will allow customers to use an automatic check-in service.  Indications are that it could change the future of airline check-in, as it is known today.

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COMMENT: The London airport dilemma?

It has been a very interesting week regarding literally the future of London, and certainly for its airport development.

On Thursday Mayor Boris Johnson held a very well-attended briefing session at City Hall attracting a whole cross section of interests from the established legacy airlines happily resident at Heathrow, to a whole group of Council Leaders, including Tony Arbour, a member of the London Assembly, who, astonishingly admitted to never having flown since 1971.

The following day the liberal think tank CentreForum published what it called “Bigger and quieter: the right answer for aviation”.

The timing of these reports was most interesting, both appearing in the few days between the two major political party conference gatherings and gaining much media attention.  Draw your own conclusions.

Let us deal with CentreForum first.

The survey was drawn up by Tim Leunig, Chief Economist, and some of it makes sense.  However it does itself no credit by suggesting a four-runway airport at Luton.  Sitting between the west coast and east coast main lines, and the M1 and A1 motorways Luton is in theory at least as good an option as any, but the airport operator, and the freeholder (the local Council) have long given up any hopes of even a two-runway airport.  Mr Leunig has destroyed his own credibility. He also talks about a four-runway Heathrow west of the current site.  Impossible!

As to Boris Johnson’s ideas he appears to be giving some ground.  No longer the Estuary or nothing.  Stansted is clearly within his sight too.  What Mr Johnson has achieved is a real focus on the airport problem which was in danger of being swept under the carpet by the government.

Your Editor in Chief had the privilege of asking the last question in an enthralling final session, Business Travel News being highly praised from the podium.  “The current Heathrow is 98% full.  The airlines don’t want the other existing airports.  What is going to happen in the next 15 years, minimum, whilst the mess is sorted out?”

No real answer from the Mayor.  He does not know.  Nor does anyone.  Willie Walsh seems to have given up with Heathrow (see below – Walsh abandons Heathrow upgrade).

Business Travel News will energetically support the campaign for the independent Commission (The Davies report) not to be – politically – stretched out for the next three years, but truncated into 18 months absolute maximum.  Let the result be a campaign issue at the next General Election.

BTN highlighted the problem with our Maplin story.  Nothing has changed.  We told the history of that politically doomed project back in January. www.btnews.co.uk/article/4405

We need to see real progress now.  2018 is too late.  www.london.gov.uk/increasing-londons-airport-capacity

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Air France winter

With what it calls “an unstable economic environment”, the Air France-KLM Group has decided for the 2012-13 winter season to stabilize its growth in capacity compared with the same period last year.  There is a minuscule increase of 0.5% on long haul operations with medium range services reducing by the same amount. 

During the 2012-13 winter season the service offered on board Air France long haul aircraft will be significantly upgraded.  This follows the re-branding of the cabin services. (See BTN 1 October

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British 787 first

Thomson Airways will next year become the first leisure carrier to begin passenger operations with the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.  It is the lead UK operator. 

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easyJet’s amazing map

Described by one airline ‘old hand’ as “bloody amazing” easyJet has launched a new map-based search to help customers find the perfect trip.

Called ‘Inspire Me’ it is designed to help customers discover exactly what they are looking for at the click of a mouse.

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Latest Transport Minister speaks

A fascinating day is promised on 29 November at London’s Grosvenor Hotel.  Called “UK AirRail: Connecting for Growth” it brings together a gathering of senior airline people, and railway operators.

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SWISS to Singapore

Lufthansa’s SWISS (Swiss International Air Lines ) division is to introduce a daily non-stop flight from Zurich to Singapore on 12 May next year.  The new longhaul service to one of Asia’s prime business hubs will be operated by a three-class 219 seat Airbus A340.  Flight time is around 11 hours.  Star Alliance partner Singapore Airlines is already on the route.

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ON TOUR: World Routes 2012

The 18th World Route Development Forum (Routes) took place in Abu Dhabi last week attended by 2,800 senior professionals representing over 300 airlines and 750 airports as well as numerous governments, destinations and tour operators.

The event attracted a record number of senior executives with 40 airline CEOs and 250 airport Directors and board members as well as 16 tourism ministers registered to attend. 

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On test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring Writers


Real Deal with Suzuki’s Biggest Model

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AND FINALLY: Motoring problem

A policeman stops a motorist for speeding in a small English town.

“But officer”, he begins, “I can explain”.

The copper was having none of it.

“I am going to hold you in the station until the Inspector gets back”.

More noises from the driver.

“OK, for those comments you can go into the cells”.

A few hours later the officer looks in.

“Lucky for you that the DI is at his daughter’s wedding.  He will be in a good mood when he gets back”.

“I wouldn’t count on it”, answers’ his prisoner.  “I’m the groom!”

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Airport renamed

Vaclav Havel Prague Airport (PRG) is the new name of what was once called Prague Ruzyně International Airport in honour of the late Czech leader who passed away last December.  The renaming follows a trend started in 1963 by New York Idlewild becoming JFK very soon after the President’s assassination.

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Bangkok’s old airport re-opens

Don Mueang, Bangkok’s original airport, has reopened with AirAsia its anchor client.

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British Airways US problems

The US Department of Transportation (DOT) has fined British Airways US$250,000 for what it calls “deceptive and unacceptable” passenger treatment.  The issue is over advertising and the way that mishandled baggage is dealt with.

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Gatwick to Tangier

Air Arabia Maroc is a Moroccan low-cost airline set up as a joint venture between various Moroccan investors and Air Arabia.  It is to introduce a daily Gatwick to Tangier service on Sunday 28 October.  

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Manston news

Currently up for sale by New Zealand owner Infratil, together with sister airport Prestwick, Manston Airport is in discussion with KLM/Air France to introduce a twice daily feeder service to and from Amsterdam.

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Prague hotel

NH Hotels has taken over the operation of the Mövenpick Hotel Prague under a management agreement, expanding its presence in the Czech Republic. 

With panoramic views over the Czech capital, and close to the city and the airport, the 4-star property has 439 stylish bedrooms and 13 conference rooms accommodating up to 300 people.

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Walsh abandons Heathrow upgrade

There will never be a third runway at Heathrow, International Airlines Group Chief Executive Willie Walsh told BBC TV’s Question Time last Thursday.

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West Coast chaos

Soon after midnight last Sunday (1 October) the UK Department for Transport (DfT) announced it will no longer be awarding a franchise contract to run the West Coast service when the current franchise expires on 9 December.  At the same time it confirmed that it would not contest a review sought by Virgin Trains, the current operator, in the High Court.

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WTM adds easyJet boss

Carolyn McCall, CEO easyJet, will be joined by Bird’s Eye boss Martin Glenn and executive and leading advertising agency Saatchi & Saatchi Strategy and Innovation Director EMEA Andrezej Moyseowicz, at World Travel Market’s new Talk Business Series.  Excel, London, 12 noon Thursday 8 November.

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