15 OCTOBER 2012


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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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Boeing MAX order surge

Coinciding virtually with the delivery of the first Charleston built 787 Dreamliner (for Air India) Boeing has come up with a surge of orders for the new 737 MAX.  For this year at least it remains comfortably ahead of Airbus in terms of fixed business.  With 1,414 firm commitments to date the A320 Neo remains well in front of its Boeing rival, nevertheless the MAX is slowly but surely catching up with 858 sold.

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Etihad and Air France

In what some cynics have suggested was a bid to upstage Gulf area rival Qatar Airways, Etihad revealed last Monday (8 October), hours before the oneworld press conference, that it was going into a strategic partnership with Air France.

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Flybe summer 2013

Exeter Airport based Flybe has opened bookings for summer 2013 and also confirmed its joint venture with Finnair.

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Langham for New York

The Setai Fifth Avenue hotel is set to become the Langham New York from January 2013 under a managed hotel agreement, and is certain to be upgraded to the even higher standard required of the Hong Kong based group.

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Pink plane

Delta Air Lines distinctive Boeing 767-400 ‘Pink Plane’ will be flying to key cities in Europe as part of its annual awareness campaign and fundraising effort for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).  Throughout the rest of this month the aircraft will operate to a host of European destinations including, Frankfurt, London, Madrid, Moscow and Nice.

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

Vueling Gatwick expansion

Inspite of Spain’s economic woes Barcelona based Vueling last week announced ambitious plans for further expansion in 2013.  Up goes the number of aircraft based at El Prat from 34 to 43.

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COMMENT: APD campaign destroys Heathrow myth

A campaign by a well organised aviation group seems to have destroyed once and for all the notion that residents of the Heathrow conurbation are against the airport.

Press outlets are continuously being inundated by minority groups, and local councils with their own axe to grind, on the evils of the airport, often with numbers and facts that cannot be substantiated.  These are printed and announced by the media as if fact.

Now a drive by the lobby group A Fair Tax on Flying on the unfairness of Air Passenger Duty (APD) has resulted in a huge number of emails to MPs, the vast majority in the London area.

Adam Afriyie MP for Windsor, very much on the Heathrow flight path, received the most, followed by Mark Field (Westminster) and Gregg Hands (Chelsea and Fulham).  Justine Greening (Putney), the former Transport Minister, and vociferous in her objection to the third runway, does not seem to have published the number of emails in her in-box.

Conservative MPs have received 116,071 emails, Labour MPs 55,701 and Lib Dems 17,507.  Overall, organisers say that, nationally, over 200,000 people have emailed their MP, and a further 80,000 non-UK residents have emailed the Treasury in one of the biggest social media campaigns ever co-ordinated. 

Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Airport Operators Association, said: “It’s simply incredible that so many constituents have decided to express to MPs their concern about the UK having the highest levels of Air Passenger Duty in the world. The Prime Minister’s in-tray now contains nearly 500 messages about the ‘A Fair Tax on Flying’ initiative, and many Cabinet Ministers and MPs have received over 1,000 emails each.  It is clear that aviation tax is now a postbag issue for politicians all over the country, and that the Government should respond to the campaign by commissioning research into the impact these eye-wateringly high levels of APD are having on the wider UK economy”. 

The Business Travel News' view is very simple.  APD, if it has to be, should be on mileage and not the capital city.  In order to stimulate the UK economy there should be no tax on domestic flights (currently customers pay twice – there and back – it is cheaper to do business or weekend abroad).  And in a utopian world opposers to any airport should be put on an air transport black list.  Years ago a high profile protester against Concorde had to take the QE2 to New York in order to gain some American attention for banning the aircraft into JFK.  No airline would fly him. 

He failed in his remonstration.

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Passenger survey by SITA

Airline passengers want more control of their journey and are looking for more self-service and mobile-based offerings to reduce stress during travel according to the 2012 SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey.  It reports that 70% of passengers now carry smartphones, which is fuelling the demand for services such as self-boarding and flight information updates on their mobiles.

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Conrad for The Algarve

Hilton Hotels has introduced its exclusive top brand, Conrad, to the Algarve. There are only 20 Conrads worldwide.

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European Aviation Club

Speaking at the European Aviation Club in Brussels last week Carolyn McCall, CEO of easyJet, urged the EU to continue the liberalisation of European aviation that was launched with the opening of Europe’s skies in 1994.  Her audience included MEPs, EU officials, academics and aviation industry representatives. 

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Jersey to AMS & CDG

Blue Islands, an airline which operates out of Guernsey and Jersey, is to introduce services to both Amsterdam and Paris Charles de Gaulle on 4 February 2013.  The Channel Islands based carrier, originally established in 1999, says that passengers are fed up with paying the UK APD, and that in any event Gatwick, which is the main gateway, has poor international connections.

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Lloyd Paxton for Somon Air

Somon Air of Tajikistan has appointed Lloyd Paxton as its new Chief Executive, replacing Alisher Rustamov who leaves the airline for a new role at Dushanbe International Airport.

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Twice daily Malaysia A380

Malaysia Airlines will launch double daily Airbus A380 flights on its Kuala Lumpur – London operation from 24 November 2012, increasing the weekly seat capacity by 16%, from 5,971 to 6,916 in each direction.

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ON TOUR: The new Jerusalem tram

Jerusalem, the capital of Israel, is one of the great cities of the world, and also one with tremendous longevity.  According to Jewish tradition the city was founded by Shem and Eber, ancestors of Abraham.  King David made it his capital 1,000 years before Christ.  Today it is a thriving metropolis, a beacon if you like, in a region full of problems, where countries are torn apart by internal struggles and outside influences resulting in a terrible waste of life and effort.

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Two trucks loaded with a thousand copies of Roget's Thesaurus collided as they left a Heathrow warehouse on Saturday night.

Witnesses were surprised, dumbfounded, astonished,  stunned, startled, aghast, taken aback, stupefied, shocked and seriously knocked for six.

They were also caught unaware



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BAA and Stansted

Ferrovial, the owner of Stansted Airport,  has set 23 October as the closing date for bids to buy the Essex operation, which it has to sell due to a Competition Commission ruling in 2009, delayed following various appeals.

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Dortmund wins Ryanair

Ryanair will launch six new routes from Dortmund in March 2013.  These are Alghero, Barcelona (Girona), Faro, Malaga, Porto and Palma. It becomes the 11th  airport to be served by Ryanair in Germany.

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Eurostar to the Swiss Alps

The Swiss Alps is a destination for Eurostar customers this winter. 

Well not exactly the Swiss Alps but Lille, where a change onto the TGV Lyria is effected.  On the return leg of the journey, passport and security checks will be carried out at that station during the train transfer.

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Kingfisher Airlines

Not profitable since its inception in 2005 Kingfisher Airlines has announced that the partial lockout declared on 1 October as a result of what it calls “employee related issues”, is being extended until 20 October.

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Lufthansa’s busy week

It has been a busy week for Lufthansa with the opening of Frankfurt’s new A-Plus Concourse and the confirmation that it will merge its German point-to-point services not operating through Frankfurt and Munich under the Germanwings brand.

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Qatar Airways and C series

Whilst Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker will no doubt reflect on his airline’s proposed election to oneworld, comment on the New Doha International Airport delay, and update the assembly regarding Boeing and the 787, he is also likely to either discuss or answer questions regarding the Bombardier C series at the Aviation Club on Wednesday (17 October).

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Ryanair ditched by Stansted

Ferrovial, the owner of Stansted Airport, has told Ryanair that it is not wanted as part of any consortium involved in the purchase of the airport.  With the Irish airline controlling the majority of passenger traffic, and requiring an obvious ‘due diligence’ requirement, its role as an investor could easily be considered as predatory.

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Toronto Shangri-La

Shangri-La Hotel has opened on Canada's grand ceremonial boulevard, University Avenue, in the heart of its largest city, Toronto, Ontario. (See BTN 4 April 2011)

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