22 OCTOBER 2012

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Bristol Airport's regional response

Bristol Airport has responded to the Government’s consultation on its Draft Aviation Policy Framework with five recommendations which, it says, would deliver real benefits for airports in the regions, the wider economy and passengers across the country.  The airport chose today’s Airport Operators Association (AOA) Annual Conference for its publication.

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Fastjet developments

Gatwick-based FastJet Plc, now emerging as the first pan-African low-cost airline, has announced an expansion of its aircraft fleet, signed a maintenance contract with a leading aircraft maintenance company and further strengthened its management team ahead of the airline’s planned launch next month.

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Heathrow becomes Heathrow

BAA Ltd has dropped its old title, which was created in 1965 as the British Airports Authority, and becomes Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd, a company majority-owned by Ferrovial of Spain.

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Nuremburg to the UK

The fascinating historical Bavarian city of Nuremburg sited on the Rhine-Danube canal is to lose its Gatwick route straight into the New Year but gains a twice daily London City operation.

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Stansted figures collapse

BAA Ltd, which is in the process of selling Stansted following a ruling by the Competition Commission, said the airport handled 1.64m passengers during September, 4% down on the same month a year earlier.  On a 12-month rolling basis the figure is now 17.39m, down 4.8%.

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Time changes! Especially Royal Jordanian  

Royal Jordanian has called on its passengers who hold the airline’s tickets for travel between 26 October 2012 and 30 March 2013 to add one hour to the departure time mentioned on their tickets for travel from the Jordanian airports or the arrival time to the Jordanian airports, according to Jordan local time. UK time changes too Saturday night.

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COMMENT Airports and all that

The UK Airport Operators Association (AOA) will this morning (Monday 22 October) host new Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin at its annual conference in London.

Mr McLoughlin, a former miner and reluctant flyer, just six weeks into the job, had better be on his toes in what will be his first major speech on aviation since taking up the portfolio. 

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787 for Heathrow

Qatar Airways' CEO, Akbar Al Baker, confirmed in a speech to the Aviation Club in London last week that the airline’s first Boeing Dreamliner will debut on the Doha – Heathrow route in December.

The outspoken CEO also said Qatar Airways was “working Boeing hard”, and delivery of five of the carrier’s 60-strong fleet of Dreamliners is now expected before the end of the year.

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Air France strike

France's second largest trade union, the CGT, has called on Air France's ground staff to strike from 26 October.  CGT represents the majority of Air France's 32,000 ground staff and as such, the strike is expected to cause disruptions to flights departing and arriving in France.  The airline says that passengers should advise the airline of their phone number, email and text address in order to communicate quickly if needs be.  In a bold statement it says that it will carry all clients to their final destination.

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Business Travel Market moves

Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) confirmed last week that its established specialist corporate travel exhibition, Business Travel Market (BTM), will be co-located alongside World Travel Market (WTM) in 2013. 

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Gatwick’s second runway

Plans have been published for a second runway at Gatwick Airport sometime after the 2019 embargo on any development is passed. The airport has deemed it necessary to reveal its ideas and make a presentation to the government enquiry led by Sir Howard Davies.

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Mexico City to Heathrow

A route monopolised by British Airways is to have competition.  Skyteam member Aeromexico has confirmed plans to operate a three times-weekly service between Mexico City and Heathrow from 14 December.  The Mexican flag carrier will operate flights out of Heathrow’s Terminal 4, where other Skyteam members are located.

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Oxford Airport’s winter flights

Following a highly successful summer season of Manx2.com flights to Jersey and the Isle of Man, Oxford Airport has confirmed that regular flights will continue throughout the winter.  From the start of its winter schedule on 1 November, Manx2.com will operate four flights a week to the Isle of Man and Jersey until spring 2013.  This will be the first time that the airport, which sits close by the junction of the M40 and A34, will have offered scheduled services through the winter.

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Thomas Cook Airlines

The airline division of Thomas Cook Group Plc, the world’s oldest travel company, is downsizing.  For summer 2013 it will operate 31 aircraft returning four of its present fleet to lessors.  Owner Thomas Cook is listed on the London Stock Exchange.  It merged with MyTravel (Airtours) in 2007.

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West Coast Main Line

As predicted by BTN last week Virgin Trains has been asked to continue to run services on the West Coast Mainline for at least another nine months after the latest decision on the route franchise was scrapped.  At that point a competition will then be run for a new deal but the situation remains very unclear.  Two enquiries have been introduced with the first to report shortly.

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ON TOUR: Brugge

You may have heard of Zeebrugge.  It is the main North Sea port of Belgium, a way by ferry into Germany and continental Europe from the UK.  It is not very inspiring.  In fact the name means “Brugge on Sea”. 

The real secret of Zeebrugge is Brugge, 10 very flat miles inland and an inspiring UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It was Europe’s Capital of Culture in 2002 with two fine auditoriums, one very modern, the other the remarkably restored Royal City Theatre circa 1865 and based on, it is said, the Paris Opera.  Some damage was incurred during the two World Wars, but as a whole the historic town survived well.

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AND FINALLY: The Boeing Dreamliner

Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker at the Aviation Club last week.

“I have been given the keys of our first new Boeing 787”

“But I have not yet put them in the ignition”.

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BA gets porters plus

Kerbside check-in is popular in the US but not so in the United Kingdom.  For a trial period this autumn British Airways is combining both these facilities at Heathrow Terminal 5 with a complimentary service for departing First and Gold Executive Club customers.  As premium customers arrive they will be greeted at their vehicle and offered the assistance service of a porter, who will escort them and transport their luggage to the First Class check-in area.

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Dale Keller for BAR UK

The Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), which represents 90 airlines operating into and within the United Kingdom, has appointed Dale Keller as Chief Executive following the retirement of Mike Carrivick who departs in early November. 

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Hampton by Hilton at York & Burton

Hampton Hotels, Hilton’s global brand of nearly 1,900 mid-priced properties, has opened in York.  Ideally located in the city centre opposite York Railway Station, the hotel is within walking distance from the busy shopping area and local attractions, perfect for both business and leisure guests.  Nearby is the world famous York National Railway Museum.

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Norwich and KLM

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will add a fourth daily flight from Norwich to Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (AMS) from Sunday 31 March 2013.  The new frequency will offer a more flexible and business friendly schedule and increase long haul connectivity via KLM's Amsterdam Schiphol hub.

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Paris airport developments

Since 1 October Air France customers at Paris-Charles de Gaulle will have noticed some changes with all international flights now grouped at terminal 2E.  Terminal 2F is exclusively dedicated to European (Schengen) flights operated by Air France and its SkyTeam alliance partners.  AF’s regional airlines (Brit Air, Regional, Airlinair) operate their flights at terminal 2G.  Air France says that by grouping operations connecting channels have been made shorter and more fluid, and will save customers up to 10 minutes on their connection times.

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Travelodge financial

After a difficult period when it was owned by Dubai International Capital, Travelodge, established in 1985 and claiming to be the UK’s oldest budget hotel company, has successfully completed a financial restructuring.

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Vueling Gatwick expansion

In spite 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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