12 NOVEMBER 2012

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Northern Ireland despatches long haul APD

Commencing January 2013 in a move that is being closely watched in Scotland and how it might affect the forthcoming referendum, passengers taking direct long haul flights from Belfast will no longer have to pay Air Passenger Duty following the partial devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Executive.

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ANZ drops Heathrow – Hong Kong

One of the air transport industry’s 'best kept secret' airline routes is in fact to disappear from March next year when Air New Zealand (ANZ) drops its three-year-old Heathrow – Hong Kong service.  The very long established daily route to New Zealand via Los Angles continues and to this end the airline is currently refurbishing its lounge at the Tom Bradley International Terminal due to open next March. (see BTN 6 August)    

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Bahrain Best Western

Best Western has announced the opening of its first property in Bahrain in the Juffair district of the Gulf nation’s capital, Manama (and previously known as The Grand). 

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C series delayed

As predicted by virtually everyone except Bombardier themselves the maiden flight of the new C series regional jet has been delayed by six months. (see BTN 29 October)

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FastJet prepares

The new African low-cost carrier Fastjet has unveiled its logo and livery, featuring the African Grey Parrot. (also see BTN 22 October)

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Gatwick’s major development

Vinci Construction has won a contract to transform Pier 1 at Gatwick's South Terminal.  The cost is £184m.  It is Gatwick’s largest capital investment since the change of ownership nearly three years ago.  It is also a historic milestone for the airport as the pier is one of the oldest in the South Terminal, first opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1958.

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URGENT NEWS

General strike across Europe Wednesday 14 November.

The following statement issued Sunday probably goes for all airlines.

“easyJet has been advised of a general strike on 14 November organised by the European Trade Union Confederation with strikes and demonstrations across Europe.

This will effect different countries at different times during the day of 14 November, Spain and the Canary Islands will operate a 24-hour strike period from 00:01 to 23:59 and Greece will operate the strike period from 12:00/15:00.

easyJet are proactively trying to minimize disruption, however, we would like to warn customers that they could experience delays, to their travel plans.

Therefore it is with regret that some flights will either be delayed, rescheduled or cancelled due to this action. We advise passengers planning to travel to/from these countries on 14 November to keep checking our website for updates.

This strike action is outside of our control, however we would like to apologise for any inconvenience that may be caused to our customers”.  www.easyjet.com

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COMMENT: London to New York

Virgin Atlantic has added a sixth service from London to New York

On the face of it this is a mundane announcement and clearly makes sense for the carrier who with 747, A340-600 and A330 on the route can mix and match capacity to frequency.

However what is more important is that it shows the continuing strength of London as the worldwide hub for air transport.  Yes there are problems with the number of destinations served in the Far East but it is equally true that as a nation we tend to look on the dark side of things.  Six months ago the doom watchers were predicting an Olympic fiasco, and even BTN was concerned with the possible lack of air space for executive aircraft.  The ‘would be’ American President came to town just before the opening ceremony (and in the first of many mistakes) was less than enthusiastic regarding London 2012. He got it wrong!

Take a look at the figures below.

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7,000 Beechcraft King Airs

Hawker Beechcraft Corporation (HBC) may be having problems with the executive jet division (see BTN 22 October) but its legendary line of twin-engine turboprops continues apace with the delivery of the 7,000th Beechcraft King Air since production began in 1964.

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BA and Puerto Rico

British Airways is to drop its service from Gatwick to Puerto Rico from April 2013.

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Beijing Airports

Work is now under way at Beijing New International Airport (BNIA) with a capacity to handle up to 130m passengers annually, that is almost 40m passengers more than the current busiest Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta.  It will have a total of eight runways and is located at Daxing, a rural area 30 miles south of Tiananmen Square.  It is scheduled to open in 2017.

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Carrivick lambasts regulators

The outgoing Chief Executive of the Board of Airline Representatives in the UK (BAR UK), Mike Carrivick, issued some strong words in his address to industry stakeholders last week on his penultimate day after eight successful years leading the organisation.

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Germany's ticket tax stays constant

In what is seen as a small victory for the airlines, the German coalition Government has decided not to increase its controversial ticket tax from 1 January.  The increase was announced during the middle of the 2010 IATA AGM, held in Berlin, causing expletives from certain very senior airline chiefs.

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ME by Melia London

Melia has confirmed that it will launch its flagship London hotel in December.  Situated at the junction of The Strand and Aldwych, the former Marconi House was the original home of the BBC.

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Vueling for IAG?

British Airways and Iberia owner IAG has offered to buy the balance of shares in low-cost airline Vueling in a bid to shake-up the Spanish short haul business and expand the formula within Europe.  It already owns around 46% of the airline.  BA’s previous attempt to established itself in this market, Go, proved a failure.

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ON TOUR: World Travel Market

The 33rd World Travel Market took place at East London’s Excel exhibition centre last week.  The final show attendance has not yet been published but numbers were expected to rise by 4%-5% to around 45,000.

For the business traveller, and the business travel buyer, it is something of an enigma.  Airlines are represented, sometimes in a big way, such as Etihad; most with more mundane efforts typified by WTM stalwart Continental now United, and also with just small stalls more often than not within the National Tourist Board stand.

However, for the most part, the major legacy operators give the show a miss as their prime audience is corporate travel managers.  Hotels were represented aplenty, sometimes by the franchise owner, typically with IHG, Hilton, Hyatt and Melia, but more often again as part of a country or regional stand.  Virtually every important car rental grouping was to be seen.

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MOTORING UPDATE

On Test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring Writers

Peugeot 508 RXH SW Hybrid

Fuel sipping tax man’s nightmare!

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AND FINALLY: It happened in America

A JetBlue Airways pilot, whose 'midair meltdown' on a flight forced the aircraft to make an emergency landing in Texas, has been conditionally released by a federal judge.

US District Judge Mary Lou Robinson ruled Clayton Osbon, 49, "would not create a substantial risk of bodily injury to another person or serious damage to the property of another" if released.

Osbon pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in July to a criminal charge of interference with a flight crew and was ordered to be examined by psychiatrists for the US Bureau of Prisons. 

In March on a flight from New York to Las Vegas, Osbon ran through the aisles of the plane screaming about Iraq, Iran and al Qaeda, yelling: "We're not going to Vegas" and "You'd better start praying now!"  An FBI report says the first officer managed to lock Osbon out of the flight deck while passengers subdued him.

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Aer Lingus UK domestic bid

The European Commission is expected to announce on 15 November the winners of a bidding process for the Heathrow – Edinburgh route available due to the demise of bmi.  Currently British Airways has the city pair to itself and offers 11 services daily with a mixture of 767, A321, A320 and A319 aircraft.

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BAA gone

The name BAA, still often thought of as “British Airports Authority” created in 1965, has been officially dropped today (12 November 2012) following an announcement in October that Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd had been created (see BTN 22 October).

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Birmingham executive lounges

Within days of each other Servisair, with their Aspire brand, and No 1 Traveller, have opened new executive lounges at Birmingham Airport.

Best known as long established international airport handling contractors Servisair has in recent times introduced Aspire lounges at Gatwick North, Liverpool John Lennon, Helsinki and Luton airports.  Birmingham is the fifth and, as with the others, offers a range of facilities including a freshly prepared complimentary menu offering hot food, snacks, treats, premium branded hot, soft and alcoholic drinks that can be enjoyed whilst taking in the lounges’ unique panoramic views of the runway.

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IAG to post big loss

Only created in 2011 following the merger of British Airways and Iberia, IAG finds itself in a very difficult position with its BA component producing excellent profits and well set for the future with new aircraft due and staff difficulties resolved, whilst Iberia is in exactly the opposite position.

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Living the Dream (787 style)

Thomson Airways has revealed that its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be named ‘Living the Dream’ after inviting suggestions on Twitter.

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Prestwick and Manston for sale

Stansted is not the only UK airport up for sale.   Infratil, the New Zealand-based company, and operator of Wellington Airport, has confirmed a price of £10.5m for both  Prestwick, south of Glasgow, and Manston Airport in Kent.  They had been valued at £32m earlier this year and said to be worth £44m 18 months ago.

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Ryanair lambasted

A poll conducted by consumer interest site Budget Airline Watch and global flight search engine WhichBudget suggests that budget airlines are appreciated by two-thirds of customers for providing good value for money but only a third think they offer quality customer service.  Meanwhile, Ryanair was widely lambasted for providing the worst service.

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