26 NOVEMBER 2012

YOUR WORDS


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airberlin design for Niki

Niki, the scheduled low-cost division of airberlin is to adopt a branding more in keeping with the house colours of the parent airline. On 21 November the first Niki Airbus A320 in the new livery flew from Istanbul to Vienna.

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Christmas trees at Heathrow

Swarovski have unveiled two 12ft Christmas trees in Heathrow T5 draped in over 2,000 sparkling decorations to celebrate the holiday season.  A specially designed pop-up store features Swarovski’s Crystal Forest architecture concept, and displays a range of products, including jewellery, time pieces, fragrance and gifts.

Swarovski also have shops in Terminals 1, 3 and 4, but no Swarovski trees.

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Gulf Air retracts

Once the leading air carrier in the Middle East, Gulf Air continues to retract.

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Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur

Perhaps the most iconic hotel in Kuala Lumpur, the Majestic, will re-open its doors on 1 December.  Built in the 1930s, the original property became one of the great landmarks of Kuala Lumpur in its time.  It is documented as a national heritage site under the Antiquities Act.  Set on 3.2 acres on Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, its key location is on the historical mile of Kuala Lumpur, opposite the old Moorish style railway station.

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Marriott Marquis at Dubai

The eagerly anticipated 5-star JW Marriott Marquis Hotel in Dubai has opened its doors to welcome its first guests. (see BTN 27 February)  It is recognised as the world’s tallest hotel at a height of 355 metres, only 26 metres short of the Empire State Building, New York.

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SkyTeam welcomes Xiamen

China’s Xiamen Airlines has been welcomed as the 19th member of SkyTeam, the global airline alliance.  It is also the fourth member from Greater China. (see BTN 18 June)

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ON THE SOAPBOX: Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer, Bristol Airport

SILK REPORT MAKES A SOW’S EAR OF APD

"Regional airports must stick together to make case for reduced rate".

This is an ON THE SOAPBOX special (it normally appears on the first Monday of each month).  Such is the importance of the Chancellor's forthcoming tax statement, BTN makes no apologies for again highlighting this most unfair of levies.  Why should Brits be taxed twice for one journey?

Robert Sinclair, a qualified lawyer and chartered accountant, was Chief Financial Officer at Auckland International Airport in New Zealand before joining Bristol Airport in 2008. 

Since arriving in the South West Robert has led the business through the recession in the UK, achieving incremental passenger growth, delivering improved facilities and securing planning permission for the development of the airport to handle 10m passengers per annum.

“This week saw the first report of the Silk Commission, tasked by the UK Government to look at ways of improving the financial accountability of the Welsh Assembly.  While the headline-grabber in Cardiff was the Commission’s recommendation for income tax varying powers to be devolved, tucked away in a section covering ‘smaller taxes’ was a proposal with the potential to have a complex and damaging impact on English airports which serve the Welsh market.

Silk’s recommendation that Air Passenger Duty (APD) should be devolved for direct long haul flights from Wales flew in the face of the strong evidence submitted by several English airports, including Bristol.  What is more, the report came too soon to properly consider the modelling carried out by HM Revenue & Customs which clearly demonstrates the effect of a unilateral APD reduction in Wales.  In this scenario, the model forecasts a 25% reduction in passengers at Bristol by 2020, and a 20% reduction at Birmingham – but no net benefit to UK Plc.

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BA baggage allowance

Readers should be pleased; British Airways is to increase the baggage allowance on certain flights between 1-31 December.  But don’t get too excited.  It is for London City Airport only and between that airport and Aberdeen, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Frankfurt, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Madrid, Stockholm and Zurich.

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Delta domestic upgrade

Transcontinental US passengers will for the first time gain the benefits that long haul flyers have been seeing for a number of years when Delta introduces full flat-bed seats in the BusinessElite cabin of all flights between New York and Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle beginning in March 2013.

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Iberia problems

IAG-owned Iberia is losing ground to rivals on its prized routes to Latin America and, because it is unable to close the gap, it may change some services or stop flying them temporarily according to a Reuters’ report.

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Majorca to Heathrow

Vueling is to add Heathrow – Palma daily route to its network from the start of the summer season, Saturday 23 March 2013.  The slots come via major shareholder Iberia who is dropping a Madrid service.  Also new for next year is a Vueling twice daily Gatwick – Barcelona service (see BTN 22 October).

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Newark revamp for Virgin

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled its latest investment in luxury travel – a brand-new Clubhouse at Newark Liberty Airport.  The airline currently serves the New Jersey airport, now the major home of United Airlines in New York, twice daily, once with a Boeing 747-400, and the alternative flight with an Airbus A340-600.

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Stansted's rail problems

London’s third airport in terms of passenger numbers, Stansted, has finally acknowledged that it has serious rail service problems after years of BAA pretending that they did not exist and that the London train services were adequate.

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Virgin wins UK domestic

The UK Heathrow regional slots vacated by bmi/BA have been won by Virgin Atlantic who, by the spring of next year, will be flying from Heathrow (presumably T3) to and from Aberdeen and Edinburgh operating (wet) leased Airbus A320 series aircraft.

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ON TOUR: Hurricane Sandy and the Panama Canal

OR:  Any port in a storm!

Now it may be that on first sight Hurricane Sandy and the Panama Canal are not connected, but read on.  This is the longest ever ON TOUR in Business Travel News history but we think it well worthwhile the read.

The writer Susan Linder is a regular contributor to BTN.  In real life Susan is a strategic business planning and marketing consultant with over 40 years' experience.  She is the creator of several management success tools including Marketing Forensics and Market Manageering.  www.srlinder.com 

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CRUISE NEWS NOVEMBER

This month we offer a ‘preview’:  Voyages of Discovery MV Voyager

See also Panama Canal & Crystal  www.btnews.co.uk/article/5677

Now in its 28th year of publication the annual Berlitz Cruising and Cruise Ships has been published. 

Edited by the venerable Douglas Ward, even at its cover price of £17.99, the 704 pages (it seems to have got slightly slimmer this year) is terrific value covering 285 ships and offering a host of information.

Such is the strength and longevity of the book it can well afford some criticism.

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AND FINALLY: Ryanair Caught in spam

Since nothing comes for free with Ryanair (and readers will know our views on the airline) the following press release headline, which found its way into our Spam box, gained our attention.

“The Getaway Café is almost as tasty as our cabin crew"

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Air New Zealand's Hobbit's flight

Air New Zealand, the official airline of Middle-earth, has unveiled a stunning 777-300 aircraft which is set to become a flying billboard for the soon-to-be-released movie The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a fantasy adventure.

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Cargolux and Qatar part company

Eighteen months after acquiring a 35% stake in Luxembourg-based Cargolux, Qatar Airways has announced its intention to pull out of the deal.  Reports indicate that the break-up centred on conflicting opinions about the ultimate direction of the European freight carrier.

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German expansion for Ryanair

Budapest cutback

Ryanair is to introduce Dortmund and Nuremburg as its 11th and 12th German bases next March. 

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Jurys Inn progress

The Irish-based hotel group Jurys Inn has confirmed that its ongoing major refurbishment programme will take it through to the end of 2014.  The investment focuses primarily on refurbishments but also includes some IT and systems spend which will provide guests with improved comfort and facilities.  Jurys Inn has 24 hotels in the UK, one in Northern Ireland, six in Ireland and one in Prague.

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Manchester to Moscow

Fast on the heels of its winning the takeover of the former London – Moscow route (but from Gatwick rather than Heathrow) easyJet is to introduce a four times per week service from Manchester from next March. 

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OpenSkies oneworld affiliate

The weirdly named British Airways subsidiary OpenSkies is to become an affiliate member of the oneworld alliance from 1 December.

OpenSkies currently links Paris with the New York New Jersey metro area with two daily round trips between Orly and Newark increasing to three from next March.  It is the only carrier operating between the alternative airport pair to Charles de Gaulle and Kennedy.

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US Airways adds Heathrow

Charlotte, North Carolina is to gain non-stop air services from Heathrow with the introduction of a daily US Airways flight from the start of the summer season in March 2013.

US Airways currently operates flights from Gatwick to Charlotte, as well as a daily service from Heathrow to Philadelphia.  The Gatwick – Charlotte routes remains in the timetable.

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