14 JANUARY 2013


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Airbus A 380 orders

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has confirmed up an order for 25 more wide-body aircraft from Airbus, comprising five A380s, and 20 A350-900s.

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Birmingham Jurys Inn

Jurys Inn Birmingham refurbishment programme is now complete following a 16-month £4.7m makeover at the Broad Street hotel.  The 445-room property, the largest in Birmingham city centre, has seen all bedrooms, all 20 meeting rooms and all public areas refurbished with the addition of a stylish new contemporary restaurant and bar.

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Edinburgh Motel One

Motel One, the European premier budget-design hotel chain, made its promised first UK hotel opening in December at Edinburgh, just.  Very close to Waverley Station, in Market Street, customers were welcomed for the first time on 31 December 2012. (see BTN 17 September 2012).

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Newquay Airport latest

The 'Classic Air Force' visitor attraction at Newquay-Cornwall Airport is moving along “very nicely” according to Chairman Tim Skeet, and should be open to the public by the end of March.  Amongst the planes expected to make their home at Newquay is the world’s oldest flying twin-engined jet (RAF Gloster Meteor T7) and three de Havilland Dragon Rapide biplanes, which will be available for pleasure flights across the South West.

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Righteous Ryanair

Ryanair, that most righteous of airlines that can do no wrong, according to its management, is in hot water once again, having left around 20 passengers behind from a recent flight from Warsaw (Chopin) Airport to Manchester. 

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TRYP by Wyndham Istanbul

Wyndham Hotel Group, which claims to be the world’s largest hotel group in terms of branded properties, has opened the 108-room TRYP by Wyndham Istanbul Taksim.
The 10-storey hotel is centrally located in Taksim, very much in the heart of Istanbul.  It adds to Wyndham Hotel Group’s growing collection of properties in Turkey, which consists of 12 Ramada hotels and the newly opened Wyndham Istanbul Kalamis Marina, which debuted late last year (see BTN 7 January 2013).

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COMMENT: Press censorship

The Editor of Business Travel News sent the following words to the letter page of The Times and received an acknowledgement.  It was not published.

Either the newspaper did not wish it to be seen that it had made a fundamental mistake, or that The Times is not offering a balanced view on the air capacity problem.  It is about time that questions are asked of news editors (and picture editors) who use unrepresentative images.

Sadly readers will waste their time trying to find the picture on The Times website.  It has been removed and a different image substituted.

“Aviation and Leveson Enquiry
Surely it is about time that the standards suggested in the Leveson Enquiry be more rigorously extended to Picture Editors.
The imagery in the Times today (Friday December 14 page 61) which shows a British Airways 737 (which is no longer in their fleet) flying under telegraph wires over some houses is clearly made up.  It is a complete fabrication and totally misleading.
The Times is not the only perpetrator of such nonsense.  Time and time again we see BBC flashing up a picture of a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 impossibly flying about 50ft over a housing estate.  Images in newspapers should not be doctored and a careful watch be made over the use of special lenses which give a distorted view of any incident.
It is also my view that those interviewed regarding noise problems should clearly state where they live and when they moved there, and if they use the airport.  A recent BBC report questioned a person living in Bermondsey, East London, who claimed that the modern, quiet, aircraft flying 5,000ft above him were causing a nuisance”.

It also could be held that Getty Pictures, who hold the copyright for the Virgin picture, are guilty of publishing misleading images for their own financial gain.  The use of long focus lenses to shorten distances is nothing new.  But is it ethically correct?  In this instance the aircraft was some distance from the houses and not over them.

Is anyone brave enough to take on The Times or Getty Pictures?  Perhaps another National newspaper might consider the Business Travel News comments?  Should advertising be withdrawn from publications who publish seemingly fraudulent pictures.  Perhaps Part 2 of the Leveson Enquiry could take up the ethics of the picture desks.

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Avis grabs Zipcar

Zipcar, the motor vehicle sharing service established in 2000, has been acquired by Avis Budget, the world’s number three car rental operation, for US$500m.

Zipcar, which itself acquired Britain's Streetcar less than three years ago, has 767,000 members, or Zipsters, who pay an annual joining fee and are then charged by the hour to use its vehicles.  It is seen by some as a "greener" alternative to traditional car ownership as each vehicle gains far more utilisation, reducing the number actually registered.  According to The Economist, car sharing can reduce car ownership at an estimated rate of one rental car replacing 15 owned vehicles.

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C series news

airBaltic has signed a firm purchase agreement to acquire 10 all-new Bombardier CS300 airliners.  The airline, based in Riga (Latvia), also has purchase rights on a further 10 CS300 aircraft.  The purchase agreement represents the conversion to firm orders of a Letter of Intent (LOI) to acquire the aircraft announced at the Farnborough Air Show.

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Executive baby seat

Do you want your child to start its flying life in style?  And in safety.

Gama Aviation has announced that its Bombardier Challenger aircraft fleet are the first corporate jet aircraft worldwide to be equipped with the fully certified Gama Infant Safety Seat.  The seats will be available free of charge for use by charter clients.  Already in service with long haul airlines Virgin Atlantic and Cathay Pacific it is the world’s first child seat certificated for taxi, take-offs and landings on business jets. 

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OAG airline traffic report

Luton-based OAG’s latest airline capacity data shows that total scheduled airline seat numbers are expected to increase by 3% in January 2013.  Globally it will add 8.5m extra seats compared to January 2012.  Frequency is also expected to increase this month, but by a more modest 0.3%.

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Plymouth Airport

A recent meeting of Plymouth City Council confirmed that the now closed Roborough Airport cannot be built upon until at least 2021 in spite of attempts by property developer Sutton Harbour Plc (and former Air South West – ASW owner) to move ahead with planning permission.

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Stansted sale

According to what are clearly confused leaks to both The Telegraph and The Sunday Times, the sale of Stansted Airport is between Manchester Airport and backers, and Malaysia Airports, with final bids due Wednesday (16 January).  Both Ferrovial, the present owner, and the City, are obviously keen to push the price up as high as possible .

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United introduces 787

The Boeing 787 was quietly introduced by United Airlines on Thursday 3 January with an 11hr 7min inugural between Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita.  Flight UA 32 has performed well to date (one service cancelled) with the quickest journey just under 11 hours,  much in line with the replaced 777 services.

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Buzzing as usual

Our roving reporter Jane Stanbury was at the MEBA (Middle East Business Aviation) gathering in Dubai just before the holiday period and now reports back.

A relocated MEBA 2012, the fifth biannual event, took place from 11-13 December at Al Maktoum International Airport, Dubai World Central.  With nothing but Dubai’s desert surrounding the airport it seems hard to believe this is “central”, yet it is destined to be the country’s future Aerotropolis so following in the footsteps of Ekurhuleni in South Africa and Songdo in South Korea.

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On Test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring Writers

Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDI S Line Multitronic

Here’s Multi-Role Appeal

Hardly a day passes without me getting involved in car choice discussions and it is interesting that I have recently come across a growing number of Audi A6 Avant first time buyers.  Notably one downsizing from a Bentley in a quest to stop gas-guzzling and another changing from a rear wheel drive Mercedes-Benz E-Class to an all-wheel-drive Avant in order to tow a large twin axle caravan.

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AND FINALLY: Who died?

Over the holiday period we heard of an accident whereby a plane crash landed in a cemetery.

The crew escaped unscathed.

The police have had the unfortunate task of identifying 350 bodies.

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787 safety update

American aviation regulators have ordered a wide review of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, citing "concern" over a spate of technical problems in recent weeks.  Some of them are clearly day to day problems, typically an ANA cracked windscreen.  Any difficulty associated with the aircraft is getting headlines.

Regulators said the 787 remains safe but a thorough examination was needed to identify the root cause of the problems including a fire on a parked aircraft.

"There are concerns about recent events involving the Boeing 787.  That is why today we are conducting a comprehensive review", US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told a news conference.

The Federal Aviation Administration said that the review will put an emphasis on the 787's advanced electrical systems and cover their design, manufacture and assembly.

The move comes on top of a separate probe by US safety investigators into a battery fire which caused "serious damage" to an empty Japan Airlines' 787 jet at Boston. 

With any entirely new aircraft usually there are introduction problems, the 747 affected by a series of engine failures, and more recently the Airbus A380 with cracked wings.  The 787 continues in service with 49 delivered to eight airlines (see United and the 787). www.boeing.com/commercial

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Berlin airport further delay

Schönefeld looks like staying the name of Willie Brandt Berlin International Airport for some time. 

The grandiose expansion scheme, part of the same site, has again slipped with a completion date of March 2014 now being suggested.  Problems have occurred including fire safety.

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DoubleTree for Ireland

Dublin is to host the Hilton DoubleTree brand following the signing of a franchise agreement with Martinez Hotels & Resorts, bringing the upscale brand to Ireland for the first time.  Since opening its first European hotel in 2008, DoubleTree by Hilton now has almost 60 properties trading or under development across the region. 

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New JAL uniforms

Japan Air Lines (JAL) has unveiled a brand new set of uniforms for its staff members, including flight crew, cabin attendants, various ground personnel at the airports and city offices, as well as the maintenance section.  Some 26,700 people are involved.

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Thai hotel for Doha

Amari Doha has become the first Amari hotel in the Middle East when it opened its doors to the public in the Qatari capital on 1 January 2013.  Amari Doha is owned by Sharaka Holdings, formerly known as GTG and managed by Thailand-based Onyx Hospitality.

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Virgin Atlantic’s CEO Appointment

Craig Kreeger (53) has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of Virgin Atlantic Airways, taking over from Steve Ridgway who is retiring at the end of February.  Mr Kreeger joins Virgin at start of February for what will be a handover month.  On 7 February Mr Ridgeway is the guest of honour at the Aviation Club (sold out).

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Vueling expands

Spanish low-cost carrier Vueling, in the process of being acquired by IAG (International Airlines Group – BA/Iberia), said it carried 20% more passengers in 2012.  The airline has also signed a deal to lease four more Airbus A320s this year, taking its fleet up to about 60 aircraft.

The Barcelona-based airline lifted 14.8m passengers last year with a 2.1% gain in load factor at 77.7%.  Whilst this figure is less than Ryanair the airline does not section off part of the cabin when not full, which might explain the Irish carrier’s higher percentage points for carryings.

From the UK Vueling will be expanding flights in 2013 including a double daily from Gatwick to Barcelona, and from Heathrow to Florence and Majorca, La Coruña and Bilbao already established.  (BTN 26 November and 10 December) www.vueling.com

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