25 FEBRUARY 2013

YOUR WORDS


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787 by April?

Boeing has proposed a fix for the 787 Dreamliner’s problems that could see the airliner back in service by April.

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Airbus for Iberia

Iberia has taken delivery of the first of the five Airbus A330s that will enter service with the Spanish airline this year.  It is equipped with an innovative Business Plus and Economy Class interior and will be used for long haul flights, mostly to South America. 

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Airport retreat by the Spanish?

The retreat by Spanish investors in the British airports market seems to be continuing with reports that Abertis, which owns Belfast International and Cardiff airports, and has a long term operating contract for Luton, has put them up for sale.

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Bill Clinton at WTTC

Former US President Bill Clinton will head a distinguished gathering of celebrated travellers when he delivers the keynote address at the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Summit, Abu Dhabi, 9-10 April.  Other speakers include broadcaster Sir David Frost, actress Daryl Hannah, environmentalist Sir Jonathon Porritt, and adventurer David de Rothschild.

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European Single Sky

The grand plan to create one single European air traffic management system seems yet again to be in trouble more than 10 years after it was officially conceived.

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Heathrow results

Still the world’s busiest international airport, and also holding the title for the most used with two runways, Heathrow recorded a record 70m passengers last year, boosting the airport's revenues by 8% to £2.46bn.  

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Phuket Holiday Inn Express

Holiday Inn Express has opened its first property on Phuket Island, the popular Thailand resort area.

The 277-room hotel combines comfort and convenience with proximity and price.  Only a few steps from Patong Beach, the island’s most popular and well-developed beach, Phuket’s first Holiday Inn Express is also located close to a variety of shopping, dining and entertainment options.

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ON THE SOAPBOX SPECIAL:

Colin Matthews, Chief Executive, Heathrow Airport

There is little doubt that the Government’s decision to appoint an independent panel, the Davies Commission, tasked with identifying and recommending options for maintaining this country’s status as an international hub for aviation, has itself caused controversy.  All manner of ideas and suggestions have surfaced, some with commercial interests, some environmental, and some political.  As noted in BTN last week representations can be made until 19 July 2013, although you can be pretty sure that noises will be heard right up to the publication of the final report, post election 2015.  And a thunderstorm afterwards.

Heathrow is the world's largest international airport and stands to gain or lose the most from the result of Sir Harold and his committee’s efforts.  It is right that Colin Matthews, CEO Heathrow Airport Ltd, puts his case first in Business Travel News.  We welcome contributions by others. 

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Air China to London

A resident of Heathrow for over 30 years, and Gatwick since last summer (see BTN 7 May 2012), Star Alliance member Air China is to upgrade its London – Beijing route with a three-class Boeing 777-300ER from next May.  It would be kind to say the operation has in the past been reliable, but not up to international standards.

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City Airport expansion

London City Airport is expected to apply for planning permission by the end of April, early May – for new stands to the east of the airport and a parallel taxiway to allow for an increase of maximum movements. 

It has already been approved for an annual figure of 120,000 movements per year, substantially above the current 70,000. 

Key to the airport expansion is the introduction of the Bombardier C series aircraft, which with accommodation for up to 130 passengers.  The new Canadian aircraft is due to be operated by at least SWISS in 2015, and will open up a whole series of airports hitherto not within the range of the current Embraer and Avro aircraft, the backbone of the airport.  However it will not fit into the current stands. 

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easyJet, Moscow and Stelios

Interesting times for easyJet with the introduction of Moscow services imminent and founder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, resident in Monaco, seemingly not happy with the huge financial awards the present management has given him.  He sees caution, staying with the present fleet, and even a reduction in size.  Carolyn McCall, CEO, and her team, whilst not exactly signing on the dotted line, are in serious negotiations to replace many of the present aircraft. 

An attempt by the Haji-Ioannou family to oust present (and outgoing in the summer) Chairman Sir Michael Rake, was defeated at last week’s AGM.  Sir Stelios thinks Ms McCall is overpaid, but failed to turn up at the gathering to personally put his case.

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Quito airport opens

Ecuador’s showpiece Mariscal Sucre International Airport at the capital Quito was officially opened last week, replacing the 1960's town centre operation which had completely outgrown the facilities and is now closed.

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SITA Future Flying report

Over the next three years the way we travel will change significantly, fuelled by innovation in IT – used by airlines, airports and passengers.  This is according to SITA, the air transport communications provider, in a report named Flying into the Future.

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FLYING AT THE FRONT END: Emirates

When Emirates (not it seems Emirates Airlines) was created in 1985 things were rather different in the Middle East.  Sadam ruled in Iraq, Gaddafi in Libya and Dubai was considered something of a sleepy backwater.  Gulf Air was the dominant carrier and the new airline, backed by the Emirate of the same name, was considered a flag raising upstart not to be considered seriously.

Today Emirates is the largest air carrier in the Middle East, operating over 2,500 flights per week from its hub at Dubai International Airport Terminal 3, to 129 cities in 75 countries across six continents.  Its current aircraft fleet consists of 197 aircraft including 31 Airbus A380s and 122 Boeing 777s, of various specifications.  At least 59 A380s are still to come as are 73 of the wide-bodied Boeings, and 70 of the yet to fly A350s.  Last year the airline carried 34m passengers (31 April 2011) with, in what was a difficult year for all airlines, reduced profits of US$629m against US$1.6bn, but an increased turnover.  It has won numerous awards.

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CRUISE NEWS FEBRUARY

National Ferry Fortnight (and Azamara Journey)

The UK’s annual National Ferry Fortnight starts next Saturday (2 March).  Now in its fifth year, the campaign has been growing steadily since launching in 2008.  Supported by the 13 ferry line members of DiscoverFerries.com, the two-week showcase was created to heighten consumer and media awareness of Britain’s extensive ferry services covering more than 50 routes.  Central to the campaign is a series of promotional offers on ferry routes to Belgium, Denmark, France, Holland, Ireland, Spain, the UK including the Isle of Wight and the Scottish islands; and also the Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

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AND FINALLY: Exceptionally heavy demand

Have you ever come across the telephone message when trying to get through somewhere:  “Due to exceptionally heavy demand you are being placed in a queue”.

Translated this should read “We have only one operator, who is busy – and possibly on a tea break”.

You are normally charged for listening to the various options available and the waiting time to speak to a human who often barely speaks your own language.

And “Sorry all lines are busy”, means that they only have that one line, and the operator is reminding the irate customer that calls are monitored for quality purposes, which in truth is “We will take you to court for defamation if needs be!”

It happens with airlines too.

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Air France results

At its annual press update in Paris last week Air France-KLM confirmed that it is in talks with “two to three” potential bidders for CityJet, its Irish airline centred on London City Airport, and will make a decision by July (see BTN 18 February).  The airline could still keep the loss-making carrier but confirmed that the interested parties included other carriers and investors.  New equipment remains a high priority for CityJet, which could be Embraer, Bombardier (Q400 and C series), or even from the East.

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BA Gatwick hand baggage

British Airways is extending choice for short haul customers at Gatwick with the launch of a new ‘hand baggage only’ fare.  The new type of fare from Gatwick will be available initially to five destinations outbound only – Amsterdam, Dubrovnik, Jersey, Tunis and Turin, starting from £39 one-way, normally £10 less than the ‘baggage’ fare.

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Delta upgrades

With its latest JFK Terminal 4 lounge nearing completion Delta Air Lines says that it is adding new elements to the transcontinental services (which will use the facility) with more dining and entertainment options for travellers flying between New York-JFK and Los Angeles, and JFK and San Francisco, with Seattle following soon.

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Gatwick’s new deal

Gatwick has put forward a seven-year ‘Contracts & Commitments’ framework to the CAA to replace the current regulated system.  The Authority will publish proposals by 30 April 2013 and make a final decision in January 2014.

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Italian job

IC Bellagio, the Italian luxury travel company, has extended its VIP Meet and Greet service to many of the leading Italian airports, including the Milan airports (Linate and Malpensa), Rome (Ciampino and Leonardo da Vinci), Bologna, Catania, Naples, Palermo and Venice.

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Jeffrey Shane at IATA

Former US Under-Secretary of Transportation for Policy, Department of Transportation (DOT) from 2003-2008, Jeffrey Shane, has been appointed IATA General Counsel and will be based at Montreal.  Working within President George W. Bush’s administration Mr Shane was very closely involved with the landmark European Union-US Open Skies agreement and well known to the UK airline scene.

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Ryanair finale?

EU regulators will finally decide next week on Ryanair's third, and one would think final, attempt to take over Aer Lingus.  Ryanair may own 37% of the carrier, but its efforts to gain a majority have always been thwarted.

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Titan goes private

Britain’s sole remaining large aircraft exclusive charter operator, Titan Airways, has been taken ‘private’.  The Stansted-based specialised VIP operator is also celebrating 25 years during 2013.

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