18 MARCH 2013

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Biggin Hill business jet gathering

Business Aircraft Europe will take place at Biggin Hill Airport in South East London 11 and 12 September 2013.

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Czech and Korean

It may seem at first glance a strange partnership but an alliance between CSA Czech Airlines and Korean Air makes sense.  The Far East airline is moving ahead with a 44% investment in the State carrier.  Approval is still required by the Czech cabinet which is expected in early April and the deal is said to be worth in the region of €2.64m (US$3.4m). 

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DoubleTree by Hilton UK

Having opened 11 hotels in the UK in the last two years, Doubletree by Hilton has reached agreement on additional sites in Bristol, Edinburgh and Nottingham.
 
The announcement begins a landmark year, which will see it open five new hotels in 2013, making a total of 25 in operation across the UK.  It only made its British debut in 2008 with the opening of DoubleTree by Hilton Cambridge.

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Frankfurt ills

Not a good week for German airport operator Fraport as it predicted zero growth in passenger numbers this year and lower net profit as a weak economic climate prompts airlines to reduce capacity.  To add to its woes, last Tuesday’s appalling weather on the Continent saw a complete closure of the airport for a period and about half of the day’s operations were lost. 

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London City for Alitalia

Alitalia is to expand operations at London City Airport, adding extra frequencies to Milan’s Linate city centre airport and launch a new route to Rome Fiumicino.

The carrier will move from 11 flights per week on the LCY – Milan Linate route to 18 from 31 March.

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Newquay opening set

The Newquay-Cornwall Airport ‘Classic Air Force’ (CAF) visitor attraction is “moving along very nicely” according to Chairman Tim Skeet, and is now set to open on schedule Good Friday (29 March).

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Passenger compensation uproar

New proposed air passenger compensation rules proposed by the European Commission are causing uproar within the airline industry.  Whilst some of them do make sense (a passenger may not be denied boarding on the return leg of a ticket because they did not take the outbound flight – a practice operated by some airlines) others will add to costs. 

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Malcolm Ginsberg, Editor of Business Travel News, was interviewed by Denis Campbell on ‘World View’ last Thursday (14 March).  It is a weekly segment of the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show in the USA.  ‘World View' offers 4-5 interviews each week on a variety of topics most of which the mainstream media gives the briefest of mentions, if at all.  Air Travel with Malcolm Ginsberg is initially once a month (and we certainly intend to improve the lighting and quality of the recording).  www.youtube.com

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COMMENT:

Aviation Policy Statement

These are difficult times in the world of air travel.  We know that on Wednesday (20 March) the Chancellor will make his budget statement.  By the end of the month the Aviation White Paper is also due!

Will Mr Osborne increase Air Passenger Duty (APD), which is promised, keep it at the same rate (possible), or reduce it (very unlikely)?  Will he make it a point-to-point tax, which makes sense, but for some reason not in favour with the Treasury?  Or could he make a sop to the UK regions by stopping or reducing the very unfair double taxation travellers to and from the Provinces have to suffer.  As the Transport Minister pointed out at the recent airports dinner Mr Osborne needs every penny he can grab.  His advisors do not seem to understand that a reduction of tax could actually see a rise in the bottom line.

Maybe at the dinner the current holder of the post, Patrick McLoughlin MP, had something else on his mind.  Before the end of March we are told, he will announce an Aviation Policy Statement.

If dear reader, as a traveller, booker or supplier to the industry (or indeed involved in Westminster) you are confused do not worry.  So is Business Travel News.

In March 2011, the Government (Minister Phillip Hammond) launched a scoping exercise towards developing a new sustainable policy framework for UK aviation.

In July 2011, the then current holder of the post Justine Greening published what was termed a Draft Aviation Policy Statement which ran to 96 pages, and also a Draft aviation policy framework impact assessment, merely 16 pages.  She said that more than 600 organisations and individuals had responded.

Last September the Davies Commission was set up and told not to report back until 2015.  By then a new Government will be in power and the fine words of Sir Harold’s wise souls will only be a recommendation.  There will be nothing on the statute book.

Taking out the south east airport issue the so-called draft was more a statement of facts than a preparation document.  There were at least a dozen announcements in the paper.  Why was it called a ‘draft’ and not an interim document? Perhaps it was written by the same confused souls who decided on capital-to-capital taxation for APD (except for Russia, west of the Urals you pay more.  Vladivostok does not have a lobby in the UK).

So what should we expect with the 2013 Aviation Policy Statement?  Another 180 pages of information much of which will be quickly out of date.  Will the business aviation sector get a fair hearing (see the excellent report by Alison Chambers on the British Business and General Aviation Association annual gathering)?

The previous 2003 effort was published the week before Christmas. 

It introduced itself with these words.

“This White Paper sets out a strategic framework for the development of airport capacity in the United Kingdom over the next 30 years, against the background of wider developments in air transport”.

Is this likely to also be the introduction for the 2013 Aviation Policy Statement too?

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787 The very latest

Boeing says that the re-introduction of the 787 is now not very far away.  Seattle is introducing what it calls a comprehensive set of improvements that will add several layers of additional safety features to the lithium-ion batteries on the Dreamliner and could be ready for initial installation within the next few weeks. 

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easyJet to Moscow

Today (18 March) easyJet introduces a new service (twice daily from 15 April) from Gatwick to Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, a route won after a hard fought battle with Virgin Atlantic and to a lesser extent British Airways.  It is easily the highest profile air route launch this year, justified with the carrier graduating into the FT100.  On 28 March Manchester starts on an initial four times a week basis to Moscow. 

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Gatwick expansion for Norwegian

Norwegian Air Shuttle (DY), affectionately known as Norwegian, is to strengthen its Gatwick (LGW) operation this summer with 10 new services to mainly Mediterranean holiday destinations.  It was previously at Stansted.  It is based at Gatwick South and is the only budget carrier in Europe to offer free wi-fi. 

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Iberia strike off

Workers at Iberia last week called off further strikes over job and salary cuts at the loss-making Spanish airline after accepting a deal from a government-appointed mediator.

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Southend Airport expands

The three-phase ten million pound 90m long terminal extension project at Southend Airport is well underway, with the new arrivals area on schedule to open at the beginning of June 2013.  The airport expects to top the one million passenger target this year after exceeding 600,000 in 2012 the initial new terminal building opening last April.  Stansted was the loser.

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ON TOUR: The BBGA gather

Alison Chambers from Emerald Media reports from the BBGA’s annual conference
 
“Are we too posh to push?” says Andrew Walters
 
Members of the British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) were urged last week to join together to seek to ensure that business aviation is not forgotten in the development of future aviation policy for the UK.  They were asked to sign a petition to the Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin MP calling for greater recognition of the sector. 

"If it is important enough to be taxed by the Treasury, then it demands more than a one paragraph mention in the new White Paper”, Andrew Walters, Chairman of Biggin Hill Airport, challenged.

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AND FINALLY: The name rhymes

MOXY HOTEL

This is the name of a new brand being developed by Marriott in conjunction with IKEA.

No comment but we might be looking for somewhere else.

www.moxyhotels.com

PS.  You should be able to visit your first Moxy hotel in Milan during 2014, with plans to expand the brand to 150 properties in 10 countries across Europe including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK.

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Airlines researched by KPMG

Research by KPMG, the financial advisors, into airline unit costs reveals that the difference between the cost base of low-cost carriers (LCCs) and legacy airlines has narrowed dramatically over the last six years.  From a customer perspective, the distinction between the two business models for short haul flying is increasingly irrelevant as traditional flag carriers’ short haul operations now compete head to head with the LCCs' point-to-point services.

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Aspire by Servisair

Servisair continues to roll out its upmarket Aspire airside airport lounges.  Work continues with the Bristol lounge now set for an April opening (see BTN 10 December).  It will have a quiet zone along with personal tablets in family areas.

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BA v easyJet at Gatwick

BA has stepped up its price battle with easyJet at Gatwick.  Now in command of the operations is  Peter Simpson, previously Managing Director of CityFlyer at London City Airport, and more recently in charge of the successful bmi integration,

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Flybe ups Scottish shuttle

From next September, Flybe will offer up to 16 flights daily between Birmingham and the two major Scottish lowland airports, Edinburgh and Glasgow.  With a weekdaily frequency of eight flights the route becomes a virtual shuttle.  The airline also flies twice daily between Birmingham and Aberdeen.

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Heathrow runway extension

Former BA Chief Concorde pilot Jock Lowe has gone public with his idea to double the length of the present Heathrow runways, saying that he was “frustrated” with the way things were going regarding suggestions to deal with the capacity problems.  “When we started hearing about all these various ideas, I thought this is just getting really rather silly”, said Mr Lowe.

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Monarch gets Sharklets

Luton-based Monarch Airlines has become the UK’s first operator of Airbus’ new wing tip fuel saving device called Sharklet.

Sharklets are an option on new-build A320 Family aircraft, and standard on all members of the A320 neo Family. The new wing tip devices measure 2.4m tall, replacing the A320’s current wing tip fence. They offer the flexibility to A320 Family operators of either adding around 100 nautical miles more range or an increased payload capability of up to 450kg.

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Paris from Brighton

Brighton City Airways, a virtual airline in that it does not hold an air transport licence itself, but flies under the banner of a fully approved operator, last week launched a twice daily (single flights at the weekends) between Brighton Shoreham Airport and Paris Pontoise (See BTN 10 December).  The 19-seat LET 410 turboprop used on the service is supplied and flight deck crewed by Van Air Europe, an established Brno (Czech Republic) operator.

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Westin beds for Delta

Delta Air Lines says it is transforming the sleep experience in the air by offering Westin Heavenly In-Flight bedding, designed and manufactured exclusively for Delta, in all of its BusinessElite cabins worldwide.

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