25 MARCH 2013

YOUR WORDS


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787 – another update

Japan's Civil Aviation Bureau said last Friday (22 March) that preparations are not yet complete for any test flight of Boeing's grounded 787 Dreamliner.  Takumi Electronics, a Japanese company, supplies the questionable batteries whilst ANA and Japan Air Lines are the lead operators.

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Granada from London City

British Airways continues to expand at London City Airport (LCY) as it celebrates 10 years at the airport with a grand party later this week.  Granada is its latest destination and will be the only airline operating from the UK to one of the most historic parts of Spain.  The year-round four days a week service will launch on 25 July just before the start of the busy summer season.  They are operated by a two-class 98-seat Embraer 190 offering complimentary food and drink on board.

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Lufthansa strikes

Prospective Lufthansa passengers should be careful in watching the airline’s web site as the carrier had to cancel almost 700 flights as workers went on strike early on Thursday (21 March).  Only announced the day before, and ended as planned at 10:00 local time, the action proved to be extremely disruptive wiping out domestic and European flights by Lufthansa into the afternoon.  Some 40% of the day’s flights were cancelled.

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New Doha International Airport to open

Usually one of the most flamboyant of carriers when it comes to making an important statement Qatar Airlines has chosen a soft opening for New Doha International Airport. 

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Ryanair stays with the old

Boeing and Ryanair chose the unlikely venue of New York to announce a 175 aircraft order at the same time that bitter rival easyJet was introducing the Gatwick – Moscow route with that airline’s CEO Carolyn McCall saying that no decision had been made regarding new technology planes.

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Turkish Airlines aircraft deal

The rush to secure delivery positions for new aircraft continues unabated (see also Lion Air and Ryanair).  

Turkish Airlines, a Star Alliance member, announced last week an order for 117 Airbus aircraft made up of 25 A321, four A320neo, 53 A321neo and options for 35 additional A321.

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DON’T FORGET ON SATURDAY NIGHT THE CLOCKS GO FORWARD ONE HOUR IN THE UK AND MANY AIRLINE SCHEDULES CHANGE

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COMMENT: Davies must report earlier

The last seven days could have been enlightening for the air transport business, and indeed the whole country.  Yes, the Government admitted that it contributes around £18bn to the British economy.  But in truth it was just another week of dithering.  Whilst this once great industry burns, Downing Street just fiddles about, or in this case takes a penny a pint off beer, the 2013 version of the Cornish Pasty crisis of 2011. 

The aviation news of the week was ‘buried’ and Davies looks doomed even before it is published. 

Air Passenger Duty stays and will increase.  The Treasury (Government) buries its head in the sand when it comes to alternative ways of attracting the same (or more) revenue.

As anticipated by Business Travel News, the Aviation Policy Statement surfaced late last Friday (22 March) and does not seem to have been picked up by anyone with the honourable exception of the Airport Operators Association, who at least acknowledged it and clearly found its contents far too complex for an instant reliable analysis.  The fact that it had been put together by yet another non-aviation consultancy helped to confuse.

In 2003 the 175-page Future of Air Transport was published.  It was criticised at the time for its optimism and spoke of up to 600m passengers passing through British airports in 2030.  (The 2012 figure is 220m with virtually zero growth – and these include offshore helicopter flights.) 

The detractors have been proved right.  Whilst Stansted and Cardiff are exceptions with the collapse of passenger throughput, a 30m Luton is but a dream (9.6m 2012). 

As for Davies it will not report until after the next election.  Will the Prime Minister of the time have the courage to carry out its recommendations?  The current PM did stick to his election promise of stopping Heathrow Three, but whoever is in charge summer 2015 will not be under such constraints.  The PM can promote whatever he thinks best and then try to sort out a working legal path for success.  He will be strongly opposed.  We may live in a democracy but when it comes to nimbiism it does not work. 

Probably 95% of those opposing Heathrow Three moved into the area knowing full well that the airport and its plans existed.

The future of air transport in the UK is a mess.  There is only one solution.  Davies must report before the next General Election and all the parties should be obligated to state their policy.  That way we might make some progress.

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Amman gets new terminal

Today (Monday 21 March) sees the transfer of all flights to a new terminal at Queen Alia International Airport, Amman.  The building itself was officially opened by His Majesty King Abdullah II on 14 March.

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Aviation Policy Statement

As predicted by Business Travel News the Department for Transport (DfT) published last Friday (22 March) its Aviation Policy Framework in conjunction with Hartley McMaster “a management consultancy specialising in the use of analytical and structured methods to solve business problems”.  It was a very low key announcement issued as a Commons written statement (and not even distributed by the DfT press office to this publication). 

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Bahrain Rotana

Rotana, which claims to be the leading hotel management company in the Middle East and Africa, has opened its first property in Bahrain, Majestic Arjaan by Rotana.

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easyJet to Moscow

Last Monday (18 March) Gatwick Airport celebrated the introduction of its first ever Moscow services, twice daily easyJet flights.  Fire engines sprayed the aircraft.  At the other end it was just not possible.  Too cold.

The importance of the route was emphasised by the attendance of Minister of State for Transport Simon Burns MP for the send off. 

He had this to say: "I welcome the launch of these new services between London Gatwick and Moscow.  This is a brand new route for easyJet and for Gatwick, and I am certain it will help to deliver tremendous benefits to business and leisure passengers.  It also demonstrates the ongoing capability of London's airport network to attract new, direct services with the world's largest markets.  We also look forward to easyJet starting their services to Moscow from Manchester later this month".

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Heathrow’s Commission statement

Europe’s most important aviation hub needs to be maintained at Heathrow.  That is the message put over by what is currently the world’s largest and most important international airport in a statement last week referring to its Davies Commission submission.

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KLM Business Class

July 2013 is not that far away.  KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has targeted that timescale for the introduction of a totally new World Business Class cabin.  KLM’s Boeing 747-400 fleet, consisting of 22 aircraft, will be remodelled first.  Work on the airline’s 15 Boeing 777-200s will follow.

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ON TOUR: It’s easy to Moscow

Moscow has been the capital of Russia on and off for 1,000 years.  For the last three centuries it has competed for the title with St Petersburg.  Today it is firmly the capital of the Russian Federation.  Even Vladimir Putin, born in the city of Peter the Great, has not been able to change things.

Moscow is the political, economic, cultural, religious, financial, educational and transportation centre of Russia.  It is a friendly multinational city where the locals will even offer seats to elderly journalists.  This sometimes happens on the London Underground too.

Visiting Moscow is a pleasure, particularly in the spring and autumn.  It can be very hot in August and as both Napoleon and Hitler discovered winter is extremely fierce. 

And now easyJet has arrived, a one-class airline, and something rather different. 

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CRUISE NEWS MARCH 2013

There were a number of major talking points at the very successful Telegraph Cruise Show, held once again at London’s Olympia last weekend (23-24 March). 

For the public the highlights were easy.  The promotion of the imminent arrival of two major new cruise ships, more or less competing head on, NCL Breakaway and Royal Princess, large, but not the biggest ships available and both with plenty of innovations and novelties. 

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AND FINALLY: Pearl & Dean

Pearl & Dean, easyJet staff members, entertain at  Petrovich jazz cellar Moscow.  Husky voices too!

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APD goes up

Air Passenger Duty (APD) was not mentioned by Chancellor George Osborne in his actual budget speech last week and therefore received minimal coverage by the media.  This is a technique known as “burying”, which also covers the publication of the Aviation Bill (see below).

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Italian take-off for easyJet

easyJet continues to make the headlines but this time in Italy where the airline today (25 March) introduces a monopoly breaking route by offering up to five return flights daily between Milan’s central Linate Airport and Rome Fiumicino.  Flight time is just 1hr 10mins on what is the country’s busiest trunk route. 

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Kings Cross and St Pancras hotel

April will see the reopening of the 1854 Great Northern Hotel, London’s first railway hotel, following a comprehensive £40m renovation programme.

Occupying a revitalised prime position between King’s Cross Station and St Pancras International, it is the busiest rail transport hub in Europe.

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Lion Air orders 234 A320 Family aircraft

Indonesian low-cost carrier Lion Air is to become a major new Airbus customer.  It has placed a firm order with Airbus for 234 A320 Family aircraft, comprising 109 A320neo, 65 A321neo and 60 A320. 

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Malaysia Airlines goes for iPads

Don’t be surprised if a member of the cabin staff accosts you with an iPad on one of Malaysia Airlines’ twice daily A380 services from Heathrow to Kuala Lumpur.

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Microsoft Windows 8 and United Airlines

United Airlines has introduced a new application for Windows Phone 8 users that puts their important travel information at their fingertips.  With the app, United customers can book reservations – including reward travel – check-in for flights, access mobile boarding passes, monitor flight status details and view their MileagePlus frequent flyer accounts.

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Olympic Park at Heathrow

Following the success of Heathrow’s park-themed terminal for the London 2012 Olympics, the airport has recreated the traditional British park set within Terminal 1.  Presumably it will last until the building is finally closed this time next year.

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Qantas via Dubai

Next Sunday (31 March) the Qantas A380 QF1 service will come into Heathrow T3 from Singapore as usual, turn around and depart as the QF2, but to Dubai, bringing to an end the long standing British Airways – Qantas arrangement on what is affectionately known as “The Kangaroo Route”. 

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