3 JUNE 2013

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Avianca becomes Avianca

One of the oldest airlines in Latin America, with a history going back more than 90 years, Avianca, is to become what the airline terms ‘New Avianca’ combining the operations of Avianca, TACA Airlines, Aerogal, and Tampa Cargo.  The carrier, based in Bogota (Columbia), has been a member of Star Alliance since 2012.

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Ethiopian at Heathrow

Claimed to be the fastest growing airline in Africa, Ethiopian Airlines celebrated last week 40 years of uninterrupted flights to London.  On 16 June it will launch a six times per week Boeing 787 Dreamliner service from Heathrow, connecting to its hub at Addis Ababa.

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First Great Western car hire

Have you ever wanted to take the train but are put off by the distance from the station to your final destination?  Help is at hand as First Great Western (FGW) brings car hire to their network of stations.

In partnership with Europcar, FGW has launched a meet and greet car hire service, providing reduced cost car and van rental at 20 of FGW’s leading destinations.

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Kiev alternative flights

Ukraine International Airlines (UIA) is to double its frequency from Gatwick South to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev from 26 June with a second daily service just after midnight arriving 05:30 the following morning.  The current flight remains the same, departing Gatwick 12:20 and arriving Kiev 17:40.  The return service leaves 10:00 (11:35) and 20:05 (21:35).  Flight time for the Boeing 737-500 is around 3hrs 30mins.

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Thomson goes Boeing 737 MAX

On the same day that it took delivery of its first Boeing 787 Dreamliner ((see in this week’s BTN)) British TUI subsidiary Thomson Airways found itself the recipient of further good news with the announcement by owner TUI Travel that it is to buy 60 Boeing 737 MAX.  The planes, to be powered by CFM LEAP-1B engines, are scheduled for delivery between January 2018 and March 2023.  TUI operates five other European airlines besides Thomson – TUIfly, TUIfly Nordic, ArkeFly, Jetairfly and Corsair – with 141 current aircraft.

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Some 700 aviation leaders are gathering in Cape Town (South Africa) for the 69th IATA Annual General Meeting and World Air Transport Summit.  From 2-4 June 2013 Cape Town will be the global capital of commercial aviation as the industry discusses its most important issues, including safety, environment, distribution and financial sustainability among others.  BTN will report on the event next week. www.iata.org

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ON THE SOAPBOX: Giovanni Bisignani, former Director General and CEO of IATA

UK air transport - It is time for courage

Giovanni Bisignani (66), was formerly Director General and CEO of IATA from 2002 to 2011.  He lives in London and is fluent in Italian, Spanish and English.  His new book Shaking the Skies covers his time leading IATA and deals with all the major issues in aviation, including infrastructure.  Giovanni's most recent appointment was to the board of Aircastle Ltd, the aircraft leasing company.  In 2001 he launched the European travel portal Opodo and served as the company's Chief Executive Officer.  Mr Bisignani has also held executive positions at SM Logistics, Tirrenia di Navigazione and Alitalia, and has served as a member of the Pratt & Whitney Advisory Board and Chairman of Galileo International.

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787 deliveries

It has been a busy week for Boeing with not only the first (of 10) Dreamliners for China Southern Airlines, and again the first for Thomson Airways (see BTN 27 May) but also an announcement by Singapore Airlines that it has a requirement for 30 787-10Xs, a stretch medium range version which has yet to get the official go-ahead.  Singapore also placed a firm order for 30 Airbus A350-900 XWB.

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Aer Lingus v Ryanair

Ryanair has been told to reduce its shareholding in Aer Lingus after the UK Competition Commission (CC) provisionally decided that its 29.8% could reduce competition on routes between Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland. 

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BA Airbus problem

The knock-on effect of the British Airways Airbus A320 BA 762 (G-EUOE) incident at Heathrow on Friday 24 May (see BTN 27 May) seems to be growing.  The British Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), based at Farnborough, has issued a ‘special’ notice suggesting to Airbus that it formerly notifies aircraft operators of problems associated with the engine cowlings. 

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Heathrow news

London’s Heathrow Airport announced two items of news last week, totally unrelated.

Firstly it has changed its wi-fi supplier to Arqiva and now all users of the airport can log in for a courtesy 45 minutes and those with its (free) Rewards card product are OK for 90 minutes.  After that it is £3 for an extra hour or £5 for three hours.

It also published ‘A quieter Heathrow’, a statement setting out the airport’s promise to reduce aircraft noise while safeguarding the UK’s connectivity.

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IATA figures for April

With the annual general meeting about to take place ((see above)) the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has announced global passenger traffic results for April showing a 3.2% increase in demand over the previous April.  Emerging markets are continuing to lead air travel growth, with all regions reporting year-over-year gains.

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Luton Airport sale?

InfraNews, which titles itself “Business Intelligence for the Global Infrastructure Finance Industry” reports that Abertis, the Spanish operator of Luton and Belfast International airports, is in discussion with Aena, also Spanish, and a minority shareholder, to sell its interest.

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Singapore for Wyndham

Wyndham Hotel Group, claimed to be the world’s largest hotel company with over 7,380 hotels has entered the Singapore market with the opening of two properties. 

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Vueling’s European design

A new look that will help Spain’s Vueling Airlines expand its presence in Europe will start flying aboard on one of its new Airbus A320s throughout its network until December 2013.

Last week at a ceremony in Barcelona, CEO Alex Cruz made known the winner of its ‘Linking Europe’ Competition, run in collaboration with the Fundació Mies van der Rohe.  The team, comprising young architect Plarent Berhamaj and designer Paolo Nazzari, took the accolade for their project “Where do you wanna wake up tomorrow?”  

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ON TOUR: EBACE sells business aviation

Alison Chambers has been to Geneva.

This year’s EBACE, Europe’s biggest business aviation gathering, certainly didn’t disappoint, unlike the chilly Alpine weather – with some exciting new aircraft and products showcasing in the static aircraft park and in the halls.

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AND FINALLY: “Have you been to an airport gym?”

This was the question posed by your Editor to Tom Otley, Editor of Business Traveller, as they walked (the not very far by airport standards) between the gate and Border Control at JFK’s T4 at the Delta lounge opening (story in a future Business Travel News and see issue 20 May).

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Air France connects

Together with its partner airline KLM, Air France is to conduct experimental flights across the North Atlantic this summer offering passengers wi-fi and live TV.

Two of the airline’s Boeing 777-300s have been equipped with a Panasonic system which will offer connectivity throughout the flight.  Customers can connect to the internet using their wi-fi enabled smartphones, laptops or tablets at a fixed rate and use their mobile phones for text.

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Brussels to lose Jet Airways?

Whilst Brussels may be the joint centre of the EU (together with Strasbourg) airlines seem less and less inclined to use its international airport.  This is probably due to little leisure traffic and a clamp down on diplomatic expenses.

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Gatwick celebrates Coronation anniversary

With the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation being celebrated today (Monday 2 June) Gatwick Airport has unveiled the latest addition to its British artwork collection.

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JAL adds flat beds

Japan Air Lines is to expand the installation of fully-flat accommodation in Business Class on more international flights.  The airline's "Welcome! JAL New Sky" project includes new seats in both Business and Economy Classes on the airline’s international Boeing 767-300ER fleet.

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oneworld enters 'events'

For the first time one of the world’s three global alliances is to move into the conventions travel market with a product called ‘events’.

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Ryanair in pension row

It has not been a good week for Michael O’Leary.  Not only has the UK Competition Commission suggested that he sells/reduces the Ryanair stake in Aer Lingus ((see this issue of BTN)) but he has issued what only can be described as 'a rant' over an Irish Labour Court recommendation designed to end a long-running dispute over a €780m deficit in an existing joint fund, the Irish Airlines Superannuation Scheme.

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Tel Aviv opens up for easyJet

easyJet has been quick on the uptake following the new Israel/EU to ‘Open Skies’ agreement (see BTN 29 April).  The airline is to introduce a twice weekly service from Rome Fiumicino on 24 September.  Rome will become the fifth city to be linked with Tel Aviv by Britain’s largest airline, after Luton, Manchester, Geneva and Basel.  Flights will be operated by an Airbus A320 on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

With the new services easyJet will be the second largest non-Israeli carrier to Tel Aviv. easyJet was the first low-fare airline to enter the Israeli market in November 2009 and from winter 2013 will operate 23 services per week to Tel Aviv, carrying over 400,000 passengers annually.

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