29 JULY 2013

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Another CSeries delay

Bombardier has delayed the first flight of its CSeries regional jet for a third time, promising the inaugural "in the coming weeks" instead of July, a move most customer airlines, and pundits, were in truth expecting.  Airbus and Boeing have learnt over the last few years that it is dangerous to publish first flights too much in advance.  Better to leave an announcement until the pilots are virtually in the cockpit.

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Chinese visa

Whilst in fact getting a visa for China is very easy and well organised (and for Hong Kong this is not a requirement for British passport holders for up to a six-month stay) foreign nationals from 45 countries may now enter Guangzhou Provence without this paperwork.  All you need is an onward airline ticket.  Guangzhou joins Beijing and Shanghai as 72-hour border visa-free cities.

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Delta adds London – Seattle

In anticipation of receiving antitrust immunity later this year for its joint venture with Virgin Atlantic Airways, Delta Air Lines will offer a new daily code-share non-stop service from Heathrow to Seattle, beginning the start of the summer airline season 29 March 2014.  At present only British Airways fly the route, a 9hrs 35mins sector using a Boeing 747.  The airline already serves both Amsterdam and Paris from Seattle using Air France/KLM as a partner under its Skyteam arrangement.

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EE in-flight

“Everything Everywhere”, the full title of telecoms operator EE, which is still for the most part known from its two merged brands, Orange and T-Mobile, has gone airborne .

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Embraer additions for KLM

KLM Cityhopper, KLM’s regional subsidiary, is to add six Embraer 190s to its current fleet of 22 E-Jets.  The additional E190s are part of KLM Cityhopper’s strategic plan to replace the oldest aircraft in its Fokker fleet.  The first of the six E190s is scheduled to be delivered during the second half of 2013.

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Virgin Clubhouse welcome

For the first time ever, Virgin Atlantic is opening up the doors to its award-winning Upper Class ground service to all passengers.  The airline has launched its new ‘Guest List’ product which offers an upgraded travel experience at the airport for passengers in the Economy and Premium Economy cabins.

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Business Travel News Editor in Chief Malcolm Ginsberg talks about the Boeing 787 and the UK Airport Commission.  See World View

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COMMENT: The Single European Sky

You only have to read the autobiography “Shaking the Skies” by Giovanni Bisignani, former Director General and CEO of IATA, to appreciate the aviation wars he fought during his 10 years in charge, firstly with his own airline members, and once they were on his side, Governments and other high powered interested parties.  His greatest success was e-ticketing, now the very heart of the industry, but opposed by some at the time.  Giovanni’s other major battle was, and still is, The Single European Sky (SES).  But he senses victory.  At London’s Aviation Club in the Spring (See BTN 29 April) David McMillan, Chair of the Flight Safety Foundation and former Eurocontrol Chief, said he thought it might happen by 2019.  Giovanni is more optimistic and says it could be in place in three years' time.  Eurocontrol was founded in 1960! 

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787 update

Boeing shows off its latest in-house colour scheme with the 9 series prototypeThe US Federal Aviation Administration has instructed airlines to remove or inspect emergency beacons in Boeing 787 Dreamliners, following the fire earlier this month on an Ethiopian Airlines’ aircraft at Heathrow that was traced to one of the Honeywell units.

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easyJet record figures

Following a victory against founder and rebel shareholder Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou regarding a new jet order (See BTN 15 July), easyJet’s CEO, Carolyn McCall, clearly felt herself justified in reporting a robust set of financial figures last week.
 
“easyJet has delivered a strong performance in the third quarter in a benign capacity environment for easyJet”, she said.  “With 73% of second half seats now booked, easyJet expects profit before tax for the year to 30 September 2013 to be between £450m and £480m compared to the £317m profit before tax reported in the prior financial year assuming no further significant disruption”.

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Gatwick’s second runway

One of the strongest contenders in the London airports’ conundrum, Gatwick, has come up with a surprise package with its proposal to the Airports Commission. 

The airport has submitted plans for a second runway which it said could be built at “a fraction of the cost of expansion at Heathrow”.  Under certain legal restraints it cannot start on the construction until 2019, and it was thought that the preferred site was north of the existing site. 

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Luton Airport not sold

Abertis, the Spanish infrastructure group, has confirmed the sale of the bulk of its airport assets in Europe and the US to ADC & HAS Airports Worldwide for US$284m.  The sale includes Belfast International and Stockholm Skavsta airports, as well as the Orlando Sanford airport terminal concessions. 

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Ryanair could sell Aer Lingus stake

Is there about to be another twist in the long-running saga of Aer Lingus and Ryanair?  Founded by the late Tony Ryan, the Dublin-based airline says that it is prepared to sell its 29% stake in the former Irish flag carrier to an EU airline offering to buy out Aer Lingus.

Ryanair’s reputation for running a legal tightrope means that rivals and interested parties are taking a much closer look than usual.

"This changes nothing as there are no obvious buyers", said Donal O'Neill, an analyst at Goodbody Stockbrokers.

"This will form the basis of an appeal against a likely Competition Commission decision to force a sale, buying Ryanair time”, he said.

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Woolwich Crossrail – but not London City

Transport for London (TfL) and the Department for Transport (DfT), sponsors of Crossrail, have confirmed that Crossrail services will call at Woolwich.  There is still no word on suggestions that a station be constructed on the old Silvertown for London City Airport (LCY) site less than 200m from the airport entrance.  As things stand, Crossrail trains will stop at Excel with passengers then changing to the 473 bus service (every 10 minutes) to the airport.  The railway runs under the end of the runway. 

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FLYING AT THE FRONT END: Finnair

Jane Stanbury tries out for Business Travel News

Finnair, Finland’s national flag carrier, marked 90 years of operations this year.  On 24 March 1924 a Junkers 13 carried 162 kilos of mail from Helsinki to Tallinn in Estonia.  In its first year of operations it carried a total of 269 passengers. 

The growth of the airline can be said to run parallel with the history of Finland itself.  Isolated from the rest of Europe by an unpredictable Baltic sea, access to ports were often hampered.  It needed aviation.

Finnair now serves over 60 destinations in Europe and connects over a dozen long haul hubs in Asia and north America.  The fleet consists of Embraer and Airbus types transporting nine million passengers annually.

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CRUISE NEWS JULY 2013

HONG KONG PLUS NORWEGIAN EPIC

It did not gain that much media exposure in Europe (nor probably in the United States either) but on 12 June 2013 a really significant event happened the other side of the globe which will greatly effect ocean going sea holidays far into the future.  Hong Kong’s Kai Tak cruise terminal opened with the arrival of RCCL Mariner of the Seas and 3,000 passengers bound for Shanghai.

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AND FINALLY It is a question of language.

We met an elderly American last week in London who had never been to the UK and was very confused with her English English.

The elevator she has managed to translate into lift but it was rest room that had really defeated her.

She was aware of what a loo was but the sign outside some houses (and flats) really baffled her at first – TO LET (read as “to oil let”).  Were the British that generous or needed to visit on a more regular basis than their American cousins?

Since we are now into the holiday period here are some conversions.  English first.

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Baggage upheaval?

Servisair, which is Britain’s largest airport ground handling company, and is seen in the public arena with its executive lounge offerings, could have a change of ownership.

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Boeing MAX goes firm

With a pre-first flight order book of 1,495 aircraft (but still behind Airbus who has an astonishing 2,179 commitments for the A320 Neo series) Boeing has set the firm configuration of the 737 MAX 8.  This milestone marks completion of the major trade studies that define the capabilities of the 737 MAX family.  Final assembly of the first plane is planned to begin in 2015 with first delivery scheduled for the third quarter of 2017.

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Change at Travelodge

Grant Hearn has decided to move on from his role as Chief Executive Officer of Travelodge, one of the UK’s leading budget hotel operators.  Hearn joined Travelodge in 2003 as CEO from Hilton UK where he had been Managing Director Hilton UK for three years.

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Fearless Flyer

easyJet, is extending the rollout of its successful ‘Fearless Flyer’ courses to eight locations across the UK to help hundreds of people conquer their phobia.  BTN notes the spread of the airports is a good indication of easyJet’s reach now across the nation.  It is seen at every major airport, with the notable exception of Heathrow.

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First Airbus for American Airlines

American Airlines has taken delivery of its first ever modern Airbus aircraft, an A319 complete with Sharklets, a lightweight composite wingtip device that offers up to 4% fuel burn savings.  In the past, American operated the original A300.

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Food on the Fly

Heathrow has taken the unusual step of publishing a hard copy of its new 'Food on the Fly' airport dining guide ahead of the busy summer holiday period.  Patrons will find it vastly easier to use than hand held devices.  It has been created in conjunction with John Torode and Gregg Wallace – who were appointed as the airport's official taste buds earlier this year.

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Holiday Inn Rome

Rome will by the end of the year be the home of three Holiday Inn properties.  Due to open in the fourth quarter 2013 is the Holiday Inn Rome – Pisana, a conversion from the New Pisana Palace and offering 229 bedrooms, two restaurants and an elegant lounge bar.   The hotel’s seven meeting rooms will be equipped with the latest audio and visual technologies, and the addition of free wi-fi throughout.

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HS2 still on track

In spite of rising objections from a variety of ‘experts’ Britain’s High Speed 2 rail project is still on track.

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