21 OCTOBER 2013

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Air Europa – Spain’s largest airline

It looks like Iberia’s woes are to continue, having now being relegated to Spain’s second largest airline.  Air Europa has overtaken the former national carrier in terms of passenger numbers according to official statistics from AENA, the Spanish aviation authority.

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Aviation Club update

Iain Rawlinson, Executive Chairman of The Monarch Group, is the guest speaker at the Aviation Club next Thursday (24 October).  Once again London’s Institute of Directors is the venue. 

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Café Royal

First opened back in 1865 as a dining establishment for the rich and famous (clients have included Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill, Noël Coward, Brigitte Bardot, Sir Max Beerbohm, George Bernard Shaw, Sir Jacob Epstein, Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali and Diana, Princess of Wales), the Café Royal is now fully functional as a hotel (159 rooms) and conference centre.

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Irish cancel APD

The Government of the Republic of Ireland has really set the cat amongst the pigeons by cancelling air travel tax from all the airports in the Republic with effect April 2014.  Whilst the current figure is only €3 this is bound to have an effect on Belfast City, Belfast International and Londonderry airports in Northern Ireland.  Presently all flights, in the Six Counties, including long haul, pay £13 per passenger. 

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Vueling Adds ‘Missed Flight Cover’

No Exclusions Ltd, the British travel insurance specialist, has launched a new partnership for missed flight cover.  Spanish airline Vueling, part of IAG, has added the innovative consumer protection package to their online flight bookings.

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COMMENT: Gatwick and Norwegian

Under its new owners Global Infrastructure Partners, Gatwick Airport has been aggressive in its pursuit of a better identity, both in terms of airport fabric and routes, throwing off the years of neglect by the BAA.

In many ways it has been successful, and some ways less so.

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Airports gathering

Today (Monday 21 October) sees the much anticipated opening of the annual Airport Operators Conference at London’s Hilton Metropole. 

It has now been confirmed that the new Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport (see BTN 14 October) Robert Goodwill MP (Conservative) will open the proceedings.  A farmer, he was on the Transport Select Committee for 18 months and known as a Eurosceptic.

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Boeing 747 slowdown

The production slowdown with the Boeing 747 continues (it first flew in 1969) but whether this means the end of the aircraft which coined the phrase ‘Jumbo Jet’ remains to be seen.  Boeing is confident that there is still a market for the four-engined jet, which has no competition in the large air freighter arena, Airbus having dropped the idea of a cargo version of the A380 some years back. 

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Delta at Heathrow

The award winning Virgin Clubhouse at Heathrow T3 will be available for Delta customers when the American airline moves from its present home at Heathrow T4 “at some point in the future”. 

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easyJet to Bucharest

Hugh Aitken, easyJet's UK Commercial Manager, last week hosted an inaugural flight by the airline from Gatwick to Bucharest, capital of Romania.

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Fastjet makes Johannesburg

Last Friday (16 October) fastjet finally took off from Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport in Tanzania to Johannesburg’s O.R. Tambo International Airport in South Africa.  Flights between the two cities will initially be operated by fastjet three times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, increasing in frequency as soon as consumer demand dictates.

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Loews Regency New York to re-open

The iconic Loews Regency Hotel on New York’s Park Avenue (61st Street) and its renowned signature restaurant will re-open on 16 January 2014 following a major US$92m renovation.  Bookings can now be made.

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Low-cost North Atlantic

Norwegian Air Shuttle (better known as Norwegian but not to be confused with cruise line NCL) will take on one of the most competitive markets in the world from next summer, launching low-cost flights between Britain and the United States.  The non-EU operator, who already services New York from Oslo and plans to introduce Copenhagen and Stockholm to Ft Lauderdale Florida in November, has announced routes to JFK once again, Ft Lauderdale and Los Angeles from July 2014 from Gatwick.

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Ryanair EU investigation

European Union state aid regulators are investigating whether marketing deals between the Spanish authorities and Ryanair breach EU rules, the European Commission said last Wednesday.

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ON TOUR: Romania

easyJet may have jumped on the bandwagon with the introduction of a four times a week service from Gatwick to Bucharest but there is no doubt that one of Europe’s more inexpensive destinations is bound to become popular both as a business and leisure destination from the UK over the next few years.  There are 4,000 British companies said to be established in Romania.

Business Travel News was invited by the airline on its inaugural flight last week (See easyJet to Bucharest in this week's BTN).  We were impressed with the friendly welcome, massive media turnout at Bucharest Henri Coandã International Airport and extremely easy entry procedure.

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AND FINALLY: BTN's loo of the year

Gatwick seems to have gained a great deal of attention in BTN this week and we have no intention of taking the P out of the airport, but BTN used the new men's loo in the South Terminal, landside, and was impressed. 

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Aer Lingus and in-flight mobile

Passengers on-board Aer Lingus long haul flights can now use their own mobile phones to text and browse the internet, using AeroMobile's inflight roaming service.

All seven of the airline's Airbus A330 aircraft, which serve the USA from the Republic of Ireland, have been fitted with the AeroMobile service, meaning travellers can stay in touch by SMS, or email a colleague from 30,000 feet.

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Alitalia woes

The future of Alitalia is far from secure with Air France (AF) now having second thoughts over future investment and International Airlines Group (IAG), the combined British Airways and Iberia, saying that the fresh capital injection is illegal. (See last week’s BTN)

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Business Traveller Awards 2013

Kensington's Royal Garden Hotel was once again the setting for the Business Traveller Awards 2013 presented by the magazine of the same name.  The ceremony was hosted by newsreader, presenter and journalist Fiona Bruce.

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DoubleTree by Hilton opens in Lisbon

Hilton has now opened its first DoubleTree at Lisbon (See BTN 6 May 2013)

Formerly the Fontana Park Hotel and located in Saldanha Square, DoubleTree by Hilton Lisbon – Fontana Park, is to the north of the city just 5.3km from the airport, and less than 10km from the Gare do Oriente, which connects the Portuguese capital with Spain and France via the high-speed train network.

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Iberia’s new image

By no means out of trouble following some very poor financial results, but well on the way to recovery according to Willie Walsh, Chairman of holding company IAG, Iberia has revealed its revised image.

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London to Manila

Philippine Airlines (PAL) has confirmed the re-introduction of direct flights from Heathrow to Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, with the first landing set for Monday 4 November, the opening day of World Travel Market.

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Spanish Airport tax reduction

Spain has announced that it will cut the taxes airlines pay to use the country's airports and remove the charge entirely in some cases in an attempt to boost falling traffic.

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