* items include readers letters
6 JANUARY 2014
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Italy's Alitalia struggles on with Poste Italiane and bank Unicredit joining just before the holidays with a €300m capital increase. The cash from the investment will be used to keep the troubled airline in the air while it searches for a new partner willing to give strong support.
German airline investor group Intro Aviation has made a firm offer to acquire Air France-KLM unit CityJet and its Belgian subsidiary VLM.
Intro Aviation has been involved in on-off talks for CityJet since first confirming its interest in the regional operator in April. Whilst that process appeared to have stalled in September, just before Christmas Intro confirmed it was holding talks with CityJet's union over its takeover plans.
Leading luxury luggage manufacturer Briggs & Riley has launched its first-ever hard-sided range of cases called ‘Torq’. The range is comprised of three cases: a Carry-on Spinner (which meets the regulations of most UK airlines) and a medium and large spinner.
Now fully open after a ‘soft’ beginning is the Intercontinental Westminster, only the second Intercontinental in the UK capital. In fact it is something of a misnomer directly situated on The Broadway, opposite St James Park Underground and close by Scotland Yard. It is more in Victoria than Westminster but nevertheless only a short walk from the mother of Parliaments.
First Great Western has announced a time scale for the implementation of free wi-fi on board its High Speed Train fleet and Night Riviera Sleeper services. Work on fitting wi-fi will start in May 2014, with full completion due by the end of the year. Wi-fi on the twice daily Night Riviera services will be available by June 2014.
It is not the policy of your Editor in Chief to write the monthly ON THE SOAPBOX column, preferring to pen the anonymous COMMENT. But such is the importance of the interim Airport Commission publication released just before the break he felt that some words were necessary to start 2014. Malcolm Ginsberg has been involved with air transport for over 40 years and has sat on the executive board of two UK regional airlines. He was very much part of the concept and introduction of London City Airport.
Airports Commission: Interim Report
Published on Tuesday 17 December after the final 2013 edition of Business Travel News had been distributed (was this just a coincidence?) the Airport Commission interim report runs to 226 pages, plus two appendixes, and a whole series of technical analysis. It is massive. By debating three weeks later BTN can at least objectively review what it says. No hasty comments for us.
A variety of views will be aired in 10 days time (Thursday 16 January) when many of the great and good of the airline industry will gather at the Grange Hotel near London’s Tower Bridge to discuss the Government’s Aviation Commission initial views. Outlining the interim report will be the Commission’s Chairman, Sir Howard Davies.
In what in fact is a second reverse take-over (US Airways reversed into American West in 2005) American Airlines completed its merger with US Airways just before the year end holiday period creating the world’s largest airline.
To start the new year Business Travel News thought it prudent to remind travellers of the rules governing the carriage of items on scheduled flights.
You are allowed to take liquids in your hold luggage, but there are strict regulations in place about your hand luggage. 'Liquids' includes gels, sprays (aerosols) and pastes.
With the opening of the runway extension due in the spring of 2014 Biman Bangladesh Airlines is to introduce twice weekly services to both New York JFK and Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. The services will be flown by two-class Boeing 777s.
Tim Clark the affable and always available President of Emirates has been honoured with a knighthood in the New Year Honours list for "services to British prosperity and to the aviation industry". Born in Aruba, Dutch Antilles, and a one time British Caledonian trainee, Sir Tim joined Emirates when it launched in 1985 and became its President in 2003.
Hotel operator Hilton Worldwide has raised US$2.34bn on a surprising IPO, returning to the public markets some six years after Blackstone Group LP took it private in one of the largest deals of the leveraged buyout boom.
Heathrow Express users will be pleased to learn that works to improve Paddington Station have been completed ahead of schedule. For the future it will become a major Crossrail interchange with quick access to Tottenham Court Road, Farringdon and eastward.
Airports Commission Chairman Sir Howard Davies will face two grillings as London returns from the mid-winter break, at Runways UK (see Airing the hub), and on behalf of Parliament.
Sir Howard will appear before the House of Commons’ Transport Committee on 20 January. Their report argued that expanding Heathrow was the “best way forward”.
Readers may recall that your Editor was in the Caribbean for the last issue of 2013 and used the world wide web for a report regarding Swan Hellenic Minerva.
Now back with his feet firmly on London terra firma he reflects on what was an outstanding experience. This is Part Two of an effortless 16-day cruise from Barbados to Montego Bay Jamaica. See also Minerva from the issue 16 December.
From the Aeroplane library
Another year has come to a close, and with it, so have the lives of several airlines.
There weren’t any spectacular shutdowns as we’ve seen in previous years, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t a handful of interesting stories to pop up. We are sure some obscure carrier has been missed and BTN will be happy to carry any additions next week. email@example.com
British Airways has confirmed it is to run a connectivity trial on one of its Boeing 747 aircraft over the course of 2014.
The aircraft will be fitted with the Panasonic Global Communications Suite "providing a range of entertainment to customers' personal electronic devices under the name High Life Connect".
Boeing and Cathay Pacific have jointly announced the airline’s decision to become Asia’s first 777X customer with an order for 21 777-9X aircraft, as part of Cathay’s future long haul fleet strategy. The airline’s plans are to retire all its passenger 747s and A340s over the coming years to be replaced by the Boeing and also Airbus A350 aircraft. In the future it will be Boeing 777, Airbus A330 and A350. Cathay also have a large dedicated all cargo fleet of 24 Boeing 747 freighters including 14 of the new and advanced 747-8f.
This opening BTN for 2104 comes with more than a tinge of sadness as I have to report the loss of Gwyn Hughes, the former Managing Director of P&O and a personal friend (Malcolm Ginsberg writes).
The turn of the year is always the time for the opening of new hotels and the closing of deals. December 2013 was typical and BTN highlights three announcements.
Generally accepted as the world’s longest non-stop air route, Singapore Airlines has withdrawn its Singapore – New York Newark service marking the end of the carrier’s ultra long haul operation, as well as its All-Business Class Premium service.
Bookings are being taken by Monarch Airlines for the very last commercial flight service on its long serving Airbus A300. The type has been with the airline since 1990, and has carried more than 20m passengers.