27 JANUARY 2014

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Crowne Plaza Barcelona

InterContinental Hotels Group has signed a franchise agreement with Hotel Fira S.A.U to introduce the Crowne Plaza brand to Barcelona.  The Crowne Plaza Barcelona Fira Center will open during the first quarter of this year.

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Dundee to London becomes Flybe

The Dundee to London air service, currently to London City Airport, flown by CityJet, and due to stop on 30 March, has been saved.

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EU baggage ruling

An adviser to Europe's top court has backed a key element of budget airlines' business model, saying extra charges levied by Spanish carrier Vueling for checking in baggage are in line with European Union rules.

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Hampton by Hilton Glasgow

With the Commonwealth Games opening date not that far away (23 July) the Scottish hospitality industry is readying itself for an unforgettable year of tourism. 

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Sukhoi Superjet – First year

A year ago, on 23 January 2013, Yakutia Airlines performed its first commercial flight of a Sukhoi Superjet 100 from its base airport in Yakutsk (250 miles south of the Artic Circle in North East of Russia), thus starting operations fo this new aircraft type.
 
From its first commercial flight from Yakutsk to Khabarovsk with passengers on board, the amount of flight hours of two SSJ100 aircraft in the air fleet of Yakutia Airlines has reached 2,660 hours for 1,084 flights.

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COMMENT: Sir Simon Jenkins slates the Airports Commission

Simon Jenkins' slating of the Airports Commission for dismissing an estuary airport and Stansted expansion in the face of pressure from the aviation industry flies in the face of key facts.  (London Evening Standard Tuesday 21 January

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A350 XWB show début

Airbus A350 XWB MSN 003, a series 900 aircraft, will return from high altitude test flights in South America, to take centre stage at the Singapore Airshow 11-12 February.  It will be the first full air show display for the newest wide body from Airbus.

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Alitalia – no job losses

No job losses.  That is the message being put out by Alitalia as part of a restructuring presented to unions.  The airline says it wants to improve its financial shape to appeal to possible partners.  How it does that without compulsory redundancies seems to be an Italian conundrum.

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Arts Club Hotel London

London’s Arts Club, at the bottom of Dover Street, near Piccadilly, is to open its own hotel in late 2014.  Founded in 1863, it has provided a haven for those people with relationships to the Arts, Literature or Sciences.  It has provided this hospitality ever since having survived two world wars, including a direct hit on the building during the Blitz in 1940, as well as political and economic anomalies over the years.

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Downing Street dithering

Sir Howard Davies, Chairman of the Airport Commission, told MPs last week on the House of Commons’ Transport Committee that he could have produced a full report, including the commission’s final recommendation for airport expansion, before the next general election due Spring 2015.

But Davies said that he was instructed by the government to report post election.

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easyJet half year results

Now Britain’s largest airline, at least in terms of the number of flights and airports served, easyJet posted its half year results last week. 

With first-half bookings in line with last year, it expects to report a first-half loss before tax of between £70m and £90m, assuming normal levels of disruption, compared to the £61m loss reported in the first half of last year.  Last year, Easter fell on 31 March, adding £25m of revenue to the first-half 2013 figures.  In the current financial year, Easter will fall in April.

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Expedia opens The Business Travel Show

The 20th Business Travel Show takes place next week (4-5 February) for the last time at Earls Court 2.  Exhibitors are up on last year and a record attendance is expected.  In 2015 it moves to Olympia.

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INNSIDE by Melia

Melia Hotels INNSIDE has opened its third property in Madrid.

The brand first arrived in Madrid in 2013 and has been well received by locals and visitors alike.  The new INNSIDE, which has 120 rooms and seven suites, has undergone a full renovation.  It was built in the 1950s and was once Ernest Hemmingway’s home in the city.  INNSIDE Suecia is centrally located in the Cortes district next to the Circulo de Bellas Artes and close to the Calle Alcala, Gran Via and Plaza Cibeles.

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Tipping tips

A recent study, published by UK-based International Currency Exchange, found that 40% of British travellers admitted they found tipping awkward and almost one in three confessed they did not know how much to tip in a destination.

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UK Air traffic 2013

The UK’s National Air Traffic Services, officially NATS Holdings Ltd, and 49% owned by the government (the rest is covered by various airlines, staff and Heathrow) saw an increase in air movements during 2013.

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ON TOUR: Appenzell, Switzerland

We are all pretty familiar with Switzerland.  It is easy enough to fly to Basle and Geneva from the UK, or go that little bit further to Zurich.  Even the tiny capital of Bern is connected to London City Airport.

But Appenzell (or Appenzellerland).

Just where is it?

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AND FINALLY: Taking a cab home

A friend got a little boozy at a party.  He was a responsible soul.

He took a cab home.

Sure enough on the way back there was a police road block but since it was a cab they waved it past.

He arrived home safely without incident.

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Air rail tickets

AccesRail (IATA 9B), the Canadian-based rail ticket service provider, has signed with the Italian train company Trenitalia to make its tickets available on the sales platforms of all major airlines of the world. 

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bmi Regional Norwegian boost

The first direct routes linking the two fastest growing regions in Norway – Stavanger and Northern Norway – started last week, operated by bmi Regional based at East Midlands Airport.  The new flights mean Norwegians can now fly non-stop to Harstad/Narvik Airport (Evenes) and Tromsø – important hubs for the Norwegian oil and gas industry – without having to connect via Oslo.  Similarly, new direct flights to Kristiansund and Gothenburg also commence today.

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Dublin doubled by Etihad

Etihad Airways is to operate a double-daily Dublin service to Abu Dhabi.  The airline competes to some extent with Emirates who fly daily to another hub, Dubai, 90 miles away.  Etihad is a shareholder in the Irish national carrier Aer Lingus.  The current 10 flights per week will increase to double-daily from 15 July.

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Etihad eyes Spanish carrier?

Could Spanish airline Air Europa be the next target for the ever expanding Etihad Airways?  The expansion minded Abu Dhabi carrier recently took a 33% share in Darwin Airways, based in Geneva, and has invested in a number of other European airlines including Aer Lingus, airberlin and Air Serbia.  (see Dublin doubled by Etihad) 

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Flybe Southend – Newquay

The short ‘summer only’ Southend – Newquay route which easyJet operated last year and subsequently dropped, has been resurrected by Flybe.  The Exeter-based airline will fly three times per week during 2014 and extend the programme from May through to September.

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Stansted adds dining

Two new eating outlets have opened landside as part of the major revamping of Stansted Airport’s terminal facilities.

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