18 AUGUST 2014

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Heathrow train disruptions

Passengers using Heathrow to and from the South West and Wales should note that over the coming weeks they could face severely disrupted journeys as a result of engineering works on the First Great Western line.  Rail travellers will be affected on 19-22 August and 23-24 August which will impact on Bank Holiday travel. There will be no Heathrow Express services from 00:01 on Saturday 23 August  until 12:25 on Sunday 24 August  when normal service is set to resume. to allow Network Rail to carry out work on the Crossrail project.

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London to Jakarta

On 8 September Garuda Indonesia will introduce a three times a week direct service from Gatwick to Jakarta via Amsterdam using a new Boeing 777-300ER.  The new route is part of the airline’s strategic international network expansion programme offering customers the fastest and only direct connection between Europe and Indonesia. 

The Amsterdam – Jakarta operation, five times weekly, was introduced in May (See BTN 2 June).

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Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park

Visitors to London (and indeed residents) will be pleased to know that the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park has joined the long list of open spaces in the UK capital well worth spending some time at (when the weather is kind).  The Park is accessible via both Stratford Regional (Westfield Shopping Centre) and Stratford International stations.

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COMMENT: Terminal 5 – a monopoly

Elsewhere in this week’s Business Travel News you will read of the arrival of a new facility at Heathrow Terminal 5 by Regus, the office service provider.  It is situated in Arrivals, that is landside, on the first floor and clearly indicated.  Take the red lift from where you come out of Customs.  It is a fine initiative and we wish them well.

What it does not do is break the British Airways monopoly when it comes to executive lounges within the departure area.

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Airbus A350 completes world tour

The world’s newest wide-body airliner, the Airbus A350-900, has successfully completed a series of route proving trials, visiting two cities over the past three weeks. (see BTN 28 July)  The aircraft clearly demonstrated its readiness for airline operations on a global scale flying approximately 81,700nm (151,300km) in some 180 flight hours, with all flights performing on schedule.   Type Certification is expected in the third quarter of this year.

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Aviation Club

The London-based Aviation Club of the United Kingdom returns next month with a full winter programme at its usual venue, the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall.

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BA pre-flight meal booking

British Airways has told Business Travel News that it is to trial an online pre-flight meal selection service on some of its routes.  "We are always looking at ways to enhance our catering and give our customers more choice. We plan to run a trial on a small number of routes, to offer customers travelling in First and Club World the opportunity to pre-select their menu choices in advance of their flight."

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British Airways seats

Fitting-out has begun on 95 British Airways A320 series aircraft with new slimmer charcoal grey leather seats designed to enable the addition of extra capacity in the Euro Traveller (Economy) cabin.  Each aircraft takes around three days at BA’s Gatwick engineering base.

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East Midlands ‘Escape’ lounge

Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has extended its luxury premium lounge brand, Escape, with the launch of a brand new offering at East Midlands Airport.

Marking the latest phase in the airport’s £12m terminal redevelopment programme at the airport, the new Escape Lounge provides an improved and increased space for passengers looking for an area away from the hustle and bustle of the airport terminal, before they fly.

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Iran air crash

At least 39 people were killed on Sunday 10 August when a Sepahan Airlines Iran-140 aircraft crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran's Mehrabad Airport on a flight to Tabas in northeast Iran.  Initial reports said that all of the 48 passengers and crew had been lost, but state media later reported that some passengers had been injured and transferred to hospital.

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Luggage tags

ReboundTAG, a British company based in Devon, has become the only luggage tag provider ever showcased by a major airline to IATA.  Lufthansa chose to highlight the product at this year’s IATA Annual General Meeting (see BTN 9 June) as a way of preventing lost luggage globally.

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Record London airport passengers

Both Heathrow and Gatwick airports recorded record passenger numbers during July.

Some 6.97m used Heathrow last month, up 0.5% on July 2013 and making it the transport hub's busiest-ever month.  Its busiest day was 27 July, when just under a quarter of a million people passed through the current five terminals. 

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ON TOUR Donegal

Later this week the Donegal Food Festival takes place.  Perhaps we have given you too little warning.   But as the Irish say “not to worry”.  Anytime is a good time for dining out in Donegal.  Irish hospitality is all year round in a delightful little market town sitting on the River Eske and dominated by its ancient castle.

With the best will in the world it is true to say that County Donegal, and the town that it is named after, are not the most accessible places in Ireland.

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AND FINALLY: Mystery taxi

Yes it is real (and BTN has seen it). 

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Astana Marriott

Marriott Hotels has opened its first property in the Kazakhstan capital of Astana.  It is sited close to the extraordinary Bayterek monument/observation tower in the heart of the city.

The 5-star hotel features a distinctive and contemporary interior design marrying neutral colours, clean lines and luxurious marble with traditional Kazakhstan artwork. 

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Birmingham Airport Post Office

A new Post Office, open 24 hours a day seven days a week, has opened landside in Birmingham Airport’s Spar Store.  Whilst primarily intended for airport users it is not inconceivable that it can be used by locals when their own facilities are closed.  Amsterdam Airport’s shopping centre, also landside, is very popular with the general public living in the area.

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Flybe to Amsterdam

Amsterdam is the latest target for Flybe as it rolls out its winter programme.

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Lagos hotels

Nigeria’s major city, Lagos, will have two new quality hotels by the end of the year.

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Manchester Airport and children

If you are travelling with kids this summer, make sure to head on over to Swissport’s Aspire lounge in Manchester Airport Terminal 1, which has been kitted out with the world’s first play-tech pods for young children.

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Monarch’s major changes

Luton-headquartered leisure carrier Monarch Airlines is to change focus and is to gradually concentrate on its scheduled activities.  Last week it announced the closure of its East Midlands Airport base and during Farnborough week confirmed an order for 30 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (see BTN 28 July) with deliveries starting in 2017.

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New Indian airline

Singapore Airlines (49%) and India’s massive Tata Group (49%), the owner of Jaguar, are to launch a new full service airline in October.  It will be called ‘Vistara’, a name derived from the ancient Sanskrit word vistaar, which translates as “limitless expanse”.  Similarly its logo, an eight-pointed star, is derived from a mathematical form that is said to represent the universe.

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Personal Shopping Lounge

Heathrow, in what is clearly a  promotion for the airport's shops, has published fresh research which reveals the nation’s shopping bugbears and maps the evolution of a new wave of social media shopper.

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Terminal 5 Executive Lounge

Regus Express is open for business in Heathrow Terminal 5 Arrivals.  It is landside and as such the first of its type within the Heathrow complex.

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