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A380 for Qatar

Akbar Al Bakar, CEO of Qatar Airways, was in a consolatory mood last week when Qatar Airways finally took delivery of their first Airbus A380.  No threats of cancelling orders as in the past when manufacturers have not met his exacting standards, just a fine welcome for an aircraft that is somewhat late.  And with rival Etihad about to take their aircraft too.

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China – UK code shares

Flights between the UK and China are set to increase following an agreement allowing more passenger flights between the two countries.

Talks were initiated by Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin who launched negotiations on improved air links during a visit to China in October last year.

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Etihad arrivals

New for qualified arrivals at Abu Dhabi International Airport is an Etihad arrivals lounge, a ‘world first’ for the airline.  Aimed at First and Business Class guests it also boasts a convenient location, immediately after customs.

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Geoff Perry

Geoffrey Perry has passed away aged 92.  Perry Publications was the long-time publisher of Business Traveller magazine building it up over the years together with his son Nick, eventually selling out to the present owners Panacea.  But he had a secret.

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Portland Oregon to Europe

Icelandair will begin a seasonal non-stop service from Portland, Oregon to Reykjavik (Iceland) beginning 20 May 2015 and continuing through to 21 October 2015.

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Is Travel Better With Technology?
Book the date – Wednesday 1 October 2014 
Time: 15:00 GMT or 11:00 ET

More details next week

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COMMENT: Heathrow Express and Crossrail

Last week COMMENT discussed Heathrow Express (HX) which inevitably led on to Crossrail.  Will it affect HX?  Read on.

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Air France strike

Nearly a week after beginning a strike to protest Air France-KLM’s new European strategy, and causing utter chaos for travellers, the airline’s French pilots voted on Saturday (20 September) to extend their walkout until at least Friday and asked to meet with France’s Prime Minister to make their case against the plan.  Readers are advised to check very carefully if booked on the airline this week. 

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Aeroplane moves

A news item really for enthusiasts regarding what used to be called “The Aeroplane” and is now titled “Aeroplane Monthly” has moved from Kelsey Group to Key Publishing, whose stable includes Airliner World, Airports International, Air Traffic Management, Flypast, Modern Railways, Hornby Magazine and Buses. 

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Airport merry go round

If The Sunday Times is correct, and there is no reason not to believe it, Spanish investors belief in British airports continues.  Ferrovial, together with another UK airport investor Australia’s Macquarie, is set to take control of Aberdeen, Glasgow and Southampton Airports.  In 2006 Ferrovial became the majority shareholder in the then BAA Plc, now Heathrow Holdings Ltd where it is still the largest shareholder with 25%.

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AOA and airport noise reduction

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) has delivered to Parliament a report showing that the carbon footprint of the UK’s 18 largest airports (by passenger numbers) – which represent 95% of air passengers – reduced by almost 3% in just two years, despite passenger numbers increasing by more than 5% and air traffic by almost 2% during the same period.  This is a remarkable achievement which it is hoped the environment lobby will acknowledge.

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Aviation Club welcomes Wizz

József Váradi, CEO of Wizz Airlines, proved to be a dynamic speaker at London’s Aviation Club last week.  His English was perfect. 

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Conrad London

London now has a Conrad Hotel following a change of operators and rebranding of the Intercontinental Westminster in what must be some kind of record for a hotel’s short-lived identity.

Formerly Queen Anne’s Chambers, a government building, the Intercon had a soft opening just under 12 months ago following a £150m investment programme and features 256 rooms, including 44 suites.  It is situated on The Broadway, opposite St James’s Park Underground and close by New Scotland Yard.

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Flybe adjusts fleet

Whilst clearly concentrating its efforts on the winter 2014/2015 programme, which starts on Sunday 26 October, and in particular London City Airport, Flybe has announced a fleet makeover starting from next summer. 

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JAL’s Dreamliner

Japan Airlines has unveiled the new cabin interior to soon feature on its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft. 

The design – branded as JAL Sky Suite 787 – will first be available on the airline's Tokyo Narita to New York service from January for the 38-seat Business Class cabin, 2+2+2.

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ON TOUR: World Low Cost Airlines Congress

Sally Gethin of Gethin’s Inflight News www.gethinsinflight.com

It’s not really appropriate to speak of low cost carriers as a special sector any more – all airlines are now low cost, whether they are original legacy airlines or younger ones.

This was the consensus on opening day at Terrapinn’s World Low Cost Airlines Congress (WLAC) in London last week.

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AND FINALLY: Hungary v Romania

It had to happen.

A European soccer final.

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BA and Kuala Lumpur

Will the downsizing of Malaysia Airlines include the dropping of its twice daily A380 Heathrow service when British Airways returns to Kuala Lumpur next Spring?  The UK airline last week announced the introduction of a four-class Boeing 777-200ER operation on the route configured with 12 seats in First, 48 in Club World, 32 in World Traveller Plus and 127 in World Traveller.  Its return to the city pair will boost capacity by 22.2%.

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easyJet Capital Markets Day

Luton-based easyJet marked what it called its Capital Markets Day with the announcement that its dividend would now be 40% of pre-tax profit, compared to the one-third it previously paid out.  All 9,000 staff members benefit, automatically becoming shareholders after one year’s service.

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Freighty for fastjet

In what is an industry first that might just catch on, fastjet, based in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), and claimed to be Africa's first budget airline, has introduced an upgrade package for luggage only.

Anyone who has flown in Africa (and it happens in other parts of the world too) has seen travellers with seemingly all their possessions checking in.  They may have gone away for just the weekend but they must go shopping.

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Old birds fly

Only readers of a certain vintage would have seen the Gloster Meteor and de Havilland Vampire in all their glory in the immediate post Second World War years.  Just under 4,000 Meteors were built, and 3,200 of the twin boom Vampire.

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Ryanair’s new man

Whilst some of the headlines shout out “Ryanair for the North Atlantic”, that is not going to happen, not at least for five years, according to newly appointed marketing chief Kenny Jacobs.  With well over 150 new Boeing 737-800 NGs still to arrive, and the first of the MAXs in 2019 the airline has more than enough to concentrate on before tackling a “not proven” long haul low-cost area.

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Vueling update

Now very much part of IAG Barcelona-based Vueling says that passenger numbers in 2014 are up 30% and should reach 22m for the year. 

Chief Executive Alex Cruz notes that the airline is different than other so-called ‘low-cost operators’ with a load factor of just 77% but higher yields and up to 40% business travellers. 

The airline does not chase the very low fares.  Business travellers pay more, their flexibility allowing for unoccupied seats and much more financial return.

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World Routes

Under way at present (20-23 September) in Chicago is the 20th World Route Development Forum, a massive international get together to discuss the future of the world’s air service industry. 

At the last count attendance was expected to touch 3,000 experts representing around 300 airlines, 800 airports and 200 tourism authorities from every corner of the globe.

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