10 NOVEMBER 2014

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Berlin's Hotel Zoo

The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall has also seen the reopening of the famous Hotel Zoo dating from 1911.  An icon during the Roaring Twenties it was the  official VIP hotel of the Berlin International Film Festival during post Second World War period.

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Emirates and free inflight wi-fi

In the first three years since Emirates launched inflight wi-fi connectivity, over half a million passengers have connected to the internet onboard an Emirates flight, and this demand is expected to increase exponentially.

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Manchester for Runways UK

Is the consultation on south east airports expansion relevant to the regions?

What role can regional airports play in improving the UK's connectivity?

These and other questions are likely to be answered when RunwaysUK brings it successful debating programme focusing on the work of the Airports Commission to Manchester.

The line-up of speakers is impressive.  More are expected to be added.

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Plaza Premium Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi International Airport, in cooperation with Plaza Premium Lounge, renovated its Al Reem facility in Terminal 1 as part of its commitment to providing world-class services to travellers using the international hub.

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Skiing in the States

In partnership with Ski Lake Tahoe, Thomas Cook Airlines has announced the UK’s first non-stop service, from Gatwick to Reno, Nevada, with the maiden flight 19 December 2015.  The programme  runs until 9 April 2016.

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London Tube users please note that from this morning (10 November) the lifts are back at Covent Garden and there are full interconnecting services at Embankment.

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COMMENT: The airports face some crucial decisions

The Airport Operators Association (AOA) Annual Conference opens today (10 November) with an unprecedented line-up of speakers headed by Robert Goodwill MP, Aviation Minster, Department of Transport, and including Sir Howard Davies, Chairman, Airports Commission; the respective Chief Executives of Gatwick and Heathrow, Stewart Wingate and John Holland-Kaye plus Jock Lowe of Heathrow Hub; the long haul airlines are represented by Willie Walsh of IAG and Craig Keeper, Virgin Atlantic; Andrew Haines, CEO of the CAA and Richard Deakin, likewise at NATS, are from the technical side; airport CEOs include Gordon Dewar (Edinburgh), Charlie Cornish (M.A.G. Group), Paul Kehoe (Birmingham) and Paul Griffiths (Dubai).  The BBC’s John Humphrys will act as moderator while Simon Calder, journalist and broadcaster, has the task of keeping order at the awards dinner.

COMMENT this week is brought to you by Ed Anderson, Chairman of the AOA since 2008, Managing Director Leeds-Bradford Airport 1997-2007, and also Chairman of the Yorkshire Building Society.

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A new Boeing

Boeing has officially sketched out plans to develop an all-new narrow bodied aircraft, with innovative engines and likely, a composite structure.  But if you are a chief executive reading BTN do not rush to Chicago with your cheque book.  “New Generation 737s are still coming off the single Seattle line and there is the whole production of the MAX to consider.

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Business Travel Show

For 2015 London’s Business Travel Show is moving from Earls Court back to Olympia, its home in earlier times.  The venue will be The Grand Hall, 25/26 February, somewhat later in the month than previously and now on a Wednesday/Thursday.

More than 200 suppliers in air, accommodation and travel management as well as innovative traveller services and technology providers have already signed up.

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IAG dividend?

Former British Airways shareholders are likely next year to receive their first pay-out since 2008.  Owner IAG says "We remain confident in meeting our 2015 financial targets which we see as the trigger to introducing a dividend." The Iberia cost savings seem to be finally paying off.  BA, particularly westbound, is strong at Heathrow.

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Little Red update

Virgin Atlantic will close its Little Red UK Heathrow domestic operation next year.  Services from Aberdeen, three times daily and Edinburgh six times stop in September.  The Manchester three return flights will finish at the end of March.  All are flown by Aer Lingus into T2 under a wet lease contract.

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London City welcomes Flybe

Flybe began new services on 27 October from Aberdeen, Dublin, Belfast City, Edinburgh, Exeter and Inverness to London City (LCY).  The timing could not be better with the regional travel trade converging on the nearby Excel Exhibition Centre last week. 

The opening of five new schedules in one day must be something of a record and so Business Travel News sent regular contributor ‘inveterate air traveller’, Brother Michael Bartlett, down to Exeter to be on the inaugural LCY flight from Flybe’s headquarters.  Michael holds the Guinness World Record for the fastest circumnavigation of the globe using scheduled flights with a single airline – his time 59hrs 58mins with Air New Zealand 21-24 November 2006.

His words and pictures follow:

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Passenger Court ruling

The UK Supreme Court has rejected applications by both Jet2.com and Thomson Airlines to appeal rulings by the Court of Appeal in June relating to airlines’ liability to pay compensation after travel delays.

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ON TOUR: American business jet get together.

NBAA – the biggest biz av show meets in Orlando.

Orlando, Florida and Las Vegas have become the only US cities with convention centres big enough to host NBAA, the international business aviation fraternity’s biggest annual gathering.  Both are of course highly popular year round destinations (for very different reasons). 

Alison Chambers and Jane Stanbury have been off to Florida.

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MOTORING UPDATE: Mazda6 2.2DTourer Sport Nav

On Test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring Writers

Mazda’s Tourer Sets High Standards

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AND FINALLY: The perils of travel

Our intrepid correspondent was on her way to Orlando.  (see ON TOUR – NBAA)

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Ebola sanitation

With the current risk of Ebola spreading from West Africa airlines are looking at ways of reducing passenger concern. 

For many years cruise companies have insisted on disinfectant dispensers on entering a dining area, ships prone to outbreaks of contagious bugs.  This could be the norm for the future with airlines.

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Germans fight airport tax

Britain is not the only country where the airline industry is up in arms about what it sees as unfair and damaging airport departure taxes.  This has been recognised in both Ireland and the Netherlands where the dues have been scrapped.

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Gibraltar adds Bristol

easyJet is to add a second route from the UK to Gibraltar from 19 April 2015.  The airline will fly up to three times weekly on a year-round basis.  Since March 2008 it has served the British Overseas Territory from Gatwick.  British Airways from Heathrow and Monarch out of Birmingham, Luton and Manchester also operate into the tiny enclave at the tip of Spain.

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Pilot recruitment

Airline ab initio pilot training organisation CTC Aviation, based at Bournemouth Airport, has signed an exclusive training partnership with Virgin Atlantic Airways which will hopefully produce six pilots a year into the future. 

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Rotana for London?

The Dubai-based Rotana hotel group had a major presence at World Travel Market last week with Omer Kaddouri, President and Chief Executive, holding forth on the Wednesday. 

He was using the Excel show opportunity to begin discussions regarding opening London properties. 

The large stand was a clear demonstration of the Rotana thinking.

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SITA and airports

Improving passenger processes at the airport is the number one information technology (IT) investment priority of airports around the world and nearly half (47%) rank passenger and airport security as their top priority, according to the  2014 SITA/ACI Airport IT Trends Survey, which has now been published. 

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Tarmac Express - Delta and Porsche

If you are Porsche enough (sorry about that – Editor), that is a lucky Delta SkyMiles Diamond Medallion member, you might be in for an apron transfer by Porsche from now onwards at New York LaGuardia, Seattle-Tacoma Detroit Metropolitan and airports. 

The three new airports have been added to the service.

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Virginís new planes

Speaking at World Travel Market last week Craig Kreeger, CEO of Virgin Atlantic, said a decision should be made in the next five to nine months over which type of aircraft will replace its fleet of seven Boeing 747s based at Gatwick.

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Vueling update

Spanish airline Vueling, part of IAG and a sister company to both BA and Iberia, is to introduce services next summer from Belfast City Airport, Birmingham and Dublin to Barcelona where it is the largest airline with 40% of passengers. 

Vueling already operates to Barcelona from Cardiff, Edinburgh and Gatwick.  From the end of the winter season, March 2015, it hands over its Heathrow – Bilbao flights to British Airways and will from then onwards serve the northern Spanish city from Gatwick.

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