17 NOVEMBER 2014

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AOA win for Manchester

Manchester Airport is flying high after being crowned UK Airport of the Year at the annual Airport Operators Association (AOA) awards last week. 

Winning in the passengers over six million category, the UK’s third largest airport was up against airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Birmingham, and received the accolade due to a phenomenal year of growth, increased destination choice and infrastructure investment.

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Eurostar to Amsterdam

It might still be someway off, but Eurostar has confirmed the introduction of services from London to Antwerp, Rotterdam, Schipol Airport and Amsterdam itself “by early 2017”.  Earlier plans for the service were not fulfilled due to incompatibility with the Dutch rail system.  Last week the Anglo/French company announced its new E320 trains (320kph/ 200mph) designed for all European networks coming into service in 12 months' time.

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Lufthansa Premium Economy

From 22 November Premium Economy will be available on all 747-8 routes (Bangalore, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Peking, São Paolo, Seoul, Tokyo-Haneda and Washington DC) somewhat earlier than planned. (See BTN 15 September)

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Prestwick losses

Now controversially owned by the Scottish government (See BTN 28 April)  Prestwick Airport is continuing to make losses but these are running at about half the rate they were, according to the new First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. 

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COMMENT: Gatwick or Heathrow?

Confused by the latest Airports Commission report published last week to coincide with the Airport Operators Association conference?

So is The Times! 

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Air travel apps

There are apps galore out there and available for the air traveller.  Some are very good, the majority passable.

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Alitalia gained by Etihad

The European Commission has cleared the planned strategic partnership between loss-making Alitalia and Etihad Airways first made official in August.  The parties have jointly announced that they will work together with a view to completing the transaction before the end of the year.

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Aviation Club sold out

The pre-Christmas Aviation Club of the United Kingdom lunch at the Institute of Directors in London’s Pall Mall has sold out.  There is a waiting list. The speaker is Craig Kreeger, CEO of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, who in February will celebrate two years in charge of Britain’s number two international scheduled carrier.  Mr Kreeger previously served seven years in London during his 27-year career with American Airlines.

The full list for 2015 is:

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Birmingham and New York

American Airlines is to join United in offering a year round service to New York from Birmingham Airport.  The American flight will however be non-stop to Kennedy (JFK), the city’s largest airport, whilst United continues with its long-established (previously Continental) operation to Newark (EWR).  The new flights start on 8 May next year and will codeshare with British Airways.

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Bombardier CSeries update

The first Bombardier CSeries airliner returned to flight 6 November after its wing was repaired and engines were modified.  But while flight testing is finally gathering momentum after delays, the Canadian manufacturer said it will not ramp up the production line until mid-2015 at the earliest.

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Flybe news

Exeter-based, and London Stock Exchange listed, Flybe has reported a half-year pre-tax loss for the group of £15.4m for the period compared to profit after tax of £13.6m for the same period last year, impacted by £34.3m of one-offs and revaluations. 

Profit before tax for its UK operation was up £2m to £13.7m despite a £6m provision for EU flight delay compensation.

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Hotel connecting rooms

A website has been created exclusively for larger families looking for hotels with connecting rooms.  It already has over 100 UK properties signed up as well as several others across Europe and USA.

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World Travel Market

The 35th World Travel Market has had to confront several threats to the industry, ranging from the ebola epidemic to risks of war on three continents.  A Foreign Office warning about lone attacks on travellers worldwide did not help.

John Burke has visited 80 countries as a tour-guide and foreign correspondent.  He has attended every World Travel Market since 1985 as well as ITB.  WTM cannot be considered a MUST for the business traveller, or his booker, but it is an interesting show with many smaller airlines represented plus all five from the Gulf region including the airline of that name, Emirates, Etihad, Oman and Qatar, the last three with massive stands with their latest cabins on display.

John’s piece is a resume.

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ON TOUR: The airport operators gather at the London Metropole

Sally Gethin reports.

Runway capacity in the southeast was the overriding theme at this year’s conference.

What will Sir Howard Davies recommend? The entire thrust of the AOA conference was in speculation of the Davies Commission, making the man himself the star attraction when he showed up on Day 2.

Sir Howard, who arrived the day the Airports Commission published its consultation (not a coincidence BTN thinks) on shortlisted options for a new runway, said the reason he was speaking at the AOA was “to get delegates to read it”.  Sir Howard is relaxed with the air industry and not a detached civil servant.  And even on a very busy day not in a rush to get away. Unlike the Minister!

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AND FINALLY: Willie Walsh and Ryanair

IAG boss Willie Walsh was in fine form at AOA, but when asked his views on the remodelled Ryanair he had this to say.

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BA and nervous passengers

British Airways is hosting a course at Heathrow on 29 November to help nervous flyers.  Introduced over 25 years ago the one day Flying with Confidence course has helped more than 45,000 people overcome their fears in time to visit family and friends at Christmas.

Steve Allright, course instructor and British Airways pilot, said: “We will be carrying hundreds of thousands of customers visiting their loved ones over the festive period – and we want to make sure every single person has an enjoyable flight.

Captain Allright shares his top 10 tips for nervous flyers:

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Emirates and the US

Now claiming to be the world’s largest long haul airline Emirates will have 68 A380s in operation by the end of 2015 compared with the current 55.  In total it has taken 140 of the 312 firm commitments that Airbus has for the Super Jumbo in two configurations with either 489 or 517 seats.  In all just under 150 A380s have been delivered to 12 airlines.

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Garuda from London

A World Travel Market regular, Garuda Indonesia announced at the show that it will increase its Gatwick to Jakarta service to daily flights, up from the current five times a week using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

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Goodbye KLM MD11

KLM has said goodbye to the McDonnell Douglas MD-11 with three special farewell flights over the Netherlands.

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London City and Crossrail

Crossrail could have a station within 150m of London City if an ongoing relationship between the airport and train company proves successful.  At present the last station north of the Thames is Custom House (for Excel).  Not only would the airport benefit but also communities and businesses in the North Woolwich area.  

A new station would bring relief for the overcrowded DLR and open up the airport and locality to North Kent plus the Farringdon/West End area.  Paddington and Heathrow would also be direct.

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North-South Wales air service

UK regional airline, Linksair, has been awarded the new four-year contract to operate the North-South Wales air service between Cardiff-Wales Airport and Anglesey Airport (RAF Valley), announced by Edwina Hart, Transport Minister for the Welsh Government.

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Paddington Hilton

Not to be confused with the Hilton Metropole just down the road, the Paddington Hilton, part of the railway station of the same name, will open its GWR Tower guest rooms in early December. 

This exclusive 56-bedroom area has direct private access from the entrance lobby and guests can check in at that point or in the top floor Tower Lounge.

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US China visa restrictions

With British politicos still dithering regarding the issue President Obama has announced that the United States and the People’s Republic of China are concluding a reciprocal visa validity arrangement. 

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