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Cathay to Manchester

Today (8 December) sees the introduction of a four times per week Cathay Pacific Airways service non-stop between Manchester and Hong Kong. The airline has for many years served the former British colony from Heathrow. 

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Howard Davies in Manchester

Captain Jock Lowe, promoter of the Heathrow Hub runway scheme, could not make the event.  He would have been a proud man. 

Last week Runways UK ran their latest in a series of conferences discussing the work of the Airports Commission at the Manchester Airport Conference Centre. 

Centre piece, literally towering above the delegates, Concorde G-BOAC in pristine condition. Jock Lowe was BA Concorde fleet Captain.

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Malaysia Airlines new boss

Christoph Mueller, the man credited with turning round Irish carrier Aer Lingus, has been picked to head the successor company to Malaysia Airlines (MAS), which is being taken private.

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Orange and Air France

Air France and Orange are to test wi-fi on board short and medium haul flights during a three-month trial phase, from summer 2015. 

Customers will be able to surf the internet, read their emails, watch live TV, or enjoy their favourite television series with wi-fi access offered by Orange, for a small fee, from summer 2015. 

From a practical point of view connecting details and destination airport information will also be available.

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COMMENT: APD – Not good enough

The Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement last week announced that Air Passenger Duty (APD) for children under 12 in Economy is to be abolished from 1 May 2015, and from 1 March 2016 for all up to 16.  This is the opposite of the "rich get richer and the poor get poorer". Why this anomoly who knows?

What Mr Osborne is saying is that once they reach the age when they can legally go out to work yougsters need to pay air tax. 

But he should have made the changes when the Conservatives came to power and not after being harangued by just about everyone.  He even missed the opportunity last year when the mileage bands were altered.

In truth the Chancellor is in a real mess over APD and needs to think the whole thing out again.

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Airbus A350 Qatar momentum

Momentum is building up for the service introduction of the all-new Airbus A350 XWB due on Thursday 15 January with a Doha – Frankfurt flight.  Qatar Airways has announced the official handover of the first aircraft for Saturday 13 December at Toulouse and BTN plans to report for our last issue Monday 15 December. 

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Airport compensation scheme

Heathrow has announced further plans to extend its property compensation scheme should an additional runway be built at the airport.  In May it said it would offer 25% above unblighted market value compensation for 750 homes that would be subject to compulsory purchase.

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Doha stopover hotel

Hamad International Airport (HIA) Doha has opened a rather special airside stopover facility.  Overlooking the main concourse, the 100-room Airport Hotel and Vitality Spa offers passengers passing through HIA superb services and great flexibility depending upon their travel needs and schedules.

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Etihad readies

With both first Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 due to be unveiled in Abu Dhabi on 17 December (the 111st anniversary of Orville Wright’s first flight at Kitty Hawk) Etihad has tantalisingly issued some details of its new products for 2015.

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Flybe and Northolt

Northolt is making steady progress as a short-term remedy for the UK’s regions London gateway crisis. 

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Lufthansa strikes

Pilots at Lufthansa went on strike again last Thursday forcing the airline to cancel over half its long haul flights.  On Monday and Tuesday there was a two-day stoppage.  These short notice service disruptions are likely to continue. 

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Sustainable Aviation’s road map

The House of Commons was the venue last week for Sustainable Aviation (SA), a coalition of the UK's airlines, airports, manufacturers and air navigation service provider NATS, to launch its latest Road-Map.  This document identifies the potential for a 24% reduction in aviation carbon dioxide emissions by 2050 and the generation of £265m in economic value plus the creation of 4,400 jobs in the UK over the next 15 years.

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The Economist – Future of Air Travel

Britain’s The Economist, probably the world’s leading weekly journal of its kind, has published what it calls “The Future of Air Travel – improved personalisation and profits through the integrated use of customer data.” 

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ON TOUR: Railways and airports

Sally Gethin has been to the UK Air Rail conference organised by The Global Air Rail Alliance (GARA), held at the iconic Paddington Hilton Hotel, originally conceived by Isambard Kingdom Brunel as the London home of “God’s Wonderful Railway” or Great Western Railway (GWR).   Major expensive work is returning the hotel to the glories of the past.

Creating high-speed air-rail connectivity is a major objective in the UK.  The government has embarked on a study on Southern Rail Access to Heathrow in response to the Airports Commission and as part of the airport capacity issue in the southeast.

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AND FINALLY: Supermarket sale

Troubled UK supermarket leader Tesco is selling its four business jets.

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AirAsia X to London?

With HSBC’s senior aviation analyst Andrew Lobbenberg hinting at the Runways UK conference in Manchester that all was not well with Norwegian Air’s Gatwick – US services (he said in as many words that the product may need rethinking), budget long haul operator AirAsia X could be returning to London.

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Birmingham Airport and Air India

Air India’s new daily flight programme between Birmingham, Delhi and Amritsar will commence on Sunday 21 December, after the carrier takes delivery of its 18th Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

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Drone flights

Officials from the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) are becoming increasingly concerned with the huge increase by the use of unmanned aircraft (drones), which may pose a danger to commercial aircraft.  New rules are expected to be announced in the new year.  Europe can be expected to follow.

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Gatwick invests

Celebrating five years of independence from the old BAA, and five years of growth, Gatwick Airport has announced a £1bn investment plan for the North Terminal.  It is being targeted as the airport seeks to grow passenger numbers to 41m over the next three years.  The 2014 figure is likely to be 38.6m.  The airport is also to partner Network Rail with a £120m redesign of the railway station with a 2020 target date.

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KLM’s new seats

The first of more than 6,000 Recaro CL3710 seats ordered by KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has successfully got airborne not by itself we must add, but in a brand new Boeing 777-300.  The airline has ordered the seats for the new fleet in the Economy Class and Economy Comfort cabins with its 35-inch seat pitch.  In addition 15 Boeing 777-200s already in service will be retrofitted.

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London City connects

Blue Islands, the Channel Islands airline, is to close its routes from Jersey to Amsterdam, Paris and Zurich from 5 January.  At the same time it is to enter a codeshare with Dublin-based CityJet and increases its own services to London City Airport from twice daily to three times Monday to Friday.  CityJet serves London City to Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brive, Dresden, Dublin, Florence, Nantes, Paris-Orly and Rotterdam.  From Cardiff it operates to Edinburgh and Paris-Orly.

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Motorway petrol prices

Tucked away in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement (see APD) was an announcement that the Government plans to press ahead with a scheme to introduce signs on motorways that display the price of fuel at service stations, to help promote competition and lower fuel prices.

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Thameslink helps passengers

Passengers with restricted mobility on the Thameslink line that connects Gatwick and Luton airports will soon have the use of specially modified carriages offering wheelchair friendly toilets and specially reserved spaces.  Two trains are already in service with 78 more to follow.  Also featured are new sounders for both the opening and closing of doors and on-board electronic information screens and automated public address announcements (set to go live shortly).

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