23 FEBRUARY 2015

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Arkia goes long haul

Israel’s second airline Arkia has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Airbus for up to four A330-900neo aircraft.

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Birmingham to the US via Iceland

Icelandair has introduced its first scheduled service from Birmingham (BHX) to Reykjavik (KEF).  Birmingham is Icelandair’s fifth gateway in the UK and 39th overall. 

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Flying Seats

Chameleon Products, the specialist aircraft interior supplier and Flying Service, a very long-established UK-based manufacturer, has collaborated to produce a new Economy seat called ESP.

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Iraq to Manchester

Manchester has joined Gatwick as a UK gateway to Iraq.

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Zaman v United

The game is not over in the legal battle between United Airlines over a 22-year-old New Yorker’s Skiplagged web site.

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COMMENT: The Stansted Slow

Last Friday the Mayor of London announced the establishment of a West Anglian Task Force to look at opportunities to improve connections to Stansted Airport and Cambridge from Liverpool Street Station. 

This publication has long highlighted the case of the 'Stansted Slow' and the development, or not, of London’s third airport.

The blame for the poor rail service to Stansted has in recent times been laid at the feet of the current Chief Executive of Network Rail, which may be true to a minor extent.  Historically the guilt lies elsewhere, mainly due to the thoroughly discredited BAA management who ran the airport from 1966 until its sale to MAG in January 2013. 

BAA was privatised in 1986 and by 1991 a new terminal had been completed including a three-platform terminal railway station.  In truth this was no more than a ‘siding’ off the London Liverpool Street secondary main line (two-track once outside the main metropolitan area) to Cambridge.  It was cheap, quick and easy to build but not much more than a PR stunt suggesting that Stansted had a proper London connection.  Someone had the bright idea to call it the Stansted Express, which it is not, the current operator Abellio Greater Anglia hiding the fact that it stops at least twice on its journey to and from the capital.

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Aer Lingus gets new CEO

Read into it what you like but Aer Lingus has not waited until the IAG bid has been resolved, announcing last week that Stephen Kavanagh will become Chief Executive Officer (CEO) when Christoph Mueller steps down on 28 February.  On Tuesday (24 February) it declares its 2014 results and still Michael O’Leary says nothing on the takeover.  (See also in this issue  Belfast International v Aer Lingus)

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AVIS Cotswold Driving Day

Fancy a day out in the Cotswolds driving six of the world’s premium sports and prestige cars in the UK’s finest countryside?  You can offer it as a special birthday or anniversary treat, or perhaps as a reward.  As a present to yourself it is not a bad idea either.

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Bristol expansion for bmi Regional

bmi regional is launching three new routes to Duesseldorf, Nantes and Paris, bringing the number of destinations served by the airline from Britain’s largest western city to eight.  Duesseldorf and Paris flights commence on Monday 27 April, with Nantes flights starting 4 July, and will operate throughout the summer months.

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GA aircraft sales

The General Aviation Manufacturers Association (GAMA) has released worldwide 2014 year-end aircraft sales and delivery numbers.  Not only are the figures encouraging for the future health of the GA industry, but they very nearly beat the 2008 records.

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London Piccadilly new hotel

every Hotels will later today (Monday 23 February) celebrate the introduction of its first property.  The location is Coventry Street, Piccadilly, London.  It will be closely followed by central London openings at Bayswater Road, Hyde Park; Whitcomb Street, Trafalgar Square and Southampton Row, Bloomsbury.

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Premier Inn free wi-fi

wi-fi now come for free at Premier Inn.  Part of the Whitbread Group the hotelier has come up with this offering at all its 690 properties across the UK and Ireland (up to three devices per room).  It will also be available in what it calls “the social areas”.

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SWISS Euro Business Class

Business Class travellers on SWISS European services will soon be able to enjoy more privacy and comfort, while an exclusive bus transfer will be available at selected airports.  The new facility will be offered from the end of March at Europe’s major airports for flights which arrive at non-terminal stands.  New lounges will be opened in Zurich towards the end of the year.

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Turkish expansion

Ranked as one of the world's major airline companies with its impressive growth figures, and having the world's fourth largest flight network by serving 261 destinations in 108 countries, Turkish Airlines is to continue its momentum by adding three new destinations in March, from its Istanbul hub.

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ON TOUR: Airbus Should Build A Truly Long-Range 757 Replacement

The words are by Captain Bob Colvin and reproduced with thanks from Aviation Week & Space Technology.

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AND FINALLY: Jerusalem parking

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Air Commodore Geoffrey Cooper

Always considered a true gentleman Air Commodore Geoffrey Cooper, who has died aged 89, was a fighter pilot who saw action in the Middle East and in Malaya.  For 11 years, he was the Air Correspondent of  The Daily Telegraph  and afterwards the ever helpful Press Officer for the SBAC Farnborough Air Show. 

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Belfast International v Aer Lingus

The big question mark of whether Northern Ireland with a population of 1.8m needs two airports (and three if you include Londonderry), plus rapidly expanding Dublin down the road, has hit the headlines again. (See also in this issue Aer Lingus gets new CEO)

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Cambridge to Sweden

Danish airline Sun-Air, a franchise partner of British Airways, is to open a new route between Cambridge and Gothenburg on 2 March.

The route was introduced to allow employees at biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca to fly between the two hubs in the UK and Sweden.

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INNSIDE hotels for UK

Meliá Hotels is to introduce its INNSIDE brand to the UK, firstly Manchester later in 2015 and Glasgow and Birmingham in 2017.  Founded in Germany in 1993, INNSIDE by Meliá is part of Meliá Hotels International and has a current portfolio of 13 properties in its portfolio and 22 currently in the pipeline in Brazil, Chile, China, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, UK, USA and Venezuela.

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Manchester to Barcelona

Vueling, part of International Airlines Group (IAG), is set to launch a direct service to Barcelona from Manchester on 19 June.  It will compete with Jet2, Monarch and Ryanair but unlike these competitors offers a connecting service at what is its main hub. 

It is very practical to book a through flight (including luggage) to numerous Mediterranean and North African destinations.

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No dividend at Lufthansa

Lufthansa says it will not pay a dividend for 2014, conserving cash for restructuring, after its net result was hit by the sale of an IT unit, an increase in pension liabilities and losses from fuel-hedging activities. 

It noted pilot strikes in November and December had cost it an additional €62m, taking the total amount of operating profit lost to strikes over the course of last year to €232m.

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St Helena Airport

Work is progressing fast with an airport for one of the world's most remote destinations St Helena, currently only accessible by sea.  Deep into the sub-tropical South Atlantic the nearest land is 1,200 miles away.

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