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30 MARCH 2015


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Aer Lingus – IAG latest

Ireland's Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe said last week that talks with IAG on a bid for Aer Lingus were "workmanlike and constructive" and that he expected the cabinet to decide whether to back the bid within weeks. Etihad is expected to be selling its just under 5% holding, at a healthy profit. Still no news from Ryanair, the largest shareholder.

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Digital Departure Card

Brisbane Airport claims to be leading the way with the trial of an innovative Digital Departure Card (DDC) for international passengers from Australia and other countries that have this exit requirement.

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Qantas not informal

Australians are known for their laid back philosophy and relaxed attitude to most things, including air travel.  One has only to take Emirates to Dubai and return on Qantas (QF) under the code-share to see the difference.  Both offer a very good service, but the Oz carrier is less formal.  Some like it, some don’t.

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COMMENT:  Heathrow supports Northolt

Over the last several years Business Travel News has campaigned vigorously for the use of Royal Air Force Northolt, on the A40, four miles north of Heathrow, as a interim solution to the London air access problem for the regions.  Our efforts have now been vindicated with a statement last week from Heathrow Airport Ltd (see in this issue) that not only does it support this idea (see Heathrow and the regions) but will work with any organisation wishing to take up the gauntlet of operating what could become London West.  What Heathrow now acknowledges is the synergy between itself and the military base, considerably under-utilised and expensive to run for the Ministry of Defence.

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Germanwings A320 tragedy

On the morning of Wednesday 25 March a Germanwings Airbus A320 on a scheduled flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf appears to have been deliberately crashed by its co-pilot near Digne in the French Alps.  There were 150 souls on board.  Germanwings is a ‘low-cost’ division of Lufthansa.

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Airbus grows A380

In what is seen in some quarters as a desperate measure to create sales (none were sold in 2014) Airbus says that it has increased the standard number of seats in its A380 brochure to 544.

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BA seat charges

Passengers with  hand baggage only on short haul British Airways flights will from today (30 March) face a £7 domestic and £18 European fee to choose their seat if they are unhappy with the automatic allocation. 

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Boris turns down London City

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has turned down planning approval for a development of London City Airport, which has already been agreed by the local council.  This dramatic move calls into question his candidature for the Heathrow constituency of Uxbridge and Hillingdon, reliant on the airport as a major work source.

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First Group retains Western

In spite of much criticism from regular users, and with big promises of improvements, First Group has retained the rail franchise from Paddington to Bristol and onwards as First Great Western, until April 2019.

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Kids go free on Heathrow Express

Children are now able to travel free on the Heathrow Express.  The airport train service has run its ‘Kids go free’ offer in the past for limited periods of time.  The new initiative is part of the company’s plan to increase the number of leisure travellers using the 15-minute service to the central area and onward to T5.

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Stansted Slow

With the yet to be announced new franchise just 18 months away (October 2016) Stansted Airport is calling on the Government to use the new East Anglia rail contract as an opportunity to adopt a joined-up approach to tackling rail and aviation capacity issues.

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Twenty years for pilot

An Ethiopian court has sentenced an Ethiopian Airlines pilot to 19 years and six months in prison for hijacking his own plane and diverting it to Geneva.  The interesting point is that if he just left the aircraft at its planned destination, Rome, he may well have applied for political asylum and got away with it, and with hardly any publicity.

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Wi-fi for Finnair

Finnair's Board of Directors has approved an investment programme for bringing wi-fi connectivity to the majority of the airline's wide-body and narrow-body fleet.

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ON TOUR: Business aviation – defending the lifestyle tag

Business aviation operators defended a charge at the recent British Business and General Aviation Association (BBGA) annual general meeting that theirs was a lifestyle business writes Alison Chambers.  “I won’t be lying to say that our industry is not a seductive business, but the truth of the matter is that when you get into it it is all consuming – growing a sustainable business that earns an income to support a certain lifestyle, but with crossroads and challenges all along the way,” said Marwan Khalek, CEO of Gama Aviation Plc.  

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Abu Dhabi CEO resigns

Tony Douglas, the man behind Heathrow T5, and more recently CEO Abu Dhabi Airports is stepping down to take up a new role with the UK Government as Chief Executive of Defence Equipment & Support at the UK’s Ministry of Defence.

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ANZ to South America

Air New Zealand has confirmed the introduction of its first ever service to South America on 1 December between Auckland and Buenos Aires.

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Delta – Virgin take-off

The Delta Air Lines – Virgin Atlantic Airways relationship is celebrating a significant expansion of their trans-Atlantic partnership, with the introduction of a new flying programme that sees six new daily services available to customers. 

It is far more than a simple code share – Delta owns 49% of Virgin and has a powerful say in its running.

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Heathrow and the regions

Flybe has surprisingly made a joint announcement with Heathrow welcoming the commitment of the airport to enhance regional connectivity both within current runway capacity constraints and in the event of new runway.  (See also COMMENT)

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Istanbul Mövenpick expansion

The Mövenpick hotel group is opening the doors of its second Istanbul hotel, and fourth in Turkey 31 March.

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Mums and Milwaukee Airport

Milwaukee International Airport (MKE) says it is proud to be the first airport in the US to offer nursing mums three Mamava Lactation Suites for their travel needs.

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Tap into yoga

Sitting is the new smoking claims the World Health Organisation, stating that  physical inactivity is the fourth biggest killer on the planet, ahead of obesity.

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WTCC plea to incoming UK government

The travel and tourism sector will demonstrate its enduring ability to create jobs and prosperity for the UK economy in 2015 with the sector forecast to grow by 4%, according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) which has published its annual economic impact assessment of the sector. 

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