11 MAY 2015


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Airbus pilot trainer

It made its maiden flight just over a year ago and is the least known Airbus product.  The E-Fan 2.0 all-electric revolutionary initial pilot training aircraft is to go into production.

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American Airlines launches US flights from the regions

Birmingham and Edinburgh airports last week both saw the launch of American Airlines flights to JFK New York. The flights also carry a British Airways code share, a return for BA after a long break, and a first for Edinburgh.  Boeing 757s are used for the services with 16 Business Class seats and 164 Economy.

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Berlin Crowne Plaza

Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) has announced the opening of Crowne Plaza Berlin – Potsdamer Platz.  The hotel, formerly branded the Wyndham Grand Berlin, is located a 15-minute walk away from Potsdamer Platz, one of the most visited sights in Berlin.

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Car hire problems at Stansted

Since last Friday (8 May) Stansted has become less friendly for business travellers (and others) collecting their hire cars with the airport moving the pick-up point from in front of the terminal to what is termed the “Car Rental Village” a shuttle ride away.

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Plaza Premium T4

El Al is the first airline to be contracted with Plaza Premium which has just opened its third Heathrow lounge at Terminal 4.  Limited kosher snacks are served.

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COMMENT: The London airports problem – What happens next?

With all the excitement of the 2015 UK General Election results on Friday the Airports Commission quietly announced a delay with its recommendation for a third London runway  (See Airports Commission delay  in this issue).  In 2010, in spite of the urgency, the Coalition put a brake on airport development and the country lost five years.

The problem now is Boris Johnson, sometimes a maverick, and elected to represent Uxbridge and South Ruislip, a constituency including the area directly north of Heathrow, with Northolt aerodrome bang in the centre. He has a duty to focus on his role as Mayor of London for the next 12 months

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Airline losses

Lufthansa has posted a smaller operating loss in the first quarter, but said further action was needed to lower costs, especially in light of a rising pension burden and staff-related expenses.  Lufthansa has a problem.  It is fighting competition on two fronts – scheduled rival carriers from the Gulf and Turkey as well as low-cost carriers in Europe.

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Apple keyless for Starwood

Starwood Hotels is celebrating its newest innovation milestone with the launch of SPG Keyless in the UK, the hospitality industry’s first mobile, keyless entry system allowing guests to use their smartphone as a key.

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Bournemouth Airport upgrade?

Following the promotion of AFC Bournemouth to the English Premier League the management of the MAG Plc owned airport is considering ways of coping with an expected increase in the number of visitors and VIP aircraft.  Last year the operation, situated to the east of the resort town, and 4 miles via dual carriageway from the Goldsands Stadium, moved just 600,000 passengers.

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Cheap plane tickets

The battle between the latest travel technology and traditional methods continues.  Once it was only possible to buy a one-way ticket at hugely inflated prices.  Today for the most part one purchases sector by sector.

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Maurice Flanagan

Sir Maurice Flanagan, founding Chief Executive of Emirates the airline, has passed away at the age of 86.  Sir Maurice, a solid man of Lancaster, was BOAC of the old school, having learnt the airline business with a variety of appointments in the Middle and Far East, and Africa.  He called himself a failed footballer (a knee injury stopped his progress at Blackburn Rovers) and took Emirates to Highbury when Manchester United turned down a sponsorship offer.

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Qatar adds to the US

In what is seen in some quarters as a provocative move Qatar Airways has confirmed its plans to expand its services to the United States.  It is likely to trigger a backlash from US airlines that accuse it of competing unfairly through state subsidies.

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Thomas Cook and the US

Titus Johnson, one time stalwart at London City Airport and more recently Air Berlin’s man in the Americas, has joined Thomas Cook Group Airlines as VP North America and Caribbean based in Chicago, and will also be commercially responsible for the Condor brand. 

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ON TOUR: Dubai from the air

For most cities and holiday destinations the way to quickly familiarise oneself is to take the local open top bus tour upon arrival.  It is a quick way of finding one's way around.  In a couple of hours you would have learnt something of the history of the place, found out what might interest you, and picked up some local knowledge.  It is something that  Business Travel News  always promotes.  

But not so in Dubai.

In Dubai everything is bigger, higher, and simply more outlandish.  You have what will soon be the world’s largest airport, arguably its tallest building, the only 7-star hotel in existence, and a ski slope in the middle of the desert. 

So why not an extravagant introduction to the city, not on a simple bus, but in the skies above? 

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On Test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring

Bullish New All-Drive SEAT Throws down Gauntlet!

BTN has added an ARCHIVE of road tests going back to April 2009 at the end of this report.  You can also find the reviews via the Motoring Index.

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AND FINALLY: Charge up – A health and safety warning is required!

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Aberdeen Airport hotel

With the 165-room Crowne Plaza Aberdeen Airport hotel set to be completed in August this year brand owner International Hotel Group (IHG) has now opened another new airport property at the budget end of the market. (See also in this issue  Crowne Plaza Berlin

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Airports Commission delay

With his usual sense of timing Sir Howard Davies announced on Friday (8 May) an 11th hour delay by the Airports Commission in issuing its eagerly awaited report, due at any time after the election.  However Sir Howard, Chairman, plans to take up a new appointment at Royal Bank of Scotland in September.

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BA Heathrow expansion

From 25 October, when the airline timetables change to the winter programme, and the clocks go back, British Airways will fly three times a week to the Icelandic capital Reykjavik and from 5 December twice a week to the Austrian city of Salzburg, both out of Heathrow.

The new flights are already on sale.

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CAA statistics

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has published the on-time performance for all scheduled passenger flights at the 10 largest UK airports for 2014.  They have fallen by one percentage point to 79%.

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Runways UK

The Grange Hotel Tower Bridge will again be the venue when Runways UK returns for its 2015 prestige event 6-7 July.  (See BTN 9 June 2014)

Whether Sir Howard Davies' Airports Commission final report will be published at that time remains to be seen. 

Confirmed speakers now include:  (in alphabetical order) 

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Ryanair’s ‘special fees’

Said to be the highest in the industry, Ryanair’s ‘special fees’ have been changed.

As a Ryanair passenger, and if for some reason you have not checked-in on line, the airport cost is now €45 (previously €70).

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Wizz goes allocated

Last week Wizz Air started rolling out its allocated seat programme on services from Katowice to Barcelona, Budapest and Luton, and Bucharest to Dortmund. (See BTN 6 April)

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