18 MAY 2015

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Lufthansa Premium Economy

The retrofitting of the Lufthansa fleet with the new Premium Economy is on schedule says the airline. 

This is being done type by type with all the Frankfurt-based fleet of Boeing 747-8 and Airbus A380 completed. 

Work is progressing with the Airbus A340-300s, 15 of the 24 already completed.  Next up are the A330s. 

The retrofitting is expected to be completed in autumn 2015.

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Smart screens at Heathrow

Heathrow T2 has seen the introduction of ‘smart screens’, the object to compare journey times and costs of the Heathrow Express to Paddington and black taxis for central London.

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COMMENT: APD review + Manston

It got lost somewhere with the general election but the Department for Transport wants by tomorrow (23.45 hrs 19 May) comments from interested parties on displaying air passenger duty (APD) in air travel pricing. No observations on APD itself you will notice.  The DfT site makes it very clear that the requirement was from the previous Coalition and not the present Government.

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Aer Lingus and IAG vs Ryanair

Whilst the British election has held centre stage, the minor matter of the Aer Lingus ownership rumbles on.  Ryanair has appealed to the UK’s Supreme Court saying that the previous decision by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is, according to Chief Executive Michael O’Leary, "manifestly absurd" and "irrational, hopelessly wrong and contrary to the real world evidence." 

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Airport stats April

The UK airports were in a rush to get out their statistics for April last week.  The build-up to the election did not seem to stop people travelling.

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Business Travel Show 2016

Centaur Plc has confirmed the 2016 Business Travel Show for Olympia 24-25 February next.  Put it in your diary.

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Channel ferry reprieve

The former SeaFrance ferry route between Dover and Calais has been saved.  As MyFerryLink, and now run by Eurotunnel, it competes on the short sea crossing services with P&O Ferries and DFDS.  The one freight and two passenger ships are operationally under the control of the French workers’ co-operative called SCOOP.

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Delta arrivals T3

The Delta arrivals lounge at Heathrow T3 is now fully operational and available to all Delta and Virgin Atlantic eligible passengers.  The former Air Canada facility is in fact much the same size as the Virgin offering but has the benefit of being at ground level with direct car/taxi access and likewise to the Underground and Heathrow Express.

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Department for Transport

Following the UK general election the Prime Minister has made some minor ministerial revisions in the Department for Transport.

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East Coast trains

Virgin Trains East Coast is stepping up its presence as it approaches its 100th day of business.  Owned 90% by Stagecoach and 10% Virgin Group it was awarded the contract last November, taking over from the government-owned Intercity East Coast, created by the failure of the National Express railway subsidiary. 

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Malaysia Airlines a statement

The London office of Malaysia Airlines has issued the following statement to the travel trade.

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More seats for easyJet

easyJet is to add another row of seats bringing capacity up to 186 on its Airbus A320 aircraft.  The airline is likely to follow the Vueling use of the Airbus Space-Flex module (See in this issue).  All aircraft delivered May 2016 will be kitted out thus, and the balance of the fleet retrofitted. 

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Vueling adds A320 seats

Spanish carrier Vueling, part of International Airlines Group (IAG), has taken delivery of the first A320 incorporating the new Airbus cabin configuration.  Thanks to an efficient use of the cabin and the selection of the latest generation seats, Vueling will offer enhanced comfort and more space to its passengers while adding six extra seats.

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ON TOUR: The Philadelphia Story

Still the ‘historical’ capital of America.

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AND FINALLY: For football fans mainly

Nobody expected Swindon Town to make the League One Play-off Final on Sunday 24 May.  Well certainly no one at Network Rail.

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Leeds Bradford Rebrand

It is clearly the ‘in thing’ (Luton is re-branding as part of its £100m rebuild project). Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA) has unveiled its new logo to mark the next stage in the airport’s development.  This was last refreshed back in 1994 when the Yorkshire airport handled less than a million passengers.  Today 3.3m passengers fly to 65 direct destinations across 23 countries and is Yorkshire’s gateway to the world.

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Milan hotel

Starwood Hotels & Resorts has unveiled the multi-million Euro full restoration of the Excelsior Hotel Gallia, Milan, part of its “Luxury Collection” brand.

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PC-24 Maiden Flight

The first ever Pilatus PC-24 Super Versatile Jet made its maiden flight last Monday (11 May) from Buochs Airport on Lake Lucerne. Prototype P01, call sign HB-VXA, flew across central Switzerland for a total of 55 minutes.  Pilatus says that the flight went exactly as planned with no problems whatsoever. (See BTN 4 August

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Rome Airport refugees

The problems regarding refugees/economic migrants ‘the boat people’ now seems to be spreading to airports, although of course in small numbers.

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Spitfire auction

A rare RAF Spitfire is to be auctioned for charity and could fetch up to £2.5m at Christie's.  Shot down in May 1940 during the evacuation of Dunkirk it stayed hidden until the 1980s when strong tides exposed the smashed aeroplane.

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TAP strike

The 10-day pilot’s strike at Portugal's flag carrier and Star Alliance member TAP is over.  It ended on Sunday 10 May.  The objective was to highlight the airline’s privatisation.  The Portuguese government says it lost €35m in revenue and resulting expenses, but expects no further obstacles to the airline's planned sale.

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TUI changes things

Thomson Airways, once remembered as Britannia, could disappear over the next three years.

It is the world’s largest charter airline with a fleet of 60 aircraft and was the first UK operator of the Boeing 787.  It has eight in service. 

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US Airways to go

American Airlines will begin uniting its reservations platform with US Airways from July, setting a three-month timeframe for a data migration process other merged carriers have struggled with.

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