This review was revised 18 October
* items include readers letters
22 JUNE 2015
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The BBGA (British Business and General Aviation Association) has chosen Brooklands for its annual networking evening 2 July (18:00 to 21:00) at the spiritual home of both aviation and motor sport. It was the home of Sopwith Aircraft, Hawker and Vickers. The world’s first purpose-built motor racing track was opened in 1909.
It may not yet be flying from Heathrow but easyJet is soon to gain a significant presence. easyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou (and still the largest shareholder) is bringing his his easyBus operation to the airport with services from west London’s Shepherd’s Bush starting at £2.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released details of a new mobile app for passengers to monitor their health and wellbeing before, during and after a flight.
Airlines are still struggling with in-flight wi-fi within Europe, although it is now becoming standard in the US and long haul, with Etihad easily the current best, offering a cheap but very effective system. In North America there are no communications borders to cross, the United States and Canadian systems compatible. With Europe it is much more complex, Norwegian the only airline to offer the service, but not on all flights. All cruise ships are wi-fi equipped, RCCL the best to date.
The report by the Airports Commission is coming to the boil.
It was deliberately delayed until after the election. It now appears it might be further deferred until Parliament has gone into recess on 21 July. Is this a ploy for the Prime Minister to accept recommendations without fear of comment from Westminster, or just another postponing of a decision?
In the meantime the Master of the Air has fashioned a story from far away, but not that far from Hounslow Heath. Which route to take? That is the question. One of three? Or get stuck in the bog!
According to a report by the Reuters news agency IAG may have to offer concessions after EU anti-trust regulators expressed concerns over the planned acquisition of Aer Lingus, two people familiar with the matter said last Friday (19 June).
On the last trade day of the Paris Air Show Boeing sprang a real surprise with the announcement that Russian cargo airline Volga-Dnepr has signed a memorandum of understanding for 20 747-8 freighters. At planned production rates this order should keep the Everett production line open until 2020 at least.
IATA plans to set size guidelines for carry-on luggage seems to have backfired. The airline trade association said it had the support of airlines and also manufacturers. (See BTN 15 June)
There will be no more boarding direct on to the A380 for Emirates Business Class passengers for the next few months. The airline’s T3 lounge has closed for a major refurbishment.
Setting aside major differences, the leaders of Europe’s five largest airlines publicly got together at Brussels last week to urge the European Union to do more to lower airport costs and taxes. Alexandre de Juniac (Air France-KLM), Michael O'Leary (Ryanair), Carolyn McCall (easyJet), Carsten Spohr (Lufthansa) and Willie Walsh (IAG) offered a united front. A lobby group is being set up.
Firmly established as Europe’s largest regional airline Flybe is expansion minded as it sees the established ‘low-cost’ carriers moving to bigger and bigger aircraft. “We have this niche to ourselves with the 78-seat Q400 and 88-seat Emb 175. easyJet is dropping the A319 and Ryanair is looking at more seat capacity with the Boeing MAX,” said Chief Executive Saad Hammad.
A major revolution in the passenger experience is set to emerge over the next three years as airlines invest in the ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT). According to the SITA 2015 Airline IT Trends Survey, the vast majority of airlines (86%) expect that the IoT will deliver clear benefits in the next three years and already more than one third (37%) have allocated a budget to it. The results of the survey shows that IoT investments will be focused in the areas of check-in, bag drop and bag collection.
New York’s alternative airport, Newark, situated in New Jersey, is the big winner with the announcement that United Airlines is moving its small JFK operation across the Hudson River. The switch over will take place at the end of the summer season 25 October.
But first the rant.
It started out so well. A 50-minute uneventful drive on Sunday to recently modernised Bournemouth Airport and a new service to Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) with Flybe – welcome and stress free. Fifty passengers aboard the Q400 and at least six of us bound for Le Bourget and the Paris Airshow. The outbound journey and arrival was easy and likewise the return, this time via the established Orly – Southampton Airport route.
These journeys turned out to be highlights of a week where ground transportation in and around Paris was a record low.
Parisian taxi drivers and bus drivers staged a strike Tuesday and Wednesday during peak hours in protest against Uberpop (Uber in the UK) the private App-based taxi service, targeting traffic between Paris CDG and the city centre.
Their effective protests extended to blocking minor roads, crazily overcrowding the RER and even longer than usual queues to the shuttle buses for Le Bourget. Corporates booked private cars and mini buses in advance, leaving their city hotels at 06:30 or they resorted to motorbikes, a savvy means of swerving your way through the traffic.
Now on with the show …
A home revolution is about to take place. MK Electric, who claim to be the UK’s leading manufacturer of wiring accessories, has integrated a USB charging capability into its product portfolio. The new plug is the same size as the traditional unit. New properties should only be sold thus equipped and it is an easy replacement in existing installations.
The Bristol Airport terminal extension should be completed well in advance of the school holidays, probably for the first week in July.
The £8.6m project – the first major expansion of the terminal building since it opened in 2000 – is a major component of development plans to enhance facilities to handle 10m passengers per annum.
Straight from the Paris Airshow Bombardier positioned the CS300 to Belfast City Airport and the CS100 to Zurich. The Bombardier Belfast plant facilitates research, design, manufacture and assembly of the CSeries aircraft wings, including a purpose-built 600,000sq ft facility, whilst Zurich is the home of SWISS, the lead customer.
The world’s largest bookshop, Foyles, has celebrated its first year at a new purpose-built shop just a few yards down the street from its long established Charing Cross Road property.
It has a very fine air transport section where one can find some obscure titles.
Chris Foyle, Chairman of Foyles, is one time owner of air operator Air Foyle, the original AOC holder for easyJet, and a former President of the Air League.
WestJet is to add to Gatwick’s Canadian destinations next year. Air Transat already serves Calgary, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver and has done so for many years. WestJet is Canada’s second largest airline and recently introduced services from Glasgow to Halifax (See BTN 8 June).
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has introduced daily services from Abu Dhabi to Hong Kong.
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) is to trial and selectively roll out several digitally-driven innovations to provide a more personalised and interactive experience for guests. The announcement follows IHG’s signing in April of a landmark agreement with Amadeus, to develop a powerful cloud-based guest reservation system – a first for the hospitality industry.
Stephen Timms, Labour MP for East Ham, has presented Declan Collier, Chief Executive, London City Airport, with a Responsible Business Champion commendation by the All-Party Parliamentary Corporate Responsibility Award Group (APCRG). It could be seen in defiance to Boris Johnson who has used his power as London’s Mayor to reject an approved planning application by the airport. This has gone to appeal.