10 AUGUST 2015

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Crown Plaza for Gerrards Cross

Following a £20m complete top to toe refurbishment The Bellhouse Hotel, Gerrards Cross, popular with its nearness to Heathrow, will officially open its doors as a Crowne Plaza this Autumn.

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Door-to-door by Qatar Airways

Qatar Airways Cargo (QR) has launched an express airfreight service for door-to-door and time-critical shipments.  It is now being rolled out across the cargo carrier’s global network enabling customers to book time-definite airfreight delivery solutions.

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Norwegian and wi-fi

If you are flying with Norwegian Air this summer and want to make the most of the free wi-fi service on board do remember to take an ear piece.  While the airline does have a comprehensive duty-free service, headphones and the like are not included. 

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Southampton Hilton at The Ageas Bowl

Hilton’s latest venture, at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl sports complex, is now open.  Overlooking on one side the home of Hampshire cricket, clients in the rooms opposite can view the golf course under construction, and a lake.  It is a lovely setting and close by Junction 7 of the M27 and the Hedge End shopping complex.

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COMMENT: London City Airport – Where next?

The surprise story of last week was the confirmation that London City Airport (LCY) has been put up for sale by majority shareholder New York based Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), at a higher price than either Gatwick or Stansted secured for Ferrovial, the previous owner of both the former BAA airports.  GIP owns 75% and Oaktree Capital, Los Angeles based, 25% of LCY.  The price paid for the airport in 2006 was £750m.

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Airline Investments Ltd

A major shake-up in the regional airline business has been established with bmi Regional and Loganair becoming part of a new regional airline group Airline Investments Ltd (AIL), under newly appointed Chief Executive, Peter Simpson.

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Boeing 767 lives on

Just like its erstwhile competitor, the Airbus A330, the Boeing 767 lives on with production raised from 1.5 to 2.0 per month later this year and the line set to continue until at least 2020.  Last week FedEx ordered 50 767-300F freighters.  Meanwhile, United said that next month it will begin conversion of its 21 three-class Boeing 767s to two-class.

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Gatwick bag free travel

AirPortr, the luggage transfer service, has now arrived at Gatwick Airport  (see  BTN 23 March)

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Iberia aircraft orders

Airbus is likely to be the beneficiary as Iberia plans to take on new aircraft and open up new routes.

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LATAM

A new airline has been born, just called LATAM.  The rebranding comes three years after the Santiago-based company, formerly known as LAN Airlines, merged with Brazil's TAM to create the region's largest carrier. 

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Ryanair and delay compensation

A Court hearing that in theory stands to affect millions of consumers took place last week.

The test case of Goel & Trivedi v Ryanair could lead to Ryanair successfully putting a two-year time limit on claims, despite the Supreme Court ruling that passengers have six years to claim.

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Sunborn Gibraltar

Now fully operational is the Sunborn Yacht Hotel, a masterly approach to overcome the chronic shortage of top quality hotels in Gibraltar. 

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US Open Skies Alliance

The squabble between US and Gulf carriers has taken another twist with the formation of a new alliance opposing the stance taken by American Airlines, Delta and United.  The “Airlines for Open Skies” has been established by JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines and cargo carriers FedEx Express and Atlas Air Worldwide.

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“WHICH?” and travel

Only 38% of passengers ever claim compensation for delays according to a survey by the consumer magazine Which?  of 7,000 readers.  The percentage is probably far less Which? subscribers perhaps more savvy than most.  (See Ryanair and delay compensation in this issue)

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ON TOUR: Montana USA

Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, Glacier National Park, and Whitefish, Montana

Unexpected delights by Bill Baker

A regular contributor to BTN Dr William Baker, was born raised and educated in the UK, and is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Northern Illinois University

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MOTORING UPDATE: New MG6

On Test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring Writers

Less Weight More Quality



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AND FINALLY: Son of Concorde

There has been some coverage in the media last week regarding what has been termed “Son of Concorde”

Memories are short.

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Belfast to New York

United Airlines is to offer customers from Northern Ireland year-round non-stop service from Belfast to Newark, its New York hub, the only New York airport with direct rail services to the centre of the city.  The current three times a week schedule (four in summer) will now continue through into summer 2016.

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Heathrow T5 lounge

If you are travelling BA or Iberia at Heathrow T5, and are not eligible for one of the British Airways lounges, Priority Pass, in conjunction with Swissport, last week opened a new facility.  This is the first independent lounge in T5 since it opened in 2008, and is ideal for regular European travellers in Economy class who can either use their lounge pass or pay for the facility.

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Lufthansa in-flight service

Business Class passengers on Lufthansa long haul flights last week were able to experience what the airline calls “a restaurant style service”, its latest innovation to wean clients away from competing airlines.

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Sofia – popular destination

Gaining popularity is Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria.  Presently linked to the UK by British Airways from Heathrow (T5), easyJet from Gatwick (N) and Wizz out of Luton, two new airports are about to be added to the list. 

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Toronto tunnel completed

It has taken 75 years, but what is now Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport has finally acquired a pedestrian tunnel to the mainland. 

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Trophy flights banned

American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines have banned the transport of lion, leopard, elephant, rhino or buffalo killed by trophy hunters, in the latest fallout from the killing of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe last month.

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Vietnam visas and the 787

With Vietnam Airlines due to inaugurate Boeing 787 services between both Hanoi and Ho Chi Min to Heathrow on Tuesday 1 September the country’s government has decided to relax visa requirements.  The 11hr flight is the only non-stop service between the UK and Vietnam.  Vietnam Airlines is part of STAR Alliance.

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