7 SEPTEMBER 2015

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Antigua International Airport

A four-hour extravaganza of music and politics announced the arrival last week of a new terminal at Antigua’s V C Bird international Airport (named after the founding Premier of Antigua).

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Delays for Singapore Airlines

Singapore Airlines has confirmed that its much heralded new Premium Economy Class will not be available as planned for its Airbus A380 fleet due to delays in the seat installation programme.

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Oxford Airport gains rail link

The opening of the brand new Oxford Parkway Station on 26 October will bring Oxford Airport much closer to London.

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Starwood Tribute Kings Cross

The outstanding Great Northern Hotel, Kings Cross, has become the first Starwood Tribute Portfolio Hotel in Europe. (see  BTN  20 May 2013)

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ON THE SOAPBOX: Jock Lowe Heathrow Hub

Captain Jock Lowe has energetically led Heathrow Hub Ltd with its ideas to extend the northern runway at the airport as an alternative to an entirely new strip.  The Airports Commission failed to be completely impressed and opted for the alternative Heathrow option.  He believes that the Commission got it right with the airport but wrong with the option.  The Cabinet Committee will finally decide, before Christmas we are told.

Jock retired from British Airways in 2001 after 30 years having spent some of that time flying Concorde.  He was the BA Chief Pilot and Flight Operations Director and completed a year as President of the Royal Aeronautical Society and another as Master of the Guild of Air Pilots.

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Aeroflot and Transaero

Russia’s two largest airlines are to become one with Aeroflot acquiring a 75% stake in its struggling competitor Transaero for just a single rouble.  At London’s Heathrow Airport Transaero already operates out of T4, as does Aeroflot, a member of Skyteam whose lounge both airlines use.  However Aeroflot flies to Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport and Transaero Domodedovo.

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BA retirees could suffer

British Airways is preparing for a High Court clash with one of its pension fund’s trustees over increases in payments to the airline’s retired staff.  In the past former employees could rely on BA share dividends for additional income, but this has not happened for nearly 10 years, although selling at the current premium price is also possible.

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Boeing 777X

Now called the Boeing 777-9, what was the 777X, has reached a "firm configuration", meaning the aircraft's basic design and capabilities have been determined, setting the stage for design of specific parts and systems.

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Lanesborough reopens

The Lanesborough, Hyde Park Corner, has reopened after a major 18-month renovation as one of the masterpiece properties of the Oetker Collection.

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Small passenger jets

The market for small passenger jets is heating up with two new arrivals about to take to the air and the established producers upgrading aircraft. 

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South American routes

Following our story last week (Gatwick to Lima) Laurie Price, he once of British Caledonian Airways and afterwards BA, has sent a list of South American cities previous destinations of the Gatwick-based carrier, to which British Airways is gradually returning.  The policy in recent times is to try and persuade would-be travellers either way to use the Iberia Madrid hub.

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Vietnam Dreamliner Dash 9 at Heathrow

Heathrow saw the arrival last week of Vietnam Airlines first Boeing 787-9 to operate out of the airport, introduced  on its Hanoi/Ho Chi Min City service.  Virgin Altantic quietly brought in the largest Dreamliner to date late last year and British Airways are next up with the big 787 due in October.  They will be in April 2016by United Airlines on its Heathrow – Los Angeles route.  The only carrier on the route, and Vietnam now visa-free, the service is set to boom. (see  BTN  10 August)

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Virgin Trains upgrades

Always seemingly the most innovative of Britain’s rail operators Virgin Trains West Coast has launched new services for customers through a brand new website which includes a seat selection system. 

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ON TOUR: A Mediterranean cruise

Just a few weeks ago your Editor and wife took number one grandson on a two-week cruise into the Mediterranean from Southampton.  It was the third year running that the now 14-year-old has been treated to such a trip.  In 2103 it was  Norwegian Cruise Line  (NCL) Epic and last year P&O Ventura.  RCCL Explorer of the Seas was our choice for 2015. (see also CRUISENEWS SEPTEMBER in this issue)

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CRUISE NEWS September 2015

Welcome to this month’s edition of Cruise News. 

BTN’s regular features reporter Jane Stanbury was in Montreal when Cruise and Maritime Voyages (CMV) Marco Polo visited the inland port as part of the ship's 50th anniversary cruise.  It did not take much to persuade her to join the party.  ON TOUR this week features RCCL’s Explorer of the Seas and a Mediterranean cruise to please a teenager.  CRUISE INTELLIGENCE follows.  AND FINALLY has very strong cruise connection, but don’t tell any nervous Americans!

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AND FINALLY

Cruise issue special.  Beware icebergs.

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Air Astana seat bid

The national carrier of Kazakhstan, Air Astana, partly owned by BAe Systems, has launched ‘MyUpgrade’, an innovative online tool that enables existing Economy Class customers to bid for an upgrade to Business Class before their flight.  It could just catch on.

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Doubletree Woking

The former Holiday Inn Woking is now the DoubleTree by Hilton Woking following a multi-million pound renovation project.

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Dubai to Orlando

Emirates launched its 10th destination in the United States with the start of daily non-stop passenger service between Dubai and Orlando International Airport on 1 September.  A VIP delegation and a contingent of international media were aboard the inaugural flight, which carried passengers from 29 different countries to Orlando.

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Jet2 and Boeing

Who would have thought in 1983, when the well-established aviation services company Dart Group Plc launched a cargo airline based at Bournemouth Airport called Channel Express, that in September 2015 it would be ordering 27 of the latest Boeing 737s.

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London City Airport rumours

German insurer Allianz has joined Borealis Infrastructure, which manages investments for Canada's Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement Systems, to explore the acquisition London City Airport, according to a person familiar with the process. The Sunday Times also reports an interest from the Italian Benetton family.

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Travel Coffee Break

Hosted by former Classic FM radio presenter, Alastair McKenzie 'Travel Coffee Break’ is a weekly online video chat with travel writers, travel providers and travel PRs.

It goes 'live' every Wednesday at 14:00 UK time and runs for around 40 minutes.

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US airlines drop 0800 numbers

As part of its transition from a low-cost to an ultra-low-cost business model, Frontier Airlines is the latest US airline to change from a toll-free 0800 number for its customer service centre to a regular number.  The airline says it will save US$2bn a year, which it claims will be passed on to customers through lower fares.

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World airport traffic 2014

Airports Council International (ACI) has released the latest edition of the World Airport Traffic Report with comprehensive data coverage for over 2,200 airports in more than 160 countries worldwide.  Passenger numbers increased by 5.7% in 2014 to over 6.7bn.

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