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14 MARCH 2016


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Blue Islands and Flybe

Flybe has confirmed the signing of a contract with the Channel Islands operator Blue Islands for a franchise partnership which will see it take to the skies in Flybe branded aircraft with effect from June 2016.

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Emirates Business Class

The product will not be seen on an aircraft until later in the year but Emirates took the opportunity of ITB last week of displaying its new Boeing 777 Business Class seat.

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MD 10 flying hospital

AOA’s Annual Dinner (see  BTN  7 March) raised £6,700 for blindness prevention charity Orbis, which operates the world’s only Flying Eye Hospital.

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Richard Cawthorne, will be editing  BTN  again from the issue 4 April, having by then returned from his travels.  Please make sure he is on your mailing list for information and news stories.  richardcawthorne@btinternet.com

Please see OUR READERS' FINEST WORDS in last week’s  AND FINALLY.  Feel free to add your comments to any story.

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ON THE SOAPBOX SPECIAL: Jock Lowe – Director Heathrow Hub Ltd

Following John Holland-Kaye (29 February) and Stewart Wingate (7 March) Captain Jock Lowe, a director of Heathrow Hub, puts forward his ideas on why an extended northern runway scheme should be chosen by the Cabinet Committee when it (hopefully) commits to a new runway for the South East probably in July.

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ERA London briefing

Low fuel prices are encouraging low-cost carriers (LCC) to put their aircraft into riskier markets, creating more competition for Europe’s fragile regional airlines, managing director John Sullivan from The Seabury Group has warned.  Carriers are holding on to older equipment and adding considerably more capacity too, a London briefing by the European Regions Airline Association (ERA) was told Alison Chambers reports. 

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Heathrow's southern access

Tucked away in the mass of paperwork concerning Heathrow Airport Ltd plans for a new northwest runway is a scheme to include a new southern access road to the T2/T3 Central Area from the Great South West Road.

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London Infrastructure Summit 2016

Held at Kings Place, adjoining the rapidly expanding Kings Cross Central enterprise, London Infrastructure Summit 2016 last week consisted of a series of discussions concerning the future of the capital.  Baroness Jo Valentine of London First made the welcoming address.

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News from London City Airport

Last Friday (11 March) the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and the infrastructure investing arm of the Kuwait Investment Authority (Wren House Ltd) completed the purchase of London City Airport (see  BTN  29 February)

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Passengers problem

Drunken passengers are seemingly becoming more and more of an airline problem symbolised last week when a Gatwick Thomson flight was delayed whilst 25 passengers were removed.

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Premier Inn breakfast

They say that the proof of the pudding is in the eating.  If the number of guests taking up Premier Inn’s recently introduced £8.99 full English breakfast is anything to go by the budget hotel chain has pressed the right kitchen button.

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Quest around the world

You’ve got to hand it to CNN's Richard Quest.  Not only has he taken a serious interest in MH370 (see BTN 7 March) but on a somewhat lighter note if you are reading  BTN  on publication day he is probably in the air on a low-cost carrier trying to fly around the world in eight days, on 10 airlines, and touching down in nine countries via easyjet, Ryanair, FluDubai, AirArabia, AirAsia, Scoot, Jetstar, Allegiant, JetBlue and Norwegian in that order.

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The new Gatwick Express

New Gatwick Express trains were launched on 10 March in the presence of Claire Perry, rail minister, our railway guru Andrew Sharp reports.  The fleet of 27 4-car trains should be in service by summer: they all have wi-fi and an eye-catching red livery, featuring a big GX logo.

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ON TOUR: Planning ahead for Easter

And the rest of the year too.

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MOTORING UPDATE: Skoda Superb + Kia Picanto

Malcolm Ginsberg, editor in chief of BTN, was once many years ago press manager at Lotus Cars.  As such he retains an interest in motoring affairs and while Ted Wilkinson, a member of the Guild of Motoring writers, is the senior member of the  BTN  car test team, Malcolm is allowed from time to time to get his hands on various models.  MG’s review of the Kia Picanto follows Ted’s full road test of Skoda’s latest Superb.

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AND FINALLY: Ryanair’s new jet

Seeing is believing.

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Aberdeen to Reykjavik

Last Wednesday (9 March) Icelandair began a new year-round service from Aberdeen (ABZ) to the Iceland international airport of Keflavik (KEF).

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Cheltenham Gold Cup

Readers of  BTN  who are horse racing fans can be assured that the revamped GWR (Great Western Railway) is looking after you this week.

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CSeries in Europe

A Bombardier CSeries 100 has been route proving in Europe all last week. Based in Zurich the aircraft visited Brussels, Budapest, Hannover, Milan and Vienna, part of a month-long test programme to integrate the aircraft into airport/airline systems using typical operational procedures. 

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fastJet pluses and minuses

The good news from African low-cost carrier fastJet is that it will commence flights to Victoria Falls from Johannesburg on 25 March in response to what it says is strong passenger and tour operator demand from within the South African market. 

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Lounge expansion for Gatwick

No1 Lounges continues to expand its footprint at the UK’s second largest airport with the launch of a new lounge at Gatwick’s South Terminal.

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Noise and emissions report

An Independent Transport Commission (ITC) report, ‘The sustainability of UK aviation: Trends in the mitigation of noise and emissions’, has established that concerns around noise, carbon emissions (CO2) and local air quality from aviation operations should not affect capacity enhancements at either Gatwick or Heathrow.

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Qatar at ITB

Never one to miss out where publicity is concerned His Excellency Akbar Al Baker, group chief executive, Qatar Airways, was in fine form at a packed press ITB Berlin last week.

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Sharm el Sheikh

Thomas Cook has extended its cancellation of flights to the Egyptian resort of Sharm el Sheikh until 31 October, meaning the destination will have been closed to UK arrivals for almost a year.

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St Helena aircraft arrives

British Airways will be seen when scheduled services start from the beginning of May to the South Atlantic island of St Helena from Johannesburg.  Comair, a BA partner, has taken delivery of a brand new Boeing 737-800, registration ZS-ZWG, to be used on the flights.   It will be configured to accommodate approximately 120 passengers.

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