19 DECEMBER 2011
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How will 2011 be remembered?
For business travellers it has been traumatic, not knowing if an airline, hotel, or even a country was going to remain in existence. Or whether volcanic ash would lay low the most carefully organised plans.
However for the most part the major carriers continued to fly on, even if some changed their name (Continental), or used financial manipulations to stay in business (Chapter 11/American). Iceland’s natural firecrackers tried to upset airline schedules but thankfully technology has intervened.
What was the most important travel event of 2011?
It has to be the introduction into airline service of the Boeing 787.
We don’t know what the future holds but it is fairly safe to say that in 20 years’ time over 1,000 further copies will be flying and all the aggravations of the last three years will be forgotten. The aircraft was due to be the transport star of Beijing 2008!
easyJet, under new management, if not ownership, has emerged as a truly responsible airline, now Britain’s biggest. It is using its resources and financial strength to mitigate the problems that nature, in the form of volcanoes, can cause to the airline scene. At this stage we truly don’t know if it is a false trail. The system that the airline espouses may become standard for all airlines, its origination forgotten.
Politically, in the UK, it has been a disastrous year, with a new government clearly not sure in which direction to pursue its aviation policy. Not for the first time the Minister, fresh to the job, and getting his act together, was suddenly moved. His successor has arrived with the burden of fundamental Heathrow hostility upon her. How she is able to pursue a balanced and objective point of view remains to be seen.
Europe dominated the final weeks of the year, with Britain’s financial position and treaty posture dominating. Mr Cameron walked away from the bargaining table, but left with a goodwill gesture, from his point of view, of ever increasing airport taxes, a present to European countries and their airlines.
How will 2012 fare?
We have the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics. There will be full aeroplanes, full hotels, and by the sound of it full roads. Southend will be welcomed back as a proper scheduled service operation (and with it a direct airport train line to the Olympic Park). Will British Airways become the majority airline at Heathrow, or will a repositioned Virgin Atlantic emerge as Virgin Unlimited? BAA for one needs to know.
Enjoy the quiz.
It’s been a bumpy but enjoyable crossing on QM2.
All the best for 2012 from the team at AERBT (An Executive Review of Business Travel).
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