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15 OCTOBER 2012

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Article from BTNews 15 OCTOBER 2012

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Vueling Gatwick expansion

Inspite of Spain’s economic woes Barcelona based Vueling last week announced ambitious plans for further expansion in 2013.  Up goes the number of aircraft based at El Prat from 34 to 43.

Düsseldorf, Frankfurt and Gatwick will be introduced in a fourth consecutive year of growth.  Of the 28 new routes planned for the next summer season, which starts at the end of March 2013, five have never before operated before from Barcelona.  Entirely new are Dresden (Germany), Rennes (France), Fez (Morocco), Rhodes and Kos (Greece). The airline is also adding four countries to its network: the Gambia (Banjul), Finland (Helsinki), Bulgaria (Sofia) and Luxembourg.

With Gatwick, twice daily, it will take on easyJet, which already has six flights per day, and also a limited service by Monarch.  For Frankfurt the Lufthansa monopoly will be broken and with Dusseldorf both the German National airline and Air Berlin are already on the route.

Vueling says that its objective is that in 2014 Barcelona will become the leading European airport for connections.  It also claims that by the end of next year 50% of  passengers will be on business travel. www.vueling.com

Gatwick’s second runway

Plans have been published for a second runway at Gatwick Airport sometime after the 2019 embargo on any development is passed.  The airport has deemed necessary a need to make public its intentions and make a presentation to the government enquiry led by Sir Howard Davies.

Currently the airport is handling about 34m passengers per year and has capacity for another 10m.  To be built south of the present strip a second runway would allow the existing numbers to be doubled.  The airport has already good rail and road connections and these could be relatively easily integrated into any new expansion.

Gatwick’s biggest problem is a preference by airlines, especially long haul, to use Heathrow due to the South London’s airport location and limited conurbation.  As soon as an opportunity arose for both Delta and Continental (United) to decamp  they were off.  BA and Virgin Atlantic to New York are long gone.  Gatwick has had some success in attracting Far East carriers, but the failure of Hong Kong Airlines, well supported management wise, is an indication of the difficulties in developing a route. www.gatwickairport.com

Heathrow becomes Heathrow

BAA Ltd has dropped its old title, which was created in 1965 as the British Airports Authority, and becomes Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd, a company majority owned by Ferrovial of Spain.

Colin Matthews, Group Chief Executive, summed it up: “The BAA name no longer fits”.  Heathrow Airport Holdings will soon become just Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports, still easily the UK’s largest airport group.  What the rebranding will cost has not been stated but the original yellow style of its signage became synonymous all over the world with airports, not just BAA.  Mr Matthews says that Heathrow represents more than 95% of the business.  Headquarters of the newly named group is The Compass Centre, which overlooks Heathrow’s northern runway. 

What remains unanswered is whether the owners might in time sell off the three smaller airports and just stick with Heathrow? www.heathrowairport.com

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