21 DECEMBER 2015

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Article from BTNews 21 DECEMBER 2015

COMMENT: 2015 The year that nothing really happened

Last year, that is 2014, was a really interesting 12 months. The Queen opened Heathrow T2, Virgin Trains hung on to the West Coast Main Line and the Airbus A350 (XWB) Xtra Wide Body was certificated. www.btnews.co.uk/article/8255

What can we say about 2015?

Not a lot, although 2016 could be very interesting with the Bombardier CSeries finally coming into service, British Airways having a change of leadership, and maybe even a decision on R3.

2015 should have been the year when a final government decision was made regarding R3, the new runway for the South East. Sir Howard Davies' Airports Commission reported on 1 July. Straight out of the original ‘Yes Minister’, Downing Street then created a committee to consider the report, initiating ‘Yes Prime Minister’ a report on a report. Was the PM chickening out? “No new runway!” he had said in the past. Clearly Mr Cameron had been reading the Maggie Thatcher book on leadership. “This man is not for turning”. Or is he? Or does he go for Heathrow Hub, which is arguably not a new runway?

Perhaps badly advised, Flybe got lost in all the turmoil announcing just days earlier that it had applied for change of use at RAF Northolt with the clarion call of less noise, more money for HMRC, and a lifeline for the provinces. It seems now to be motionless, the non-executive chairman, one Simon Laffin, acting as spokesman to the only Scottish newspaper taking an interest and chief executive Saad Hammed not mentioning Northolt in an extensive Belfast interview.

IAG, with Irishman Willie Walsh in charge, took over Aer Lingus, which was generally applauded, the Ryanair ‘be nice’ campaign also well received, although you still have to be fit to fly on the airline, Mr O’Leary refusing to use air bridges. It is steps for everyone. This way, you can get wet too. Rival easyJet celebrated 30 years with its founder, Stelios Haji-Ioannou, joining the party.

It was the year when the US airlines gave up services to the Middle East, the already-mentioned Mr Walsh saying he welcomed competition, with Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr crying wolf. Mr Walsh also says that Heathrow will never get another runway. Is he playing games or does he believe it? Virgin’s Little Red disappeared with little fanfare.

A Russian-operated Airbus A321, but Irish-registered, crashed in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula with the loss of 224 lives and a Germanwings A320 was deliberately destroyed by its co-pilot. A BA Boeing 777 caught fire at Las Vegas and we await the report.  

bmi Regional and Loganair became part of a new regional airline group, Airline Investments Ltd (AIL), under newly-appointed chief executive Peter Simpson, ex-BA Cityflyer. Luton  New York started, but since the operating airline does not contribute to the CAA statistics we do not actually know how it is doing. A new generation of twinjets is on the way to London City Airport as CityJet prepares to replace its fleet of four-engined Avro RJ85s with the Sukhoi SSJ100.

In our review of 2014,  BTN said it would continue to promote RAF Northolt as a simple remedy to the UK regions' London connection problems. Nothing has changed in that respect. Northolt was 100 years old in 2015.

AND FINALLY is BTN’s most popular web page, which says something, ON TOUR continues to flourish and our cruise supplement finished the year talking about Crystal Serenity, a true six-star ship.

Maybe for our review in 12 months’ time we will say that work has started on R3. Perhaps not.

All the best for 2016. May it be happy, healthy and prosperous.  BTN  plans to continue to supply a good read.

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