15 JULY 2019

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COMMENT: A new transport minister – First task?

Within weeks a new transport minister will be appointed. What is his/her first task?

Heathrow is on its way, and HS2 likewise. The rail franchises will need to be looked into. But the most important of all the things that need sorting out is Crossrail, conceived as the new artery of London.

The spat between the mayor of London and the London Assembly Transport Committee continues, with no Elizabeth Line opening date promised. Meanwhile, London City Airport has published its “Draft Master Plan 2020-2035”, just as vital in many ways for the future of London. The minister should look at this as well.

The plan acknowledges airport senior management's belief that a Silvertown for London City station could be possible if at some stage in the future Crossrail is extended to Ebbsfleet. The railway, and with it the station, is wishful thinking!

The proposed Ebbsfleet line achieves very little and replicates the existing tracks. Crossrail 2 will take precedence.

In the view of BTN (and rail experts), the upgrading of the existing Southeastern two-track operation with two different electrification systems is not likely to happen. It would be very, very expensive. The introduction of a new LCY station on an operating Elizabeth Line would be disruptive and likewise extremely costly.

London City Airport should be much more positive in asking for an urgent review of the situation with a view to building the station now.

Who knows when Crossrail will open? The London Assembly Transport Committee, now under Florence Eshalomi (former chair Caroline Pidgeon is now the deputy), is in a tiff with the mayor following his detailed response in a joint letter with Transport for London (TfL), agreeing with most of the points made within the report. Most notably, he reiterated his support for TfL’s commissioner, Mike Brown.

In response, Eshalomi said: “It’s disappointing to see that blame for the project is still being passed from pillar to post and that no stakeholder so far has been willing to accept their responsibility for the delay of the project”.

The mayor in the letter talks about reporting back in six months’ time. Is he going to give us the date?

With a possible new prime minister who was previously mayor of London, the final say on the future of the Elizabeth Line should now be the responsibility of the Department for Transport. The government is putting up half the cost. The line is vital for London and with it the country. The Silvertown for London City Airport station needs to be examined urgently, not just for LCY, but the whole area surrounding the Tate and Lyle refinery where massive redevelopment is taking place.

The station can be built, quickly and cheaply. The enormous benefits will quickly outweigh any possible slight further delay on the Canary Wharf to Abbey Wood section. Action is needed. Now!

(See also COMMENT PLUS in this issue).

COMMENT PLUS: London City Airport and London

There are serious access problems on the way. The airport must stand up and be counted!

If the predictions are correct, London City Airport will reach its rolling passenger limit of 6.5m passengers sometime in 2022. With that in mind, the “Draft Master Plan 2020-2035” just published looks into the future with the idea of submitting a new planning application in early 2020. The 2006 Master Plan proved to be remarkably accurate, which gives confidence for this one.

A series of local presentations are being undertaken to try to gain views and ideas for the future. The response to date has been poor, just eight people attending the first showing held at a venue virtually under “short finals” and 20 for the following one. No doubt the noisy minority will make their voice known when the time comes.

In summary, the plan suggests a further boost in allowable traveller throughput numbers, two new aircraft parking stands, an increase in the early-morning departure quotas and the opening of the airport from 12:30 Saturday to 12:30 Sunday, putting LCY in line with the destinations served but keeping an 8hr respite period. There are minor alterations to aircraft parking.

The new taxiway will speed up and smooth out operations on the single runway, 45 movements per hour easily obtainable and, unlike traditional airports, each aircraft on the runway for only around 60sec. No crossing active runways or disappearing off to a holding point. Aircraft landing to DLR station in 10min!

Currently, the airport is set to move just over 5m passengers this year with 80,000 movements, well below the 111,000 allowed, while 11.5m is suggested for 2035 and 151,000 movements.

The rest of the 84-page report is in essence a summary of what is already in the public forum in discussing future aircraft operations, environmental considerations, employment and economics, making the point it is an airport for London.

Two problems face LCY.

The first is attracting additional airlines with the specialised aircraft required for the airport, and hence more passengers and destinations. That one is manageable.

The growth in aircraft size over the next decade is marginal. The new Embraer 190 E2 offers the same capacity as the E190, and the Airbus A220 has around 120 seats, slightly more than the 112-seat Avro it replaces.

The other concern, and just as important, is access.

At certain times, the DLR can hardly cope with current numbers and the LCY plan states clearly a future increase of staff with more using public transport to get to and from work. Perhaps the airport ought to institute a new passenger survey. They are the users.

At present, the two bus routes serving the airport represent just 1% of traffic. A highly-promoted route to Custom House/ExceL will help and would be one way to connect with the Elizabeth Line as things stand. Whether travellers to central London would want to use this suggestion is open to question. A change at Poplar on the DLR is another alternative but the stroll to the new train system is probably 12-15min.

There is a deliberately expensive car park and at least 30% of airport users use taxis according to CAA statistics.

This brings us to the possibilities of introducing a Silvertown station on the Elizabeth Line, even at this late stage. It is practical, cheap and, unlike a 2025 construction, not disruptive.

It will be less than a 10min walk from the terminal, supplemented by courtesy electric transport. If not ready by the time Canary Wharf station opens, turning the trains around at that point will not affect Custom House, Woolwich Arsenal and Abbey Wood, which already offer rail connections. You can’t miss what you don’t have!

By 2023, the DLR will have new trains, raising capacity by 10% as confirmed by DfT. Due to the restrictions of a two-platform station at Woolwich Arsenal, the frequency cannot be increased very much, nor the present arrangement which splits the Bank and Stratford services.

In some ways, LCY has fallen into the same trap as befell John Mowlem & Co plc when it first built the airport in the 1980s. There appears to be little or no consultation with the airline customers, nor a true appraisal of the access problems. In developing the airport, Mowlem had only an enthusiastic chairman to keep a watchful eye on the proceedings. Today, the sums are much bigger and the watchful eyes more attentive.

Readers are reminded that in February 2016 it was announced that London City Airport had been sold by Global Infrastructure Partners, the owner since 2006, for a reported £2.3bn to a consortium led by the Alberta Investment Management Corporation.

Philip Hammond, then the new Chancellor of the Exchequer, visited the airport and confirmed approval for a £344m privately-funded terminal redevelopment, more aircraft stands and a parallel taxiway. Since then the cost has risen to a publicly quoted £500m, still of course out of the private purse. One has to ask the question: Will that be enough?

The masterplan has a mention of the Silvertown for London City Airport station (page 69), as if it is known about but not really acknowledged. Why the management is not more outspoken regarding the station we don’t know. Rail stations are part of successful airports (see Glasgow wants one and both Bristol and East Midlands suffer without, and Bristol has road access problems too.

Commissioner of transport Mike Brown has stated (in writing) "that we would review any proposal from the airport".

LCY no longer has the same chairman as Crossrail. It needs to start shouting from the rooftops (or terminal top) that even at this late stage Silvertown for London City Airport station is wanted for London, now. It needs to stand up and be counted. It is up to them to sort out the problems with the Elizabeth Line.

What happens next is down to the transport minister, paymaster for Crossrail. Yes he wants it to open as quickly as possible, but don’t spoil the cake by putting on poor icing.

See also in this issue COMMENT.

Written by Malcolm Ginsberg, associated with the airport since 1982, and the author of "London City Airport, 30 Years Serving the Capital".
london-city-airport     ISBN   978-1-900438-07-0


Malcolm Ginsberg, owner and editor-in-chief of Business Travel News, has announced that the award-winning publication is up for sale. “I am now fast approaching 77 and it is time to slow down," he said. "Whether I continue in some capacity will be up to a new owner, or I might take a non-executive directorship within the travel industry where my knowledge and experience could be of great value. We also have several new projects under wraps, very exciting ones too. Their future needs to be decided also.”

A lounge for children at Dubai

An airport lounge designed specifically for unaccompanied minors has been opened at Dubai International Airport’s Terminal 1 by air service provider Dubai National Air Transport Association (dnata).

Decorated in vibrant colours, the facility (below), which is open 24hr a day, is equipped with games and entertainment screens to keep young passengers occupied and manned by experienced, multilingual staff.

More than 70 are employed by dnata to work closely with airline representatives to ensure unaccompanied minors are in safe hands, reach departure gates on time and receive priority boarding.

The company says such services have become increasingly popular in the UAE with figures for 2018 showing the dnata team assisted 8,000 unaccompanied minors at Dubai Airport, 27% more than five years ago.

Divisional senior vice-president for UAE airport operations Steve Allen said: "We have earned the trust of thousands of parents with services for unaccompanied minors over the past years.

"Now we are enhancing young passengers’ travel experiences further with a lounge designed specifically to meet the needs and tastes of children of all ages, give them a memorable time and provide smooth and safe passage through the airport."

Aerospace Media Awards

The winners of the 2019 Aerospace Media Awards presented at the AeroClub de France were:

Best Young Journalist – sponsored by NAMMO
Valerie Insinna – Defense News

Best Aviation Image – sponsored by Dassault Aviation
Benoît Denet – Silver Wing

The Best Safety, Training & Simulation Submission – sponsored by CAE
Matt Thurber – Learning to Fly on Simulated Wings – AIN Publications

The Best Rotorcraft submission
Robert W. Moorman – Red Planet Rotorcraft– Vertiflite magazine

The Best Propulsion submission – sponsored by Pratt & Whitney
Paul Seidenman and David Spanovich – Electric Propulsion Primer -Inside MRO

The Best Business Aviation Submission – sponsored by Gulfstream
David Esler – Seeing Red Over ‘Gray' – Business & Commercial Aviation

The Best Military Aviation submission – sponsored by Lockheed Martin
Tim Robinson – UK mulls sixth generation fighter project – AEROSPACE

The Best Aerospace & Defence Business submission – sponsored by Honeywell
Peggy Hollinger – How the promise of electric power could transform aviation – Financial Times

The Innovation in Aerospace Journalism & Publishing Award – sponsored by Collins Aerospace

Best UAV/Un-Manned Systems submission
Kelsey Atherton – An explosion in Venezuela brings gimmick drones to the political battlefield – C4ISRNET

The Best Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) submission – sponsored by AAR
Michael Gubisch – Clear divide over ownership of data – Airline Business

Best International Publication
Aviation Week & Space Technology

Best In-depth Aviation Feature – sponsored by Rolls-Royce
Dominic Gates – Flawed analysis, failed oversight: How Boeing, FAA certified the suspect 737 MAX flight control system – The Seattle Times

Judges Commendation

Murdo Morrison – Jobs for the girls

Flight International

The Bill Gunston Technology Writer of the Year Award – sponsored by Boeing
Bill Read – Aerospace

The Aerospace Reporter of the Year – sponsored by Dassault Aviation
David Kaminski-Morrow – Flight International

Lifetime Achievement
Barb Zuehlke

Lifetime Achievement
Elfan Ap Rees

The Aerospace Media Awards and Dinner are run by Bradfield & Associates.

Airlines attack new tax moves

In a week when France floated the idea of an Air Passenger Duty (APD), moves toward introducing new aviation taxes were attacked by the Airlines for Europe (A4E) group, noting Europe’s biggest carriers would already pay more than €5bn in environmental levies and other payments this year.

A4E chairman, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary, said: “The claim that airlines are not paying environmental taxes is completely false. This environmental debate has been badly misinformed.

“Globally, European airlines are the only airlines paying environmental taxes, forecast at over €5bn in 2019, including €590m in the EU emissions trading system (ETS), up from €370m in 2018, a 59% increase.

“More aviation taxes are a knee-jerk reaction that will undermine European competitiveness and particularly hurt the integration and free movement of EU citizens, especially for peripheral and island member states.”

A4E managing director Thomas Reynaert said EU policy-makers had missed an opportunity to reduce aviation emissions by failing to reform the European sky or by making sustainable fuels sufficiently available for aviation.

“Rather than introducing new taxes – which do nothing to make flying more sustainable – EU governments should recognise and support airlines’ sustainability initiatives with better research and development opportunities,” Reynaert added.

(See also France APD plan condemned in this issue).

CAA warning over disabled passengers

Airports have been warned they will need to step up the way they look after disabled passengers thanks to new stricter targets from the CAA. The warning comes in the authority’s fourth annual report on disability access.

The study reveals a record 3.7m requests for assistance in the year to 31 March – a rise of more than 80% since 2010 – with 14 airports including Aberdeen, Belfast City, Cornwall Newquay, Doncaster Sheffield and Edinburgh rated ‘very good’ and a further 16 rated ‘good’.

Four classified last year as ‘very good’ received ‘good’ ratings this year, while Manchester Airport was classified as ‘needing improvement’, although this was an improved rating from ‘poor’ in the previous two years.

CAA consumers and markets director Paul Smith said: “These results show significant improvements to the experience many disabled passengers faced before our reporting began. We hope this will help them to feel confident and empowered to travel from UK airports.

“While it is good to see the improvements, airports will need to continue to work hard so they can meet the more demanding performance standards we have now introduced. Where we see examples of bad practice, we will hold airports to account and take the necessary action.”

COO Bellew to leave Ryanair

Just over 18 months since rejoining Ryanair as chief operating officer, Peter Bellew announced his resignation last week and plans to leave the airline at the end of December.

The former Malaysia Airlines CEO returned to Ryanair in the aftermath of the September 2017 rostering problems (BTN 23 October 2017), and was credited by Ryanair last week for his “great work”.

Local media noted Bellew, 54, had been tipped to head Ryanair’s main airline division, a new position, but told financial news agency Bloomberg his decision to go was unrelated to the appointment and there was “nothing personal” behind it.

In a text message, Bellew added: “Operations in great shape and a super team in place … there are lots of opportunities globally.”

A native of Bettystown in Co Meath, Bellew, previously a senior director at Kerry Airport in the 1990s, spent almost a decade at Ryanair before leaving in 2014, eventually joining Malaysia Airlines as it sought to recover from two fatal crashes.

As CEO, he reported to the then-new chief executive, Christoph Mueller, a former head of Aer Lingus, who had left that airline earlier in 2015 to help to turn around the Asian carrier.

Data breach: 'prickly' Walsh under fire

Among reaction to BA’s fine for last year’s data breach (see this issue), The Times singled out parent company IAG boss Willie Walsh. Business writer Simon Duke said Walsh could not deny the fine been a long time in the making.

“Thanks to its creaky computer systems, the airline has kept legions of IT consultants in work over recent years,” Duke said. “The coup de grâce, however, was last summer’s cyberheist, in which hackers broke into BA’s database and made away with personal information on about half a million customers.”

Duke continued: “Mr Walsh … has so far allowed BA boss Alex Cruz to take the flak for the technology meltdowns. But he must shoulder his portion of the blame. The prickly executive has stitched the group together from the takeovers of airlines such as BA, Iberia and Aer Lingus. The repeated IT failures are a damning indictment of his integration efforts.

“They also raise questions about governance in its boardroom. Of IAG’s dozen directors, only one has worked as an executive at an enterprise technology company.

“In IAG’s annual report, you will see just a handful of glancing references to cyberattacks and data security threats. Its pay report, by contrast, takes up 20 pages. Mr Walsh’s £3m pay packet requires a lengthy explanation.”

Embraer E190 joins easyJet fleet

An Embraer E190 wet-leased from German charter carrier WDL Aviation is joining easyJet’s Gatwick fleet from 1 August in what the UK company says is a move “to cope with summer demand”.

British Airways' wholly-owned subsidiary BA CityFlyer operates the narrow-body twin-engine jet from London City Airport but its arrival is a departure for easyJet,  which has an all-Airbus fleet.

In its usual configuration, the E190 offers the passenger benefit of no middle seats in either window or aisle rows, as well as producing what Embraer claims is 15-30% less CO2 emissions than previous generations.

In a statement, easyJet said: “A small number of easyJet flights will be operated by WDL aircraft for a short period of time over the peak summer period as we continue to strengthen our operational resilience to help alleviate the impact of air space congestion for our customers.

“To tackle this industry issue, we have increased the level of spare aircraft in the network, including an Embraer E-190 wet lease by WDL which will be based in London Gatwick over the summer.”

Cologne-based WDL added: “EasyJet’s confidence shows once again that WDL has developed into a renowned partner in the international wet lease business.”

First man on the moon

Next Saturday (20 July) sees the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11's Eagle lunar module landing on the moon, followed by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s walk on the surface. "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Released on Friday is “Armstrong” with a voice over by Harrison Ford but biased in that Aldrin, the lunar module pilot, hardly gets a mention at all, likewise the spaceships commander’s second wife Carol (1994 until his death in 2012) is uninvolved with Janet (1956-1994) playing a major role.  It’s a documentary in the same style as “Senna” fails to grip, but is worthwhile seeing, telling an unforgettable story.

For the record there were six crewed US landings (between 1969 and 1972) and whilst the Russians have set down a module on the dark side they have never attempted to put a man on the moon.

BBC’s “8 Days: to the Moon and Back” (available on iPlayer) features the actual audio tapes integrated with filming made at the time, and studio reconstruction of the spacecraft.  Also now on general release is “Apollo 11” with stunning dramatic original 70mm film and previously-unheard audio recordings.  It’s ultra sharp big screen perfect with an electronic score in the Vangelis mood.

If you are really into Armstrong try Damien Chazelle's attempt to portray the astronaut (First Man – 2018) with Ryan Gosling in the lead.

See also "Chasing the Moon" BBC Four - Tuesday 16 July

France APD plan condemned

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has condemned plans by France for an APD-style “eco-tax” on flights. Transport minister Élisabeth Borne claimed the scheme would raise some €180m annually from 2020.

The amount of the tax will depend on the type of ticket being bought. Economy Class tickets on flights within France or the EU will incur a €1.50 levy. Business Class tickets for flights out of the EU will have the highest tariff, up to €18.

Borne said the money raised by the tax, which is designed to apply only to outgoing flights and not to those flying into the country, would be invested in less-polluting transport, such as rail.

IATA said the move was “misguided”, adding: “Since 1990, airlines have reduced carbon emissions per passenger 50% and from 2020 will be paying to offset all the growth in emissions. A tax will not help the industry to invest in cleaner fuels and technology.

Some 81% of French people did not trust their government to spend environmental taxes on environmental action, IATA added, and airlines were already introducing their own initiatives such as the Carbon Offsetting and Reduction Scheme for International Aviation (CORSIA).

(See also Airlines attack new tax moves in this issue).

Heathrow welcomes its latest Hilton

In the midst of celebrations for its 100th anniversary, Hilton has opened the doors of its latest Garden Inn at Heathrow, the first and only hotel at the airport to provide guests via a walkway with direct access to the Queen’s Terminal.

The property is the latest in the growing Garden Inn portfolio and is operating under a franchise agreement with Arora Group, which is celebrating its own 20th anniversary, and becomes the 11th member of that company’s collection.

The 14-floor Hilton Garden Inn Heathrow Terminal 2 has 369 guestrooms, including 23 family rooms and 10 suites offering an adjoining seating area with a sofa bed and 55in HDTV.

Other features include free wi-fi throughout, 24hr business centre and a fitness centre. The hotel also offers five high-tech meeting rooms, with the largest able to accommodate up to 65 people.

Hilton executive vice-president and regional president EMEA Simon Vincent, who also oversaw another opening in Budapest this month, noted the company pioneered the concept of the airport hotel in 1959.

He added: “More than 80m people pass through Heathrow every year and we are proud to be opening our second Hilton Garden Inn at the airport and delighted to offer guests a great accommodation option to make their journeys that much smoother.”

(See also Hungary debut for Garden Inn in this issue).

Highways UK 2019

The future direction of Britain’s roads and the role they play in connectivity and easing business will be under the spotlight at the NEC Birmingham on 6-7 November for the Highways UK 2019 gathering.

Organisers say the show, billed as “the flagship event for and about roads for a modern and connected Britain”, is of interest to anyone interested in local authority and urban roads or the Strategic Road Network and covers planning, designing, building, operating and future-proofing.

The free-to-attend event comprises a wide range of content platforms, innovation showcases and a major exhibition, with 95% of the 4,000-plus visitors to last year’s show rating it good or excellent.

The content is organised in five clusters, led by sessions on “Big Thinking”, which organisers say will look at how to create opportunities by looking at how government strategy and high-level policy translates into business opportunity now and in the near future.

There will also be insights and thought-leadership from the people shaping the industry, while other components include road owner hubs, intelligent infrastructure, civil infrastructure, and sustainability and people.

Features range from 'Big Thinking' conference sessions to keynote addresses from senior personalities, focused industry briefings, innovation showcases and competitions.

Huge fines for BA & Marriott

Battle lines at British Airways and Marriott International were drawn up last week after Britain’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) tech watchdog handed down huge fines for data breaches at the companies.

The ICO said it was fining BA parent company IAG £183m for last year’s computer meltdown (BTN 10 September 2018) which was said to have affected 500,000 passengers.

A day later, Marriott said the ICO had “communicated its intent” to fine it £99.2m in relation to the Starwood guest reservation database incident Marriott revealed last November.

Both companies said they would contest the action. The BA figure is 1.5% of the airline's worldwide turnover and is the biggest penalty notice to be issued under the UK's Data Protection Act.

BA chairman and CEO Alex Cruz said the company was “surprised and disappointed”. BA had responded quickly to the incident and had found no evidence of fraudulent activity linked to the theft.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said the parent group would defend BA's position “vigorously” and would appeal.

Marriott International president and CEO Arne Sorenson said it would “respond and vigorously defend its position”. Marriott had cooperated with the ICO investigation into the incident and deeply regretted it had happened.

(See also Data breach: 'prickly' Walsh under fire in this issue).

Hungary debut for Garden Inn

Budapest has welcomed a new city-centre hotel with the arrival of a Hilton Garden Inn – the first example of the brand in Hungary. The 241-room property is just steps from the Opera House and St Stephen’s Basilica.

Hilton regional president Simon Vincent said: “Record numbers are visiting Budapest, so we are proud as we celebrate Hilton’s centennial year to open the doors to Hilton Garden Inn Budapest as the largest midscale hotel in the city centre.”

Hilton Garden Inn global head John Greenleaf added: “This opening in Budapest city centre signifies the latest new-market debut for the brand in a year driven by swift global expansion.”

Facilities include three contemporary meeting and event spaces, with the largest room holding up to 100 guests or delegates. All spaces provide natural daylight, onsite catering and a breakout garden area for pre-event functions.

The hotel also offers free wi-fi, 24hr business centre, state-of-the-art fitness centre and The Shop, a 24hr grab-and-go retail space, offering a range of fresh food and a self-serve speciality coffee bar.

Guests can start their day with a cooked-to-order breakfast in the Garden 79 restaurant and unwind later in the hotel bar, which offers locally-sourced Hungarian dishes plus cocktails and local craft beer.

(See also Heathrow welcomes its latest Hilton in this issue).

IATA London briefing

Speaking at an IATA briefing in London last week entitled UK Competitive Index and the Value of Aviation, chief economist Brian Pearce said London remains the best connected city in the world, ahead of Shanghai, New York and Tokyo.

However, he made it very clear the UK would need to work even harder post-Brexit to ensure it did not lose its standing in the world.

Pearce warned 120,000 jobs were at risk with an erosion of air transport competitiveness and by contrast 200,000 could be created by cost-effective runway expansion, visa process improvement and an Air Passenger Duty review.

Regional VP Rafael Schvartzman pointed out the UK is at the bottom of a group of 17 EU nations in terms of airport and passenger taxes and charges. IATA assigns the UK a score of 148 in terms of such costs — well behind second-placed nation Germany, with a score of 111, and Sweden, with 106.

By contrast, Finland has a score of just 23 on the scale, while the best country in terms of low charges is Poland, at 20.

On the day the French government proposed an eco-tax on all outbound air journeys, Pearce and Schvartzman said IATA is strongly in favour of offset payments, rather than more taxes, as a means of reducing aviation’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

(See also France APD plan condemned in this issue).

Night-before check-in trial at Edinburgh

A new luggage pick-up service to allow passengers to check-in their bags the night before their flights is being trialled at Edinburgh Airport in an experiment with Ryanair and the Hampton by Hilton airport hotel.

The service is available free to Ryanair passengers staying at the hotel. They are asked on arrival if they are flying with Ryanair before 09:00 next day and if so are offered the chance to check-in on site. Bags are then collected by airport staff.

The luggage is tagged and handled by security-cleared employees before being screened as normal and stored in a secure area before being placed into the baggage system in the morning to be loaded on to the flight.

Airport chief operating officer Adrian Witherow said: “Making the journey through the airport as easy as possible is important to us and this trial will make the check-in and luggage part more accessible so passengers can head straight to departures.

“It’s great that Ryanair and Hampton by Hilton have bought into this trial and we are working closely with each other to ensure the service is smooth and efficient. We’ll see how it works before evaluating and deciding on our next steps.”

Norwegian CEO steps down

The chief executive and co-founder of Norwegian Air, Bjørn Kjos, said last week he was stepping down after 17 years in charge, just as the airline was announcing what it called its financial turnaround was “moving in the right direction”.

Kjos, 72, said at a press briefing: “I’m not sorry. I am way overdue. You should not run an airline when you are past 70.” CFO and deputy CEO Geir Karl Karlsen has been named acting CEO and Kjos will continue as an adviser.

Norwegian’s second quarter results showed increased revenue and reduced costs, reflecting a programme of slower growth introduced some months ago as the carrier faced up to reported financial problems.

However, net profit dropped by 75% from a year ago to NOK73.2m (£7m) in the second quarter. The company lowered its forecast for growth in available seat kilometres to between 0%-5% for 2019, down from 5%-10% growth.

Unit revenue was up 13%, and the company reported a Q2 EBITDAR excluding other losses/gains of NOK2.3bn (£213m), the highest yet in a second quarter and a significant increase over the NOK1.16bn (£107m) for the second quarter last year.

Norwegian said the 737 MAX grounding had affected demand, operating expenses and production negatively and it expected the cost on the 2019 results to be about NOK700m (£65m).

ParkVia lands world parking contract

British Airways parent company International Airlines Group (IAG) has appointed ParkVia, whose coverage spans 43 countries and includes more than 2,000 car parks, as its online parking provider.

The primary IAG project launch will be a dedicated micro-website for British Airways where passengers looking to pre-book airport parking, valet parking or airport hotels with parking, can select their chosen product across 148 UK and global destinations.

The next phase of development will see Stockport-based ParkVia develop micro-sites for each of IAG’s other member airlines, which include Aer Lingus, Iberia, Level and Vueling.

ParkVia managing director Mark Pegler said: “This is a red letter day for us – to become a preferred supplier to a globally-renowned airline group which encompasses your own country’s flag-carrier, is quite an achievement.

“As an established and recognised supplier to the aviation industry, collaborating with more than 22 airlines, we are well positioned to deliver a seamless service that complements the travel experience customers already enjoy with IAG carriers.”

ParkVia, under its former brand name ParkCloud, was awarded a second Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the international trade category in April. The rebrand was completed in the same month.

Qatar arrives in Portugal

A fresh destination and a new engine deal have been keeping Qatar Airways busy, with the airline’s first passenger flight to Portugal (below) landing at Lisbon Airport to be greeted by a water-cannon salute.

Marking the next stage in Qatar Airways’ rapid expansion of its European network, the new daily direct services will be operated by Dreamliner with 22 seats in Business Class and 232 seats in Economy.

Business Class includes lie-flat seats and 5-star “on-demand” dining, plus the Oryx One entertainment system.

Lisbon is the fourth new destination to be introduced by the airline this summer following Izmir and Rabat in May; Malta, Davao and Mogadishu this month and Langkawi for 15 October.

Meanwhile, Qatar Airways has signed multiple agreements with GE Aviation for GE engines after selecting the GEnx unit for its 30 new Boeing B787-9 Dreamliners and a TrueChoice Flight Hour agreement to cover their maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO).

The carrier has also signed a TrueChoice agreement for MRO services on the GE9X engine fleet that will power 60 Boeing B777X aircraft. The agreements are valued at more than US$5bn.

Royal opening for London Training Centre

The Prince of Wales with aviation minister Baroness Vere and leading figures from UK aviation last week marked the opening of L3Harris Technologies’ $100m London Training Centre for commercial airline pilots.

The state-of-the-art facility near Gatwick employs 350 people and is designed to meet the increasing airline demand for new pilots and address the worldwide shortage of commercial fliers.

L3 said the centre is already seeing strong demand, with 15 international airlines training pilots. The facility will also support the company’s Airline Academy cadet training programmes for the next generation of commercial airline pilots.

During the opening, Prince Charles also met young people who will soon start on the Prince’s Trust Flying Scholarship, created by L3Harris as part of the RAF100 legacy.

Baroness Vere said the centre would boost the local economy, help UK aviation to cement its place as one of the world’s best and improve access to pilot training hand in hand with moves to increase diversity and female representation in the industry.

L3Harris president Alan Crawford added: “Our investment in this facility reflects our confidence in growth opportunities in the UK and the aviation industry, illustrated clearly by the demand for new airline pilots across the world.”

Widerøe boost for Aberdeen service

Final steps in Aberdeen Airport’s terminal transformation project have been given new impetus with the news Widerøe is to increase flights from the Scottish complex to Bergen, extending the number of weekly services to lucky 13.

From September, there will be an additional departure on Sundays while a third daily flight on a Wednesday will also join the schedule. The Norwegian airline also flies direct to Stavanger and recently increased its number of flights there by five a week.

Airport managing director Steve Szalay said: “We’re pleased Widerøe is further strengthening its presence here. Bergen is an important business and leisure destination for us and we warmly welcome the decision to provide more flights.

“By September our terminal transformation project will have reached completion and we look forward to welcoming passengers to the new and improved airport facilities.”

Widerøe regional network director Espen Steiro added: “We are thrilled to announce two additional weekly departures to Bergen thanks to a growing market and increased demand from passengers traveling between Norway and Aberdeen.

“It is the second time this year we have increased our production between Norway and Aberdeen after adding five weekly departures to Stavanger in June. With this latest addition, we now offer five daily departures to Norway.”

ON TOUR: The Mary Rose

Portsmouth’s Historical Dockland covers a number of historical and not so historical attractions that make it more than a one-day visit.

BTN managed a three-night stay at nearby Warner Sinah Warren Resort on Hayling Island to cover NATS (8 July), the Solent Forts (1 July) and, next week, Arundel Castle. Our previous visit to Portsmouth was in May 2016 on the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland. 

This time around we still did not have the time to view the restored HMS Victory, nor the yet-to-be-finished HMS Warrior display, or the submarine base. Mary Rose was our target. Next Friday, 19 July, is the anniversary of King Henry VIII's flagship sinking in 1545. We parked at the main signposted provision near the Victory Gate and bought tickets at a special facility opposite the main visitor centre. From here, it is an interesting 400yd walk passing the National Museum of the Royal Navy. We did manage the Spinnaker Tower (see below).

If you visited the Mary Rose in the past, you may have memories of either getting wet through sprays or trying to look through misted-up windows at what you could just about make out as a Tudor warship.

The state-of-the-art museum opened on 31 May 2013. The ship is easier to see and understand, with new displays, lights and sounds! It is a remarkable experience.

The Mary Rose is a testament to the young Henry VIII, whose initiative began what became the Royal Navy. She was completed in 1511 and was the most advanced warship of her day. She was followed by the slightly larger Henry Grace à Dieu ("Henry, Thanks be to God"), also known as Great Harry. Henry is supposed to have chosen her name after his favourite sister, Mary, and the red rose, the emblem of England.

Contrary to whatever has been said, the Mary Rose did not capsize on her maiden voyage. She was to remain the fleet flagship for 34 years, took part in a number of naval battles and carried Henry to the Field of the Cloth of Gold, a famous  what we would call today “ summit” near Calais in 1520.

By 1545, Mary Rose had seen better days but was called upon to lead the English fleet in what became the Battle of the Solent. After firing a salvo, the ship turned to line up the other set of guns and appears to have been hit by a gust of wind, keeled over and, with all the ports open, took in water. With the sailors below decks and the soldiers in heavy armour, few had a chance of escaping and at least 400 died. King Henry watched it all from Southsea Castle.

The next day the French fleet retreated, some making a repulsed attempt to take the Isle of Wight. Just like the Battle of Jutland nearly 500 years later there was no obvious winner, but England was not invaded, and had command of the sea.

The modern search for the Mary Rose was initiated by the British Sub-Aqua Club in 1965 as part of a project to locate shipwrecks in the Solent. The project was under the leadership of historian, journalist and amateur diver the late Alexander McKee. Mary Rose was confirmed as wreck in 1971.

Prince Charles took a great personal interest in the project, participating in some of the dives with the ship breaking the surface at 09:30 on 11 October 1982, all of it broadcast on national TV.

The excavation and raising of the Mary Rose was a milestone in the field of maritime archaeology, comparable in complexity and cost only to the raising of the Swedish 17th-century warship Vasa in 1961. The rescue divers, mostly volunteers, spent more than 22,000 diving hours on the site during the four diving seasons from 1979 to 1982, an effort that amounted to 11.8 man years. More than 26,000 artefacts and pieces of timber were raised along with the remains of about half the crew members.

Just a year after it was spectacularly brought to the surface, Mary Rose went on view to the public in a covered dry dock while undergoing conservation. The need to keep the ship saturated first with water and later a polyethylene glycol (PEG) solution meant that, before 2013, visitors were separated from the hull by a glass barrier.

In September 2009, the temporary Mary Rose display hall was closed to visitors to facilitate construction of the new spectacular £35m museum building. In February 2014, Prince Charles, accompanied by the Duchess of Cornwall, visited the new museum and the ship. He had last seen it under water in 1982. 

During construction of the museum, conservation of the hull continued inside a sealed "hotbox". In April 2013, the polyethylene glycol sprays were turned off and the process of controlled airdrying began. In 2016, the "hotbox" was removed and for the first time since 1545, the ship was revealed dry. The new museum displays most of the artefacts recovered from within the ship in context with the conserved hull. Since opening, it has been visited by over 500,000 people.

The exhibition is arranged in a series of galleries, with the hull of the ship on one side, and relics brought up from the wreck in a series of exhibition areas opposite and a central walkway in between.

The Mary Rose was one of the first English ships designed just as a warship. She carried a battery of heavy guns that could damage enemy ships, and lots of small guns for shooting at their crews. The bigger guns had a gunner in charge of the gun crew. There were 30 gunners on the Mary Rose in 1545. Also on board were 185 soldiers. They could defend the Mary Rose, board enemy ships or fight ashore. They used guns and longbows to shoot at the enemy. When it came to hand-to-hand fighting, the soldiers were armed with swords, daggers and long spears called pikes and bills. All this is displayed together with the surgeon’s apparatus, and items from the ship’s galley.

To round off the visit, we stumbled across a 30min talk by Henry VIII, aimed mainly at children. Most entertaining. He told us he appears during the school holidays and is available for selfies.

Allow for about 2-3hr.

Do have a look at AND FINALLY 3 June.


Sponsored by Emirates Airline, the Spinnaker Tower, which overlooks the whole of Portsmouth, is very much worth the entrance fee. You can abseil down too. If you've tried it this way, BTN might very well publish your image.

The iconic 170m tall viewing tower has proved to be an overwhelming success, welcoming more than 3m visitors since opening in October 2005 as the centrepiece of the £38m ‘Renaissance of Portsmouth Harbour’ redevelopment project. It is the UK’s tallest publicly-accessible tower outside London.

The Emirates Spinnaker Tower experience begins with ‘Sail of the Solent’, a 4min animated film which provides guests with an engaging overview of the history of Portsmouth. The film features cameos from key figures for which the city is famed, including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, King Henry VIII and Lord Nelson. 

The internal high-speed lift travels at 4m per second and takes 28sec to reach View Deck One. It can hold up to 26 passengers. Here visitors who are brave enough can test their nerve and venture across the glass floor Sky Walk, exploring more of the tower’s striking construction as well as taking the chance to appreciate the 100m drop below!

From here, head up to View Deck Two for The Clouds café 105m above sea level, offering guests the opportunity to savour the views with a selection of hot drinks and sweet treats. Just a short climb (30 steps to be exact) is View Deck 3, home to the Sky Garden, 110m up, a little haven at the highest point of the tower. It is open to the elements so visitors can feel the wind in their hair or the sun on their faces while reclining and relaxing on a deckchair or bean bag.

As well as a visitor attraction, the Emirates Spinnaker Tower can be hired for private events such as awards dinners, birthday parties, anniversary events, drinks receptions and even weddings.

Very close by is Gunwharf Quays, an outlet retail destination with 90 outlet stores and 30 restaurants, bars and cafés and Portsmouth Harbour Station. In times gone by, cannons, ammunition and other armaments were stored in this area. It is all part of Portsmouth’s heritage.

Admission prices: Adult: £11.50, Child: £8.50, Concession: £10.50, Family: £36.

Guests can book advance.


ON TOUR SPECIAL: The Meetings Show

Once again, John Burke was with his camera at London’s global workshop for the events industry. Now in its seventh year, the Meetings Show at Olympia has been called the major opportunity for hosted buyers to evaluate conference products at home and abroad.

The seventh annual Meetings Show produced some impressive facts and figures, including high demand for training and networking. It was preceded by an exclusive conference that attracted 350 hosted buyers who heard a prophetic keynote address by Gerard Lyons, an economic adviser to government, followed by a discussion between three other public officials about the prospects for business events.

Giles Smith, deputy director of tourism in the Department of Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, was flanked by Kerrin MacPhie of VisitBritain and Nigel Farminer, the Home Office’s head of border security. Their overall view, reflected in comments at the show, was that Brexit would not affect incoming business.

The grand total of hosted buyers, who had their own lounge at the show, increased to more than 900, while their pre-scheduled appointments showed a rise of 18% to 12,000-plus,1,000 of which were with one hotel chain alone. Altogether, the show attracted about 4,500 participants, while exhibitors surpassed the previous 700 by 9%, including a larger number from the continent.

Switzerland was among these 35 countries represented, with the usual heavy presence from members of the European Union. Canadian cities like Ottawa were prominent, and a newcomer was Peru whose representative, Jaime Cardenas, told me “incoming incentive is our aim”.

Aerolineas Argentinas was also among 28 exhibitors from the Americas, two more than from Asia. The Asian contingent included Singapore and Penang, which has doubled its previous representation as promised.

Australasia had a small presence, while the African contingent of 26 included Rwanda, returning with its airline, as well as the United Nations conference centre, seating 1,300, in Addis Ababa. Two airlines from the Persian Gulf also braved the show, the only other foreign carrier being Air Malta.

Yet the vaunted 18% international increase relied partly on the fact that 33 countries around the globe were represented solely by local consultants Able Maxx. And it was rivalled in Estonia and Greenland only by Moulden, also based in England, that ensured the presence of Montenegro and meetings on ice … in  Antarctica. Both suppliers were among the 61 listed under destination management, while one of them additionally featured among the 36 meeting service providers that also included Venues of Excellence.

There were 55 convention bureaux from abroad, including Prague, Vilnius and Niagara, plus 26 British ones as well as more than 100 venues that included 15 sports centres and 23 historic or rare places for meetings.

The usual clutch of campuses included St Andrew’s and Warwick, whose Sarah Dietrich commented: “Enquiries are at high level despite the political uncertainty.”

West Midlands combined its presence for the first time with 13 partners, including the NEC and Birmingham Airport, but  London dominated the show regionally with 48 stands, far outnumbering those of Wales, Scotland and Ireland plus Isle of Man.

Likewise, 225 out of all 768 exhibitors were hotels, including a score of chains and a confusing number of brands such as those of  Deutsche Hospitality. I counted nine Marriotts to outnumber those of Ritz-Carlton which, in turn, were more than the six each from Hilton and Westin. Also there were Wyndham, Real, Radisson, Best Western.

Dotted amid the stands were several theatres that ensured a continuous programme of lectures totalling 40 hours. The theme was the seven stages of event planning, and the subjects ranged from sponsorship to sustainability and from finding a venue to free technological tools.

The speakers included an ex-member of the Special Air Service, and two somewhat enervating titles also stood out: A Mentally Healthy Workforce and Disruption Creates Innovation. Meetings Show marketing director Rochelle Jayawardena pointed out the significance of the educational programme being “particularly very well attended”.

Participants in the event were also able to attend several networking events at Olympia and elsewhere in London, while Brighton hosted a familiarisation trip immediately afterward with Aberdeen planning something similar soon.

The Meetings Show is staged by Centaur Live four months after its Business Travel Show. Olympia also hosts International Confex, so that several exhibitors such as the ubiquitous Macdonald Hotels are present at all three. What is different is Meetings’ intricate management, including an advisory board whose 17 members are with companies as diverse as Barclays, SoolNua and MD.

There is also partnership with 52 bodies ranging from the Event Marketing Association to the Association of British Professional Conference Organisers, while some of these are also numbered among 16 supporting associations. Chief among the latter are the twin international associations representing conference cities and venues.



AND FINALLY: The upside-down pilot

TUI Airways passengers who notice coloured smoke streaming past the windows needn’t be worried; it probably means first officer Mike Bowden is on board.

Bowden is a former Red Arrows pilot, though he won’t be around TUI this summer as he has temporarily rejoined the squadron to perform in aerobatic displays for one last time.

The airline released him from his flying duties to step in for Red 3, who was injured playing football ahead of the season.

Bowden, 38, joined the RAF in 2002 and undertook various flying duties including four seasons with the renowned aerobatic team. He flew for the RAF for the final time last October, and then joined TUI.