BUSINESS TRAVEL NEWS (BTNews)

20 MAY 2019

The Business Travel News
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COMMENT: A passenger charter

With the 23 June cut off date for submissions regarding  the government’s proposed new Passenger Charter fast approaching  Airlines UK Policy Seminar last week at the London offices of heavyweight international law firm Clyde & Co gave an indication of just what might be involved. It’s complicated, and that never makes resolution easy.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) CEO Richard Moriarty set the tone by saying the run-up to the charter was an opportunity for the industry, the regulator and the government to show how they could work together “for the good of the people who ultimately sustain the whole sector – the passengers”.

He went on: “The underlying economics of the sector are positive. Overall passenger numbers are holding up, load factors are increasing and new routes are being established. UK airports handled 292m passengers in 2018, up 3% on 2017.”

Despite the current global political and economic uncertainty and fierce competition for passengers and a fight to sustain yields, UK airlines on the whole were braced for the challenges but could not be complacent.

“You have a good opportunity here,” Moriarty told his audience. “Government is clear it wants a charter but the detail of this is to be worked through and will no doubt be informed by views of interested parties like airlines and consumer representatives.

“I would encourage you to be on the front foot, to be bold and to develop ideas for this charter that show that you have recognised the challenge set by government … as always with government and regulatory policy, don’t wait for it to be done to you.”

Airlines4Europe managing director Thomas Reynaert was concerned issues directly affecting European travellers should be brought into the mix, chief among them the full realisation of the Single Market for Aviation, which he said was “one of the major achievements of the EU”.

He added: “While the liberalisation of the airline industry has provided consumers with more destinations and lower fares, a lot remains to be done when it comes to monopoly providers, such as airports and ANSPs, for Europeans to fully reap the benefits of the Single Market.”

Taxes and air traffic delays were other matters that had to be addressed in the run-upto the charter, Reynaert suggested. He noted aviation taxes were “a very hot topic”, with politicians in the Netherlands, Belgium and other EU countries suggesting proposals for national or even EU-wide environmental taxes.

However, Reynaert added: “We believe such taxes would ultimately prove ineffective at reducing CO2 emissions and would simply make flying more expensive for all types of travellers, particularly students and families.”

Instead, he said, the EU needed a coherent and supportive policy framework on taxes and the environment. Airlines were therefore asking the EU to recognise that neither national aviation taxes nor an EU-wide aviation tax would achieve its purpose but would come at great socio-economic costs for European citizens.

Turning to the UK’s air passenger duty (APD), he said it went without saying this continued its reign as the highest aviation tax in Europe and the world. Cutting ADP would bring significant benefits to the UK economy while directly benefiting passengers with lower fares, he said.

Another cause for concern was air traffic delays and in addition to taxes, A4E would continue to campaign for more efficient European airspace, including the implementation of the Single European Sky.

“There are far too many delays and too much hassle for our passengers,” Reynaert said. “Heading into the peak summer period, this trend is deeply concerning for airlines as it has a severe, direct impact on our passengers”

The third of the opening speakers was Jenny Willott, former Liberal MP for Cardiff Central  and Chair of the independent CAA Consumer Panel.  She outlined its remit, essentially acting as a “critical friend” to the CAA.

It would be helpful, she said, if the charter laid out passengers’ rights in one place, with clear guidance about how to enforce their rights.

It would also need to set out industry best practice so passengers could see clearly what the best were doing. This would help to raise standards and ensure passengers were better informed when making choices about where to fly from and with whom.

The Panel also believed strongly the charter needed to be really clear which measures were legal rights and which were best practice.

Willott added: “The Panel will be monitoring the development of the charter closely and monitoring whether or not improvements have been delivered.

“The Green Paper also says that if voluntary measures do not work, legislation may be necessary, and the Panel will not be shy in calling for this if we believe it is necessary.

"We believe that the information powers of the CAA need to be put on a stronger statutory basis, to support the implementation of the charter, and there may well be other areas where the CAA needs more powers to protect consumers’ interests.”

Airlines UK represents all the key British carriers.  They do not agree on everything but Richard Moriarty summed it up very neatly in his speech. "Ultimately passengers are best served by a vibrant, innovative and competitive airline sector, but one that is also profitable and sustainable".  BTN endorces that view.

Air Canada buys Air Transat

A shake-up in the Canadian aviation industry continued last week as Air Canada entered into an agreement to buy rival carrier Air Transat. The deal is valued at C$520m (£302m).

The news came at the end of a busy week in Canada with the country’s second-biggest carrier, WestJet, earlier confirming plans to go private in a C$5bn (£3bn) deal with Onex Corporation (see story this issue).

On the Air Canada deal, president and chief executive Calin Rovinescu said: “A deal with Transat represents a great opportunity for stakeholders while travellers will benefit from the merged company’s enhanced ability to participate as a leader in the travel market.”

He added: “The acquisition presents a unique opportunity to compete with the very best in the world. It will also allow us to further grow our hub at Montréal-Trudeau Airport, where we have added 35 new routes since 2012 and from which we carried 10m customers in 2018 alone.”

Air Canada serves 11 airports across Quebec while the 35 new routes from Montréal-Trudeau to global markets including Gatwick and Manchester plus Beijing, Shanghai, Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Lima, São Paulo, and Casablanca.

www.aircanada.com

www.airtransat.com

Air League Palace invite

One of the aviation industry’s top events takes place this month when the Air League 2019 Honours and Awards Reception is held at St James’s Palace in London. The date is Thursday 30 May, with British Airways chairman and CEO Alex Cruz as guest of honour.

Cruz’s appearance comes at an exciting time for his airline, which is about to welcome the first of its Airbus A350-1000 fleet featuring the new Club Suite and is in the midst of a £6.5bn investment programme in customer service.

The Air League reception is held at the palace with the approval of the league’s patron, the Duke of Edinburgh, and is regarded as a unique occasion within the aerospace, defence and security industries’ calendar.

It provides an opportunity for leaders and professionals to network while supporting the Air League’s aim of increasing diversity, proficiency and interest within these sectors and the work undertaken to support disadvantaged young people and disabled veterans.

The reception is also where major awards are presented and scholarship and bursary winners receive their certificates in the presence of sponsors, family and friends.

Supporters of the event include Airbus, Boeing, Bristow, British Airways and Lockheed Martin.

www.airleague.co.uk

Avis pledges 'better journeys'

A European-wide promotional campaign has been launched by Avis this month, designed to celebrate the international roll-out of the new Avis app amid a pledge to “reinvent car rental”.

The Journey to Better campaign, which is being rolled-out across the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Germany, highlights the common pitfalls car rental customers may have experienced in the past and showcases how the new app addresses them.

Examples of complications that Avis says sometimes arise in the industry include unwanted extras, long queues at rental desks and customers not being able to pick the cars they want.

The campaign features a series of adverts, each illustrating a different sticking point and highlighting how the new Avis app can help customers to avoid the problems.

Marketing director International Elliott Pritchard said: “This campaign is an important step in our commitment to reinvent rental, stressing we are working hard to deliver a more seamless, stress-free and transparent experience.”

He added: “We are a well-known world brand and millions of customers trust us to provide a premium rental experience. Our goal is to go further by simplifying the rental process and giving our customers control at their fingertips and a faster, worry-free service.”

www.avis.co.uk

Azuma bows in for LNER

The first of 65 new Azuma trains set to be rolled out by London North Eastern Railway (LNER) on the East Coast route entered service last week. It is the youngest train on the UK rail network.

It was operating initially between London King’s Cross and Leeds, with LNER’s daily service between Hull, Selby and London also replaced by Azuma trains in both directions from last Thursday.

LNER says it will plan to increase the frequency of its Yorkshire and Lincolnshire trains from one train a day to two hourly services for Lincoln and Harrogate by the end of the year.

The North East of England and Scotland will follow in the coming months as LNER works to roll out the Azuma across the 581-mile route by summer 2020.

LNER began running the East Coast franchise last year when the government took the route back into public ownership, and the Azuma is the first new train to be added to the route in more than 30 years.

The company says the trains will add up to 100 extra Standard Class seats per train with the new timetable and faster acceleration of Azumas ultimately achieving London – Edinburgh in 4hr and London – Leeds in 2hr.

www.lner.co.uk

B737 MAX update 'complete'

A software update for the Boeing B737 MAX fleet has been completed, the company said last week, raising hopes the aircraft could re-enter service this summer. The fleet was grounded in March after B737 MAXs were involved in two fatal accidents.

Boeing said it was submitting a plan on pilot training to the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and would work with the organisation to schedule its certification test flight.

The FAA is planning a meeting on Thursday (23 May) in Texas, with regulators from around the world to update them on reviews of the software fix and on the pilot training programme.

US airlines have said they hope the aircraft will fly this summer. Southwest and American, the two largest US operators, withdrew them initially from their schedules until 5 August and 19 August but could bring them back if they are approved earlier.

Boeing said the software upgrade and associated pilot training would add “layers of protection” to prevent erroneous data from triggering a stall-recovery system called MCAS, which was activated in aircraft before they crashed (BTN 18 March).

The company said it had now test-flown the B737 MAX with updated software for more than 360 hours on 207 flights.

www.boeing.com

www.faa.gov

www.aa.com       www.southwest.com

BA names more A350-1000 routes

Tel Aviv and Bangalore are the third and fourth long-haul cities to be added by British Airways to the destinations for its new Airbus A350-1000 fleet. Already announced is the inaugural route to Toronto on 1 October, followed by Dubai a week later.

The first aircraft is due to be delivered in July and will enter long-haul service after operating short-haul proving flights between London and Madrid. It will feature BA’s much-heralded new Business Class product (below), the Club Suite (BTN 25 March).

The London – Tel Aviv service will begin on 1 December, with the A350 replacing a Boeing B787-8 Dreamliner on this route and in direct competition with Virgin Atlantic, which is adding Tel Aviv to its network in September (BTN 11 February).

In BA’s case, the A350 will offer a marked increase in capacity over the Dreamliner it replaces, with Club World up from 35 seats to 56, World Traveller Plus from 25 to 56 and World Traveller from 154 to 219.

The Bangalore service is scheduled to begin from 1 January to become the fourth destination and the first in India to be served by the new A350, which is again replacing a Dreamliner.

www.britishairways.com

www.virginatlantic.com

Britainís Eastern Airways changes hands

Fears over the future of Humberside-based Eastern Airways (see BTN 29 April) have been eroded with the news that the airline has been purchased by previous major shareholder Richard Lake.

This follows the news that Texas-based Bristow Group, which initially acquired 60% of the carrier in 2014, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US.

Eastern operates under its own IATA T3 code and also on behalf of Flybe, employing around 350 staff.

While no official press release has been published, Eastern managing director Tony Burgess told the Aberdeen Press & Journal: “Back as an independent operator, we will focus on opportunities to enhance and grow this business.

“We will continue to work in close partnership with Bristow in the UK providing fixed-wing operations to support the North Sea oil and gas sector.”

As things stand Bristow, has retained a majority stake in Eastern’s Humberside Airport home, from which it provides search and rescue services. 

The airline is a vital part of the North Sea oil support operations and last year carried just over 400,000 passengers. Its fleet of 20 aircraft includes a pair of ATR 72-600s, 10 BAe J41s, two Embraer 145s and six Saab 2000s.

www.easternairways.com

Collinson boost for lounges

In response to growing demand from its Priority Pass members and travelling consumers, customer benefits and loyalty specialist Collinson has announced a significant investment in its own airport lounges and additional airport services in the US.

The investments build on Collinson’s suite of solutions which the company says are designed to help travellers to make the most of their limited time at airports, as well as strengthen loyalty between brands and their customers.

The move coincides with the grand opening of The Club JAX at Jacksonville International Airport, the group’s latest US shared-use airport lounge space.

Collinson’s subsidiary, Airport Lounge Development (ALD), the largest independent shared-use lounge operator in the US, has planned openings for five additional US lounges through the remainder of the year.

These will complement the two already opened as well as The Club JAX, and will take the group’s total lounge coverage in the US to 20.

New lounges already opened in 2019 are at Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, Terminal 1, Concourse D, and at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, Terminal D, near Gate 25.

Lounges coming soon are at Miami International Airport, a second location at Norman Y. Mineta San Jose International Airport, Charleston International Airport, Buffalo Niagara International Airport and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

www.collinsongroup.com

DoubleTree sets the pace

Seven new hotels opened in the first quarter of 2019 have given DoubleTree by Hilton a kick-start to its latest expansion programme to complement what it says has been “substantial international growth” over the past decade.

The brand now boasts more than 560 upmarket properties in key worldwide destinations after starting the programme in 2008 with the simultaneous opening of two properties in Costa Rica from a base of 160 hotels.

DoubleTree now operates in 45 countries across six continents, including the two recently-opened DoubleTree by Hilton Miami Doral in Florida and DoubleTree by Hilton Kocaeli in Turkey.

Senior vice-president and global head Shawn McAteer said: “We’re thrilled DoubleTree continues to thrive as one of the fastest-growing brands in the Hilton portfolio.

“Although guests can expect award-winning hospitality at every DoubleTree by Hilton, each property provides special experiences from access to natural hot springs to sustainable dining that helps to rebuild the honey bee population.”

This year also marks 50 years since the first DoubleTree by Hilton hotel opened in Phoenix in 1969.

www.hilton.com/doubletree

Fine dining at latest Flagship

International passengers travelling in First Class or Business Class on American Airlines now have a new facility at their disposal at Dallas Fort Worth International Airport with the opening of the carrier’s latest Flagship Lounge.

Senior vice-president of marketing, loyalty and sales Kurt Stache said: “It made sense for us to go all-in on the Flagship experience at our largest hub – more of our premium customers fly through DFW than anywhere else.”

Along with its lounge, American has opened its fourth Flagship First Dining restaurant, which offers gourmet sit-down meals and is aimed particularly at passengers travelling overseas.

Marketing vice-president Janelle Anderson said: “From here to Heathrow, you may need to sleep as soon as you get on the aircraft. Our new restaurant means you can eat well here and not necessarily have to wait for food service on board.”

The new area features relaxed seating, charging points, luxury showers and a designated quiet area for reading or taking a nap. Food and drink offers in the lounge include  a selection of hot and cold entrees that include brisket with adobo sauce and Korean-style chicken wings, plus premium wines and local craft beers to pair with a meal.

www.aa.com

First-half loss for easyJet

The “negative impact” of Brexit on the value of the pound and the closure of Gatwick following a drone incident were blamed by easyJet last week for a loss before tax of £272m for the first half of financial 2019.

The airline said the Gatwick drone shutdown over three days before Christmas, which led to the suspension of flights for 36hr, had cost it £10m.

The half-year figure compares to a loss of £68m for the same period last year and was in line with expectations. Passenger numbers for the six months to 31 March increased by 4.9m (13.3%) to a total of 41.6m when compared to 2018.

CEO Johan Lundgren, however, said the airline was well equipped to succeed in “this more difficult market” through various short-term customer and trading initiatives for the summer.

There were also measures to improve the airline’s operational resilience and a continuing focus on “what is most important to customers – value for money, punctuality and great customer service”, all underpinned by a market-leading balance sheet.

Shares in easyJet rose 4% following Lundgren’s remarks, which also noted a 14.5% capacity increase over the period and an increase in total revenue of 7.3% to £2,343m, although total revenue per seat decreased by 6.3%, to £50.71.

www.easyjet.com

Gatwick finalises ownership

A new chapter for Gatwick began last week as Vinci Airports completed the purchase of a 50.01% stake in the facility (BTN 23 March). Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) will continue to manage the remaining 49.99%.

Officials said the new partnership promised continued investment to put passengers at the heart of Gatwick’s future plans as Vinci brought in its expertise including a strong focus on quality of service and programme management.

A statement also emphasised the continuity at the heart of the deal, with Gatwick chairman Sir David Higgins, CEO Stewart Wingate and CFO Nick Dunn remaining and joined as chief technical officer (CTO) by Cédric Laurier, from Vinci.

The airport’s ambitious plans for the future also remain in place, with a further £1.1bn capital investment programme set to deliver a range of passenger improvements over the next four years.

Vinci Airports president Nicolas Notebaert said: “This marks the beginning of an exciting future for Gatwick and Vinci, where applying our joint skills will add significant value to both companies and benefit airlines and passengers.

“Combining our expertise will further improve our operational excellence and sustain our shared vision of putting passengers’ satisfaction at the heart of everything we do.”

www.gatwickairport.com

www.vinci-airports.com/en

 

India aviation turmoil continues

Turmoil among India’s airlines following the grounding of Jet Airways flights (BTN 22 April) intensified at the weekend amid reports of a shareholder dispute at Indigo Airlines, one of the carriers seeking to fill the current gap in the market.

Indigo had said earlier it was considering launching Business Class flights to Europe, including London, possibly via Istanbul, which it already serves. Indigo said it would offer fares lower than those available from other carriers.

CEO Ronojoy Dutta said his airline was in talks with Airbus for a “large order” of long-range aircraft. He conceded the Indigo product might be adjusted to serve new routes but fare levels were key “as India is the world's most price-sensitive market”.

Meanwhile, the future of Jet Airways remains unclear after favoured bidder Etihad Airways, which already owns 24% of the company, said it was unwilling to invest in a majority share.

Etihad said it would invest up to $240m (about £188m) in Jet while considering other approaches, including one from the London-based AdiGro Group, parent company of AdiGro Aviation, which Etihad said was seeking a potential joint venture to relaunch Jet by 1 July.

www.goindigo.in

www.jetairways.com

www.etihad.com

Loganair launches London Ė Aberdeen

A major new partnership for the UK’s regional air services was forged last week as the first Loganair flights between London and Aberdeen took to the skies with the airline’s direct services from Southend Airport celebrating their inaugural departure.

Officials hailed the new business-focused schedule as a major boost for connectivity with Scotland’s oil and gas capital, following a period of overall reduction in London’s airlinks with Aberdeen.

Glyn Jones, chief executive of Stobart Aviation, which owns Southend Airport, Loganair managing director Jonathan Hinkles and Essex Chamber of Commerce chief executive Denise Rossiter were among those attending the launch.

Passengers from Southend can choose from three non-stop flights to Aberdeen each way every weekday, plus Sunday services, operated by Loganair Embraer E145s with a schedule designed to enable a full working day in the city. Passengers can also connect via Loganair’s Aberdeen hub to Orkney and Shetland.

Flights take 1hr 35min and include 20kg hold luggage and free in-flight refreshments. Southend Airport is 52min from London Liverpool Street by train and offers speedy check-in and security procedures.

Hinkles said: “This is an ideal partnership, bringing together the European Regions Airline Association’s Airline of the Year and Which? magazine’s Best Airport in London to provide year-round Aberdeen services.”

www.loganair.co.uk

https://southendairport.com

London Mandarin Oriental returns

Just under a year since being ravaged by fire and forced to close, the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London has re-opened in its entirety after completing the most extensive restoration in its 117-year history.

Following the re-opening of the public spaces last December, the hotel has now unveiled all its new guestrooms and suites, including two newly-created expansive penthouse suites.

General manager and area vice-president of operations Amanda Hyndman said: “Mandarin Oriental is enormously proud of the heritage of this historic hotel. The scope and intricate detail of this momentous renovation is designed to ensure this iconic London establishment is recognised as one of the finest hotels in the world.”

Designer Joyce Wang has overseen the redesign of the 181 guestrooms and suites, along with the creation of the hotel’s new penthouses, taking inspiration from the hotel’s parkside location and the early 20th century’s Golden Age of travel.

The 40 suites range in size from the smallest, at 47sq m within the turrets of the hotel, to the largest – the new three-bedroom Mandarin Oriental Penthouse with private terraces, at 444sq m.

www.mandarinoriental.com/london/hyde-park/luxury-hotel

New Heathrow consultation date

The statutory 12½-week consultation on Heathrow’s expansion plans will begin in just under a month, on 18 June as the latest delivery milestone for what the airport calls a “critical national infrastructure project”.

Officials say the consultation, responses to which will be fed into a final planning application, will be its largest and most innovative engagement exercise yet, with new technology brought in to show the public the current proposals.

The technology includes a model of the future airport which uses augmented reality, and a sound booth to be used at certain locations which features virtual reality to demonstrate the effect of noise insulation on properties overflown by aircraft.

The airport says based on feedback from previous consultations it will be holding events in more locations than previously and, along with a national publicity campaign, will be contacting 2.6m households directly to encourage participation.

At the conclusion of the consultation and after feedback has been incorporated, Heathrow will submit a final proposal to the Planning Inspectorate in 2020, kickstarting the approvals process.

The decision whether to grant a Development Consent Order (DCO) will be made by the secretary of state following a public examination period led by the Planning Inspectorate.

www.heathrowexpansion.com/the-expansion-plan/planning-process

Passenger record for Luton

A new record of 17m passengers served over a 12-month period has been chalked up by Luton Airport (LTN) after it experienced its busiest-ever April with 1.5m people travelling through, a 10.4% increase over the same time last year.

New figures also show a growth in the number of local people using the airport with CAA data for 2018 showing 5m passengers were from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Buckinghamshire – around 30% of total passenger numbers for the year.

Airport officials noted growth from the local areas was driven particularly by passengers from Hertfordshire, where passenger numbers increased by 11% in 2018.

Tel Aviv remained in the top five most popular destinations, with April also marking the 10th anniversary of El Al operating from the airport. The airline also welcomed its one millionth passenger from LTN. Other top destinations included Budapest, Bucharest and Amsterdam.

Airport CEO Alberto Martin said: “April marked a real milestone for us and we are also delighted to have welcomed a record number of local residents – we’re aware of the important role we play in the community.”

www.london-luton.co.uk

www.elal.com

Scramble for new Haneda slots

Competition on the lucrative US – Japan air route is set to intensify after the US Department of Transportation last week granted tentative approval to the country's “Big Three” carriers for extra flights into Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND).

American, Delta and United all welcomed the move but the big winner stands to be Delta, which sought permission for service between Haneda and five US cities – Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, Portland and Honolulu.

The airline said the DOT decision was a “major milestone” that once finalised would make it the leading US carrier serving what it described as Tokyo’s preferred airport.

United Airlines was tentatively granted a total of four daily non-stops to Haneda from its hubs at Newark Liberty International, Chicago O'Hare, Washington Dulles and Los Angeles International.

President Scott Kirby said United, as the largest US carrier to Asia, was “excited” to be granted additional slots to Haneda to help more passengers to travel between the US and Tokyo and maximise choice.

In American Airlines’ case, the tentative authority is for a daily flight between Haneda and Dallas Fort Worth and a second daily flight between Haneda and Los Angeles International.

Pending completion of an aviation agreement between the US and Japanese governments later this year, the flights are expected to begin by next summer.

www.transportation.gov

www.aa.com

www.delta.com

WestJet in £3bn buyout

Private-equity firm Onex Corporation has entered into a “definitive agreement” to acquire Canada's second largest carrier, WestJet. The transaction value is said to be valued at about C$5bn (£3bn) including assumed debt.

The companies said following the deal, which is expected to close later this year or in early 2020, WestJet will operate as a privately-held company.

WestJet founder Clive Beddoe said: “Since our first flight in 1996, WestJet has been singularly focused on providing better options for the Canadian travelling public and this transaction retains that commitment.

“I am particularly pleased WestJet will remain headquartered in Calgary and will continue to build on our success. Onex’ aerospace experience, history of positive employee relations and long-term orientation makes it an ideal partner.”

Onex joint managing director Tawfiq Popatia said the investment would be led by Onex Partners, the group‘s private-equity platform focused on larger investment opportunities.

“WestJet is one of Canada’s strongest brands and we have tremendous respect for the business that Clive Beddoe and all WestJetters have built over the years. We’re thrilled to be partnering with WestJetters and continuing this Canadian success story.”

(See also Air Canada buys Transat in this issue).

www.westjet.com/en-ca/index

www.onex.com

Zero-waste flight by Qantas

The world's first zero-waste flight, a Sydney – Adelaide service, has been operated by Qantas as part of its mission to eliminate single-use plastic by the end of next year and cut its overall waste by 75% by the end of 2021.

All waste on the flight was disposed of by composting, reusing or recycling. Domestic CEO Andrew David said: “Carrying 50m-plus people a year, Qantas and Jetstar currently produce an amount of waste equivalent to 80 fully-laden Boeing B747s.

"We want to give customers the same level of service, but without the amount of waste that comes with it. This flight was about testing our products, refining the waste process and getting feedback from our customers.

Compostable products used on the flight included meal containers made from sugar cane and cutlery made from crop starch. Qantas and Jetstar plan to replace 45m plastic cups, 30m cutlery sets, 21m coffee cups and 4m headrest covers with sustainable alternatives.

Qantas last year operated the first biofuel flight between Australia and the US using a biofuel mix processed from mustard seeds, while Etihad last month operated an Abu Dhabi – Brisbane flight free of single-use plastic, a first in the Middle East.

www.qantas.com

www.jetstar.com

www.etihad.com

ON TOUR: The Bridge

On a trip to Denmark, BTN editor Richard Cawthorne swaps countries to delve into the world of Swedish TV drama

Television drama has its ups and downs but there is no doubt that when done properly it does its bit for the travel industry. Assigned a business trip to Copenhagen, and as a fan of the better class of small-screen entertainment, my first thoughts were not of Tivoli and smörgåsbord  – or even Hygge – but The Bridge. Followed closely by Wallander.

Taking the second first, the Swedish series Wallander, starring successively Rolf Lassgård and Krister Henriksson and based on books by Swedish writer Henning Mankell, was one of the early examples of so-called “Scandi-noir” drama to appear on British TV. It is not to be confused with the inferior British follow-up with Kenneth Branagh.

The title character, a Swedish detective, was based first in Malmö and then Ystad in southern Sweden and successive series gave full exposure to the attractiveness of the towns and their surrounding countryside. The subliminal message sank in.

Next came The Bridge, which ran to four series on BBC Four’s Saturday “foreign slot” between 2012 and 2018. The structure in question is the Øresund Bridge, an 8km (5mi) plus 4km tunnel combined rail and road link across the Øresund Strait between Denmark and Sweden.

With time to spare after Copenhagen, it took minimal research to discover the crossing between the Danish capital and Malmö takes just 35min by train. As someone once said, it would have been a shame not to.

A road trip would have offered a view of the bridge’s futuristic structure but it takes longer and is more expensive. The train, clean, fast and on time, was an acceptable compromise and still offered compelling views of the waters.

With a population approaching 300,000, Malmö offered a succession of neat squares and cobbled streets radiating from the rail station. It is the capital of Sweden’s southernmost province, Skåne, a popular leisure destination with echoes of East Anglia. Malmö itself was named by National Geographic Travel last year as one of its “Best Tips”.

The town has plenty to entertain visitors. We liked Malmöhus Castle, the oldest remaining Renaissance castle in Scandinavia. It was built in the 15th century and has been used as a fortress, a prison and finally a museum. Along with the main collections and temporary exhibitions, it also houses an aquarium and art galleries.

Also worth viewing is The Turning Torso residential building in the Västra Hamnen district. At 190m and 54 floors, it is the tallest skyscraper in Scandinavia which although static appears to rotate. It was designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava based on his sculpture of a twisted human body.

When sightseeing is done, Malmö is noted for a wide selection of quality restaurants and bistros and funky cafés. The shopping is also recommended especially for Swedish design ware and new Swedish fashion labels. Sadly, time did not permit a full exploration of this aspect of the trip.

Less than an hour by train from Malmo is the centre of the Wallander industry, the town of Ystad. The TV series may be finished but Mankell’s books are still selling and there is a regular stream of followers for the several Wallander tours on offer. Helping things along are the relaxing surroundings, with medieval pastel-coloured half-timbered houses on cobblestone streets around a series of squares.

Top sights include St Knut’s square, Ystad Art Museum and Charlotte Berlins Museum, plus the 12th-century Greyfriar’s monastery and the Saint Petri church and museum next door. As in Malmö, there are lots of good cafés and restaurants bolstered by the steady influx of fans.

Scandinavia's largest film-making facility, Ystad Studios, is just outside the city centre. As well as the Swedish Wallander films, most indoor scenes for The Bridge were also filmed here.

All is explained at the Cineteket film museum inside the studios, which gives a detailed insight behind the scenes into film production. The showpiece is Wallander’s apartment and office, complete with newspaper in the letterbox, plus artefacts from both that series and The Bridge.

www.visitsweden.com

AND FINALLY: Unitedís worldwide web

First it was the Lego Batman, courtesy of Turkish Airlines (BTN 6 August 2018). Now another superhero is swinging into action in the cause of inflight safety.

If you’re flying with United Airlines from 1 June, be prepared for a web of intrigue as Spider-Man swoops through the carrier’s latest safety demonstration.

It’s all part of a broader tie-up with Sony Pictures to mark the forthcoming release of the latest episode in the masked adventurer’s crime-fighting life, Spider-Man: Far From Home.

And it doesn’t stop there. In addition to the safety video, the promotion also includes one-of-a-kind Spider-Man-themed Polaris Business Class amenity kits, while MileagePlus members have the chance to see the big-screen film through MileagePlus Exclusives.

It’s also worth noting United’s mini-movie, at 4min 45sec, is notably shorter and more entertaining than BA’s awkward and celebrity-laden 6min-plus saga that caught our attention in another AND FINALLY last month (BTN 29 April). The safety part is great, but we still think it's too long!

To see the United video, go to
www.youtube.com/watch?v=eM0H9rbqusw