easyJet resumes services from Bristol with new bio security measures

easyJet has said that it is resuming flights from 22 airports across Europe for the first time since operations ceased at the end of March following efforts to mitigate the pandemic.

The majority of flights during June will be on domestic routes. The airline is planning to fly around 55 per cent of its Bristol routes in July and 80 per cent in August, with a lower frequency of flights. The move will allow customers to enjoy a summer holiday to a wide variety of city and beach destinations including the city staples of Paris and Barcelona; summer sun favourites the Balearics and Canary Islands and lively hotspots in Portugal, Greece and Croatia.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Country Manager commented: ‘We are really pleased to be relaunching our flights from Bristol and welcoming customers back onboard today. While we are starting with a small number of flights this will build over the coming weeks to cover around 55% of our Bristol routes in July and 80% in August. This is good news for customers wanting to go on their planned holiday over the summer or wishing to book a break away.

‘Of course, the safety and wellbeing of our customers and crew remains our highest priority. This is why we have implemented a number of measures enhancing safety at each part of the journey from disinfecting the aircraft to requiring customers and crew to wear masks. These measures will remain in place for as long as is needed to ensure customers and crew are able to fly safely as the world continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.’

Nigel Scott, Business Development Director, Bristol Airport said: ‘We are delighted to see easyJet flights return to Bristol Airport. The Belfast route opens up travel opportunities for essential key workers needing to easily access Northern Ireland using their local airport. We liaise closely with Government, Department for Transport and Public Health England on the latest information and guidance for customers.

‘We are working closely with easyJet to expand the routes available in the future from Bristol Airport when the time is right.’

A new range of additional measures are in place to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of all customers and crew onboard. These include enhanced aircraft cleaning and disinfection; customers, cabin crew and ground crew will be required to wear masks; and equipping the aircraft with spare sanitary equipment including masks, gloves and hand sanitiser to ensure these are available to customers and crew at all times onboard.

Customers will be able to practice social distancing in the airports, at gates and during boarding. Onboard, and where possible, customers may be able to sit at distance where seats are available. There will also initially be no food service onboard flights, all of which operate on a short-haul network.

The measures have been implemented in consultation with aviation authorities ICAO and EASA, and in line with relevant national authorities and medical advice through the airline’s chief medical adviser, Bristol said.

London Stansted asks passengers to wear face coverings

London Stansted is urging passengers travelling through London Stansted to cover their faces and wear gloves.

The airport’s owner, Manchester Airports Group (MAG), has issued the new guidance and is trialling the measures across its other airports, Manchester and East Midlands. The move makes these airports the first in the UK to ask their passengers to wear face coverings.

The move is aimed at ensuring that the limited number of passengers currently making essential journeys through its airports feels safer and confident about flying. It will also provide a further level of protection to colleagues working at the airport. The pilot scheme will provide valuable feedback and set a path towards a new minimum standard for safe international travel.

Passengers are urged to bring their own gloves and face coverings or face masks to the airport. However, in the early stages of the pilot, for those arriving without, gloves and masks will be provided that can be worn throughout passengers’ time at the airport. London Stansted will also be conducting some limited temperature screening trials over the next few weeks. Initially, during this trial phase, this will be to test equipment and results will not be communicated to passengers or used to decide whether a passenger can travel.

MAG is planning to ask all passengers to make a health declaration in order to enter its airports and will give passengers sufficient notice of any such trials.

London Stansted Chief Operating Officer, Steve Griffiths, said: ‘It’s clear that social distancing will not work on any form of public transport. But we’re confident that when the time is right, people will be able to travel safely.

‘Here at London Stansted, we’ve been working hard with our two sister airports and the rest of the industry on a new safety framework for travel. We now need to work urgently with Government to agree how we operate in the future. This has to be a top priority so that people can be confident about flying, and to get tourism and travel going again.

‘ We have taken expert medical advice on how people can travel safely, and we’re pleased to be piloting these new measures at our airports for those passengers who do still need to travel. We expect to be able to agree a new framework by the end of May that will support a restart of the industry as soon as possible.’

Glasgow Airport offers car park to host Covid-19 testing facility

As part of supporting the government’s response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Glasgow Airport’s Long-stay Car Park has been transformed into a drive-thru mobile testing facility for front line NHS staff.

The Glasgow Airport-based facility is being introduced to test frontline NHS staff only at this stage. The 17-acre car park site is located on Abbotsinch Road, and became operational as a facility on Sunday April 5. The new testing centre will have up to five lanes and provide capacity for a greater number of COVID-19 tests each day. It will operate between 10am and 4:30pm from today.

Mark Johnston, Glasgow Airport’s managing director, said: ‘We are in regular contact with both the UK and Scottish Governments and have offered our facilities available to support the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

‘Glasgow Airport has the space and infrastructure capable of accommodating a large-scale testing area and we are only too happy to support in this way. The impact of this virus affects us all and Glasgow Airport, the wider AGS Airports Ltd group and our people will continue to support the national effort to overcome COVID-19 and stand ready to help in any way we can.’

Alister Jack, Secretary of State for Scotland said: ‘This new testing centre at Glasgow Airport, funded by the UK Government, will keep our frontline NHS staff doing the jobs they are trained to do. Allowing those who do not have the disease to go back to work and treat those who are most in need of care.

‘This is part of the UK government’s plan to vastly expand our testing capacity as we continue to work around the clock and across the country to protect the vulnerable, support the NHS, and save lives.’

Last week, Glasgow and the wider AGS Airports Ltd group donated GBP40,000 to homeless charity Simon Community Scotland’s #GiveHope appeal. The funding will support the purchase of hotel accommodation for people who are homeless, allowing them to self-isolate if necessary whilst accessing services offered by the Simon Community.

London Heathrow launches new Aira app for visually impaired passengers

Heathrow Airport has announced the launch of the Aira app that will benefit nearly 6,000 visually impaired passengers that travel through Heathrow each year.

Starting December 3, visually impaired passengers at Heathrow will have access to on-demand, personalised assistance via the Aira app. The launch of the app coincides with International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed by the United Nations since 1992 to empower the one billion people in the world that have some form of hidden or visible disability.

Available free of charge, the app will connect passengers directly to a trained professional agent for advice on navigating through Heathrow and assist with finding specific locations – including gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants. It will also provide live information on news affecting their journeys.

The move comes as the number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising by approximately 8% each year, with over one million requests in 2017 alone. Heathrow has been taking proactive steps to transform the service it provides for these passengers, supported by a £23 million investment in an upgraded contract with its special assistance partner, OmniServ. Last year, the airport launched the use of the ‘SignLive’ app, which connects passengers to trained British Sign Language translators on demand, before and after their travel through Heathrow.

Jonathan Coen, Director of Customer Relations and Service at Heathrow, said: ‘We are transforming the assistance service we provide to our passengers and empowering them to be as independent as possible when they are travelling through Heathrow. We have already invested GBP23 million in an upgraded contract with our special assistance partner, OmniServ, and introducing new equipment, training and technology to help improve our service. Aira takes us one step further – and will deliver a better travel experience for the 6,000 passengers each year that would otherwise feel less independent and less prepared when they begin their journey via Heathrow.’

The Aira app can be accessed by pre-loading it on mobile phones and an agent will be available to provide guided assistance on demand upon arrival at Heathrow. Alternatively, passengers can also pre-book special assistance through their airline and seek information on the app simultaneously, Heathrow said in a release.

Bristol Airport announces additional flights to Kos and Dalaman

The UK-based holiday company TUI has added an additional weekly flight from Bristol Airport to the Greek island of Kos and Turkish destination of Dalaman for summer 2018, Bristol Airport has said.

As part of the plan, TUI will add a Sunday flight to the summer flying programme to The Turkish destination and a Saturday flight to the Greek island. Flights start in May 2018 and will now operate twice a week to both Kos and Dalaman.

Karen Switzer, Director of Aviation Planning for TUI UK & Ireland, said: ‘We are delighted to be expanding our programme from Bristol Airport for summer 2018. We have added a Sunday flight to Dalaman and a Saturday flight to Kos meaning we now fly twice a week to both destinations from this local airport. These additional flights mean that customers can now book 10 and 11 night holidays adding even more choice when deciding how long to go away for. In total we have 38 destinations for customers to choose from when booking their holidays from Bristol Airport. Holidaymakers in the South West will now have wider access than ever before to our diverse collection of destinations and hotel concepts.’

Nigel Scott, Business Development Director, Bristol Airport said: ‘We are delighted with TUI’s continued route expansion from Bristol Airport adding even more flexibility and choice of exciting destinations to passengers in the South West and Wales region.’

Besides the extra flights to Kos and Dalaman, travellers and holidaymakers are offered more choice of destinations when booking their holidays this summer with new routes already on sale from Bristol to Hurghada in Egypt and Skiathos in Greece, the airport said.

Celebrity Cruises launches inaugural charter flights from Cardiff

Luxury cruise line Celebrity Cruises has commenced its first ever charter flight from Cardiff Airport.

The new charter flight is part of Celebrity Cruises’ Jet Set Sail programme – operating charters offering holidaymakers larger seat pitches in-flight, increased luggage allowance and a joining service from airport check-in to the on-board ship accommodation.

Launched on July 31, the first of the two Jet Set Sail charter flights was operated by Titan on behalf of Celebrity Cruises. The flight will land in Barcelona, where guests will board the luxury ship Celebrity Constellation and board a 10 night cruise around the Mediterranean and Adriatic visiting popular destinations including Valencia, Florence, Rome, Montenegro and Split.

The second Jet Set Sail will depart on August 28, 2017, and will travel to Venice, where the passengers will join Celebrity Constellation and begin a 10 night cruise around the Greek islands, visiting tourist locations including Santorini, Athens and Mykonos.

Deb Barber, CEO of Cardiff Airport, said: ‘Exciting developments like this is evidence of the halo effect that comes with our recent passenger growth and increase in choice for customers. The cruise market has traditionally been very strong in Wales and it’s great to see new, very esteemed cruise operators reacting to demand and offering more choice for fly-cruise seekers from Cardiff.’

Jo Rzymowska, vice president and managing director, Celebrity Cruises, UK, Ireland and Asia added, ‘Our new exclusive Jet Set Sail charter from Cardiff Airport adds yet more choice and opportunity for our guests. The expansion of our nationwide programme into Cardiff is in response to strong demand and great support from Cardiff Airport. Cruise travellers can start their Celebrity Cruises holiday in complete comfort and luxury before they even depart the UK – exactly how every holiday should begin.’

Celebrity Cruises is introducing the new Jet Set Sail charter following increased demand from the Welsh cruise community for fly-cruise options out of Cardiff Airport, the airport said, adding that companies like TUI and P&O already offer cruise flights in summer and winter.

Hilton Group to open new hotel in Birmingham Airport in summer 2018

Hilton Group is planning to open its new Hilton Garden Inn hotel at Birmingham Airport in summer 2018.

Situated on Concorde Road, Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham Airport will be located next to the airport’s terminal building. The new hotel joins more than 100 Hilton Garden Inn properties operating or under development in Europe, and more than 20 Hilton airport hotels in the UK. 

According to a release by Birmingham Airport, Hilton has signed a franchise agreement with Castlebridge Hotels Birmingham Airport Limited for the construction of the hotel. The proposed 178-guestroom hotel will be built using modular build technology, working with CIMC Modular Building Systems. The construction technique will enable components of the new hotel building – including guest rooms and corridors – to be manufactured in China and transported to site for final assembly. The same concept was used on Hampton by Hilton airport hotels in Aberdeen and Bristol.

Jo Lloyd, commercial director, Birmingham Airport, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with both Castlebridge and Hilton to develop this new hotel, which is an exciting addition to our hotel offering at Birmingham Airport. We have been experiencing record passenger growth as more and more passengers and airlines realise the enormous benefits of travelling from Birmingham and we are delighted to provide our customers with more choice and a great hotel product which we look forward to opening in 2018. 

Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president, development, EMEA, Hilton said: ‘Often cited as the best place to invest in the UK outside of London, demand in Birmingham is growing fast. Infrastructure projects will only boost that growth and Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham Airport is in a terrific location-we can’t wait for it to open next year.’

Jenna Dienn, commercial director, Castlebridge Group said: ‘We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Hilton and Birmingham Airport to develop the new Hilton Garden Inn. We feel that this is a great time to be developing the hotel and restaurant due to the increase in passenger numbers and the airport expansion. The hotel is going to be a huge success and we look forward to the opening in the summer of next year.’

Aberdeen International Airport commences services to Riga and Faro

Aberdeen International Airport has said that it has launched two new destinations ahead of the summer season. As the third and fourth new routes of the year, Aberdeen passengers will now be able to travel direct to Riga and Faro.

Low-cost airline airBaltic recently launched its newest route from Aberdeen International with the first flight to Riga taking off on May 2. The Latvian airline will operate three times a week from Aberdeen offering customers links to the Latvian capital and Baltic States.

Carol Benzie, Managing Director of Aberdeen International, said: ‘It is fantastic to welcome airBaltic back to Aberdeen today with the launch of our Riga route. The route will provide Aberdeen holidaymakers with easy access to a number of increasingly popular destinations in the Baltic States, such as Tallin, Palanga and Vilnius, which was one of the most requested destinations in a leisure survey we undertook with our local community last year.

‘We are continually working to strengthen our route network and I am delighted to add the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Riga to our ever-expanding list of leisure routes.’

The Riga route is the third to be launched at Aberdeen International this year and joins the current holiday-routes to Malaga and Alicante – services that were launched earlier this year. A few hours after airBaltic’s first Aberdeen to Riga flight departed, Aberdeen International launched its second new route to Faro, another popular holiday-destination in Southern Portugal. With the new Ryanair service to Faro, passengers from Aberdeen International Airport will now be able to travel twice a week to the golfing-hotspots of the Algarve region.

Riga and Faro now join Aberdeen International Airport’s list of holiday and city-break destinations available to passengers in the region. The two new routes have been launched as the airport prepares for the opening of its terminal transformation development, which will see new international and domestic arrivals facilities being open to the public, the airport said.

Hilton Worldwide to develop its first modular hotel at Bristol Airport

Hilton Worldwide has announced plans to open the first hotel at Bristol Airport under its economy Hampton by Hilton brand, the Airport said in a release.

The 201 guest room property is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2016 and will be the first hotel at the airport. The move comes as Bristol Airport saw record volumes last year when 6.7 million people passed through the terminal, making it one of the UK’s busiest passenger airport.

In developing the modular hotel, Hilton Worldwide has entered into a strategic partnership with modular building provider CIMC. Financed and owned by CIMC, the hotel will be managed by Hilton Worldwide.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president, development, Europe & Africa, Hilton Worldwide said, ‘CIMC’s capacity to deliver modular sections of the building to the final hotel site offers an incredible opportunity to overcome many of the challenges faced during construction.

‘Alongside potential time and cost efficiencies, CIMC’s ability to provide senior debt to developers using its modular building technique underpins its robust growth model, and we are seeing more and more opportunity for this structure in mature markets such as the UK, and developing economies, most notably in Africa.’

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said: ‘The development of a high quality on-site hotel to be operated under such a world-renowned brand will be a very welcome addition to our facilities for the growing number of passengers choosing to fly to and from Bristol Airport. Alongside the terminal extension currently under construction, this is another statement of our ambition to be a world class regional airport serving the South West of the UK.’

CIMC’s innovative modular technique reduces construction time by manufacturing and assembling parts of the hotel, including guest rooms and hallways, in China, before transporting them to the final site for assembly. The model ensures consistent quality and accelerates the on-site schedule.

 

Bristol Airport announces Bristol-California, Sofia-Bristol services

Bristol Airport has announced that Icelandic low-cost airline, WOW air, is set to launch new flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Bristol Airport via its Reykjavik hub.

The move follows WOW’s announcement in December that Bristol was to become its second UK departure point for flights to Iceland and North America.

The new flights to California will commence services beginning June 13, 2016. Tickets have gone on sale this week from £139 one way. Flights will depart Bristol Airport on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with all services providing the opportunity to connect onwards to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Skuli Mogensen, founder and CEO of WOW air, said: ‘The addition of Los Angeles and San Francisco to our rapidly expanding network is a game changer for WOW air as we cement ourselves as the industry leader in the ultra-low-cost long haul category. We always aim to be the cheapest flight provider on the routes we fly to and with the £139 fare between the UK and California we have accomplished this once again.

‘Our low fares and service with a smile have been integral to our success and we expect that these new routes, at this price, will continue to excite guests from the UK and leave them asking where WOW air will fly next.’

Separately, Bristol Airport said that Wizz Air, a leading European low-fares airline, has this week started operating its new service from Sofia to Bristol, U.K. The twice-weekly service will be operated on Mondays and Thursdays.