Birmingham Airport to Commence Flights to China

Birmingham Airport, located close to the city of Birmingham, has announced plans for new services to China.

The airport is hoping to offer new routes between England and China once a runway extension is completed at the airport. The airport runway extension is scheduled for completion in 2014.

The airport chief executive officer, Paul Kehoe, recently visited Chengdu, in China, for the Routes Asia Aviation Conference, and has been exploring the possibility of airlines offering direct flights to Birmingham from China.

Kehoe said, ‘We hear so much from BAA about the UK losing lucrative new routes because of the capacity constraints at Heathrow but the south-east isn’t the only solution.

Our runway extension will allow aircraft to fly direct from China, bringing investment to the region, and giving airlines and passengers an alternative to battling with London’s congestion problems. We now need the UK government to endorse Birmingham airport, when it releases its aviation policy review later this year, as a national airport that can offer a rapid and cost-effective solution to the aviation gap.

Our runway extension is already under construction and will be complete early in 2014. The UK government has said there will be no additional runway capacity for flights into London; it is therefore critical for airports such as Birmingham to deliver direct long-haul flights and this kind of positive commercial discussion paves the way for that to happen.’

Birmingham Airport is currently serving around nine million passengers every year, and is expected to increase its traffic to 36 million by 2030, with more investment in the company’s infrastructure.

London Southend Airport Announces Terminal Extension

London Southend Airport has acquired permission for an extension of its terminal building from Rochford Council, the local authority.


Phase 1 of the terminal has been operational since February 28, 2012, and the new extension is expected to offer more passenger facilities as the airport grows towards handling around two million passengers a year by 2020.


Easyjet, a UK-based airline, is currently operating out of the newly opened terminal building with three A319 aircraft, providing 70 flights per week to different European destinations, including Barcelona (Spain), Faro (Portugal) and Ibiza (Spain).


The airport managing director, Alastair Welch, said, ‘We are very pleased that Rochford Council has indicated they support this extension, which will ensure that we are able to maintain the high levels of customer service we intend to be the hallmark of London Southend Airport as our passenger numbers grow. This is also further evidence of the role the redeveloped airport is playing in supporting the regeneration of the wider economy.’


The terminal expansion will include a greater number of check-in desks and baggage drop off points, as well as number of security screening channels, baggage reclaim facilities, and a bigger immigration area at the Arrivals Lounge. The Departure Lounge will be extended to provide a more comfortable ambience for passengers waiting to board after clearing security. The expanded terminal building will also be hosting a number of retail and catering facilities.


The airport is connected to London’s Liverpool Street and Stratford railway stations, with a frequent rail service, making it an attractive option for visitors to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Edinburgh named as most family-friendly airport

A study has revealed that parents find Scottish airports the most family friendly, with Edinburgh being rated the best in the UK, followed closely by Glasgow.

As part of the study, Skyscanner asked parents to rate airport facilities for children allowing them to establish which airports best catered for families.

Airports were rated on children’s play areas and facilities, food options for children and the efficiency of the security process.

Edinburgh Airport – which caters for more than 9million passengers each year – was praised for its family friendly restaurants, which provide a wide choice of food.

Parents recommended the airport for its runway viewing areas and its accessibility, whereas Glasgow International was rated highly for the variety of children’s play areas.

Mary Porter, Skyscanner’s family expert said: “We conducted this study following a consumer survey last year which saw 59 per cent of people state that UK airports failed to cater for families”.

Liverpool and Manchester Airports were ranked third and fourth in the survey complied of parents, and Gatwick followed in fifth place.

However the UK’s busiest airport Gatwick – which caters for more than 69 million passengers each year – only came in at 10th place.

The airport was criticised for the lack of children’s play areas, small seatings areas and overcrowding.

Birmingham Airport was ranked 7th place after 45 per cent of families travelling through the hub claimed the process was ‘too long.’

She added: “It is encouraging that several airports across the UK are now well prepared for family travellers and no airport scored less than six marks out of a possible 10”.

It is no wonder that young children who have already experienced long queues and little entertainment at the airport are then prone to having meltdowns by the time they board the aircraft.

“By catering better for them at the airport, the on board experience could be far less stressful for families and in turn more enjoyable for all passengers”.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Olympic athletes given priority treatment over passengers at Heathrow

One of this years biggest events – the Olympic Games is set to be a national celebration of sporting excellence, however it seems that the games is set to cause delays at Heathrow airport frustrating UK travellers.

UK Border Agency policy documents, warn of long queues at Heathrow Airport due to the high number of visitors expected to enter the country ahead of and during the tournament in July and August. This volume of visitors may lead to non-Olympic passengers being held up, as priority treatment will be given to travellers connected to the game.


The documents warn that delays may be caused by the collection of biometric data on incoming passengers, including fingerprints.


A ‘key risks’ section in the document states:


The collection of biometric may result in passengers being unduly delayed passing through border control’.


Dedicated lanes and the time taken to collect the biometric of GFM (Games Family Members) may result in delays to non-Olympic passenger journeys’.


25,000 athletes, officials and coaches could be given priority treatment if a new fast-track scheme is introduced.


To cope with the huge numbers of passengers, airport immigration staff will be transferred from their normal duties to help.


Heathrow is set to handle 80 per cent of Olympic-related traffic, including athletes, kit, officials, sponsors and media.


The day after the closing ceremony August 13 is set to be the most difficult day for the airport, with around 218,000 bags set to pass through the airport.


A spokesman for Heathrow said the airport will be ready to cope with the extra crowds.


Around 15 per cent of bags will be outsize sporting equipment, such as canoes, vaulting poles or bikes, which cannot be processed through normal baggage systems”.


Options being considered to manage the extra demand include baggage drop facilities at the Olympic Village, shipping some baggage as freight and construction of a temporary ‘Olympic terminal’, which would be taken down after the Games”.


Colin Matthews, BAA chief executive added:


London 2012 will be Heathrow’s greatest challenge”.


Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

One in four have ‘smuggled’ liquids through airport security

A survey by flight comparison site Skyscanner has revealed that 28 per cent of travellers have attempted to carry liquids past airport security checkpoints, both accidently and deliberately.


This is despite the longstanding ban of passengers carrying liquid containers bigger than 100 millilitres.


A thousand people were surveyed as part of the poll, where only four per cent of those questioned admitted to purposely placing liquids in their hand luggage breaking the rules. However 42 per cent believe that the current legislation is too severe.


Of those surveyed, eighteen per cent complained that airports have an inconsistent approach when it comes to enforcing the regulations.


These harsher laws came into force in August 2006, following a terrorist plot where liquid explosives were smuggled aboard in hand luggage in attempt to blow up at least 10 transatlantic flights.


This introduced an immediate ban on carrying liquids onto aircrafts, since then the ban has been subsequently relaxed allowing passengers to carry liquids in containers no larger than 100ml, and five years on the rules remain largely in force.


European Union transport commissioner Siim Kallas confirmed the ban will be lifted in April 2013. This comes after trialling new advanced X-ray scanners that can identify liquid explosives.


Kallas told The Guardian: “Some airports are questioning the rationality of lifting the ban because life is easier as it is. Politically, that is unacceptable. I would like airports to make (the) necessary investments so we can lift the ban as agreed for transfer passengers”.


He added, “If some countries lift the band and some do not, it will be disastrous”.


By Charlotte Greenhalgh

August sees 14% passenger growth at Abu Dhabi Airport

Abu Dhabi Airports Company today released the traffic report for Abu Dhabi International Airport for the month of August 2011, recording a robust 14% growth over last year’s figures with passenger traffic reaching 1.09 million. Cargo traffic was also on the rise reaching 39,841 tons, with an increase of 5% compared to the month of August 2011.

The double-digit growth recorded at Abu Dhabi International Airport during August is mainly attributed to the healthy growth of all airlines operating at the airport, while also supported by the Eid holiday. Being one of the fastest-growing airports in the region, Abu Dhabi has been growing by 12.2%, during the first 8 months of 2011.

James E. Bennett, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports Company, commented: “The continuous increase of Abu Dhabi International Airport’s passenger traffic goes in parallel with the growth that the emirate is witnessing in trade, industry, and tourism. Up to August, we have welcomed 8,000,000 passengers through our airport, providing efficient and high-quality services. We continuously monitor the market and the travel trends to ensure that Abu Dhabi International Airport offers enhanced connectivity and an increased number of destinations and frequencies to all travellers.”

London, Jeddah, Doha, Bangkok, and Manila were the top five routes from Abu Dhabi International Airport during the month of August, generating 21% of the total passenger traffic at the capital’s airport. The top regions for the month were Far East, Middle East, and Europe with 37%, 25%, and 22% growth, respectively.

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Airport lounges ease airport stress

According to new findings from life assistance company CPP, four in ten (42%) people say airports make them feel stressed and 23% find the prospect of getting on to their flight as stressful, if not more so, than moving house. The problem has become so bad that one in ten (9%) of us are now avoiding flying altogether as a result.

But it’s no surprise that Britons are worried about making it to the gate on time – over 2.9 million travellers have missed a flight in the past, while one in five of us having had to run to the gate with minutes to spare.

Studies have shown that the airport experience is having significant physiological effects on a traveller’s anxiety levels – one previous experiment using Heathrow airport saw holidaymakers’ heart-rates rise to a level equivalent to doing intense exercise. This was supported by CPP’s research, which revealed that holidaymakers, who had visited more than one airport, cited Heathrow as the most stressful, followed by Gatwick and Manchester.

According to Psychologist David Moxon, airports are inherently stressful places. Moxon comments, “Humans are wired to experience stress in situations where many feel out of control – and airports, where you have to follow instructions that are likely change at the last minute, and procedures that are unpredictable, lead many to react with a stress response. There is also what is known as an accumulation effect, resulting from other anxieties that we may be harbouring.

If you head to the airport having worried about waking up on time, or what you’ve left behind at work, the airport itself will seem more stressful as a result.”

Travellers have however come up with ways to make airport more pleasant – popular suggestions include less queuing, and cheaper and nicer food and more seats. 40% of travellers say a quiet environment would help reduce their stress levels, with 35% recommending access to an airport lounge to calm their airport anxiety.

Joanne Gibbons, from CPP says, “It’s a real shame that holidaymakers are experiencing such high levels of stress during what should be the beginning of a period of rest and relaxation. But rather than turning away from airports altogether we’d urge families to have a strategy for staying calm prior to boarding – by checking in online, minimising the amount of luggage they check-in and taking advantage of airport lounge opportunities.”

CPP’s tips for avoiding airport stress:

1. Choose your airport carefully. Bigger airports tend to be busier and more stressful so consider flying to a smaller, local airport to reduce transfer times and hassle.


2. Do as much as you can online beforehand. If you can, why not check in online before you arrive at the airport? This will reduce the amount of time spent queuing when you arrive – just remember to print off your boarding pass.

3. Minimise parking time. Airport car-parks are big so a good idea is to drop off all your passengers at check in leaving only one person to park the car.


4. Check in minimal luggage. With airlines increasingly charging for checked-in luggage, you can avoid queues and save cash by taking carry-on luggage where possible, especially for short breaks. This means you can go straight through to security and save time on the other side.


5. Opt for fast-track security. Some larger airports now allow passengers to pay for the opportunity to fast-track through the security gates. This can speed up the airport process and give you more time relaxing on the other side.


6. Take advantage of airport lounges worldwide. Airport lounges are a great way to relax and get that holiday feeling before boarding the plane – you’ll be guaranteed a seat and get complimentary snacks. CPP’s Airport Angel AirText service will even text you when your flight is boarding to ensure you get there on time.


7. Have a boarding strategy. If you have pre-booked seats it may be worth boarding last, meaning you can spend longer in the lounge and less time queuing at the gate. If you haven’t got pre-booked seats, think about getting priority boarding or leaving a little more time at gate to get to the front of the queue.

Survey Shows Brits are Worriers — Even When on Holiday

Britain is a nation of worriers, even when we are relaxing on our holidays, according to research carried out by YouGov for Bristol Airport.

Britain is a nation of worriers, even when we are relaxing on our holidays, according to research carried out by YouGov for Bristol Airport.

Only 15 per cent of those polled were worry-free when on holiday, whilst others admit to concerns over losing their passport or travel documents (44 per cent), lost or delayed luggage (43 per cent), missing flights (32 per cent) or their house being burgled (30 per cent).

Over one in ten (12 per cent) confessed to worrying about their car being broken into or stolen while away, with Yorkshire travellers (15 per cent) most anxious about their motors. By contrast, South West holidaymakers were less concerned about car crime, with only 7 per cent worrying about their car being broken into or stolen in their absence. South Westerners also worry less about lost luggage (33 per cent) than those in any other region.

More men (17 per cent) than women (13 per cent) are worry-free when on holiday, with women more likely to fret about their family or friends being taken ill (30 per cent compared to 23 per cent) or pets being ill or going missing (17 per cent compared to 11 per cent).

Simon Preece, Head of Retail at Bristol Airport, said:
“It is a shame that so many of us waste time worrying when we should be relaxing and enjoying our holidays. We can’t prevent people from worrying about their pets or their passports, but we can help give peace of mind to those concerned about car crime.

“Parking at Bristol Airport is safe, convenient and competitively priced. By booking online in advance, holidaymakers can save themselves some stress this summer.”