WestJet launches daily direct service between Halifax and Glasgow

Canadian airlines WestJet has announced the launch of a non-stop daily service between Halifax, Canada; and Glasgow, Scotland, with same-aircraft service beginning in Toronto.

The inaugural flight on WestJet’s #TartanTail took off from Toronto Pearson on May 29 at 6:10 p.m. EDT with a brief stop at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, before departing for Glasgow at 10:45 p.m. ADT.

‘Today’s launch of service to the UK marks the start of another exciting chapter in the history of WestJet,’ said Gregg Saretsky, WestJet President and CEO. ‘As Canada’s low-fare leader for nearly 20 years, we have dedicated ourselves to liberating Canadians from the high cost of air travel. With our service to Ireland and the U.K., we are making it more affordable than ever before to travel overseas, whether for business or leisure.’

The Hon. Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport, Government of Canada, commented: ‘By taking the initiative to seek out new opportunities beyond Canada’s borders and launching this new air route, WestJet is strengthening the historic ties between Nova Scotia and Scotland, and supporting our economy and communities by connecting Canadians to the United Kingdom and the world.’

Councillor Gordon Matheson, Leader of Glasgow City Council and Chair of Glasgow City Marketing Bureau, said: ‘WestJet’s new Halifax-Glasgow route is a major boost for Glasgow, providing the perfect opportunity to strengthen existing cultural and business links between both cities. Canada is Glasgow’s third-largest international market with 37,000 trips made each year by Canadian visitors who generate GBP12 million for the city’s economy. There will undoubtedly be strong demand for this service, which has huge potential to deliver significant inbound leisure tourism.’

Mike Cantlay, OBE, Chairman of VisitScotland, added: ‘Canada and Nova Scotia in particular represent an exciting diaspora stronghold and a fantastic opportunity for Scottish tourism. Some 4.7 million Canadians have Scottish ancestry, with 24 per cent wanting to visit Scotland in search of those roots. The new WestJet route from Halifax to Glasgow presents a great platform for the tourism industry in Scotland to tap into an ancestral market worth up to GBP450 million over the next five years.’

Tourists and travellers flying with WestJet to Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, land at 8 a.m. local time, offering opportunities to connect via 30 airlines to more than 100 non-stop and connecting destinations across Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Australia. The return flight departs Glasgow at 9.30 a.m. local time, to reach Toronto at 2.35 p.m.

Scotland’s principal long-haul airport and a charter hub, Glasgow offers tourists the convenience to explore the idyllic west coast islands and Scotland’s wealth of lochs, mountains and golf courses.


Vueling launches Birmingham-Barcelona service

Spain’s leading low cost carrier, Vueling Airlines, has launched a new service between Barcelona and Birmingham Airport, according to a release by Birmingham Airport.

Vueling will initially operate three weekly services between Birmingham and Barcelona El Prat Airport. During the peak summer months, the airline will offer up to five flights a week.

William Pearson, Birmingham Airport’s Aviation Development Director, said: ‘It was fantastic to see our newest airline, Vueling, land into Birmingham today. The carrier will add more than 27,000 seats to Barcelona from Birmingham and give passengers a choice of more than 140 destinations on the Vueling network across Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

‘We are extremely pleased that Vueling, which is a very successful and strong brand in Europe that offers very affordable fares, has chosen Birmingham for its newest route launch and we look forward to seeing more and more passengers use the new service over the coming year.’

Gabriel Schmilovich, Head of Network Planning, Scheduling and Slots at Vueling, added: ‘We are very happy to announce the launch of the route between Birmingham and Barcelona. With up to five flights per week during summer, passengers from Birmingham will not only be able to reach Barcelona but will also benefit from Vueling’s connections to many destinations like the Balearic Islands or Canary Islands, with a premium product and very competitive prices.’

The new service will add extra 21,600 seats to Barcelona from Birmingham and give passengers a choice of more than 140 destinations on the Vueling network across Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Vueling said when it announced the new service last November.

Flights are on sale now with a lead in fare of €54,99 via vueling.com and ba.com or via travel agents. The new service will deploy a 180- seat A320 aircraft.

Vueling, Barcelona’s leading airline with almost 40 percent of the market share, is owned by the IAG group and offers code shares with airlines including British Airways and Iberia. This not only offers customers a multitude of connections across the group’s network, but also allows customers to redeem BA air miles and Avios points.

easyjet passengers get front row seats for total eclipse

easyJet passengers flying to Iceland from the UK today were among a select group people anywhere in the world to have a front row seat for one the most spectacular natural phenomenon’s – a total solar eclipse.

Only visible from two places on earth, the remote Faroe Islands and Norway’s Svalbard archipelago, the total eclipse occurs when the moon fully covers the sun – resulting in a complete blackout.

Flights EZY 2295 and EZY 1805, which departed from both Luton and Manchester at 07:45 and EZY 6747 from Belfast at 08:05, should have passed almost directly over the Faroe Islands at the right time, giving passengers one of the closest and least obstructed views of a total eclipse anywhere in the world.

The rest of the UK only got to view a partial eclipse and even then, with the Met office predicting cloud across parts of the country, the chances of those areas seeing anything at all was less likely.

Speaking prior to the event, Ali Gayward, commercial manager for Iceland, said:

‘It’s great that easyJet passengers will be in the right place at the right time on Friday and are set to be rewarded the best view anywhere in the world from 37,000 feet.’

easyJet operates 28 times a week to Reykjavik from eight airports across Europe and carries in excess of 200,000 passengers per year to and from Reykjavik. Tourism in Iceland has increased by 40 percent over the last two years, helped by the introduction of affordable flights.


Citywing announces additional flights to Glasgow, to resume Blackpool service

Citywing, an Isle of Man-based company that sells seats on scheduled air flights operated under charter from Van Air Europe, has announced a further increase on its flights between the Isle of Man and Glasgow for summer 2015.

Starting May 01, 2015, Citywing will provide the Island’s community with a regular and frequent direct service with 11 return flights a week. The fares start from £49.95 each way, including all taxes and charges.

With its range of tourist attractions, Glasgow is seen as a fine getaway city break, whether it is shopping, visiting a museum, the annual jazz festival or relaxing in bars and restaurants. Glasgow International Airport also offers travellers an alternative hub to connect to onward worldwide destinations.

David Buck, managing director at Citywing, said: ‘We are delighted to be able to increase our services to Glasgow this summer and believe we have covered all the bases with the changes in our scheduling. Our business passengers can now take advantage of a day return whilst the leisure traveller can enjoy short breaks off the Island with weekend travel now being more available.’

Paul White, business development manager at Glasgow Airport, said: ‘We were delighted when Citywing decided to reinstate this important business and tourism link in 2014.

We wish Citywing continued success with this route, which offers the only direct route between Scotland and the Isle of Man, and look forward to working closely with the airline to ensure its continued success at Glasgow Airport.’

Separately Citywing is expecting its services to Blackpool to resume on April 1, according to an online report by IOM Today.

‘We are endeavouring to have operations up and running by April 1. Negotiations are ongoing,’ Buck reportedly said. However, according to Ronaldsway Airport director Ann Reynolds, security aspects still needed to be resolved, as Blackpool Airport does not have a full commercial licence yet, and with the same security protocols that it once had.

Citywing has been taking online bookings on the route; and if the service fails to resume passengers would be offered a refund or alternative flights.


bmi regional launches ‘Be Elvis for a day’ for high flyers

As Elvis Presley’s private jets go up for sale, the UK’s regional airlines bmi regional is offering high flyers the chance to hire a private jet to ‘feel like ‘The King’ for a day’.

Aspiring celebrities can hire a 49-seater bmi regional jet aircraft for day for their own private use, at GBP300 per person per day when fully-booked, including full in-flight service with custom-made menu and bar. Rhinestone-adorned flares and sideburns will also be arranged if required.

The airline, which has received the honour of being UK’s most punctual scheduled airline for nine consecutive years, offers flyers the opportunity to choose their own schedule, a UK departure airport and a short haul destination – and even have their own name on the aircraft exterior. The aircraft can fly and return within the day, after a day out to Cannes, Milan or the Northern Lights of Scandinavia.

bmi regional offers private charter of its 49-seater Embraer 145 aircraft, which may be adorned with personal livery if required. The Embraer is a low wing T-tail aircraft powered by two rear mounted Rolls-Royce turbofans, with a speed of over 800 km/h and a cruising altitude of 37,000 ft. Full in-flight service include hot menus with full bar service, which may be personalised to exact dietary or special requirements.

Based on 49 passengers travelling from a UK airport, a round trip from the UK to the south of France can cost from GBP300 per person return – which includes full in-flight service.

bmi regional aircraft are popular among stars, bands and soccer teams, being hired regularly to jet between performances and games. With a wide range of private charter clients, and 70 years’ of flying legacy, bmi regional claims to be the go-to airlines for customised solutions to suit private charter requirements.


Commercial aviation celebrates 100th anniversary

Yesterday marked the centennial of commercial aviation, and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has invited everyone interested in aviation to join a year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary.

The celebrations will include debates and discussions on what needs to happen to make the next 100 years even more momentous.

On January 1, 1914, a team of four visionaries – Percival Fansler, Thomas Benoist, Tony Jannus and Abram Pheil – came together to organise the first scheduled commercial airline flight, the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat across Tampa Bay, Florida.

Beginning with only one passenger on one route on January 1, 1914, today the global aviation industry provides unprecedented connectivity, positively impacting on lives of people across the world.

To cite key statistics:

On average, every day more than 8 million people fly. In 2013 total passenger numbers were 3.1 billion, surpassing the 3 billion mark for the first time ever. That number is expected to grow to 3.3 billion in 2014, almost 44 percent of the world’s population.

About 50 million tonnes of cargo is transported by air each year (about 140,000 tonnes daily). The annual value of these goods is some $6.4 trillion, or 35 percent of the value of goods traded internationally.

Aviation supports over 57 million jobs and generates $2.2 trillion in economic activity, and the global airline industry turnover is expected to be $743bn in 2014.

Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general and CEO, said: ‘Over the last century, commercial aviation has transformed the world in ways unimaginable in 1914. The first flight provided a short-cut across Tampa Bay. Today the aviation industry re-unites loved ones, connects cultures, expands minds, opens markets, and fosters development. Aviation provides people around the globe with the freedom to make connections that can change their lives and the world.

‘Aviation is a force for good. And the potential of commercial flight to keep changing the world for the better is almost unlimited. Aviation has always been a team effort. Growing and sustainably spreading the benefits of connectivity will require the industry, governments, regulators and local communities keep true to the ‘all-in-it-together’ ethos that was the bedrock of that pioneering first flight. And we should be guided by the long-term interests of all whose lives are positively transformed by commercial aviation every day.’

Tyler added, ‘A hundred years is something worth celebrating. And we look forward to creating an equally remarkable legacy for commercial aviation’s second century.’

To host the centennial celebration, a website (www.flying100years.com) was launched on January 1, 2014. In addition to providing reference materials, the website will also be an interactive information hub, depicting the value that commercial aviation provides from personal, economic and other perspectives.

Watchdog investigate Ryanair over £10 charges for emergency exit seats

Budget Airline Ryanair are currently being investigated by safety watchdogs after passengers were made to pay an extra £10 charge so they could sit in seats by emergency exits.

The popular seats offer more legroom for travellers, however the seats located next to the emergency exits have been left empty on hundreds of flights after travellers refused to pay the added cost.

Ryanair passengers buying standard seats are told that they can sit anywhere on the plane apart from the first four rows and the emergency exit rows in the centre.

However passengers in standard seats are still expected to be able to follow directions on the emergency procedures.

The Irish Aviation Authority and UK regulator, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), have launched an investigation into the airline. Suggesting that Ryanair should look at its policy as the issue is described as a ‘grey area’.

The British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) has also questioned safety issues on board.

One passenger on a Ryanair flight said that he was asked to make sure that he was aware of how to open a door that he was unable to see.

“I wasn’t allowed to sit in the emergency exit row so I sat in the window seat in the row in front. Before take-off, one of the cabin crew spoke to me, and another passenger who was in the aisle seat.

“Basically, she was saying that, since we were the closest to the emergency exit, we’d have to make sure we’d read and understood the instructions for opening the doors in the middle of the plane in an emergency”.

Adding: “She said emergency row seats could only be used by people who had paid extra. It just seemed ludicrous and mean-spirited.

Stephen McNamara, the head of communications at Ryanair said: “We do not believe this to be an issue, as all Ryanair passengers are provided with the same safety and evacuation information.

“We will continue to discuss the matter with the IAA”.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Slovenia pilot on round the world flight stops off in Antarctica

Slovenian pilot Matevz Lenarcic has been flying his Virus SW, an ultra-light plane made by Slovenian manufacturer, Pipistrel, around the world for over a month now.

He intends to circle the world with the lowest possible carbon dioxide emission for a trip of this magnitude. On his way from Slovenia, a Central European country at the juncture of the Alps and the Mediterranean, he has already flown over the Atlantic, landed in North Africa; South, Central, and North America; and on Thursday he landed in Antarctica, which along with Mount Everest, represents the greatest challenge of his journey.

Pilot Matevz Lenarcic set off on his journey from Slovenia on January 8, 2012. On his journey around the world, he will visit over 50 countries and fly over the equator 6 times, altogether covering almost 100,000 kilometers (62,000 miles).

Weighing merely 290 kilos (640 pounds), his plane, which uses a minimum amount of fuel, was constructed by the Slovenian manufacturer, Pipistrel, a recurrent winner of the NASA award for top energy-efficient planes.

The Virus-SW914 ultra-light plane can fly 4,000 kilometers (2,485 miles) with 350 liters (92 gallons) of fuel and flies mostly at an altitude of 3,500 meters (11,483 feet), where fuel consumption is lowest. During the flight, the plane is able to perform measurements of black carbon, the greatest greenhouse agent next to carbon dioxide, in the atmosphere. These readings will contribute significantly to our understanding of the greenhouse effect and will be carried out for the first time ever in many locations.

Environment protection and care for sustainable development is a priority policy in the tourist development of Slovenia, from where the brave pilot hails. It is a small, yet diverse country at the meeting point of the Alps and the Mediterranean, with unspoiled nature and extraordinary natural heritage. Green, with which Slovenia presents itself to the world, in addition to its commitment to responsible tourism, also reflects the fact that around 65 percent of Slovenia’s surface is covered with forest, which places our country among the top three most forested countries in Europe.

You can follow the pilot Matevz Lenarcic at www.worldgreenflight.com, where his team has been regularly posting his impressions about the journey and photographs taken during the flight.

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