Government Accused of Lack of Vision by Aviation Experts

The UK government’s lack of strategy and long-term planning for the country’s aviation infrastructure has been criticised by a panel of senior aviation experts at the Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) conference in Doha, Qatar.

At the core of the criticism is what the members of the panel see as the government dragging its feet on the urgent need to be building more airport capacity, and the fear that the rest of Europe and the world could sideline the UK if it failed to do so.

The chairman of the GTMC Air Working Party, and managing director of Horncastle Executive Travel, Peter Drummond said, ‘It’s incredible that the government does not understand the importance of airports, and has no long-term strategy. If we don’t get this on the agenda, the UK with its Victorian infrastructure will be sidelined.’ He went on to describe current government transport policy as ‘sticking bits of elastoplast over a gaping wound.’

Paul Johannesburg, vice-president of Qatar Airways, confirmed that he was seeing evidence that the UK was losing out on traffic from emerging markets, and the government’s lack of vision was already harming the UK economy.

Guy Stephenson, the Gatwick Airport chief commercial officer, said that there was very little coherence in government strategy, and that ‘raising aviation taxes while the Eurozone is going backwards is a toxic combination.’ He called on the air and business travel sectors to work with government. ‘We have to help the government sell a policy to the voters. We’ve got to try and create a positive climate and give government something positive to work with,’ he said.

Hong Kong Airlines Passengers Gain Gatwick Airport Lounge

Hong Kong Airlines, an airline based in Hong Kong, China, is offering its passengers at London Gatwick Airport access to the No.1 Traveller’s Lounge in the North Terminal of the airport.

The airline currently offers a daily service from London Gatwick Airport to Hong Kong International Airport, and passengers flying on the route will be able to access the No.1 Traveller’s Lounge’s complimentary services at Gatwick Airport, courtesy of a new partnership between the airline and No.1 Traveller Ltd, the UK-based company, which operates airport lounges at the Heathrow, London Gatwick and Stansted airports in the UK.

The lounge, in the North Terminal of the airport, offers around 10,000 square feet of space, which includes a Travel Spa, and a business centre, as well as complimentary food from an a-la-carte menu, a range of complimentary magazines and newspapers; a set of shower cubicles; comfortable seating areas; a bar, a games room, and complimentary Wi-Fi.

The airline’s passengers may also enjoy premium services, like champagne, cocktails and a choice of spa treatments as complimentary offers.

The lounge services are otherwise available to all passengers at the airport for a charge.

 

Howard Ebison, head of commercial at No.1 Traveller, said, ‘Both business and leisure travellers will find that the premium lounge compliments the all-club class ambience of the Hong Kong flight perfectly.

The lounge opened in May last year and is available to all passengers using the North Terminal for a fee of £22.50 for adults and £10 for children, if booked in advance.’

Thomson Announces Launch of Summer 2013 Programme

Thomson Holidays, the UK based travel company, has launched its brand new summer 2013 programme brochure.

The new brochure includes the debut of the Thomson Airways 787 Dreamliner, new and exclusive hotel offers, like the new Sensatori and Thomson Couples hotel experiences, and new cruise destinations.

Thomson Airways, an airline owned by the travel company, has taken delivery of its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, which from May 1, 2013 will fly its customers to Cancun, in Mexico and Sanford, in Florida, US, from the Manchester, London Gatwick, East Midlands and Glasgow airports in the UK. The company is also offering a new addition to the Sensatori Collection of luxury hotels, with the Sensatori Turkey, located in Sorgun, Turkey, and there will be six new hotel additions to its global hotel portfolio for the summer of 2013.

From May 2013, 90 percent of holidays offered by the company will only be available for sale to UK customers through the company’s own sources, and summer 2013 holidays go on sale from April 26, 2012.

Garry Wilson, the company purchasing and product director, said, ‘Summer 2013 is shaping up to be one of our most exciting launches ever. We are thrilled that our customers are going to be able to experience the benefits of travelling on the Dreamliner on our most popular long haul routes. We know that this addition to our fleet will set us apart from our competition and we’ll be able to give our customers the best possible start to their holidays.

In line with our strategy of offering customers holidays they cannot get elsewhere, we’ve been working to ensure that more hotels than ever are being offered exclusively by Thomson to our customers in the UK.’

Easyjet Announces New Services from London Gatwick Airport to Luxembourg

Easyjet, a UK-based airline company, is offering new services from London Gatwick Airport in the UK to Findel Airport, in Luxembourg, with flights to commence from October 29, 2012.

The airline is offering a four times weekly service from London to Luxembourg, giving competition to the two airlines that are already flying the route, British Airways, another UK-based airline, and Luxair, a Luxembourg-based airline company.

Luxembourg is a an important commercial centre in Europe, with a number of international companies, including Amazon, Paypal, Exxon Mobil and Skype, having their global headquarters based there, so a new connection to the city of Luxembourg from London will give business travellers more choice when flying on the route.

The airline also intends to increase the number of flights on the route in due course.

Paul Simmons, the airline’s UK director, said, ‘The launch of our new services to Luxembourg further bolsters our network of business destinations across Europe. Luxembourg is a key addition to the winter schedule which clearly demonstrates our commitment to providing a comprehensive range of key business routes, taking on the flag carriers, head on.’

The airline is also currently offering a new winter schedule, with the expansion of its services to Tel Aviv (Israel), Tallinn (Estonia), Turin (Italy), Amsterdam (The Netherlands), Geneva (Switzerkland), Venice (Italy), Isle of Man and Copenhagen (Denmark) from its UK airports.

The new route and expanded services mean that the airline is offering around 230,000 more seats. These new seats will be on sale from this week.

UK Airports May Lose Out To Foreign Airports Due To Capacity Constraints

The Board of Airline Representatives (BAR UK), a UK-based industry association of UK airline operators, has said that Heathrow Airport in London is operating under capacity constraints, which may cause global airlines to forgo fights to the UK.

A survey conducted by the association has revealed that around 53 percent of airlines surveyed will be increasing their services to other countries, instead of the UK, due to capacity constraints at UK airports. However, 86 percent of the airlines are interested in increasing their services to the UK, if Heathrow Airport was able to offer them more free slots.

The survey by Frontier Economics, supporting recent research, has found that around twenty-one emerging market destinations do not have a daily flight from Heathrow, but are connected with other European airline hubs.

This may have a direct effect on UK foreign trade, as around 20 times more trade is carried out with emerging market nations that have a direct daily flight to the UK than with those nations not having a direct flight. It is estimated that he UK economy may lose around £14bn in the next decade because of lack of trade with these emerging markets.

Mike Carrivick, the association chief executive officer, said, ‘UK business leaders should be very concerned about the restrictions on reaching new markets at such a critical time in the UK recovery effort. The survey’s results are a chilling reminder that the Government must act decisively, and soon, in the national interest. Restricting capacity at key airports to the same level as the last decade is actively encouraging airlines and trade to go elsewhere.’

Visitors to UK Advised To Book Car Rentals Early Before 2012 Olympics Commences

With the 2012 Olympic Games less than 100 days away, the UK based car rental comparison website, Carrentals.co.uk, has advised overseas visitors to book their rentals in the UK well in advance.

The company has stated that its website has registered a considerable increase in car rental bookings at important UK destinations around the 2012 Olympics venues and dates.

The website statistics indicate that six times more US visitors have booked their rentals in the UK between July 20 and August 12, 2012, than for the same period last year. Around 40 percent of US visitor rentals are from the Gatwick or Heathrow airports in London, emphasising the importance placed on being in close proximity to the London Games from day one.

The figures also indicate a particular spike in bookings for July 20 to 21, 2012, which is thought to be due to the increasing numbers of visitors to UK for the Games’ opening ceremony, to be held in London, on July 27, 2012. Most car rentals during this period are for 10 to 12 days, which infers that visitors are also intending to include a UK-based vacation before the Games begin.

The company managing director, Gareth Robinson, said, ‘Our figures show a clear increase in car rental bookings around the time of the Olympics and this is likely to increase further as we get closer to the games. The UK really is the place to be this summer with many Americans making the 2012 Olympics their summer holiday.

Train journeys can be expensive and are likely to be very busy during the games – possibly not ideal for families and larger groups. The option of renting a car gives more flexibility, especially when travelling to different events either in London or around the UK. Those booking early can make significant savings while having a wider choice of vehicles and essential extras such as child seats and sat navs.’

Gatwick Airport Opens Runways as Normality Returns after Emergency Landing

London Gatwick Airport, considered to be London’s second airport after Heathrow, will be operating close to normal on April 17, 2012, following an emergency landing incident involving a Virgin Atlantic aircraft on Monday, April 16, 2012.

On Monday, a Virgin Atlantic aircraft made an emergency landing at the airport, following which the runway had to be closed to operations for several hours, as the aircraft’s passengers were evacuated and taken to safety. The aircraft was flying with its full capacity of 299 passengers and 13 crewmembers on board, and used its emergency chutes to evacuate all passengers to safety on landing.

The airport runways remained closed for several hours following the incident, and flights only resumed by 15:23 GMT for arrivals, and 16:00 GMT for departures. The airport has reported that around 26 flights were diverted and nine flights were cancelled due to the temporary closure of the airport.

In a official statement released later, the airport authorities said, ‘Following the incident earlier today when a Virgin flight bound for Orlando made an emergency landing, our main runway is now fully operational for departing and arriving flights. Passengers should expect some delays for the rest of Monday but disruptions are not expected to continue into Tuesday.

Virgin Atlantic, in a separate release, said, ‘Due to a technical problem onboard the aircraft, the captain decided as a precautionary measure to immediately evacuate the aircraft.

Virgin Atlantic can confirm that all the passengers and crew have now safely disembarked. We can confirm that there have been four minor injuries.’