Government Announces Funding for Rail Link to Heathrow Airport

The British government will be partnering with the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVB LEP) to finance improved rail access to London Heathrow Airport.

The partnership will be investing around GBP500 million in the Western Rail Access to Heathrow (WRAtH) project, to connect locations as far away as South Wales and the South West, in addition improving access to the Thames Valley.

Steve Lamb, the chairman of the TVB LEP, said, ‘This is great news for a number of regions across the UK. A common piece of feedback we hear from local enterprises and organisations looking to move to the area is access to Heathrow is a significant business benefit as it opens the door to the rest of the world’s emerging markets. The WRAtH project will give confidence to our businesses in the Thames Valley which is the most productive sub-region outside of London and is worth nearly GBP30bn.’

The new project has been estimated to offer better and more direct transportation to Heathrow Airport for an additional 12 million people from across several regions.

Ruth Bagley, the chief executive of Slough Borough Council, said, ‘WRAtH will provide a huge boost to the UK economy, generating an additional GBP1.5 billion economic activity, with GBP800 million of that and 42,000 jobs generated in the Thames Valley alone. A modal shift from road to rail will remove over one million car journeys from some of the most congested roads around Heathrow, benefiting businesses and residents in the area, and reducing CO2 emissions at the same time.’


Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 Awarded Best Medium Group Hotel Employer

Recruitment company,, has awarded Best Medium Group Hotel Employer to Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 hotel in London, UK, a brand from Hilton Hotels and Resorts, a subsidiary of the Blackstone Group.

The hotel was awarded at the Best Employers in Hospitality Awards 2012 England & Wales, hosted by Lancaster London, recently.

Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 was recognised for its employment culture of values, promises, internal team spirit, and employee engagement policies. The hotel achieved inclusion on the award list based on employee feedback and an engagement survey designed by Learnpurple, a talent management company.

Alexandra Mosquito, the hotel manager at Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5, said, ‘To have won such an important award within our first year of opening is fantastic news and underlines our commitment to ensuring that we have the best environment for both our team and our guests. We are hugely proud of our team here and look forward to continuing our successes to date.’

The hotel has 350 spacious guest rooms, two restaurants, a 24-hour Fitness Centre, a Business Centre and 1,474 square meters of flexible conference space, complimentary WiFi, and ample parking facilities, all located within one mile of Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.

The hotel amenities also include a Spa with hydrotherapy pool, sauna and eight treatment rooms, a range of entertaining and relaxation spaces onsite including the only Musetti coffee bar outside Italy, The Gallery restaurant and bar, an evening cocktail bar and Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, a pan-Asian signature restaurant by celebrity chef, Cyrus Todiwala OBE.

Heathrow Prepares for Record Departures on August 13

Although the 2012 London Olympic games have yet to begin, Heathrow Airport, London’s busiest airport and the route to and from the games that most of the athletes and officials will take, is already gearing up for the Olympic aftermath and the expectation of its busiest departure day on record.

While the influx of Olympic participants is likely to be spread over several days leading up to the event, due to the varying requirements for training and accommodation from team to team, the Olympic closing ceremony on Sunday 12 August will raise the curtain on a mass exodus the following day, mostly through Heathrow Airport.

If the airport handles the expected 138,000 departures that day, it will be an historical record. To cope with this one-off event, Heathrow has spent £20 million on the construction of a temporary terminal to handle the Olympic traffic.

Built on a car park, the facility with its 31 check-in desks and security lanes has bolstered Heathrow management’s confidence that it will be able to effectively speed the 19,850 parting Olympic athletes, while ensuring that regular travellers in the standard terminals progress normally and with little or no evidence that they are helping to set a record.

Despite the special arrangements that have been mad to cope, not just with the numbers of people passing through the airport in that period, but also the massive amount of baggage handling that they will generate, passengers using the airport are advised to arrive at least two hours before their flights, and to avoid traffic jams by taking the Heathrow Express wherever possible.

Airports Charge Less for Parking Small Planes than Cars

Airports are charging cheaper rates for parking a small aeroplane than for parking a car, says a recent study.

The study, conducted on the UK’s 10 airports, shows that while parking a car for a day can work out to be expensive, it is cheaper to park a small aircraft for the same amount of time.

While London Heathrow Airport is the most expensive for parking a car, with a charge of GBP51.80 for 24 hours parking in the short-stay car park, an equivalent stay in the long-stay car park will cost GBP17.90 with advance booking. Manchester Airport charges GBP35 for a 24-hours parking at its short-stay car park, but it only charges GBP21 for the same period for parking a six-seat light aircraft.

John Lennon Airport in Liverpool charges GBP10.72 for parking a light aircraft, against GBP39.99 for a car park slot for the same time period. At Birmingham, it is GBP22.50 for a car and GBP10.80 for a plane, and at Bristol Airport it is GBP25 for a car and GBP17 for a plane.

Edinburgh Airport charges GBP23.50 to park a car for 24 hours, while the cost for parking a plane is GBP11.90 for the same amount of time. Glasgow Airport charges GBP21 for a car parking for 24 hours, while the cost for parking a plane is GBP11.52 for the same time period.

The only airport to buck the trend was Luton, where it is GBP36 to park a car and GBP38.88 to park a plane.

Russell Craig, the head of communications, at Manchester Airport, said, ‘Years ago airports made all their money from the planes. Now at Manchester, aviation income makes up less than half of our revenues. To be able to keep investing, you’ve got to find new revenue streams and some of that is car parking. But pre-booking is the way to save money. The turn-up prices are what they are.’


London Heathrow Airport to Streamline Information Exchange for Better Efficiency

London Heathrow Airport is launching a new initiative to improve its competency, decrease flight delays, and improve flight punctuality, for its passengers.

The airport is debuting its Airport Collaborative Decision Making (A-CDM) concept to partner with its airlines, ground handlers, air traffic control and airport employees, for increased knowledge sharing and informed and consistent decision-making.

The airport, which is currently operating at 99.2 percent capacity, has recently been severely criticised for its operational ineptitude, due to its increased workload.

Tim Hardy, the director airside of BAA Ltd, owner and operator of London Heathrow Airport, said, ‘With more than 1,300 flights every day, it’s crucial that we continue to look for ways to improve operational efficiency and thereby enhance passenger experience. A-CDM is about more than technology, it’s about behaviour change. It relies on every area of the airport’s operations working collaboratively to share information in pursuit of this common goal. We are excited to be launching this revolutionary new system and look forward to seeing the results.’

The A-CDM offers to break the life cycle of each flight into 16 stages, and report its progress at each stage to the operational crewmembers at the airport. The initiative is expected to improve the operational effectiveness of the aircraft, and lower the fuel consumption during flights, by helping to reduce taxiing times, in addition to providing ways to share information with all of the partner agencies.

John Proudlove, the NATS GM for Heathrow, said, ‘With CDM, air traffic controllers are able deliver a more efficient operation based upon accurate, comprehensive airfield information.’

American Airlines Announces New Boeing 777-300ER Aircraft for London Route

American Airlines, an airline subsidiary of US-based holding company, AMR Corporation, will be introducing its new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for service to London Heathrow Airport in the UK, from Dallas Fort Worth in the US, from January 31, 2013.

The new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will be equipped with lie-flat seating, aisle access for all passengers, Wi-Fi capability and 15.4-inch TV screens. The airline will be taking delivery of 10 Boeing 777-300ERs by the end of 2012. The planes will be offering three-classes of seating, including First and Business Class seats, and Main Cabin Extra.

The airline is taking advance bookings for the three-times-daily London to Dallas flights on the new aircraft, with immediate effect.

The airline will be expanding to a fourth daily service between London and Dallas from June 14, 2012.

Earlier, Virasb Vahidi, the airline chief commercial officer, said, ‘American will be among the first in the industry to offer the combination of fully lie-flat seats with all-aisle access, international Wi-Fi, and top-of-the-line in-seat entertainment.’

The airline has also announced that it is relocating its check-in facilities at Heathrow Terminal 3 from June 1, 2012. The airline Main Cabin (Economy) passengers will have to check-in at Zone F, and First and Business Class passengers at Zone G. Advantage Platinum, AAdvantage Gold, oneworld Ruby and oneworld Sapphire loyalty programme members in Economy class will be able to check-in at Zone G of the terminal building.

The airline has reported, however, that its exclusive Flagship Check-In for First and Business Class passengers will continue to remain at Zone H, where members of AAdvantage Executive Platinum and oneworld Emerald passengers will also be able to use the facilities.

Heathrow Express Announces Newly Redesigned Train Carriages

Heathrow Express, a UK-based express train service from London Heathrow Airport (Heathrow) to London Paddington station, is offering refurbished trains for its corporate customers.

The company is offering newly redesigned first-class and standard cabins, specifically based on the requirements of business travellers, and offering a lounge environment in the first class carriages.

The new cabins, which were refurbished at a cost of £16 million, have quilted seat covers, larger HD TV screens that provide a range of travel information, and tables with integrated power sockets. The company carries five million passengers per year, of which business travellers’ account for 65 percent of the total passenger traffic.

The company is also claiming to offer improved mobile phone signals on all points of its routes, as well as new uniforms for employees, and re-branded local ticket offices. The refurbishment process is expected to be complete by April 2013.

Dan Smith, head of engineering at Heathrow Express, said, ‘Heathrow Express was built with airline customers and business travellers in mind.

This recent wave of investment means the fleet is years ahead in terms of safety compliancy and continues to lead the way in terms of on board innovation and technology as well as improving the style and comfort that our passengers deserve.’

Heathrow Express managing director, Keith Greenfield, said, ‘Our new fleet will ensure that our customers receive the most relaxing and convenient travel experience possible. I am very proud to unveil our new trains – the result of three years hard work.’

London Heathrow Airport Announces Second Phase of Efficiency Trial

London Heathrow Airport has announced the commencement of the second phase of a trial to improve and control punctuality and flight delays at the airport from July 1, 2012. The trial will be running until the end of March 2013.

BAA LTD, owner and operator of six British airports, including Heathrow Airport, in collaboration with the UK Department of Transport, a UK government department, will conduct the second phase of the Operational Freedoms trial.

The first phase of the Operational Freedoms trial ran from November 1, 2011 to February 29, 2012. In this phase, the airport experimented with ways of using runways and airspace to work through disruptions affecting the airport operations. New measures implemented during this phase involved the use of both runways for arrivals or departures, instead of only one.

The Civil Aviation Authority has recently published results from the first phase of the trial, which includes improvements in punctuality, the lowering of emissions, and a reduction in the number of planes taxiing across runways. However, people living near to the airport have complained about an increase in sound pollution, and the authority has reported that detailed analysis is required to link the first phase of the trials to the increased sound levels.

Tim Hardy, the airside director for BAA, said, ‘This trial does not mean an increase in the number of flights operating in and out of Heathrow. However, with Heathrow operating at full capacity, we need to look at ways to strengthen resilience, which will bring benefits to the local community through fewer late-running flights, to passengers by providing a more punctual service, and to the environment by reducing aircraft stacking and emissions.’


Immigration Minister Pledges More Heathrow Immigration Staff

The much-reported lengthy queues at London’s Heathrow immigration desks have caused the government to announce an increase in staff numbers to be made available at the airport.

It fell to immigration minister, Damian Green, to inform the UK parliament that the government’s original plan, which was to recruit 70 Border Force staff at the airport to be in place after the Olympic Games end in August, had been brought forward.

In making the announcement to the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, Green said, ‘The queue levels we’ve seen at some times of the day, particularly at Heathrow and Stansted, are not acceptable. That’s why we have taken the measures we have already taken and we will take more measures. This is a problem we need to continue gripping. We are taking practical steps to address the issue of queues but at the same time the first priority has to be the security of our border.’

Other interested parties that addressed the committee included Colin Matthews, chief executive of BAA, the owner and operator of Heathrow and Stansted Airports, and representatives of major airlines, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Speaking of the delays through Heathrow, Matthews said that they had, ‘got worse since the summer of 2010,’ adding, ‘It has been more noticed and commented on in recent months, But it has deteriorated since summer 2010. We can detect some improvement in last week or so. I believe that it’s because of the additional resources that have been made available.’

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.