Manchester Airport passengers forego £62 million in compensation

Passengers on delayed flights at Manchester Airport were eligible for up to £63m in compensation last year, but only applied for £1m, The Manchester Evening News has reported.

According to legal experts, passengers are not aware of their rights and entitlements to claim damages appropriately, but they added that it is not too late to claim.

According to the EU rules, anyone stranded at the airport for three hours or more can claim up to £505, depending on how far they are travelling. The airline may have to offer the affected passengers a package including food, drinks, two phone calls and, if delayed overnight, a hotel room with transport there and back. It is the individual airline and not the airport that is liable.

Between January and October 2013, an average of 0.8 percent of Manchester Airport departures and arrivals were delayed for more than three hours. Of those, less than 2 percent have submitted a claim, and those that claimed won an average pay-out of GBP380.

Henrik Zilmer, head of legal online service, Airhelp, said: ‘It’s actually been 10 years since the law to claim was implemented, but it’s complicated and a lot of airlines don’t inform passengers they have the right to claim.

‘Passengers should not just accept a GBP20 voucher or a free sandwich – they should be getting their compensation.’

Pointing out that compensation claims could still be made retrospectively, Zilma added, ‘If you have been delayed for more than three hours in the last six years on any airline in the UK you could still claim and there could be compensation landing in your inbox.’

Andy Peters, the legal manager at Bott & Co, said: ‘The majority of people just aren’t aware they have the right to pursue claims – even though air carriers are supposed to point it out.’

A British Airways spokeswoman said: ‘British Airways is aware of our obligations under the EU regulations. We continue to comply with them and look after our customers.’

An EasyJet spokeswoman said: ‘EasyJet does everything possible to care for its passengers and always complies with its obligations under EU261.’

Manchester Airport provides staff training to spot signs of human trafficking

The staff at Manchester Airport are being trained to spot the signs of human trafficking, The Manchester Evening News said in an online report.

The training project encourages front-line immigration staff, as well as other workers across the terminals, including cleaners and baggage handlers, to report any concerns. As per the plan, workers are being asked to look out for vulnerable men, women and children who could be brought into the country illegally.

Warning signs could be in body language, appearance, including physical evidence of abuse, or there could be clues in the way that people speak, as well as group dynamics.

The training scheme was guided by the Reverend George Lane, airport chaplain, as part of his passenger welfare remit.

Hannah Flint, a volunteer for charity, Stop the Traffik, and who assisted a training session run along with the airport, Border Force, GMP, the Home Office, and who also set-up marriage charity, Saheli, said: ‘It’s a whole day training staff to be alert. There were about 70 people there from all jobs in the airport.

‘There are all kinds of signs to look for. We’ve had incidents where air stewardesses have overheard children being told to go over their lines, their stories for who they are and where they have come from.

‘I think events like this will become more high profile and staff will be strongly encouraged to attend.’

Tricia Williams, the airport’s customer services director, said: ‘We often work with a range of agencies, including the police and UK Border Force, to ensure our security staff are playing their part in the security of our passengers and that can include issues such as trafficking.

As the UK’s third busiest airport we have a role to play in ensuring the safety and well-being of all of our passengers, and our airport security officers are central to these efforts.’

Pc Fiona Jay, community beat officer at the airport, said: ‘We need to have more awareness of the signs – people turning up who don’t look like family members, young children coming in – and use our instincts. You get to know what’s normal.

‘Anything that looks unusual, strange or other than the norm should be reported. We are very much raising awareness because we don’t want to miss crucial signs.’

According to government estimates, more than 5,000 women in the UK are being trafficked, many for sexual exploitation, the report said.

Airport staff decides for strike action in pay dispute

The check-in staff and baggage handlers at the UK’s four busiest airports have voted for strike action in a dispute over pay, Travel Weekly has reported.

Staff and workers at the ground handling company, Swissport, based at Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester and Stansted, have voted in favour of strike action. A poll by Unite union members has seen 94 percent voting in favour of strike action, based on a turnout of 50.5 percent.

Following the vote, the company has called for an urgent meeting with the Unite union, which is taking place today.

Unite national officer, Oliver Richardson, said: ‘In the light of this overwhelming mandate for action, Swissport has requested talks which we are happy to attend so we can try to resolve this matter.

‘The dispute centres on the company’s decision to freeze workers pay for eighteen months, from April 2012 through to October 2013, followed by a below-inflation increase of just 2.5 percent.

‘Our members are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living,’ he said, adding that the union believes Swissport is failing to recognise the contribution that its staff members are making to the success of the company.

‘We hope that over the coming days we will be able to thrash out a deal with the company but this will depend on whether the company is prepared to move on from its current position on pay,’ said Richardson.

Swissport International Limited provides ground services for around 118 million passengers and handles 3.5 million tons of cargo a year on behalf of some 650 client-companies in the aviation sector. With a workforce of around 40,000 personnel, Swissport is active at 181 stations in 37 countries across five continents.

In the UK, Swissport’s clients include Ryanair, Thomas Cook and Thomson at Stansted; Monarch, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Virgin Atlantic and Emirates at Manchester; Monarch, Thomson, Thomas Cook, Virgin and British Airways at Gatwick and Virgin at Heathrow.

Manchester Airport to celebrate 75th anniversary

Manchester Airport is preparing to celebrate its 75th anniversary, as thousands are expected to visit the Runway Visitor Park on September 14 for a day of vintage fly-pasts.

All through the day there will be fly pasts at intervals, with planes on display including the legendary Lancaster Bomber, Hornet Moth, Dragon and Morane Sauline. A range of vintage aircraft dating back to the 1930s will be on display at the free event.

Andrew Cowan, chief operating officer for MAG, which owns the airport, said: ‘This year has been a significant milestone in our history as we reached our 75th anniversary. It’s even more significant for us this year as we’ve completed a transformational increase in the size of the company having added London Stansted to our group of airports.

This summer, Manchester has surpassed 20m passengers again and we are the third largest airport in the UK, and we will begin to build our Airport City development this year, further cementing Manchester’s reputation as a European business destination.

We’ve achieved much in our opening 75 years of existence and we’re well placed for an even brighter future.’

The day will also feature parachute jumps, commemorating the air display from the Royal Air Force on June 25, 1938 – when the airport opened for service. The first passenger flights took off two days later, with nearly 7,600 passengers passing through its doors in the first 14 months.

The Blades, former RAF Red Arrows pilots – experts at formations and aerobatics, will perform. The Ravens’ parachute group will plunge from 5,000ft right into the Runway Visitor Park, armed with birthday messages, flags and smoke. A fancy dress competition for 1930s attire will also be held, and prizes will include a tour of the Concorde.

The Runway Visitor Park has five aircraft, including the legendary Concorde. The park’s other aircraft are the Nimrod, the DC-10, Trident and an Avro RJX.

Entry to the event on September 14, from noon to 6.00 pm is free for pedestrians and bus travellers. For those using their cars, a full day’s car parking would cost £10 per car.

Manchester Airport to cross 25m passenger mark in three years

Manchester Airport is expecting to handle more passengers than ever before within three years under the next phase of expansion plans.

Andrew Cowan, the new chief operating officer of the airport, praised Manchester’s efforts in achieving its target of handling 20 million passengers earlier than expected in April. That was the first time the airport has achieved that milestone for five years.

On the airport’s expansion plans, Cowan told the Manchester Evening News, ‘Our strategy is to continue to utilise our assets as best we can and that means continuing to grow passenger numbers. Last year, we did 19.6m and this year we will do about 750,000 more than that, meaning we will stand at about 20.6m.’

‘The year after that, we should do similar again, which will bring us to about 21.5 million and that will continue to grow in the years after that. We have got through the 20 million barrier already and the next big milestone for us is surpassing what we were doing back in 2008/09. I think in the next two to three years, we will probably break through the 25 million passenger mark again,’ he added.

If Manchester’s growth progresses as planned, as many as 5,000 jobs could be created in the process, Cowan said. The former Robertson Group chief executive has joined Manchester Airports Group (MAG) as chief operating officer earlier this year, with his role covering the management of Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth Airports.

Under the guidance of chief executive Charlie Cornish, MAG is also looking to secure a direct flight to China, a plan which has been supported by Chancellor George Osborne.

Cowan said: ‘It is difficult to say exactly when it will happen but we’re putting the right things in place and we are going out there and talking to the right people. I think if we don’t have it in place within nine to 12 months, we will be disappointed.’

Over 300 passengers stranded at Manchester airport

Over 300 Pakistan-bound passengers were stranded at Manchester airport after Air Blue Flight PA-221 failed to take off for more than 40 hours.

Originally scheduled to take off for Islamabad/Lahore at 9:55 BST on Friday night, the Airblue flight was rescheduled for 3pm on Sunday but passengers were still waiting at 4pm. Reportedly, passengers were due to be boarded on another plane scheduled to fly out at around 10pm Sunday – with passengers that were booked to be on that flight delayed by 24 hours.

The Pakistan-bound passengers were initially told that following a technical fault the flight was rescheduled to leave at 4:30 BST on Saturday, but was delayed again. The passengers were mostly families, including disabled people, children and women, who were heading for Pakistan to celebrate Eid, but the airline kept imposing further delays.

Pakistan-based media format, The News, has reported that many passengers commented on the ‘ineptitude’ of the airline, with its staff remaining clueless throughout the delay and not providing clear information to passengers.

While the airline arranged accommodation for passengers at a local hotel for Friday, they were checked-in in the early hours at about 4:00am and then rushed out at 10:00am to save the day’s charges. When the passengers asked for Sehri, a pre-fasting meal, on Saturday morning, the airline told them not to fast or fast without eating. ‘Fasting without eating is Islamic,’ the airline’s staff officer reportedly told the passengers. Many passengers had spent Saturday night in the airport rather than travel to the accommodation offered by the airline, which was about 80 miles away in Birmingham.

Several passengers said that they would file a legal case against the airline in the UK if they were not compensated for the loss of time and money due its to negligence and lack of planning.

The Manchester Airport duty manager said: ‘The replacement plane is due in at 8pm and passengers and the airline will be using that flight to get passengers out at about 10pm. They are working on the problem with the current aircraft.’

‘The passengers who were supposed to be on the 10pm flight have been informed at home,’ he added.

Manchester airport trials escort service

Manchester airport is conducting the trial of an escort service that it describes as ‘friendly guides’.

The service has been introduced so that ‘friendly guides’ can help arriving and departing passengers through the airport. Departing passengers will be met at check-in and have the service of their guide until they board their aircraft. The £50 cost includes up to four departing passengers in a party, while the cost for a party of four arriving passengers is £40. There is a £5 per person charge for additional members of a group, up to a total group size of six.

The concept of using knowledgeable members of staff to guide passengers is one that has been adopted by a number of other major airports.

Tricia Williams, Manchester airport’s customer service director, said, ‘The purpose of this service is to take the stress out of travelling. The ‘Friendly Guide’ will be your dedicated guide to meet you at your point of arrival, whether that be at a car park, bus stop, taxi drop off or the train station and take you to your check-in desk before fast-tracking you through security.

‘We recognised from feedback that some passengers who drop off relatives are not familiar with the airport and that this small gesture would be greatly appreciated. With this service, people can relax safe in the knowledge that their relatives have been looked after from the moment they’ve arrived at Manchester airport and be told the moment their family member is on the correct flight.’

Initially the service will only be available for the trial period in Manchester airport’s Terminal 2, but the intention is to make it available to all terminals in time for the big summer getaway.

 

Manchester tops UK airport popularity survey

A survey has revealed that Manchester is the UK’s favourite airport.

The study, which was carried out by Skyscanner, a web-based travel search site, polled 1,600 UK travellers on their airport preferences and Manchester proved to be the most popular. The airports at Gatwick, Newcastle and Birmingham closely followed the northern airport in the rankings.

Manchester proved to be the winner based on a number of factors, including the quality of its customer service, its on-site facilities, the quality of its bars and restaurants and the range and quality of its shopping options. It was also claimed to be well organised, and accessible.

Gatwick’s second place was primarily due to the helpfulness of its staff and the ample capacity of its check-in areas, while Newcastle was popular for the ease with which it could be transited.

Heathrow was the second best London airport, coming in fifth place, but the capital’s other three facilities, Luton, London City and Stansted, all featured in the list’s bottom four. Scottish airport, Aberdeen, was given the dubious honour of being placed last, with the survey’s respondents particularly unimpressed with the quality of its baggage collection area.

Victoria Bailie commented on the results for Skyscanner, saying, ‘The UK’s leading airports handle millions of passengers every year and the results of our study shows that whilst Manchester is the third busiest in the UK, it still manages to keep passengers happy.’

The full league table was as follows:

Manchester Airport

London Gatwick Airport

Newcastle Airport

Birmingham International Airport

London Heathrow Airport

Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Glasgow International Airport

Edinburgh Airport

East Midlands Airport

Bristol Airport

Belfast International Airport

London Stansted Airport

London City Airport

London Luton Airport

Aberdeen

Manchester Airports buys Stansted for £1.5bn

Manchester Airports Group, the owners of the Manchester, East Midlands and Bournemouth airports in the UK, has agreed to buy Stansted Airport for £1.5bn.

The UK’s fourth busiest airport by passenger numbers is being sold by Heathrow Airport Holdings, formerly BAA, following the organisation’s decision not to contest an order from competition regulators for it to sell Stansted. Three of the UK’s largest airports, Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, were all originally owned by BAA, but following pressure from the Competition Commission, BAA will now only retain Heathrow and a few smaller airports, including Glasgow.

The leading shareholders in Manchester Airports Group are Greater Manchester’s 10 councils. Charlie Cornish, Manchester Airlines Group chief executive, said, ‘We are delighted to be successful in our bid for Stansted Airport, the London airport for Europe. The transaction represents a significant milestone in the achievement of our previously stated strategy of adding a quality airport to the group and delivering long-term value to our shareholders.’

Heathrow Airport’s chief executive, Colin Matthews, said, ‘Stansted Airport and its people have been part of our company for a long time. We wish the new owners every success and are confident the airport will continue to flourish. We will continue to focus on improving Heathrow, Glasgow, Aberdeen and Southampton airports.’

MAG serves around 24 million passengers and handles 500,000 tons of airfreight every year across its existing airport properties, contributing £3.2bn to the UK economy and supporting in excess of 130,000 jobs.

The sale is expected to close by the beginning of March this year.

Monarch Airlines Offers Summer Service to Almeria from Manchester Airport

Monarch Airlines, a UK-based airline company, is re-launching a service to Almeria, in southern Spain, from Manchester Airport in the UK.

The service to Almeria will be offered during the summer of 2013, with twice a week flights commencing on May 4, next year.

The managing director of Monarch Airlines, Kevin George, said, ‘We are delighted to be resuming the Almeria route for our summer 2013 flights programme from Manchester Airport. Since we last operated the route in 2011 the popularity of our Birmingham/Almeria flight has grown considerably and therefore we thought it timely to bring the route back to Manchester.

Our social media followers will be particularly pleased by the resumption of the flight as it has been the topic of discussion and debate for some time on both Facebook and Twitter and we are always very pleased to be able to respond positively to customer feedback.

The addition of Almeria for summer 2013 expands further our extensive offering from Manchester and we are sure that it will be a popular choice for our customers.’

Ken O’Toole, the chief commercial officer for Manchester Airports Group, the owner of Manchester Airport, said, ‘Monarch Airlines is a major carrier here and the re-instatement of the Almeria route will be a welcome addition to the summer 2013 schedule from Manchester. Spain remains a popular destination for leisure travellers using our airport and Monarch’s continued growth is something we will continue to support in the year ahead.’

The airline is also offering a number of cheap flights from UK airports, including Manchester, Birmingham, East Midlands and London Gatwick, to a number of destinations.