Airports in Scotland Ask For Review of Air Passenger Duty

Airports in Scotland have united to demand that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is immediately revoked in the UK, following a recently published report warning of the loss of around two million passengers per year in Scotland.

The managing directors of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have urged chancellor George Osborne to review APD and how it will affect air traffic in Scotland. The recent report also claims that by 2016 the country’s economy is likely to lose up to GBP210 million in tourism expenditure per annum, due to the implementation of APD.

Amanda McMillan, the managing director of Glasgow Airport, said, ‘Together with the wider aviation industry, we have made repeated representations to the UK Government on APD which, as this report confirms, will continue to damage Scottish aviation by making routes unviable and decimating Scotland’s links to the rest of the world.

Due to the size of the market in Scotland, we will always find it difficult to attain and sustain new routes and this situation is compounded even further by APD which simply serves to artificially depress demand and dissuade airlines from basing aircraft here.

Unless APD is reformed, people travelling to and from Scotland – who must fly due to the lack of feasible alternatives – will continue to face some of the highest levels of taxation in Europe which is clearly a disincentive to travel.’

Derek Provan, the managing director of Aberdeen Airport, said, ‘This report shows, quite simply, that APD is damaging Scotland. It is damaging our economy, our tourism potential and our ability as a nation to bounce back from the recession. It limits our opportunities for growth in the employment market, costing as much as GBP50 million in the process.

At Aberdeen Airport we run a real risk of losing around 200,000 passengers by 2016 through this damaging tax. Each recent increase in APD has had a dramatic impact upon what we, as airports, have achieved and could have achieved without APD.

It is imperative that the UK government undertake a detailed and comprehensive review into APD with the utmost urgency, and at the very least freeze APD whilst that is taking place.’

 

Flybe Reports Reduced Passenger Traffic for Last Quarter

Flybe, a UK-based airline company, has reported a decrease in passenger traffic for the last quarter of 2012-2013.

The airline has reported a decrease in passenger traffic of 3 percent for its UK division, for the period from April to June 2012, with a decrease in load factor of 0.7 percent, to 62.4 percent, compared to the same period in 2011.

The airline is blaming the downturn on a general slump in business travel, as most world economies are still hampered by the financial crisis.

The airline chief executive officer, Jim French, said, ‘2012 is a significant year for Flybe. In July, we will celebrate the tenth anniversary since we changed our business model and transformed the airline into Flybe.

A lot has happened in those ten years. Back in 2002, we had 44 routes, 31 aircraft and 2.2 million passengers. Today, we operate 225 routes with 83 aircraft and last year carried 7.6 million passengers. By any measure, that is remarkable progress.

2011/12 was yet another challenging year for the aviation industry. Despite a significant reduction in consumer disposable income contributing to a further decline in the UK Domestic air travel market and significant cost pressures – the annualised price of oil being the highest ever recorded in history; airport infrastructure costs increasing significantly above RPI and Government taxation through APD continuing to increase – I believe these results demonstrate the resilience of Flybe’s business model.’

Currently Flybe operates 14 bases in the UK, and serves 77 airports worldwide, with 41.6 percent of passengers flying for business purposes. According to the 2012 CAA Punctuality Statistics, the airline’s punctuality record is the best of all major airlines operating in the UK.

 

A30 Egham Bypass Games Lanes to Remain Open Until Paralympic Games

The London Olympic Games Organising Committee (LOCOG), the agency that is responsible for all Olympic preparations in London, has reported that the Games Lanes on the A30 Egham Bypass in Surrey will be open for traffic during the period between the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games.

Earlier it was reported that A30 Egham Bypass Games Lanes would remain in force until the end of the Paralympic Games on September 6, 2012.

The Games Lanes have been working efficiently, without any incidents of traffic queues except in the mornings during rush hour, to help athletes and officials move easily between venues and their accommodation at Royal Holloway, University of London.

The Games Lanes will be operational again during the Paralympic Games, from August 27, 2012, to facilitate the easy movement of athletes and officials from Eton Dorney for the Paralympic Rowing training and competition events.

Hugh Sumner, the director of transport for the Olympic Delivery Authority, said, ‘After evaluating the operation of the A30 Egham Bypass Games Lanes and background traffic to date, we have decided to open up the Lanes to all traffic during the period between the Games.

This will reduce the impact of the Olympic Route Network for everyday road users during this time. We were concerned that temporarily suspending the Games Lanes in this period would create confusion. However, now that we have seen that it has been working better than we expected, we believe we can safely go ahead with this move and help drivers at the same time.’

 

Easyjet Reports Low Traffic during Olympics 2012

Easyjet  is reporting a slowdown in demand during the 2012 Olympics for its flights to airports in and around London.

The airline has reported a slowdown, not only of its corporate traffic during the 2012 Olympics Games period, but also for leisure customers. However, the airline’s bookings are reported to look much healthier after the Games end on August 12, 2012. The decrease in business travel is likely to be due to a perception that London will be too busy a place to comfortably do business while the Games are on.

A report on the company website has stated, ‘The London Olympic games will present operational challenges to our London bases. Consequently, easyJet has taken steps to protect its operational performance during the course of the games e.g. crew and operational control centre (OCC) staffing levels have been strengthened and daily Olympics meetings have been introduced.

easyJet has seen a fall in demand for flights touching London during the Olympic period, both from inbound business travellers and outbound leisure travellers, but forward bookings show a recovery once the games have concluded.’

The company chief executive officer, Carolyn McCall, said in a statement, ‘Forward booking falls in line with last year. The Olympics will have, or has had an effect in July/early August. We will be roughly flat across the network. We will be slightly down in London. We are confident we will recover that in late August and September; September is already looking stronger than it would have normally done as a result of people shifting things round. This is a London effect, nothing else.’

TomTom Urges Drivers to Use Navigational Devices to Avoid Congestion during Olympics

TomTom, a Netherlands-based manufacturer of navigation solutions and digital maps, has reported thatJuly 28, 2012, is expected to be the most congested day for road traffic in the UK’s capital city, due to the congestion caused by visitors in London for the opening days of the 2012 Olympics Games.

Earlier, Transport for London (TfL), a UK-based government agency responsible for the transport system in the Greater London area, announced a travel advisory for London residents, asking them to plan their travel in and around the city carefully, using tools offered by the agency, in order that they might avoid the most congested areas and travel hotspots.

TomTomis offering its updated Map Share service to help drivers in and around London to avoid travel disturbance. The service will evaluate changes in traffic flow and any additional road restrictions in the UK capital during the 2012 Games period, to help international visitors as well as UK residents to move freely around the city.

TomBrown, the UK country manager forTomTom, said, ‘We released our latest map update in May which included structural road changes in London and surrounding areas and points of interest relevant to the summer.

Now we are going one step further. We want to ensure that our customers drive with the most up to date map available, taking into account the dynamic road changes resulting from upcoming events in the capital. Our aim is to do all we can to give London drivers the best navigation experience possible.’

 

UK Holiday Rush Gets Underway

The influx of visitors to the UK for the London Olympic games is about to be matched by a mass exodus of Brits departing the country for their annual holiday.

Now that the school holidays are underway it is estimated that as many as two million British holidaymakers could be leaving the UK this weekend and heading for the sunshine resorts in Europe and beyond. Heathrow Airport alone expects to speed the departure of 482,000 British travellers over the next two days. 50,000 more will exit on Eurostar trains through the channel tunnel. Provincial airports are also likely to experience their busiest weekend of the year.

For those holidaying at home, the Automobile Association (AA) has issued a warning for potentially busy roads from mid afternoon today, with routes to the seaside resorts of the southwest likely to be busiest, along with roads around cross-channel ports and major airports.

The traffic to UK resorts is likely to be bolstered by the promise from the Met office of better weather in the next few days, after the country has endured several weeks of rainy conditions.

A survey of more than 20,000 AA members by AA/Populus indicated that around 25 percent of respondents will not drive as far for this year’s holiday as they did last year. Least likely to exceed last year’s mileage are Scots, Londoners and people from the northwest of England. The survey also revealed that Londoners are the most likely to take a foreign holiday, while the Welsh are the most likely to forego this year’s holiday completely.