British Airways and Loganair expand codeshare agreement to include 18 new routes

British Airways and Loganair have recently announced a major expansion of their codeshare agreement, offering more choice and connectivity for customers travelling across the UK.

The expansion to 18 new routes will now give British Airways’ customers access to 38 of Loganair’s UK routes, allowing customers to book onward connections from destinations across the airline’s route network, or point to point travel in the UK more easily through British Airways’ website.

Loganair’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Hinkles, said: ‘We’re delighted to mark Loganair’s 60th anniversary with the expansion of our partnership with British Airways. Today’s addition of no fewer than 18 routes is great news for connectivity to and from the UK regions, and we’re confident that the ability to enjoy Executive Club benefits and a new range of seamless flight connections when flying on selected Loganair routes will bring welcome new choice for British Airways’ customers when flying in the UK regions. The development cements what we believe to be the longest-running relationship between two UK airlines, and it’s a partnership which will continue to deliver for customers throughout the UK.’

Neil Chernoff, British Airways’ Director of Network and Alliances, said: ‘It is great news to be expanding our longstanding codeshare agreement with Loganair. This will create better connectivity and offer more choice for our customers between UK regions and destinations all over the world thanks to our expansive global route network and Loganair’s extensive regional services.’

Routes now available to book include: Aberdeen to Belfast City, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, and Southampton; City of Derry to London and Liverpool; Cornwall Airport Newquay to Manchester; Exeter to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle; Isle of Man to Birmingham, Edinburgh and Manchester; Inverness to Birmingham; Norwich to Aberdeen and Edinburgh and Teesside to Southampton.

Customers who book onto these selected routes operated by Loganair through ba.com can also earn Avios and Tier points as part of British Airways’ Executive Club programme.

British Airways’ customers travelling from Aberdeen or the Isle of Man to Manchester will also now be able to connect onto British Airways’ code share flights on other carriers, including oneworld partners, from the north-west hub. Destinations include New York, Barbados and Orlando.

Princess Cruises announces all inclusive UK ‘Summer Seacations’ on MedallionClass Ships

Princess Cruises has announced the series of its short breaks and week-long cruises aboard MedallionClass ships, Regal Princess and Sky Princess, scheduled to sail from Southampton around the UK coast from late summer.

Regal Princess will offer 14 UK voyages running from July 31 through to September 23, 2021, while Sky Princess will offer eight UK cruises, running from August 30 through to September 28, 2021.

Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer scenic cruises and voyages with stops in UK ports-of-call including Liverpool, Belfast and Greenock, with itineraries ranging from three to seven nights. The all-inclusive ‘Summer Seacations’ will go on sale on Wednesday, March 24 at 8 a.m.

Regal Princess and Sky Princess will offer guests ‘Truly Touchless’ experiences and personalised services through the cruise line’s MedallionClass Experience that supports new health protocols. The cruise line’s OceanMedallion wearable device replaces the traditional cruise card and pairs with embedded IoT (‘Internet of things’) -driven innovative technology to significantly expand touch-free options and personalisation on board Princess MedallionClass ships including: touchless embarkation and disembarkation; keyless stateroom entry; completely contactless commerce; on-demand food, beverages and retail items delivered anywhere on board, and entertainment content via smart devices, among others.

A variety of entertainment will be on offer including production shows in the Princess Theatre, Movies Under the Stars, celebrity guest speakers and live musical performances. Relaxation and leisure facilities such as fitness classes, swimming pools and spa treatments will also be available.

Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises vice president UK and Europe, said, ‘We share in our guests’ excitement today as we unveil the details for our new Summer Seacations. With Princess Cruises, the ship is also the destination. Guests can make the most of our multiple dining options, order food and drink poolside, using the MedallionClass app, that can be delivered to you, and enjoy fantastic entertainment both day and night.

‘While international travel remains uncertain, these new cruises mean that UK residents can take a well-deserved holiday around the UK. We are also delighted that our new cruises will offer the choice between scenic voyages and port-of-call itineraries where guests can visit the historic UK cities of Liverpool, Belfast and Glasgow.’

All guests will have the opportunity to make their cruise all-inclusive by selecting the Princess Plus fare, which includes the line’s premium drinks package, unlimited MedallionNet Wi-Fi and gratuities for £30 per person per day. All-inclusive fares for a balcony stateroom start from £539pp for a three-night scenic voyage; £599pp for a four-night cruise with up to one port; and £999pp for a seven-night cruise with up to three ports-of-call. Guests can book with a £50 deposit if booked before May 3, 2021.

Bookings made by April 30, 2021 will be covered by Princess Cruises ‘Book with Confidence’ policy, meaning guests can cancel up to 30 days prior to sailing and receive cancellation fees back as a Future Cruise Credit.

The sailings on Regal Princess and Sky Princess will be for UK resident COVID-19 vaccinated guests only. All guests and crew will be required to follow enhanced health and well-being measures to protect everyone onboard on these cruises. Travel insurance will also be mandatory for all guests, Princess said.

Ireland announces new rules for passengers arriving from Britain

The Government of Ireland has announced new rules that passengers originating from Britain or South Africa will be required to have evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ result of a COVID-19 PCR test obtained within 72 hours of arrival into the state.

As per the new rule, which started Saturday, January 9, passengers travelling from Britain or South Africa will be required to present evidence of their negative or ‘not detected’ result before boarding their aircraft prior to departure, and will be required to produce this evidence to Immigration Officers on arrival at Dublin Airport. It will be deemed an offence if passengers arrive in an Irish airport without evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ test result and may be subject to prosecution, punishable by a fine not exceeding EUR2,500 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months, or both.

The rule is applicable to passengers whose journey originates in either Britain or South Africa. Those who only transit through an airport in Britain as part of their journey to Ireland will not be required to provide evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ COVID-19 PCR test. Passengers who arrive in Ireland mainly for the purpose of travelling onwards to another state and do not leave the airport are also not required to provide the evidence of a negative or ‘not detected’ test.

For any urgent travel requirement, passengers can consult the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate for advice and receive consular assistance before commencing their journey, Dublin Airport said.

Ireland is currently implementing the EU ‘traffic lights’ approach to travel, which applies to countries in the EU/European Economic Area (EEA). Passengers entering the State from red, orange and grey regions are requested to restrict their movements for 14 days, though this may be waived in certain cases. This applies to all people entering the State, even if they have no symptoms. The details are available on European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) website.

The request to restrict movements for 14 days can be waived for passengers arriving from an orange region, if they have received a negative/not detected PCR test result during the three days before arriving in Ireland. In this case, passengers are requested to have supporting evidence of the negative test in their possession, according to Irish Government guidelines.

Passengers arriving from red regions do not have to continue to restrict their movements for the full 14 days, if they have a negative/not-detected result from a PCR test taken at least five days – a minimum of five days – after arrival in the State, the airport said.

Ryanair to operate minimum flights from Dublin and UK to serve emergency needs

As the health and safety concerns due to the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19 continue, Ryanair has announced that it will operate minimum services from the UK and Ireland to meet emergency needs in the coming weeks.

According to a release by Michael O’Leary, Ryanair Group CEO, the Ireland based airline is working to provide repatriation and rescue flights for many EU Governments including the UK. The airline is also offering its aircraft for emergency medical flights, including to/from China.

As most EU countries have imposed flight bans or other restrictions, over 90% of Ryanair’s aircraft will be grounded for the coming weeks. However, the airline will be working with EU Governments to keep some minimum flight links open for emergency reasons, though the passenger loads on these flights will be very low.

For the next week from Friday March 27 to Thursday April 2, Ryanair will operate daily or weekly flights to and from Dublin to London Stansted, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester and from Cork to London Stansted. From the UK, Ryanair will operate the return services to Dublin from London Stansted, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester. In addition, the airline will operate services from London Stansted to Eindhoven, Lisbon, Cork, Berlin and Budapest. More information on the flight details at www.ryanair.com.

‘All these aircraft are disinfected daily. With low loads and no trolley service, social distancing will be optimised on-board, and we ask all passengers to cooperate fully with our crews who are doing their best in difficult times to maintain vital links to/from Ireland and to/from the UK to facilitate our passengers and their families to deal with emergencies that may require urgent travel over the coming days and weeks,’ O’Leary said.

‘Ryanair apologises sincerely for the unprecedented grounding of our aircraft fleet, and any schedule disruptions this may have caused, but we must all work together with EU Governments to minimise the impact of Covid-19 on our citizens and our health services,’ he added.

British Airways suspends all flights to China amid coronavirus outbreak

British Airways, the flag carrier airline of the United Kingdom, has suspended all flights to and from mainland China as coronavirus hit the province of Hubei, Alliance News has reported.

The move comes as the British government is working on urgent plans to bring UK nationals back from Hubei. The Foreign Office has warned against ‘all but essential travel’ to mainland China, saying it may become more difficult for British nationals in other provinces to leave following the virus outbreak. The death toll in China has risen to 132, with confirmed virus infections rising to nearly 6,000.

The British airline, which operates daily flights to Shanghai and Beijing from Heathrow, said that it was suspending the flights, with immediate effect following Foreign Office instruction.

British Airways said: ‘We have suspended all flights to and from mainland China with immediate effect following advice from the Foreign Office against all but essential travel.

‘We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority. Customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days can find more information on ba.com.’

Citing an unnamed source in Wuhan city, the report said that UK citizens were being given details of forthcoming flights, adding that flights taking Britons back home could begin as early as Thursday.

The deadline for those stuck in the city of Wuhan and surrounding areas to contact the British consulate if they wished to leave passed at 3am UK time, which was 11am local time, it added.

The Foreign Office said that UK nationals in China should ‘make decisions based on their own personal circumstances’ over whether to leave other parts of the country. The British embassy in Beijing has said UK citizens may get transport facility quickly and with short notice.

In the UK, people returning will be asked to ‘self-isolate’ and stay indoors for 14 days, but there are no plans to forcibly quarantine them, the report said. The Department of Health and Social Care said that 97 people in the UK have been given the all-clear for the virus, although scientists predict it may have entered the country.

China has imposed travel restrictions between its major cities, and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism has suspended all tour activities to prevent further virus spread.

London voted favourite UK city for sixth straight year

 

London has won two prestigious accolades at the annual Conde Nast Traveller Readers’ Choice Awards 2016, London & Partners said in a release.

The UK capital was ranked as the Best UK City for the 6th consecutive time, and Best UK City for Restaurants and Bars for the second consecutive year. The top five UK cities in that order include London, Edinburgh, Bath, Glasgow and Salisbury.

The results of the 19th annual survey are based on millions of votes submitted by readers of the Conde Nast Traveller magazine.

The awards comes as recent research from London & Partners, the Mayor’s official tourism body for London, found last year that international visitors made 18.7 million visits to the city’s cultural centres – nearly 1.8 million more than in 2012. A not-for-profit public private partnership, London & Partners aims to build London’s international reputation and to attract investment and visitor spend, which create jobs and growth.

London’s hotels have also won 12 of the top 15 UK Business Hotels awards, with the Soho Hotel winning silver for best UK Holiday Hotel. Three of the city’s spas also topped the UK Hotel Spas category, viz. The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, The Bulgari Spa at Bulgari Hotel & Residences, and ESPA Life at Corinthia Hotel London.

Julie Chappell, Head of Visitlondon.com, the official city guide from London & Partners, said: ‘These awards have come at a perfect time for London, as the capital is primed to stage yet another fantastic blockbuster season of culture – which is the main reason tourists visit the city.

‘London’s culinary scene and nightlife are clearly going from strength to strength, with cuisines from every corner of the globe, eclectic and traditional bars and pubs, and 65 Michelin-star restaurants to enjoy – it’s no surprise that Conde Nast readers have voted for the capital’s bars and restaurants’.

Separate research carried out by TCI Research, an UNWTO accredited company, on behalf of London & Partners, also revealed that London’s thriving tourism industry is set to continue post-Brexit, as two thirds of Americans who visited in the last two years have said that they will definitely return due to a more favourable exchange rate, London & Partners noted. American results are based on a representative sample of 509 respondents from the USA, men and women, aged from 18 to 65, who have visited London at least once over the past two years, it added.

Nearly three quarters of Brits choose staycation over overseas holiday

Nearly three quarters – 67 per cent – of Brits consider ‘staycation’ a better option and as the perfect way to explore a city for only a fraction of the price of a foreign holiday, according to research conducted by Jurys Inn Hotel Group.

The research also revealed that over one fifth – 22 per cent – of those surveyed have visited more landmarks overseas than in their home country.

Following the research findings, Jurys Inn has created a staycation guide showcasing a whole range of attractions and locations for UK travellers to explore their homeland with suggestions to help holiday makers make the most of a break in the UK. From short visits to local attractions, to full day trips, the guide includes the best that the UK has to offer in major cities that staycationers could enjoy.

Suzanne Cannon, Jurys Inn Group Marketing Manager, said ‘We’ve noticed the trend in Brits choosing to stay at home for their summer break and we want to be able to help travellers to explore a city’s true potential.

As Jurys Inn hotels are conveniently positioned in the heart of key cities across the UK, it’s a great place to start a staycation, so we’re glad we can share some insights with those who are holidaying at home this year’.

Jurys Inn currently operates 31 hotels, including 28 under the Jurys Inn brand, two under the DoubleTree by Hilton brand and one under the Garden Inn by Hilton brand. Jurys Inn, which has won the Best Independent Brand at the 2012 and 2010 Business Travel awards, offers three-star accommodation in major city centre locations throughout the UK, Ireland and mainland Europe.

 

UK’s air passenger charges amongst world’s highest

Travellers in the UK pay some of the world’s highest taxes on flying, according to a study by UHY Hacker Young, the national accountancy group.

The UK imposes Air Passenger Duty (APD) of £13 on short haul flights and £71 on long haul flights leaving from airports in England and Wales, but excluding flights from Northern Ireland. The study analysed taxes and compulsory government charges imposed per passenger on an economy class flight by 20 governments around the world. It also analysed additional charges imposed on a per passenger basis by airport operators.

According to the study, charges levied by the UK are currently the highest within the EU and well above the average for G7 countries, which is at £10 ($15) on short haul flights and £23 ($34) on long haul flights. The global average, based on countries where aviation taxes are imposed, is currently £15 ($23) on short haul flights and £35 ($53) on long haul flights. However, many countries such as Ireland, Slovakia and Belgium do not impose any taxes on individual air passengers currently.

According to researchers, the extra charges impact tourism, penalise SMEs trying to expand overseas, disadvantage remote regional cities, and also affect airlines’ abilities to offer less profitable routes. In addition, although taxes on flying are often billed as ‘green taxes’, in the UK, as elsewhere, the revenue raised is not utilised for environmental protection projects.

The report also noted that the UK government is presently adopting measures to reduce the high costs facing air passengers. In May this year, the APD for under-12s was abolished. As of April 1, charges on journeys over 4,000 miles were also reduced; however, levies on journeys between 2,000 and 4,000 miles have increased, it said.

Roy Maugham, Tax Partner of UHY Hacker Young, commented: ‘Airlines provide a crucial piece of infrastructure. They facilitate a great deal of economic activity that is essential for countries that want to benefit from globalisation. The higher taxes on flying in the UK hurt airlines, business users and consumers.’

‘The recent lowering of charges for under-12s and long haul travellers and the discussions in Northern Ireland indicate an awareness of the problem, but the reforms do not go far enough. Charges remain considerably higher than in many other EU countries.’

Commenting on the need for transparency in airport and airline charges, Maugham added: ‘In the UK and around the world, the issue of complex charges is an area where far greater progress needs to be made to ensure better transparency and competition. Businesses and consumers would greatly benefit if regulators and tax authorities kept aviation taxes low and ensured that charges were more transparent.’

Air India plans daily flights from Birmingham to Delhi, Amritsar

Air India has announced plans to increase frequency from four flights per week to daily services at Birmingham Airport.

Starting December 21, Air India will operate the new daily flight programme between Birmingham, Delhi and Amritsar. With the increase in flight frequency and the new Boeing 787 ‘Dreamliner,’ the airline will offer more than 3,500 seats on the route each week. The Dreamliner operates a 256 seat cabin, consisting of 18 business class and 238 economy seats.

With the introduction of Wednesday, Friday and Sunday to its schedule, Air India’s programme will see flights arriving from Amritsar and Delhi at 1700 daily and departing Birmingham for the return legs at 2030 each evening. The new programme is on sale through www.airindia.com or via travel agents.

Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s Chief Executive, said, ‘We are incredibly thankful to Air India for committing to daily services from Birmingham and adding more direct capacity to India from the Midlands.

‘The West Midlands receives more foreign direct investment from India than any other region outside of London and Birmingham’s VFR market grew by 71% in 2013, now attracting more visitors from India than any English city other than London.

‘It’s therefore hardly surprising that the route has been such a success since its inauguration in August last year as it allows people to travel from their local catchment area, rather than airports further away.’

Vishwanath Panyam, Air India’s Astt. General Manager, added, ‘The West Midlands is a diverse region and home to more than 200,000 British-Indian people so we are pleased to be able to not only serve this extensive VFR market but also give business travellers direct access to the whole of India via Delhi on the comfortable, quiet and state of the art Boeing-787 Dreamliner aircraft.

‘I hope that the daily services will offer greater choice, flexibility and convenience and make the Birmingham flights even more appealing to local people.’

 

Scotland set to cut air travel taxes under new UK deal

Starting 2015, Scotland is likely to cut taxes on passengers flying out of the country following a new tax deal with Britain, according to a report by Reuters.

In line with proposals by the Smith Commission, the UK government last week promised new powers to the Scottish Parliament over a range of financial matters, including control over air passenger duty (APD). The new proposals would allow the Scottish National Party (SNP) to fulfil its promise of scrapping or reducing the tax in Scotland.

Britain levies a tax of between £13.00 ($20.5) and £0.194 in APD depending on flight distance and class of travel, which is charged on each passenger travelling out of the country. The tax cut is expected to encourage English people to travel north of the border to fly as it could make travelling out of Scotland cheaper for passengers.

Airlines and holiday companies have welcomed the plan to cut the APD charges in Scotland. Scrapping APD will boost tourism in Scotland by GBP200m annually, according to British Airways-owner IAG.

‘Removing Scottish APD would see passengers rushing across the border to avoid paying the punitive tax at Newcastle, Manchester or any other English airport,’ said Willie Walsh, the chief executive of IAG. ‘Who could blame them – a family of four flying to the U.S. would save 276 pounds in APD by heading north.’

Regional airline Flybe also said that the tax cuts could benefit Scotland as it will encourage airlines to provide additional routes from Scotland. ‘The move would not only encourage airlines to provide new routes and enhance travel for Scotland’s passengers, but it would also significantly boost economic activity and connectivity for Scotland,’ said Flybe chief executive Saad Hammad.

The new powers and provisions will be implemented only after the UK parliamentary election due in May next year. The move implies the biggest transfer of powers to Scotland from the United Kingdom since 1999 when a Scottish parliament was set up. The changes also come after Scottish separatists lost an independence vote two months ago.