Airport Travel News and information.
January 2011

Airport Travel News - Current Articles by David Cook

From time to time UK airports issue news items affecting either traveling to the airport , new routes, airport layout changes, airport parking price amendments and traffic problems. The following may be of help to our customers, however, we strongly recommend that you visit the airport sites for up to the minute information.

24th January 2011

Bmi set to leave Heathrow over Landing Charges

Bmi the low cost operator is threatening to move from its Heathrow hub due to landing charges being increased. If they decide to move their operation they will base planes at hubs operated by Lufthansa their parent company.

Existing Heathrow hubs will be used to more profitable destinations in Europe and the Middle East rather than for lower margined domestic flights. Airports such as Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Belfast would remain and strengthened.

This will come as a further blow to BAA who have been roundly criticised by politicians and airlines for its abject failure to keep the airport open due to snow.

BA have recently announced that it cost them £24 million in lost revenue and Virgin are so incensed that they are currently withholding fees for the month of December.

5th January 2011

Easyjet invests in 15 more Airbus A320’s

Despite the recent recession and the sluggish recovery low cost company Easyjet has demonstrated its confidence in the future by ordering 15 Airbus A320’s for delivery between 2012 and 2014.

The price for an individual aircraft is around £710 million but by bulk buying and as part of their switch from Boeing in 2002 a discount will have been secured.

They have also taken out an option for a further 33 A320’s which once again demonstrates their confidence and gives them the option to quickly increase or replace existing aircraft to take advantage of improving economic market conditions.

28th December 2010

BAA may be fined for travel chaos

Phillip Hammond the UK Transport Secretary is seeking greater powers to apply economic sanctions to fine BAA the operators of Heathrow. For most of the week running up to Christmas thousands of flights were cancelled causing travel chaos and misery for passengers.

The affect of the operator to deal with the snow and ice has massive financial implications for airport parking companies, hotels close to the airport, destination hotels, airport retailers and the city of London because incoming passengers were unable to land.

Many travellers never even left home and no doubt will be looking to insurance companies for recompense who will equally fall back on an act of god.

Whichever way you look at it Heathrow failed in spectacular fashion to deal with a situation that northern European airports in Scandinavia deal with as a matter of course.

Current legislation allows the CAA to apply a 7 per cent airport to charge of around 63 million and if this applied will put pressure on BAA management. In response they have promised to invest £15 million to increase the number of snow ploughs and liquids needed to de-ice aircraft.

17th December 2010

Its official sun is what the doctor orders

Several leading health groups including Cancer Research, the National Osteoporosis Society and Multiple Sclerosis Society have all said that a dose of daily sun is good for you because the body needs to maintain Vitamin D levels.

Unfortunately in the UK even when the sun gets out it is generally too weak to do much good and as a consequence the British store of Vitamin D often falls below healthy levels which can lead to a risk of developing of diabetes, rickets in children, brittle bones in adults, heart disease and cancer.

Over the past few years the Sun has been seen as the enemy with the fear of skin cancer and whilst this remains the case the sun in the UK even in summer is only hot enough to produce Vitamin D between 10 and 4 and 10 minutes without any screening is good for you.

So the choice or Britons is pretty clear either take pills or have a week away to recharge your bodies batteries. To be honest not only is the sun vital in a physical sense to build up a store of Vitamin D it is also a boost to your mental well being.

SAD syndrome is where people feel depressed by the short miserable days experienced in winter and have developed special lamps to fill the room with sunlight to increase the feeling of well being

14th December 2010

Easyjet looks to attract more business customers

Easyjet are going to introduce a premium business fare one way including taxes that will allow flexibility to cancel and rebook flights within a 4 week window of the original booking.

Included in the price is a free checked in hold bag, automatic speedy boarding all of which is designed to make their time at the airport quicker without the need for queuing which is a pain when using Easyjet.

The booking can be cancelled and rebooked as many times as they wish within the window although it was not clear at this stage what would happen if they tried to book a flight that was full?

Their web site states the next available flight can be used which really needs some clarification, because this could mean

  • The next available flight which has seats available

  • Or your booking would take priority notwithstanding the occupancy status?

Clearly Easyjet still remains competitive and these additions will almost certainly make the booking more attractive due to its greater flexibility, speed you can board and the extra baggage allowance


6th December 2012

Another makeover for Manchester Airport as Epernay Champagne Bar opens

Its all happening at Manchester airport. Following the annoucement of the Virgin and Etihad Airways investing in premier lounges for their customers a new Champagne bar is to open.

Manchester Airport’s old control tower is fizzing  with life again – after being transformed into a trendy champagne bar.The tower was closed when the responsibility for Air Traffic Control was moved to Scotland.

Travellers passing through the Airport will be able to take part in a brand new experience.Leeds-based Thornton Inns, which is run by brothers Geoff and Nick Thornton, has added the airport outlet, which has undergone a £500,000 refit, to its existing bars including Epernay Leeds and Manchester.

The old control  tower at Terminal One – which was once the heart of airport operations – has re-opened as a a funky drinking venue, with 360 degree views of the runway.

Passengers waiting for their flights can now relax in a wonderful surrounding whilst sipping champagne and watching flights come and go!

The ground floor bar is being run by Epernay – which also operates a bar in Manchester city centre – and will stock more than 100 different varieties of bubbly.

Andrew Harrison, managing director of Manchester Airport, hopes the idea will catch on and lead to more innovative makeovers at the airport.

He added that the terminal had undergone a rapid period of investment and change over the last few years and wished Epernay much success in the new venture.

As well as champagne, the bar will serve a wide range of cocktails, and passengers can order oysters, with chiefs hoping the romantic setting could become a hotspot for those celebrating birthdays and Anniversaries, before starting their holidays.

5th December 2010
Virgin to open second V-Room at Manchester Airport

Virgin Atlantic has signed an agreement with Manchester Airport to establish a V-Room at Terminal 2. This is expected to be available to Virgin's customers from July 2011 and is ideally located just a short walk from departures.

This follows on from the successful leisure lounge established at Gatwick and the idea is to create themed lounges at major airports so that Virgin customers can expect a high level of service in relaxing surroundings before their flight.

These lounges will comfortably cater to up to 100 guests, with distinct zones designed for younger children and teens boasting up to the minute state of the art technology - including a wall-sized interactive gaming screen.

Whilst adults relax in their section and chill out with at the bar and sample superb food. The cost is £20 per adult and £12 for children or free if you stayed at a Premium Collection Hotel.

Since Gatwick was opened the lounge has been met with high customer satisfaction, underpinned by the numbers booking again. Tickets for Manchester are already on sale for departures next July.

Given that most of Virgin travellers are high end customers booked on long haul flights to USA, Caribbean, Africa, the Middle and Far East, the Indian Ocean and Australasia this is seen as a natural extension of the service.

Why not go the whole hog and book from a selection of Manchester Airport Hotels with Parking included as part of the package

3rd December 2010

TUI Results are a Mixed Bag with Weak UK Market a Concern

TUI figures for the year ending September showed an underlying improvement of 11% with an operating profit of £447 million on a reduced turnover of £13.5 billion.

This profit was reduced to a loss of £36 million after allowing for the cost of the ash cloud at £104 million and other one of costs. Whilst disappointing this was far better than the £94 million loss reported the previous year.

Weak trading primarily from the UK market was yet again a major factor although the last 3 months of the trading year showed a dramatic improvement after the problems with the ash cloud.

The austerity measures for the UK and the Euro zone are yet to bite and 2011 are yet to bite and the company is very cautious about the coming year

29th November 2010

Edinburgh and Newcastle airports close due to weather

The North East of England and East Scotland has witnessed the coldest conditions in November for 25 years resulting in the closures of Edinburgh and Newcastle airport.

The snow is expected to move south tonight accompanied by falling temperatures making moving around Scotland and England very difficult with delays in all forms transport expected.

The East side of the country is expected to bear the brunt of the freezing conditions that may go as low as -20C which is unheard of for November. Aberdeen, Inverness, Leeds, Durham and Norwich airports have already been affected.

Heavy snowfalls are expected in southern and central England tonight which will more or less threaten all airports apart from Manchester, Liverpool and Bristol due to their more westerly locations.

For the capital this will coincide with the planned tube strike and all travellers are asked to contact their airports and to also allow considerably more time when travelling to the airports because delays are expected.

There has been a noticeable increase in airport hotels and parking bookings as many travellers have decided that driving to the airport the day before makes a lot of sense to avoid missing a flight.

20th November 2010

Edinburh Airport increses passenger traffic to become 5th busiest UK airport

Edinburgh Airport has climbed into 5th position in the league of UK airports in terms of passenger numbers overtaking the likes of Luton and Birmingham and of course local rival Glasgow airpor which now comes in at 8th position.

Only the London airports of Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester now have greater passenger traffic.The recovery in numbers has arisen since July following the affects of the ash cloud and the BA strikes.

The airport now has over 40 airlines based at the airport flying to 125 destinations and under pins Edinburgh as the capital of Scotland and a city which is high on the european cities to visit.

Clearly, having the Scottish Parliament on its door step has also helped but the airport claim that major progress has been made by creating more direct flights to the USA and the Middle East rather than providing a link to London airports where their customers would have travelled onto these destinations.

The trick is now to build on its promotion to this position by attracting more customers and airlines to the airport and be the gateway to the city and Scotland as a whole.

16th November 2010

One in the Eye for Manchester Airport as scanners go on trial

A new trial started today where passengers flying from Manchester airport will have their eyes scanned as part of a government backed pilot. Manchester airport was used for the full body scanners trial last year which got the thumbs up from passengers who considered far less intrusive than a physical body search.

The scanners are able to recognise a persons individual iris and once scanned machines will be able to monitor their movements at the airport.Clearly this is aimed at improving security at airports and to speed up check-in by the use of technology.

Initially the machines will be used at check in and again as they enter the secure area but the real use of the equipment will be when passengers are scanned as they enter the plane making it harder for criminals and terrosists to swap bording cards and other means of paper identification

Clearly the end game is that iris recognition will replace paper based checking and allow the airport to monitor the passenger at various points from check-in to desk thus greatly improving the need for human involvement with the endless checking of passports and boarding cards.

Airports are well aware that one of the bug bares of travelling is the time taken with security procedures which are both time consuming and intrusive, taking off belts, emptying pockets of change and removing shoes will hopefully be a thing of the past.

Once you are in the system and approved you are free to go so to speak

11th November 2010

Latest News from Heathrow airport

British Airways is going to introduce 777's to replace the current 747's on its Nevada route that will increase accomodation aboard by 124 economy seats and 14 First Class which over a year will boost capacity by 22,000 or another 18%. The 777's will also add that extra bit of class to this popular daily flights to Nevada

Dubai has overtaken Dublin, Edinburgh and Amsterdam as the second most popular destination travelling from the Heathrow travel hub which reflects the strength of the daily services provided by British Airways and Emirate Airlines to this destination.

Other monthly statistics out for October confirmed Heathrow as the world's second busiest airport with 66 million passengers passing through its five terminals.

A 7.6% increase was seen for October taking passengers numbers for the month up to 6.1million which demonstrates that the good figures seen for September are continuing and underpins the recovery being seen in business travel in particular.

This increase is being seen throughout Europe with an across the board improvement of 10.6 per cent

Airbus A380 Engine Fails On Route To Sydney

4th November 2010

Airbus A380 Engine Fails On Route To Sydney

Qantas the Australian flagship carrier has suspended all of its Airbus A380 aircraft after an engine failure left one the aircrafts having to perform an amazing U-turn and return to Singapore airport.

The super Jumbo left Singapore bound for Sydney when travellers said they heard a loud bang about 15 minutes into the journey and the plane started to shake. The captain returned the plane to Singapore airport where it was discovered the engine had exploded and parts of its casing were missing.

Qantas has launched a full investigation and will not allow any of its 6 Airbus’s to fly until they figure out what happened. Rolls-Royce the maker of the Trent 900 engines will be working closely with Qantas.

Other Airbus operators have yet to announce they are suspending their aircraft, although only Lufthansa's A380's have the Trent 900 engines on board. Other airline operators who use the Airbus A380 have different engine made by a consortium called engine alliance and have stated they have no intention of calling their planes in

3rd November 2010

Technology to lift liquid restrictions at Uk Airports

Restrictions on liquids being carried in hand luggage by passengers on flights across Europe are to set to end, thanks to successful tests on an anti-terror bottle scanner at Manchester Airport.

The multi-million pound machines,which were trialed last year,  can tell the difference between water and liquid explosives, and have been approved by the European Union.The Kromek scanners scan the barcodes of bottles, and by employing x ray methods, identify what contents should be inside.

If the roll out is a success, they could be introduced into every airport across the EU early next year.

Restrictions on passengers carrying liquids, gels and pastes in hand luggage will hopefully be lifted around April 2011, as long as the scanners are in place.

At present, holidaymakers can only carry liquids in containers with a 100ml maximum capacity in their hand luggage. The restrictions were introduced in August 2006 following failed bomb plots.

Three Britons were jailed for life last year for their part in the plan to attack at least seven planes using exposive liquids which were carried in drinks bottles. 

Kromek was developed by British scientists. Its chief executive Arnab Basu said: “To be named by EU regulators as an authorised provider of a revolutionary solution to one of the greatest threats to civil aviation currently is a major moment in Kromek's history.

A spokesperson for Kromek stated that it was a major step towards fighting terrorism where liquid is an increasingly common tool for terrorist use.It is not the first time that Manchester has led the way in international aviation security.

Last November, Manchester Airport were the first to employ a  ‘naked’ full-body scanner, which uses X-ray technology to show up hidden explosives. It was trialed in Terminal Two and proved so successful , that the machines are now being installed on Airports all over the world. 

2nd November 2010

Ryanair sees half year profits to 30th September soar

Ryanair has seen its turnover rise to £2.2 billion in the first half of the year which is an incredible increase of 23% despite the set backs caused by the Ash cloud disruption and the  air traffic controller strikes in Greece, Spain and latterly France.

Traffic grew in this period by 10% to 40.1 million passengers with seat prices rising by 12% resulting in an average price of 44 euros.

The only downside to these figures was the increase in costs of 13% with the fuel bill accounting for a large proportion of this increase.The resulting net profit of E452 million is an increase of 17% and well above analysts expectations.

The company claims that they continue to win market share from Air France, BA and Lufthansa and also claim that they now carry more passengers in Spain than Iberia.

There is no doubt that the low cost model continues to work against very trying circumstances although BA recently reported very good increases for their half year and they have had the cabin crew strikes to contend with during this time.

29th October 2010

BA report better than expected results

Following two years of losses BA managed to produce a profit of £158 million which was well in excess of expectations. Given the six months to 30th September 2010 included the cabin crew strike and the ash cloud disruption these figures augur well for the future.

For the same period last year the company made losses of £292 million and this is quite a turnaround in performance. This was also achieved with a drop in capacity of 6.2% but an improvement in passenger revenue of 8.4% suggesting that more business class seats were purchased.

Willie Walsh the new Chief Executive of the combined BA/Iberia merger stated that continued focus on cost management and making working practices as flexible as possible would continue and that the new cabin crew working under the new terms and conditions would begin flying on Monday.

The cabin crew strikes would now appear to be behind them having agreed to return perks subject to a good behavior clause for the next 3 years.

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