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Ryanair Passengers: Either Pay £5 or Luggage is in The Hold

Posted on 16th January 2018

It has been just over four years since Irish airline Ryanair allowed its passengers to carry on board a second bag. However, on Monday, passengers were informed of new rules which meant that they either paid a fee of £5 or agreed to put their wheelie suitcase in the hold of the aircraft.

Although the airline has stated that these new rules will decrease delays by speeding up boarding, passengers are being warned by consumer groups that they could be put at risk of being uninsured for losses. Some passengers are also questioning whether this is just another way for Ryanair to make money.

Passengers who do not wish to pay this £5 fee will find their cases on wheels taken from them at the gate, where they will be tagged with a yellow label and placed in the hold of the aircraft. This means Ryanair passengers will now to have to wait at their arrival airport to reclaim their luggage from the carousel.

The airline has warned that a maximum of 100 passengers will be permitted per flight who have paid for priority boarding to take their cases into the aircraft’s cabin. Permitted cabin bags must now be of the correct size to fit under the seat in front.

In attempts to defend its new rules. Ryanair said that at present, due to fuller planes, not all hand luggage is able to fit in overhead lockers and that some passengers were already being asked to place their cases in the hold. The airline has now cut the cost of pre-booking hold luggage for passengers to £25 from £35, as well as increasing weight allowance to 20kg.

At Stansted, Ryanair’s largest base within the UK, passengers seemed ‘broadly unfazed’ by the new rule, however, it appeared that many of them had not received the warning memo issued by the airline.

Rory Boland, Travel Editor, said “We would advise travellers to remove wallets, keys, laptops, and other important or expensive items from any bag the airline plans to put in the hold. If anything does go missing, you should claim against the airline as they should honor your rights under the Montreal Convention.”

The airline stated that all of its customers had been sent an email which informed of the changes to baggage, and that boarding passes had also been changed to highlight whether a passenger would be entitled to bring their wheelie case into the cabin. Priority boarding can be purchased by passengers up to 30 minutes before departure.

Topham, Gwyn. ‘Ryanair Levies £5 charge to put Suitcase in Overhead Locker.’ The Guardian.

OAG Report Shows Japan Airlines is Top Performer for Punctuality

Posted on 9th January 2018

Research carried out by travel intelligence company, OAG, has shown Japan Airlines to be the leading airline for on-time performance.

Last year, out of all of Japan Airlines’ flights, 85% of them arrived on time. The data collected by OAG showed Nippon Airways came a close second with 84%, who were then followed by Delta Air Lines with 83%.

The data, published from the OAG’s Punctuality League 2018, presented UK-based easyJet and British Airways to be in the top 20 ranking for on-time performance of the world’s largest airlines. These two UK based airlines took the 10th and 15th spot of the 20; BA came out with 79% and easyJet with 75%. easyJet also ranked in the top 20 for low-cost carriers’ punctuality.

Senior Analyst of OAG, John Grant, said “BA and easyJet are certainly holding their own amongst their global counterparts. In a highly competitive environment, it’s great to see the UK-based airlines reporting an impressive on-time performance.”

The OAG’s Punctuality League 2018 takes figures from around 57 million flight records and full year data from 2017 to show the top-ranking airlines in various categories.

Breaking Travel News. ‘OAG: Japan Airlines Leads World in Aviation Punctuality.’ Breaking Travel News Online.

2017 Named Safest Year for Air Travel

Posted on 2nd January 2018

According to industry research, 2017 proved itself to be the safest year in history for commercial airlines.

Reports from The Aviation Safety Network and Dutch consultancy To70 highlighted that throughout the year there were no passenger jet plane crashes anywhere in the world; this information also comes as more flights were made last year than ever before. However, despite these positive figures, To70 stated that the accident rate was “extraordinarily” low and it must be seen as “good fortune.”

Though there were no passenger jet crashes, there were cargo plane crashes throughout 2017. In a report from the Airline Safety Network, it was stated that a total of ten fatal accidents occurred, which caused the deaths of 79 people. In 2016, there were 16 cargo plane crashes, causing 303 deaths.

The most serious accident reported last year was in January and resulted in 39 fatalities. 4 crew members and 35 civilians were killed in a village in Kyrgyzstan after a Turkish cargo plane crashed into it.

Sadly, the latest incident occurred just a few days ago on New Year’s Eve in Western Costa Rica, which resulted in the deaths of 12 passengers and crew. The accident happened as a Nature Air single-propeller Cessna 208 Caravan Plane crashed.

However, neither of these above-mentioned reports included any counted details of helicopter or military accidents. This means that the actual worst air tragedy of the year, which happened when a Burmese Y-8 Military Transporter Plane crashed and killed all 122 people on board, wasn’t in any statistics. As well as this, small plane accidents also did not appear in the data.

Over the past two decades safety has been improving within the aviation industry, as the death toll continues to decrease. The Aviation Safety Network stated that there were over 1,000 deaths in 2005 on commercial passenger flights worldwide. The Networked claimed that the accident rate was now one fatal passenger flight accident in every 7,360,000 flights.

Aviation Safety Network President Harro Ranter said, “Since 1997 the average number of airliner accidents has shown a steady and persistent decline, for a great deal thanks to the continuing safety-driven efforts by international aviation organisations such as ICA, IATA, Flight Safety Foundation and the aviation industry.”

To70’s Adrian Young said although “2017 was the safest year for aviation ever” the industry still had “very large risks.” Mr Young highlighted new technology which includes fears such as lithium-ion batteries catching fire on-board. He also stated that had been “several quite serious non-fatal accidents” such as the engine failure on an Air France A380.

BBC News. ‘2017 Safest Year for Air Travel as Fatalities Fall.’ BBC News Online. Accessed via -

Travellers to Prepare for Busy Airports Before Christmas

Posted on 20th December 2017

Friday 22nd December has been forecasted to be the ‘busiest winter day in history’ for travellers in the UK.

Research from The Independent has forecast that this Friday will be extremely busy for UK travellers, as major airports are expecting to experience their busiest Christmas and New Year ever. It is estimated that around 250,000 individuals will pass through Heathrow this Friday, with at least 130,000 departing. 67,000 passengers will depart from Gatwick on Friday, and 127,000 people will arrive back to Heathrow on 2nd January.

For Manchester airport, it is not only this Friday which is set to be busy but next too - 29th December - as passengers travel to popular destinations such as Dubai, Dublin and Amsterdam. However, though Manchester is rated as the third busiest airport in Britain, it has recently had passenger complaints regarding its security queues. One passenger said in a tweet earlier this week, “Unfortunately, I’m flying through the total chaos of T1 again, when will you open more lanes to get people through it’s the week of Christmas!”

Manchester airport is trying to speed up its queues via a campaign it has launched on twitter, using slogans such as “Unzip, unfasten and unbutton your big winter coats whilst queueing up,” and “Take off the bling to avoid the ping.” However, it did also add “If you want to come to the airport dressed as Father Christmas, that’s Ok.”

Stansted is set to experience its busiest day on Saturday 23rd, with Edinburgh expecting over one million passengers passing through its airport throughout December, meaning this will be its busiest ever winter month on record.

It is expected that Wednesday and Thursday will be very busy for Luton airport, reaching its peak on Friday, with 4-5pm being the busiest hour of the day.

So, if you are planning on travelling this Friday from one of the UKs major airports, you best prepare yourself for crowds and queues, but we are sure there will be plenty of festive cheer to get you through!

Calder, Simon. ‘The Busiest Winter Day for Travellers in UK History, Exclusively Revealed.’

Ryanair Announces Plans to Recognise Further Unions

Posted on 20th December 2017

After finally submitting to pilot demands and announcing it will begin to recognise unions, the airline has now stated it will hold meetings in the new year in acknowledgement of cabin crew unions.

There have been numerous strike threats from the airlines’ pilots over the past few weeks, with some threatening to strike as close to Christmas as 20 December. In a bid to prevent these and future strikes, the airline announced last Friday that it will finally begin to recognise unions; something it has refused to do previously.

However, it is not just pilots working for Ryanair that have expressed job dissatisfaction lately – their cabin crew members appear to be just as unhappy. Complaining about low paid posts and poor working conditions and benefits, cabin crew have found themselves threatened with disciplinary proceedings should they fail to hit sale targets on in-flight scratch-cards, as well as punishment if they were to join in with strike action.

Impact union, who has cabin crew members, stated that it would be ‘delighted’ to begin talks in due course with the airline, regarding the working conditions and pay of its cabin crew staff. A spokesperson for the union said that strike action planned for this week still had potential to go ahead should the airline fail to fully meet requests made for union representation.

Complaints of a ‘toxic atmosphere’ at Ryanair had been made by pilots, many of whom had been employed through third-parties for long periods of times. Last week Ryanair Executives informed Stanstead pilots that it had ‘grown too fast’ and, because of this, lost its staffs trust. Chief Operations Officer of the airline, Peter Bellew, said “Everywhere I turned, I could see that people were asking for small things to be done and they just weren’t getting done.”

Ryanair has already made improvements as it offered significant pay increases to keep its staff. It has also placed a large order for planes, so it looks as though it intends to continue growing in the future.

Topham, Gwyn. ‘First Pilots, Now Cabin Crew- Ryanair to Recognise Other Unions.’

Strike Plans ‘Suspended’ As Ryanair Recognises Unions

Posted on 18th December 2017

Pilots of Ryanair have suspended a strike which was set to take place on Wednesday 20th December, according to union bosses.

Ryanair continues to dominate aviation news as it has done for the past month, since a mess up with its pilots’ rosters caused the airline to cancel over 20,000 flights, disrupting over 700,000 passengers’ travel plans.

Following the airlines announcement last Friday to recognise unions, Impact union – representor of the airlines’ Irish based pilots – will meet with Ryanair management on Tuesday, the day before the strike was due to take place.

On Sunday, the union released a statement which said, “Impact has this evening suspended a planned one-day strike of Ryanair pilots next Wednesday after company management agreed to recognise the union as the representative of Irish-based pilots. The union has agreed to meet management on Tuesday evening, but says it is available to meet sooner.”

The statement also said, “The union asked management to release its Ryanair pilot representatives to prepare for and attend the meeting. The union acknowledged the principled determination of Ryanair pilots.”

After stating in the news over the past few weeks that it had no intention to recognise trade unions, the airline has finally succumbed after some of its pilots in Ireland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal threatened strikes over the Christmas period.

The airline is also planning to meet on Wednesday with the German pilots’ union. On Saturday, Peter Bellew, Ryanair’s Chief Operations Officer, said “Let’s keep talking” in a social media post. Last Friday, the airline announced that it would recognise these unions “as long as they establish committees of Ryanair pilots… as Ryanair will not engage with pilots who fly for competitor airlines.”

In the full 32 years that the airline has been flying this is the first such instance where an invitation has been given to union leaders. On Saturday, British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) announced it had accepted the offer from Ryanair to represent its British-based pilots, however, on the condition that the TUC federation of British trade unions was able to attend any future talks.

The announcement to recognise unions from Ryanair caused Italian pilots’ union Anpac and Portuguese union Spac to call off planned strike action which was due to happen next week. German pilots of the airline had also voted to take industrial action over the Christmas period, however, union Vereinigung Cockpit stated that it was now down to Ryanair to “prove that this announcement is serious.”

Pilots in Spain had not planned any strikes; however, it is believed that ground staff unions have not yet ruled out action on 30 December 2017.

BBC News. ‘Ryanair Pilots in Ireland Suspend Strike Plans.’

Ryanair Staff Set to Strike in Lead-Up to Christmas

Posted on 14th December 2017

It looks as though Ryanair’s turbulence isn’t over just yet, as their pilots and crew announce industrial action and striking in the lead up to Christmas.

79 of the airlines pilots based in Dublin have announced they will strike for one day before Christmas, which will take place on the 20 December 2017. This figure is believed to represent approximately 28% of its Dublin-based pilots. There will also be a four-hour strike between pilots and crew in Italy on 15 December 2017.

It is also thought that pilots who are based in both Germany and Portugal are planning to take industrial action. The purpose is to ‘win union recognition’ along with better working conditions, however, Ryanair has expressed it has no intention of being part of a union.

German pilots’ union, Cockpit, have claimed that its Ryanair members would hold a strike in a bid to win better pay and conditions if the airline continued to refuse to begin negotiations with its staff, however, the union did ‘vow’ that flights would not be disrupted over Christmas. In response to this, Ryanair said that it will “not deal with or recognise” the German union, “regardless of what action – if any – takes place”.

Ryanair said, “Ryanair will deal with any such disruptions if, or when they arise, and we apologise sincerely to customers for any upset or worry this threatened action… may cause.” Of its Dublin pilots planning to strike, it said they are “a small group of pilots who are working their notice and will shortly leave Ryanair, so they don’t care how much upset they cause colleagues or customers.”

It was only a few months ago that Ryanair announced the cancellation of 20,000 flights, disrupting over 700,000 of its passengers, after it encountered problems with its pilots’ rosters. Though, at this time, Chief Executive Michael O’Leary wrote to the airlines 4,200 pilots apologising for the mistake and changes, and encouraging them to stay with the airline, this week pilots in Dublin were informed if they were to strike then they would lose any agreed benefits.

Many of its pilots have since joined unions, however, the airline commented that it could ‘legally decline to negotiate with them.’ Is this the best way for the airline to be dealing with its staffing issues? Only time will tell, but if you are flying with Ryanair over the next couple of weeks, make sure you check for any further strikes beforehand!

BBC News. ‘Ryanair Pilots to Strike Before Christmas.’ BBC News Online.

15,000 American Airlines Flights Without Sufficient Crew at Christmas

Posted on 30th November 2017

Only a couple of months after Irish airline Ryanair cancelled over 20,000 flights as a result of messing up crew Rosters, another ‘giant’ airline appears to have done the same.

American Airlines is believed to be at risk of cancelling up to 15,000 flights, as these do not have enough crew members assigned to them to operate. The union that is currently representing American Airlines’ pilots has said that the Christmas operation, at present, is at risk.

It is believed that a glitch in the system has allowed too many pilots to be off at the same time over the festive period.

In a statement, the Allied Pilots Association said, “On Friday, management disclosed a failure within the pilot schedule bidding system. As a result, thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period. Today, management issued an update detailing the ‘significant holes’ in the operation and unilaterally invoked a solution for crewing affected flights.”

It is believed that the airline is offering to pay its pilots 50 percent higher than usual, in the hopes of persuading them to crew the flights.

The union has said that it is not happy that it was not involved in “developing collaborative solutions to this critical holiday scheduling failure” and that because “management unilaterally created their solution in violation of the contract, neither APA nor the contract can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered.”

American Airlines said, “We are working diligently to address the issue and expect to avoid cancellations this holiday season. We have reserve pilots to help cover flying in December, and we are paying pilots who pick up certain trips 150 percent of their hourly rate- as much as we are allowed to pay them per the contract. We will work with the APA to take care of our pilots and ensure we get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays.”

The airline also said it is “working intently to address the issue and intends to operate flights as normal.”

Calder, Simon. ‘American Airlines Risks 15,000 Flights After It Accidentally Gives Pilots Too Much Christmas Holiday.’

Drone Use to be Restricted Close to Airports

Posted on 27th November 2017

From next year those people who use drones are set to be facing new restrictions, as there have been 50 near misses reported with aircrafts throughout the past year.

New laws will restrict the use of drones close to airports and also hand police the power to land any drones they feel could be involved in criminal activities. Transport Minister, Baroness Sugg, stated that due to these near misses with aircraft, the chance of an incident occurring in the future is high, and that the government is “clear on the need to act.”

The new legislation is being backed by the British Airline Pilots’ Association, which has recently carried out research along with the Military Aviation Authority to demonstrate just how vulnerable both airline and helicopter windscreens are to ‘drone strikes.’

Lib Dem Lady Randerson, speaking in the House of Lords, said “There are hundreds of thousands of drones now in operation – and there were over 50 near misses reported this year alone on aircraft. The government needs to develop a much greater sense of urgency in dealing with this serious problem that will lead to an accident if it is not controlled.”

An educational awareness campaign called “drone code” has been launched by the government as well as a drone assist app in the attempt to increase the safety of using drones.

Lord Rosser of the Labour party, ‘pressed’ for an answer to the question: “Is the possibility of such a major incident becoming more or less likely as each day passes?” as he raised the possibility of a drone being involved in a fatal incident, which could result in death or serious injury.

In response, Lady Sugg informed that she was aware of the high expectations of an incident occurring involving a drone, and that as more and more drones are being sold on a daily basis, she is aware of the need for action in this area.

Questions were raised to Lady Sugg such as how would those involved in criminal drone activity be identified and what punishment would they face, as well as would the new legislation cover drones being used to transport illegal substances into prison grounds.

The response was that “It’s sometimes a challenge to link an operator to a drone. We’re trying to help address this by bringing forward a registration system and we’re also investigation electronic identification. We’re looking at powers for the police to require the production of registration ID and documents for drone users. Also, that they will be able to require a drone user to land their drone and also to search for and seize a drone when there’s a reasonable belief that a crime has taken place.”

BBC News. ‘New Law Set to Restrict Drone Use Near Airports.’ BBC News.

Ryanair Still Under Pilot Pressure

Posted on 17th November 2017

The future for Ryanair could be beginning to look more expensive for both its passengers and itself, as its pilots push back.

Chief Executive of Ryanair, Michael O’Leary, built the airline in to what it is today by simply being cheap, including charging its pilots for refreshments on their own flights. However, the airline has recently been a hot topic in the news after a Rota mess-up caused it to cancel over 20,000 flights and after its pilots began to voice their worries and dissatisfaction.

A group of unhappy pilots for the airline are now demanding higher pay along with better working conditions. Unfortunately for Ryanair, with these demands also came the demands from other airlines such as Norwegian for new pilots to join their expanding teams.

In response to this, O’Leary has offered pilots a pay-rise, which has been accepted at some of the airlines bases, whilst also ‘vowing’ that the airline will remain union-free. Barry Norris, overseer of approximately $500m at Argonaut Partners, London, which includes Ryanair shares, said “Frankly, most of the shareholders would rather Ryanair doesn’t fly any planes for six months than the workforce becomes unionized.”

Though at the majority of other airlines pilots enjoy a privileged position, those working for Ryanair have too been subjected to the airlines ‘penny-punching.’ A number of aviators who wished to remain anonymous stated that many of Ryanair’s crew are hired on a monthly basis as contractors, and they are required to pay for their own uniform, ground transport, hotel costs and mobile phone usage. However, in response to this statement, a spokesperson for the airline said most of the pilots are actually employed directly by the airline, and they each receive an allowance of 6,000 euros per year to cover costs such as uniforms, medical checks, snacks, and badges. They also stated that should pilots be required to stay away from their home base overnight, then accommodation is provided and paid for.

Last week, a letter by 59 aviators informed that both their pay and working conditions fell short of the expected industry standard. One of their main concerns is that the majority of contracts issued by Ryanair require its staff to move to any base in Europe, without the providing of any notice or ‘relocation payments.’

In the letter the pilots stated, “We simply want to be represented with one collective voice. […] We seek direct negotiations with the company management.” However, in response to this the airline said it “will not engage” with either this or “any other group fronting for the pilot unions of competitor airlines.”

Ryanair has become immensely popular over the years for its low-cost, low-fare philosophy, however, it looks as though its extra cheap flights may soon be coming to an end, unless O’Leary can think of other ways to meet his pilots’ demands.

Despite its recent Rota mess-up causing 700,000 passengers disruption, the airline is now winning people back with its low-offer flights, which it reduced even further in an attempt to bring its name back to popularity. Though the public are warming back to the airline, it appears some of its staff are not. The timing is not ideal for the airline either with the current high-demand for pilots as other carriers expand and grow in other areas.

What is even more dangerous to Ryanair, is that the ‘skills and work ethic’ of its pilots are ‘prized’ by rival airlines. Bjorn Kjos, Chief Executive Officer at Norwegian Air said, “Ryanair pilots are very good, they are very highly trained, highly skilled. If they come, then are super pilots.” Norwegian has already brought on around 160 of Ryanair’s pilots so far this year, as it expands its long-haul operations.

This competition from other airlines has encouraged Ryanair to attempt to meet its pilots’ demands, as it has already increased pay and stepped up its internal recruitment to replace staff that have already left to go to other airlines. O’Leary said, “We will remain a non-union company by paying our people more and by fixing the broken elements of communication with pilots.”

O’Leary proposed an annual raise to flight crew of 22 percent, however, this has only been accepted by the airlines crew at around 20 of its 86 bases; London Stanstead was one of the ones to reject the proposal. However, Ryanair is not giving up, as it has also committed to sign more of its staff on to full-time contracts, as well as employing a brand-new team whose job it is to oversee all of the airlines’ rosters.

Peter Bellew, who was once Ryanair’s Director of Operations, will also be returning to the airline after leaving just two years ago. O’Leary stated that Bellew will “bring a face that the pilots will know.” Barry Norris said, “O’Leary’s had a great track record over a number of years. The pilots are massively overplaying their hand.”

It looks as though only time will tell for certain the way Ryanair’s future is heading, but with passenger numbers still on the rise, it looks to potentially still be on the up.

Katz, D. Benjamin. ‘Ryanair’s Low-Cost Soul at Stake as Pilots Gird for Fight.’ Bloomberg.

Ryanair Expects Record Profits Despite Recent Issues

Posted on 3rd November 2017

Though Ryanair has recently been one of the main airlines talked about in aviation news after it cancelled approximately 20,000 flights, it still expects to make ‘record annual profits’ this year.

The airline has stated that during the six months leading to the end of September 2017, it made profits of £1.14bn; it has forecasted a total year profit of up to £1.45bn.

The recent cancellations, which reportedly affected over 700,000 passengers, were caused after pilots’ rotas had to be changed in order to comply with new aviation rules. The cancellations were announced during September, meaning that they haven’t really had much of an effect on the profits during these six months.

Though rival airlines of Ryanair have now reported they have had an increase in bookings after passengers were left ‘afraid’ of how the future looked for the Irish carrier, Neil Sorahan, Ryanair’s Chief Financial Officer, said he is now “absolutely confident” that the airline will have sufficient pilots, including standby pilots, to operate all of its flights next summer. Mr Sorahan clarified that the recent problems encountered by Ryanair, which led it to cancel so many flights, were caused by a human error, not a system error.

Flight cancellations have not been the only issue the airline has been dealing with recently, as they continue to engage in pay talks with many of their pilots. Mr Sorahan said out of its 86 bases, pilots at 10 of these have now ‘approved’ a new deal, within which they will receive a ‘materially higher’ pay. Mr Sorahan also added that this new level of service and pay to its staff from Ryanair had “better career prospects, superior rosters and much better job security than Norwegian”; an airline who has come to be one of Ryanair’s biggest rivals for both passengers and staff over the past couple of months.

Pilots accepting the new level of pay offered, and who are based in Stansted or Dublin airports, will be receiving 20% more than they would if they were to move to rival Norwegian.

BBC News. ‘Ryanair Buoyant Despite Cancellations.’ BBC News Online.

Ryanair Pilots Demand Higher Pay Rise

Posted on 23rd October 2017

Despite its recent efforts, it seems Ryanair just can’t win some of its pilots over, as they demand double the pay offered to them.

An ad hoc pilots group of Ryanair Holdings Plc has ‘demanded’ double the pay which was offered to its London Stansted crews by management, after just last week rejecting a ‘peace offering’ over the recent conflict from the cancelled flights catastrophe.

Last Friday, the London Stansted base of Ryanair took a vote which resulted in 60% to 40% against raises and bonuses, which have played a major part in the conflict between the airline and its crew. Though bonuses of up to £22,000 were offered, the group rejected these and instead demanded a basic pay rise for Captains throughout the airline to £150,000 from the current £64,000.

Ryanair was recently forced to cancel over 20,000 of its flights - reportedly affecting over 700,000 passengers - after a mix up of its rotas which left it short of flight crew to carry out all scheduled flights.

An unofficial European Employee Representative Council (EERC) was created last month on the back of the issues regarding staffing and flight cancellations, and is attempting to create a ‘collective bargaining group’ across all 86 of the carriers’ bases.

The EERC wrote in a letter “While no pilot may wish to take industrial action, sometimes it is the only way to bring an intransigent employer to a satisfactory agreement. We have to consider this possibility to ensure we have an equal voice at the negotiating table.”

The demands being made, which are also requested to be backdated to 1st September 2017, include various benefit changes to the airlines’ staff such as free refreshments on board flights, uniforms and medicals to be paid for, training costs to be covered by the airline and transport and accommodation to be provided whilst working from a different base than usual. It is also being demanded that pilots receive permanent contracts and shares in the company based on seniority.

A spokesperson for the airline said Ryanair “will continue to engage with the London Stansted EERC to understand how it can address their remaining concerns.” The pay offer that has been made by the management of the airline has been accepted at over 10 of its bases, and it raises their staffs pay higher than that of rivals Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA and Jet2.

In an attempt to manage its rotas and prevent further flight cancellations the airline is hiring more staff members, and has recently stated that Malaysia Airlines Bhd’s Chief Executive Officer, Peter Bellew, will replace its former Chief Operations Officer - who left the airline only this month – on 1st December.

Katz, Benjamin D. ‘Ryanair Pilots Step Up Pressure with Demands to Double Pay Rise.’

Ryanair Named as Fifth Biggest Airline on Planet

Posted on 13th October 2017

Despite what has quite possibly been the worst month in its history, airline Ryanair has now been named as the ‘fifth largest airline on the planet.’

Due to problems with pilot holidays, the airline was forced to cancel flights which affected around 700,000 of their passengers. Alongside this, it then encountered issues with both its pilots and cabin crew around pay and annual holidays.

However, it looks as though things are now back on the up, as over 90% of the cancellations made have been resolved with either alternative flights or refunds, and some of the airlines staff seem to be coming back around. Though some have recently doubted Ryanair’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Leary, new figures from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have revealed that Ryanair is now not only the fifth largest airline on the planet, but the biggest in Europe.

During 2016, Ryanair flew over 112 million passengers and the airlines growth is still being recognised, despite its recent hiccups. Lufthansa comes in as Ryanair’s closest rival within Europe, as last year this airline flew 110 million passengers.

Although some things are looking to be on the up for the airline, it is continuing to encounter one small problem: a group of pilots who are attempting to change the way the airline is currently organised, as well as its relationships with its staff.

The pilots want to create a ‘central body’ which will represent the airlines’ pilots across all of its 80-plus bases, however, Ryanair prefers to liaise with its pilots’ base by base, as it always has done in the past. This liaising is done now via Employee Representative Committees (ERCs); however, pilots are claiming that these committees very rarely negotiate on the pilots’ behalf, and that instead they are given ‘take-it-or-leave-it offers’ by those in charge.

Despite their efforts, thus far the airline is sticking to its original way of liaising with its staff, and, just this week, it sent an internal message which showed salary increases which were on offer to pilots, arguing that these were better than any on offer from competitor airlines such as Jet2 and Norwegian.

Morris, Hugh. ‘Ryanair is Now the Fifth Largest Airline on the Planet (Despite All Those Cancelled Flights).’ Telegraph.

Thomas, Helen. ‘Ryanair: Why It Hasn’t All Gone Quiet.’ BBC News Online.

Monarch Airline Enters into Administration

Posted on 3rd October 2017

Thousands of customers have been left disappointed after Monarch Airlines has ceased trading.

The airline has cancelled all future flights and holidays, meaning approximately 860,000 people have now had their bookings cancelled. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) are sending over 30 planes overseas to bring home stranded holidaymakers whose flights have now been cancelled by Monarch.

Monarch is the country’s largest airline to ever collapse after it was put into administration at 4am this morning. Passengers were then sent text messages to tell them that their flights had been cancelled shortly after, however, some passengers were already at airports waiting for departure.

The airline was employer to around 2,100 staff members, one of which said it was “pretty crazy” to wake up and find out you no longer have a job.

Just last year the airline reported a loss of £291m, and it is believed to be this, terror attacks in Egypt and Tunisia, increased competition, and the recent weak pound that have led to its end.

The airline was also in ‘last-ditch talks’ with the regulator regarding the renewal of its licence to sell package holidays, however, a deal was not reached.

Official spokesperson for Prime Minister Theresa May said that the PM “feels hugely sorry” for all those who have been affected by this “very distressing situation.”

Any people due to travel from the UK with Monarch are being told by the CAA not to go to the airport.

Chris Grayling, Travel Secretary, said that Monarch had fallen victim to the “price war in the Med.” However, Andrew Swaffield, Chief Executive of Monarch said that the “root cause” of the airlines collapse was terrorism in both Egypt and Tunisia.

Mr Swaffield told employees of Monarch: “Hold your heads up high and be proud of what you have achieved.”

The Travel Secretary said, “This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad – and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK.”

The CAA has stated that Monarch currently has 110,000 passengers overseas in at least 11 different countries. Flights are now being sourced and scheduled to get these passengers home from around 33 airports.

BBC News. ‘Monarch Flights Cancelled as Airline Ceases Trading.’ BBC News Online.

CAA Gives Ryanair Deadline for Compensation Rules

Posted on 2nd October 2017

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has told airline Ryanair that it has till Friday afternoon to ‘correct its compensation policy’ for its passengers who have been affected by their flight cancellations.

The regulator has accused the airline of not being clear with its passengers regarding their rights to be re-routed with an alternative airline should their flight be one that has been cancelled. The CAA claims that Ryanair has misled its passengers, which at times has caused them to choose ‘unsuitable’ alternative options.

Ryanair is now required to publicly state how it plans to re-route those passengers who require it, as well as how it plans to reimburse expenses incurred by its passengers as a result of flight cancellations.

The CAA already began ‘enforcement action’ on Wednesday this week and have said that if their demands are not met by 5pm today, then it will carry on with this legal action against the airline. Should Ryanair not comply, it could find itself being taken to court and facing the possibility of an ‘unlimited fine.’

The demands that have been made by the CAA cover all passengers due to fly to and from the UK before having their flights cancelled by the airline. In total, more than 700,000 passengers are set to be affected by the cancellations, which run from now until March 2018.

Ryanair has been asked to make the details on its website clearer for its passengers by the CAA, which must be done by today’s deadline: “There is still no information here about how expenses will be treated where passengers are re-routed to and/or from other airports or where they otherwise incur additional out-of-pocket expenses as a result of the cancellations. Further changes are therefore required to make it clear that any such expense will be reimbursed by Ryanair.”

The CAA stated that Ryanair has at present still not provided information with regards to its refund and rerouting policy, which it was requested to do a week ago; this has left the regulator “especially interested” in how the Call Centre staff of the airline have been dealing with its passengers.

Ryanair has claimed that on Wednesday it reminded its Call Centre staff of its formal policy which explains that passengers are able to be re-booked on to an alternative airline providing the cost is not over three times that of the original fare charged with Ryanair.

The CAA has also told Ryanair that it must send new emails to customers affected which gives them “accurate and comprehensive information on their rights and options.” These passengers must be again offered a refund or the option of re-routing including with an alternative airline. It must also inform them of how to claim for any expenses they have incurred as a result of the cancellation. These new emails must be sent by 5pm on 4th October, after they have been firstly checked and approved by the regulator.

BBC News. ‘Ryanair Given Deadline to Obey Compensation Rules.’ BBC News Online.

CAA Threatens Ryanair with Legal Action

Posted on 2nd October 2017

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has threatened airline Ryanair with legal action.

The threat comes as the CAA accuses the airline of “persistently misleading” passengers with regards to their rights after thousands of flights were cancelled due to the “messing up of pilot holiday rosters.”

The regulator has stated that it is has launched “enforcement action,” which is the first step in the process towards taking the airline to court. The CAA claimed that Ryanair was wrong to state the it was not required to re-route its passengers on to rival airlines.

Chief Executive of the CAA, Andrew Haines, stated he was “furious” with Ryanair, who appeared to show “disregard for consumers and for the law.”

After already cancelling 50 flights a day till the end of October, the airline has now cancelled a second wave of scheduled flights between November and March, meaning that now over 700,000 passengers will be affected. The CAA has said that upon these waves of cancellations, the airline has failed in providing its passengers with “necessary and accurate” information about their rights to amenities such as hotels, meals and transfers.

Ryanair is accused of failing to clearly inform its passengers that it is responsible for refunding all expenses they incurred after having their flights cancelled. The CAA believes that the airline is not currently doing enough to inform of passenger rights under EU law.

In total, 34 routes are to be suspended by the airline this winter, including popular ones such as Stansted to Edinburgh and Glasgow, Newcastle to Faro and Gatwick to Belfast.

The regulator will be taking views for the next week before it decides whether to go ahead with legal action or not.

Mr Haines said. “There are clear laws in place, which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimise both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control. We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair.”

In response to this, Michael O’Leary, boss of Ryanair, stated that the airline was “in correspondence with the CAA and have requested an early meeting to address their concerns.”

Ryanair has stated that its passengers who have been affected will be offered either alternative flights or full refunds. It has also claimed that passengers will be offered vouchers towards alternative flights on top of refunds of 40 euros one way or 80 euros return.

Sillars, James. ‘Ryanair Feels Wrath of ‘Furious’ Air Regulator Over Cancelled Flights.’ Sky News.

BBC News. ‘Ryanair Threatened with Legal Action by UK Regulator.’ BBC News Online.

Cheap Flights from Ryanair to ‘Win Back’ Passengers

Posted on 2nd October 2017

After what has been described as ‘the worst week in its history,’ airline Ryanair is offering flights for under £5 in an attempt to get its bookings ‘back on track.’

The airline is offering flights to France for under £5, as well as many to other parts of Europe for less than £10. After finding itself with a shortage of pilots due to changes to the holiday system, the airline is set to compensate thousands of passengers whose flights were ‘abruptly’ cancelled.

To try and resume its normal service, Ryanair is believed to be offering one million seats on the flight market for just £9.99 one way. These seats are on flights from October to February and the airline is offering a few seats at an even lower price of £4.99 for those passengers flying from Stansted to Lorient in Brittany and Grenoble in the Alps.

For each individual that takes up the cheap flight offer from Ryanair, the airline will be required to pay £13 in Air Passenger Duty, however, it is hoping that it will be able to make up the difference through selling extras such as baggage and seat selection.

The airline is offering these discounted flights on popular routes such as Manchester to Frankfurt and Gatwick to Alicante, giving off some serious competition for its competitors. With competitor airlines Monarch and EasyJet, passengers can’t get to Alicante on 1st November for less than £35, whereas with Ryanair they can get there for under £10. Passengers can even book seats on longer flights with the airline for below £10, such as Birmingham to Corfu and Newcastle to Malaga.

Ryanair boss, Michael O’Leary, seven years ago, said that he was not interested in ‘plaudits’ from passengers with regards to how Ryanair has transformed aviation within Europe as he said, “We don’t particularly want their appreciation, we just want their bums on our seats.”

Calder, Simon. ‘Ryanair: After Worst Week Ever, Airline Slashes Fares for the Winter to Win Back Passengers.’ The Independent.

CAA Claims Airlines Cheating Passengers of Compensation

Posted on 21st September 2017

Back in February this year, the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced enforcement measures against five airlines – American Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Singapore Airlines and Turkish Airlines – as it stated they failed to compensate their passengers for delayed European departures that affected second leg flights outside of Europe.

Regulation EC No. 261/2004, which relates to the compensation rights of passengers should their flights be cancelled, delayed, or should they be denied boarding, was disputed between the regulator and some of the accused airlines. Though the carriers strongly rejected the allegations made towards them from the CAA, the regulator remained adamant in its interpretation of the regulation and the law.

The CAA accused the airlines of not compensating their passengers who suffered delays of three hours or more to long-haul flights due to delays to their earlier connecting flights departing from Europe. The regulator stated that by refusing to pay this compensation, the airlines were breaching their passengers’ rights in relation to regulations which cover flight disruption.

Director of Consumers and Markets at the CAA, Richard Moriarty, said “There are clear laws in place to make sure passengers that experience this type of disruption are looked after by their airline and compensated when the disruption was in the airline’s control.”

He added, “Airlines’ first responsibility should be looking after their passengers, not finding ways in which they can prevent passengers upholding their rights. So, it’s disappointing to see a small number of airlines continuing to let a number of their passengers down by refusing to pay them the compensation they are entitled to.”

Though the airlines are disputing these allegations, the CAA made it clear in the footnotes at the bottom of a press release of what their interpretation of the current law is: “The CAA notes there is a pending legal case regarding Emirates that may be heard at the Court of Appeal, after passengers were refused compensation by the airline for disrupted flights. The CAA’s position is that the European courts have already considered the issue of missed connections and European Commission guidance is clear when airlines should pay compensation.” The regulator claimed that the law was already clear under EU 261/2004 for compensation payments to passengers.

At the time of the CAA’s allegations, the airlines accused raised the question as to why the regulator was enforcing action when cases were due to be heard at the Court of Appeal in July.

Several of the accused airlines disagreed with the claims made by the regulator, and both American Airlines and Emirates openly disputed the allegations, with a spokesperson for Emirates saying, “The way in which the CAA has communicated this issue is both misleading and unprofessional. As the CAA is well aware, the recent EU guidelines on EC 261 are not intended to amend the law. The issue of EC 261’s application to our flights from the UK involving a stopover in Dubai is currently pending before the Court of Appeal. We will rigorously defend our position, and challenge the blanket application of EC 261 to every situation, without consideration of context or the safety of our passengers.”

In an emailed statement, American Airlines said, “American Airlines is aware of the connecting flight portion of the Civil Aviation Authority report, which relates to a discrete legal issue involving EC 261. We disagree with the CAA’s interpretation of this legal issue and look forward to additional conversations on the matter.”

The Gahan v Emirates case, which was due in court in July, is around a compensation claim for a flight from Manchester to Bangkok via Dubai, which reached a huge total delay of 14 hours. Due to the passenger arriving in to Dubai four hours later than scheduled, they missed their connecting flight, which added further delays to their travelling.

Though last May (2016) District Judge Benson ruled that the flights should have been considered as two distinct operations and therefore the second flight fell outside of the scope of EC 261/2004, the claimant was granted the right to appeal.

Mark Walker at Hughes Walker Solicitors who represented in the Gahan v Emirates case, also represented case – Air France v Folkerts. Mr Walker said that up till now, the CAA has been “behind the curve” on these types of compensation claims, as, the ruling for Air France v Folkerts was that compensation for passengers should be calculated based on the time of arrival at the final destination.

He added, “A large number of passengers have brought claims for missed connections and been denied their rightful compensation despite the European Court ruling.” Alongside him, the CAA also believe that European law is already clear on passenger rights.

Within its dispute, Emirates highlighted that an earlier decision made in the High Court – Sanghvi v Cathay Pacific – ruled that EC 261/2004 applies ‘only to the individual components of a long-haul flight,’ which is why the airline disagrees with the allegations made against it.

Several people, including lawyers, who wished to remain anonymous all expressed their surprise that the CAA had chosen to announce enforcement action at such a time when ‘related litigation’ was pending hearing in the Courts.

Though the hearing was held on the 26th and 27th July 2017, the Court ‘reserved judgement’ at the conclusion of the hearing, and it is expected that a decision will be handed down after its summer recess.

Madge-Wyld, Tom. ‘Emirates and UK Regulator Lock Horns Over EC 261/2004.’ Getting the Deal Through.

Madge-Wyld, Tom. ‘UK Court Hears Extra-Territorial Arguments in EC 261/2004 Appeal.’ Getting the Deal Through.

Ryanair ‘Messes Up’ Pilots’ Holidays Affecting Thousands of Passengers

Posted on 18th September 2017

Yesterday saw the cancellation of 82 flights from airline Ryanair, as it admitted to “messing up” staff holidays.

The airline, deemed as ‘king of the low-cost carriers,’ has encountered staffing problems due to the poor planning of its pilots’ holidays, which is now causing severe disruption to both the airline and its passengers. It is expected that around 40-50 flights will be cancelled by Ryanair each day for up to the next six weeks.

Speaking on behalf of the airline, Marketing Office Kenny Jacobs said: “We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working hard to fix that.” Mr Jacobs stated that customers who will be affected by the cancellations with flights booked up to 20 September have been informed.

The airline said it is changing its holiday year from April to March to January to December instead, and that this shift has resulted in having to allocate holidays in September and October to its pilots.

Potentially, 285,000 passengers of Ryanair could be affected by the cancellations, each will be offered the choice of either alternative flights or a refund. Emails have been sent to customers affected and the airline is encouraging its passengers to check the inbox of the email address they used to make their original booking.

So far this week, the airline has cancelled 56 flights on Monday, 55 on Tuesday and 53 on Wednesday. Though Ryanair has stated that passengers will see less than 2% of its flights being cancelled, complaints have been raised regarding the ‘resulting uncertainty.’

Lord Callanan, UK Aviation Minister, spoke of how he expected all airlines to fulfil their “obligations to their customers.” Lord Callanan said, “In the event of any disruption or cancellation airlines must ensure customers are fully compensated and every effort is made to provide alternative travel arrangements.”

Travel Editor of The Independent, Simon Calder, stated that under European Passenger Rights Legislation, if an airline does not have a suitable alternative flight for its passengers, then they must be booked on to a rival airline.

Though Ryanair is the biggest airline in Europe, it looks as though it may be set to experience some serious competition from the ‘new kid on the block’ – airline, Norwegian.

Norwegian, also a no-frills airline has not only significantly grown over the past three years but has also ‘boasted’ of how they have so far this year recruited 140 Ryanair pilots. These pilots are taken on in a full-time job, unlike most new pilots to Ryanair who are taken on with a contractor status, and also receive a competitive salary.

Under EU compensation rules, airlines are required to offer full refunds which must be paid within seven days or rebooking’s to passengers who have had a flight cancelled at short notice. Passengers are also entitled to compensation for both cancelled and late flights, which can help with. If you have been, or are going to be, affected by the Ryanair flight cancellations then get in touch where we will be happy to assist you further.

BBC News. ‘Ryanair Cancels Flights After ‘Messing Up’ Pilot Holidays.’ BBC News Online.

Thomas Cook Pilots Plan More Strikes as Pay Dispute Continues

Posted on 11th September 2017

Pilots of Airline Thomas Cook took part in the first pilot strike since the 1970s last Friday, as they disputed pay, with three further strike days announced for Autumn.

The strike began at 3am on Friday morning, when members of the British Airline Pilots’ Association (Balpa) ‘walked out.’ However, Balpa stated that the decision to walk out had been made ‘extremely reluctantly.’

Brian Strutton, General Secretary of Balpa, said that “Thomas Cook pilots have faced year-on-year, real term pay cuts, and cuts to terms and conditions, and our pilots have said ‘enough is enough.’

He did add, however, that the strike action was kept to a minimum – just 12 hours. Thomas Cook stated that all of its flight would be operating as normal during the strike hours.

Chief Executive of Thomas Cook, Peter Fankhauser said, “[any pay rise] needs to be reasonable and affordable,” as the company continues to compete with lower cost airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair. Mr Fankhauser said that costs for the airline were going up, such as fuel and air traffic control costs, and that Balpa had asked for an annual salary increase of over 10%.

He said, “Obviously we work in an extremely tough environment. We have offered basically 4% over 2 years on top of normal annual pay increases of 1.8%. We have an offer which is clearly above inflation. We have moved 3 times. Balpa has not moved at all, so we really ask Balpa to come back to the table to negotiate with us.”

Though last weeks’ strike only lasted twelve hours, a further three days of striking have been planned, as Thomas Cook pilots who are members of Balpa are preparing to walk out again on both the 23rd and 29th September, and 6th October, as the pay dispute continues. However, the airline and Balpa are to meet at ACAS, conciliation service, on 12th September.

Mr Strutton said, “I’m pleased [Friday’s] strike by Thomas Cook pilots has kick-started negotiations. We will now focus on trying to make progress at five days of ACAS talks over the next two weeks.”

He added, “However, there is still a significant gap between us and Thomas Cook so we cannot assume that those talks will succeed. That’s why we’ve set new strike dates. We urge Thomas Cook to come to the ACAS table with an acceptable offer so we won’t need to use them.”

91% of pilots from the strike ballot voted in favour of taking action in the dispute over their pay negotiations of 2017. However, Christopher Debus, Chief Executive of Thomas Cook Airlines, said, “In these times which are extremely challenging for the airline industry, it’s a very reasonable offer. Balpa has a claim which, if you sum all the elements up, is about 10 per cent.”

Calder, Simon. ‘Thomas Cook: More Strike Dates Announced after First UK Pilots’ Strike in Four Decades Fails to Ground Flights.’ Independent Online.

BBC News. ‘Thomas Cook Pilots Plan More Strikes.’ BBC News Online.

Worst Airports & Months for Delays in the UK

Posted on 24th August 2017

According to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), the best summer month for passengers to avoid flight delays is August, with the months of June and July being labelled as the worst.

However, August did not follow on as the third worst month to fly after June and July, December did instead, which may not be all that much of a surprise as people travel to spend the festive season with family and weather conditions can have severe impacts on flying during the winter period.

Though other months do not experience delays as often or long as the three worst offenders – June, July & August – they do still all show delays, though much shorter and less frequent.

Data from all flights throughout 2016 showed that London’s Gatwick Airport is the worst for delays, with delays recorded on over 30% of all flights. The data showed that delays from Gatwick ranged from 15 minutes to 360 minutes, meaning at times, passengers were delayed by up to 5 hours, and almost 8% of all delays lasted over an hour.

Data from 2016 showed that the busiest UK airports were Gatwick, Heathrow, Manchester, Edinburgh and Stansted; these airports had a combined total of 1.2million flights last year.

Figures show that within the UK’s 25 main airports the number of both flights and passengers are increasing annually, as year-round holidays and city breaks become more and more popular, which could explain the high number of delays. Though there are many factors that can cause delays, such as bad weather conditions, IT failures, or back-logs from other flights or airports, the increase in number of both flights and passengers must be taken into account.

With budget airlines being the most commonly used amongst Britons, it is not a surprise that carrier EasyJet showed to be the most delayed airline. Budget airlines offer regular flight times and low prices to customers, which are the main attractions for people to book with them, however, these attractions are often outshone later by disruptions and delays.

The data from the CAA showed that the majority of the top ten airlines experienced delays averaging 10-20 minutes on each flight. A representative from a French Pilot’s union said that should a plane be scheduled to make six flights in a day, it is almost certain that the last flight will be either delayed or cancelled.

Harding, Laura. ‘Revealed: UK’s Worst Months and Airports for Delays.’ Telegraph Online.

Lufthansa Accused of Conspiracy by Ryanair

Posted on 18th August 2017

Lufthansa and the German government have been accused by Ryanair of conspiring to ‘carve up’ Air Berlin.

Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy earlier this week, and Lufthansa is believed to be negotiating buying the ‘collapsed’ airlines planes, which, after a loan of 150m euro from the German government, are still flying.

Airline Ryanair has stated there is an ‘obvious conspiracy’ going on between Lufthansa, Air Berlin and Germany to ‘carve up the assets.’ However, the accusation has been rejected by the German government, with it stating the support it has given Air Berlin does not breach anti-trust rules.

Throughout the past year, the airlines passenger numbers have decreased, and, after its largest shareholder – Etihad – withdrew its financial support, Air Berlin filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday this week.

Brigitte Zypries, Germany’s Economy Minister, claimed that within the next few months a deal should be made where Lufthansa will take over part of Air Berlin. However, airline Ryanair has said “This manufactured insolvency is clearly being set up to allow Lufthansa to take over a debt-free Air Berlin which will be in breach of all known German and EU competition rules. Now even the German government is supporting this Lufthansa-led monopoly with 150m euros of state aid so that Lufthansa can acquire Air Berlin and drive domestic air fares in Germany even higher than they already are.”

However, in response to this accusation from Ryanair, A German economy spokesperson said, “I reject the accusation by Ryanair today that it was a staged insolvency application.” A complaint has been lodged with the German regulator, the Bundeskartellamt, and the European Commission by Ryanair.

Lufthansa has said that negotiations are already taking place with Air Berlin with regards to taking over parts of the company, which are expected to be concluded ‘successfully in due time.’

This is not the first time that Ryanair has criticised the relationship between Air Berlin and Lufthansa, as in January this year, Michael O’Leary, Ryanair’s Chief Executive described an existing deal between the two as a “joke.” The deal was that Lufthansa would operate 38 of Air Berlin’s Airbus jets on its behalf, something Mr O’Leary said was a “takeover with the aim of dominating the market.”

He added, “Lufthansa controls the capacities of its most important competitor, sets the prices and decides where aircraft will start. The German authorities are doing nothing.”

It was also reported on Tuesday that EasyJet were in talks regarding purchasing assets from Air Berlin, however, the airline refused to comment.

BBC News. ‘Ryanair Accuses Lufthansa of Air Berlin ‘Conspiracy.’’ BBC News Online.

Drunk Passenger Arrests Increase

Posted on 15th August 2017

A BBC Panorama Investigation has suggested that there has been an increase of 50% over the past year in passenger arrests at UK airports and on flights for drunken behaviour.

Between February 2016 and February 2017 387 people were arrested at airports within the UK; a figure relatively higher than that of the previous year, which totalled 255.

The Home Office is ‘considering’ for tougher rules to be introduced regarding the consumption of alcohol at airports and on aircrafts. In a survey carried out with airline Cabin Crew, over half claimed that they had been witness to passengers being disruptive and drunk at a UK airport.

The figures for the arrests made were taken from 18 out of 20 police forces who have a major UK airport in their area, and trade body, Airlines UK, said that it should be made illegal for passengers to consume their own alcohol on board an aircraft.

19,000 Cabin Crew staff, who are members of the union, Unite, were asked to be surveyed; 4,000 of these individuals responded, with one in every five stating they been subject to physical abuse by passengers.

One former Cabin Crew worker stated, “People just see us as barmaids in the sky,” and explained how often, crew members found themselves being inappropriately touched whilst working.

The aviation industry introduced a voluntary code of conduct regarding disruptive passengers during July 2016, with the majority of the ‘big’ airlines signing up to it. Advice within the code included requesting that retailers warn passengers upon purchase not to consume alcoholic products they have just bought on board the plane, and for staff to recognise if a passenger is drunk and not serve them alcohol if so.

In its findings, Panorama discovered that over a quarter of the Cabin Crew members it surveyed did not know about the code of practice, and that from those who were aware of it, only 23% thought that it was actually working. One Crew member said, “The code of conduct isn’t working… We’re seeing these incidents on a daily, a weekly, a monthly basis. It’s the alcohol mainly in the duty free that is the significant problem.”

There are laws in place regarding the consumption of alcohol when it comes to using flight travel: It is a criminal offence for a person to enter an aircraft when drunk or for a person to get drunk whilst on an aircraft, anyone who breaks this law could face a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment. It is totalled that on average, passengers spend around £300m on alcohol at airports within the UK each year. Between 2012 and 2016, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) reported an increase of 600% in disruptive passenger behaviour, most of which involved alcohol.

Airlines UK, who represent airlines such as British Airways, Virgin and EasyJet, desire for the law to be changed making it a criminal offence for a passenger to consume their own alcohol on board an aircraft.

Airlines are able to manage the amount of alcohol that is sold to passengers, and Jet2 has banned sales of all alcohol before 08:00. Phil Ward, Jet2’s Managing Director, said “I think they (airports) could do more. I think the retailers could do more as well. Two litre steins of beer in bars, mixers and miniatures in duty free shops, which can only be there for one reason – you know, they’re items that are not sold on the high street. We can’t allow it not to change.”

A report from the House of Lords committee earlier this year also called for the introduction of tougher rules around the sale of alcohol to passengers at airports. Baroness McIntosh, Committee Chair, said “We didn’t hear one shred of evidence to show the voluntary code was either working now or had any possible vestige of success in working any time soon.”

The Home Office said that the report’s recommendations are being considered.

BBC News. ‘Drunk Air Passenger Arrests Up 50%.” BBC News Online.

Summer Flight Delays

Posted on 10th August 2017

Analysis from the BBC has revealed that passengers flying from Gatwick have, on average, suffered the longest delays for summer getaways from major airports within the UK.

The analysis is based on the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) data for the past two years for all flights either departing from or arriving at airports in the UK from June to August.

It was shown that passengers using EasyJet to travel to and from the UK experienced the longest delays from the ten busiest airlines. All EasyJet customers had a wait on average of 24 minutes, and those departing from Gatwick airport had a 27-minute wait on average. Both Gatwick airport and EasyJet commented that this is partly due to them providing the highest number of flights.

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of EasyJet said, “EasyJet operate the largest number of flights of any UK airline, flying over 78 million passengers per year. in 2017, EasyJet will operate 33% more flights than in 2011, with less than 0.8% delayed by more than three hours. In fact, despite a number of adverse external factors like increasingly congested airspace, particularly in the London area, and record numbers of air traffic control strikes, over the last year, EasyJet has actually reduced the proportion of flights delayed by more than three hours.”

They added that the airline works hard to “minimise disruption and fully comply with all relevant regulations.”

The analysis showed that passengers are much less likely to experience delays when using smaller airports within the UK. Gatwick airport stated that it operated more flights to Europe than any other airport within the UK, and that it was ‘impacted disproportionately by events on the continent.” The airport is also encouraging both UK and European authorities to quicken plans regarding increasing the efficiency of the airspace within the UK and Europe.

A spokesperson for the airport said, “We recognise the inconvenience that delays cause to our passengers, and we will continue to do everything possible to prevent them from occurring. We operate the world’s busiest and most efficient single runway airport, but, over recent years, Gatwick has been disproportionately affected by issues beyond our control.”

They went on to describe these issues as the “repeated strike action by French, Greek, Spanish and Italian air traffic controllers and airport employees, prolonged bad weather, and heavily congested airspace above parts of Europe and London.

They added “Gatwick has made it a priority to address punctuality and, in partnership with our airlines and ground handlers, we are already seeing the benefits of a new wide range of measures that have been implemented to improve punctuality.”

Amidst these delays, it is important passengers remember their compensation rights under EU law if the delay or cancellation experienced was due to the airline and not the airport. If a passenger is delayed for two hours or more then it is within their rights to receive food and drink from the airline, as well as access to emails and phone calls. If the delay is going to carry on overnight, then the passenger must be offered accommodation, which must include transfers between the airport and the hotel.

Those passengers who arrive at their destination three hours late or more may be entitled to compensation up to around £500.

Any passenger who has experienced a delay of three or more hours is encouraged to find out whether they may be entitled to compensation. These passengers can contact the Myflightdelayed Team on 0333 212 3088, who will be happy to be of assistance.

BBC News. ‘How Long Could My Summer Holiday Flight be Delayed?’ BBC News Online.

US Airlines’ Overbooked Passenger Bumping at 22 Year Low

Posted on 10th August 2017

There has been a significant decrease in the number of passengers being forced to take alternate flights, according to a US airlines report.

The US Department of Transportation said that the ‘bumping’ rate for the first half of 2017 is now at the lowest rate it has been since 1995. It is believed the decrease could be caused by videos of passengers being removed from planes earlier this year, which resulted in ‘widespread outcry’ amongst the general public.

The reaction from the public to these videos has led airlines to both pledge and deliver improvement when it comes to bumping passengers from their scheduled flights to an alternative.

During the first half of this year, over 213,000 passengers took a different flight as a result of their scheduled plane being overbooked. Though this figure may seem high, it is actually smaller than that reported during the first half of 2016.

This figure also includes those passengers who willingly gave up their seats under offers of compensation from the airlines, however, it also includes a lot of passengers who were forced to involuntarily give up their seats, even though they may not have received any compensation for this.

It has been reported that during the first half of this year, for every 19,100 passengers around 1 was denied boarding due to overbooking; an improvement from the 1 in every 16,000 during the same period last year. This is the lowest rate recorded in 12 years.

In the report, Delta Air Lines was shown to be the airline possessing the lowest rate of involuntary bumping out of the 12 airlines focused on; Spirit Airlines showed to be the worst.

The tally of passengers travelling in the first six months of this year rose by nearly 3% from the same time last year, with over 332 million people boarding planes from January to June.

It is believed that a video which went viral on the internet cased the biggest outcry from the public regarding passenger bumping. The video showed Dr David Dao suffering injury as he was physically removed from a flight with United Airlines. Though he later came to a settlement with the airline, the video was quick to spread around popular social media sites and attracted a lot of unwanted attention for the airline.

As a result of this video, US politicians warned airlines that should improvements not be made then they would consider ‘regulatory action.’

Airlines did make immediate improvements after the United Airlines incident including allowing their staff to offer more money as means of compensation to encourage passengers to voluntary give up their seats and take an alternate flight, however, further improvements are expected to be ongoing.

BBC News. ‘US Airlines Bumping from Overbooked Flights is at 22 Year Low.’ BBC News Online.

Airlines Warn Passengers of Delays

Posted on 7th August 2017

Customers have been warned of delays at EU border controls from both British Airways (BA) and EasyJet via text alerts.

Airline BA is requesting that its passengers arrive early due to long queues being expected as a result of ‘enhanced immigration checks’ throughout Europe. Text messages have already been sent to passengers who are flying back from Madrid, Barcelona, Milan and Lyon.

Ryanair is another airline who is advising its customers to arrive at their departure airport at least three hours before their scheduled flight time.

A spokesperson speaking on behalf of Airlines for Europe (A4E) said, “It seems the governments – especially in France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Belgium – underestimated the situation of many passengers going through tighter passport checks and have not provided a sufficient amount of border control officers.” He said passengers should also be expecting to encounter delays at the following airports: Majorca, Malaga, Lisbon, Brussels and Paris-Orly.

These warnings to travellers are being issued as the airports are preparing for what has been described as ‘one of the business weekends of the summer.’

Sean Tipton, who works for the Association of British Travel Agents, said, “In most cases people are getting through passport control fairly swiftly but I think there might be an issue with certain airports where they haven’t actually considered just dealing with the fact that: record numbers, August, plus these new requirements – they may be understaffed.”

A spokesperson for Ryanair said that the delays being experienced by passengers are ‘a matter for the European regulators to resolve, not the airlines.’ They stated that Ryanair’s flights and operations are ‘running as normal,’ and blamed the delays on European border control authorities.

EasyJet has been encouraging its passengers to arrive with extra time to ensure they get to the gate on time, and to check the travel information pages on its website which are being updated.

Lord Callanan, Aviation Minister, is urging his counterparts in countries Span, Portugal and Italy, to work to “do all they can to reduce queues and allow travellers to get on with their holidays.”

The delays have been described by the European Commission as “The price of security,” as, after recent terror attacks, security has been heightened.

A4E have claimed that delays are lasting as long as four hours for some passengers and Managing Director, Thomas Reynaert, said that member states must be the ones to take responsibility for these.

BBC. ‘EU Airport Delays Warning Issued by Airlines.’ BBC News Online.

System Issues Delay British Airways Passengers

Posted on 3rd August 2017

Airline British Airways has issued an apology to its passengers who experienced delays this morning.

A ‘temporary’ glitch with the check-in systems meant that passengers at Gatwick, Heathrow and London City airports were subjected to ‘long queues and delays’ due to manual check-ins being required.

The issue comes only a few months after the airline experienced a major problem over the bank holiday weekend in May, when a power cut caused over 670 flights to be cancelled from Gatwick and Heathrow airports.

British Airways said that today’s issue was resolved by 9am and that its systems were now fully back up and running.

A spokesperson said on behalf of the airline: “We are sorry for the temporary check-in problems which caused some delays for our customers first thing this morning. This issue is now resolved and our staff are working flat out to help customers get away on their holidays.”

Also, passengers have been warned they may face long queues if they are flying from EU airports as a result of heightened security checks, which have been introduced after the recent terror attacks.

BBC News. ‘British Airways Apologise for Check-In Failure.’ BBC News Online.

IT Failure Costs British Airways £58m

Posted on 31st July 2017

British Airways’ owner, IAG, have said that May’s IT failure – when an engineer disconnected a power supply - has cost it £58m (65m euros).

During the failure, which happened over the last bank holiday weekend of the month, around 75,000 passengers were left delayed and experiencing ‘severe disruption.’

Despite the extra costs encountered as a result of this incident, IAG have still reported an increase in their half-year ‘operating profits’ of 13.8% to £804m. Operating profits also rose at British Airways: from 631 euros in 2016 to 741m euros.

IAG is also the owner of Aer Lingus, Vueling and Iberia, and the company has stated that it expects operating profits for 2017 as a whole to be a ‘double-digit percentage improvement.’

Though May’s power cut has not yet been fully explained, it is understood that an ‘independent company’ has been asked to investigate the cause.

Speaking of the company’s efforts with regards to compensating their passengers, Chief Executive of IAG, Willie Walsh, said “We are doing everything we can to make good the disruption that the customers experienced, but it was an isolated event and I think you’ve got to focus on the fact that BA’s passenger numbers continue to increase.”

Mr Walsh also added, “BA’s underlying performance is actually very good, as are the performances of the other airlines within the group, so this is a very strong set of results and reflects a focus that IAG has on providing customer services at prices that customers are willing to pay.”

Competition is growing amongst budget airlines, and carrier Ryanair recently stated that fares could be expected to fall by 9% this summer. However, IAG has some protection from these fare decreases as it keeps its focus on longer-haul flights.

Equity Analyst at Stockbrokers Hargreaves Lansdown, Nicholas Hyett, said “At the budget end of the market, capacity is expanding. As more planes take to the sky, short haul airlines are having to cut prices to keep them full. With its long-haul focus that’s not a problem for IAG. The result is that while rivals are seeing the gains from lower fuel prices frittered away in an aggressive price war, at IAG they’re dropping through to the bottom line and profits are taking off.”

Mr Walsh described the company’s new ‘long-haul low-cost ‘airline, Level, as a success. Level is based in Barcelona and there are plans for its expansion in the future.

BBC News. ‘British Airways Owner IAG Says IT Chaos Cost £58m.’ BBC News Online.

Air France-KLM Set to Purchase 31% of Virgin Atlantic

Posted on 31st July 2017

It has been reported that Air France-KLM is set to purchase almost a third of airline Virgin Atlantic, meaning Sir Richard Branson’s parent company, Virgin Group, will be left with a ‘minority’ stake in the airline founded by himself.

As part of a ‘four-way-joint-venture’ with its US partner, Delta, Air France-KLM is going to be taking a stake of 31% (worth £220m) in Virgin Atlantic. This means that the share held by Virgin Group will fall to 20% from 51%, whilst Delta holds 49%.

Sir Richard Branson said that after the deal he would remain “very much involved,” and, earlier this week in an open letter, stated that this new venture will be “extremely beneficial” to not only the airline, but also to the customers and the brand.

Chief Executive of Air France-KLM, Jean-Marc Janaillac, said that this new deal would bring to customers “even more choice between Europe, UK and the United States via twelve hubs on both sides of the Atlantic.”

The joint-venture has been in operation between Virgin and Delta for almost five years, working busy routes between the US and Europe. However, over recent years, competition within the industry has grew, as newcomers such as Norwegian and British Airlines’ low-cost level service offer ‘no-frills’ long-haul flights to passengers.

300 transatlantic flights per day will take place as part of the new venture, and ‘troubled’ Italian airline Alitalia will also be involved. Virgin, along with its partners, said during a press release that under the venture passengers will be offered “convenient flight schedules with competitive fares and reciprocal frequent flyer benefits, including the ability to earn and redeem miles across all carriers.”

Founded in 1984, Virgin Atlantic was one of the first companies under Richard Branson’s ‘Virgin brand portfolio.’ In his letter, Sir Richard reminisced on the airline’s past rivalry with British Airways, the impacts felt due to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the financial crisis. Also, he wrote that he was eager to ensure that “all the necessary building blocks are in place for Virgin Atlantic to continue to prosper and grow for the next 50 years” as he gets older.

Though transatlantic routes are amongst the most profitable, over recent years Virgin has experienced ‘mixed fortunes.’

Last year, the airline reported its highest profits in five years, however, earlier this year it stated that it expected to go in to the red again during 2017, as a result of the ‘weaker pound’ increasing costs and putting holiday-makers off holidaying.

BBC News. ‘Air France-KLM is Buying 31% of Virgin Atlantic.’ BBC News Online.

Tourists Charged More for Paying with GBP

Posted on 26th July 2017

It has been reported that hundreds of millions of pounds are being paid by British tourists just for using their credit or debit cards on foreign holidays.

The reason for this is because tourists are being given the option when paying by card as to whether they want to pay in the local currency or in Great British Pounds (GBP). If people choose to pay by British pounds then the business they are buying from are applying poor exchange rates, meaning people are paying more for not paying with local currency.

It has been estimated that these charges, due to the poor exchange rates being applied, is costing British tourists around £500m each year. Currency trader FairFX has said that some tourists have been losing by up to as much as 10% by paying in GBP rather than the local currency.

If a person pays by card and opts to use the local currency, then the transaction goes through a ‘standard route,’ and the exchange rate will be set by Visa or MasterCard, however, should a person opt to pay in GBP, the exchange rate is set instantly on the spot by either the businesses bank or payment processor, and they decide on what the rate will be.

FairFX advised that currently around one in five foreign payment transactions are being affected but in some countries figures are much higher. Tourists are being warned to be cautious of this in the following countries: Malta, Spain, Thailand, Cyprus and Turkey.

This changing of the exchange rate is known as dynamic currency conversion and is legal throughout the UK and Europe, however, the rate must be displayed to the customer before the transaction is completed. Though this must be displayed, it is often not done in a way which British tourists are used to understanding, making it difficult for them to work out on the spot whether they are losing out or not by paying in GBP.

James Hickman who works for FairFX said “The way it is pushed is abhorrent. The amount they charge should be capped.” Those who benefit from these extra charges for opting to pay in sterling are the both the business (trader) and their bank or payment processor, leaving the consumer out of pocket.

So, next time you get ready to jet off, it might just be worth taking extra cash instead of the plastic!

Gompertz, Simon. ‘Tourists Warned Over Exchange Rate Costs.’ BBC News Online.

The New Technology to Prevent Flight Cancellation Queues

Posted on 21st July 2017

A ‘smartphone solution’ has been created by a British company which will prevent passengers from having to endure the long queues and waits that are often experienced when their flight is suddenly cancelled.

The technology - Resolve - has been created by Travelport who are based close to Heathrow Airport. Travelport said the aim of the software is “automating the sourcing and distribution of hotel rooms, air rebooking and meal and transport needs into a single, seamless and paperless experience.”

Travelport has stated that at present approximately 10,000 flights are cancelled globally each week, 1,250 of which are within Europe. This means that in Europe there is a flight cancelled every eight minutes. The new technology from Travelport will present passengers with a menu of alternative flights, meal allowances and hotel options, meaning they will not need to stand in long queues to arrange these details as they do currently.

Travelport claimed that when a passenger experiences a cancelled flight, they find themselves “standing in long lines, with a lack of real-time communication, to wait for besieged airline employees to hand out paper vouchers that are required to be presented at a hotel to obtain a room.”

The new technology from Travelport is designed to prevent the need for the systems ‘traditionally’ used to deal with ‘IROPS,’ meaning irregular operations, which will in turn dramatically cut queueing and waiting times for passengers.

Travelport’s Managing Director for Air Commerce, Derek Sharp said, “With a few simple touches on their mobile device, Travelport helps disrupted passengers to bypass the frustration of hotel and meal voucher lines and quickly be on their way to a comfortable hotel room.”

Mr Sharp added, “For airlines, Travelport Resolve helps carriers improve customer service performance during disruptions, avoiding serious damage to their brand and opportunities to build their relationships with affected customers.”

The technology has been warmly welcomed, as former Managing Director of Monarch Airlines, Tim Jeans said, “Any technology solution which avoids having to stand in line at the ticket counter must be an improvement on the situation passengers face now. The biggest frustration for passengers when flights are cancelled at short notice is the lack of real-time information on which they can base their plans. It might even be cheaper for airlines as it might allow passengers travelling from home to simply return there and come back to the airport when their new flight is scheduled, rather than remaining there at the airlines expense, and the inevitable loss of goodwill that results.”

Mr Jeans concluded by saying “Provided cancellation protocols are clear and passengers can rely on the information the app gives them, then it’s a win-win for all parties.”

Calder, Simon. ‘Travelport: The New Airport App that Promises to Solve Flight Disruption Issues.’ Independent Online.

Thomas Cook Wins Fake Sickness Claim

Posted on 13th July 2017

Thomas Cook announces it has successfully won in the case of a fake sickness claim and informs that it has plans to keep challenging such claims in court.

Fake holiday sickness claims have been in the news quite a lot recently with many travel companies and hoteliers expressing their concerns. Data has shown that these claims have significantly risen, with the majority being from UK tourists.

The government has warned it is set to clamp down on false claims and that anyone caught making one could face up to three years in prison. Hoteliers and travel companies have both warned that should false claims continue to be made from Brits, then we could be facing the end of package holidays or even being barred from holiday resorts.

In a bid to clamp down on these false claims, Thomas Cook has announced its ‘legal victory’ against a fake holiday sickness claim case. A family who attempted to claim up to £10,000 after stating they became ill through food poisoning on a holiday in the Canary Islands had their case dismissed in court earlier this week, after a judge concluded ‘they were not sick.’

Travel trade organisation Abta have recently launched a new campaign with the aim of preventing these false claims, after it stated the problem was “one of the biggest issues that has hit the travel industry for many years.”

The organisation said that claims ranged from £3,000 and £5,000 each, and that despite ‘reported sickness levels in resorts remaining stable,’ tens of thousands of tourists have made sickness claims over the past year.

Chris Mottershead, Thomas Cook’s Managing Director spoke out after the hearing on Monday: “It’s not comfortable for us to be in court questioning our customer’s credibility, but the significant increase in unreported illness claims being received by the travel industry threatens holidays for all UK customers. This case follows an increasingly common pattern for these claims, with a previously unreported illness being raised years after the holiday, with no medical or other evidence to support the illness having occurred.”

The family in question claimed they took ill in 2013 on a holiday in Gran Canaria, blaming ‘poor food and hygiene’ at the hotel for their illnesses and claimed that upon returning to the UK their symptoms continued. However, Thomas Cook informed that at the time the family did not mention this to either hotel staff or the travel company’s tour representatives who were present in the resort. The law firm representing the family was not available for comment immediately after the case.

Abta stated that since rules were brought in to prevent the spike in fake whiplash claims, those for holiday sickness have significantly increased, as the rules do not apply to any incident which takes place abroad. Abta again warned that should these fraudulent claims continue, they have the potential to result in tourists being barred from certain resorts or even facing a prison sentence.

This month the government announced that it is planning to ‘tackle’ the problem of false holiday sickness claims by ‘reducing the cash incentives of bringing such cases against holiday firms.’ David Lidington, Justice Secretary, said the government desires to put a limit on the legal costs that travel firms are forced to pay out for such claims.

Mr Lidington said “Our message to those who make false holiday sickness claims is clear – your actions are damaging and will not be tolerated.”

The government stressed earlier this week that those travellers with genuine claims, can still sue for damages caused.

BBC News. ‘Thomas Cook Wins Fake Holiday Sickness Case.’ BBC News Online.

"Government to Crackdown on False Holiday Sickness Claims"

Posted on 10th July 2017

It will soon be much more difficult for holidaymakers to make false sickness insurance claims, as Ministers seek to make the claiming process harder.

Along with Spanish hotels, travel industry bosses have raised complaints as false sickness claims have significantly risen, giving hotels unnecessary negative reputations.

It has been reported that should these false claims continue, British tourists could find themselves facing higher prices for package holidays and also potentially being barred from some holiday resorts.

David Lidington, Justice Secretary, said the government wants to bring a limit to legal costs that travel firms are having to pay out for these claims: “Our message to those who make false holiday sickness claims is clear – your actions are damaging and will not be tolerated.”

One UK travel company boss has spoken out to say they believed that should false claims keep escalating, they may potentially make British tourists the ‘laughing stock of Europe,” and travel trade body Abta said it “strongly” welcomes the move by the government.

Data has shown that although tourists from other countries such as Germany, France etc. are staying in the same resorts and eating the same food daily as British tourists, they are not getting ill as often as those from the UK claim to be.

Hotels and restaurants who are being claimed against find that the cost of challenging these claims is very high when compared to the pay-out price, meaning it is usually just cheaper for them to pay out on the claim.

Any UK holidaymakers who make a false claim and are found guilty of this can face up to three years in prison said the Ministry of Justice. It has been estimated by the travel industry that sickness claims have gone up by 500% in just 4 years.

Chief Executive of Abta, Mark Tanzer said “These claims are tarnishing British holidaymakers’ reputation abroad, particularly in Spain where they are costing hoteliers millions of pounds.” It was only last month that it was warned by Tui’s UK Managing Director Nick Longman and Thomas Cooks UK Managing Director Chris Mottershead that should the problem with false claims continue, we could see the end of all-inclusive holidays for UK tourists.

Mr Mottershead said that these fraudulent claims have the “potential of putting hoteliers out of business” and that should the problem persist, “they will stop British customers coming into their hotels.”

The government has expressed that those travellers with genuine claims will still be able to sue for damages caused.

BBC News. ‘Holiday Sickness Fakers Face Government Crackdown.’ BBC News Online.

Airlander 10 Completes Fourth Flight Test

Posted on 10th July 2017

Airlander 10, the longest aircraft in the world, has now completed its fourth flight test successfully.

During its fourth test, the aircraft – a combination of an airship and a plane – reached the highest altitude it has achieved so far. Taking off at 18:15 on Tuesday evening this week, the Airlander operated in the skies for around 3 hours, reaching 3,500ft; the maximum altitude it will be able to reach is 20,000ft.

The Airlander 10 cost £25m to build, measures in at 320ft long and has a mass of 44,100lbs. Designed and created by the British manufacturer Hybrid Air Vehicles, the Airlander took a ‘nose dive’ last August during a test flight. Although no one was injured during the accident, the cockpit was reported as being ‘effectively destroyed.’

The aircraft is based at Cardington Airfield, Bedfordshire, and has been equipped with a pair of ‘giant inflatable landing feet’ following the accident, as a means of improvement. It is believed that the accident happened because the Airlander was forced to climb to ‘excessive heights’ when its mooring line got caught up with power cables.

The aircraft is reported to be quieter than ‘traditional aircraft’ and it also releases less pollution. Hybrid Air Vehicles believes the Airlander could be the ‘future for air travel.’ The manufacturing firm is hoping to build 12 of the aircrafts a year by 2018, some of which will be used as passenger aircraft with the ability to transport 48 passengers at a time.

The Airlander will have various other uses including working to provide military and civil surveillance, assisting with coastguard duties, filming and academic research or transporting heavy equipment to ‘remote corners of the world for humanitarian missions.’

BBC News. ‘Airlander 10 Reaches ‘Highest Altitude so Far.’ BBC News Online.

Approximately 1,400 BA Staff on Strike

Posted on 5th July 2017

British Airways (BA) staff began a fortnight long walk-out on Saturday, which is expected to run till 16th July.

The walk-out is a result of an ‘ongoing war’ regarding wages and working conditions and it is believed that thousands of passengers could be affected. Around 1,400 British Airways staff working flights to and from Heathrow Airport are expected to go on strike, however, the airline has informed that it has teamed with Qatar Airways to ensure the continuation of its flights.

‘Mixed fleet’ cabin crew of BA are those taking ‘industrial action’ as they claim they get paid less than other workers. Union, Unite, has stated that many employees working as mixed fleet cabin crew for BA have had to take on extra employment in order to get a second wage and that some have said they have had to sleep in their car between their shifts as they cannot afford to pay the petrol costs driving home would incur.

BA has been accused by Unite of threatening its staff with sanctions if they take industrial action; currently, Unite is ‘pursuing legal action’ on workers who went on strike earlier this year and have claimed they have been sanctioned because of this.

Oliver Richardson, who works as Unite’s National Officer said “British Airways needs to drop its confrontational stance which is causing so much anger and leading to plummeting morale among its mixed cabin crew. With British Airways’ parent company forecasting massive annual profits of around £2.3 billion, it is clear the airline can afford to recognise the hard work of its mixed fleet cabin crew by paying a proper decent wage.”

Mixed fleet cabin crew have described their wage as ‘poverty pay’ and Mr Richardson added “Rather than trying to bully workers and focusing its resources on leasing aircraft to cover striking cabin crew, British Airways should focus its energies on trying to resolve our members’ legitimate concerns over poverty pay.”

BA has informed that although some of its staff may be striking, the airline expects that around 9.5% of its flights will operate as normal with support from Qatar Airways. Nine jets have been brought in from Qatar Airways to support the two-week strike, which will be used to operate a ‘small number’ of short-haul flights on behalf of BA.

BA said “We have merged a very small number of Heathrow long-haul services and all customers affected have been notified over the past week.”

Passengers who experience flight delays of three hours or more are entitled to compensation under EU regulations if the fault is of the airline, such as delays caused by staff striking. The amount they receive will depend on the distance of the flight and the length of the delay; however, they should receive between €250 and €600.

Munbodh, Emma. ‘British Airways Strike 2017: The Flights Affected and Your Compensation Rights as 1,400 Staff Walk-out in Long Running Pay Dispute.’ The Mirror Online.

Flight Delays More Common in Summer

Posted on 30th June 2017

The majority of people tend to expect flights to be delayed more over the winter rather than the summer months; there’s ice, snow, heavy rain showers – surely this causes for more delays?

Apparently not! As more flight delays are experienced by passengers over the months of summer than those of winter. In summer the weather is drier and hotter, the wind speeds are usually much lower, there (usually) isn’t any snow or ice...

And that is just the problem! Contrary to popular belief, planes actually find it much more difficult to fly in heat (hot air) than they do in the cold air of winter because during the summer the air itself becomes less dense, causing the plane’s wings to ‘generate less lift,’ which, in turn, makes it harder for the aircraft to takeoff. When the air is hot, planes need more runway distance before takeoff to allow them to reach the necessary speed required to get in the air, which means that Air Traffic Control need to accommodate this. However, this can often lead to delays! Should the weather get a little too hot, then airlines may be forced to delay or cancel their flights altogether until the temperature drops.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the weather is actually to blame for 69% of all flight delays, with one of the main culprits being thunderstorms.

During the summer months thunderstorms are caused by the hot air, which means any aircraft currently flying needs to re-route its way around these, adding to its arrival time. In extreme conditions, thunderstorms can cause planes to have to land at alternative airports, causing even more delays and problems for their passengers.

And of course, we mustn’t forget that summer is the most popular time for people to travel, as they jet off on holidays, visiting family, short weekend breaks etc. It is reported that flight delays in summer are also caused by planes arriving late at airports, which is often due to the amount of passengers flying. The more people getting on a flight means it takes longer to board, as well as longer to unload the plane when it arrives at its destination.

Analysis has shown, however, that flights before 9am during the summer have a 90% on-time departure rate compared to a much lower 55% on-time departure rate if they are scheduled to fly after 6pm. So, if you want to avoid a delay this summer, get yourself booked on an early morning flight!

Allan, Patrick. ‘Why There Are So Many Flight Delays in the Summertime.’

HMS Queen Elizabeth Ready for Sea Trials

Posted on 26th June 2017

HMS Queen Elizabeth – the Royal Navy’s new aircraft carrier – will be setting sail on its first voyage later today.

The 65,000 tonne ship will leave the Rosyth dockyard in Fife for its sea trials, squeezing itself through the exit with only 14 inches of clearance on each side! The ship is the largest warship that has ever been built for the Royal Navy, with the flight deck reported to be the size of three football pitches, and a total of eleven tugs will be needed to take it out of the dock.

The ship is 920 feet long, 230 feet wide and 184 feet high and is said to have space to accommodate 1,000 crew members and 40 aircrafts.

HMS Queen Elizabeth is just one of two new carriers which are being built, costing a combined total of more than £6bn.

The warship will set out on its sea trials manoeuvring under the Forth bridges, where it will need to lower its mast in order to pass under with just a few metres to spare.

Captain Jerry Kydd, Commanding Officer, stated that he believes the ship to be important for the reputation of Britain’s naval power. My Kydd said “I think there are very few capabilities, by any country, that are as symbolic as a carrier strike capability. Submarines you can’t see, but these are very visible symbols of power and power projection.”

If all goes to plan, HMS Queen Elizabeth should be on its way to sailing towards open waters by Monday evening. Jonathan Beale, the BBC’s Defence Correspondent stated that the Royal Navy are expecting Russian military to take an interest in the warship as it is tested in the North Sea. However, though it may start its sea trials today, it will be ‘several years’ before the warship will be fully ready and operational.

BBC News. ‘HMS Queen Elizabeth Due to Set Sail from Rosyth for Sea Trials.’ BBC News Online.

More Efficient A380 Jumbo from Airbus as Boeing Launch Latest Version of 737 Jet

Posted on 20th June 2017

Last week Airbus unveiled their plans to upgrade the 'world's biggest passenger jet,' which will provide room for more seating as well as improved fuel efficiency; just a few days after, Boeing announced plans for their 737 Max 10 – ‘the biggest version yet of the 737 short-haul jet’ – at the Paris Air Show.

Airbus have announced that their new A380 Plus will be built using a new wing design which will work to improve aerodynamics, whilst the cabin of the aircraft will hold up to 80 extra seats ‘with no compromise on comfort.’

The A380 Plus will use around 4% less fuel due to its new design and will also boast a higher maximum take-off weight. The aircraft also won’t require maintenance checks as often, and Airbus have stated that airlines will see costs cut by 13% per seat.

John Leahy, Sales Chief, has informed that the plane will provide “better economics and improved operational performance.”

Boeing’s 737 Max 10 will have the ‘lowest operating costs of any single-aisle plane ever produced’ and will hold up to 230 passengers. Boeing has already received more than 240 orders from 10 different customers after the aircraft was announced at the Paris Air Show.

Dennis Muilenburg, Chief Executive, said that Boeing will be producing 57 planes per month by 2020, with monthly production rates rising from 42 to 47 by the end of 2017.

Boeing are also currently ‘evaluating’ the demand for a new aircraft which would sit somewhere between the largest 737 variant and the 787 Dreamliner if it was to be put into production. Boeing have stated that if this aircraft was to go ahead, then it is expected to come in to service around 2024-25.

Mr Muilenburg said that it is estimated that there will be demand for approximately 41,000 new commercial aircrafts over the next twenty years.

Johnston, Chris. ‘Boeing Launches New Version of 737 Jet.’ BBC News Online.

BBC News. ‘Airbus Unveils ‘More Efficient’ A380 Jumbo.’ BBC News Online.

The Top 17 Airlines in the World

Posted on 13th June 2017

Want to know the best airlines in the world? Well, look no further, as below you can see the top 17 as recently rated!

The below ranking of airlines has just recently been released (2017) from AirHelp. The report is based on three key areas: Quality & Service, On-Time Performance (punctuality) and Claim Processing. Quality & Service means both on and off the ground and includes things such as inflight meals, airline lounges, aircraft seats, cabin staff and comfort. On-Time Performance, literally means as it says – how many of the airlines flights arrived on time, and Claims Processing looks at how efficiently the airline deals with any complaints or compensation claims, how responsive it is to clients, and how quick it is to compensate where required.

And so, without further ado...

  1. Coming in at number 17 on the list is Eurowings, a German airline which overall scored 7.79. It had brilliant ratings for punctuality – 8.75, however, fell short in its quality & service area with just 6.
  2. Next up, Air Canada with an overall rating of 7.81. Though Air Canada pulled in a great quality& service score of 8, its 6.58 punctuality score stopped it from climbing any higher in the rankings.
  3. Emirates came in at number 15 with an overall score of 7.82, achieving good scores in two main areas – 8 for quality & service and 7.8 for punctuality.
  4. Air Malta flew in at number 14, with a pretty decent on-time score of 8.71, which gave the airline an overall score of 7.89.
  5. Next is the local Norwegian airline Widerøe, who didn’t pull in the best scores for quality & service, but made up for this with a very impressive on-time score of 9.47! This gave the airline an overall score of 7.91.
  6. Coming in at number 12 is Air France who scored quite high on the quality & service side, giving them an overall score of 7.92.
  7. Dutch airline KLM is next up at number 11, achieving an 8 for quality & service, and an overall score of 7.94.
  8. Following KLM is another Dutch airline – TUI. Pulling in a brilliant 9.05 for punctuality the airline achieved an overall score of 7.95, as it was let down by its score of 6 for quality & service.
  9. Irish airline Aer Lingus bagged the number 9 spot with its overall score of 7.97, after achieving a score of 8.75 for punctuality.
  10. Up next is Virgin Atlantic Airways with a score of 7.99. The airline achieved a great 8 for its quality & service!
  11. Heathrow based airline British Airways came in at number 7, with an overall score of 8.14.
  12. Italian airline Air Dolomiti is next, pulling an overall score of 8.22 after achieving a huge 8.96 score for punctuality.
  13. Canadian airline Air Transat came in at number 5 with an overall score of 8.29. The airline pulled in impressive scores for punctuality (9.9) and claims processing (8.96), despite its lower score of 6 for quality & service.
  14. Austrian Airlines was next up with another good score for claims processing – 8.97. Pulling in an 8.18 for punctuality, the airline achieved an overall score of 8.38.
  15. Down from first place last year to third this year is Qatar Airways. The airline achieved a brilliant score of 10 for quality & service, giving it an overall score of 8.46.
  16. Also pulling in a 10 for quality & service is Etihad Airways. Despite a lower claim of 6.83 for claim processing the airline came in at second place with an overall score of 8.48.
  17. Up in first place with an overall score of 8.73 is Singapore Airlines. Ranking as the most punctual airline with the highest quality, the airline bagged a 10 for quality & service and an 8.7 for punctuality. The airline has made some significate improvements, which have led to it hitting first place for the first time!

So, now you know who the top 17 airlines in the world are, who will you be flying with next?!

Millington, Alison. ‘The 17 Most Punctual Airlines with the Best Service in the World.’ The Independent Online.

Disconnected Power Supply to Blame for BA Delays

Posted on 6th June 2017

Willie Walsh, Chief Executive of International Airlines Group, British Airways’ parent company, has announced that it was human error that caused recent IT issues, leading to 75,000 passengers being delayed on Saturday 27th May 2017.

Mr Walsh claimed that a power supply had been disconnected by an engineer and it was when this was reconnected that the damage was caused. An investigation will be carried out by an independent company to determine exactly what happened and which will allow the airline to ‘learn from the experience.’

Speaking to reporters, Mr Walsh informed that though the engineer was authorised to be within the data centre, they were not authorised to carry out the actions they did.

As a result of the power issue, 75,000 passengers found themselves stuck in departure lounges, whilst those already on board flights ready to land found themselves circling in the sky as pilot’s informed them of delays to their landing times.

The chaos began in Boadicea House, managed by CBRE, as the ‘uninterruptible’ power supply became interrupted. Though the power to the servers was cut for only a moment this proved to be critical, as, upon being restored, the ‘inter-related systems guiding BA’s global network were thrown into meltdown.’ Everything went wrong: passengers were unable to check in, phone apps stopped working, internal networks used by staff failed and all passengers trying to check in for London flights were being told no by the computer.

Passengers have expressed their frustration at the lack of communication from the airline and its staff, as they stated they were relying on ‘word of mouth and online news’ to find out what was going on. A statement made by the media, which informed that no BA flights would leave Heathrow or Gatwick before 6pm that day, was originally rejected as false by the airline. However, within 20 minutes an announcement was made informing passengers that they should not expect any flight to leave before 6pm.

Mr Walsh again apologised for the inconvenience caused to their passengers and admitted that communications could have been handled better during the incident, allowing passengers further information as to what was happening.

Customers who experienced a delay may be entitled to compensation and are encouraged to speak to our friendly advisors on 0333 212 3077 who will be happy to assist.

BBC News. ‘British Airways says IT chaos was caused by human error.’ BBC News Online.

Topham, Gwyn. ‘For BA, a £100m compensation bill could be just the start.’ The Guardian Online.

London City Airport to get Digital Air Traffic Control

Posted on 24th May 2017

London City airport is set to become the first in the UK to have their air traffic control tower replaced with a ‘remotely operated digital system.’

It is believed that the new system will be completed during 2018, however, it will be tested for a year before it becomes fully operational sometime during 2019.

The new system means that controllers will no longer sit in the tower which overlooks the runway, they will instead be located some 120 miles away where they will be watching live footage from ‘high-definition cameras.’

Saab, the Swedish defence and security Company has developed the system and it has already been tested in Australia, Norway, Sweden and Ireland. The new technology is set to be introduced to London City Airport as part of its £350m development programme.

Controllers will be provided with a 360-degree view through the new system by cameras that are able to ‘pan, tilt and zoom.’ The cameras will send live feeds using fibre cables to an operations room built at the Hampshire base of Nats, the air traffic control provider for Britain.

Controllers will be able to get a better view by zooming in using the cameras, something which they couldn’t do in the old tower. The system will also enable them to put radar data onto the screen to track aircrafts and hear the airport as though they are actually there.

The system has raised some health and safety questions, however, the airport has claimed that the system has been independently stress-tested by ‘security specialists,’ and a safety feature of the system means that the cameras are able to identify rogue drones close to the airport.

The system will work by using three different cables, each taking an alternative route between the control centre and the airport, meaning there will always be back-up if one was to fail.

Steve Anderson who work for Nats Air Traffic Control said that the new technology has won him over: “They give the controller more information in terms of what they can see, what they can hear.”

Mike Stoller, Nats Airports Director said “Digital towers are going to transform the way air traffic services are provided by airports by providing real safety, operation and efficiency benefits. We do see this as being a growing market place across the UK and the world.”

BBC Online. ‘London City First in UK to get Remote Air Traffic Control.’ BBC Online.