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Egyptian Ambassador Calls for UK to End Flight Ban to Sharm el-Sheikh
Posted on 15th January 2019Egyptian Ambassador to the UK, Tarek Adel has said direct flights from Britain to Sharm el-Sheikh should be resumed.
Mr Adel has claimed that Egypt is now ready to welcome flights again as it has now finished working alongside British security teams in order to upgrade its airports, after UK flights were banned to the attractive and popular resort back in November 2015.
Flights were banned after a Russian airliner was bombed on 31st October 2015, which resulted in a death toll of 224- all of the people onboard. Responsibility for this attack was claimed by the Islamic State group. At the time, over 16,000 Britons were flown back on rescue flights from the area.
Once a highly rated resort by travel companies, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are continuing to advise against any air travel by air to the destination that is not “essential.”
Mr Adel said, “British direct flights to Sharm el-Sheikh have been suspended since November 2015 and since that date we have been working very closely with British technical and security teams to upgrade many of the facilities in Egyptian airports in general and Sharm el-Sheikh in particular.”
The Egyptian Ambassador is hoping these services can soon be resumed, as he added “We have concluded the work in this regard and that was in close co-ordination with the British technical teams and we are set to be ready to receive once again direct flights from Britain.”
A former senior police office, Chris Phillips, who visited the resort following the bombing warned that though security had been upgraded, caution was still advised. Mr Phillips admitted he would not travel to Sharm el-Sheikh alone and said, “We have to be careful because what we may perhaps consider suitable security is not considered the same elsewhere.”
Figures from the Foreign office showed that during 2015, 900,000 Britons travelled to Egypt, this number significantly dropped to 231,000 during 2016.
Despite his warnings of caution, Mr Phillips did acknowledge that the issue does need to be revisited by the British government, as Egypt’s economy needs tourism.
Mr Phillips noted, “[Sharm el-Sheikh] will always be at the top end of the threat level for holiday makers. But that doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t go because there are other places that we go to similar to that.”
At the time of the bombing in 2015, Egyptian officials did admit that the airport of the resort fell ‘well short of international security standards.’ They have since been working closely with a team of British aviation security experts to upgrade the security in Egypt’s major airports.
BBC News. ‘Sharm el-Sheikh: UK Should End Flight Ban – Egyptian Ambassador.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46846042 (15 January 2019).
CAA to Take Legal Action Against Ryanair
Posted on 5th December 2018Airline Ryanair has found itself in the news once again, this time as the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announces it will be taking legal action against it regarding the airline refusing to pay compensation.
Thousands of customers within the UK are owed compensation from Ryanair after they experienced delayed or cancelled flights over summer this year due to the airlines’ staff striking. However, Ryanair has claimed that the striking that took place is classed as ‘extraordinary circumstances’ so they do not have to pay out compensation to those affected.
Despite the airline claiming these passengers are not entitled to compensation, the CAA believes otherwise, and plans on taking additional steps to ensure this is received. The Authority has stated that under EU legislation passengers are eligible for compensation when flights are delayed by three hours or more or are cancelled. Extraordinary circumstances such as freak weather can stop airlines having to pay this, however, it appears the CAA is not classing Ryanair’s staff strikes as an extraordinary circumstance.
In response to the CAA, Ryanair claimed, “Courts in Germany, Spain and Italy have already ruled that strikes are an ‘exceptional circumstance’ and EU261 compensation does not apply. We expect the UK CAA and courts will follow this precedent.”
The CAA’s announcement has been a hit with consumer groups on the other hand. Which? Travel Editor, Rory Boland, said “Customers would have been outraged that Ryanair attempted to shirk its responsibilities by refusing to pay out compensation for cancelling services during the summer – which left hard-working families stranded with holiday plans stalled.”
He added, “It is right that the CAA is now taking legal action against Ryanair on the basis that such strikes were not ‘extraordinary circumstances’ and should not be exempt, to ensure that the airline must finally do the right thing by its customers and pay the compensation owed.”
BBC News. ‘Ryanair Compensation Claims to go to Court.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46451702 (5 December 2018).
Flybe and Virgin Atlantic in Rescue Talks
Posted on 28th November 2018Earlier this month, airline Flybe put itself up for sale after reporting its full year losses were expected to be a total of £22m. It has now announced it is engaging with Virgin Atlantic regarding a sale or ‘closer alliance.’
Flybe stated the reasons for its high losses were falling consumer demand, higher fuel prices and a weaker pound. It also stated that though they were currently in talks, there was no guarantee that an offer would be made to them by Virgin.
The airline, which was started in 1979, currently operates 78 planes around what are classed as smaller airports including London City, Southampton, Aberdeen, Cardiff, Belfast City and Norwich, flying to destinations within the UK and Europe.
Virgin Atlantic said, “[it] has a trading and codeshare relationship with Flybe and confirms that it is reviewing its options in respect of Flybe which range from enhanced commercial arrangements to a possible offer for Flybe.”
Andrew Charlton, Aviation Analyst from Aviation Advocacy believes that the reason Virgin Atlantic is in talks with Flybe is likely to be as it is attracted to its take-off and landing slots at Heathrow Airport. Mr Charlton said, “Flybe has a fine suite of slots across the UK, particularly at Heathrow. Any bid by Virgin would be a back-door way to get access to them and is probably cheaper than to wait to buy similar landing slots outright.”
Flybe carries around eight million passengers each year; however, it has recently found itself struggling from an ‘expensive IT overhaul.’
BBC News. ‘Virgin Atlantic in Talks to Rescue Flybe.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-46317706 (27 November 2018).
Strikes and Rising Fuel Costs Cause Decline in Ryanair’s Profits
Posted on 22nd October 2018Airline, Ryanair has reported a fall in profits of 7% for the six months leading up to 30th September this year.
The airline has stated that strikes by air traffic controllers, pilots, and cabin crew have contributed to the fall in profits, even though the airline’s traffic is up by 6%. Increases in fuel prices have also had a negative effect on the airlines’ profits, as during the fist half of the year they spent 1.3bn euros on fuel, which is a 22% increase from the same time last year.
At the end of 2017 Ryanair finally acknowledged the requests of its unhappy workers and began to recognise unions as rows continued between the airline and its staff over pay and working conditions. However, in the lead up to the recognition of unions, numerous strikes were carried out by Ryanair staff in several European countries.
Neil Wilson at Markets.com said that these numerous strikes were causing a “worrying effect on customer confidence” and that “Progress has been made on securing deals with unions but there is a lot of work to do still.”
Earlier in October, the airline announced that profits for this year would be 12% lower than those previously forecast and stated a profit of 1.45bn euros after tax for the year to 31t March 2019.
Recent weeks have seen the fall of some airlines including Cobalt and Primera Air, and Ryanair’s Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said he hoped that other smaller airlines also failed “because they deserve to disappear.”
Shares in Ryanair have significantly fallen, they are now down 40% from last August where they were almost worth 20 euros.
BBC News. ‘Ryanair Profits Hit By Strikes and Higher Fuel Costs.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45937734 (22 October 2018).
Primera Air Passengers Left Stranded After Airline Collapses
Posted on 3rd October 2018Budget Airline, Primera Air has collapsed after 14 years of flying leaving passengers stranded in airports around the world.
The airline stopped all operations at midnight on Monday this week with flights from Stansted grounded and passengers advised not to go to the airport the following day for their flights with Primera Air.
Earlier this year the airline began offering low-cost long-haul flights from Birmingham and Stansted airports to destinations within North America, and, later this month, it planned to introduce flights from Manchester to Malaga.
Many passengers are still stranded at airports as they do not have enough cash to pay for a ticket with alternative airline, some are even calling for family and friends to help them pay their way back home.
The airline announced it found itself with no other choice than to 'file for bankruptcy' due to failing to secure ‘long-term financing.’
Passengers have been told by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that those who travelled on a Primera Air flight will be required to make their own arrangements to return to the UK. The government are not planning to repatriate passengers like they did last year when Monarch Airline collapsed.
Primera Air is Danish-registered and not part of the CAA’s ATOL Protection scheme, which works to protect those passengers who were booked on package holidays only. However, passengers who booked through an ATOL protected travel agent may be able to claim compensation via them.
Passengers with travel insurance may also be able to claim if the insurer covers against insolvency. Consumer group Which? is advising all affected passengers to contact their credit card provider, insurer or travel agent as soon as they can.
BBC News. ‘Primera Air: Passengers Stranded as Airline Collapses.’ BBC News. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45712063 (3rd October 2018).
190 Cancelled Ryanair Flights on Friday
Posted on 26th September 2018Irish airline, Ryanair has announced it will be cancelling further flights due to strike action being taken by its staff.
This Friday will see 190 out of the 2,400 scheduled flights with the airline cancelled, meaning 30,000 passengers will not be reaching their planned destinations.
The strike action is being carried out by unions in Belgium, Spain, Holland, Germany, Italy and Portugal. The airline has stated that those passengers affected have been sent a text and email advising them of the cancellations, and that it “sincerely regrets these unnecessary customer disruptions.”
Ryanair’s staff strikes have been long-running and are centred around dis-satisfactory working conditions within the airline. Staff who are based within countries different to Ireland are not satisfied that they have been employed by the airline under Irish legislation, as they have claimed this prevents their access to state benefits within their home country.
Staff have stated they are forced to use Irish bank accounts to receive their pay, which, in turn, has an affect on their credit rating, and that any queries they have must be made to an Irish telephone number which costs them more than a local call would.
The airline has stated that it is working to meet its staffs demands by switching to local contracts, law and taxation next year, however, there will be certain conditions. On Tuesday it announced that deals had been signed with three cabin crew unions operating in Italy in order to provide employment contracts to staff under Italian law.
Ryanair has claimed it has recently made “significant progress” with its union negotiations, including pilot and cabin crew agreements in Ireland, Germany, Italy and the UK.
BBC News. ‘Ryanair to Cancel 190 Flights on Friday Across Europe.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45637471 (26th September 2018).
Hard Brexit Could Cost Ryanair’s UK Shareholders Their Voting Rights
Posted on 20th September 2018If the UK leaves the European Union without a deal though Brexit, then UK shareholders of airline Ryanair could find themselves ‘frozen out.’
The airline has stated that if there is no transition deal in place following Brexit then it may restrict voting rights of shareholders outside of the EU.
Today, the airlines annual meeting of shareholders is being held in Gormanston where it is believed the topic will be discussed, along with the encouraging of shareholders to vote against re-electing some directors and the current chairman.
Chairman David Bonderman has been on the board for 22 years and is the founder of the private equity company, TPG. However, he is no longer thought to be ‘independent’ and advisory firms such as ISS and Glass Lewis are advising shareholders to vote against his re-election.
One shareholder, Royal London Asset Management, said it would be voting against Mr Bonderman and it also raised concerns regarding UK shareholders should a hard Brexit happen.
Mr Bonderman said that if a hard Brexit is presented, “It is likely that our UK shareholders will be treated as non-EU and this could potentially affect Ryanair’s licensing and flight rights. Accordingly, in line with our articles of association, we would intend to restrict voting rights of all non-EU shareholders, so that we can ensure that Ryanair is majority-owned and controlled by EU shareholders at all times to comply with our licences.”
He added, “This would result in non-EU shareholders not being able to vote on shareholder resolutions.”
Head of Responsible Investment at Royal London Asset Management, Ashley Hamilton Claxton stated that Royal London were “vehemently against” any decision to withdraw voting rights from UK shareholders: “One share, one vote is a fundamental pillar of good governance that companies should uphold.”
Ryanair said, “Ryanair shareholders will pass all AGM resolutions by a large majority this year, including the nomination of directors and chairman, as they have done in all previous years. They appreciate how fortunate we are to have an outstanding chairman like David Bonderman guide the board and the airline.”
Treanor, Jill. ‘Ryanair Investors ‘May Lose Voting Rights.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-45578555 (20 September 2018).
Ryanair Passenger Compensation Cheques ‘Bounce’
Posted on 22nd August 2018Passengers receiving compensation cheques for delayed or cancelled flights from Ryanair have found themselves faced with bank fees after the airline issued unsigned cheques.
The cheques were rejected by the banks of the passengers and then fees were given to the individuals, meaning some of them were now left worse off.
The airline has apologised to those affected and said the cheques were sent out unsigned due to an “administrative error.” Over one million Ryanair passengers travelling within Europe have had their flight either cancelled or delayed since April this year.
Ryanair crew have staged numerous strikes this year, the latest being just a few weeks ago on 10th August; this strike alone led to almost 400 flights being cancelled. The airline said many delays happened due to bad weather and air traffic control shortages.
The airline admitted in a statement that during July this year “a very small number of cheques” were issued to passengers waiting for compensation unsigned; it followed by saying that these cheques had since been re-issued to those affected with an explanation.
The airline said, “Ryanair complies fully with EU261 legislation, under which no compensation is payable to customers when the delay/cancellation is beyond the airline’s control. If these strikes, by a tiny minority of Ryanair pilot’s, were within Ryanair’s control, there would have been no strikes and no cancellations.”
Last autumn, the airline suffered greatly when numerous flights were cancelled due to pilot roster problems; this cost the airline around £22.4m in compensation payments to its passengers. However, last year alone Ryanair reached profits of £1.3bn after tax, as it flew 130 million passengers throughout the year.
Sturdy, Julian. ‘Ryanair Compensation Cheques with No Signatures ‘Bounced.’’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-45262871 (22 August 2018).
Passport Queues at Heathrow Causing 2.5 Hour Waits
Posted on 13th August 2018Figures have shown that last month passengers found themselves stuck in queues for 2.5 hours at Heathrow Airport’s passport control.
Out of last months’ 31 days, targets were missed by the border force on 30 days, meaning that people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) were waiting much longer than the targeted 45 minutes.
The government stated that 200 extra staff will be deployed to Heathrow this summer, as passengers were left feeling “frustrated” with the delays.
Boss of Virgin Atlantic, Craig Kreeger acknowledged that whilst security and safety are - and must remain - a priority in airports, other countries are managing their borders much more effectively than the UK at present.
He said, “At a time when the UK needs to show the world it is open for business, the government and Border Force need to provide a great first impression for every visitor every time.”
Those citizens arriving at the airport from the EEA, European Union and Switzerland are eligible to use the electronic gates of the airports passport control, however, those arriving from all other countries must have their passports checked in person by a border force official. To tackle the long delays, Heathrow’s Chief Executive, John Holland-Kaye has already encouraged the Home Office to allow passengers arriving from ‘low risk’ countries to also be authorised to use the electronic gates.
So far this year, Heathrow airport has missed its target for those arriving from outside the EEA 6,000 times.
A spokesperson speaking on behalf of the Home Office said, “The vast majority of people who arrive at Heathrow get through the border within our service standards. But we understand the frustration for those who have experienced longer waits and remain fully committed to working with our partners to reduce waiting times as far as possible.”
They added “At the same time, we will not compromise the essential checks we carry out at the border which keep our country safe. We are making sure Border Force has the resources it needs, and we are deploying 200 additional staff at Heathrow over the summer.”
However, Alex Cruz, boss of British Airways said that “two-hour queues are fast becoming the norm” at Heathrow.
BBC News. ‘Heathrow Airport Passport Queues Reach 2.5 Hours.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45165222 (13 August 2018).
Drunken Passengers Face 80k Fines and Possibly Prison
Posted on 1st August 2018The government-backed ‘One Too Many’ campaign has been launched and British holidaymakers are being warned that they could face ‘serious punishments’ should they cause disruption on a flight through alcohol.
Under the new campaign drunken passengers who cause problems onboard can be issued with fines worth thousands of pounds or even face prison. If the behaviour of a passenger who is under the influence of alcohol causes the need for a flight to be diverted in order to land sooner, then they could be given an airline ban as well as a fine of up to £80,000.
The One Too Many campaign is in place at Manchester, Gatwick, Stansted, Bristol, Birmingham, Glasgow, East Midlands, Southampton and Aberdeen airports, however, it is also set to be rolled out via a ‘national’ campaign on Facebook and Instagram.
The campaign was launched by the Aviation Minister, Baroness Sugg. In a statement, Baroness Sugg said, “Disruptive passengers have the potential to ruin other people’s flights, and this campaign is an important new step to ensure all passengers are aware of the consequences they face if they behave disruptively after drinking before or on board a flight. I am pleased to see the industry come together to ensure the experiences at our airports and on flights remain positive for everyone.”
It is already an offence to be drunk onboard an aircraft, and Managing Director of Jet2, Phil Ward, has welcome the campaign. He said, “The issue of disruptive passenger behaviour caused by drinking too much alcohol affects many airlines.”
“Although our crew and colleagues are highly trained and do a fantastic job in often difficult circumstances, it is unacceptable that they must be left to manage the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption. At the same time, customers travelling on well-earned holidays shout not be subjected to this behaviour.”
Last month, Irish carrier Ryanair called for a ban to be placed on early morning alcohol sales within airports as well as requesting for drink limits per passenger to be enforced in the hopes of tackling drunken behaviour causing disruption on flights.
In a statement, Ryanair said, “It is incumbent on the airports to introduce these preventative measures to curb excessive drinking and the problems it creates, rather than allowing passengers to drink to excess before their flights.”
Mallinson, Harriet. ‘Flights: You could be fined up to £80,000 if caught drunk on a plane – or even go to jail.’ Express.co.uk https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/996716/flights-alcohol-manchester-airport-drunk-passengers-flight-news (1 August 2018).
Hotel Booking Sites Under Scrutiny from CMA
Posted on 28th June 2018The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has told hotel booking sites that they must review the ways in which they rank and display rooms to customers.
The competition watchdog has also suggested that some sites are possibly making misleading claims with regards to discounts, and, though it has not stated which companies are being investigated, leading sites in the field include Booking.com and Expedia.
The authority also highlighted concerns regarding whether the hotels ranking could be influenced by the amount of commission it pays and has sent letters to numerous sites ‘demanding’ they now review their current practices, ensuring they are being fair to their customers and that they are complying fully with consumer protection law.
The CMA has expressed concerns over numerous aspects with these sites including: whether or not true numbers are shown to the customer of how many people are looking at the same room as them, how many rooms are left available, whether customers are faced with unexpected charges after booking, and whether search rankings are determined by how much commission a hotel pays the booking site.
The CMA believes that approximately 70% of all people who look around on the internet for hotel accommodation use hotel booking sites in the hopes of getting reduced rates.
Chief Executive of the CMA, Andrea Coscelli said, “Booking sites can make it so much easier to choose your holiday, but only if people are able to trust them. We are now demanding that sites think again about how they are presenting information to their customers and make sure they are complying with the law. Our next step is to take any necessary action - including through the courts if needed – to ensure people get a fair deal.”
The sites in question have been informed by the CMA that they must respond within the next few months. The sites will then have the option to give a legally binding commitment to make changes to the way they currently operate, or alternatively, they can argue that the way they practice does not break the law. If the CMA does not agree with the companies’ outcomes or arguments, it can then take them to court where they can be faced with ‘unlimited fines.’
Chief Executive of UK Hospitality – which represents hoteliers - Katie Nicholls has welcomed the announcement from the CMA, as she believes it will work to give customers “reassurance.”
Peachey, Kevin. ‘Watchdog Takes Aim at Hotel Booking Sites.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44633411
Half A Million Passengers Delayed Each Day By 2040
Posted on 21st June 2018A report from Eurocontrol has suggested that by 2040 almost half a million passengers will be delayed every day.
Eurocontrol, who are responsible for Europe’s air traffic network, believe that airport capacity will not be able to match the increasing number of flights and will therefore lead to almost half a million passengers experiencing flight delays on a daily basis by 2040.
Currently, around 50,000 passengers in Europe experience a delay of up to two hours each day, however, it is expected that this figure could significantly increase by 2040 to 470,000, as flights rise by approximately 53% but airport capacity increases by only 16%.
So far 2018 has shown that this could well be the case, as the first five months of this year have witnessed higher delays than recent years. There has been an increase from 0.46 minutes per flight to 1.05 minutes; 28% of which was due to events such as strikes, 27% due to the weather and 45% due to staffing/capacity issues, especially in France, Germany and the Low Countries.
Eamonn Brennan, Director General at the ACI General Assembly said that to keep up with the growing flight numbers airports need to build additional runways or take on technology to allow them to make better use of their current runways: “Europe is already struggling to cope with the levels of traffic this year.”
He added, “Our most likely scenario predicts a growth of 1.9% a year between now and 2040. That means 16.2 million flights a year but it could be as much as 19.5 million flights a year under our highest growth scenario. On our most likely scenario, there won’t be enough capacity for approximately 1.5 million flights or 160 million passengers in 2040. Therefore, I think we need to address the issue as a matter of urgency.”
Heathrow Airport is now planning to expand by creating a third runway, an addition that has been debated about and delayed for nearly 20 years. Despite campaigners and nearby residents complaining against this, ministers backed the plans for the expansion earlier this month. It is expected that the £14bn runway will be completed by 2026 and is set to be funded purely by private money.
Robert Carey, Chief Commercial Officer at EasyJet believes the third runway is a positive for the Airport and low-cost airlines: “This expansion would enable low cost airlines to provide new routes and increased competition on dozens more UK and European routes. New entrants would launch flights to UK and European airports not currently served by Heathrow. EasyJet’s costs are significantly lower than legacy airlines so its fares in these services would be lower than those paid by passengers today.”
Mallinson, Harriet. ‘Flight Delays: Nearly Half A Million Passengers Will Be Delayed EVERY Day in 20 Years.’ Express Online. https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/977471/flights-news-europe-delay-airport-flight-travel
EasyJet Says Heathrow Expansion Could Cut Air Fares
Posted on 18th June 2018Airline EasyJet has stated that a third runway at Heathrow Airport could see air fares cut for some routes by almost a third.
The airline is urging MPs to support the proposed plans for a third runway to be built, as they believe travellers will benefit from cheaper flights and deals due to ‘increased competition’ from budget airlines.
EasyJet has claimed that should the expansion go ahead, this will allow budget carriers to use the airport ‘at scale’ for the first time. It added that it has been in talks with Heathrow for the past several years to ensure that if the runway is approved, then its requirements for operating from there will be met.
Chief Commercial Officer, Robert Carey said, “This expansion would enable low cost airlines to provide new routes and increased competition on dozens more UK and European routes. EasyJet’s costs are significantly lower than legacy airlines so EasyJet’s fares on these services would be lower than those paid by passengers today.”
The plans for the proposed third runway were given the support of the cabinet last week, meaning MPs will soon vote on whether this should go ahead or not. Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said that the runway, which will cost in the region of £14bn, will be privately funded.
However, not everyone is in favour of the new runway, as campaigners and opponents argue that to expand Heathrow’s runway space will breach the UK’s legal limits on air pollution, as well as significantly increase noise pollution as it estimated another 700 planes would be able to use the airport each day.
In response to this, EasyJet have stated their commitment to sustainability and said that their A320neo aircraft are quieter than other models and also use less fuel.
BBC News. ‘EasyJet Says Heathrow Airport Fares Could Drop by Third.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-44454579
Third Runway On The Cards for Heathrow Airport
Posted on 5th June 2018After years of disagreements and delays, plans to create a third runway at Heathrow Airport are expected to be approved by ministers.
It is expected that once the economic sub-committee, which is chaired by Prime Minister Theresa May, will send the plans to the full cabinet once they have signed them off themselves. If the plans are backed, then it will be down to the MPs to vote on over the next few weeks.
Despite disagreements from both local residents and Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, the government is expected to back the plans for expansion. It is being argued by campaigners that the creation of an additional runway at the airport will breach the legal limits within the UK on air pollution, as well as significantly increase noise pollution due to an extra 700 planes per day.
In order to create the extra runway, there are plans for a local trading estate, school and homes in Longford to be demolished. Boris Johnson has stated that he will “lie down in front of bulldozers” to prevent the expansion.
Mr Johnson has not agreed with the expansion to Heathrow Airport since the offset, arguing it is not suitable on both environmental and economic grounds. Shadow Chancellor, John McDonnell, is also opposed to the plans as they could mean homes in his Hayes and Harlington constituency are demolished.
Economic Secretary to the Treasury and City Minister, John Glen, has stated that he agrees with and supports the proposed plans: “It is right that the government has looked at all the dimensions of it, all the concerns around the environmental effect, but from the perspective of UK PLC we need to expand our capacity and this is the right thing to do.”
However, disagreements have come from others also, as Theresa Villiers, Ex-Transport Minister spoke of concerns regarding the “huge noise impact” along with the “very real impact” it would cause air quality. She also added that even if the government were to support and back the plans, we still will not know for some time whether the third runway will be built or not, as it would just be one step in a long process.
Heathrow has announced that the addition of a third runway would cost around £14bn to create; it would also increase the airports current passenger capacity of 85.5 million to 130 million. It is hoping that the new runway will be complete and operational sometime between 2025 and 2030, but, with the numerous disagreements and campaigning against its creation, only time will tell whether Heathrow will in fact be growing.
BBC News. ‘Heathrow Airport: Cabinet Set for New Runway Decision.’ BBC News Online. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44357580
The Best & Worst Airports for Average Flight Delays Revealed
Posted on 21st May 2018The Press Association has compiled a ‘departure punctuality ranking’ for airlines and concluded that, on average, flights from all airports departed an average of 15 minutes later than their original scheduled time.
Data from the Civil Aviation Authority has suggested that flights from Luton Airport experienced longer delays than any other airport in the UK during 2017. From Luton, planes departed an average of 19.7 minutes later than scheduled; coming out on top was Heathrow Airport, where flights were delayed by an average of 11 minutes; 8.7 minutes less than those departing from Luton.
The CAA stated that the data released helps passengers to decide upon which airport to fly from. However, a spokesperson for the Airport Operators Association claimed that “outdated” airspace infrastructure limited the efficiency of flights, thus causing delays.
He said, “Airports are working with air traffic service providers and the government to plan and deliver the necessary changes so everyone can continue to fly with a minimum of delays.”
A spokesperson speaking in defence of Luton claimed that factors which were outside of the airports control were the cause of the delays. They said things such as air traffic control strikes, late arriving aircraft, congested airspace and bad weather were to blame for the majority of delays.
So, who were the top five and worst five airlines for average delays during 2017?
The top 5 were…
Heathrow – 11 minutes
Leeds Bradford – 11.3 minutes
Belfast City – 11.3 minutes
London City – 11.6 minutes
Exeter – 11.9 minutes
The worst 5 were…
Luton 19.7 minutes
Gatwick – 18.9 minutes
Jersey – 18.7 minutes
Durham Tees Valley – 18.6 minutes
Birmingham – 18.2 minutes
BBC News. ‘UK Airports With Worst Departing Flight Delays Revealed.’ BBC News Online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44190066v
Ryanair Reduces Check-In to 48 Hours
Posted on 16th May 2018Irish airline Ryanair has announced it will be reducing its check-in window for passengers who have not reserved seats to just 48 hours, from the current 96.
Airline seat allocating has been quite dominant in the news recently, as passengers are suspecting families are being split up purposely on planes in order to make them pay for allocated seating to sit together.
The new changes with Ryanair are set to be in place from 13 June 2018 and the airline has stated that even though it has reduced the check-in window, it is still double that of many of its rivals.
Passengers who pay for reserved seating will now have longer to pick their seats, and also have the benefit of being able to check-in 60 days before they fly.
Ryanair, who is now in the fifth year of its “Always Getting Better” customer service improvement programme, last year had to cancel hundreds of flights as a result of a pilot roster issue, meaning they did not have sufficient staffing numbers to operate all flights.
On top of these flight cancellations, the airline has also headlined the news recently as its staff have gone on strike over conflicts with pay, working conditions and union recognition. European unions are also threatening to impose further action this summer unless Ryanair implements national employment laws for all of its staff.
BBC News. ‘Ryanair Cuts Check-In to Two Days Ahead of Flight.’ BBC News Online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-44130053
EasyJet Number 1 for Value
Posted on 2nd May 2018EasyJet has been labelled as the best value for money airline in the UK over its Irish rival, Ryanair.
Despite Ryanair selling cheaper tickets than EasyJet it has not come out in top spot for value. The information has been revealed from flight comparison site, Skyscanner, and has taken into account baggage costs per passenger, onboard catering, seat reservation costs and the actual ticket price.
Though Ryanair offers the cheapest flight prices on average, their recently changed baggage restrictions, along with expensive catering, has meant the Irish airline has not secured a spot in the top 10. The research carried out showed that just because an airline offers the best priced flights, does not mean they offer the best value for money.
One of the most ‘annoying’ additional costs airlines charge according to passengers is baggage costs. German carrier Eurowings, who came in second place after EasyJet, were found to offer the cheapest baggage costs to their passengers. They were followed by Iberia and British Airways.
Over a half of the individuals cited by Skyscanner also claimed seat allocation costs were just as annoying, especially as the price of these varied throughout the different locations within the cabin.
Air France, KLM, Lufthansa, TAP Portugal and Swiss came out favoured in the way of onboard catering by offering complementary onboard catering to passengers, whilst those travelling with EasyJet and Ryanair were charged for such refreshments.
Senior Growth Manager, John Ritchie, said, “When booking flights travellers can often be confused by what is deemed to be a bargain and what isn’t. It’s very easy for a traveller to book a great flight deal only to realise that the extra costs for baggage and seat reservations have taken them over budget. Whether a flight deal is of value to a traveller is determined by the needs of that traveller and what they deem to be important. Travellers who won’t be needing to place luggage in the hold and aren’t fussed where they sit, should opt for the cheapest flight price.”
He added, “However if those extras are important then more consideration is needed. The majority of airlines offer value packages where the flights might cost a little more but hold baggage and seat allocation is included and they are certainly worth considering. We have included all our research on our site, breaking-down where each airline ranks for the things that matter, i.e. flight price, seat allocation and hold baggage charges and on-board catering.”
So, who won a spot in the top ten airlines for value this season?
5. Veiling Airline
8. British Airways
10. Air France
Craven-Todd, Edward. ‘Cheap Flights: EasyJet Named the UK’s Best Value Short Haul Airline for THIS Season.’ Express Online. https://www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/953553/cheap-flights-easyjet-best-short-haul-airline-uk-european-flights
Stansted to Become London’s Fastest Growing Airport?
Posted on 23rd April 2018Stansted Airport has always remained in the shadows of Heathrow and Gatwick, however, is it now set to become London’s biggest growing airport leaving behind its two ‘global and glamorous sisters?’
Burrowed in the countryside of Essex some 40 miles from central London, it has been tied to the revolution of the low-cost airline and especially to its largest customer, Irish airline Ryanair. However, whilst Heathrow and Gatwick have long-disputed who will be the first to grow in the way of creating another runway, Stansted has been busy with its own business.
The airport has been ‘mopping up cheap flights’ throughout Europe to places such as Western Romania, and it is now thought to be on its way to becoming the star of its own ‘Cinderella success story.’
Bosses state that Stansted is now set to be the fastest growing airport of London, as it offers an extra 1.2 million airline seats this summer than it did during that of 2017. The airport will be welcoming five additional airlines during 2018 and will receive a new arrivals terminal costing £130 million, which will hopefully be finished by 2021. Primera Air, Emirates, WOW air, Air Corsica and Wideroe will all settle into the airport this year, offering flights to destinations such as New York, Boston, Toronto, Dubai and Reykjavik.
Chief Executive of Stansted Airport, Ken O’Toole, said “Stansted now sits in a geographic sweet spot serving both London, which is rapidly expanding north and eastwards towards the airport, and the vibrant East Anglian region. This, coupled with constraints on runway capacity elsewhere n the South East means we are expecting our passenger numbers to reach 35 million per annum in the early 2020s.”
Since changing ownership in 2013, new owner Manchester Airports Group (MAG) has spent around £150 million upgrading its facilities and improving its retail. Stansted now makes as much as £6.20 per passenger from ‘non-aviation revenue’ such as car parking and retail; this is as well as the £5.40 it makes from actual flights.
However, it appears it is not just the improvements made in retail that are bringing in new airlines: Anastasija Visnakova, Primera Air’s Chief Commercial Officer said, “Stansted allows us to grow.”
She added, “Passenger flow has increased around the world. It is tremendous. There are people travelling today who we’d never think would be travelling even a year ago. Times are changing, the equipment is changing, the technology is changing. Aviation is becoming more affordable and the selection of the right routes with the right intelligence behind them will succeed."
Gibson, Chris. ‘Heathrow v Gatwick: Could the Winner be… Stansted?’ BBC News Online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43796768
Avios Scheme Used by British Airways to Close Down
Posted on 18th April 2018It has been announced that the Avios Travel Rewards Programme is to be shut down on 20th May this year.
The Avios scheme is used by British Airways, who have been quick to confirm that passengers’ points they have collected can still be used.
Customers were sent a reassuring email which said, “In the coming months, the UK Avios Travel Rewards Programme will close but Avios, the currency, will remain. We’re doing this to simplify the programme and further improve collection and spending opportunities. You’ll still be able to collect and spend Avios with many of the partners you do today, you’ll just have a new home to do it all from.”
Till now, the Avios scheme has ran separately from the British Airways Executive Club, now, passengers will have an Executive Club account set up for them and their balances transferred over. Those who already have an Executive Club account are able to transfer their balance over themselves before 20th May, or, they can choose to opt out altogether. If they choose to opt out any Avios must be used within six months, otherwise they will be lost.
The email also informed that passengers can collect and use their Avios in the meantime whilst the new accounts are created, and that they would be sent account details as soon as they were available.
Avios Group Limited stated that passengers will benefit from “added benefits” with this move, as they will be able “to collect and spend Avios with even more partners than at present.”
Head for Points’ Rob Burgess reiterated that there is nothing for passengers with Avios to worry about: “Their points are safe and will be transferred over to British Airways Executive Club […] The range of redemption options available via BAEC is broader than it is via Avios and no one will lose out. This move will also unravel some of the complexity in running two Avios-based loyalty schemes in the UK.”
Milington, Alison. ‘British Airways’ Avios Points Scheme is Closing Down – Here’s Everything You Need to Know.’ Evening Standard Online. https://www.standard.co.uk/lifestyle/travel/british-airways-avios-scheme-closing-what-happens-to-points-a3815786.html
New Rulings for Holiday Sickness Claims
Posted on 13th April 2018There is set to be a clamp down on false holiday sickness claims under new rules as claim figures rocket, yet illness reports decline.
Legal costs for package holiday sickness cases will now be fixed as rules similar to those in place for other personal injury claims come into force.
Despite illness records declining, the travel industry has stated that holiday sickness claims have “mushroomed” in the past few years and travel agents are now seeking for the government to ban cold calls which encourage holiday makers to begin a claim.
During 2016, there was a 500% rise in the number of holidays sickness claims made from 2013. The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) said 2016 witnessed around 35,000 claims, though illnesses within holiday resorts have been declining. This leads to the questioning of the sincerity of some cases.
2016 cost the industry £240m and there is now a risk that holiday prices will have to be raised in order to keep up with cost, which could result in some families being unable to afford to get away for a summer break.
In order to prevent fake claims being made, the government requested that the Civil Procedure Rule Committee bring package holiday illness claims under the same regulations as personal injury claims, meaning legal costs will be limited and hotels will have the chance to challenge these claims in court without facing extortionate legal fees. This request has been accepted and a limit on legal costs will come in to effect shortly.
Justice Minister Rory Stewart stated that anyone who is claiming compensation from these claims, when they had not actually been sick on holiday, was committing fraud.
He said, “This damages the travel industry and risks driving up costs for holidaymakers. This behaviour also tarnishes the reputation of British people abroad. That is why we are introducing measures to crack down on those who engage in this dishonest practice.”
Chief Executive of the Association of Travel Agents, Mark Tanzer, said “Closing the legal loophole before the summer should lead to a reduction in the number of false claims. We encourage the government to keep this matter under review and continue to pursue a ban on cold calling […].”
Those caught making false sickness claims can find themselves facing hefty fines, or, even serving time in prison for fraud.
Peachey, Kevin. ‘Crackdown on False Holiday Illness Claims.” BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43741880
Bristol Airport Passengers Stranded by Parking Company
Posted on 10th April 2018Passengers returning to Bristol Airport have found themselves stranded and without their vehicles.
the incident occurred after a meet-and-greet parking company – Absolutely Secure Airport Parking - did not return the cars to the passengers who had just landed at the airport last Friday and Saturday. Though the company has been asked to comment on the incident, they have not yet done this.
A spokesperson for the police confirmed that a “significant number of motorists had been unable to retrieve vehicles” and Bristol Airport stated that the parking company was not connected in any way with the airport.
It was reported in local paper, The Bristol Post, that some people discovered their cars in fields and lay-bys, and that the vehicles were “filthy.”
One set of customers contacted the police after their numerous calls to the parking company were unanswered. They informed that when the owner of the company did leave with the police to get the vehicles’ keys, they took ill.
The customers said, “People were getting more fractious but trying to stay calm because there were children waiting with us. Some people were returned their keys but had no idea where their cars were parked. Some found their cars in lay-bys near the airport.”
Another customer, who paid £35 for 24-hours of secure parking, found their Mercedes 9 hours after they landed back at the airport. They said, “The vehicles were stored in lay-bys, farmers’ fields, down dirt tracks. They were not in secure locations as advertised.”
A spokesperson on behalf of the airport said, “While we have no control nor influence over the services provided by Absolutely Secure Airport Parking Bristol, our ground transportation team and on-site police unit provided assistance to passengers affected to help locate their vehicles.”
BBC News. ‘Bristol Airport Parking Firm ‘Fails to Return Cars.’’ BBC News Online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-43697408
Will Ryanair Ground Flights to Make Brexit Voters “Rethink?”
Posted on 7th March 2018Ryanair’s Chief Executive, Michael O’Leary, has made threats to ground planes after Brexit, to make voters “rethink.”
The Irish based carriers Chief Executive said he wants people to understand that cheap holidays will no longer be an option.
Speaking in Brussels to an audience of other airline leaders, he said, “I think it’s in our interests – not for a long period of time – that the aircraft are grounded. It’s only when you get to that stage where you’re going to persuade the average British voter that you were lied to in the entire Brexit debate. You were promised you could leave the EU and everything would stay the same. The reality is you can leave the EU, yes that’s your choice, but everything will fundamentally change.”
Mr O’Leary believes that after Brexit there will be a “real crisis” for flights between the UK and the EU, as they are disrupted.
He added, “When you begin to realise that you’re no longer going to have cheap holidays in Portugal or Spain or Italy, you’ve got to drive to Scotland or get a ferry to Ireland as your only holiday options, maybe we’ll begin to rethink the whole Brexit debate. They were misled and I think we have to create an opportunity.”
However, Mr O’Leary’s words have been met with mixed reactions. Johan Lundgren, Chief of EasyJet interrupted his on-state speech with, “If you start grounding your planes, I’m flying.” Whereas boss of the German carrier Lufthansa, Carsten Spohr said, “In theory, if we could use this industry to prove to the British how wrong the decision was, that might be a good thing.”
The single market for aviation, which was created in the 1990s, currently means that there are no ‘commercial restrictions’ for airlines who are flying within the EU. However, Mr O’Leary has warned on numerous occasions that airlines will find themselves forced to cancel post-Brexit services after March 2019 if agreements are not reached during the Brexit negotiations before September, as schedules are usually planned by airlines six months in advance.
Despite opinions from airline Executives, Chris Grayling, Transport Secretary, said back in January this year that he remains confident flights will “not be grounded,” as it remains in the best “interests of everyone to maintain the open market for aviation.”
The Telegraph. ‘Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary threatens to Ground Planes After Brexit to Make Voters ‘Rethink’ Withdrawal.’ The Telegraph Online. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/03/07/ryanairs-michael-oleary-threatens-ground-planes-brexit-make/
Passengers Grounded After Air France Strike
Posted on 24th February 2018Yesterday, tens of thousands of Air France passengers found themselves stranded after staff - involving pilots, cabin crew and ground crew - held a one-day strike.
Staff have been offered a one percent pay increase by management, however, they have rejected this and unions are demanding an increase of six percent. There is also unhappiness amongst staff regarding their workloads and job losses.
Air France said, "Due to several Air France staff unions calling for strike on Thursday 22 February 2018, our flights schedule is disrupted."
The strikes caused half of the airlines long-haul schedule to be cancelled as well as a quarter of its medium-haul flights and 15% of short-haul ones.
The airline also expected to be forced to cap the number of passengers it let on its flights, as the shortage of cabin crew members did not make up the correct ratio of passengers per flight attendant.
Calder, Simon. "Air France Strike Grounds Dozens of UK Flights, Leaving Hundreds of Passengers Stranded." Independent Online. http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/air-france-strike-latest-uk-flights-cancelled-grounded-passengers-stranded-a8222766.html
Jet2 Celebrates 15 Years of Flying
Posted on 16th February 2018This week Airline Jet2 celebrated the 15th anniversary of its first ever flight, which departed on February 12th 2003!
Steve Lee has been the Commercial Director of the airline since the beginning and has taken a look back on the journey Jet2 has taken so far...
The very beginning for the airline was in a portable cabin based at Leeds Bradford Airport: "Back then it was the low-cost airline revolution. Every regional airport in the country thought that it should have at least one low cost airline. Now, they think they should have six, which shows how much it has grown."
Jet2 has grown rapidly over the last fifteen years; starting out with only two aircraft flying to nine destinations, it now owns ninety planes and flies to fifty destinations.
"We were looking at what opportunities there were to launch a low-cost programme. Leeds Bradford was somewhere we could launch with a relatively low number of aircraft - and had a large catchment area (of around 7 million people living within 90-minutes' drive. At the time, British Midland [now more commonly known as BMI] was the only airline that flew out of Leeds Bradford, easyJet was in Liverpool and had just announced Newcastle and there was no low cost from Manchester, so there was a bit of a void in the north. It was an obvious gap in the market."
So, Jet2 began operations from a 'series of portable cabins' at Leeds Bradford, with around 25 staff. Today, the airline employs close to 9,000 individuals, so it is easy to see how much it has grown in just 15 years.
In 2007, Jet2holidays was introduced: "We saw there was a gap in the market, particularly in the north of England, for a tour operator offering great value package holidays. There were already low-cost airlines around but we felt we had to find something different to offer."
Despite its rapid growth, Lee has stated that both the mentality of the staff and the values of the airline have continued to stick together. "The values are pretty much the same now as they were then. It's about taking people on holiday and offering them friendly and attentive service. We've evolved, of course, but we've always tried to think big and act small. So we still have that intimacy about what we do."
The airline praises itself for its relationship with its staff; newly-trained cabin crew are still personally given their wings by Lee or another director. "We haven't got a stuffy, corporate mentality despite growing into a big business. Of course, we have professional corporate governance, but we will certainly try not to change our ethos. We can train our staff in being consistent, but we want their personalities to shine through. Our customers like the fact that they are going on holiday with people just like them."
As for the next fifteen years: "Looking back, I would pinch myself if I thought we would be where we are now in 15 years. we have long-term plans but we don't like to look too far ahead. [..] We've had a pretty rapid expansion, especially in the last five years. But as always we take each year as it comes."
Ireland, Ben. "A Look Back at 15 Years of Jet2.com." Travel Weekly. http://www.travelweekly.co.uk/articles/297656/a-look-back-at-15-years-of-jet2com
Passengers Subjected to 'Illegal Fees' for Booking with Credit or Debit Cards
Posted on 15th February 2018Last month, new rules were introduced which banned surcharges for UK holidaymakers paying by either debit or credit cards. However, it seems not all airlines have fully enforced these as of yet.
Two airlines - KLM and Air France - are facing accusations that they have illegally charged customers when they have paid with their debit or credit cards through the airlines' websites. The airlines, who together make Air France-KLM (AFKLM), said that a 'banking mix-up' was the reason for the issue, however, consumer group Which? found that the airlines were applying fees of two per cent for online payments made with some Mastercard's and for all online payments made by American Express.
The newly introduced EU rules banned retailers from applying fees to customers for paying with Visa or Mastercard debit or credit cards, unless these were corporate cards. These surcharge bans have been widely implemented by retailers, as well as government bodies, and include both travel companies and airlines. However, legislation within the UK has taken a step further than other EU states, as retailers found themselves banned from charging a surcharge fee on any 'payment instrument' such as American Express and platforms like PayPal. As KLM and Air France are based in Europe they do not have to adhere to these further rulings, though they have marketed this to customers on a UK website.
Investigators at Which? booked flights on the UK websites offered from Air France and KLM; when being offered the option to pay by credit card, the investigators were warned that there was the potential of a fee being applied. They were charged £2.13 from Air France for a London to Paris flight, and £16.27 by KLM for a London to Mauritius trip.
Which? discovered that both KLM and Air France were using a payment technology that mistakes personal cards for business ones, which are eligible for fees. A spokesperson from Which? said, "Consumers trust companies checking their cards can tell the difference between a personal and corporate card." However, it seems that in this instance this has not been the case.
AFKLM have reassured customers that if they have incorrectly been given a surcharge, then these will be refunded.
Newton, Jennifer. - KLM and Air France 'Illegally Charged Credit and Debit Card Fees' to British Passengers Booking via Their Website. - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-5381117/Airlines-illegally-charged-credit-debit-card-fees.html
Low-Cost Airline Norwegian Continues to Grow
Posted on 15th February 2018Wednesday 14th February will witness the first ever budget flight depart from Gatwick Airport, London, and fly to South America.
The flight is with airline Norwegian and will take 14 hours to reach its destination, with one-way tickets sold from £259. Though the cabin seats are 'tightly packed,' with food and luggage being of extra cost, 'no-frills' flying is becoming increasingly popular. Usually more common on short-haul flights, this mode of flying is now being used more and more for intercontinental flights.
Low-cost airlines such as Norwegian, along with Wow and Primera are causing challenges for more expensive carriers like Air France-KLM (AFKLM) and British Airways (BA). A transatlantic flight in a subsonic aircraft of Norwegian's has just beaten British Airways' record, as its plane made it to London from JFK in New York in a mere five hours and 13 minutes.
Norwegian has been turned into the largest airline in Scandinavia by former pilot and paratrooper, Bjorn Kjos, and is now the third-biggest budget carrier throughout Europe. Starting out as a small regional airline in 1993, Norwegian has now significantly grown; in 2017 it launched over 15 new routes and flew 5.8 million passengers from Ireland and the UK.
The airline has just secured itself a further 28 weekly slots at Gatwick Airport and is hoping to keep building on existing routes. Mr Kjos said, "The UK will be at the heart of our continued global expansion and we remain fully committed to the market. With huge global ambitions, we're confident that the UK can offer Norwegian a springboard to further expansion."
After winning the 'Airline of the Year' award from the CAPA Aviation Awards for Excellence, it appears other airlines are attempting to follow in Norwegian's footsteps, especially IAG, the parent company of British Airways. After copying some of Norwegian's routes, including Barcelona to Oakland, California, British Airways is now working to fit 52 additional seats into its Boeing 777 aircraft, with the aim of making its passenger costs cheaper than Norwegian's.
Norwegian keeps its prices low by using a 'young fleet of aircraft' such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which burns a smaller amount of fuel per passenger when compared to other long-haul planes. This allows the airline to offer its passengers a 'more upmarket experience' than what they would usually get from a budget airline including free wi-fi and modern interior.
For some transatlantic flights the airline has marketed fares for as little as £69, however, passengers are required to pay extra costs for any checked baggage, reserved seating and in-flight food.
With the competition increasing, airlines such as BA and Air France-KLM have introduced their own long-haul budget carriers; BA has launched Level, and AFKLM, Joon. However, despite other airlines imitating Norwegian, the airlines' quick growth has roused questions about its sustainability.
Norwegian's fleet of aircraft will have grown to 193 by the end of next year, however, the carrier has 'borrowed heavily' to fund these. John Strickland, Aviation Analyst said "They just haven't delivered the margins of profitability you'd want to see, especially when compared with British Airways or Ryanair. They will have to work harder to prove they have a sustainable model and can weather the many storms an airline can face, such as economic downturns or reduced passenger numbers after a terror attack."
Norwegian has faced criticism from its rivals, such as Ryanair's Michael O'Leary who last year said, "Both Monarch and Norwegian are in trouble." Shortly after, Monarch collapsed, however, so far Norwegian seems to be flying strong as well as continuing to expand.
In response to criticism, Bjorn Kjos said, "[...] it is tough but you have to ramp it up before you start flying. It takes time to build up a network. After a huge investment, you will not be able to pay it off after one month. People have to know you are flying all over. And when they do, then you are the winner."
Gibson, Chris. 'The Low Cost Airline Changing The Way We Fly.' BBC News Online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-43049554
Reasons for Celebration at easyJet
Posted on 31st January 2018After what can only be described as a turbulent few months for the airline industry, it looks as though one carrier - easyJet - has cause for celebration.
The airline announced last week that it was experiencing a strong start to 2018 as sales increased more than 14% to £1.14billion. A spokesperson said, "easyJet has seen a positive trading environment based on the strength of its network and customer proposition, capacity reductions and lower growth in easyJet markets, in particular as a result of the bankruptcies of Monarch, Air Berlin and Alitalia, as well as the impact from Ryanair's flight cancellations."
The airline added, "easyJet is well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that are available in the current market, and seems to be delivering a silent message of: through all the bluster and bust, we've been quietly getting on with our job."
Though easyJet still carries less passengers than rival Ryanair, it has been witnessing significant increases over the last decade. In 2008 the airline carried 44.6 million passengers, and, almost ten years later in 2017, it carried a much higher 81.6 million. The carrier has stated that this year it again expects to increase its numbers and fly around 90 million passengers.
These increases in figures place easyJet as the eighth largest carrier in the world and second largest within Europe- behind its Rival, Ryanair. Ryanair has experienced an extremely high increase in its passenger figures since 2014, however, it has recently been suggested that these significant increases contributed to its cancelling of 700,000 bookings last year.
Ryanair and easyJet, despite their obvious rivalry, have been described as 'soulmates' after they have both made a huge success out of a 'no-frills' approach to flying. Figures from 2016 show that easyJet is just one step behind Ryanair in the top ten airlines who earn the highest subsidiary revenue, or extra charges; Ryanair sits in sixth place with £1.52bn and easyJet in seventh with £1.04bn. Today, easyJet's passenger figures sit at approximately 50million less than its rival, however, as its figures are continuing to increase, the two could soon be running at even numbers.
During November last year, Johan Lundgren (former Chief Executive of Tui) joined easyJet as the new Chief Executive, replacing Carolyn McCall, who left the post to pursue a career with ITV. Within one month of being with the airline, Mr Lundgren had supervised the purchase of a considerably large portion of Bankrupt Airline Air Berlin, which in turn, made easyJet the biggest airline in the Capital of Germany.
Mr Lundgren said, "My aim is to help easyJet to go from strength to strength. We expect to reach a series of milestones in 2018 including the rollout of our full summer schedule at our newly established base at Berlin Tegel."
During 2018 the airline is planning to introduce 20 new routes to its flights from a variety of UK airports, which include four new destinations - Ancona, Nea Anchialos, Genoa and Reus. Like Ryanair, easyJet uses only one model of aircraft- the Airbus A320; the airline owns 104 of these, and a further 114 of the A319's, also part of the A320 family. The airline has some 130 'new generation' Airbus A320neos on order, which are the new upgraded version of the airlines favourite A320s.
Carolyn McCall, former Chief Executive, said at the time, "The A320neo is a major step change for our fleet efficiency and will provide a cost per seat saving of up to seven per cent over the current A320, which itself has a cost saving benefit of up to eight per cent over the A319 and this benefit will enable easyJet to continue to offer our famous low fares helping to connect people across Europe for work and play."
EasyJet has stated that its new aircraft will have many benefits for its passengers, one of which is upgraded galleys which allow for larger ovens meaning more food can be cooked simultaneously on board. There will also be a partition placed in front of row 1ABC which will provide more privacy and protection from the elements during the boarding process, along with a new fully wheelchair accessible toilet, and a new table design for passengers which provides them a secure place to stand their tablet devices. However, both seat width and leg room will remain the same on the new aircraft.
Despite the rough few months experienced by various airlines in the industry it looks as though easyJet's success is continuing to grow, as it further closes the gap between itself and its biggest rival, Irish carrier Ryanair.
Morris, Hugh. "How easyJet is Quietly Looking to Rise Above its Rivals." The Telegraph Online. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travel-truths/easyjet-quiet-rise-growth-ryanair/
Success for UK Ryanair Pilots as They Win Union Recognition
Posted on 31st January 2018After previously refusing to recognise the British Airline Pilots' Association (Balpa), Irish carrier Ryanair has now agreed to the union, which will represent its UK-based pilots.
Around a quarter of Ryanair's pilots and planes are held within the UK, with its largest base housed at Stanstead, and, for the first time ever, these 600 UK-based pilots will find they have union recognition.
Over the Christmas period, Ryanair received numerous threats from its pilots for strike action, as they were considerably unhappy with their working conditions and pay, and these threats came just months after airline dominated the news after cancelling 700,000 bookings due to errors with its pilots' rosters.
Brian Strutton, Balpa General Secretary stated that the agreement made by Ryanair was "historic [...] given Ryanair's previous hostility towards unions."
He added, "While we were initially sceptical about Ryanair's sincerity in offering recognition to us and other unions, our conversations and meetings with them have shown that they are genuine in wanting a constructive trade union relationship."
Eddie Wilson, who works as Ryanair's Chief People Officer, said "The fact that we have delivered pay rises of up to 20% and union recognition for our pilots in our largest market shows how serious Ryanair is about working constructively with unions that are willing to work constructively with us."
It is believed that five representatives will be selected from Balpa who will work to lead any future negotiations around issues such as hours, pay, rostering and holidays for the airline.
BBC News. "Ryanair Pilots Win UK Union Recognition." BBC News. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42870811
Ryanair Warns of 'Localised Disruptions'
Posted on 31st January 2018Ryanair warns of the possibility of 'localised disruptions' as it begins to recognise unions for the first time.
After refusing to acknowledge employee representation for years, the Irish airline has now recognised a union for its 600 UK pilots. The airline has found themselves in the news frequently over the past few months after being forced to cancel over 700,000 bookings last year due to mess-ups with their pilots' rosters.
The airline stated that once the process was complete for its UK pilots, it will then be extending this recognition to its cabin crew staff. However, they have also stated that during this process they believe other airlines could cause trouble. A spokesperson said, "In certain jurisdictions, unions representing competitor airlines will wish to test our commitment to our low cost, high pay/high productivity to disrupt our operations."
However, remaining positive, they added "We are fully prepared to face down any such disruption if it means defending our cost base or our high productivity model."
Despite recent issues, Ryanair announced that its profits had increased 12% during the last three months of 2017 to £93.6m. It also stated its passenger numbers had increased to 30.4m, which is a 6% rise. The airline expects its fares to decrease 3% during 2018.
The airline is remaining positive about its profits as it forecasts those for 2018 to be between £1.4bn and £1.45bn, however this relies on the absence of union disruptions, unforeseen security events and the level of Easter bookings.
Unlike some of its competitors, Ryanair is not confident it will be able to increase ticket prices this summer, despite its own costs rising thanks to higher fuel bills and a further £100m in staffing costs after its pilots were issued a 20% pay rise.
The airline stated that at present, a 'lack of clarity' regarding Brexit was clouding its business and future outlook. It said this poses a 'worrying risk of serious disruption' to any flights operating between the UK and European Union from April 2019 unless an agreement is put in place before September 2018.
BBC News. 'Ryanair Warns of Further Staff Disruption.' BBC News Online. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42942918
Ryanair Passengers: Either Pay £5 or Luggage is in The Hold
Posted on 16th January 2018It 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. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/jan/15/ryanair-5-pound-charge-wheelie-bag-in-overhead-locker
OAG Report Shows Japan Airlines is Top Performer for Punctuality
Posted on 9th January 2018Research 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. http://www.breakingtravelnews.com/news/article/oag-japan-airlines-leads-world-in-aviation-punctuality/
2017 Named Safest Year for Air Travel
Posted on 2nd January 2018According 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 - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42538053
Ryanair Announces Plans to Recognise Further Unions
Posted on 20th December 2017After 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." https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/dec/19/first-pilots-now-cabin-crew-ryanair-recognises-other-unions
Travellers to Prepare for Busy Airports Before Christmas
Posted on 20th December 2017Friday 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." http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/uk-travel-trains-latest-busiest-history-when-december-winter-christmas-updates-a8119256.html
Strike Plans 'Suspended' As Ryanair Recognises Unions
Posted on 18th December 2017Pilots 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." http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-42386891
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