Thursday, 30 June 2011

Delay ridden day for many Brits

Travellers and parents are among those facing disruption today as up to 750,000 teachers, lecturers and civil servants stage a one-day strike over pension reforms.

People travelling abroad are likely to be significantly affected as passport officers from The UK Border Agency are due to walk out while the government expects a third of schools in England and Wales to be closed, and another third partially closed.

In an unusual move, some civil servants have been encouraged to take their children in to walk.

Everyone here at Alihoco hopes that if you are stuck at the airport, it is not too stressful and if you are stuck at home with the kids, that this isn't too much worse either!

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Sir Richard Branson warns Virgin pilots over potential strike

Sir Richard Branson has stressed that a pilots strike on Virgin Atlantic would leave 'an indelible scar on the company' The pilots' union Balpa has said that it will announce potential strike dates this week unless the dispute over pay is resolved.

On Monday, Sir Richard wrote to his airline's pilots saying that he was 'extremely sad' about the threat of strike action and that it was vital for Balpa to arrange talks with Virgin management.

In a new move, Sir Richard has also said that he would be willing to have a private meeting with pilots to answer particular questions that they may have. Branson's main fears are for the reputation of his company, something that he has put at the forefront of his succesful business model.

He goes on to stress 'Unless Balpa withdraws its threat very soon, it will leave an indelible scar on the company, impact customers' trust in us and damage the unique and friendly culture at Virgin Atlantic. It will affect jobs and it will make it very difficult for the company to afford the current offer on the table.'

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Lightning strikes at Gatwick Airport

There was disruption today at Gatwick Airport after lightning struck an air traffic control tower. The ligtning strike lead to departures being temporarily delayed from the airport. No structural damage was made to the tower.

Train travel was also affected by lightning strikes today with services affected between Horley and Three Bridges. Storms are forecast for tomorrow, will there be snow next week?!

Monday, 20 June 2011

New successor to Concorde revealed at Paris Air Show

The international aviation group EADS has revealed a concept for a plane which would be the successor to Concorde and allow travel between Paris and Tokyo within three hours.

The concept is called the Zero Emission Hyper Sonic Transport and would use rocket power to transport passengers above the Earth's atmosphere and therefore significantly reducing flight times. The science behind ZEHST lies in its three engines. The primary engines would be normal plane using jet engines before using rocket power to shoot into the outer atmosphere and finally, supersonic ramjets when it reaches it's cruising altitude of 32km above ground.

We may have to wait a while to sample this as the proposed launch date is 2050!

Virgin Atlantic pilots to strike for first time in airline's history

The first strike in Virgin Atlantic's history looks likely to take place at the end of June or start of July as the airlines pilots continue their dispute over pay.

The potential disruption is most likely to affect transatlantic routes if the 750 pilots cannot reach a deal over pay. Virgin Atlantic have offered the airlines pilots a 4% pay rise on the back of three years of pay freezes.

Jim McAuslan the General Secretary of The British Airline Pilots Association said pilots had not had a pay increase since 2008, in the belief that they were helping out the airline during tough times and would be rewarded later. This, he said, had not proved to be the case.

Friday, 17 June 2011

Ryanair offer new routes from Leeds Bradford Airport

Budget airline Ryanair have announced that they will be launching two new routes from Leeds Bradford Airport. The new routes will be to Riga in Latvia and Kaunas in Lithuania and will begin in November 2011.

The two new route takes the total number of destinations operated by Ryanair from leeds Bradford 13. Other destinations include Knock, Barcelona, Venice, Dublin, Malaga, Alicante and Lanzarote.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Starwood Hotels to construct 90 hotels in China

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide are focusing 30% of their worldwide expansion plans on China with 90 hotels currently under construction in the country.

The President and CEO Frits van Paasschen has said that: “The difference between China, more than anything else right now, is the absolute magnitude of the growth potential given the size of the economy in its trajectory of development. The growth of China’s economy and urbanization represents an enormous amount of demand.”

Mr. van Paasschen could well be expanding at just the right time as tourism has grown 11%  in 2010 to reach 2.1 billion together with the countries booming economy.

Easyjet to operate 70 flights a week from Southend

Low cost airline Easyjet has announced that it is to begin flying from Southend Airport. The airline expects to fly 800,000 passengers from the site in its first year. It will operate 70 flights per week with destinations including Barcelona, Faro and Ibiza.

Alastair Welch of Southend Airport said: "We are delighted to announce our partnership with Easyjet, servicing a comprehensive variety of routes into Europe.

"A new state-of-the-art control tower is now operational, work on our runway extension is underway, as is a new terminal building to be completed this autumn. A new hotel will open in 2012."

The move has come on the back of a new control tower being constructed at the airport earlier in the year.

Boeing launch test flight using biofuel mixed kerosene

Boeing have announced that one of its 747-8 planes will be the first commercial jet to cross the Atlantic on fuel derived from camelina. Camelina is a plant grown in Montana and will account for 15% of the planes fuel. The remainding 85% will be derived from Jet-A-kerosene.

The actual plane will be shown at the Paris Air Show next week.

Little is known into the economic and environmental savings of incorporating bio-fuel power into jetliners but it is the start of interesting times for the industry.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Ba's First Class customers to enjoy British bubbly

British Airways have selected a British produced sparkling rose to serve to its First Class clients. The Hush Heath vineyard run by Richard Balfour-Lynn has beaten off  stiff competition from French vineyards such as Laurent Perrier and Veuve Clicquot.

 Commenting on the decision, Mr. Balfour-Lynn stated  "I'm absolutely thrilled about the decision by British Airways to stock Balfour Brut. It shows we can compete with the best."

Congratulations to Mr. Balfour-Lynn and congratulations to British Airways. Now, just to bag an upgrade to First Class to taste some or more likely, make a trip to Waitrose!

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge travel (relatively) light on tour

It has been confirmed by St James's Palace that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will travel on their tour of Canada and the US with seven aides, half the number which normally accompany The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall. The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cambridge routinely travel with valet's, a doctor, an equerry and an artist to capture moments on such trips.
The move by the young married couple cut put strain on Charles to cut back on his aides.

Of the seven staff who will accompany The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, it is likely to include the Duchess's own hairdresser, along with close aides Jamie Lowther-Pinkerton, Chris Healey, Miguel Head, Patrick harrison and Sir David Manning.

Everyone here at Alihoco would like to wish them a successful trip to America.

Up to 40% of UK's biggest companies failing on carbon emissions law

A study by the Carbon Trust has found that nearly half of the UK's top companies do not have targets on greenhouse gas emissions. Forty of the FTSE 100 are guilty of either laking numerical targets on carbon dioxide or their targets have now expired without being renewed.

The majority of targets set by the FTSE 100 companies have set for themselves are with goals for 2011 and 2013 with around one-fifth relating to goals in 2018 or later.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Ryanair win appeal case against Gatwick Airport

The Civil Aviation Authority have upheld an appeal by Ryanair that stated that Gatwick Airport implement unfair fees. The appeal stems from a case that Gatwick Airport is breaching EU regulations by not providing airport users with enough information to illustrate how it determines charges for check-in desks and baggage facilities.

Ryanair believe that because the vast majority of its customers check-in online and carry hand luggage. Therefore, they do not require the use of the check in desks and baggage charges.

The ruling found that Gatwick should make the details clearer in a changing industry where some airlines use more of facilities than others.

Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said: “We welcome another enlightened decision from the CAA which recognises that passengers and airlines must not be forced to pay for facilities and infrastructure they do not use.

“The majority of Ryanair passengers do not go near check-in desks, yet Gatwick Airport has been charging check-in desk fees in respect of those passengers for over five years.

Monday, 13 June 2011

BA introduces first class cabins for it's Vegas high rollers

British Airways have announced plans to inrodue a First Class cabin on its service from London Heathrow to Las Vegas. The super luxury cabins will be part of a configuraion on board a Boeing 747 which will include Economy, World Traveller Plus, Club World and 14 First Class cabins.
The First Class cabins are comprised of individual suites allowing passengers their own personal space and to enjoy personal touches which includesa personal wardrobe, electronic blinds and lighting which can be adjusted in accordance with flyers moods.

Simon Talling-Smith of British Airways feels that this is a smart move on BA's part and in keeping with the types of travllers who use the route to the worlds gambling capital: 'for our high roller flyers, we are thrilled to now offer our award winning First class on this route. Our new First offers a 60% wider seat, personal electronic blinds and balanced privacy that creates an intimate private jet experience. I know our customers will love this cabin.”

Virgin Atlantic brawlers fined and banned from airline for life

Three of the passengers on board a Virgin Atlantic flight to Barbados who started a brawl have been fined £2,300 and banned from Virgin Atlantic for life. The offenders include married couple Martin and Zoe King and Mrs Kong's 76-year old father Derek Edmond. All three have admitted their guilt over causing disruption on flight VS29 from London Gatwick.
Mr and Mrs King and Mr Edmond were allowed to continue their holiday after pleading guilty in court and aceepting a fine of £2,300. The trio have since been banned from Virgin Atlantic for life and forced to find an alternative carrier to bring them home.

Staycation popularity in decline

A report has found that the Great British public are moving away from 'staycations' in order to benefit from better climes overseas.Figures from the Office for National Statistics has found that the number of Britons travelling abroad in the first three months of 2011 is 13.5m, a 4% increase on the previous year.

A study by TripAdvisor has foud that 38% of 6000 people were planning a stay-at-home holiday in 2011 compared with 45% in 2010.

Emma O'Boyle, a spokesman for TripAdvisor, said: “This year looks more positive for both travellers and the travel industry. Britons intend to travel more often and will spend more money doing so, but will still proceed with caution. Despite lingering economic fears, we are seeing a trend towards travellers making savvier holiday choices, such a selecting destinations based on a favourable exchange rate or travelling in shoulder season, rather than sacrificing a holiday altogether.”

What do you all think? Will it be UK or overseas for you this year?

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Future looks bleak for Australian wild camels

The Australian government is contemplating a controversial move in order to achieve a reduction in cardon emissions.The unlucky species could be the countries wild camels who themselves emit the same amount of carbon dioxide per year as a 7,000km flight.

Outback Australia put the number of camels on Australian shores at a million which also cause damage on the ground to the sensitve landscape. Animal rights campaigners have thought of another option - birth control tablets for the camels!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Waldorf Astoria to open first Scottish hotel

Hilton Worldwide has announced that it is to spend £24 million in converting The Caledonian Hilton Edinburgh to turn it into Scotland's first Waldorf Astoria and for it to be rebranded The Caledonian, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel.

It will be the first time in the brands 127 year history that they have opened in Scotland - John Vanderslice, from Hilton Worldwide, said: "The introduction of the Waldorf Astoria Hotels and Resorts brand to Scotland demonstrates the realisation of our aggressive growth strategy which brings these authentic and unique products, and guest experiences, into markets where we believe there is significant growth potential in the luxury sector.

It will increase Hilton Worldwides presence in Scotland from 15 to 16 hotels once The Caledonian has opened.

Expansion plans for Air France-KLM

Air France-KLM are poised to spend tens of billions of dollars on 100 aircraft to replace older models. The order will be split between Airbus and Boeing with the airline likely to be under pressure to support the Airbus A350 aircraft as the French state owns a 15.7% stake in Air France-KLM.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Was the vegetarian option that bad?

The Daily Mail has reported a 'mass brawl' on board a Virgin Atlantic flight from London Gatwick to Barbados. The result of the fight was one woman having to have her arm in a sling and another a black eye for another male passenger. One onlooker when asked about the situation said that "There was about five minutes of shouting while people gathered around and before I knew it they were throwing punches and jumping on each other. Most of the people involved were sitting in that area and just standing on their seats while throwing punches. It was vicious. It was frightening. There were punches going off in all directions...People came round to try to split them up and about half an hour later they had it under control."

Maybe this lot need to soak up some of the Caribbean vibe and chill mon!

Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company implement 5 year expansion plan

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has announced a plan to expand the luxury brand with an increase of 36 hotels in various countries by 2016. The plan is epected to cost the company £1.2bn and new resorts are planned for Morocco, Mexico, Cairo, China and Chicago.

The move comes on the back of recent launches in Hong Kong, Dubai and Toronto with a further hotel planned for London. Herve Humler, president and COO at Ritz-Carlton is confident in his brand: “Throughout the world, especially in Asia and the Middle East, we expect to be the leading top tier luxury hospitality and lifestyle brand by 2016.”

Thursday, 9 June 2011

BA agrees compensation over US price-fixing investigation

British Airways have agreed to pay $89.5 million in compensation to settle an American lawsuit over their actions in an international price fixing cartel.

Three South American carriers, Chilean Lan Airlines, Lan Cargo and Aerolinhas Brasileiras have agreed a $66 million compensation payment between them.

The case relates to a group of more than 20 airlines who are accused of agreeing prices for fuel surcharges on US shipments between 2000 and 2006.

The case has resulted in 21 airlines and 21 executives being charged in the investigation by the Department of Justice. The total amount of fines metered out
are more than $1.8bn and four airline executives being sentenced to serve prison terms.

The most recent BA fine is in addition to a further $300 million by the US Department of Justice.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Hotel group launches booking facility through Facebook

The Langham Hospitality Group has announced that it will be the first hotel chain to allow reservations to be made directly via Facebook.The group will operate a special fan page which will have special offers and to see real time availability and instantly book the room of their choice.

The move is part of an overall strategy by Langham Hospitality Group to utilise social networks and advances in technology.

It is not the first time that the group has been at the forefront of hotel technology. In 2009, the group launched a voice-enabled iPhone application and in Langham Place, Hong Kong, iPhone 4s are available for guests and iPads are used throughout the hotel by staff.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

IATA Chief attacks UK government for 'tax bandit' policy

The chief executive of IATA, Giovanni Bisignani has accused the British Government of being a 'tax bandit' over its collection of £3bn per yearin Air Passenger Duty.

He went on to describe the levies imposed by European governments as a 'wall of shame'. The levies include
the largest aviation tax in the world in APD which rose from 1 November to £11 to £12 per passenger for eceonomy class flights. Further measures include Germany's $1,3bn departure tax, Austria's $119m duty and India's $459m service tax.

Giovanni Bisignani described the airlines profit margins as wafer thin at 0.7% with profits expected to $4bn from expected revenues of $598bn. The profitable results were particularly fragile with 'the efficiency gains of the last decade and the strengthening global economic environment are balancing the high price of fuel. But with a dismal 0.7 per cent margin, there is little buffer left against further shocks."

Oil prices are a further reason for the slim gains with fuel now accounting for 30% of airlines costs compared with 13% in 2001. 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Quotes of the week - Michael O'Leary

An interview with Michael O'Leary, chief executive of Ryanair is guaranteed to offer some unusual insights, here a just a few snippets from the past week.

On charging passengers to use the toilet: 'I would if I could. My average flight takes an hour - I don't need three toilets. We're asking Boeing to take out two toilets and add six extra seats. It's not about making money - we've offered to give the cash to an incontinence charity or something.'

On his future with Ryanair: 'In the next two or three years I'll be gone but it's the most fun you can have with your clothes on. And I'm getting too old to have fun with my clothes off.'

On the myth of air travel: 'For 50 years the airlines have been telling people that flying is some super sexual experience and is more complicated than brain surgery. We've been blowing up that bull for 20 years. It's no different from a bus or a train.'

If you do go Mr. O'Leary, you will be missed in a few ways.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Monarch Airlines target low cost flight sector

Monarch Airlines is to target the flight sector dominated by Easyjet and Ryanair by becoming a scheduled carrier. The airline had previously focused on chartered flights in its 40 year history.

Monarch Airlines have also sought to gain political capital from the move by not implementing charges for booking with a debit card. The early move has been welcomes by consumer affairs group Which? Monarch will also not implement a fee for an allocated seat but will keep items such as in-flight meals, extra leg room and baggage as chargeable extras.

The move is part of an overall strategy to extensively expand its route and fleet.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

European airports facing shake-up to improve efficiency

A study by the EU has found that an extra 28m passengers a year could take to the skies if take off and landing slots were allocated more efficiently. The report recommends the secondary trading of landing slots and a move away from major airlines holding the vast majority of times.

In monetary terms, this increased efficiency could add £4.4bn to the economies of Europe between 2012 and 2015. Of the European markets, the UK remains the largest with 214 million air passengers in 2010, this was followed by Spain with 193 million passengers, Germany with 191 million, France with 143 million and Italy with 140 million.