Friday, 29 July 2011

Top tips on currency exchange

For those of you who need to transfer money to relatives overseas or to make payment on an overseas mortgage it is worth checking out if you are getting the best possible deal. One thing is for certain, the banks are not offering the most competitive rates.

It is worth bearing in mind that transfering money is usually cheaper to do online than in the bank or store as there are less staffing costs involved. If you are going into the bank, a charge of £25 - £40 is likely. 

If you compare this to Money corp, a fee of £15 applies for a telephone transaction and online transfers are £10 per transaction. Furthermore, if you take advantage of their regular payment plan, fees are as low as £4 per transaction.

The rate of foreign exchange is also worth considering. Rates from banks are usually a few points worse than using a broker such as Hifx, on the flip side however is whether the low transaction fee means a worse exchange rate as that is where the brokers can make their money. 

Confusing isn't it?

Therefore, it is worth worth looking at the full picture of costs and exchange rates and hopefully it will make your money go further.

Good luck!

Road trip holiday? Check your vehicle first for a stress free time

If you are planning a stay cation this summer or a holiday to Europe by car, it is well worth checking that your car will be able to withstand a few thousand miles without any problems.There are a few things to check before you take that well earned break:

1 - Fluids. Not that you have enough lemonade for the journey but under the bonnet. Make sure that your oil levels are good and if your car is due an oild change, it may be a good time to do this.
It is also worth checking the water levels so that your car is not at risk of overheating on long journeys in hot climates.The final one that everyone can do themselves is washer fluid levels to get rid of those stubborn flies!

2 - Brakes and Air. It is worth checking the wear on your pads and also the air filter on your car prior to setting off. If your air filter is clogged it can lead to nasty consequences for your engine.

3 - Tyres - Please make sure that your tyres are the correct pressure for summer driving and have plenty of tread. The Gendarme's can be ruthless at times!

Buckle up, drive safely and have a great holiday.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

PM Cameron to take holiday in Tuscany

Prime Minister David Cameron is to take a two week holiday to Tuscany with his family. The Prime Minster will travel to the region of Chianti and will share a luxury Tuscany with his family and sold old friends.

Guests at the villa will have access to their own tennis court and swimming pool.

Nick Clegg is holidaying in Olmedo, Spain and David Cameron is planning a further holiday in Cornwall later in the summer.

Isn't Dave the rave only just back from the Balearic island of Ibiza?

Red day for BAA

BAA have reported a pre-tax loss of £249 million in the six months to June.

It is however a £30 million improvement on last year.This has been assisted by record passenger numbers at Heathrow in April and June with 9.1% more passengers in comparison with the first half of 2010. The passenger numbers at Stansted fell by 0.2% year on year.

The reason for growth at Heathrow Airport is two fold. European  scheduled traffic has increased and there has been a significant improvement in North Atlantic traffic following the merged services of British Airway and American Airlines.

Chief Executive of BAA, Colin Matthews, sees the figures as generally positive:“This is a strong financial performance.” He added: “Heathrow has achieved some of its best-ever levels of flight punctuality and baggage delivery.”

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Survey finds Manchester Airport flights cheapest in UK

A survey by Cheapflights.co.uk has found Manchester Airport to be the cheapest of 15 UK international airport.Cheapflights.co.uk compiled the list by investigating five of the most popular summer detinations and comparing the cost of flights to them. Outbound flights were also compared to destinations such as Malaga, Dubai, Bangkok and New York.

Manchester airport took first place with Birmingham having the second lowest prices to four destinations and the lowest prices for flights to Dubai. London Heathrow was positioned third, Edinburgh fourth and London Gatwick fifth cheapest.

Nadine Hallak of cheapflights.co.uk commented "The most highly searched destinations were predominantly long-haul, so people are no doubt going further to save on ground costs this summer, in destinations where they get more value for their Pounds. We also found that average prices for long-haul are actually cheaper from London airports, while regional airports offer better fares to short-haul destinations like Spain and Portugal,"

However, the cheapest flights to long haul destinations such as Bangkok. New York and Dubai were all found to be cheapest from London Heathrow.

Emirates introduce the finest tableware to its first and business class cabins

Emirates Airlines have made attempts to make its in flight experience even finer with the introduction of elegant white Royal Doulton bone china on which to serve its meals. Passengers will also use contemporary Robert Welsh cutlery when dining on board.

The upgardes were launched in July and will be introduced on its fleet of A380's from 1st August. Emirates cabin crew have also been through  extensive traing in order to familiarize staff with new products and service philosophy.

Terry Daly, Divisional Senior Vice President, Service Delivery said: “We are constantly seeking new ways to not only delight, but also surpass the high expectations of our discerning customers. By taking a fine dining experience they may have had as a benchmark, we at Emirates continue to innovate and raise the bar."

UK's first Adagio 'aparthotel' to open in iconic Liverpool store

Liverpool's iconic Lewis's store is to be turned into an aparthotel opertaed by French Chains Accor and Adagio. The store closed in May 2010 and the new scheme will provide 129 rooms in a combination of studios and one-bedroom apartments. The hotel will also feature a business centre, gymnasium and food outlets.

Completion is expected by the end of 2012.

CityJet launch concierge service through twitter app

CityJet have announced plans to create a concierge service driven solely through twitter. The service will operate on a trial basis from 1st August for two hours from Monday to Friday.
The @CityJetTwitterFeed will provide information on arrivals and departures and assistance with hotel, taxi and restaurant bookings.

They aim to deal with all requests within 15 minutes.

Christine Ourmieres, chief executive of CityJet, said: “Twitter has become the ‘go to’ tool for customer service within the travel industry but we wanted to add value to the experience and offer a personal service where possible. The majority of our passengers are business travellers and the Twitter Concierge taps into their need for a swift, efficient and seamless travel service. It sits comfortably alongside our 15 minute check-ins and convenient flight schedules.  If the trial proves successful, we will extend and build on the Concierge service.”

Good luck!

Fuel price rise could wipe out Antarctica cruises

Impending fuel regulations could make operating cruises to Antarctica too expensive for cruise ship companies.

The changes which come into effect on 1st August will ban cruise ships from using heavy fuel oil and will be forced to a more expensive marine gas oil. The heavier type of fuel is more damaging to the environment and even more damaging if a leak was to occur.

The added cost will be passed on to passengers in a highly competitive market which has seen Gills Cruise operatoes enter liquidation last week

Singapore Airline A380 forced to return to departure airport

A Singapore Airline A380 bound for Hong Kong from Singapore was forced to return minutes after take off after an engine shut down.

The plane was carrying 368 passengers and return after one of its four engines shut down during the aircrafts ascent.

The A380 was operating with a Rolls Royce Trent 900 engine which was changed once it returned to Singapore Airport. it is the same type of engine which forced a Qantas A380 into an emergency landing last November.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Currency trading gets tougher for banks

Banks second quarter figures have shown an interesting trend, that it is becoming harder to make money by trading in currencies. Banking giant Goldman Sachs Inc. have reported a 53% revenue plunge in its foreign exchange division. Banking rival Citigroup reported an 18% fall in fixed-income revenues which is largely driven by currencies.

Jeff Feig, global head of foreign exchange at Citigroup has said "It's harder to make money, and thus we are seeing less of the frantic hiring, and some layoffs are occurring."

This performance is in stark contrast to 2008 and 2009 where trading volumes were far larger and margins between buy and sell rates were much larger.

The industry has also seen emerging traders who have focused on this area, particularly BNP Paribas who have focused on low quantity higher volume trading.

Sadly, I'm not sure that this is going to make holiday money go a little further just yet.

Doha Airport expands its duty free operations

Qatar Duty Free has begun efforts to increase its duty free performance by adding 20% of retail space to its operation at Doha Airport.

The company will add an extra entrance to the store to capture further passing trade from the newly opened Terminal B check-in areas.

Qatar Duty Free Senior Vice President Keith Hunter is buoyant regarding the changes: “The main categories to benefit will be liquor and confectionery & food, plus P&C. Apart from the increased space in liquor and confectionery, the changes will improve the customer flow, with a bank of tills that are currently by the walls moving further forward into the store."

Hunter is also targeting the lucrative duty free sectors and clientele from emerging markets: “We are placing a big emphasis on watches & jewellery in this project. It’s around 10% of sales, but it’s growing very quickly. We are seeing more and more Chinese and Russians coming through, amid the expansion of Qatar Airways. So to help us meet that demand we are doubling the size of the watches area in the middle of the store, and creating a new watch counter.”

UK bound flight forced to divert after engine trouble over Ibiza

A Jet2 operated plane from Ibiza bound for Manchester got into trouble at 3,000ft and was forced to land at Palma Majorca airport.

The plane had 186 people on board. A spokesman for Jet2.com said: "Jet2.com flight LS170 from Ibiza to Manchester diverted to Palma due to a technical fault which we are currently investigating. The aircraft landed safely, without incident, and we provided welfare and assistance to affected passengers.

"A replacement aircraft was sent to Palma with the return flight landing safely in Manchester."

The plane circled for an hour as it dumped fuel before touching down safely at Palma Airport. The passengers were helped off their flight but forced to wait more than seven hours for the next flight to Manchester. 

Turkish Airlines launch version of premium economy class

Turkish Airlines have launched a new cabin to its Boeing 777's. Entitled Comfort Class, it aims to capture the clientele which look for a little more room, better catering and superior entertainment options.

Comfort Class will be rolled out across 12 aircraft by September and the new cabins will feature 63 seats which provide 116cm pitch and 49cm width, these measurements make the seats the largest in the industry. Entertainment will be provided through a 10 inch touch screen which will offer a wide variety of entertainment together with USB and I pod connectivity devices. Comfort Class passengers will also receive amenity kits which are normally only offered to its business class customers.

Customers will be able to experience Comfort Class first hand if they are onboard a flight from Hong Kong to Istanbul or for routes to Beijing, Sau Paulo, Toronto, Shanghai and Tokyo.

Ryanair figures continue to impress despite fuel charge rise

Budget super brand Ryanair have reported steady performance in the months of April, May and June despite a 29% rise in revenue in these months.

The figures have shown an 11% year-on-year increase in average fare prices and an 18% rise in passenger numbers. The reason the increase in numbers has not resulted in huge profits is down to the cost of fuel which has increased by 49% during this period. However, there is no need to feel sorry for the airline as quarterly profits stand at €139 million and revenue of €1.155bn. Michael O'Leary also feels that passenger numbers are down by 1.5m due to the Icelandic volcanic erupts.

Ryanair are to trial reserved seating on the airline to test if the service is to be implemented across the airlines catchment over the winter months.

Saint Lucian Tourism Minister pays tribute to Amy Winehouse

The Saint Lucian Minister of Tourism, Allen Chastanet has issued a statement expressing sadness over the death of Amy Winehouse after she spent a significant amount of time on the Caribbean island.

Chastanet paid tribute towards her generosity to local residents: "We were fortunate to see another side of Amy, and will be forever grateful for the acts of kindness and compassion she extended to less fortunate Saint Lucians during her visits with us. Saint Lucians join me in extending our condolences to Amy's family, friends and fans during this difficult period."

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Banker Bob Diamond given permission to occupy Virgin Atlantic jump seat

Despite terrorism laws forbidding passengers entry into airline cockpits, the law was ignored by Virgin Atlantic to allow banking supremo Bob Diamond to take the jump seat on a flight from South Africa.

The Department for Transport is investigating the incident but reports suggest that they are unlikely to face prosecution. Why?

CC gives provisional green light to Thomas Cook and Co-operative Travel merger

The all important Competition Commission has give the go-ahead for a merger to take place between travel giant Thomas Cook and The Co-operative Travel.

The move will create a chain of 1200 shop and Thomas Cook chief executive Manny Fontenla-Nova expressed his delight at the provisional ruling: "This is not only great news for Thomas Cook and the Co-operatives, but also for our customers and staff. We look forward to bringing the merged business to life.

High street retail remains an important distribution channel for package holidays and one that consumers value. We firmly believe in the synergistic nature of this deal and the opportunities it offers. This merger is just one part of the plan to strengthen our UK business."

The news could be seen as coming at a very good time for Thomas Cook after its shares slumped last week. Shares rose steadily yesterday ahead of today's announcement having risen 2% on the LSE on Tuesday.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

BMI launch Nice route and another to Agadir

British Midland International have announced plans to launch new routes from London Heathrow to Nice and Agadir in Morocco. Flights to Nice will operate on a daily basis from August 25 and twice daily from October 30. Flights to Agadir will start on 29 October and will operate twice a week.

BMI have also announced that its services to Marrakech and Casablanca will increase from three to five flights from October 1.

A royal cock up in BA's first class cabin

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have been given £200 in compensation after their in flight entertainment failed on their return from their tour of the States. William and Kate were given duty free vouchers after the in-flight screens broke in the first class cabin.

A BA spokesman confirmed the issue, saying “Unfortunately a fault with some parts of the aircraft’s in-flight entertainment system couldn’t be fixed before the aircraft took off from Los Angeles.

“We apologise to everyone affected and have offered customers either a voucher or frequent flyer miles to say sorry.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Competition Commission order BAA to sell off Stansted Airport

The Competition Commission have announced that airport operator BAA should be forced to sell Stansted Airport and either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport. The CC argue that passengers would benefit from better competition if airports were in a variety of hands.

The news has been welcomed by budget carrier Ryanair who claim that over the last 5 years BAA has doubled its charges to airlines at Stansted in order to make excessive profit. Ryanair also claim that this is the reason for a reduction in airport traffic from 24m in 2007 to just over 18m in 2011. 

Ryanair's resident wallflower Michael O'Leary commented: “Ryanair believes that the BAA is an abusive airport monopoly, which engages in significant overcharging and monopoly profiteering at Stansted, to fund Ferrovial's [its owner] acquisition and operation of Heathrow Airport.”

Do you love a 1/4lb with cheese, drive through? Think about the emissions says a study

A report conducted by the Environmental Working Group has revealed the effects of meat and dairy consumption on the environment. The study, titled 'Meat Eater's Guide to Climate Change and Health' concluded that if every person in the US did not eat meat and cheese for one day a week for one year, it would reduce emissions to the equivalent of removing 7.6 millions cars from the roads.

Beef was found to be the most damaging food in terms of emissions and twice as damaging as pork and gives off four times the emissions of chicken. It is also calculated to be 13 higher than vegetable proteins such as lentils and tofu.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Virgin Atlantic campaign for 'fairer' air passenger duty rates

Virgin Atlantic have today voiced their displeasure at claims that their airline is subsiding short haul travel. The airline claim that Air Passenger Duty (APD) has risen by only 20% for short haul travel in the last four years compared with at least 50% in the long-haul sector.

Virgin Atlantic claim that if both taxes had gone up at the same rate, short-haul flights would contribute at least £222m more a year. APD in economy class for short haul flight is currently £12 compared with £170 for a passenger travelling long-haul in business or in first class. Virgin Atlantic chief commercial officer Julie Southern said: "APD has rocketed in recent years and with a family of four potentially facing a £260 tax bill to fly to Orlando (in Florida), steps need to be taken to bring this back under control."

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Passenger friendly security checks planned for UK airports

The British Government have outlined plans to make security at airports more passenger friendly. Under the plans, airports will be able to have great flexibility in the way they deal with passengers.

The Transport Secretary Philip Hammond has said that he wants to move from a 'one-size-fits-all approach' to security. In reality, check such as removing shoes would be discretionary rather than compulsory. It would also mean that this working for airlines such as pilots and cabin crew, would face greater leniency at security checks.

Lufthansa launches bio fuel test period

Lufthansa have announced that they will launch a six-month trial using bio fuel on all regular scheduled flights.

Passengers aboard the Hamburg - Frankfurt - Hamburg route will be aboard a plane where one of its engines is powered by a 50/50 mix of regular fuel and bio synthetic kerosine.

The fuel mix has been approved by the American Society for Testing and Materials. The mix has been approved as bio kerosine has similar properties to conventional kerosine as does not need to be modified to aircraft engines. It is estimated that during the test period, Lufthansa will reduce CO2 emissions by up to 1,500 tonnes.

The test also part of wider plans to examine the effects of bio fuel on the lifespan of aircraft engines.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

'I want to go anywhere' search query could soon be solved

There is encouraging news from travel technology specialist Amadeus as the firm have announced plans for a super search tool for the travel industry. Amadeus extreme search will focus on the traveller and not require destination information but will be able to search on terms such as 'what can I get for £500.'

Stephane Durand of Amadeus said, “Extreme Search is the natural evolution of today’s consumer practices, overthrowing established search methods based on destinations and dates. As important, it is an opportunity for the online travel agency to differentiate itself from the traditional “book it” button which is visible on every website today. Travel sellers are able to capture the traveller’s attention early in the search process due to the unique search experience, thereby growing their share of the leisure market and ultimately increase conversion and customer loyalty. Furthermore, Extreme Search provides invaluable business intelligence on how customers search, helping online agents to respond instantly to new trends and target new customer segments.”

Jumeirah to launch hotel in Abu Dhabi

Jumeirah Hotels are to launch their first hotel in Abu Dhabi later this year with the opening of a five star hotel at Etihad Towers.

The hotel will feature 382 rooms and suites, 199 serviced apartments and a huge spa.Etihad Towers is a five tower developments which will also encompass 885 apartments and penthouses and a huge convention center with its own private beach.

BA booming at London City Airport

There is good news for British Airways as the airline is celebrating record passenger numbers from London City Airport. June saw passenger numbers surpass 100,000 for the first time and the airline has also taken delivery of a new Embraer 190 aircrarft.

The new plane will operate on all British Airways European routes from London City which will include new flights to Malaga and Faro.

May travel figures at pre-recession levels

Government travel statistics have shown that the number of people travelling in May 2011 were at similar levels to figures in 2008 before the great credit crunch.

Around 5.14 million UK residents went abroad in May and the number of foreign trips increased by 11% to over 14 million in the three months to end of May. However, figures have shown that Britons spending is still low with an increase in spending of 7% per traveller compared with 2010 figures.

US hotel chains adapt to accommodate Chinese demand

In a sign of the times, Hilton and Starwood Hotel chains have made significant changes to their US hotels in order to accommodate for a boom in Chinese tourism. Figures show that visitors from mainland China have more than tripled since 2000 and is expected to triple again by 2015.

The Hilton and Starwood super brands hope to satisfy this demand by employing at least one member of staff who is fluent in Chinese, a tea kettle and slippers in each room and traditional Chinese breakfast items. Not only are Chinese the fastest growing number of visitors but also the largest spenders with the average Chinese visitor spending $6,243 per visit including airfares.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Flyer rewarded for flying 10 million miles

A seriously frequent flyer has been rewarded for flying 10 million miles with United Airlines. Car sales consultant Tom Stuker will be rewarded by the airline by having his name painted on the side of a 747 jet.

Stuker reached the milestone flying between Los Angeles and Chicago and was met at the airport by United CEO Jeff Smisek who presented him with the airlines first titanium Mileage Plus mebership card. Stuker joined the mileage plus program in 1982 and has since flown nearly 6000 flights including all 50 US States, 200 trips to Australia and 30 to asia. He also spent five consecutive days in the air on three occasions, living solely on plane food.

Well done Tom!

New deal between Flybe and BA to benefit Newcastle Airport

Our friends in the north-east may be due some good news as an agreement has been struck for a code share between Flybe and BA. This means that it will allow passengers departing from Newcastle Airport to destinations such as the Caribbean, Florida, Maldives and Mauritius by changing at London Gatwick Airport.

This may be nothing new but there are advantages to the code share as it means that flights can be booked more easily and in one go and that luggage can be checked through to the final destination.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Surge in flyers taking hand luggage only

A survey undertaken by The Co-operative Travel has found that there has been an increase of 233% of people taking hand luggage only. The study was based on 68,000 flight bookings and is indicative of people keeping costs low and refusing to pay  excess charges of the budget carriers.
Based on a family of four, the study found that a family would save on average £233.12 if they took hand luggage only and up to £440 based on Ryanair's peak season flights.

It is thought that both flayers and airlines could be happy with the situation as consumers are becoming savvier at packing and saving money and airlines happier to lower the weight of the flight and reduce time spent handling passengers luggage.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ryanair to launch from Manchester Airport

The budget airline giant has announced that Manchester Airport is to be it's latest UK base. The airline will initially base two planes from October and operate 17 routes.

Ryanair hope to operate four aircraft from the airport and 26 routes by summer 2012. The airline has also promised to deliver up to 2 millions passengers per year and generate 2000 jobsite.

The routes which include, alicante, Barcelona (Girona), Bezier, Bremen, Brussels, Dublin, Faro, Frankfurt, Ibiza, Katowice, Madrid, Malaga, Memmingen, Milan, Murcia, Oslo, Palma, Paris, Reus, Rome, Rzeszow, Tallinn, Tours, Tenerife and Valencia will go on sale tomorrow.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Busiest June on record for Heathrow Airport

There has been good news for Heathrow Airport as the super-hub recorded it's busiest June on record.
Numbers were up 6.3% on June 2010 and this is partly due to the industrial action at British Airways and this is said to account for 3.5% of the low passenger numbers in June 2010. The increased figures are attributed to increased long-haul traffic with much heading towards North America and an improvement in its performance as a stop over destination.
BAA's Scottish Airports saw the biggest percentage increase with Aberdeen up 10.1%, Edinburgh 7.6% and Glasgow 2.6%.

All these figures are dwarfed by Brazil which saw a rise of 65.4% in passengers since June 2010!

Qantas pilots poised to strike

Qantas Airlines long-haul pilots have voted in favour of industrial action for the first time since 1966.Over 90% of the pilots 1429 pilots who voted were in favour of the action and the mutiny stems from the airline outsourcing and off shoring of pilot jobs at the airline. In short, keeping Qantas pilots for Qantas flights.

However, a spokesman for Qantas sees the action differently: “The pilots’ union is demanding pay increases, free flights on top of already heavily discounted airfares and a requirement that pilots on all Qantas airlines, including Jetstar, are paid the same high rates as Qantas pilots."

Businessman invents luggage carrying jacket

A British businessman has designed on overcoat which aims to save passengers a fortune in baggage fees by allowing the luggage to be  stored inside the jacket.

Andrew Gaule's jacket allows up to 10kg of luggage to be stored including laptops or bottles of wine.
Budget airlines also allow 10 kgs of luggage for free which means that passengers wearing a Rufus Roo jacket could carry up to 20kgs of luggage at no cost.

The jackets are now on sale for £29.95 each. Hmmmmm.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Dizzee's a rascal on BA flight

There was a commotion on board a BA flight yesterday as rapper Dizzee Rascal was hauled off a flight for allegedly abusing an air stewardess. Tempers are said to have flared as the flight sat on the tarmac for an hour waiting for take off and the rapper made the outburst before being hauled off the plane.

He was due to perform at the Optimus Alive! festival but was forced to cancel. The flight then took off three hours later than scheduled.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Monarch launches flights to Sharm el Sheikh

Monarch Airlines have put faith in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh by announcing new flights from London Gatwick. The flights will begin from 3rd November 2011 and will operate three times per week on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Prices for the for flights will begin at £173.99 including all taxes.

The move by the airlines means that it will operate flights to Sharm all year round from the summer of 2012. Customers will also not be charged to pay by debit card. We salute you at Monarch!

Friday, 8 July 2011

Malaysian Airlines refuse to allow babies in first class

Malaysian Airlines has announced that it will continue it's ban on babies in the first class cabins of its Boeing 747-400 and that the ban will remain in place on the new Airbus A380's. The official line from the airline is that the ban is due to the lack of bassinets in the bathrooms which were removed in 2003 and will also not be in place on the new super jumbo's.

Whatever the reason, I am sure that first class passengers will be happy at the news.

PM to investigate airport immigration loophole

The Prime Minister is to investigate claims that there is a loophole where people do not require a passport to enter the country. Officers from special branch and immigration departments have complained that people are able to use a 'Common Area Travel Channel' which allows individuals to access this country without their passports being checked.

A typical scenario would be that the individuals fly into London with an additional air ticket from a different airport in the British Isles. The additional ticket is then used to walk through the 'common area' where travellers are not always asked to show their passports. Commenting on the issue, the Prime Minister stated - 

'Passport-free travel between the UK, the crown dependencies and the Republic of Ireland has been in place for many years and it does offer some real economic and social benefits. I do accept these routes can be open to abuse and we are determined to resolve this. The UK Border Agency is working very closely with Ireland and others to make sure this happens. But we've got to try to do that, without disadvantaging people who've been able to take advantage of the ‘Common Area Travel Channel’ up to now.'

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Future looks bright for Liverpool's new cruise terminal

There could be exciting news for the city of Liverpool as a ruling could allow the city to be used as a starting point as well as a stop off point for cruise  ships. The cruise terminal opend in 2007 with the help of £18 millions in grants but a stipulation of the grants was that the port could not be used a start and end point for cruise ships, only temporary stops.

In order to overcome the rulings, Liverpool City Council have put forward proposals for a partial repayment of the subsidy in exchange for a lifting of the restrictions. The figures suggest that Liverpool City Council plan to repay £5.3m over 15 years.

A decision on the proposal is likely to be announced early in the new parliamentary year.

PM to cut business class flights for ministers and civil servants

David Cameron has declared that the vast majority of government flights are to be in the economy class cabin in a move to cut carbon emissions and also, costs.

The move will see travel to further flung destinations being cut back as they account for higher carbon dioxide emissions.
The Prime Minister has pledged to reduce emissions by 25% over the expected five-year term of the current parliament. The move targets and additional 15% on top of the well publicised 10:10 plan.

Business class flights are detrimental to these figures as they are allocated a greater share of a flight's CO2 output because they occupy more space on the aircraft.

I think I can hear the groans from Ministers at Westminster here at Aihoco HQ!

Virgin Atlantic Pilots scrap strike plans

The pilots of Virgin Atlantic have suspended plans to strike pending a vote on a new pay offer from Sir Richard Branson. The details of the revised package will be revealed once they have been receieved by all members of the relevant union.

The spokesman for Balpa, Jim McAuslan stated that 'pilots have ever wished to inconvenience the travelling public, especially those looking forward to summer holidays. We have therefore lifted the threat of strike action.'

Everyone here at Alihoco hopes that you all get a few extra pounds in your pay packet next month.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Check your European Health Insurance Card before heading away this summer

It is estimated that up to six million Brits who travel abroad this year could be at risk of facing huge medical bills if they dont renew theirEuropean Health Insurance Card before heading away this summer.
The card's must be renewed every five years and the card's are needed with standard holiday insurance in order to recieve the same state-provided medical treatment that local residents get in their own countrys. Please note that in most EU countries, standard medical cover is not free of charge like our NHS.

All Eurozone travellers should have both an EHIC card and travel insurance.

It is possible to apply for a free card from www.ehic.org.uk or by calling 0845 606 2030.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Ryanair see surge in passenger bookings

There is good news for budget airline Ryanair as figures announced today show that the airline carried 7.33 million people in June 2011, a 7% increase on numbers from June 2010. Further figures have shown that Ryanair planes travelled at 84% full in June 2011, the same as in June 2010.

International Airline Group which carries BA under its umbrella have reported similarly impressive figures with a 15% increase for June 2011 compared with the same month in the previous year

Rules on pet passports to be relaxed

There is good news for the nation's pet owners as the rules on passports for their beloved companions are to be relaxed. The change to the rules will also save owners who do wish to travel abroad with their pets an estimated £7 million per year.

The current requirements are for anyone who wants to travel with their animals and bring them back into Britain needs to have their pet vaccinated a full six months before returning to the country and also be micro chipped. Their pets then need a blood test a month later to ensure that the anti-rabies vaccine has fully worked. It is at this point that they are a granted a Pet Passport which allows them to come back into the country.

The changes will mean that animal will only need to be vaccinated 21 days before coming back into the country and the blood test requirment will be dropped. The new rules are likely to come into effect in January 2012.

Is is estimated that 100,00 owners a year use the pet passport scheme to take their animals on holidays or on work trips.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Travel alert raised for Thailand amid parliamentary elections

The Southeast Asian country of Thailand has raised it's travel alert status from grey to yellow amid political uncertainty following parliamentary elections.

The yellow alert indicates that travellers to have heightened vigilance over their personal safety and would-be visitors to consider their future travel plans.

The yellow alert will be put in place for the entire country whilst the Thai-Cambodian border remains at highest alert of red and the southern Thai states remain orange, the second highest alert.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Premier Inn to do deal with TripAdvisor

Budget hotel chain Premier Inn is to incorporate reviews from consumer review giant TripAdvisor. The chain will allow content and reviews from TripAdvisor to be seen on their 600 properties.

The move will allow Premier Inn's quality to be truly tested and for it to be the first chain to make such a move. TripAdvisor now has around 40 million monthly visitors and more than 45 million reviews.

Premier Inn spokesperson Gerard Tempest said: “Our guests’ opinions are an invaluable source of information for us and we constantly use guest feedback to shape and improve the standards of service available at Premier Inn.

“We also feel that it is important for visitors to our website to be kept well informed and that they should be able to read impartial and transparent reviews for all of our Premier Inn hotels to enable them to make an informed decision about where they would like to stay.”

Turtles on runway delay flights at JFK

Passengers departing from New York's JFK Airport faced delays yesterday which were caused by turtles crossing a runway.

Flights were halted for around 15 minutes as 150 diamond back terrapin turtles were spotted crossing a runway. It is thought that the turtles were trying to get to the other side of the runway to lay eggs on the wildlife refuge which borders the airport. The wildlife refuge is thought to be the diamondback turtles most popular breeding ground in North America.

Thomson Airways first to fly using biofuel mix

British airline Thomson Airways will become the first British airline to power its planes using a blend of traditional airline fuel and cooking oil. The first flight will take place between Birmingham and Palma on 28th July 2011.

The maiden voyage will be followed by plans to introduce the flights on a weekly basis in September and for this to incorporate Birmingham to Alicante in the winter schedule. Managing Director of Tui Travel, Chris Browne is quoted as saying

"As sustainable biofuels become more commercially viable, Thomson Airways plans to expand its use of sustainable biofuels across its fleet over the next three years," managing director Chris Browne said.

TUI Travel hope to cut their carbon emissions by six per cent by 2014.