Heathrow Express Strike Action

Union members of the RMT have voted in favour to strike over pay and conditions of employment by the Heathrow Express.

The results were in favour by ‘almost nine to one’ as the express train link between Heathrow Airport and London Paddington station looks to make cuts of £6 million in the next five years through staff reorganisation.

As a result, staff are expected to strike for 48 hours from 3am on 29th April.

Speaking about the decision to strike, Mick Cash, Acting General Secretary, “RMT does not buy for a moment the case for handing out savage cuts to Heathrow Express when Heathrow is generating hand-outs to shareholders of over £600 million.

However, Heathrow Express is adamant that it will not let the strike affect operations, and has said it will continue to operate despite staff work outs.

However, Mr Cash added, “Our members have now sent the clearest possible message in this ballot that they are prepared to stand up and fight the cuts and the threat to pay, working conditions and jobs.”

BA to Convert Landfill Waste Into Jet Fuel

A pioneering initiative by British Airways, as part of its carbon saving ‘GreenSky’ project, will be to convert landfill waste into jet fuel.

The research and development is being carried out in a purpose built facility in Essex by specialists, Solena Fuels, which should be finished by 2017. The build will create 150 permanent jobs as a result.

The research facility, supported by the airline, is the world’s first, and long term the airline have committed to buying all 50k tonnes of the fuel.

Speaking about the initiative, Chief Executive of BA’s parent company, IAG, Willie Walsh, said “We are always striving to reduce our impact on climate change and this first-of-its-kind project marks a significant step for the aviation industry. The construction of the GreenSky London fuel facility at Thames Enterprise Park will lay the foundations for British Airways to reduce its ?carbon emissions significantly. The sustainable jet fuel produced each year will be enough to power our flights from London City Airport twice over with carbon savings the equivalent of taking 150,000 cars off the road.”

Easter Rush at Southampton

The Easter getaway starts tomorrow at Southampton Airport, as more than 35,000 passengers jet off over the long bank holiday weekend.

The airport is expecting this busy period between 17th and 24th April as people look for Easter sunshine, city breaks and last minute skiing as the season soon comes to an end.

Top destinations from Southampton this Easter include Costa Blanca, the Algarve and Costa del Sol, as well as city breaks such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle and ski breaks in Chambery, Geneva and Grenoble.

Jan Halliday, Director of Marketing & Communications, said: “The long Easter weekend is a great reason to take a break and it’s always a busy time of year for us. We’re equally looking forward to welcoming visitors to Hampshire who are flying into Southampton to explore the area, join cruises or visit friends and relatives.”

Manchester Extend Second Runway Opening

Manchester Airport is to extend the opening hours of its runway to cope with demand.

The airport, the third busiest in the UK, will open its second runway from 1pm to 8pm, which is three extra hours a day.

A trial of operating the two runways was carried out last summer and as it was successful the airport will work the new hours from 1st May, which will see both runways being open during the busiest times.

An airport spokesperson commented, “Last summer we conducted a trial of revised operating hours on Runway Two. We
wanted to improve operations by increasing capacity, which meant opening the runway three hours early each day, and we plan to repeat this from 1 May.”

Passenger numbers are soaring at Manchester Airport, whereby last year the airport reported passenger numbers increased by 5.2%.

The spokesperson added, “We will continue to work closely with our local communities as we are aware that our operations have an impact but we are aiming to improve efficiency on the airfield and drive further improvements in customer service for our airline customers and passengers.”

BA Add Flights for IOM TT

British Airways is to add extra flights between London City and Ronaldsway, at the IOM for the TT.

20 extra flights will operate during the TT period, from 25th May to 8th June 2014.

The move comes as demand is exceptionally high during the TT bike racing festivities, when last year alone 40,000 visitors flocked to the Isle of Mann, of which nearly 12k travelled by air.

Prices start from £69 one way, are available to book online now.

Speaking about the additional IOM services, Luke Hayhoe, British Airways Commercial General Manager at London City said, “The TT Races are over 100-years-old and attract visitors from all over the UK and abroad to watch racing in such a unique setting with the beautiful scenery of the Isle of Man as a backdrop.”

Norwich Hit High With Passenger Numbers

Norwich Airport has ended its financial year on a high as it reports a high rise in passenger numbers.

The airport flew 465,000 passengers, up by 10% on the previous year.

Holiday traffic, aided by Thomson and First Choice, saw the biggest increase, especially as the tour operators doubled their summer 2013 offering. This resulted in 108,000 passengers flying on package holidays from the local airport.

The off shore industry also saw a big growth of 19% as helicopter traffic increased, seeing 100,000 helicopter passengers during the year.

Speaking about its good year, CEO of Norwich International, Andrew Bell, said, “2013/14 was a good year and I am satisfied with this significant increase in our passenger numbers. Not only did we achieve strong volume growth in 2014 but our drive for service excellence was recognised by Thomson/First Choice who awarded Norwich International first place in their national Airport customer service program.

This focus on putting the pleasure back into flying will continue as we now move into the summer season, and I plan to build on the progress made last year. Furthermore, airlines such as Loganair are buying into our approach to doing business as demonstrated by their decision to base another of their aircraft at the Airport, thereby offering better service frequencies to passengers.”

New Bristol Shannon Routes

Aer Lingus has launched a brand new route out of Bristol Airport to Shannon, Ireland.

Shannon is one of Ireland’s key tourist and business centres, and as a result of expected demand, the airline is operating 7 flights a week.

It is anticipated that 20,000 passengers will fly in year 1, increasing to 35,000 by 2015.

Shannon is ideally situated to discover Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way, closely located to the cultured cities of Limerick and Galway.

Speaking about the new Aer Lingus route, Stobart Air’s Chief Commercial Officer, Simon Fagan said,
“We are delighted to announce the launch of the Bristol Shannon route. This new route connects the South West of England directly with Ireland’s rugged Western coastline. Furthermore it will enable easy access for people in Limerick and Galway to a key tourist hub of South East England.”

The new flights are part of the airline’s new strategy to grow and come back into the black, turning a profit by the end of the year.

Mr Fagan added, “Aer Lingus Regional is committed to providing our customers with easy, convenient and great value in regional connections. We have already enjoyed great success with our Bristol to Dublin and Cork routes and we hope to continue our Bristol success story with the addition of this vital route from Shannon.”

Six NEW Routes from Southend Airport

Flybe has announced six new routes out of Southend Airport.

The flights will operate through Stobart Air.

The new flights are to Rennes in France, Groningen in The Netherlands, Münster Osnabrück in Germany, Cologne Bonn in Germany, Caen Normandie in France and Antwerp in Belgium.

The new flights will total 102 new flights a week out of the airport, whereby in the first year of operations it is expected that 200,000 passengers will travel, rising to 700,000 by year three.

Lufthansa Back at Bristol

A codeshare arrangement between BMI and Lufthansa sees the German airline operating out of Bristol again.

The move will see passengers from Bristol able to fly to Frankfurt and Munich twice a day, with the option of connecting onwards to Lufthansa’s flight operations to 235 worldwide destinations.

Speaking about the new agreement, Christian Schindler, Lufthansa General Manager UK & Ireland, said, “I am delighted that our south-west passengers will once again have quick, easy and seamless access to the Asian, African, American and European destinations within Lufthansa’s worldwide network by transiting through our hubs at Frankfurt and Munich.

The cooperation and connecting flights with bmi regional will allow passengers from the region to save time and hassle on their travels. They can also take advantage of the attractive and highly competitive year-round fares available from Bristol, including £710 to Shanghai and £712 to Johannesburg (inclusive of taxes and charges).”

The welcomed return of the airline to Bristol Airport will be pleasing to both leisure and business passengers.

Mr Schindler, added, “We believe that discerning travellers still prefer the added value they receive from a full service airline. They know when they book with Lufthansa the price they pay includes the ability to take hand-luggage on board and check in one piece of baggage, assigned seats, good quality food and drink on board the aircraft and the option to check-in online or at the airport with no hidden extra cost.”

New Gatwick Noise Campaign Group

A new campaign group has been established to protest against Gatwick Airport’s aircraft noise pollution and emissions.

The new group, The Communities Against Gatwick Noise and Emissions (CAGNE), was borne last month, and has attracted 300 disgruntled members who are, in particular, unhappy over new flight paths.

However, the airport has recently been praised by an independent investigation over its noise management schemes in which it is credited for limiting the impact noise has on residents in surround areas, and that its schemes are far superior to those other airports in the South East of England and Europe.

Gatwick, the UK’s second largest airport and the world’s busiest single runway airport, has been short listed by the Davies Commission for expanding, suggesting a possible second runway; as has Heathrow for a possible third runway.

The Government will make their final decision after the next General Election.