UK Government explores lower rates of Air Passenger Duty for English regional airports

Amongst the many announcements by the Chancellor George Osborne in today’s summer budget, the Government has announced a consulation whereby regional airports in England may be able to offer differing rates of Air Passenger Duty.

This follows the earlier devolution of Air Passenger Duty to national governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and concerns that regional airports may be at a competitive disadvantage.

This may be achieved through either devolving the power to set rates of Air Passenger Duty to local authorities or for differing rates of duty to be set by Central Government. An alternative option proposed is to provide aid to regional airports.

Whilst any reduction in Air Passenger Duty would be welcomed by the aviation industry we suspect that many airlines will argue that the measure is insufficient and that duty must be reduced further to enable the UK and, specifically London Heathrow, to compete against other aviation hubs in Europe and the Middle East.

Furthermore, whilst many regional English airports such as Manchester and Birmingham have been growing their international links, particularly to the Middle East, this is unlikely to result in a significant rebalancing of aviation capacity between London and the English regions.

That said, the measure may attract more long-haul airlines to English regional airports, particulary to operate “pop-up” routes during the peak summer season, such as Virgin Atlantic’s summer seasonal flights between Belfast and Orlando.

The full consultation can be viewed online. Any interested parties are required to respond by Tuesday 8 September 2015.

“Union Pearson Express” launches in Toronto

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

Union Pearson Express Train Pearson Airport Station
Union Pearson Express Train Pearson Airport Station (Image Credit: Union Pearson Express)

One of the many things that are often lacking at airports in North America is a direct rail link from the airport to downtown.

Toronto is one city to gain such a link with the launch of the Union Pearson Express on Saturday 6 June 2015.

The new service will link Terminal 1 of Toronto’s main international airport, Toronto Pearson, with its main downtown railway station (Union Station), every 15 minutes with a journey time of 25 minutes on an elevated rail track. A return fare for an adult is CAD$53 (roughly £28).

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Travel to London’s airports over Easter 2015

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)
London Heathrow Terminal 5 (Image Credit: Heathrow)

The forthcoming Easter weekend marks one of the busiest travel periods of the year. As is now commonplace, there are extensive engineering works taking place on the London Underground and the UK’s national rail network which may affect travel times to London’s airports.

In addition to the works listed below, there are no trains to and from London Euston over the weekend.
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Lord King & Sir Richard Branson “Desert Island Discs”

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

British Airways Concorde
British Airways Concorde

We recently browsed the archives of BBC Radio 4’s long running series “Desert Island Discs” and found two recordings from over 20 years ago, featuring two giants of aviation.

The first is Lord King, the former Chairman of British Airways who, together with Colin Marshall, oversaw the transition of BA from a nationalised industry to the “World’s Favourite Airline”. The second is Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Atlantic.

The interview with Lord King was first broadcast on 19 April 1991. The interview with Sir Richard Branson was first broadcast 9 June 1989. Both were interviewed by Sue Lawley.

Whilst the interview Lord King covers much of his time at British Airways, the interview with Sir Richard Branson barely touches on Virgin Atlantic – the main focus being Virgin Records which at the time was owned by Virgin. At the time Virgin Atlantic was just five years’ old. Interestingly, the relationship between the two airlines, which was to later sour significantly, isn’t mentioned in either interview.

The contrasting styles of Lord King and Sir Richard Branson are very much evident in the interviews.

That said, whilst Lord King does come across as a little cold at first he does warm up later into the interview. Furthermore, whilst Lord King’s style is seen as very much from a different era of business, so much so that Financial Times journalist Lucy Kellaway once wrote of his “bombastic rudeness” (legend has it that Lord King personally ordered the removal of BA advertising from the Financial Times after he took exception to a profile of him written by the paper), it is clear he has a genuine passion for business.

Furthermore, there is little Lord King says in the interview that many current aviation CEOs of today (Willie Walsh of International Airlines Group or Richard Anderson of Delta) would disagree with, particularly the references to the need for rational decision making and that sometimes painful decisions have to be made in the long term interests of the company.

Lord King also complains about government regulation and the barriers to true consolidation in the industry – two issues which are very much alive today.

As far as music choices go, neither interviews yield little surprises. The Flower Duet from Lakmé, famous for its use in many BA ads, features in Lord King’s choices. Many famous tracks from the Virgin Records back catalogue feature in Sir Richard Branson’s choices.

You can listen to the Lord King interview here and the Sir Richard Branson here.

Sadly, there was one other programme we would have loved to have covered here. That is an interview with the late Alan Whicker from 1967 but, alas, there is no audio online.

Air Passenger Duty abolished for children from May 2015

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

(Image Credit: British Airways)

In today’s Autumn statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has announced the abolition of Air Passenger Duty for children under 12 flying in economy class from 1 May 2015.

The measure will be extended to children under 16 from 1 March 2016.

The rate of duty is currently £13 for flights up to 2,000 miles, £69 for flights between 2,001 and 4,000 miles, £85 for flights between 4,001 and 6,000 miles and £97 for flights over 6,000 miles.

Whilst airlines are still lobbying for the abolition of APD entirely, the measure will be good news particularly for “holiday” leisure routes to Florida.

For the avoidance of doubt, the reduction does not apply to children in premium economy, business class and first class.

More to follow, including the response from airlines and refund arrangements for flights already booked, shortly.

Update: British Airways has confirmed it is to refund APD to affected customers and will confirm administrative arrangements in due course.

New & Noteworthy: CityJet, Heathrow Moves, Lufthansa Miles & More

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

Here are a few new & noteworthy items for today, Friday 7 June 2013:

Air France KLM has identified a preferred buyer for CityJet. Intro Aviation GmbH is the preferred bidder. (Bloomberg)

Following the recent confirmation of the opening of London Heathrow Terminal 2, Heathrow Airport has published a list of which airlines are moving in to the terminal and when. United Airlines is the first airline to move on 4 June 2014, with Air China, Air Canada and ANA following two weeks later on 18 June. (Heathrow Airport)

US based blogger “Million Mile Secrets” has published a detailed guide to the Lufthansa Miles & More frequent flyer programme. Although written from a US perspective, following the demise of the bmi “Diamond Club” frequent flyer programme, Lufthansa Miles & More is the main Star Alliance programme in Europe. Parts one to six of the eight part series are now online. (Million Mile Secrets)

New & Noteworthy: Virgin America and easyJet report financials

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

Here are a few new & noteworthy items for today, Tuesday 15 May 2013:

Virgin America publishes its quarterly results. The Cranky Flier delves into the numbers. (The Cranky Flier)

easyJet publishes solid half year results. The airline is evaluating an order for next generation short-haul aircraft (easyJet Investor Relations)

easyJet to also offer fast track security for business passengers at 27 airports. (easyJet Media Release)

New & Noteworthy: Europe’s state carriers, BA & IT, Aer Lingus, United

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

Here are a few new & noteworthy items for, today, Thursday 25 April:

What role do Europe’s small state carriers have to play? (FlightGlobal)

How British Airways is using IT to know more about its passengers and drive ancillary sales (Computer Weekly)

Aer Lingus to wet lease three Boeing 757 aircraft to operate new transatlantic services to as yet unspecified destinations in 2014 (Aer Lingus Corporate)

And a salutary reminder for airlines to never take for granted the operational challenges of airline mergers and their reputations for operational reliability United posts its Q1 results that are markedly behind its peers. (United Continental Holdings Investor Relations)

New & Noteworthy: BA’s A380; Singapore Airlines & Virgin Australia, Willie Walsh on alliances

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

Here are a few new & noteworthy items for today, Wednesday 24 April 2013:

British Airways plans twice daily A380 services from London Heathrow to Los Angeles in summer 2014 (Airline Route)

Singapore Airlines increases its stake in Virgin Australia from 9.9% to 19.9% (Singapore Airlines)

International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh on the merit of alliances and industry consolidation (Centre For Aviation)

Etihad acquires a 24% stake in India’s Jet Airways (Bloomberg)

New & Noteworthy: Lufthansa, Qantas, Iberia, Israel Open Skies, Alitalia

London Air Travel » New & Noteworthy

Here are a few new & noteworthy items for today, Sunday 21 April 2013:

Lufthansa flights next week are to be disrupted by industrial action by staff (Lufthansa)

Qantas’ retreat from Europe concludes with the end of its service from Sydney to Frankfurt (Plane Talking)

Iberia imposes further pay cuts on staff under the terms of arbitration as productivity talks with the unions fail to conclude (the pilots union SEPLA did not attend the talks) but has offered to reverse the cuts if talks successfully resume.

An Open Skies agreement between the EU and Israel has prompted industrial action by El Al staff (Bloomberg)

Alitalia still in a parlous financial condition (Financial Times)