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Independent Scotland good for BA
Mar 3rd, 2014 by elisa

An independent Scotland could benefit British Airways, said Willie Walsh, chief executive of the airline’s parent company IAG.

Walsh told BBC Breakfast that the Scottish government recognised the negative impact of Air Passenger Duty (APD) on the economy, and plans to reduce and eventually abolish it could be a positive development for BA.

In the White Paper on independence, the Scottish government said APD would cost Scotland “more than £200m a year” in lost tourism expenditure. If there is a “Yes” vote in the referendum, an independent Scotland pledges to reduce APD by 50%, then abolish the tax completely “when public finances allow”.

Scottish Transport Minister Keith Brown welcomed Mr Walsh’s intervention: “Willie Walsh can clearly see the opportunities of independence. A boost to tourism and travel in Scotland will have a positive impact on growth.

“Mr Walsh’s comments further underline the UK government’s duty to engage properly with the issues of the independence debate.”

However, the Better Together campaign said APD was not the “strongest argument” for independence, and that jobs would be lost with a “Yes” vote.

A spokesman told the BBC: “Breaking up the most successful economic, political and social union in history for the sake of a tax on holidays doesn’t seem like the strongest argument.

“As the intervention from Standard Life made abundantly clear, leaving the UK would cost jobs here in Scotland.

“Alex Salmond’s failure to tell us what will replace the pound means companies like Standard Life and RBS, which employ thousands of people in Scotland, have warned about the big risks involved in going it alone.”

2013 round up
Dec 30th, 2013 by elisa

It’s nearing the end of 2013, so it’s time for our annual round up of travel news and features covered in this blog over the year.

January is normally the time when you start to examine your finances after the Christmas splurge, and this year was no different for the travel news. A Sunday Times report that found customers were seriously losing out on foreign currency exchange rates when purchasing their travel money at airports.  We also looked at the financial benefits of flying to an airport further from your destination and driving the rest of the way. Meanwhile, Spain was voted the best value destination for 2013, and Eve told us why she thought Spain was a great winter destination.

However, it was all about Greece in February! With its award-winning beaches and Thomas Cook trend survey that revealed a huge increase in bookings during the month. The month ended with a warning to check your travel insurance small print, as many travellers were reported to have fallen foul of clauses in their insurance, which meant they wouldn’t get a pay out on claims.

In March, a woman successfully smuggled a dog onto a plane; we looked at the biosphere reserve that is Menorca; and BA started selling tickets for flights on its ‘red carpet route’ to Los Angeles in its new super jumbo A380. Easyjet installed new, lighter, seats on its aircraft in an attempt to save on fuel and CO2 emissions. Bitter weather threatened to blight travellers’ Easter holidays, but this didn’t stop Peter Rabbit visiting children at Heathrow.

The bizarre law in Florida that all British Citizens must carry an International Driving Permit in the state was repealed in April. Samoa Air launched its controversial pay by weight flights and we looked at the facts about turbulence.

Easyjet began testing its volcanic ash cloud detection technology in May. We found that trillions of air miles are going to waste; and there was the slightly disturbing report of a flight being diverted because the pilot got locked out of the cockpit. There was good news for Harry Potter fans going on holiday in Florida, as the Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment announced the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley “environment”.

A US ban on using a laptop during take off on flights was lifted in June.

Tenerife enjoyed at 14% rise in arrivals from the UK in July. It was also discovered that many English families were flying from Scottish airports to save up to £500 on their holiday travel costs. It may have been one of the hottest summers we’ve had in years, but this didn’t stop large numbers of Brits leaving for even sunnier holiday destinations in the last weekend of July. We gave advice on how to avoid common pick pocketing scams as the Foreign Office issued a warning about pick pockets in Switzerland.

As August enjoyed more of the heatwave, Ryanair had a drop in flight bookings; it also took legal action against an unfavourable Dispatches programme “Ryanair: Secrets from the Cockpit”.

Etihad Airways launched its “flying nanny” service to look after passengers’ children in September. Helly Kitty planes took to the skies with Taiwan’s EVA Air, and a computer glitch in US Airways system sold $0 flights on its website. Spain enjoyed record visitor numbers over the summer, proving the predictions earlier in the year.

In October, Manchester was announced to be the UK’s first Airport City; and Ryanair announced that it would work on a better customer service.

It was all about the measure of happiness for travel in November, and BA introduced interactive billboards to remind people of the magic of flying.

The Northern Lights in Norway topped Brits’ “must see” list in December. Britain also endured wide-spread bad weather with winds of up to 140mph battering parts of the country, and flooding hitting others.

That’s the round up for 2013, make sure to follow this blog for more travel news and articles in 2014, and book your holiday villas at a wide range of destinations on Villaseek.

140mph winds cause major flight delays
Dec 6th, 2013 by elisa

Some of the worst weather of the year so far is hitting the UK and parts of Europe, causing wide-spread travel disruption. 

Yesterday airports in Scotland were severely hit by delays and cancellations, and many roads were closed as it’s been claimed the country was practically ‘closed down’ due to winds up to 140mph. Although the winds are dying down in Scotland and the northern half of the country today, there are still expected to be some delays and cancellations to flights. Manchester airport is advising passengers to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport.

British Airways and Lufthansa are warning of flight disruption, while a “significant number” of KLM and KLM Cityhopper flights have been cancelled across Europe.

EasyJet said strong winds will continue to affect northern and north eastern Europe today.

“The weather situation in Copenhagen and Hamburg is still difficult following yesterday’s disruption and flights may still experience weather associated delays,” it said.

Here is a video of a huge A380 aircraft coming in to land at Manchester Airport yesterday, clearly rocking in the difficult conditions. Watch from around 20 seconds in..

Today flood alerts are in place across England and Wales as the weather heads further south. Thousands are being evacuated from their homes in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk, and around 120,000 have been left without power.

 

Summer holidays, busy airports
Jul 25th, 2013 by elisa

Spain is still the top holiday destination. Picture by Flickr user Olli365

It may be one of the hottest summer’s we’ve had for years, but that isn’t stopping the two million holidaymakers set to head overseas this weekend.

As the first weekend of the summer holidays for the majority in England, airports are bracing themselves for one of their busiest weekends of the year. The southeast in particular is going to be very busy with 480,000 passengers departing from Heathrow, 276,000 from Gatwick, 125,000 from Stansted and 70,000 jetting off from Luton.

Further up north 160,000 are due to depart from Manchester, 66,000 from Birmingham, 70,000 from Newcastle, 50,000 from Bristol and 30,000 from Leeds Bradford International. Sottish airports don’t fair too badly either with 50,000 leaving from Glasgow alone.

ABTA chief executive Mark Tanzer said: “This weekend sees the start of the main summer holiday getaway and it’s one of the busiest of the year.

“Millions of holidaymakers will be heading off overseas with the Mediterranean countries attracting the lion’s share of visitors.

According to ABTA, Spain remains the top holiday destination with the Balearic and Canary Islands selling especially well. Mexico and Cuba are among the top-selling long-haul holidays, although Florida remains the number one choice for families.

Domestic tourism isn’t doing too badly either, thanks to last week’s heatwave boosting bookings with many ABTA members reporting a surge in business to destinations including the Channel Islands, the Lake District, Blackpool, Bournemouth and Brighton.

“The recent amazing weather at home has also given a great boost to domestic tourism and many ABTA members are reporting a surge in last minute bookings for holidays throughout the UK” said Tanzer.

Eurostar is also reporting an increase in passenger numbers on last year, with 70,000 heading off to Paris and the South of France this weekend.

 

English families fly from Scotland to save up to £500
Jul 22nd, 2013 by elisa

Families in Northern England are flying from Scotland in order to save up to £500 on the average family break when flying to the same places from England.

The reason for this sudden change in departure point is because of the difference in school summer holiday times between England and Scotland. The Scottish summer holidays finish at the beginning of August, meaning that the peak travel period in Scotland ends with the Scottish school holidays.

Scottish travel group, Barrhead claims a 20% rise in English holidaymakers choosing to fly from Scotland to cut the price of their trip.

Chief executive Sharon Munro said: “As the Scottish school holidays finish at the beginning of August, we’ve discovered a notable increase in the number of English families looking to travel towards the end of August from airports in Scotland in a bid to reduce the cost of their holiday.

“In this tough economic climate, families are really feeling the squeeze and are looking for any means possible to make their cash stretch that little bit further.”

School holidays and peak travel prices are a hotly debated issue at the moment. The recent news that schools will be able to decide their own term dates from September 2015 has caused concern that this will lead to longer peak price periods. See the full news article here.

Virgin announce domestic flights
Dec 10th, 2012 by elisa

Virgin Atlantic is to lease Aer Lingus planes and staff, branded as Virgin, to operate its flights between Heathrow and Scotland.

The flights will start on 31st March 2013. Virgin will operate nine daily services to Scotland, which will include three round trips from London to Aberdeen, and six from London to Edinburgh.

The Airbus 320s will be branded with Virgin’s red livery, and crew will wear Virgin’s uniforms; however, the aircraft and the staff will be from Aer Lingus.

A spokesman for Virgin said: “Sir Richard Branson’s airline will provide a bespoke Virgin Atlantic product and service on all of its short haul flights and has signed a letter of intent with Aer Lingus as a wet lease partner to supply the crew and Airbus narrow body aircraft required, which will be fully Virgin branded.

“Virgin’s decision was taken after hard fought competition from two carriers with two excellent business cases being presented to the airline.”

Tickets for Virgin domestic flights go on sale from 19th December.

Easyjet launch six new routes from Edinburgh airport
Oct 16th, 2012 by elisa

Around 160 new jobs will be created now that Easyjet has announced that it is to create six new routes from Edinburgh airport, also increasing the number of planes based at the airport from five to seven.

The destinations, which are likely to bring in almost 140,000 more passengers are: Berlin and Hamburg, Prague, Copenhagen, Reykjavik and Dubrovnik.

The routes were decided after consultation with VisitScotland, Marketing Edinburgh and the Scottish business community. It is thought that they will benefit the economy by close to £90m.

Hugh Aitken, Easyjet’s Head of Scotland, said: “Easyjet’s new routes have been selected to boost both inbound and outbound business and leisure travellers. The two new aircraft mean that we, along with our ground handler, are able to create 160 jobs in Scotland as well as hundreds more which will be created through increased tourism.

“We will also be increasing our frequencies and the number of routes we are able to operate.”

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “These new Easyjet routes are also a major boost to our tourism sector, which is worth £11 billion to our economy and employs 270,000 people.

“Attracting more direct flights to and from Scotland helps deliver cheaper fares for the public and reduces the need for extra connecting flights through London.”

This will be the first time Iceland will be served all year round from Edinburgh, and Easyjet will be the only airline to operate flights between Edinburgh and Berlin.

 

 

 

2011 Round up
Jan 3rd, 2012 by elisa

Happy New Year to all our readers! Before we move on to this year’s news, here’s a round up of some of the biggest stories we covered on this blog in 2011, it certainly was an eventful year!

January started with the troubled BMI threatening to withdraw its Heathrow – Glasgow route after passenger charges at Heathrow were raised (this was confirmed a month later). Ryanair returned to Manchester with four new routes. And the political troubles in Egypt disrupted flights.

Spiraling conflict in Egypt caused complete cancellation of routes to popular holiday destinations in February. Meanwhile, Which? launched a super complaint on airline card fee charges,the cost of Qantas’ engine troubles were revealed, and airlines flying from the UK finally started to show clearer air fares.

March brought faster flight times under a deal signed by traffic controllers. But by far the biggest news of the month was the huge tsunami which hit Japan and led to re-routing of flights to avoid possible radiation risk, and advice to leave Tokyo.

A Skyscanner survey found Spain back in favour for British holidaymakers in April.

In May Belfast Airport started to charge for going for a cigarette break, and the ongoing battle between Unite and British Airways was finally settled!

More natural disasters happened in June with violent aftershocks in Christchurch, New Zealand and volcanic eruptions in Chile.

The News of the World phone-hacking scandal broke in July with airlines withdrawing their advertisements as a result.

In August research revealed the use of smartphones were ruining people’s holidays.

The Rugby World Cup was held in New Zealand in September, where Wales’ hopes were dashed.

The first biofuel passenger flight took place in October, however green campaigners claimed it wasn’t as environmentally friendly as everyone thought.

Europe announced a ban on body scanners at airports in November, but the UK decided to go against the decision.

Finally, December saw 150mph winds hit parts of Scotland, which is where we are now at the start of 2012 as tremendous winds continue to batter the UK once more.

 

So, what travel news is in store for 2012? Keep up to date here!

 

150mph winds hit Scotland
Dec 8th, 2011 by elisa

Winds have been battering Scotland and part of England today. The worst of the weather has definitely been in Scotland so far with 150mph winds due to a large Atlantic storm.

The Met Office has issued a red alert, and police in Scotland have told people not to travel. There are long delays at Glasgow and Edinburgh airports as the wind speeds have made it unsafe for many aircraft to travel.

Network Rail has imposed a 50mph speed restriction on trains operating north and west of Edinburgh. The Tay Rail Bridge has also been closed. Passengers are advised not to travel north of Edinburgh for the time being as the conditions worsen.

The River Clyde has burst its banks in Glasgow, parts of buildings have fallen down as well as the city’s large Christmas decorations strewn across pavements.

The Atlantic storm is expected to cause further disruption across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the North east of England tomorrow.

The strongest winds are expected to affect central, southern and north eastern Scotland, northern parts of Northern Ireland, and North East England. The risk of snow is also likely in Western Scotland, Northern Ireland and Northwest England on Friday and Saturday for which there are also weather warnings.

The Met Office have published a selection of some of the highest winds recorded around the UK today (Thursday 8th November):

Cairngorm Summit: 165 mph

Aonach Mor: 145 mph

Tiree: 90 mph

Dunstaffnage: 86 mph

Aberdaron: 81 mph

Church Fenton: 73 mph

Glasgow, Bishopton: 71 mph

Edinburgh, Gogarbank: 69 mph

St Bees Head: 74 mph

Mumbles Head: 62 mph

 

 

BAA announce intention to sell Edinburgh Airport
Oct 19th, 2011 by elisa

Earlier this year, BAA was ordered to sell either Glasgow or Edinburgh Airport by the Competition Commission. Today it announced it is to sell Edinburgh Airport based on passenger numbers. It is expected to formally approach the market in 2012 with a view to agreeing a sale by the summer.

Chief executive Colin Matthews said: “Edinburgh is a great airport with a great team and a great future and we will be very sorry to see it leave BAA.

“We remain committed to Scotland and we will continue our long-term investment to improve passenger and airline experience at Aberdeen and Glasgow, as well as at Edinburgh until the sale is complete.

“Choosing which airport to sell has been a difficult decision. Edinburgh Airport has shown itself to be a strong and resilient asset throughout the economic downturn.

“Passenger numbers at Edinburgh have grown by more than 6% over the past year and in an uncertain market we expect it to be an attractive asset to prospective buyers.

“Glasgow Airport has great opportunities for future growth and development and we think BAA is well-placed to build on its recent success. Both airports are of national importance and have a bright future.”

Glasgow handles less passengers (6.8m compared to 9.2m at Edinburgh), but it attracts more long-haul business, making it a more attractive prospect. Passenger numbers at Glasgow have also grown 5.7% since the start of the year.

Managing director of Edinburgh Airport Jim O’Sullivan said: “Today’s announcement brings the clarification that many had been calling for and although we will be sorry to leave BAA, we do so in the knowledge we’re in an extremely strong and healthy position.

“Not only has Edinburgh Airport benefited from considerable investment in recent years but we have an excellent team in place which has been the driving force behind our success to date.

“We will now begin preparing for the sale process, but irrespective of who may own it, the team at Edinburgh Airport will undoubtedly continue to deliver for its passengers, the city and Scotland as a whole.”

Watch this space to see who will buy…

 

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