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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The bizarre law in Florida that all British Citizens must carry an International Driving Permit in the state was repealed in April.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.

Airport expansion recommendations
Dec 18th, 2013 by elisa

The Airports Commission report published yesterday has recommended extra runways to be built at Heathrow and Gatwick.

The recommendation is contrary to the Boris-backed Thames Estuary options because ‘there are too many uncertainties and challenges surrounding them at this stage’. The Mayor of London said in the Guardian that the plans to have the hub airport at the Thames Estuary are “not dead yet” as he has another six months to put forward new arguments in favour of the idea.

The current recommendation is for a new runway south of the existing one at Gatwick Airport. For Heathrow there are two options – a new 3,500m runway to the northwest and extending the existing northern runway to at least 6,000m enabling it to operate as two independent runways.

The report also advises on an ‘optimisation strategy’ to improve UK airport efficiency with better en route traffic management systems to keep airlines to schedule. It also recommends enhancing rail and road access to make other airlines with spare capacity more attractive to passengers.

Launching the report Sir Howard Davies Chair of the Commission said: “Decisions on airport capacity are important national strategic choices and must be based upon the best evidence available.

“This report is the product of extensive consultation, independent analysis and careful consideration by the commissioners.

“The capacity challenge is not yet critical but it will become so if no action is taken soon and our analysis clearly supports the provision of one net additional runway by 2030.”

The report’s findings have not been wholly welcomed, with the Gatwick Area Conservation Campaign (GACC) stating that the wide-spaced runway at the airport is the option that will cause the most environmental damage.

Virgin Atlantic Chief Executive Craig Kreeger also outlined the wider issue on UK hub capacity: “Although Gatwick is a very important airport to us, additional runway capacity there does not address the UK’s chronic hub capacity shortage.”

David Cameron set up the review in order to delay a final decision on expansion plans until after the 2015 election. When the coalition came in to power they scrapped the former Labour government’s plans for a third runway at Heathrow, but now the line on the issue has softened and could look set for a u-turn.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin told the BBC on Sunday that the government would stick to its pledge not to build a new runway at Heathrow ‘in this Parliament’.

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