British Airways backs plan to convert waste into jet fuel

British Airways backs plan to convert waste into jet fuel

British Airways aims to convert landfill waste into jet fuel in a pioneering carbon-saving initiative.

The carrier is supporting the creation of the world’s first facility in Essex to produce sustainable aviation fuel in conjunction with specialist firm Solena Fuels.

About 575,000 tonnes of waste normally destined for landfill or incineration will be converted into 120,000 tonnes of clean burning liquid fuels.

BA has made a long-term commitment to purchase all 50,000 tonnes a year of the jet fuel produced as part of the ‘GreenSky’ project.

One thousand construction workers will be hired to build the facility which is due to be completed in 2017, creating up to 150 permanent jobs at the Thames Enterprise Park, part of the site of the former Coryton oil refinery in Corringham.

Willie Walsh, chief executive of BA parent company International Airlines Group, 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.”

Solena Fuels president and chief executive Robert Do said: “We are excited to help British Airways achieve its sustainability goals by providing an innovative solution to produce drop-in jet fuel.

“We anticipate starting construction of the site in approximately 12 months after all the requisite permits and agreements have been obtained.

“We are looking forward to successfully building GreenSky London and partnering with British Airways on additional facilities in the UK.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Thomson Airways’ Browne to take on expanded role in Tui Travel shake-up

Thomson Airways' Browne to take on expanded role in Tui Travel shake-up

Thomson Airways managing director Chris Browne is taking an expanded role as part of a new leadership team across Tui Travel’s five airlines.

She is to become chief operating officer of aviation across the mainstream sector, responsible for common standards across all operational areas.

Browne will have four pan-European operational roles reporting directly to her – engineering & maintenance (Jason Mahoney), flight operations & safety (John Murphy), ground operations & services (Hans van de Velde) and supplier management & procurement (Geert Somers).

Murphy will also become managing director of Thomson Airways.

The changes following a 100-day review of the five carriers to create one ‘virtual’ airline from June 1.

The aim is to provide a platform for further growth of the group’s tour operators, increase the profitability of its airlines and contribute to delivery of a “seamless integrated customer experience”.

As announced in December, Henrik Homann was appointed managing director of aviation across the mainstream sector.

In other changes:

  • Alex Huber will continue his role as managing director of TUIfly Nordic and will also take up the role of strategy & planning director for aviation across the mainstream sector. He will be responsible for ensuring best use of the current infrastructure and planning from a group perspective.
  • Gunther Hofman will continue his role as managing director of Jetairfly and take on the role of operational and process effectiveness director, responsible for ensuring that the five airlines operate together as efficiently as possible, working with regulatory bodies wherever necessary.
  • Tom Chandler will continue in his role as director of aircraft acquisition and finance. His responsibility remains ensuring the lowest acquisition and ownership cost of aircraft, fleet flexibility and efficient fleet deployment.
  • Christophe Todt will head a transition office before becoming the aviation finance director and Isabelle Drolle will become director of aviation IT while continuing in her role as CIO for TUIfly.

Homann said: “This is a very exciting new chapter in Tui Travel’s growth plans. This new way of doing business will increase collaboration and best-practice sharing while delivering operational efficiencies across the whole mainstream sector.

“I believe the collective expertise we have in this team ensures we will deliver these ambitious plans across our airlines. Leveraging our scale and expertise ensures we are greater together than apart.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Thomas Cook responds to Cuba hotel illness claims

Thomas Cook responds to Cuba hotel illness claims

Thomas Cook has confirmed 29 cases of “mild illness” reported by guests staying at the Hotel Playa Pesquero in Cuba in the first two weeks of April.

“This represents just 1.5% of the overall hotel population of 1,800,” the operator said.

“The 29 cases were a mixture of Thomas Cook customers and other tour operators; the Thomas Cook customers were offered every assistance by our dedicated resort team.

“All were treated on site, with two receiving attention at the hotel clinic for dehydration.”

The operator disputed allegations made by holiday illness compensation specialists Your Holiday Claims that 80% of holidaymakers had fallen ill due to an outbreak of salmonella at the hotel.

Cook said the cause of the outbreak is under investigation.

Your Holiday Claims alleged that many British holidaymakers had been taken to hospital during their stay. Many were believed to be on saline drips for severe dehydration after being violently ill, the law firm said.

Cook responded by saying: “We are aware that a statement was recently issued by a no-win, no-fee lawyer.

“This repeated as yet unsubstantiated allegations and we consider this to be deeply irresponsible.

“We ask any customers who may have concerns relating to their holiday to contact us directly and as quickly as possible so that we can deal with them personally in an open, honest and fair manner.

“We are confident that those customers due to travel to the resort in the future will experience the excellent levels of quality and standards they would expect from a Thomas Cook property. Accordingly, normal booking conditions apply.”

Cook added that it was working closely with management at the Hotel Playa Pesquero to ensure that internationally recognised Prevention of Spread of Infection (POSI) procedures are in place.

“We will continue to follow the rigorous processes to establish the cause of the illness reported to our staff as this investigation continues,” the company said.

Cook said that its legal team has yet to receive any correspondence from customers or their legal representatives regarding alleged illness at the hotel.

Anne Thomson, head of travel law at Your Holiday Claims, said: “We are already instructed by a number of clients who suffered similar gastric illnesses during their holidays at this hotel in 2013.

“Holidaymakers who have returned from their stay at the hotel who have been diagnosed with salmonella food poisoning or any other type of gastric illness should report this to their tour operator and contact us for help to make a successful compensation claim straight away.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


London City defends itself against calls for closure

London City defends itself against calls for closure

London City airport plans to push ahead with development plans in the face of calls for it to be shut.

The airport was accused last week of creating little value and it would be better off closed to make more efficient use of valuable land, according to a report from the New Economics Foundation think-tank.

But London City, which carried 3.3 million passengers last year and ranks as Britain’s 15th largest airport, slammed the report and pointed to expansion plans that are being driven through by shareholders, the Financial Times reported.

The Docklands airport says that these developments will double the number of passengers to 6 million by the end of the decade.

The airport – owned by US infrastructure fund Global Infrastructure Partners, which also owns Gatwick and Edinburgh airports – markets itself as providing a fast route to the capital’s business, financial and political centres. At present, these are the end destination for half its passengers.

Two-thirds of its travellers are on business, a higher proportion than at Heathrow, it adds.

The terminal has been granted permission to increase the number of flight movements from 70,000 to 120,000 a year – but it is waiting for planning permission to extend the terminal as well as construct a new taxiway, aircraft stands and arrivals building.

That would let it fly more flights and cater to wider-winged, next-generation jets such as the Bombardier C Series and Embraer E2, which could carry about 135-145 passengers, as opposed to those that fly fewer than 100 at present.

The addition of larger aircraft could open up other destinations, such as the Gulf, the Middle East, Russia, north Africa and the East Coast of the US. At present, British Airways business-class only flights to the US must stop in Ireland to refuel.

The planning decision is expected in July. Until then, London City is relying on creating a better customer service for existing passengers and has become the first terminal to test the ‘Internet of Things’ – whereby machines and objects are connected together via the internet.

Airport chief executive Declan Collier told the FT: “When you look at London’s aspirations to maintain and grow its position among global cities, connectivity is vital and we believe we play an absolutely vital part of that.”

Alan Haughton, of opposition group Stop City Airport Masterplan, said it had urged Newham Council to oppose the planning application.

The group argues that more flights would hinder the development of surrounding land, including a Chinese business park plan, because the law stipulates a “crash zone” must be left undeveloped around the site.

It claims that construction has already been affected, such as the Pinnacle tower in the City being forced to lower its height after a request from the Civil Aviation Authority.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


NI tourism minister hopes for resumption of Canada flights

NI tourism minister hopes for resumption of Canada flights

Northern Ireland tourism minister Arlene Foster hopes flights between Belfast and Canada may resume in the near future.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, she said more direct flights into Northern Ireland were needed.

Direct flights from Belfast to Toronto stopped in 2008 when Canadian airline Zoom went bankrupt.

Foster said her department had been working on building up an events strategy.

“We’ve really been concentrating on bringing large scale events to Northern Ireland,” she said.

“I’m delighted that the Irish Open is coming back to Northern Ireland next year, with Royal County Down in 2015 and the Lough Erne Golf Resort in 2017, so we have been spending a lot of time building up our events strategy over this last period of time, but of course we need direct flights in.

“It’s why I spend a lot of time when I go out on trade missions also talking to the tourism sector and indeed I will again be pushing the number one priority in that respect and that is Canada.

“We believe very strongly there should be a Canadian link again – there hasn’t been for some time and it’s one that I am very strongly of the view that we’ll be able to see over the line in the next period of time.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Accountancy firm reports 45% rise in travel firm closures

Holidaymakers are building their own breaks on the internet, leading to a 45% rise in closures of travel agents and tour operators in the past year, according to accountancy firm Wilkins Kennedy.

The company claims the economic downturn has prompted people to take shorter DIY holidays in the UK or mainland Europe rather than long-haul packages.

The trend caused 77 travel agencies and tour operators to go bust in the year to March 31, up from 53 in the previous 12 months.

Despite a pick-up in the UK economy, Wilkins Kennedy partner Anthony Cork said the recession accelerated the decline as consumers learnt to book holidays without the help of a travel agent.

“Travel agents on the high street were once the first and only port of call for booking holidays, but the tide has turned and we are now seeing online booking services and price comparison sites taking over,” Cork said.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Heathrow expansion ‘would allow 40 extra long-haul routes’

Heathrow expansion 'would allow 40 extra long-haul routes'

Image via Shutterstock

An extra 40 long-haul routes to fast-growing cities such as Calcutta and Mombasa could be created if Heathrow is allowed to expand, new research claims.

Heathrow, which is campaigning for a third runway, has commissioned a report from Frontier Economics showing that Britain is shutting itself off from potential trade opportunities, despite the government’s ambition to double UK exports by 2020.

Heathrow believes it can add 40 direct long-haul routes to cities in emerging markets, such as Lima in Peru, if it is allowed to expand.

Writing in the Telegraph on Sunday, the airport group’s chief executive Colin Matthews warned that airlines are currently forced to take business to rival hubs in Europe due to a lack of capacity at the London airport – costing the UK economy £14 biilion a year in lost trade.

Matthews said the choice currently facing policymakers, between a second runway at Gatwick and a third runway at Heathrow, is a “false” one as the two airports serve different markets.

He urged the Airports Commission to prioritise hub capacity over expansion at so-called “point-to-point” airports such as Gatwick, where the majority of passengers fly direct to their final destination.

There is still enough “slack in the system” at point-to-point airports in the southeast of England to meet demand for another 25 years, claimed Mr Matthews, who will step down later this year after more than six years at the helm of Heathrow.

Heathrow and Gatwick are currently the only options shortlisted by the commission, which has concluded that London only needs one net additional runway to meet aviation demand by 2030, although a second will likely be needed by 2050.

Heathrow, where airlines take advantage of transfer passengers to fill flights, and Gatwick are “not comparable”, Matthews argued.

“Point-to-point airports like London City, Stansted and Gatwick serve a vital and different market,” he says.

“They provide mostly short-haul and leisure flights. Without transfer traffic, few regular direct long-haul connections are viable, especially to emerging growing markets. The Airports Commission says there is spare point-to-point capacity until 2040.”

Heathrow does not oppose a second runway at Gatwick, and passengers should be “free to choose where to fly from without a lack of capacity getting in the way,” according to Matthews.

Gatwick, which argues that it serves the fastest-growing segment of the aviation market, low-cost carriers, has warned the commission it will not build a second runway if its rival is also allowed to expand.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Newmarket Holidays withdraws from Manston airport

Newmarket Holidays withdraws from Manston airport

Newmarket Holidays, which runs charter flights from closure-threatened Manston airport, is switching its Kent departures.

The operator, which offers flights to Verona and Naples in Italy, said it would move its Kent departures from Manston to Lydd airport from June.

The company said the change was being made “in order to avoid any further uncertainty”.

Manston airport announced in March it was in talks about closing amid claims it was losing £10,000 a day.

KLM, which ran two daily return flights from Manston to Amsterdam, withdrew from the airport last week.

Flybe announced it would be pulling out of Manston in November 2011, blaming the size of the airport’s catchment area.

Lydd airport recently received the go-ahead for a £25 million upgrade to its facilities, including plans for a runway extension and new terminal.

Newmarket Holidays regional charter manager Amanda George told the BBC: “We have enjoyed a very happy and successful relationship with Manston International over many years.

“However, we are excited to be beginning a new chapter at Lydd, which will mean Kent passengers can still begin and end their holidays at a local airport, which is what they enjoy doing.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Etihad ‘closing in on Alitalia stake’

Etihad 'closing in on Alitalia stake'

The board of Alitalia is due to meet today to discuss the prospect of Etihad Airways buying nearly half of the ailing Italian carrier.

This follows a meeting between Etihad chief executive James Hogan and Italy’s prime minister Matteo Renzi.

Alitalia was kept afloat by a government-engineered €500 million rescue package last year, but it needs to find a cash-rich partner quickly to revamp its network.

Abu Dhabi-based Etihad has been looking at Alitalia’s books for a possible investment since the start of the year. But the prospect of large job cuts at Alitalia and the airline’s debt of at least €800 million had been major hurdles in the talks.

A source with knowledge of the talks is reported as saying Etihad was considering investing up to €500 million in Alitalia and was inching towards an offer.
 Out of that investment, €350 million would be for a 49% stake in the Italian airline, the source added.

“The letter of intent (from Etihad) will arrive within a few days,” the source told Reuters on Friday. “Etihad is not coming in to patch things up but to change the whole face of Alitalia which will become a five-star airline.

“One of the conditions put forward by the Gulf airline is for 2,000 job cuts out of Alitalia’s 14,000-strong workforce,” the source said.

This is much lower than cuts of up to 7,000 staff reported in the Italian press.

The source said the Italian government believed Etihad’s demands on the jobs front were not insurmountable.

Alitalia has called a board meeting for today at which Etihad’s proposals are likely to be discussed, another source close to the situation said.

A stake in Alitalia, which offers access to Europe’s fourth-largest travel market and flies 25 million passengers a year, would further Etihad’s efforts to expand its global reach through strategic holdings in other airlines such as Air Berlin, Aer Lingus and Air Seychelles.

Etihad and Alitalia both declined to comment.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Era of air liberalisation is over, says IAG boss

Era of air liberalisation is over, says IAG boss

Controls on airlines are becoming more restrictive, not less, and ‘open skies’ is going backwards, according to Willie Walsh, head of British Airways’ parent IAG.

Walsh said: “The regulators should hang their heads in shame. We are in a more regulatory regime than ever.”

He told the Capa (Centre for Aviation) Airlines in Transition conference near Dublin: “It’s nonsense the industry has these ownership restrictions. They should be removed.

“But we’ve reached a point where aviation is as liberalised as it is likely to be and we’re headed backwards.”

Walsh told the conference: “We’ve got a crazy industry that will continue to be crazy. I don’t see a desire to change. No one is going to waste time on it.”

Referring to BA’s Paris-based subsidiary Open Skies, Walsh said: “We launched the Open Skies airline in 2008 to take advantage [of open skies between Europe and the US]. “It still only flies from Paris and still has only three aircraft. It is unable to do what we thought.

“I like to think we could go back and start again, but I don’t think we will. The danger is we go backwards.

Matthew Baldwin, European Commission director of air, aviation and international transport policy, agreed. He said: “The ownership and control issue is stupid, it’s jurassic. It is one reason why this industry is not normal.”

Baldwin said: “In Europe, we have some ownership and control. The problem comes at the [EU] border. We tried to take it further. But we have made no progress.”

Walsh argued: “The rules need to be applied consistently. We are beginning to see that now with the EU questioning the control – not the ownership but control – of Etihad with Air Berlin and Delta [with Virgin Atlantic].”

Etihad is reported to be extending its 29% stake in Air Berlin and Delta Air Lines took a 49% stake in Virgin Atlantic last year.

Former US deputy assistant secretary for transportation John Byerly told the conference: “There is control and there is influence.

“If you are going to put a lot of money into something you are going to want influence. The question is what influence are you going to get without running into trouble with the regulator.

“The jury is out, including on the Etihad investments.”

Baldwin confirmed the EC is looking at four cases including Etihad’s stake in Air Berlin and Delta’s in Virgin Atlantic. He insisted: “We are going to apply the rules consistently. We would be stupid not to.”

But he added: “We have not launched any formal investigation and people should not pre-judge the outcomes if we do investigate. We are looking.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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