Ryanair promises early refund on APD for children

Ryanair tailfinChancellor George Osborne this week announced that APD would be scrapped for under-12s travelling on economy flights from May 1, 2015, and for all under-16s from March 2016.

Ryanair said it would instead refund APD for children already booked on UK flights from March 27, 2015, which it claimed would be earlier than any of its competitors who are offering refunds from May 1.

The airline said this move meant that children would be able to fly “tax free” over the Easter holidays next year. APD payments for children under 12 will be refunded when they check-in for their flight on the Ryanair website.

Chief marketing officer Kenny Jacobs said: “While we welcome this partial reduction in APD, we call on the UK government to abolish APD, and allow UK tourism to return to growth and become competitive once more.

“Tourist traffic in Ireland has risen by almost 10% since APD was abolished in April, with the VAT received from the additional tourist spend far exceeding the loss of APD. The UK should follow suit and axe the tax for all.”

Sourced by TTG Digital


Ceremony Marks Construction Work On New Search and Rescue Helicopter Base at St Athan Airfield

Press Release by Bristow Group

A ceremony was held on December 2, 2014 to mark construction of a new Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter base at St Athan Aerospace Business Park within the Enterprise Zone.

The base will house two state-of-the-art SAR helicopters, operated by Bristow Helicopters Ltd, their crews and support team. It is due to become fully operational in 2015, when Bristow Helicopters Ltd takes over delivery of helicopter Search and Rescue services throughout the UK on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

The St Athan base is one of a number of new build facilities being developed by Bristow Helicopters Ltd, with its infrastructure delivery partner Balfour Beatty, at commercial airports and airfields around the UK. As the main contractor, Balfour Beatty is outsourcing various aspects of the building works to local contractors in the communities in which the bases are being established.

At the forefront of sustainability, the bases include a raft of environmental technologies including PV solar panels and rainwater harvesting systems.

The ceremony was attended by representatives of the Welsh Government, Balfour Beatty and Bristow Helicopters Ltd.

Samantha Willenbacher, Bristow Helicopters Ltd’s UK Search and Rescue Director, said: “The ongoing construction of our new base here is an important and exciting sign of progress for us as we work towards assuming responsibility for the delivery of UK SAR helicopter services next year.

“We have been working closely with the Welsh Government on this development and look forward to continuing our excellent working relationship with them throughout the build and once the base becomes operational.

“The base will provide modern, high quality accommodation for the aircraft and crews while demonstrating how buildings like this can be made highly sustainable and environmentally friendly.”

Bristow Helicopters Ltd has signed a long lease with the Welsh Government for the site on the Aerospace Business Park’s Rotary Zone.

Finance and Government Minister Jane Hutt said: “I am delighted to visit the base to hear about the progress being made on the new hangar and that this significant investment is set to create thirty new jobs. Bristow Helicopters is a welcome new addition to St Athan Aerospace Business Park and the Enterprise Zone which continue to attract high calibre companies to the area.”

Hector MacAulay, Balfour Beatty Delivery Unit Managing Director, added: “We are using our extensive experience of airport construction work to deliver this project at St Athan Airfield and the others which are vital to the ongoing success of this emergency service throughout the UK.

“We look forward to working with our supply chain partners to provide facilities that fulfill our customer’s expectations.”

Under Balfour Beatty’s contract arrangements with Bristow Helicopters Ltd, at least 35% of the companies they engage to work on the infrastructure projects will be small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The new SAR helicopter base at St Athan Airfield is due to become fully operational in 2015. A further six SAR helicopter bases are being developed at commercial airports around the country. Bristow Helicopters Ltd currently provides Search and Rescue services on behalf of the MCA at Stornoway, in the Western Isles and Sumburgh, in Shetland which will continue throughout the UK SAR contract. The tenth base which will be used by Bristow Helicopters Ltd to deliver the UK SAR contract is an existing MCA facility at Lee-on-Solent.

The program of new build and refurbishment work across all ten bases will continue until early 2017.

Photo caption: Natalie Dillon, UK SAR Infrastructure Co-Ordinator and Samantha Willenbacher, Director, UK Search and Rescue, at the St Athan construction site.


Developers behind hotel complex near Cardiff Airport ask for another five years to complete scheme

Cardiff AirportBy Peter Collins,

Developers behind a proposed hotel and leisure complex near Cardiff Airport granted planning permission in 2009 have asked for an extra five years to complete the work.

The long-awaited project by Q-Park Limited was approved with a condition that work would begin within five years.

But work at the site, next to the A4226 Tredogan Road and Penmark roundabout on the approach to the airport, has yet to begin.

The plan involves building an 84-bed hotel as well as a restaurant and 150-space car park.

Hotel and car park developments are seen as an important part of the strategy to boost business at the airport.

The developers have now submitted an application to the Vale of Glamorgan council for a five-year extension to the planning permission so the scheme can be completed.

In their application document Peter Brett Associates, agents for the developers, state: “In terms of visual impact this remains unchanged from the consideration under the initial application, with the hotel and restaurant block being split into three sections varying from single to three storey.

“As previously considered, the buildings being of a modern design including modern finishes with a white-profile cladding roof, silver smooth wall panelling and silver aluminium-framed windows are considered acceptable, with a number of breaks/changes in levels and roof angles to create a contemporary appearance.”

The application adds: “The site changes in level and is elevated above road level when viewed from a westerly direction [from Llantwit Major]. The existing mature hedgerow around the site will reduce the visual impact of the proposal although it will not obscure the higher parts of the building, although this can be further mitigated by the submission of a scheme of landscaping to supplement to hedgerow enclosures around the site.

“The overall modern approach to the design is considered acceptable in this location and will be viewed against the backdrop of the airport and the British Airways maintenance hangar.”

Another condition on the original approval was that the developers should contribute £100,000 towards sustainable transport in the area.

The applications comes as work continues on the early stages of a £26m upgrade of the road link to St Athan and Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone, which is seen as key to creating jobs and is the latest stage in the Welsh Government-backed Five Mile Lane improvement scheme.

Sourced by Wales Online


More pupils missing school to go on term-time holidays

Two children playing on a beach

The number of primary school pupils in Wales going on unauthorised holidays during term-time has increased.

Last year 8% of all absences were because of holidays that had not been agreed by schools – an increase from 3.2% last year.

Half of local authorities in Wales ask head teachers to refuse all requests for holidays during term time.

However, the Welsh government says schools can authorise up to 10 days absence per pupil, per year.

The Conservatives say the figures show there is confusion about the policy.

“Conflicting guidance’

Shadow education minister Angela Burns said: “Conflicting guidance for schools from local education authorities, regional education consortia and the Welsh government is confusing.

“It has led to inconsistent decisions on authorised absence.”

Overall absence levels in schools in Wales are down to their lowest level since 2007/08.

A Welsh government spokeswoman said: “Overall these primary school attendance statistics are very positive.

“They show that attendance of primary school pupils in Wales is at its highest level since records began.

“Parents do not have an automatic right to withdraw pupils from school for a holiday.”

Sourced by BBC News


Thomson Airways launches 787 Dreamliner flights from Cardiff Airport

TOM B787 G-TUIC (2)

Thomson Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner G-TUIC performing crew training at Cardiff Airport in 2013. © Phil Woods

Press Release by Cardiff Airport

Thomson Airways, part of the UK’s largest holiday company TUI UK & Ireland, has announced it will be launching its first Dreamliner flights from Cardiff Airport in 2015, making it the first time the revolutionary aircraft has operated commercial flights from Wales.

The flights form part of the Caribbean cruise and holiday programme for Thomson Cruises, Thomson and First Choice holidays and P&O Cruises which will depart from Cardiff Airport during winter 2015, and always prove popular with local holiday makers.

Karen Switzer, Director of Aviation Planning for Thomson Airways said: “The Dreamliner has certainly lived up to its promise to revolutionise long haul travel. Feedback from both customer and crew has been extremely positive and we are delighted to be operating flights from Cardiff Airport where customers from Wales can now enjoy the Thomson 787 Dreamliner experience”

Debra Barber, Managing Director for Cardiff Airport added: “We are delighted that Thomson has chosen to operate its newest, largest and most comfortable aircraft from Cardiff Airport during 2015 and commit to serving routes which we know are hugely popular with holiday makers.”

Flights and holidays are on sale online at www.thomson.co.uk  or www.pocruises.com . Alternatively book via your local travel agent.  For more information about Cardiff Airport visit www.cardiff-airport.com.


Airbus to invest £100m at Broughton and Filton factories

Plane maker Airbus is investing £100m in research, development and training in a deal with UK and Welsh governments.

The announcement came at an investment conference in Newport designed to create jobs and growth for the UK.

Airbus employs about 6,000 at Broughton in Flintshire and over 4,000 at Filton.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has also pledged £8.1m to support training in Broughton.

That brings the total investment in the plant to £56m, including £48m being provided jointly by Airbus and the UK government to develop new systems and technologies for building the wings for the company’s aircrafts.

The UK Investment Summit Wales conference is being held at the Celtic Manor Resort, bringing together industry leaders, investors and politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron.

Last year, an extra £100m was spent on research and development in Wales, latest figures show.

On Friday, Airbus also announced that US company Delta Air Lines had placed a firm order for 50 new aircraft.

The research and development elements of the projects will be carried out with the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), a £2 billion joint investment between industry and government aimed at developing activity necessary for the UK to win work on future aerospace programmes.

‘Backing business’

An Airbus A350-900 test plane Wings for the new Airbus A350 plane are all made at the Broughton factory

Announcing the ATI funding, Mr Cameron said: “Aerospace is a real cornerstone of British business, supporting over 100,000 jobs across the UK and is worth over £27bn to our economy every year.

“With today’s investment we are backing our aerospace sector so that it continues to thrive, as key part of our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure a brighter future for Britain.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “The aerospace industry is so important to Wales and we need to make sure that the skills of our workforce move at the pace of technological development in this field.”

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb added: “Today’s announcement means the company can now manufacture more of the world’s most technologically advanced aircraft wings right here in Wales.”

Paul McKinlay, head of Airbus’s Broughton plant said: “Airbus places great importance on training its workforce and this funding will support development of skills and expertise and ensure Wales is ready to take on the challenges the next generation of technology will bring.”

A total of £48m is being invested in a project at the Broughton plant to develop new systems and technologies for building aircraft wings.

Airbus’s Filton and Broughton plants are responsible for designing, testing and manufacturing the wings for the whole family of Airbus commercial airliners.

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Analysis by Brian Meechan, BBC Wales business correspondent

Airbus is one of the biggest employers in Wales with 6,000 people at the Broughton site manufacturing the wings for its aircrafts.

The UK aerospace industry is in a strong state. It grew by almost 10% last year.

It is a key industry in Wales providing highly skilled and well paid jobs not just at Airbus but also GE Aviation, General Dynamics and British Airways.

Aerospace employs around 23,000 people in Wales.

The money will be used on research and development at the Broughton site.

The Welsh government is also providing a further £8m to the company for staff training over the next five years which is a continuation of financial support it has given Airbus since 2009.

Speaking to some people from small businesses today, they asked why a multi-national company should need taxpayers’ money to train their staff.

It is understandable when budgets are tight in the fields of education, training and apprenticeships.

The argument would be that training workers does not just provide a benefit to the company but to the wider economy by creating a more skilled workforce in Wales which helps us compete internationally.

The Welsh government also offers financial support to attract companies into Wales which often includes money to help train staff.

So if it can be offered to new companies to establish themselves in Wales, why not to businesses that have shown a long-term commitment to the country and its workforce.

Sourced by BBC News


Amazon to move into travel sector?

Internet behemoth Amazon is reportedly preparing to launch its own travel service.

According to Skift.com, the retailer has been sounding out hotels with the new proposition set to launch on January 1.

The initial roll-out looks set to focus only on hotels.

Skift reported that hotels signed up to Amazon’s new service would load up details onto an Amazon network and would then pay the US-firm 15% commission.

Sourced by TTG Digital


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