Heathrow boss claims 30 airlines are waiting to open routes

Heathrow boss claims 30 airlines are waiting to open routesAs many as 30 airlines are queuing up to start new routes or increase frequency on existing services from Heathrow but the capacity-squeezed airport claims it is being forced to turn away their business.

The airport’s chief executive, John Holland-Kaye, said the waiting list includes airlines from North America, South America and Asia.

He pointed out that a quarter of British exports are flown abroad via Heathrow as he pressed the case for building a third runway at the airport.

Holland-Kaye claimed rival Gatwick’s second runway proposals are “primarily about low-cost flights to Europe”, while expanding Heathrow is important for the future of the British economy.

“There is massive demand for flights into Heathrow,” he told The Telegraph.

“There are Chinese carriers that are queuing up to get here. Air China told me they could have four flights a day coming into Heathrow if there was only more capacity.”

Holland-Kaye claimed airlines are instead launching routes from rival hub airports in France and Germany, rather than going to Gatwick.

His comments came on the back of financial results for the nine months to September and as the Airports Commission prepares to launch a national consultation on aviation capacity early next month.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Virgin Atlantic offers training for would-be pilots with no flying experience

Virgin Atlantic offers training for would-be pilots with no flying experiencePotential pilots with no flying experience are being offered the chance to train to fly Virgin Atlantic long-haul aircraft.

An 18-month pilot training programme has been launched by the airline in conjunction with Southampton-based training firm CTC Aviation.

Would-be pilots will undergo pre-flight training and flight deck simulation at a new CTC centre in Southampton and flight training in Phoenix, Arizona.

The course leads to the Civil Aviation Authority’s multi pilot licence and a position as a Virgin Atlantic co-pilot on Airbus A330s, the Press Association reported.

Applicants are required to have a minimum of five GCSEs or equivalent including maths, science and English.

Virgin’s flight operations general manager, David Kistruck, said: “Our people have always been at the heart of Virgin Atlantic and we’re delighted to offer this opportunity to a whole new generation of flyers.

“They’ll be part of the Virgin family from day one and will enjoy an opportunity like no other, as the only trainee pilots in Europe to fly straight on to long-haul aircraft once qualified.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Flybe pilot arrested on suspicion of being over drink-drive limit

Flybe pilot arrested on suspicion of being over drink-drive limitA Flybe pilot is reported to have been removed from his aircraft and arrested on suspicion of being over the drink-drive limit just before he was due to fly.

The pilot was due to fly from Newquay to Gatwick on Wednesday morning before he was removed for a breath test.

A police source told the BBC that officers were alerted after a fellow crew member became concerned.

A police spokesman confirmed a 48-year-old man was arrested.

The flight was then cancelled and passengers faced delays of almost five hours.

One passenger, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “We all got on the plane and then there was an announcement. We were told the pilot was unwell.”

A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman said: “A 48-year-old man from Crediton, Devon, was arrested on suspicion of being over the drink-drive limit.

“He was taken to Newquay Police Station and remains in custody.”

The airline said: “Flybe can confirm that one of its pilots volunteered to help the police with their inquiries at Newquay airport.

“Flybe is not able to comment further while the police investigation is taking place.”

A Civil Aviation Authority spokesman said: “For pilots the blood/alcohol limit is 20 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood. For context, the UK drink drive limit is 80 miligrammes per 100 mililitres.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Special Report: Monarch flies into a new era

Special Report: Monarch flies into a new eraThe day after securing the Greybull rescue deal, chief executive Andrew Swaffield spoke to Lee Hayhurst about what went wrong and his vision for a more profitable future

Monarch Airlines boss Andrew Swaffield blamed a focus on growth rather than profit for the financial troubles that preceded its sale to Greybull Capital.

Speaking to Travel Weekly the day after he tied up the rescue deal, Swaffield said Monarch, along with some competitors, had taken a “yield holiday” in 2012 and 2013.

He said this benevolent period for the sector ended in the second half of 2013 when supply started to outstrip demand, but Monarch had growth planned that it wasn’t prepared to rein in.

The addition of three aircraft this year – Monarch’s fleet grew from 31 to 42 in three years – was “the final blow”, said Swaffield, and prompted the Mantegazza family to seek a buyer.

“If you run an airline, the key focus needs to be return on the assets, and you need to align that with growth,” he said.

“Monarch focused too much on growth. Return on capital had in effect been suspended.

“Monarch, and actually the industry, had a yield holiday for 18 months. Growth without a competitive cost base means 
you are fully leveraged and you need everything to go absolutely to plan, which in 2012 and 2013 up to August it did.”

Swaffield stressed he was not pointing a finger at Monarch’s previous regime but is determined not to repeat that strategy.

“I’m not critical of anyone because it’s not the first airline this has happened to and it won’t be the last. That’s why aviation is such a rollercoaster for investors.

“The key message is you mustn’t grow too fast. I will never allow us to get carried away. That doesn’t mean we won’t grow.

“There are very few assets in business that are more expensive than aircraft and you can’t have more than you can get a return on.”

Monarch had to agree to swingeing cost cuts, including the shedding of 700 roles, to secure the Greybull deal.

Business plan

But Swaffield said: “Now the really hard work starts to make the business plan happen.

“I don’t want there to be a lull now where we say it’s all done.

“We had to build a business plan for Greybull to invest in.

“But you have to persuade customers to book with you, and compete and deliver the revenue that you said.”A key plank of Monarch’s plans for a debt-free future is a new fleet of Boeing Neo fuel-efficient aircraft, which Swaffield estimated will boost profits by £100 million a year by 2020.

“My goal is to get the business in a really strong shape financially to make sure it’s never again in the position it’s found itself this year,” he said. “That’s going to happen not by taking money from the shareholders but by generating money ourselves.”

Greybull funds

A £125 million capital facility available through the Greybull deal will be dipped into to get Monarch through this winter and again the following winter.

But Swaffield said that after that: “My plan is to get the business debt-free within two or three years and then build the balance sheet to a state of much more creditworthiness.”

This new position of financial strength will, Swaffield added, put Monarch in prime position to take advantage of what he sees as an outbound sector ripe for change.

“I’m really keen to make sure that a completely restructured Monarch, with a great cost base and supportive owner, is a key player leading that change,” he said. “If you’re in a position of strength, you are open for business, and that creates opportunities.

“To do that you’ve got to start with a good business and a strong balance sheet and not be fighting internal battles. I feel we have achieved that.”

Mantegazzas’ legacy

Swaffield admitted that had Monarch reacted to a softening market and cut growth it would have “limped through” this year.

But while the sale and restructuring has been tough and prompted the end of the Mantegazzas’ ownership, it was the medicine Monarch needed.

“The company was asking the Mantegazzas for a lot of money and they just said enough’s enough,” he added.

“They’ve been patient; they’ve helped us sell the business and supported it generously to get that done. It’s been terribly important to me that in doing what we did we don’t kill the patient by damaging the culture.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Put ‘grotesque’ APD out of its misery, demands Walsh

Put 'grotesque' APD out of its misery, demands WalshInternational Airlines Group chief executive Willie Walsh today described Air Passenger Duty as “grotesque monster” which has spiralled out of control.

Writing in The Times today on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the introduction of the air tax on Saturday, the boss of British Airways parent company said the debate over extra taxation powers for Scotland is creating an opportunity “to remove this beast which has held back job creation and economic growth across the UK”.

“It is no wonder that the Scottish National Party wants to cut APD on flights from Scotland by 50% as soon as possible as a preliminary to scrapping it completely,” Walsh said.

“The tax is said to cost Scotland £200 million a year in lost tourism alone. And if you allowed that potential economic activity to happen, your increased take from VAT and other taxes would go a long way to covering the loss of APD revenue. In fact, research by PwC suggests that the Treasury would end up net beneficiaries.

“So, what if Scotland goes it alone on APD? Well, the first thing that would happen is that Scottish airports would take traffic from northern England, as passengers scooted across the border to escape the punitive rates they would encounter at Newcastle, Manchester or any other English airport.

“With a family of four now facing an APD bill of £276 for an economy flight to the United States, the incentive would be clear enough.”

Walsh’s latest argument against APD came just hours after he reiterated calls for its abolition. He outlined the impact the tax in having on visitor numbers from Asia to the UK.

The APD that tourists must pay on their homeward journey is a huge incentive for them to visit other European countries instead.

“Our paucity of Chinese visitors is well known. Less so is the fact that visitor numbers from Japan have fallen 22% in the past 10 years when APD has risen from £20 to £81 for Japanese visitors to fly home. Meanwhile visitor levels to other European countries have remained stable over the same period,” Walsh said.

“The UK ranks seventh among European countries for Japanese visitors behind smaller countries such as Austria and Switzerland despite having the largest expat community in Europe.

“According to VisitBritain, each Japanese visitor spends about £950 on a visit to the UK meaning that the drop in Japanese visitors over the last few years costs our economy £300 million every year.

“That is the impact from one country. Multiply that across the world and you can see that the UK is missing out on billions of pounds of tourism spend.”

He added: “The aviation industry has been asking the treasury to undertake an independent assessment of the economic impact of APD for many years, surprisingly this request has fallen on deaf ears. What is George Osborne afraid of?

“The majority of European countries either levy no flight tax or have seen the sense in abolishing it. Only four others retain a similar tax but at nothing like APD’s stratospheric levels.

“After 20 years, this tax has lost any shred of economic justification. Ask yourself this question: if the governments of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales want to reduce APD significantly or scrap it because it is harming their economies, why does the Conservative-led government want to retain this damaging tax in England?

“There is only one sensible, reasonable option — to axe this tax across the UK and far from reducing the government’s spending power, all indications are that it will in fact increase it.

“APD should be consigned to the annals of history along with other 1990s relics. It must be put out of its misery.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


VLM Airlines to Pioneer Long-Range Sukhoi Superjet in Europe

Press release by VLM

Belgian operator VLM Airlines and Moscow-based aircraft lessor Ilyushin Finance Co. (IFC) have today signed a Letter of Intent that will see the airline become the first European operator of the long-range Sukhoi Superjet 100 LR (SSJ100 LR) regional aircraft.

VLM Airlines has selected the SSJ100 LR to spearhead the company’s launch of regional scheduled services in 2015, with details of its route network to be announced.

Under the terms of the LOI, VLM Airlines will take delivery of two SSJ100 LR aircraft in April 2015 under a 12-year operating lease, with options for two further aircraft. The deal also includes purchase rights for ten aircraft.

Arthur White, CEO of VLM Airlines, says: “While VLM Airlines will continue offering ACMI and charter services with our Fokker 50 fleet, we see an exciting opportunity as a niche scheduled operator. The Sukhoi Superjet 100 LR fits our new strategy perfectly, with its exceptional efficiency and performance, advanced fly-by-wire technologies and spacious cabin.

“We looked at a number of aircraft types in the 100-seat range to see which would give the best passenger experience, flexibility in short-to-medium range destinations and low operating costs – the SSJ100 LR won hands down. It has been great working with IFC and Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company and I am looking forward to a mutually profitable long-term relationship.”

Alexander Rubtsov, CEO of IFC, comments: “This is a significant deal for IFC and the Sukhoi SSJ programme, as it represents our first customer in Europe, which we are delighted about. After intense competition and a detailed review, we are extremely pleased that VLM Airlines has chosen to base its future operation on the SSJ100 LR. We believe the aircraft will not only enable VLM Airlines to exceed its growth plans but will also give Europe a live insight into the excellent capabilities and passenger appeal of the Sukhoi SSJ, which represents a truly cost-effective regional aircraft solution.”

The SSJ100, Russia’s first serially manufactured passenger airliner, is a 103-seat regional jet designed and manufactured by Sukhoi Civil Aircraft Company in partnership with Alenia Aermacchi. The aircraft performed its maiden flight in 2008 and entered into service in 2011. The operating range of the long-range variant joining the VLM Airlines fleet is 2,470nm (4,578km), while the standard aircraft’s operating range is 1,645nm (3,048km). The SSJ100 is powered by two SaM146 turbofan engines manufactured by PowerJet, a joint venture between Snecma and NPO Saturn. There are currently over 40 SSJ100 aircraft being operated successfully around the world and the type is certified by a number of regulatory authorities including EASA.


VLM Airlines bought by management

Press release by VLM Airlines

Truly independent airline will also offer scheduled services

Antwerp (Belgium), 27th October 2014 – Today Intro Aviation, majority shareholder of Romscope, has announced together with VLM Airlines that Romscope has sold VLM Airlines to the management of VLM Airlines with formalities of the transaction to be completed by the first week in November. As a truly independent airline VLM Airlines will continue to offer ACMI & Charter services, but will also be offering scheduled services again in the near future.

VLM Airlines – which started in 1993 with its inaugural Antwerp-London City Airport route – over the years has become one of the most successful airlines in the charter business based at Antwerp International Airport. With its Fokker 50 fleet VLM Airlines focuses on meeting the needs of the European charter market including ACMI / Wet Lease contracts and charter operations for tour operators, travel agents, music & film, special events, incentives, sports teams, government & military, NGO’s and emergency support.

“We received an offer from the management of VLM Airlines that we felt we could not refuse.” said Peter Oncken, Managing Director at Intro Aviation. “We are happy to see VLM now to develop as a wholly independent airline in the ownership of a management which is dedicated to VLM”.

“We strongly believe in VLM Airlines as a truly independent airline,” commented Arthur White, CEO and majority shareholder of VLM Airlines. “As an independent airline we will keep offering ACMI & Charter services, but we will also start offering scheduled services in the near future. We are already studying a number of possible new routes from Antwerp International Airport. We will communicate this as soon as the deals have been concluded.”

VLM Airlines is also seeking to add a new aircraft type to its fleet, for the moment VLM Airlines is evaluating a number of possibilities.


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