Martin Evans: on why regional airports like Cardiff will have to expand if it proves too difficult to build new runway capacity in the south-east of England.

Martin Evans says that Cardiff Airport has potential for strong passenger growth in the years ahead as he believes there will no new runways in the south-east of England

Cardiff Airport

It is frustrating waiting for the Airports Commission led by Sir Howard Davies to deliver their final report on where airport hub capacity needs to be located within the United Kingdom.

The wait isn’t due to the commission being particularly slow or continuously putting off writing the report.

It is because the delay was built into the process, when Sir Howard delivers his report it is not going to please everybody, whatever he decides so for a political party that wants to be elected, far better to put off the fateful day until after the next election and try to offend nobody, for the time being.

It is because decisions on where to site runways is so politically difficult that the question has been handed over to an independent commission and the UK Government, whatever party or parties that happens to be after the next election, can try to distance itself from the inevitable unpopularity.

The real problem is that previous UK governments have failed to grasp this particular thorny nettle and as the years have gone by, the problems at the existing hub airport of Heathrow have grown and the possibility of building an airport on a new site has lessened.

Our interest has been maintained through this lengthy process by a series of consultations, submissions and decisions from the commission. I supported a submission from Western Gateway setting out how Cardiff Airport could in the short and long term contribute to airport capacity in the UK.

Western Gateway did not get onto the final short list. One option was given a special status and that was the potential Thames Estuary Airport that has become known in the media as Boris Island.

The commission decided that they did not have enough information to either put a Thames Estuary Airport on the shortlist or reject it.

The commission undertook further work to look at the concept of a Thames Estuary Airport and recently rejected it.

The reasons were both economic and environmental. There is a linkage between the number of passengers served and economic benefits.

The commission were sceptical about the passenger forecasts for a Thames Estuary Airport and it therefore follows that they were sceptical about the level of economic benefits that could be delivered.

The environment has been an issue ever since a Thames Estuary Airport was first proposed in the 1970s.

There would be significant bird habitat loss in order to build an airport and because birds and aircraft do not mix well any new habitats created to make up for the loss would have to located a considerable distance from the airport.

Other issues considered by the commission were the cost of acquiring and closing Heathrow, the costs of building surface access, both rail and road, and the socio-economic effects of having to build the equivalent of a small town to accommodate workers.

We are now left with a two horse race between Heathrow and Gatwick Airports.

Perhaps that should be a two and a half horse race because there are two proposals for Heathrow.

The first is a conventional third runway located to the north-west of the present airport.

The second proposal is less conventional and involves extending the northerly runway and using it as two separate runways.

When the commission finally makes a choice, it will again be the decision of politicians if they want to follow the recommendation. If a runway is built at Heathrow, the decision will not take away the debate over airport location in the UK.

Hundreds of thousands of people are affected by noise and pollution and it cannot be acceptable to allow approaches and departures to take place over central London.

I can forecast that a vigorous and effective campaign would delay or even cause the cancellation of the project.

I also cannot see that the building of a runway at Gatwick would be unopposed.

 Also, whilst Gatwick would argue that they need the extra capacity, it is not a major airline hub, it provides point to point services. A decision in favour of Gatwick would not, in my view, satisfy the terms of reference of the Commission.

My prediction is therefore that whatever the decision of the commission, it will just be too difficult to build a new runway in the UK.

However, the growth in aviation is not going to stop if no new runway is built and we need a plan to cope with growth if the building of a new runway remains politically impossible. The answer would have to be a dispersed airports policy where passenger growth that cannot be accommodated at the crowded airports of the south-east of England is forced out to the English regions and Wales.

Under this scenario, Cardiff Airport would have a role to play in providing UK airport capacity.

Much has already been done to make Cardiff Airport surface access more attractive with the introduction of the Cardiff Express bus service. You only have to see the bus after the arrival of the Dusseldorf service to see how effective it is.

However, faster rail links into the airport can increase the size of the catchment area for the airport and therefore potential passenger numbers. Following electrification of the Great Western main line, connections to the airport could provide fast links to England.

The South Wales Metro could provide connections to the Cardiff City Region. A successful city region requires a successful airport.

Also, if there is a renegotiation of the devolution settlement in Wales following the referendum vote in Scotland, devolution of Air Passenger Duty to Wales is an absolute necessity for the future development of the airport.

Sourced from


Norwegian to add Gatwick Orlando to schedule

Norwegian to add Gatwick Orlando to scheduleNorwegian is to add Orlando to its low cost transatlantic network from Gatwick next spring.

There will also be more departures from Gatwick to New York (JFK).

The Orlando route starts on April 4, 2015 with weekly departures on Saturdays with launch fares of £199.

The airline will increase its number of weekly flights between Gatwick and New York from three to six a week from next May.

Orlando will also be served from Copenhagen.

The airline’s chief commercial officer Thomas Ramdahl said: “We´re happy to announce that we will offer Orlando as a new destination from London and Copenhagen.

“Orlando is already a very popular destination being offered from Oslo and we are looking forward to giving even more passengers the chance to visit this great area of Florida.

”As we are taking delivery of our eighth 787 Dreamliner next spring, we will also have the capacity to add more departures on existing routes that have been very well received.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Public mood shifts towards favouring more airport capacity

Public mood shifts towards favouring more airport capacityThe consumer mood on airport capacity growth is shifting in favour of additional capacity, results of an Abta poll out today (Wednesday) show.

Only 16% of people disagreed with the assertion that ‘more airport capacity is needed’ and the numbers who agree are rising.

Four in ten (41%) people agreed that ‘more capacity is needed’- an increase from just over a third (36%) who were surveyed last year.

Consumers also appear aware of the risk to the economy if creating more capacity is delayed – more than a third of people surveyed this year (35%) agreed that ‘the UK economy will suffer if capacity is not increased’ – with just 18% saying they disagreed.

The poll found that 42% of people said they believe that it is government which should support measures to build more capacity.

This indicates that the winning party or parties in next year’s general election will find themselves under increasing public as well as industry pressure to take action in the next parliament.

The Liberal Democrats have moved towards opposing new runways in their election manifesto.

Meanwhile, more than a third (36%) of people taking part in Abta’s 2014 consumer survey said that high flight taxes put them off flying (only 23% disagreed with this statement) – and 4 in 10 (39%) said they thought that aviation taxation puts the UK economy at a disadvantage.

A quarter said that they would fly from an airport outside the UK to avoid Air Passenger Duty – highlighting the potential loss of business from UK consumers to airports such as Amsterdam Schiphol where there is no APD, or Frankfurt where the tax is much lower.

Abta’s ‘Manifesto for Jobs and Growth in Tourism’ calls for all parties to: act urgently to increase airport capacity; further reform and reduce APD; invest in infrastructure across all transport modes; embed a cohesive approach to tourism policy which recognises the value of all tourism (inbound, outbound and domestic) and ensure completion of consumer protection reforms.

The association will be engaging with party members and senior leaders from all three parties on these priorities at the autumn political party conferences which begin with Labour this weekend.

Abta head of public affairs Stephen D’Alfonso said: “Reducing APD and increasing airport capacity are two key policies that would enhance UK competitiveness, which in turn will deliver jobs and economic growth.

“As the three main parties draft their respective manifestos in search of precisely this – jobs and growth – Abta will be reminding politicians that not only will these long-standing industry calls deliver, but that these changes broadly carry the support of millions of voters who will make their way to the polls in a little under eight months’ time.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Thomson steals a march on rivals with early ‘smile’ campaign

Thomson has reverted to a strategy of kicking-off peak season TV marketing campaigns months early in a move observers predicted would see it steal a march on rivals.

The Tui brand’s latest campaign will debut this Saturday during The X-Factor, introducing viewers to Miles, a teddy bear with one eye and the ‘Thomson smile’.

The ‘Discover Your Smile’ advert, with a soundtrack of William Shatner’s version of Bohemian Rhapsody, will run until the end of October and return before Christmas.

It follows on from last year’s ‘Simon the Ogre’ campaign, which debuted on December 27, a more traditional time for travel firms to target the early-booking market.

In 2012, Thomson went out in September with its ‘Holidays Just Got Better’ adverts, as it did in 2011 with its ‘Quality Time’ campaign.

Thomson joins rivals such as Expedia, Booking.com and BA Holidays in running TV marketing campaigns this month.

Steve Dunne, executive chairman of the Brighter Group, said Thomson still lagged Thomas Cook in terms of brand recognition, adding: “If they want to get this smile motif etched into the heart of the consumer, it’s better to do brand-building when the market isn’t too crowded.

“This is going to wrong-foot the opposition – there is always first-mover advantage in marketing.”

Former Cimtig chairman Gary Grieve, founder of Capela Training, said: “Thomson is in unchartered territory with nothing to measure themselves against because no one is quite in the same league.

“But consolidating market share is tricky when you are leader by a long way.”

Trevor Beattie, founding partner of Tui’s ad agency BMB, said Miles the Bear “is going to be a star”, adding: “One-eyed and raggedy he may be, but he’s out to steal your heart.”

Jeremy Ellis, Marketing & Digital Director at Thomson, said: “Our new customer promise ‘Discover Your Smile’ emotively sums up what the Thomson brand stands for across everything we do, and is perfectly reflected in our iconic smile logo.

“We believe that a great experience can bring back the very best version of you, which is ultimately what people want from a holiday.

“The story of Miles the Bear really brings that sentiment to life, powerfully introducing Discover Your Smile and raising the profile of our very own smile.

“Our exclusive concept hotels like Sensatori, Couples and Family Resorts, state-of-the-art 787 Dreamliners and years of expertise and friendly service provide genuine reasons to believe and demonstrate that Thomson really is the brand to help customers discover their smiles.”

The new campaign also features outdoor, print, online advertising, video on demand, email marketing, social media and PR.

A fully interactive experience zone has been created to bring to life the campaign online at discoveryoursmile.co.uk.

It will feature the new ads, 90 second Director’s cut and ‘behind the scenes’ films as well as bespoke smile and destination content and content generated through the campaign hashtag #mademesmile.

Funds for the Family Holiday Association will be raised from sales of Miles the Bear cuddly toys in Thomson stores from November.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Cook’s Green plays down significance of share price dip

Cook's Green plays down significance of share price dipThomas Cook chief executive Harriet Green has responded to a dip in the group’s share price following yesterday’s trading update.

She told Sky News: “The sector is more challenged in these turbulent times. We’re not over-performing, we’re absolutely delivering.

“This is a long term transformation so watching the share price on any given day is probably not the right thing to do. It’s about delivering results first for our shareholders.”

She admitted that Germany was suffering from a “sensitive consumer environment” but said Cook’s business in the country had been “extremely strong” in the first half of the year.

“What we are seeing is a moderation,” she added. “Thankfully vacations are pretty high up there on the agenda.”

Responding to Monday’s news that Tui Travel is to merger with its German counterpart Tui AG, Green stressed that Cook’s transformation had made it into an “asset light” model without ownership of cruise ships and other items.

“There’s room for both businesses and it will be interesting to see how those very different strategies pan out for the consumer,” she said.

“Because Thomas Cook is now so much more relevant; in the past 22 months the new UK website that we rolled out and now across the rest of the businesses is over 200% up on business placed by smartphone, so we’ve added tis much younger audience.

“The quality of our product is improving and so we’ve become more relevant, customers are choosing us and that’s healthy for consumers.”

Leisure analyst Langton Capital said: “Thomas Cook has announced that Germany is slowing and that it has work to do in France and Russia.

“The UK continues to improve at an underlying level although sluggish bookings in June and July have impacted margins.

“There was a degree of hesitancy over the conference call and the group’s shares, which have now lost more than 10% of their value in two trading sessions, reacted accordingly. Forecasts have been edged down and it would appear that the recovery has indeed been pushed a little out to the right.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that TCG [Thomas Cook Group] is not doing the right things. Rather it reminds us that leisure travel is a volatile and low-margin industry.

“This should not come as a surprise but, to those observers who perhaps expected not to encounter bumps in the road, it serves as a reality check.”

Warren Ruhomon, a market analyst at finspreads.com, added: “Thomas Cook is making fair progress, but investors are comparing it with its UK rival, TUI Travel.

“TT just agreed to go all in with its majority owner, Germany’s TUI AG to make the biggest tourism company in the world, worth about £5.19bn.

“It looks like investors are deciding TT will be able to draw on the free cash of its huge owner, enabling TT to afford big retail discounts which Thomas Cook would struggle to match. This is why Thomas Cook’s shares are being hit today.

“Thomas Cook already said it’s noticing a weaker pricing trend (the German consumer slowdown isn’t helping) and is cutting costs.

“Thomas Cook expects to make £315m to £335m in full-year earnings. That would be basically in line with our forecasts.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Quarter of travellers would use European airports to avoid APD

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Around 25 per cent of travellers would fly from an airport outside the UK to avoid air passenger duty (APD), a study from ABTA has found.

ABTA said the survey of around 2000 UK travellers highlights the “potential loss of business” from UK consumers to airports such as Amsterdam Schipol where there is no APD, or Frankfurt where the tax is much lower.

It also showed 36 per cent of people taking part in ABTA’s 2014 consumer survey said high flight taxes put them off flying and almost 40 per cent said they thought aviation taxation puts the UK economy at a disadvantage.

The study found that almost half of people surveyed said they agreed that ‘more airport capacity is needed’ – an increase from just over a third in 2013.

Some 35 per cent of people agreed that ‘the UK economy will suffer if capacity is not increased’ – with just 18 per cent saying they disagreed.

ABTA is calling for the government to “act urgently” and increase airport capacity, reduce APD and invest in infrastructure across all transport modes.

ABTA’s head of public affairs, Stephen D’Alfonso, said: “Reducing APD and increasing airport capacity are two key policies that would enhance UK competitiveness, which in turn will deliver jobs and economic growth.

“As the three main parties draft their respective manifestos in search of precisely this – jobs and growth – ABTA will be reminding politicians that not only will these long-standing industry calls deliver, but that these changes broadly carry the support of millions of voters who will make their way to the polls in a little under eight months’ time,” he added.

Sourced from buyingbusinesstravel


Ryanair to fly transatlantic ‘within 10 years’

Ryanair to fly transatlantic 'within 10 years'Budget airline Ryanair could offer transatlantic flights within the next five to ten years.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said there was no chance of introducing low-cost transatlantic flights before then due to a shortage of long-haul planes being available.

However, according to Mail Online, O’Leary said he hoped Ryanair would fly to the US during his time at the helm.

He said: “We’ve had a business plan ready to roll for a transatlantic, low-fares airline. The difficulty is,  as I keep cautioning, that there’s no availability of long-haul aircraft for another four or five years.

“So unless we can secure a fleet of low-cost aircraft, frankly, the business doesn’t get off the ground.

“The future is very hard to foretell, it certainly is unlikely to happen within the next five years, but I’d be disappointed if it doesn’t happen within the period, maybe five to 10 years.”

The airline intends to offer flights between 12 to 14 European cities to destinations across the US.

O’Leary previously said the airline could offer flights to the US for as little as £8, but that would mean paying extra for everything else including meals and baggage.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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