Monarch job losses reduced by 200

Monarch job losses reduced by 200The number of job cuts required at Monarch Travel Group as part of a financial turnaround plan has been reduced by 200.

The original estimate of 900 job losses has been reduced to 700 during staff consultation.

This has been achieved with some employees changing their terms and conditions, with others moving from full-time to part-time working.

Two-thirds of the 700 are voluntary redundancies from the group’s 3,300-strong workforce.

Monarch has been able to meet the efficiencies required on 700 rather than 900 job losses within the staffing element of the company’s new business plan, Travel Weekly understands.

As previously reported, talks are continuing between London investment fund Greybull Capital to buy the group from Switzerland’s Mantegazza family in a deal worth £75 million.

Efforts are being made by all parties to ensure a deal can be concluded before Friday when the group’s licence to sell holidays is due to expire.

Sources have voiced confidence that the rescue agreement can be completed this week.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Flight delay compensation ‘on hold’ until court case decision known

Flight delay compensation 'on hold' until court case decision knownAirline passengers affected by long delays are being forced to wait up to a year to find out if they will receive compensation, leaving thousands out of pocket.

A number of airlines, including British Airways and easyJet, are refusing to pay customers who were delayed because of technical faults until the outcome of an ongoing court case is decided, the Telegraph reported.

Passengers can claim £100-£480 per person for delays of three hours or more, or for cancelled flights, when the airline is at fault under EU rules.

But passengers can’t claim for delays caused by “extraordinary circumstances” such as extreme weather.

The Court of Appeal ruled in June that technical problems must not be considered “extraordinary circumstances”, meaning compensation was still due.

Jet2, the airline involved in the case, appealed to the Supreme Court.

The court is due to decide next month whether to grant the appeal, in which case a full hearing will take place next year. It could take until the end of 2015 to reach a decision.

An easyJet spokesman said it had put all claims on hold until it was clearer whether the case would be heard by the Supreme Court.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Lufthansa pilots’ strike expanded to long-haul services

Lufthansa planes

A Lufthansa pilots’ strike on Monday affecting mostly European flights has been expanded to include long-haul destinations on Tuesday.

Pilots on short-haul routes are due to strike from midday Monday for 35 hours, causing the cancellation of 1,450 flights and hitting 200,000 travellers.

Pilots are protesting against plans to alter retirement and pension terms.

German rail travellers also faced cancellations and delays over the weekend as strikes hit the railways

Only about a third of inter-city trains were running. The two strikes are over unrelated issues.

Retirement age

Monday’s Lufthansa strike will be the eighth this year. The union’s decision to also target long-haul services on Tuesday marks a deepening of the dispute.

Last week, the pilot’s union, Vereinigung Cockpit, called out its members at Lufthansa’s budget airline, Germanwings, for a 12-hour stoppage.

“Regrettably Lufthansa has not acted on the compromise proposals of VC after seven strikes now since April this year and is stonewalling,” the union said in a statement.

The union, which represents about 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, is calling on the airline to reconsider its decision to raise the age that they can retire from 55.

The company has offered to retain the scheme for existing members but not to extend it to new recruits.

Monday’s strike is expected to affect affect mostly services in Europe. Lufthansa said it hoped to be able to operate a third of its flights.

Germany’s government is expected to produce a draft law later this year aimed at stopping small numbers of employees paralysing large parts of the country’s infrastructure through strike action.

The train drivers’ strike was over demands by the GDL for a 5% pay for 20,000 drivers and a shorter working week.

Deutsche Bahn has promised normal services will resume on Monday.

The head of the GDL union, Claus Weselsky, said there would be a week-long break before any further strikes.

Sourced from BBC News


Blackpool airport prepares for final flight before closure

Blackpool airport prepares for final flight before closureThe final commercial flight will take off from Blackpool airport later today ahead of its closure.

Owner Balfour Beatty, which bought the site in 2008, put it up for sale in August but no buyer has been found.

Balfour Beatty said the site had made a loss for several years. But Blackpool Council said the firm should have done more to save the airport from closure.

The council has also blamed the airport’s “onerous contract” with Jet2 along with a failure to bring in new routes, the BBC reported.

Jet2 transferred its flights from Blackpool to Manchester on Friday. The final flight from Blackpool will be made to the Isle of Man at 5pm.

The airport will close one hour after the flight takes off. The final day will also see another Citywing flight to the Isle of Man at 10.10am and an Aer Lingus service to Dublin at 3.20pm.

About 110 staff are employed at the airport, which served 235,000 passengers last year.

A spokesman said the airport was working “with the independent aviation businesses and tenants to understand if their operations can continue in the future”.

“Working in partnership with the local authorities, regeneration plans are also being developed which will be designed to create future employment and sustainable economic development opportunities,” he said.

Aerospace company BAE Systems said it was in talks with a number of operators to offer short-term use of its aviation facilities.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Heathrow slot shortage is holding Virgin back, says Branson

Heathrow slot shortage is holding Virgin back, says BransonA shortage of operating slots at Heathrow is so acute that it is holding back Virgin Atlantic’s expansion, according to founder Sir Richard Branson (pictured).

The limit on slots available at the carrier’s main London hub means that the airline must scrap an existing route before it can add a new destination, he told Bloomberg.

The situation has forced Virgin Atlantic to scrap three routes to Asia, a “sad” consequence of adding more profitable North American flights, he said.

The airline is changing its route network to accommodate a partnership with Delta Air Lines, which bought a 49% stake last year.

Sir Richard said: “Virgin Atlantic has a unique problem. It’s impossible for us to get slots at Heathrow and that’s where our base is.”

The carrier is using the alliance with Delta, the third-biggest airline in the US, to boost earnings as it targets a return to profit by the end of this year.

Virgin Atlantic is adding a daily service from Heathrow to Delta’s hub in Detroit, along with additional daily flights to the US carrier’s base in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York.

“Because we are partners with Delta, and they’re a pretty powerful airline, we can get a fantastic feed from Delta on to our planes,” Sir Richard said.

“In a couple of weeks’ time, I’m starting one of those new routes from Atlanta to London, which is a beneficiary from us cancelling one of the far eastern routes.”

As it expands its transatlantic network to the US, Virgin Atlantic is dropping routes to destinations such as Tokyo, Mumbai, Cape Town and Vancouver.

Sir Richard Branson was in Dallas to mark a move by Virgin America, in which he owns a stake, from Dallas-Fort Worth international to the city’s Love Field airport, after restrictions on non-stop flights from the smaller airport were lifted.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Conservatives attack Welsh Government over use of Cardiff Airport for overseas trade missions

Tories claim Labour Ministers ‘don’t have confidence to use airport for their own foreign trips

The Welsh Government say they use Cardiff Airport whenever practical

The Welsh Government has come under fire from the Conservatives for not using Cardiff Airport more when flying overseas on trade missions.

The airport is used when “practical” according to the Welsh Government, which bought the facility last year – but a spokesman said it is often not used by North and Mid Wales companies flying on trade missions.

Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies said: “Labour Ministers bought Cardiff Airport with £52m of taxpayers’ cash, but don’t even have the confidence in it to use the airport for their own foreign trips.

“It is difficult to market Cardiff Airport as the gateway to hundreds of global destinations via Schiphol in Amsterdam if the Labour Ministers who bought it prefer to fly from Heathrow.

“Carwyn Jones and his Labour globetrotters should fly from Cardiff on trade missions to send a clear message that Cardiff Airport is open for business to encourage tourist and business travellers to Wales.

“Labour Ministers were wrong to spend £52m nationalising Cardiff Airport, but now it is state-owned, they must work to help it achieve its potential with better marketing and proper route development and could start by actually using it themselves.”

An airline industry source said: “It is also worrying that the Welsh Government is not prepared to use Cardiff Airport when going on overseas trade missions.

“The airport claims that Cardiff Airport is the gateway to more than 800 destinations worldwide, but if the Welsh Government thinks it is too expensive to fly from Cardiff, how can they expect anyone else to do so?”

A Welsh Government spokeswoman said: “We use Cardiff Airport whenever practical, indeed delegates for the trade mission to the Innotrans Exhibition in Berlin last month flew from Cardiff Airport.

“We will also be using Cardiff Airport for several other trade missions in the near future, including the construction and multi sector trade missions to Dubai in November and Arab Health in January 2015.

“In assessing practicality, we consider the overall travel time and the number of changes as well as the cost.”

The spokeswoman said companies in North and Mid Wales often fly from Manchester or Birmingham and meet with the rest of the mission at a connecting airport – usually Amsterdam – or the final destination, often at no extra cost.

The latest criticism comes just days after it emerged an airline decided to discontinue flights from the airport to Glasgow because not enough passengers were using the service.

CityJet is also reducing its flights between Cardiff and Edinburgh from three return trips a day to two.

Sourced from walesonline


Thomson to offer Costa Rica on Dreamliner as part of expanded network

Thomson Airways will offer the only direct flight from Europe to Costa Rica in November 2015 as part of an expanded network.

Other destinations being considered include St Lucia, Antigua, Bonaire and Curacao in the Caribbean as well as Vietnam and Malaysia.

The new destinations are under consideration as the Tui Travel carrier confirmed two further Boeing 787 Dreamliners in addition to 47 previously announced new generation Boeing 737 MAX aircraft by 2020.

The 737 MAX will enhance the customer experience on short and mid-haul routes.  The aircraft is also expected to be around 14% more fuel efficient than the current 737.

A multi-million pound revamp across the existing 737 and 757 fleet this winter aims to improve comfort levels and service and provide a more contemporary onboard environment.

New concepts being planned over the next five years include bringing the holiday experience to life on the aircraft, helping holidaymakers plan their trips from 43,000 feet and seamlessly connecting the crew with overseas holiday teams.

The airline is planning a ‘family booth’ on the new 737s with seating for four to six people situated at the back of the aircraft around a table.

An onboard kids’ club will see a trained member of the crew help parents keep children entertained with arts, crafts and quizzes that relate to the destination.

A member of the resort team with extensive knowledge of the destination will be on board to offer advice and recommendations to holidaymakers.

New content and channels designed specifically for holidaymakers, including a bedtime story channel, bespoke teenage content and destination inspiration channels on long-haul, are planned as part of the in-flight entertainment.

Further planned enhancements include the ability to make room upgrades, advance check-in and resort excursion bookings through the system.

Tui UK and Ireland managing director David Burling said: “Our airline business has traditionally been categorised in the charter sector which is often perceived as the poor relation to scheduled and, in reality, bears little resemblance to the Thomson Airways experience today.

“Our overall goal is to make travel experiences special and, as the flight marks both the start and end of the holiday, we see it as an integral part of the whole holiday experience.

“That is why we want to want to define and lead a new category of flying – the holiday airline category.

“This describes an airline designed for the specific needs of the holidaymaker and fully connected to the holiday experience in the destination.

“We’ll achieve this by continuing to invest in our fleet, in state-of-the-art aircraft like the 787 Dreamliner and 737 MAX, in our on-board technology connecting the flight experience to that in resort and in product and service innovations that are entirely relevant to the holidaymaker both today and tomorrow.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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