Bristol Airport welcomes opportunity to make case against Air Passenger Duty being devolved to Wales

Chief executive of Bristol Airport Robert Sinclair claims that devolving APD to Wales would have a damaging impact

Bristol Airport has welcomed the opportunity to present further evidence on what it claims would be the “detrimental effects” of devolving Air Passenger Duty (APD) to Wales as part of a review of potential options to mitigate the impact on regional airports.

Today’s publication outlining new powers for Wales from the UK Government says that the next Westminster government will consider the case and options for devolving APD to Wales.

It adds: “In advance of this, there will be a review of potential options to mitigate the impacts of APD devolution on regional airports. As part of this review, a discussion paper will be published by the summer examining the devolution and variation of APD rates within England, and the provision of aid for regional airports including Bristol Airport

Should Wales have devolved Air Passenger Duty powers?

Chief executive of Bristol Airport, Rob Sinclair, said: “We welcome this commitment to properly consider the implications of APD devolution on regional airports in England including options for variation of rates within England to assist regional airports such as Bristol.

“We are confident that the Government will reach the right conclusion when all the evidence is considered ensuring that regional airports are not disadvantaged by APD devolution and can play their full part in helping to rebalance the economy.

“Without similar measures for regional airports in England, devolution of APD to Wales would contradict the principle that there should be no detriment to other parts of the UK.

UK airport passenger numbers

HeathrowGatwickManchesterStanstedLutonEdinburghBirminghamGlasgowBristolCardiffAirport01020304050607080Passengers in millions

“It would simply result in the redistribution of passengers from Bristol and other English airports to Cardiff, but with no benefit to UK plc, severely distorting the open and competitive market for air travel which currently delivers choice and value for passengers.

Chief executive of Bristol Airport Robert Sinclair

“By not rushing into this decision on APD, the Government now has the opportunity to fully consider the significant cross-border implications that devolution of this tax would create and put in place a framework that could benefit all regions of the UK.

“We are confident that after the proper process has been followed a fair solution will be found, ending uncertainty and ensuring Bristol Airport can continue to enhance its facilities for the benefit of passengers and businesses on both sides of the border.”

Coach boost

Bristol has also confirmed has that coach operator National Express will commence a 12-times daily coach service between Bristol Airport and Cardiff next month

Bristol Airport served 6.3m passengers in 2014, including more than one million flying to or from Wales.

Sourced from walesonline


Double decker A380 super jumbo to break even this year as Airbus Group reports rise in profits

By GavinThompson  |  Posted: February 27, 2015

  • What the A400M means for Bristol

  • An A380 super jumbo lands at Filton, back before the airfield closed

  • What the A400M means for Bristol

  • An A380 super jumbo lands at Filton, back before the airfield closed

    The A380 double-decker super jumbo will finally break even in 2015.

That’s according to results published today by Airbus Group, the parent company of plane-maker Airbus which employs 4,000 people in Filton on the edge of Bristol.

The company, which also includes helicopter, defence and space divisions as well as making passenger planes, also revealed it will increase production of its smaller single aisle A320 aircraft to 50 every month in 2017. At the same time it will cut the number of A330 planes it makes to just six per month.

It also said it was “closely monitoring” the A400M military transport plane programme after delays and set backs in production. The plane is important locally because the wings are made at Filton, before being shipped to Spain for final assembly. The RAF’s recently took delivery of its first A400M, which it named City of Bristol.

The firm delivered 30 of the A380 super jumbos last year and the plane has a list price of $428 million (£278 million), which gives some idea of the level of investment involved.

Overall, Airbus Group enjoyed a record year in 2014. Group revenues increased five percent to a record € 60.7 billion (£44.2 billion), up from  € 57.6 billion (£42 billion) in 2013.

Earnings before tax increased 54 percent to € 4 billion (£2.9 billion) up from € 2.6 billion (£1.9 billion).

Commercial Aircraft revenues rose seven percent, driven by the overall increase in deliveries to a record 629 aircraft (FY 2013: 626 deliveries) and a more favourable delivery mix including 30 A380s compared to 25 in 2013. In the fourth quarter, the first A350 XWB was delivered to Qatar Airways

And it has a backlog order book of 6,386 aircraft, providing solid platform for growth.

“We achieved a significant improvement in profitability and cash generation in 2014 thanks to a record order book and strong operational performance in most areas,” said Tom Enders, Airbus Group chief executive. “We delivered more commercial aircraft than ever before, including the first A350, and our net orders were, once again, more than twice the number of deliveries. Due to strong demand for single aisle aircraft we have decided to increase production of our A320 family to 50 aircraft per month from 2017 onwards.

“At the same time, we have decided to temporarily reduce A330 production to six aircraft per month in 2016. Most importantly, we confirm the A380 break-even for 2015. We are focused on tackling our various operational challenges, including the A350 and A400M ramp-up and costs, first A320neo deliveries, boosting helicopter sales, and continuing the reshaping of our defence and space portfolio.”

Looking ahead, the group expects its earning to grow slightly this year, delivering more commercial aircraft as global air traffic continues to rise.

Sourced from The Bristol Post


IAG profits soar as Iberia moves into black

British Airways parent International Airlines Group (IAG) saw operating profits soar by more than 80% last year as Iberia moved into the black.

IAG reported an operating profit of almost €1.4 billion against €770 million in 2013.

The group, which is attempting to acquire Aer Lingus for £1 billion, expects operating profits to rise to more than €2.2 billion this year, based on capacity growth of approximately 5.5%.

Iberia’s 2014 operating profit of €50 million compared with an operating loss of €166 million in the previous year following a €260 million restructuring involving more than 4,500 job losses.

IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said: “The airline’s turnaround has been remarkable, both financially and operationally, and we’re very proud of its achievement especially its strong cost discipline.

“In 2013 we said our intention was for Iberia to break even in 2014 and it has fulfilled that promise.”

BA’s operating profit came in at €1.2 billion, up from €762 million in 2013, “which shows significant progress towards its long term targets,” Walsh said.

IAG’s Spanish low cost carrier Vueling’s operating profit edged up by €2 million to €141 million with the airline focusing on flexible growth, according to Walsh.

Walsh said: “We’re reporting strong full year results with an operating profit before exceptional items of €1,390 million which is up 80.5%. Total revenue was up 8% [to €20 billion] with non-fuel costs up 7% and fuel costs up 0.6% on capacity growth of 9.3%.

“We achieved a strong unit cost performance, down 4.1%, through increased productivity, supplier cost savings and lower fuel unit costs. The latter was boosted by the introduction of more efficient aircraft into our fleet and lower fuel prices in the last quarter of the year.

“However, the positive effect of the oil price reduction has been partly offset by hedging and significant currency impact.

“In the quarter, we made an operating profit before exceptional items of €260 million which is up from €113 million last year.

“Revenue for the quarter was up 9.9%. Non-fuel costs were up 10.5% and fuel costs decreased by 0.4% on capacity growth of 5.8%.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


EasyJet calls for major European aviation rule changes

EasyJet calls for major European aviation rule changesTougher airport charging rules, a revamped single European sky, more competition in ground handling and freedom to allow airlines to trade take-off and landing slots form part of a manifesto for change presented by easyJet.

The budget carrier’s ‘vision for European aviation’ calls on the EU, governments and regulators to improve competitiveness in European aviation.

It comes as 

the European Commission works on a new aviation package.

The airline cited new research by Frontier Economics showing that tougher regulation of charges at 15 of Europe’s largest monopoly airports would save passengers €1.48 billion, increasing total one-way passenger trips by 12.2 million, which in turn would raise consumer and tourism spending, and boost trade.

The overall impact of better airports regulation would be an increase of GDP in the European Economic Area of €37 billion or around 470,000 jobs.

EasyJet says four key changes would provide benefits such as:

  • the move from dual till to single till regulation – when all revenues, both aeronautical and commercial, are taken into account when setting charges
  • the reduction of airports’ return on capital by just 0.5%
  • an increase in airports’ operating efficiency by 10% – reflecting the higher efficiency gains made by airlines, and
  • the removal of the subsidy of transfer passengers – the charges for whom are often half that of origin and destination passengers.

In a speech to the European Aviation Club, chief executive Carolyn McCall said: 
“The EU plays a crucial role in supporting European aviation and easyJet is a shining example of that – without the liberalisation of European skies we would not exist in our current form.‎

“Europe is currently debating which policy framework to put in place, at a national and EU level, to promote the competitiveness of EU aviation.

“In order to get the best outcome for consumers, we believe that this framework should be based on fair competition, freedom of choice, and with passengers at the heart of policy making.

“We are calling on EU policy makers to revise the Airport Charges Directive and to rethink how we deliver Single European Skies.

“If we just tackled these two issues, they would improve the efficiency of our industry, drive down fares for consumers and create billions of Euros of GDP, equivalent to hundreds of thousands of jobs.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


CityJet chief executive quits following refinancing

The boss of Dublin-based CityJet, Christine Ourmières, has stepped down just over a month after the carrier completed a refinancing.

The reasons for chief executive Ourmières’s abrupt departure remain unclear, with no one from CityJet available for comment.

CityJet announced the sale and leaseback of seven Avro RJ85 aircraft in January and said its restructuring plans were progressing ahead of schedule as trading conditions improved.

Ourmières had run CityJet since 2010 following a lengthy period at Air France. CityJet was a franchise carrier for Air France-KLM at the time.

The airline was acquired by the Intro Aviation group in May last year and run alongside Dutch-based carrier VLM.

CityJet said Ourmières had overseen “the organisation positively reshaped, with strong shareholders, improved financial position with a new board and management team in place”.

The airline said last month that restructuring was necessary due to its legacy of having been part of the Air France group which left it with an infrastructure which was “inappropriate” for a independent regional carrier.

CityJet runs a network of services from London City airport.

Announcing the completion of refinancing last month, Ourmières said: “Recent months have shown the determination of our management team and staff to embrace the challenge of reshaping the business to become an independent airline.

“We can now focus on delivering our customers a superior product and service which will support our improving trading performance.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Court rules airlines cannot delay compensation payments

Court rules airlines cannot delay compensation paymentsImage via Shutterstock

Five airlines have been told they cannot postpone giving compensation payments to passengers whose flights have been delayed by technical problems.

Jet2, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, Flybe, and Wizz Air had wanted Liverpool County Court to stay, or delay, one woman’s claim over a delayed Jet2 flight, while a Dutch case on the same issue was heard in the European Court of Justice.

But the judge rejected this saying: “a line should now been drawn. Justice delayed is justice denied.’

Lawyers for passenger Kim Allen from Lancashire claimed the ruling could benefit tens of thousands of consumers with delay compensation claims.

Allen is claiming €400 in compensation after a delay flying from Manchester to Malaga in March 2012.

Her Jet2 flight was delayed by almost seven hours due to a technical problem, a flap slat fault, which occurred just prior to take off.

Allen’s case was originally stayed pending last year’s Huzar v Jet2 case in which Court of Appeal judges ruled that technical problems are not an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.

The stay on her case was initially lifted after Huzar’s victory but Jet2 soon made an application to stay Allen’s claim yet again.

The airline wanted to put the case on hold pending the outcome of the Dutch case, which has been referred to the European Court of Justice.

The van der Lans case will mainly look at whether a technical problem that arises spontaneously – as opposed to one which is detected during routine maintenance – is an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.

Extraordinary circumstances are the airline’s only defence to paying out flight delay compensation.

Kevin Clarke, flight delay lawyer at Bott & Co Solicitors who represented Allen, said:

“We’re delighted that once again the court has rebuffed the airline’s attempts to continue delaying legitimate passenger claims.

“Bott & Co alone have over 8,000 clients with claims against the five airlines who had requested stays similar to that in Ms Allen’s case.

“We’ve seen continual legal challenges to the finer details of flight delay regulation by the airlines since it was first introduced and it’s pleasing the court is now taking a firm line against them.

“We would hope that the airlines will now finally face up to their obligations to passengers and to settle the hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims outstanding.

“Sadly the history of their conduct over the last decade would tell us to expect yet another legal challenge.”

A spokesman for Jet2 said: “As Jet2.com has only just received the judgment the company is currently considering its position.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Flight delay ruling opens way for compensation payments

Passengers waiting at Gatwick airport

A county court judge has ruled that airline Jet2.com cannot delay the payment of compensation due to passengers for delayed flights.

The ruling could set a precedent that affects thousands of passengers with similar claims in the UK.

Jet2 argued the compensation payments should be delayed pending the outcome of a similar case in the Netherlands.

But the judge at Liverpool County Court ruled that “a line should now be drawn. Justice delayed is justice denied”.

The EU has ruled that airlines must pay compensation for delayed flights, but a number of airlines have yet to pay out.

Five airlines in the UK have made applications to delay payments: Jet2, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, FlyBe and WizzAir.

‘Kept waiting’

The Jet2 case heard in Liverpool involved Kim Allen, who claimed €400 (£292) compensation after an almost seven-hour delay when flying from Manchester to Malaga in 2012.

“We’ve all been kept waiting for so long, but I’m really happy with today’s decision,” she said after the judge’s ruling.

“Hopefully now it’s time for the airlines to pay us what the law says they should.”

Her solicitor, Kevin Clarke from Bott & Co, said he hoped “the airlines will now finally face up to their obligations to passengers and to settle the hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims outstanding.

“Sadly, the history of their conduct over the last decade would tell us to expect yet another legal challenge.”

Disproportionate

The issue stems from the 2004 European regulations that oblige airlines, in some cases, to pay compensation to passengers for cancellations and delays, if they are not due to extraordinary circumstances.

A further ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2009 confirmed that delayed passengers should be treated as if their flights had been cancelled, if the delay was longer than three hours, entitling them to cash compensation.

Despite the ruling, a number of airlines in the UK are still arguing that some technical problems should be classified as extraordinary circumstances, and as such, no compensation should be due.

They have also argued that paying compensation for delays of three hours or more is disproportionate and too great a burden.

Sourced from BBC News


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