Economic report rules out abolition of APD in Northern Ireland

By Phil Davies | 04 March 2015 at 10.08 GMT
Abolishing £13 Air Passenger Duty on the majority of flights out of Northern Ireland would prove too costly to the Northern Ireland Executive, according to an economic report.

Removing APD would mean a reduction of at least £55 million in Northern Ireland’s block grant from Westminster.

This would cover the loss to the Treasury of revenue it collects from APD on flights locally.

“A strong case for change has not been made,” the report’s authors state.

Northern Ireland has already scrapped APD on long-haul flights – a move which saved a service to New York and has cost more than £2 million.

The report by the Northern Ireland Centre for Economic Policy said the benefits of abolishing APD on all other flights would not cover the figure lost to the block grant.

The loss is “a very significant impact on the economic cost-benefit outcome,” the 67-page report said.

Ireland scrapped its air tax last year which has helped Dublin airport attract new routes.

Scotland is also likely to get power over APD as part of devolution plans.

Northern Ireland is looking into financial help for airlines to operate new routes to destinations such as Canada, Turkey and Germany. Aid would cover 50% of landing charges

Belfast international airport managing director Graham Keddie told the BBC: “We know there are airlines with available aircraft who will move swiftly to grow our network of direct air services, offering highly attractive fares to encourage international visitors to experience Northern Ireland.

“However, the continued application of APD is the most visible deterrent to securing their commitment and, while APD in Northern Ireland persists, they will choose more lucrative

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Strength of sterling against euro brings down cost of EU business

By Phil Davies | 04 March 2015 at 11.08 GMT
British business travellers going to the EU could save around £66 per trip on the value of their spending money due to the strength of the pound, new research reveals.

Analysis by travel money business Centtrip shows that sterling is now worth about 15% more against the euro than it was this time two years ago.

British businesses made around 4.67 million trips to the EU in 2013, spending a total of £2 billion when there.

If the valuation of sterling against the euro remains the same this year when compared to two years ago, travellers could spend on average £65.99 less and have about the same spending power they did in 2013, according to the research.

It estimates that two years ago businesses spent around £428.78 when in the EU on business. To have the same level of spending money today they only need to spend around £362.79.

Company co-founder and managing director Brian Jamieson said: “As sterling continues to grow against the euro, the power of our spending money whilst on business in the EU increases.

“Sterling has recently hit new seven-year highs versus the euro, and many of our business customers are locking in current attractive rates and buying euros to use today or at a later date.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Birmingham airport hopes for more flights from China

By Phil Davies | 03 March 2015 at 09.37 GMT

Almost four thousand Chinese tourists will fly into Birmingham airport from Beijing on charter-based package tours this summer, contributing £19 million to the regional economy.

Hainan Airlines will operate twice-weekly flights using a 233-seat Boeing 767-300.

The flights will run from Beijing to Birmingham each Friday and Monday between July 3 and August 28.

Birmingham airport commercial director Jo Lloyd said: “Not only is this a significant market test, it paves the way for future sustainable scheduled flights into Birmingham from China that will support the growth in Chinese visitors as well as the region’s economy.

“We are also hopeful that flight programmes will include departures from Shanghai and Guangzhou as well as Beijing to Birmingham in the future.”

Recent Office for National Statistics data shows that overseas visitor numbers to the region have increased by one-third, specifically from China where visitor numbers have more than doubled.

Culture secretary Sajid Javid, speaking at a special event in Beijing organised by the airport and VisitBritain, said: “There’s so much more to the UK than London, so it’s great that this new route will let Chinese visitors fly direct to the heart of England this summer.

“Improving international connections is a key part of our long-term economic plan, and a regular flight between China’s capital and Britain’s second city will boost the tourist industry and help forge links between businesses in both countries.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Ryanair improvements aim to make travel an ‘enjoyable experience’

By Phil Davies | 04 March 2015 at 08.32 GMT
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A range of improved services, fee reductions and digital developments are to be introduced by Ryanair over the coming year.

The move came as the budget carrier unveiled an eight-point ‘customer charter’ including a promise to make travel an “enjoyable experience” as Ryanair marks its 30th anniversary.

The ten new service initiatives have been announced in the second year of a three-year ‘always getting better’ programme.

These include:

New aircraft interiors and cabin crew uniforms
Lower airport check-in fees, missed departure fees and a new flight cancellation option of €15 per segment fee, within 24 hours of booking.
Real time airline fare comparisons on Ryanair.com
A new destination content service, featuring customer reviews.
A new travel insurance product, replacing the current drop down insurance.
A personalised Ryanair.com website with up to 100 versions of the homepage and personalised promotional emails with customer-specific tailored offers.
A new ‘hold the fare’ feature – €5 to hold a fare for 24 hours.
An improved inflight menu, with more healthy meal choices and a hot breakfast pre-order service on key routes.
New seats with more leg room.
Faster native mobile apps, an improved Ryanair.com desktop and an enhanced ‘My Ryanair customer registration system.
Chief marketing officer, Kenny Jacobs, said: “Europe’s customers have always chosen Ryanair for our low fares and great choice of routes and through our always getting better programme, we are continuing to improve our customer experience.

“Those low fares won’t change, but we will continue to listen and strive to enhance every aspect of our business and our new customer charter outlines the way we want to deliver an enjoyable, simple and low cost travel experience to customers.

“Our customers can look forward to an improved inflight experience with new cabin interiors and a new menu, fantastic new digital features including personalised websites, a faster app, ‘hold the fare’ and price comparison features and great destination content, reduced fees and a new flight cancellation option, as well as new insurance products.

“We will also continue to add new routes and airports to what is already Europe’s largest network, offering an even greater choice to our 100 million annual customers.”

Chief executive, Michael O’Leary, said: “2014/15 was a record year for Ryanair, as we grew our traffic to 90 million customers and started to dramatically improve the customer experience through the introduction of allocated seating, a second free carry-on bag, our new mobile app and website and our new dedicated Family Extra and Business Plus services, as well as more routes to even more airports, with improved schedules and frequencies.

“We now want to celebrate our 30th birthday in 2015 by launching our new Customer Charter and the second year of our always getting better plan as we grow to carry 100 million customers this year.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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


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