Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Airline pilots 'too reliant on computers' - aviation experts

Aviation experts have warned that commercial pilots are becoming too reliant on on board computers when flying and are forgetting basic procedures.
This cannot be solely blamed on pilots however as airlines and regulators are known to discourage or prohibit pilots from turning off their aircrafts autopilot. It has been argued that these regulations means that pilots have less  opportunites to maintain their flying skills.

The Federal Aviation Administration examined 46 accidents and major incidents in 60% of major accidents and 30% of major incidents the pilot had trouble manually flying the plane or performed incorrectly with automated controls.

What do you think? Is autopilot or a manual pilot better?

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Extra flights for Brits stranded in US

Virgin Atlantic and British Airways have provided additional flights for Britons who have been left stranded in America.

BA is to put on an additional service today from Newark to Heathrow and an additional flight on Wednesday from JFK to London.

Virgin Atlantic laid on an extra flight from New York on Monday and an additional service will be provided on Wednesday.

The extra services by both carriers are to compensate for the cancelled flights on Sunday due to Hurricane Irene. London - New York is a major route for both carriers with BA operating ten flights per day between New Jersey and New York. Virgin Atlantic operate five flights a day to New York and Newark.

Cathay Pacific launch premium economy cabin

Cathay Pacific has announced that it is to introduce premium economy cabins on all long-haul and medium-haul flights to Australia and the Middle East.

The seats will be introduced at the same time as the new business class cabin and will be on board by the end of 2012.

Chief executive of Cathay Pacific, John Slosar said that it will be a 'real upgrade over economy and the seat will be more like a regional business class seat, we’ll have great recline and plenty of leg space.'

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Boeing 787 Dreamliner cleared to take to the skies

There is good news for Boeing as the Federal Aviation Authority has approved the 787 Dreamliner to begin carrying passengers.

The FAA presented Boeing with a type and production certificate during a ceremony at Boeing's factory near Seattle which allows the project to get off the ground and recoup money on a project which has cost billions and taken three years longer than expected. Despite these setbacks, Boeing has taken orders for more than 800 787 Dreamliners.

The large number of orders for the 787 can be attributed to its claims on fuel efficiency where it expects to be 20% more efficient than airliners of a similar size. Boeing expect to make these efficiencies through new Rolls Royce engines and better wing aerodynamics.

The list price for a 787 Dreamliner is $185.2 million although airlines are expected to receive significant discounts on bulk orders. All Nippon Airways are expect to receive their first 787 in late September and begin usage in October.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Police urged to block raves on Tuscan beaches

Business owners on a Tuscan beach are demanding that police arrange a roadblock to stop up to 4,000 partygoers arriving for a rave arranged through Facebook. The latest arranged event is part of a spate of impromptu raves that have had a negative impacts on the countries coastline.

The beachclub owners at the protected Calambrone beach say that they are still repairing the damage from the last rave on 15 August when 2000 people arrived unannounced. The rave on 15 August lead to syringes and exrement found on the beach and damage done several beach clubs.

The police have blamed the rise on this phenomenen on a surge in binge drinking and the ability to arrange parties quickly through the medium of social networking.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Doctor's holiday in Caribbean, Farmers holiday on safari, according to survey

A survey of 3,000 adults by Virgin Atlantic found that people's professions have an influence on their choice of holiday destination. The results found that doctors and cabin crew were more likely to favour the Caribbean while those in the financial sector are most likely to visit New York.

The study also found that farmers are more likely to enjoy a safari compared with a beach holiday.

Greg Dawson, director of corporate communications for Virgin Atlantic, revealed that the results also highlighted a sense of adventurousness among UK travellers. 'Our jobs can often dictate where we holiday as budgets, interests and level of relaxation required are all influenced by what we do for a living. However, what we do have in common, no matter the chosen profession, is that Brits are adventurous travellers, with 80% choosing a new destination each time they holiday.'

Where do travel agents tend to go to?!

Student's to live in holiday camp whilst at university

Some might say that university is one big holiday but this could now actually be true after students at Edge Hill University are to be placed in holiday apartments in Southport after campus halls became fully occupied.

Edge Hill University has seen applications quadruple in the past decade and this has lead to them being forced to find alternative accommodation for its students.

The universities website states that: "Pontin's in Ainsdale is approximately a 25-minute drive from Ormskirk and the apartments include fitted kitchen, private bathroom, TVs (with TV licence) and on-site facilities including swimming pool and supermarket. Bills (electricity, water etc) are included in the prices below."

What a great idea!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Two hives of bees escape on board flight over Russia

There was panic on board a flight over Russia after two hives of bees that had been smuggled onto the plane escaped and began swarming in the business class cabin.

The issue was brought under control after an air hostess managed to enclose the bees inside the wardrobe in the business class section and to seal it with sticky tape.The trafficker blamed the incident on an airport official at Blagoveshchensk Airport who he claims had asked him to carry the boxes to Moscow where he would be met at the airport.

The problems did not end there however, as when the plane arrived at its next destination, Barcelona, a new crew discovered that the fumigation did not kill all bees with five still remaining in the cabin.

This could spell further bad news for Yakutia Airlines as the bill to fumigate the entire plane and to compensate passengers for the delay could be as much as£100,000.

Russian planes have a reputation for being relaxed on security and it seems that the reputation will carry on for a while longer!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Hurricane warnings for Dominican Republic

A hurricane warning has been issued for the northern coast of the Dominican Republic with the south coast expecting tropical storms at a minimum.

Hurricane warnings are also in place for the US Virgin Island, the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Haiti and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Named Hurricane Irene, she is expected to pass near Puerto Rico and arrive in the Dominican Republic today. She has so far reached wind speeds of 70 mph and is expected to reach Florida by Wednesday or Thursday.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Philip Hammond spends £5,000 on fabric for office furniture, then pleads poverty

It has been revealed that Transport Secretary Philip Hammond spend £4,878 on recovering four sofas and a chair in his ministerial office since the coalition government have come to power.

The news has come at a similar time to Hammond being forced to defend rises in rail ticket prices on the grounds of a lack of resources and government funding, adding that "Due to the scale of the deficit, investments (in railways) would simply have not been possible without the difficult decision we have made to increase rail fares,"

Total coalition government spending on refurbishments since entering power stands at close to £50,000.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Top secret VIP airport lounge now open at Heathrow, at a price

Is the Concorde Room at Heathrow too common for you? There may be a new option as the world's most exclusive airport lounge is now open and available for the very wealthy.

Located in a nondescript corner of Heathrow Terminal 5 is The Windsor Suite, a lounge formerly reserved for VIP's who have their name on records of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office no longer provide funding to BAA for its use and the lounge is now available to those who have money to burn.

The Windsor Suite is equipped with a bombproof glass roof, marble floors, white leather sofa's and bonsai trees. It is also split into eight seperate lounges so that each party have their own private area. All of these perks do come at a price, £1500+vat to be specific, this entitles guests to:dedicated secure drop off / pick up forecourt at Heathrow, private lounge for up to six passengers, light refreshments in the private lounge, private security area for passenger screening, limousine transfer direct to or from the aircraft, check-in and baggage taken care of on departure, passports and baggage taken care of on arrivals and total privacy and security throughout the process.

A different lounge for a different world!

Friday, 19 August 2011

First hotel in space unveiled

Plans have been unveiled for the world's first hotel, in space. Russian firm Orbital Technolgies are behind the scheme which will see a hotel placed into orbit 350 kms above the earth to act as a commercial alternative to the International Sopace Station.

The designs were unveiled at an aviation industry event in Moscow and show rhat it would be able to accommodate seven people at one time. They hope that whilst on board, guests will be able to not only admire the view but watch TV and surf the internet.

Orbital Technolgies hope to have the concept off the ground (sorry) by 2016.

Prices are likely to be several hundred thousand pounds per person for a short trip.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Britons of all ages not practicing safe sex on holiday

A survey by The Co-Operative Pharmacy has found that one third of those questioned admitted to having unprotected sex with a new partner whilst abroad.

The survey found that one in six people in their fifties would have a holiday fling and are the least likely age range to use contraception with more than 15% of over-50's admitting to having unprtected sex. One in ten of those questioned said that they had unprotected sex because they were under the influence of alcohol and 20% said they did so due to not having condoms to hand.

The finding by The Co-Operative Pharmacy is also reinforced by figures from the Health Protection Agency whose results show that visitors to sexual health clinics rose by 22% between May and September.

Lisa McCreesh of The Co-Operative Pharmacy said - “On holiday people often get more amorous. We are urging people to remember that condoms provide the most effective protection against STIs. If you have had unprotected sex, it is important to get a check-up as you may not show any symptoms. Some condoms that are available abroad don’t always comply with the relevant European health, safety and environmental protection laws, so we would advise people to plan ahead and make sure they take CE marked condoms with them, along with any first aid essentials.”

I wonder why The Co-Operative Pharmacy conducted the survey?

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Gerard Depardieu accused of urinating on plane carpet

There has been an embarrasing episode for French actor Gerard Depardieu as he has been accused of urinating on the floor of a plane operated by Cityjet bound for Dublin from Paris. It is claimed that Mr Depardieu wished to urinate after the seat belt signs had been turned on and the plane was ready for take off. The cabin crew refused Mr Depardieu's request and it was at this point that he stood up, unzipped his flies and relieves himself in the cabin.

The episode resulted in the plane being forced to stay grounded for two hours while staff cleaned the carpet. Mr Depardieu and his two companions were thrown of the flight as a result of his alleged actions

Mr Depardieu's agent said he declined to comment on the incident.

Michael O'Leary keen to buy Dublin Airport terminal

Ryanair chief Michael O'Leary has publicly admitted that he would jump at the chance to buy one of the terminals at Dublin Airport. The entrepreneur has said that he would pay €350m for either terminal.

"I'd buy one of the terminals tomorrow, no problem. We'd happily buy the old terminal. Or we'd buy the new one but we wouldn't pay €1.2bn for it, which is what it cost to build. You'd probably get €350 million each for them," O’Leary said.

Dublin Airport is said to have debts of €1.2bn and the cash injection could be attracted to the DAA. The DAA has also recently been downgraded by Standar & Poor which means that they will pay more on loans that they receive.

O'Leary sees nothing wrong with the idea and when interviewed by the Sunday Independent said: "It doesn't matter who buys the remaining terminal as long as they're different owners, so that there isn't a monopoly”.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Final green light for Thomas Cook & Co-op merger

The Competition Commission has today given the final green light for the merger between Thomas Cook, The Co-operative group and Midlands Co-Operative.

The deal should be concluded in six weeks and the result will be the UK's biggest high-street retail chain of stores with around 1200 shops. This is likely to be made up of 780 Thomas Cook stores, 360 Co-Op Travel stores and 100 from Midland's Co-Op. The majority stakeholders in the deal will be Thomas Cook which has guaranteed The Co-Op a dividend of £10m per year for four years.

The Competition Commissions statement said -

"In its final report published today, the CC has concluded that the acquisition will not result in a substantial lessening of competition in any markets in the UK, in particular for customers buying package holidays from high street travel agents.Therefore customers are unlikely to suffer from significantly higher prices or reduced choice as a result of the joint venture."

Monday, 15 August 2011

Off anywhere nice on your holidays? Yes, Rwanda!

A recent study has shown that Britons are now heading to more alternative destinations for their holidays in order to obtain value for money and greater culture.

The study by Tripadvisor has shown that searches to former war zones like Bosnia Herzogovina have risen by 39% as customers seek cheap ski-ing holidays and the history of Sarjevo. The country which has seen the biggest increase on searches is Rwanda with a 656% increase as holiday makers are attracted by cheap prices for authentic safaris and gorilla watching.

Emma O’Boyle, of TripAdvisor, agrees with the findings: “As Brits look for their next great travel experience, it seems destinations that only a few years ago would never have been an option are now being considered, We’re seeing rapidly growing interest in destinations like Rwanda and the Republic of Macedonia, showing that British travellers may be becoming more intrepid and looking for something different than the traditional beach holiday.”

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Foreign office teams up with Vodafone for trial text warning service

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is to launch a trial service in conjunction with Vodafone which will warn British citizens when there is a major crisis in their area. Customers of Vodafone and other users of the network will receive texts when there is civil unrest or a natural disaster.

The FCO does currently offer a similar service through its website but requires citizens to opt in and register for the service. The text message service will eliminate those who have not registered with The FCO, if they are associated with Vodafone.

The pilot scheme will run for one year and run alongside the FCO website, its Facebook page and twitter. Foreign Office minister Jeremy Browne is keen to stress the importance of improving sources of contact with British nationals:

"The pilot is part of the Foreign Office's commitment to improve consular services. We will soon have the ability to send text messages to all affected British nationals registered on our crisis database. As well as this we're also exploring delivering important information through a range of mobile and online tools, including smartphone apps, a travel advice site for mobile phones and making effective use of social media and digital tools."

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Ryanair fly 50% of all tourists to Spain in July

Ryanair have announced results which show that it took 800,000 passengers to Spanish airports in July. The figure is a 25% increase on June's figures and over half of the 1.4 million passengers that travelled to Spain by air.

The airlines growth has increased across all airports with 100% growth at Barcelona El Prat, 45% at Palma, 14% at Alicante, 74% at Gran Canaria, 63% at Ibiza, 92% at Tenerife and 89% at Lanzarote. Figures also show that Ryanair delivered more passengers to Spain than all other airlines put together.

Lets hope the figures mean that they get more generous when giving food to seriously ill passengers..

Friday, 12 August 2011

Profits up for InterContinental Hotels Group

There has been good news for global chain InterContinental Hotels Group as they have reported a profit rise of 17% this week.

The growth has been attributed to strong demands in growing markets such as China and India and low supply. Richard Solomans, Cheif Executive for IHG said that despite the good news, there is reason for caution as some hotels have performed poorly in areas such as Japan, Bahrain and Egypt due to natural disasters and civil unrest.

The statistics show that revenue for InterContinental Hotels Group to be at $850 million with profits reaching $269 million. Figures have been bolstered by the groups midrange offerings, particularly Holiday Inn brands which have in excess of 300,000 rooms worldwide together with renovating 100,000 of its older rooms since 2008.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

TUI profits from boom in all inclusive holidays

British holidaymakers are opting for more all inclusive holidays in order to budget properly and avoid missing out on their treasured foreign holidays, according to Tui Travel.

Tui Travel also suggest that they are benefiting from 'empty nest' customers who are able to travel at less popular times compared to families who are often restricted to school holidays.Trips to Spain have also proved particularly popular with Tui Travel Customers. Chief Execuitve, Peter Long is happy with the shift from North African holidays to the traditional holiday destination:

"The impact of north Africa was to increase our programmes to Spain where the company has an historical relationship with large hotel groups. That has proved to be a great strength because that is where our customers want to go. All the Spanish islands have proved very popular."

All inclusive holidays accounted for half of Tui Travel's sales, equivalent to 2.5 million Britons per year. Operating profits for Tui Travel stand at 88 million in its third quarter to June 30th.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Virgin Atlantic go back to black

Virgin Atlantic have announced encouraging news as they have returned to profit in the 2010/11 financial year. Results have shown that the airline have turned a loss from the previous year into pre-tax profits of £18.5 million.

The results have been attributed to passenger revenues up by 13% to £2.7 billion despite the winter closure of Heathrow and the Icelandic ash cloud which are said to have cost the airline £40 million.

The carrier has also seen improved performance for its Virgin Holidays brand which focuses on Orlando and Caribbean. Strong growth has lead the company to open a further 60 retail shops, employing up to 200 new staff.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

First Korean Air A380 flight departs JFK

The first Korean Air super jumbo will depart New York today at 2pm bound for Asia.

The A380 aircraft has been configured with 301 economy class seats, 94 prestige class sleepers and 12 Kosmo first class suites.

In addition to this luxury, the plane will also feature three bars, a Celestial Bar offering a lounge area and signature cocktails, a further self serve bar in First Class and a bar at the front of Prestige Class. The A380 will also feature a small duty free store which will feature cosmetics, perfumes and liquor.

Korean Air will be adding a Los Angeles A380 service in October.

Gaza City opens first 5* hotel

A hotel which began construction in the mid 90's has finally opened, in Gaza City. The al-Mashtal Hotel is Gaza Cities first and only 5* hotel and is an ambitious project opened by ArcMed. The hotels opening is good news for the local community where 70% live below the poverty line as it has so far employed 70 local staff.

Opening a hotel in such an area does have its difficulties though. The tightly controlled border between Israel and Gaza has meant that importing certain produce such as mussels and mushrooms being hard to obtain.
The swimming pool will also remain off limits for the time being as men and women are forbidden from swimming together and if the hotel were to operate segregated days, it has yet to find a way of of screening female swimmers from public view.

Despite these difficulties, the hotel hopes to obtain business from visiting UN delegates and from the more affluent locals who will use the hotels restaurants and cafes together with Gazan's who have booked the hotels for their wedding.

Good luck with the venture from all at Alihoco.

Monday, 8 August 2011

KLM to introduce a la carte dining to economy class

Dutch airline KLM are to introduce a la carte dining on long haul flights from Amsterdam beginning in September 2011.

The menu will include three starter options, four mains and two desserts. The meal must be confirmed 48 hours in advance and the option comes with a surcharge of €12-€15 per person on top of the fare.

The meals will be based on different cuisines - Japanese, Italian and Indonesian as well as vegetarian options.

Sunday, 7 August 2011

220 passengers evacuated after tyre ignites on landing at Chicago Airport

Around 220 passengers on board an American Airlines flight from Paris to Chicago were forced to evacuate after a tyre ignited upon landing. The passengers evacuated by emergency slide.

American Airlines have said that they do not yet know what caused the incident.

Eight people have been treated for minor injuries.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

British Airways send plane carrying emergency supplies to East Africa

British Airways is to send a 747 freighter plane to East Africa to help with the food crisis. The plane will be loaded with emergency supplies from charities Oxfam and Unicef. The cargo will include 5,000 metres of piping that will be used to provide water to the Dolo Ado refugee camp in Ethiopia and further food and medical supplies.

Keith Williams, the airline's chief executive officer, said: 'The worst drought in 50 years means the lives of millions of people hang in the balance.

'The generosity of our customers will make a real and tangible difference to those in desperate need.'

BA passengers will also be able to make donations on board BA flights which will be given directly to the Disasters Emergency Committee.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

Fewer Brits arrested but more hospitalised overseas

Official figures have shown that the number of Briton's arrested overseas in the past year, has fallen by 10%.

The Britis Behaviour Abroad report has also shown that the number of drug arrests has fallen by almost 20%/ The highest number of arrests were made in Spain and The US with 5,700 cases worldwide.

The issue of drug related arrests are particular significant in certain areas, with South America and the Caribbean being most concentrated.

However, the number of Brit's hospitalised is on the increase despite fewer people travelling abroad. The number of hospitalised Briton's stood at 3,752 with Spain handling the most cases at 1,024. Proportionately, the highest concentration of Britions hospitalised in one place is Thailand.

Regarding the finding, Europe Minister David Lidingston said:

“We work hard to warn British nationals about the consequences of breaking the law abroad so it is really encouraging to see the overall number of cases of arrests and drug arrests falling. But last year there were still 5,700 arrests of British nationals overseas. Prison conditions in some parts of the world can be very poor, overcrowded and, in some cases, dangerous and sentences can be much tougher than in the UK. People are mistaken if they think the Foreign Office can get you out of jail. We can’t, but we will work hard to try and ensure your safety, and that you get a fair trial.”

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

New first-class lounge at Dubai Airport for Emirates

Emirates Airlines have opened a further dedicated first class lounge at Dubai Airport.
The new lounge allows people to have a seamless travel experience if in first class. The airline now offers exclusive chauffeur transfers, dedicated check-in counters, luxurious lounges and upgraded

service on its flights. The lounge is 1058 sq mt in size and features the standard amenities along with an a la carte restaurant.

Emirates now operate 29 lounges across the world's major airports.

Thomas Cook CEO leaves with immediate effect

Travel giant Thomas Cook today confirmed the shock departure of group chief executive Manny Fontenla-Novoa with immediate effect.

The news follows a series of profit warnings and a drop in share of 90p per share. The position will be filled temporarily by Fontenla-Novoa's deputy , Sam Weighan.
Thomas Cook say that a search process is underway to identify a permanent successor and an announcement will be made in due course.

Fontenla-Novoa had been group CEO since 2007 after joing the company in 1996. On his departure, Fontenla-Novoa commented: “Thomas Cook and its people have a sound heritage and I have been proud to have been part of the company.”

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Etihad launch twice daily Manchester - Abu Dhabi service

Etihad Airlines have today begun a twice daily service from Manchester to Abu Dhabi. The new move means that there are 14 flights per week from the north west airport.

Etihad have also opened a new maintenance facility at the airport which has created seven new skilled jobs.

This is excellent news for the airport and Andrew Harrison, Manchester Airport's managing director is clearly delighted: “These initiatives reflect Etihad’s consistent commitment to the north of England, which will enable individual travellers and local businesses to use Manchester as a convenient hub to travel throughout the world. Etihad is a hugely important player in our long-haul network and we welcome its new staff to Manchester Airport.”

Monday, 1 August 2011

Tourists urged to vigilant in Crete after protests

The UK Foreign Office has warned travellers to be vigilant after protests at Heraklion Airport resulted in the police using teargas.The incident occured after a protest by taxing drivers into government plans to change their sector. The move by the greek government aims to increase competition in 135 professions in order to pay down the national debt. 

The Foreign Office said: "Visitors are advised to exercise caution when using the airport and to follow advice given by their tour operators."

Regular strikes and demonstrations are expected for the foreseeable future.

Expansion plans for Las Vegas ski resort

The owners of the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort have announced plans to add over 400 acres to its current site. The new site will include more trails and lifts, a hiking area and more retail space.

Kevin Stickleman, President of the ski resort said renovation is likely to be completed by 2020. The expansion scheme will bring around 400 new jobs and enough water storage to make mid size mountain runs. 

Inquiry finds human error to blame for Air France crash

An enquiry into the Air France crash in June 2009 has found human error to be at fault.

It is suggested that the junior pilots were not properly trained to deal with an emergency and the captain was on a rest break.

This was combined with it being in the middle of a tropical thunerstorm and when the captain returned, there was too much panic to resolve the problem.

The flight killed all 228 people on board.

The inquiries findings have been immediately rejected by Air France. The airline and Airbus are also likely to face manslaughter charges over the crash.