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Old February 10th, 2005, 04:19 PM   #21
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BAA has 'robust start' to year NEWS DIGEST.
By SHARLENE GOFF
10 February 2005
Financial Times

BAA yesterday revealed a robust start to the year as the airports operator said traffic in January had risen 7.4 per cent to 9.9m passengers. The group, which operates seven airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, said aggressive marketing by airlines had driven demand at its London hubs.

Fierce competition for passengers has driven prices down across many airlines, increasing demand for travel.

However, passenger growth at Stansted, where the government proposes to build a second runway, slowed to 8.6 per cent, compared with 14.8 per cent in January 2004.

In December BAA revealed the first signs of a slowdown in growth at Stansted since the airport began its rapid expansion in the late 1990s with the arrival of the low-cost airlines.
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Old February 11th, 2005, 06:25 PM   #22
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Sunday Business (London)
January 30, 2005, Sunday
British Midland's Bishop: The great aviator faces a dogfight

Sir Michael Bishop, at 64, is the elder statesman of Britain's airline industry. Mannerly, dapper and avuncular, the BMI British Midland chairman has the air of an more elegant bygone era in airline travel, when aeroplanes were devoid of football hooligans and package-holiday revellers.

The great aviator learned his trade in a more gentle time when airline passengers were cherished, addressed by courteous air hostesses as Sir and M'dom, while enjoying the privilege of being grossly overcharged.

But appearances can be deceptive. BMI's creator, main shareholder and chief aviator, is ruggedly independent and has a reputation as one of the toughest and most astute in the business. Bishop's normality is in contrasts to an industry populated by "characters" like Ryanair's Michael O'Leary and Easyjet's Stelios Haji-Ioannou.

At times, he is most admirably restrained. Not a public titter was heard from Bishop's moustachioed lips during the highly damaging 1991 "dirty tricks" battle between BA's then chairman Lord King and Virgin's Sir Richard Branson.

King says of him: "He is almost certainly one of the most successful leaders in the industry. He has an extraordinary capacity for hard work and an extraordinary level of confidence in his own abilities."

These days Bishop is weary of the aggressive marketing style of low-cost airlines, which often includes taking potshots at BMI. When Barbara Cassani was shown the chief executive's emergency exit at Go shortly after Easyjet took over the cut price airline, Bishop displayed a rare lapse of restraint.

He said: "I don't particularly want to rise to the bait. But as Barbara has gone from Go to gone in about three months, I think the boot might be on the other foot."

But Bishop, too, has been forced to accept that in this new age of travel there are more pawns on the travel chessboard than queens and knights. The soaraway success of Ryanair and Easyjet forced him into a rethink, prompting the launch in March 2001 of British Midland's own low-cost carrier, the cutely named BMIbaby.

Now Bishop is having to think again. Lufthansa, the German airline which holds 30 percent, less one share, of BMI is unhappy with the relationship because Bishop's airline has not lived up to the German carrier's expectations.

Lufthansa bought an initial 20 percent stake for 91.4m (E1331.6m, $ 171.8m) in late 1999, later bumping it up to 30 percent, in the hope it and BMI could establish a bridgehead at London's Heathrow airport to challenge BA on its home turf. At the time it also agreed to a number of conditions with Bishop that it has since come to regret. Lufthansa is now said to be hawking its stake around the industry. Although SAS, the Scandinavian carrier, owns another 20 percent of BMI, Bishop remains firmly in the pilot's chair with control of 50 percent, plus one share.

Like other airlines, BMI's financial performance deteriorated rapidly in the crisis that engulfed the airline sector in the wake of the 11 September 2001 terrorists attacks in the United States and that has racked up losses for Lufthansa.

Bishop's business life has been characterised by rebellions and battles, so one more will hardly clip his wings. He has fought endless dogfights with the UK and US governments to open the skies to competition. Some met with success. He finally won the right to compete on BA domestic routes in 1982, then gained access to European destinations in 1986. But what continues to elude him is the day when the BMI will become a fully-fledged transatlantic carrier under a true "open skies" policy between Europe and the US. His ambition is undiminished to operate transatlantic services out of Heathrow, rather than Manchester.

BA has tried to buy BMI three times over the past 11 years. But each time the deal has failed to get past high regulatory hurdles. This time, BA will not make an approach for the Lufthansa stake. Not because it is no longer interested in BMI, but because the regulations remain hostile to such a match -- on the grounds BA would have a total monopoly on Heathrow slots.

Despite rebuffs from a reluctant bride, Virgin Atlantic believes there is a deal to be done. Regulators would not object to a Virgin/BMI merger on competition grounds and such a combination would provide more competition for BA. The fit on slots between the two airlines would give Virgin the ability to plan its route network on a long-term basis; at the moment routes are added on an adhoc basis whenever suitable slots become available and can be acquired.

But Bishop is the stumbling block. Although the two airlines have held talks on sharing agreements, colleagues say Bishop was dismayed at Virgin's portrayal last year of any potential deal as a takeover. One source pointed out that because Bishop had spent most of his business life building BMI he is loath to give up control -- any deal would have to be "no worse than a merger".

Bishop was born in 1942 at Bowdon, Cheshire, and educated at Mill Hill School. The son of a Cheshire factory boss, he first took to the air at the age of six on a pleasure flight round Manchester airport. In 1949, his parents took him on an Aer Lingus flight to Dublin -- his first experience of commercial aviation. There began his first flight of fancy.

After leaving school, he joined the family business which built specialist commercial vehicles but quickly decided to make his career in civil aviation. In 1963, he joined Mercury Airlines in Manchester, which was taken over by British Midland the following year. He rose quickly from baggage handling to become general manager of British Midland in 1969. He was appointed a director in 1970, managing director in 1972 and chairman in 1978.

Then came time for takeoff. In 1978 the London investment group which owned British Midland decided to sell and with the help of a loan from an entrepreneurial Californian dentist, Bishop raised 2.5m to take control. Now, still a bachelor, he has a personal fortune estimated at 185m.

His interest in music and the arts is reflected in his appointment as chairman of the D'Oyly Carte Opera Trust, which was revived in 1988 as a company presenting Gilbert and Sullivan operas. He is also an honorary member of the Royal Society of Musicians of Great Britain. From 1991-97 he was a board member of Channel 4 Television, holding the positions of deputy chairman from 1991 to 1993 and chairman from 1993 to 1997).

Bishop's contribution to the industry was publicly recognised first in 1986 when he was awarded a CBE and he moved from Bishop to Queen's Knight in 1991. He is an honorary companion of the Royal Aeronautical Society, Freeman of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators.

He is compassionate and honest: in 1989, when a British Midland Airways Boeing 737 crashed on the M1 motorway in Leicestershire, killing 47 people, Bishop lost no time in getting to the scene and telling the press that as the head of the company, he was responsible. There was no hiding behind official inquiries, no "no comment" statements from him, nor any sense of obfuscation. His leadership in crisis was clear, sympathetic, positive and transparent. He was visible, coherent and reassuring. Bishop kept the media informed of the official inquiry and what British Midland was going to do next. Consequently, his actions were noted as an outstanding example of crisis management from the top. Despite an enormous tragedy caused by technical and human failings, the travelling public's confidence in the airline was hardly dented by the accident.

Despite the inroads made by low-cost carriers, Bishop believes travellers will always want a choice between traditional, full-service carriers and frill-free, foodless airlines based at out of the way airports. He names Ryanair's O'Leary as his most admired competitor, putting him ahead of EasyJet's founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou who he describes as "an extremely shrewd man". But he took some satisfaction from Haji-Ioannou's decision to quit as EasyJet chairman and leave the airline industry to what Bishop called the "professionals".

Bishop accepts budget airlines are "a permanent feature of the landscape". But he insists the core of BMI's strategy will still be that of a full-service, traditional carrier. He runs through the advantages -- well-located airports, baggage handling through to the final destination and lounges.

"To say there's only going to be low-cost airlines and nothing else is ridiculous. Customers want a choice. There actually is enough business for everybody. But not unreasonably, commentators tend to see everything in terms of black and white -- if one's up, the other's down, if one's in, the other's out."

BMI, although Britain's second largest airline, is still David to the Goliath that is BA. BMI operates 2,000 flights a week to nearly 30 destinations in Europe, mostly from London's Heathrow Airport. The carrier owns more than 40 planes. Its low-fare carrier BMIbaby is developing into a healthy child.

BMI operates from its elegant Donington Hall headquarters near Manchester, the cause of much amusement among low-cost airlines who regard their prefabricated sheds as more in keeping with their business model than a mansion. "I paid 185,000 for Donington Hall 20 years ago," he says. "It was probably cheaper than their [Easyjet's] tin hut in Luton. But because it's a nice symbol, people don't let the facts get in the way."

Yes, sir, Captain.
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Old February 12th, 2005, 02:38 AM   #23
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US boost for UK regional airports
12 February 2005
The Independent

NORTH AMERICA will be easier to reach from regional airports this summer. Continental Airlines continues its expansion from UK airports with the launch, on 20 May, of flights from Bristol to Newark, New Jersey. A week later, Belfast will also be linked to the east-coast city. Besides offering easy access to New York, Newark has connections across the US and into Canada and Mexico. On 2 May, Continental restarts its summer- only flight from Gatwick to Cleveland.

American Airlines is to restart its Glasgow-Chicago and Manchester-Boston links on 2 May, continuing until 30 September and 29 October respectively. The Manchester service is an economy-only flight.

From June, Zoom adds Belfast to its UK regional network, with a weekly scheduled flight to Toronto.
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Old February 17th, 2005, 03:36 PM   #24
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UK Air Traffic Glitch Delays Some Flights
17 February 2005

LONDON (AP)--An air traffic control glitch caused some flight delays in Britain on Wednesday.

National Air Traffic Services said it had discovered the problem in its West Drayton flight processing center at 6:30 p.m. local time (1830 GMT) Tuesday and fixed it by 7:03 p.m. (1903 GMT). It said it didn't know the cause of the trouble.

Controllers temporarily restricted the number of aircraft entering U.K. air space and taking off from U.K. airports.

The service said safety hadn't been compromised, but it regretted inconvenience caused to travelers.

A Heathrow Airport spokesman said there could still be some delays of about an hour, but the backlog should be eliminated quickly.
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Old February 18th, 2005, 11:01 PM   #25
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Court ruling on UK government's airport policy welcomed by BAA
18 February 2005
Airline Industry Information

British airports operator BAA plc said on 18 February that it welcomed a High Court ruling on the UK government's airport development policy for southeast England.

The judicial review supported the government's White Paper on Air Transport and plans for a new runway at London's Stansted Airport, while rejecting certain challenges to the policy of seeking ways to make best use of the capacity of Heathrow, BAA said.

The court also stated however that people living near Stansted must have a say over the precise location and land used for the runway.

BAA said that the judgement would allow it to "press ahead with exploring ways to achieve better use of Heathrow's existing two runways, planning a new runway at Stansted, and examining the feasibility of a third runway at Heathrow."
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Old February 19th, 2005, 06:31 PM   #26
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Runway ruling to delay Stansted expansion
Andrew Clark - Transport correspondent
19 February 2005
The Guardian

The government's plans to turn Stansted airport into one of Europe's biggest international hubs face a potentially lengthy delay following a high court judgment that ministers acted illegally in prescribing the location of a new runway.

Mr Justice Sullivan ruled yesterday that the transport secretary, Alistair Darling, had short-circuited the planning process by publishing a map showing the precise position of an extra landing strip at the Essex airport.

To the relief of the government, the judge stopped short of entirely throwing out Mr Darling's policy on aviation, refusing to support a claim that the commercial viability of new runways was flawed.

The ruling is the first time a white paper has fallen foul of a judicial review. It left the government with the embarrassing prospect of paying a six-figure sum for the legal costs of Essex's Conservative-controlled county council. The judge also criticised a senior government official for failing to tell "the whole truth".

Stansted is central to the government's policy of expanding airports to cater for the appetite for cheap flights. Mr Darling announced in Decem ber 2003 that the airport's capacity was to go from 25 million passengers annually to a maximum 82 million by 2030.

The judgment is likely to mean that a new runway will undergo scrutiny at a planning inquiry, of a length and at a level of detail Mr Darling was keen to avoid. It will hearten campaigners at other airports including Heathrow, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Essex county council's leader, Lord Hanningfield, said it could push back the opening date of a new landing strip at Stansted from 2012 to 2016.

"The government has got to go right back to the drawing board. They will have to think again on whether Stansted is the best site in the south-east for a new runway," he said.

The judge also ruled that Mr Darling over-reached his powers by giving the green light for an expanded runway at Luton without consulting local people.

Government officials insisted that the defeats, on two out of four challenges, would make little difference.

Speaking on Radio 4's World at One programme, Mr Darling said he accepted that the "exact position" of a runway should be "a matter for a local inquiry".

"What we were trying to do in the white paper is to set out a strategic direction for air transport over the next 30 years. The judge was specifically asked to quash that; he rejected it, as indeed he rejected the arguments against expansion at Heathrow."

One of Mr Darling's officials, Mike Fawcett, was criticised for his reluctance to reveal grave doubts at the Treasury.

Mr Justice Sullivan said government officials "should remember that their obligation to tell the truth to the court does not mean that the court need only be told so much of the truth as suits the department's case, and that inconvenient parts of the truth may be omitted from their evidence".
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Old February 23rd, 2005, 05:54 PM   #27
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Treasury doubts over Stansted runway
Michael Harrison
23 February 2005
The Independent

SERIOUS DOUBTS about the financeability of a second runway at Stansted airport have been raised in Treasury papers released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The papers, submitted in confidence to a High Court hearing last year, reveal the Treasury is "concerned about the potential for serious delay" to the new runway unless it is cross-subsidised by the users of London"s other two main airports, Heathrow and Gatwick.

If the runway is built on a "stand-alone" basis and funded only by airlines using Stansted, which is currently the Government"s preferred option, then peak-time passenger charges might have to increase almost fivefold to £16 per flight, the documents add. The Treasury believes this could result in a "high degree of revenue risk" because the owner of Stansted, BAA, might not be able to force the low-cost airlines who predominantly use the airport to pay such a big increase.

According to the documents, there was agreement between the Treasury, the Department for Transport and the Civil Aviation Authority that the new runway could be built in time to open in 2011-12 provided there was a "system approach" to financing, using the pooled revenues from all three London airports. "There is collective agreement between DfT, HMT and CAA that we cannot state categorically that a new runway at Stansted is not financeable on a stand-alone basis but due to the higher degree of revenue risk, BAA could choose to delay the development to allow the financing situation to improve," the document says.

Ryanair, the biggest operator at Stansted, is already leading a high- profile campaign against the cost of the new runway, arguing it could be built for a tenth of the price quoted by BAA.

But BAA will face an equally big outcry from airlines based at other airports if it tries to cross-subsidise Stansted from landing charges paid by passengers at Heathrow and Gatwick.

The Treasury documents are based on a construction cost for the new runway of £2.6bn. BAA"s latest cost estimate is between £1.7bn and £2bn, which is says would be enough to pay for the second runway, additional terminal facilities and new road and rail links into the airport.
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Old February 24th, 2005, 08:00 PM   #28
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British Airways increases capacity on service to Israel
24 February 2005
Airline Industry Information

British Airways has announced that it is increasing its capacity to Israel by 6%.

The airline said that the load factor on its London-Tel Aviv route was about 90% in economy class and 75% in business class. Such high load factors are a result of optimism over the resumption of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, said a company spokesperson.

British Airways is reportedly investing about GBP3m to upgrade the Israel route, out of GBP600m worldwide.
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Old February 24th, 2005, 08:11 PM   #29
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BA reveals new-look flight to Tel Aviv
AVI KRAWITZ
23 February 2005
The Jerusalem Post

British Airways (BA) is upgrading its Tel Aviv route, introducing a new breakdown of passenger gradings within its Boeing 767 plane, the company said Tuesday.

The airline's first flight using the new system is slated for April 18, and will feature 24 "Club World" seats for its highest premium traveler, a further 24 seats in its "World Traveler Plus" section and 141 "World Traveler" seats, representing an increase of 6 percent on its passenger capacity.

BA currently flies with 134 economy-class, 36 business-class and eight first-class seats.

BA's commercial manager covering Israel, David Rousham, said at a press conference in Tel Aviv that the airline had decided to cancel its first-class service on the Tel Aviv route due to insufficient demand.

Instead, Rousham revealed the new look Club World product, which has undergone renovation over the last month and will include its featured flat bed extending 183 cm., entertainment and in-seat laptop connection, newly designed seating, upgraded catering and access to departure and arrivals lounges. The 24 seats in the World Traveler Plus option will also offer the flat beds.

The company said that the transition to the upgraded planes would be gradual and that by the summer all of its 14 weekly flights from Ben-Gurion Airport would be on the upgraded 767s.

BA was not able to provide a final price list for the Club World and World Traveler Plus classes, but said that its World Traveler option would remain at $534 including taxes.
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Old February 25th, 2005, 02:20 PM   #30
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No-frills airlines help passenger numbers to double in 14 years
Environmental fears at rapid growth in cheap flights
JAMES REYNOLDS
ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT



THE number of passengers flying from Scotland’s five largest airports has more than doubled since 1990, according to new figures from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

The biggest growth has been in scheduled services to Europe, where the 1993 "open skies" policy has led to dramatic growth among no-frills airlines, such as EasyJet and Ryanair.

With a total of 8.5 million passengers, Glasgow remains the third biggest UK regional airport, after Manchester and Birmingham.

However, Edinburgh, just behind in fourth place, has seen the biggest increase over the past 14 years, from 2.5 million to eight million passengers.

International scheduled routes from Scotland have also rocketed, from just ten to 40 over the same period. The biggest increase has been at Prestwick, where such routes have gone from none to 12.

Edinburgh has slightly more international scheduled passengers than Glasgow - 1.7 million versus 1.6 million - but Glasgow has more charter passengers.

A similar growth rate is reported elsewhere in the UK, although some airports have been particularly strong.

The number of international scheduled passengers at Bristol, Liverpool and Nottingham has increased by more than 1,000 per cent.

Harry Bush, the Civil Aviation Authority’s economic regulation group director, said the expanded networks demonstrated a "much richer set of travel choices for customers".

However, the expansion drew criticism from environmental organisations. A spokesman for the Green Party said: "Scotland needs a balanced approach to aviation because of the impact on climate change that such travel has. The Scottish Executive appears quite happy to let it run out of control and expand with little regard for this.

"Lifeline flights are OK, but short-haul flights where rail travel is a real alternative are a worry."

Malcolm Robertson, the head of public affairs for BAA Scotland, which operates Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports, said: "The growth in air transport in Scotland is good for the economy and demonstrably good for Scottish jobs. Our airports alone support somewhere in the region of 32,000 jobs directly and indirectly, as well as contributing more that £1.5 billion to the economy each year.

"We do have a duty to the environment and to the Scottish public to develop the airports and grow them in a responsible way - there is certainly not a growth-at-any-cost attitude."
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Old February 28th, 2005, 02:11 AM   #31
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BA enlists Darling's help over cost of flight turned back by US
BY PATRICK HENNESSY Political Editor
27 February 2005
The Sunday Telegraph

BRITISH AIRWAYS is demanding an estimated $1-million in compensation from the United States after one of its flights was turned back to London because a passenger was on a list of suspected terrorists. The airline claims that there was no evidence that the passenger, who was released without charge, was a terrorist and that the order to return to London was unnecessary and a mistake. Rod Eddington, BA's chief executive, has enlisted the help of Alistair Darling, the Transport Secretary, in his effort to get the Americans to repay a substantial amount of the costs incurred as a result of the US decision. Mr Darling's officials have promised that the Government will do what it can to help BA, but have also said that they are reluctant to do anything that could be seen to undermine the US-led war on terrorism.

The controversy centres on an incident last month when a BA 175 flight from Heathrow to New York's John F Kennedy Airport, which had 239 passengers on board, was turned back to Britain three hours into its journey. A spokesman for the US Transportation Security Administration said that a male passenger, of North African origin and travelling on a French passport, was a " positive match with an anti-terrorism watch list" . Inquiries by The Sunday Telegraph have revealed that a major dispute between US authorities and British Airways broke out while the flight was airborne, with the airline insisting that the man was not on any banned list that it had. At one point, US aviation officials threatened to escort the aircraft into an American airport with military jets. BA refused to endorse such action on the ground that it would alarm passengers, and eventually agreed to return to Heathrow where the man was met by police. He was later released without charge. The US government continued to insist that the unnamed passenger had been on a list of those barred from flying because of suspected terror links. Washington maintained that BA did not have the latest version of the list. A British Airways spokesman said that the flight had returned to Heathrow after the airline received a " request" from US officials saying that a passenger could not be allowed to land in New York. " There was no threat to the safety of the aircraft," the spokesman said. However, The Sunday Telegraph understands that the attitude of senior US officials enraged Mr Eddington and convinced him to urge the Government to intervene by trying to use the strength of its relationship with President Bush's administration to win compensation. A letter from British Airways was sent to Mr Darling earlier this month, but so far there has been no breakthrough in the compensation battle. A senior Whitehall official said: " Eddington is spitting feathers over this incident but it's a very delicate one both for us and for the Americans. " Of course there is a great annoyance at BA about what happened and we understand where they are coming from about compensation, but they in turn must know that the Amercians, in a post-9/11 climate, take any perceived terror threat incredibly seriously, and nobody can blame them for it. " Yes, we are talking to the Americans about it and trying to work with them to get to a solution, but we are absolutely not going to do anything heavy handed. We work extremely closely with them over aviation seccurity. We have enormous sympathy with them and the way they are trying to act after 9/11." This month British Airways announced that pre-tax profits for the last three months of 2004 had fallen from pounds 125-million to pounds 75-million. However, the City was pleased by the figures, with the slump largely accounted for by rising fuel costs. Turnover increasd over the period by 4.3 per cent to pounds 1.97-billion. The January incident followed other examples of flights being disrupted or cancelled because of terrorist-related scares, many of them involving aircraft bound for New York or Washington from Europe. Last September the singer Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, was removed from a United Airlines London-to-Washington flight because of suspected links to terrorists, a claim that he has strongly denied.
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Old February 28th, 2005, 05:22 PM   #32
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Snow disrupts flights at Heathrow
28 February 2005
Airline Industry Information

Heavy snow forced British Airways to cancel 54 flights from London's Heathrow Airport on Friday morning (25 February).

Short-haul flights to destinations including Manchester, Edinburgh, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Copenhagen, Zurich and Geneva had to be cancelled, said an airline spokesperson.

The weather conditions improved later and no further cancellations were expected.
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Old March 1st, 2005, 06:38 PM   #33
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Prestwick cover-up bid makes a good Sunday Mail scoop grate Media watch
27 February 2005
Sunday Herald

PRESTWICK Airport was left with egg on its face last week after a Sunday Mail expose on its security.

Not only did reporter David Taylor manage to crawl under a security barrier at the airport, cross a runway and spend several minutes under a jet full of passengers bound for Florida, but the airport also offered not to make a police complaint if the paper killed the story.

Instead, the Sunday Mail published this offer in excerpts of a conversation between news editor Brendan McGinty and airport press officer Alan Clark, which included Clark confirming the offer was sanctioned by chief executive Steven Fitzgerald.

Early this week, the airport put out a release saying "claims that the airport offered to not go to the police are untrue".

But later Clark clarified to MediaWatch that Fitzgerald had sanctioned such an offer.

He claims police were informed about the breach as soon as Prestwick knew about it, and Fitzgerald would have recommended they didn't press charges if the story wasn't printed. Far from wanting to avoid embarrassment and lose money, they were trying to avoid undue traveller concern.

Ah, the wonders of PR.
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Old March 2nd, 2005, 05:46 PM   #34
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British Airways Puts Focus Back on Service
Passengers Take Precedence As Competition Intensifies, Cost-Cut Options Dry Up

By Daniel Michaels
2 March 2005
The Wall Street Journal Europe

LONDON -- After five years of retrenchment and crisis management, British Airways PLC is again concentrating on wooing passengers.

The world's largest international airline by traffic, BA has been aggressively cutting costs since before the sector's struggles after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. But cost cutting is no longer coming as easily as it had, and some industry observers question whether the carrier has cut too far. Meanwhile, competition is heating up on its key long-haul routes, with foreign carriers -- including U.S.-based UAL Corp.'s United Airlines, Air France-KLM and Dubai-based Emirates Group -- looking to boost their presence in those markets.

Now, in a new two-year business plan that Chief Executive Rod Eddington unveiled to BA staff yesterday, the carrier is placing renewed emphasis on building its brand and improving service for fliers. BA hopes the enhanced amenities will help it maintain a competitive edge -- especially with high-paying business- and first-class passengers -- as U.S. rivals compete mainly by slashing fares. "Successful carriers will only stay successful because they continue to change and innovate," Mr. Eddington said in an interview.

As part of its new plan, BA expects to improve its long-haul first- and business-class offerings, both of which were the first to offer fully flat bed-seats. BA is also looking at improving offerings on its European short-haul network. In addition, the airline plans to consolidate its operations in London's Heathrow Airport to become more efficient and to improve passengers' experiences there. Expenditures for these efforts haven't yet been set.

BA plans to continue its aggressive cost-cutting efforts because, like carriers around the globe, it faces a glut of seats and growing competition from budget airlines. Its moves, along with a focus on long-haul traffic that is less hotly contested than ultracompetitive short-haul flights, have helped bolster its profitability despite dropping fares. As part of BA's cost savings, it has reduced its head count by 13,000 jobs since 2001, to roughly 46,000 employees today.

In its most recent fiscal quarter, the third quarter ended Dec. 31, net profit slid 41% to GBP 49 million (71.2 million euros), or 4.6 pence a share, on fuel costs and declining average fares in both Europe and on trans-Atlantic routes. During the quarter, its yield, or revenue per passenger kilometer flown, fell 1.9% to GBP 6.20. But the carrier also forecast a rise in revenue of as much as 3.5% for the full year through March 31, 2005, and many analysts predict a sizable rise in net profit.

Meanwhile, BA is finding cost cuts increasingly difficult. In 2001, Mr. Eddington announced plans to trim GBP 650 million from BA's cost base, which then stood at GBP 8.6 billion annually. Two years later, he raised that objective by GBP 450 million and last year targeted an additional GBP 300 million in savings on labor costs. BA says it beat its first GBP 650 million goal by more than GBP 200 million.

But Mr. Eddington several weeks ago said slow contract talks mean the labor-cost savings will take one year longer to achieve than planned. He conceded that reworking some labor practices and agreeing to a new contract with cabin staff is taking longer than he hoped but added that he had set "very ambitious" targets for transforming the airline. "You don't restructure a business by setting modest targets," Mr. Eddington said.

Some observes now wonder if BA has cut too close to the bone. In August, it faced chaos during the peak tourist season because of staff shortages. Morgan Stanley equity analyst Penelope Butcher wrote in a recent report that staff cuts have "recently come back to haunt BA." Mr. Eddington said the issue of how deep to cut is "an entirely legitimate question and a proper challenge to any business." He said a priority now is to rework business practices for greater efficiency, not just cut jobs.

Mr. Eddington said that, in addition to cost cuts, the new business plan also focuses on investing in new products and staff and preparing for major improvements at BA's London hub. The carrier didn't set new savings goals or specify targets for revenue and profit performance for the two-year plan.

In one of the biggest changes for BA in many years, the carrier plans to relocate in 2008 to a giant new terminal building at Heathrow Airport. The move will allow BA for the first time to consolidate under one roof operations that are now spread among three overstretched terminals and other airport facilities. Mr. Eddington said the move to Heathrow Terminal 5, which is under construction, will allow BA to offer passengers more services while also reducing costs.

BA has suffered, compared with its rivals in Europe and around the world in recent years, because its Heathrow hub operation is inefficient and expensive to run. Passenger transfers between terminals take far longer than at a single terminal, while baggage must be handled twice, adding cost and complexity. BA in 1999 began scaling back its network partly as a result of the cost of operating at Heathrow.

The move to Terminal 5 will give BA a fresh start through which to simplify operations. The consolidation is "a move of such importance to us," said Chief Financial Officer John Rishton. "It's where a large focus of our attention will be over the next three years."

BA aims to complete plans for the move by the end of 2006, although Heathrow operator BAA PLC won't finish the GBP 6.1 billion project's satellite buildings until at least 2010. That means BA will face a squeeze for its first two years in the new buildings.

The shift to Terminal 5 and measures to "take advantage of the terrific new terminal facilities" will be a major catalyst for change within BA, Mr. Eddington said. BA's preparations will form a big part of the new business plan, he said. The business plan also will be the centerpiece of presentations when top BA executives meet with fund managers on March 10 for the company's annual investor day.

Mr. Rishton said "there is a misconception we haven't invested in product." He said that although BA hasn't ordered new aircraft or redone its cabin interiors in several years, it has improved airport lounges, installed self-check-in kiosks at many airports and made its Web site customer-friendly. Improvements to some of its aircraft cabins are to be announced this year.
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Old March 4th, 2005, 01:22 AM   #35
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Roundup: Airlines: Buoyant bmi bucks oil price rise
Mark Milner
3 March 2005
The Guardian

UK airline bmi ended a two-year losing streak in 2004, clocking up pre-tax profits of some pounds 2.1m despite higher fuel prices. In 2003 the airline group made a loss of almost pounds 10m.

Bmi, controlled by Sir Michael Bishop, acknowledged that it was still about pounds 4m in the red at the operating level but said it had been boosted into the black by minorities and by net interest of around pounds 3.5m.

Sir Michael said that bmi had, like all airlines, been hit by a "sidewinder" in the form of higher fuel prices. Net of hedging, the increase in fuel prices had cost the company around pounds 11m - though some of that had been recouped via a passenger surcharge.

Passenger numbers increased by 11% to 10.5 million, while the group was achieving greater than expected savings through its "Blue Sky" programme which includes greater use of self-service check-ins. The group said transport secretary Alistair Darling had upheld a decision to allow bmi to begin flights from Heathrow to Mumbai - details of which would be announced shortly.
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Old March 4th, 2005, 01:23 AM   #36
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BA passenger numbers up but market still tough
By Michael Smith

LONDON, March 3 (Reuters) - British Airways Plc reported slightly higher passenger numbers in February as lucrative first and business class travel continued to recover, but the company said pressure remained on fares.

BA, Europe's second largest airline, said passenger traffic in February - one day shorter than in the 2004 leap year - rose 1.4 percent and premium travel climbed 6.8 percent.

"It is a continuation of past months where we have a seen a reasonable premium performance and an overall load factor improvement," BA head of investor relations George Stinnes told reporters on a conference call.

BA shares were down 0.2 percent at 275-3/4 pence at 1536 GMT but outperformed most other major European airlines, which fell as oil prices hit fresh four-month highs.

Stinnes said he expected premium traffic to stabilise at levels similar to the February numbers, but added that market conditions remained unchanged as stiff competition puts the squeeze on ticket prices.

"Business continues to be tough and one is fighting for every passenger," he said.

BA said it carried 7.82 million passengers in February, compared with 7.71 million a year earlier.

Its February load factor - an indication of how many seats were filled on flights - rose two points to 70.8 percent from a year ago.

Low-cost rival Ryanair earlier reported a 13 percent increase in February passengers to 2.12 million.

Record fuel prices almost halved BA's third-quarter profits, but the carrier raised its forecasts for revenues to improve 3.0 to 3.5 percent in the year to the end of March.

BA has been forced to cut fares amid tough competition from low-cost rivals, and it has added fuel surcharges to partly offset high oil prices.

A continuing improvement in premium travel in recent months has helped offset some of the damage, but the company remains cautious on yields - average revenues per passenger.

BA holds an annual investor day next week when it is expected to comment on its expectations for the next financial year ending-March 2006 for the first time.
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Old March 4th, 2005, 02:11 AM   #37
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it's good to see that most of the news are pretty good, specially from the UK countryside cities that are growing faster and earning new routes.




about London the new Heathrow terminal looks pretty nice, and as some routes are cutted others are established, so that's good.
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Old March 5th, 2005, 05:17 AM   #38
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Aberdeen airport to open 24 hours
4 March 2005
Airline Industry Information

The councillors of Aberdeen, Scotland have voted to allow the city's airport to remain open 24 hours a day.

The application from the airport management was reportedly approved by a narrow majority and will end the current 2330 closing time of the airport. The closing of the airport at night has caused disruption for scheduled flights and for British Airways alone it has meant 38 flights being cancelled or diverted to other airports over the past two years, the online edition of The Scotsman reported.

The airport management also revealed that two budget airlines have been waiting to start discussions regarding flights to and from the airport as a result of the decision.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 12:17 AM   #39
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Black ice and more snow bring chaos, but a thaw is on horizon
Liz Chong
5 March 2005
The Times

SUB-ZERO temperatures, heavy snowfalls and power failures made thousands of people across the country stay at home yesterday.

Airports had to cancel and delay flights because of snow-blanketed runways and motorists encountered traffic chaos as major roads were closed by police.

Temperatures dropped as low as -8.5C (16F) in Redhill, Surrey, and areas of Kent experienced their thirteenth consecutive day of snow. London was among the hardest hit.

Forecasters gave warning of more snow during the weekend before a thaw early next week.

Schools across the country stayed closed yesterday and many parents joined their children at home to avoid the treacherous commute to work.The poor driving conditions claimed the life of a 19-year-old man early on Thursday morning after an accident on the M2.

Police are also investigating the death of Shelley Whitfield, 21, who is believed to have frozen to death as she walked home in Co Durham on Tuesday night. Her body was discovered in a snow-covered field. A care assistant in her fifties is seriously ill in a Dorset hospital after she was overcome by hypothermia on Wednesday evening. She lay on a common for 18 hours before being discovered.

British Airways cancelled 44 flights at Heathrow and other European airports yesterday, while Luton and Stansted airports closed in the morning as runways were cleared of snow and aircraft de-iced. Motorists in Kent encountered black ice on roads and stretches of the M20 were closed to allow lorries to queue for Channel crossings. Cars were diverted on to the A20.

A Network Rail spokesman said no lines had been closed but added that services were running slower, especially in the South East and East Anglia.

In Kent, where snowstorms in the past two days have left some areas under 8in (20cm) of snow and some villages without electricity, pupils started returning to school.

The Met Office is predicting that the country will return to more familiar rainy weather next week.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 05:48 PM   #40
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Sunday March 6, 7:51 PM
UK PRESS: BA CEO Rod Eddington To Leave Airline In Summer

LONDON (Dow Jones)--British Airways PLC (BAY.LN) Chief Executive Rod Eddington is set to leave the flagship U.K. airline as early as this summer, said the Sunday Times and Observer newspapers.

He will leave this summer to return to his native Australia and concentrate on his three non-executive directorships, the newspapers said.

The exact timing will depend on BA Chairman Martin Broughton finding a suitable successor.

The Observer said the three potential candidates are Cathay Pacific (0293.HK) Chief Operating Officer Tony Tyler, James Hogan who runs Gulf Air and the former head of Aer Lingus (AEL.YY) Willie Walsh.

"We haven't announced anything and are not in a position to announce anything," said BA spokesman Paul Parry. "We don't know when Rod Eddington is going to leave BA, if he is at all. In terms of the possible replacements, anyone could come up with that list, it's a who's who of the aviation industry," he said.
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