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Old March 9th, 2005, 05:19 PM   #41
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British Airways names Willie Walsh as new chief executive

LONDON, March 8 (AFP) - British Airways announced Tuesday the appointment of Irishman Willie Walsh, the former chief executive of Aer Lingus, as replacement to BA's departing chief executive Rod Eddington.

Australian Rod Eddington, 55, would leave the British flag carrier at the end of September, while Walsh would join BA on May 3 and become chief executive following Eddington's departure.

Willie Walsh -- a 43-year-old former pilot -- resigned his post at Irish airline Aer Lingus at the end of January.

"Willie has an outstanding reputation in the airline industry around the world for the way in which he transformed the fortunes of Aer Lingus from a high-cost underperforming carrier into a successful and profitable entity," said BA chairman Martin Broughton.

Rod Eddington -- whose departure has been on the cards for several months -- arrived at BA in May 2000 and has taken the airline through one of the most testing periods in its history.

He steered BA through the slump in air travel following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in Washington and New York, the war in Iraq and the Asian SARS crisis.

"Many commentators have rightly said that Rod Eddington will be a hard act to follow but I am completely confident that in Willie we have captured the very best person for the job," Broughton added.

"Rod has performed miracles at BA and he will leave us with the best wishes of the board, the workforce and our shareholders."
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Old March 10th, 2005, 12:10 AM   #42
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Manchester Airports Group says Feb traffic up 6.14 pct
09 March 2005

LONDON (AFX) - Manchester Airports Group (MAG), the UK's second largest airport operator after BAA PLC, said its four airports handled 1.7 mln passengers in February, an underlying increase of 6.14 pct when the fact that 2004 was a leap year is taken into account.

MAG, which is local authority owned, comprises airports at Manchester, Nottingham East Midlands, Humberside and Bournemouth.

The group has handled 27.1 mln passengers over the last 12 months, an increase of 6.5 pct over the previous 12 months.

Earlier, BAA PLC, operator of seven UK airports including Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, said it handled 9.6 mln passengers in February, an underlying increase of 4.8 pct.
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Old March 10th, 2005, 12:12 AM   #43
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BAA Feb Traffic Up 0.8% On Yr
09 March 2005
Edited Press Release

LONDON (Dow Jones)--BAA said Wednesday that its U.K. airports handled 9.6 million passengers in February, an increase of 0.8% over the same month last year.

The underlying trend is distorted by the additional leap year day in 2004. Stripped of the extra day, the underlying increase for February 2005 is 4.8%.

On the same like-for-like basis, excluding the extra day in 2004, key markets performed well. The strongest growth was on Other Long Haul routes where traffic increased 9.5% while North Atlantic markets added 5.1%.

Low cost travel continued to benefit Irish and European scheduled routes with Irish traffic growing 8.6% and European scheduled traffic rising 5.4%. Domestic traffic grew 1.3% while European charter traffic continued to decline, falling 4.4% against the previous year.

On a like-for-like basis, Heathrow was up 3.3%, while Gatwick's strong scheduled markets offset the weak European charter market to provide an overall increase of 9.5%. Stansted rose by 4.0% and Southampton by 2.2%.

In Scotland like-for-like results showed strong scheduled traffic offset weak charter markets to give an overall increase of 4.3%. Glasgow's like-for-like result was 3.7% higher, while Edinburgh was up 3.2% and Aberdeen up 9.8%.

In total, air transport movements at BAA airports increased 3.1% on a like-for-like basis (0.1% lower when compared against a 29 day February 2004), while cargo tonnage increased 1.3% (2.7% lower against a 29 day February 2004).
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Old March 10th, 2005, 03:44 PM   #44
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British airline bmi to fly to Saudi Arabia
10 March 2005

LONDON (AP) - British airline bmi PLC said Thursday it will start flying from London to Saudi Arabia this summer.

The announcement came two months after British Airways PLC said it was stopping flights to the Middle Eastern nation for commercial reasons.

The bmi flights will leave from London's Heathrow Airport for the Saudi capital Riyadh three times a week from the middle of the summer, the airline announced. The carrier mostly operates internal flights and services to Europe, North America, the Caribbean and South Africa.

BA said in January it would suspend flights between Heathrow and the Saudi cities of Jeddah and Riyadh from March 27 because of reduced passenger demand.
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Old March 10th, 2005, 03:45 PM   #45
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BAA lifted as winter fares lure passengers
Angela Jameson
10 March 2005
The Times

A WINTER price war between airlines contributed to a 4.6 per cent increase in air traffic last month at airports operated by BAA.

About 9.6 million passengers passed through airports such as Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted last month as the airlines fought to attract passengers.

Long-haul travel to destinations outside North America was the best performer -up 9.5 per cent -as the booming economies of Asia and the Middle East encouraged more business travel.

Budget flights to European destinations were also popular.

The strong passenger figures were in line with those reported by the low-cost airlines easyJet and Ryanair and those announced for February by British Airways.

BAA has flagged slower passenger growth in its next financial year, which begins in April, as the rate of new people travelling falls from recent highs.

BAA said in January that its performance in the three months to the end of March, its fourth quarter, would hinge on how aggressively airlines marketed cheap fares and competed over the Easter holiday this month.

All BAA's airports recorded gains, with Heathrow up 3.3 per cent, Gatwick rising 9.5 per cent and Stansted adding 4 per cent on an underlying basis.

BAA's three Scottish airports saw a like-for-like increase of 4.3 per cent to 1.26 million passengers, while traffic through Southampton airport rose by 2.2 per cent to 109,100.

A price war on budget travel to the Irish Republic, after easyJet launched new flights to the home turf of rival Ryanair, helped traffic to accelerate by 8.6 per cent last month.
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Old March 13th, 2005, 12:21 AM   #46
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A whiff of Wapping? British Airways
12 March 2005
The Economist

The man who rescued Aer Lingus becomes boss of British Airways

BRITAIN'S newspaper industry changed for the better when Rupert Murdoch broke a labour stalemate by moving the Times from London's Fleet Street to Wapping, a new site in the city's Docklands. The move, a mere few miles, was more symbolic than geographic. It enabled the Times to leave behind the over-manning and ancient working practices that had brought most of the country's national newspapers to their knees. Other newspaper proprietors soon followed. Will British Airways (BA) “do a Wapping” as it moves its operations at London's Heathrow airport to Terminal Five when it opens in 2008?

That may be the message behind BA's choice this week of a new, young chief executive. Willie Walsh (pictured), aged 43, a former pilot, made his name by converting Aer Lingus from a deadbeat, state-owned flag-carrier into a profitable low-cost airline. He slashed costs, cutting one-third of the Irish airline's workforce. BA has already shed more than 13,000 jobs since 2001 and cut costs by £1 billion ($1.9 billion) a year. But the departing chief executive, Rod Eddington, wants another £300m squeezed from running costs in the next couple of years (details were being outlined to investors as The Economist went to press).

Last year a team of BA executives spent months studying how to change working practices, and when. Mr Eddington, who hands over to Mr Walsh in September, concluded that, ideally, the changes should be made before moving to Terminal Five, as the logistics of moving will be hard enough on their own.

Mr Walsh will inherit the task of changing the culture of BA's ground staff and support operations. There have been problems with absenteeism and time-keeping. The aim is to shorten aircraft turn-round times and to have a more flexible team in the terminals so that in quiet periods employees are not sitting around doing nothing. There could be more outsourcing. Change will not be easy, given the tendency of BA employees to strike. But Mr Walsh, in the words of someone who knows him well, sees airline management as constant guerrilla warfare with the unions.

BA sold its own low-cost carrier to concentrate on fighting the likes of easyJet and Ryanair by using some of their techniques (internet booking, cheap off-peak fares) in its short-haul network. Its European business went from a £300m loss to break-even, as BA's operations at Gatwick were trimmed drastically.

Mr Walsh will inherit an airline ten times the size of Aer Lingus and with a premium long-haul business as well as short-haul. Unlike Mr Eddington, his background is entirely in the public sector. Although Mr Eddington steered BA profitably through the multiple crises that all airlines have faced in the past four years, the going is still tough. American long-haul competitors and European rivals have all enjoyed huge government support; BA is subsidy-free. In the past, most of BA's profits have come from its transatlantic service. But American carriers, such as United Airlines, sheltered from creditors in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, are adding capacity and driving down prices, while many premium business passengers, since Concorde was grounded, have discovered the joys of time-sharing corporate jets.
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Old March 13th, 2005, 02:47 AM   #47
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British Airways predicts revenue growth despite rising fuel costs

LONDON, March 10 (AFP) - British Airways predicted modest revenue growth of three-four percent, despite a rise of 300 million pounds (435 million euros, 577 million dollars) in its fuel bill for 2005/2006, chief financial officer John Rishton said Thursday.

"We continue to see the modest gradual recovery of revenue that we've seen this year (to end-March 2005)," Rishton said in a teleconference.

However, fuel costs at the British flag carrier would be "about 300 million pounds" higher in 2005/06 compared with 2004/05, despite the airline being just under 50 percent hedged (for 2005) at around 37 dollars a barrel.

Airlines have tried to protect themselves against high oil prices by contracting to buy fuel at set prices.

"Fuel is the major cost head wind for us and I think for the industry next year," Rishton said.

Yields, or average fares, would remain "about flat" compared with the current year, while seat factors -- passengers as a proportion of the number of seats available -- would "continue strong", he added.

BA expected capacity to grow by three percent, reflecting an increased use of the group's fleet of aircraft.

British Airways announced last month a 40-percent fall in third-quarter profits after being hit by soaring fuel prices.

The group made a pre-tax profit of 75 million pounds in the three months to the end of December compared with 125 million pounds during the same period in 2003.

The airline's capital expenditure in 2005/06 was expected to be broadly similar to that in 2004/05 at less than 400 million pounds, while BA expects 3.0-3.5 percent growth in revenue for its fiscal year ending March 31.

Rod Eddington, BA's Australian chief executive, said the airline's operating margin for 2005 would exceed the 5.4 percent achieved the previous year -- but would remain short of their goal of a 10-percent margin.

That would require more favourable trading conditions, he said.

"I've always said that we needed at worst some still air and maybe a little bit of help," said Eddington, who will be replaced by Irishman and former Aer Lingus chief executive Willie Walsh in September.

"We still have stiff head winds on the fuel front, our second-largest cost item. We're still a long way away from still air and we don't have anything that looks like a tailwind."

The airline was meanwhile on track to deliver 450 million pounds of annual cost savings by the end of March 2005, and 300 million pounds' worth of savings by March 2006.
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Old March 13th, 2005, 05:56 PM   #48
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Eddington to place merger with Iberia in new BA boss's in-tray
Clayton Hirst
13 March 2005
Independent On Sunday

British Airways chief executive Rod Eddington has raised the prospect of a full-blown merger with Iberia sometime next year.

The airline boss, who will retire to his native Australia in September, said that a tie-up with the Spanish carrier could be one of the first big jobs for his successor, Willie Walsh, who was named last week.

But Mr Eddington said that a merger would only happen if talks between Europe and America to free up the international airline market were successful

He said: "When there is genuine liberalisation in the north Atlantic then there is a real opportunity to acquire. Iberia is well managed and well run. We have made no secret of our admiration for them. But it would be wrong to take the view that [a merger] will happen on my watch."

The current international airline rules prevent carriers changing their nationalities. With these restrictions in place, BA would be unable to buy more than 50 per cent of Iberia and merge routes as it would in effect become a British company.

In September 2003 Air France and KLM tied up, but the two airlines are still run as entirely separate businesses, so they don"t break the rules. Mr Eddington said that he saw no benefits in doing a similar deal with Iberia.

With the US presidential elections out of the way and new blood in the European Commission, there is renewed optimism that a deal can be brokered on opening up the airline market. "I hope there will be a sensible resolution this year or next," said Mr Eddington.

His successor, Mr Walsh, the former boss of Aer Lingus, will join as chief executive designate on 3 May. While BA is the world"s most profitable airline, the two men will focus on ways to cut £300m out of the company"s cost base by 2007.

Since August 2001 BA has cut 13,000 jobs, and it is now expected to make further redundancies. Mr Eddington refused to be drawn on numbers, but he said: "The process of talking to the workforce and the unions is already under way."
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Old March 16th, 2005, 06:29 PM   #49
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Heathrow workers balloted over strike
16 March 2005
Airline Industry Information

Baggage handlers at London's Heathrow Airport are being balloted on possible strikes in a dispute over contracts, the Transport and General Workers Union (TGWU) has said.

The results of the ballot by nearly 800 workers are expected to be known later this week.

The dispute at Heathrow was sparked after baggage handlers and other workers were transferred from Swissport to Aviance, which provides ground handling services. According to the TGWU 70 workers were transferred on different pay, terms and conditions from existing staff, which led to concerns about a two-tier workforce. Talks will be held on Wednesday (16 March) aimed at solving the dispute and avoiding chaos at the airport over the busy Easter period.
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Old March 17th, 2005, 05:56 PM   #50
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BA chief to advise on long-term priorities
Barrie Clement
17 March 2005
The Independent

ROD EDDINGTON, the departing chairman of British Airways, is to advise the Government on Britain"s long-term transport needs and priorities, the Chancellor revealed.

Mr Eddington, who is due to leave the airline this year, will advise on the impact of transport decisions on productivity, stability and growth and on longer-term priorities.

Officials insisted that Mr Eddington"s brief would not cut across the functions of the advisory Commission for Integrated Transport which would continue to evaluate the direct impact of schemes and how all the different transport modes fitted together.

Mr Eddington, 55, who has spent much of his career in the airline industry, plans to retire from BA in September after becoming its chief executive in April 2000.

Mr Eddington intends to spend a few months touring Devon, Cornwall, the Lake District and the Wash before returning to his native Australia early next year. Willie Walsh, a former chief executive of Aer Lingus, will take over at British Airways, Europe"s third-largest airline.

The Transport Secretary, Alistair Darling said Mr Eddington would "bring a fresh eye and business expertise" to the issue of long-term investment.

The Government has only recently updated its 10-year transport plan and officials said Mr Eddington would not be reviewing existing plans so much as bringing a fresh perspective. He would work directly with Mr Darling and Mr Brown.

Mr Eddington said: "I am excited to be asked by the Government to lead this work as I know that transport infrastructure is incredibly important to people"s lives.

"My energy and work for British Airways will be undiminished and will not conflict with my new role for the Government."

The Future of Transport White Paper published last July set out a strategy for the next 30 years following the Government"s rail review, which introduced radical changes to the structure of the industry, and the road pricing feasibility study which backed the long-term introduction of tolls.

Officials said the proposals were already being taken forward through major projects such as Crossrail, the Government"s strategic road programme, and the Railways Bill. Ministers needed to understand the long-term impact that future transport decisions would have on productivity, stability and growth.
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Old March 20th, 2005, 04:33 AM   #51
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British BA Expands Offer from Polish Krakow-Balice Airport to London
18 March 2005
Polish News Digest

British Aiways (BA) will expand its flight offer from the Polish airport Krakow-Balice to London in 2005, the company said on March 17, 2005.

BA will fly from the Krakow- Balice airport to London's airport Gatwick each weekday from the end of March 2005. BA uses a 147-seat Boeing 737-400 to fly the route.

The airline will also introduce special package for young people and will offer cheaper one-way tickets for its passengers.

Currently, BA is the sole traditional airline offering flights from the Krakow-Balice airport to London after Polish traditional air carrier PLL LOT supended its flights on the route. London is the most popular destination among travellers flying from the Krakow-Balice airport. Besides BA, three low cost carriers, Centralwings, a subsidiary of PLL LOT, Slovak SkyEurope and UK-based easyJet, offer flights from Krakow to UK. Centralwings flies to the Gatwick airport, SkyEurope to Stansted and easyJet to the Luton airport.

All carriers flying to London from the Krakow-Balice airport offer together 1,000 seats a day. BA is not afraid of rivals and despite the expansion of discount airlines in Poland, the number of BA passengers in the country increased by 15 pct year-on-year in 2004, BA said.

The cheapest return ticket, airport tax excluded, offered by BA from Poland to the UK is 380 Polish zloty ($124.4/93 euro).

www.biznespolska.pl
Source: Biznes Polska
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Old March 20th, 2005, 06:17 AM   #52
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Ryanair boss hits out over £4 billion 'marble palaces'
Tess McDermott
17 March 2005
Newsquest Media Group Newspapers

RYANAIR boss Michael O'Leary has pledged to fight all the way to the courts if necessary to stop BAA "wasting" billions on Stansted's second runway.

The chief executive of Stansted's biggest customer said: "We fully support building a second runway at Stansted. But we just won't support throwing away £4 billion on a marble palace. The airlines think they should spend £150m and no amount of time is going to convince us that wasting £3.85 billion is a good idea."

He added: "There's no prospect of a £4 billion runway being built at Stansted when most of the customers are against it. If we can't stop it at the regulatory stage then we'll oppose it at the planning stage, and if that doesn't work then I'm willing to take this fight all the way to the courts."

Mr O'Leary described the billions of pounds allocated to spend on new road and rail infrastructure to the airport as unnecessary, saying: "I have no doubt people would walk bare- foot through the fields to fly from Stansted if a new runway is built."

He said the high cost of the project would mean a doubling in airport charges and a knock-on increase in the price of passenger tickets .

He said: "People may not care now if the costs of their flights are going to go up some time in 2008-2016, so someone has to fight on their behalf."

He blamed the £4 billion price tag on a lack of competition in the industry and called on the Government to break up the monopoly which BAA has at London's three largest airports, Stansted, Gatwick and Heathrow.

He said: "If there was competition then the runway would be built for £150m and that would be that. You've got to have competition."

He denied that growing Ryanair traffic from Gatwick and Luton signalled a withdrawal from Stansted by the no-frills airline.

He said: "Stansted is our main airport for London. Stansted is stronger than ever. It's got to the stage that almost nothing we do would reduce bookings to Stansted. We're just tapping into other markets in London."

A BAA Stansted spokesman said: "While final costs of the runway project are still to be determined we broadly agree with the Government's estimates of £4 billion for an airport to serve 80 million passengers a year. This includes terminal buildings, airfield facilities and major road and rail improvements, not simply just a runway.

"We will keep the costs to a minimum and are confident we will build a runway, and its supporting infrastructure, that will represent value for money for all our airline partners, both now and in the future.

"We look forward to working with Ryanair in the future and continuing the very successful relationship that has allowed both Stansted Airport and Ryanair to become major forces within the aviation world."
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Old March 21st, 2005, 05:32 PM   #53
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British Airways expected to raise fuel surcharges
Nick Fletcher
21 March 2005
The Guardian

British Airways is likely to raise fuel surcharges on its passenger tickets within the next couple of weeks in the wake of oil prices hitting new peaks.

The increase would come after similar moves at the end of last year, and is likely to be followed by rivals such as Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic.

The BA surcharge was introduced last May and set at pounds 2.50 a flight . This was raised in October to pounds 10 for long haul flights and pounds 4 for short haul, at a time when oil was at $53 a barrel. Last week crude prices reached a record $57 despite the Opec oil producers agreeing to pump an extra half a million barrels a day, with the expectation of further production increases to come.

"We keep a close eye on the price of oil and will adjust our surcharge levels when and where it is appropriate to do so," said a spokeswoman for British Airways yesterday. It has recently raised its fuel surcharge for freight customers by 3p to 23p a kilo, and an increase of about pounds 3 on a passenger ticket is expected.

A spokesman for Virgin Atlantic said: "Fuel accounts for more than 20% of our costs and if the oil price continues at this high level we'll be actively reviewing our position.

"There have been no decisions taken one way or the other to vary the level of surcharge, but it is under review."

Earlier this month, BA warned that high oil prices will boost its fuel bill by about pounds 300m to almost pounds 1.5bn in the year to March 2006. In November the company said surcharges would recoup some pounds 160m of costs.

Despite the rising fuel costs and increasingly tough competition, British Airways is expected to report record profits of more than pounds 525m in May, the last full year figures to be announced by departing chief executive Rod Eddington.

Mr Eddington is to leave the airline in September after nearly five years, and return to his native Australia. He is being replaced by Willie Walsh, the former chief executive of Aer Lingus.
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Old March 22nd, 2005, 04:08 AM   #54
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Tories back Europe-wide tax on aviation fuel
Airlines say environment strategy will cost party votes

Andrew Clark - Transport correspondent
21 March 2005
The Guardian

The Conservatives intend to put the brakes on Britain's boom in low-cost air travel by pushing for a Europe-wide tax on aviation fuel, which could lead to as much as pounds 7 being added to the cost of airline tickets.

In an interview with the Guardian the shadow transport secretary, Tim Yeo, outlined environmental measures that will alarm airlines.

He questioned the justification for flying between London and Scotland, and said he would impose stringent financial obstacles to the construction of a new runway at Stansted airport.

Environmental organisations have long argued for a tax on aviation fuel in order to force airlines to pay for the damage they cause in harmful emissions and climate change.

Ministers from France and Germany last month suggested a Europe-wide tax of euros 300 (pounds 208) per tonne of aviation fuel, which would add between euros 5 and euros 10 (roughly pounds 3.50 to pounds 7) to every fare, with the proceeds to be channelled towards aid for Africa.

Tony Blair opposed the measure, telling MPs that he would not "slap some huge tax on cheap air travel".

In his first detailed comments on aviation policy, Mr Yeo said: "If I was in office on May 6 I would want to straight away talk to my colleagues in Europe about how we could make progress towards a fuel tax. Aviation has to take account of its environmental impact to a greater extent than it has done in the past."

His remarks were attacked by EasyJet, which said a tax would disproportionately hit travellers on a tight budget.

Its spokesman Toby Nicol said passengers already paid pounds 5 air passenger duty on every short-haul flight, which was roughly equivalent to a 100% tax on fuel.

"The idea that airlines don't pay an environmental tax already is ridiculous," he said. "Going out to the public six weeks before an election and saying, 'I want to make air travel more expensive,' is a surefire vote loser."

British Airways and other big carriers argue instead for an emissions trading scheme, under which airlines would trade "permits" for pollution.

They say this would be a better incentive towards less-polluting fuel; and they add that the objectives of a fuel tax could be foiled by airlines filling up with vast quantities of cheap fuel in the US and emitting more pollution as they carry it across the Atlantic.

Environmentalists privately suggested that the Conservatives wanted to reach out to voters in rural areas around airports, who were worried about the government's plans for runway development.

Mr Yeo's South Suffolk constituency is close to Stansted. He said he would make it difficult for BAA to expand the airport by preventing it from "cross-subsidising", using funds from Heathrow and Gatwick.

But Friends of the Earth's aviation campaigner Paul de Zylva said: "I think the public is increasingly recognising that it is absolutely absurd for airlines to get away with paying less than 20p a litre for jet fuel."

The group wants the duty to be set at the same rate imposed on petrol for motorists, which, if translated to ticket prices, would put pounds 20 on a short-haul journey and up to pounds 120 on a transatlantic flight.

Passenger numbers on flights between Britain and the rest of Europe went from 51m in 1993 to 97m in 2003.

Mr Yeo said he wanted airlines to print information about environmental emissions on every ticket. He said: "No one can say they are serious about being interested in addressing climate change without addressing aviation.

"If you are going to go from London to Glasgow the environmental impact is often less if you drive."
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Old March 23rd, 2005, 01:36 AM   #55
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BA to increase fuel surcharge due to soaring oil prices

LONDON, March 22 (AFP) - British Airways announced Tuesday that it would increase the fuel surcharge on all of its flights due to continuing high oil prices.

The increase in the surcharge -- designed to compensate for the rising cost of fuel -- would take effect from March 28, the British flag carrier said.

"Our fuel bill next year is expected to be an extra 300 million pounds. With (oil) prices continuing to rise, a surcharge increase is regrettably unavoidable," said BA's commercial director Martin George.

The surcharge on long-haul flights would rise to 16 pounds (23 euros, 30 dollars) from 10 pounds per one-way flight, while on short-haul flights it would rise to 6 pounds from 4 pounds.

It was the third time that British Airways has increased the so-called "fuel tax", first introduced in May 13, 2004, to offset the effects of rising oil prices. It has since increased twice in August and October.

In late afternoon trade, BA rose 0.85 percent to 266.5 pence, while the FTSE 100 index of leading shares added 0.08 percent to 4,937.30 points.

British tycoon Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic also announced Monday that it would raise its fuel surcharge from 10 to 16 pounds per one-way flight.

"As a longhaul carrier our fuel costs represent a higher share of our costs at current prices of around a quarter," a spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said, adding that the charges would be kept under review.

World oil prices have now more than doubled since early 2002, reaching historic high points last week as markets worried about whether crude oil supplies would be adequate to meet surging global demand.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, jumped to a fresh record of 57.60 dollars per barrel last Thursday.

And in London the same day, the price of Brent North Sea crude oil for delivery in April peaked at 56.15 dollars per barrel -- the first time it has broken the 56-dollar barrier.

BA's financial director, John Rishton, said earlier this month that the airline's fuel costs would be "about 300 million pounds" higher in 2005/06 compared with 2004/05, despite the airline being just under 50 percent hedged (for 2005) at around 37 dollars a barrel.

"Fuel is the major cost head wind for us and I think for the industry next year," Rishton said.

British Airways announced last month a 40-percent fall in third-quarter profits after being hit by soaring fuel prices.

The group made a pre-tax profit of 75 million pounds in the three months to the end of December compared with 125 million pounds during the same period in 2003.
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Old March 25th, 2005, 06:00 AM   #56
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Britons take to the skies for Easter holiday

LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - Record numbers of Britons were expected to jet away for the Easter weekend, airport operator BAA said on Wednesday, while those opting to holiday at home will likely suffer a typically British fate - cloudy skies.

The United States and Spain were among the most popular choices for some 1.9 million air travellers seeking sun and fun over the Thursday to Monday holiday period, BAA said.

Closer to home, destinations in Eastern Europe including Bratislava in Slovakia, Prague in the Czech Republic and Budapest and Hungary, were increasingly popular.

BAA said it expected Thursday to be the heaviest day of air travel with some 440,000 passengers passing through its airports, which include London's Heathrow.

Tourism chiefs said thousands more were planning cross-channel getaways to France, bringing the total number of Britons escaping for the Easter holiday to well over 2 million.

To help motorists dreading long traffic jams, the Highways Agency said it would suspend roadworks at more that 70 spots in England and delay new projects until after the holiday weekend.

Engineering work would mean delays and replacement bus services for several rail lines, however.

A Met Office spokesman said Friday would deliver the best holiday weather across the UK, with conditions generally worsening over the weekend

"While Friday will be mostly warm and sunny with above average temperatures, the weekend will see increasing cloud and rain in many parts by Monday," the spokesman said.

"Though it won't be the best holiday weather, especially compared to the good weather we've recently enjoyed, temperatures should stay at least the average across Britain," he added.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 12:48 AM   #57
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View from the top - Virgin upgrades IT for the long haul
James Watson
24 March 2005
Computing

Airline is deploying a range of technology initiatives to gain competitive advantage.

Since its launch in 1984, Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways has used innovative services focused on improving the passenger experience to differentiate from its rivals.

At the end of the 1980s, Virgin became the first airline to offer individual TV screens to passengers in business class. Today, an onboard entertainment system streams movies on demand to individual seats, for all passengers, from a central server.

'We think it's a winning formula for long-haul travel, so we continually upgrade our systems,' says IT director Simon Fox.

The airline's v:port system, already installed on 13 of its 31 planes, even lets passengers play games, such as trivia quizzes, with each other.

But IT initiatives often have to overcome competing business proposals to get the go-ahead.

'The business demands what projects are done, so IT competes against things such as new seats or planes,' says Fox.

Although the airline is excited about the prospect of in-flight wireless broadband, for instance, it baulks at the cost of providing it. While two rival technologies are gaining a grip in the market, neither are particularly cheap.

'It's coming, but it's expensive,' says Fox. 'We will innovate, but in specific areas such as passenger services, rather than in back-office functions.'

This is not to say that the airline doesn't try to be as competitive as possible. While the threat of low-cost carriers isn't as great in the long-haul market in which Virgin operates, Fox says competition on certain routes is just as intense.

'On the route between London and New York, you have Virgin Atlantic, British Airways, United Airlines and American Airlines. It's a bloodbath,' he says.

As a result, Fox is deploying a range of initiatives, from e-tickets to self-service check-in kiosks, and says the airline is already halfway through rolling out e-tickets to all passengers, and hopes to completely kill off paper ticketing in the next 12 to 18 months. 'We're pretty aggressive about this,' he says.

The more difficult step is linking its e-ticketing systems with other airlines, so if a passenger books a journey involving more than one carrier, the ticket will remain valid throughout.

Progress has already been made, with ticketing between carriers recently launched with Continental Airlines.

In the past 12 months, Virgin has also invested in an online check-in service, and recently launched self-service check-in kiosks (Computing, 20 January).

Rather than take on the expense of providing kiosks in every destination, Fox has ensured his systems are compatible with standards set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), allowing Virgin to share kiosks with other airlines in airports around the world.

'The reality is that we can't put kiosks in, say, Sydney, so being based on standards is key for our rollout,' he says.

Radio frequency identification (RFID) is another technology being watched closely by the company, although there are currently no plans for its adoption.

'RFID has the potential to revolutionise bag handling, and in due course it will happen,' says Fox. 'It's also relevant for aeroplane spares, a very taxing activity.'

Outside these processes, Fox devotes much of his attention to building better systems for communicating with the company's 8,000 staff.

'We need to modernise how we interact with our employees. The challenge is that many of our staff never come into an office, so we rely primarily on sending them letters. IT has to try to solve that problem,' he says.

Much of the technology is already in place, with a company intranet, HR self-service, and email access already online.

The remaining challenge is to add applications relevant to all staff, and to support employees that aren't comfortable online.

But the airline's transformation doesn't end there.

'We need to do more. We're at the beginning of this process, not the end,' says Fox.

'The worldwide travel system works terrifically well, but there's a big blot on check-in processes, which are based on legacy systems that we're trying to kill off.'

The big question is establishing when these legacy reservations, inventory and departure control systems can be switched to next-generation offerings from vendors such as Amadeus, SITA and Sabre.

The new systems offer a wide range of exciting features, but making a mistake with such fundamental components could bring the airline to a halt.

'Current passenger systems are based on 1960s technology, but they work fantastically well, with response times ahead of most new technology,' says Fox.

Virgin's current goal is open-ended, with a general plan to switch over sometime between 2007 and 2010.

Until then, passengers will have to make do with the airline's 64-channel entertainment system and the 300 hours of movies and television available onboard.
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Old March 27th, 2005, 07:58 AM   #58
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Busy Heathrow comes bottom for punctuality
Andrew Clark Transport correspondent
24 March 2005
The Guardian

Holidaymakers and travellers faced more frustration than ever at Heathrow last year as the international hub delivered its worst punctuality performance on record.

Just 68% of takeoffs and landings were either on time or within 15 minutes of schedule in 2004, providing ammunition for critics who say the airport is overstretched and needs a new runway.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority, punctuality for flights at airports nationwide slipped by 1% to 75% for scheduled flights and by 4% to 70% for holiday charters.

Heathrow performed worst out of Britain's 10 main international airports, with a year-on-year drop of 5%. London City came top with 82%.

Heathrow's dismal performance, its worst since CAA records began in 1992, was partly due to a staff shortage at British Airways last summer which caused the cancellation of dozens of flights and delays to hundreds more. The airport also struggled to cope with winter snowfalls and autumnal storms.

CAA figures showed the average scheduled flight at a British airport was delayed by 14 minutes, with charters put at 23 minutes late.

Passengers for Lisbon, Toronto, Warsaw, New York and Budapest suffered the worst delays on scheduled flights, while Tenerife was the worst for holiday destinations, with a third of flights late.

Regional terminals typically fared better. Among the most timely were Birmingham and Newcastle, which 80% punctuality for scheduled flights. Edinburgh scored 74% for scheduled, 67% for charter.

* A leading consumer group yesterday attacked the number of "extras" added by airlines to the price of flights. The Air Transport Users' Council said advertised fares were often misleading because they left out taxes, booking fees and charges.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 11:21 PM   #59
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New Gatwick runway plan
Dominic O'Connell
27 March 2005
The Sunday Times

BAA will this week unveil proposals for a new runway at Gatwick, Britain's second- busiest airport, as part of a 25-year master plan for the southeast hub. The airports group is barred from building a second runway at Gatwick until 2019 by a legal agreement with local councils. But last year ministers asked it to investigate construction as part of a white paper on airports policy.

BAA is expected to identify a range of options for a new runway in a consultation document to be released on Tuesday.

The proposals are likely to enrage anti-airport protesters and local residents.

The company will stress it has made no commitment, and is complying with the government's request for detailed proposals.

But BAA is also expected to reveal that it has increased the maximum number of passengers Gatwick will be able to accommodate with the current single runway.

The upper limit had been set at 40m and is likely to be raised to 45m. This increase will be achieved by a rejig of terminal buildings and the adoption of new technology that will all but eliminate check-in queues.

It is understood that BAA wants to use Gatwick to try out a number of new technologies and working practices that could greatly speed passenger throughput.

The release of the consultation document is likely to reignite the debate over runways in the southeast. Last year a long-awaited government white paper on aviation chose Stansted, another BAA airport, as the first site for a new runway in the congested region.

Another could be built at Heathrow, provided that air-quality concerns are addressed, with BAA directed to examine options for Gatwick after 2019, and to safeguard the necessary land if the Heathrow plans prove impracticable. Airport protesters have tried to overturn the white paper's findings, but the government fought off a string of judicial reviews in the High Court this year.

One of the grounds for the challenge was the financial viability of the Stansted project. Protesters argued that the low-cost carriers that dominate Stansted would refuse to pay the prices necessary to fund a new runway development.

The housebuilders Laing and Persimmon mounted a legal challenge specific to Gatwick, saying that expansion of the airport could jeopardise plans for hundreds of new homes near the airport.
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Old March 28th, 2005, 11:23 PM   #60
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Airport set for GBP50m makeover
By Martin McKeown
27 March 2005
The Express on Sunday

SCOTLAND'S biggest airport is to undergo a GBP50million expansion to create a larger main terminal.

Glasgow Airport will also have a new international pier able to take bigger planes than it can accommodate at present.

The current international wing - a single pier with arrivals and departure hall in the main building - is set for a dramatic makeover this year. Stephen Baxter, the airport's managing director, said: "We'll have a second pier within 10 years."

The airport has boomed in recent years, mostly thanks to direct links to Dubai in the Middle East, Prague and Philadelphia.

This Easter weekend alone around 109,000 people are expected to take off or land at Glasgow. Over the next 12 months, BAA will invest GBP12million.

Emirates, the Middle Eastern airline which takes passengers to Dubai and beyond, will shortly introduce an extra-large Boeing 777 on its Glasgow flights, by far the biggest plane to operate out of Scotland.
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