Airport News: Expansion, Cheap Flights, Punctuality…

Written by Kate Goldstone

Barely a day goes by without news about airports, airport hotels and airport parking coming to the fore. September 2014 is no different, with expansion plans at Gatwick and Heathrow given a high profile, excellent low cost seat offers from Ryanair at Luton airport, worrying flight punctuality issues, a political in-flight broadband rebellion in the USA and more. Here’s a run-down of the most interesting airport news items of the bunch.

Gatwick Airport

Gatwick Airport – from

Top airport news for September 2014

Airport parking tragedy spawns offensive marketing gaffe

As any good marketer will tell you, it’s a great idea to react to breaking news with a special offer or tailored message. But there’s a limit.

One airport parking reservations business was slammed recently for basing an email marketing campaign around a human tragedy. When a 55 year old man was found dead in an airport car park at Chicago O’Hare, some not-so-clever marketer decided to send an email to subscribers with the subject line, Can On-Airport Parking Kill?

Their point was that the stress of finding your way to the airport, parking and getting ready to board can kill, and may have played a part in the tragedy. The email even contained a $5 off coupon for the airport’s car parks, and added even more insult to injury by saying:

“Don’t be late and end up in a crate. Save stress and possibly anything worse by utilizing technology and reserving all your travel needs in advance.”

Ouch. Can you hear the sound of a particularly insensitive marketer’s head rolling?

Ryanair offers 100,000 seats costing from just £19.99 across its European network

Amid much fanfare, the launch of Ryanair’s Luton 2015 schedule is offering more a hundred thousand cheap flights for October, November and December 2014. The offer covers sixteen new routes including super-cheap flights to Fuerteventura, Malta and Tenerife, and the new timetable apparently supports a whopping 1300 on-site jobs at Luton airport.


Ryanair – from

According to the airline’s spokesperson Maria Macken:

“Ryanair customers in London can choose from 16 routes from Luton next summer, while enjoying allocated seating, a free second carry-on bag, reduced fees, a new website, a brand new app with mobile boarding passes, Family Extra and Business Plus.”

Flight punctuality woes at London’s big 5 airports

Britain’s flight punctuality fell in the second quarter of 2014 compared with the second quarter in 2013, bad news for passengers who have to bear the brunt of delays. At just 78% punctuality across the nation’s five biggest London airports, the latest UK Civil Aviation Authority statistics reveal flights are 3% less punctual than they were at the same time last year, when the figure was 80%. Luton fared the worst, dropping by 8%.

Big Ben clock face

Big Ben – Flight Punctuality

The study also looked at five other popular British airports, Manchester, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Glasgow and Newcastle, all of which also suffered a drop in punctuality over last year, from 84% to 81%.

What does ‘on time’ actually mean? In this case it means a flight that departs or arrives at a UK airport either early or up to 15 minutes late. The average delay identified by the study was 18 minutes, so if you’re flying from any of the airports surveyed, it’s probably a good idea to factor the extra delays into your travel plans just in case.

Air fares set to remain the same for 2015

A piece of research from the travel consultancy company Advito reveals competition between airlines is hotting up. Under the economic theory of supply and demand, it means prices are unlikely to drop. But they’re also unlikely to rise because carriers are worried that overly-rapid fare increases might damage businesses and cut consumer confidence. As a result Advito expects worldwide air fares to stay roughly in line with inflation, with some ticket prices falling but most remaining stable.

Having said that, there’s an exception. The US domestic market is experiencing price hikes in line with consolidation, which reduces competition. On the bright side for consumers, US airlines are still being relatively cautious about fare rises because they don’t want to damage demand.

Labour Party opens the door to Heathrow airport expansion

Ed Balls has said he won’t put up with any more ‘dither and delay’ over the decision about Heathrow airport expansion, which seems to signal that the party no longer completely rules the airport out. While Mr Balls is looking for a ‘rapid and final’ decision, he was careful not to express a preference for expansion at either Gatwick airport or Heathrow.

Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Airport Expansion – from

People who live near big airports suffer from noise, stress and pollution. But many commercial organisations love the idea of expansion because they believe it’ll open up communications and make it easier to do business.

Balls’ statement comes with a caveat: expanding capacity must be balanced by minimising the inevitable environmental impact. But it’s an argument that can’t be won, since a decision either way will cause issues for one interested party or another, with very strong feelings on both sides.

One woman, who suffers from cancer, says the noise from new trial flight paths being tested over Wokingham has turned her garden into a runway and keeps her awake. Apparently the noise from the planes is present all day, with only the occasional lull. The trial was already unpopular with locals because Heathrow didn’t notify the affected areas in advance.

At the same time, a YouGov poll reveals Gatwick expansion is the favourite option for British small business leaders. Given a simple choice, 42% of small business leaders chose Gatwick while 37% expressed a preference for expansion at Heathrow.

Over 50% of small business leaders said the cost of flights is their most important consideration, a figure that increases to 63% when younger business leaders aged 25 to 34 were quizzed. Another poll reveals just under 60% of Croydon residents support Gatwick’s expansion plans over Heathrow’s. It appears locals feel that the advantages of expanding Gatwick outweigh the disadvantages for them and their families, with just 23% disagreeing.

As Stewart Wingate, the CEO of Gatwick said:

“We are determined to do everything we can to minimise the impacts and maximise the benefits for local people. After listening carefully to what local people told us during the public consultation, we designed a £250 million package of pledges designed to tackle many of the concerns that were raised.”

US House of Representatives rebels against in-flight mobile broadband proposal

If you’ve ever been driven nuts by someone sitting next to you on the bus or train jabbering into their mobile phone, you’ll appreciate why eighty rebellious members of the US House of Representatives have put their foot down over a proposed Federal Communications Commission rule allowing mobile broadband technology on flights.

Inflight Broadband

Inflight Broadband – from

The rebels sent a letter to the head of the Department of Transportation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the FCC, asking for an in-depth review of the policy.

Why are they against broadband on aircraft? Apparently ‘aisle rage’ is on the increase as planes become ever-more cramped and crowded. In the third such incident in just one week, a Delta Air Lines flight had to make a sudden unscheduled landing recently because tempers were so badly frayed it was deemed too dangerous to carry on.

The political rebels believe letting people loose to make cellphone calls in such a confined space is asking for trouble. And the Chairman of the FCC Tom Wheeler, agrees. In his words:

“I get it. I don’t want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else.”

Flight attendants also feel it’s a bad idea, and applauded the politicians’ move. In their eyes mobile use on planes could be far worse than a nuisance. As Sarah Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, says, allowing broadband on aeroplanes:

“could have catastrophic effects on aviation safety and security.”

There’s something intrinsically annoying about being forced to listen to someone else’s one-sided mobile phone conversation. How would you feel about a short, medium or long haul flight where your fellow passengers were constantly talking on the phone?

Edinburgh airport enjoys one of the busiest summers… ever

It’s official. Scotland’s Edinburgh airport has just enjoyed one of the busiest summers ever. The stats come from the airport itself, which handled around 1.04 million passengers in August 2014 alone, an increase of 11% over the same time last year.

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July was extremely busy too, with almost 1.1 million travellers passing through the airport. And it appears to be a trend rather than a blip, with an overall year-on-year rise of 2.6%. Glasgow is experiencing the same hike in traveller numbers, with a 6% rise in passengers leading to 746,000 or so passengers passing through the airport’s doors in August.

Why the increase? It appears the UDO World Street Dance Championships and World Pipe Band Championships are partly responsible.

It’s your space… what would you like us to cover?

Is there anything you’d like us to write about, whether it’s airport news, airport parking, airport hotels or anything else relevant to your travel plans, habits and preferences? If so, let us know and we’ll be delighted to delve into the detail for you.


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