The festive dust has well and truly cleared, the world is back to normal and there’s plenty of strange, weird, wonderful airport news flying around about the UK’s airports.
Top UK airport news stories for January 2015
Here are a few of the best, including some sensible and useful stories as well as the stuff of pure entertainment.
Heathrow Airport Expansion – News update
Last week Heathrow airport announced record passenger numbers for 2014, up 1.4% on 2013 at a massive 73.4 million people. That’s an awful lot of passengers. Air cargo was also up, this time 5.3% on 2013, at 1.5 million tonnes. It’s no surprise really, since passenger numbers have been steadily increasing since 2010 and experts estimate Heathrow airport could potentially handle a mind-blowing 90 million passengers a year under their current capacity.
A month earlier the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heathrow and the Wider Economy released its report into Noise from Heathrow Airport. The report reveals how the government and aviation sector have ‘seriously’ underestimated the impact of noise from the airport, both present and future. It also examined the impact of a third runway.
The report contains calls for those responsible for expansion to measure noise properly using the WHO’s formula as well as a series of demands regarding the need for full information about future flight paths, respite periods, estimates of the number of people affected, population growth in affected areas and cuts in night flights. At the same time, apparently, Heathrow Airport’s CEO has confirmed that a successful third runway would open the doors to a fourth.
Both the West Windsor Residents Association and the Old Windsor Residents Association held Open Public Meetings on 20th January at Windsor Racecourse, to highlight the potentially disastrous effects of a third runway at Heathrow. The meeting featured presentations from local experts on noise, housing, transport and health, looking into the repercussions of an estimated 50% more flights, some flying over places that were previously fairly quiet and unspoiled by airport noise. Expansion may also mean 70,000 more homes for the predicted extra 112,000 employees and their families, but the region is already having difficulties coping with existing demand for more homes, schools, hospitals, doctors and improvements to transport links.
Heathrow expansion headlines this week also include damning reports about how an extra runway could ‘destroy’ Windsor and create homes ‘turmoil’. On balance it looks as though a decision to expand Heathrow is causing more disapproval and difficulty than positive reactions. If you lived near the airport, how would you feel?
Cool new routes and flight frequencies announced by UK airports
Airport expansion is in a constant state of flux. It looks like it’ll probably stay that way. But airlines are busy increasing their routes to meet public and business demand. Here are a few of the new and expanded routes on offer soon at an airport near you.
- If you regularly fly to Scotland from the south east you’ll be pleased to hear that Ryanair will be flying between London and Edinburgh more often, four times a day from winter 2015 onwards. It will particularly please the 25% of Ryanair customers who regularly travel the route on business.
- A new Glasgow/Berlin route, again from Ryanair, is set to delight travellers as the airline expands with a focus on Scotland. Flights are set to increase to five times a week, quickly expanding to daily flights between the cities. The Glasgow to Stansted route will benefit from more Ryanair flights, too.
- Ryanair also plans new routes between Edinburgh and Alicante, Frankfurt, Krakow, Malaga and Tenerife, all from autumn 2015. And the airline will be providing even more exciting new routes from Scotland as soon as a bunch of shiny new planes on order arrives from the manufacturer, Boeing.
- At the same time EasyJet, Ryanair’s arch-rival, is cutting its Gatwick to Moscow service from 13 times a week to 11 times a week, reducing the service further to daily flights from March 29th onwards.
- Leeds Bradford Airport is introducing 9 new holiday destinations for Summer 2015 through seven operators. Jet2.com and Jet2holidays are running new routes to Malta, Tunisia, Greece and Turkey. Monarch and Cosmos are offering direct flights to Naples and adding Alicante to their summer flights portfolio. Thomson and First Choice have added all-inclusive packages to Crete. Omega has kicked off a new service to Friedrichshafen and Ryanair have resurrected flights to Riga.
- New direct flights from the north east of England direct to the USA are due to be trialled before rolling out, courtesy of Newcastle Airport and United Airlines. What can passengers expect? As the Northern Echo says:
“You can take a train from (Newark Liberty International) airport and be at Penn Station within 25 minutes and then you have the centre of New York at your fingertips. As a destination for business and leisure travel it is pretty much peerless. The fact that it is non-stop is a key selling point. It means you can arrive in New York at lunchtime. There is no messing about with connections.
It also means that passengers from the North-East will be able to make 300 connections from New York, 100 of them non-stop to US cities such as Las Vegas, Houston, as well as destinations in Central and South America and the Caribbean.
The flights, on Boeing 757-200 aircraft, will start on Saturday, May 23 until September 7, and run daily, except Wednesday and Thursday, to the States, and Tuesday and Wednesday back across the Atlantic, with the outbound flight leaving Newcastle at 9.10am heading for Newark airport, near New York.”
Airport news – Thomas Cook flight diverted when passenger hit on head by falling shoe
A poorly pensioner, who was hit on the head by a shoe, forced a crowded plane bound for Birmingham airport, UK, to make an emergency landing. Hilda Holland was taken to hospital in Portugal, taken off theThomas Cook flight from Fuerteventura by stretcher. The flat shoe hit Hilda on the head when a fellow passenger opened a locker above her seat and it fell out. The plane diverted to Lisbon, where the OAP and her husband were taken to hospital and she was treated for shock.
Grubby 1st class conditions shock former BBC TV reporter
1st class isn’t always what you get. Or so found the ex-BBC TV reporter Owen Thomas, who was so disgusted by the muck on a first class British Airways flight to St Lucia that he actually committed it to film. He’d saved up for ages to enjoy his trip of a lifetime, with first class tickets to the island costing a whopping £9,000 in the peak holiday season. Even the Purser on board admitted levels of cleanliness were ‘pretty bad’.
Great news for north eastern plane-spotters
If you love plane-spotting, you’ll adore the new bar at Newcastle airport, with its splendid runway views. The bar is called Cabin and it’s designed to deliver a premium passenger experience, with its stunning island bar-inspired décor and atmospheric lighting.
If you’re feeling posh it’s perfect, partnered with big brands like Champagne Lanson, Peroni and Corney & Barrow to deliver an outstanding and truly diverse drinks list. The food sounds pretty darned good too, including salted cod croquettes, special Cabin pate, Mezze, charcuterie from a local farm and fab cheeses from Pong.
More next week…
Come back next week for more news, views and comment about everything to do with airports, from airport parking developments to new routes, gossip and crazy air travel-inspired news items.