The troubles that are hitting most airlines today are seen in another airline announcing significant job losses as Flybe has announced plans to cut 500 jobs across the business, despite reporting a return to profit. The cuts are part of an effort to make £40m of savings this year and £45m in 2014-15. These latest cuts follow on from a workforce reduction of 490 in 2012-13, with a further 100 leaving in the first half of 2013-14.

Flybe is a successful regional carrier and operates a good network of internal UK flights as well as some European destinations. The airline has fleet of 96 aircraft with 28 belonging to Flybe Finland, with whom it has a joint venture with Finnish Air called Flybe Nordic and which began operating from 30 October 2011.

The airline is has clearly had problems and although it is a major carrier in Scotland through an agreement with Loganair it is now trying to focus on shoring up its core regional bases in Southampton, Manchester, Birmingham and the Channel Islands, having recently sold its Gatwick Airport runway slots to rival  EasyJet for £20m.

Flybe is vital in the effort to improve growth outside of London; it also plays an essential role offering important flights from regional airports to connect airlines and airports providing long haul destinations.

flybe

Picture: Antony


Some people find flying difficult and travelling with children or on long haul flights can be particularly tiring or in some cases stressful.  Following a few simple tips can help reduce the tension of any flight and allow travellers to arrive at their destination relaxed and happy.

Before the flight

Arriving at the airport in plenty of time is the first step towards a hassle free flight.  Most airlines now allow passengers to check in on line in advance and some insist on it so it is important to check the guidelines when booking.  Airlines also have varying luggage allowances including the number and size of bags allowed in the cabin.  Weigh baggage in advance and check the contents of hand luggage, putting any small bottles of liquid or gel into a clear bag ready for the baggage scanners.  A quick look online will confirm the current rules about baggage contents and ensure a smooth, stress free passage through security.

On the plane

Short haul flights are fairly straightforward.  Passengers need a good book, a bottle of water and maybe a snack.  Children should be easy to entertain on a short flight and jet lag is unlikely to be a problem on arrival.  Longer flights may be more difficult and although food and drink is usually provided, passengers might want to take extra water as the recycled air can cause dehydration. Watches should be altered at the final destination to help travellers to start getting used to the time change.  Sleep where possible on overnight flights.  Herbal sleep aids can help relaxation for nervous flyers and decongestants are vital for anyone with a cold as blocked sinuses can became very painful due to the change in pressure.  Films and games help to entertain children and packing an inflatable pillow helps relaxation and sleep.


You want to plan the perfect holiday but you don’t want to break the bank buying the airfare.  What do you do?

A recent study of airline ticket transactions has revealed that if you make your purchase within six weeks of your intended travel dates, you will likely get the best price.  So, what does that mean?  On average, airfare prices at the six-week mark are about 6% less than the average fare.

Keep an eye on the airfare prices as you start shopping around.  You’ll notice that prices begin to rise dramatically about one week before the flight.  The departure date will usually have the highest price.

In addition to purchasing your tickets about six weeks in advance, here are some other ways to save money on airfare:

•    Do your research online. That means searching everyday.
•    Sign up for fare alerts from the airlines.
•    Talk to your travel mates and know their schedules so you can make the purchase right away.
•    Know the airline’s cancellation policy, just in case.
•    Commit to the holiday, not a specific destination.


When you think of alternative uses for cooking oil, using it to fill up the tank of air jet might not be your first thought, however Thomson Airways have used it to fly customers from Birmingham to Arrecife.

The airline used a mixture of waste fat and jet fuel to create a supposedly more eco-friendly service in a time where air travel is taking a hammering from environmental campaigners. Thomson’s current tests had been hampered by delay over the testing progress, it was originally meant to take place last July however the fuel only recently passed safety clearance. According to Thomson claims, the eco-friendly biofuel has the potential to reduce aviation emissions by up to 80 per cent in the future and the company aims to use biofuel across their whole fleet within the next three years.

Thomson Airways managing director Chris Browne said: “Sustainable biofuels offer us the opportunity to improve our own individual environmental performance as well as contributing to the UK’s carbon reduction target.”

Aviation minister Theresa Villiers echoes his sentiment, he said: “The British government believes that sustainable biofuels have a role to play in efforts to tackle climate change, particularly in sectors where no other viable low carbon energy source has been identified – as is the case with aviation.”

Biofuel costs a lot more than regular jet fuel, it’s made up of on a 50-50 mix of Jet A1 fuel and Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids (HEFA) fuel made from used cooking oil. This could impact prices and maybe why take-up of using this alternative fuel has been poor. Thomson owners Tui Travel hope it will help them to reduce carbon emissions by 6 per cent from 2008 to 2014.

Although Thomson state production of biofuel will create jobs in developing countries, some environmental campaigners worry that it could have an adverse effect and state the only way to cut down on aviation pollution is to cut flights, stop airport expansion and improve rail travel rather than use alternative fuels.

 

Thomson Aircraft

Thomson Aircraft

Picture courtesy of Deanster1983

 


The number of flights to the Caribbean will be cut by British Airways due to the rise of Air Passenger Duty tax. They will however be adding extra flights to Florida which although is not far away geographically does have 20 per cent lower APD.

British Airways have called for the government to scrap this unfair tax which sees UK travellers paying more than anywhere else and they say it’s a ‘destructive tax juggernaut’ and says the UK tourism industry suffers from the ‘heaviest tax burden in global aviation’.

Because of the way the tax system works BA have reduced the flights to the Caribbean because its expected that with higher charges less people will be travelling there. For example; a family of four of flying in economy class from the UK to the Caribbean pay £300 in APD whilst the same to Florida would only cost £240 in APD.

According to BA the amount paid in the UK is more than double what a family from Germany would pay and those travelling from France would only have to pay just £15. 22 of the EU countries don’t even charge travellers aviation tax so it’s not like legislation imposed by EU that is causing these high prices.

The Caribbean is worst hit because of the way the system works, countries are placed into band for the taxation and this is based on how far away the capital is from the UK. So travelling to the US to places like Florida or Hawaii is cheap even though further away, because Washington is closer to the UK passengers are charged less.

During the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) annual conference in St Maarten British Airways CEO Keith Williams told delegates that the strict tax regime was ‘jeopardising routes to the Caribbean’.

He said: “The Caribbean is a very important destination for us and we have a long and proud heritage of serving the region. However, we can’t deny the reality that demand is not as high as it has been. Taxation is most certainly a factor in this and sadly, a factor in our decision to reduce our frequency to the Caribbean next summer. It is no coincidence that our reduction in the number of services to the Caribbean is accompanied by a rise in services to Florida – another desirable holiday destination for UK sun-seekers, and a destination that is taxed at a rate 20 per cent less than the Caribbean.”

At the moment the government is conducting a review on APD with the results coming out in November however no one in the industry is sure there will be any reduction.


We know people struggle on flights when they can’t use their mobile phone and a lot of people struggle if they miss an all-important football match or the Wimbledon final when up in the air. However just been stuck with the boring inflight movie or TV show may be a thing of the past after a new development of in-flight WiFi.

Travellers will soon be able to keep up with breaking news or sporting events whilst they are up in the air, thanks to new Wi-Fi technology.  The first airline to use this technology will be America’s Southwest Airlines, they will offer customers the chance to watch BBC World News, Bloomberg Television, Fox News, CNBC, MSNBC and VERSUS on their phones or laptops.

An agreement has been reached between WiFi provider Row44, which serves several commercial airlines including Southwest and the news and sport channels about on-board entertainment so new technology will allow live programming to be supplied via satellite link from a network of stations on the ground.

In recent years using Wi-Fi on airlines has increased in popularity and accessibility, more and more airlines are providing the service on selected flights. It looks like early next year American airline Delta will be introducing WiFi service to all of its regional jets, including shuttles between New York-LaGuardia and Boston and Chicago-O’Hare and Washington, DC.

However over the sky’s of Europe and of course the UK we seem to be sadly lacking in the use of this technology, with on-board WiFi connectivity in Europe is scattered and less accessible. Back in January 2003 Lufthansa became the first airline to run a scheduled flight with broadband internet access, they are now looking to equip their entire long-haul fleet with internet access by the end of this year. However they do not provide the service on shorter flights.

Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic have also been looking into WiFi technology and providing it on their aircraft however at the moment there is no time frame for this to happen.


A travel alert has been issued by the US State Department warning Americans living and travelling abroad to remain vigilant ahead of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Although the US State Department haven’t found any specific threats that may occur over the remembrance period they have warned that Al Qaeda had ‘demonstrated the intent and capability to carry out attacks’ against the US and US interests. It also stated: “In the past, terrorist organisations have on occasion planned their attacks to coincide with significant dates on the calendar.”

The warning issued does not specify any particular area and covers the entire globe, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said: “We remain at a heightened state of vigilance, and security measures are in place to detect and prevent plots against the United States should they emerge. While threats remain, our nation is stronger than it was on 9/11, more prepared to confront evolving threats, and more resilient than ever before.”

The alert issued by the US State Department will not expire until January 2nd 2012.

Since the tragic events of September 11th 2001 many passengers have had to deal with tighter security measures at airports and when flying. As well as the attempts since by terrorists wanting to emulate the same destruction by the Al Qaeda September 2001 plot has also added to extra security measure being put in place to ensure passenger safety.

David Learmount, operations and security editor of aerospace publisher Flight Global said: “One thing is certain. Tight security is here to stay. The hope is that the checks, although remaining stringent, will become less invasive.”

Some of the latest security checks to be implemented include the introduction of body scanners and a ban on liquids being brought into the airport by travellers and items such as razors and nail scissors are no longer able to be brought on board in your hand luggage. Extra baggage checks were made more stringent in the US even for internal flights. The US has also introduced armed Air Marshalls onto their flights plus many cockpit doors now come re-enforced and are locked during flights.

Mr Learmount said: It’s certainly getting harder for terrorists to breach airport security. But the would-be bombers are persistent and security experts have to try to anticipate their next move. It’s a game of cat and mouse. What the International Air Transport Association and the equipment manufacturers would ideally like to see is a situation where passengers walk through an airport security area and as they do so they are scanned, their bags are scanned, their biometric passport is scanned and the whole process is relatively painless and queue-free. The checks will continue. It’s the way they are done that will change.”


With the Olympic games only a year away, airline carrier, easyJet has announced that it will Southend-on-Sea airport as a new London base and transform into a large airport in time for the 2012 Olympic Games. The airline plans to carry around 800,000 passengers in the first 12 months, from the airport, which lies just three miles from the seafront, the intend to have two million passengers a year using the airport by 2020, making the airport nearly as big as the capital’s City Airport.

At the moment the airport is mainly used by private jets and charter flights as well as a couple of commercial flights to Ireland. However, easyJet plan to start flights at Southend from April next year, under a ten-year partnership with the airport’s owners, Stobart Group they will also have a multi-million-pound terminal opening this autumn. According to airport5 bosses passengers would never wait more than four minutes to clear security, and trains from a new station nearby would get them to central London in an hour.

The expansion of Southend Airport will see the creation of about 300 jobs, which will be half with the airline and half with the airport. Many of the new flights out of Southend will be serving a range of European destinations such as Barcelona, Ibiza and Faro, which have been confirmed, but it is expected that other destinations will also be served, such as Madrid, Milan, Amsterdam, Berlin, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast.

The airline is looking at attracting a range of travellers, such as those looking to holiday in the Spanish resorts, to those looking for city breaks. They will have three A319 jets will be based at Southend and easyJet say that flights will be 20 minutes shorter than from the other big London airports because Southend is clear of the air traffic congestion over much of London.


With increases in the price of wholesale oil, an increase in APD and a decrease in profits for the major airlines, cheap airfares that many people have enjoyed for the last few years could be a thing of the past. According to forecasts from the International Air Transport Association airlines will only make profits of £2.4billion in 2011, which is a 78 per cent drop on the £11billion which was made last year.

This means that companies will be looking to recoup losses by increasing ticket prices, to combat falling numbers of travellers and the cost of fuel. The main loss in profits has been attributed to the cost of oil which is significantly higher than it has been for a long time and which can also fluctuate quite significantly, especially with the unrest we are seeing in the Middle East at the moment.

Fewer passengers is also thought to be a contributing factor as well, with less people now being able to take holidays abroad, especially with the increases in APD and people having less disposable income.


Increases in the controversial Air Passenger Duty APD have been postponed until next April, the Chancellor announced in the budget, he also announced that there would be a tax on private jets for the first time, previously the wealthy who used this form of transport got out of paying APD. The Chancellor, George Osborne stated that the increase is on hold till April rather than November as planned because of the ‘hefty’ rises in the tax last year.

This is great news for the travel industry which has campaigned heavily for the charges not to rise and the APD has increases every year in line with inflation since 2007 and is already up to 8.5 times more than the European average. Currently the duty adds £12 to the cost of an economy flight within Europe, £60 to the USA and £85 to Australia and if you travel business or first class higher charges are then applied to tickets.

The delay in APD will cost the Treasury around £150 million a year, however a family of four could save £4 on a European trip and up to £36 on a long-haul flight to Australia. Bob Atkinson, spokesperson for TravelSupermarket.com, said of the move: “While we welcome the freezing of APD for the average person, it doesn’t affect how we compete in the global market for travellers both outbound and inbound. Competitively we are bad, very bad. It is widely acknowledged a family of four to Florida will pay £240 in tax but a French equivalent would pay about £15. As a measure of monies collected we are paying massively over to our government for the privilege of flying from the UK.”