East Midlands Trains and South West Trains Supporting 2012 Poppy Appeal

East Midlands Trains, a UK-based train service, is supporting the 2012 Poppy Appeal conducted by the Royal British Legion to support troops that have lost their lives in the line of duty.

The company will be conducting activities with staff and customers in honour of service personnel in the run up to Remembrance Day.

East Midlands Trains has announced that uniformed Armed Forces personnel can enjoy complimentary travel on the routes served by the company on October 31, and November 1, 2012. The complimentary service is intended to help serving and former servicemen and women from across the country to travel to London to participate in Remembrance Day on November 1, 2012.

The managing director of East Midlands Trains, David Horne, said, ‘We’re pleased to be able to help Armed Forces personnel mark this important occasion by providing free travel. Money raised through the Poppy Appeal is used to help thousands of ex-Servicemen and women who have fought for our country over many years.

It’s only right that we remember those who were lost in action and pay tribute to the sacrifices that were made, and continue to be made, by our Servicemen and women around the world.’

South West Trains, another UK based train operating company, has also announced its support for the Royal British Legion’s 2012 Poppy Appeal. The company is also offering complimentary travel to uniformed Armed Forces personnel on October 31, and November 1, 2012.

In addition, employees of both train services, who have previously served in the Armed Forces, will be able to wear their military decorations while at work on both days.

UK Travellers in New York Face Delays Despite Airports Reopening

New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Newark Airport are slowly resuming normal service, after remaining closed for two days, bringing some relief to travellers that have been trapped in the city, due to the severe weather in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.

Hurricane Sandy has battered the northeast coast of the US, before moving northwards, causing extensive damage to the cities of New York, New Jersey and many others. Most of the public transportation system in New York, the financial capital of the US, has been shutdown, with some underground tunnels being completely flooded.

Both New York airports opened to some extent at 7am local time, but La Guardia Airport, which suffered most from flooding, remains closed.

Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group, has announced the resumption of flights to and from New York, with plans to run most of its scheduled flights, as well as a ‘special recovery flight’ to JFK Airport from London, to bring back the stranded UK passengers.

However, UK-based British Airways has stated in a web update, ‘On Wednesday 31 October we have cancelled the majority of our flights to and from New York, JFK and Newark (EWR). Flights to other East Coast US airports should be operating normally. Please only come to the airport if you are confirmed on a flight.

Public transport links to East Coast US airports continue to be disrupted, please check your flight and local travel plans before leaving for the airport.’

According to the flight tracking service FlightAware, around 18,300 flights were cancelled across the US East Coast in the last three days, with 8,183 flights cancelled on Monday, 7,258 on Tuesday, and 2,829 to date on Wednesday.

The airports may take some time to become fully operational, as the public transport system is taking time to become functional, and airport staff face difficulties in commuting to work.

For UK passengers who are delayed in the US and are travelling with an EU-based airline, all reasonable costs incurred during the period that they are waiting for a replacement flight should be covered by that airline. These include food, hotel bills and phone calls. The airline might provide food and accommodation directly, or reimburse the passenger against receipts provided.

Travellers with non-EU based airlines may have to claim theses expenses on their own travel insurance, dependant on that airline’s policy.

Hand Luggage Fees Not Popular with British Passengers

The idea of paying hand luggage fees has not been well received by British air passengers.

Recently Wizz Air, a Hungary-based airline, commenced a trial of a new cabin baggage policy, by charging its passengers for carrying hand luggage that needed to be stowed in an overhead bin. Following the news, a recent poll conducted by TripAdvisor, a company offering an online travel community for collating user-generated travel information, has reported that British travellers have reacted unfavourably to the airline’s policy.

The company has reporting that around 73 percent of more than 11,500 British respondents to the poll expressed their annoyance at the idea of paying for their hand baggage, and would avoid airline’s that do so in favour of other airlines.

Around 25 percent of respondents said that they would consider paying a hand luggage fee, if they could save costs on the total journey. Only 2 percent of British travellers polled said that they would be happy to pay for hand luggage.

The company website reports, ‘Charging passengers for hand luggage that doesn’t fit under the seat is an interesting move, but one that clearly doesn’t sit well with the majority of British travellers. Travellers should always do their research before booking to ensure that any extra charges are factored into the total fare.’

Passengers booking Wizz Air tickets for travel from October 24, 2012, onwards, are being allowed a small cabin baggage of up to 42 x 32 x 25cm free of charge. All other kinds of bags taken as carry-on luggage are being charged a fee of £9.00 per bag.

The airline has tested its new airline baggage policy on its Luton Airport to Katowice (Poland) route with very good results. Since August 1, 2012, passengers on the route have paid €10 for a larger piece of cabin baggage, a step that the airline has taken to control the problem of lack of storage space in smaller aircraft.

London to Edinburgh cheaper by rail than air?

Taking the train service from London to Edinburgh may be more cost effective than taking a flight, according to a recent report submitted by sustainable transport group, Transform Scotland.

The report, named ‘On track for business: Why Scottish businesses should try the train’, states that train tickets between Edinburgh and London are around 81 percent cheaper than flights, and hence provide a very cost-effective travel option for commuters.

Transform Scotland has also reported that travelling by rail between the two cities is a better option for business travellers, as it provides a better working environment and is better for the environment.

At present, rail only has a 12 percent share of the business travel market between London and Edinburgh.

Colin Howden, the director of Transform Scotland, said, ‘The financial benefit of making an Edinburgh-London return journey amounts to £217, including the value of productive working time and other benefits.

Given that the price of a ‘Scottish Executive’ ticket, which gives first class return travel from Edinburgh and London, is only £229, it’s clear that greater account needs to be taken of the financial benefits of rail travel and not just the ticket price.

Our report makes a compelling case to Scottish business of the financial and productivity benefits of using the train for business travel to and from London.

Our challenge to Scottish business is to try the train. Given that it’s generally cheaper and provides a productive working environment, Scottish businesses can gain financially by switching many more of their employees’ trips on to rail for Edinburgh to London journeys.’

The report says that some Scotland based corporate companies, such as Royal Bank of Scotland and Scottish and Southern Energy, are now encouraging their employees to use trains when travelling between the two cities.

The author of the report, David Spaven, said, ‘The train beats flying for business travel to London. It offers a high-quality working environment, superior environmental performance and, crucially, better value for money. Unless a company’s sole criterion for choice of transport is journey time, air shouldn’t be treated as an automatic preference over rail.

East Coast has introduced a wide range of major service improvements in the last few years, yet rail is carrying only 12 per cent of Edinburgh-London business travel. The time is clearly right for many more businesses to ‘try the train’ and experience directly the benefits which rail can deliver.’

easyJet Announces New Summer Route for 2013

Easyjet, a UK-based budget airline, is expanding its operations to new routes for the 2013 summer season, Marrakech (Morocco) and Sharm el Sheikh (Egypt).

The airline will be flying to Marrakech from London Stansted airport three times a week, from February 15, 2013, and twice weekly to Sharm el Sheikh from Stansted, commencing from February 17, 2013.

The airline is also offering a new route to Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria, as part of its extended services from Stansted. The twice-weekly flights to Sofia commence on February 16, 2013.

Hugh Aitken, the airline’s commercial manager for the UK, said, ‘easyJet is committed to making travel easy and affordable for all and each season we decide where to add new flights based on the places our customers tell us they most want to visit, so I’m sure these three new summer sun destinations are going to be a huge hit with holidaymakers.

Currently, easyJet operates two mid-haul routes from Stansted to Bodrum and Dalaman so today’s announcement shows a real commitment to offering more varied destinations further afield, and the best value for our passengers.’

The airline’s 2013 summer schedule, which is running until September 8, 2013, is offering a total 10,900 flights on 27 routes across Europe and North Africa.

The airline has previously added a new online feature, called ‘Inspire Me’, to help customers find places to go on a holiday. The tool, displayed on a map of Europe, customises holiday travel-based destinations and budgets. Each destination includes a link to the airline’s reservation procedures and customised travel guides.

Peter Duffy, the airline’s director of marketing, said, ‘Our aim with easyJet.com is always to make it as easy as possible for our 400m annual visitors to the site, to find what they are looking for.

We know that around 40 percent of customers coming to easyJet.com know that they want to travel, but are unsure exactly where to. This simple, yet innovative feature means they can search our 600 destinations more easily to find fantastic places to explore – many of which they might never have thought about.’

Bmi Regional Announces Commencement of Service with New Flight Codes

Bmi Regional, a UK based airline, will be commencing its operations shortly, and has announced a change of its previously used BD flight codes to new BM flight codes.

The airline, which was previously a part of the British Midland International (bmi) brand, a UK-based airline, has recently been acquired by a financial consortium and will be flying independently.

Sector Aviation Holdings, a Scotland-based holding company, is the current owner and operator of the airline, which launched its inaugural services from Aberdeen to Bristol, and Manchester to Antwerp, from October 29, 2012. The company fleet of Embraer jet aircraft will operate the new twice-daily services.

The airline chairman, Ian Woodley, said, ‘We are delighted to have acquired the BM code and its introduction marks another step forward in our ongoing development strategy by ensuring our flights are instantly recognisable.

As a brand we have a tremendous heritage that has been built on providing great customer service. We want to see a return to the core values which people associate with a quality flying experience and are looking to build on our reputation for excellence in all elements of our service going forward.’

Bmi Regional airline will be operating out of its head office at East Midlands Airport, using the new flight codes. It will be providing around 40 new jobs to the neighbouring area’s economy.

In a website update, the airline says, ‘Late October we will be introducing our first dedicated edition of our own in-flight magazine, which will bring you up to speed with the latest news and offers from bmi regional. Look out for the first ‘collector’s item’ edition!

In November we’ll be launching a new frequent flyer programme. The old programme has been acquired by British Airways, and further details on the new scheme will be shared in due course.’

Sandy expected to reduce tourist inflows into Jamaica

The devastation unleashed by Hurricane Sandy is expected to reduce tourist inflows to Jamaica.

Analysts believe that the hurricane’s effects on the Northeast United States could have a devastating effect on Jamaica’s tourism industry, because the Northeast is Jamaica’s largest source market and a disruption of amenities in that part of the world would automatically have an impact on the fortunes of Jamaica. Forty percent of the business that is generated by the country’s tourism stakeholders comes from areas that include Boston, New York, Washington and Philadelphia, and all of these areas have been affected by the hurricane. Business analysts feel that tourism in Jamaica will become cheaper because of the lack of demand and a surge in cancellations.

The president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), Evelyn Smith, said, ‘It is a situation that we are watching very closely, already some of our members are reporting that guests have not been able to travel to Jamaica. It’s our most important source market, in comparison to the Midwest, South and West Coast, and in recent years the Philadelphia gateway has been doing very well. And the hurricane is cutting right through that area.’

However hotel owners in the region are not speculating on how the hurricane will affect business in December. Even though Sandy is considered to be one of the biggest hurricanes to have hit the US, and even though the devastation has been huge, there is a reticence to speculate on the long-term affects on Christmas trade.

From Sunday afternoon, flights from New York to Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean were being cancelled.

By contrast, tourists who are already on the island have been forced to extend their stay because of the large-scale flight cancellations.

Norwegian Air Shuttle Announces New Base at London Gatwick Airport

Norwegian Air Shuttle, a Norway-based airline company, will be establishing a new base at the London Gatwick airport in the UK.

The airline is planning to base three of its aircraft at Gatwick airport, and will be offering 14 new routes from the airport to European destinations including Nice, Marseille, Rome, Barcelona, Faro, Split and Dubrovnik. The base will be operational in 2013.

The airline is also planning to expand its existing services from London Gatwick to Oslo from three flights to four flights per day, and to Stockholm from three flights to five daily services.

Stewart Wingate, the chief executive officer for Gatwick Airport, said, ‘We are delighted that Norwegian has chosen to grow its operations out of Gatwick by establishing its UK base here. Since Norwegian moved its Scandinavian routes from Stansted to Gatwick a few years ago we have worked hard to make that move a success. Their decision to establish their UK base at Gatwick demonstrates the strength of Gatwick’s offering to airlines.’

The airline chief executive officer, Bjorn Kjos, said, ‘By establishing a new base in London, Norwegian will be positioned to meet the future competition on short-haul routes within Europe as well as long-haul routes globally. Growth and volumes are necessary to stay competitive in the airline industry.’

London Gatwick airport is currently focused on its plan to become a world-class airport that offers an excellent passenger experience. The airport authorities have invested £650 million in new facilities that include car parks, check in desks, security areas, departure lounges, as well as business travel facilities.

Jet2.com Announces New Destinations from Glasgow

Jet2.com, a UK-based low-cost airline that operates out of Leeds Bradford Airport, is expanding its operational base at Glasgow Airport in Scotland.

The airline, which has recently announced the addition of a new aircraft, its fourth to be based out of the airport, has also announced two new routes from Glasgow for its summer schedule in 2013.

Recently, the company announced three new routes from Glasgow airport, to Menorca (Spain), Murcia (Spain) and Pula (Croatia), for airfares commencing from £41 per person.

Steve Heapy, the head of Jet2holidays, the holiday arm of the airline, said, ‘Glasgow is an important base for us, and as we enter our third year, we are delighted to announce more new destinations our customers want. Local holidaymakers have been requesting services to Menorca, Murcia and Pula and we are happy to be offering these amazing destinations for 2013.

We recently announced Bodrum and Gran Canaria, which are also new for next year, meaning passengers have even more fantastic holiday options direct from Glasgow.

Adding our fourth dedicated aircraft is also great news for the area. This will be based at Glasgow ahead of the peak holiday season in May and will allow us to offer these new destinations and even more flying. We’ve already added an additional weekly flight to Bodrum due to strong demand since it was launched just a few months ago. We are also increasing the number of seats available to Majorca, Alicante, Ibiza, Dalaman, Heraklion, Lanzarote and Tenerife.’

Twice weekly flights to Murcia are on sale and will commence from May 24, 2013, with fares starting from £41 per person. Flights to Pula are also on sale with weekly flights set to commence from June 18, 2013.

British Consulate-General in New York Closed by Tropical Cyclone Sandy

As Hurricane sandy batters the East Coast of the US, and New York plunges into flood and darkness due to the heavy rains and power outages, the British Consulate-General In New York will remain closed on Tuesday.

Although the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), a government agency responsible for the interests of UK citizens overseas, has not issued any travel restrictions for UK citizens visiting any parts of the US, a statement issued by the agency reads, ‘Post-tropical cyclone Sandy has caused significant flood and wind damage across a large area along the east coast of the US. Effects are being felt further inland, including blizzard conditions in some parts of Virginia. Widespread power outages have been reported.

There will be severe disruption to air, road, rail, and cruise line services over the next few days; check with your travel provider before travelling.

The storm is moving north and will continue to affect the northeastern States and into southeast Canada, with strong winds, heavy rain, and flooding.

British nationals requiring emergency assistance can obtain help by calling our toll-free number 1-877-UK-IN-USA (1-877-854-6872).

Travellers are advised to monitor weather reports on radio and television and follow the advice of local authorities, including if ordered to evacuate. The British Embassy in Washington and the British Consulates-General in New York and Boston will be closed to the public on Tuesday October 30.’

Services to US airports on the East coast have been severely affected, leaving thousands of Britons stranded in US cities. British Airways has cancelled 13 flights to and from the East Coast that were scheduled for today.

Virgin Atlantic has cancelled all service from New York’s JFK and Newark airports for today, as airports have closed following the severe bad weather. Both airlines have also cancelled a number of flights that were due to depart from JFK and Newark airports early tomorrow.