Gama Aviation Announces Expansion at Glasgow Airport

Gama Aviation, a US-based company that provides business aviation services, will be expanding its services at Glasgow Airport in the UK.

The airline, which has announced a GBP3.5 million expansion project for its Glasgow Airport services, will be constructing a dedicated aviation hangar. The 17,222 sq ft hangar will be housing its Scottish Air Ambulance King Air aircraft and the company’s Bombardier Challenger aircraft.

The hangar will also offer a full base and line maintenance hangar facility that is on a par with the airline’s engineering facilities in London. The company will be also opening the Gama Glasgow Operations Centre to support its services to the Scottish Ambulance Service and NHS Scotland.

Glasgow Airport will also serve as a stopover for the company’s customers flying between its base at Teterboro, New Jersey, and the company’s base at Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.

Tom Wells, the general manager of Gama Aviation, said, ‘The key beneficiaries of Gama’s further investment in Glasgow will be the Scottish Ambulance Service and the people of Scotland. The opening of the Gama Glasgow hangar, offices, maintenance facility and executive terminal further underlines our long term commitment to Scotland and investing in the world class infrastructure needed in order to offer our full range of aviation services, at the highest level to our global client base.’

A Glasgow Airport spokesman said, ‘This is a considerable and welcome investment from Gama Aviation which has further demonstrated its commitment to Glasgow Airport with the construction of its dedicated hangar. The new facility will enable Gama to expand its operations and we are looking forward to its launch in the New Year.’

First Great Western Hail Government Initiative

First Great Western, a UK based railway company, has hailed the UK government’s decision to include the Western section of East West Rail (EWR) in a strategy for transport.

The company managing director, Mark Hopwood, said, ‘Re-opening of the East West route provides some really exciting opportunities for First Great Western Customers. It opens up the potential to not just link Oxford and Milton Keynes but to develop other links from places like Bristol and Reading.

We look forward to working with our partners to develop the line and the possible train service options. This is fantastic news for the towns and cities that the East West Rail will serve.’

The company has announced that being included in the government strategy will improve funding for the segment, which may be used for the electrification of the Oxford to Bedford section of the route.

The rail company has also announced that it is organising two special coaches to be attached to its train service running from Plymouth to Gunnislake in aid of two local charities, the Children’s Hospice South West and Dame Hannah Rogers. The trains, which will run on December 9 and 16, 2012, will be offering children gifts from Santa. Tickets for the special service are on offer at £6.00 for an Adult and £3.00 per child, or £15.00 for a family of four.

The company regional manager for West of England, Julian Crow, said, ‘First Great Western is committed to supporting the communities we serve and when Santa came to us looking to rest his reindeer before the big day, we were only too happy to offer a speedy and equally economic alternative.

Our helpful and friendly staff will assist the elves and allow more children to meet Father Christmas before he heads back to his workshop at the North Pole.’

Travelodge Announces New Hotels

Travelodge Hotels, a UK-based company that owns and operates hotel properties, has announced the opening of its newest hotel in London.

The London Clapham Junction Travelodge hotel is offering 84 rooms and has been developed for an investment of GBP10 million. The company is planning to open another three hotels within the Wandsworth area of London soon.

During the last 12 months, Travelodge hotels located in the South West district of London, including Fulham and Battersea, have experienced a new type of customer coming through their doors. As well as the hotels being popular with business travellers and tourists, local residents are taking advantage of the low cost rooms and booking-in visiting grandparents and other family members due to a lack of space at home.

Tony O’Brien, the UK development director for Travelodge, said, ‘Our Fulham and Battersea hotels enjoy enormous success right throughout the year, and the assumption was that this was primarily due to business customers as well as tourists.

However, our hotel staff are now saying that over a third of customers tell them they are actually in London to visit their children and grandchildren.

With so many young people in London, especially in Nappy Valley, starting their families whilst living in small flats and houses, the only option for Granny and Granddad to come and visit is to stay in a nearby hotel. It is a remarkable trend, but one that we are poised to capitalise on as part of our wider growth story in London.’

Previously, Travelodge opened a 90-room hotel in Balham, and is looking to develop three more in Battersea Old Town, Clapham Common and Clapham Old Town/Lavender Hill.

Travel in northeast US difficult in wake of Nor’easter

Even though the storm, nor’easter, has come and gone, having brought its own problems to those who were battling Hurricane Sandy just a week ago, its effects are still being felt by travellers in the region.

The hurricane, which was not as strong or vicious as Hurricane Sandy, was still destructive enough to affect a population that had already been battered by the first storm. Travellers had to endure an arduous commute when Sandy struck, and had been experiencing major difficulties throughout the first full workweek. Those who endured the hurricane have been further subjected to hardships after the new storm made its presence felt. A wet, heavy climate, felled trees, dangling electric wires and hazardous conditions for motorists have severely affected travellers in the region.

The change in the weather had prompted the Port Authority to place speed limits of 35 mph on some of its New Jersey-New York crossings. Sections of the New Jersey Turnpike were reduced to 45 or 50 mph. The weather also meant that people abandoned their travel plans, preferring to stay indoors rather than venturing out.

Downed trees were slowing or blocking travel on Route 18 North in Neptune, Colts Neck and Marlboro, according to the state Department of Transportation, and travellers are being warned that they could encounter hazards along the way. For much of the time only essential traffic was allowed through, as the cities affected by the hurricane are slowly limping back to normality.

John Durso Jr, a spokesman for the statewide transit agency, said, ‘Crews worked throughout the night to clear snow and ice from NJ Transit properties for the morning commute. Some buses operating through Northwest New Jersey were subject to detours during the morning commute.’

The limited trains on the Northeast Corridor between Trenton and New York were fully packed, and the North Jersey Coast Line train service to New York was scrapped because of overcrowding on the platform.

Ryanair Announces New 2013 Summer Schedule

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, has announced its new routes for the summer of 2013.

The airline is offering five new routes from Manchester airport, and two new routes from each of Liverpool and East Midlands airports in the UK. The services from Manchester Airport will be for European destinations including Corfu, Krakow, Lanzarote, Paphos and Trapani (Sicily); while the new destinations from Liverpool airport are Lublin and Zadar. The airline will be adding Marseilles and Menorca to its flights from East Midlands airport.

The airline chief executive officer, Michael O’Leary, said, ‘Ryanair is delighted to announce its summer 2013 schedule for Manchester with 34 routes, including five new routes to/from Corfu, Krakow, Lanzarote, Paphos and Trapani, and growth on seven other routes, which will grow Ryanair’s passenger traffic at Manchester by over 360,000 to over 2.4m passengers per annum and sustain up to 2,400 on-site jobs at Manchester Airport.’

Announcing the new routes from East Midland airport, the airline spokesperson, Michael Cawley, said, ‘Ryanair is delighted to announce its summer 2013 schedule for East Midlands with 38 routes, including two new routes to/from Marseille and Menorca and growth on 17 other routes, which will grow Ryanair’s passenger traffic at East Midlands by over 460,000 to over 2.3m passengers per annum and sustain up to 2,300 on-site jobs at East Midlands Airport.

Previously, the airline had announced an extension of its reserved seat service from four to six rows on all aircraft, allowing passengers more choice when booking their preferred seats. The reserved seat service is charged at an additional £10 each way (£15 on longer routes), and offers priority boarding and a choice of seats at the front of the aircraft or near the wings, for those passengers requiring more legroom.

The airline is also running a Priority Boarding service for £5, which includes priority and reserved seating and the opportunity to board the aircraft first.

Top 5 Greece Destinations

Greece has been a popular tourist hotspot for many years and with stunning beaches, azure waters and attractive cities and towns, it’s easy to see why.

Cruising the Mediterranean is the perfect way to see the best of Greece. Our guide will tell you what to see and do in the country’s most popular cruise stop-off points.

Thinking of visiting Greece? Make sure you check out Cruise1st.co.uk for a range of cruise holidays to Greece and around the Mediterranean.

Crete

Crete has a unique history and culture, with an array of fascinating sites that reveal its rich past. Visit ancient Knossos, a ruinous village that dates back more than 9,000 years. The area is dominated by a stunning Minoan palace that stood as the centre of the Minoan civilisation. The palace is home to the legendary King Minos and is the origin the story of Theseus, who is said to have slain the Minotaur in the labyrinth.

Walkers will enjoy a trip to Samaria Gorge, which spans more than 16km, making it one of the largest gorges in Europe. Situated within a national park, the area is full of amazing flora and fauna as well as some spectacular views. The walking route through the gorge starts at a height of 1,250m in the White Mountains and takes around six hours.

Athens

Athens is a cosmopolitan city where the ancient and the modern sit side by side. Visit the Parthenon for an insight into the incredible legacy of the Greek civilisation, or hit the hip bars and cafes to eat an alfresco meal and watch the world go by.

There are plenty of Athens attractions to enjoy including museums, art galleries and theatres. The Acropolis museum is stuffed with ancient artefacts, whilst the museum of Cycladic art is dedicated to the promotion of the ancient Aegean and Cypriot cultures.

Mykonos

Known locally as the island of winds, Mykonos has been popular with tourists since the 1950s. The island has long been a haven for artists it’s plethora of galleries and artisan shops reflect this. Visit ‘Little Venice’ to the east of Mykonos harbour. Its higgledy-piggledy houses in an array of Mediterranean colours are the ideal embodiment of island living.

You can also go back in time, with a visit to the archaeological museum, or catch some rays on one of the fabulous beaches. There’s plenty of shopping too with a wide range of shops from traditional to designer and a wide choice of restaurants serving traditional Greek fare.

Corfu

Corfu has long been a popular beach holiday destination, but there’s so much more to this island than its sandy shores. Corfu town has an incredible array of architecture influenced by French, Italian and even British design. Achillion Palace is well worth a visit with its stunning architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens. Thrillseekers will adore a trip to the famous Aqualand, one of Europe’s largest theme parks. Or, for a truly unusual experience you could pay a visit to the deserted mountain village of Old Perithia.

IAG Announces Iberia Airline Retructure Plan

International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, has announced its plans to restructure Iberia.

The company has announced a comprehensive plan to restructure the airline, which includes the axing of 4,500 jobs, reducing the network capacity by 15 percent in 2013, and removing around 25 aircraft from the fleet.

The company has issued a statement, which says, ‘In the short term the transformation will focus on stemming the losses and creating a profitable route network. This will include suspending loss-making routes and frequencies and ensuring there is effective feed for profitable long haul flights.

As well as halting Iberia’s financial decline we will establish a viable business that can grow profitably in the long term. Short and medium haul operations will be transformed to compete effectively with low cost carriers who have successfully established themselves in Iberia’s home market. The plan will see comprehensive productivity improvements and the introduction of permanent salary adjustments to achieve a competitive and flexible cost base.’

Commenting on the restructuring plan, Rafael Sanchez-Lozano, the chief executive officer of Iberia, said, ‘Iberia is in fight for survival. It is unprofitable in all its markets. We have to take tough decisions now to save the company and return it to profitability. Unless we take radical action to introduce permanent structural change the future for the airline is bleak. However this plan gives us a platform to turn the business around and grow.

The Spanish and European economic crisis has impacted on Iberia, but its problems are systemic and pre-date the country’s current difficulties. The company is burning €1.7 million every day. Iberia has to modernise and adapt to the new competitive environment, as its cost base is significantly higher than its main competitors in Spain and Latin America.

Time is not on our side. We have set a deadline of January 31, 2013 to reach agreement with our trade unions. We enter those negotiations in good faith. If we do not reach consensus we will have to take more radical action which will lead to greater reductions in capacity and jobs.’

easyJet Announces New European Services

The Civil Aviation Authority in the UK has recently granted easyJet, the UK based airline, the rights to fly between London and Moscow.

The airline will be commencing its service from Spring of 2013. The low cost carrier will be operating an Airbus A320 aircraft on the route between London Gatwick and Moscow Domodedovo airports, with two flights a day. The aircraft will have a capacity of 180 seats on each flight.

Carolyn McCall, the airline chief executive officer, said, ‘easyJet is delighted to have been awarded the rights to fly between London Gatwick and Moscow. We believe this is the right decision for consumers both in the UK and Russia.

Russia has a fast growing economy and is a country rich in culture and history. We believe that our flights will be popular with both business and leisure travellers alike. easyJet has proved again and again that when we enter a new market we open it up – bringing in competition and lower fares and enabling more people to travel on the route. We look forward to welcoming passengers on board next Spring.’

The return fares for the route commence from £125, compared to existing economy fares of more than £1,000.

easyJet has also been granted the rights to fly between Milan Linate airport and Rome Fiumicino airport in Italy, by the Italian competition authority (AGCM). The new route will become operational from 2013, operating with Airbus A319s and offering five services every day on the route.

Frances Ouseley, the airline’s country director for Italy, said, ‘This decision represents a core milestone in the market. We believe that our services will be popular and have proved again and again that when we enter a new market we open it up – bringing in competition and lower fares and enabling more people to travel on the route. We look forward to welcoming passengers onboard in the following weeks.’

Northern Ireland Cancels Air Passenger Duty on Long Distance Flights

Airline passengers in Northern Ireland flying long distance from Belfast Airport will be spared having to pay Air Passenger Duty (APD) next year.

The Northern Ireland Assembly has recently voted to remove APD on long-haul flights from January 2013, while the charges will still be levied on short distance flights.

From next year, passengers taking direct long-haul flights from Belfast airport will no longer have to pay, following the partial devolution of powers to the Northern Ireland Executive.

Last year, the Department for Transport in the UK lowered the APD rates on long-haul flights from Northern Ireland to the same level as short-haul flights, and the new move is expected to encourage international tourists to visit the country.

The rate cut is also in response to competition from the Republic of Ireland, where APD for short distance flights departing from Dublin Airport is currently just €3.

The Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based travel agents association, has earlier called for the international community to extend support against the increase in the UK’s Air Passenger Duty.

The UK government is currently charging APD for passengers flying out of the UK on an aircraft that has an authorised take-off weight of more than ten tonnes, or twenty seats for passengers. Passengers must pay the tax twice on a return journey, adding around an additional £26 to a return fare.

APD was introduced in 1994, and the annual revenue generated by the tax has increased by 250 percent since its introduction. In 2012, the tax will be providing £2.6bn to the Treasury. In a recent survey conducted by ABTA, forty percent of UK travellers said that high air taxes have put them off flying, an opinion that is expected to negatively affect leisure air travel in UK.

Beijing Feeling offers tours to Beijing

China-based BeijingFeeling.com, a travel service company in Beijing, is offering a novel travel service to Beijing.

The company has announced its Beijing Feeling Tour Service, which includes Old and New Beijing tour packages. The firm said that under the Old Beijing Feeling Tour package, tourists would be taken to visit the old Hutongs in Beijing and the ancient Great Wall of China. The tours would highlight the structures that were characteristic of old Beijing, and which added to its historical splendour.

In contrast to the Old Beijing Feeling Tour is the New Beijing Tour, which essentially highlights the modern aspects of Beijing and offers a stark contrast to Old Beijing. The tour mainly includes the Bird Nest stadium, which is considered to be one of the ‘World’s Top 10 Constructions,’ the CCTV Headquarters, the 798 Art Factory, Houhai Bar Street, Nanluoguxiang street and Yandai Byway. Each of these locations reflects the modern China. For example, the 798 Art Zone is a part of Dashanzi in the Chaoyang District of Beijing that houses a thriving artistic community. It also houses 50-year old decommissioned military factory buildings of unique architectural style and is often compared with New York’s Greenwich Village or Soho.

The purpose of the tours is to highlight the splendour of old Beijing and the modernisation of the capital that was carried out without losing its ancient elements.

Alan Zhang, CEO of BeijingFeeling.com, said, ‘The Old Beijing Feeling Tour will provide visitors a good chance to experience the aged Beijing lifestyle and culture. The old Hutong tour shows you the traditional culture and original lifestyle. Visitors on Hutong tour will visit the typical Chinese quadrangles, where you can experience the real life of ordinary people in Beijing. We try to be original, unique and different from our competitors in how to satisfy and impress our valuable clients. Additionally, we provide visitors with a fast, sincerity, flexibility and reliable response to their requirements in China.’

Founded in 2008, BeijingFeeling.com offers more than 200 pre-designed packages to China.