Virgin Atlantic Acquires BMI’s Heathrow slots

Virgin Atlantic, an airline subsidiary of UK-based Virgin Group, has acquired the London Heathrow Airport slots that were recently vacated by British Midland International (Bmi) airline, following Bmi’s acquisition by IAG, the parent company of British Airlines.

Virgin Atlantic has acquired all 12 of the available slots at London Heathrow Airport and will be using them to offer short distance flights to Scotland.

The airline chief executive officer, Steve Ridgway, said, ‘We have fought hard for the right to fly short haul and take a strong challenge to British Airways within these shores. For 28 years both airlines have battled for customers all over the world and it has meant that British consumers have ultimately had some of the world’s best flying and lowest fares.

This is the beginning of an exciting new era in Virgin Atlantic history and we now feel a responsibility to everyone that has supported us in this challenge.

Passengers can look forward to a great short haul service with us but most importantly reap the benefits from the re-injection of vital competition we can provide on these routes.’

The airline intends to offer its expanded operations to Scotland from March 2013, with a focus on the Edinburgh and Aberdeen routes that were previously served by Bmi. By offering to fly around 700,000 passengers every year from Scotland to London, Virgin Atlantic is offering competition to British Airways, which currently has a monopoly on the routes.

Ridgeway said, ‘Virgin Atlantic is totally committed to providing a competitive price and choice for passengers flying from Scotland to Heathrow and beyond.

At least 1.8 million Scottish passengers, equivalent to a third of the population, have been left without a choice on these routes since IAG’s takeover of bmi. As a monopoly operator, BA has the opportunity, the incentive and the means to increase fares and reduce the number of flights available.

As we shook up the status-quo in long haul travel nearly 30 years ago, we’re now doing all we can to have the same decisive impact on the short haul market. Our aim is to reach a significant new base of both direct and connecting passengers, and in doing so we intend to bring our award-winning service, competitive prices and greater choice to the Scottish travelling public.’

easyjet Announces Record Annual Profits for 2012

easyJet, a UK based airline, has announced a record profit of £317 million for its financial year 2012.

The airline has recorded the increase in profit despite a £182 million increase in its fuel expenses in 2012 over 2011.

easyjet’s total revenue per seat in 2012 has increased by 5.9 percent to £58.51, due to increased load factors, while the seats flown figure has increased by 5.5 percent to 65.9 million for the same period.

Carolyn McCall, the chief executive officer of easyJet, said, ‘These results demonstrate that easyJet is a structural winner in the European short-haul market against both legacy and low cost competition. The strength of easyJet’s business model and strategy coupled with the hard work and dedication of the easyJet team has delivered record profits as well as a significant increase in returns for shareholders during the year.

As evidence of its confidence in easyJet’s current position and future prospects the Board proposes to increase the dividend from 10.5p to 21.5p for the year ended September 2012 which will see our shareholders benefit from easyJet’s success with £85m of dividends.

Whilst there is always the potential for unexpected events to temporarily impact financial results the Board of easyJet is confident that its business model, strategy and people will consistently continue to generate superior returns and growth for shareholders.’

A company statement said, ‘easyJet is structurally positioned as the strongest pan European airline due to its cost advantage, leading market positions at convenient airports and great customer proposition of low fares with friendly and efficient service supported by one of the strongest balance sheets in European aviation.

As inefficient and financially weak competitors retrench, easyJet will continue its strategy to build its leading position on Europe’s top 100 routes where it has a 25 percent market share to become the leading point-to-point airline flying between primary airports. This will enable easyJet to deliver passenger growth, in excess of the market overall, of around 3 percent to 5 percent per annum and tangible returns to shareholders of an annual ordinary dividend of three times cover.’

New and Stylish Accommodation on Offer in Dubai

In recent times Dubai, in the UAE, has become a major attraction for visitors from the UK during the holiday seasons.

Dubai is claimed to be home to some of the world’s most stunning hotel architecture, including the Armani, Burj Al Arab and Atlantis the Palm. According to an earlier industry forecast issued by international industry consultant, Business Monitor International (BMI), the number of foreign tourists heading to the UAE in 2012 is expected to reach almost 9 million.

A Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) report has suggested that in the second quarter of 2012, hotel and apartment booking in Dubai has increased to 170,452, from 154,180 during the same period in 2011. The average stay for travellers from the UK has also increased by 5 percent in the second quarter of 2012, from that in same quarter of 2011.

New hotels in Dubai include the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah, the Palazzo Versace Dubai and W Hotel Dubai.

The 330-room Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah will be opening in 2014, and will be offering a 600 metre private beach, a health spa and a number of outdoor pools. The hotel will also be offering ten restaurants and bars.

The Palazzo Versace Dubai will open in 2014, claiming to offer a luxury lifestyle experience, while W Hotels is opening its new hotel on the Sheik Zayed Road, with 384 guest rooms.

Ian Scott, director of Dubai Tourism for UK and Ireland, said, ‘Dubai is becoming a much more affordable destination and it’s great to see so many families choosing to visit the emirate for the first time.

Dubai has, however, built a reputation as a luxury destination, and due to demand a number of new five star hotels is set to open over the next four years.

It’s great to see such a wide variety of accommodation available in the emirate – from an extensive range of self catering options to family resorts and boutique hotels – there really is something for everyone.’