British Airways May Acquire Heathrow Slots from Aer Lingus

British Airways, the UK-based premier airline, may win around 20 slots at London Heathrow Airport if Ryanair, the Ireland-based low cost airline, acquires the Ireland based carrier, Aer Lingus.

The parent company of British Airways, International Airlines Group (IAG), has entered into an agreement with Ryanair. According to the agreement, Ryanair will be giving away 20 out of 24 Aer Lingus slots at London Heathrow Airport if it manages to acquire the Irish airline.

A statement by IAG said, ‘We have signed a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Ryanair which is subject to EC approval and IAG board approval.’

Ryanair had earlier offered €694 million for Aer Lingus, which was subsequently rejected by Aer Lingus’ board as too low a price. The airline is now willing to offer around 40 routes from major airports in Ireland to other airlines in return for the acquisition.

The airline has stated, ‘This comprehensive remedies package includes a number of new airline bases in Dublin, new entrant competitors on over 40 routes to/from Dublin, Cork and Shannon, as well as specific competition solutions that guarantee increased price competition on routes to and from Ireland.

Ryanair expects that the commission will shortly market test this transformational remedies package, and remains confident that its offer for Aer Lingus will receive competition clearance following any fair assessment by the commission.’

The airline’s acquisition bid is currently being considered by the European Commission, which is expected to come to a decision by January 2013.

IAG, the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, had earlier has offered to acquire a 100% stake in Vueling, the Spain based low cost carrier.

Welcoming the move, Ryanair’s Stephen McNamara said, ‘The merger of IAG Iberia and Vueling is another logical merger of EU airlines operating in the same market and mirrors IAG/British Airways takeover of BMI in the UK earlier this year, Aegean’s offer for Olympic in Greece and Ryanair’s current offer for Aer Lingus in Ireland.

As Europe’s flag carrier airlines continue to consolidate Ryanair believes that its offer for Aer Lingus should be approved by the EU Competition Authorities if they follow – fairly – the precedent set in the BA/BMI merger and last week’s takeover of Vueling in Spain by BA/IAG. These are all inevitable steps in the consolidation process of Europe’s high fares former flag carrier airlines.’

Monarch Airlines Commences Winter Flights to Grenoble from Birmingham

Monarch Airlines, a UK-based airline company, has commenced its new service to Grenoble, in south-eastern France, from Birmingham airport in the UK.

The new service commenced on December 9, 2012, and the flight to the ski destination will also open up access to Europe’s other famed ski destinations of Val D’isere, Tignes, La Plagne and Meribel. The airline is offering the services three times a week.

Kevin George, the managing director of Monarch Airlines, said, ‘We are delighted to be introducing this new route to Grenoble which we are sure will be very popular with skiers and strengthens further our excellent programme of winter sun and ski destinations from Birmingham airport.’

Martyn Lloyd, the commercial director at Birmingham Airport, said, ‘This is great news for people in the Midlands who are looking to get away this winter and visit some of the best ski resorts in Europe.

Monarch is going from strength to strength at Birmingham and this new route to Grenoble will mean passengers have even more choice and greater value from their local airport.’

The airline is also offering new winter services including flights from London Gatwick Airport to Friedrichshafen, Funchal (Madeira), and Munich; from Manchester Airport to Friedrichshafen, Grenoble, and Munich; from Birmingham Airport to Funchal (Madeira), Grenoble, and Munich; and from Sharm el Sheikh Airport to Grenoble and Munich.

The new routes are part of the airline’s expansion to the Midlands, as well as the launch of added frequencies from Birmingham Airport. The airline is planning to offer a new base at East Midlands Airport from late summer 2012.

Leeds Tourism Boost Expected From Tour de France 2014

Leeds in Yorkshire, UK, will be hosting the initial stages of the 2014 Tour de France.

This is the first time Leeds is hosting Le Tour de France’s ‘Grand Depart’, and this is also the first time Le Tour will reach the north of England, compared to other visits to the UK when it had visited only the south.

Last time the tour, an annual bicycle race held in France, visited England was in 2007. The first stage of the bicycle tour will be held on July 5 and 6, 2014, and then the tour moves south for the next British stage, in London.

The Tour de France is viewed annually by around two billion people live on television, and the event will bring in a lot of bike enthusiasts to the beautiful and scenic environment of West Yorkshire, providing a boost to the tourism industry of the county.

British cyclists have recently tasted success in the event, with Bradley Wiggins being the first British rider to win Le Tour in 2012.

A statement by Welcome to Yorkshire, the official visiting guide to Yorkshire, said, ‘Yorkshire is rightly proud to be able to say it will host the Tour de France. The county is a heartland of the sport and over the next few pages we celebrate Yorkshire’s Grand Depart, Yorkshire’s cycling champions, the county’s iconic cycling landscapes and hopefully inspire more people to consider going uphill and down dale on two wheels in future.’

Gary Verity, the chief executive officer of Welcome to Yorkshire, said, ‘Today is a proud day for everyone involved in the bid and the county as a whole.

We are honoured that the race organisers have selected Yorkshire to be the host location of the 2014 Grand Depart.’

British Chambers Of Commerce Cuts Deal with Hertz for Corporate Travellers

Members of British Chambers of Commerce, the national body for 52 accredited Chambers of Commerce in the UK, will now be able to avail of exclusive membership discounts when renting out cars from Hertz UK, the car rental company. This would make corporate travel easier for members in the UK, with tailor-made rental offers and savings being offered to business travellers.

The membership benefits include a special 35% members discount on long-term rentals of cars and vans, as well as fixed and preferential rates. The companies, which are part of the Chambers of Commerce, will also be able to avail of dedicated account managers for their corporate accounts; and customised offers for small to medium sized businesses for a six month promotional period.

The benefits also take into account complimentary delivery and collection; a 24 hour recovery and breakdown support; around 2,000 complimentary miles per month; and complimentary monthly valet service. Customers will also be qualifying for reward points on car rentals which may be redeemed later.

Karina Knudsen, the head of business development at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: ‘We are pleased to be launching new exclusive discounted services from Hertz which will give Chambers’ members a helping hand during these difficult economic times.’

Neil Cunningham, the general manager for Hertz UK and Europe, said, ‘We are delighted to partner with the British Chambers of Commerce to support owners of small to medium sized businesses. We share the Chambers’ commitment to providing companies with practical support and access to new ideas and innovations – especially at a time when managing costs and ensuring flexibility are more important than ever.’

Some of the participating Chambers of Commerce are: Suffolk, Surrey, Ayrshire, Birmingham, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire.

Aeromexico Commences Operations from London Heathrow to Mexico City

London Heathrow airport has welcomed the initial flight from Aeromexico, a Mexico-based airline, to Mexico City, in Mexico.

The airline has introduced a direct flight between London Heathrow and Mexico City, three times a week, operating a Boeing 767 aircraft.

The airline, a founding member of SkyTeam global airlines alliance, will be operating out of Terminal 4 of the airport. Aeromexico operates over 600 daily flights to 45 cities in Mexico, as well as to destinations in the US, Canada, Central and South America, Europe and Asia.

Andres Conesa, Aeromexico’s chief executive officer, said, ‘Our new flight to Heathrow is a great achievement for Aeromexico and represents clear evidence of the development of the Mexican airline industry.

We are confident that our operations will have a significant positive effect for both economies and will strength our financial and cultural relationship. We are also glad to announce that the route will operate in 2013 with our first Boeing 787 Dreamliner, the newest, best most efficient aircraft ever built.’

Passengers on the initial flight were welcomed with the traditional Mariachi band of Mexico, and were offered a memento from the airline.

Colin Matthews, the chief executive officer of London Heathrow Airport, said, ‘We are delighted to welcome Aeromexico to Heathrow. The centre of gravity in the world economy is shifting and Britain should be forging new links with economies like Mexico.

But with this single deal taking four years to complete, the UK’s lack of hub airport capacity is causing us to fall further behind the rest of Europe.’