Flybe Announces New Route from Birmingham

Flybe, a UK-based airline company, has launched its newest service from Birmingham Airport in the UK.

The airline is offering daily weekday flights to Lyon in France from May 1, 2013, the flight will be operated by a new 88-seat Embraer 175 jet aircraft.

Simon Lilley, the airline director of marketing, said, ‘Flybe is committed to developing its route network out of Birmingham. We have every confidence that this additional new service will prove successful in offering an attractive and affordable way for travellers to access this major business and popular leisure destination.

Our new weekday service to Lyon will further complement our already extensive schedule to and from Birmingham Airport that now features a total of 23 routes and a total choice of up to 598 flights each week. Flybe aims to ‘Make flying better’ for its customers and we look forward to welcoming our first Lyon passengers on board our new jet service in May.’

The airline is offering special introductory fares from £39.99 one way on the new route, which may be booked online.

The airline is also offering a New Economy fare bundle for a package price, which includes seat fares, as well as add-on benefits of 10kg hand bag allowance, a complimentary standard sized hold bag, complimentary advance seat selection at time of booking and a complimentary itinerary change.

The airline company has previously announced job cuts as it struggles to improve its financial situation.

As a part of the financial restructuring plan, the airline intends to reduce its workforce in the UK by around 10 percent, which may result in the jobs of around 300 employees being cut. The majority of the redundancies will be at the airline’s hubs in Exeter, Manchester and Newcastle.

Network Rail Hails New Funding for UK Rail Stations

Local communities not currently served by the UK’s rail network could receive a boost as the UK Department for Transport is to provide a fund for new stations.

The £20m fund is intended help local British communities to boost their economy as more new stations are likely to be opened en route.

Robin Gisby, the managing director of network operations at Network Rail, said, ‘Rail is absolutely vital to the economy, connecting people with jobs, bringing friends and families together and helping businesses move goods from ports and airports to our high streets.

As more and more people decide to travel by train, it is important we not only expand capacity where it is needed but also improve access to rail travel. This fund will provide a welcome boost for all those who wish to see better rail links in their community.’

Nick Ellins, the director of policy for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said, ‘With train travel more popular now than it has been for 90 years, train companies play a vital role in helping Britain grow and create jobs by connecting families, friends and communities. This fund is yet another way of helping improve and widen access to rail travel even further and aims to build on today’s near record levels of passenger satisfaction.’

The funding proposals for the new stations are likely to be assisted by the rail operating companies and Network Rail.

Network Rail has also welcomed the UK Government decision to propose HS2 phase 2, a new high-speed route that is intended to transform the way that people travel in the UK. The new rail route is expected to provide better connectivity between UK cities.

Qantas Commences Bookings for Its Network with Emirates

Qantas Airways, Australia’s national airline, has begun to accept bookings for its newly expanded network, in partnership with UAE-based Emirates Airlines.

The partnership will be operating its expanded network from March 2013, and has received an interim authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The airline’s chief executive officer, Simon Hickey, said, ‘The feedback from customers since the Qantas and Emirates partnership was announced has been fantastic, so we are pleased people can start booking from today.

No airline can fly everywhere but the combined Qantas and Emirates network means our customers can fly to a wide range of destinations and earn frequent flyer points in the process.

One of the main advantages our customers will notice is one-stop access to a much wider range of cities across Europe via Dubai, rather than having to fly to London and backtrack.’

Tim Clark, the president of Emirates Airline, said, ‘The interim approval clears the way for Emirates and Qantas to be geared up to provide customers with a unified experience from day one. The Emirates and Qantas partnership will provide customers unparalleled access to the respective networks and services including the A380 experience.

This approval comes two weeks after our first aircraft departed from Concourse A at Dubai Airport, the world’s only purpose-built A380 concourse and the ‘home of the Emirates A380′.

Qantas’ A380 passengers flying in from Australia will be able to enjoy the unrivalled experience in terms of comfort, convenience and choice of facilities in Concourse A, before boarding their flights to our rapidly expanding European network or our destinations in the Middle East and Africa.’

Bmi Regional Announces Three New Routes to Europe

Bmi Regional, a UK based airline, has launched three new routes from Birmingham Airport in the UK to continental European destinations.

The airline has launched new routes between Birmingham and the three European cities of Gothenburg (Sweden), Lyon (France) and Toulouse (France). The services commence on May 13, 2013, with six flights per week for each route.

Cathal O’Connell, the airline’s chief executive officer, said, ‘The launch of these routes to Gothenburg, Lyon and Toulouse is a continuation of bmi regional’s promise to serve key economic and tourism hubs across Europe.

Launching our first services from Birmingham Airport is an indication of our commitment to UK regions and a significant investment to position the airline for growth.

These new routes are incremental to the four new routes rolled out since bmi regional established itself as an independent airline in 2012 (Bristol to Aberdeen, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Manchester to Antwerp).

bmi regional’s choice of destinations is based on business and leisure customer demand. Toulouse is a significant base for the aerospace business, Gothenburg and Lyon are home to major car manufacturing sites as well as high-tech industries. The three great European cities are great destinations for leisure customers as well, boasting Unesco Heritage Sites, amazing foods and great outdoor activities nearby.

With fares starting from £59 each way, we also expect to see a boost in both inbound visitors to the Birmingham and the Midlands.’

Welcoming the decision, William Pearson, the aviation development director at Birmingham Airport, said, ‘It is fantastic news that bmi regional has chosen to launch these routes as its first services from Birmingham.

These three new routes, operated on an Embraer, are currently un-served from the Airport, meaning passengers have even more choice from their airport to visit these fantastic destinations.’

East Midlands Trains Installs Mobile Phone Signal Boosters

East Midlands Trains, a UK-based train service, has begun offering improved mobile phone connectivity on trains to London.

The company, which had previously entered into a partnership with Vodafone UK, a mobile network company, has completed the installation of special equipment on each of the 27 Meridian trains on its routes. The new special mobile phone signal booster equipment will be able to increase the mobile phone signal several times over.

The installation is now complete on trains travelling to and from London St Pancras, offering improved mobile coverage to all passengers boarding at Sheffield, Chesterfield, Derby, Nottingham, Leicester, Market Harborough, Corby, Kettering and Wellingborough.

Neil Micklethwaite, the customer service and commercial director for East Midlands Trains, said, ‘We’re constantly looking at ways to provide that little bit extra for our customers and we know from customer feedback that this has been something we could work to improve.

We’re pleased to have teamed up with Vodafone UK to deliver this improvement, which means that customers will be able to stay in touch on their mobile phones with a stronger and more consistent mobile phone reception.

We know how important it is for our customers to stay in touch whilst on the move. Already, all of our trains to London have on-board WiFi and we have recently announced the roll-out of free WiFi at 30 of our train stations, so there are lots more to look forward to.’

Christian Cull, the director of corporate communication at Vodafone UK, said, ‘We’re making the internet truly mobile. Your East Midlands Trains seat is now an extension of your sofa at home and your chair in the office. Our partnership with East Midlands Trains is part of our commitment to provide Britain with the best network so that people can stay connected throughout their day.’

Cheltenham braced for its annual festival meeting

The historic town of Cheltenham in Gloucester has a lot going for it. It’s within a stone’s throw of the Cotswolds, has plenty of independent shops and fantastic landmarks and scenery. However, this part of the world is perhaps most famous for being home to the Cheltenham Festival, one of the biggest events on the horse racing calendar.

First started back in 1860, when it was known as the National Hunt Meeting, it originally started in Market Harborough, but had moved to its current home permanently in 1911. Some of the festival’s flagship events including the Gold Cup (created in 1924) and Champion Hurdle (1927) were created to make it a must-see for any racing fan, and has grown in popularity with each year.

The Cheltenham Festival attracts visitors from all over the world, especially Ireland. There are two reasons for this: the first being that the Festival usually coincides with St Patrick’s Day, while the second is because Ireland is one of the most prominent horse racing nations. More than 236,000 people attended last year’s event, showing how popular it is.

What to do in Cheltenham?

If you like the idea of going to the Festival, you might want to look at the special offers bookmakers like Ladbrokes currently have on each race, but what else can you do when visiting Cheltenham? As it happens, there are quite a few sights to see and things to do for visitors to the four-day event when the races are either over or yet to begin.

When taking a stroll through the town centre, you might want to pay a visit to the Art Gallery & Museum. Here, you can see plenty of exhibitions showing what Cheltenham was like in the past as well as works from Britain, the Netherlands and even as far afield as China.

The Promenade is Cheltenham’s most famous streets. Walking up and down it will give you endless opportunities to marvel at the town’s Georgian architecture and unique shops. This street looks at its best during summer, but with the Festival on, you’ll be foolish not to have a little stroll.

Cheltenham is also home to a number of great restaurants including the award-winning Le Champignon Sauvage, run for over 25 years by the same chef. The Montpellier Wine Bar and Pie & Mash are also great places to dine out in style.

Being a famous spa town, Cheltenham is home to a number of spa hotels where you can stay if you’re going to the festival. This town is perfect if you’re looking to unwind, as the choice of spas is massive.