Wizz Air announces three new routes from London Luton, opens first UK base at airport

Wizz Air, a budget airline in Central and Eastern Europe, has opened its first UK base at London Luton Airport and announced three new services to Tel Aviv, Prishtina and Kutaisi.

Wizz Air will now base one of its new Airbus A320 aircraft at the airport, increasing operations to 42 routes from Luton. The aircraft will support the start of operations of three new routes from London Luton, which includes the only direct connection between Kutaisi and the UK.

Starting June 18, the new Wizz Air route from London Luton to Kutaisi, Georgia will operate on Thursdays and Sundays with fares starting from £23.99; to Tel Aviv, Israel on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays starting June 24, 2017, with fares starting from £97.99; and to Prishtina, Kosovo on Tuesday, Saturday, also starting June 24, 2017, with fares starting from £30.49. Fares are all one way including all taxes and non-optional charges. Seats on the new routes are on sale and can be booked at wizzair.com.

Besides the new routes, with the arrival of the new aircraft, the airline will also increase its frequencies on some of its most popular routes to Romania. Suceava will now operate five times per week, Constanta four times per week and Iasi flights will operate daily.

Owain Jones, Chief Corporate Officer at Wizz Air, said: ‘We are proud to celebrate the opening of the first WIZZ base in the United Kingdom at London Luton Airport. Wizz Air’s very first flight in 2004 was to London Luton and, since then, we have carried 30 million passengers on our low fare routes from the airport, stimulating the local tourism and aviation industries while strengthening business partnerships between the UK and CEE.

‘Our new base operations at London Luton Airport will create a number of local jobs with WIZZ and the new destinations added to the network mean even greater choice for WIZZ’s UK passengers with 42 popular routes to 18 countries operating from London Luton and ever more opportunities to discover Europe on WIZZ’s low fare routes. Our fantastic crew will ensure an excellent travel experience for each passenger traveling with WIZZ on board one of Europe’s youngest fleets.’ 

In 2016 Wizz Air carried more than five million passengers on its London Luton routes, making it the second largest operator at the airport. In 2017 Wizz Air will have almost 6.3 million seats on sale on its London Luton routes, representing 13 percent growth year on year, the airline said.

Norwegian announces new London -Argentina route starting February next year

Norwegian has announced a new route from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires – the airline’s first ever South American route.

Known as the ‘Paris of South America’, Buenos Aires offers UK travellers a mix of European and Latin American culture. The new route will start in February 2018, with fares from £299. Norwegian already offers long-haul flights from London Gatwick to nine US cities and Singapore. Buenos Aires will become Norwegian’s 11th long-haul route from London Gatwick as it continues to expand its services from the UK into a range of new global markets.

Effective from February 14, 2018, Norwegian will start a year-round service of four weekly flights from London Gatwick to Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport. Operated using the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, the service offers passengers seatback inflight entertainment and fares from £299 one way in economy. Passengers can also opt for Premium cabin which offers more than a metre of legroom, complimentary meal service, and airport lounge access, with Premium fares available from £699 one way. Flights are now on sale at www.norwegian.com.

Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said: ‘With our new Argentina route we are offering UK passengers more choice and lower fares to another exciting global destination. Buenos Aires is a cosmopolitan capital city with something to offer all travellers and Norwegian has fares to suit all budgets.

‘From Europe, the USA, Asia and now South America, our long-haul network is going global and the UK will continue to be at the heart of our ambitious plans for expansion. We also see huge potential in the Argentinian market so this is not only a major milestone as our first South American route, it is also a first step towards ambitious plans for international and domestic growth in Argentina.’

Gatwick Airport CEO Stewart Wingate said: ‘Norwegian’s new direct route to Buenos Aires shows that the low cost long haul revolution continues to break new ground. The boom in these routes is a major factor in Gatwick recording the second largest increase in direct connectivity of any European airport over the last five years. Gatwick now serves more than 50 long haul direct services and this is only the beginning. This is the future of air travel becoming a reality before our eyes and is being driven by new low cost long haul services that Gatwick and Norwegian have pioneered.’

Norwegian carries more than five million UK passengers each year from five UK airports, to over 50 global destinations. Earlier last week it was announced that Norwegian has been awarded the ‘World’s best low-cost long-haul airline’ for three consecutive years at the SkyTrax World Airline Awards.

Hilton Group to open new hotel in Birmingham Airport in summer 2018

Hilton Group is planning to open its new Hilton Garden Inn hotel at Birmingham Airport in summer 2018.

Situated on Concorde Road, Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham Airport will be located next to the airport’s terminal building. The new hotel joins more than 100 Hilton Garden Inn properties operating or under development in Europe, and more than 20 Hilton airport hotels in the UK. 

According to a release by Birmingham Airport, Hilton has signed a franchise agreement with Castlebridge Hotels Birmingham Airport Limited for the construction of the hotel. The proposed 178-guestroom hotel will be built using modular build technology, working with CIMC Modular Building Systems. The construction technique will enable components of the new hotel building – including guest rooms and corridors – to be manufactured in China and transported to site for final assembly. The same concept was used on Hampton by Hilton airport hotels in Aberdeen and Bristol.

Jo Lloyd, commercial director, Birmingham Airport, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with both Castlebridge and Hilton to develop this new hotel, which is an exciting addition to our hotel offering at Birmingham Airport. We have been experiencing record passenger growth as more and more passengers and airlines realise the enormous benefits of travelling from Birmingham and we are delighted to provide our customers with more choice and a great hotel product which we look forward to opening in 2018. 

Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president, development, EMEA, Hilton said: ‘Often cited as the best place to invest in the UK outside of London, demand in Birmingham is growing fast. Infrastructure projects will only boost that growth and Hilton Garden Inn Birmingham Airport is in a terrific location-we can’t wait for it to open next year.’

Jenna Dienn, commercial director, Castlebridge Group said: ‘We are thrilled to be working in partnership with Hilton and Birmingham Airport to develop the new Hilton Garden Inn. We feel that this is a great time to be developing the hotel and restaurant due to the increase in passenger numbers and the airport expansion. The hotel is going to be a huge success and we look forward to the opening in the summer of next year.’

Norwegian commences new direct flight to Rhodes from Gatwick; to US east coast from Edinburgh

Low-cost airline Norwegian has announced an expansion to its routes from the UK with a new direct service from London Gatwick to Rhodes.

Norwegian’s inaugural flight to Rhodes departed on June 17 with a weekly service throughout summer, and fares available from £29.90 one-way.

Rhodes will be the fifth Greek island Norwegian serves direct from London Gatwick, including Corfu, Crete, Kefalonia, and Santorini.

Thomas Ramdahl, Chief Commercial Officer for Norwegian, said: ‘Rhodes is a fantastic addition to our growing UK route network and with affordable fares, we expect Brits to flock to the Greek island this summer.’

In addition, Norwegian has also recently launched new routes to the USA from Edinburgh Airport, commencing its daily service to Stewart International Airport in New York on June 15. Norwegian’s transatlantic expansion to the US east coast include services from Edinburgh Airport to Providence, Rhode Island starting June 16 and the UK’s only direct service to Hartford, Connecticut commencing June 17. With this, Norwegian operates 14 transatlantic flights per week from Edinburgh, with fares starting from £138 one way.

Norwegian Chief Executive Officer, Bjorn Kjos said: ‘Not only is Norwegian transforming transatlantic travel by connecting smaller cities in huge catchment areas but we’re also unlocking affordable direct high quality travel to a new market of travellers.

‘As such, Edinburgh is important to our future UK growth and it will allow us to create more Scottish jobs at Norwegian which in turn benefits the workforce of Scotland’s tourism industry.’

Norwegian now serves over 50 business and leisure summer destinations worldwide- carrying nearly 5.2 million UK passengers each year – from London Gatwick, Manchester, Edinburgh and Birmingham. Short-haul flights are operated by a fleet of brand new Boeing 737 aircraft offering passengers free inflight Wi-Fi.

Seats are available to book now at www.norwegian.com. Fares are per person, per one-way flight and include all mandatory taxes and charges, the airline said.

New powdair airline to commence new routes from UK to Swiss Alps this winter

New airline powdair has launched a new winter schedule that connects eight destinations in the UK, Germany and Belgium with Sion Airport in Switzerland.

As part of its winter 2017 schedule, the new airline will offer skiers and snowboarders across the UK, Northern Germany and the Benelux Countries an opportunity to reach the heart of Switzerland’s winter sport region, the Valais, quickly and efficiently. The eight airports that will be served by powdair are – London Luton, London Southend, Southampton, Bristol, Manchester and Edinburgh as well as Antwerp and Hamburg. Flight times are typically between 1 hour 25 minutes and two hours from the UK airports.

The new services, which will commence from December 14, 2017, will reduce transfer times to some of Switzerland’s most popular ski resorts for winter sports enthusiasts including Zermatt, Verbier, Saas Fee, Crans Montana and Nendaz. A wide range of transfer options from Sion Airport to onward destinations are available to book at the point of ticket purchase, including shared and private journeys to the major resorts in the region. Tickets are now available to book through its website, powdair.ski.

Aline Bovier-Gantzer from Sion Airport said: ‘We are really excited to welcome powdair into Sion and fly to new destinations in the UK, Germany and Belgium. The chance to bring in winter sports tourists into Sion Airport is a great opportunity for the region and we are looking forward to welcoming our new guests here. Our airport is ideally located to easily reach the well-known ski resorts in the Valais and we hope that it will also provide a link from Sion to destinations such as London and Edinburgh as well.’

Zoë Ombler, Head of Commercial for powdair, said: ‘It’s not every day that we get to launch an airline and especially one that opens up a completely new route into an airport that is so close to some of the world’s best ski resorts. The response we have already seen on social media shows the kind of interest people have in the area and regular, scheduled flights into Sion are long overdue. Every winter sports enthusiast knows about the sheer quality of ski resorts in the Valais region and we are proud to be able to help our customers reach those resorts faster than any other available option.’

A single class airline registered in Dublin, Ireland, powdair will operate two aircraft from its base in Sion, Switzerland with average fare prices around £140. The ticket price includes baggage allowances of up to 23 kg luggage and skis/snowboard.

Virgin Atlantic announces new London Heathrow – Las Vegas flights for Consumer Electronics Show 2018

Virgin Atlantic has recently announced that it will operate four flights between London Heathrow and Las Vegas in January 2018, in association with Delta Air Lines, offering customers more connections and choice for travelling to the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 – the world’s largest technology event, set to be held in Las Vegas.

Available to book now, the special services will fly from London Heathrow on January 7-8, 2018, and return from Las Vegas on January 12-13, 2018. The flights will be operated by the airline’s newest, and most fuel efficient aircraft, the Boeing 787-9, offering a larger Upper Class cabin than the existing London Gatwick service. This year, over 60,000 international visitors attended the show, with London being the largest European demand point.

Richard Myerscough, senior vice president – Sales & Distribution at Virgin Atlantic, said: ‘The Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas is the world’s largest technology show, and what better way for people to travel than on Virgin Atlantic’s most technologically advanced aircraft – the 787 Dreamliner.

‘We’re always looking for ways to make travel even easier for our customers, and ensure we have best combination of aircraft and airport to suit the destination or event. This is the first time that we’ve run dedicated flights for the Consumer Electronics Show and we’re confident that customers will enjoy the easy access to London Heathrow, and the unrivalled flying experience of our newest aircraft.’

Customers travelling to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas will be able to enjoy the innovative features of the airlines’ newest aircraft, including on-board wi-fi, larger windows with electro-chromatic dimming, lower cabin altitude to help the effects of jet lag, and more. The airline also offers an advanced in-flight entertainment system which includes over 300 hours of on-demand films, TV and music.

In addition, the airline offers its Upper Class customers a private security channel a, a facility for working or relaxing, and dining in Virgin Atlantic’s award-winning Clubhouse. Upon landing at London Heathrow, T3 customers can refresh in Virgin Atlantic’s Revivals Lounge before heading in to London.

Customers will also be able to enjoy Virgin Atlantic’s onboard service, including its Premium Economy product featuring a new Wander Wall for snacks and socialising, as well as chauffer limo service, bar and fully flat-bed seats for Upper Class customers, the airline said.

More than half of Britons choose staycationing this summer

More than 55 per cent of British adults will be holidaying in Great Britain in summer this year, according to Travelodge’s annual holiday index.

The Travelodge research, which surveyed 3,000 British adults, reveals that 2017 will be another strong year for staycations. However, the figures reflected a drop of three percentage points in the number of Britons holidaying at home this year (55 per cent), compared to 58 per cent last year.

Over half (55 per cent) of Britons surveyed reported that they choose to holiday at home this year as it is too expensive to go abroad and a staycation offers better value for money. The most sought after staycation destinations are Cornwall, Devon, North Wales, Blackpool and the Isle of Wight.

Over a third (36 per cent) of adults said that they were looking to holiday at home this year as part of supporting the British economy following Brexit.

According to the research, British holidaymakers will be spending an average of £599.80 on their annual break this year – contributing nearly £17bn to the UK economy. The average spend of £599.80 is £130 less when compared to the £729.80 in 2016, though it equates to a collective spend of £17bn, Travelodge said.

The study also revealed that nearly half of Britons are taking a one-week holiday supported by three short breaks throughout the 2017. Only 17 per cent of adults are taking a ‘traditional’ two-week holiday.

The seaside remains the favourite destination for Britons, with 53 per cent of adults choosing the British seaside for their annual break. A relaxing rural break is what a third of Britons surveyed opt for and the top destinations for this year include the Lake District, Scottish Highlands, Norfolk Broads, Yorkshire Dales and Peak District. Meanwhile 27 per cent of adults are looking at a city break this summer with London, Edinburgh, Bath, York and Oxford being their top destinations.

The research revealed that the UK’s top staycationers are from the Welsh town of Aberystwyth with 85 per cent of its people choosing a staycation break this year, and the average household spending £456.75. Gloucester, Sheffield, Plymouth and Worcester are other location where the most number of people choose a staycation.

Air Canada Rouge commences Gatwick-Vancouver direct service

Air Canada Rouge has recently announced the launch of its new seasonal non-stop service from London Gatwick to Vancouver.

Air Canada Rouge is Air Canada’s leisure airline and will operate three services a week to Air Canada’s Vancouver hub, Vancouver International Airport, until October 7, 2017 (westbound).

The London Gatwick-Vancouver service will operate thrice a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Flight times are ten hours 10 minutes westbound and nine hours 40 minutes eastbound. Air Canada Rouge flight AC1935 departs Gatwick at 12.00 hours, arriving in Vancouver at 14.10 hours, the same day. The return flight AC1934 departs Vancouver at 16.45 hours, arriving in London Gatwick at 10.25 hours, the next day – all times being local and subject to change.

Commenting on the new route, Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial Officer, London Gatwick Airport, said: ‘Visitors from the UK will be spoilt for choice in Vancouver – one of the world’s most exciting places to visit. The city hosts a wealth of festivals, galleries, theatres, museums and music venues, and is the principal gateway to the famous Canadian outdoors. This new route also provides an important connection between the two countries business communities, including Vancouver’s flourishing high-tech, media and green economy sectors.’

Stephen Gerrard, Air Canada’s General Manager Sales -UK and Ireland, said: ‘We successfully launched our London Gatwick-Toronto service last summer and we are pleased to introduce our second seasonal service from London Gatwick today [June 8, 2017].’

‘Our customers can now fly non-stop with Air Canada Rouge to Western Canada with onward connections to our extensive global network. Creating memorable moments is what we pride ourselves on at Air Canada Rouge. Our flight attendants are all trained at the Disney Institute in customer service excellence and we offer a host of Air Canada benefits, all at competitive fares.’

The new direct service is operated using a 282-seat wide-body Boeing 767-300ER aircraft, which features a two-cabin configuration with 24 Premium Rouge seats offering both additional legroom and enhanced service in the front cabin, and 258 Economy seats – including 39 Preferred seats with additional legroom – in the rear cabin. Air Canada Rouge offers customers wireless in-flight entertainment streamed to their own personal electronic devices, stylish cabin interiors, complimentary advanced seat assignment and the ability to earn and redeem Aeroplan miles. Air Canada also offers complimentary generous checked and carry-on baggage allowance.

In addition to the new London Gatwick-Vancouver service, Air Canada Rouge is planning to launch new services to four other European destinations this summer, Montreal to Reykjavik and Marseille and Toronto to Reykjavik and Berlin, Gatwick Airport said in a release.

Birmingham Airport launches new flight update service via Twitter

Birmingham Airport is planning to launch a new flight update service for departing passengers via Twitter starting this summer.

The new information service, named BizTweet, enables passengers to receive real-time updates via their Twitter feed along the course of their journey, from the opening of check-in to flight departure. Besides receiving flight information, customers will also receive other operational and commercial information and offers.

Commenting on the move, Paul Kehoe, Birmingham Airport’s chief executive said: ‘We want to deliver information to our customers in an innovative and instant way and BizTweet allows us to meet the demands of our passengers.

‘We’re confident that the new service will be welcomed by the growing number of Twitter users choosing to fly from Birmingham so they can enjoy the journey through the terminal while information is delivered direct to their mobile devices.’

Travellers will be able to sign up via the airport’s website or personal Twitter account. The new BizTweet service, offered in association with Cork based technology company TIC, is expected to be launched during the summer, the Airport said.

Founder and CEO of the BizTweet service, Paul Brugger, said: ‘Birmingham Airport is very special to me as it was my local airport prior to moving to Cork. It’s an airport I’ve used numerous times and one I know well as a passenger. I’m delighted Birmingham, our 3rd airport in the UK, has chosen BizTweet to provide passengers with real time personalised information direct to their mobile devices by social media.’

Separately, Birmingham Airport was recently named an Autism Friendly airport by the National Autistic Society.

The Autism Friendly Award recognises the success of Birmingham Airport and OCS Group, the largest provider of assistance to persons with reduced mobility (PRM) in the UK and Ireland, in providing assistance that improves the airport experience for passengers with autism, their families and caregivers. Birmingham Airport and OCS Group have worked together to ensure clear information about the airport is available for passengers with autism, on ways to plan their journey and access assistance at the terminal.

Monarch offers sun holidays in June and July for GBP269 per person

The UK-based travel company Monarch is offering holiday packages for UK holidaymakers looking for a break to popular European sun destinations in June and July.

Monarch’s beach holiday packages include four and seven night breaks starting at £269 per person. The offerings include package holidays to Majorca – Balearics with fares starting from £269 per person, which includes return flights and seven nights half board accommodation based on two adults sharing a studio. The flights will depart Manchester on June 28 for a seven night stay at the three- star Ola Bouganvillia.

The company is also offering seven-night holiday to Lefkas – Greece with fares starting from £289 per person. The flight will depart London Gatwick on July 12 for a seven night stay at the three star Cosmopol Studios. The price includes return flights and seven nights self-catering accommodation based on two adults sharing a studio.

Monarch is offering a four-night holiday to Majorca – Balearics with fares starting from £395 per person, which includes return flights and four nights all-inclusive accommodation based on two adults sharing a suite. The flight will depart London Luton on June 13 for a four night stay at the four-star BH Mallorca.

Further, the travel company is offering seven-night holiday packages to Lanzarote – Canary Islands with fares starting from £685 per person. This flight will depart Birmingham on July 7 for a seven night stay at the five-star Bahia Principe Tenerife Hotel. The price of £685 per person includes return flights and seven nights all-inclusive accommodation based on two adults sharing a junior suite.

Monarch will also operate a seven-night holiday package to Algarve – Portugal with fares starting from £589 per person. The flight will depart Birmingham on June 29 for a seven night stay at the three-star Auramar. The price of £589 per person includes return flights and seven nights all-inclusive accommodation based on two adults sharing a twin room.

For flight only service, Monarch has thousands of seats available for £30.00 to sun and city break destinations including Menorca and Alicante.