Celebrity Cruises launches inaugural charter flights from Cardiff

Luxury cruise line Celebrity Cruises has commenced its first ever charter flight from Cardiff Airport.

The new charter flight is part of Celebrity Cruises’ Jet Set Sail programme – operating charters offering holidaymakers larger seat pitches in-flight, increased luggage allowance and a joining service from airport check-in to the on-board ship accommodation.

Launched on July 31, the first of the two Jet Set Sail charter flights was operated by Titan on behalf of Celebrity Cruises. The flight will land in Barcelona, where guests will board the luxury ship Celebrity Constellation and board a 10 night cruise around the Mediterranean and Adriatic visiting popular destinations including Valencia, Florence, Rome, Montenegro and Split.

The second Jet Set Sail will depart on August 28, 2017, and will travel to Venice, where the passengers will join Celebrity Constellation and begin a 10 night cruise around the Greek islands, visiting tourist locations including Santorini, Athens and Mykonos.

Deb Barber, CEO of Cardiff Airport, said: ‘Exciting developments like this is evidence of the halo effect that comes with our recent passenger growth and increase in choice for customers. The cruise market has traditionally been very strong in Wales and it’s great to see new, very esteemed cruise operators reacting to demand and offering more choice for fly-cruise seekers from Cardiff.’

Jo Rzymowska, vice president and managing director, Celebrity Cruises, UK, Ireland and Asia added, ‘Our new exclusive Jet Set Sail charter from Cardiff Airport adds yet more choice and opportunity for our guests. The expansion of our nationwide programme into Cardiff is in response to strong demand and great support from Cardiff Airport. Cruise travellers can start their Celebrity Cruises holiday in complete comfort and luxury before they even depart the UK – exactly how every holiday should begin.’

Celebrity Cruises is introducing the new Jet Set Sail charter following increased demand from the Welsh cruise community for fly-cruise options out of Cardiff Airport, the airport said, adding that companies like TUI and P&O already offer cruise flights in summer and winter.

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.’

Aberdeen International Airport commences services to Riga and Faro

Aberdeen International Airport has said that it has launched two new destinations ahead of the summer season. As the third and fourth new routes of the year, Aberdeen passengers will now be able to travel direct to Riga and Faro.

Low-cost airline airBaltic recently launched its newest route from Aberdeen International with the first flight to Riga taking off on May 2. The Latvian airline will operate three times a week from Aberdeen offering customers links to the Latvian capital and Baltic States.

Carol Benzie, Managing Director of Aberdeen International, said: ‘It is fantastic to welcome airBaltic back to Aberdeen today with the launch of our Riga route. The route will provide Aberdeen holidaymakers with easy access to a number of increasingly popular destinations in the Baltic States, such as Tallin, Palanga and Vilnius, which was one of the most requested destinations in a leisure survey we undertook with our local community last year.

‘We are continually working to strengthen our route network and I am delighted to add the vibrant, cosmopolitan city of Riga to our ever-expanding list of leisure routes.’

The Riga route is the third to be launched at Aberdeen International this year and joins the current holiday-routes to Malaga and Alicante – services that were launched earlier this year. A few hours after airBaltic’s first Aberdeen to Riga flight departed, Aberdeen International launched its second new route to Faro, another popular holiday-destination in Southern Portugal. With the new Ryanair service to Faro, passengers from Aberdeen International Airport will now be able to travel twice a week to the golfing-hotspots of the Algarve region.

Riga and Faro now join Aberdeen International Airport’s list of holiday and city-break destinations available to passengers in the region. The two new routes have been launched as the airport prepares for the opening of its terminal transformation development, which will see new international and domestic arrivals facilities being open to the public, the airport said.

Hilton Worldwide to develop its first modular hotel at Bristol Airport

Hilton Worldwide has announced plans to open the first hotel at Bristol Airport under its economy Hampton by Hilton brand, the Airport said in a release.

The 201 guest room property is expected to open in the fourth quarter of 2016 and will be the first hotel at the airport. The move comes as Bristol Airport saw record volumes last year when 6.7 million people passed through the terminal, making it one of the UK’s busiest passenger airport.

In developing the modular hotel, Hilton Worldwide has entered into a strategic partnership with modular building provider CIMC. Financed and owned by CIMC, the hotel will be managed by Hilton Worldwide.

Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president, development, Europe & Africa, Hilton Worldwide said, ‘CIMC’s capacity to deliver modular sections of the building to the final hotel site offers an incredible opportunity to overcome many of the challenges faced during construction.

‘Alongside potential time and cost efficiencies, CIMC’s ability to provide senior debt to developers using its modular building technique underpins its robust growth model, and we are seeing more and more opportunity for this structure in mature markets such as the UK, and developing economies, most notably in Africa.’

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said: ‘The development of a high quality on-site hotel to be operated under such a world-renowned brand will be a very welcome addition to our facilities for the growing number of passengers choosing to fly to and from Bristol Airport. Alongside the terminal extension currently under construction, this is another statement of our ambition to be a world class regional airport serving the South West of the UK.’

CIMC’s innovative modular technique reduces construction time by manufacturing and assembling parts of the hotel, including guest rooms and hallways, in China, before transporting them to the final site for assembly. The model ensures consistent quality and accelerates the on-site schedule.

 

Bristol Airport announces Bristol-California, Sofia-Bristol services

Bristol Airport has announced that Icelandic low-cost airline, WOW air, is set to launch new flights to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Bristol Airport via its Reykjavik hub.

The move follows WOW’s announcement in December that Bristol was to become its second UK departure point for flights to Iceland and North America.

The new flights to California will commence services beginning June 13, 2016. Tickets have gone on sale this week from £139 one way. Flights will depart Bristol Airport on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with all services providing the opportunity to connect onwards to Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Skuli Mogensen, founder and CEO of WOW air, said: ‘The addition of Los Angeles and San Francisco to our rapidly expanding network is a game changer for WOW air as we cement ourselves as the industry leader in the ultra-low-cost long haul category. We always aim to be the cheapest flight provider on the routes we fly to and with the £139 fare between the UK and California we have accomplished this once again.

‘Our low fares and service with a smile have been integral to our success and we expect that these new routes, at this price, will continue to excite guests from the UK and leave them asking where WOW air will fly next.’

Separately, Bristol Airport said that Wizz Air, a leading European low-fares airline, has this week started operating its new service from Sofia to Bristol, U.K. The twice-weekly service will be operated on Mondays and Thursdays.

easyJet continues expansion of services from Bristol Airport

easyJet, one of UK’s leading airlines and the largest at Bristol Airport, is expanding its services from Bristol and announced the introduction of an additional aircraft to its Bristol operations next year.

According to a release by the airport, starting summer 2016, the airline will have up to 13 easyJet aircraft based at the airport to serve extra demand from its passengers across the South West and Wales, while flying to more destinations.

Earlier this month the airline celebrated the launch of two of its new routes from Bristol Airport – to Basel in Switzerland and Vienna in Austria. The new routes were Bristol Airport’s first ever scheduled services to the two destinations and are expected to carry around 78,000 passengers annually. easyJet’s new routes to Basel and Vienna took to the skies on November 6.

Shaun Browne, Aviation Director, Bristol Airport, said: ‘We are delighted with the continued expansion of easyJet and the additional Airbus aircraft based at Bristol Airport. Not only does this expansion bring additional routes to the region but the growth supports job creation for both the Airport and the thriving aerospace industry in the city.’

Since the start of this year, the airline has commenced or announced the launch of 12 new destinations, offering its customers in the South-West a choice of over 58 destinations in total. In addition to its Basel and Vienna inaugurals earlier this month, easyJet’s first flights to Bilbao, Catania, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Lanzarote, Porto and Zante also took off this year. Another three have been announced for 2016: Dubrovnik, Nantes and Venice.

Ali Gayward, easyJet’s UK Commercial Manager, said: ‘2015 has been an impressive year for easyJet in Bristol and our customers in the South West now have an incredible 58 destinations to choose from. As such we are putting a 13th aircraft into our Bristol operations to accommodate for the extra routes we have put on sale and the extra demand. We’re looking forward to welcoming more of our customers onboard in the future.’

More than half of London City’s passengers resort to online check-in

Research conducted at London City Airport has revealed that passengers are increasingly using technology with increased confidence for flight check-ins.

According to the research, in June this year, 53 percent of passengers checked in online and printed their boarding pass at home or downloaded it to their mobile phone – up from 43 percent the previous year, Luchtzak Aviation said in a release online.

The research also found that only one in five travellers – or 20 percent – used a manned-check-in desk at the airport – as compared to more than one in three, or 36 percent, who sought the assurance of a staff member handling check-in last year. Also, self-service check-in kiosks are becoming more popular as usage at the airport has increased from 10 percent to 21 percent in 12 months.

According to the airport, the findings demonstrate the impact of technology on the customer experience, the increased confidence of travellers in taking control of their journey, and the need to save time.

Declan Collier, CEO of London City Airport, said: ‘These findings show that 4 out of 5 people catching a flight from London City Airport are now checking themselves in, whether online or via a self-service kiosk in the terminal.

‘What really stands out to me is the obvious confidence travellers now have. You can provide all the technology money can buy, but your customers must want to use it. Much like shoppers using self-service check-out tills, or even self-service check-in booths at hotels, technology in travel and aviation is giving people choice – choice to own your journey and the processes needed to complete it. It is clear that air passengers have found the confidence to take control of their journey, save themselves time and do it their way in this digital age – a kind of digital DIY.’

The research also found that business travellers were the most likely to check-in online. Almost two thirds (61 per cent) of business passengers at the airport printed their boarding pass at home or downloaded to their mobile, compared to less than half (45 per cent) of leisure passengers.

London City Airport has the highest proportion of business travellers of any UK airport – around 55 percent of passengers, the report noted.

As part of efforts to improve passenger experience, London City is currently investing GBP16m in redeveloping its Western Pier, which houses 70 percent of its departure gates. The new pier will be 74 percent larger, with a contemporary open-plan layout, 600 additional seats and space for new retail and food and drink outlets.

 

London City Airport profiles passengers based on packing habits

London City Airport has identified five passenger profiles based on their packing habits when planning for a trip – ranging from the ones who return with half their baggage untouched to those who miss out on packing essentials.

Accordingly, the airport has found five categories of passengers – the World On Their Shoulders (WOTS), Kitchen Sink, Pants & Polos, My Case or Yours and the Last Minute packers – set on a pleasure or business trip. The airport describes the general traits of the different categories as:

World On Their Shoulders (WOTS) – the ones who struggle to stay upright under the weight of their hand luggage. To avoid an overweight hold luggage, they carry stuff in shoulder bags.

Kitchen Sink – Fearing the thought of being caught short, they stuff everything in their suitcase they can think of even for a one night trip. This group suffers from the packing equivalent to FOMO – FOLO, Fear of Leaving Out.

Pants & Polos – A well-honed and planned style amongst business travellers, this category simply packs the bare essentials to ensure their bag will fit in the overhead lockers, saving time at check-in and arrivals. They are not keen on changing a plan.

My Case or Yours – This category refers to families travelling together who start by packing individual cases for each member but end up putting things wherever they’ll fit. Hence they are always searching where, in which case, the items are.

Last Minute – Carrying a suitcase of mismatched outfits, odd shoes, no swimwear, but excess woollens, this category is the most unorganised when it comes to planning a trip.

Commenting on traveller profiles and advising people planning their holidays, a London City Airport spokesperson said, ‘We advise passengers to check their luggage allowance with their airline in advance so they have plenty of time to pack and avoid additional charges at check-in.’

‘We see a lot of Pants & Polos with our business travellers, who travel regularly and have packing down to a fine art. However, weekend breakers’ and holidaymakers’ luggage comes in all shapes and sizes and we get a broad mix of WOTS, Kitchen Sinkers and My Case or Yours. The beauty of a Last Minute packer is that to the outside world they appear organised, it’s only when they’re sitting around the swimming pool in jeans and cowboy boots that they get found out.’

 

Bristol Airport welcomes National Express service

Bristol Airport has announced a National Express service for transport to and from South Wales following the withdrawal of coach operator First Group.

The move ensures the continuation of the only direct public transport link between South Wales and Bristol Airport. Cheaper than its predecessor, the new 216 service set for launch on March 1 will operate between Cardiff Bus Station and Bristol Airport, offering a direct public transport link for Welsh travellers who fly from the airport.

Operating 12 times a day in each direction, the 216 service is run by South Wales-based Edwards Coaches, reaching the airport from Cardiff Bus Station in just one hour and 20 minutes – 20 minutes faster than the outgoing service. It also calls at Cardiff University and Newport Rail Station.

Robert Sinclair, Chief Executive Officer at Bristol Airport, said: ‘The launch of a National Express service to and from Cardiff brings a high profile brand to the growing range of public transport options available to passengers using Bristol Airport, providing a convenient link to our route network for people and business in South Wales. It’s fantastic to have National Express on board and help strengthen the overall customer service offer of Bristol Airport.’

National Express Service Delivery Director, Kevin Gale said: ‘We are really pleased to be taking on this route which provides such an important link between South Wales and Bristol Airport. We are particularly pleased to be able to pay tribute to the Bristol’s amazing aviation history and the pivotal part it played in bringing the world’s fastest commercial aircraft to the world by naming our service the 216. We may not be quite as fast as a Concorde but our service, which is faster than its predecessor, links Bristol Airport to Cardiff in just one hour twenty minutes, offering unbeatable convenience for passengers.’

Featuring a ‘Bristol Airport Express’ livery, the new service vehicles are fully wheelchair accessible. The service includes the usual National Express provisions, viz. power sockets, leather seats and air-conditioning.

National Express tickets are on sale, with single fares starting from £13, with a 25 per cent discount available to those who book a return ticket.

Edinburgh Airport opens one-stop-shop for luggage needs

Edinburgh Airport has announced the opening of Luggage-Point – a retail and service arm of Weigh-ahead – in the airport’s new terminal extension, offering passengers a solution to luggage requirements.

The new Edinburgh store stocks luxury brands like Samsonite, Kipling, Trunki and Fiorelli. It also offers customers a dry-cleaning drop-off and collection service, as well as lost property, storage and bag wrap facilities – the first of its kind at the airport. The store is also the first retailer in the world to stock exclusive merchandise from Rise Gear – luggage products previously featured on the Canadian Dragons Den that can roll packing and storage all into one.

The Airport’s Shop and Collect service will be based at Luggage-Point, which will be open from 4:00am to 10pm.

Richard Townsend, Head of Retail and Property at Edinburgh Airport, said: ‘Having the new Luggage-Point store in our new terminal means that customers can have the choice of fantastic products and services in the one place.

‘We want to make the passenger journey as easy and stress-free as possible so the fact we can now offer services like bag wrapping and dry-cleaning will be a real benefit to our customers.’

Marc Stewart, a director of Luggage-Point said: ‘We’re extremely proud and excited not only as a company but as a family to be opening our new travel retail and passenger services store at Edinburgh Airport.

‘Edinburgh Airport is growing whilst committed to enhancing and improving the passenger experience. Luggage-Point shares the same philosophy and look forward to working with Edinburgh Airport to achieve these goals.’

Another first of its kind, Edinburgh Airport said that it will also install the new Best-weigh pre-check-in weighing units. Passengers will be able to check the weight of their luggage against the permitted allowance, whichever the airline they’re flying with. If too heavy, the system automatically calculates and advises of any potential charges. Located in the main check-in hall, the machines have inbuilt card payment facilities.