Bristol announces new £99 WOW Air route to North America

Icelandic budget airline WOW Air has announced a new route from Bristol Airport – its second departure point in the UK – to Iceland and North America, offering the cheapest transatlantic flights for travellers in SW England and Wales, according to a release by the Airport.

The new flights will begin from May 13, 2016, with tickets now available for booking from £39 to Reykjavik and £99 to the USA and Canada. Flights will depart Bristol Airport for the airline’s hub in Reykjavik on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Passengers travelling through will then have a short stopover before continuing on to one of the airline’s North American destinations – Boston, Washington D.C., Montreal, Toronto, Los Angeles or San Francisco.

A320 aircraft will operate the Bristol to Reykjavik flight with single-class A321 and A330-300 aircraft operating the routes between Iceland and North America.

Skuli Mogensen, Founder and CEO of WOW Air, said: ‘As one of our strongest markets we are delighted to continue to grow WOW air’s presence in the UK. Bringing our ultra-low-cost transatlantic model to Bristol will make flying to the US and Canada much easier for those in the South West and Wales. We hope our low fares will give holidaymakers in these areas the chance to travel further afield than previously planned, whilst enjoying great service, delivered with a smile.’

Robert Sinclair, chief executive office at Bristol Airport, said: ‘We are thrilled that WOW air has chosen Bristol as its first UK regional airport, providing low cost flights to the USA and Canada via the world-class Reykjavik hub.

‘Currently, over a million people a year travel between the South West and Wales and North America, including an estimated 250,000 inbound visitors. Until now, the majority have flown to and from London airports to do so, clocking up additional time and costs in the process. This new link will enhance both the convenience and affordability of flights to several American destinations, including Los Angeles and Washington D.C., giving people more reason than ever to choose to fly local.’

Bristol is the WOW Air’s 25th destination following the announcement of Canadian and Californian routes in October and November respectively. Launched in November 2011, WOW Air’s annual passenger capacity will more than double in 2016 to over 1.8 million, up from approximately 840,000 in 2015.

 

Birmingham gets new daily flight to JFK Airport

Birmingham Airport and American Airlines have announced the launch of new direct daily flights between Birmingham and New York John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK).

The American Airlines flight will operate daily, arriving from JFK into Birmingham at 0700 local UK time. It will depart for its return leg at 0900, arriving into New York JFK at 1155 local US time. The route will provide nearly 100,000 seats between Birmingham Airport and JFK.

David Winstanley, Chief Operating Officer for Birmingham Airport said: ‘We warmly welcome today’s new American Airlines daily service between Birmingham and New York JFK as it provides more choice for people wanting to access this vibrant US destination and has created almost 100,000 extra seats between the two cities.

‘American Airlines’ strong route network from JFK also broadens onward connectivity across the Americas and Canada, including nearly hourly connections to LA, San Francisco and Orlando, and international flights down to Buenos Aires, San Paulo and Rio, as well as up to Toronto and Montreal.

Through the American Airlines and British Airways partnership and oneworld airline alliance, the new service will offer a British Airways code share, allowing customers to earn and redeem BA air miles and Avios points. ‘This joint business and oneworld alliance with British Airways also means that we see the return of a British Airways code share to Birmingham, allowing customers to earn and redeem BA air miles and Avios points,’ Winstanley said.

The new direct service also comes as American tourists have spent around £40m in Birmingham last year, while the Midlands exported £4.8bn to North America, giving a trade surplus of £2.9bn – the largest for any UK region.

‘This service will not only help to build on the region’s success in attracting trading with America, but with so many wonderful places on our doorstep such as Stratford-up-Avon, Warwick and the Cotswolds, we’re confident that this new flight will draw in even more tourists and business to the region,’ Winstanley added.

The new flights are available via AA.com and BA.com, and through travel agents. The service will be operated by a Boeing 757 aircraft with 16 business and 160 economy seats.

In-demand jobs for Brits looking to move overseas… with a few surprises

Brits looking to move overseas may benefit from the list of the most in-demand jobs in some of the most popular global destinations, which brings a few surprises along the way.

International relocation specialist Robinsons Relocation has released a list of the most ‘in-demand’ vocations for Brits wanting to start a new life overseas.

Based on data gathered from Robinsons’ 15,000 international relocations in the last year, the most popular emigration destinations include Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand and Spain. Robinsons has also mapped the most in-demand jobs, including some of the more unusual roles these destinations are looking out for.

While medics, engineers and professional services are in high demand across the board, some of the most unusual jobs in demand include bee keeping, wine making and cartography.

In Australia, the most in-demand sectors are currently medical (including doctors, sonographers, nurses, dentists) the professional services (accountants, lawyers), engineering & construction (architects, project managers, surveyors), as well as teaching, telecoms & IT, and skilled-trades. However, also in demand are roles such as cartographer, locksmith, shipwrights, lift mechanic, forester and stallion master. The average Australian wage currently is reportedly around AUD72,000 (£42,700), significantly above that at home.

Meanwhile, in America, the currently most sought after roles are for pharmacists, with software engineers, physical therapy and speech language pathology also in demand. And Canada is looking out for workers in the restaurant and food service industries, along with medical professionals and construction workers.

New Zealand is seeking agricultural roles, as well as construction, nursing, engineering and beef and chicken farmers. Among its perhaps more surprising roles required are bee-keeping, tree surgeons, and wine makers.

Spain, another popular destination for UK emigrants, is currently seeking professionals with engineering, customer service, IT, finance, online marketing, skilled trades, and language teaching experience.

Ian Brown, Head of International Moving at Robinsons Relocation, said: ‘Last year, more than 153,000 people emigrated from the UK, many of whom were pursuing careers overseas. Whatever you’re planning on doing for work, it’s worth checking out the latest Government guidelines for the most ‘in-demand’ skills and of course, going through the correct Visa procedures. And whether you’re a bee keeper, boat builder or bio engineer, Robinsons can help you move all your stuff and make the whole process simple for you.’

New Edinburgh – Philadelphia route announced

The first direct service between Edinburgh and Philadelphia will be launched in May 2014 by US Airways, improving Scotland’s connections with North America.

Scottish and American passengers will be able to benefit from the new service, which will see daily flights between the two cities run between May 23 and October 01. US Airways, which flies to over 230 worldwide destinations, will operate flights on 176-seat dual-class Boeing 757 aircraft.

Gordon Dewar, Chief Executive at Edinburgh Airport, said: ‘This is another great result for Edinburgh and one which will see our American route network grow considerably, following the recent announcement that United will operate a direct Chicago service from May.

‘Next summer will be a hugely exciting time with the Ryder Cup and Year of Homecoming to look forward to. We’re pleased to be working with US Airways and allowing more American passengers to experience all that Scotland has to offer. Scots will also have the chance to visit this amazing city and the added opportunity to travel onwards to destinations like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Hawaii.

‘This is not just an achievement for Edinburgh Airport but for the wider city and we’re delighted to be able to share our success with our partners.’

Edinburgh Airport has recorded its top most successful six months on record, with traffic rising significantly in October. A total of 917,437 people passed through the airport last month, a rise of 8.7 percent on October 2012. Domestic figures were up by 4.6% with 428,064 passengers, and international also increased with 489,373 people travelling through, an increase of over 11%.

Commenting on the passenger growth, Mr. Dewar said: ‘Since May, we’ve welcomed almost six million passengers through our doors. Edinburgh and Scotland continue to remain places where people want to visit for work or leisure and we’re delighted to play our part as one of the main gateways to our country.

‘Having recently announced a number of fantastic new routes for next year and with work now underway on our EAST Expansion project, we’re excited for the future and look forward to entering a new phase for the airport.’

US court rejects British Airways’ bid to dismiss flyers’ lawsuit over fuel surcharges

British Airways’ bid to dismiss a US lawsuit by frequent flyers, over bogus fuel surcharges on rewards flights, has been rejected, according to a report by Reuters.

British Airways, a unit of International Airlines Group (IAG), had argued that federal regulations pre-empted the lawsuit, and that the flyers failed to reasonably allege that the surcharges were not based on fuel costs.

According to US district judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn, New York, the plaintiffs offered adequate evidence for their claims that the surcharges were not ‘reasonably related to or based upon’ fuel costs.

The case – Dover et al v. British Airways Plc (UK), U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York; No. 12- 05567, was instituted on November 9, 2012 by four members of British Airways’ frequent flyer programme, Executive Club. Members accumulate points known as Avios that can be redeemed for plane tickets.

The plaintiffs claimed that the UK-based airline considered fuel surcharges as a means to boost revenue, and significantly charge frequent flyers on each ‘free’ reward ticket.

The judge cited a statistical analysis from the flyers, which showed that British Airways’ fuel surcharges from 2007 to 2012 ‘bore little relationship to – and were not based upon – changes in the price of fuel.’ British Airways countered the claim with its own analysis showing a correlation between fuel surcharges and oil prices.

Dearie further cited the idea that the carrier does not view surcharges as a hedge against variable fuel costs, as well as an allegation that one plaintiff paid a surcharge on a first class ticket to London’s Heathrow Airport that exceeded the cost of an economy class ticket on the same flight.

A spokeswoman for British Airways declined to comment, saying that the carrier does not discuss litigation matters, the Reuters report said.

Meanwhile, David Stellings, a partner at Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein representing the frequent flyers, said the decision was ‘an important step forward’ for customers, and that the case will finally emerge successful for them.

US issues worldwide travel alert, UK warns against travel to Yemen

The US has issued a worldwide travel alert over an unspecified al-Qaeda threat, while the UK authorities have specifically advised against all travel to Yemen.

In its statement, the US state department said that the potential for an attack was particularly strong in the Middle East and North Africa. The travel alert, which advises US citizens to be vigilant, expires on August 31.

The travel alert comes soon after the US said that 19 of its embassies in North Africa and the Middle East, including in Israel, Egypt, Turkey, Algeria, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and Bangladesh, would remain closed until Saturday. ‘Current information suggests al-Qa’ida and affiliated organisations continue to plan terrorist attacks both in the region and beyond, and that they may focus efforts to conduct attacks in the period between now and the end of August,’ it said.

Meanwhile, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all travel to Yemen and has strongly urged British nationals to leave immediately.

The FCO said that the closure of the British embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, has been extended until the end of the Muslim festival of Eid (Ramadan) later this week. The mission was to reopen on Tuesday after a two-day closure over concerns a terrorist attack.

‘Due to continuing security concerns, the British embassy in Yemen will remain closed until the end of Eid,’ an FCO spokeswoman said.

Eid, which begins on Wednesday evening, marks the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and UK officials had advised particular vigilance saying, ‘tensions could be heightened. There is a high threat from terrorism throughout Yemen and a very high threat of kidnap from armed tribes, criminals and terrorists.

‘If you don’t leave the country now while commercial carriers are still flying it is extremely unlikely that the British government will be able to evacuate you or provide consular assistance,’ the FCO advisory added.

British tourists to be wooed by New York

British tourists are to be the prime target of a tourism promotion by the city of New York in the USA.

A major campaign, involving digital and social media advertising, is to be launched by a US consortium that includes NYC & Company, the city’s official marketing, tourism and partnership organisation, its sponsoring partner, American Express, and Brand USA, the body responsible for promoting travel to the United States. The promotion, which starts today and runs until June 2 this year is titled, New York Summer, and has a budget of USD1.1 million.

The main thrust of the promotion will be advertising on 500 bus shelters across London. The adverts will feature graphics of iconic New York imagery, including the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Brooklyn Bridge, as well as street scenes. Further promotion will be in the form of a blog hosted on social media platform, Tumbir and titled, The British Guide to NYC. It will feature a British author and include photos and posts that provide relevant information for British travellers to the city.

Chief executive of NYC & Company, George Fertitta, said ‘New York City welcomed a record 52 million visitors in 2012 and over a million of these came from the UK – more than any other overseas country. With the New York Summer campaign, we’re not only renewing our commitment to our most important overseas market, we’re also giving Brits a million more reasons why summer 2013 is the time to visit New York City.

‘From free outdoor events such as cinema screenings, concerts and theatre to the 14 miles of beaches, botanic gardens and parks across the five boroughs, summer is the perfect time to visit New York City.’

Florida backtracks on law that penalised British car hirers

The authorities in Florida, USA, have backtracked on a recently introduced law that penalised British visitors wishing to hire a car in the southern state.

The law stated that all drivers of hire cars in Florida had to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) in order that an English translation of their licence was always available for production. While the law was introduced to account for the many foreign language visitors that descend on Florida each year, there was no exemption for carriers of English language licences from the UK, Canada and Australia, all of whom had been able to drive in Florida on presentation of their domestic driving licences until the law was passed. Also, the law was introduced in January with no great publicity, so British travellers were only made aware of its implications when they arrived to pick up their hire car and were told that they did not have the correct documentation.

Florida-based car hire companies who saw the legislation as a threat to their very lucrative business in fly-drive holidays soon took up the issue, and the authorities initially bowed to the pressure by saying that the law would not be enforced. When it became clear that drivers were still wary of the possible implications of flouting a standing law, despite the authorities’ assurance that they would not be penalised, the law was finally repealed. So, once again British visitors to Florida only need to carry their UK driving licence by law.

However, Rosie Sanderson, head of International Travel at the AA, told the Daily Mail, ‘Car hire companies and insurance companies can still impose their own terms and conditions and I certainly advise that travellers check with their intended car provider prior to travel or obtain the IDP as a precautionary measure.’

An IDP can be obtained from a UK Post Office for £5.50 and lasts for one year.

Delta to allow travellers to change travel plans

Delta Air Lines has announced a plan that will give travellers the ability to change their travel plans.

The airline is offering a dispensation that will allow customers, whose flight plans may be affected by winter weather in the Northern Plains region, to make changes to their proposed schedule. They will be allowed to make a one-time change to their travel schedules without incurring additional fees. After announcing the move, the airline asked customers to consider departing earlier and postponing or re-routing their travel to avoid possible inconvenience from expected flight delays and cancellations.

Customers booked on Delta-ticketed flights to, from or through cities such as Bismarck, N.D., Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa, Fargo, N.D., Grand Forks, N.D. etc will be able to benefit from the offer. Those affected between March 4 and March 5 may rebook for travel with the same origin and destination. New flights may start before or after the original travel dates, as long as they are ticketed and rescheduled for travel on or before March 10.

The firm said that flight delays are likely at airports in various locations because of winter precipitation including snow and ice. It also said that it would reduce flight schedules to minimise delays. The travel firm further encouraged customers to make changes and manage their travel at delta.com, and also use the Fly Delta app for their travel needs.

Delta said that it would continue to monitor the weather and provide the latest updates at delta.com and twitter.com/DeltaNewsroom.

Florida puts foreign driving licence law on hold

The state of Florida in the US has put a controversial driving licence law on hold.

The law, which was passed with little publicity last year, stated that all foreign drivers should carry an international driving permit. Although the law was brought in to ensure that all drivers in Florida carried a version of their licence that was printed in English, its wording meant that holders of British and Canadian licences were also legally obligated to purchase a permit at a cost of just over £16.

The law caused an outcry, not only from British and Canadian drivers arriving in Florida, often unaware of the legislation, but also from the state’s car rental companies who had to deal directly with the disgruntled visitors. Now, the law has been put on hold while alternatives are considered, and those responsible for passing it have apologised for their oversight.

Florida state Republican, Ben Albritton, who introduced the bill, said in the Tampa Bay Times, ‘This one I just missed. I want to tell the people in Canada I am sorry. If I messed something up, I am man enough to fix it.’

And John Tupps, the deputy press secretary for Florida governor, Rick Scott, said. ‘We will work with the legislature to amend the law this year so it does not burden international visitors to our state, who make up an important part of our tourism industry.’

Despite the climb down, the Canadian Automobile Authority is still recommending that Canadian Nationals visiting Florida continue to purchase an international permit until the law is officially changed.

Each year, approximately 3 million Canadians and 1.3 million British travellers visit Florida.