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Opinion

It’s our risk, and it always has been

Life is risky, there are always obstacles in our way, they are ready and waiting for us. It could be our health, our career, our education, our relationships and sadly in some cases ourselves.

In life there is always risk. It’s there when I walk to my local shops and doctors surgery where I have to walk across a busy road, at the moment there is risk when I take a late booking, there is risk making sure you have the right group of friends around you, and yes, risk in believing to do the right thing.

However much governments want to try, you cant remove risk from a pandemic. As Australia has demonstrated, even having a closed border with the most extreme of entry requirement still hasn’t stopped the virus from entering the country and causing multiple lockdowns (and they too have the Delta variant). There too is risk in a country like Sweden having a more relaxed approach, or India where large populations make it easier to spread.

We were told last year, vaccines would be the way out, a way to mitigate that risk – risk of the NHS not being able to cope with the number who need hospital treatment. First it was the vulnerable groups, then the over 50’s, now it seems the plan to be most adults. Unless the vaccines are completely ineffective, or there has to be an element of risk – or we will just never reopen.

Tomorrow, the travel and aviation industries unite. Government needs to understand that there will always be challenges when coming out of a pandemic – yes, there are always going to be variants, some countries will have more cases than us, and yes, it may mean that more cases are imported into the country. Doing nothing is not an option, as there will likely be nothing left of the industry.

The industries know the risks involved, and are ready to deal with those as they come – as long as the government is prepared to spend a bit of money to keep travel and aviation on life support with sector specific support in order to bridge the divide, we can make sure that people have safe and happy journeys abroad.

It has always been our personal risk, we decide if its a risk we are able to take. Why Coronavirus should be a special case where it is decided on our behalf the government should take the approach of being risk adverse goes against everything our country believes in.

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Airlines easyJet

easyJet expanding UK Domestic

easyJet’s life started as a small start-up airline from Luton in 1995, with two routes to Glasgow and Edinburgh, before expanding overseas to become the airline we know today.

It’s ‘roots’ have always been set in the UK domestic market, having the most number of flights and routes from London to Scotland, and an extensive network from Belfast. Yes, we have seen links come and go – the base at Southend didn’t survive, and neither did the original Go base at East Midlands – and the long-forgotten Luton to Liverpool service in the early 2000’s.

easyJet is now the UK’s largest domestic carrier (in terms of the number of seats), and after expending their offering last summer following the collapse of flyBe – with additional services from Birmingham and Manchester, easyJet is expanding its reach further again with border restrictions continuing.

In it’s most recent round of additions are some returnees to the network, along with time-specific services and those which would appeal to those looking for a British seaside holiday:

London Gatwick – Belfast City
Belfast International – Leeds Bradford
Belfast International – East Midlands
Newcastle – Jersey (returning)
Liverpool – Bournemouth
Bristol – Aberdeen
Bristol – Jersey
Newquay – Inverness
Birmingham – Newquay
Birmingham – Jersey
Manchester – Aberdeen
Manchester – Edinburgh

Some are quite easy to see which would appeal to the holiday market, and have been operated by other airlines in the past. Birmingham to Jersey and Newquay were operated by flyBe (and Newquay was one of bmibaby’s more successful routes from Birmingham), while Newcastle to Jersey returns – despite being one of Jet2’s seasonal offerings with competition also from Loganair.

More core regional connectivity has also been added. Gatwick to Belfast City was a former flyBe route before they sold the slots to easyJet, along with Manchester to Edinburgh and Aberdeen, which follow a similar path instigated at Birmingham.

There are some which may seem surprising. Liverpool to Bournemouth for example – however with so many cruises travelling around the UK this summer, the ports of Southampton/Portsmouth, Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh (as long as restrictions are lifted), and the cruises not always starting and ending in the same place, there is a possibility that a flight would be beneficial over a train.

Some might not last the season, although given the situation we find ourselves in that shouldn’t be surprising. However, this is easyJet further flexing their muscle in a market they have historically enjoyed and prospered in.

Categories
Airlines Luxury Holidays

FlyBe – What’s left on the table?


A flyBe v2 looks to be on the horizon, and with confirmation of an Operating Licence and the bmi slots at Heathrow there are pieces falling back into place.

However, taking a snapshot over the last 15 years there are a considerable number of routes no longer operated (by any airline), which flyBe previously vacated – not withstanding further possible services which may have been vacated by other airlines.

An airline which specialises in regional services from secondary and tertiary cities could be a compelling plan, serving communities too small for the larger low cost airlines, with smaller efficient aircraft.

Of course, there are some airports which are not open (Waterford in Ireland for example, or Angers in France) – these are just a collection from the past

Newcastle – Rennes, London Stansted, London City, Cardiff, Limoges

Birmingham – Waterford, Hamburg, Newquay, Brest, Limoges, Florence, Rotterdam, Knock, Luxembourg, Deauville, Bastia, Biarritz, Cologne, Oslo, Lyon, Rennes, Avignon, Stuttgart

Leeds Bradford – Knock, Exeter, Dusseldorf

London Heathrow – Guernsey

Southampton – Tours, Avignon, Milan Malpensa, Bastia, Barcelona, Verona, Inverness, Hamburg, Pau, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Beziers, Clermont Ferrand, Hannover, Brussels, Perpignan, Bordeaux, Brest, Cherbourg, Angers, Chambery, La Rochelle, Murcia, Lyon, Paris CDG

Doncaster Sheffield – Paris CDG, Jersey, Newquay, Amsterdam, Chambery, Belfast City, Dublin, Dusseldorf

Cardiff – Berlin, Verona, Paris CDG, Edinburgh, Dublin, Glasgow, Newcastle, Cork

Bournemouth – Amsterdam, Biarritz, Deauville, Dublin, Jersey, Manchester, Paris CDG, Toulon

London Stansted – Isle of Man, Newquay

Inverness – Dublin, Jersey

Exeter – Nice, Barcelona, Avignon, Bergerac, Rennes, Dusseldorf, Newcastle, Brussels, Geneva, Inverness, Murcia

Norwich – Chambery, Isle of Man, Geneva, Guernsey, Alicante, Paris CDG, Murcia, Bordeaux

East Midlands – Amsterdam, Glasgow, Paris CDG

Newquay – Reus, Isle of Man, Southampton, Liverpool, London Stansted, Amsterdam

Manchester – Rennes, Luxembourg, Rotterdam, Waterford, Hannover, Friedrichshafen, Stuttgart

Dundee – Amsterdam

Jersey – Glasgow Prestwick, Belfast City, Dundee, Inverness, Paris CDG, Geneva, London Southend

Guernsey – Edinburgh, Belfast City, Cardiff

Isle of Man – London Luton, Geneva

Belfast City – Paris CDG, Eindhoven, Bristol, Liverpool

Edinburgh – Rennes, Liverpool

Glasgow – La Rochelle, Shannon

London City – Aberdeen, Guernsey, Inverness, Exeter, Cardiff

Categories
Airlines

Can a FlyBe rebirth work?

It has been a year since the failure of flyBe, the first casualty of the pandemic, although a carrier which had got caught in a cycle of bad decision making which had manifested over a long time. It’s planned ‘rebirth’ under the Virgin Connect banner lay in tatters, as the industry headed into hibernation.

One of the investors of the ‘Virgin Connect’ project stayed around, Cyrus Capital and have stayed around, with a purchase of the assets confirmed by the administrators EY. The new owners planning to be up and running in the summer, although there are still question marks at their motives.

As has rightly been reported, many of their former domestic services have been replaced. In some cases by easyJet (which is the largest domestic airline based on the number of seats flown), or regional carriers Loganair, Eastern or Blueislands.

So, it looks difficult on the domestic front at the moment. However, this will be a debtless airline, essentially starting from scratch – a big advantage over those who have struggled financially through the crisis and have been weakened as a result. It could in effect undercut on price and potentially value, and knock others out of the market as a result.

While correctly reported that many of the domestic routes had been replaced, flyBe wasn’t just a domestic carrier and carried the reputation as being ‘Europe’s biggest regional carrier’. They particularly had a close connection to nearby France, with many connections which came and went over the years.

None more so than at Southampton, which has seen its fair share of French connections over the years, including to airports which don’t currently have an air service. Airports included Cherbourg, Angers, Avignon, Rennes, Bordeaux, Brest, La Rochelle, Perpignan, Toulon and Chambery in the winter. Some haven’t be replaced yet, and neither has the 10th busiest route in 2019 – Paris, ad the 14th in Dusseldorf.

Other airports in a similar situation include Norwich. That lost its Paris connection, but flyBe had previously flown to Bordeaux which is also unserved. Exeter, again lost Paris and they also served Bergerac.

You can see many of the cities which could be possible within the range of a Dash-8, those French regional connections – maybe adding Pau or Biarritz, along with places like Berne or Lucerne in Switzerland during the winter. More business orientated services could include Hannover or Stuttgart, Milan, Strasbourg, Luxembourg and regional services to Ireland (possible even reopening services from Waterford).

Still, much is theoretical, although once you look beyond a ‘domestic’ carrier, there are many more opportunities available.

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Go – 2002

In the early 2000’s, low cost airlines didn’t have the scale of what we see today. More often or not they would only have a handful of bases, and therefore smaller fleets and a much smaller route portfolio. At the the height of its success in 2002, GO was already operating from three UK bases – the main base at London Stansted, Bristol and East Midlands (all of which were later taken over by easyJet).

At London Stansted, Go operated to:
Belfast International
Edinburgh
Glasgow
Newcastle
Alicante
Barcelona
Bilbao
Bologna
Copenhagen
Faro
Ibiza
Lyon
Malaga
Milan Linate
Munich
Naples
Nice
Palma
Prague
Rome Ciampino
Venice (Marco Polo)

In the smaller base at Bristol, they offered similar destinations:

Belfast International
Edinburgh
Glasgow
Alicante
Barcelona
Faro
Malaga
Nice
Palma
Prague

The same could be said at East Midlands, a base easyJet later closed down:

Edinburgh
Glasgow
Alicante
Faro
Malaga
Prague

There were also flights from Belfast International to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Norwich

Although similar to other regional airports in the UK, with a mix of city and leisure routes, Norwich had the benefit of flyBe and their attempt at becoming a ‘low cost airline’, with their fleet of 737-300’s and Avro/146’s.

It meant that it had a diverse, and intriguing network spanning across Europe, especially to the popular beach destinations.

flyBe’s network included:
Edinburgh
Manchester
Murcia
Malaga
Alicante
Jersey
Exeter
Glasgow
Guernsey
Bordeaux
Paris CdG
Faro
Dubrovnik
Split
Dublin

In addition, Eastern had three routes to Groningen, Aberdeen and Manchester, with bmi (British Midland) also flying to Aberdeen.

Other airlines included:
Air Southwest – Bristol
KLM – Amsterdam
First Choice – Mahon
TUI/Thomson – Corfu, Palma, Ibiza
Pegasus – Dalaman
Air Malta – Malta
LTE International – Lanzarote
Eurocypria – Paphos, Heraklion
Air Europa – Tenerife South, Gran Canaria, Palma

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: easyJet Luton – Summer 2006

easyJet’s home is at Luton Airport, it was its first base and is where their HQ is to this day. However, 15 years ago their route network was rather different to today, with the furthest services being Athens and Istanbul, neither of which are offered today.

There are a few notable words to say. Firstly, a notable lack of flying to the major cities of Italy (Venice, Rome and Milan), no Canaries or Ibiza, and a lot more flying to Eastern Europe.

Routes included:
Faro
Palma
Malaga
Basel
Inverness
Barcelona
Alicante
Berlin Schoenefeld
Amsterdam
Bratislava
Madrid
Budapest
Warsaw
Istanbul SAW
Paris CdG
Lisbon
Aberdeen
Glasgow
Geneva
Dortmund
Belfast International
Edinburgh
Cagliari
Turin
Nice
Krakow
Bordeaux
Grenoble
Athens
Bremen
Rijeka
Rimini

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Bournemouth

Bournemouth was quite typical of regional airports before the recession at the end of the decade. It had a based airline (usually Thomson), along with charter airlines either from Spain or Turkey supplementing them. However, Bournemouth had a twist – an airline which was named the world’s best airline!

The Thomson destinations included:
Palma
Alicante
Verona
Salzburg
Amsterdam
Pisa
Ibiza
Faro
Jersey
Malaga
Paphos

The other based airline in question was Palmair. The aircraft was operated by European Aviation, a somewhat old 737-200, and was chartered for holidays provided by Bath Travel. (This later ended when Bath Travel was taken over by Hays Travel some years later).

Services included:
Funchal
Faro
Brescia
Palma
Tenerife South
Jersey
Mahon (Menorca)
Lanzarote
Corfu
Alicante
Dubrovnik

Additional services included:
Pegasus – Bodrum
Futura – Palma
SpanAir – Tenerife South
Blue Islands – Alderney, Jersey, Guernsey
Ryanair – Dublin, Gerona
Iberworld – Palma
Air Berlin – Paderborn

Categories
Aviation Archive

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Coventry

It was a rather short-lived project, but Thomson’s reinvention into low-cost airline which saw the acquisition of 737-classics meant that different route portfolio was introduced. One of the key bases was at Coventry, with a small fleet of 737’s.

Routes included:
Malaga
Palma
Ibiza
Faro
Pisa
Paris Orly
Jersey
Valencia
Barcelona
Salzburg
Alicante
Amsterdam

Categories
Luxury Holidays

Aviation Archive: Summer 2006 – Teesside

The regional aviation scene fifteen years ago looked very different from the world we know today. It was still largely dominated by the larger charter carriers, offering inclusive tour packages on low-frequency services around Europe. Low-cost airlines were also expanding, but their networks were considerably smaller than they are today.

No more so than Teesside, an airport which nearly went out of business recently now finding a renaissance with an expanded portfolio of domestic services, and a few international, courtesy of TUI and Ryanair.

In 2006, bmibaby still had based aircraft at Teesside offering the following services on 737-300’s:

Malaga
Alicante
Palma
Paris
Newquay
Knock
Amsterdam
Jersey
Cork
London Gatwick

In addition, TUI (then Thomson) offered a number of charter services including Dalaman, Tenerife South, Bodrum, Bourgas, Palma, Monastir, Mahon, Corfu, Alicante, Ibiza and Paphos.

Eastern’s service to Aberdeen was supplemented by a 10 weekly service to Bristol, and bmi still had their up to 3 daily service to London Heathrow.

So, there is plenty of scope for more…!