Gatwick hopes for greater connectivity

Gatwick Connects

Gatwick airport is moving ahead with its Gatwick Connects service in 2017 with more airlines partners, and helped by the forthcoming terminal switch.

The moves will see British Airways, Easyjet and Virgin Atlantic swap terminals during a 72-hour period between January 23 and 26.

According to Gatwick’s commercial director Guy Stephenson,

“It is inevitable that the low-cost carriers will be providing feed traffic to long-haul in some form.”

Stephenson says that the conversation between low-cost carriers (LCCs) and full service airlines is around the LCCs “wanting to preserve as much of the simplicity of what they do”, while at the same time putting a value against the cost that would be incurred.

Stephenson said that he thought “they will overcome the problems”, and with IT upgrades and the sole location of Easyjet in the North Terminal, along with long-haul carriers such as Virgin Atlantic, this would make the process easier.

“There is no question for our North Terminal airlines, having Easyjet consolidated in there, and quite a lot of our long-haul airlines in the North Terminal, it provides an interesting opportunity for them.”

Stephenson also pointed out that whether airlines decide to fully interline (ie: check baggage right the way through) or simply want to use Gatwick as the airport where a connection occurs, allowing self-connection in various forms, the airport had invested both in the physical infrastructure, including four baggage desks with two each in the North and South terminals, as well as in new IT upgrades.

For the full interview, click here.

New law increases US pre-clearance facilities at Canadian border

U.S Canadian-border

New Law opens door to U.S. Customs pre-clearance in more Canadian airports

Aims to make cross-border passenger air and rail travel more efficient.

A new U.S. law paves the way for additional U.S. Customs pre-clearance facilities in Canadian airports and train stations, which officials said will make cross-border passenger air and rail travel more efficient.

The Promoting Travel, Commerce, and National Security Act, signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama on December 16, 2017, is aimed at bringing U.S. Customs and Border Protection pre-clearance for U.S.-bound travelers to priority Canadian gateways like Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport and Montreal’s Central Station.

The U.S. currently has pre-clearance facilities at 15 airports in six countries; most are in Canada, including Calgary International Airport, Edmonton International Airport, Halifax Robert L. Stanfield International Airport, Montreal Trudeau International Airport, Ottawa MacDonald-Cartier International Airport, Toronto’s Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport, and Winnipeg International Airport. The others are in the Caribbean, Ireland and the United Arab Emirates (

“This Act is key to the long term strategy of the United States and Canada to make cross-border transit more efficient, fostering economic development and improving safety and security of our shared border,” said Joe McHugh, senior vice president of government affairs at Amtrak (, the U.S. national passenger railway. “When implemented, Amtrak passengers can look forward to a more reliable, safer and more efficient cross-border experience.”


“Preclearance at Billy Bishop Airport will allow Porter Airlines to operate more effectively on our many existing U.S. routes, while also opening the door to serving new U.S. destinations,” said Porter Airlines President and CEO Robert Deluce at a press conference in Burlington, Vt., with the legislation’s lead sponsor, U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy. Porter Airlines operates seasonal flights between Billy Bishop Airport and Burlington International Airport.



Aer Lingus launches January sale

Aer Lingus A330 Tailfins Blue (2)

Aer Lingus has launched its new year’s sale with fights to North America starting from £214.

From today, passengers can book flights to 13 North American destinations including New York, Boston, Hartford, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, Toronto, Orlando and Miami. The Dublin-Miami route is set to fly three-times weekly starting September 1, 2017. 

In addition, flights on the airline’s European routes are up to 50 per cent off, departing from Dublin, Shannon and Cork to popular destinations such as Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, Zurich, among others.

Bookings must be made by midnight January 16 for travel between April 1 to October 31. Fares include taxes, fees and charges.

Hainan Airlines’ Shenzhen-Auckland service takes off

Auckland city at night

Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines has launched a new three-times-weekly service between Shenzhen and Auckland – the carrier’s first international route from the southern Chinese city.

The service’s inaugural flight HU7931 departed Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport at 1355 on December 29 and arrived at Auckland at 0630 local time today (December 30). Hainan Airlines is deploying its Airbus A330-200 on the route, outfitted with 36 business and 178 economy class seats.

Speaking about the new route, Sun Jianfeng, director of Hainan Airlines, said: “The Shenzhen-Auckland route is Hainan Airlines’ first international service departing Shenzhen. The Chinese government has been working hard on developing Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport as an international aviation hub and launching the route is definitely a benefit for that.”

Details of the new route are as follows:

Flight No. From To Departs Arrives Days
HU7931 Shenzhen Auckland 1355 0630+1 Tue, Thu, Sat
HU7932 Auckland Shenzhen 0830 1525 Wed, Fri, Sun

The new service comes as Hainan Airlines has been expanding its long-haul operations. Earlier this month, the carrier launched a direct service between Beijing and Las Vegas – the sole Chinese carrier offering a direct service connecting the two cities.

Meanwhile, the airline is also applying to launch three routes to London, including a new Chengdu-London direct service this coming January – a route British Airways is set to axe in January. The route will be operated three times weekly by either an A330-200 or a Dreamliner. The airline is also planning to fly to the UK from Changsha in April using an A330-200, and from Shenzhen in August by A330-200 or B787.

Director of Strategy and Communications of Visit Britain, Patricia Yates, said: “Britain is packed full of amazing moments and experiences and offering great value for Chinese visitors right now. We want to deliver a world-class visitor experience for Chinese customers. Working with commercial partners Hainan Airlines we’re making it easier to travel to Britain through increasing route connectivity and seat-capacity, a crucial part of our competitive tourism offer.”

Air India to start a service between Chandigarh and Leh

Air India will start a flight between Chandigarh and Leh, December 31 onwards. It will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

AI-458 will depart Chandigarh at 0940 and arrive at Leh at 1020. While flight AI-457 will depart from Leh at 0850 and arrive at Chandigarh at 0900. The national carrier will operate its A-319 for this service.

Air India will start a flight between Chandigarh and Leh, December 31 onwards. It will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

AI-458 will depart Chandigarh at 0940 and arrive at Leh at 1020. While flight AI-457 will depart from Leh at 0850 and arrive at Chandigarh at 0900. The national carrier will operate its A-319 for this service.

Vietjet offering discounted fares and 1kg gold aircraft

Vietjet cabin crew

Some five million air tickets priced from HK$8 (US$1) are up for grabs as part of Vietnamese carrier Vietjet’s fifth anniversary promotion. The offer runs until February 28, 2017 for flights until December 31, 2017 and enables customers to grab discounted fares when booking tickets between 1pm and 3pm (GMT+8) on the airline’s website.

The promotional fares apply to all the carrier’s domestic routes in Vietnam in addition to all international services between Vietnam and Hong Kong, Taiwan (Taipei, Kaohsiung, Taichung and Tainan), South Korea (Seoul and Busan), Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Yangon and Siem Reap.

In addition to the discounted fares, all customers who successfully book tickets within the above timeframe will have a chance to enter a lucky draw. Prizes include 3.75g gold bullions each week and a grand prize of a 1kg gold aircraft. Travellers flying during these dates will also have a chance to win complimentary return tickets every day.

The Vietnamese carrier is also arranging activities as part of its anniversary celebrations, including photo-taking opportunities with bikini models and surprise performances at domestic and international airports.

Thai Airways offering special New Year’s desserts

Thai Airways' New Year's dessert

Passengers travelling onboard Thai Airways flights between December 31, 2016 and January 1, 2017 will receive a unique New Year’s dessert during lunch or dinner service.

The new desserts will be offered on board all Thai Airways international flights from Bangkok – with the exception of Middle East, Pakistan, Bangladesh and India routes.

Travellers in all classes will receive the new desserts, with separate offerings for each tier.

Royal First Class passengers will receive black forest cake with chocolate sauce. New York cheese cake will be served to Royal Silk Class passengers, meanwhile economy passengers will receive banana cake with caramel sauce.

Hilton opens Doubletree Kingston Upon Thames

Doubletree by Hilton logo

Hilton Worldwide has opened its first property in the market town of Kingston Upon Thames.

The 146-room property is located on Skerne Road, close to the River Thames and the town’s mainline rail station.

Standard rooms feature free wifi, 43-inch TVs and king-size beds, while “upgraded room types” also offer a balcony and espresso coffee machine.

Facilities include a fitness room, and Hawkers Bar and Brasserie, which “pays homage to Kingston’s extensive contribution to the history of Aviation and is named after the Sopwith Aviation Company’s chief test pilot, Harry Hawker”.

There are three meeting spaces, with the largest Sopwith Suite accommodating up to 260 guests.

Commenting on the opening Dianna Vaughan, senior vice president and global head, DoubleTree by Hilton said:

“Whether in South London on business or visiting popular attractions, like Hampton Court Palace or the River Thames, Doubletree by Hilton Kingston upon Thames provides visitors with an enticing new destination, kind and friendly service and a warm, chocolate chip cookie welcome cherished by the brand.”

There are now over 30 Doubletree properties in the UK, with other recent additions including Doubletree by Hilton Edinburgh Airport, Doubletree by Hilton Strathclyde, Doubletree by Hilton Bristol North, Doubletree by Hilton Dartford Bridge, and Doubletree by Hilton Southampton.