This may appeal to Brits more than others!

As I am currently studying a HNC in travel and tourism, I am updated regularly with insider news, as a member of the ITT (Institute for Travel & Tourism) I get the news first which is a good thing, especially when booking flights, holidays, hotels etc....

Here are some articles which I would like to share, so mycockpit members get the low down too, I often have to write about this stuff in my studies, So I find it pretty interesting, if you like this sort of news I will be happy to post more in future...

1) Heathrow 3rd Runway - In Birmingham?

Birmingham Airport has put itself forward as a way to reduce the pressure on Heathrow amid debate over a proposed third runway at the London hub.

Another nine million passengers could be accommodated at Birmingham within the existing infrastructure.

Birmingham also claims to be the only airport with a significant planning consent for a runway extension already agreed.

A master plan to 2030 sees 18 million more passengers using Birmingham.

“Birmingham is not seeking to transplant the Heathrow operation in its entirety, but South East traffic could form an element of Birmingham’s wider portfolio,” an airport statement said.

“Around 50% of the UK population is less than a two-hour drive from Birmingham. High speed rail could bring them much nearer, with central London only 40 minutes away, putting Birmingham in ‘Zone 4’ of the Underground Map.”

CEO Paul Kehoe said: “Birmingham is ready to respond to any current or future government initiatives.

“We already attract passengers from the home counties who choose the convenience, choice and accessibility of Birmingham over other alternatives.

“We have plenty of capacity and, linked to high-speed rail, we are uniquely positioned to not only claw back people from our own region, who make the long journey to Heathrow, but to attract passengers from the overheated South East.

“We will not just be London's third runway as we have our own traffic - but by attracting those who waver towards Heathrow to use Birmingham instead, will create jobs and help to rebuild the local economy.

“Positioned at the heart of the country we are perfectly placed for those visitors from abroad who want to experience all that the region, and further afield, has to offer. Birmingham’s reputation continues to rise and is truly a destination which provides the perfect base for foreign visitors.”

2) Cosmos Holidays / Monarch Airlines

Cosmos is considering across-the-board pay cuts for its staff among various cost cutting measures.

Industry rumours had suggested pay cuts of up to 10 per cent, but Cosmos managing director Stuart Jackson insisted no decision had been made.

Jackson said the group was considering various options after a year without growth and the prospect of a tough 2010. However, he stressed that job cuts were not on the agenda. Cosmos and Avro employ around 240 people, whilst sister Monarch Airlines has over 2,000 staff.

“At the group we’re looking across the board at how we can reduce costs and we’re currently in discussions with no decisions yet taken,” he said.

“We’ve got to make efficiencies and at the moment everything is in the melting pot.”

Jackson said pay cuts were a possibility but also added that if they were imposed, they might be for a limited period only. More flexible working arrangements were also being considered.

“We’ve actually done quite well this year because bookings are flat in a market that is down 13 per cent,” he said. “But demand next year will be static or it may even reduce.

“We’ve got fixed assets in terms of airlines, so we need to make some sensible business decisions.”

British Airways link-up with American Airlines set to get go-ahead

BRITISH Airways is expected to get the regulatory green light from the US Department of Transportation this week on its proposed transatlantic tie-up with American Airlines, despite fierce opposition from one of its main rivals, Virgin Atlantic, and some political opposition.
It is believed that American regulators have accepted the two airlines' argument that they want a level playing field with the established Star Alliance collaboration between Lufthansa and United Airlines of the US, and the SkyTeam venture between Air France-KLM and American airline Delta.

However, critics of the BA/AA tie-up have described it as "anti-competitive". They say it is possible that the DoT will again insist on certain measures, including BA giving up hundreds of slots at Heathrow, and that could force the two airlines to walk away from the deal.

In 2001, the DoT agreed to a collaboration between the two airlines with the condition that BA agreed to give up 224 slots at Heathrow, where it currently has about a 40 per cent market share. BA was not prepared to do so and the deal collapsed.

Sources say it is still possible that the European Commission will unpick a new joint venture at a later stage. The agreement of both European and US regulators to BA/AA co-operation, mainly on lucrative transatlantic routes, is necessary. The EC has made public its concern that the deal may breach competition rules. Star Alliance and SkyTeam are also under EC investigation but have anti-trust immunity from US regulators.

Douglas McNeill, transport analyst at broker Astaire Securities, said: "I think it is odds-on that BA and AA will get the go-ahead. Although a couple of senators have written to the DoT querying the alliance, there has been no serious lobby against it."

BA has argued that it wants to compete fairly against Star Alliance and Sky Team, which collaborate across the Atlantic out of airports such as Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam and Zurich. "After all, the US has blessed those alliances.The level playing field argument is strong," one source said.

One of the biggest opponents of a BA/AA link-up – which would allow those airlines to collaborate in areas such as shared revenues, code-sharing and frequent-flyer offerings in a bitter downturn for the aviation industry – has been Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic.

A Virgin spokesman said ahead of this week's decision: "If the regulators allow BA and AA to merge they would be creating a monster monopoly which would harm consumers. The job of regulators is to protect travellers from higher prices and lack of choice, which would sadly happen if this merger was allowed."

Opponents have alleged that BA/AA is "not comparing apples with apples" in citing the Star Alliance and Sky Team partnerships. One source said: "BA is bigger transatlantically than both those rivals put together, and Heathrow has far fewer slots available to new rivals than the likes of Paris and Frankfurt, so there would be a far greater constraint on competition at the British hub."

It has been estimated that a BA/AA transatlantic joint venture would have 80 per cent of flights from the UK airport to Boston and 70 per cent to Miami.

British Airways cabin crew to vote over strike

Thousands of BA cabin crew are to be balloted for industrial action in a row over contracts, union leaders announced today.

Unite said 14,000 of its members at the airline will vote on whether to launch a campaign of action in protest over the imposition of the new employment contracts.

Derek Simpson, the union's joint general secretary, said: "BA management's determination to impose unacceptable contractual changes on cabin crew leaves us no alternative.

"We will strongly support our members if they vote for industrial action, while of course remaining ready to negotiate with the company.

"Negotiation, not imposition, is the only proper way to conduct industrial relations."

Cabin crew had already decided to hold an emergency meeting next Monday to decide whether to fight plans to cut jobs, freeze pay and introduce worse wages and conditions for new staff.

Thousands of workers are expected to attend the meeting, at Sandown Racecourse in Surrey, two weeks before the cuts come into effect. Two former sections of the Transport and General Workers Union - Bassa and Cabin Crew 89 - have joined forces for the first time in over 20 years to hold the joint meeting.

BA chief executive Willie Walsh met with Unite leaders earlier this month after which the airline issued a statement which said: "The discussion, about cabin crew pay and productivity issues, was open and frank."

Unite have complained that the changes being introduced next month constituted a "fundamental attack" on the jobs, wages and career prospects of all 14,000 cabin crew members of the union.

"They will not only hit the customer service core of the business, but will forever undermine BA's international reputation as a premier airline with premier crew providing a premier service.

"You are now being bullied into the very real possibility of accepting inferior contracts in just a few weeks' time," union leaders said in a letter to workers earlier this month.

"While we accept these are tough times for aviation generally, we do not accept that this is a company on its knees. This is still a prestigious airline with a high reputation to uphold not only at home, but also around the globe."

BA has announced plans to cut staff numbers by 3,700, in addition to a reduction of around 2,500 achieved between June 2008 and March 2009.

Talks between BA and Unite and the GMB have been continuing for months, with little sign of reaching an agreement. BA insisted it had to cut costs in the face of a downturn in travel caused by the recession.