GATCOM Weekly News - November 2019 (3)


CAA: Call for Evidence on recognised assistance dogs

View the Consultation documents and guidance here. Submissions via email to consumerenforcement@caa.co.uk by Friday 10 January 2020.

Transport Strategy for the South East - Consultation Draft

Transport for the South East (TfSE) has launched a consultation on its draft Transport Strategy. The closing date for comments is 10 January 2020.

Click here to see TfSE press release, click here to see the consultation document and click here to see the Executive Summary. 

GATCOM members' views to be sent to the GATCOM Secretariat by close of business on Monday 2 December for consideration in the preparation of a draft GATCOM response to the consultation. 


  • Christmas rail strikes: Month-long South Western Railway strike confirmed after talks end in deadlock - iNews 21.11.19

A rail strike that will last for almost the entire month of December, causing huge disruption over Christmas and the New Year, has been confirmed. Members of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union on South Western Railway (SWR) are due to strike for 27 days from Monday 2 December, after two days of talks failed to resolve a long-running dispute over guards on trains. The operator confirmed that strikes would take place across its network from 2 December to 11 December, 13 December to 24 December, and 27 December to 1 January. It will not run any trains on Christmas or Boxing Day, as usual. Read more

  • Tens of thousands of passengers to be disrupted by Italian air traffic control strike on Monday 24th - Independent 22.11.19

Italian air-traffic controllers are staging a 24-hour strike on Monday 24 November that will wreck tens of thousands of passenger journeys on all airlines flying to and from Italy. And as airports become busier in the build-up to Christmas, unlucky Alitalia passengers booked on Friday 13 December could be grounded as staff stop work in protest against job losses. Read more


  • Virgin begins codeshare on Gatwick-Canada routes - Travel Mole 19.11.19

Virgin Atlantic has announced a new codeshare partnership with Canadian airline WestJet. From today, customers will be able to book with Virgin Atlantic and fly to four key airports, then connect onwards to 28 further domestic destinations in Canada with the new partnership. WestJet flies year-round from Gatwick to Calgary and Toronto and offers services from Gatwick to Halifax and Vancouver in the summer season. Read more

  • Questions hang over Gatwick Airport after low level drone near-miss report - The Register 20.11.19

Two airline pilots reported a near-miss with a drone while just 30 seconds from touchdown at London Gatwick airport earlier this year, an official report has revealed. Both the captain and first officer (FO) of an Airbus A320 landing at Gatwick in the evening of 8 July this year saw the errant drone, which the first officer said he recognised as a DJI Inspire quadcopter. The immediate question that occurs is why didn't the much-vaunted drone detection systems deployed around Gatwick after that infamous drone incident in December 2018 pick up this quadcopter? Read more

  • BA passengers face delays after 'technical issue' - BBC 21.11.19

Dozens of British Airways flights into the UK have been delayed or cancelled after what the airline has described as a "technical issue". Flights from the US, India and Japan were showing up as delayed. A spokesperson for Gatwick Airport, where a number of BA flights have arrived late, blamed the delays on an issue with the airline's system for handling flight plans. They said the problem caused delays of around three hours for some long-haul flights arriving into the airport, which had a knock-on effect on departures. Read more

  • Capital gains: Inside Gatwick Airport's £1.1bn investment programme - Airport Technology 21.11.19

Gatwick Airport's five-year airport investment plan includes a £1.1bn pier extension at the North Terminal, automation of check-in and boarding processes, and runway optimisation. Here is a look at some of the biggest upgrades planned at the UK airport over the next five years. Read more 

  • Goldbeck to build Gatwick car park - Passenger Terminal Today 22.11.19

German firm Goldbeck has won a £31m (US$40m) contract to build a multi-storey car park at London Gatwick Airport. Construction of the new facility, next to the airport's North Terminal, began on November 4, with the initial setup and surveys. The project is scheduled to complete on April 23, 2021, and will provide 3,200 parking spaces. Airport operations will remain uninterrupted during construction. Read more 

  • Emirates app airport upgrade - Business Travel News

Layouts of four of the most important airports on the Emirates Airlines system - Heathrow, Gatwick, Hong Kong International and the Dubai International hub - have been added to the carrier's app to help passengers find their way through the facilities. The new feature, logically called Airport Maps, can detect a user's location via Bluetooth and wi-fi and provide point-to-point navigation through the airports' main areas, including check-in desks, Emirates lounges, shops, restaurants or ATMs. Read more 


  • ANA uses sustainable fuel for delivery flight - Buying Business Travel 12.11.19

All Nippon Airways (ANA) used a blend of jet fuel and sustainable fuel for the delivery flight of its latest Boeing 777-300ER. The aircraft was flown from Boeing's facility in Washington to Japan on 30 October using fuel made from waste gas-derived ethanol produced by LanzaTech. ANA said it worked closely with the company to inspect the fuel's quality, as well as ensure transport and blending the fuel for loading onto the aircraft. The airline said the success of the flight is "a major step toward full-scale sustainable aviation fuel use in the future". Read more 

  • Cathay Pacific: 'Short-term outlook uncertain' - Buying Business Travel 15.11.19

Cathay Pacific has seen a 35 per cent decline in inbound passenger numbers in October as protests continue to rock Hong Kong, while outbound traffic fell 13 per cent. Overall, passenger numbers for both Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon in October were down 7.1 per cent compared to the same month in 2018. Load factor dropped four percentage points to 77.6 per cent, while capacity - measured in ASKs - rose by 2.4 per cent. According to the group's chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam, the airline is responding to weakened demand by reducing capacity by 2-4 per cent between August and October, and 6-7 per cent for November and December. Read more 

  • Airport growth 'weakest in six years' following spate of airline failures including Thomas Cook - Travel Weekly 15.11.19

European airport association ACI Europe has blamed a spate of airline failures in September for "softening" growth in air traffic. Growth across Europe's airports was almost half the rate of the first six months of 2019 at 2.2% year on year in September and 2.6% in the third quarter. ACI Europe declared it the "weakest EU market in six years". Read more 

  • 'Failure on pretty much every aspect': Government condemned as UK set to miss key environmental goals - Airport Watch 16.11.19

Despite promises to tackle green issues, the UK is failing to make progress on crucial targets such as cutting CO2 emissions. An investigation by Greenpeace and the FT shows that the UK government is set to miss legally binding environment targets in 2020 and had failed on "pretty much every aspect" of protecting wildlife and the environment. One reason for the failure to meet many targets was budget cuts in DEFRA. Read more 

  • Older travellers 'penalised by extra fees and charges' - Travel Weekly 18.11.19

Pensioners face being penalised when going on holiday due to extra fees and charges, an investigation by consumer watchdog Which? found. It accused some travel companies of unjustly targeting older travellers, charging them disproportionate amounts of money and cashing in on people's expectations that prices always rise with age. Additional costs range from travel insurance to car hire, while older people who are more likely to book by phone rather than online also face having to pay more. Read more

  • Lufthansa Group to move to points system for status - Buying Business Travel 18.11.19

The Lufthansa Group has announced that its frequent flyer status programme will be moving to a points-based system rather than miles. Starting 1 January 2021, achieving and maintaining Frequent Traveller, Senator and HON Circle levels will be based on points, which will be awarded depending on two criteria: the class of travel and whether the flight is intercontinental or intracontinental. Read more

See also a related BBT item on this issue, which includes an interesting point regarding the wide variation of cost for offsetting emissions: Guest comment: Why targeting aviation loyalty points won't reduce emissions 

  • BA looks to AI to improve punctuality - Buying Business Travel 18.11.19

British Airways has introduced artificial intelligence (AI) to its airside operation at Heathrow Terminal 5 to ensure its flights are punctual and safe. The carrier is using a network of cameras set up around the aircraft stand by technology start-up Assaia, and using AI to compare live footage of the turnaround process with the proposed schedule. Read more 

  • NATS and MoD strengthen existing ties for even closer collaboration - NATS 19.11.19

NATS and the MoD have extended their existing Future Military Area Radar Service (FMARS) contract for a further nine years, until 31 March 2030. This will allow civilian and military air traffic controllers to continue to work side by side at the Swanwick Control Centre in Hampshire, ensuring safe and efficient collaboration and coordination within UK airspace. Read more 

  • Governments urged to work with airlines to tackle climate challenge - Travel Weekly 19.11.19

Governments in Europe stand accused of "focusing on collecting taxes rather than reducing emissions". The claim from global airlines' trade body Iata came as it warned that latest proposals in Germany would approximately double the taxation on passengers and make it harder for people on lower incomes to fly. The association claimed that the "climate challenge" can only be overcome by the aviation industry and governments working together as Governments have the power to accelerate carbon reductions by encouraging investment in sustainable fuels, new technologies, and improvements to air traffic control. Read more 

  • Scientists say rules on noise pollution, including aircraft noise, should be tightened to protect wildlife - Airport Watch 20.11.19

Road traffic, aircraft, ships, factories and oil drilling are all human activities that produce noise, much at frequencies at which many animals communicate. Studies have found noise pollution can affect wildlife, from disrupting their communication to affecting where they live and the efficiency with which they forage for food. Studies have looked at various aspects of animal behaviour and biology, including changes in hormone levels. Bird communication is affected by noise, making life harder. Some prey species benefit, if the noise makes it harder for predators, but all impacts can affect ecosystems. Read more 

  • Eagle-eyed airline passengers have noticed that some in-flight maps reveal the locations of Shipwrecks - Daily Mail 20.11.19

The maps are part of the in-flight entertainment on seat-back TVs, and use the aircraft's flight tracking systems and satellite imagery to show the exact location of the aircraft, but some also show the locations of shipwrecks and the year of the sinking. Passengers have been posting pictures of the shipwreck-peppered maps to Twitter, with some saying that they didn't inspire them with confidence. Read more 

  • Easyjet to offset carbon emissions of all flights - Buying Business Travel 20.11.19

From now on, Easyjet will pay out of its own pocket to offset the carbon emissions of all flights across its entire network at no cost to passengers, according to the airline. The carrier has become the first to voluntarily operate carbon neutral flights. Easyjet said it will undertake offsetting through schemes accredited by Gold Standard and VCS, which it claimed are two of the highest verification standards for such programmes. These will fund forestry, renewable and community-based projects. Read more 

  • Amadeus and Sigfox launch PinPoint to improve luggage tracking - Buying Business Travel 20.11.19

Internet of Things (IoT) service provider Sigfox has teamed up with Amadeus to launch a new asset-tracking platform called PinPoint. The end-to-end tracking solution, which involves reusable tags and proximity sensors, will help airports and airlines track passenger luggage as well as assets such as aircraft spare-parts, landing gear and Unit Load Devices. Read more 

  • Air traffic control economic regulations referred to competition watchdog - Travel Weekly 20.11.19

The competition watchdog will decide on future economic regulation for UK air traffic services after a referral by the Civil Aviation Authority. The aviation regulator referred the air traffic control regulatory settlement for four years from 2020 to the Competition and Markets Authority after it was rejected by provider National Air Traffic Services. Read more 

  • Qantas rejects proposals from Airbus and Boeing for ultra long-haul aircraft - Travel Mole 21.11.19

Qantas is playing hardball with plane makers Airbus and Boeing over their proposals for ultra-long haul 'Project Sunrise' planes. The two manufacturers have earmarked the Boeing 777-8X and Airbus A350-100ULR as suitable aircraft to fly from Sydney and Melbourne to New York and London but Qantas wants to see more affordable prices. The current proposals don't make it financially feasible, Qantas says, despite both submitting their 'best and final offers'. Read more 

  • Boeing must retrofit engines on 7,000 active passenger planes after woman sucked out of window in fatal accident - Independent 21.11.19

Boeing's 737 Max model is grounded worldwide after two fatal crashes - and now it has agreed to "retrofit" 7,000 older models of the aircraft to avoid a repeat of an inflight tragedy on 17 April 2018. While the Boeing 737-700 was climbing through 32,000 feet, a fan blade with an undetected crack broke off and hit the engine casing. The force of the impact caused part of the engine housing, known as the nacelle, to disintegrate. Debris punctured the skin of the aircraft adjacent to seat 14A, which "caused the window to depart the airplane" and as the cabin rapidly depressurised, the passenger in 14A was partially sucked out of the window. Passengers and crew were able to drag her back, but she later died of her injuries. Read more 

  • Liberal Democrats propose higher APD for frequent flyers - Travel Weekly 21.11.19

The party's 'Stop Brexit' General Election manifesto outlines plans for a £5 billion rise in the air tax levy against the £3.7 billion a year raised now mainly though those taking international flights in economy class. Under the party's 'clean and green' plans to achieve a net-zero climate target by 2045, it wants to accelerate the development of new technologies and "cut demand for flying, particularly from the 15% of individuals who take 70% of flights". However, infrequent air travellers, such as families taking annual holidays abroad, will save money, the Lib Dems claim. Read more 

  • ABTA unveils election manifesto - Travel Mole 21.11.19

ABTA has issued a manifesto in the run-up to the General Election urging MPs to work with the industry to secure a sustainable future. Called 'Value Tourism', ABTA's manifesto is asking the Government to prioritise three themes in the next Parliament:

- Building confidence in travel, which includes working with the industry to achieve carbon reduction targets, as well as bringing forward a consultation on airline insolvency;

- Securing tomorrow's travel workforce, which focuses on the need for a liberal, open, immigration regime and to secure a reciprocal deal on posted workers with the EU; and

- Ensuring the UK remains competitive by reducing APD in line with EU competitors and supporting high street businesses by considering targeted measures including business rates reform. Read more or download the Manifesto here.

  • Jet2 parent sees shares jump on the back of strong bookings - Travel Mole 21.11.19

Shares in Jet2's parent jumped today after it said it would 'significantly' beat market expectations for profit based on strengthening bookings and encouraging consumer demand. Pre-tax profit rose 2% higher to £339.7 million for the six months to September 30 while revenue increased by 16% to £2.62 billion. Executive chairman Philip Meeson added: "The modest increase in profitability reflected a later customer booking pattern in our leisure travel business, as customer demand strengthened throughout the course of the summer season." Read more 

  • Spanish court rules Ryanair baggage fee policy 'excessive' - Travel Weekly 21.11.19

Ryanair's policy of charging a fee for hand luggage has been condemned by a Spanish court as "excessive" after a passenger was fined for taking a carry-on bag without a special ticket. The Spanish commercial court ruled that the woman should be refunded with interest. Read more 

  • Airbus & easyJet sign 'green aircraft' research agreement - UK Aviation News 21.11.19

European airframer Airbus has signed an agreement with leading Low-Cost Carrier easyJet (U2/EZY) to research Hybrid and Electric 'Green' aircraft. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the companies will see them cooperate in a joint research project to assess the viability and look at solutions for hybrid and electric-powered aircraft for the future. Read more 

  • Why travel buyers play a key role in Sustainable Aviation Fuel's future - Buying Business Travel 21.11.19

The head of programmes and solutions at SkyNRG has called on travel buyers to invest in building more plants that can manufacture Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF). Charlotte Hardenbol told delegates at the inaugural Corporate Travel Climate Action Summit (CTCAS) how one plant was already in the pipeline to be built in the north of the Netherlands, but that corporate customers were key to ensuring production continues. The call to action was made following last month's announcement that Microsoft had signed a Letter of Intent with KLM to explore cooperation focused on sustainable air travel. Read more Plus an interesting related BBT item on Microsoft's 'portfolio approach' to sustainable travel 

  • Dubai Air Show: The challenges for us all in flying green - BBC 22.11.19

Sustainable, renewable, green: the buzz words of the environmentalists figured large at this week's Dubai Air Show. At the last show two years ago, such things barely registered. The BBC's Talking Business programme went to the air show to speak to experts involved in aviation's attempt to clean up its act. Read more 

  • Passenger confidence in flight safety on the rise - NATS 22.11.19

Almost three in four members of the public believe flying is now safer than ever before, according to a study of passenger attitudes conducted by air traffic service, NATS. A total of 73% of respondents to NATS' Aviation Index believe flying is safer than ever, up from 63% in 2018. Terrorism remains people's biggest perceived risk, cited by 31% of people, ahead of bad passenger behaviour (21%) and technical faults (20%). Only 12% saw drones as the biggest risk to safety, though 84% believe they pose a risk to flights during take-off and landing. Only 2% of people saw air traffic control as the biggest risk. Read more 

  • 25 years of Eurostar - Business Travel News

Passengers at London's St Pancras International Station last week were greeted by a woodland scene as Eurostar marked its 25th anniversary by pledging to plant a tree for every Eurostar train service from 1 January and running its first plastics-free train. Read more 

  • Busy agenda for AOA conference - Business travel News

A powerful list of speakers has been lined up for this year's annual conference, exhibition and awards dinner of the Airport Operators Association (AOA) at County Hall Westminster on 28-29 November. The theme this year is Airports for a Changing World, with the event focusing on some of recent dramatic events and how they are affecting aviation, and on the impact of the climate change protest. Also in the spotlight will be the political scene and the possible effect of the general election on the aviation agenda plus some of the forthcoming technological developments that are planning to disrupt the sector. Attendees expected from the world of politics include former transport secretary Sir Patrick McLoughlin, former aviation minister Jim Fitzpatrick and the Lib Dems' transport spokesman in the House of Lords, Baroness Randerson. Airport speakers include John Holland-Kaye (Heathrow), Stewart Wingate (Gatwick), Andrew Cowan (Manchester), Derek Provan (AGS - Aberdeen, Glasgow, Southampton), Karen Smart (East Midlands), Nick Barton (Birmingham), Robert Sinclair (London City), Andrew Bell (Regional & City - Bournemouth, Coventry, Exeter, Norwich, Blackpool), Deb Bowen-Rees (Cardiff) and Graham Keddie (Belfast International).


  • Canada - passport free - Business Travel News

The World Economic Forum (WEF) and the governments of the Netherlands and Canada met at Montreal Airport last week to launch the first pilot project for paperless travel between the two countries. Known as Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI), it is the first platform to use a traveller-managed digital identity. It has been integrated with partner systems and tested internally throughout 2019, with the first end-to-end journey expected early next year. Read more 


Young families and older people get a taste of airport surroundings before they fly - 15/11/2019

  • Travelling through an airport can be challenging for some people
  • Gatwick's Accessibility Days designed to make it easier by giving people with a disability a taste of airport surroundings before they fly
  • Day only possible thanks to easyJet, BA, Virgin Atlantic, TUI, Sussex Police, Border Force, Gatwick Fire Service and numerous volunteers from Gatwick

Older adults with dementia joined over 30 young families at Gatwick's Accessibility Day on Saturday (16 Nov), so that they too had a chance to experience airport surroundings before they fly.

Travelling through an airport can be challenging for people with a disability and the Gatwick Accessibility Days are designed to make it easier, by letting those who attend experience various airport processes and environments ahead of their journey.

People who took part replicated 'checking in', rode on assistance buggies, met trained security dogs and the police, passed through security and watched the x-ray machines in action.

To ensure a genuine experience - for the first time - both long and short haul aircraft were made available for the day, with British Airways providing a long-haul aircraft and easyJet a short-haul plane. 

Virgin Atlantic also gave visitors access to their V-Room for people to relax in and enjoy refreshments. TUI also let guests check in at their desks and staff from the airline also escorted visitor's airside and through security so that they were then able to experience being onboard the aircraft.

Other volunteers from across the airport also helped to run the event in the airport's North Terminal including staff from Gatwick's security, terminal and special assistance teams, the police, the fire service, surface transport team and Border Force officials.

Anyone who requires assistance when travelling through Gatwick should book this with their airline who will then pass the information to the airport's special assistance team.

Jack Bigglestone-Silk, Accessibility Manager, Gatwick Airport, said: "I'm so proud to be part of Gatwick's Accessibility Day and the way that all our partners come together to give up their time and make it such a special event. 

"The feedback is always very positive and we know that the event is effective and helps to make peoples' journey less challenging and more relaxing when they come to travel through the airport for real. "

Alison Greenwood, British Airways' Customer Service Manager Gatwick, said: "We are delighted to have worked with Gatwick Airport on this fantastic initiative. More than half a million customer who require additional assistance travel with British Airways each year and we are committed to providing a seamless travel experience.

"Our team were pleased to invite visitors to board one of our aircraft and help them familiarise themselves ahead of their next trip and we look forward to welcoming them on board again soon."

Celine McGuigan, Accessibility & Assistance Manager, easyJet, said: "I am delighted that easyJet has supported this event designed to help people experience various airport and airline processes and make it easier for them when they fly with us. We carry thousands of customers every day who require assistance and we understand it can be challenging for them so we continually strive to make their experience as easy as it can be.

"It was great to be able supply one of our aircraft for the day and give people an opportunity to meet our well- trained staff, ready to assist those who may have a disability or simply require any kind of additional assistance and support."

To encourage people with a disability to travel, Gatwick has also published new videos that show the journey through the airport from the perspective of someone in a wheelchair and someone who is partially sighted.

Gatwick was the first airport to introduce a hidden disability lanyard scheme - something that all UK airports have introduced since - and was also the first UK airport to open a sensory room. The airport has also invested £2 million in a 'premium-style' lounge for passengers with reduced mobility and places a particular emphasis on training, with all passenger-facing staff taught to recognise a range of hidden disabilities.


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