EasyJet launches Isle of Man route

From the 21st May 2010, EasyJet will begin offering flights from John Lennon Airport to the Isle of Man, departing every day except Tuesday.

The airline has already noted strong demand for the route in the northeast, where rival firm, Flybe, has held a monopoly on all Isle of Man connections for almost two years, ever since the collapse of the island’s local airline, EuroManx, in May 2008.

EasyJet expects 70,000 people to use its Isle of Man service within the first year of operation, noting its potential for growth as the island becomes more popular with British tourists.

The airline has already reserved a new Airbus A319 aeroplane for the route, which is expected to cost around £23, each way. Not everybody is happy to see EasyJet on the Isle of Man, however.

Flybe chief, Mike Rutter, has already warned travellers away from the ‘new airline in town,’ fearing many broken hearts when EasyJet abandons the route in favour of somewhere exotic and shiny:

“Let’s not kid ourselves.” Mr. Rutter said, “EasyJet’s Isle of Man service has nothing to do with wanting to serve the island, but everything to do with their inability to find a use for their aircraft in Liverpool.”

EasyJet currently operates 27 routes out of Liverpool, including its new route to the Isle of Man.

In similar news, the long-running feud between Ryanair and EasyJet is expected to reach a crescendo in the coming weeks, when the owners of the two airlines, Michael O’Leary and Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, take part in a specially chosen challenge: namely, a race around Trafalgar Square or a wrestling match.

Related Links

Ryanair Expand Fleet at Liverpool

Escape to the Sun, EasyJet Says


Frosty New Year for Liverpool

Economists fear that the recent spate of bad weather could have resounding effects for the city of Liverpool, after both fog and heavy snows brought John Lennon Airport to a standstill. On Tuesday morning alone, Ryanair cancelled 12 flights out of the northwest.

Liverpool’s problems began in the days leading up to Christmas, when a snowstorm affected two scheduled flights, and left hundreds of passengers stranded in the terminals. One traveller noted kids crying – “the mood was one of sheer exasperation.”

On the 29th December, a thick fog bank descended on the airport, reducing visibility to just a few hundred metres. Ten flights were cancelled. A further seven were redirected to East Midlands and Robin Hood, where the skies were clear and the runways fog-free.

Liverpool was not out of the woods yet, though. The 5th January brought more snow than the city could handle, and everything from ferry services to local factories, high street stores and bridges were suspended or closed.

Forty percent of Merseyside’s workforce stayed at home, bringing the city to a frosty halt. Experts predict that as much as £50m could have been sucked out of the economy by Tuesday’s closures.

The runway at Liverpool was shut down twice, while specialist teams got rid of the ice and snow. The only major airports that managed to escape the weather unscathed were East Midlands and Humberside, which are operating as normal.

Even the transfer of Liverpool F.C. player, Andrea Dossena, was foxed by the snowfall, as neither Manchester nor John Lennon airports could provide him with a flight out of the country.


Ryanair expand fleet at Liverpool Airport

Ryanair have this week announced it’ll be expanding its fleet of aircraft at Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport.

From March 2010, with two additional aircraft taking its tally to eight, it will be offering passengers a choice of three new links: Rimini on the east coast of Italy, Trapani on the west coast of Sicily, and Lodz in Poland. In addition, frequency of flights will be increased for four existing routes: Faro, Krakow, Proznan and Wroclaw.

The new Boeing 737-800 planes will see Ryanair serving a total of 44 destinations from JLA, with annual passenger numbers predicted to reach 2.5 million, overtaking Easyjet as the airport’s highest serving carrier. With the addition of Rimini and Trapani, holiday makers have plentiful options to see the vineyards and piazzas of Italy. According to Neil Pakey, Deputy CEO of JLA owners Peel Airports Group, JLA will now link to “more Italian destinations than almost all other UK regional airports.”

In the same month that Easyjet launched a new airbus serving two new routes, this is good news for the city, with Ryanair’s expansion alone expected to sustain 2,500 jobs in the area. Only three months after the North West lost several flights, with the airline pulling routes from Manchester Airport due to disagreements over landing charges, this will be a welcome development for the region.

A spokesman for Ryanair, Stephen McNamara, said “Ryanair routes at these airports deliver millions of passengers, and sustain thousands of jobs at each airport and in the surrounding regions every year."

During a volatile time for the aviation industry, which has seen many airlines making huge loses, the growth is part of a £210 million investment by the low-cost airline, which includes similar increases at UK airports in Bristol, Edinburgh and Glasgow. You’ll find a list of all new UK flights on the Ryanair website.


Servisair strike escalates; turns nasty

An attempt to demoralise stricken handling firm, Servisair, could see Liverpool John Lennon shut down, after Britain’s General Union (GMB) revealed that fire fighters and safety officers could be drafted into an indefinite strike.

Despite the loss of 150 of its staff members to the picket lines, Servisair has refused to surrender to GMB’s demands, believing contingency plans sufficient to handle airport traffic.

The firm has claimed that the coming bank holiday – one of the busiest days of the year for UK airports – will place no strain on airport operations; GMB has accused Servisair of employing “scab” labour from Dublin, an infraction that could cause difficulties for the airport as a whole.

Under the conditions of the strike, Servisair is not allowed to involve John Lennon officials in negotiations or damage limitation. The firm is also forbidden from hiring contractors to complete the work of absent Servisair employees.

If the firm has enlisted replacement staff members from other companies, GMB is entitled to hold the airport accountable. In other words, GMB will attempt to escalate industrial action until the airport shuts down or the issue is resolved. Peel Airports continues to deny reports that it borrowed staff from other airports.

Eddie Parker, a spokesperson for GMB, expressed a need for further strike action: “our members are unhappy with what Peel Airports have done in breaking the agreement and have therefore requested that we ballot on potential industrial action.” Fifty-five emergency fire fighters will vote on industrial action over the next three weeks.

Strikers want Servisair to guarantee jobs at John Lennon Airport. The firm recently asked 51 employees to re-apply for 27 positions.


Strike begins at Liverpool Airport

Furious airport workers have organised an indefinite strike over fears that cost-cutting measures could force staff into redundancy. The strike, which involves over one hundred Servisair employees, is designed to disrupt Ryanair, FlyBe, and Dutch KLM flights at Liverpool John Lennon airport.

Despite assurances to the contrary, negotiations between Servisair and Britain’s General Union (GMB) collapsed on Wednesday afternoon, after the handling firm refused to acquiesce to GMB’s demands. Servisair has since declined to cooperate, leaving unhappy strikers out in the rain.

The union has lamented the turn of events: “GMB regret the inconvenience that the dispute will have on the travelling public.” Unfortunately, with no new talks scheduled, it may not be the last time that the union apologises to holidaymakers.

Bosses at John Lennon are adamant that airport operations will continue as normal. Replacement staff members, many of whom are already employed by Dublin and Stansted airports, were flown in over the weekend.

Passengers are being advised that many of the operators based at Liverpool Airport employ alternative handling companies, all of which remain unaffected by the strike. Budget airline, Ryanair, is relying on a ‘robust contingency’ to prevent inconvenience to its customers.

In similar news, Gatwick, Stansted, and Manchester airports are anticipating major disruption over the bank holiday weekend. Employees of Swissport, a Swiss handling firm, are demanding a 2.75% pay increase.

Following a weekend of awkward silences, Servisair and GMB have yet to agree on new terms. Officials at Liverpool Airport have asked travellers to arrive two hours before scheduled departure time.


Liverpool Airport could be set to lose services over rising air duty fears

Airline bosses have reacted angrily to the pre-Budget statement which was delivered by Chancellor Alistair Darling last week. With Air Passenger Duty (APD) set to rise, there are fears that some airlines may have to cut down on the number of flights operating out of Liverpool John Lennon Airport.

With the nation’s economy struggling, the spotlight was on the Chancellor as he announced a series of measures which he hopes will kick-start the economy. While the headlines were made by the VAT rate cut, Michael Cawley, the Chief Operating Officer of budget airline Ryanair has tried to draw attention to the rising taxes which are to be imposed on air passengers.

APD is set to rise by 10% in 2009 from £10 to £11 for short-haul flights with a further increase to £12 expected in 2010. In a statement released in the aftermath of the pre-Budget statement, Cawley said that he expected this rate to affect regional airports such as Liverpool to a greater extent than the country’s larger airports.

Cawley went on to argue that “passenger traffic has fallen since this tax was introduced and this increase will have a further damaging effect on passengers.” Airlines fear that rising prices will reduce consumer demand for flights which may in turn force a reduction in the number of flights provided from some airports.

With air travel often cited as a significant contributor to the production of carbon emissions, taxes such as APD are applauded by environmental organisations. In their statement, however, Ryanair slam the so called ‘environmental tax’, arguing that the revenue which is generated is not being used to address environmental issues.

In this time of economic hardship, Liverpool John Lennon Airport passengers may be one group which finds themselves disappointed by the UK Government’s new taxing plans.


Liverpool’s fast track causes problems for crew

The dedicated fast-track lane at Liverpool John Lennon airport may be good news for passengers who are willing to pay £2 each to get through security quickly, but airline crew are up in arms about it and their union has called for a rethink by the airport operators.

Prior to the introduction of the fast-track facility, crew members had a dedicated channel at security. This has now been withdrawn in order to free up capacity for fast trackers, and crew members now have to queue with them in order to clear security. Airlines have issued pilots and crew with priority passes, which means in theory that they can queue-jump.

This has not, however, endeared them to those who have coughed up for the privilege of speedy clearance, and pilots and stewards have been subjected to shouts from members of the public telling them to wait their turn.

BALPA (British Airline Pilots’ Association) have called the set-up “ridiculous” and pointed out that their members do not want to get into an argument with passengers before they even board the flight. On the other hand they can sympathise with passengers who have paid extra for a service which they do not feel is delivering.

Robin Tudor, spokesperson for the airport, has, however, defended the scheme and said that there have been no formal complaints made by passengers. Members of an aviation industry forum have meanwhile complained that at Gatwick North terminal security staff are moving passengers from the normal channels to the fast track since the queues there are shorter, much to the irritation of Business and First Class passengers.


Liverpool and other regional airports to pick up policing bill

The financial viability of UK airports could be at risk, thanks to proposals to make regional airports pay for their own policing. As things stand at the moment, only nine of the larger airports, such as London Heathrow, Manchester and Birmingham do this, but plans are afoot to include in excess of a further fifty, including Liverpool John Lennon.

A formal consultation on airport security has recently been launched and no decisions will be taken for a further three months. New legislation is, however, expected to be passed in the next session of Parliament. Ruth Kelly, Transport Secretary, has said that it is unfair for there not to be a “level playing field” and is adamant that, with the growth of regional airports, the time is right for taxpayers to stop having to subsidise profit making private enterprises. Currently shopping centres, railway stations, and football stadiums have to foot their own policing bills.

Under the proposed new legislation airports will have responsibility for drawing up their own plans for airport security. Edinburgh airport recently opened their own police unit at an annual cost of £2.5 million, whilst the annual bill for the relatively small City airport in London is some £7 million. Airports such as Liverpool will in all probability face multi million pound bills at a time when many would argue the aviation industry is facing a crisis.

The security risk to regional airports was brought home to the government and public alike last summer after the bomb attempt on Glasgow airport and somewhat alarmingly the funding for policing these potential targets is said to be woefully inadequate.


Plea from Liverpool MD over tax

The soaring cost of fuel is having a devastating effect on the profitability of our airlines and, as anyone caught up in the demise of Silverjet will tell you, it’s not much fun finding yourself stranded thousands of miles from home when your carrier goes bust.

With this in mind, Neil Pakey, MD at Liverpool airport, has made a plea to the government not to “tax planes out of the sky”. Most of us accept that our hands are tied as far as the cost of fuel is concerned, but at a time when Airport Passenger Duty is being reviewed by the government, Mr Pakey’s pleas are particularly relevant.

APD, an excise duty which is currently charged per passenger flying out of the UK, could be replaced by a charge per plane and, in the light of the rise in fuel prices, there is fear that the economic impact of this could be disastrous. Mr Pakey points out that for every pound spent investing in air services, forty four pounds is reaped in economic benefits for the region.

Neil Pakey is not the only person speaking out against the possibility of duty being charged per plane from Nov 2009. BA warned its shareholders last month that this move could “distort competition” and “adversely impact” their profitability.

Controversy surrounded the doubling of APD in early 2007, although the Treasury attempted to appeal to our green consciences, by forecasting that this rise in duty would result in a reduction of harmful emissions. This was disputed at the time by experts in the aviation industry. However, the new way of charging duty, if introduced, is likely to encourage airlines and manufacturers to become more environmentally friendly since the tax will be based on emission levels.


And the runner up is…

Liverpool airport was awarded the runner-up prize for "Best Marketing Campaign 2005" in the OAG Airline of the Year Awards.

The rebranding campaign of the airport came in second to the Emirates’ marketing campaign.