March 2012 (late)

Uxbridge Gazette - HS2 route to Heathrow 'to be announced in autumn'

IAG eyes stake in JAL

Air India Employees Call Off Proposed Strike

IAG receives approval for BMI purchase

The clearance of IAG's purchase of bmi has been announced. While some jobs may be saved by the sale, others will almost certainly be lost and schedules to regional UK airports such as Aberdeen reduced.

30th March 2012

Mallya May Sell Brewery Stake To Fund Kingfisher

German Union Verdi Expects Friday Wage Deal Decision

IAG Expected To Win EU Approval To Buy bmi

In a blow to other airlines who claim that control of 50% of Heathrow slots by a single company will make it impossible to compete, IAG looks to have convinced the EU Commission to allow its takeover of bmi. IAG first offered the commission to give up 10 pairs of slots (take off and landing), but then increased the offer to 14 pairs.

Virgin and other airlines have said that dominance of Heathrow's slots by IAG would reduce passenger choice and have a virtual monopoly on some routes, meaning that it could charge whatever it liked.

29th March 2012

Doctors to ballot for industrial action over pensions in May

Gatwick chief claims second runway better than expanding Heathrow

Er, possibly. Expansion at Gatwick would probably upset fewer people than a third runway at Heathrow. But since Gatwick is only running at 78% capacity, there are good reasons to doubt that there are enough people who want to fly from London's second largest airport to justify the cost of building R2. Gatwick is too far from the city, lacks the transport links, doesn't have the right airlines and cannot boast the flight connections capability that would allow it to become a true international hub.

29th March 2012

Spanish protesters clash with police during general strike

A solid strike by aviation workers saw Iberia cancel 222 (60%) of its flights today. Unions are protesting at continuing austerity measures by a right wing government whose policies have seen unemployment rise to 23%.

Flights Cancelled In Spanish General Strike

29th March 2012

Stansted baggage handlers to strike at Easter

Tory Cabinet Minister avoids massive £2.6 million stamp duty bill

Just a week after George Osbourne promised to crack down on tax avoiders, his cabinet colleague Andrew Mitchell used a legal (until proven otherwise) tax dodge to avoid £2,600,000 in stamp duty. Dealings of this nature make a mockery of any claims the Conservatives make to be tough on tax avoidance. They are still the "nasty party" and this is still a government of the rich and for the rich.

29th March 2012

Brussels Could Drop Carbon Levy On Non-EU Airspace If Global Deal Agreed

US Airlines Drop Lawsuit Against EU ETS

Obama Administration Pressed On EU ETS

Easter getaway for 3.4 million Heathrow passengers

Rotten to the core: The big Tory money that gave life to the Health and Social Care Act

A damning report by the excellent Left Foot Forward on vested interests in the Tory Party who can expect to make massive profits from the passing of the Health and Social Care Act.

Even more disturbing is the revelation that Lord (Chris) Patton, the chairman of the BBC Trust has substantial links to private healthcare, which many people believe is why the BBC gave such poor coverage to opponents of the Act.

This situation is not sustainable. For democracy to work, politicians must be as free of vested intests as possible, the media must be unbiased and free to report and comment on matters of substantial public interest and the views of the electorate must be acknowledged by parliament. If politicians continue to treat voters with contempt and 80% of the media sides with corporate interests, no true democracy is possible.

28th March 2012

Pressure Grows On Ottawa To Lean On Air Canada Over 2,600 Job Losses

March 28th pension strike shows solid support

Three out of five schools in London hit by strike

Asbestos: court ruling opens way for insurance claims

Unite welcomes a UK Supreme Court ruling that opens the way for relatives of victims of asbestos disease to make claims.

Court delivers justice at last

American Airlines Seeks To Void Staff Contracts

American Airlines parent, AMR seeks to tear up the contracts of its employees in what unions describe as "draconian demands". American is currently under bankruptcy protection and must convince a court that the voiding of contracts is necessary, fair and equitable.

28th March 2012

Aer Lingus eyes bmi Heathrow slots

As details unfold of the slot concessions offered by IAG to the EU commission to ease its puchase of bmi, Aer Lingus has indicated that it would be interested in taking some of them over. However, passengers and staff at regional airports served by bmi will feel that the original routes should be maintained.

28th March 2012

Acas offers talks in bid to avert Unite tanker driver strike

Iberia Pilots To Strike From April Through To July

Plans to create a budget carrier Iberia Express, which unions say could cost 8,000 jobs continue to cause industrial unrest in Spain. Pilots have scheduled 30 strike days in the coming months.

28th March 2012

Injured BA stewardess wins £280,000 compensation

Londoners divided over plans for airport expansion

A survey shows that slightly more Londoners are in favour of increasing the city's airport capacity than opposed to it. A third runway at Heathrow is preferred to BoJo's Thames Estuary airport plan.

27th March 2012 

Heathrow ready for great Easter getaway

More than a million low paid women lose out from new pension threshold

Gatwick calls for better rail links to compete with Heathrow

Labour claims leaked NHS Risk Register is "damning indictment" of health bill

Labour MPs and Shadow Ministers together with healthcare professionals have accused the government of concealing the risk register created to consider how the Health and Social Care Bill would impact patient care. The coalition ignored a legal ruling that the ragister must be published immediately, by the LibDems defeated a motion to delay passing the bill until it was released.

One of those to have seen the leaked document (described as "an early draft", before several revisions to the bill) said that it is "very scary reading and should have been disclosed long ago". 

27th March 2012 

Games Terminal takes shape

Dennis Skinner calls for Cameron quit as PM over "cash for access"

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner has called for David Cameron to resign after it was revealed that a co-treasurer of the Tory party was offering access to the Prime Minister in return for donations of £250,000. Mr. Skinner accuses Cameron of being "surrounded by sleaze from the moment he took office".

27th March 2012

BA and Virgin told to lower fares or be banned from flying to Nigeria

Fuel tanker drivers give their side of the story

Unite tanker drivers for some of the biggest oil companires explain why they have voted for strike action. Despite their bosses raking in combined profits of over £100 billion, terms and conditions of the drivers are constantly under attack and it has been impossible for Unite to negotiate acceptable minimum standards for its members.

The army is reported to be training to drive tankers to reduce the impact of industrial action. Whether this decision by the government is to assist the public or is yet another piece of evidence that the Tories are in the pockets of big business is a matter of opinion.

Massive Yes for tanker driver action

Video - Why the tanker drivers are striking

27th March 2012

German Ground Handlers In Verdi Union To Strike Today (Tuesday)

Hundreds Of Flights Cancelled By German Strikes

Airport operator tight-lipped as third runway talks elevate

Boris vows to block Heathrow expansion

CBI calls on government to rethink runways decision

Conservatives to reconsider Heathrow expansion

IAG considers buying stake in American Airlines

Osborne ignored Budget warning that women would be hit hardest

Critics of Osbourne's "millionaires' budget" claim that some women could lose up to a fifth of their wages because of changes to regional pay and that women are likely to suffer more from changes to pensioners' tax allowances because of their higher life expectancy but lower earnings during their careers.

26th March 2012

Strike To Hit Spanish Air Traffic On Thursday

Unite and PCS unions plan talks over increased co-operation

Even more Tory sleaze

David Cameron's attampts to pass off his party's treasurer's offers of cash for access as being one man's mistake will carry little weight with most people. The international community will see this as corruption and the reputation of the whole of the British political system will suffer. It is hardly the first scandal of Cameron's government. Just a few examples -

  • MP's bogus expenses claims
  • Liam Fox and Adam Werrity
  • Lord Ashcroft, the Tories main donor avoiding paying tax
  • David Cameron's relationship with the Murdochs and Brooks
  • Over 50 Tory MPs and Lords having commercial interests in private healthcare but still taking part in the votes on privatisation of the NHS

This is hardly an exhaustive list and rarely a week goes by without more evidence that the Conservatives are morally bankrupt. They are truly the party of the 1% and the 99% are starting to realise that their policies of divide and rule are nothing more than a ploy to keep that 1% in power.

25th March 2012

EU Climate Chief In US To Defend Emissions Trading Scheme

Justine Greening vows to protect UK’s hub airport status

The Transport Minister yesterday promised to protect the UK's position in international aviation, but without any details as to how it would do so. One of the few pre-election promises the coalition have actually kept (apart from those austerity measures that target the poor) has been to block construction of a third runway at Heathrow. A u-turn would be embarassing, but keeping the government's current stance risks alienating the City of London, as billions are lost every year in business opportunities for Britain.

The Guardian - Top Tories admit: we got it wrong on third runway at Heathrow

Delay on UK Aviation Policy may help the industry

24th March 2012

Air Canada Strikers Return To Work

Ryanair loses court battle over volcanic ash payments to passengers

But the battle for our public health service continues

NHS shakeup spells 'unprecedented chaos', warns Lancet editor

Iberia Seeks Survival In Low-Cost Launch Despite Union Opposition

IAG plans to continue its launch of low cost airline Iberia Express, despite unions claiming that it breaches collective agreements. IAG claim that it is necessary to have a low cost model to compete with the likes of Ryanair and make a profit with current high fuel prices and depressed economies.

24th March 2012

Air Canada workers defy law and walk out

Fortnum occupiers go free

The third group of protestors to be tried from the Fortnum and Mason action on March 26th last year have been found "not guilty" of aggravated trespass. HLC members were among those to take part in the protest, but not to be arrested.

UK Uncut called the event to highlight the "unusual" tax practices of Fortnums' owners as part of their campaign to get corporations to pay up a possible £160 billion in avoided and unpaid tax. A number of high profile figures such as Mark Serwotka of PCS have argued that none of the government's austerity measures would be necessary if tax loopholes were closed.

24th March 2012

IAG 'sweetens' BMI offer to speed up deal

It has been reported that British Airways' parent company, IAG is offering to give up extra slots to get rapid EU approval of its purchase of bmi.

23rd March 2012

Adidas accused of making Olympic merchandise in Bangladesh sweatshops

India Joins China In ETS Boycott

US State Department sees ETS as challenge to ICAO process

Russian opposition to ETS delays Lufthansa Cargo’s traffic rights approval

Further signs that the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme is becoming the focus of a potential trade war.

Heathrow Express strike called off

Aviation Supports 56 Million Jobs - Report

A new report indicates that if aviation was a country, it would be the 19th biggest economy and employer in the world, putting it in the top 10%.

Air France and unions agree on negotiations outline

Police to be balloted on right to strike

In a clear sign that the Tories have started to lose the support of their traditional base, the Police Federation is to conduct a ballot of its members on whether to demand the right to strike. Officers are currently banned from taking strike action by law, but public sector pay freezes, cuts to numbers and an attack on police pensions have caused the police to question whether they should insist on the same rights as any other employees.

Meanwhile there has been a huge backlash over the government decison to attack the threshold at which pensioners pay tax. Older people are more inclined to vote Conservative and hold right of centre views. They are also a major customer base of such newspapers as the Express and Telegraph, which turned on George Osbourne yesterday morning in response to his budget. Older people are also more reliant on health services and lack the money to pay for private treatment.

Up until now, it has largely been the LibDems who have suffered in the polls as a result of the coalition's policies. Cameron, Osbourne and Langley may very soon be forced to take a reality check and deal with the consequences of alienating the people who voted tham into power.

Pensioners 'paying a heavy price for a pro-rich Budget', says TUC

23rd March 2012

Aviation workers denied union rights in Panama

Portugal paralysed by 24-hour general strike

German Union GdF Agrees Pay Deal With Fraport

Frankfurt Airport's operator, Fraport has agreed a deal with GdF after a dispute over apron workers' pay caused 1,800 flights to be cancelled.

23rd March 2012

Brendan Barber - Osborne's decisions will come back to haunt him

Even the Tory press has condemned Osbourne's "millionaires' budget"

Budget 2012: Will the coalition u-turn on its ‘no new runways’ pledge?

George Osbourne's budget speexh contained hints that the government may be about to do a u-turn on its policy to prevent airport expansion in the South East. A government report on a stategy for the future of UK aviation that was due to be published this week may be delayed till summer, but seems likely to recommend an increase in airport capacity in the London area.

A third runway at Heathrow is not a vote winner, but could create 50,000 jobs and generate billions for the British economy. An airport in the Thames Estuary would be even less popular, take longer to build and damage the environment while creating massive unemployment in West London.

This should be a no-brainer. But then look at some of the poicies that the Tories have brought in and any decision might be possible.

Government delays release of airport expansion plans

22nd March 2012

Kingfisher Nearing Point Of No Return

UK railway workers escalate action over union-busting

American Airlines seeks to terminate collective agreements with unions

It is reported that American Airlines parent company, AMR will be asking for court approval to end its collective agreements with its unions so that it can impose a massive cost cutting exercise that will see around 13,000 jobs lost.

US Airways - Merger with American Airlines might make sense

22nd March 2012

Air France, Unions Agree To Negotiations

Government pushes ahead with APD increase

UK government sticks to APD increase of 8% on April 1

Kingfisher confirms end to international flights

Kingfisher confirms that all Heathrow flights will end by April 10th.

'Lib Dems will be remembered as party who stole votes to sell out the NHS'

Unite and Gatwick Airport sign Lifelong Learning Agreement

China blocks Lufthansa A380 access to Shanghai in response to ETS

Further indications of a coming trade war between Europe, Asia and the Americas that is at least supposedly triggered by the EU's introduction of the Emissions Trading Scheme.

South Africa's tourism minister calls for EU ETS to be suspended for two years

APD campaign maintains pressure ahead of Budget

Will Osborne listen to travel industry on APD?

NHS staff: Health fight does not end here

Workers across the health sector vowed to continue their fight to keep our National Health Service publically owned and free, despite the cynical Tories and cowardly LibDems forcing the Health and Social Care Bill through Parliament yesterday.

The Tories fraudulently promised "no top down reorganisations" as an election pledge, failed to publish the risk register when ordered to do so and managed to make the LibDems take the lion's share of the blame, which will condemn them to obscurity in future elections.

Dozens of MPs and Lords (mostly Tory and LibDem) have commercial interests in the private healthcare sector and stand to profit handsomely from the bill. Meanwhile the taxpayer will have to pay for dividends to shareholders of these private companies that cherry pick the most profitable services and patients will be encouraged to pay for private treatment to avoid growing waiting times for treatment.

This is a travesty and our generation will never forgive the politicians who allowed it to happen.

Nursing posts fall in cull of NHS staff

21st March 2012

Stansted baggage handlers threaten Easter strike

Heathrow Information Desk staff informed of redundancy situation

Today around 100 BAA employees at Heathrow who work on information desks or as Customer Hosts were informed that a consultation period (presumed to be 30 days) was to begin immediately. The staff who were told that their jobs were at risk are represented by Unite and PCS. They were completely shocked to be given the news.

A bulletin issued by Heathrow later the same day gives the reason as passenger demand for a different service that is "technologically enabled" and is "flexible in hours and location across the airport".

20th March 2012

Coe says there will be no Olympic airport chaos

Kuwait Workers Suspend Strikes

Cameron promises new options on aviation in south-east England

Another "promise" from David Cameron. Like "no more top down reorganisations of the NHS".

India May Cancel Kingfisher's License

India's Aviation Minister has threatened to remove Kingfisher Airlines licence unless its owner Vijay Mallya can satisfy the government that it will quickly address a range of concerns, including safety. The carrier currently has 70% of its fleet grounded and needs a rapid injection of funds to continue day to day operations.

Last Independent Kingfisher Director Quits

Kingfisher poised to cease all flying from London

20th March 2012

IATA Cuts Airline Profit Forecast As Oil Prices Rise

‘Oil price now bigger threat than Eurozone crisis’ – IATA

India To Ask Airlines To Shun EU ETS

The Indian government accuses the EU of provoking a trade war with the introduction of its Emissions Trading Scheme and threatens action against European airlines if its own carriers are blocked from using EU airports for non-payment of ETS.

20th March 2012

Same sex marriage is an important step towards LGBT equality, says TUC

Air Canada Turns To CIRB As Pilots Call In Sick

Shortly after the Canadian government blocked a strike, Air Canada has seen a surge in pilots reporting sick on the weekend of its spring break.

19th March 2012

Hundreds stage last stand against Lansley's NHS Bill

New airport plans to be examined says David Cameron

David Cameron says that the government will examine plans for "Boris Island", a proposed new airport in a Thames Estuary wildlife haven. So much for his promises to head the "greenest government ever".

Cameron concedes south east needs more air capacity

19th March 2012

Lufthansa may close down bmi if IAG purchase is blocked

Wrong to deny young people an increase in the minimum wage, says TUC

Fresh drive to cut Heathrow queues in time for the Games

The government orders the border agency to reduce waiting times at immigration after minister had to wait an hour. Er... perhaps it shouldn't have forced them to get rid of so many immigration officers then?

19th March 2012

Industry heads issue last-ditch call to drop APD rise

Unite and BALPA join with 25 companies in the aviation sector to oppose the government's hike in Air Passenger Duty.

Kingfisher faces crucial meeting with Indian aviation regulator

Heathrow ownership could be split

It is reported that legislation going through parliament could be used to split up ownership of Heathrow, so different terminals could be operated by separate companies.

19th March 2012

Arik Air suspends Heathrow – Abuja flights

The campaign to Save our NHS isn’t over yet

But the Health and Social Care Bill, which allows mass privitatisation of our NHS will be debated in the House of Lords tomorrow (Monday). Unless the Lords vote against it, the Bill will then have a third reading and become law on Tuesday (20th March), which could change our health service beyond all recognition.

This is our last chance to save our NHS. If you use twitter, you can direct message Lib Dems with two clicks asking them to vote against a third reading here.

Lord Owen - NHS bill process is constitutional outrage and Lords vote against third reading is fully justified

Health and Social Care Bill: Third reading

18th March 2012

Strike Halts Kuwait Airways Flights

Morocco protest against rape-marriage law

Hundreds protest after a sixteen year old committed suicide after she was forced to marry her rapist to protect "family honour". Morocco is one of many countires where the victims of rape are treated as if they are guilty of a crime. The protestors demand a change to the law, which allows rapists to escape jail if they marry their victims.

18th March 2012

Branson pushes for Heathrow third runway

Airlines warn of Olympic chaos at London airports

Airlines fear summer chaos at UK airports

London teachers to go on one-day strike over pensions

EU Parliament Vote Confirms CO2 Scheme Support

The European parliament has held a vote to endorse the principles of the Emissions Trading Scheme to reduce carbon dioxide produced by aviation, despite pressure from other nations to wait until a global scheme can be introduced.

Third of Britons would pay more for flights to cut carbon footprint

17th March 2012

Skyport interview - Pilot condemns CAA for not supporting BALPA on flying hours

The Civil Axiation Authority is criticised for not backing pilots in their call for scientific evidence being used to decide how many hours pilots should fly and what rest breaks they should take. Pilot fatigue is a significant factor in a number of aircraft accidents.

The CAA's decision to fall in line with less stringent European rules is happening at the same time as the USA is tightening its regulations following an accident that caused over fifty deaths in New York three years ago.

17th March 2012

Heathrow's Olympics Terminal Nears Completion

Unite condemns chancellor's wrecking ball attack on nation's public sector

BBC - Public servants in lower-paid regions 'to get pay freeze'

Kingfisher Recovery Plan "In 2 to 3 Days"

Dates set for more Heathrow Express strikes

RMT has announced two more dates for strikes following the sacking of a driver and the suspension of a union representative. The union accuses management of ignoring invitations to negotiate a settlement.

16th March 2012

Air Canada Pilots To Challenge Anti-Strike Bill

China Halts 10 More Airbus Orders

China has put an order for 10 more Airbus aircraft on hold, leaving orders for $14 billion of aircraft in limbo. The action is seen as a protest against the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme, which is intended to encourage the use of more environmentally friendly aircraft by charging for the CO2 aircraft produce.

The EU has said that it has introduced the scheme because the UN has failed to introduce a global system to control emissions in aviation, but hit opposition from a number of countries outside Europe. China appears prepared to enter into a trade war over the issue and other nations such as the USA have hinted that they may do likewise.

Meanwhile the UN's body for aviation, ICAO has made a statement on the difficulties of getting an international agreement and the UK's airports and airlines are demanding that Air Passenger Duty should not be raised if they are also to face the expense of ETS.

ICAO Sees Difficult Path To Emissions Plan

Airports demand APD concession for emissions trading

16th March 2012

Austrian Airlines and flight crew union in battle over cost-cutting plan

Incapacity benefit tests are failing disabled people, says TUC

BBC - Incapacity tests reject 37% of claimants

IATA In Talks To Reinstate Kingfisher (and other news on aviation in India)

Debt ridden Kingfisher Airlines may yet be able to achieve a stay of execution after entering into talks with IATA over use of its financial clearing system. but the future for the carrier still looks bleak without a huge cash injection. The airline was also reported to have one of its aircraft impounded at Heathrow on Tuesday night.

Kingfisher aircraft impounded at Heathrow

It has been announced today that Indian former tennis star Vijay Amritraz has resigned from Kingfisher's Board of Directors, reportedly due to his "busy schedule".

Kingfisher board member resigns

Meanwhile the Centre for Asia-Pacific Aviation has predicted massive losses for Indian airlines over the next year despite rapid growth in the country's international trade.

India's Airlines To Lose More Than USD$2.5 Bln

Thomas Cook is in the process of selling off its assets in India and is reported to have eight bidders interested.

Eight bidders emerge for Cook's Indian business

Virgin Atlantic has announced that it will restart flights to Mumbai from October, as demand for the route has increased over the past 3 years.

Virgin Atlantic to restart Mumbai flights

15th March 2012 

Scrapping unfair dismissal rights will do nothing to boost the economy, says TUC

Coalition Britain 2012: Unfair legal aid cuts followed by a North Korean approach to justice

The excellent Left Foot Forward warns of the risks of "secret evidence" being used to convict people in the manner of some of the most repressive regimes in the world.

15th March 2012

Former Conservative environment minister backs Heathrow runway

UK aviation policy 'unholy mess' - says top businessman

Con-Dems drag heels on NHS risk

Despite a tribunal ordering the government to publish the NHS risk register a week ago, it has still failed to do so. This means that only 4 days before a third reading of the Health and Social Care Bill could see it become law, the the House of Lords has yet to have access to information on the risks to patient care from the bill that have so far been identified.

NHS in the danger zone

15th March 2012

China ambassador calls it ‘reasonable’ to avoid Airbus aircraft orders to protest EU ETS

Nobel Economists Urge Obama To Back ETS

US Department Of Transport Secretary slams EU ETS

Luton airport plans to increase capacity by nearly 50%

Kingfisher Airlines to curtail overseas operations

Kingfisher has announced that it is suspending its overseas operations and appears to be returning its aircraft to India. Kingfisher says that this is due to the loss making nature of its international operation, though a secondary reason could be that airports and authorities have been known to impound aircraft where an airline has substantial unpaid bills.

British Airways has reportedly suspended its codeshare agreement with Kingfisher today in response to its decision.

Kingfisher seeks reorganization of international routes

14th March 2012

Ghost airports - the aerodromes with more staff than passengers

Coalition 'most female-unfriendly government in living memory', says TUC

BA gives ground to EU in bmi takeover deal

It seems that the EU regulator will require International Airlines Group to surrender some of its slots or make other concessions before its purchase of bmi is approved. IAG has yet to release details of its proposals to the EU commissioner, but they are unlikely to satisfy BA's competitors such as Virgin.

13th March 2012