Newcastle Airport could be sold

Newcastle Airport faces an uncertain future, after a national newspaper revealed that the hub’s majority shareholders are desperate to sell their stake in the Woolsington hub.

Ownership of Newcastle Airport is split between two companies, namely, LA7, with 51%, and Copenhagen Airport, with 49%. The former is a consortium of seven local authorities in the northeast, including the councils of Newcastle, Gateshead, and Sunderland, while the latter is, as its name suggests, a Danish airport. Continue reading…

Newcastle recycles 82% of its waste

The largest airport in the northeast, Newcastle, is taking steps to become one of the most eco-friendly businesses in the country. The Woolsington-based hub boosted recycling to 82% in 2010, according to news agency, Reuters, and achieved the coveted Carbon Trust Standard Award, an accolade that rewards companies who reduce their carbon footprint. Continue reading…

Norwegian airline aims to please

Norwegian airline, Wideroe, has announced plans to increase flight capacity on routes from Newcastle International to the third largest city in Norway, Stavanger. From March 31 2011, the veteran carrier will add an extra flight between the two airports, increasing the service to a total of four per week, and introduce a new Bombardier Dash aircraft onto the route.

Founded in 1934, Wideroe is the Scandinavian equivalent of the UK’s Air Southwest – a predominantly domestic airline that serves small to mid-sized airports. Norway’s far-flung settlements, such as the frozen archipelago of Longyearbyen, and the port town of Kirkenes, are connected to the Norwegian capital, Oslo, courtesy of Wideroe.

Wideroe, a resident at Newcastle for more than a decade, says that its upcoming expansion in the northeast will double the number of seats available on its Stavanger route, and cut the overall flight time by 25 minutes. The flight holds a unique position in the airline’s schedules being one of just ten routes operated by the airline to travel outside its native Norway.

Sverre Sletten, regional chief at Wideroe, was elated with recent developments. “We’re delighted to be able to bring in these big improvements to our Newcastle service.” Mr. Sletten said that his airline was “confident” that customer demand was high enough to support the capacity boost.

The Newcastle-Stavanger flight currently operates on Mondays, Fridays, and Sundays. However, the March 31 expansion will see an extra daily connection added on Thursdays. Wideroe will also alter the timetable of Monday flights, to give business travellers “a full day at work” before departing for the UK in the evening.

Stavanger, located in south-western Norway, is an archetypical port city, and the banks of central Vaagen Harbour are lined with recreational boats. The settlement is situated close to the Lysefjord, a 26 mile long fjord ringed by huge rocky slopes. The Lysefjord is alleged to be “as deep as the mountains are high”.

Newcastle creates ‘tweeting team’

Newcastle International has joined Southampton and Gatwick airports, in becoming the latest hub to embrace social networks as a means of interacting with regular and prospective customers. The northeast hub has created the @NCLairport Twitter page, and unveiled a mobile-friendly version of its website, allowing visitors to check the status of their flight from anywhere in the UK. The airport’s website says that the new tools are part of a plan to “join up social media tools with customer service operations.” Continue reading…

KLM expands in the Northeast

From March 27 2011, travellers in the northeast of England will benefit from an extra daily flight from Newcastle Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol in the Netherlands, courtesy of Dutch airline KLM. The carrier says that the boost is a “tangible symbol” of KLM’s strength and popularity in the northeast.

KLM, known as Royal Dutch Airlines in the English-speaking world, is the oldest airline on the planet. The blue and white carrier is also one of just nine world airlines founded before 1930 to have kept its original name throughout its life, alongside Australian airline Qantas, founded in 1920, and ex-Soviet carrier Aeroflot.

History lesson aside, Newcastle is one of KLM’s largest bases in the UK, currently offering four daily flights to Amsterdam. The addition of a fifth rotation from March will boost KLM’s capacity on the route by a quarter over summer 2010. Newcastle’s planning director, Graeme Mason, referred to the expansion as a “strong signal of confidence” in the airport.

German airline Lufthansa has also showered praise on the northeast hub, according to Graeme. The director noted that only the December snows had prevented the airport recording year-on-year growth. The hub stands in stark contrast to its neighbour and rival Durham Tees Valley Airport, which has resorted to charging travellers to pass through security in a desperate attempt to survive the winter.

The flight boost at Newcastle will coincide with a general reshuffling of KLM’s schedules at the airport. Flight times on all Newcastle-Amsterdam connections will change at the end of March, with the earliest departure taking off at 06:05. Passengers can choose to return the same day from the Dutch capital at 21:55.

KLM has also pledged to improve the choice of flights available for travellers who want to travel on to Hong Kong and Dubai from Amsterdam.

Fly to paradise in 2011

Newcastle is about as far away from Barbados as you can get. One is an industrial city, famed for its bridges and the frequently unfortunate football team, Newcastle United, while the other is a Caribbean island, the type of haven that British super spies retreat to at the end of a Hollywood blockbuster.

However, Thomson and First Choice have taken steps to bring the two destinations closer together by announcing a new flight from Newcastle International to Grantley Adams Airport on Barbados. The route, which travels direct to the island, will begin in winter 2011, just as the snowfall begins anew in the UK.

Chris Sanders, aviation director at Newcastle Airport, referred to Thomson’s latest addition as “something a bit different,” noting the “excellent prices” available on the idyllic island.

The North East has never had a direct route to Barbados before, but Thomson flights from Newcastle to Cancún in Mexico, and the Dominican Republic in the Greater Antilles, continue to be popular with local travellers.

From Barbados Airport, holidaymakers can choose to join the Thomson Dream cruise ship on its voyage around the Caribbean. The vessel stops at Saint Martin, famed for its unusual airport, Grenada, Antigua and the Barbadian capital, Bridgetown, among others. Thomson claims that the Dream is one of the biggest cruise ships in the world.

Prices for the flight begin at £679 per person for a return journey. Tickets for the Caribbean Treasures and Tropical Delights cruises are priced between £845 and £1,409, and come with an inclusive £100 to spend on board the ship. The cruises typically last for 7-16 days.

Northeast flyers are ‘lowest earners’ – CAA

At the end of October, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published the results of its annual Air Passenger Survey.

The survey, undertaken every year since 1968, is designed to help aviation barons understand the “characteristics of air travel to and from the United Kingdom,” and details the results of more than 200,000 interviews with outbound UK travellers.

Questions ranged from the duration of holidays and the size of travelling groups, to a person’s annual income. The latest survey also introduced questions on environmental issues, such as carbon offsetting. Continue reading…

Newcastle to resume Bulgaria flights

Thomas Cook
, the self-proclaimed ‘best-known name in travel’, is to expand its base at Newcastle International Airport from mid-2011, adding a fourth plane and reintroducing flights to the Bulgarian city of Bourgas.

A press release on the airport’s website reveals that Thomas Cook will now be able to offer 300,000 seats on 54 flights.

Speaking about the expansion, Thomas Cook CEO Ian Derbyshire thanked the “people of the northeast” for showing “great loyalty” to the airline. “This underlines our commitment to Newcastle Airport,” Ian explained.

The new plane will add 70,000 seats during the peak summer season, allowing Thomas Cook to put on more flights to eight ‘sun and sea’ destinations.

Routes to Larnaca and Paphos in Cyprus, the Canary Island of Tenerife, locations on the Spanish Balearic Islands, Ibiza, Mahón and Palma, and the cities of Izmir and Dalaman in western Turkey will all benefit from extra seats in 2011.

Bourgas (also Burgas) in eastern Bulgaria is perhaps the most surprising addition to Newcastle’s books, as an earlier route to the city from the northeast was unceremoniously cancelled sometime in 2010.

Newcastle’s chief, David Laws, referred to the expansion of Thomas Cook services at the airport as a “fantastic coup” and a “tremendous boost” for the local area.

Thomas Cook will be hoping that its new routes and Newcastle’s 75th birthday celebrations will help deflect attention from a recent travel guide faux pas, in which the holiday company described Glasgow as ‘deprived’ with high levels of violent crime and rampant substance abuse.

Bourgas is not yet available for booking on the Thomas Cook website, but tickets for all routes due to be expanded next year (Larnaca, for example) can be purchased online.

Easyjet reduces presence at Newcastle

Those living in the north east of England with a penchant for travel may be disappointed to hear that budget airline easyJet is reducing its service from Newcastle airport.

All is not lost, however, since rival airline is doing its best to increase its presence at the airport.

At present easyJet has five planes operating out of the north east’s largest airport but plans are afoot to reduce this to three in the coming months and to keep it at three for next summer.

The services to Murcia and Rome will be axed this winter, along with cuts to other routes. The communications manager for easyJet, Sarah McIntyre, said that the cuts were part of a review of operations throughout the UK and reflected customer demand. Although there will be no loss of jobs for cabin crew or first officers, around eight fewer pilots are expected to work out of Newcastle. They will be offered a transfer to another of the airline’s hubs, with the added possibility of part-time working., the budget carrier based at Leeds Bradford airport, is, on the other hand, increasing its operations out of Newcastle and will now be the airline to offer the biggest range of foreign destinations from the airport. New destinations for summer 2011 include Toulouse, Alicante and Faro, whilst old favourites Krakow and Prague are being reintroduced this winter. expects an increase in passenger numbers next year of 40% and for this reason will be adding a new 737 to its Newcastle fleet, bringing the total number of aircraft at the airport to five.

75th birthday celebrations for Newcastle Airport

Despite having to endure one of the toughest years in its 75 year history, suffering volcanic ash disruption as well as the effects of a recession, Newcastle Airport was still able to celebrate its 75th birthday in style.

Costing only £35,000 pounds to build, and opened on the 26th of July 1935, Newcastle Airport is currently one of the UK’s leading international hubs, recently adding a route to Dubai in the UAE.

The airport has seen its passenger volume increase massively in the last 20 years, especially after it was given its own metro station which links the airport to both Newcastle and Sunderland. This, combined with the invention of the package holiday, has seen the airport go from strength to strength in recent times.

Speaking at the celebration, Dave Laws, the airport’s chief executive, said: “This year is very special for Newcastle International as we reflect on our incredible history and take a positive look forward to an exciting future.” Some of the major airlines used the airport’s celebrations to demonstrate both their support for the airport and their promotions. One of these was BA, who offered a limited number of £1 flights between Newcastle and London, with each flight catering for 75 passengers. Some of the day’s more spectacular events included the owner of, Philip Meeson, landing a classic 1930s plane, the Dragon Rapide, as well as Emirates landing one of its new Boeing 777-300ERs, with all the spectacles enjoyed by visitors on a special viewing platform built for the day.