Last week saw some good news emerge from East Midlands Airport, with officials announcing a record year in 2008. Approximately 5.6 million passengers took advantage of the facilities and routes offered by the airport, which has been working hard to raise its profile in the local area and beyond during recent years. The opening three quarters of the year were particularly successful and East Midlands Airport managed to record a total increase with regards to passenger numbers of 3.9 per cent compared to the figures for 2007. November and December were slightly more challenging months for the airport, as potential travellers prioritised the purchase of festive gifts over last minute long weekends.
The managing director of East Midlands Airport, Penny Coates, revealed her excitement at the news. She believes the increase in passenger numbers is a “great achievement” for the officials at the airport and “evidence that the efforts” being made to continually improve the airport “experience” for customers have culminated in success.
The year ahead is likely to be a tough one for East Midlands Airport and, like numerous managing directors at other airports across the United Kingdom, Coates revealed that the airport is fully expecting to see an overall decline in passenger numbers as the recession impacts upon the aviation industry. However, despite the challenges which the following year may bring, she believes that those in charge at the airport will remain fully “committed to improving the customer experience” which has proved so attractive over the last year.
Anyone who is a regular reader of the weekend newspapers’ travel sections will know that a frequent cause for complaint is the seemingly unfair charges for excess baggage. People who have weighed their luggage on the bathroom scales at home are often caught out at the airport and it is a case of having to shed some of the contents or pay up, to the tune of up to £15 per kilo. The situation is made more difficult nowadays by the rule that family members cannot pool their luggage allowance.
After a Trading Standards visit to East Midlands airport discovered inaccuracies on their scales, passengers are bound to be left wondering whether they have been incorrectly charged. 17% of the scales used at the airport were found to be wrong (nine out of fifty two) and three of these were found to be so far out that they were taken out of use there and then. The good news for travellers, however, is that two of these three were under-weighing so worked to the passengers’ favour.
For anyone worried about the safety aspect of allowing too much luggage on board in terms of weight, there is said to be very little risk, with passengers themselves coming in all shapes and sizes!
Prior to this visit by Trading Standards, the airport themselves checked their scales on an annual basis and re-calibrated the scales twice a year. In the light of the findings, however, the scales will now be checked each day.
Anyone who feels they may have been overcharged should contact the airport who will investigate the matter.
Surprise figures released this month have revealed that nine out of ten complaints made at East Midlands Airport are from the same thirteen people. Figures have also shown that the number of complaints made annually at the airport decreased between 2006 and 2007. According to the Community and Environment Investment Report, the total number of complaints made dropped from 7,978 to 7128 in 2007, a drop of four percent, but interestingly, the number of different people complaining decreased by almost half, from 580 to 295. The same report showed that complaints reached an all time low in December 2007 when only 264 grievances were recorded.
With 5,535 complaints, aircraft noise was the main grievance at East Midlands airport, followed by 829 complaints about low-flying aircraft. The figures also revealed that there was little difference in the number of complaints made during the day or at night, with 3668 grievances being logged between 7 am and 11 pm and 3460 between 11 am and 7 pm. A spokesperson for East Midlands airport confirmed that management was pleased with the drop in complaints, adding that the airport investigated and responded to each complaint logged within a maximum of ten days. He said, “in some cases we visit the person and the feedback has sometimes helped us change the way aircraft operate.” In response to the achievements the airport has pledged to continue its commitment to corporate social responsibility in the hope that complaints will have fallen further at the end of the current year.
We know now that in terms of airports, the likes of Heathrow in the UK are making our aviation industry look pretty appalling on the world stage, but how are the individual airlines getting on?
A recent survey carried out by the online time-keepers and consumer website www.flightontime.info has revealed that of all the low cost airlines in the UK, bmibaby come out as champions with an average delay time so far in 2008 of just over 10 minutes. Following them is Ryanair, then Flybe, then Monarch and then easyjet. In the scheduled airlines’ world, Eastern Airlines are top of the pops with an average delay so far in 2008 of only 6.6 mins, followed by Air Berlin and then BMI regional. In the world of chartered flights, MyTravel Airways win the gold medal and then Thomson Fly and then First Choice. Interestingly here Thomas Cook doesn’t make the top three.
The survey went further and looked at the best airlines for the most popular routes in the UK, one of them being the London to Edinburgh route. The overall best performer for this was easyjet. They were also the most punctual when it came to the Aberdeen route and came in second when it came to Glasgow.
The less-known Monarch Airlines will be pleased with the result and for coming above easyjet in a few of the results. In an age when all flights seem to be delayed in the UK, they would do well to use it as a major selling point.
East Midlands airport is gearing up to become one of July’s busiest UK airports after it was confirmed that Donington Park had won an agreement to host the British Grand Prix for ten years, starting from 2010. It is expected that, given Donington’s close proximity to the East Midlands, large numbers of F1 fans will pass through the airport as the most convenient way to travel to the Grand Prix.
A spokeswoman for East Midlands airport said that they could not be sure at this stage how much of an increase there will be in passenger traffic, but it is certain that the airport must be prepared to deal with much larger numbers than usual. It is expected that, as well as ordinary F1 fans, there will be a marked increase in the number of celebrities and high-flying clients using East Midlands, who will no doubt make use of the executive lounge which has already been established at the airport, offering complimentary food and drink to VIPs.
As well as bringing in more business for the airport, it is also expected that the new deal will be lucrative for the various charter companies in the area. Donington company Air Charter Service already manages the helicopter charter service at Silverstone but managing director Tony Bauckham predicts that there will be an increased demand for private jets in addition to helicopters, because of Donington’s close proximity to an airfield.
Commenting on the Donington’s new agreement, circuit owners Simon Gillett and Lee Gill expressed delight that the development of the Park would bring new investment to the area, “while securing the future of one of the most important and significant sporting events in Britain.”
The first aid flight to leave the UK for Burma departed from East Midlands Airport on May 14, twelve days after the country was destroyed by a cyclone. Chartered by Shelterbox, a Cornwall-based disaster relief charity, the organisation is one of a handful of agencies to have received permission from the Burmese government to take aid to the devastated country.
The aid flight landed in Yangon, the nation’s capital, on Thursday May 15, where it joined other British charities to have left overseas locations. It carried 1000 aid packages, each containing a ten-person tent, sleeping mats, mosquito netting, a stove, tools and water purifying tablets, with the aim of giving relief to thousands of survivors.
It is estimated that more than 200,000 Burmese citizens died in the cyclone, which hit Burma in the early hours of May 3, but the UN say that around one and a half million people are homeless, with hundreds of thousands in a critical condition due to lack of aid and the spread of disease (although the Burmese state media is reporting a figure only a fraction of UN estimates).
Since the cyclone hit, the Disasters Emergency Committee Cyclone Appeal has raised in excess of £6 million and more than forty aid flights have landed in Burma, but most have been prevented from distributing their aid due to strict check points controlled by the country’s military forces. Gordon Brown has called for an emergency summit saying that, although some relief is now being let through, the actions of the Burmese authorities are still "not good enough".
Nottingham East Midlands Airport (NEMA) has recently been given permission to increase their airspace by the Civil Aviations Authority. This change will allow for larger numbers of flights into and out of the airport, making travel from NEMA easier and more convenient than ever before.