This week: smoking competition, literature and a stogie

This week’s news has it all: two celebrities – one in a controversial fight with a European lobby, the other on a literature adventure (can you say it 10 times?) – and then two rival airports that finally start competing properly. Now if that’s not proper headline stuff, we rest our pencils.

Let’s start with the two competing airports: Over in the great land of Britain, pardon me, I think it’s still called Great Britain, the two largest airports by total passenger traffic, London Heathrow (IATA: LHR; LD hub page) and Gatwick Airport (IATA: LGW, LD reviewed) had been owned by the same parent company for a long time. But that company, BAA, was forced to sell it in 2009 and now, we finally see some first signs of proper competition between the two new rivals. First in the week, Heathrow announced its sponsorship engagement of the London 2010 Olympic Games (see our related post), then Gatwick responded with simplified arrival procedures followed by an £8 million (US$13 million) immigration hall refurbishment. We say, let the games begin!

Let’s move on to the two celebrities: The first one is a well known novelist called Tony Parsons. Parsons, first known for his novel “Man and Boy”, was chosen to become the second writer in residence at London Heathrow after philosopher Alain De Botton. According to The Guardian, this week the novelist planned to “wander” [the airport], speaking to cleaners, firemen, pilots and air traffic controllers, as well as harassed passengers. The book, Departures: Seven Stories from Heathrow, will be published by HarperCollins in October. Five thousand copies will be given away to Heathrow passengers.

The second celebrity making news this week – wait for it – is former Californian governor and movie star Arnold Schwarzenegger. This time bad boy Arnie might get into trouble in his home country Austria where according to USA Today the Austrian anti-smoking lobby is evaluating whether to press charges for puffing on a stogie after arriving in June at Salzburg Airport (IATA: SZG).

That’s all folkes – safe travels and respect those no smoking laws!

[Photo from Flickr – Some rights reserved by Jordan Larrigan]