Phew, this one was a big week. We saw tons of aviation relevant articles – most of them featuring around one particular topic from the US. Other stories reached us from Hong Kong, Italy and Greece. Plus we’ve even found another ‘odd news of the week’ piece for you – more about that later.
It was April fools day on Friday and Virgin Atlantic released a funny press release for the occasion: they announced that fresh herbs and vegetables will be grown on board Virgin Atlantic flights for Upper Class passengers from April 1st 2011. They really built up a proper story by specifying that in Upper Class, fresh herbs will be used to complement drinks and cocktails from the bar area including thyme for Bloody Mary’s and fresh mint for Mojitos, Pimms and tea. The vegetable offering will complement the in-flight meal with availability of vegetable depending on your destination. Carrots, baby new potatoes and spinach will be available on flights returning to the UK. Miniature pumpkins and sweet potatoes will be grown on transatlantic flights to the USA, while Tokyo routes will have the choice of okura (okra) or shiitake mushrooms. Virgin Atlantic even supplied pictures of the “new service”, see one above.
Last night as part of the Passenger Terminal Expo 2011 held in Copenhagen, Skytrax announced this years World Airport Awards. The most prestigious price, Airport of the Year, went to Hong Kong International (IATA: HKG) for the 8th time since 2000. LateDeparture video reviewed the award winning airport. Last year’s winner Singapore Changi (IATA: SIN) came second and South Korea’s Incheon International Airport (IATA: ICN) third.
Check this out, my second most favourite airport in Asia, Hong Kong Airport (you can see my most recent video review of the magnificent airport here) has unveiled plans for an extension: Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) unveiled phase 1 of its midfield development project. The 73,000m² project includes the building of a new midfield concourse with 20 aircraft parking stands, a new cross-field taxiway and the extension of the existing automated people mover (APM) to the midfield concourse. Construction for the phase one development will start in the third quarter of 2011, with the completion expected by the end of 2015.
Since Christmas is only a few short days away, I thought it’s time to unwrap this little jewel: when I went to Hong Kong a short while back, I recorded a video blog review of the airport and edited it later at home. The sound isn’t the best, but I think you will enjoy this walk-through footage of Hong Kong International (IATA: HKG) anyway. After all, I’ve previously reviewed this great airport in the usual LateDeparture style, so a little more “colour” this time can’t be wrong!
I hope you enjoy it – merry Christmas everyone and save travels!
Did you miss me? Well I’m back!
It has definitely been a while since my last post. Don’t worry, I didn’t run out of interesting airport stories, but l did run out of time.. As a little treat, you’ll get a whopper of an airport reviewed now: Hong Kong.
I guess everyone has heard of the dangerous, yet spectacular approach at the old Hong Kong International airport (commonly known as Kai Tak Airport). I personally experienced two landings there back in 1991 where my window seat proved to be the best allocation ever. It was simply spectacular!
So, the first time I flew into the then known, newly built airport, Chek Lap Kok (赤鱲角機場), I was quite disappointed as l didn’t get any of that great view l remembered. However, on a recent trip to Hong Kong we flew over this magnificent city with a perfect view of the spectacular Victoria Harbour and all of Kowloon! My tip is – try to sit on the right hand side of the aircraft and chances are good you’ll get the “wow factor” on your next approach to Hong Kong International Airport (as it is known today).
On the ground, terminal 1 is the flagship building and home of Cathay Pacific and it’s code share partners including British Airways. Overall, the airport is very spacious and the check-in hall reminded me of Kuala Lumpur, which is similarly generous in terms of space.
Before you pass security you have a good selection of stores (Wing Wah, Newslink, Canton Market, Kee Wah Bakery, Toys & Games, Okashi land, Ying King tea house, etc.) and restaurants (Popeyes, Fairfood and Maxim’s upstairs).
After security the airport is split into 2 levels, upstairs you’ll find a food court, a few shops and a multimedia lounge with free internet plus more stores downstairs.
My must-check-out- things are:
- Aji Ichiban on the North side of the terminal. Go crazy and buy from their funny, sometimes strange selection of Asian and Western sweet and savoury snacks. A perfect surprise for a co-worker or friend
- Check out the big spenders in the posh shops (Tiffany’s, Chanel, Hermes,, etc.) on the lower level
- Indulge on one of the seasonal Latte’s at Starbucks opposite Gate 20
- Stock up your travel care gear at the “Travel Care Express” store after gate 27
- Go on a hunt for the Airbus A380. Yes, you should be able to see one as Singapore Airlines flies them between Hong Kong and Singapore. (For a video of the first A380 I spotted a while back in Hong Kong, click here).
- Lastly, send a few emails from your iPhone through the free WiFi connection throughout the airport
|Airport Name||Hong Kong International Airport|
|HKD 950 (£73.40)|
|HKD 450 (£34.75)|
[Picture from Hong Kong International Airport’s official website]
I am sure you agree that 2008 has been a very
difficult eventful year. This also holds also true for the aviation industry as our selection of the top 10 news stories about airports shows:
10. London Stansted blockade
Early December environmental activists have stopped flights at London’s Stansted airport (IATA: STN) after breaking through to the runway, raising security concerns at Britain’s third-busiest airport. The protests against a further expansion of the airport caused a serious knock-on effect on the airport’s flight operations causing over 50 flights to be cancelled.
9. Opening of Beijing airport Terminal 3
On March 26, Beijing airport (IATA: PEK) opened its new Terminal 3, designed by Sir Norman Foster, after four years of construction. It is the world’s largest airport building, covering more than a million square meters, designed to accommodate an estimated 50 million passengers a year by 2020.
8. Closure of Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof airport
Open one, close one; on the October 30, Berlin’s iconic Tempelhof airport closed down for good. Originally opened in 1923, the later built airport halls and neighbouring buildings, intended to become the gateway to Europe and a symbol of Hitler’s “world capital” Germania. Read our full coverage here.
7. Kalitta Air crash at Brussels airport
On Sunday, 25 May a Boeing 747 cargo plane overshot the runway at Brussels Zaventem airport (IATA: BRU) and crashed resulting the aircraft to break into 2 parts. The spectacular picture made the news everywhere.
6. Frightening landing at Hamburg’s airport
A low pressure system named “Emma” nearly caused a disaster at Hamburg airport (IATA: HAM) in March. The Lufthansa A320 plane struggled to make the runway through 90 kilometre-per-hour crosswinds resulting in the 39 year old pilots last minute go-around procedure and a safe second attempt. The frightening approach was caught on camera and is an extraordinary piece which will now probably be used all over the world in pilot training classrooms.
5. Hong Kong wins ‘Airport of the Year’ award
In July Hong Kong International airport (IATA: HKG) was named best Airport in the world, in the passenger survey results released by Skytrax. Despite being “only” rated in 5th place in the most-timely airport survey, Hong Kong received the prestigious award after Skytrax collected 8.2 million questionnaires completed by passengers over a 10-month time period. Read our congratulating article here.
4. Spanair crash at Madrid airport
A combination of basic pilot error and an electrical failure was the possible cause of the crash of a Spanair plane at Madrid’s Barajas airport (IATA: MAD) on 20 August that killed 154 people. The airport was closed for several hours after the accident.
3. Radar malfunction at Dublin airport
In the midst of the summer holiday season, Dublin airport (IATA: DUB) made the news with its malfunctioning radar system which meant that controllers lost some functionality on their screens meaning they were unable to see the labels attached to ‘blips’ that signify individual aircraft. The problem resulted in massive delays and many cancellations over several days.
2. Bangkok blockade
Protesters supporting the People’s Alliance for Democracy stormed Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport (IATA: BKK) in late November, occupying the departure lounge and blocking all exits. With that 3,000 people were stranded within the airport and another 350,000 were stranded within Thailand. Read our interview with an affected traveller.
1. Chaos at London Heathrow’s new Terminal 5
In March BAA, the company that owns Heathrow airport, opened its newest addition of what should have been a proud event for London’s most criticised airport. Instead, the opening resulted in a PR disaster with BAA losing thousands of bags over several months. The event then became one of the triggers leading to the demands of breaking up BAA’s monopolistic ownership of airports in the UK.
Hong Kong International Airport has been named Best Airport in the world, in the passenger survey results released on Monday by Skytrax. Despite being “only” rated in 5th place in the most-timely airport survey, Hong Kong received the prestigious award after Skytrax collected 8.2 million questionnaires completed by passengers over a 10-month time period. The London based aviation-research company rated the airports in more than 40 categories of product and service quality from check-in to departure, from arrivals to baggage collection – including terminal cleanliness, staff efficiency, staff courtesy, terminal signage, security processing, immigration and customers, walking distances, as well as features like shopping, dining options, internet services.
Second best airport went to last year’s winner, Singapore Changi airport followed by Seoul Incheon. Best European airport was Munich in 5th place and San Francisco took the place for the best ranked US airport but didn’t make it in the top ten. Here’s the that top ten:
- Hong Kong
- Singapore Changi
- Seoul Incheon
- Kuala Lumpur KLIA
- Cape Town
Also, make sure you check out the full list of the category winners – Brisbane for example received the award for the airport with the friendliest staff. Well, I guess that’s no surprise when you work in a city with one of the best climates and the most leisure attitude…
[Picture from Flickr]
Airport statistics are a fine thing as they give you an indication of where potential problems lie. Especially if you have the choice of different routes, it makes sense to take the on-time statistics of a particular airport into account when planning your travels.
So, which airport is the worlds most efficient one? According to a Forbes Travlerer article, the winning airport is Haneda airport in Tokyo (HND) with 90% of its arrivals and departures on-time. Never heard of Haneda? Me neither, but according to the article, the airport is the fourth busiest airport in the world primarily handling domestic traffic. It’s bigger sister airport, the well known Narita International (NRT) makes it on to the 2nd place. Well done, Japan!
Interestingly, 6 out of the 10 most on-time airports are located in Asia, only two from the US (Orlando and Houston) and one from Europe (Munich) make it into this elite group – maybe some of these airport managers should have a summer exchange class organized in Asia…
- Haneda (HND), Tokyo, Japan – 90%
- Narita International (NRT), Tokyo, Japan – 84.2%
- Taiwan Taoyuan International, Taipei (TPE), Taiwan – 80.3%
- Kingsford Smith International (SYD), Sydney, Australia – 80.1%
- Hong Kong International (HKG), Hong Kong, Hong Kong – 79.7%
- Soekarno-Hatta International (CGK), Jakarta, Indonesia – 79.3%
- Suvarnabhumi International (BKK), Bangkok, Thailand – 79.3%
- Orlando International (MCO), Orlando, USA – 79.8%
- Franz Josef Strauss Airport (MUC), Munich, Germany – 77.8%
- George Bush International (IAH), Houston, USA – 77%
Read the full Forbes Traveler article here.
(Picture by Flickr)