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Neil Sowerby's travel shorts 03/11/2010

Records broken, new Amsterdam route and Europe's Christmas markets. All from the NW

Published on November 9th 2010.

Neil Sowerby's travel shorts 03/11/2010

Airport record breakers
Emirates is celebrating 20 years of flights from Manchester Airport to top a record-breaking year. The airline, which bought the A380 to Manchester, started its then-fledgling operation to the city back on November 2, 1990, with just a 180-seat Airbus A310, flying just twice a week to Dubai.

Now Emirates has 945 seats a day available on its twice-daily services to Dubai following the arrival of its A380 on September 1.

Since the launch of the Manchester service, Emirates has carried more than four million passengers between the city and Dubai and its fast-growing network of onward destinations. It has also carried 125 million kilos of cargo in the same period.

Already in 2010, Emirates has set the following firsts in Manchester:

- Made Manchester the first regional airport in the world to operate a scheduled A380 service

- Broke the airport’s record for most passengers on a scheduled flight – 517 on October 21.

- On the same day, the airline broke its own record for most passengers from Manchester – 945.

- Became the North West’s largest overseas airline employer by creating 60 new jobs.

Passengers from the North West today use Emirates' services to fly to Dubai where they can connect to a network of over 100 destinations on six continents. Popular destinations include Australia, Thailand, China, the Indian Ocean and Dubai.

So far this year, Emirates has launched new services to Tokyo, Amsterdam, Prague, Madrid and Dakar in Senegal from September 1.

For more information, visit www.emirates.com/uk

Tax exilesAt least one international airline has snubbed the UK in favour of France as a direct result of a 55 per cent rise in air passenger taxes, and more may follow, claim airport executives. Manchester Airport says that after months of discussion with Malaysia’s AirAsia X, the low-cost, long-haul airline had decided to go to France’s Orly airport, south of Paris, in part because of the air passenger duty. “They’ve said they are not confident that they are going to be able to have a viable route with APD at £85 for economy class and £170 for first and business,” said Jonathan Bailey, the airport’s group external affairs director, this week. The air passenger duty charges have risen for the third time in three years from 1 November to as much as £170 a ticket, depending on the length of the flight and class of seat, cementing the UK’s position as the highest aviation taxer in Europe.

High resolution ban
Meanwhile Manchester, along with other British airports, is tightening security in the wake of terrorist cargo threats. From midnight on 1 November large printer cartridges (i.e. those over 500 grammes) are not permitted in passenger baggage or on cargo freighters unless they are from companies registered with the Department for Transport.

Month begins with a bang
Monday 1 November was certainly a busy day for the Airport. United flew out with Turkish Airlines to Turkey to play Bursapspor in the Champions League. 15 journalists came over from Turkey to meet the team. They were all in the T1 Escape Lounge again. The celebs keep on coming too with the latest being JLS and John Thomson from Cold Feet. Turkish has very strong links with the club as evidenced in their new ad which was made in Manchester and released this week - click here.

More Manchester Airport news. Air France and CityJet are now operating from Terminal 3 and easyJet has launched a new route to Amsterdam. easyJet is the first low-fares airline to operate a direct service to Schiphol Airport from Manchester and is offering one-way flights from as little as £27.99 (including taxes). easyJet is providing a morning and afternoon flight Monday to Friday to cater for the region’s business travellers as well as daily flights at the weekend to accommodate leisure passengers.

Ali Gayward, UK Commercial Manager of easyJet, says: “We’re making this important European gateway more accessible for the huge numbers of North West business and leisure travellers that visit the city each year or use it as a base for onward travel.“easyJet now flies to a total of 22 destinations from Manchester, which includes new routes to Hamburg and Gothenburg which also begin operating this year, to provide even more choice to travellers in the region.”

easyJet arrived at Manchester Airport in March 2008 and now carries approximately 1million passengers through the base each year.

For more information or to book visit www.easyJet.com

Jetting away for a spot of Christmas shopping has never been easier. Jet2.com, for example, are offering flights to Europe’s shopping hot spots and Christmas Markets from just £9.99 one way from Manchester, including taxes and with a generous 22kg baggage allowance.

The bargain airline’s top tips for European Christmas shopping destinations are:

- Rome: The Piazza Navona Christmas Market runs from November 26-January 6, complete with nativity scenes and stalls selling festive treats including traditional Italian biscotti, toronne and panettone. Santa, too, plus his Italian rival Befana – an old lady, or good witch, who hands out presents.

- Prague: The Old Town Square Christmas Market has a gigantic Christmas tree from the Sumava Mountains, decorated with dazzling lights and ornaments. Cute wooden stands sell Czech specialties and traditional souvenirs which you can browse while enjoying a mulled wine.

- Amsterdam: The Museum Quarter becomes a Christmas hub every year, with a market, Christmas lights, craft-making and an ice rink to get you in the festive spirit plus some great designer shopping.

- Barcelona: The Fira de Santa Llucia, Barcelona’s Christmas fair and Barcelona’s 35,000 shops make this a shopping mecca. After enjoying the shops you can take in some sea air down at the beach or eat at one of the portside restaurants.

There is also a range of Jet2holiday packages starting from under £200 for three nights, flying out of Leeds-Bradford. For more information or to book your Christmas Markets getaway, visit www.Jet2.com or www.jet2holidays.com

Swimming at the Christmas Markets
More festive family shopping fun. Sunparks suggest you combine a short break at one of their holiday villages in Belgium, Holland or Germany with a visit to some of the Continent’s most popular Christmas markets nearby – in places like Bruges, Ostend, Amsterdam, Eindhoven and Bremerhaven. Sunparks is an all-weather holiday concept, with facilities for all ages and all seasons, including indoor and outdoor sports facilities; ‘Aquafun’ water parks; children’s play areas and numerous restaurants and cafés on-site. For further information visit www.sunparks.co.uk

Terminal lowering
Manchester Airport’s Terminal 1 Escape Lounge, with prices already as low as £12, is now offering an evening special of £10 between 7:30pm-9pm. You can also get into the Lounge for this price if you also book car-parking. In Terminal 2, couple prices are £35 and family prices are two adults plus two children at £49. To book visit www.manchesterairport.co.uk

The Land beyond the River
Specialist cultural tours Kirker Holidays (www.kirkerholidays.com ) sounds a good bet. The latest edition of its popular Cultural Tours & Music Holidays brochure includes escorted options to Israel, Lebanon, Ukraine and many other countries. Each itinerary is carefully planned to take small groups of clients (between 10-22 participants) beneath the skin of a destination, with expert guest lecturers and knowledgeable local guides. I was particularly taken with Uzbekistan –The Land beyond the River. “For immaculately-preserved architecture, there can be few places as impressive as Uzbekistan. Enjoy unforgettable ancient sites as well as warm local hospitality on this ten-night tour.” Borat came from Kazhakstan didn’t he?

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