Archive for the ‘News’ Category
The public sector strike, that threatened London’s travel routes, especially airports, with prospective chaos and gridlock, witnessed efficient management on airport authorities’ part through better services.
The strike was threatening to affect all the travel routes and especially Heathrow, was expecting delay and postponement of the flights, but the travelers were not just comfortable but happier at the special facilities and conveniences that they received in the expected time of crisis.
After a span of almost 30 years, a huge mass protest, witnessed workers of public sector, like teachers, hospital staff, and border officials, showing placards and their opinions against the increasing recession, affecting people’s pensions also. This strike made airport authorities to believe that they would face an almost 12 hours delay in flights and would have to fly with only half filled flights, to evade chaos. But the passengers were contented with the arrangements on the airport and spoke in favor of Heathrow terminals.
A 42 year old passenger, Debbie Arnell said, that the passport control seemed to be having more staff than usual, on the aforesaid day. She included that the airport authorities were also giving free drinks and fruits, which is not a usual routine, as if “they have over compensated”. Another passenger, 45 year old Richard Bunkham, agreed with Debbie’s assessment, and said, that the queues at passport control were almost negligible, which was implicitly, “better than usual”.
Though the airport authorities had something additional to say as well. The Heathrow and Gatwick airport claimed that though the services were almost unaffected by the day’s strike, there were a few inbound transatlantic cancellations to the Heathrow airport, early in the morning, and they are still expecting a chaos or disturbance in the day, later. Both Gatwick and Heathrow recorded timely departures and arrivals of their carriers.
Contrary to Heathrow’s normal routines, the North East England, faced difficult situations as, the RMT transport union reported that due to strike, they witnessed “a total shutdown of key transport services”. Some major roads and bridges were also jammed, like A167 Tyne Bridge.
The Eurostar, a high speed tunnel train service, informed their Paris and Brussels’ passengers to reach their departing destinations before time to avoid delays. But most of the UK airlines were problem free, as the Luton, Bedfordshire and Stansted airports functioned normally and reports from Manchester airport also informed no cancellations.
The travel agents can now take a deep breath, as according to the new policy by IRDA, Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority, the travel insurance companies will now return 100% amount of the risk cover that the agents are supposed to pay. The risk cover, reverted earlier was 80%, though a 100% premium was paid by the agents, so in order to make the procedure beneficial for them, IRDA now announces that Insurance companies will revert 100% of the amount. The agents used to bear the remaining 20% of this amount themselves, through individual bank guarantees.
The President of TAAI, Travel Agents Association of India, Mr. Iqbal Mulla, met the officials of UIICL, United India Insurance Company Limited, and discussed the problem faced by the travel agents, and on comprehending the situation, the UIICL not only agreed for the 100% cover revert but also approved of a rate 1.30% and service tax, on any insured amount of more than Rs. 30 Crores. This has been a breaking achievement and joy for the travel agents.
For the efforts put in by Mulla, the president of TAFI, Travel Agents Federation of India, Mr. Ajay Prakash, has congratulated him and praised his efforts, as it will bring a lot of comfort to the agencies, according to him. He added, “While all this was happening in the country, I was at Macau for the TAFI Convention. However, I was constantly in touch with Mr Mulla via phone regarding the status of this issue. The efforts put in by him will definitely benefit the entire travel agent fraternity as getting a bank guarantee is not an easy task since it has serious cost implications for travel agents. This shows that when associations work in tandem, we can achieve great heights.”
The Chairman of the Western Region of TAAI, Mr. Jay Bhatia, also agreed and showed satisfaction at this new achievement, and considered this to be more beneficial for mid -sized agents, for whom paying the collateral money in individual banks was never an easy task. This new scheme, unequivocally, brought a lot of relief to the travel agents.
The weekend saw a chaotic Scottish Highlands, as winds of about 114 mph brought the entire town down, in the form of jammed roads, delayed or canceled flights, and power cut. Though the whole of Scotland was a victim of the gale, the Scottish Highlands were the worst hit, as the news of the highest winds came from Cairngorms, the eastern mountain ranges of Highlands.
In various regions of the Highlands, the different speed of wind, affected those lands in different ways. The weather department has been on alert ever since, to provide the neighborhoods with acute warnings. Orkney, faced a complete town black out because of its 80 mph gale, while Glen Ogle in Stirlingshire witnessed a wind of about 96 mph.
The heavy rains added to the chaos, and hit traffic badly as, various lanes were waterlogged and flooded completely. The road A86 between Newtonmore and Laggan, and the one at Pennyfuir A85, were closed because of the heavy pouring, while many roads were closed for the high sided vehicles such as, A9 Kessock Bridge, Erskine Bridge, and Forth Road Bridge.
The winds started on Saturday and continued till Sunday, and ever since the vehicles have been made to abide by the restricted speed limits and especially on certain routes such as, Skye, Friarton, Tay Bridge, Erskine and Clackmannanshire. And some routes were completely closed, to prevent mishappenings, like the CalMac Ferries , reduced and for some time even canceled their services to Skye and Lewis.
The winds are still surging in the Gaelic Islands, and while the Edinburgh castle was closed before time on Saturday due to the winds, it is expected that the coastal and hilly areas, might witness same windy disruptions today also. The whole traveling routes, on plains, and mountains have been affected poorly by these gale winds, and the entire Scotland is down with bad weather.
A national strike in Britain to start on Wednesday has the potential to impact the operations at the airport and many public services throughout Britain. The Airport Authorities at Britain have warned the airlines last Friday to reduce their services by 50% for November 30 as operations at customs and immigration department are likely to be most affected.
Norman Boivin (CEO, Heathrow) advised airlines about expected “gridlock” which meant that incoming passengers would be unable to take off and aircraft would not get parking space at already overcrowded terminals.
The hospital services may also be affected and schools are expected to close if strike takes place for 24 hours as planned.
The Trades Union Congress for British Unions expects more than 2 million workers to participate in the strike which is to protest the government plan to decrease $185 budget deficit through reducing pensions and increasing worker wage contributions.
At Gatwick, London’s second largest airport too, the airlines have been asked to reduce the number of arriving passengers.
The International London Heathrow airport is under severe threat of long flight delays, as the public sectors’ strike next week, is bound to get chaotic, causing gridlock at the airport.
Due to the immigration officers’ strike, the airport witnessed 12 hours delay of the flights, from scheduled time, which is expected to get worse with next week’s public sector strike.
The strike, which is an outrage against the proposed pension changes , is likely to affect the economy as well , according to the Chief Secretary of the Treasury, Danny Alexander, who also said that the disruption is something that “we can ill afford”.
The long delays on the flight was tried to bring under control, by the BAA, the owner’s decision, to fly the planes only 50% filled. Though the emergent disruption , caused by the Immigration officers’ strike, was tried to be controlled by managers covering immigration desks, but an inevitable disturbance in the flight schedule is bound to come.
Heathrow is London’s largest airport, and serves long routes flights, from countries to countries, this is making a strong reason for the great threat that the airport authorities are facing. The operating officer, Normand Boivin, also said, that the flights would be delayed and he accused the UK border agency, for failing in their performance of normal operations of migrations through various routes. Boivin added, that this could bring major problems, both for airport authorities and passengers, as neither the flight would be able to accommodate the passengers for such a long delay nor the terminal, which would result in the jampacked terminals, mass cancellations of flights, and route diversions also.
To ease the situation, Virgin Atlantic and British Airways, have proposed the passengers, to change their flights , free of cost , that will reduce the chaos.
Hotel Cordial Mogan Playa, in Gran Canaria Island of Spain, witnessed a Propane gas explosion, leaving 23 people injured, while 6 received severe burns. The explosion resulted in the hotel catching fire, which made the spa ceiling to collapse.
At the time of explosion, the hotel was accommodating 862 guests, but the people who are seriously injured are mainly hotel staff members. 5 of the victims were hotel workers, who received 30 to 90% burns, while one female Norwegian tourist, a guest at the hotel, received about 100% burns, and is in a critical state. The 5 injured staff members include, the hotel’s spa manager, 3 cleaners and a bell- hop.
According to the reports, a gas tanker was filling the inner deposits of the hotel, and that is where the accident happened. Marcos Rodriguez, the President of the work’s committee of the hotel, stated, that some of the staff members observed “strong smell of gas”, but before any action could have been taken, the explosion happened.
The hotel authorities , immediately came to an alert and a safety campaign was brought into action, through which the victims were treated on a field hospital, formed by hotel authorities, while the seriously injured were taken to hospitals on the Island, through helicopter. The hotel also summoned Psychiatrists for rest of the victims and the people who witnessed the explosion, to help with the anxiety attacks and the horrible impression of the blast. The hotel was immediately evacuated, on the assumptions that later in the day, they would be able to take them in again, with proper care and maintenance of the demolished zones.
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