Stansted looks beyond Ryanair to add touch of class from Gulf

People disembark from a Ryanair flight to board a bus at Stansted Airport in London. Emirates planes will also soon become a familiar sight at the airport that is better known for the budget end of the aviation business. (Reuters)
Updated 29 December 2017

Stansted looks beyond Ryanair to add touch of class from Gulf

LONDON: The London airport best known for budget travel is targeting the big carriers of the Middle East for its next phase of growth.
A plan unveiled by Dubai-based Emirates last week to launch a new daily air service between the emirate and Stansted Airport from next June marks a breakthrough in the campaign by London’s third airport to attract more long-haul carriers.
Best known as a base for Europe’s short-haul budget airlines, Stansted will also see two low-cost carriers start trans-Atlantic services from the airport next year.
But the launch of Emirates’ service to Dubai will greatly extend Stansted’s global reach across the Middle and Far East and add to its appeal for business travelers, particularly those visiting the nearby Cambridge-Oxford high-tech corridor.
“It’s a really strong development for Stansted,” said air transport consultant John Strickland of JLS Consulting. “It puts them on the worldwide map with Emirates’ direct access to the Gulf, Asia and Africa. It also reflects the growing strength of Stansted’s business catchment area.”
The new Emirates service also recognizes that with Heathrow and Gatwick airports operating close to capacity, Stansted is one of the few entry points to Britain’s prosperous South East region where there is still scope for airlines to expand.
Emirates will operate its new three-class Boeing 777-300ER aircraft on the new service, largely outside the budget airlines’ peak hours. Landing charges at London Stansted also tend to be significantly lower than at Heathrow.
Although it has a single runway, London Stansted currently handles around 26 million passengers a year but has planning permission to expand to 35 million and ambitions to grow to 43 million by the late 2020s.
Located some 39 miles north of the city in Essex and with a 47-minute express rail link to central London, Stansted is building a new £130 million ($175 million) arrivals terminal and a new £11 million aviation skills college.
As well as business travelers across north east London, Emirates’ new service is targeting around 7.5 million people living in the Stansted catchment area who currently have to travel to Heathrow or Gatwick via central London or on the city’s congested M25 outer ringroad.
According to the airline, Hong Kong, Dubai, Shanghai, Singapore and Mumbai are the most popular business destinations from the East of England which Emirates serves through Dubai.
At CAPA — Center for Aviation, chief airports analyst David J. Bentley sees Emirates’ new service from Stansted as very significant.
He said: “This service is long-haul, full-service and eastbound, killing three birds with one stone. And there is no reason why Emirates could not extend it into a Middle East-Europe-North America service as it has done selectively with other routes via Milan, Athens and Scandinavia though there is no evidence it will do that. It is also daily; business travelers do not like long-distance services that are less than daily.”
For Middle Eastern travelers, the new service will provide a convenient entry point close to the Oxford-Cambridge corridor which is home to a cluster of “knowledge-based” tech businesses and where the UK government is targeting new infrastructure investment, including a rail link.
Emirates said that more than 25 of the world’s largest corporations — including Airbus, Astra Zeneca and GSK — have operations in the wider Cambridge and Peterborough area, close to Stansted.
Laurie Berryman, who is responsible for Emirates’ UK operations, said the service would also prove useful to the new startups and existing SMEs which form a growing section of the Cambridge business community.
Stansted’s growing cargo operation will also be significant for the airline’s freight division, Emirates SkyCargo. Rival carrier Etihad Cargo is now also operating from Stansted and this time last year used the airport to ship 72 racehorses from England to Kuwait for the winter.
Other airlines have also viewed Stansted as a gateway to the Middle East. Turkish carrier Atlasglobal launched a new daily flight from Stansted to Istanbul toward the end of 2016 which allows passengers to connect to onward flights to Dubai.
London Stansted’s position in the long-haul sector should also benefit from the launch of other new services. From next April, Danish airline Primera Air will start offering daily flights from Stansted to New York’s Newark Airport and four times a week to Boston Logan in May using its Airbus A321 NEO aircraft. Primera Air is also launching a new direct service from Stansted to Toronto from next June.
Announcing these plans recently, London Stansted CEO Ken O’Toole said: “We have the ambition and runway capacity to enable us to offer more flights to more destinations across North America, the Middle East and further afield and satisfy the growing demand from businesses and passengers across the region to fly long-haul from their local airport.”
Meanwhile, low-cost Iceland airline WOW air is also planning to launch a new service from Stansted to New York JFK via Reykjavik from next April with fares starting at £99 one way.


Apple embarks on EU court battle over 13-bn-euro tax bill

Updated 9 min 9 sec ago

Apple embarks on EU court battle over 13-bn-euro tax bill

LUXEMBOURG: Apple embarks on an epic court battle with the EU on Tuesday, fighting the commission’s landmark order that the iPhone-maker reimburse Ireland 13 billion euros ($14 billion) in back taxes.
Lawyers for the world’s biggest company will face EU officials in a Luxembourg court, challenging a decision that CEO Tim Cook slammed at the time as “total political crap.”
The European Commission’s conclusion was delivered in August 2016 by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, a shock decision that put Europe at the forefront of an emerging effort to rein in the power of US big tech.
The two days of hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday will take place at the EU’s lower General Court, where judges will give their judgment no earlier than 2020.
Any appeal would then go the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, for a final decision that could land as late as 2021.
The EU accuses Apple of parking untaxed revenue earned in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India, in Ireland, which has emerged as a European hub for big tech and global pharma giants.
This privilege allegedly gave Apple an advantage over other companies, allowing it to avoid taxes between 2003 and 2014 of around 13 billion euros which, according to Brussels, constituted illegal “state aid” by Ireland.
Apple fiercely denies the tax bill. The US government also insists the order by Brussels constitutes a major breach of international tax law.
“The European Commission has tried to rewrite Apple’s history in Europe, to ignore Ireland’s tax laws and, in doing so, to disrupt the international tax system,” Tim Cook said in an open letter in 2016.
The group insists that it is in the United States, where the company invests in research and development and thus creates wealth, that it must pay taxes on the revenue in question.
This became possible after a major tax overhaul in the US at the end of 2017 that allowed Apple to repatriate profits made abroad. Apple has promised to pay Washington a tax bill of $37 billion, in addition to the taxes already paid in the United States.
The California-based giant is supported in its fight by Ireland which has also appealed, refusing to be singled out as a tax haven.
“We will present a very strong case,” promised Irish Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe on Friday.
The two days of hearings are taking place in a tense trade context between the EU and the United States where President Donald Trump accuses Europeans of deliberately attacking American technology giants.
The EU’s Competition supremo, Vestager, is in particular accused by the US president of “hating” the US. He has slammed her as the “tax lady” because of the investigations and heavy fines imposed on US groups such as Google.
Pending the conclusion of the case, Apple has blocked the funds in an escrow account: a total of 14.3 billion euros, after interest.
The group, which has been present in Ireland since the 1980s, employs around 6,000 people in Cork, the country’s second-largest city.
The first signs of how the Apple case may finish will come as early as September 24 when the General Court will rule on whether the EU was right to demand unpaid taxes from Starbucks and a unit of Fiat Chrysler.