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news comment Mike Pearse ITV News

“Innovation couldn’t be more important at a time when exchange rates are poor and people still fear the ash cloud”


fter months of doom, gloom, ash and the cash crisis it is heartening to hear some good news on the horizon for travel consumers. Innovation

couldn’t be more important at a time when we still face poor exchange rates and people are nervous about flying, fearing the phrase “the ash is back” splashed over our newspaper front pages. The sort of development that helps those

who travel is the decision by Air France to use an Airbus A380 on the Heathrow to Paris route starting this weekend. It will give people the chance to sample the 550-seat superjumbo with a return flight from just £80. The really welcome news is that it is competition for Eurostar and that is good for us all. Anything that increases choice and keeps fares down is very beneficial. More evidence of innovation invest-

ment came this week from P&O Fer- ries. In Finland on Tuesday it proudly put on show how the first of two new ferries for the Channel are shaping up. They are being built at a cost of

£300 million and demonstrate the biggest ever investment in the sector. The new ships will be the largest

the Dover-Calais market has ever seen with each taking up to 1,000 cars or 180 lorries. This is a massive investment in a market that has faced enormous problems following the ending of duty free and compe- tition from the Channel Tunnel. The new vessels will transform the pas-

16 11.06.2010

senger experience and force rivals to improve the onboard experience for us all. They should be carrying passengers at the start of next year. This week also saw the opening of a new ter- minal at Bournemouth airport. This first phase, a departure facility, is part of a £30 million investment. At least you can have a latte in comfort as you wait for your flight. Much better than the dilapidated building it replaces. Perhaps the most exciting news of all for this summer is that the UK will see the first appearance of the Boeing 787 Dream- liner at the Farnborough Airshow next month.

This will give us a glimpse of the

aircraft many will soon be travelling on and a chance for launch customer Thomson and other airlines to talk up the passenger experience. We have also got the launch of the Queen Elizabeth to look forward to in October when it is hoped Her Majesty will attend a naming ceremony like no other seen before in Southampton. So while times remain tough and a

difficult summer remains with us there is some hope at least. And for once Heathrow was even in

party mood this week with bands, balloons and celebrations as 30,000 fans headed to the World Cup.

Now an England win would really put a smile on the nations face. We can but hope.

Mike Pearse, transport correspondent, ITV News

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