Author Archives: Ofonime Essien

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D.B. Cooper, the mystery hijacker who jumped from an airliner and changed commercial plane design

D.B. Cooper, the mystery hijacker who jumped from an airliner and changed commercial plane design

By Ofonime Essien

Northwest Airlines

Cooper leapt from a Northwest Boeing 727 similar to this.

Reality can sometimes blow fiction right out of the water, and so it is with the strange case of D.B. Cooper, the first hijacker to jump from an aircraft and into criminal mythology.

On the afternoon of November 24, 1971, a soberly dressed man in business attire approached the Northwest Orient Airlines counter at Portland International Airport and paid $20 for a one-way ticket to Seattle, Washington, using the name Dan Cooper.

British Airways Sacks Air Hostess over Racist Chants against Nigerians

He boarded the aircraft, a Boeing 727, ordered a bourbon and soda, and lit up a Raleigh cigarette. One of Raleigh’s advertising slogans at the time was “Raleigh gives you both rich, mellow tobacco taste plus wonderful free gifts”, which would prove oddly prescient.

DB Cooper

The FBI sketch of the mysterious D.B. Cooper.

Shortly after take-off Cooper called flight attendant Florence Schaffner over, handed her a note saying he had a bomb and asked her to sit beside him. He opened his attache case to reveal a glimpse of wires and red tubes and demanded that she write down what he told her. On the note that Schaffner delivered to the captain, Cooper said he had a bomb and would blow up the plane and everyone in it unless he was provided with four parachutes and $US200,000 in $20 bills, worth about $1.2 million today.

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The flight landed in Seattle-Tacoma Airport, the passengers and most of the crew left the aircraft which was refuelled, the money and parachutes were handed over, then Cooper made a couple of unusual requests. He asked that the aircraft take off and the pilot set a course for Mexico City flying at an altitude of 10,000 feet and maintaining an airspeed of 100 knots, roughly 185km/h, or just above stall speed. Advised that Mexico City was out of the question due to the amount of fuel the aircraft would burn in that configuration, he agreed that the destination would be Reno, Nevada. He also asked that the landing gear be left down and the cabin unpressurised.

The aircraft took off at about 7:40pm with just the pilot and co-pilot, a flight engineer and a flight attendant on board, all told to remain inside the cockpit with the door closed.

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About 20 minutes after take-off, a warning light in the cockpit indicated that the rear airstair had been deployed and the crew observed a change in air pressure. This airstair extends downward from the belly of the aircraft and in line with the fuselage. Some 13 minutes later the Boeing’s tail made a sudden upward movement, requiring a trim adjustment to return to level flight. This was later shown to be consistent with a human exiting the aircraft via the airstair. Two hours later the plane landed at Reno, where it was surrounded by state troopers, sheriff’s deputies and the FBI, but no sign of Cooper.

The area where Cooper was thought to have landed was somewhere south of Mount St Helens in south-west Washington State, although the precise location could have been anywhere within an area of more than 200 square kilometres of rugged mountains, forests, rivers and lakes. What followed was the most expensive and elaborate manhunt in US history. FBI agents and sheriffs’ deputies combed large areas of the mountainous wilderness on foot and by helicopter. Patrol boats scoured rivers and a submarine searched the depths of Lake Merwin. Following the 1972 spring thaw, FBI agents, 200 soldiers, Air Force personnel, National Guard and civilian volunteers spent more than a month searching the ground for clues, and drew a blank. No trace of Cooper, no parachute nor anything else related to the hijacking was found.

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Despite enormous publicity and rewards offered by the media and government authorities, Cooper remains a mystery man, the man who never was. No missing persons have fitted Cooper’s description, no friends, family members, employers or colleagues have come forward with a positive identification. No parachute schools have ever seen or heard of anyone matching Cooper’s description. The initials “D.B.” were appended to the name “Cooper” by the press, there never was any reason to suspect this was the hijacker’s real name.

In almost five decades since the hijacking just two pieces of evidence have emerged. In 1978, a deer hunter found a placard printed with instructions for lowering the aft stairs of a Boeing 727 about 15 kilometres west of Mount St Helens, still within the potential drop zone.

Two years later an eight-year-old boy on a family holiday raked a sandy riverbank along the Columbia River to build a campfire and turned up three packets of $US20 notes, later proven to be part of the ransom money, but was it washed there or buried? And why were 10 bills missing from one of the packets, which was secured with rubber bands, just like the others?

This Too, Shall Pass

None of the remaining 9710 remaining $US20 bills have turned up anywhere in the world. Various websites offer checks for possible matches, and any notes with matching serial numbers would be worth many times more than their face value.

Cooper had done his homework. The Boeing 727 he chose for his mission was ideal for the purpose. The aft stairwell could be deployed inflight, and by a switch from inside the cabin, which could not be overridden from inside the cockpit. The aircraft’s three engines are located around the tail, allowing a fair chance of a safe jump without being incinerated in the jet exhaust. The aircraft also has a low stall speed, giving Cooper a greater safety margin. He timed his jump for the evening of Wednesday  November 24. The following day was Thanksgiving, the start of a four-day holiday weekend in the USA. If you wanted to disappear for a few days and be back at work after the holiday, no questions asked, the timing was impeccable.

Don’t Lobby For What God Has Not Given You

However the impression of a crack parachutist – possibly a former elite military paratrooper – doesn’t quite gel with the facts. Cooper rejected the military parachutes that were initially offered to him in favour of sport models, even though military chutes are designed to be used at night as well as day, and in adverse weather conditions, both of which applied on that night. Cooper chose the older of the two primary parachutes supplied to him rather than the technically superior professional sport parachute. He was jumping on a cold, dark night into mountainous wilderness, with forests, water hazards and few roads. He was wearing loafers and a trench coat and the reserve parachute he took with him was a dummy used for training purposes, a fact that would have been immediately obvious to an experienced parachutist.

Weighing up the odds, speculation persists that Cooper might not have survived the jump, possibly never even deployed his chute. That same year however, among the numerous copycat hijackings that followed Cooper’s, Robb Dolin Heady, a paratrooper and Vietnam veteran jumped from a United Airlines 727 near Reno, Nevada in darkness and landed safely but was apprehended the following morning as he returned to his car.

Nigerian Pilots Lost at Sea

Doubt lingers. If Cooper didn’t survive, why has no trace ever been found, and what about the cash bundles in the sandbar with the missing notes? The mysteries have attracted many curious and credulous minds, and theories abound.

The distinctive tie pin worn by Cooper was analysed by amateur sleuths and found to contain minute traces of titanium, a material used in the advanced sector of the airline industry at the time. This pointed the finger at a potential link to a Boeing employee, however Cooper’s intimate knowledge of the Boeing 727 would have indicated the same thing, and no Boeing employee was ever implicated. Also, given the precise details of Cooper’s physical appearance provide by air crew, any Boeing employee with the slightest resemblance to Cooper would immediately have been a suspect.

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Tom Colbert, another would-be detective who maintains a website, DBCooper.com, claimed to have found a frayed, 45cm piece of what was possibly fire-retardant fabric in a mound of dirt in the potential drop zone, leading to suggestions this might be from a military parachute. Media outlets jumped on this “ground-breaking discovery” with unbridled enthusiasm, yet linking this so-called “new evidence” with Cooper taxes all credibility, not to mention the inconvenient fact that Cooper did not jump with a military ‘chute.

In July 2016, the FBI announced that it was closing the book on D. B. Cooper, with the option to re-open the case should any legitimate physical evidence come forward. Its 60-volume case file compiled over the 45-year investigation has been preserved for historical purposes.

One outcome of the Cooper hijacking was a couple of changes in aircraft design. One was the “Cooper vane”, an aerodynamic wedge that uses wind pressure to prevent an aft stairwell from being deployed inflight. The other was a mandatory peephole in the cockpit door.

(Traveller)
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British Airways Sacks Air Hostess over Racist Chants against Nigerians

British Airways Sacks Air Hostess over Racist Chants against Nigerians

By Ofonime Essien

British Airways cabin crew racist chants

British Airways has sacked 23-year-old air hostess, Joanne Wickenden, who shot a racist video where she was seen ranting and insulting Nigerian passengers.

She sparked outrage after the video in which she was seen in her British Airways uniform before flying from London Heathrow to Abuja on Friday night.

British Airways Launches Investigation against Air Stewardess Making Racist Comments about Passengers

According to MailOnline, Ms. Wickenden told officials at British Airways that the video which she uploaded via her Snapchat was ‘just a joke’, adding that she was set up by a British Airways colleague who recorded her and shared the clip.

In a statement on Tuesday, British Airways said Wickenden no longer works with the airline as their staff were expected to be of utmost professionalism when representing the airline.

“She no longer works for British Airways. We expect the utmost professionalism from our staff when they are representing British Airways,” it said.

When Opportunity Knocks, Will You Be Ready?

Meanwhile, Ms. Wickenden, who wants to be an actress, told journalists that she is not a racist.

“I am not a racist.

“I have been framed by another British Airline employee. They were encouraging me, egging me on to say things. They were recording me and sent it around to our friends, she said I don’t want to fly anymore,” she said.

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British Airways Launches Investigation against Air Stewardess Making Racist Comments about Passengers

British Airways Launches Investigation against Air Stewardess Making Racist Comments about Passengers

By Ofonime Essien

Air Stewardess

The British Airways stewardess apparently filmed herself as she was about to fly from London Heathrow to Abuja

British Airways has launched an investigation after a video emerged of an air stewardess making racist comments about passengers on a flight to Nigeria.

The woman, dressed in a BA uniform, apparently filmed herself as she was about to fly from London Heathrow to Abuja on Friday night.

The footage was recorded in her car and has been circulated among shocked cabin crew who reported it to BA.

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The airline said today: ‘We expect the utmost professionalism from our staff when they are representing British Airways. We are investigating this video.’

In the expletive-filled footage, the unidentified woman said ‘all Nigerians are going to be asking for f****** upgrades’ – after claiming the men would need more leg room in an apparent joke about the size of their privates.

During the one-minute clip, broadcast on Snapchat, the blonde female worker also revealed how she was going to deal with passengers on the six-hour flight.

Sydney Airport Flights grounded by Air Traffic Control Outage

A source told MailOnline that the video – which was captioned ‘I can’t cope with this flight’ – was circulated among ‘horrified’ BA cabin crew who are ‘very concerned’.

The woman filmed herself saying: ‘Alright, so all of yous are there getting ready for your Friday night, getting in the pre-drinks, you know, as you do.

‘And I’m here, getting ready to go to work, put on a yellow life jacket, point out the exits, hand out chicken or beef, what sort of Friday night is this for me?

‘The upside is I’m going to Nigeria and there’s gonna be bare B**, I’m joking, I’m joking.

My South Korea Travel Experience

‘All the Nigerians are gonna be there like ‘gimme Coca Cola, gimme me beef, why you have no beef left? I want beef.’

‘And I’m just gonna be there like, ‘Sorry sir, we ran out of beef’.

‘All the Nigerians are gonna be there asking for f****** upgrades because they haven’t got enough leg room because their B**s are in their way. Big d**** like this swinging from side to side.’

The source told MailOnline: ‘My friend was horrified. BA has a culture of dealing with things like this internally, she passed it to me because she was concerned that nothing was done.’

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Sydney Airport flights grounded by air traffic control outage

Sydney Airport flights grounded by air traffic control outage

By Ofonime Essien

Sydney Airport outage

Passengers have been told air traffic control had suffered a “power outage”. Photo: Bloomberg

An outage at Sydney Airport air traffic control has grounded flights to and from the country’s largest airport.

The systems were down from about 5.20am Monday, as thousands of passengers converged on the airport at the start of school holidays.

All flights out of Sydney have been delayed until further notice.

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Some arrivals have been able to land, but all services to Sydney from Melbourne have not been boarded, with passengers told air traffic control had suffered a “power outage”.

Domestic flights heading to Sydney from all destinations are being delayed.

Passengers at Sydney were being advised to board their planes but then had to wait on the tarmac. A number of flights were cancelled.

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Airline staff said only 15 planes could land per hour. Under normal circumstances, a maximum of 80 aircraft arrivals and departures per operational hour is allowed.

About three hours after the outage, planes were gradually allowed to take off from Sydney but passengers were advised to expect delays.

It is believed the problem relates to the flight planning system which feeds into the radar picture. Without it, air traffic controllers cannot distinguish which plane is which.

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An Airservices Australia spokeswoman confirmed it was suffering “technical issues” but could not specify what had gone wrong.

The government body, which manages airspace across the country, was still able to “manage air traffic safely”, she said.

A Sydney Airport spokeswoman said passengers should check with their airline to see if their flight is affected.

A Melbourne Airport spokesman said that they did not know of any cancellations, but confirmed that some flights were being held due to the outage at Sydney airport.

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A spokeswoman for Virgin Australia said: “All flights at Sydney Airport are currently grounded until further notice due to an air traffic control issue. We are working to have all guests on their way as quickly and safely as possible once the issue is rectified. We will be contacting those guests who may be impacted but we encourage all guests to check the flight status page.”

Passengers on a Virgin flight waiting to depart Sydney were told that the outage had affected email communication as well as the radar. The plane’s captain told passengers flight plans were being submitted by fax before being processed manually by air traffic control staff.

Grounded passengers took to social media to express their frustration with the lack of information being provided about flights.

(WA Today)

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Ryanair Ltd is Hiring 125 Pilots to Clean Up its Cancellations Mess

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Category : News

Ryanair Ltd. is Hiring 125 Pilots to Clean Up its Cancellations Mess

By Ofonime Essien

Ryanair Ltd.

Ryanair is hiring 125 pilots to avoid additional flight cancellations and could force 500 existing pilots to change holiday plans.

According to Sky News, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary said on Thursday that that the firm would recruit 125 pilots in the next week or two and increase pay for others.

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He also said the airline is considering forcing 500 pilots to change their holiday plans to avoid risking additional flight delays.

Ryanair this week offered pilots a bonus to work 10 additional days to alleviate a pilot shortage that has caused the cancellation of over 2,000 flights in September and October, hitting the airline’s share price and reputation.

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O’Leary told Ryanair’s Annual General Meeting that it did not have sufficient spare pilots for September, October and November to ensure smooth operations and was considering forcing some pilots to change their annual leave plans.

He admitted “significant management failure” regarding the rostering of pilots, and warned that the moves would not guarantee an end to disruptions.

(Business Insider)

 

 

 

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Pilot and Passenger Escape Plane Crash after Engine Failure

Category : Air Crash

Pilot and Passenger Escape Plane Crash after Engine Failure

By Ofonime Essien

Plane Crash

The aircraft was significantly damaged, but the pilot and passenger were miraculously OK.

A pilot and his passenger made a lucky escape after their light plane suffered engine failure and plunged into trees in Sydney’s west.

9NEWS obtained the mayday call the pilot made before he crash-landed the plane near Moondarra Drive in West Hoxton.

He reported engine failure shortly after taking off from Bankstown Airport on a training flight.

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“We have engine failure at Bringelly near two towers. I’m trying to land aircraft in the field near two towers,” he says.

The pilot was left with little option but to glide toward the ground, where the paddock at West Hoxton became his runway.

Speaking with 9NEWS and seemingly in good spirits the pilot said he sustained “some injuries” but was “okay” overall.

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“Thank Jesus we are safe on ground. We had engine failure,” he said.

Emergency services are still at the scene.

The pilot and passenger did not receive any major injuries.

Police and firefighters remain at the scene as Civil Aviation Safety Authority investigators make their way to the crash site.

A police spokeswoman confirmed the aircraft had taken off from Bankstown Airport and was attempting to return there after experiencing engine trouble.

“The pilot was forced to make an emergency landing,” she said.

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NCAA Certifies Lagos Airport, Says It Meets International Standards

NCAA Certifies Lagos Airport, Says It Meets International Standards

By Ofonime Essien

Lagos Airport

After months of remedial work and remodeling of facilities at the Murtala Muahmmed International Airport (MMIA) in Lagos, the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has certified the nation’s busiest airport for meeting global safety and security standards as prescribed by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

This is the first international airport out of the four that would be certified in the next few weeks; the others are the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, the Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano and the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.

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With the certification, the Lagos airport would now be cited among the standard airports in the world and airlines, which hitherto could not operate to the airport due to lack of categorisation can now operate to the airport.

The certification is also expected to bring down insurance premium on Nigerian airlines and the airports, as insurers describe the Nigerian operational environment as hostile but the certification shows that the airport and the other international airports that would soon be certified have met all safety and security standards in tandem with other major airports in the world.

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Speaking at the event in Lagos yesterday, the Director-General of NCAA, Muhtar Usman, said the current drive towards the certification of Nigerian airports was very significant not only as a requirement by the ICAO and Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, but even more importantly as one of the critical safety targets set by the Abuja Ministerial Declaration of July 2012, that mandated all African states to certify their international airports.

“The certification is an enabler for the attainment of a regional hub which Nigeria desires for Lagos and Abuja. It is an enabler for airports in its territory to meet regulatory safety requirements on a continous basis, and that it is providing uniform conditions for safe and efficient operation of aircraft from all other States, as required by Article 15 of the Chicago Convention.

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“Aerodrome Certification is therefore an ICAO strategy for the standardisation and harmonisation of airport services, facilities and procedures, as well as ensuring uniformity in safety critical aerodrome elements irrespective of differences in ownership and management of such aerodromes,” Usman said.

He also said that the certification would assist states to effectively implement the critical elements of a safety oversight system in accordance with Annex 14 Vol. I, and other relevant ICAO specifications.

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Usman noted that the certification would signify to aircraft operators and other organisations operating at the aerodrome that, at the time of certification, the aerodrome meets the specifications regarding its facilities and operations, and that it has, according to the certifying authority, the capability to maintain these specifications for the period of validity of the certificate.

He remarked that NCAA is required to immediately commence the implementation of a post certification surveillance plan for the continuous monitoring of airport services, facilities, procedures and manpower levels to ensure that the Acceptable Level of Safety is not infringed on.

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The Director of NCAA said:” In the regulatory body’s safety oversight responsibilities, it would ensure compliance with ICAO and national regulations at all times, and where necessary, sanctions would be imposed or certificate suspended to enforce compliance with standards.”

Similarly, FAAN has the utmost responsibility of operating the Murtala Muhammed Airport in accordance with ICAO standards and recommended practices, and the Nigerian Civil Aviation Regulations, as well as any special conditions on which the certificate is issued.

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria is also required to promptly notify the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority of any changes in aerodrome services, facilities, procedures or staffing levels that can affect the certification of the aerodrome.

(ThisDay)

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Condor Airline Pilots Secretly Filmed Flight Attendants Having Sex

Condor Airline Pilots Secretly Filmed Flight Attendants Having Sex

By Ofonime Essien

Condor Airline

Condor Boeing 767-300ER Photo: Prasertwit

Pilots at Condor Airline allegedly secretly filmed and photographed flight attendants having sex in and outside airplanes, according to a German media report.

The videos and photos were handed around like trophies amongst the pilots, reported Focus Online on Friday.

The news outlet released the report on Friday, referencing information from company circles and a letter from Condor’s management.

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In its report, Focus quoted from an official company letter released by Condor on June 12th which warned of the “criminal relevance” of “secret video footage and its distribution”.

“There are obviously some Condor pilots who are secretly taking photos and video footage of female colleagues showing them in sexual acts,” Focus quoted from the company letter.

The pilots would then distribute this material to colleagues without the knowledge or the consent of the colleagues concerned, Focus claims.

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The letter warns the perpetrators of “serious consequences” regarding employment and criminal law. Employees were also threatened with imprisonment for up to two years.

In response to the report, Condor said it was “following all initial suspicions” rigorously. They also said that, so far, they had no evidence or statements “with regard to the above-mentioned rumours” which would be a starting point for prosecution.

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Condor employees were “clearly informed about the disapproval and legal consequences by the company” by means of an official letter which was circulated amongst everyone, the airline said.

The pilots knew very well about the explosive nature of their actions, reported Focus. They also knew that the flight attendants involved were afraid of going to the police and to human resource colleagues because they didn’t want the public exposure.

(The Local)

 

 

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Ryanair Cancels 82 Flights After It ‘Messed Up’ Crew’s Time Off

Tags :

Category : News

Ryanair Cancels 82 Flights After It ‘Messed Up’ Crew’s Time Off

By Ofonime Essien

 RyanairRyanair Holdings Plc scrapped 82 flights on Sunday, the start of a six-week program of cancellations it’s making as it seeks to reduce a backlog of crew vacation required by Irish regulators before the end of the year.

“We have messed up in the planning of pilot holidays and we’re working hard to fix that,” Kenny Jacobs, Ryanair’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement Saturday.

In the statement, the Dublin-based carrier said it expected to cancel 40 to 50 flights daily, “with a slightly higher number this weekend.”

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Ryanair will offer refunds or alternative flights to affected customers over the period, it said in a statement on Friday, adding that the cancellations, which amount to about 2 percent of its network, won’t have an impact on earnings in September and October. Between 308,000 and 385,000 passengers could be impacted over the period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg based on the airline’s passenger statistics.

Ryanair is mandated by the Irish Aviation Authority to bring time off for the staff in line with the calendar year from Jan. 1, requiring it to distribute the backlog before the end of the year. That’s left the carrier without enough pilots and flight attendants to man its full fleet of Boeing Co. 737s until the start of its winter timetable in November.

‘Apologize Sincerely’

“We have operated a record schedule and traffic during the peak summer months of July and August but must now allocate annual leave to pilots and cabin crew,” spokesman Robin Kiely said in the Friday statement. “We apologize sincerely to the small number of customers affected by these cancellations, and will be doing our utmost to arrange alternative flights and/or full refunds for them.”

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The move is also aimed at bringing punctuality back up to 90 percent by providing additional standby aircraft, after Ryanair’s on-time performance fell below 80 percent in the first two weeks of September. The delays have been prompted by air traffic control issues in France, the U.K., Germany and Spain, as well as thunderstorms, it said in the release.

Flights are operating as usual for customers who haven’t received emailed communication from the carrier, Europe’s biggest discount airline said in an update Saturday. Ryanair has been flying its 189-seat planes at record load factors, with 12.7 million customers in August and an occupancy rate of 97 percent.

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Ryanair’s shares slid 2 percent on Friday, to 17.07 euros ($20.39) in Dublin. That followed a 3.4 percent dive on Sept. 14, after a ruling by the European Union’s top court was seen leading to a possible increase in employment costs. They remain up 18 percent on the year.

(Bloomberg)

 

 


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Get £20 off your next flight with the Air France app

Category : General

Get £20 off your next flight with the Air France app

By Ofonime Essien

Air France app

Air France is encouraging travellers to download its mobile app, by offering a discount on your next long-haul flight.

Apple and Android users who download the app, and make a booking before the end of October, will receive £20 off their flight.

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To qualify customers must book an economy, premium economy or business class ticket, for outbound and return travel by March 14, 2018, on any Air France-operated long-haul service, valid for departures from London Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Newcastle.

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The carrier says that users downloading the app will see a welcome message containing the discount code, which must be entered on the personal information page during checkout.

(Air France)

 

 

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