Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Little more than a glorified shopping mall

The Guardian has had a sneak preview of the retail space of Heathrow's shiny-shiny T5.

According to the newspaper, passengers will be able to dine at Gordon Ramsay's first airport restaurant - for which he is boldly aiming for a Michelin star - while there is a "footballers' wives' dream" of a shopping avenue where the first Prada in a European airport rubs shoulders with Paul Smith, Gucci, Tiffany & Co, Mulberry and Christian Dior.

When the shopping gets tiring, refreshment beckons: on a corner site is Gordon Ramsay's Plane Food, offering a "time-guaranteed" menu to ensure passengers will not be late for their flight. The Wagamama restaurant is also another airport first, but, breaking with tradition, there will be no McDonald's in the "grab and go" section. Upmarket stores are clustered together for the convenience of the big spenders. "There is Paul Smith - with "virtual" garden views through French windows - Prada, Mulberry, Gucci and luxury stationers Smythson. Leather-covered seats in the public areas are designed by Foster + Partners and, airport authorities claim, there are 9,000 of them."

Beijing's new airport is an Olympic construction

The Independent of London has an excellent article on Beijing's new airport.

Its praise is extremely fullsome: "To descend the walkways into Beijing's gleaming terminal 3 is to enter China's vision of 21st-century air travel and, more than that, Chinese authorities' vision of their country. That most ancient of Chinese symbols, the dragon, is overlaid with state-of-the-art technology to produce an airport building that is beautiful, efficient and environmentally sustainable."

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

The very long and winding road

What the hell is happening at the brand spanking new Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad? The new airport, which will open on March 16, is equipped with a 70m high air traffic control tower, India's longest runway (capable of handling the world's largest aircraft the Airbus A380) a seven-storey passenger terminal, 42 parking bays, 60 check-in counters, a business hotel with 308 rooms and shopping outlets ... but officials seemingly forgot to build a decent road, let alone a modern metro top the airport.

Hyderabad, often dubbed cyberbad, is meant to be one of India's hi-tech cities, super-keen on winning more foreign visitors, business and investment. It seems obvious that 25km of bad roads to the new airport does not a good first impression make, even if a modern elavated highway is in the pipeline.

Monday, 11 February 2008

Time for a new airport for London?

Honestly, Lord Foster's shiny new T5 has yet to opened to the public and already people are sniping that Heathrow is too small. The leader/editorial in today's [London] Times calls for a new aiport to be built out in the Thames Estuary.

"Most countries have built new airports well away from the cities they serve. Heathrow, the world’s busiest international airport, grew out of an old RAF fighter station, not careful planning." There is, it opines, a simple and affordable solution: "A new airport could be built on artificial islands in the Thames estuary, away from the overcrowded city but close enough to be served by fast transport links." Airport nuts will say we've heard it all before. A Thames Estuary airport was planned from the 1960's onwards, but shelved in the 1970s, by the Tories.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Hats off to new exhibition

The hiring of the first female cabin crews by airlines in the 1930s necessitated the creation of uniforms for a new profession. The San Francisco Airport Museum is currently exhibiting a celebration of one element of that the uniform that has all but dissappeared: the cap. Visitors to the entrance lobby of Terminal 3 will be able to see for themselves the evolution of a garment that has often added the "crowning touch in the fashions of flight."