Simon Calder, The Independent

Simon Calder

The Independent

United Kingdom

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Recent articles by Simon:

World's busiest airport for international passengers set to grow by a third

The world’s busiest airport for international passengers set to grow by one-third – with no new runways. That is the vision of Paul Griffiths, the British chief executive of Dubai Airports, speaking exclusively to The Independent. Dubai International, or DXB, is the main airport in the emirate. It took the lead in terms of international passengers in 2014 – displacing → Read More

Exploration exhibition opens in Covent Garden

“Sir, I have just received your map of the Antarctic Region,” begins the letter from Captain Robert Falcon Scott to Edward Stanford, the London map seller. “I observe that the farthest-south-point is marked ‘Scott and Shackleton,’ an inscription that is not in accordance with any authorisation.” “The coupling of Mr Shackleton’s name with mine implies dual leadership and it is → Read More

50 Swiss flights grounded amid Airbus A220 safety fears

The national airline of Switzerland has cancelled at least 50 flights on Wednesday because its entire fleet of Airbus A220 jets has been grounded. It follows the failure of an engine on three different flights on the Geneva-Heathrow route. Swiss is telling passengers: “The ongoing technical inspections of several aircraft will restrict our flight operations. As a result many → Read More

Thomas Cook: a timeline of the slow and painful death of the travel firm

The slow-motion demise of the world’s most iconic travel brand has been set out in chilling detail in a newly published timeline. The Business Select Committee has released the chronology of the final 15 months of Thomas Cook, leading to its collapse on 23 September 2019. → Read More

Thomas Cook collapse: chief executive blames hot weather and Brexit for firm’s failure

The hot summer of 2018 hastened the demise of Thomas Cook, the chief executive has told MPs. “The anxiety of Brexit” was also blamed for the failure. Peter Fankhauser was running the company when it failed on 23 September 2019 – leaving almost one million customers with current or future holidays cancelled. He told MPs on the Business Select Committee: “When I took over in → Read More

Thomas Cook collapse: former bosses start fundraising to help jobless staff

On the morning that five directors of Thomas Cook face a grilling by MPs, two former bosses have started fundraising for staff who lost their jobs when the firm collapsed. The 178-year-old travel company went bust on 23 September 2019 after a financial rescue plan fell through. MPs on the Business Select Committee are to question the chief executive, Peter Fankhauser, and four → Read More

Number of seats on flights to increase by 4 per cent this winter

Despite the collapse of Thomas Cook, and the failure this year of Adria Airways, Flybmi, Jet Airways and Wow Air, the number of available seats for European travellers this winter is set to increase by nearly 4 per cent compared with a year ago. → Read More

British Airways flight makes emergency return to Heathrow minutes after taking off

Flight to Rome circles over Channel before priority landing back at base → Read More

What went wrong with Flylolo and what is the impact for passengers?

A start-up carrier called Flylolo has just told 3,000 people who had bought half-term holiday flights between Britain and the Canaries that their flights are cancelled. Here are the key questions and answers. What has happened? A company called Flylolo, based in West Sussex, has been selling half-term holiday flights from Gatwick, Glasgow and Manchester to the Canary Islands. → Read More

Flylolo: Holidaymakers furious after thousands buy tickets from budget airline that has no planes

Thousands of travellers heading for Spain for half-term have been told their flights have been abruptly cancelled. Hundreds more, who are already away, may need to cut short their trips and pay again to get home. Three weeks after Thomas Cook collapsed, a company called Flylolo has told customers that the flights they had booked in good faith will not take off. → Read More

Can I swap my Hong Kong trip because of the trouble?

Q I have a trip to Hong Kong planned from 31 October to 5 November. I had already booked my flight and hotel way before the trouble started this year. With everything that’s going on there, and with how my trip falls mainly from Friday to Wednesday, with the trouble mainly occurring over the weekends, at this point I would prefer to spend my time in Macau. → Read More

10 things I learnt about flying on Emirates

When first I travelled to Tokyo, in the 1980s, it involved a trip to Alaska. The British Airways Boeing 747 was not yet capable of making the 6,000-mile journey nonstop. Instead, to reach the Far East you flew west to Anchorage and west again to the Japanese capital. The distance was almost 8,000 miles. But even that was shorter than my trip this week from Heathrow to Tokyo → Read More

Why has Thomas Cook’s collapse led to price hikes?

Q I booked a flight from Bristol to Lanzarote for March 2020 with Thomas Cook, which I have now lost (and am claiming from my credit card, hopefully). My query is: other airlines have now hiked up their prices ridiculously. Is this legal? It seems to me that they are preying on the victims of the Thomas Cook problem. Also should I rebook as soon as possible or wait to see if → Read More

Flights disrupted to the Mediterranean by Etna eruption

Flights to and within the Mediterranean are being disrupted by an eruption of Mount Etna in Sicily. Eurocontrol in Brussels says: “An eruption of volcano Etna has started. The height of the plume at the moment is up to FL140 [14,000 feet] and seems to be composed mainly by steam. “Code is red.” Air traffic in and out of Catania airport, which is just south of the volcano, is → Read More

Tokyo 2020 Olympics: How to visit Japanese capital on a budget

Don’t let the utilitarian name put you off. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government HQ is a big tourist attraction – especially for the next 40 weeks. Shake off the crowds in the world’s busiest railway station, Shinjuku. Wander west past karaoke bars and pachinko halls, and walk right into the local authority headquarters. Most travellers come here for the free ride to the 45th → Read More

Hundreds stranded in Scotland when flight firm cancels flights

Hundreds of passengers in Scotland have been given just hours notice that their half-term flights to the Canary Islands will not be taking off – and warned not to go to the airport. A Sussex-based company, Flylolo, had sold seats for three flights from Glasgow airport to Tenerife and one to Lanzarote on Friday and Saturday. But the airport issued a statement saying: “We were → Read More

Thomas Cook collapse: Rival Tui adds extra flights and holidays as it expands business

Europe’s biggest holiday company will fly an extra two million passengers next year as it moves to expand its market share following the collapse of Thomas Cook. Tui will add around 10,000 flights in 2020, using pilots and cabin crew recruited from the failed tour operator. Many of the flights will be from airports where Thomas Cook Airlines had a big presence, including → Read More

Travel advice for fans going to the Rugby World Cup

Despite the shock cancellation of England’s match against France on Saturday, interest in travelling to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan is strong. And unlike last year’s football World Cup in Russia, when fares rose to over £1,000 return for the short hop from London to Moscow, flight bargains are still widely available. → Read More

Thomas Cook: All 555 stores to be bought by rival firm Hays Travel

All Thomas Cook stores in the UK will be acquired by a rival travel firm. The 555 high street stores have been bought by Hays Travel, Britain’s largest independent travel agent, which will also safeguard a “significant number” of jobs for former employees. Hays has already recruited 421 former Thomas Cook staff. It is believed up to 2,000 additional staff may return to their → Read More

Thomas Cook collapse will make holidaymakers think very carefully about travel insurance, experts say

The collapse of Thomas Cook will make holidaymakers think more carefully about consumer protection, travel industry leaders say. The failure last month of the 178-year-old tour operator has been the main topic at the Abta Travel Convention in Tokyo. Around 150,000 British holidaymakers were abroad with Thomas Cook when it went into liquidation on 23 September. A further → Read More