'Mum and dad were healthy', claims daughter of Egypt hotel death couple, meanwhile Thomas Cook re-locates or airlifts home their customers

FRIDAY August 24  8:00hrs Latest: Some 20 former Thomas Cook guests have now complained of contracting salmonella poisoning at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada and have engaged a UK based lawyer to act on their behalf. Meanwhile relatives of  John and Susan Cooper say they now accept 'there is something suspicious about their deaths'  Egyptian pathologists have today Friday, carried out post-mortem examination of the deceased couple.
John and Susan Cooper died while on holiday in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
John and Susan Cooper both died within hours of each other while on holiday.

A couple who died at a resort hotel in Egypt were “fit and healthy” before their holiday, their daughter has said, although local officials are saying the mother and father died of natural causes.
Kelly Ormerod, on holiday with her parents John, 69 and Susan Cooper, 63, plus her three children, said the family was in "utter shock" because the pair "had no health problems at all".
 
Mr and Mrs Cooper, from Burnley, Lancashire, died at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in the Red Sea resort of Hurghada.
 
In early reports the travel firm Thomas Cook said it had "received further reports of a raised level of illness among guests" and as a safety precaution the firm is from Friday lunchtime removing its customers from the hotel.
 
Daughter Kelly Ormerod said: "What I want is to clear up some of what is being reported. We have no cause of death, a post-mortem is under way.
 
"Dad never went to hospital – he died in the hotel room in front of me. I went to hospital in the ambulance with Mum, where she passed away."
 
There was some speculation that the couple they could have been killed by a faulty air conditioning unit, but the Governor of Hurghada, Ahmed Abdallah, told the The Times (London) that her claim "was not logical" as such a leak would have affected all of the guests at the hotel.
The couple had been staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel.
The couple had been staying at the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel. Credit: Thomas Cook

The governor added: "Also, we took a sample of the food of the hotel for testing. But if there is a problem with the food it would have affected other people."
 
Governor Abdallah insisted the couple died of natural causes. He said: "The husband fell sick and was taken to hospital, where he died. About three hours later his wife had a shock and died."
 
Thomas Cook is offering customers alternative hotels within Hurghada from Friday onwards, as well as giving them the option to return home.
 
A spokesman said: “We are deeply saddened by the tragic deaths of two of our customers that were staying in the Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel in Hurghada, Egypt.
 
“The circumstances of their deaths are unclear. We have also received further reports of a raised level of illness among guests." The Steigenberger Aqua Magic Hotel was last audited by Thomas Cook reps. in late July 2018 and received an overall score of 96percent.
“Safety is always our first priority, so as a precautionary measure we have taken a decision to remove all our customers from this hotel.”

The spokesman added on Thursday night: “For those customers who choose to come home, we have made arrangements to fly them back tomorrow, August 24. While we understand this is upsetting for those on holiday, we believe this is the right thing to do.
 
“We continue to work closely with the hotel and are supporting the authorities with their investigations.
 
Thomas Cook customers who are due to travel to the hotel in the next four weeks will be contacted with an offer of "alternative holiday options."
 
Mrs Cooper worked at the tour operator’s Burnley branch, which was closed on Thursday.

Julian Bray the travel expert writes: In  addition to Thomas Cook auditing the hotel it is now highly likely that medical insurance underwriters will also send their own experts to examine systems in the German owned resort hotel in particular they will seek to examine the air conditioning water re-circulating cooling process for any possible traces of Listeria or Legionnaires Disease.

It is possible that the air conditioning system is breeding contaminated fine water droplets of contaminated moisture and was/is being blown through the individual bedroom rooms and public area ventilator outlets.

Older readers may recall that Europ Assistance once sent their Medical Emergency Services Director Doctor Richard Fairhurst to the Greek lsland of Kos to investigate a mass outbreak.

Medical investigators will also re-valuate all travel insurance policy claims to see if the cover claimed is still valid. Policies can be cancelled if clients fail to make full and complete disclosure of all pre-existing medical conditions. 


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GATWICK CLOUD SCREENS CLOUD OVER AND GO DARK OVER A SIMPLE VODAPHONE 3Mbs CABLE FAULT


It was all so simple then …..

London Gatwick Airport recently installed a brand new state-of-the-art new ‘cloud’ flight information display system to replace a traditional computer set up installed by the previous airport owners. But like all new things, it can go wrong as in their place, white boards, smartphones and wipe dry markers confronted a confused array of passengers as the new screens went dark….

The airport techno geeks had proclaimed its new screens "an innovative, cost effective system that are easily scalable, more flexible and resilient, and require considerably less infrastructure and maintenance".

Well yes, but the infrastructure is no longer on site but under the control of Vodaphone and somewhere else……..

The Flight Information Display System (FIDS) at Gatwick Airport was the result of a project that started in 2015 to replace legacy systems that required a separate PC running behind the majority of the airports’ screens.
All good so far. However the ‘award winning’ new system relies on over 1,200 cloud-based screens, which take up only a cost-saving 3Mbps of bandwidth  and were fired up in late 2017.
The system developers AirportLabs, installed VisionAir FIDS (Flight Information Display System) at Gatwick, who maintain there was no problem with the system itself. But with the screens all dark, Gatwick ‘fessed up they relied on outrsourced Vodafone, to provide the essential fibre optic cable link albeit an economical 3Mbps of bandwidth.

This is what Gatwick said: “We identified a damaged fibre cable used by Gatwick Airport to display flight information. Our engineers are working hard to fix the cable as quickly as possible. This is a top priority for us and we are very sorry for any problems caused by this issue. We are keeping Gatwick Airport constantly informed of progress.”
Vodaphone in a classic understatement to the influential The Register website said: “Our engineers have fixed a damaged fibre cable which is used by Gatwick Airport to display flight information. We are very sorry for any problems caused by this issue…”
But some sources are suggesting Gatwick operations increasing reliance on an ever increasing number of retail sites inside its terminals, might consider first ‘beefing’ up the functionality resilience of the 3Mbph cable.  





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STANSTED AIRPORT CRACKDOWN New changes introduced in the seizure of CS sprays, small knives, air soft weapons and air rifles



We are indebted to BBC Radio Essex for alerting us to this.  Unusually Essex Police have issued a national press release concerning security and the possession of offensive weapons at Stansted Airport in Essex, UK.  Normally security operational matters are not media highlighted in this way.

We say this is unusual, as there has been for many years  widespread international publicity over what may or may not be carried by air passengers in their luggage. Clearly the message isn't getting through to some.

This is what the Essex Police are saying:  

Stansted Airport is one of the country’s busiest and largest airports with around 27 million passengers coming through its doors every year.

 It remains one of the safest airports in the UK and is situated within the district of Uttlesford, in Essex.


 Earlier this year, all [UK] police forces had to adhere to a change in the way it recorded the seizure of CS sprays, small knives, air soft weapons and air rifles under the National Crime Recording Standards.


The new crime category is possession of offensive weapon offences.

 These weapons are seized from visitors to the UK from countries where possession of these articles are usually not an offence


 They are mostly dealt with by a community resolution.


 There are rare situations where UK passengers are stopped at security checks in possession of these same weapons. They are detained by our officers and are either fined or put before a court.


 The airport also runs regular Op Sceptre campaigns, a national campaign to raises awareness about the dangers of knife crime.


 Project Servator, highly visible yet unpredictable police deployments involving a police dogs, armed officers and CCTV teams, was also launched at Stansted Airport in November 2016.


 We would urge anyone with information about crime at Stansted Airport to call 999 in an emergency or by calling 101 in a non-emergency. You can also report it online by visiting
www.essex.police.uk/do-it-online or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.





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IATA July 2018 Airlines Financial Monitor. Q2 squeeze on profits. Aviation fuel 40percent more expensive than last year

IATA
 
IATA July 2018 Airlines Financial Monitor.

Key points: 
     
  • The initial Q2 2018 data points to a moderate squeeze on airline profitability compared to the same quarter last year. However, industry-wide cashflow generation increased this quarter compared with Q2 2017.

  • Global airline share prices rose for the first time since January and outpaced developments in the overall global equity index. The improvement in the airline share price index was dominated by North America, with modest gains in Europe & Asia Pacific.
  • Airline shares are still 10percent lower than at the beginning of the year.

  • Oil prices eased slightly again in July, but the upward trend remains in place. Jet fuel prices dipped back below US$90/bbl this month, but remain almost 40percent higher than their level of a year ago.

  • Notwithstanding rising input costs, there are signs of renewed downward pressure on passenger yields. Yields in the less price-sensitive premium-class cabin have generally proven to be more resilient than the economy cabin, despite signs of weakness in May.

  • Passenger demand carried solid momentum into the peak Northern Hemisphere summer period, but freight demand is showing signs of some moderation.
View full report




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HEATHROW PASSENGER ARRIVAL SURGE BLAMED FOR BORDER FORCE PASSPORT ENTRY DELAYS



UK threat levels remain high.

Both British Airways and Virgin are sounding off to anyone who will listen, about the delays in admitting their passengers to the UK, and blaming Border Force for not doing their job properly, writes Julian Bray, Aviation Expert and broadcaster journalist. 

Its claimed they've managed to obtain performance figures for Heathrow, but these figures are freely available month by month and have been known to all who visit the Heathrow.com website. 

However the Border Force, an agency under the control of the Home Office, is still a shambles and uses a patched up legacy computer system. Successive Government cuts (not savings as they claim) have increased the numbers of staff on long-term-sickness leave, the most common problem being stress! So politicians will claim there is adequate staffing as they only seem to look at the overall payroll headcount, but in reality the staff who are specially trained for frontline duties at airports are few and clearly stretched.

Substantial investment in terms of active new staff being evaluated and trained up needs to take place together with the 'churn' or 'burn-out'  rate of resignations tackled head on. Then of course there is the looming prospect of 'brexit' next March, but that is another story...

The sad fact remains the UK is still at the second highest threat level, and that if airline ground crew staff (many are sub-contracted locally)  at the overseas point of departure were far more vigilant, and strictly applied all security protocols, perhaps some of those allowed to board their aircraft would be 'denied boarding' resulting in a marginal improvement in UK immigration entry times?  

To some extent the answer lies with air passengers,  as they do not really need to use Heathrow, currently running at peak capacity when the UK regional airport network offers a much better and faster entry service. If Heathrow delays were also taken into consideration as an integral part of the overall journey time, the regional airport route would actually be a quicker and more convenient overall end to end option! 


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An allegedly “suicidal” airline ground service agent, named as Richard 'Beebo' Russell, 29, stole an empty Horizon Airlines Bombardier (Dash 8) Q400 twin turboprop 76 seat short haul aircraft, on Friday evening and unchallenged took off from Sea-Tac (Seattle Tacoma) International Airport Washington State USA.

Alaska Horizon Airlines Bombardier (Dash 8) Q400 twin turboprop 76 seat short haul aircraft

An allegedly “suicidal” airline ground service agent, a 29-year-old male, later named as Richard 'Beebo' Russell stole an empty parked uup Alaska Horizon Airlines Bombardier (Dash 8) Q400 twin turboprop 76 seat short haul aircraft, on Friday evening and unchallenged took off from Sea-Tac (Seattle Tacoma) International Airport Washington State USA.  Mr Russell was security cleared, in uniform type overalls and authorised to move aircraft (tow and pushbacks).

As the only person on the plane, the thief calmly chatting to air traffic control (who urged him to land, but he refused) then looped the Canadian manufactured plane and attempted some 'stunts'. He was chased then escorted, by two scrambled military F15 jets, before crashing some 50 minutes later near a small island known as Ketron Island in the Puget Sound on Friday night, officials said.

Had Mr Russell endangered communities below his erratic flight path or deliberately set the plane to crash on populated areas, the F15s' would have had full authority to use all measures to avert such a disaster, this would probably include using the F15 wingtip to tip/upend the Dash 8 wing so the aircraft would be diverted in a different direction say out to sea, and then if all else fails shoot it down.
 
The 29-year-old married employee stole the Horizon Air (Dash 8) Q400 and the crash occurred because he was “doing stunts in air or lack of flying skills,” Ed Troyer, a spokesman for the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, said on Twitter the man was suicidal and there was no connection to terrorism.
 
Witnesses reported seeing the plane being chased by F15 military aircraft before it crashed near Ketron Island, southwest of Tacoma, Washington. Officials said F-15 aircraft were in the air “within a few minutes” and the military pilots kept “people on the ground safe.”
 
The sheriff’s department said they were working to conduct a background investigation on the Pierce County resident, whose name was not immediately released.  The male 'pilot' could be heard on audio recordings telling air traffic controllers that he is “just a broken guy.”
 
The U.S. Coast Guard sent  a 45-foot vessel to the crash scene on Ketron Island and fire departments put additional fire tenders on a commercial ferry to assist with controlling  the aircraft blaze.   Witnesses reported seeing a large plume of smoke in the air, Petty Officer Ali Flockerzi said. The man’s condition wasn’t immediately known. Later reports say the lone 'pilot' died as the crashed on impact and caught fire.
 
 Horizon Air is part of Alaska Air Group and flies shorter routes throughout the U.S. West. The (Dash8) Q400 is a Canadian built Bombardier twin turboprop aircraft with 76 seats.  
 

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SHOREHAM AIR SHOW INCIDENT CAA ISSUES ITS FINAL UPDATE AND MARKS THE INVESTIGATION AND UPDATES AS COMPLETED




 

 
 
 
Since the CAA initial response, to the Shoreham Air Show Incident the UK CAA reports in its final July 2018 update, that it has reviewed the safety, regulation and oversight of ‘intermediate’ and ‘complex’ ex-military aircraft  

Measures included focussing on the Categories for Acceptance for the Initial issue of a Permit to Fly for ex-military aircraft (under Air Display Review action number 24: ‘A review of the criteria and requirements for the acceptance of ex-military aircraft on the civil register’).

The CAA also reviewed the Regulatory Framework with the intent of ensuring the validity of a Permit to Fly in both issue and continuing airworthiness (under AAIB Recommendation 2015-047).

This entailed conducting a review in conjunction with the requirements set out in CAP 632. Specifically, a review of the requirements for operational oversight as detailed in CAP 632 ‘Operation of 'Permit-to-Fly' ex-military aircraft on the UK register’ and working with the ex-military aircraft community in formulating the outcomes of this work.

The CAA concludes that as a result of the review, the following measures have been implemented:  A new industry guidance document, CAP1640 ‘Ex-Military Aircraft Design, Restoration and Continuing Airworthiness Approval’ has been published.
 
The oversight of ex-military A8-25 CAMO organisations (as detailed in response to AAIB Safety Recommendation 2015-047) has been enhanced.

A comprehensive revision to CAP 632 was published by the CAA in May 2018,  also a programme of actions within the CAA to integrate the operational and airworthiness elements of the oversight of CAP 632. The CAA says that organisations have been identified. Measures include the adoption of a ‘team’ approach to approval and oversight by identifying the responsible CAMO/Maintenance Organisation / Airworthiness Surveyor for each CAP 632 approval and scheduling joint/sequenced audits in accordance with a defined internal procedure.

The introduction of a new CAA airworthiness checklist is to be used during the application and oversight of CAP 632 Approvals. Plus the CAA has introduced a template contract, based on EASA (Part M) regulations, to define the responsibilities and interrelationship of the Operator and CAMO/maintenance organisation.

Following this detailed and thorough post incident investigation, the CAA says it now considers work to address Safety Recommendation 2017-007 is completed. 

The CAA Status on the investigation has now been formally closed.





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Global Air Freight growth slowdown continues in June says IATA June Survey



IATA

Freight Growth Slowdown Continues in June says IATA June Survey      
             
Geneva – The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometers (FTKs), rose 2.7% in June 2018, compared to the same period the year before. This continues the slowdown in air cargo growth that began earlier in 2018. Growth for the first half of 2018 stands at 4.7%, less than half the growth rate in 2017.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometers (AFTKs), rose by 4.1% in June 2018. Capacity growth has now outstripped demand growth in every month since March.

There are three main factors driving the slowdown:
  • The restocking cycle, during which businesses rapidly built up inventories to meet demand, ended in early 2018. There was a marked fall in air cargo volumes from March.
  • We are now seeing a structural slowdown in global trading conditions as indicated by the fall in the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) to its lowest level since 2016. Factory export order books have turned negative in China, Japan and the US.
  • The temporary grounding of the Nippon Cargo Airlines fleet in the second half of June exaggerated the slow-down by shaving up to 0.5 percentage points off June growth.
"Air cargo continues to be a difficult business with downside risks mounting. We still expect about 4% growth over the course of the year. But the deterioration in world trade is a real concern. While air cargo is somewhat insulated from the current round of rising tariff barriers, an escalation of trade tension resulting in a ‘reshoring’ of production and consolidation of global supply chains would change the outlook significantly for the worse. Trade wars never produce winners. Governments must remember that prosperity comes from boosting their trade, not barricading economies," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.  
    
June 2018
(% year-on-year)
World share¹
FTK
AFTK
FLF     
(%-pt)²     
FLF
(level)³  
Total Market        
100.0%     
2.7%         
4.1%    
-0.6%      
44.3% 
Africa
1.9%
-8.5%
-1.4%
-1.9%
24.9%
Asia Pacific
36.9%
1.5%
5.2%
-2.0%         
54.5%
Europe             
24.2%             
3.3%
5.4%       
-0.9%         
44.6%             
Latin America             
2.7%
5.9%
-5.7%
4.1%
37.2%
Middle East             
13.7%
3.8%
4.5%
-0.3%
43.7%
North America            
20.6%
3.8%
3.4%
0.1%
35.8%
¹% of industry FTKs in 2017   ²Year-on-year change in load factor   ³Load factor level              
Regional Performance     
     
All regions except Africa reported a year-on-year increase in freight volumes in June 2018, but the slow growth in Asia-Pacific, which accounts for nearly 37% of the entire air cargo market, dragged the global growth rate down.
  • Asia-Pacific airlines saw freight demand increase by just 1.5% in June 2018 compared to the same period last year. Capacity increased by 5.2%. The international freight performance by the region fell to 1.1%, a 17-month low, although this partially reflects comparisons with the strong performance in June 2017. For the first six months of 2018 FTKs expanded by 4.6% year-on-year, and freight volumes are expected to settle at an annual 3-4% growth.
  • European airlines posted a 3.3% increase in freight volumes in June 2018. Capacity increased by 5.4%. Growth is being affected by a slowdown in export orders. Supply chain bottlenecks, which are often alleviated by air freight, have also eased. For the first half of 2018, the region expanded 4.1% year-on year.
  • North American airlines' freight volumes expanded 3.8% in June 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier. International FTK performance was 5.9%, making the region the strongest-performing market for the first time in two years. The strong dollar and robust growth in the US economy is driving inbound shipments. Capacity increased by 3.4%. Growth for the first half of 2018 was 5.3%, second only to exceptional growth in Latin America.
  • Middle Eastern carriers' freight volumes grew 3.8% in June. This was an improvement on the May figure of 2.7% but this is well below the average five-year rate of 9.5%. Capacity increased 4.5%. Growth for first half of 2018 was 4.3% year-on-year, and the expectation is for volume growth to remain modest in the months to come.
  • Latin American airlines experienced growth in demand of 5.9% in June 2018 – continuing its recent run of posting the largest increases of any region. Unusually, capacity decreased by 5.7%. The pick-up in demand for international freight (5.2%) slowed compared to last month, but continues to trend well above the five-year average (1.6%). Growth for the first six months of 2018 was 10.1%, comfortably the best performance of any region.
  • African carriers saw freight demand contract 8.5% in June 2018 compared to the same month last year. Capacity also fell, by 1.4%. It is difficult to be positive about the current picture in Africa. International FTKs fell at the fastest pace (-8.6%) for nearly nine years. Although the year-on-year growth rate for the first half of 2018 was 3.0%, in seasonally-adjusted terms, FTKs are trending downward at an annualized rate of almost 20% over the past six months, and demand conditions are weak on all the main markets to and from the continent.
View June air freight results (pdf)





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Captain Peter Weger celebrates the end of a 50-year flying career. Last flight aboard a Dornier 328 turboprop from Farnborough Airport, UK to Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany

Captain Peter Weger celebrates the end of a 50-year flying career with a
last flight aboard a Dornier 328 turboprop from Farnborough Airport, UK to Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
Water salute arrival for Peter’s last flight.
 
Captain Peter Weger has rounded off a stellar 50 years of uninterrupted flying with a positioning flight of 328 Support Services GmbH’s Dornier 328 turboprop (D-CSNC) back from Farnborough Airport, UK to Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany.
As one of Germany´s most experienced test pilots, type-rated on 50 aircraft types and with a total of 13,000 hours logged, Peter has enjoyed a varied career since graduating from the Empire Test Pilot School at Boscombe Down, UK.
Peter flew the F-104 and F-4 Phantom in the German Air Force, obtained an aeronautical engineering degree from the ´Hochschule der BW´, Neubiberg and later served as Chief Test Pilot at Messerschmitt-Bölkow-Blohm in Manching, where he engaged mainly on Tornado and Eurofighter Development and a variety of Experimental Aircraft Testing.
He is credited with flying the first Eurofighter 2000, on the 27th of March 1994 in Manching, Germany and the first flight on the Dornier 328 Jet in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany in 1997
Captain Peter Weger with long-time D328 flight test pilot colleague Captain Conny Cornelius
 
Peter became involved with the Dornier programme originally with Fairchild Dornier as Deputy Chief Test Pilot when the 728 jet was under study.  He joined Cirrus Airlines flying the 328 in commercial service for several years.  Peter then became involved with the Grob Aerospace SPn G180 flight programme.  When that programme was shelved in 2006, he joined 328 Support Services as lead test pilot.
Peter was awarded the prestigious Kincheloe Award for outstanding achievement from the Society of Experimental Test Pilots in 1994 - becoming the first German to accept the accolade.
328 Support Services CEO Dave Jackson commented: “We would like to thank Peter for his outstanding accomplishments - not just on the 328 programmes, but for his significant contribution to flying in Germany.  We wish Peter and his family a very happy retirement.”

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CALC to add two Airbus A321-200 to its fleet through purchase-and-leaseback to Sichuan Airlines

 
 
CALC who style themselves as 'a full value-chain aircraft solutions provider 'for global airlines, has entered into a  purchase-and-leaseback agreement with Sichuan Airlines for two Airbus A321-200, scheduled to be delivered within 12 months.
 
CALC currently has a fleet of 112 owned and 4 managed aircraft.




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RMT confirms strike action goes ahead from Friday by key group of London Underground staff

 

 
RMT th Union has announced a further round of strike action by transplant train maintenance and stores staff at London Underground’s Ruislip Depot goes ahead from Friday and throughout the weekend exactly as planned as management continue to fail to make any progress with the union on the issues at the heart of the disputes.

The strike action, the Union says, is over disputes about pay parity and payments associated with train preparation based on the duties staff undertake in their role.
 
The staff in dispute at Ruislip depot are instructed to take strike action by NOT BOOKING ON FOR ANY SHIFTS THAT COMMENCE BETWEEN:-
 
19:00 hours on Friday 3rd August to 07:00 hours on Saturday 4th August 2018
 
07:00 hours to 19:00 hours on Sunday 5th August 2018
 
The Ruislip depot has full responsibility for operation and maintenance of London Underground's fleet of engineering trains and it’s on track plant providing engineering services and haulage on a 24/7 basis to support the capital's tube network capital investment programme and ongoing maintenance demands. 
 
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said:“RMT is angry and frustrated that our efforts to reach a negotiated settlement to this dispute continue to be kicked back at every turn by London Underground.
 
“Despite previous industrial action there has been no serious move by London Underground to resolve these disputes which is why we have been left with no choice but to press on with a campaign of  strike action in the pursuit of justice for our members.
 
“The union continues to remain available for meaningful talks.” 



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No fatalities were reported after an Aeromexico Embraer 190 aircraft with some 103 people aboard 'belly crashed' in the Mexican state of Durango on Tuesday.

A photo issued to the media by the Mexico Civil Protection State Coordination (CPCE) shows emergency personnel at the site where an Aeromexico Embraer 190 crashed, in Durango, Mexico, 31 July 2018. 103 people were reported to be on board.                                    
Civil Protection State Coordination (CPCE) , EPA-EFE
 
No fatalities were reported after an Aeromexico Embraer 190 aircraft with some 103 people aboard 'belly crashed' in the Mexican state of Durango on Tuesday. 

The Mexican airline said that Flight 2431, an Embraer ERJ-190AR aircraft, had been scheduled to fly from the General Guadalupe Victoria International Airport in the city of Durango to Mexico City. The 550-mile flight takes about two hours.

First images from the site show the damaged but mostly intact Embraer 190 in a field surrounded by emergency workers and a plume of smoke rising into the air. Caught by a 'freak' gust of wind, in storm conditions, it landed on its belly in a field not far from the Guadalupe Victoria International Airport. Reports of a hail storm have been discounted by officials,  but a direct lightning strike may have knocked out some circuits and possibly ignited a fire.  

Many passengers walked away to a nearby road to await assistance, however the aircraft later ignited and was destroyed by fire, but sometime after the passengers and crew had left the area.

José Aispuro, Governor for the Mexican state of Durango, said the Embraer 90 was hit by a gust of wind during a storm as it left the runway, which may have led to the crash. A formal air crash investigation has now been started.

The Governor said it hit the ground shortly after takeoff. The pilot is in a critical condition with spinal injuries and one other was seriously injured but were reported stable at a local hospital, he said.

Aispuro also revealed that a total of 49 people were treated, the most being minor injuries. Other later reports suggest this figure should be nearer 80 plus.

Earlier, officials said 101 people were on board, 97 passengers and four crew members. That number was later revised to 103.

According to the airline, the Aeromexico flight was heading for Mexico City.

On twitter: "Aeromexico has learned of an accident in Durango and we are working to verify the information and obtain details.We are working to gather additional information and will provide more details as they become available and confirmed. Our priority is to guarantee the safety of the clients and crew on board and we are working for it." Aromexico Twitter account


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