Practicalities of Air Travel
With mainland Britain being an island surrounded by a few smaller ones, it isn't hard to see that air travel connections are crucial to its place in the world. After all, it's not for nothing that London airports like Heathrow and Stansted have been promised new runaways even if protesters soon get going in the spirit of trying to stop these things. As if that weren't enough evidence, then there's the chaos caused by Icelandic volcanoes and icy winter weather. It's for condtions like these that we really come to rely on the likes of EUROCONTROL, the Civil Aviation Authority and NATS (formerly National Air Traffic Services and a provider of air traffic control services to many airports in the U.K.). Some of the organisations listed may not be all that passenger facing but information is useful from wherever it comes.
My own use of air travel largely has been in getting to and from my native Ireland but that's not to say that I haven't gone other places too. Those Irish excursions have had me using all of that countries carriers by now. Well, there cannot be any more than Aer Lingus, Ryanair or Aer Arann (in the guise of Aer Lingus Regional in my case up to now) with the way that economy is going now. Business travel to Denmark and Sweden has seen me sampling the service provided by SAS and a very plush trip to the U.S.A. had me experiencing transatlantic business class travel on US Airways. The cost of that fare was eye-watering so it's not something that I'll be doing out of my own pocket to be honest about it.
Because I have gotten to thinking the air travel is a U.K. concern and not one that changes so much from constituent nation to constituent nation, I have decided to pool all of the information here and the intent is that what you find below expands over time. There is plenty of scope for this under the headings of international airlines, domestic airlines (not so many of those, it needs saying) and airport operators. It often feels as if the air travel industry is growing all the while under you come to hear of business failures in times of economic stress and strain.
Britain's largest airline once prided itself in being the world's favourite if the advertising slogan could be believed. Problems in recent years may have dented that image and having some employee relations difficulties along the cannot have helped. Still, it is both the U.K.'s flag carrier (its short-lived experiment with more diverse tail decoration didn't last long) and a major player in the international airline business and there are a good deal of U.K. destinations served too.
There remain traces of the British Midland International branding that has been shortened to BMI in the years since the founding of the main airline in 1965. The low fares arm of the operation is bmibaby and it operates from a reduced set of airports too. The whole thing is now in the hands of Lufthansa too, something that should guarantee its future.
The "be" in the name is a hangover from when the airline was known as British European and it has a major foothold in the regional arena since it took over British Airways Commuter. That had brought it all sorts of destinations, even including Scotland's Western Isles. Saying that, it operates some international services too.
This quite possibly is Ryanair's arch-rival on the U.K. market if not further afield than that again. It also has been the subject of a number of "fly on the wall" television series too, something that neither hampered nor propelled their continued existent. In fact, EasyJet's founder has been known to try his hand at other things too, being the entrepreneur that he is.
It's amazing what can happen while your attention and the apparent expansion of Jet2 is a case in point. When I last looked, it was a low fares operator serving a few locations in the U.K. and the Channel Islands. Now that I look again, the list of destinations seems to have expanded markedly with many European holiday destinations being served. Life would be dull if it was without surprises.
This local airline connects Devon and Cornwall with a number of destinations around Britain as well as the Channel Islands and Ireland. It looks as if any resemblance to the name of an American budget airline is purely incidental.
Apart from offering services running under its own name, this Scottish airline also operates a number on behalf of British Airways and Flybe. Quite a number offer a quick way to get to the far flung parts of Scotland such as Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles are among those covered. The appeal of a quicker is sullied by thoughts of environmental impact though but I never have been able to allow that to get in the way of my travels to and from Ireland.
An operator of internal passenger flights within the Shetlands, particularly to outliers of the archipelago, and to Fair Isle.
Here's an unusual operation: one that offers both air and ferry services. The latter is a seasonal affair that only operates during the summer season while the latter gets you to Scilly from six airports on the British mainland.
Though there are more airports in the U.K. than the six that this bunch run, the Competition Commission still sees fit to make them dispose of some of them. It is the Edinburgh member of the contingent through which I have passed. Then, it had the feeling of being a small regional airport though I do wonder if things have grown since then due to the return of the Scottish Parliament.
This is the main airport through which I have been flying and it can be a busy place too. Saying that, it was eerily quiet on the last time that I flew from there so I am left wondering if the current economic situation has been having an effect. As you'd hope, the website does sterling work in providing passenger information and that has come in very handy in times of weather disruption.
Apart from the others above, here's an assorted collection of other airports found in Scotland, Wales and England. Completeness may not be promised here but it should be obvious that there are quite a few dotted around the place with some in surprising places.