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Racing down the runway

(Airlines) Permanent link
Runway raceRunway runs are popular community events at smaller airports in the U.S., but are hard to stage in Europe, where runway capacity is seriously constrained at major airports.

In a rare move, Budapest Airport closed one of its normally active runways for a few hours on Sept. 6 to stage the aviation industry's annual 12 kilometer (7.2-mile) charity race.

Teams of runners totaling 609 airline employees and management staff from more than 50 airlines competed for the title of Fastest Airline in the World.

Racing down four lengths of runway 13R-13L to take the title not only of fastest airport but also fastest aviator was Aer Lingus fleet cost manager Robert Murphy, in a time of 41 minutes, 26 seconds.

Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller said that the carrier was now not only one of Europe's most punctual airlines "but also now the undisputed Fastest Airline in the World."

Teams and individual runners included competitive entries fielded by Swiss International Airlines, Qatar Airways and Ryanair.

Southwest Airlines was presented with the unofficial Air Miles Team Prize for having traveled the longest distance, from Dallas.

Krakow Airport in Poland won Fastest Airport in the World, beating out Aeroports de Paris.

— Gay Nagle Myers

British Airways: We'll relax you with kitten videos

(Airlines) Permanent link

British Airways in September will launch Paws and Relax, an inflight channel showing cute footage of cats and dogs.

The channel's purpose is to enhance the well-being of its long-haul customers by lowering heart rates and relieving stress, according to Richard D'Cruze, inflight entertainment manager.

British Airways claims that footage of cats, kittens, dogs and puppies soothes and relaxes passengers, in addition to being entertaining.


"It might sound barking [a reference to the the British expression 'barking mad,' indicating insanity], but there's lots of research to suggest that watching pets can enhance overall well-being," he said.

The carrier cited psychologist Richard Wiseman, who said that watching a video of a cute animal can reduce heart rate and blood pressure in under a minute.

D'Cruze said that the carrier has "sniffed out some fantastic content that is cute, comforting and sure to appeal to travelers of all ages."

The channel will include footage of the "Simon's Cat" cartoon, a segment on the secret life of cats and a video of America's cutest dogs.

— Gay Nagle Myers 

Soccer balls made from old SWA seats

(Airlines) Permanent link
SWA soccer ballSouthwest Airlines launched LUV Seat, a project to recycle 43 acres of leather from its old 737 seats into leather goods.

The carrier is donating the used leather to a non-profit in Nairobi to use the leather to produce shoes and soccer balls to be given to the local community, according to an announcement on its website.

Southwest also has partnered with a nonprofit organization in Malawi to develop a training program to teach school kids how to make leather items, such as backpacks, and generate proceeds for the school.

"With the pilot program of LUV Seat, we're embarking on a new vision of social impact through training, job creation and ultimately product donations," said Bill Tiffany, vice president of supply chain management.

The carrier is replacing the leather seats with a new seat called Evolve. The redesign to the lighter seat reduces the weight of each 737-700 by more than 600 pounds.

— Gay Nagle Myers
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