How many “flag carriers” does the UK need? The chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, Shay Weiss, believes the answer is two.The airline boss has even launched a website, twoflagcarriers.com, and is asking travellers to lobby their MPs for the cause of stronger competition and better value.
Prince William and Kate’s flight to Islamabad in Pakistan was forced to abort landing twice and turn back to Lahore after thunderstorms caused severe turbulence.The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were flying to the Pakistan capital on a Royal Air Force aircraft as part of their four-day official tour of the country when the incident occurred.
White sands, forest-topped islands and sapphire waters. The scene screams Hawaii, yet technically I’m in Tokyo. I’m in the Ogasawara Islands, an archipelago of over 30 islands in the Pacific Ocean which, despite being sprinkled 1,000km south of the frenetic skyscraper-filled capital, are considered a subprefecture of it.These oceanic islands, formed by undersea volcanic eruptions some 62 million years ago, are Japan’s equivalent of the Galapagos – never connected to a continent, home to unique flora and fauna, divine beaches and world-class diving. During three weeks’ travel across Japan, not a single person I met had visited. Most hadn’t even heard of the Ogasawara Islands.
Qantas launches its first 20-hour test flight today to check how the human body copes with its planned ultra-long-haul routes.The airline intends to fly direct between both London and New York and Sydney – the world’s longest nonstop services.
Every so often, Jack Sheldon from Jack’s Flight Club selects a flight deal from the UK for Independent readers that you can’t afford to miss. This week: return business class flights to the Seychelles for £1,138.British Airways is offering these business class fares to the Seychelles as companion fares, meaning you need to book at least two tickets to get the deal price. This route flies direct from London Heathrow, with a quick stopover from everywhere else.
The president of one of the world’s most successful airlines, Emirates, has predicted the planned expansion of Heathrow airport will be delayed or cancelled.Asked when the proposed third runway might open, Sir Tim Clark replied: “2035 if you’re lucky.”
The UK’s biggest operator of the Boeing 737 Max may change the name of the aircraft before it returns to service.Tui Airways flew the plane, mainly from Manchester, until regulators grounded the aircraft in March.
A champagne cork’s throw from Dorking – and 40 minutes from London – our wine critic toasts English plonk’s progress at a vineyard that feels like part of the local community. It’s an early autumn afternoon and I’m standing at the top of a vineyard. Below me is a sea of greens and golds, acres of vines heavy with ripened grapes – the harvest is well under way. The sky is azure, clouds scud over and butterflies flutter past. It could be the Loire, or even Sonoma, but in fact I’m just outside Dorking, in commuter belt Surrey, just 40 minutes from London Waterloo. My trek up the hillside is part of Denbies Secret Vineyard Trail, an escorted tour round parts of the 265-acre estate that are not normally open to the public, punctuated, if this sounds too much like hard work, by tasters of cheese and honey, and glasses of wine. The estate was established in 1984 when a local entrepreneur, Adrian (now Sir Adrian) White, took over a former pig farm and planted it with vines on the advice of his neighbour Professor Richard Selling, a geologist who recognised that the soils were similar to those in France’s Champagne region. It was an extraordinarily far-sighted project for a time when English wine was regarded as a bit of a joke. Things are very different these days: an exceptional 2018 harvest saw England and Wales produce 15.6 million bottles, compared with only 4.15 million in 2016. Planting has also taken off, nearly doubling in the past five years from 1,884 hectares (4,665 acres) in 2013 to 3,778 hectares in 2018. Even the French have got involved, with champagne house Taittinger buying vineyards in Kent, and Pommery collaborating with Hattingley Valley in Hampshire. Denbies, like the rest of the UK wine industry in the early days, used to be known for rather weedy medium-dry whites made from grape varieties such as seyval blanc and müller thurgau. Now, half the production is sparkling wine and the rest is dominated by the popular sauvignon-blanc-like bacchus, ortega (which is often used for sweet wines) and even some red varieties. Denbies has actually planted syrah (shiraz to the new world) in its experimental vineyard, which sounds hopeful, even as global temperatures surge. It’s already well set-up for tourism, too, with a vast visitor centre and a slightly Disney-esque train trundling through the vineyards. But this summer, it added a hotel which proudly claims to be the first English winery hotel. (There is already one at Llanerch in Wales, whose former chef, Michael Hudson, it has lured to Surrey to oversee the new restaurant.) The accommodation is functional rather than flash – with its somewhat spartan corridors it feels a bit like a posh Premier Inn – but the views over the vineyards and the hum of a tractor in the background give it a bucolic vibe. The south-east of England is home to three-quarters of the UK’s wineries. There’s a handful of urban wineries in and around London, including Blackbook in Battersea, and one near Bristol, Limeburn Hill, but most English wine comes from Sussex, Kent and Hampshire. Wine has become a lucrative second career for former financiers such as Ian Kellett of Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire and hedge fund manager Mark Driver of Rathfinny near Alfriston in Sussex, which boasts an upmarket B&B, The Flint Barns. Guardian readers may not be quite so keen on patronising the glamourous new facilities at Gusbourne in Kent, which is owned by Tory donor and Leave supporter Lord Ashcroft, but it and nearby Hush Heath winery – which also has a lavishly decked new visitor centre – are part of Kent’s new Wine Garden of England trail. Denbies, too, is continuing to innovate. While the estate isn’t organic (the British weather makes this too tricky, they say – and it did chuck it down the morning after my vineyard walk), it puts great emphasis on sustainability, is moving away from plastics, and installing solar panels on the roof and electric car charging points outside the hotel. In a pair of circular, tiled cabanas on the “infinity lawn”, with views down to the vineyard beyond, parties of up to 10 can enjoy a food and wine matching exercise with the Denbies range £45pp plus £100 for a wine expert to talk you through it). The pairings are enjoyably whacky. I’m impressed by the combination of local Chalk Hill Bakery bread and Marmite butter with Denbies’ Cubitt Blanc de Noirs sparkling wine (Marmite and bubbly – who knew?) and am amazed to try its Brokes botrytised sweet wine with vanilla pannacotta and caramelised apricots. It’s a bit of a treat given that only 100 bottles are made each year, which presumably accounts for the £60 price tag. Surrey’s answer to Chateau d’Yquem, maybe? As we sip and munch, cyclists and joggers speed past. To foster goodwill locally, the grounds, with seven miles of public footpaths, are open to the public. After asking for feedback from residents, the winery changed the colour of the train that runs through the estate from blue to a more subtle green that blends into the trees. A local group organises a park run every Saturday morning which attracts some 350 runners. Seasonal events such as a Santa fun run and Easter Bunny Hop run pull in even more. But maybe the biggest draw is that it’s within easy walking distance of Dorking station, which is probably just as well after all that “tasting”. And all the more reason for going into the hotel business. . Accommodation was provided by Denbies Vineyard Hotel (doubles from £135 B&B). The Secret Vineyard Trail runs throughout the autumn in fine weather, from £25pp (check website and social media for dates). The food and wine matching experience is available to hotel residents only, book ing essential Looking for a holiday with a difference? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a range of fantastic trips
Thursday was a strange day at Westminster: not just in the House of Commons, where a Eurofudge of questionable appeal was being promoted, but also across Parliament Square at the QE2 Centre. It was the location for the Airlines 2050 conference, and the main attraction was to be the new transport secretary.What would Grant Shapps MP say about expansion at Heathrow airport, given that the current prime minister promised voters in his west London constituency: “I will lie down with you in front of those bulldozers and stop the building, stop the construction of that third runway”?
Campaigns to encourage more sustainable and respectful travel are increasing, though some industry figures doubt their power to effect change. Finland has become the latest destination to introduce a tourism pledge, asking visitors to the country to promise to respect its nature, culture and inhabitants. Forming part of a wider sustainability drive that focuses on Finnish values and traditions, such as embracing the outdoors, foraging and recycling, the pledge requires visitors to “be more like a Finn” and includes the line “in my choices the climate comes first”. Iceland claimed to be the first to introduce the idea of inviting tourists to make a specific commitment to behave responsibly in July 2017. A year later it installed a Pledge button at Keflavík airport, to encourage more visitors to agree to leave places as they found them, park and sleep only where permitted but also to “take photos to die for without dying for them” and “When nature calls, I won’t answer the call on nature.” In December 2017 Palau, in the western Pacific, announced a compulsory conservation pledge to the children of Palau that visitors are required to sign on arrival in the country. In September 2018 Hawaii launched the Pono Pledge, which forms part of a new marketing campaign, revealed this week, that aims to encourage responsible, mindful travel and sustainable tourism. New Zealand’s Tiaki Promise was announced in November 2018 and is now promoted on Air New Zealand flights, in tourist offices and through tour operators. This year, Sonoma County, California laid out plans to get one million tourists to commit to “travel kindly”, part of a strategy aimed at attracting tourists whose values align with the area’s vision for responsible tourism. In the Faroe Islands, the tourist board is calling its new sustainable tourism strategy a Preservolution, which puts “the needs, desires and lifestyle of the Faroese people” at the centre of a tourism manifesto. Instead of a pledge, the Faroes took drastic action earlier this year, closing the islands for a week when it welcomed 100 volunteers – out of 3,500 applicants – who helped repair footpaths alongside local people. The tourist board now plans to make its “Closed for Maintenance” initiative an annual event and is inviting volunteers to sign up for April 2020. For all these destinations pledges are part of a long-term vision to balance the need for tourism with a determination to protect natural resources but not everyone is convinced as to their real impact. Responsible Travel, an online holiday directory, this week called into question the growing trend among tour operators to offset the holidays they sell – and it is equally doubtful about pledges. “I’m sceptical because there’s no evidence that they work,” said founder Justin Francis. “Pledges are nothing new: I was studying them 20 years ago when I did a master’s in sustainable tourism. Since then, what we’ve seen most recently is really deteriorating tourism behaviour. Pledges fall short of creating any resources or finances to manage tourism properly.” Instead of a “superficial” pledge, Francis advocates tourism taxes that create income for the destination, “as long as the money is ringfenced to improve destinations for locals and future tourists”. This month, Venice confirmed that it will charge daytrippers up to €10pp. The charge does not apply to visitors staying overnight who already pay tax through their hotel. But Dr Daisy Fan, a lecturer at Bournemouth’s tourism and hospitality department, was less dismissive of pledges, calling them “a good beginning”, though she admits more needs to be done to educate tourists. “It’s about forming a mindset in the visitor at the earliest stage, not at the last minute as they arrive.”
The Independent’s hotel recommendations are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and book, but we never allow this to affect our coverage.I first went to New York 30 years ago. My father, who visited regularly on business, was keen to show us its most famous landmarks, hence the photo of my mum standing wearily between the Twin Towers. As a grumpy 10-year-old, my priorities included a visit to FAO Schwarz (to jump on the giant piano) and the Warner Brothers store to purchase a plastic Marvin the Martian. I never had a burning desire to return, until a spate of recent architecture tours taught me that, sometimes, the most fascinating aspects of a city are those hiding in plain sight.
The Independent’s hotel recommendations are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and book, but we never allow this to affect our coverage.It is when we find ourselves squashed into a narrow rocky crevice with 200 other tourists in the middle of Jordan’s Wadi Rum dessert that I realise the research I’ve read about the country’s dramatic fall in visitor numbers must be out of date. As two lines of traffic going in opposite directions cause a human roadblock, a French tour guide volunteers himself to help direct people in and out, holding one queue while another is freed up. Helpfully, we’ve become stuck right next to a stagnant pool of water with hundreds of dead beetles floating on the surface. “It’s a bit like the snake pit in Indiana Jones!” I suggest to my wife, who is not amused. Much like Indy, she hates snakes.
A couple were “totally shocked” when they were pulled aside at airport security due to a stowaway cat.Nick and Voirrey Coole were on their way from the Isle of Man to New York to celebrate Nick’s 40th birthday when one of their bags was targeted for extra checks.
A passenger whose luggage exceeded the weight limit at the airport took an innovative approach to avoid paying the hefty excess baggage charges.Gel Rodriguez from Davao City in the Philippines decided to wear as many of her clothes as possible, claiming that the multi-layered outfit saved her 2.5kg in precious weight.
Paris has been voted the most beautiful city in the world in a new ranking.Travel website Flight Network compiled the list of 50 cities by surveying more than 1,000 travel writers and agencies around the world.
Another rush hour at the UK’s fifth-busiest rail station has been brought almost to a standstill by a signal failure.Commuters who would normally use Euston station, the southern terminus of the West Coast main line, have been urged to use other lines.
Kunsthaus Graz contemporary art museum in Austria. Photograph: Alamy Winning tip: Kunsthaus, Graz, AustriaWith its quirky blob architecture, this gallery is nicknamed the “friendly alien” by locals, and viewed from Schlossberg hill in the city centre, it does look like an extraterrestrial has landed smack bang in the old town – especially at night, when the facade glows in a pixellated light show. The contemporary art shows are well worth a look, too. • Adult €9.50, 6-26 years €3.50, museum-joanneum.at Joe Oodi central library, Helsinki“You can tell I’m pretty obsessed with our new library,” my Finnish friend said when I asked for highlights. And from the sunlit top floor of the Oodi library we could see why she was so enthusiastic. Rows of books in all languages were spread out below for browsing, comfy chairs with travellers hiding out for a few hours, play areas, and a cafe with an all-you-can-eat brunch. It felt as if anyone from anywhere could find their place for a moment or hours. We had a cinnamon bun and coffee, taking obligatory photos trying to capture the architecture! • oodihelsinki.fi FranEvery week we ask our readers for recommendations from their travels. A selection of tips will be featured online and may appear in print, and the best entry each week (as chosen by Tom Hall of Lonely Planet) wins a £200 voucher from hotels.com. To enter the latest competition visit the readers' tips homepage Port House, Antwerp, BelgiumShip in the sky! Driving through the Port of Antwerp, we came upon the Port House, designed by Zaha Hadid and opened in 2016. The Port Authority wished to renovate the fire station and add a new building to house over 500 employees. What makes it so striking is that it retains the old brick fire station, with a new glass structure, representing a sailing boat on a hydrofoil. It looks impressive from any angle. • There are guided tours on Tues, Thurs and Sat.visitantwerpen.be Paul Tunney Mucem, MarseilleAt the entrance to Marseille’s harbour sits the black cube of the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations, opened in 2013. The first French national museum outside Paris, designed by Rudy Ricciotti, it radiates a confidence that could brush off criticism with a Gallic shrug. The black concrete latticework channels papparazzi-like flashes of the sun on the sea. You can walk around the building without paying to see the exhibitions, and relax on loungers. Cross the bridge to Fort St Jean and you travel through time as the modern gives way to the 17th-century fort walls. • mucem.org Helen Clayton Sainte-Marie de la Tourette, near LyonDriving to the south of France, we found what Le Corbusier had planned for Dominican friars 60 years earlier: silence and peace. Keeping watch from a hillside, the Sainte Marie de La Tourette monastery is a brutalist box with an inner beauty. My nine-year-old daughter and I were the only non-architect visitors on the guided tour, and we marvelled at the shapes conjured in concrete. Like any good tour, it ends with a big reveal, and the mastery of space, light and colour in the main chapel are a spiritual experience for those of any faith and none. • couventdelatourette.fr Adrian Knowles Botín Arts Centre, Santander, SpainThis waterfront arts centre and cafe was built in 2014, and what really sets it apart is the terrace roof, which extends across the pedestrian walkway over the sea, creating a sense of continuity between land and ocean. Mirrors on the ceiling create a magical effect through the sun’s reflection on the moving surface of the water. • centrobotin.org Justa National Library of Kosovo, Pristina, Kosovo“Ugly isn’t it, in a beautiful way!” my friend said. This geometric and bubbly building is the National Library of Kosovo. Nobody warned me as I set out to explore. All of a sudden there it was, like a Rubik’s Cube for passing giants to play with. This asymmetrical jumble of cubes and domes, far more beautiful than ugly, sits in solitude at the heart of a scrubby park – all the better for appreciating its myriad aspects. And frankly what other building would dare go near it! • dtk.rks-gov.net Tim Nichols Metropol Parasol, SevilleTowering over the cathedrals and palaces of Seville’s old quarter, the Metropol Parasol is a strikingly modern wooden structure by German architect Jürgen Mayer. Known locally as Las Setas (mushrooms) de Sevilla, the hugely ambitious project on Plaza de la Encarnación incorporates designs inspired by the vaults of Seville Cathedral. Its unique aesthetic has polarised opinion. Nevertheless, it provides an unmatched panaroma of the beautiful cityscape • Entry €3 including a drink, alcazartickets.com Jack City Pavilion, Ghent, BelgiumWhile the De Krook gets most of the press in Ghent, the building I love is the City Pavilion, right in the middle of the town. Surrounded by the type of period architecture that Ghent is known for, it sticks out like the sorest of thumbs. Asymmetric and brutalist yet welcoming and with a slanted chimney, it’s a brilliant example of refusing to let a town be preserved in aspic. It takes on an entirely different dimension when lit up at night, and I’ve seen it used for everything from student celebrations to a shelter for horse-drawn carriages. Public architecture at its best. • visit.gent.be Joel Serpentine Coffee House, LondonSmall but rather lovely, this new cafe in Hyde Park has a brass roof that’s designed to look like a stingray. The undulating shape creates the impression of a smiling mouth. From a distance, it looks like a Japanese pagoda. Inside, the theme continues: the underside of the roof is ridged to give the impression that you are inside the mouth of a sea creature. If that sounds creepy, it’s not. It’s light and airy and a great place to enjoy coffee, artisan ice cream and other tasty treats. • Open 8.30 am til dusk, mizzi.co RodLooking for a holiday with a difference? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a range of fantastic trips
The Independent’s hotel recommendations are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and book, but we never allow this to affect our coverage.It’s the Asian nation you never thought to visit. But like all the best secrets, this one’s too juicy to keep: Taiwan is incredible. From its mountainous middle to the sugary beaches and hot springs in the south, this diminutive island is packed with topological treasures – and has more ornate temples, awesome day hikes and wildlife-rich forests than you could hope to squeeze into a fortnight.
The world’s busiest airport for international passengers is 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.
A passenger plane bound for China had to abort its journey when flames started spitting from the engine shortly after take-off from Washington DC.Air China flight 818 was flying from Washington Dulles Airport in the American capital to Beijing on 17 September when the drama unfolded.
“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 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.
Good wood … Delamere Forest, Cheshire. Photograph: Dave Griffiths/Getty ImagesThe rain has stopped. Wet beeches and coppery bracken shine in the autumn sunlight. I’m walking through Delamere Forest, Cheshire’s biggest woodland area, past prehistoric bogs with carpets of starry sphagnum, and flooded Blakemere Moss – the wetland cacophonous with rain-loving ducks and greylag geese. Pine cones, acorns and bristly sweet chestnuts pepper the forest paths. There’s a visitor centre nearby and the refurbished Delamere Station House is an atmospheric cafe, where the day’s specials include mushroom stroganoff (£6.50) and butternut couscous (£6).I arrived the previous morning in Chester, a two-hour train ride from London Euston, and spent a day exploring the city. The rebuilt walls, where Roman legionaries once guarded the fortress of Deva, now provide an hour-long, traffic-free stroll, overlooking the racecourse, the Roman amphitheatre (Britain’s largest) and the Rows: medieval shops with half-timbered upper galleries.Chester’s Rows. Photograph: Alan Novelli/AlamyThe Grosvenor Museum (free), with its ornate Roman gravestones and 18th-century oil paintings of Chester, is a great place to shelter from the changeable Cheshire weather. So is the cathedral and, behind it, Chester’s indoor market. I browse through paperbacks in Bookingham Palace and have coffee at Crustum. Then I buy a floury brown cob and crumbly white Cheshire cheese to eat among columns, mosaics and poplars in the Roman gardens, before taking a short cruise up the River Dee. Covered boats leave every half an hour, from the far end of the garden. Even in winter they sail hourly past spread-winged cormorants, Victorian villas and willow-fringed meadows.It’s a 10-minute train ride to Lloyds Meadow, where I’m glamping. Six bell tents, spaced around lakes with wooded islands, opened just a few weeks ago and are now booking for next year. A morning walk through the dew startles rabbits, moorhens and long-necked herons from the grassy banks and bulrushes. After dark, soft solar globes glow in the trees and fish jump in the water outside the tent entrance. The site is on the edge of Ashton Hayes (which has been aiming for some time to be the UK’s first carbon neutral village) and near Mouldsworth railway station with its neighbouring pub, The Goshawk.Glampsite at Lloyds Meadow Photograph: Lloyds Meadow GlampingDelamere station is one more stop by train but I walk the couple of miles to the forest, along field paths fringed by late poppies and delicate wild pansies. I’m sustained by a breakfast of local produce, including prize-winning sausages and Cheshire oak-smoked bacon from a nearby butchers and sweet-sharp juice from Ollie’s Orchard near Delamere (Lloyds Meadows can provide hampers, including cooking gear, £25).Next day, I catch the train from Delamere to Northwich, 15 minutes further east, to explore the area’s industrial heritage. The Anderton Boat Lift, opened in 1875, towers on cast-iron pillars over the Weaver Navigation, lifting boats 50 feet to the Trent and Mersey Canal. The visitor centre is free, but I’ve opted for another boat trip, along the green-banked river to the edge of the half-timbered town, and a ride up in the lift itself, where water cascades above the boat’s glass ceiling (combined trip adult £12.25, child £7.25). The No 4 bus stops nearby but the weather is fine again so I walk from Northwich along the Weaver. It’s two more miles beside the canal to the Lion Salt Works, and roughly the same again from there to Lostock Gralam railway station.The banks of the River Weaver in Northwich. Photograph: Mark Waugh/AlamyApart from short urban stretches at the start and end, this six-mile waterside loop, punctuated by year-round heritage attractions with cafes, proves an ideal autumn stroll. There’s a cidery smell of windfall apples and woodsmoke from narrowboats, chugging past through seasonal mist. There’s plenty of mellow fruitfulness, too: hedges heavy with dark, jewel-like elderberries, crimson hawthorn and blood red rosehips. The canalside Lion Salt Works (adult £6.25, child £4) reopened for visitors four years ago after a £10m restoration. It manages to combine hi-tech exposition with an evocative sense of past effort. Among rusting brine tanks and brick chimneys, dioramas and projections conjure up sweaty 12-hour shifts working boiling salt pans.My last day, with an early evening train booked, and it’s raining again so I decide to check out Chester Zoo (15 minute bus ride from Chester station, with discounted rail-bus-entry tickets from £24). Without kids to entertain, I plan to whizz round the 125 acres and spend the afternoon in town but half an hour’s gone before I’ve even left the first aviary. I’m watching the orange and turquoise starlings, which I last saw outside a tent in the Maasai Mara 30 years ago.The Lion Salt Works. Photograph: Mark Waugh/AlamyOver the next few hours, I’m transported round the world. I take a leisurely boat trip through the Islands, a series of south-east Asian habitats that opened in 2015, and walk through the warm, leafy tropical house, full of free-flying Madgascan red fodies and emerald doves. New grasslands, opening this autumn, will house Asiatic lions. Besides the low-carbon travel, this is colour therapy for a wintry day: clownfish swim through coral, huge blue morpho butterflies hover among scarlet hibiscus and candy-pink flamingos balance in a grey-green lake. Autumn is still evident in the caramel scent of a katsura tree or a pond of otters playing with yellow birch leaves; it’s a bright finale to four days of woods and water.• Rail travel was provided by Virgin Trains (London Euston to Chester from £19 one-way). Accommodation was provided by Lloyds Meadow glamping (bell tents for two, from £70 a night). Chester Zoo and other attractions provided free entryLooking for a holiday with a difference? Browse Guardian Holidays to see a range of fantastic trips