Travel: Simon Calder

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The Independent Online
British Airways' new low-cost offshoot, christened Go yesterday, creates all kinds of interesting possibilities - besides the dismal prospect that the Moody Blues' first hit, "Go Now", could be used in commercials.

Barbara Cassani, Go's chief executive, refuses to say what the new routes will be. But assuming that the airline's code is GO, then possible alliances with other carriers could give some clues. "Codeshare" operations, where a flight number carries a pair of airline codes, are very popular these days. If the new no-frills outfit teams up with Royal Brunei (code BI), perhaps we can expect new flights from Stansted to the Gobi desert.

BA's rivals such as EasyJet and Ryanair would no doubt prefer a link with Aus-Air (code NO), in the hope that the prefix NO-GO would deter customers from switching to the new carrier. But ecclesiastical travellers should hold out for a tie-up with Air Senegal (DS), in the hope of travelling on God's own airline.

The principle of travellers following in the papal footsteps and visiting Cuba is commendable. But the advertisment from the national airline Cubana for its new service from Manchester to Havana should be taken with a pinch of incense. "Within nine hours travellers can be relaxing in the sun enjoying the beautiful beaches."

This will come as news to, among others, the publishers of the World Airways Guide, whose timetable shows the journey taking 10 hours (pedants would also argue that even with a Popecopter you'd be hard pressed to get from landing at Jose Marti airport to any beach in less than an hour).

Still, what's an hour between friends? After all, as the ad promises, these are direct flights. Except that the use of the word "direct" is stretching a point when it comes to the return leg. The Cubana flight certainly aims for Manchester, but then flies straight overhead and continues for a further 500 miles to Copenhagen. After an hour or two to refuel at the Danish capital, it returns to Manchester - on a good day, 13 hours after leaving Havana.

Cubana or any other airline could respond by pointing out that, in airline parlance, "direct" means that you stay on the plane all the way to your final destination, even if it stops en route. But surely that makes it an indirect flight? The term is used to differentiate from "non-stop", another inexact phrase. By definition, all flights stop eventually, so they're "one-stops". But, the airlines riposte, that means the same as "direct".

Another ad, this time praising the beauties of the Czech capital: "There are cities in the world that are always hard to leave, and, in our opinion, Prague is definitely one of them." Fine sentiments, if a little clumsily expressed - except that the advertiser is the national airline, CSA, whose main purpose is to leave Prague.

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