Travel: Plane crazy

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The Independent Travel
QUESTION 2. Two flights are scheduled to depart at 8.30am every Saturday from Brussels to Heathrow, using identical aircraft. Whose interests does it serve to have two 737s, one Sabena, one BA, leaving at the same time rather than spacing out the services - or giving one landing slot to another airline? And unless they are going to fly and land in formation, one plane is bound to lose the race to Heathrow.

Last Saturday, one flight arrived 10 minutes early while the other was five minutes late. On so short a hop, a 15- minute discrepancy is hard to explain. Who decides which leaves first? Does air traffic control conduct a quick auction with the higher bidder winning the earlier take-off? Is one plane fitted with a turbocharger? Does one airline have better maps or a niftier route than the other? Perhaps a pilot, air traffic controller or Eurocrat could enlighten the rest of us. (Murphy's Law being what it is, of course, I chose the tardy flight.)

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