TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: January 15 2017

Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr speaking at Lufthansa Digital Forum in Frankfurt, January 10 2016

HEADLINES – AVIATION – AFLOAT – DEALWATCH – FOOD & WINE – HOTELS – INTERNATIONAL – IRELAND – STRANGE WORLD – TRAVEL TRADE

Things to know about travel this week

  • Ryanair unlikely to be caught after finishing 7m ahead of Lufthansa
  • Ryanair feeding Aer Lingus out of Dublin is a step closer
  • Dublin hits 1.2m connecting passengers and 17.9m total
  • Lufthansa promises airborne wifi as fast as your living room
  • Cork airport back in growth after 7 years of decline
  • Belfast looks to record passenger numbers in 2017
  • Celebrity cruises honour Oasis, Travel Counsellors & Worldchoice
  • How Aer Lingus is the Norwegian of IAG Group
  • Meet the shortlisted agents for the Irish Travel Industry Awards

Travel Extra TV

  • screen-shot-2017-01-14-at-11-51-26Video of the week: Some breathtaking drone footage of Hübschhorn East ridge, Simplon pass in Switzerland. Watch here.
  • This chap in Alaska decided to go ice skating…with a chainsaw to pull him along. Watch here.
  • Heathrow Airport posted a behind-the-scenes video of its adorable teddy bear Christmas ad. Watch here.
  • 8 unique things you’ll only find in Ireland, as told by Tourism Ireland. Watch here.
  • Tourism NI looked back on the Year of Food and Drink. Watch here.
  • The Irish Travel Industry Awards take place in two week’s time. Meet the shortlisted agents and suppliers representatives here.

 

Behind the Headlines

While the first week in January was a big enquiries week, this week the bookings were flowing. Feedback from agents is that people are shopping around and taking a couple of days to confirm. It seems price is paramount, and value for money is high on customers’ agenda. Falcon say the collective of the two weeks is much the same as last year, but the first week was affected by the way Christmas fell. They experienced strong booking on the two Fridays and Saturdays in January having had a stronger than usual pre-Christmas. “It is interesting to see adults coming back into the early bookings market,” Charlotte Brenner says, “it is a sign of consumer confidence.” Rebecca Kelly of MSC says she is seeing an increase in balcony cabins being booked. ‘With the get it all promo when they upgrade to balcony for €150 they get free drinks package worth €185 free wifi and onboard spend. Last week we hit record numbers, 47pc up on last year this week. We have seen these numbers continue with Tuesday being our busiest day.”

The silver anniversary Belfast Telegraph Holiday World takes place Friday next, January 20 to Sunday, January 22 at Titanic Exhibition Centre on Queen’s Road in Titanic Quarter, close to Titanic Belfast and just opposite the Titanic Studios where the global hit fantasy series Game of Thrones is filmed. The exhibition will be open from 1pm to 6pm on Friday, January 20, from 11am to 5:30pm on Saturday, Jan 21 and from 11am to 5.30pm on Sunday, Jan 22. Admission is £5 for adults; £4 for Senior Citizens and £3 for Students. A special family ticket gives admission for two adults and up to four children for £10.

The roll call of leading airlines filing their 2016 performances this week is beginning to look like the voting for a 1990s Eurovision Song contest, with Michael O’Leary playing the role of Johnny Logan of aviation. All but one of the major carriers has sent in their report card, (we are still waiting on the Moscow jury) but Ryanair is a winner by 7m ahead of the Lufthansa group, a wider margin than anyone, including Travel Extra, anticipated. The lead over the Lufthansa group means that even as Lufthansa gobbles up another 8m passengers carried by Brussels Airways, they are not going to catch O’Leary and the upstarts from Swords in 2017. As for the real Johnny Logan, he is looking hale and hearty having shared a recent flight to Munich with Travel Extra.

Terence Brannigan chair of tourism NI

It was brave and it was expensive, like going to a high-class restaurant where nobody is sure whether the temperamental chef will be in a bad mood. But it seems to have worked. A celebratory event in the Ulster museum last Wednesday to complete the year of Northern Ireland’s year food and drink was a more low-key affair than it should have been. The first Minister and former Deputy First Minister, who had shared a table last year in the Ulster Hall, were both absent (presumably, they had other things on their minds).

There was some palpable frostiness among the invited civil servants but generally everyone settled down for Born and Braised, the North’s new signature dish, as nominated by four chefs, in the beautiful museum ambience surrounded by art works. The chair and CEO Chair of tourism NI Terence Brannigan (watch here) outlined how the local population had felt that their food and drink compared unfavourably to the rest of Ireland and the neighbouring island but that had been changed by the events of the past year. CEO of tourism NI John McGrillen (watch here) reflected on what had been achieved with very limited resources. The confidence of local tourism stakeholders in the culinary offering which came from a very low base seems to have been boosted. Picture shows Terence Brannigan speaking at the event and Gerry Lennon of Visit Belfast and John McGrillen CEO of TourismNI. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

WIFI in the sky as fast as in your living room. That is the bold promise Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr delivered to invited media, including Travel Extra, at the airline’s digital forum on Wednesday. Snow had fallen in Frankfurt and at one stage it looked like the aircraft which had been assigned for an on-board demonstration might be grounded in Paris. All was saved on the day and 80 leading aviation writers were taken on a flight and on board press conference with links to the ground, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief as they headed back to the far-flung destinations that included Los Angeles, Cape Town, Singapore and Straffan. Carsten had come straight from what he described as an upbeat boardroom meeting where Lufthansa’s sluggish 1.8pc growth in 2016 was considered and he said he views 2017 with a “positive spirit.” Michael O’Leary has now overtaken Carsten’s entire group as Europe’s most loved airline. “I have no secrets from Michael O’Leary,” Carsten joked with Travel Extra.

  • Watch here Carsten Spohr speaking at the Lufthansa Digital Forum about the gap between the airline’s digital strategy and how younger passengers are happier to share data.
  • Watch here Stefan Kapactsis explain Lufthansa’s baggage tagging and baggage tracing system.
  • Watch here David Doyle of the Lufthansa digital team talking about how passengers are tracked through the airport and flagged with enhancements like lounge offers.

Ryanair is, for the first time, Europe’s largest airline with a clear lead of 7m passengers ahead of the Lufthansa group (109.7m), IAG (100.7m), Air France/KLM (93.4m) and EasyJjet (74.5m). Worldwide, only American Airlines with 135,060,779 passengers, Delta with 123,713,175, and Southern with 124,719,765 are the only airlines that carried more passengers than Ryanair in 2016. China Southern flew 105.1m passengers up to November. Ryanair have grown by 188pc over ten years and 46.7pc over five years, their impressive ten year growth is dwarfed by Norwegian’s 474.5pc and Turkish’s 394.3pc, their five year growth by IAG’s acquisitions driven 84.4pc, Norwegian’s 65.5pc and Turkish’s 61pc.

Aer Lingus has signed an agreement with Ryanair on North Atlantic Transfer feed, Stephen Kavanagh told the Royal Aeronautical Society lecture in Wynn’s Hotel on Wednesday. He said cargo makes an important contribution to long-haul and revenue is exceeding capacity growth. “In 2001 Aer Lingus had 90pc market share on transatlantic ex Dublin, today it’s 55pc market share. The goal is to claw back market share.”  He said short-haul grew 16pc in 2016. Aer Lingus has increased load factor on short-haul from 80pc to 83pc but must close the gap with Ryanair on short haul load factor, which drives retail sales. Aer Lingus is adding 500,000 short-haul seats in summer 2017 by redeploying A320 capacity from Belfast City and possible wet leases to add capacity from Dublin, aiming to increase short haul market share to 35-40pc as against Ryanair’s 40-45pc. He questioned the timing of Dublin airport’s new runway and saw no requirement for it for six years. He sees no business case for Airbus A330Neo or Airbus A350-900. Amongst the takeaways from the event is his comment that: “we are seen as the Norwegian of the IAG Group”.

Travel Trade

Dave Hayeem of Trailfinders

Readers of the Irish Independent readers selected Trailfinders as travel agent of the year, while Limerick Travel, Fahy Travel in Galway, Manning Travel in Kilkenny, Lee Travel in Cork, Mackin Travel in Wexford and Strand Travel in Waterford mentioned as getting ‘multiple votes’. Reader’s choice as overseas destination was Spain and favourite airline was Aer Lingus.

Celebrity Cruises honoured their top performing agentsWorldchoice won the consortium award, Travel Counsellors the agency award and Sandra Corkin’s Oasis Travel the top perforrning agency in the North

Belinda Vasquez, Head of Tui Ireland

Belinda Vasquez, Head of Tui Ireland

Belinda Vazquez has been appointed as Head of Ireland for Falcon, Thomson & Crystal, where she will assume responsibility for the management of the TUI business in Ireland. She was formerly Head of Ancillaries & Commercial Business Development for TUI Britain & Ireland. Chris Logan is new MD of Crystal Ski and Thomson Lakes and Mountains in Britain.

Falcon have increased their deposit for winter 2017 to €150 for short and mid haul and €300 for long haul. The  low deposit is €75 and €300 for families. Falcon have introduced a third party flying system allowing agents to book Aer Lingus flights with their browser.

Clem Walshe relaunched his localmarketing.ie service.

Ross Waters from Tour America is the December finalist in the competition to win a Polo Magnifico run by Blue Insurances and follows previous finalists Angela Taylor from Oasis TravelHelena Kilduff from Skytours, Rose Kane from Kanes Travel in Longford, Claire Mulligan from Clubworld Travel, Mandy Walsh of Travel Counsellors, Rita Gaughan from Limerick Travel, Kate McGillycuddy from Abbey Travel in Killarney, and Nicola Quigley from O’Hanrahan Travel. The 12 monthly winners and bonus winner get an iPad Mini and compete in the grand finale in April 2017 in Dublin. WebsiteWatch here interview with Ciaran Mulligan of Blue Insurances.

  • Travel Counsellors launched a video piece with Gearoid Mannion speaking of how he closed his family travel agency and joined Travel Counsellors, the first of a series. Watch here. Wednesday was the busiest day for Travel Counsellors in Ireland (€200,000 and €2.6m globally) with another big day expected yesterday.
  • The boss of tour operator All Leisure navigated a £5m deal to buy the only profitable part of its cruise arm before the company collapsed.

Strange world

Further to the Fort Lauderdale shoot-out in the gunshine state as Canadian travel writer David Tait called it, last year was a record year for gun seizures at US airports. Atlanta came top of the gun seizure league with 198.

  • Conwy in Wales is for the birds–  a problem with gangs of unruly seagulls is being dealt with by the Lord of the Wings and his harris hawk Jack. Harris hawks were also used in Dartmouth for a seagull problem so bad that the birds were apparently eating dogs. 
  • Jack’s services may be needed elsewhere– a plane destined for Tenerife ended up instead in Gatwick, forced to make an emergency landing after a seagull flew into the engine.
  • Edreams commissioned a survey of 2,000 UK travellers which found that 39pc of respondents believe overweight passengers should have lower luggage allowances.
  • Air steward Adrian Thomas on a Kulalu flight from Durban to Cape Town had passengers in stitches with their in-flight announcement. Watch here.
  • Driverless shuttle buses capable of holding up to 12 people, the first in the US, are being tested in Las Vegas.
  • Passengers who launched into a violent brawl during a flight to London caused an emergency landing.
  • From the London Independenton the usual track to Dublin, aircraft fly over Ginis roughly at the time when a lot of passengers on board are anticipating their first pint of stout.
  • Fans are mourning a giant sequoia in California that’s famous for a drive-through hole carved into its trunk in the 1880s, after a massive storm toppled the mighty tree. It’s thought that the tunnel weakened the tree and contributed to its fall. The tree is estimated at over 1,000 years old, meaning that it sprouted in the Middle Ages.
  • Airport users lost 25,000 items in the aftermath of last week’s Florida airport shooting.
  • Air India is reserving seats specifically for women travelling alone, at no extra charge and they may be the first known airline to do so.

International

Skiers celebrated the arrival of lots of snow, the heaviest in the French Alps in the Chamonix area.  Some resorts in France and Switzerland had been bereft of a downfall for more than 50 days, in Austria 30cm fell towards the Gastein region and Hemsedal, Lillehammer, Trysil and Are just a few of them. Excellent conditions both on and off piste in the major Swedish and Norwegian resorts, Andorra and the rest of the Pyrenees in the USA. Colorado received around 20cm, and at Utah there was between 25-40cm. The Lake Tahoe area has experienced its snowiest January in 45 years. Club Med unveiled its new ski-in, ski-out 400-plus-room room, Grand Massif Samoens.

  • Paris’s mayor unveiled new plans to permanently pedestrianise the city centre.
  • Spanish Tourist Board preliminary figures suggest 1,8742,615 Irish visited Spain in 2016, up by 22.7pc. Overall visits to Spain were up 9pc to 77m. Ireland is now Spain’s ninth most important market.
  • Traders in the Harbour Street Craft Market, Montego Bay in Jamaica have been receiving business training on what types of products tourists are looking for, how to approach tourists effectively, sales techniques, and tips for running a profitable business
  • Uber rival Lyft lost $600m as revenues jumped 250pc.
  • Los Angeles received 47.3m visitors in 2016, surpassing mid-year forecasts and breaking visitation records for the sixth consecutive year.
  • The US Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from a company that wants to offer flight-sharing services using a model similar to Uber. The justices on Monday left in place a lower court ruling that said Boston-based Flytenow could not operate a website that connected private pilots with passengers willing to share fuel costs and other flight expenses.
  • Europe’s first underwater museum opens off Lanzarote.

Food & Beverage

Pamela Byrne CEO of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland served five Enforcement Orders in December: A Chef Kebab Foodstall at Daltons Pub car park in Fuerty Co Roscommon and  Day to Day retailer in Dun Laoghaire, Palak Restaurant in Tuam and Ali Baba in Rathkeale were served with closure orders, and T/A I&A Organic Gardening and Catering in Shandon was served with a prohibition order. Prosecutions were carried out by the HSE in relation to The Palace public house in Navan, and Largo Foods in Ashboune.

  • Dublin City Council heard 10 recommendations to help boost the city’s cafe and restaurants including cutting the costs of tables-and-chairs licences; exempting benches from street-furniture licences; and increasing the Garda presence.
  • A report for Bord Bia reported that the Irish drinks industry is worth €1.4bn in term of agri-food and drinks exports and beverage exports increased by 4pc in 2016, with whiskey driving the growth.
  • Voting opened in the Restaurants Association of Ireland awards. Nominations can be made online until 12 noon, Wednesday 25th of January
  • Breakfast winner in the Irish Independent reader’s choice awards was Castlewood House in Dingle. The best food experience MacNean Restaurant, Blacklion. Martin Corbett, co-owner and former host of Dublin’s Chapter One restaurant, was named the Face of Irish Hospitality.
  • Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield, Dublin, will officially reopen in March 2017 after an €11m refurbishment.
  • Just Eat celebrated its 1,900 restaurant partner and said it is to refresh its brand to encourage consumers “to make new choices and explore its range of over 30 cuisine types.”
  • John O’Connell’s West Cork Distillers, producer of Kennedy and Drombeg whiskeys and Two Trees vodka and gin, opened a €2.5m, 70,000 sq ft facility in Skibbereen.
  • Sliabh Liag distillery received planning permission to build its new distillery in South West Donegal. It has launched the first of four spirit brands, The Silkie. There 16 distilleries already in production and a further 13 in planning in 18 counties across Ireland, up from four distilleries in 2013.
  • O’Hara’s Brewery launched Styrian Wolf single hop IPA.
  • Airbnb’s restaurant booking app Resy completed a $13m round of funding for a partnership that will allow users to book restaurant tables through Airbnb.

Hotels

Joe Dolan president of the IHF

The Hotel Federation’s Q4 barometer suggests 91pc of hoteliers saw business increase in 2016, 41pc say they will hire more staff, 89pc will refurbish and 66pc will increase spend on marketing, 92pc are concerned about  Brexit,18pc say bookings from the North are down and 30pc report a drop in bookings from England.

  • Dean hotel owners Paddy McKillen jnr and Matt Ryan received permission for a €10m six-storey, 60-bedroom hotel on Dublin’s North Wall Quay with a rooftop bar and restaurant, ground floor bar and restaurant, coffee and shop and terrace. They received permission to restore the 81 North Wall Quay building back into its previous use as a pub. A separate boutique hotel in Ranelagh will begin construction within three months and plan to open the hotel by the end of 2018.
  • Best Western launched SureStay, a new white label franchise model to the hotel industry in Ireland to operate under three brands, the premium economy SureStay Hotel, lower mid-scale SureStay Plus  and mid-scale soft-brand SureStay Signature Collection.
  • Plans were revealed for another hotel with five storeys and 100 bedrooms hotel to be built beside the Carlton hotel at Dublin Airport.
  • EasyHotel is to open an 81-bedroom hotel above Michael Deane’s Eipic restaurant in Belfast.
  • Glen Dimplex CEO Fergal Naughton invested €1m in the Park Hotel Kenmare.
  • Best hotel in the Irish Independent reader’s choice awards was Cliff House, Ardmore, Family friendly hotel winner was Kelly’s of Rosslare, Best spa was Monart in Enniscorthy.
  • Locke Aparthotels group purchased Zanzibar hotel on Dublin’s Ormond Quay for €10m and plan to spend €45m on 100 new bedrooms at the property.
  • Killarney’s 3-star Gleneagle Hotel and Ireland’s National Event Centre increased turnover by 6pc in 2016 and operating profit to €1.05m as it saw turnover increase by 6pc in 2015.

Aviation

Brussels Airlines is to wet lease three Cityjet SSJ100 Superjets from April 17 on 2-year contract.

All but two Irish airports have now reported figures for 2016, with Shannon’s numbers due next week. Dublin reported a record 27,907,230 passengers, up 11pc (although 600,000 transfer passengers were double counted), Belfast grew by 15pc to 5.15m in 2016,  Belfast City reported 2.67m, down marginally on 2015, Cork grew by 8pc to 2.23m ending seven years of decline, Knock was up 7.3pc to a record 734,031.

  • Finnair is to increase its Helsinki service from Dublin to 9w from March 27.
  • Minister Shane Ross was asked by Dublin Chamber to expedite the Metro North project.
  • Ryanair’s app is the most downloaded travel app in Europe with 17m. Ryanair launched 200 new routes in 2016, more than any other airline, and reached a deal to offer nine new routes at Stanted.
  • If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Catering is likely to be the next big industrial relations battleground at Aer Lingus after a change in long haul meal options turned into a union spat about a hot sandwich.
  • Heathrow reported 75,676,000 passengers in 2016, Manchester 35m, Stansted 24.3mLondon City said Dublin was its third most popular route thanks to competing Cityjet and BA services. It reported 4.5m passengers in 2016, up 5pc. Watch here interview with Declan Collier.
  • Aer Lingus moved Shannon-Heathrow to the earlier time of 7.30am from March 26.
  • Norwegian Air promised $69 one way introductory flights from Stewart Airport (60 miles North of Manhattan) to Cork. Travellers from New York can take Metro North to Beacon station and then take Leprechaun Bus Lines to the airport. Stewart, from where Norwegian will launch an Edinburgh service this summer, is near the heavily Irish American areas such as Orange County, Pearl River, Rye and Westchester. Norwegian Air says its round-trip to Ireland is the cheapest ever offered .US labour unions called on President Barack Obama to halt Norwegian’s Cork flights planRyanair said only technicalities remain in its deal to feed Norwegian long-haul flights.
  • Aer Lingus is laying on special flights for Wales v Ireland soccer world cup qualifier on March 24.
  • Aer Lingus Regional’s Donegal services carried 25pc more people in 2016, 40,000 passengers flew from Donegal to Dublin and Glasgow.
  • Moodie Davitt is to issue a special publication to mark 70 years of duty free and travel retail, the first Duty Free was sold at Shannon Airport in 1947.
  • The IAA reported Ireland’s air traffic grew 8pc in 2016.
  • Ryanair consolidated its position as Spain’s biggest airline with 15pc market share and 34.67m passengers, ahead of Vueling (22.6m) and Iberia (13.6m).
  • There were calls to prioritise the road to Shannon Airport for upgrade works.
  • Permission was granted for a VIP terminal extension at Belfast International.
  • SHZ Aviation and Perilune Group sold nine 2013 and 2014 vintage A319s to an Irish lessor.
  • Sukhoi repaired six of 11 Interjet Superjet 100s that had stabiliser defects.
  • Stobart revived the €14m buyout of a 33pc stake in  Propius leasing firm that supplies its planes despite a wider plan to merge with CityJet being scrapped.
  • The last United Airlines flight from Belfast to Newark departed, while Aldergrove chief Graham Keddle said he was in negotiations with Norwegian and two other airlines to resume trans-Atlantic services.
  • Swiss plans the first revenue flight on a Bombardier CSeries CS300 on October 9.
  • Air Canada Rouge confirmed Dublin-Vancouver for summer 2017 will be 3w as last year and not 4w.
  • Aer Lingus is standing by the controversial AerClub changes despite twitter storm. Stephen Kavanagh said: “Gold Circle was long past its sell-by date. It was neither driving nor rewarding loyalty. It was poorly administered and it wasn’t offering anything of real value. My job is not to keep everybody happy. My job is to reward those customers that actually deliver margin.”
  • JetBlue became the first airline to offer free in-flight Wi-Fi for all passengers on every flight.
  • Apollo Aviation’s assets grew 42pc to $3.5bn
  • Avolon profits soared before $7.6bn sale to a Chinese corporation.
  • Stormont infrastructure minister Chris Hazzard joined calls for an end to the seat sales limit at Belfast City Airport
  • Avolon appointed three new independent directors
  • With Sydney from €849, Qatar fired the first salvo as it prepared to enter the Irish market.
  • And the Lord said go forth and multiply, Dublin Airport slipped to fourth place in the ACI growth league of European airports having led for most fo 2016, due to a spurt of growth in Moscow and Paris Orly. A bit like Eamonn Coghlan.

Afloat

Cruise line winner in the Irish Independent reader’s choice awards was Royal Caribbean.

  • Authorities suspended shipping on the Danube due to dangerous floating ice.
  • Seabourn Encore was named by soprano Sarah Brightman in a ceremony in Singapore.
  • Crystal River Cruises began construction on luxury river vessels Crystal Debussy and Crystal Ravel.
  • Cunard increased specialty dining charges on its three ships, Verandah on Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria up from $35 to $49.95, Verandah on Queen Elizabeth up from $15 to $25 for lunch and from $24 to $35 for dinner, Kings Court on Queen Mary 2 and Lido on Queen Victoria up from $15 to $17.50, Lido on Queen Elizabeth up from $10 to $17.50.

Ireland

Ireland was ranked 9th overall and third in Europe in Rough Guide readers 2017 destination list.

National Museum Collins Barracks reported a massive 41pc increase to 411,391 in 2016 largely as a result fo the 1916 centenary exhibition. The four National Museumsof Ireland handled a total of 1,315,776 visitors in 2016, up 10pc on 2015, with Kildare Street up 2pc to 479,261, the National History Museum up 1pc to 317,269, and Turlough Park Country Life down 10pc to 107,855. The Book of Kells is now Ireland’s fifth most popular attraction with 890,000 visitors in 2016.

  • Taoiseach Enda Kenny was in Madrid this week and met joined Tourism Ireland Barbara Wood’s efforts to bost tourism to Ireland. Ireland will not be exhibiting at Fitur next week.
  • The Irish Independent readers choice awards named the Cliffs of Moher as Ireland’s best attraction ahead of The Guinness Storehouse, 3 The Ring of Kerry, 4 Giant’s Causeway, 5  The Wild Atlantic Way, 6 Aillwee Cave, Co Clare, 7 Glendalough, Co Wicklow, 8 Hook Head, Co Wexford, 9 Sliabh Liag, Co Donegal, 10 Dingle, Co Kerry. The top ten destinations were 1 Dingle, 2 Killarney, 3 Westport, 4 Ardmore, 5 Connemara, 6 Enniscrone, 7 Kenmare, 8 Achill Island, 9 Inchydoney, 10 Dunmore East. The place that should be better known was Donegal, best adventure was sea kayaking. And the best beaches:  Inchydoney Co Cork, Curracloe Co Wexford Inch Co Kerry, Enniscrone Co Sligo, Keel  Co Mayo, Lahinch Co Clare, Ballybunion Co Kerry, Brittas Bay Co Wicklow, Tramore Co Waterford, Barley Cove, Co Cork
  • Declan Lawn talked about his new BBC NI TV series Bus Wars about the rival companies vying for Belfast’s sight-seeing trade
  • An hourly train service between Derry and Belfast will come into operation later this year following the completion of a £42m upgrade.

Irish Travel Industry award shortlist

Both of MSC supplier representatatives in Ireland, Rebecca Kelly and Erica Oglesby, have been shortlisted for the Irish Travel industry awards.

The awards ceremony takes place in the round room of the Mansion House on January 26 2017.

The pair are up against Lee Osborne of Bookabed, Thomas McNally of Bedsonline and Martin Penrose of Ifonly for the coveted award. Rebecca Kelly is seeking four in a row, having won the award in 2014, 2015 and 2016. Lee Osborne won the award in 2013.

Best ITAA Leisure Travel Professional – Sponsored By: PortAventura World

  • Rachel Donnelly – Grenham Travel
  • Gemma Duffy – Hannon Travel Services
  • Georgina Kelly – The Travel Broker
  • Michelle McDonagh – Travalue by Navan Travel
  • Sandra Mooney – Cassidy Travel

  • Regina Curran – HRG Ireland
  • Louise Dunne/Karen Ray – The Travel Broker
  • Fiona Egan – Grogan Travel Worldchoice
  • Tara Fitzgibbon – Club Travel HRG
  • Niamh Gleeson – FCM Travel Solutions
  • Donna McGann – Hannon Travel Services

Most Innovative ITAA Member Marketing Campaign – Sponsored By: PortAventura World

  • ClickandGo.com
  • Club Travel
  • Dawson Travel/Travel Cheaper
  • Shandon Travel
  • Tour America
  • Travalue by Navan Travel
  • Travel Escapes

Best ITAA Corporate Travel Agency – Sponsored By: Amadeus

  • Atlas Travel
  • Carlson Wagonlit
  • Club Travel HRG
  • Corporate Travel Management
  • FCm Travel Solutions
  • Hannon Travel Services

ITAA Travel Agency of the Year (under 10 employees) – Sponsored By: Amadeus

  • Corrib Travel
  • Grenham Travel
  • Grogan Travel Worldwide
  • Hannon Travel Services
  • The Travel Broker
  • Travalue by Navan Travel

ITAA Travel Agency of the Year (over 10 employees) – Sponsored By: Amadeus

  • Best4Travel
  • Cassidy Travel
  • ClickandGo
  • Corporate Travel Management
  • Shandon Travel
  • Tour America

Irish Travel Industry Awards 2017 ITAA Supplier Finalists Are:

Air Travel Category – Sponsored By: Dublin Airport

Best Airline to Europe

  • Aer Lingus
  • KLM
  • Ryanair
  • SAS
  • Turkish Airlines

Best Business Class Airline to Europe

  • British Airways
  • KLM
  • Lufthansa
  • SAS
  • Turkish Airlines

Best Airline to North America

  • Aer Lingus
  • American Airlines
  • Delta Airlines
  • United Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Best Long Haul Airline

  • British Airways
  • Emirates
  • Etihad Airways
  • Turkish Airlines
  • Virgin Atlantic

Tour Operator Category – Sponsored By: Hertz

Best European Sun Tour Operator

  • Classic Collection
  • Concorde Travel
  • Falcon Holidays
  • Sunway
  • Topflight

Best Escorted Tour Operator

  • G Adventures
  • Insight Vacations
  • Riviera Travel
  • Sunway
  • Wendy Wu

Best Specialist Tour Operator

  • Classic Resorts
  • If Only
  • Sunway
  • Travel Focus
  • Wendy Wu

Best Ski Tour Operator

  • Club Med
  • Crystal Ski
  • Highlife
  • Topflight

Best Long Haul Operator

  • Classic Resorts
  • If Only
  • Sunway
  • Topflight
  • Travel Focus

Cruise & Ferry Category – Sponsored By: Turkish Airlines

Best General Cruise Company

  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Fred Olsen Cruise Company
  • MSC Cruises
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Royal Caribbean International

Best Ultra Luxury Cruise Company

  • Azamara Club Cruises
  • Celebrity Cruises
  • Silversea Cruises

Best Specialist Cruise Company (including River)

  • Hurtigruten
  • Riviera Travel
  • Silversea Cruises
  • Uniworld River Cruises

Best Ferry Company

  • Brittany Ferries
  • Doolan 2 Aran Ferries
  • Irish Ferries
  • Stena Line

Agency Services Provider Category – Sponsored by: Riviera Travel

Best Technology Provider

  • Amadeus
  • Bookabed
  • Proactive Labs
  • Travelport
  • Zendesk

Best Car Hire Company

  • Affordable Car Hire
  • Alamo
  • Flexible Car Hire
  • Hertz
  • Your Car Hire

Best Travel Insurance Provider

  • Accident & General
  • AXA Insurance
  • Blue Insurance
  • Viasure
  • Worldwide Insurance

Best Tourist Board

  • Failte Ireland
  • Las Vegas
  • Portuguese Tourist Board
  • South African Tourism
  • Spanish Tourist Board

Best Supplier Support Team

  • Arrow Tours
  • Bookabed
  • MSC Cruises
  • Sunway
  • Travelport

Best Accommodation-Only Provider

  • Arrow Tours
  • Bedsonline
  • Bookabed
  • Globe Hotels
  • Hotelbeds

Best Supplier Representative

  • Rebecca Kelly – MSC Cruises
  • Thomas McNally – Bedsonline
  • Erica Oglesby – MSC Cruises
  • Lee Osborne – Bookabed
  • Martin Penrose – If Only

Destinations Category – Sponsored By: Aer Lingus

Best Worldwide City Destination

  • Boston
  • Dubai
  • Hong Kong
  • Las Vegas
  • New York

Best European City Destination

  • Barcelona
  • Krakow
  • Lisbon
  • Madrid
  • Rome

Best Ski Destination

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • France
  • Italy
  • Switzerland

Best Summer Sun Destination

  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Turkey

Best Winter Sun Destination

  • Dubai
  • Gran Canaria
  • Lanzarote
  • Morocco
  • Tenerife

Best Worldwide Theme Park

  • Disneyland Paris
  • PortAventura
  • Tayto Park
  • Universal Orlando Resort
  • Walt Disney World Resort

Best Worldwide Hotel Chain

  • Hilton
  • Marriott
  • Melia
  • Radisson Blu
  • RUI Hotels & Resorts

Deal Watch

Emirates’ January sale runs until January 23 for travel from March: Dubai from €399. Bangkok from €559. Kuala Lumpur business class form €2,049. Sydney from €929. Hong Kong from €489, business class €2,019.

Click and Go offers: 7 nights 4* Playaluna Hotel Aparthotel, Roquetas de Mar, Costa de Algeria from €299pp incl. return flights, airport transfers, taxes and charges, travel in May. 7 nights self catering 3* Salou Suites Aparthotel, Salou from €269pp incl. return flights, airport transfers, taxes and charges, travel May. 7 nights self catering 4* Sands Beach Resort Aparthotel, Lanzarote from €399pp incl. return flights, airport transfers, taxes and charges, travel March. 2 nights 4* Corendon Vitality Hotel Amsterdam from €199pp incl. return flights, airport taxes and charges, travel February. Visit clickandgo.com or call 01 539 7777.

Travel Department is offering 14 nights B&B in 3* hotel accommodation, California and the Golden West tour from €3,299pp incl. return flights, transfers, excursions, local guides, taxes and charges, depart September 22. Click here or call 01 637 1600.

thomson-deal-watchThomson offers: 7 nights half board SBH Crystal Beach, Costa Calma, Fuerteventura from €779pps, depart January 24. 4 nights half board Nerva Club Hotel, Nerja, Costa Del Sol from €439pps, depart January 29. 7 nights Island Explorer cruise on board Thomson Majesty from €759pps, depart February 3. 7 nights self catering Villa Mandi, Playa De Las Americas, Tenerife from €449pps, depart March 24. 7 nights self catering Jardin Atlantico, Playa Del Ingles, Gran Canaria from €459pps, depart March 25. 7 nights half board Melia Salinas, Costa Tequise, Lanzarote from €759pps, depart March 19. 7 nights self catering Protur Bahia Azul, Cala Bona, Majorca from €469pps, depart Cork May 30. 7 nights self catering SunClub Apartments, Cap de Salou, Costa Dorada from €479pps, depart Shannon May 19. 14 nights all inclusive ClubHotel Riu Ocho Rios, Jamaica from €1,779pps, depart June 15. 14 nights Riu Cancun, Mexico from €2,059pps, depart June 28. 7 nights self catering Ourania Apartments, Gouves, Crete from €2,599 2+3, depart August 19.

falcon-deal-watchFalcon offers: 7 nights all inclusive 3* Catalonia Punta Del Rey, Las Caletillas, Tenerife  from €499pps, depart March 3. 7 nights half board 3* Bali Hotel, Benalmedena, Costa Del Sol from €469pps, depart Cork January 22. 7 nights half board 3* Vistamar, Benalmedena, Costa Del Sol from €579pps, depart January 15. 7 nights all inclusive 3* Catalonia Punta Del Rey, Las Caletillas, Tenerife from €499pps, depart March 3. 7 nights self catering 2* Monte Feliz, Bahia Feliz, Gran Canaria from €379pps, depart March 4. 7 nights all inclusive 4* H10 Rubicon Palace, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote from €639pps, depart March 12. 7 nights self catering 2* Emerald Studios, Kremasti, Rhodes from €409pps, depart May 24. 7 nights B&B 3* Glarus Beach, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria from €439pps, depart May 29. 14 nights all inclusive 3* Holiday Inn, Montego Bay, Jamaica from €1,339pps, depart June 8.14 nights all inclusive 5* Grand Riviera Princess, Riviera Maya, Mexico from €1,789pps, depart June 21. 7 nights self catering 3* Pins Platja, Cambrils, Costa Dorada from €2,549 2+3, depart Knock July 25. NRG offer: 7 nights self catering 2* Trinity Hotel, Laganas, Zakynthos from €579pps, depart June 11. Visit falconholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

Sunway offers: 5 nights half board Arctic Highlights on board MS Nordkapp from €1,136pp incl. 2 nights post hotel stay in Tromso, depart February 25. 7 nights self catering 3* apartment, Fuerteventura from €429pp, travel January. 7 nights self catering 2* apartment, Gran Canaria from €429pp, travel January. 7 nights self catering 2* apartment, Lanzarote from €449pp, travel January. 7 nights B&B 3* hotel Morocco from €299pp. Visit sunway.ie or call 01 231 1800.

Tour America offers: 7 nights hotel accommodation Universal Cabana Bay from €599pp, depart May 11. 7 nights hotel accommodation Loews Sapphire Falls, Orlando from €659pp, depart May 18. 7 nights all inclusive Med cruise on board Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas from €1,359pp, depart May 14. 7 nights Caribbean cruise on board MSC Divina from €1,279pp incl. 1 night hotel stay in Miami, depart April 14. Visit touramerica.ie.

Insight Vacations is offering 10 days Germany from €2,009pps incl. flights, transfers and accommodation. Book by January 27, depart August 21. Visit insightvacations.com or call 01 775 3803.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is offering 8 days Danube river cruise on board the River Ambassador form €3,039pps incl. flights, airport transfers, meals, beverages and shore excursions. Book by February 28, depart August 8. Visit uniworld.com or call 01 775 3803.

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Dublin airport responds to pier pressure with 27m reasons to celebrate Christmas 2016

HEADLINES – AVIATION – AFLOAT – DEALWATCH – FOOD & WINE – HOTELS – INTERNATIONAL – IRELAND – STRANGE WORLD – TRAVEL TRADE

Reindeer in the snow at Kirkenes, northern Norway, photographed during a Hurtigruten cruise

  • Ex Diageo & Aviva marketeer to head up Bord Failte
  • Christmas comes early for Dublin airport
  • Len’s Christmas carol, the strkes that went away
  • Nollaig shona agus athbhliain faoi mhaise ar ár léitheoirí agus ár lucht leanúna go léi (which basically mean Happy Christmas & have a great new year)

Travel Extra TV

  • Happy Christmas and New Year from Travel Extra. Watch our faces of Irish travel video here.
  • Westjet’s Christmas video tells the story on Fort McMurray (watch here). Not a patch on the classic from 2013 with the guy who asked for socks for Christmas — 46m views and still going strong (watch here).
  • Aer Lingus’s home for Christmas video drummed up a lot of interest, racking up more than 44,000 views on YouTube. Watch here.
  • Have a poke around the Emirates A380 onboard lounge in the 360º video. Watch here.
  • Experience a 360º Uluru camel tour with Qantas. Watch here.
  • See the making of Lufthansa’s first A350 XWBWatch here.
  • Tourism NI posted a guide to 48 hours in BelfastWatch here
  • Aer Lingus reunited three families for Christmas. Watch here.
  • How not to sell economy class to passengers (watch here)
  • Boeing cargo aircraft overshot the runway in Colombia. Watch here
  • Aborted landing at Dublin airport. Watch here.
  • A human flying droneWatch here.

Behind the Headlines

The long overdue appointment of former Diageo and Aviva Marketeer Paul Kelly to head up Fáilte Ireland gives us an indication of the vision that feisty chairman Michael Cawley has for the former semi-state body.

Dublin Airport will be happy with the projection by Niall Gibbons of Tourism Ireland that inbound tourism will grow by just 1pc in 2017 after 10pc growth in 2016 (watch here. Despite the self-congratulatory release about having reached a record 27m customers this week and a projection of 83,000 passengers passing through the airport on Friday, (busier than any day at the airport between 2010 and 2015). With night works causing the cross-runway 16/34 while the main runway 10/28 undergoes construction works, waking up a whole new set of residents after dark (but offering amazing vistas over Drogheda and Layton was aircraft approach, watch here), the discussion on the parallel runway reopened with the Portmarnock residents raising the loudest objections, and complaints by the airlines about a shortage of wide body stands at peak take-off time across the Atlantic, the airport would like to see growth taper off for a while. In the meantime, they have applied for permission for another temporary pier to tide them over before the debate about Terminal 3 gets started.

The new pier, to be operational for summer 2017, will have capacity for nine narrow body aircraft with seven gates and a food and beverage outlet, located in front of the Aer Lingus cargo building. They also have planning for a new transfer hall, to be connected to T2 by bus. Passengers will walk to the aircraft, (as at the 200 gates). The facility will used for boarding during the first early morning wave of departures and for the last wave of arriving flights.  Mixed mode will be possible at off-peak times using swing gates to separate arriving and departing passenger flows.

Belfast International, whose CEO Graham Keddle called for much needed investment in approach roads in a piece in the Belfast Telegraph this week, will reach 5.1m passengers having passed 5m on Wednesday, up 16pc on 2015.  Belfast City will come around 2.8m, up 2pc, Cork around 2.3m, up 8pc, Shannon around 1.8m, up 4pc, Knock around 715,000, up 4.5pc, Kerry around 300,000 and Derry around 286,000.

The old Aer Lingus Gold Circle card is not of use as of Friday last, December 23, access to the Aer Lingus lounge at Dublin Airport is restricted to certain categories of Aerclub membership. “Confusion worse confounded” sums up the situation. It is the airline’s first major controversy of the IAG era as regular fliers, many of whom have taken regular transatlantic trips this year – found themselves in the lowest Green Tier of the new system, with no access to fast track security, lounges, priority boarding or even a physical loyalty card. The airline believes that the new scheme will be fairer to a broader range of customers, who can earn points by shopping in stores participating in the Avios scheme and rise through the tiers of the new scheme with regular flights on Aer Lingus from this point on. Expect the row to rumble on well into the new year.

Irish travel writers returned from Austria (mostly) intact last Sunday. To get the flavour of how Austria’s resorts are equipped to cope with a  snow-shy December watch here a frenetic ski to mid station in Westendorf (yes, that’s Catherine Murphy sweeping by and Laurence Mackin of the Irish Times crashing), watch here highlights from St Johannwatch here highlights from Kirchbergwatch here highlights from Westendorf, watch here the mannequin challenge in Westendorf and watch here the mannequin challenge Kirchberg. Watch here Hans ‘Sam’ Steinkasserer speaking about ski product in Kirchberg and the importance of snowmaking. Pictures shows Oskar Reisenbauer of St Johann tourism and Aileen Eglington in St Johann. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Seven months after he took office, Minister Shane Ross’s 8,000-word strategy for the Department of Toursm and Transport 2016-9 prioritises Metro North, a new runway by 2020 and even mentions a third terminal at Dublin Airport. The strategy promises to support development of Dublin Airport as an international hub and Cork and Shannon Airports as regional gateways for business and tourism purposes.

Travel Trade

While hosting a group of agents at Club Med in Val d’Isere, Philiip Airey of Sunway ascended the scarey chair, the Leissieres lift ride to Le Fornet in the vast Espace Killy ski area, rated by some as the world’s scariest ski lift. Watch here. Tanya Airey is pictured sampling the Cub med hospitality. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

CSO figures show that outbound journeys from Ireland are up 5.84pc for the first nine months of the year to 5,484,000 from 5,181,300. Growth over the same 9-month period was at 10pc this time last year after three years of decline and three flat years. Outbound trips from Ireland in the first three quarters are still 8pc down on the peak year of 2008 and 15.9pc above the recessionary bottom of 2012.

Picture shows Hasan Mutlu who hosted the trade at Lansdowne Road during Leinster’s record win over Northampton.

From the ITAA: It was widely anticipated that the implementation of the new PTD Directive in Ireland, would get underway in 2016: stakeholders expected that by now, at the very least, a consultation would have been undertaken. Unfortunately, as the new year approaches, no information has been forthcoming from any official bodies in relation to the implementation process. At EU level, ECTAA is convening a PTD Workshop, in Brussels, during the first quarter of 2017. As a member of ECTAA, the ITAA will be participating in the PTD Workshop, along with other ECTAA members, representatives from the European Commission, the European Parliament, and Member States. If  members have any queries in this regard they should contacAnne Dolan.

  • Riviera Travel launched four new escorted tours for 2017/18: ‘The Heart of India by Luxury Train’, ‘Namibia’ ‘Northern Cyprus’, ‘Madeira, the Pearl of the Atlantic’, adding to the seven new tours previously announced for 2017.
  • Five agencies won €100 One4All vouchers in the Betabeds Christmas bonus scheme: O’Donohue Travel GoreyKilliney Travel, Skytours, 75 Talbot Street Branch, Dublin, Mc Guill Travel, Dundalk, and Donabate Travel.
  • Paddy Casey has been confirmed to join the 2017 Copper Face Jacks Ski Trip with Topflight.
  • Holiday World Show is running a travel writing competition among Transition Year Students. The winning entry will be published in Travel Extra.
  • Thomas Cook pulled its Egyptian plans ex Britain for 2017.

Strange world

A Canadian woman attempted to smuggle a cat in her handbag into Auckland.

  • A court ruled that airlines in India are to be fined 50,000 rupees if their planes release human poo from toilets in the air.
  • Delta Airlines says it’s looking into allegations of discrimination after a Youtube vlogger claimed he and a friend were removed from a flight departing from Heathrow airport for speaking Arabic. Watch here.

International

The number of visitors to New York city surpassed 60m for the first time and have reached 61.8m (13.1m international, 48.7m domestic), putting the city on course to overtake Orlando as America’s most visited city. Picture shows Tryphavana Cross, Tom Travers, Reginald Charlot and Mary Farrell at the 2016 Irish Travel Industry awards.

  • The Eiffel Tower reopened to the public after 5 days following union talks.
  • A Canadian tourist died and others were endangered in a siege at Karak Castle in the normally calm Jordan.
  • Pope Francis confirmed he is to visit Fatima for the centenary of the Apparitions of Fátima on May 12-13 2017.
  • Slideshow, If Mary and Joseph were to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem today.
  • A 10 year old girl died of cardiac arrest on a fight that was diverted to Shannon.

Food & Beverage

Copper Face Jack’s reported pre-tax profits of €5m last year, up from €4.9m in 2014.

Hotels

Dalata announced it is to add 950 rooms to its owned and leased portfolio in its fourth quarter report. Dalata is to increase the bedrooms tally in Cork from 120 to 165 beds, on an existing part-developed hotel site on Lapps Quay between the historic 125-bed Imperial Hotel and the 191-bed Clayton (ex-Clarion) Hotel.

STR results to the end of November 2016 showing that RevPAR for the Dublin market has increased by 16.6pc for the 11 months to the end of November versus 2015. STR Global reported Dublin had a 3.7pc decline in occupancy to 78.3pc but a 3.8pc increase in ADR to €121.03. As a result, RevPAR was flat at EUR94.80. While this marked Dublin’s highest actual ADR for any November on record, demand declined 2.8pc compared with November 2015.

  • Belfast is to get a new hotel behind popular venues El Divino and The Albany in the former war memorial building on Waring Street in the city’s Cathedral Quarter.
  • Paddy McKillen Jnr and partner Matt Ryan have been refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála for a four- to five-storey development comprising of 46 apartments, a gym, cafe, pub, restaurant and shopping centre on the site of Kiely’s pub in Dublin’s Mount Merrion.
  • Galway’s four-star Radisson Blu reported a €4.2m profit.
  • The Trump International Hotel Las Vegas agreed to recognise the unions to draw up a labour contract.

Aviation

Len McCluskey

BA’s mixed fleet cabin crew St Stephen’s Day strike has been called off. A pre-Christmas strike was called off at British airport ground handlers Swissport. Listen here to Eoghan Corry speaking about the strikes on RTE’s Morning Ireland.

Dublin Airport passed the 27 millionth passenger mark for the first time. November passengers are up 9pc, Europe up 9pc to 916,000, Britain up 8pc to 833,000, Transatlantic up 18pc to 194,000 and ME/Africa down 5pc to 54,000

Santry-based Stobart Air, the former Aer Arann and operator of the Aer Lingus Regional service, made a €483,000 profit, the first time since 2010 that the business made a profit. Aer Lingus Regional will carry a record 110,000 passengers in December. Knock reported a record Christmas at airport, but Cork and Shannon are stil short of their mid noughties peaks.Friday December 30 will see the airline’s highest volume of Christmas traffic. Stobart are to launch 12 new routes from Southend, operating through its franchise arrangement with Flybe, from May 2017, Budapest 3w,. Milan Malpensa 5w, Venice 2w. Further routes to Cologne 6w, Dubrovnik  2w, Figari Corsica 2w, Lyon 4w, Perpignan 2w, Prague 5w, Reus 3w, Vienna 3w and Zadar 2w will be added at a later date.

Falcon Holidays have cut their Montego Bay charter from six to three rotations next summer.

Stobart are to fly Cork-Newquay 2w from May, using the time slots for Cork-Jersey according to the on-line timetable.

Belfast City Airport has been bought by venture capital company 3i from EISER Global Infrastructure Fund for £100m. Ferrovia sold I to EISER for £132.5m in 2008 and Bombardier sold to Ferrovial for £43m in 2003.

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China has acquired Armagh-based Thompson Aero Seating. Thompson Aero, which supplies seating to which counts Aer Lingus, American Airlines and Qantas, grew turnover by 25pc to £64.9m in the 12 months to June.

Christine Ourmieres

Ex Cityjet CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener will become new CEO of Flybe on January 16 in succession to Saad Hammad.

Willie Walsh says IAG is to base 2 A330s in Barcelona from June to operate low cost long-haul services, either under a new brand, Aer Lingus, British Airways, or Iberia but definitely not Vueling which will remain short-haul. Initially 3 or 4 destinations could be served with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Buenos Aires, Havana, Santiago de Chile and Tokyo listed as candidates.

A survey by Which magazine rated Swiss best and Aer Lingus 4th of short haul airlines serving England, and Ryanair worst of short-haul airlines. The annual survey used to draw an angry riposte from Ryanair who were more reticent this year. Must be the Christmas or the AGB spirit or both.

Donegal, Kerry, Knock and Waterford airports got €2.77m in state funds. Recent grants to Waterford were contingent on it securing a regular operator but the condition is not mentioned.

The European Court of Justice ruled that Aer Lingus and Ryanair must pay back taxes of €16m.

James Hogan, Etihad chief executiveEtihad Airways, citing “an increasingly competitive landscape,’ said it is cutting down its workforce as part of a restructuring scheme without indicating how many people will be laid off. Etihad’s staffing almost tripled to 20,292 in the past eight years, as its fleet expanded to 122 aircraft from 42. It employs 26,769 when including subsidiaries and employees abroad. The airline has lost $2.5bn in its purchase strategy, including, for a time a stake in Aer Lingus.

Despite fears for the 25-minute turnaround at a high security airport, Tel Aviv becomes a new Ryanair destination from March with a daily flight from Paphos, serving Israeli tourists to Cyprus.

  • Shannon Airport is confident of increased growth in 2017 after announcing four new airlines in 2017, Kuwait, SAS, Lufthansa and Norwegian, the first time in over ten years that number of announcements has been made over a twelve month period.
  • City of Derry airport launched a new website.
  • East Midlands Airport avoided a multi-million-pound price-fix fine.
  • American Airlines has won its long running antitrust lawsuit against Sabre Corp.
  • Knock will process 30,000 passengers over Christmas.
  • AerCap named Peter Juhas as CFO.
  • Aer Arann was awarded the awarded PSO tender for Aran island flights
  • Dublin airport’s lost pup found a new home.

Afloat

Ferry services to Inis Mór will continue after January 4 after a row over passenger charges was sorted out.  Half of the company’s €500,000 debt to the council will be written off, not counting upwards of €450,000 in court costs.

Storm Barbara caused the cancellation of three Irish Ferries rotations

Luxury river cruise line Uniworld is to launch a new brand U by Uniworld, designed for ages 18 to 40, and two 116-passenger ships, River Baroness and River Ambassador, to have a more contemporary look and feel.

Cruise Lines International Association forecasting 25.3m people will take a cruise in 2017, supported by the addition of 26 new vessels on oceans and rivers and new itineraries.

Ireland

In all 74 companies and initiatives were shortlisted for the Irish tourism industry awards next February.

Fáilte Ireland reported that they hosted 1,000 representatives from print, broadcast and online channels in 2016, co-ordinating 400 itineraries with 4,000 Irish businesses across the country. The press trip highlight of the year was a visit to Skellig Michael by internaitional travel media. Picture shows Ben Groundwater from Australia and Riana Andrews on Skellig Michael.

CSO figures indicated that Ireland’s North American arrivals are up 18pc to November.

Failte Ireland’s new chief Paul Kelly is likely to be a very different CEO from his predecessors Jerry Dempsey, Tim O’Driscoll, Eamonn Ceannt, Joe Malone, Michael McNulty, Martin Dully, Matt McNulty, John Dully, Niall Reddy (acting) and Shaun Quinn.  Frank Corr looks back at Paul Kelly’s predecessors as Directors of Bord Fáilte and Fáilte Ireland. See more from the Tim O’Driscoll family photo archive here.

Airbnb said 10,000 people will visit Ireland on New Year’s Eve .

The CSO published its analysis of the impact of Brexit, including a substantial travel and tourism section.

Deal Watch

Sunway offers: 7 nights self catering 2* Intouriste Apartments, Morocco from €199pp, travel January.  7 nights self catering 3* Oasis Dunas Apartments, Fuerteventura from €299pp, travel January. 7 nights self catering 2* Monte Verde Apartments, Gran Canaria from €299pp, travel January.  7 nights self catering 2* Puerto Carmen Apartments, Lanzarote from €299pp, travel January. 7 nights all inclusive ski package at Club Med Val d’Isere, France from €1,950pp, depart January 8 2017. Visit sunway.ie or call 01 231 1800.

Thomson offers: 7 nights half board Hotel Belvedere, Salou, Costa Dorarda from €469pps, depart Cork May 28 2017. 7 nights self catering Cay Beach Princess Bungalows, Mapalomas, Gran Canaria from €489pps, depart January 14 2017. 7 nights half board Barcelo Santiago, Puerto De Santiago, Tenerife from €589pps, depart January 27 2017. 7 nights all inclusive Clubhotel Riu Paraiso Lanzarote from €679pps, depart January 22 2017. 7 nights half board Hotel Belvedere, Salou, Costa Dorada from €469pps, depart Cork May 28 2017. 7 nights self catering Bitacora Club, Puerto Del Carmen, Lanzarote from €439pps, depart Shannon May 29 2017. 14 nights all inclusive Riu Montego Bay, Jamaica from €1,759pps, depart June 8 2017. 14 nights all inclusive Ocean Maya Royale, Riviera Maya, Mexico form €1,829pps, depart June 28 2017.

Falcon offers: 7 nights all inclusive 4* TUI Magic Life, Marmari Palace, Kos from €2,159 2+1, from €3,489 2+2, depart June 3 2017. 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Florida, Puengirola, Costa Del Sol from €749pp, depart Cork December 29. 7 nights self catering 4* Cay Beach Caleta, Costa Caleta, Fuerteventura from €619pp, depart January 10 2017. 7 nights all inclusive 3* El Duque Aparthotel, Costa Adeje, Tenerife from €499pp, depart January 13 2017. 7 nights self catering 3* Monte Feliz, Bahia Feliz, Gran Canaria from €299pp, depart January 28 2017. 7 nights self catering 2* San Marcial, Matagorda, Lanzarote from €439pp, depart February 5 2017. 7 nights all inclusive 3* Laguna Park, Sunny Beach, Bulgaria from €479pp, depart May 29 2017. 7 nights self catering Laguna Park II, Playa De Las Americas, Tenerife from €379pp, depart May 29 2017.14 nights all inclusive 3* Holiday Inn, Montego Bay, Jamaica from €1,389pp, depart June 8 2017. 14 nights all inclusive 4* Grand Bahia Principe Coba, Riviera Maya, Mexico from €1,589pp, depart June 7 2017. Visit falconholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

Tour America offers: 10 nights Caribbean cruise on board Norwegian Epic from €1,199pp incl. 3 nights pre hotel stay in Orlando, car hire for port transfers, depart February 1 2017. 7 nights Arab Emirates cruise on board MSC Fantasia from €1,169pp, depart March 18 2017. 7 nights the Avanti Resorts, Orlando from €579pp incl. return flights, depart June 6 2017. 3 nights the Roosevelt Hotel, New York from €669pp incl. return flights, depart February 16 2017. 4 nights the Excalibur Hotel, Las Vegas from €669pp incl. return flights, depart March 2 2017. Visit touramerica.ie.

TDactive Holidays is offering 14 nights Thailand adventure from €2,549pp incl. select meals, hotel accommodation, excursions and transfers, depart November 1 2017.

ITAA offers: 7 nights 4* Marseilles Hotel, Miami from €949pps incl. private transfers, return flights, travel September 2017. 7 nights family camping at 3* Bi Village Campsite Croatia from €1,620 2+2 incl. airport transfers and 2 bedroom bellini mobile home, depart June 8 2017. 11 days Costa Rica from €3,070pp incl. return flights, accommodation, select meals and tour manager, travel between February and November 2017.

Tourism NI offers: 1 night B&B Lough Erne Resort & Spa, Co Fermanagh from £199pps incl. sparkling tasting menu in The Catalina Restaurant followed by champagne, valid December 31, call 028 (66) 323230. 2 nights B&B Bishop’s Gate Hotel, Derry from £135pps incl. dinner in the Gown Restaurant on one evening, walking tour of Derry city and a visit to the Tower Museum or the Siege Museum, valid until December 31, call 028 (71) 140300. 1 night B&B Bayview Hotel, Co Antrim from £65pps incl. Irish coffee or hot chocolate on arrival, four-course table d’hote dinner and voucher for Bushmills Distiller, stay Sunday to Thursday nights, call 028 (20) 734100.

See travelextra.tv for more video.

Email editor@travelextra.ie to have your say or it is @TravelExtraIre on Twitter if that’s your bag.

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Cityjet calls quits on Stobart deal & agents go to the Hartford of the action

Irish travel agents on the Aer Lingus fam trip to Hartford Connecticut tour Yale university

HEADLINES – AVIATION – AFLOAT – DEALWATCH – FOOD & WINE – HOTELS – INTERNATIONAL – IRELAND – STRANGE WORLD – TRAVEL TRADE

  • Cityjet calls off 80m Stobart takeover
  • Daily Dublin-Doha from Qatar starts June 12
  • Aer Lingus showcases Hartford CT to the trade
  • Bookabed sales 30pc ahead of last year
  • Turkish take agents to the Garden of Eden
  • Qantas to fly direct London to Perth 17 hour flight
  • Fake US embassy closed after issuing visas for 10 years

Travel Extra TV

Video of the week: Behind the scenes at Airbus showcase of its new line of jetliners, complete with a flight formation of an A320neo, A330-200, A350-900 and A380 aircraft. Watch here.

  • Madison House Autism Foundation shares the challenges of what it is like to travel when you have autismWatch here.
  • Matsue Vogelpark in Shimane, Japan had a Christmas party for penguinsWatch here.
  • father and daughter got up close and personal with a grizzly bear sow and cubs. Watch here.
  • This seal was in an affectionate mood with these divers at Port Lobos, California. Watch here.
  • On board Qatar Airways’ inaugural Doha to Krabi, Thailand flight. Watch here.
  • Emirates posted a video to showcase its Christmas menuWatch here.
  • See this timelapse of Jet Aviation St Louis giving this Bombardier Global 5000 a makeover. Watch here.
  • Have a 360º peak around SAS’ A320neoWatch here.
  • Finnair jumps on the tearjerker Christmas ad bandwagonWatch here.

Behind the Headlines

If therein ever a livelier agents fam trip, Travel Extra would like to sign up. The eight participants in the Aer Lingus educational to Hartford Connecticut topped off their four day trip with an impressive mannequin challenge at New England Air Museum (watch here).

The seven hour flight and arrival at Bradley International airport and on to the Marriott Hartford Downtown Aer Lingus fam trip to Hartford the flight (watch here) was followed by a concert by Al “year of the Cat” Stewart, an enchanting snow spilled visit to Winvian resort, a tour of Yale university, shopping in Clinton Crossing Outlets and a visit to Madison village, which had the Irish flag flying in their honour and Madison Beach Hotel (watch here), a visit to Mystic Seaport and Mystic’s aquarium, Foxwoods casino resort and Tanger Outlet Shopping followed by dinner and overnight accommodations in the Mohegan Sun (watch here), visits to Wadsworth Atheneum and Mark Twain house museum, Simsbury Inn, the New England Air Museum and Sheraton Bradley Hotel (watch here). Picture shows Laura Barber, Laura Burke and Shirley Webster take a selfie at Mystic aquarium

The generous hosts organised by Sue Henrique for the group included Kim Beal of the Mark Twain centre (watch interview  here), Ed Crowley of Stony Creek Brewery (watch here), Kevin Dillon of Brafley Hartford Airport (watch here), Jan Massee of Simsbury Inn (watch here), John Mathers of Madison Beach resort (watch here), Robin McHill of Downtown Marriott in Hartford, (watch here), Paolo Middei GM of Wimviam resort (watch here), Rita Rivero of Mystic country (watch here), Sarah Spencer of Mystic Seaport (watch here) and Andrew Wood of Mystic Aquarium (watch here). Most enjoyable night fo the enjoyable trip was the evening in Madison beach resort hosted by John Mather (pictured), his wife Melissa, and the Mayor of Madison who was treated to a rendition of the Politician’s Song and some impromptu Irish dancing by the participants. And yes the parting glass was sung.

Picture shows the group with a playful Beluga whale who splashed them at Mystic aquarium: Chris Clingan of American Holidays, Teresa Ginnell of WTC Selective Travel, Emma Crowe of Bookabed, Shirley Webster of Cassidy Travel, Ian Collins of Strand Travel, Jenny Rafter of Aer Lingus, Susan Henrique of Connecticut Tourism and (front row) Laura Burke of Budget Travel, Laura Barber of Shandon Travel and Ivan Beacom of Aer Lingus. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Lee Osborne of Bookabed and Holly Best of Virgin Atlantic hosted a thank you briefing for the trade in The Residence in Dublin. Lee Osborne (Watch here) reported  that Bookabed was up 35pc year on year. The Irish owned Geneva headquartered bedbank hoped to roll out more destinations and more accommodation in 2017. Adam McKnight formerly of A2B has joined as international business development looking on xml long-ins. Lee told agents that this was one of the years when supply outstripped demand in the sector. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Antonio Padeira of Portugal’s tourism board updated media in Dublin that tourism numbers are back to pre-crash levels and tour operators are booking bed banks earlier for next year’s peak season due to a shortage of hotel beds. Irish visitor numbers hit 260,000 for the first three-quarters of 2016. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Alan Sparling, GSA for SAS in Ireland, stepped down as local chair of Star Alliance at the aviation alliance’s seventh annual agent’s Christmas thank you event in Dublin (Watch here video of event). Dublin’s status as a separate Star Alliance entity will end with his departure, as London chair Bob Schumacher of United will assume the role from now on. Keynote sponsors of the event was Shannon Airport, ably represented by Declan Power and Isabel Harrison. Star commenced with seven airlines in 1997 and now was 28 members. Bob Schumacher told agents that reports of the demise of the airline alliances were premature (Watch here). Alan Sparling (watch here) said Star’s aviation partners have expanded capacity out of Ireland every year of the seven years of the annual event: Every single premium booking you give to the Star Alliance helps us to grow and develop in this market and there is no doubt that 2017 is a testimony to the support we get from the trade:

  • Aegean are back increasing season and growing to 3w Dublin to Athens.
  • Air Canada, represented nowadays by Bláithín O’Donnell will have 14w, 11 to Toronto and 3 to Vancouver
  • Ethiopian increase to 4w to Addis and Los Anegles (“actually you can say it is eight frequencies” Alan said.)
  • Lufthansa have 55w from Ireland with an average of 150 seats each, Frankfurt 21w, Munich up to 13w and Shannon-Frankfurt, with Swiss offering Dublin-Zurich 8w, Dublin-Geneva 5w and Cork-Zurich 2w, and Brussels Airlines Belfast to Brussels 5w.
  • Scandinavian Dublin to Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo 25w and a new Shannon-Stockholm rooute.
  • Turkish with new country manager Hasan Mutlu continue two daily with connections to 300 destinations, Caracas, Phuket and Havana most recently added.
  • United have double daily Dublin-Newark, daily Dublin-Chicago, daily Dublin-Washington, daily Shannon-Newark and daily Shannon-Chicago.

Picture shows airline managers at the event Bob Schumacher of United, Bláithín O’Donnell of Air Canada, Helen Fyfe of Lufthansa, Pat Reede of United, Hasan Mutlu of Turkish Airlines and Alan Sparling of SAS. Watch here Cormac Meehan President of the ITAA thanking Star Alliance on behalf of the trade. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Fam Trip of the year? Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines led a delegation of hardy souls through the Seychelles to the Garden of Eden. The group stayed at Constance Ephelia Resort, Coco De Mer hotel and Constance Lemuria Resort, and visited Praslin (Seychelles’ second UNESCO World Heritage Site), the Vallee De Mai with its 6,000 Coco-de-mer trees, La Digue island and its signature Anse Source d’Argent (reputed to be the most photographed beach in the world), the capital Mahe and its clock tower, and CaranaBeach. Dining experiences included Bonbon Plume and Bravo Restaurant. Elaborate selfie incudes Roisín Carbery from Tropical Sky, Jennifer O’Brien of Travel Counsellors, Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines, Siobhan Emma Doyle of Trailfinders, Sonya Walsh of World Travel Center and Usha Panicker of Club Travel. Watch here interview with Tinaz Wadia of Seychelles Tourism. Watch here Hasan Mutlu, Director of Turkish Airlines in Dublin. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Travel Trade

Connecticut’s sales mission, led by Sue Henrique, was attended by 36 travel agents at the Westbury Hotel on Friday. Winner of the Aer Lingus flights to Hartford was Gillian Lynch of Budget Travel. Picture shows Gillian receiving here award from Dermot Lee, Ivan Beacom and Jenny Rafter of Aer Lingus. Watch here Connecticut roadshow event and prize giving. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Sunway’s weekly charters to Alghero, Malaga and Palma from June 3 will use Cityjet’s Superjet SS-100. According to Philip Airey of Sunway the arrival fo the 100-seat aircraft on the Irish charter market has brought down prices and made routes more manageable, rather than the 180-seat alternative.

Nicola Quigley from O’Hanrahan travel became the third finalist from Ulster in the Blue Insurances competition to win a Volkwagen Polo. Every five Blue Insurances policies sold each month automatically generates an entry in the monthly draw. Blue Insurances reminds agents to have their own unique login to make bookings count for their monthly draw. Nicola follows previous finalists Angela Taylor from Oasis TravelHelena Kilduff from Skytours, Rose Kane from Kanes Travel in Longford, Claire Mulligan from Clubworld Travel, Mandy Walsh of Travel Counsellors, Rita Gaughan from Limerick Travel, and Kate McGillycuddy from Abbey Travel in Killarney.

Stuart Leven and Ben Bouldin were both promoted by Royal Caribbean, Stuart to head up Europe and the Middle East and Ben to head up the London office.

The seven member Travel Partners Group will announce the winners for its eight-week agents’ competition on its Facebook page on Friday December 23rd. Weekly entrants are put into a draw for the Grand Prize of an adventure weekend in Iceland sponsored by Obeo Travel. Agents can like a previous post to get their name into the Grand Prize draw.

  • CWT said corporations could reduce travel over-spend by up to 15pc by enforcing existing corporate travel policies.
  • Travel Counsellors was named Growing Business of the Year at the 2016 Amazon Growing Business Awards.
  • Cruise co headed up in Ireland by Elaine O’Brien (email) is seeking homeworkers and offering a basic salary of €24,000 plus commission package and regular incentive schemes.
  • Flight Centre Business Travel is seeking a business travel consultant (email).
  • Watch here American Airlines event to update and thank the the travel trade in Dublin
  • Ryanair sued Google and eDreams over web search issues.

Strange world

A fake US embassy in Ghana was shut down after issuing visas for 10 years. Turkish and Ghanaian organized crime rings operated the faux embassy, where they issued US $6,000 fraudulently obtained legitimate and counterfeit visas and ID documents to people from across West Africa

  • Hawaii got 3ft of snow
  • A counting error caused a Thomas Cook flight diversion
  • Rome banned gladiators and rickshaws from tourist locations
  • A 57-year-old American Airlines senior air stewardess was arrested after being found eight times the alcohol limit while giving a pre-flight safety demonstration
  • Thick fog causes travel chaos in Dubai and contributed to some amazing pictures
  • An English spa firm won a battle over word Titanic in hotel name
  • Southwest Airlines aircraft made an emergency landing in Charleston, South Carolina, after a baby was born durng the flight.

International

Irish passport applications from the north are up a third to 33,000.

Ireland and US agreed to extend the J1 visa programme for another three year, although fears ingered that it might be cancelled by president-elect Trump.

The warmest November on record has left ski resorts hanging on to the remnants of their earlier snowfalls. In Austria, some of the slopes are becoming patchy in places, and the lower runs are dependant on an artificial base.  In Italy and Switzerland the best skiing is available at higher altitude.   No snow is forecast in France for the foreseeable The best skiing in France is still to be found in the Southern Alps. The Pyrenees are offering a fair amount of skiing with fantastic views.

Food & Beverage

Five Irish restaurants were included in the top 1,00 in the La Liste Outstanding Restaurants 2017 Guide. JP McMahon’s Aniar in Galway, The Cliff House in Ardmore, Co Waterford, Marlfield House in Gorey Wexford, and The Ross in Killarney.

The inaugural Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink Awards will have eight categories, including Best Food Event or Festival; Best Local Market; Best Tours and Trails; Best Marketing Achievement; Best Food Innovation; Best Food Story; Roots to Market; and Growing for the Future, with winners to be announced February 2.

The Food Safety Authority of Ireland served four Enforcement Orders on food businesses during November, closure Orders on Roma Grill (take-away in Boyle and Clonark bakery) in, Athlone, Kebab Zone (take-away in Ballindine, and a prohibition order on Salius Milasius (retailer) in Edgeworthstown.

Yesterday Saturday December 10 was the busiest night for restaurants on the Christmas party circuit. A survey by OpenTable revealed 40pc of Irish adults plan to dine out at least once a week over the Christmas period with 51pc preferring traditional Irish dishes, 14pc Chinese and 13pc Italian.

Bernard Walsh, Chairman of the Irish Whiskey Association and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed, launched an Irish Whiskey Tourism Strategy with the aim of overtaking Scotland to make Ireland the world leader in whiskey tourism by 2030 and increase the 653,277 tourists who visit an Irish whiskey distillery each year to 1.9m. Walsh said excise rates mean that a bottle of Irish whiskey that costs €42 in Ireland, costs just €27 in the US and said that new proposals under the Public Health Alcohol Bill will restrict the new entrants and smaller distillers.

  • Tom Cleary’s Temple Bar pub in Dublin has appealed to An Bord Pleanála against Dublin City Council’s decision that planning permission is needed to carry out work on its beer garden.
  • James Quincey is to become the new CEO of Coca-Cola in succession to Muhtar Kent.
  • Heineken Ireland appointed Radina Shkutova new MD from the Heineken Zagorka Brewery in Bulgaria.
  • Healthyireland.ie launched their new food pyramid and guidelines on serving size and dietary variations, recommending lean meats over processed meats.
  • David Boyd-Armstrong’s Rademon Estate Distillery in Downpatrick released a new batch of Shortcross Cask Aged Gin.

Hotels

STR Global said average Saturday night occupancy in Dublin during the past 12 months was 89.6pc and overall occupancy was a record 82pc. RevPAR is up to 23pc.

Planning permission was sought for three new hotels in Dublin with a total of 248 rooms, a four-star, 136-bedroom, seven-storey hotel on 21 Ship Street, Dublin 8 with a bar, restaurant, gym, and 5,699sqm meeting space, a €40m 95-bedroom boutique hotel in the former Loreto Hall on 77 Stephen’s Green with a restaurant and spa treatment centre on the ground floor and hotel bar and function room on the first floor, and a 17-bedroom hotel on 72 Abbey Street with reception and dining space and rooftop penthouse suite with a terrace facing North Lotts, sought by Weiyu Wu.

CBRE said there were 55 Irish hotel sales worth €7010m in 2016, down from 63 properties worth €710m in 2015. They were led by the sale of the former Burlington Hotel for €180m and the Gresham Hotel bought by Spain’s Riu Hotel Group for €92m.

Clare County council revealed at a public meeting that the wall plan at Donald Trump‘s Doonbeg resort has been abandoned. Trump’s company shelved plans to construct defences about 2.8km k long at his golf resort in Doonbeg. Michael O’Sullivan, responsible for coastal protection at the Doonbeg resort, said the barrier is not a wall, ” “Our concern was that the full protection scheme would have taken too long to push through the planning process.”

  • A €2m investment was revealed for the Cork Clayton hotel
  • Richard Branson was reported to  considering a bid for the Central Bank site to bhuild a five star hotel.
  • Slieve Russell Hotel returned to profit
  • Mount Juliet Hotel pre-tax lossesdropped to €1.9m.
  • The world’s largest hotel is turning 30 with suggestions is might actually open for the first time
  • Profits reached €430,000 at Bono and Edge’s Clarence Hotel.
  • The Cosmopolitan Las Vegas was the most instagrammed hotel in 2016.

Aviation

Qatar’s service from Dublin to Doha, first revealed by Travel Extra, will commence June 12 with staggered morning and afternoon flight times to suit transfer destinations such as newly added Krabi and the lucrative Sydney route. Outbound from Dublin QR20 is at 8.50 on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and 15:25 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday, return QR19 at 01:25 on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and 07:20 on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and  Sunday. Arrival times in Doha are 18:05 and 00:40, arrivals in Dublin at 07:25 and 13:20.

CityJet chairman and CEO Pat Byrne said CityJet would move on to other initiatives having called off the 80m acquisition of Stobart, including the acquisition of another European regional airline and a major wet lease deal.

Aer Lingus Gold Circle members who do not qualify under the new Aerclub four-tier structure are to lose their lounge access on December 23rd.

Lufthansa are to increase Dublin-Munich from daily to 13w from March. Andreas Koster, new three-country manager for the airline, based in London, told journalists in Dublin that 80pc of passengers on the route were inbound to Ireland. Prominent transfer destinations include Beijing, Shanghai and Tokyo in the Far East, and Moscow, Sofia and Belgrade in Eastern Europe. Lufthansa faces competition from Aer Lingus, Ryanair and Transavia on the route.

United are not to use a Dreamliner as originally scheduled during a cross-over period next spring. The schedule would have offered Ireland’s only first class trans-Atlantic service albeit for a period of ten days.

  • Kuwait’s Shannon transit serve is to go daily from December 18th. Passengers pre-clear for USA at Shannon.
  • Qantas are to operate non-stop London to Perth 14,498km 17-hour flights from March 2018
  • Stobart say they are to add up to 18 destinations from Southend airport.
  • Cork’s Flybe Cardiff route is down to 1w from June.
  • In the wake of the Chapecoense plane crash, the head of the airline was arrested.
  • Coinnicidence? Norwegian NAI permit came exactly three years after it first applied (December 2, 2013). There was much speculation about where flights to the Boston and New York region (rather than airport) might be destined, anyone for Rhode Island?
  • Aer Lingus passenger traffic in November was up 16.3% with a passenger load factor of 79.5%, up 2.1 percentage points
  • Stephen Kavanagh told an Aer Lingus conference call we do not have that level of demand that justified the reinstatement of  (premium short-haul, but we are looking at something like Vueling has done with the centre seat free in the first number of rows.
  • Ryanair November passenger numbers are now at summer 2013 levels. Passenger numbers are up 15pc to 8.8m, load factor up 2pc to 95pc and rolling annual traffic to Nov up 16pc to 115.5m.
  • Dublin announced a data scientist approach to travel hackathons
  • President elect Trump wiped $1bn off Boeing‘s stock market value with one tweet Boeing is building a brand new 747 Air Force One for future presidents, but costs are out of control, more than $4 billion. Cancel order!, but the White House said he had got it wrong: the deal is only worth $170, exaggerated by a factor of 23.
  • Padraig Ó Céidigh doubled his Stobart Air stake to 10pc
  • IAG criticised Government for Chinese visa delay
  • An airline’s amusing response to a customer complaint about in-flight service went viral
  • Passengers who book United Airlines lowest-priced basic economy seat in mid-2017 will not even get space in an overhead bin.

Afloat

Holland America, Cunard Line and P&O Cruises cancelled all 2017 Calls to Turkey

RCCL’s Royal Caribbean and Azamara brands and all three NCL brands, Norwegian, Oceania and Regent Seven Seas are to feature Cuba from spring 2017 offering shore excursions in compliance with US regulations, focusing on Cuban culture, art and history. Pearl Seas’ Pearl Mist will also offer 11 10-night Cuba cruises, roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. Celestyal Cruises is to offer cruises to Cuba year-round.

Carnival has raised its prices for bottled water for the second time this year to $4.50 (plus gratuity if ordered on board), having banned passengers from bringing their own bottles on board since July 2015

  • CMV’s 800-passenger Marco Polo will offer a series of itineraries from Cardiff in 2017, including Norwegian Fjords and Spain, Portugal & France voyages; plus a special summer Gardens & River Seine cruise from the port.
  • CLIA said three quarters of travel agents say cruise spending is on the rise
  • Carnival launched a new agent campaign features a new loyalty rewards scheme, online training programme and a chance for 15 top selling agents across Britain and Ireland to win a trip to Ibiza next summer.
  • Hapag-Lloyd Cruises said 184-passenger expedition ship MS Hanseatic will remain in its fleet for an extra six months  until the end of September 2018.
  • Celebrity Cruises introduced an agent loyalty programme.

Ireland

Local festivals and events can now apply for funding under Fáilte ireland’s regional festivals programme. Last year the fund allocated €690k to support 205 events across the country. Evaluation criteria can be found here and applications must now be made online through Fáilte Ireland’s Trade Portal which can be accessed from www.failteireland.ie.

Brian Ambrose of Belfast City Airport and outgoing Chairman of Tourism Ireland fired a riposte back at Graham Keddle of Belfast International airport as he  passed over the reins of Chair to Joan O’Shaughnessy (pictured): “Since I became Chair, the board’s strategy has contributed to a 34pc increase in overseas visitors, 2016 will be another record year with almost 2.1 million international visitors to Northern Ireland, with revenue generated expected to be £527m. Those are figures of which any organisation would be justifiably proud and are recognised by the tourism and hospitality sector in Northern Ireland. This remarkable growth in Northern Ireland has kept pace with the growth in Republic of Ireland, this despite a 9pc VAT rate on tourism businesses and zero air passenger duty.”  The rival airport CEO had demanded that Tourism Ireland should adopt a policy to bring visitors to the island through Belfast rather than Dublin. Tourism Ireland aims to grow overseas tourism revenue by 4.5pc in  2017

Picture shows Eoghan O’Mara Walsh of Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, Finola O’Mahony of Tourism Ireland; Mylène Campalto of Abbey Ireland Group; and Monica MacLaverty of Tourism Ireland, at the Paris launch of Tourism Ireland’s marketing plans for 2017, attended by 50 French tour operators, travel agents and travel journalists and addressed by Irish Ambassador to France, Geraldine Byrne Nason.

Game of Thrones Dark Hedges in Antrim was voted one of world’s most beautiful places.

Irish Hotels’ Federation President, Joe Dolan, spoke of the problem of regionality and seasonality at the  AIB Let’s Talk Tourism event in the five-star Muckross Park Hotel in Killarney.  The 20 guest speakers including Trinity College Professor of Finance, Brian Lucey, Dalata Hotel Group chief Pat McCann, MEP Sean Kelly, Kerry TDs Michael Healy-Rae and Brendan Griffin and Chief Executive of the Irish Tourist Industry Confederation, Eoghan O’Mara Walsh.  On the Saturday the forum transferred to Dingle where the progress made in the town in terms of tourism was explored prior to A Taste of Kerry lunch at which Bridgestone Guide author John McKenna was the keynote speaker. Watch here Joe Dolan speaking on seasonality.

Sad news, Joe Malone, 1930 –2016, formerly of Bord Fáilte, has died.

An AA survey of 9,000 people showed 25.41pc plan on leaving the state for the purpose of Christmas shopping, 12pc in the north and 5.33pc in Britain. Clothes, alcohol, and food or groceries topped the shopping list for those leaving shopping outside the state.

Deal Watch

Falcon offers: 7 nights self catering 2* Playa Sol Apartments, Es Cana, Ibiza from €449pps, depart May 28 2017. 4 nights half board 3* Nerja Club Hotel, Nerja, Costa Del Sol from €499pps, depart Cork December 18. 7 nights all inclusive 4* Be Live Costa Los Gigantes, Playa de la Arena, Tenerife from €1,129pps, depart December 23. 7 nights half board 4* Hotel H10 Playa Meloneras Palace, Meloneras, Gran Canaria from €1,629pps, depart December 24. 7 nights all inclusive 3* Catalonia Punta Del Rey, Las Caletillas, Tenerife from €399pps, depart January 13 2017. 7 nights all inclusive 2* IFA Interclub Atlantic, San Agustin, Gran Canaria from €499pps, depart January 14 2017. 7 nights self catering 2* San Marcial Apartments, Matagorda, Lanzarote from €429pps, depart January 29 2017. 7 nights self catering 2* Emerald Studios, Rhodes from €459pps, depart May 24 2017. 14 nights all inclusive 3* Holiday Inn Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica from €1,489pps, depart June 8 2017. 14 nights all inclusive 4* Grand Bahia Principe Coba, Riviera Maya, Mexico from €1,749pps, depart June 28 2017. Visit falconholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

Thomson offers: 7 nights half board 5* Riu Palace Tenerife, Costa Adeje, Tenerife from €1,049pp, depart January 13 2017. 7 nights self catering 3* Cay Beach Princess, Maspalomas, Gran Canaria from €439pp, depart January 21 2017. 7 nights all inclusive 4* ClubHotel Riu Lanzarote, Playa De Los Pocillos, Lanzarote from €699pp, depart January 15 2017. 7 nights self catering 4* Villa Mandi, Playa De Las Americas, Tenerife from €499pp, depart January 27 2017. 7 nights all inclusive 4* ClubHotel Riu Papayas, Playa Del Ingles, Gran Canaria from €629pp, depart January 28 2017. 7 nights all inclusive 4* ClubHotel Riu Lanzarote, Playa De Los Pocillos, Lanzarote from €699pp, depart January 8 2017. 14 nights all inclusive 4* ClubHotel Riu Ochos Rios, Jamaica from €1,699pp, depart June 8 2017. 14 nights all inclusive 3* Riu Lupita, Playacar, Mexico from €1,499pp, depart June 7 2017. 7 nights full board Aegean Shores cruise on board Thomson Majesty from €1,139pp, depart May 30 2017. 4 nights self catering 4* Riu Moncia Hotel, Costa Del Sol from €499pp, depart December 18. 7 nights half board 4* SBH Crystal Beach, Esfucs, Fuerteventura from €849pp, depart December 17. Visit thomsonholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.

TDactive is offering 15 nights South Africa tour from €2,849pp incl. return flights, 4* B&B hotel accommodation, select meals, domestic flights, excursions, transfers, taxes and charges, depart June 14 2017. Click here or call 01 637 1600.

Click and Go offers: 7 nights self catering 3* Costa Mar Aparthotel, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote form €385pp incl. kids club, return flights, airport transfers, taxes and charges, travel February 2017. 7 nights self catering 4* Paraiso de Albufeira Aparthotel, the Algarve from €229pp incl. return flights, airport transfers, taxes and charges, travel March 2017. 3 nights 3* Santa Costanza Hotel, Rome from €149pp incl. return flights, airport taxes and charges, travel in January. 3 nights 4* Mediterran Hotel, Budapest from €149pp incl. return flights, airport taxes and charges, travel February 2017. Visit clickandgo.com or call 01 539 7777.

Tourism NI offers: 1 night B&B Corick House Hotel & Spa, Co Tyrone from £85pps incl. casino night, available December 16-17, call 028 85 548216. 1 night B&B Marine Court Hotel, Bangor, Co Down from £70pp incl. four-course evening meal, afternoon cocktail making lesson, VIP entry to Calico Jacks Nightclub and access to health suite, available until December 17, call 028 91 45 1100. 2 nights B&B Bishop’s Gate Hotel, Derry from £135pps incl. dinner on evening of choice, walking tour with Martin McCrossan city tours, visit to Tower or Siege museums, available until December 31, call 028 71 140300.

Sunway offers: 12 days family tour of Thailand from €6,959 2+2 incl. tours transport, meals, guides, return flights and accommodation, depart July 7 2017. Call 01 231 1800. 7 nights full board Baltic Cruise on board Serenade of the Seas from €999pp, depart May 20 2017. 7 nights Eastern Caribbean cruise on board MSC Divina from €1,399pp inc. 3 nights pre stay Miami, depart March 1 2017. 7 nights full board Greek Isles cruise on board Norwegian Star from €1,025pp, depart October 8 2017.  10 nights full board Spain and Italy cruise on board Celebrity Constellation from €1,540pp, depart September 18 2017. Visit sunway.ie or call 01 2311868

Insight Vacations is offering 7 days Canyonlands from €2,739pps incl. flights, transfers and accommodation, book by January 27 2017, depart June 10 2017. Visit insightvacations.com or call 01 775 3803.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruises is offering 8 days Rhine cruise on board River Empress form €2,879pps incl. airport transfers, meals and beverages and shore excursions from €2,879pps, book by December 31, depart March 29 2017. Visit uniworld.com or call 01 775 3803.

ITAA offers: 3 nights B&B 4* Rantasipi Pohjanhovi Hotel, Finnish Lapland from €604.50pp incl. returns flights, depart January 16 2017. 5 nights B&B 4* accommodation Stockholm and Copenhagen tour from €1,269pps incl. tours, high speed train and Riviera tour manager services, depart July 14 2017. 7 nights Norwegian Fjords cruise on board MSC Fantasia from €1,049pp incl. return flights, meals, baggage and port taxes, depart May 28 2017. 

Topflight offers: 7 nights self catering 4* Bella Italia, Peschiera, Lake Garda from €499pps, depart May 6 2017. 7 nights self catering 3* Villagio Verde, Sorrento from €529pps, depart May 7 2017. 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Majestic Palace, Malcesine, Lake Garda from €799pps, depart May 13 2017. 7 nights B&B 5* Hotel Diamond, Giardin Naxos, Sicily from €799pps, depart June 10 2017. 7 nights B&B 4* Hotel Milton, Rimini, Adriatic Riviera from €799pps, depart June 10 2017. 7 nights half board 4* Hotel Bristol, Sorrento from €1,099pps, depart April 30 2017. 7 nights all inclusive 4* Hotel Sandos Papagayo Reach Resort, Playa Blanca, Lanzarote form €879pps, depart May 7 2017. 7 nights B&B 5* Hotel Medlia Madeira Mare, Funchal, Madeira from €799pps, depart May 11 2017. Visit topflight.ie or call 01 240 1700. 

See travelextra.tv for more video.

Email editor@travelextra.ie to have your say or it is @TravelExtraIre on Twitter if that’s your bag.

december-14

TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Can Spanish bedbank deal REALLY turn Ryanair into the ‘Amazon of travel?’

december-14

On board Uniworld Antoinette sailing the Rhine during the 2016 ITAA conference

 

 

HEADLINES – AVIATION – AFLOAT – DEALWATCH – FOOD & WINE – HOTELS – INTERNATIONAL – IRELAND – STRANGE WORLD – TRAVEL TRADE

  • Things to know about Travel this week 
  • Qatar’s Dublin route still bogged down by A350 delays
  • Ryanair Holidays revives the ghost of Lowcostbeds.
  • Mary McKenna’s headline advice on hiring staff
  • American updates trade on Premium Economy & other matters
  • Cork to launch Boston AND New York as NAI finally gets license

Travel Extra TV

  • video-december-4Our video of the week is dramatic stuff. See this Emirates A380 crosswind landingWatch here.
  • Check out Tourism Ireland’s mannequin challenge in Belfast. Watch here.
  • See this cute wombat enjoy his bottle. Watch here.
  • Kereama Te Ua performs a solitary haka in protest of the installion of a multibillion-dollar oil pipe at Standing RockWatch here.
  • See Emirates’ tribute to the shortest A380 flight, Dubai to Doha. Watch here.
  • Ever wonder how a surfboard gets madeWatch here.
  • Tourism NI’s Year of Food and Drink continues. Watch here.
  • See Ryanair’s video from the launch of Ryanair Holidays. Watch here.

Behind the Headlines

Bjørn Kjos CEO of Norwegian

Bjørn Kjos CEO of Norwegian

As departure delays go three years is as long as it gets to wait at the gate. When Norwegian Air International were suddenly awarded their license to operate to the United States at 11PM on Friday night, tt became clear that the landscape had changed, not just for Cork, anticipating its first transatlantic services, but for the entire aviation industry. The timing caught everyone by surprise. NAI reacted quickly to say they intend to get the Boston 4w service up and running by end June / early July with tickets on sale early new year. They must have wondered why the announcement was not last April when it appeared that all the hurdles had been cleared. The ball is back in Norwegian’s court and Cork is readying itself for the launch of both Cork-Boston and Cork-New York for summer 2017, subject to an aircraft availability. Norwegian originally planned to operate Cork-Boston 4w using a 186-seat B738. They promised a Cork-New York to follow and a Cork-Barcelona 4w feeder service.

Violete Bulc

Violete Bulc

Who dunnit? Violeta Bulc. The decision of the EU commission to seek arbitration on Norwegian’s application was what pushed it over the line. The Americans had 20 days to respond and with a regime change looming with new Transport Secretary Elaine Chao arriving on Capitol Hill, it must have seemed easier to concede the license for which all arguments against smacked of protectionism. Celebrations can only really start when we see if Norwegian intends to operate a meaningful service out of Cork and Shannon airports or whether this was just an attempt to establish a bridgehead against a hostile regulatory system and whether the Cork service was just a testing ground, using the lobbying skills of Irish America to get the flights in the first place. Time will tell. See roundup of reaction hereWatch here Eoghan Corry speaking about the development on RTE’s six-one television news. Listen here to Eoghan Corry speaking about the EU action on RTE’s News at One.

Tomeu Benassar CEO of Logitravel

Tomeu Benassar CEO of Logitravel

Unbeknownst to Ryanair, they raised the spectre of the Lowcost group debacle when they announced they were moving into the package holiday business with Ryanair Holidays, or, as the newspapers who came along for the ride so eagerly reported, became ‘the Amazon.com of aviation.’ Kenny Jacobs told guests that Ryanair is prepared to invest its commission on holidays to optimise conversion and growth of the sector, brining down package holiday prices by 10pc. Ryanair threw not one, but TWO, Spaniards into the worksThe bed banks, to which Ryanair awarded the tender were surprising both in the scale and the scope of their operation. Tomeu Benassar‘s Logitravel is well known in Ireland as third biggest outbound operator from Spain. World2meet is headed up by the wife of Paul Evans, who was chasing the Ryanair accommodation contract as CEO of Lowcost Beds before it went so spectacularly pear shaped last July and stormed the Irish travel industry for €400,000. Last December Patricia Roselló moved from Lowcostholidays to the NT incoming and New Travellers companies which had been acquired by the Iberostar group where she helped launch its new brand World2meet at Fitur in Madrid in January. She is daughter of legendary Spanish travel agent Rafael Roselló. She was joined by Mark Nueschen, former CEO of Global Met and previously in Hotelbeds. The group turned over €250m in 2015 in 15 holiday destinations in Spain. It distributes its products through 10,000 travel agencies in Spain with a substantial portfolio in the Middle East and Thailand. To add to the puzzle Logitravel are licenced for just 11,560 passengers from England. Ryanair drive a notoriously hard bargain, and all of their previous accommodation contracts have ended up in dispute. Once penalty clauses kick in for not reaching targets the Ryanair website can be a very lonely place to have your brand. No doubt Benassar and Roselló are well aware of this.

six-one-newsRyanair has a licence from the Commission of Aviation Regulation by the school’s group business which was an early signal that something bigger might be afoot. Traditional Irish tour operators have been wary of airlines who dabble in their markers, with good reason, especially those with long enough memories to remember the Aer Lingus holidays debacle. How much damage Ryanair beds will do remains to be seen. Selling package holidays is a complex business and complexity has not been Ryanair’s forte in the past. See launch coverage here.

img_3266Take aways from the Irish Travel Agents Association conference held on board the River cruise ship Antoinette included:

  • Mary McKenna’s assertion that, when recruiting staff, it is not the skill set that matters but how they fit in the organisation
  • Sarah Slattery pointed out the value of authentic content in the babble of internet holidayspeak.
Cormac Meehan, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association speaking at the ITAA 2016 conference on board Uniworld Antoinette

Cormac Meehan, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association speaking at the ITAA 2016 conference on board Uniworld Antoinette

There was a surprisingly clear and frank discussion between suppliers and agents moderated expertly by Clare Dunne, where the suppliers did not hold back in saying they found agents unresponsive to promotions and incentives while agents repeated the mantra that there were not enough incentives and what used to be the only perk in the travel industry, the opportunity to travel, seems to have been whittled down over the years. ITAA CEO Pat Dawson contended that every European country, with the possible exception of Sweden, is as unprepared for the package holiday directive as Ireland is. Ireland is not alone in sitting on its hands waiting for the complex business of travel regulation to be pulled together. Ireland’s travel agents are proposing a tax per ticket to replace the existing bonding system. Social highlight of the conference was the perfect A hit right in the middle by Mary Denton and Rebecca Kelly as they sang Steve Perry’s Don’t Stop Believing (E, B, C#m,  A), and held the note as the musicians continued. All we missed was Joe Hogan (RIP) on the piano. The venue for the 2017 conference will be announced at the Irish Travel industry awards on January 26. Watch here video of the conference. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airlines, speaking at the CAPA ACTE aviation summit in Amsterdam, October 27 2016Qatar have slots to operate Dublin-Doha from March next and confirmed the route on Monday, as first reported by Travel Extra. A delay in A350 deliveries means there is no start-up date. Qatar need more A350s to release a B787 for the route. Watch here Qatar CEO Akbar Al Baker speaking to Travel Extra about the Dublin Doha service.

Travel Trade

Peter O'Hanlon, Loraine Cunningham and Volker Lorenz playing during the TIGS outing sponsored by Travel Extra at The Castle gofl club, December 1 2016Volker Lorenz and Tanya Airey won the TIGS event at the Castle golf club sponsored by Travel Extra, or as Shay Mitchell called it, the Travel Extra extravaganza. At the TIGS AGM Martin Skelly became TIGS captain for 2017 and Dave Conlon became vice captain and captain elect. TIGS President Peter O’Hanlon entered the second year of a two year term (“I have been asked to keep this meeting short so let’s start with Any other Business.”) Watch video report of the event here. Picture shows Peter O’Hanlon, Loraine Cunningham and mens winer Volker Lorenz playing the ninth. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

las-vegas-fam-grand-canyon-copyEthiopian Airlines, Las Vegas CVA and Visit USA hosted a fam trip to Nevada and Arizona at the Grand Canyon, Tony Flynn of Aer LIngus was showcasing the ease of connection into Vegas via Ethiopian’s early morning service. “Because we are so early in the morning we don’t clear immigration in Ireland. But I honestly don’t think we would take them up on the offer. Because we land so early in the morning there is only one other international flight arriving at that time. You are in and out of LA in an hour and a half. We work very closely with Virgin America. We get our customers into Las Vegas at two in the afternoon. Dublin Los Angeles Vegas is no different from Dublin London Las Vegas, you still have to take the extra flight. So try us. We have everything on offer.” Picture shows Lyndsey Martin of Clubworld, Yvonne Tully of Club Travel, Dee Burdock of American Holidays, Michael Doorley of Shandon Travel, Rachel Tracey of GoHop, Thomas McEvatt of Sunway, Tryphavana Cross of Las Vegas CVA, Tony Flynn of Ethiopian Airlines, Lorna O’Brien of Sunway and Clodagh Oxley of Visit USA. Watch here interview with Tony Flynn of Ethiopian. Watch here interview with Tryphavana Cross about developments in Las Vegas.