The headlines this week:
- IAG prepares for end of the beginning
- Gold circle scheme to be revamped
- Re Joyce: Alan Joyce’s triumphant return to Ireland
- Flybe explain why Dublin-London City was dropped
- Aer Lingus confirms plan for nine A350s
- Bad pun alert: Finnish won’t finish, 3w added for winter
- JFK gets a new Aer Lingus lounge
- River-run: 12 Vikings, a Uniworld and an Avalon named in one week
Travel Extra TV
Our video of the week captures a spontaneous performance of Beer! The Musical in New York City Beer Hall. Confused customers look on as Improv Everywhere comedy group perform an ode to brew. Watch here.
- 279 aircraft later, Boeing pieces together the Last C-17. Watch here.
- To celebrate the maiden flight of its first Airbus A380, Etihad profiled some of the key crew members. Here is the pilot: Watch here.
- Tourism Ireland rounded up its 2015 Global Greening with this video: Watch here.
- Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr talked about the Germanwings Flight 9525 tragedy shortly after the crash. Watch here.
- Rapper Jamal Edwards’ guide to east London with British Airways. Watch here.
- KLM destination showcases: Havana (watch here), Vancouver (watch here), Bueno Aires (watch here), New York City (watch here) and Rio de Janeiro (watch here).
- Emirates invited Arsenal football team and Saracens rugby team to swap skills. Watch here.
Seven is the magic number in the latest phase of IAG’s bid to take over Aer Lingus. Negotiations with government advisers are drawing to a close with a seven year guarantee on Heathrow slots likely to seal the deal with the government and the formal bid to follow (despite all the heat, no bid has yet been made). Minister Paschal Donohoe says that he expects negotiations to be concluded “in the coming weeks” (listen here).
It is the end of the beginning and not yet the beginning of the end (to quote Sean O’Casey), given the union and regional opposition to the bid, but several influencers, including major media, seem to have moved from outright opposition to the bid. Would anyone except Willie Walsh have brought the bid this far?
After tragic events in the Alps this week the IAA confirmed that it is required of Irish airlines to have two people in the cockpit at all times and when one of the pilots leaves a cabin crew member will stand in. Air Berlin, Air Canada, EasyJet and the Lufthansa group all adopted the two persons in the cockpit rule immediately. Norwegian also adopted it but will await regulatory approval. Air France-KLM group said it was monitoring the situation. One of the more melancholy retro-reads of the week can be found here (from 2013), the Federal Aviation Administration recognising Andreas Guenter Lubitz with the prestigious FAA Airmen Certification Database. A torn-up sick note was reported to have indicated that the crash pilot should have been grounded. Picture shows speed and altitude graph of the Germanwings flight.
One of several bad timing awards for this week goes to the parents of Alan Joyce who went to visit him in Australia while the Qantas CEO took time off an investor’s roadshow to show up in Co Wicklow, two mountains and a small hill away from his native Tallaght, and give the keynote address at the CAPA airlines in transition conference. His speech was brief and insightful (listen here) and he came up with what must be the phrase of the conference: the “intellectual property of working in partnerships”.
This is the third year that David Webster’s Powerscourt hotel has hosted CAPA’s event and the group reported that they were happy with the three events and will be seeking another three year deal to host their CEO-heavy event in Ireland.
Star performers included Sebastian Mikosz of LOT Polish Airlines (“airlines shouldn’t blindly react to low cost airlines entering their market: follow your own strategy“) and the characteristically frank Pat Byrne of Cityjet, who said the entrepreneurial spirit and survival instinct of a regional carrier can be destroyed if partially owned by a major carrier (listen here). Stephen Kavanagh of Aer Lingus (pictured above) gave the most concise summary on record of how Aer Lingus avoided bankruptcy by cut their cost base by 52pc in 2002 (listen here) and stressed: Ireland doesn’t need Aer Lingus, Ireland needs competition, which is what Aer Lingus provides. The wolf at the door was a great enabler, Michael O’Leary was our greatest support. Kevin Toland of DAA outlined Ireland’s contributions to world aviation (listen here) and other notable contributions came from Saad Hammad of Flybe who advised airlines “stay true to your stage length. Flybe is the 90-minute airline – if we stray beyond that we get into trouble.” He said Flybe has signed up for seven codeshare partner airlines so far and wants to double that number, Aidan Brogan of Datalex, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Martin Gauss of AirBaltic, Cath Lynn of easyJet, Xiuzhi Zhang of Spring Airlines, Zhihang Chi of Air China and Dubliner Jim Callaghan of Etihad. Brian Havel of De Paul University of Law (pictured) was the most animated moderator. Rigas Douganis outlined a gloomy scenario for legacy carriers operating in Europe (listen here). Jonathon Wober of CAPA explained how airlines had never regained the peak profitability they achieved in 1966 (listen here) Minister Paschal Donohue outlined his new government transport policy (listen here) and answered questions on open skies (listen here) and connectivity (listen here). He said the government is now finalising a National Aviation Strategy and will publish it soon and then set up a National Aviation Forum.
Affinity founder Sinead Finn was first in the exotic Powerscourt Hotel swimming pool early on Thursday morning before moderating the coolest session of the programme, when Ryanair’s Kenny Jacobs and Bobby Healy CEO of Cartrawler (resplendent in red sneakers) talked apps and travel, at one stage sending a shiver down the backbones for their audience by lumping airlines and GDS’s in the same category. David O’Brien of Ryanair said the new website, planned for end of 2015, will be more like a retailer’s website than an airline website while Kenny Jacobs said travel as a retail category needs a shake up.
Ian Heywood of Travelport was almost a lone voice defending the interests of the travel agent.
There was further activity in the exhibition area where Travelport were showcasing their Smartpoint product which provides travel agencies with real-time access to more than 400 airlines (lo-cos included) and 600,000 hotel properties. Travelport celebrated the 100th airline to sign up for its rich content product, only launched in November last year. And yes, there was cake.
Visit Florida hosted travel media in Dublin where they outlined new events across the length and breadth of the state from Panama Beach to Amelia Island and down to Oonagh McCullough’s southern coast. Picture shows Kenneth Morgan-Schleuning of Visit Florida, Hope Sarzier of Amelia Island, Brooke Fleming of Pensacola, Rochelle Siegel of Kissimmee, Dan Rowe of Panama Beach and Oonagh McCullough of Naples, Marco Islands and Everglades. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Before Finnair’s new service from Dublin to Helsinki has even started, Sales Director Fredrik Charpentier, announced that the service is to be extend to the winter three times weekly (listen here). Dublin Airport Authority hosted a reception at the Royal Hibernian Academy for the trade where Charpentier and his team outlined their plans for the service. Heidi Ahonen said it had been 2007 since Finnair served Dublin (listen here) Vincent Harrison of Dublin Airport said there were six new airlines in Dublin this year and 20 new routes (listen here) while Martin Skelly replied on behalf of the Irish Travel Agents Association describing the quality of the FGinnair product as “a race to the top” (listen here). Separately Joni Sundelin of Finnavia outlined plans to build Helsinki into Europe’s fifth largest hub in Europe (listen here – brushing aside a question about whether Istanbul was in Europe). Finnair A350 flights start on Apr 9, with long haul services to start in the autumn to Shanghai, then Beijing, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The Dublin to Helsinki inaugural departs tomorrow Monday to Helsinki where VisitFinland’s Riita Balza will host a group of travel media. Picture shows the Finnair team at the event: Ana Gibson, Anssi Partanen, Heidi Ahonen and Frederik Charpentier. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Jean-François Dominiak, CEO of Europe Airpost, stopped by to celebrate the new route from Dublin to Halifax in Canada at Dublin’s Brasserie Le Pont restaurant. Europe Airpost’s a 737-700 service originates in Paris CDG and continues via Dublin direct to Halifax once weekly between July 9 and Sept 11, outbound on Thursdays 2:25pm and back on Fridays landing 8.05pm. Lindsay Champion introduced Nova Scotia. The province is home to the bald eagle, moose and North Atlantic right whale, which migrates to higher altitudes from May to September. Nova Scotia, which has the same land mass as Ireland, boasts 15 wineries, making it the third largest wine province in Canada, and is one of the largest exporters of lobster. Back in the day, Lindsay said, lobsters were in such an abundance that the poor kids brought lobster sandwiches to school while the rich kids scoffed on corned beef. Lighthouses are iconic with Nova Scotia — there are 160 along the coastline — but so too are shipwrecks. There are 27,000 on record, and Nova Scotia was the first to dispatch rescue boats after the Titanic sank. 150 bodies that were recovered are buried in Halifax cemetery. If maritime disasters are not your thing, Nova Scotia also boasts a strong pub culture, and offers golfing and winter surfing experiences. Picture shows Jean-François Dominiak, CEO of Europe Airpost, Catherine Grennell-Whyte, MD of ATTS, and Martin Skelly, President of the ITAA. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
The 40th Tianguis Turistico Mexico returned to Acapulco, where local planners showcased their US$200m infrastructure spend including plans for a new transportation system known as ACABus and extensive hotel renovations. Activity was 7pc ahead of target, although slightly down on last year’s Tianguis in Cancun, 50pc up on when it was held in Acapulco: 30,000 appointments, 2,500 exhibitors and 266 local and 424 international buyers. Cancún hosted 8,000 more appointments and 157 more buyers last year. Last time Acapulco hosted Tianguis the guests, including Travel Extra, were trapped at a party in the fabulous art deco Boca Chica hotel for an extra few hours because of a drug-related shoot out on the only approach road. No such drama this time: highlight of the event was the Las Brizas party on Terazza El Tulpán. Tianguis moves on to Guadalajara next year, after it won a bidding process against Guanajuato and Quintana Roo.
We barely had time to regain our breath from Saturday’s rugby drama (is this the last time international teams will be allowed know exactly what they need to score to win a major competition) when Visit England hosted a rugby world cup event on Monday evening. Gayle Molloy finishes up as Visit England’s representative in Ireland on March 31st. Picture shows Jeremy Brinkworth, Visit England Project Director, Rugby World Cup and Gayle Molloy of Visit England. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Picture shows Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel, chair of Visit USA in Dublin, Kevin O’Malley the USA ambassador in Dublin, and Pat Reede of United Airlines who represented Visit USA Dublin the annual St Patrick’s Day function in the White House, Washington DC. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Etihad, Trailfinders and the Tourist Authority of Thailand were hosts at a Trailfinders staff evening in the Red Torch Ginger restaurant. Trailfinders is the leading Irish operator to Thailand which attracted 62,727 Irish last year. Joanna Cooke from TAT and Shannon O’Dowd from Etihad gave presentations to the Trailfinders staff and invited guests. Shannon O’Dowd showcased Etihad’s new TV ad starring Nicole Kidman (featured in last week’s Sunday Supplement), The Residence on the A380 and the Economy Smart Seat’s fixed wing headrests. Joanna Cooke reiterated how the junta has had no impact on Thailand’s tourism industry and noted how the military government has helped regulate taxis, clean up beaches and improve visitor safety (a new tourist hotline was launched this week, dial 1111). The over 45s remain the primary market, but there is a growing trend in family holidays and MAMILS, middle aged men in lycra, who are interested in adventure breaks. Picture shows Karen Maloney of Etihad, Shannon O’Dowd of Etihad, Dave Hyeems of Trailfinders and Joanna Cooke of Thai Tourism Authority. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Ethiopian Airlines hosted a group of Irish media in advance of the launch of their direct route on June 15. Picture shows Irish media and their hosts in Addis Adaba. Reuters repotots that Ethiopian is considering proposals to help set up national airlines in Nigeria and three other countries to expand its operations on the continent.
Definitely Travel Extra’s coolest call of the week was to the snow hotel in Kirkenes, where three time zones meet, (like the words of a Brendan Shine song), where a group of travel writers were hosted by Astrid Lund. Why the fire extinguishers? “We are still a hotel and subject to hotel regulations,” Astrid says, “the politicians in their wisdom require us to have them.” A worrying development, coolers have had to be used to keep the snow hotel at the required temperature in recent years due to global warming. The second of the two direct charters to the Northern Lights had some spectacular stormy and snowy weather, although the view of the lights was not as good as the February charter. No word yet on whether Hurtigruten will have direct charters from Dublin to Tromsø again in 2016 but here’s hoping. It is a great product. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Some ex-cons spotted at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt; not that they have a criminal past, rather that they once worked for Continental Airlines: Yvonne Muldoon (now with Cartrawler), Brian Hughes (now with Cartrawler and Beatrice Cosgrove (now country manager for Etihad in Ireland).
Ten agents won a place on Topflight’s VIP Italian Trip to Sorrento and Lake Garda on April 28: Sinead Hearne of East Cork Travel, Emma Black of Thomas Cook, Lisburn, Caitriona Duffy of Cassidy Travel, Blanchardstown, Marie Grenham of Grenham Travel, Karen Kelleher of Barter Travel Group, Marc Lynch of Abbey Travel, Michelle Lyons of Fahy Travel, Patricia Ryan of Limerick Travel, Stella Grant of O’Hanrahan Travel and Sean Healy of Lee Travel.
Rory McDyer Travel will be 25 years in business this week. Picture shows Rory McDyer of Rory McDyer travel and Martin Skelly, president of the Irish Travel Agents Association at the Finnair event.
Stella Grant of O’Hanrahan Travel (Ulster), Donna McGann of Eimear Hannon Travel (Leinster), Lynne Casey of Fahy Travel (Connacht), and Lorraine O’Connor of Travel Fox (Munster) were the winners of the Emirates’ trade competition to see One Direction live in concert on April 4 in Dubai with Emirates.
TIGS president’s (Audrey Headon) Prize, sponsored by Etihad Airways, will take place on April 16 at Druid Glen. Tee is reserved from 1050 to 1340, cost to members: €50 and guests €75. Timesheet is now open.
Travel Centres’ trip to China concluded, a busy jaunt supported by Turkish Airlines and the Beijing Municipal Commission of Tourism Development. Pamela Brownlee of Flyaway Travel reported it was an amazing trip: the Great Wall, Summer Palace, the Forbidden City, although she is not sure how one would manage without an interpreter. And she can nearly agree with the song there are 10m bicycles in Beijing. Connect here with Flyaway Travel’s picture of China on Facebook.
Picture shows Martin Graham from the Celebrity Cruises ‘Modern Luxury Squad’ visiting Debbie Hartley at Vision Cruise to present her with a two-night cruise getaway. The Celebrity Cruises’ team has been offering agents the chance to bid for a place on the Celebrity Eclipse sailing in May by using their Celebrity Rewards points as part of the Spring Into Luxury March campaign.
- On the Beach based in Cheadle in England has been issued a travel agents license by the Commission for Aviation Regulation.
- Lesley Kane, formerly with Ryanair, has joined Air Transat as Director of Sales for Britain and Ireland.
- Ryanair unveiled its new advertising on the lifts in Dublin Airport’s Terminal 2.
- Air Canada has appointed Margaret Skinner as Director of Sales Europe. She was previously Sales Manager Ireland and Britain for American Airlines.
- Picture shows Sandra Corkin from Oasis Travel being presented with Business Person of the Year Award by award sponsor Ian Nelson of the Progressive Building Society at the Lisburn City Business Awards.
- Globe Hotels and Best4Travel is seeking an Agency Support Executive for its Dunshaughlin head office and Travel Consultants for its branches in Athlone and Navan (maternity cover from July to November). Closing date for applications is Tuesday next, March 31st.
- Richard Greenaway’s Mercury Holidays launched programmes to Antigua & Barbuda.
- Insight Consultants is merging with Bill O’Herlihy Communications. Both agencies have managed several major tourism accounts.
- Maddy Morgan has Visit California / Black Diamond after eight years (to take on the role of PR Director at Small Luxury Hotels of the World.
- Air France KLM is seeking a sales support executive for maternity cover.
- Visit Orlando’s complimentary half-day sightseeing tours and media tours for IPW 2015 went online. The general IPW schedule can be found here and the media-specific schedule here.
- Irish travel software company Datalex reported a 69pc increase in profit after tax to $2.7m for the year ended Dec 31 2014.
- Alila Hotels & Resorts appointed Patrick Pahlke as vice president of sales and Doris Goh as chief marketing officer.
- Reminder: Be sure to register your American Airlines and British Airways bookings to the USA made before April 3 to be in with a chance of winning one of 100 places on the USA MegaFam trip, May 14 to 21.
- Lowcostbeds trade promotion in association with Malta Tourist authority: Earn €5 one4all voucher on all bookings made to Malta until April 30.
- Travel Professionals Skillnet is offering a 2 day Finance for Non Finance Professionals programme at the Professional Development Training Centre in Blanchardstown, May 21 and 22, 9.30am-5.30pc. Cost €299. More info/bookings.
STR Global reported Ireland had the third highest RevPAR increase in February among European countries (+23.2 pc to €63.12) behind Lithuania (+35.6 pc to €26.50) and Croatia (+24.3 pc to €15.99) and ahead of Malta (+23.0 pc to €46.23); Hungary (+20.8 pc to €31.49); and England (+20.7 pc to €81.40). Hotel occupancy in Europe rose 3.1pc to 62.6pc for February 2015. Vilnius occupancy rose 21.5 points to 49.4pc. Moscow occupancy continues to fall, down 5.7 points to 58.2pc.
André Vietor from the International Association of Professional Conference Organisers and Kevin Kelly of BigBuzz Marketing Group were among the speakers at the AIPCO Business Tourism Conference 2015 in Powerscourt.
Paul Smyth’s Galgorm released images of its £10m 48-room extension and spa village is to open in September. Themes in the spa village include Snow Paradise, the Orangery, a riverside sauna, plunge pool, sheltered relaxation area with open fire and private Dutch Tubs, heated by their own log fires.
Kinvara’s 32-room Merriman Hotel is on sale with a guide price of €695,000.
HOTREC, the European association representing the European hospitality industry, warned that the EU Council of minister’s current position on the Package Travel Directive will damage the hotel industry by making ancillary services, such as arranging taxi transfers from the airport, spas in the hotel, bicycle renting and tickets to events subject to the new Package Travel Directive.
A Hotels.com survey claimed that visitors to Ireland from Argentina had the highest average spend of €128 per room per night in 2014. This is up 19pc on last year and 24pc above the Irish national average of €103.
Analysis by Highland Group offered answers to a ten-year-old conundrum: how to define boutique, lifestyle and soft brand hotel sectors. The definitions are:
- Boutique: Unique in style, design-centric, either independent or affiliated with a smaller brand system, with 40 to 300 guestrooms.
- Lifestyle: Prescribed franchised products that are adapted to reflect current trends.
- Soft brand: Individualised hotels that give owners and operators the opportunity to affiliate with a major chain distribution while retaining their unique design, name and orientation.
Picture shows hoteliers at a Select Hotels event: John Ryan of Ardilaun Hotel, Jo Denby and Caitriona Murphy of Whites of Wexford, Martha O’Connor of Royal Marine Hotel, Andrew Greenslade of City North Hotel, Aidan Ryan of Royal Marine Hotel, David Goode of Actons Kinsale, Amy Duggan of the Trident Hotel, Front Row: Una Young of Select Hotels of Ireland, Deirdre Twomey of Kilkenny Ormonde Hotel and Maria Kelly of the Ardilaun Hotel.
- CEO of Best Western in England Richard Lewis has resigned and will be replaced by Rob Payne in an interim capacity.
- JW Marriott’s 191-room Venice Resort had its soft opening ahead of its grand opening celebration on June 24.
- Design Hotels opened the 10-suite G-Rough in Rome, from the creators of PalazzinaG housed in a 17th century bourgeois building.
- Horwath HTL reported that the extended-stay segment not only has performed well and is gaining popularity among developers and investors.
- AMResorts announced five new resort contracts in Dominican Republic (Secrets Cap Cana and Dreams Dominicus La Romana), Mexico (Breathless Riviera Cancun), Costa Rica (Secrets Papagayo Costa Rica) and Aruba for the first time (Zoëtry Isla Di Oro Arub).
- Trivago in England says searches to Tunisia have fallen 22pc following the Bardo Museum attack.
The Egyptian visa requirement for individual tourists are still no clearer (beyond a clarification that package holiday travellers such as Sunway and Red Sea Resorts are not affected), two weeks after they were hastily announced. Egypt’s Tourism Office says that talks are currently in effect between Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other relevant entities to discuss details on tourists’ individual visas travelling to Egypt. We are still awaiting a clarification for the queries in question.
Kenya has called foul after several governments, including Ireland, said its coastal region was unsafe and there are reports that it will follow Thailand’s lead last year in setting up its own travel insurance scheme for tourists who still wish to visit. The Department of Foreign Affairs imposed an “all but essential” travel ban to Lamu County and Archipelago, Mombasa Island and within 5km of the coast from Mtwapa Creek north of to include Malindi, Watamu, and Kilifi, and even Tiwi, not including Diana and Moi International Airport. The update came after an incident which was not related to Kenya, the attack on Maka al Mukarama hotel in the Green Zone corridor of Somalian capital Mogadishu, by Al Shabaab insurgents who stormed a meeting attended by officials of Omar Sharmarke’s new Somali government. Kenya’s ire turned on its former colonial oppressor, citing London’s stricter blanket travel ban as a response, not to any threat, but to Nairobi’s refusal to renew a troop training deal unless London agreed to have its troops deployed to Kenya subject to Kenyan law. An unnamed tourism source thundered: I think there can be no doubt left now that they are using such advisories to browbeat Kenya into submission over so many contentious things. The London government is not a friend of Kenya. Tourists are still visiting even though travel to Kenya is made very difficult with no charters operating. Travel insurance is no longer extended in England to people who want to come to Kenya, so we are now offering such cover, either in advance or on arrival. This is a deliberate act of hostility, and it coincides with the upcoming Easter travel when many of their own High Commission staff had booked holidays at the coast. It is time to stand together as a region to counter such negative publicity and can only be categorised as hostile propaganda against us all here in East Africa.”
- The Department of Foreign Affairs updated its travel advisory on Yemen to advise against all travel to Yemen and strongly urge all Irish nationals to leave Yemen immediately.
- Bardo museum curator Moncef Ben Moussa says the museum will reopen today Sunday after a symbolic opening ceremony for select guests on Tuesday.
- Universal Studios Hollywood said that Fast & Furious—Supercharged is to open on June 25.
- Ski conditions were changeable across the Alps this week, heaviest snow was been southern Switzerland and western Italy. Unsettled weather is expected to continue through the rest of the week and into the weekend, with the potential for some good falls of snow in the northern Swiss and Austrian Alps.
- Canary Islands is to host some of the toughest events on the world calendar, including: Magma Bike Marathon, El Hierro, April 18. TeideXtreme, Tenerife, April 19. Challenge Fuerteventura, April 25. Transvulcania, La Palma Ultramarathon from Fuencaliente lighthouse to Los Llanos de Aridane, May 9. Ironman, Lanzarote, May 23. Gomorra Paradise Trail, La Gomera, June 27.
- Reuters reported private equity firm Centerbridge Partners is to buy US indoor water parks operator Great Wolf Resorts for $1.4bn including debt.
- Enterprise Holdings and Redspot joined forces in Australia and New Zealand.
- Travelport announced a new long term agreement with Polish travel management company First Class.
- Austria will host the International Ski Travel market on March 14 and 15 2016 in the Aqua Dome complex, Otztal.
- The Tunisian prime minister, Habib Essid, dismissed six police commanders, including one in charge of tourist security, following last week’s museum attack in Tunis.
- The Italian National Tourist Board’s spring newsletter includes details on upcoming art exhibitions, music and opera events, sport and historical re-enactments. Read here.
Food & Wine
FIRE Restaurant and Lounge on Dublin’s Dawson Street is to remain open on Good Friday offering non-alcoholic cocktails, and non-alcoholic wines. The no alcohol on Good Friday rule which applies in Ireland has been the subject of complaints from the hospitality industry but is supported by current Tourism Minister Paschal Donohue.
- Mel McNally’s Irish pub design and build Fadó group added the Fadó Midtown, Atlanta, to its portfolio.
- The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine on May 15-17 held its first US launch at Studio 1 on Broadway in Manhattan. Speakers will include April Bloomfield, David Lebovitz, John Bowman, Patrick Holden, Tom Doorley and Valli Little.
- Michael Riordan was appointed Executive Chef at Conrad London St James.
- Galway Food Festival takes place April 2 to 6.
- Italy selected Neapolitan pizza as its candidate for protection under UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
Dublin routes to Southend and London City are both being dropped by Flybe from April 13, but Flybe’s route from Belfast City to London City is being expanded from four to five daily. Saad Hammet CEO of Flybe speaking to Travel Extra on the margins of the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt said that “it was a fast moving environment, BA launched after us, City weren’t hedged with all the benefits that brings, it was a crowded market. We are re-calibrating but we are still committed to London City, We have increased frequencies from double daily to triple daily on Aberdeen, from four to five daily on Belfast and four to six daily on Edinburgh, You have to react to the changing environment. (listen here)” Paul Simmons, Chief Commercial Officer said passenger numbers “are below our projections and there are no signs of this situation changing, which has led to us taking this decision. Passengers who have booked to fly on this route are being contacted and offered an alternative flight or a full refund. We sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may cause our customers.”
Aer Lingus’s new lounge at JFK Terminal 5 will open this week. The airline has been using a temporary facility since moving from Terminal 4 to offer faster connections with Jetblue.
Aer Lingus new business class seating is now available on four of the eight A330s (four 200s and four 300s) to be fitted with the new cabin with the further four being completed over the coming weeks. Current lead in fares valid until April 7 for travel from May 1 to October 31 include Dublin to New York €899 each way, Dublin to Boston €999 and Dublin to San Francisco €1759. Irish suppliers include seat manufacturers Thompson Aero, Botany Weaving for soft furnishings, Voya for the amenity kits and In-flight Dublin for in-flight entertainment including movies, box sets, TV, radio and music. Food suppliers include Burren Smokehouse Salmon from Birgitta Curtin, goat’s cheese from Siobhán Ní Ghairbhith of St Tola, Co Clare, Coopers Hill venison from Coopershill estate an 18th century manor house in Co Sligo, lamb and beef from Lambay Island and Toonsbridge mozzarella from Johnny Lynch. Picture shows Claire Sutton and Micheál Gannon showcasing the seat. View online the seat (see video here), materials (see video here), food (see video here) and lounge/ground enhancements (see video here). Business class load factor has increased to 72pc in 2014 from 67pc in 2013 reflecting the continued strength of our service and competitive pricing. The annual report notes that time sensitive business passengers comprise circa 17pc of the total Dublin airport market, 3pc lower than the percentage of time sensitive passengers travelling on Aer Lingus services.
Donald Trump wrote a two page letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny saying: “Aer Lingus, like the Irish shamrock and Guinness, is essentially Irish with a strong national identity which is very important to your country. It should not be given away to the highest bidder.”
Asked about the IAG bid for Aer Lingus, Alan Joyce said that he was in favour of consolidation but would not comment on the specifics of the Aer Lingus case: “We are big fans of consolidation. We think it is the right way for the air industry in general. It is way too fragmented. It will be good to bring certainty the future of Aer LIngus. One of the things that is clear here is how Aer Lingus, when you think of all the people who are working around the world in the industry. I don’t think you could say that of any other airline (listen here).” He also spoke about the turnaround at Qantas meaning that all units of the airline are now profitable for the first time ever (listen here) and the decision to divert European routes through Dubai (listen here).
Aer Lingus annual report listed five consequences for Aer Lingus if the proposed transaction does not proceed:
- As a stand-alone airline, Aer Lingus would not have the same growth opportunities and would be exposed to a greater degree of risk than in a combination with IAG
- Reduced growth prospects and possible detrimental changes to Aer Lingus’ commercial partnerships could lead to lower than expected passenger traffic.
- This may require additional restructuring measures, including reducing staff costs, beyond the savings currently anticipated in the-current CORE programme.
- Aer Lingus’ share price may decline to a price below that offered by IAG.
- In case the transaction fails because of the Irish Government’s decision to not sell its shares on grounds other than price, this may have a negative impact on the ability to attract shareholding.
Aer Lingus’s annual report confirmed the airline’s Airbus A350-900 order for delivery of nine new aircraft between 2018 and 2020 (A350XWB or Regional variant) to replace existing A330s and expand capacity. From May an additional A330 aircraft will be leased for the peak 12 week 2015 summer season increasing long haul seat capacity by 13pc.
Aer Lingus’s annual report noted that short-haul market is becoming increasingly seasonal, highly competitive on price and vulnerable to Euro-Sterling developments. The airline benefits from holding 55pc of the prime slot times including peak business 7 am slots and short haul capacity will be up 2.4pc in summer 2015 season. Share of the Irish short haul market including Aer Lingus Regional is 41pc. Transatlantic continued to perform very positively throughout 2014 while increasing capacity by 23.8pc. Aer Lingus is to seek annual cost reductions of €40m and grow ancillary spend to a target of €23 per passenger.
- Minister Paschal Donohoe said that the government would be renewing a round of funding for Ireland’s regional airports, in reply to a question from Irish Travel Trade News at the CAPA Airlines in Transition conference in Powerscourt (listen here).
- Aer Lingus is to launch a new loyalty, recognition and reward programme later this year to replace the current “Gold Circle” frequent flyer programme, to be fully implemented from Q1 2016).
- American and US Airways are to combine operations on April 8. The merged American Airlines resumed seasonal services from Dublin to New York JFK last week. American will also resume the former US Airways seasonal service from Shannon to Philadelphia on May 7th and from Dublin to Chicago O’Hare and to Charlotte on May 8th. Dublin-JFK (Boeing 757-200) departs at 8.55am while the return departs JFK at 6.50pm. From May 8 Dublin-Chicago (Boeing 767-300) will depart at 9.40am and the return departs at 6.10pm. Dublin to Charlotte (Airbus A330-200, the first time a widebody has been used on the route ) will depart at 9.30am and depart Charlotte at 6.10pm. From May 7th Shannon-Philadelphia (Boeing 757-200 ) will depart at 11.35am and depart Philadephia at 9.10pm. American Airlines also operates a year-round A330 service from Dublin to Philadelphia, with fully lie flat in business for the first time and seatback entertainment in economy.
- The number of airline passengers carried annually will double to 6bn by 2030, Secretary General of ICAO, Raymond Benjamin told the 400 delegates from 71 countries who attended the Global Aviation Training Symposium in Malahide.
- Stobart Air is to recommence services from Shannon to Birmingham from June 18.
- Citywing will recommence flights between Belfast City Airport and the Isle of Man and Blackpool from April 1st .
Delta restarts its seasonal flight between Dublin and Atlanta tomorrow March 30 using a 225-seat B767-300. The daily flight, which complements Delta’s existing service between Dublin and New York-JFK, departs Dublin at 11:40am until April 6 and 11:10am from April 7 until October 24, returning from Atlanta at 8:36pm. Delta business class offers flat-bed seats with full 180 degree recline and direct aisle access, using Westin heavenly inflight bedding from Westin Hotels Delta offer 200 onward connections to destinations throughout the US and popular Mexican and Caribbean destinations such as Cancun. Picture shows Delta event for travel agents to make the return of seasonal flights from Shannon to New York-JFK, Siobhan Scanlan of Delta, Isabel Harrison of Shannon Airport, Sheila Brazil of Limerick Travel, Teresa Murphy of Delta.
- SITA’s 2015 Baggage Report showed that the rate of mishandled bags in 2014 was 7.3 bags per thousand passengers, down 61.3pc from a peak of 18.88 bags per thousand passengers in 2007 and contended that the air transport industry has saved US$18bn despite a significant rise in passenger numbers to 3.3bn. Another SITA survey showed 63pc of passengers prefer to use their own smartphone, tablet or laptop for inflight entertainment.
- The London based Balkan Holidays is adding an extra Sunday flight from Belfast to Bourgas between June 21 and August 2, using BH Air.
- The free travel offer on Heathrow Express for children under 16 accompanied by a parent or guardian was made permanent and a sale fare introduced of £10 per adult ticket over Easter weekend.
- SkyTeam were recognised as Alliance of the Year 2015 by Air Transport News.
- Outgoing Ryanair CFO Howard Millar was appointed chairman of BDO accountancy firm.
- Avolon announced the delivery of its first B787-9 to Virgin Atlantic, the first of four aircraft scheduled for delivery. This week, Avolon also delivered a B737-800 to Aeromexico, an A321 o Philippine Airlines and a B737-800 to Pegasus Airlines.
- Ethiopian Airlines plans to increase annual revenue to $10bn over the next 10 years and increase the number of international destinations from 84 to 120. The carrier also hopes to expand its fleet from 80 aircraft to 140.
- Travelport announced a new Travel Commerce Platform agreement with Greek carrier, Ellinair.
- Alitalia launched a new graduate programme.400 candidate applied this year. 24 were selected for enrolment in the programme, which commenced in Etihad Airways’ Abu Dhabi hub on Tuesday. Picture shows the first participants with Wissam Hachem, Etihad Airways Vice President Learning & Development, and Fatma Al Ali, Etihad Airways Head of UAE National Development.
- Flybe begins operating its summer schedule today, with 27 new routes and two new bases at Bournemouth and Cardiff.
- American Airlines stopped selling duty free merchandise on international flights after a disagreement with inflight retail partner Duty Free Air and Ship Supply.
- Finnair’s board of directors approved a €30m investment to add Wi-Fi to most of the airline’s wide body and narrow body fleet.
- WCA announced that its 2016 global conference will take place in Abu Dhabi, from March 10 to 16.
- Air New Zealand and Air China’s proposed alliance could see services commence as early as December this year.
- Airbus celebrated the delivery of its 9000th aircraft — the first A321 to be delivered to VietJet Air.
- Air France signed Jolco for the refinancing of one 2009-vintage A320.
- Amedeo is rumoured to be in talks with two customers for some of its A380s in 2015.
- SpiceJet settled out of court with five Irish lessors — B&B Air Acquisition, Steddell, Torodell, Xavierdell and Virgodell — over $16m in claims from unpaid dues relating to aircraft leases.
- The refurbished viewing gallery at Belfast International Airport has received lots of social media attention from self-professed #AvGeeks. Hundreds of aviation enthusiasts have visited the gallery since it opened last month, enjoying the panoramic views of the apron and main runway. It is also possible for visitors to hear communications between Air Traffic Control and the cockpit, and there is a flight tracker displaying aircraft activity.
- Quick Park is offering customers the chance to win €1,000 in cash: Book parking at Dublin airport online at quickpark.ie before March 31 to be entered into the draw.
Carnival Corporation, who already has 10 new cruise ships on order before 2018, is to add nine more ships to its fleets over 2019-23. Five ships will be built by Fincantieri at its shipyards in Monfalcone and Marghera, while four will be built at Meyer Werft’s shipyards in Papenburg and Turku. Carnival owns nine cruise brands: Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Seabourn, Cunard, AIDA, P&O, P&O Australia and Costa.
- Stena Line completes a £6m refit investment programme of its Irish Sea northern corridor fleet this week when Stena Precision finishes its upgrade at Belfast’s Harland & Wolff shipyard. Seven ships have been upgraded by Stena Line over the last five months including Stena Line’s flagship vessels Stena Superfast VII and VIII which operate on the Belfast-Cairnryan service.
- Rivercruise ship-launch champions Viking splashed back into action with another mega-launch day: naming 12 new river vessels in one day, eight in Amsterdam and four in Rostock, bringing its fleet to 60. Amsterdam was the venue of the naming of eight 190-passenger Longships while two more were named in Rostock as well as two scaled-down 96-passenger vessels customised for the shallow Elbe River. Godmothers were some of the longest-serving Viking employees. Viking, which launched 10 vessels in 2013 and 16 in 2014, has six new river vessels on order for 2016, with the option to build more based on demand.
- Uniworld asked a descendent of Maria Theresa Princess Anita von Hohenberg, to name its newest river ship, the 150-passenger Maria Theresa at a ceremony in Amsterdam. Amenities include a swimming pool with floor-to-ceiling modesty glass that frosts over when passengers walk through the door to have a dip, the line’s signature Leopard Bar next door with its animal print interior, cinema, spa, fitness room and complimentary bicycles and Nordic walking poles. The Maria Theresa will cruise the Danube River with itineraries including the 14-night European Jewels voyage from Budapest to Amsterdam, springtime Tulips & Windmills and winter Christmas market cruises.
- Avalon Waterways named the 128-passenger Avalon Tapestry II in the Normandy village of Les Andelys, one of four launches for the group this year. Tapestry II will join the 140-passenger Avalon Creativity on the Seine River. Avalon will launch two further river vessels in 2016, the Avalon Passion on the Danube and Avalon Imagery II on the Rhine, and new itineraries in Holland and Belgium.
- China is to get a second of Royal Caribbean‘s three Quantum-class ships, Ovation of the Seas, when it homeports in Tianjin from June 2016. Currently under construction, Ovation will join Quantum of the Seas, Mariner of the Seas, Voyager of the Seas and Legend of the Seas in four different cities: Shanghai, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Xiamen.
- AmaWaterways will build two more ships in 2017 and will begin operations in Bordeaux in 2016, basing AmaDolce there for 20 food and wine-based itineraries. AmaWaterways has ceased operations in Russia in 2015 and 2016, but launched its first ship in Burma and its second ship on the Mekong.
- MSC Sinfonia has left Genoa to resume service following enlargement and enhancement at Fincantieri’s Palermo shipyard. Features include new clubs dedicated to younger guests, including the outdoor Spray Park with exciting waterfalls and water slides, more balcony cabins, more spacious public areas and a greater choice of restaurants. MSC Cruises, which has grown by 800pc in capacity since 2004, carried 1.67m guests and reached a turnover of €1.5bn, is forecasting an additional 10pc growth in 2015.
- Norwegian Star, just out of dry dock has been retro-fitted with O’Sheehan’s pub (and 24-hour complimentary restaurant), despite the departure of Kevin Sheehan as CEO. Moderno Churrascaria, the Brazilian-style steakhouse, has moved to Deck 13 and an adjacent Sugarcane Mojito Bar added. Additions include a first at-sea Jimmy Buffet Five O’Clock Somewhere Bar while Ginza, formerly $15 per person, is now a complimentary dining venue. Enhancements include digital touch-screen signage; updates to the casino, photo gallery, pool deck and galley areas; window replacements; and new carpeting and flooring in passenger areas. Safety updates include a lifeboat and tender boat release systems upgrade; thrusters and stabilizer maintenance; and ballast and bilge piping replacement. Technical upgrades include silicone paint on the hull, along with an Azipod hydrodynamic upgrade to reduce fuel emissions and energy consumption. Norwegian Star will sail seven- to 14-night itineraries from Copenhagen throughout the Baltics and Norwegian fjords.
- Disney Magic’s summer 2015 in Europe features “Frozen”-themed events, and the movie’s characters will be onboard doing meet-and-greets and taking roles in Disney’s original onboard shows. Disney Magic is to come to Dublin in 2016 as part of a 12-night Britain and Ireland cruise. Disney Magic will return to Norway and Iceland, as well as to destinations in Northern Europe and the Mediterranean. Dublin is to get 86 cruise ship calls this year with three further calls to Dún Laoghaire. A further 17 ships will dock in the bay and passengers will be tendered off.
Ireland was represented by a winner at the CLIA cruise journalism awards at the Ham Yard Hotel in London. Mark Evans of , The Herald won the best river cruise feature for his Travelling like royalty on the River Queen. Picture shows Mark receiving his award from Andy Harmer, CLIA Director for Britain and Ireland and Kathryn Beadle, Managing Director of Uniworld.
- Stena’s Car Holiday Report 2015 says one in four Irish holidaymakers are planning to take the car with them on holiday with France, England and Spain the top three destinations. Irish holidaymakers like to fill up their boots during the trip buying local delicacies, souvenirs and clothes to take home.
- Crystal Cruises is introducing two itineraries for 2016 inclusive of flights from Belfast International, an 18-night Hawaiian Serenade fly/cruise round trip from San Francisco onboard Crystal Serenity. Departing May 28, 2016, and a ten-night fly cruise round trip from New York departing on October 2, 2016.
- Two crew members working on board Royal Caribbean’s Splendour of the Seas were detained after customs officials discovered 15kg of cocaine worth $1m while the ship was docked at Buenos Aires.
- Virgin Cruises appointed Stuart Hawkins as senior vice president in charge of new builds.
- Click and Go is offering full board on board the Queen Mary 2 New York to Southampton from €1,999pp incl. entertainment from Crosby, Stills and Nash on September 4 sailing or entertainment from the Blue Note Jazz Club on October 29 sailing. Prices include return fights from Dublin to New York, 7 nights transatlantic crossing, interior stateroom, daily white gloved afternoon tea, white star service, taxes and port charges, 1 night in a 4 star hotel pre or post cruise in New York and 20kg checked bag pp. Call 01 6371699 to book or visit clickandgo.com.
- ITAA offers of the week: 8 nights Oceania Italian Cruise from Rome to Venice from €1,289pp incl. free gratuities, depart May 3. 7 nights Half Board Valamar Zagreb Hotel, Croatia from €794pps incl. return flights and transfers, depart May 19. 7 nights B&B Kalofer Hotel, Bulgaria from €399pps incl. return flights, transfers, 20kg baggage and resort rep service, depart May 30.
- Irish Ferries is offering 3 nights B&B in the Best Western Tillington Hall Hotel from €429 for two adults and two children incl. return car ferry crossing and one full day at Alton Towers. Call 0818 300 400 to book.
- Lowcostbeds offers of the week, based on 4 sharing, 7 nights, arriving June 25: 4* Baia Cristal Beach & Spa resort, Carvoeiro, Portugal from €11pppn B&B. 3* Ourasol apartments, Albuferia, Portugal from €12pppn self catering. 3* Siesta 1 apartments, Alcudia, Majorca from €17pppn self catering. 3* Golf Centre apartments, Roquestas De Mar, Costa De Algeria from €12pppn self catering. 4* Hotel Hesperia Sabinal, Roquestas De Mar, Costa De Algeria from €26pppn half board.
- Sunway Lisbon coast offers: 7 nights B&B 3* Villa Gale Estoril from €649pp, depart June 20. 7 nights B&B 4* Vila Gale Cascais Hotel from €699pp, depart June 20. Prices include flights, return airport transfers, taxes, charges, 20kg checked in baggage pp and Sunway rep service.
- Click and Go offers: 3 nights in the Mediterran Hotel, Budapest from €239pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, travel in April. 7 nights self catering Panorama Apts, Puerto del Carmen, Lanzarote from €399pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in May. 7 nights B&B Corfy Holiday Palace, Kanoni, Corfu from €459pp incl. return flights ex Dublin and transfers, travel in May. 7 nights Bhundhari Spa Resort & Villas Samui Hotel, Koh Samui, Thailand from €999pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in June. To book visit clickandgo.com or call 01 637 1699.
- Travel Department Supersaver offers, all include transfer on arrival, return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges.: 7 nights B&B in 3* accommodation, Sorrento from €499pp, depart March 31 or April 14. 7 nights B&B in Hotel Arnolfo & Aqua Laetitia, Montecatini, Tuscany from €499pp, departs various dates in April. 3 nights at a 3* or 4* accommodation in Reykjavik from €349pp, departs various dates in April. 5 nights B&B 3* Best Western Hotel Astoria or 4* Hotel Novotel Montfleury, Cannes from €429pp, depart April 3 or April 17. 7 nights B&B Le Patio Des Artistes, Cannes from €499pp, depart April 2. 4 nights Valamar Club Dubrovnik Hotel from €499pp, depart April 20. 7 nights B&B Hotel Londres, Estoril, Portugal from €399pp, depart April 8. 5 nights B&B Hotel Vila Recife, The Algarve from €259pp, depart April 23 or from €299 depart April 8. To book visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 637 1600.
- Travel Department is offering 7 nights in Istanbul with Turkish Airlines from €999 incl. 4 nights B&B at 4* CVK Taxim Hotel and 3 nights half board at 5* Suhan Hotel in Avanos. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart May 8.
- Falcon is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Parque Cristobal & Siam Park, Playa de Las Americas, Tenerife from €2,099 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Dublin, depart June 5. To book visit falconholidays.ie or call 1850 45 35 45.
- Thomson couples’ deal to Tenerife: 7 nights half board Los Gingantes, Playa De Arena from €599pps incl. flights ex Dublin, depart May 22.
- Globe Hotels is offering 5* Sandos San Blas Resort, Tenerife from €465 on All Inclusive basis, depart May 5. See globehotels.ie for more info.
- Powder White late Easter ski deals: 7 nights The Locarno, Verbier from £349pp based on six people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights La Grange de Marie, Maribel from £399pp based on 10 people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights Chalet Fitzroy, Courchevel 1650 from £349pp based on eight people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 4. 7 nights Chalet Fritz, St Anton from £399pp based on 20 people sharing on a fully catered basis, depart April 5. Call +44 20 8877 888 to book.
- Galgorm Resort & Spa in Ballymena offers: 1 night B&B Spring Escape from £99.50pp incl. a 3 course evening meal with bottle of house wine in one of three restaurants and use of Thermal Spa facilities. 2 nights B&B Spring Retreal in Superior guest room from £160pp incl. a 3 course evening meal, Afternoon Tea and use of Thermal Spa facilities. Valid from March to May 2015. Visit galgorm.com for more info.
- Tourism NI offers of the week; 1 night La Mon Hotel & Country Club, Belfast from £79.50pps incl. two-course meal in The Mill Restaurant and use of country club facilities, available now until April 12, call 028 9044 8631 to book. 1 night B&B Lough Erne Resort, Ross Inner, Enniskillen from £118pps incl. a round of golf or Thai spa experience, available until December 31, call 028 6634 5766 to book. 1 night B&B Derry City Travelodge from £69 incl. two tickets for Cholmcille Walking Tours of Derry, available April 9 to 30, call 0870 1911 733 to book. 1 nights B&B Ballygally Castle Hotel, Larne from £65pps incl. 4 course dinner in the Garen Restaurant, available until June 30, call 028 28581 066 to book.
The Irish government’s tourism strategy proposes plans to grow overseas visitors to 10m per annum by 2025 (listen here), in theory increasing annual revenues from overseas visitors to €5bn* and result in an additional 50,000 jobs, bringing total employment in the sector to over 250,000. Currently 12 countries in Europe attract more than 10m tourists annually.
Tourism Ireland launched a joint promotional campaign with online French travel agents Go Voyages to deliver 1,000 billboard ads in metro stations in Paris.
- L’Irlande à Paris in the Irish Cultural Centre in Paris saw 35 Industry representatives from the Irish Tourism Trade meet face to face with French group tour operators, retail travel agents who book directly with Industry, French business tourism agents and corporate MICE buyers.
- Clare Wellness Festival will place on May 11-17 in the Falls Hotel in Ennistymon.
- Fáilte Ireland hosted 40 international golf buyers and media this week to attend the 2015 Golf Ireland Convention.