Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Simmonscourt Swingers, Write Stuff, Industry Oscars, Aviators in Ireland

emirates showAttendances were up at the annual Holiday World in Dublin, which continues Sunday from 11am, with an increase of 12pc on Friday and 11pc on Saturday. New exhibitors this year included Puglia, who hosted an impressive presentation to the press, Lithuania, Dubrovnik and Seychelles while Emirates exhibited their flatbed seats. The expert panel were expanded this year, for the first time the CEOs of the two leading our operators in Ireland John Kinane of Thomas Cook and Helen Caron of Falcon Holidays/Thomson/TUI, sat together on the same panel to take consumer questions. US embassy consular chief Kees Davison told holiday makers that while people who had overstayed their visa term in the USA in the 1980s were regarded as having breached the terms of their visit to the USA and would have to apply for a visa to go back on holidays, a “high proportion” of those who had applied had been granted visas. Declan Kearney of Aer Lingus confirmed that no new North American destinations would be added in 2013, and that San Francisco and Toronto headed the airline’s North American wish list.

Granada will be the venue for the 2013 Irish Travel Agents Association conference. The decision was made at an ITAA board meeting on Friday and announced at the annual Travel Writer of the year awards in Thomas Prior House by ITAA president Clare Dunne, where Antonio Martin of Andalusia Tourism welcomed the decision.

ITAA president speaking at the Industry awards.

ITAA president Clare Dunne speaking at the Industry awards.

At their third annual Industry Awards, The Irish Travel Industry Awards paid tribute to former ITAA president Con Horgan of Abbey Travel for his decades of service to the Irish travel industry. O’Hanrahan’s Travel in Monaghan won the Travel Agency of the year and Clare O’Dwyer of Shandon Travel Group won the travel professional of the year. The annual hotly-contested battle for long haul airline of the year was won by Etihad.

Susan Morrell of the Sunday Business Post won the Travel Extra Travel Writer of the Year Award, a new winner amid many familiar faces on the podium. Tom Sweeney and JP Thompson’s “significant: birthdays were celebrated. Tributes were paid at the event to Yseult Joannet, Derek McKenzie Hook, Larry Meehan & sportswriter Con Houlihan, who passed away in the last year.

  • Click here for pictures from Travel Extra Travel Writer of the year awards
  • A passage from the winning portfolio describes Beijing: “Nowhere else have I found such friendliness that transcends language. Beijing has a certain magic that makes words unnecessary – you can easily communicate with a smile and a bit of sign language – and we never once felt lost, even when we actually were. All you have to do is keep your eyes open and you’ll find what you were looking for.”
  • The winners were: Tony McCullagh of Northside News (ski, category sponsor: Topflight), Peter Horgan (Young Journalist, category sponsor: Thomas Cook), Muriel Bolger (Travel book, for Dublin City of Literature, category sponsor: Lowcostholidays), Tom Sweeney (online media, category sponsor Cliakandgo), Mary Fanning producer and Michael Ryan presenter of Nationwide (Broadcasting, category sponsor: Istop Travel shop), Deirdre Mullins (home holkiday, category sponsor: Fáilte Ireland), Ed Leahy (Northern Ireland category sponsor NITB), Mal Rogers of Spain, category sponsor Spanish TB), Pól Ó Conghaile (short break, category sponsor Cassidy Travel), Mark Evans, Sun holiday Category sponsor:Falcon Holidays), Philip Nolan (Long haul Category sponsor Sunway), Susan Morrell (overall, category sponsor Maltese TB).

Price tag of the week was €3m, the cost of Tourism Ireland’s new website, which included the €500,000 purchase price for the domain name ireland.com from the Irish Times, as revealed by Tourism Ireland; digital specialist Brian Harte and CEO Niall Gibbons at a briefing in Bishop St. Since Ireland.com launched on January 3rd page views were up 35pc and web activity up 15pc compared with the old site. They said that 54pc of those visiting the site came to plan and book accommodation. “All through the site we have a commercial next action,” Brian Harte said. “There has been a huge emphasis on simplifying people’s experiences.” The number of links on the opening page had been reduced from 70 down to 17. One tweak on Monday had reduced the bounce rate by half – apparently bouncers are people who look at one page and disappear. Ireland.com is live in six languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch; and a further five, Brazilian Portuguese, Arabic, Russian, Chinese and Japanese, are currently in development. The London-based digital design firm Hugo and Cat won the contract for the development after what Niall Gibbons described as an extensive EU-wide tender process. The Irish Internet Association complained that an Irish developer should have been chosen.

Michael O’Leary’s prospects of completing his takeover of Aer Lingus are improving with every deadline extension. Christophe Mueller told his staff that Ryanair’s takeover proposals involved handing over 43 of the airline’s services to Flybe, and the three key Heathrow services from Cork Dublin and Shannon to BA. Oddly, this unexpected Irish bunty could be the salvation of Flybe which was almost bankrupted by the ash cloud crisis in May 2010, has lost £14m this year and is cutting 300 jobs in a survival plan. A statement form Flybe confirmed discussions were taking place but said these were non-binding and non-exclusive. The commentariat, including Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry, seemed to concur that it would be difficult for the EU to reject these offers. Business Post editor Cliff Taylor anticipated an appeal to the European Court of Justice should the Ryanair bid be turned down.

Etihad finally confirmed their much-leaked 34pc capacity increase on Dublin-Abu Dhabi. From July 2 a 412 seat (28-384) B777-300ER will serve on its six morning flights EY42, while the 262 seat (22-240) A330-200 will remain on four evening flights EY48. Cityjet replaced their Pau service with a weekly flight between Dublin and Brest Bretagne to start June 29, Saturdays AF 5266 at 13:05. After much procrastination, Minoan finally confirmed their Fokker 50 services to Oxford from march 6th, twice daily on two days per week plus Sunday evening, expanding to twice daily when it brings a second aircraft to the Oxford base on 10 May

In England, weekend snow drew attention to the eccentric Heathrow Procedures for Temporarily Reduced Capacity and some recriminations about the cancellations of hundreds of flights. Ryanair blamed a shortage of de-icer for delays at Stansted. At one stage it looked like Ryanair’s own crew would be left without accommodation as understaffed customer services tried to cope. It wasn’t pretty, with one (non-Ryanair) craft reportedly on the tarmac for SEVEN HOURS during the chaos.

The annual Global Airfinance Conference brought 1,000 delegates and 150 world aviation leaders from 40 countries to Dublin’s Four Seasons Hotel and some frustrated coverage form media who found their reporting of the event restricted. James Hogan made the entrance of the week, a booming-music TV preacher style entrance to the stage and announces a record $14m profit for Etihad at the conference, said he wanted to access more Australian cities and confirmed 4,000 have used the Etihad Aer Lingus codeshare so far. Ryanair’s Howard Millar said his airline has no interest in the Trans-Atlantic sector due to high fuel and jet costs. Best presentation was by Howard Putnam, ex CEO Southwest Airlines. Reuters reported on how Singapore was challenging Ireland’s pre-eminence in the world of aircraft leasing, currently 50pc of the world’s aircraft are leased out of Ireland. Expect more focus on our often forgotten place in world aviation, there are three more major aviation conferences scheduled for Dublin this year.

Among those who spoke, albeit by phone from Seattle, was Mike Sinnett the Boeing engineer at the helm of the Dreamliner lithium-ion battery crisis, who told delegates that the 787 was Boeing’s biggest priority (surprise). The Brits made the battery which probably explains something, while the American wondered how the FAA passed it in the first place and commentators suggested that the FAA-Boeing relationship might be a little cosier than it should be. Dreamliner’s customers are standing by the product while it is grounded.

Aer Lingus launched their summer USA sale with fares starting from €259 each way, Disney’s sale continues until January 31 and Royal Caribbean have early booking incentives, USD$1,000 free onboard credit on selected Southampton & Harwich cruises booked before Feb 28 and sister line Celebrity cruises are offering complimentary drinks package on all 2013 cruises booked before Feb 28. Hertz car-hire 33pc sale ends Jan 31.

Announcement of the week was the biggest airport in the world, form Turkish minister Binali Yildirim who said the proposed third airport in Istanbul, located in Silivri would have a capacity of 150m.

Norway’s tourist board announce plans to create the world’s longest scream to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Edvard Munch with submitted videos from fans around the world. Earplugs please.

  • Pádraig Ó Céidigh‘s resignation as Director and Chairman of Aer Arann, which happened before Christmas, was reported by the Irish independent and the Galway News. Pádraig continues to hold shares in the airline he transformed but will no longer be actively involved.
  • Rosie Hynes told politicians, members of the Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications, that none of Shannon’s 230 staff would lose their jobs (Irish Independent report, Oireachtas record). Pakistan International plan to stopover their westbound flights between Lahore and JFK at Shannon, using the pre clearance facilities.
  • Ryanair appointed Robin Kiely to replace Stephen McNamara as head of communications starting Feb 1, “the worst job in PR” as their characteristically impish publicity has been claiming.
  • The DAA launched a new business to business website, flytodublin.com.
  • Tallaght tycoon Alan Joyce had a success in his battle with the Unions, when he won the ‘right to manage the airline‘ in a ruling by Australia’s Fair Work Commission.
  • Clem Walsh of Lowcostholidays said that ‘all inclusive’ packages accounted for 18pc of all holidays sold so far in January in Ireland
  • Catherine.Grennell-Whyte will be leaving Swiss on January 31, Lufthansa, who came to Dublin to report a 15pc increase in bookings from Ireland, are taking over all Swiss sales in Ireland
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