Travel Extra Sunday Supplement: A flying Bear & the EU says Non

Bear Gryll's new safety video for Air New Zealand

Bear Grylls’ new safety video for Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand’s new safety video was the video of the week, racking up 800,000 views a day on its release. Co Down born TV adventurer Edward “Bear” Grylls starred in an outdoor version of the traditional air safety video. It is a superb follow-up to last year’s Hobbit-themed safety video and the naked (body-painted) “nothing to hide” safety video of 2009.

The result was expected, but the detail of the EU judgment on Ryanair/Lingus was still a surprise, after all the elaborate shadow dance around the issues of competition and connectivity, Heathrow, Gatwick, Flybe-maybe and Boeing vs Airbus, it was turned down on the same old fashioned competition grounds that dogged Ryanair in 2007. “The proposals were simply inadequate to solve the very serious competition problems which this acquisition would have created on no less than 46 routes,” Commissioner Joaquim Almunia said. Unusually, the Commission stressed that Ryanair had got a fair deal, proving they are willing to join the O’Leary style of combat. Everyone except Ryanair welcomed the decision. The EU decided Flybe do not have resources “to maintain and develop Flybe Ireland as a viable and active competitor” and it was also “likely that the IAG would have exited the three routes or scaled back its operations at the end of the commitment period of three years.” Ryanair announced they were going to the courts, which is where this soap-opera was always destined to go from when the opening theme music was played in June, and there it will remain for the next year. They said “the history of the EU’s treatment of Ryanair’s two offers for Aer Lingus proves that this prohibition is a political decision.” Author of this blog, Eoghan Corry commented on TG4 that the odds were still against Ryanair but Michael O’Leary expected this would be decided by court appeal from the start. Meanwhile the decision is being studied by Olympic and Aegean, next up on merger charges.

 Backin' Belfast

“More kegs, less flegs,” was the response of one Belfast publican to the flag protest that devastated the city’s economy, particularly the night-time economy in the month of December. Belfast has hit back. Anne McMullan and Fiona Ure from Belfast CVB and John Keane from Ardmore Marketing were in Dublin this week to promote their £1m “Backin’ Belfast” campaign, in which restaurants and hotels have clubbed together to offer discounts of up to 50pc, prizes, surprises and other incentives to people to come to the city. “We needed to do something to get the restaurants and business gong again. We started with our own citizens, and now we are extending it to visitors,” Anne McMullan said. “Now #backinbelfast is all over social media.” Room occupancy was up in January by 1pc but from a low base. See pics from launch.

This year’s bookings for Brendan Vacations holidays in Ireland, mainly from North America, are up 20pc on 2012. Nico Zenner, the Belgian-born president of Brendan Vacations, who was in Dublin this week, cautioned that 2013 is young and “a mosquito might fall over in Dublin next week and suddenly Americans would stop traveling.” Nico said his major concern with Irish tourism is that money is not being re-invested in the hotel stock. “Keeping the hotel stock at a high standard is essential. The competition nowadays is not just from Europe but from new tourist destinations in Asia and South America.” Like its chief rival, CIE International, Brendan Vacations has hedged its dollar exchange rate for next year. Nico was joined by his colleagues, led by Catherine Reilly, board members, hoteliers and other luminaries of the tourism industry at a reception in Merrion Square to launch Boutique Destinations to the trade and press. Picture shows NIco Zenner, President of Brendan vacations and Catherine Reilly, Ireland manager. See more pics.

Etihad had a big week. They launched their global brand advertising campaign to start March 3, which came complete with the “making of” video which seems to be mandatory nowadays. Their millionth passenger, Alacoque O’Connor, from Athlone, travelled on the Dublin route on the same day that the airline hosted travel and sports media in Croke Park for a poc fada competition. Irish Independent sportswriter Colm Keys from Meath won the poc fada event. PIcture shows Dessie Cahill, Dave Walsh Ireland manager of Etihad and Galway all-star Joe Canning. See pics.

Sales: Irish Ferries and Stena Line unveiled near-identical children go free offers on their Irish Sea services. Irish Ferries book by Mar 19, travel until Dec 20th Stena Line book by March 16, travel until Jan 5, 2014.

  • Iberia strike on Monday is to go ahead, Iberia will cancel 431 flights, Vueling 316, Air Nostrum 433 and Iberia Express 101. Iberia plans to run 85pc of long haul flights, 62pc of medium haul and 47pc internal flights.
  • Ryanair announced a new route: Dublin to Bologna in June 2013
  • The CSO said Irish outbound travel was flat for the November-January period was up 0.2pc on 2012. Inbound from N America +was up 12pc, Britain was up 0.6pc, Aus was up 30pc, Scandinavia was up 26pc and Italy was up12pc. Overall inbound was up 4.4pc.
  • Athlone Castle opened its new €4.3m visitor centre, where visitors will get to “try out” ancient weapons
  • Anthony Fannarino, customer services expert, was announced as speaker at Travel Counsellors conference at Fota, Apr 18-20. The theme of the conference will be: ‘With us it’s personal’
  • A TripAdvisor poll indicated 38pc of passengers want more legroom without paying any extra fares and 87pc favour a low price over inflight entertainment.
  • More than 24 Airline CEOs, COOs and CIOs are due in Powerscourt for Airlines in Transition conference on April 11/12.
  • A survey suggested one in five global travellers say freebies are best in Irish hotels, Only 13pc of Irish travellers say they are willing to pay for Wi-Fi, and 32pc would like to be able to control the lighting, TV, shades, temperature and room service with one remote.
  • A Smartphone app was launched, Taxi driver check, which lets consumers verify their driver
  • Abertis group suggested Belfast international airport would NOT be offered for sale amid its portfolio of airport sell-offs.
  • Air Canada announced its Dublin-Toronto service will run May 18-Sept 29, daily 13.05 using 767-300, prices from €538.11 return inc taxes
  • Amid the US fiscal negotiations the USA FAA warns of compulsory unpaid leave for staff, ending night shifts, reducing maintenance and closing 100 air traffic control towers.
  • BA and Cathay Pacific are to codeshare Australia services from Mar 31
  • Belfast CVB reported a 14.2pc increase in visitors from outside the six counties in 2012, driven mainly by Irish and Scottish visitors.
  • Bolsa de Turismo de Lisboa (BTL) successfully concluded in Lisbon
  • Bushmills Dunes golf resort got the go-ahead at the High Court in Belfast.
  • Chancellor Merkel will open ITB Berlin 2013 on Wednesday, an event that will witness that rarity, both Leo Varadkar and Arlene Foster in attendance.
  • Cork Airport launched their advertising campaign to promote direct routes from Cork: ‘Better Still’
  • Disney Fantasy won best large ship at the Cruise Critic Awards and also won in five other categories, Holland Am Noordam won best mid-sized ship and Azamara Quest best small ship. English-based cruisers differed in their taste, choosing Celebrity Eclipse, Oceania Riviera and Azamara Journey.
  • Dublin’s Morrison hotel’s rebrand, Morrison Reborn, launched on Tuesday with a great party
  • Egypt’s prime minister Hisham Qandil has temporarily banned hot air balloon flights in Luxor after the accident that killed 19 tourists.
  • Emirates said it will add a second Airbus A380 service on the Dubai – Sydney route from 1 June 2013
  • English agent-only bedbank On Holiday Group launched in Ireland with Brendan Mallon ex-Falcon as sales manager
  • Etihad Airways completed their switch to Sabre Airline Solutions ‘SabreSonic’ Customer Sales and Service system successfully, having closed their system down on Saturday last. Etihad Airways and Garuda Indonesia announced new codeshare flights
  • Etihad is to upgrade Melbourne – Abu Dhabi capacity with a Boeing 777-300er aircraft from Dec 1
  • Frontier said it is going to pulls flights from Expedia after failure to ‘reach agreement’
  • IAG reported a loss of €997m. The group plans capacity cut of 1.9pc in 2013, with Iberia capacity down 10p-15pc and BA capacity up 2p. The Centre for Aviation reported that IAG labour productivity fell in 2012.
  • IATA reported a record year for air safety: 6 crashes, 75 accidents and 414 deaths worldwide from 3bn passengers. There were no major accidents from IATA’s 240 members. Passengers have a one in 6.8m chance of dying in an air accident, compared with a one in 8m chance of winning the Lotto.
  • Irish hoteliers campaigned to have links to Tripadvisor removed from the Tourism Ireland website
  • Istanbul Atatürk airport grew 20pc last year to 45m passengers. Once smaller than Dublin it is now the 6th busiest airport in Europe and is on track to pass Madrid into 5th place in 2013. Turkey’s airports handled 130m passengers in 2012; up 85pc since 2007. Turkish launched 30 new routes from Istanbul Atatürk in 12-months, and is set to overtake Delta at Atlanta for most non-stop destinations by end 2013.
  • It was speculated that the Indian government is to liberalise air bilateral agreements with key markets. Kingfisher Airlines has lost had its international and domestic flying slots handed to its competitors by the Indian government
  • England’s Customs inspectorate reported that officers ‘have been rooting through innocent passengers’ private possessions
  • Etihad Airways has purchased three pairs of Heathrow slots for US$70m from Jet Airways of India.
  • Leo Varadkar launched the €220,000 Boyne Valley Drive, 225km with 22 historic sites along the way
  • Ryanair announced a 9pc capacity cut at Stansted on the day the airport came under new ownership, in protest against a 6pc hike in fees
  • Shannon have lost Ryanair Bristol and Rennes routes for summer 2013
  • Stena HSS Fastcraft returned on Dún Laoghaire –Holyhead earlier than expected, with fares from €139 single for car and driver. The service will run to Tues Sept 10
  • The French government has postponed indefinitely plans to fine drivers for failing to carry a breathalyser kit in their car
  • The Irish Independent noted that the Ryanair Cash Passport, heralded as the only way to save €6 each-way card fees when it was launched two years ago, is now useless when buying flights as Ryanair treats all debit cards in the same manner.
  • United Airlines have launched flights from NY to Anchorage and Michigan, the first direct NY-Anchorage service. United expanded its new baggage delivery service to 36 US airports, BagsVIP customers can have bags delivered within 100 miles radius of arrival airports
  • Virgin said its new domestic Anglo-Scottish airline will be called Little Red.
  • Westport Hotel’s Bank Holiday weekend offer includes a 3rd night B&B free
  • Alitalia CEO Andrea Ragnett resigned after announcing heavy losses
  • Amadeus research suggested that long-distance rail traffic in Europe will grow to 1.3bn passengers by 2020
  • Mary McKenna MD of Tour America was appointed to board of California Convention & Visitors Bureau.
  • Padraic Gilligan of Ovation Global DMC won Destination Professional of the Year at Association of Destination Management Awards in Montreal

Prizes and Winners:

The Lowcostbeds iPad was won by Shane Cockburn of Skytours, last winner of €100 one4all voucher Ann Mullins of Donabate Travel.

Upcoming events of interest to the trade:

March 11: Thailand is hosting an event in the Westbury Hotel with 30 local hoteliers and ground handlers and a panel discussion. Thailand attracted 59,894 visitors from Ireland last year, making it our Number 3 long haul destination.

March 13 Kerala host an event at 6.30pm in the Radisson Blu Hotel inviting agents to meet the Kerala tourism team and hotel partners. Prizes include a trip for two to Kerala sponsored by Kerala tourism.

Make sure to connect with the new print edition of Travel Extra on

March 2013: Awards issue
February 2013: Holiday World Issue
January 2013 Weddings & Honeymoons issue

November 2012 Wintercruise issue
October 2012 Ski issue
September  2012 Accommodation Issue
July 2102 Canaries issue
June 2012 USA issue
May 2012 Australia issue
April 2012 Mediterranean cruise issue

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