An Indian woman has accused Jet Airways of killing her pet cat. The cat, James Dean (so named under the mistaken belief that she was a tomcat), escaped from her cage while being transported to board flight 9W18 from Delhi to Singapore. CCTV footage showed James came under the wheels of a vehicle operating in the tarmac.
Rendez Vous en France 2013 was staged in Toulouse this week, close to some of the major foie-gras producing regions of France, as the guests were reminded each delicious meal-time.
The event which was opened by tourism minister Sylvia Pinel (above) highlighted big ticket news such as Marseilles year as European Capital of Culture, the opening of the new Louvre in Lens, Corsica’s host of the start of the 100th Tour de France, Mont St Michel’s’ revamped visitor facilities. Away from the press conferences at the social events there were other stories, each village, town and region seemed to have one. There were 680 exhibitors here, with the biggest presence from Paris and the host region, Midi-Pyrenees.
The world’s most popular tourist destination, France (78m international visitors) is considerably ahead of Spain (57.9m) in the European charts with Italy trailing back on 47.8m. Atout France hosted 900 international tour operators from 64 countries with a heavy emphasis on developing markets such as India and China, as well as 55 leading travel writers.
While visitor numbers from Ireland to France slipped back to below 600,000 last year. Agnes Angrand, London based director of the Irish market (pictured at the event with Atout France Director Christian Mantei), said she was working to encourage French regional and tourist bodies to help rebuild the Irish market, which peaked at 780,000 visits in 2008. She pointed out that innovative marketing can yield results out of Ireland. “If I look at Disney, their results are not doing badly at all. The best we can do is to push for more awareness in the Irish market. France has a huge variety and something for everyone. More and more people want more than one type of holiday. They want a whole range of experience and emotion and France can offer that.” Agnes and her team of Vanessa Renaud and Claire Bedouin looked after the Irish and UK delegation excellently.
The hosts organised 44 pre-event fam tours for 425 international tour operators from 59 countries. Participants included Derry Cremen of Hello France, whose Cork-based camping operation now attracts 15pc of its bookings from outside Ireland, and Maria Madigan of winetours.ie, a unit of Jim Vaughan’s Justsplit, who thoroughly enjoyed her cycling tour along the Canal du Midi, stopping for an occasional taste of Gaillac on the way (to celebrate, no doubt, her son Ian’s appearance at out-half for Ireland against Italy). The Cite de l’Espace was venue for an exceptional opening night dinner and musical performance. Local producers hosted the guests on the second night, and Trevor Brennan’s pub, De Danu, was also visited by the small Irish delegation. Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry toured the Airbus factory and the extensive aircraft collection, posing with a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 along the way. There was even a MiG-21 in former DDR livery. The collection is to be housed in a new museum, opening March 2014.2014.
Minister Pinel said she was working closely with immigration minister, Manuel Valls, to facilitate more short-stay visas for Chinese tourists. She told journalists at the press conference that the new government prioritized tourism to drive the economic recovery.” Difficulties in recruiting entry-level employees, a big concern at the Irish Hotels Federation conference in Killarney last month, was highlighted by the minister, as well as the stalled issue of the French hotel rating system and the revamped website, announced at last year’s Rendez Vous en France in Paris but still not up and running.
The event will be held in Clermont-Ferrand next year. Click for more pictures
Topflight hosted agents at separate events in Belfast and Cork. Topflight brought out their largest ever Italy brochure this year and have expanded their operation there. Tony Collins says regional bookings are well ahead of last year, a good sign of market recovery. A quiz night in Cork to promote their Cork to Verona flight was won by Deirdre O’Halloran after an extremely competitive final round. See more pictures.
Drifter of the week was a diving camera lost in Hawaii in 2007 and picked up in Taiwan on a beach at Taitung on February 13. The memory card was still intact. China Airlines offered the owner, Lindsay Crumbley Scallan from Georgia, a free round-trip ticket to Taiwan to collect the Canon camera.
Nearly four years after Ryanair closed its check-in desks in 2009, Easyjet followed suit this week. All Easyjet desks will be replaced by bag-drop desks from April 30 but the airline says it has n plans charge passengers a fee if they forget to check in online, or charge to print boarding passes, but Easyjet hopes the facility will only be used in “exceptional circumstances.”
Ryanair recently increased the fee for printing a boarding pass at the airport from €50 to €70, but have reduced the time-limit in advance of the flight from four to two hours. This opens up the option of passengers who do not have a working printer checking in online and then using the airport printing facilities provided by Irish company Surfbox in many European airports to avoid the charge.
Ambergris Caye, Belize (above) was selected the best island in the world in Tripadviser Choice awards ahead of 2 St John, US Virgin Islands; 3 Bora Bora, French Polynesia; 4 San Juan Island, Washington; 5 Santorini, Greece; 6 Isla Mujeres, Mexico; 7 Moorea, French Polynesia; 8 Koh Tao, Thailand; 9 Easter Island, Chile; 10 Nosy Be, Madagascar.
Santorini, the only European island to make the top ten, was followed in the European charts by 2 Cephalonia, Greece; 3 Capri, Italy; 4 Naxos, Greece; 5 Orkney Mainland, Scotland; 6 Gozo, Malta; 7 Zakynthos, Greece; 8 Jersey; 9 Isle of Skye, Scotland; 10 Fuerteventura, Canaries.
The debate about the merits of premium economy resurfaced this week. Lufthansa announced it is to launch premium economy in 2014, with seats of around 19-20 inches wide, and 38-39 inches of pitch. The airline previously resisted the “in-between” category favoured by BA, United and Virgin, fearing (as do Emirates and Etihad) that it would dilute business class bookings. “We are introducing a fourth class now because our customers want it” Lufthansa CEO Christoph Franz said.
SAS announced this week they are going the other direction, phasing out premium economy and returning to a two class structure from June this year. Passengers in SAS Go (economy) will still get free bag check-in, coffee or tea.
Lufthansa say the next destination for their stylish 747-800 will be Hong Kong in April. Destinations to date from Frankfurt: Bangalore, Delhi, Washington and Los Angeles.
SAS also announced a new route from Copenhagen to San Francisco.
The first programme of ITAA skillnet courses has been announced by Fionnuala Carter. For bookings and questions in advance of training email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Tue 9th April 6pm-8pm Language Learning Open Night: Enjoy a glass of wine and ITAA Offices, 8-9 Westmoreland St., Dublin 2 No Charge
- Wed 10th April 10am – 6pm Introduction to Credit Card Compliance ITAA Offices 8-9 Westmoreland St., Dublin 2 Members: €170 Subsidised: €210
- Wed 24th April Manual Handling Dublin Members: €50 Subsidised: €70
- Wed 1st May First Aid Refresher Dublin Members: €50 Subsidised: €70
- Commencing Tue 23rd April 9:30am Facebook Marketing Webinars for Irish Travel Professionals Distance No Charge
- Tue 30th April To Tue 18th June 6pm-9pm Digital Marketing Diploma FETAC Level 5 Accredited Every Tuesday and Thursday Dublin Members Fee: €715 Subsidised Fee: €880 (Standard Fee: €1,500)
- Tue 7th May To Tue 25th June 6pm-9pm Digital Marketing Diploma FETAC Level 5 Accredited Every Tuesday and Thursday Cork Members Fee: €715 Subsidised Fee: €880 (Standard Fee: €1,500)
- Fionnuala says there are loads more courses on the way, including Train the Trainer, Micro Soft Office, HR Management, Presentation Skills, Sales and Marketing, Customer Services and Social Media.
There was much discussion about driver’s ignorance of motoring laws abroad, which sent the London Telegraph scurrying to find some unusual ones. Apparently it is illegal to drive in the Belarus with a dirty car. Most of us know by now that, in France, all drivers are required to carry a breathalyser. In Russia it is forbidden to pick up hitchhikers. In Serbia drivers must always carry a tow bar and 3m rope. In Germany it is illegal to drive without winter tyres at certain times of the year. In Scandinavia it is illegal to drive without headlights, even in daylight. In Spain, if you need to wear glasses, you are required to carry an additional pair when driving while in some Spanish cities, cars must be parked on different sides of the road according to the day of the week.
Royal Caribbean announced that their biggest cruise liner, Oasis of the Seas is coming to Europe in autumn 2014 and will be based in Barcelona in October for three sailings prior to going into dry dock in the Netherlands. The ship will be calling to Southampton on October 15th. Jo Rzymowska, Associate Vice President and General Manager, Royal Caribbean International, Ireland and UK says the sailing from Southampton is going to be “the hottest ticket in town.”
There was lots of publicity for the latest contribution to the “fat passengers should pay more” debate, Fjordane (Norway) based academic Bharat P Bhatta. “To the degree that passengers lose weight and therefore reduce fares, the savings that result are net benefits to the passengers,” Bhatta wrote this week in the Journal of Revenue and Pricing Management. Bhatta proposed that the same fare would be charged if a passenger was of average weight. A discount or extra charge would be used if the passenger was above or below a certain limit. Another suggestion is that a person who weighted 10 stone would pay half the fare of someone who weighted 20 stone.
While the cold snap has led to some ABTA—fuelled stories about a surge of holiday bookings in England, there is no corresponding rush to the sun amidst our wind-chill week in Ireland. Even if the demand is there, there seems to be a shortage of availability until the summer schedules start in May. The weather casualties of the week including some English passengers on a DFDS mini-cruise to Amsterdam spent just six minutes at their destination (in the dark) during 30-hour ferry journey.
Aer Lingus and United announced they will further expand their codeshare. United will codeshare on Dublin Manchester and Birmingham feeding the Aer Lingus Dublin flights to Boston, JFK, Chicago and Orlando. United Business/First Passengers can use the Aer Lingus Gold Circle Lounge at Dublin while Aer Lingus business passengers can use United lounges at 21 airports in the US.
- Aer Lingus start operating routes for Virgin’s new airline, Little red, today, form London Heathrow to Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Manchester.
- From today check-in for all transatlantic flights will close 75 minutes before scheduled departure time for Economy Class passengers and 60 minutes before departure for Business Class passengers.
- Qantas daily flights from Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne move from Singapore to Dubai today
- CAPA said 15 CEOs will attend their Airlines in Transition conference in Dublin on April 11-13, IAG’s Willie Walsh, JetBlue’s Dave Barger, Vueling’s Alex Cruz, and Zhimin Ma fm Hainan.
- DAA is investing €€1m in refurbishment of one of the oldest elements of Dublin Airport, the 300-numbered boarding gates (Pier B)
- Titanic in Belfast celebrated its first birthday this weekend. Celebrations started with dance displays and singing performances in the afternoon. The centre has attracted 700,000 visitors from 128 countries.
- Premier Inn has opened a new hotel at Stansted Airport
- Best Western is offering $1 breakfast at participating properties across Australia, NZ and Fiji until April 24.
- World Routes will be held in Africa for the first time on September 20-22, 2015, when it is staged in Durban.
- American BTS say that USA airlines average passenger load factor is 83pc, highest level since 1945, carried 736.6m inc 83.4m international
- The Irish Aviation Authority won the Innovation Award at the Irish Logistics and Transport Awards.
- Michael Cawley said the Algarve route out of Shannon brings the total number of Ryanair passengers up to 485,000 passengers on 10 routes. Cawley confirmed Ryanair are NOT going long-haul.
- The longest zip line in world (1 mile, 100mph) has opened at Penryhn Quarry, Bethesda, Wales
- The English Post Office City Costs Barometer said Budapest was cheapest city in its annual survey ahead of 2 Vilnius, 3 Warsaw and 4 Riga.
- Ryanair announced a partnership with English coach operators National Express enabling discounted tickets to be booked online.
- Aer Lingus is to increase Verona from two to three weekly for the summer.
- Air Europa will replace Iberworld’s Shannon-Lanzarote service for Sunway. A boy was killed by a falling airport sign in Birmingham Alabama.
- SAS announced they are redesignating Irish sales, Irish country manager Alan Sparling will becomes GSA from June 1
- Brittany Ferries resumed its Cork-Roscoff sailings on Saturday and will continue November 2nd.
- Los Angeles received record 41.4m visitors in 2012, up 2.5pc
- Club Med is launching a new brand campaign in 47 countries around the world in 22 languages
- Ryanair used research in the recent World Economic Forum tourism report in a renewed call for an end to the government aviation, claiming Kazakhstan, Mozambique and Rwanda are more competitive than Ireland
- America’s FAA announced that 149 federal contract ATC towers will close beginning April 7, a further 24 are to remain open
- Flights have moved to new terminal at Queen Alia International Airport, Amman
- Albastar will replace some Iberworld flights from Dublin to Reus.
- Aer Lingus will increase Rome to 12 weekly in June with 3 daily flights on Sunday and Malaga increases to 15 weekly with 3 daily flights on Sunday.
- Jim McNerney of Boeing told a US Chamber of Commerce aviation summit in Washington DC on Thursday that he expects Dreamliner to fly “sooner rather than later.” McNerney urged regulators reviewing battery problems on the company’s grounded 787 passenger jet to let the plane back into service.
- Air France announced that Alexandre de Juniac will take over as CEO from Jean-Cyril Spinetta on July 1. Iberia CEO Rafael Sanchez-Lozano has resigned “by mutual agreement“.
- Dublin’s City Council conceded that the U2 Tower and Point Village Watchtower at 100m have “very little prospect” of ever being built.
- Aegean Airlines has offered concessions to try to win approval for its second bid for rival Olympic Air.
- Travel commentators reiterated their advice to use cash rather than plastic in Cyprus. Ryanair’s base in Paphos has helped the airport to grow by 26pc and break the 2m mark.
- Jean and Paul Rankin’s Cayenne restaurant in Belfast is to close because of flag protests orchestrated by the Unionist parties.
- InterContinental hotel group is to offer free internet to all loyalty scheme members.
- Aer Lingus will reduce Warsaw and Budapest flights to three weekly in June (both cities were daily last June).
- The EU confirmed that carbon tax will not be imposed on intercontinental airline flights until April 2014. Irish born Aoife O’Leary of Transportation & Environment says UN action is the only way the airline industry can meet its own goal of achieving carbon-neutral growth in 2020 and cutting emissions 50pc by 2050.
- Crystal cruises said it is expanding its sole occupancy programme for single cruisers.
- In the spirit of Easter the Restaurants Association criticised the “antiquated” law banning alcohol sales in restaurants on Good Friday.
- Australian regulators have granted conditional clearance for the Qantas- Emirates alliance.
- Aer Lingus will add a sixth weekly flight to Palma on Saturday evenings in the summer schedule.
- America’s FAA said it is considering allowing electronic devices during takeoff.
- Antrim archaeologists have got funding to excavate a site they describe as “little Pompeii.”
- Hotels.com released a much-publicised survey showing that Russia has the most public holidays (40) and Mexico the least (19). Irish people have 29 paid and public holidays compared to 36 in Italy. The European average is 33 days.
- Air India are to start services to Melbourne, Washington, Milan and Birmingham.
- An aviation survey by the University of Greenwich found 90pc of passengers survive the average plane crash. The safest seat is in economy class, with your seat belt fastened, by the window, within a few rows of an emergency exit.
- The number of Irish visitors to Germany in January 2013 was up 3.7pc.
- Aer Lingus CEO Christophe Mueller was appointed chair of An Post.
- P&O Ferries, has re-launched its fast ferry service between Larne and Troon, following a £500,000 investment to re-design and refit P&O Express.
- Celebrity Cruises announced a European programme for 2014 with six ships based in European waters.
- The CSO reports that visits to Ireland from overseas were up 2.6pc for Dec-Feb period on the same three months of the year before, with Britain down 2.4pc but North America up 9.9pc and mainland Europe up 5.7pc. Trips abroad by Irish people was down slightly by 0.6pc to 1,136,000.
- Aer Lingus flights Dublin to Boston and the 15.45 flight to Chicago will no longer pre-clear at Dublin airport from Wednesday Apr 3. All Aer Lingus passengers travelling to New York JFK will pre-clear US Customs and Immigration at either Dublin or Shannon airport. .
- Irish-born Maureen Wheeler’s Lonely Planet group said their first ever guide, to Australia published in 1973, is to be given away as a free eBook for guide book publishers’ 40th anniversary.
- LIV, the trendiest nightclub in Miami, located in the iconic Fontainebleau hotel, made $40-$60m in 2012.
- A ComScore survey indicated that Ryanair.com attracts 14pc of total travel website traffic in Ireland, and had 1m hits in January. A Greenlight survey of hotel search engines showed Tripadvisor well ahead of its rivals, with 68pc of travel searches on Google, Expedia 26pc, and Marriott and Laterooms.com on 17pc each
- Oakwood theme park in Wales re-opened for the season on Friday.
- Gary Gray was sworn in as new Australian Federal Tourism Minister in Canberra.
- WingsAbroad signed a supplier agreement with Worldchoice.
- American/US Airways merger has got the first stamp of approval from US judiciary
- Topflight said that ski holidays showed strong growth in 2013.
- Thomson Airways said they are to introduce extra legroom seats on a range of short and mid-haul routes.
- Princess Cruises celebrated the float out of Regal Princess in Italy, read Teresa Machan’s report.
- Airports Council International’s annual aviation statistics indicated Istanbul is the world’s fastest growing large airport (up 20.2pc). Overall global traffic was up 4pc. Atlanta is still the world’s busiest airport with 95m passengers (up 3.3pc), followed by Beijing (81m, up 4.1pc), Heathrow (70m, up 0.9pc), Tokyo-Haneda (66m, up 6.7pc), and Chicago-O’Hare (66m, down 0.1pc).
- Finnair launched a social check-in facility which allows the passengers to link their Facebook profile with the seat map.
- A bonvoyage survey of the ten strangest complaints from cruise passengers found a holiday-maker who complained about the noise of the sea
- Video of the week is the street performer in Queensland who had enough of a pestering passer-by and decided to punch him
- And for some snooze news, a Finnish hotel is seeking a professional sleeper to test the beds in its 35 rooms