Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Aviators in Enniskerry, Oscars in Donnybrook & the Kilkenny Spaniard who heads up European tourism

Appropriately, it was in his ancestral homeland that Manuel Butler Halter, CEO of Turespaña the Spanish Tourist board became newly elected president of the European Travel Commission at its meeting in Dublin on Thursday. He succeeds Petra Hedorfer of the German Tourist Board. A descendant of the Butlers of Ormond, he hosted breakfast for travel writers at the new Marker Hotel the following morning, not far from the site of the battle of Rathmines where his illustrious ancestor James Butler fought.

Spanish embassy lunch for Irish travel trade

Picture shows guests at a lunch hosted by the Spanish Embassy the previous day, Martin Skelly of Navan Travel, Gonzalo Ceballos of the Spanish Tourist Board, Clare Dunne President of the ITAA, Spanish Ambassador Javier Garrigues Flórez, Con Horgan of Abbey Travel, Pat Dawson of the ITAA and Ray Scully of Crystal. Picture below shows

Richard Quest instroduces  Willie Walsh CEO of IAG, Christophe Mueller CEO of Aer LIngus, James Davison CEO of Farelogix, David Barger CEO of jetblue and Montie Brewer former CEO of Air Canada at the Centre for Aviation Policy conference in Powerscourt

Panel discussion at Aviation conference

“Travel agents will die because they don’t have good information anymore,” Jeremy Wertheimer Vice President of Travel at Google told the aviation conference organized by CAPA, the Centre for Aviation Conference in the Ritz Carlton in Powerscourt on Friday.

This was among dozens of soundbytes and insights that emerged from eight separate, equally rich, panel discussions. The issues discussed included ongoing tensions between airports, who want longer dwell time by users, and airlines, who want to expedite boarding and turnaround. Most entertaining was a top table discussion at the Gala dinner on Thursday evening which went on for three hours of almost continuous banter, alongside an Airline CEO panel session which involved many of the same participants on Friday. Richard Quest of CNN gave one of his better performances as facilitator of both discussions. The conference attracted 15 major CEOs, including David Barger of Jetblue, Tewolde GebreMariam of Ethiopian, Willie Walsh, Christoph Mueller, a former CEO of Air Canada Montie Brewer and CIO of Lufthansa Christoph Klingenberg. Of the CEO’s, Willie Walsh was easily the most relaxed and at ease with the audience and the environment, facilitating wide-ranging and often humourous discussion. Interestingly Christoph Mueller enthusiastically entered the discussion about the incomplete privatisation of Aer Lingus despite Walsh’s insistence that he should not answer a question from Richard Quest when the response to a question from the floor from Gerry Benson of Travelbiz generated some of the best local news coverage from the event. Walsh lined up other broadsides, criticising ownership restrictions on European airlines. CAPA resuscitated its own research suggested Aer Lingus labour costs were the fifth highest for a European airline. JetBlue Airways CEO David Barger generated a lot of coverage for a comment that he would love to see a non-stop service from JFK to Cork. European Commission Director of Air Aviation and International Transport Matthew Baldwin said the EC wants to keep strong airlines “based in Europe, flying out of European hubs”.

Despite the banter, there were no major insights behind the scenes of world aviation, unlike the ERAA regional conference in Edinburgh last week where one Mediterranean airline executive described the airline’s biggest difficulty as “mediocre management.” How refreshing to hear someone at a conference being THAT honest.

Travelport chose the occasion to launch their much-anticipated Travelport Merchandising Platform. According to Fergal Kelly, Travelport’s Cork-based Vice President of content, the product has been four years in the planning and will change the booking process for travel agents, who can now access all their information, including fares and ancillaries, without opening a separate screen or launching a separate transaction, and for airlines, who can differentiate and collate their distribution between GDS and other channels more easily. The product was endorsed by launch customer Easyjet. Picture below shows:

Picture shows Willie Walsh CEO of IAG, Christophe Mueller CEO of Aer LIngus, James Davison CEO of Farelogix, David Barger CEO of Jetblue and Montie Brewer former CEO of Air Canada. See more photos.

Willie Walsh Christophe Mueller James Davison David Barger Montie Brewer

Mary Lyne from Blackpool Travel won the prize for most glamorous lady at the Sunway Oscars at Vanilla night club in Donnybrook. Other costume winners included John McGuill of McGuill Travel for the best lookalike, Juan Cullen of Supersun Travel the sexiest male, Ciara Masterson of Cassidy Travel the best hairstyle and Mike Shinners of Ace Travel the most unique outfit.

Karen Keogh Kathryn Thomas Philip and Tanya Airey copy

On the business side O’Callaghan Travel of Dundalk won the €1,000 prize for Top USA/Worldwide Agency, McGuill Travel and Ace Travel won €250 One4All vouchers. Sarah Williamson of Budget Travel won seven nights in California with flights from British Airways and a $500 voucher for premium outlets, Shane Cullen of Killiney Travel won seven nights in an all-inclusive in Barbados;  Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel won seven nights in a 5-star hotel in Dominican Republic; Shauna McGuill of McGuill Travel won a seven-night Sunway holiday while Margaret Traynor of Independent Travel won a Mini iPad. Picture shows Karen Keogh of British Airways, TV personality Kathryn Thomas, Philip Airey and Tanya Airey of Sunway. See more pictures.

Fionnuala Carter Kathryn McDonnell

Fionnuala Carter of the ITAA launched the Association’s Skillsnet programme at a function in the ITAA offices in Westmoreland Street. See more pics here.

The programme dates are:

  • 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 more courses on the way, including Train the Trainer, Micro Soft Office, HR Management, Presentation Skills, Sales and Marketing, Customer Services and Social Media.

Alison Metcalfe and Billy Condon

Alison Metcalfe and Billy Condon

Tourism Ireland announced that their new Head of North America would be Alison Metcalfe, formerly based in London. Tourism Ireland’s new Marketing chief for North America will be Billy Condon, formerly based in Paris.

Paul Carty New ITIC Chairman

In its first week of trading, the Marker hotel in Grand Canal Harbour also hosted the AGM of the Irish Travel Industry Confederation where Paul Carty of the Guinness Storehouse was elected new chairman. In his speech to the conference Minister Leo Varadkar promised a major review of tourism policy, as requested by ITIC in January, but said the process would start with a draft statement “later this year” followed by a consultation process, and then a policy at an unspecified date. Paul Carty said he is confident that of further growth in Irish tourism.

Paddy Lyddon


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