Travel Extra Sunday Supplement: Behind the scenes as RPG launches a rocket at Ryanair

The argument about safety was over before the end-credits rolled on the Channel 4 Dispatches programme: Secrets from the Cockpit. The support given to Ryanair by the Irish Aviation Authority and the London based NATS saw to that. But another, more intriguing, argument has only just begun: are Ryanair’s terms fair and reasonable when it employs its pilots, and can the airline continue to keep the pesky trade unions from storming the gates of its castle in Collinstown?

ryanair pilots group

As the centenary of the 1913 lockout approaches on Monday week, Michael O’Leary seems to be taking the role of a latter day William Martin Murphy, while the new Jim Larkin is former pilot John Goss. Goss has a formidable group of international industrial relations heavyweights (above) in his corner. His “interim committee”, (presumably until Ryanair pilots elect a committee of their own) of the fledgling Ryanair Pilots Group (slogan: ‘by pilots, for pilots’) which they say already claims the support of more than half of the 3,500 Ryanair pilots, consists of (from left):

  • group chairman Evert van Zwol a KLM B777 pilot who headed the Dutch pilots union VNV Hollande ALPA and who first issued the strike threat in German newspaper Die Ziet,
  • John Goss. the key member in that he is the only Ryanair pilot on the committee (ex-pilot since Wednesday), the man who made international headlines by asking the High Court to imprison Michael O’Leary before he won a court case against Ryanair in 2005 preventing the airline taking action against him for union activities.
  • Ted Murphy, former Aer Lingus pilot, former chairman of IALPA and former president of IFALPA the International Federation of Air Line Pilots’ Associations,  notably at the time of the September 11 2001 hijackings, and veteran of two failed attempts to organise pilots in Ryanair on behalf of Evan Cullen’s IALPA union.
  • Samuel Giezendanner formerly of SNPL France ALPA (French National Union of Airline Pilots),
  • Carl Kuwitzky President of the Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association in 2006-10, a key figure in the group in that O’Leary publicly acknowledges that Southwest was the inspiration for Ryanair. He said the good relations between Southwest Airlines and its employees should be an example for Ryanair to follow.

RPG have already threatened to organise a strike in Ryanair just six weeks ago. The group enjoys the support of the international Federation of Airline Pilots Associations.

Monday’s Dispatches was the biggest rocket launched at Ryanair by RPG (sorry) to date. Most of the pre-publicity for the programme was based on a survey of 1,000 pilots carried out by Goss’s organisation which allegedly showed that 89pc of them did not consider the airline to have an open and transparent safety culture, and that 67pc were not comfortable raising issues through an internal Ryanair reporting system. The Daily Mail, not normally known for its support of the trade union movement, reported that Ryanair pilots claim their contracts make them more likely to fly even when unwell.

The programme raised three important points. Firstly, it interviewed four Ryanair pilots, three anonymously, who raised the issue of being pressured to carry less fuel through the infamous fuel burn tables and personal letters from base captains. They said younger pilots in particular were susceptible to this pressure. Secondly, it claimed to have found 12 different incidents since 2005 when cockpit voice recordings were not saved after incidents involving Ryanair flights (Ryanair said that on occasion some pilots had forgotten to pull a circuit breaker on landing that would have preserved the recordings). Thirdly, it revisited the events of July 26 2012 when three Ryanair aircraft diverted from Madrid to Valencia in a thunderstorm raised the ire of Spanish air traffic authorities by each declaring fuel emergencies (this led to the key quote from the documentary: “I don’t know if people realised how close to the edge they were”). Ryanair responded to this report, as they did at the time, that fuel emergencies were not unusual without mentioning allegations that Spanish air traffic controller had prioritised other airlines using holding patterns over Madrid on the night in question.

The only Ryanair pilot to appear publicly on camera was Michael O’Leary’s nemesis, John Goss, and he made perhaps the most serious allegation of the 26 minutes when he said pilots had reported incidents to aviation authorities, but had not heard anything back.

Ryanair went to war on all fronts. They dismissed the survey as a ‘fabrication’ by an organisation it claimed was made up of trade unions of the airline’s competitors (“the Ryanair Pilot Group is in fact a Non Ryanair Pilot Group (NRPG), as it is a PR front for the European Cockpit Association, which is the group representing pilot trade unions of Ryanair’s competitor airlines“), and claimed, plausibly, that the airline has a safety record on a par with the safest airlines in Europe, a record which “is not something that can be voted on or subjected to anonymous or fabricated trade union surveys.” On the evening of the programme, they released their correspondence with Channel 4 Dispatches and claimed the channel failed to broadcast an IAA statement confirming that Ryanair’s safety is on a par with the safest airlines in Europe. Then on Wednesday, they dismissed John Goss, just two months short of his retirement, presumably pour encourager les autres. This move generated more international coverage just as the safety debate was running out of steam. It was the clearest message we got this week that Ryanair are far more concerned about keeping IALPA at bay than debunking Dispatches. Ryanair already had disciplinary procedure in place after Captain Goss made similar claims in a newspaper interview.

While the public waded through the jargon of “level busts,” “call sign confusion events” and “failure to follow ATC procedure events,” Ryanair’s real point of exposure was barely noticeable: the labyrinthine contract system under which two-thirds of Ryanair pilots are employed.

david learmountVeteran Flightglobal commentator David Learmount (right) had already speculated that Ryanair’s unusual relationship with its pilots was a large part of the controversy caused by the programme. This issue was flagged in September 2010, when a London based pilots union warned that the aviation industry, following trends in the building, taxi and pub industry, was employing pilots who were to all intents and purposes ‘employed’ but whose ‘employer’ exploited a grey area in the law to categorise them as self-employed and deprive them of sick pay, holiday pay, pension entitlement and health and safety measures. Ryanair employs an estimated 2,300 pilots through hundreds of joint stock companies, something that has begun to exercise the minds of tax authorities in Germany.

Meanwhile the safety debate had gained a life of its own, generating over 300 articles, although few of them were outside Ireland and Britain. There was limited coverage of the IAA’s unusually strident response, which claimed the programme was “based upon false and misleading information” which could undermine the confidence of air passengers. David Learmount commented: “Ryanair is looking suspiciously competent at their operations, and is trialing Lufthansa’s Lido operations management and planning system in parallel with its traditional one.” The best soundbyte of the debate was (unsurprisingly) from Michael O’Leary, when he warned his pilots not to confuse safety with industrial relations matters, O’Leary saved his best performance for Newstalk: “the fuel emergency procedure exists purely for unusual but not abnormal circumstances such as this, this occurred in only three aircraft of 1.2m flown over the last two years, we want everyone flying slower, smoother, safer.”

On the other side IALPA said that “statements by the IAA and the Irish Department of Transport suggest that both Irish agencies are unwilling to take pilots’ concerns seriously.” Van Zwol told CNBC news channel that the group “don’t want this to end here.” French minister for transport Frédéric Cuvillier was among those who expressed concerns about the contents of the documentary. There was, predictably, good news all round for the learned gentlemen, Ryanair threatened to sue Channel 4 and RPG threatened to sue Ryanair. Ryanair issued defamation proceedings on Friday against Channel 4, Blakeway Productions, Associated Newspapers (Mail Online), Mirror Group and Belfast Telegraph.

Those in the margins had a field day. Aviation commentator Malcolm Ginsberg blamed the shortcomings on the fact that Ryanair was regulated in Ireland and not in England (where, presumably, standards are higher). He previously stated: where Ryanair has been able to score over its British rivals is the fact that while its main hub has been Stansted, it is not subject to the same regularity authority or costs. One wonders if a UK accountant were to take a close look at the finances what they would come up with? Could you imagine Richard Branson taking space in the Irish Times to criticise the Taoiseach? Another internet forum contributor described Ireland as “bongo bongo land,” touching a phrase that recently gained prominence in Westminster.

Ryanair are champion documentary debunkers. This week they mischievously recalled a previous Dispatches programme of February 2006 that had used fabricated footage, using actors to pose as sleeping Ryanair crew. Maybe that is why Dispatches declined to interview the ever-available Michael O’Leary, they may have been mindful of Vivian White’s memorable encounter with him in October 2009 on behalf of BBC Panorama (Ryanair’s statement then was: First BBC Panorama censors the truth, now it tells lies), Stephen Sackur’s hardtalk (soft-talk?) interviews of August 2008 and October 2012 on BBC, or even O’Leary’s calling IALPA’s Evan Cullen a ‘failed Aer Lingus pilot on RTE’s Primetime in September 2006 (he later apologised and settled a case for damages).

Ryanair’s warning to pilots not to confuse safety and industrial relations matters had a touch of “kettles and pots” about it. When Ryanair dismissed one of their pilots, James Anderson, In March 2011 for passing out a union recruitment leaflet during a flight, Ryanair accused him of “compromising safety.” Anderson received a GBP40,000 settlement in the unfair dismissal claim, a figure which Ryanair deprecated as the equivalent to one day of legal fees in a hearing expected to last three days.

This was one of many attempts by pilots unions, particularly Ireland’s IALPA and London-based BALPA, that Ryanair has successfully foisted off for 25 years. Ryanair says that by not having unions it was able to offer pilots a 5 on, 4 off roster “the best in the industry” as well as protecting Ryanair’s pilots pay and job security. Ryanair set out their stall in 2001 with the high profile dismissal of IALPA member Martin Duffy for allegedly promoting union activity (Chief Pilot Jim Duggan and daughter Cliona Duggan also left Ryanair at the time in an unrelated issue). When BALPA called off their 2009 campaign Ryanair hailed a “humiliating defeat” for what it called the “British Airways Lunching” Pilots Association.

There was another Irish angle: Bob Geldof is a share holder in programme makers Blakeway, who are described as specialists in “blue-chip factual programmes“. John Goss claimed the group’s Facebook account had been closed, but it remained open through the controversy.

sean brogan 001 copyBack down the Santry Road, Aer Arann’s Sean Brogan (right) also has some cranky pilots to cope with. Agreement was reached at midday on Friday after IALPA threatened Aer Lingus regional flights in Ireland and Britain on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday next week would be hit by industrial action. Aer Arann told 350 staff it is considering issuing them with protective notice. Agreement from talks will be put to a secret ballot of the pilots with “a strong recommendation for acceptance.” Aer Arann employs 100 pilots whose pay ranges from €41,300 for a newly recruited first officer to between €65,000 and €81,000 for captains. Listen to Eoghan Corry’s analysis of the strike threat on RTÉ’s Drivetime.

The DFA travel advice was updated on Saturday to advise Irish citizens not to travel to Egypt at this time:  If you are in a tourist resort on the Red Sea, we are not at present advising that you depart. Make sure to speak with your travel representative and hotel for local advice. An evening curfew was introduced in resort town Sharm el Sheikh on Wednesday, and excursions from the Red Sea resorts to Cairo, Luxor, Moses Mountain and St Catherine’s Monastery have been suspended. Holiday makers in Hurghada have been told to remain in their hotels. Neither Falcon Holidays nor Thomas Cook have reported any cancellations on their Wednesday charters to Sharm El Sheikh, and say normal booking conditions apply should any customer wish to amend or cancel, which effectively means no amendments to a booking within four weeks of departure. In a note to the trade, Thomas Cook Ireland said their teams on the ground have confirmed no tourist areas have been affected and “customers continue to enjoy these popular resorts”. The Red Sea resorts are eight hours drive from Cairo and effectively a gated community, largely isolated from the real Egypt outside the gates. A Tripadviser forum is following events in Sharm el Sheikh. British Airways says it has altered flights schedules to Cairo so that they do not land in the evening. Germany, the US, Sweden and Finland have all extended their travel warning for Egypt to include the Red Sea tourist resorts.

Nairobi airport said normal operations resumed Monday morning when a temporary terminal for international arrivals was opened at the State Pavilion. A structure will be ready in eight weeks and work will be accelerated on the new Terminal 4 already under construction by two Chinese firms to have it completed by year end. reported it was able to facilitate all its Irish clients, Kenya Airways say that due to the limited facilities at JKIA, transit times have had to be adjusted. Passengers must have a confirmed booking and meet revised minimum connection times who normally travel through Amsterdam. An intriguing possibility was raised: did architect Kamlesh Pattni burn down Nairobi airport to cover up details of how $2m for President Moi won a duty free contract? The Star in Kenya made a revealing visit to an ivory store in Hanoi to investigate how the rhino horn smuggling trade works.

Uncle Sam sprang a surprise: The US government announced on Tuesday it was suing to block the merger between American and US Airlines. The 56-page lawsuit quoted internal emails, investor presentations and public comments by top executives noting how consolidation allowed the industry to raise fares and charge passengers increased fees for checking a bag or changing flights. The average cost of a roundtrip domestic ticket in the USA including baggage and reservation change fees rose to $378.62 last year, up from $351.48 in 2008, when adjusted for inflation. In response airline lawyer Joe Sims said the US government’s case was weak: “If they are going to convince the court that the sky is falling, which essentially is what they are trying to do here, they are going to have to have more meat than they’ve shown us so far.” Among those who want the merger to go ahead are flight attendants union which threatened massive mobilisation against the Department. The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) accused the DOJ of forgetting “that American Airlines was mired in bankruptcy without a viable strategy when US Airways announced it would purchase, and merge with, American.”

pic 1 - TOURISM IRELAND LAUNCHES NEW 'FLAVOURS OF IRELAND' ONLINE FILMS copyTourism Ireland launched its flavours of Ireland series of online films with a sailpast in Cork.. Picture shows: Frank Hederman, Belvelly Smokehouse (second left), and local fisherman Mick Tobin (third right), during filming of Tourism Ireland’s new online food film in Cobh Harbour; with film crew members Richard Childs, Joseph von Meding, Emma Good and Emily Good.

michale english ronan keating copyMichael English, Celebrity Cruises Head of Sales for Ireland & Britain hosted two Celebrity Cruises teams at the Marie Keating Foundation annual golf classic at the K Club – hosted by Ronan Keating, with Lee Cox of John Cassidy Travel, Philip Airey from Sunway Travel, American Holiday’s Mark O’Reilly and Steve Aston of Clubworld Travel, who scored a hole-in-one in an agent incentive to win a place on the team. Celebrity Cruises supplied a cruise onboard the multi-award winning Celebrity Equinox for the fundraising auction during dinner later in the day. Clubworld Travel’s Delia Aston outbid celebrity guests for the Celebrity Equinox cruise. Picture shows Gary West of Planet Cruise; Ronan Keating; Linda Keating and Michael English of Celebrity Cruises at the K Club.

Cityjet Christine OurmièresIt is increasingly likely that Cityjet will be sold to Germany’s Intro Aviation. Cityjet will withdraw from the London City to Edinburgh route from the end of October. Cityjet’s CEO Christine Ourmieres (above) says that London City to Dundee and Edinburgh to Paris CDG will continue. The slots which are currently used for the London City to Edinburgh service will be utilised to increase flight frequency on other routes. Cityjet will terminate Air France franchise agreement from October and instead operate all of its flights currently operated under Air France (AF, Paris CDG) flight numbers on a franchise basis under its own commercial responsibility using its WX code. Dublin-headquartered CityJet has been up for sale since September last year and initially attracted approaches from around 20 potential buyers. Air France took full control of CityJet in 2000.

rick calvert.jpegThe schedule for the TBEX Travel Bloggers conference in Dublin on October 3-4 has been announced. The 500 bloggers, mainly from USA and Canada, will be offered pre-TBEX Trips to the Donegal and Sligo leg of the Wild Atlantic Way, to Clare and Limerick (“City of Culture”), featuring Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty and Adare, and a tour of Waterford and the south-east. They have also been offered a post-TBEX Trip to Cork and Kerry leg of the Wild Atlantic Way Rick Calvert, CEO of TBEX (right) said: “We couldn’t have chosen a better destination, as Dublin is the European headquarters of companies like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Zynga and Twitter.” See the promotional video.

TOP CHINESE TRAVEL BLOGGER PAYS A VISITThe Canadian couple who shot A Fortnight Plus Half – An Ireland Adventure” have now been invited by Tourism Ireland and Air Canada Rouge (the Air Canada subsidiary which takes over the Dublin-Toronto route next year) to return to Ireland to continue their adventure in 2014. Meanwhile, Chinese blogger FAN Yibo/Colourful Map (right) has been describing Ireland to his 360,000 followers as he tours the country with the support of Tourism Ireland. Bairbre Power reported on Vogue’s ‘Wild Irish Rose’ shoot, featured one of the world’s biggest supermodels, Daria Werbowy in Kerry.

hawker hunter.jpegAviation heads (airheads?) have been indulging themselves on in advance of Flight Fest on September 15th on A new participant announced this week will be the ‘Miss Demeanour’ Hawker Hunter jet (right), to celebrate the 60th anniversary since it first broke the air speed record. The fly-past will feature aircraft from every decade from the 1930s right up to 2013.

BookaBed’s new flight and hotel dynamic packaging system is now live with a €10 One4all voucher on offer for each flight and hotel package booking made on the site before September 15th. It searches low cost carriers and charters in one display and allows agents to save time as they book flight, hotel and transfer in three pages. Bookabed aim to add scheduled flights next week allowing you to quickly book packages to Dubai, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, Thailand, Malaysia and many more worldwide destinations using our specially negotiated rates on Etihad, United, Delta, Malaysian and Virgin Atlantic. Releases planned in the future include attractions and the launch of our b2b trade only car hire site Mark up for flights is a total amount and not a per person amount.

Dublin was listed 9th worst among the ten cities in which holiday makers are most likely to fall victim to pickpockets or holiday scams. Barcelona was regarded as the worst, followed by Paris, Rome, Amsterdam, Istanbul, Madrid, Prague, Venice, Dublin and Edinburgh. Some of the most common scams it uncovered were taxi drivers taking detours on the way to a hotel, or insisting that their hotel was closed and offering to take them to another one, and locals encouraging tourist to take a photo and then attempting to charge them for it. Other respondents claimed to have had brushes with fake police or been tricked into buying counterfeit goods.

Don’t look down: Canada’s glacier skywalk was unveiled this week, protruding out from the side of a sheer cliff 280 metres above the Sunwapta Valley providing views of the surrounding glacier in Jasper National Park, southeast of Jasper on Highway 93. The project was finally given the go-ahead amid some controversy. Opponents are worried about the project’s effect on wildlife like bighorn sheep and mountain goats. See video. It prompted other travel websites to compile lists of attractions that vertigo sufferers should avoid, the London Telegraph and Wunderground.

The launch of Emerald Waterways is expected to challenge Viking River Cruises’ dominance of the four-star river-cruise sector. The line is offering 8-5-day itineraries from April 15 next in two new ships Emerald Star and Emerald Sky – each carry 182 guests in 20 staterooms (two staterooms are built for solo passengers) and 72 suites.

united ailrines

United‘s UA131 (Heathrow to Dublin) diverted to Dublin on Wednesday 2.29pm after a “smell of smoke” in the cabin and made an emergency landing.

Dee Breen and Lee-Ann McCarthy of Kildare Village, August 14 2013Four of the nine Chic Outlet Shopping Villages by Value Retail across Europe have launched new Shopping Packages: Fidenza Village near Milan, Ingolstadt Village near Munich, Wertheim Village near Frankfurt and Maasmechelen Village near Brussels can be booked by the travel trade at net rates. The tourism industry is being offered, on average, 10pc commission on the net price on Chic Outlet Shopping products and packages, including the Shopping Express luxury coach service through the Chic Outlet Shopping online booking platform to enable the travel trade and MICE market to create and purchase bespoke travel itineraries featuring local partners as well as Chic Outlet Shopping products. Dee Breen and Lee-Ann McCarthy (right) briefed Travel Extra on developments in Kildare village, which is Ireland’s leading tourist attraction with 2.5m visitors. This summer saw some pop-up outlets in a space currently occupied by Stephen Pearce. Earlier in the summer Newbridge town hosted an oral hearing attended by Chairman of Value Retail, Scott Maklin, for a €50m expansion that, should it get the go-ahead, will bring 34 new brands, two new restaurants and an expanded tourist office to the seven-year-old retail development in 2014.

Aer Lingus announced a weekly wintersun service from Shannon to Lanzarote October 26th to March 29th which will provide an additional 8,000 seats over the winter season, commences on October 26th. Aer Lingus regional is to fly Dublin-Newcastle from October  24, 13 per week using an ATR 42/72.

The ITAA announced a series of webinars to be delivered Carole Smith of SynNeo. Cost is €25 per session and €45 for both, registration at

  • 1: Facebook – 10 Strategies to Grow Your Business Tue 20th Aug, 6:30pm – 8pm
  • 2: Facebook Advertising – What You Need To Know Tue 27th Aug, 6:30pm – 8pm.

US Airways new mobile app for iPhone and Android through App Store and Google Play allows customers check in for a flight, find flight status, organise trips, and store boarding passes. Users can login with their Dividend Miles number.

The calendar of Heritage Week, which continues all week, is available online at Minister Jimmy Deenihan launched the Kenmare Heritage Trail yesterday to start the week. Research conducted by specialist heritage insurer Ecclesiastical Ireland ahead of National Heritage Week found Newgrange (38pc) is regarded as the site of greatest historical importance to Ireland follwoed by the GPO (12pc). Newgrange was the nation’s favourite heritage site with 15pc of the vote, followed by Glendalough (9pc), the Cliffs of Moher (8pc), the Rock of Cashel (5pc) and the Burren (5pc). Castles were our preferred heritage sites for visiting (32pc); followed by country manors and estate houses (17pc); museums (12pc); round towers and monastic sites (10pc) and cathedrals and churches (9pc). Isabel Smyth from The Heritage Council discussed the line up of events taking place around the country on Morning Ireland.

Westport Festival of the Pirate Queen festival will take place around Clew Bay,  from September 14th to 16th. Other upcoming Festivals.

Wonderful Copenhagen say 100 live mermaids will attend the 100th birthday party of the Little Mermaid (”the world’s most beloved statues”) on August 23rd at the harbour in Copenhagen.

Dublin Fringe Festivalaunched its programme for September 5 – 22. Signature productions include the latest production from HotForTheatre, following the company’s extensive Irish and world tour: Break, by Amy Conroy, which platforms a school staffroom as a microcosm for a broader Irish society. Collapsing Horse’s Distance From the Event brings theatre goers into the future “to look back on the now.”

  • The closing date for the Arts Council festival and events scheme is September 20th.
  • Abbey Travel launched their new ‘Holidays for Over 50s’ brochure
  • Knock airport’s numbers in July were up 1pc year on year to 77,414,. Britain was up 5pc to 52,000 , inbound German visitors from Dusseldorf were up 44pc, outbound sun destinations were up 14pc with 25,000 passengers travelling to Malaga, Tenerife, Barcelona, Alicante and Milan. London Independent writer David McKittrick called by to write about developments four decades after Canon Horan’s dream became reality. Minister Leo Varadkar gave Waterford County Council the go-ahead for a compulsory purchase order for some 18 acres of land adjacent to Waterford Airport which will allow the airport carry out a 150-metre extension to the runway/
  • A new problem has been identified on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, this time connected to it fire extinguisher system.
  • British Airways are to bring their Dreamliner simulator to Dublin. LOT’s long-haul routes are now all served by the B787 Dreamliner. Etihad are currently chasing a stake in Lot.
  • Agents can win an ipad by answering an e-quiz on the Air France/KLM trade website before September 3rd. Each Wednesday and Thursday the site will offer a discounted fare of up to 30pc will be on offer to an AF/KL destination.
  • The 13.5km N22/N69 Tralee Bypass opened just in time for the end of the tourist season. Work began on the scheme in 2011 and cost €97m.
  • A guided walk to the summit of Lugnaquilla will take place on September 21st with the support of the Glenmalure Lodge and Wicklow County Tourism.
  • Hyho hotels has launched a new site offering 180,000 properties worldwide.
  • Patrick O’Donoghue of Gleneagle Hotel Group told the Irish Independent: Access is vital. The easier it is to get here, the more likely it is that people will visit.
  • Hard Rock International will open its first venture in Europe, the 480-room Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza to open in May 2014, after signing an agreement with Palladium Hotel Group. The deal will convert two properties currently owned by Fiesta Hotels and Resorts, Club Don Toni and Hotel Don Toni, into a new complex.
  • Petter Stordalen, sole owner of Nordic Choice Hotels, has decided to remove porn movies from the pay TV all his 171 Scandinavian hotels.
  • Voyage Hotels group announces the growth of Maxx Royal, their luxury 5 star brand, with the launch of Maxx Royal Kemer, Turkey in 2014. Maritim Group opened a new hotel In Germany, Mecklenburg Lake District.
  • CBRE Thailand says the number of hotel rooms in Bangkok grew 12.1pc year-on-year with the completion of six new hotels in the first half of 2013, there are now 37,500 rooms in downtown Bangkok.
  • In Florida, guests at the Summer Bay Resort said they heard loud noises and windows cracking as three floors of the hotel slid into a 15-foot deep sinkhole.
  • Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled designs for his Hyperloop, a superfast tubular transport system that can transport people the 347 mile journey from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 30 minutes via aluminum pods enclosed inside of steel tubes. That is the equivalent of an 170-minute journey from Dublin to Cork. Critics say his idea faces some flaws.
  • Reed Travel Exhibitions are to hold a new travel show in Cape Town on April 28 –May 3, the first Africa Travel Week, where they plan to host 500 dedicated travel industry buyers and specialists from over 30 key source markets: 300 at WTM (World Travel Market) Africa, 150 at ILTM (International Luxury Travel Market) Africa and 50 at IBTM (Incentive, Business Travel and Meetings) Africa
  • An off-duty Las Vegas police detective shot a man outside Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.
  • Dubai attracted 16pc more visitors from Ireland in the first half of 2013. Dubai has 16 more hotels and 5,4848 more rooms, 603 hotels and 81,492 total room stock, room occupancy was up 2.8pc to 84.6pc.
  • Hemel Hempstead was named the ugliest town in England, according to a poll of the “crappiest towns”.
  • The Smithsonian Institution in Washington opened an exhibition of holiday souvenirs.
  • China is now the world’s biggest spending market on international tourism; 1 China ($102bn); 2 Germany ($83 8bn); 3 USA ($83 7bn); 4 England ($52 3bn); 5 Russia ($ 42 8bn); 6 France ($38 1bn); 7 Canada ($35 2bn); 8 Japan ($28 1bn); 9 Australia ($27 6bn); 10 Italy ($26 2bn).
  • NYC & Company announced its 2-for-1 Tickets for Broadway Week offer covering 19 Broadway shows from September 2nd through until September 15th.
  • Lufthansa will fly their 747-8 from Frankfurt to Mexico City with the newest Business Class on board from September 2. the new Jumbo already operates on the routes between Frankfurt and Bangalore, Delhi, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Miami and Washington.
  • Las Vegas Restaurant Week Friday August 23rd until Friday August 30th offers meals from $20.13 to $50.13, at 100 participating restaurants. Participating restaurants include Andre’s Restaurant and Lounge, Bagatelle, Don Vito’s, Mesa Grill, Primarily Prime Rib, Silverado Steakhouse, and Table 34, among many others.
  • An orchestra will play beneath the shadow of Uluru (Ayers Rock) in Australia for the first time later this year.
  • The world’s biggest superyacht title has been taken by Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al-Nayan, president of the UAE with his new craft, Azzam.
  • Royal Caribbean welcomed its 50 millionth guest onboard its fleet of 21 ships, an important milestone in its 45-year history.
  • An investigation is ongoing into the tendering mix-up when P&O Oriana came to Dun Laoghaire. The ship had to move to Dublin Port when the tender permit granted to the Oriana was, unusually, withdrawn during the day as a tender crew brought their passengers to the wrong part of the port in a fog. A second permit, issued to a local operator remained valid.
  • Tui says enquiries about how clients can extend their holiday are among the top-five most common queries to its 24/7 Holidayline.
  • Toll road companies in Spain, Portugal and Italy all reported drops in traffic in the six months to June.
  • The CSO published figures on recent income trends for the over 65s
  • Newly-launched operator Fred (with sales manager Lawrence Peachey), is planning a new product range for later this year. The company, which is the operating arm of Fred Olsen Travel, launched to the trade in April, offering city break and tailor-made holidays to Germany, Austria, Switzerland and central Europe, as well as beer festivals and river cruises.
  • O'Hare airport llamasA herd of goats, sheep and llamas to mow the grass at Chicago O’Hare (O’Herd) airport.
  • Aeroflot has announced plans to invest $100m creating its own budget carrier to begin flying in March.
  • Turkish Airlines won the Marketing Award at the Airline Strategy Awards 2013.
  • Ryanair made headlines elsewhere for initially refusing to refund the ticket of passenger who passed away before her flight because she died too soon.
  • It was reported that Aer Lingus spent €5m hiring extra aircraft and crew after underestimating requirements for the peak travel season.
  • IAG, the parent of British Airways and Iberia, has placed firm orders and options for up to 220 Airbus A320 short-haul aircraft, with most going to its low-cost airline Vueling.
  • Sicily got a new airport this week. Ryanair became the first scheduled airline to operate at Comiso Airport in the province of Ragusa flying 6 times weekly to Rome Ciampino.
  • JetBlue announced an Aer Lingus style partnership with British Airways that will link their networks through New York JFK, Boston Logan, Orlando and Washington Dulles.
  • Typhoon Utor caused flight cancellations in South East Asia.
  • Qantas will add a fifth weekly superjumbo to its Sydney to Hong Kong route in November. Alan Joyce told a conference in Sydney that the deal offered to Qantas by Etihad was like being offered the bike before the BMWBA is reducing its Heathrow to Seoul Incheon service from six times per week to five over three 16/17-day periods in the next few months.
  • International Currency Exchange/ICE online currency exchange is now available at Belfast International Airport. It opened at Dublin airport earlier this summer.
  • Santorini went dark this week when a fire at a power station in Santoríni left the entire island without electricity. The island is gradually regaining access to power.
  • Fergal Keane picked walking the cliffs in Ardmore in a list of Lonely Planet’s greatest travel experiences.
  • The London Telegraph listed iPhone Apps to make your holiday better, and listed ten inflight essentials.
  • A young female tourist from Germany was attacked by a shark which completely severed one of her arms at White Rock beach on Maui, Hawaii. Authorities in Hawaii announced a smoking ban on all of its beaches.
  • Kerala initiated a visa on arrival scheme for visitors from Finland, Singapore, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Myanmar, Laos and Indonesia.
  • Video of the week is another European time-lapse video taken over the course of three summer months in 2011. Also check out this this video of an Aer Arann tail strike and go-around at Birmingham.
  • Azamara club cruises’ has reduced its single supplement offering 125pc off the double occupancy fare for guests on more than 25 selected sailings. 1800 932 619
  • is offering 10pc off all hotels across Ireland and the UK before 10am on Monday August 19with no travel date restrictions and hotel stays available from €32,

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