Travel Extra Sunday Supplement: Falcon’s 25th & a new riddle of the Sphinx

Ireland’s version of the riddle of the Sphinx continues to perplex the holiday industry. The updated DFA travel advisory on Egypt has delayed the resumption of Sharm El Sheikh’s Wednesday charter from Dublin until September 25th,, a flight that is shared by Falcon Holidays and Thomas Cook when it operates. Meanwhile. the Sharm El Sheikh charter from Belfast is merrily continuing to depart each Wednesday, as it is subject to the Westminster government’s travel advisory on Egypt which continues to give the all-clear to the Red Sea resorts and St Catherine’s monastery. The tour operators report that some holiday makers have transferred from the Dublin flight to the Belfast one.

1founding directors_2609It is 25 years this month since the Falcon first took to the sky. “We needed a bit of luck to come through those first few years,” Freddie O’Neill said at the Falcon Holidays 25th anniversary celebrations in Dublin’s Royal Hospital Kilmainham on Friday night. Bill Smith, Gabrielle Malone, Christine Donnelly (who returned from walking the camino for the event) and Freddie O’Neill (above) were hosted by current Falcon Holidays CEO Helen Caron and joined in the celebrations by 120 other guests for the evening. See more photos here or connect with the album on Facebook.

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Ciara Foley of Platinum Travel, chair of the Visit USA committee and colleague Clodagh Oxley embarked on their first national roadshow. They hosted agents in the Brasserie One No 1 Pery Square in Limerick and Hayfield Manor in Cork. The tour was supported by Matt Bates of Kansas/Oklahoma, Ivan Beacom of Aer Lingus, Claire Docherty of Sunway, Paul Manning and Shauna Mullery of Hertz and Lee Osborne of Bookabed and Andrea Sims of Visit California. See more photos here or connect with the album on Facebook.ryanair tails 150

What was Michael O’Leary up to now? The stock markets reacted badly to the news that he was downsizing Ryanair’s 2013 profit forecast by €50m and taking 500,000 off his passenger number forecast for 2013. It triggered a slide that took €1bn off the Ryanair share price on Wednesday. Ryanair are now painting a different scenario from the rosy one they depicted in a series of investor meetings last June. Now they are talking about seat sales, lower fares and cuts to winter services after disappointing bookings in summer. Profit forecast is down from €600m to €570m due to what they call a perceptible dip in forward fares and yields into September, October and November. They blamed the heat wave in June for what they believed was a short-term slowdown, now they blame a weaker sterling (Ryanair make a disproportionate amount of their revenue in Britain) and increased price competition (from Easyjet?) for what might be a slower winter than expected. Michael O’Leary said: “We either hunker down and allow load factors to decline and say that we’ll take it on the yield, or we respond aggressively.”

Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry said on RTE’s the News at One that “we do not know what is going on in O’Leary’s mind” but it looks like he is defending his market share in England and Ireland, where yields and prices have been higher than the €42 average fare across the network. O’Leary’s latest nemesis put its head over the parapet this week: Easyjet passenger numbers were up 4pc in August. Questor in the London Telegraph quipped that EasyJet shares had hit nose bleed territory. The Irish Times ran a somewhat misleading headline suggesting Ryanair expects to sell 500,000 fewer seats on its aircraft over the next few months (that’s fewer than their forecast not fewer than last year). The Irish Independent commented that lower Ryanair fares could mean a winter bonanza for passengers as the news will force Aer Lingus to reduce prices on the dozens of routes on which they compete with Ryanair.jimmy lennox group

John Cassidy and Gary Boyd (pictured above with Jimmy Lennox of World Travel Centre on left) captained the respective Irish teams in the north v south United Airlines golf competition in Carton House. Ireland won 5.5 to 3.5, with the help of Mervyn McNeely from Stena Belfast who played for the south (on the day Eoin Morgan was helping England beat ireland in cricket). See more photos here or connect with the album on FacebookIreland destination expo 002

Magali Gallois of Exploria Inc UK, Marlene Burke of Fáilte Ireland, David Rogers of Destination Waterford, Siobhan Barrett-Doherty of Station House Hotel Letterkenny and Rachel Tooley of Jury’s Inn at the UK Inbound Workshop in the Royal Marine Hotel Dun Laoighaire, the first in a series of sales drives organised by Fáilte Ireland in the coming weeks to give 300 Irish tourism operators access to overseas tour operators.cider tasting pic copy

VisitEngland and Aer Lingus Regional hosted a media trip to Bristol & Bath. The group stayed at The Doyle Collection’s ‘The Bristol Hotel’ on the quayside of the Floating Harbour at Bristol and Bailbrook House in Bath, dined at Royal Crescent Garricks Head Gastro Pub in Bath, sampled beer at Bath Ales Pub and wine at Raisin Wines, toured the famous Roman Baths and No 1 Royal Crescent, took an Open top bus tour of Bristol with City Sightseeing, sailed on ‘The Matthew’ at Canons Marsh, and did a Street Art Tour of Bristol with John Nation of Where the Wall. Picture shows the group tasting cider: Gayle Molloy of Visit England, Lisa Hughes of the Star, Marie Carberry of Travel Extra, Joan Scales of the Irish Times, Fran Power of Cara, and Conor Power of the Irish Examiner.

2013-europe-ballroom-550x365The Conrad Dublin won the Irish hotel award at the European section of the World Travel awards, voted by 230,000 travel professionals around the globe and presented at in Antalya, Turkey last weekend. Other winners in the Ireland category were: Boutique Hotel: Dylan Dublin, Business Hotel: Hilton Dublin. Golf Resort: Adare Manor, Hotel Residences: Ritz-Carlton Powerscourt, Spa Resort: Inchydoney Island (for the fifth year in a row). Among the 78 European award winners were Lufthansa, Cornelia, Mantis, Intercontinental, Avis, and Kuoni. Lufthansa were voted Europe’s Leading Airline for the third year running, and Swiss International Air Lines, from the same family, was named “Europe’s Leading Airline Business Class” also for the third year running. Ciragan Palace Kempinski Istanbul was named Europe’s best hotel. Norwegian won best Cruise Line, Istanbul the best cruise port, Grandes Alpes Private Hotel, France the best Boutique Hotel, Fairmont Grand Hotel Kyiv, Ukraine the best hotel and spa, Madeira the best Island Destination, Gardens Of Babylon and Mardan Palace, Turkey both in Turkey won the two spa awards, while Royal Adam & Eve Hotel, in Turkey won Europe’s Most Romantic Resort. In a surprise development, Welcome To Yorkshire won the best Marketing Campaign.

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The committee running the Travel Trade Fun Day say they may exceed last year’s achievement of raising €35,000 for charity after last week’s event in Santry. No doubt, Emirates CEO Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al-Maktoum led the celebrations in Dubai when the news broke on Sunday night that his team had won the hotly contested five-a-side soccer event from 36 teams. Allegations that the winning team borrowed a few of Arsene Wenger’s squad over at Emirates-sponsored Arsenal, can be dismissed as sour grapes. But committee member Dave Walsh (with friend above right) may be considering disguising his Liverpool allegiance and getting on to Manuel Pellegrini at Etihad-sponsored Manchester City for a few flappers for next year. The day also featured a 5K Fun run, photos with the Liam McCarthy Cup, poc fada, golf and throw a wellie competitions and a childrens’ area with face painting, bouncy castles, a giant jenga and giant sumo.gerry o'hare sean macconnell 150

Sean MacConnell (1945-2013) was bade farewell by his friends on Friday with what Father Jim Mulherin described as the biggest funeral ever seen at the Church of the Divine Word in Rathfarnham. Eugene Hogan read a poem Sean had written about his father, a peculiarly prophetic verse which could have been about Sean himself: “When my father died/ The professionals cried,/ The undertaker and doctor./ Little more need be said/ Of a man with a heart of gold/ Locked in a tabernacle of arthritic bones/ who could melt stones….with his words./ Who loved children and dogs./ Deep lakes and cotton covered bogs./ Ballads dropped from his lips/ And a mercury brain generated/ Quips worthy of the best./ For that he was/ The best.” President Michael D Higgins was represented by aide de camp Capt Bernard Behan. Sean was a great journalist and prolific song writer, with many mischievous comic songs to his credit. and indeed Ballads dropped from his lips. His agricultural correspondent and travel colleagues recalled many of those that premiered on press trips: a favourite was the song by the goat about to be turned into a bodhrán. Listen here to the song he composed to commemorate (mourn?) BMI losing his luggage on a press trip to Jordan with, appropriately, Sharon Jordan’s ISTS in April 2012 (it comes with a strong language warning). Among his numerous other comic songs is one commemorating an infamous Gatwick incident involving Travel Extra’s Gerry O’Hare in 1988 (picture, courtesy of Gerry Benson of Travelbiz, shows Sean MacConnell and Gerry O’Hare sharing a parting glass, listen here to “the Ballad of Gerry O’Hare as sung by Travel Extra‘s Eoghan Corry for another travel event in 2006). We will miss you, Sean. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam dílis.

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Aviation heads (airheads?) are full of anticipation in advance of Flight Fest on next Sunday Sept 15th with, among other things, 46 pages of discussion on The fly-past will feature 35 aircraft from every decade from the 1930s right up to 2013. A Flightfest “from idea to take off” video was uploaded on Friday. The star attraction of the many amazing craft on display will be the Catalina Flying Boat (above right).emirates cricket sept 3 2013 copyEmirates hosted members of the trade at the Ireland v England cricket international at Malahide on Tuesday, back row: Robert Van der Burg, Tom Kiernan, Margaret Shannon, Paul Nolan, David Ellis. Front row: Jack Hudson, Ina Collins, Brian Collins, and Declan O’Donoghue.

Here’s what happened in Travel this week:

alan sparling rory mcdyer norwegianPicture shows Alan Sparling of SAS, Rory McDyer of Rory McDyer travel and Rannveig Snorradottir from Destination Management Company Tumlare who specialises in Northern Lights trips this winter

  • Irish Ferries Haven Holidays are offering family weekend breaks from €299 for three nights at the Welsh holiday parks of Presthaven Sands and Quay West. Irish Ferries reservations system for services to France in 2014 is now open and the company is offering a 10pc early booking discount.
  • Sunway offered a double early booking winter sun offer (now €100 per adult and have halved the required deposit to €50 per adult.
  • Crystal ski developments for 2013/14 include free wifi in all chalets, free first-time ski or snowboard in eight resorts (book by Nov 15), tuition, equipment hire, lift pass for the week in Seefeld and St Johann/Tirol in Austria, Whistler in Canada, Sauze D’Oulx, Sestriere and Pila in Italy and Bled and Bohinj in Slovenia. New properties in Andorra, Austria, France, Italy include Finest Chalet Inge in St Anton, Austria and Chalet Montagnettes in Courchevel, France. Flights to Chambery and Innsbruck are exclusive to Crystal.
  • The Aer Lingus Sale of your Dreams has savings on 100 routes to Britain, Europe and the USA. Travel October to March, book by Wednesday September 11. See the cute retro video.
  • Ryanair are selling 100,000 €14.99 seats on 1,000 European routes for travel on Mon, Tue, Wed & Thur in September and October.
  • Stormont Tourism Minister Arlene Foster launched a Lighthouse Tourism Trail this week at Blackhead Lighthouse, Co Antrim.
  • Emirates have a sale running until Sep 15, travel by end March 2014.
  • Tropical Sky are offering savings up to €320 on departures to Mauritius, Cuba and Mexico including flights from Dublin.
  • British Airways fare sale fares include New York from €472 return, LA from €541 book before September 24th, travel Sept 15th to June 22nd, blackouts apply on some routes.
  • Falcon Holidays released end of season seat only fares to Malaga, Faro and Palma with fares from €99 return.
  • Delta winter sale is offering fares to US destinations, book by Sept 26, travel between Sep 15 and June 22 (excluding Christmas period).
  • Brittany Ferries are promoting an Autumn offer to entice more people to travel to France in September and October.
  • have launched a September Sale with up to 25pc of selected destinations. Book by Sept 21st.
  • Students travelling from Ireland to Britain with Stena Line can make the journey to university for free, book before Sept 30, travel before Oct 3. The offer is available on all of Stena Line’s Irish Sea routes and one adult can travel from €89 single and bring a car full of students for free.

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