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.
It 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.
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.
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.
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 Facebook.
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.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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 boards.ie. 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 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:
- Both Ryanair and Aer Lingus saw passenger numbers rise in August. As reported in last week’s Sunday Supplement, Ryanair became the first European airline to carry 9m passengers in one month. Aer Lingus reported that its long haul flown load factor was a spectacular 94.9pc in August. Dublin Airport said it expects transatlantic traffic this year is set for a new record, with more than 1.8m passengers. The figure had fallen to 1.5m in 2010. Overall numbers at the airport are up 6pc.
- Air Lituanica have scheduled flights from Dublin to Vilnius and Palanga over Christmas and New Year.
- The DFA has strongly advised Irish citizens to leave Syria, Air France has modified the timing of one of its two daily return flights between Paris and Beirut, Simon Calder asked would you take a holiday to a place 70 miles from Syria? Apparently yes. Ayia Napa in Cyprus.
- British Airways launches non-stop flights from Heathrow to the Texan state capital, Austin, next March. A fare of €600 return is available for some dates. But BA is ending its link to Lusaka in Zambia from November, due to rising losses. Kimpton Hotels announced it will open and manage a new four-star hotel in Austin’s Rainey Street District
- Robin Kiely of Ryanair (right) responded to an Irish Times editorial by asking: Imagine how the UK media would react if the Irish competition authorities forced BA to sell its stake in British Midland two years later? The Irish Times opined that Michael O’Leary had prolonged a battle that few think Ryanair can win.
- Classic Resorts launched their new brochure at The Wedding & Honeymoon Show 2013 RDS Main Hall, Dublin this weekend. Classic Resorts top five Honeymoon Destinations this year for bookings – are Dreams Riviera Cancun, 2 Secrets Royal Beach Punta Cana, 3 Katathani Beach Resort Phuket, 4 Kuramathi Island Resort Maldives, 5 Royal Mirage – The Palace, Dubai.
- Minister Jimmy Deenihan will host a one-day seminar on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on Thursday, September 12th, at Dublin Castle.
- On the day they host key agents at the All Ireland hurling final, Etihad say that midnight on September 30 is the cut-off for entries to this year’s Raise The Bar competition where GAA clubs can win a year’s sponsorship package.
- Cork city’s scare house walk-through attraction the Nightmare Realm, reopens its doors on Albert Quay, Cork City from October 4th.
- Parkhotel Igls in the Austrian Tyrol won the World’s Best Destination Spa award at the Conde Nast readers’ choice awards in London on Monday night. The England award was won by Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons in Oxfordshire, from the Relais & Châteaux group which welcomed L’Auberge du Jeu de Paume (Chantilly, Oise) to their hotel and restaurant association this week.
- Aer Lingus applied billboard advertising to its retrojet – on the underside. Picture courtesy of Mike Kelly.
- Turkish added Kathmandu as its latest transfer destination through Istanbul, the 104th country and 238th destination. Since last weekend TK726 departs Istanbul Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday at 21:45, and TK727 departs KTM Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 08:45. Etihad will increase its Abu Dhabi-Kathmandu service from seven flights per week to a double daily schedule from Nov 1.
- Goodbody stockbrokers aviation investor conference in the Gibson hotel next Friday (13th!) speakers will include Christophe Mueller; Leo Varadkar; Domhnal Slattery of Avalon; Willie Walsh and Michael O’Leary.
- Disney‘s Halloween Festival 2013 commences October 5th in their Paris resort and continues until Oct 31.
- The Idea of repeating the Gathering will be discussed in 2014. Hotels Federation president Michael Vaughan (right) wrote “we have witnessed small communities and local groups embrace a new dynamic of Tourism of the People
- Met.ie reported that10 counties recorded their driest August since 2005
- Many Irish tourist attractions reported visitor numbers were up 19pc, with passenger numbers at some cruise ports up by 50pc. These include Dublin Zoo (+18.2pc), the Guinness Storehouse (+6.5pc), the Cliffs of Moher (pictured below, +10pc), Fota Wildlife Park (+15pc), the Rock of Cashel (+5pc), and Kilmainham Gaol (+3pc). Limerick’s King John’s Castle was not on the list but may have enjoyed the most spectacular increase of all. Cork was top of the cruise earnings list with more than €40m in spend (calculated rather crudely at €70 a passenger) as 135,000 visitors on 61 ships visited, up 50pc from 88,000 passengers in 2012.
- An Englishman is attempting to be the first person to row down the Amazon without any support team.
- Etihad Airways is introducing a dedicated nanny service to assist families during long-haul flights.
- Sunway launched their two night trips to Lapland departing on the December 12, 14, & 16th and say they have refined the trip to their customer needs on the dedicated Lapland brochure or http://www.sunway.ie. Prices start from €1199 per adult and €999 per child.
- Seven baggage handlers at JFK Airport in New York were arrested for allegedly stealing jewellery, watches and ipads from checked baggage.
- There was speculation that Brussels will adopt a system used in Britain and Germany where minority stakes can trigger an investigation by competition authorities.
- Delta said they will buy ten A330-300s and 30 A321s for delivery between 2015 and 2017.
- NYC & Company’s Neighbourhood x Neighbourhood Campaign’s latest focus is on Port Richmond, Randall Manor, St. George and West Brighton which are accessible by the free Staten Island Ferry.
- United are to reduce frequencies on Shannon-Newark from daily to 6 weekly between January 6th and March 7th. It is likely the Shannon–Chicago service could be here to stay.
- A Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt was diverted over concerns about a smelly carpet.
- St Margaret’s Golf & County Club was put up for sale as a going concern with a €1.95m price tag.
- Seven plane-loads of people, 2,000 people departed Dublin for the annual Dublin Archodiocese pilgrimage to Lourdes.
- An elderly woman had to evacuated from the Thomson Spirit cruise ship (right) after suffering an uncontrollable nose bleed as ship was just south of Strangford Lough.
- A new hi-tech way of entertaining passengers in the airport terminal has been launched: augmented reality passports.
- Michael O’Leary attended the launch on Friday of Richard Aldous new authorised biography of Tony Ryan, based on the GPA and Ryanair founder’ private papers and on interviews with family, friends and former colleagues, in the Lir Theatre in the Trinity Technology Enterprise Centre.
- A survey from CheapHotels.org has found Dublin to be the tenth most expensive summer destination for hotel accommodation in Europe according to a survey. 1 Stockholm €111, 2 Edinburgh €109, 3 Venice €103, 4 Zurich €101, 5 Oslo €94, 6 Copenhagen €93, 7 London €91, 8 Nice €78 9. Paris €73, 10 Dublin €71.
- Market-research organisation, Ipsos asked 18,000 “global citizens” in 24 countries to rate cities as places to do business in, to live in, and to visit, to find The World’s Favourite City. The results were: 1 New York, 2 Paris, 3 London, 4 Abu Dhabi, 5 Sydney, 6 Zurich, 7 Tokyo, 8 Hong Kong, 9 Los Angeles, 10 Rome .
- Other lists this week: the London Telegraph listed the weirdest festivals taking place this month, from a canine frisbee contest to the Great Gorilla Run. The same paper listed 10 cheesy holiday souvenirs that must not find their way into your luggage.
- US Reader’s Digest has revealed what it calls 13 secrets that your pilots don’t want you to know, including “at some airports with really short runways, you’re not going to have a smooth landing no matter how good we are” and “airlines really have adjusted their flight arrival times so they can have a better record of on-time arrivals.”
- Shannon Airport Director Mary Considine (in centre with Shannon Airport Chair Rose Hynes on left and Airport CEO Neil Pakey on right) is to take up the role of Company Secretary of the new Shannon Group plc. Aviation strategist Patrick Edmond has been announced as the Group’s Strategy Director. Neil Pakey said Shannon airport is on course to break even this year and that the 2.5m passenger target set by Leo Varadkar was achievable. He also felt Shannon will be able to attract more transatlantic passengers next year.
- A tourist was trapped for two weeks by a monster 6-metre crocodile on a remote Australian island, Governor Island off Western Australia’s far north
- A tweet about British Airways losing luggage on a flight from Chicago went viral after a passenger paid Twitter $1,000 to promote it in the UK and US.
- Stena Line is offering breakfast in bed on Stena’s Belfast – Liverpool route.
- Holiday price comparison website Icelolly has completed a £17m management buyout led by CEO Dave Clayton
- Irish pub owners and managers from around the world will gather in the Burlington on September 30th for a three-day networking event.
- The Mespil Hotel in Dublin reported a profit of €813,858 last year.
- Barcelona is planning to introduce an €8 entrance charge to Park Güell.
- There was surprise that a Che Guevera mural on Alley Wall in Kilkee was removed because it upset two American tourists.
- The annual survey by Irish Business Against Litter reported that Dublin and Cork city are “clean to European norms” and that Cavan is Ireland’s cleanest town.
- Frank McNally commented on the significant of John Goss’s attendance at the 1913 lockout centenary commemoration.
- A new water taxi launched from Ballyvaughan to Galway.
- Kuoni has 14 new escorted tours that include yoga in India, culinary adventures in Vietnam, fishing in Jordan; and bird-watching in Costa Rica.
- It was reported that Etihad rebuffed an offer to buy Ryanair’s controversial €260m stake in Aer Lingus.
- A hotel is attempting to boost its profile using Instagram, offering anyone with 10,000 followers a free night’s stay.
- The Cruise association expects a sustainable alternative for the future passage of cruise ships in Venice to be in place by the end of the year.
- A poll of those travelling through Heathrow Airport this summer showed holidaymakers prefer printed books to e-readers.
- Sally Griffiths, director of VFM Services (right) said the travel insurance industry is bracing itself for fraudulent heat wave “couldn’t travel abroad” cases.
- Air China has decided to suspend its Gatwick to Beijing service over the winter period
- Viking Cruises increased its order for new Viking Longships from 12 to 14 for the 2014 season.
- Travel search site Skyscanner acquired Fogg, a Barcelona-based hotel search company.
- Thomas Cook has launched Trip Tips on its website. There are health tips on getting the right vaccinations and hints on where to find the best exchange rates.
- Abbey Travel announced a travel agent promotion, for every air Inclusive package with Air France that you book to Disneyland Paris, earn €5 Penneys voucher per passenger booked.
- Brand USA launched a new Music, Culture & Heritage module on the USA Discovery online training programme for agents in Ireland and Britain.
- Regina Curran from Tully’s Travel was the latest winner of the €250 One4all voucher from Hertz.
- One Stop Touring Shop Facebook Friday continues: agents who visit their 1STS Facebook page can post why their office should win the beer, wine and takeaway pizza.
- The Commission for Aviation Regulation has issued Travel agency license number 0726 to Adventure Travel Ltd, 113 Charlesland Wood, Greystones, Co Wicklow.
- Pat McCann (right) said the Dalata group hotels in Dublin enjoyed their best summer since 2007.
- Etihad were speculated as a probably solution to Alitalia’s €400m cash crisis, although Reuters reported Etihad are not keen for another European investment.
- Etihad launched its inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi to Sana’a, Yemen’s political and commercial capital.
- Air France reported a load factor of 87.9pc in August. Donal O’Neill of Goodbody’s commented that August has been a good month for the legacy carriers.
- There were new questions for TripAdvisor, this time over the policy of erasing old reviews following a hotel’s renovation.
Picture 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.
- Lowcostbeds.com 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.