- This week: Aer Lingus sent their first B757 westward from Shannon,
- Royal Caribbean promised to bring the largest cruise ship in the world to Barcelona for 2015,
- BA announced that their Irish flights move to Heathrow T5 in October
- Carol Anne O’Neill was named heir designate to manage Falcon/Thomson’s Irish operation.
It is always exciting when a CEO escapes his media managers to get near a microphone,. It happened in Dubai last month and happened again at the Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin on Thursday when Willie Walsh revealed October as the date when British Airways will move their flights from/to Dublin and Belfast City to Terminal 5 in Heathrow, even better news, to T5a, NOT the finicky T5 satellite. The move, three months after Aer Lingus move to Star Alliance’s newly revamped T2 at Heathrow on July 9, will make point to point traffic easier because of the shorter walk and easier escape to the rail services, but will cut minimum connection times to onward British Airways flights from the current 90 minutes standard to just one hour. Willie Walsh told Barry O’Halloran the move would cut connection times to other BA services by 30-60 minutes.
BA says this will mean quicker and smoother connections, access to previously unavailable destinations, a smoother transfer process to nearby T5a gates away or the satellite T5B accessible by shuttle train. Routes that open up include 12 flights a day to New York, the popular Miami service and new A380 service to Los Angeles.
BA are huge supporters of the Irish travel trade with 75pc of their business still coming from the trade, down only slightly from the 81pc prior to launching their eight flights a day from Dublin to Heathrow in June 2012. BA offer up to six flights from Belfast. Picture shows Gina Quin, CEO Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Martin Murphy, President of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce and Willie Walsh, CEO International Airlines Group.
Video of the week is the new shamrock in town, the Aer Lingus B757 test flight landing in Boston. Aer Lingus CEO Christoph Mueller and Hugh Flynn of Air Contractors (pictured) were on hand to see the service launch, two weeks late and with an incomplete paint job, from Shannon on Wednesday.
It is the first time since 2009 that Aer Lingus has operated a year-round service between Shannon and the US. The craft, previously used by Finnair, has seen an impressive €2m refit that features seatback videos in economy, something that might give the economy class on the B757 an advantage over its opposition on the Canadian routes. The B757 has a configuration of 12-165 (compared with 24-248 on the A330-200 and 24-298 on the A330-300). Christoph Mueller said Aer Lingus had not wanted to stop the daily service: “our transatlantic capacity will increase by 24pc in 2014, following on from a very strong year of growth in 2013. Crucially, this expansion will directly support more than 200 jobs in Ireland within Aer Lingus and our partner airline ASL Aviation Group.” Aer Lingus and Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Aer Arann, have increased the number of routes offered from Shannon Airport to ten for summer 2014. (Flights between Shannon and Boston will operate daily while flights to New York from Shannon will operate six times a week, starting March 30 (watch video of event here). Flight crew are from Air Contractors while cabin crew are Aer Lingus.
Hugh Flynn explained that ASL have 90 aircraft over their three airlines (listen here) and outlined his pride at what was happening with the new route (listen here). Christoph Mueller stressed the importance of Jetblue and Aer Arann connections in making a year-round route viable (listen here) as the A330 was too big in winter (listen here). He said it was by far his nicest visit to Shannon since he was appointed CEO (listen here). Fine Gael deputy Pat Breen was more political, asking Christoph Mueller to open a connection to European hub (listen here) and making an appeal on behalf of the undocumented Irish in Boston (listen here). He said the new government bill would enhance aviation related industries around Shannon (listen here). The route is important because the trans Atlantic visitor stays longer (listen here) and the service would prove a milestone for Shannon (listen here). He paid tribute to Shannon’s new administrators and staff (listen here). Rose Hynes chair of Shannon Airport Authority said “this is something we have wanted for quite a while.” (listen here). The second aircraft is currently in Norwich getting painted. The word is that the next paint job will be finished. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Television news has been full of reports about flooding and huge waves crashing against the coast caused by storm Brigid. The sea surf in Bundoran presented what was probably the most surreal scene of the week (watch here), the woman and dog swept shoreward by a wave in Tramore (watch here) the most dramatic and Ronan Kirby’s timelapse of rising flood water in Cork (watch here) the most artistic. An English plumber Andrew Cotton went to Nazaire in Portugal to find his big wave (watch here). The video of a man swimming in Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork (see a more unusual angle here) was so popular in inspired two surfers (watch here) and even a shark (watch here) while a traffic cone on South Mall floated its way into internet infamy (watch here). Watch the studio plus compilation video about the flooding in Cork and a photo collection of the best pics. There were more spectacular waves in Lahinch (watch here) and in Doolin (watch here) and more storms in Tramore (watch here). Inlanders could view flooding in Athy and scenes around the river Shannon (watch here) and Limerick’s Corbally road (watch here).
For this week’s more conventional travel video, take a look at five crazy hotels (watch here).
There is no doubting what next week’s video of the week will be, even before it is released. The row has already started over Air New Zealand‘s 2014 pre-flight instructional video Safety in Paradise which was criticised by feminists for using underwear models. The video was shot in the Cook Islands in partnership with the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition featuring Chrissy Teigen, Ariel Meredith, Hannah Davis and Jessica Gomes (watch ‘making of video’ here). It follows a tradition of innovative New Zealand safety videos, including last year’s outdoor version featuring the Down-born TV adventurer Edward “Bear” Grylls, the Hobbit-themed safety video of 2012 and their famous naked (body-painted) “nothing to hide” safety video back in 2009.
As first reported in Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement back on September 29, Royal Caribbean will be bringing the world’s largest cruise ship the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas to Europe in summer 2015 prior to its first call to dry-dock. Allure of the Seas will offer 22 seven-night cruises ex-Barcelona from May 19th 2015 to October. Dedicated trade packs will be delivered to agencies from February 12th 2014, with 10 agents at random receiving a special Golden Ticket.
Speaking to Travel Extra this week, Royal Caribbean’s Ben Bouldin (pictured) says he expects 15pc of the Allure sales to come from Ireland and Britain. He said that after Oasis’s mini season proved such a success sales went through the roof, and that it emerged that Allure had its own fan base around the world prepared to travel to Europe to cruise. “We know in Ireland we have not necessarily had favourable deployment over the past twelve months, and we have been facing strong competition. We are deadly serious about maintaining our position as Ireland’s favourite cruise line, I want to ensure we maintain our position. There are a lot of exciting things in Ireland.”
From this week Ryanair passengers may use tablets, smartphones (switched to flight mode), e-readers and MP3 players for the entire duration of their flight. Michael O’Leary said wifi would not be installed on Ryanair planes, because roaming charges across 25 countries in Europe would make the service cost-prohibitive. Howard Millar said the antenna which could increase drag by 2pc which would cost €40m per year.
Ryanair lauded changes to its website and customer service ethos as it reported a 5pc rise in passenger numbers for January. The airline carried 4.6m in January and 81.6m (up 3pc) in the rolling twelve month period. Load factor was unchanged at 71pc.
Ryanair reported in their quarterly results that their average fare has fallen to €48 and average revenue per passenger was down 6pc to €53. Shares climbed 6.6pc to €6.73 when they reported strong forward bookings, despite a €35.2m loss in the three months to the end of December, their first quarterly loss for three years, compared to a €18.1m profit during the same period in 2012 (the value of Ryanair’s Aer Lingus shares declined in value by €37.9m in the quarter). Average fuel burn per hour is down 6pc since 2011.
Ryanair blamed a drop in fares and weaker sterling for the loss, although fares were down 9pc to an average of €48, traffic was up 8pc and ancillary revenue up 13pc (full report download 2 megs, summary download 686kb), (register here for recording of conference call).
After the share price rise there was some speculation that the markets had over-reacted to two Ryanair profit warnings before Christmas. Michael O’Leary said “We’ll be grounding fewer aircraft next winter and flying more business-type flights from those major cities during the winter period.” Because export credit finance has become much more expensive, international credit rating agencies are likely to give their first assessment of Ryanair by the middle of the year, before it begins taking delivery of the first of 175 new Boeing aircraft in September. Before then ten aircraft will move to Athens, Rome and Brussels, mainly from Spain and five B737-800s will be hired-in May-Sep 2014 to cope with expansion. The airline said both Ryanair and Boeing want Ryanair to be a launch customer for the B737 MAX (189 seats). Discussions with Boeing continue with weight and fuel consumption the key points but there will be no announcement for at least six months. Ryanair grounded 70 of its 300 aircraft this winter. Questor opined that the airline company profits are hit in the third quarter as it cuts prices to win customers.
It was reported that Ryanair is edging closer to a deal with “at least one, but maybe not all,” GDS providers and could be on their channels by mid-summer. Ryanair are finalising their winter programme and there is a suggestion they will extend their booking period, currently at 240 days compared with 330 for Aer Lingus. During the conference call Ryanair admitted they were unashamedly copying what Easyjet does well, and instanced Farefinder. The airline aims to close the 7 point seat factor gap with EasyJet by about 2 points per year.
Ryanair will triple its marketing budget to €35m this year. Ryanair reached 50,000 followers on its official Twitter account @Ryanair in four months. The airline is to present a case study on the revamp of their online strategy at Travel Distribution Summit in London, May 22-23. You can view the e-brochure here. The London Telegraph speculated that Michael O’Leary’s role as the face of Ryanair is coming to a quiet end and he is expected to step out of the spotlight as the airline tries to present a friendlier image. Anthony Peregrine bemoaned Michael’s new softly-softly style. But it is clear from the conference call that the reputation of Michael O’Leary is limited to Ireland, England and Spain and Ryanair was always well received in Greece and Italy.
Ryanair’s outgoing deputy chief Michael Cawley said the airline was no longer in talks with either Cork or Kerry airports about new services there, but remains open to suggestions on how it can grow at each. It was confirmed that Ryanair is now the number two domestic capacity provider at Rome Fiumicino.
Tourism Ireland will announce the greening of 80 world landmarks in 23 counties around the world on Wednesday next. CEO Niall Gibbons said the total cost of landmarks going green for St Patrick’s Day was €40,000. The broadcast of the NBC nightly news report last St Patrick’s Day on the greening of major landmarks was estimated to be worth $2.2m in advertising by Tourism Ireland.
Visas in India could be easier to acquire if local news reports prove accurate. Planning minister Rajiv Shukla said extending visa-on-arrival to tourists from 180 nations (up from the current 11) will take 5-6 months but they hope to implement this initially at nine airports including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad, Goa and Trivandrum, “from the next tourist session beginning October.” Electronic travel authorisation will allow foreign travelers to apply for a visa from home and receive an online confirmation in five working days.
Topflight’s ski excursion to Kirchberg in conjunction with the Ian Dempsey Show on Today FM was a boisterous event with over 500 participants. Pictures show Lianne Buchman the Topflight representative in Niederau, and Aileen Eglington among the spectators watching Tomás Ó Conbhuí’s poc fada demonstration. Connect with the album on Facebook.
Austria received regular light dustings this week with heavy snowfall on Thursday at some resorts. There was more heavy snow in Italy and France with massive snow storms delivering almost two metres of powder to some Italian resorts and powder days across France’s Three Valleys on Thursday. Conditions are still excellent in Switzerland despite only moderate snowfall. After some of the heaviest snowfall in history at Scottish resorts the weather allowed most lifts to open Thursday but they closed again Saturday. There are freezing temperatures in Canada while Colorado, and resorts on the US east coast, continue to provide great conditions.
Jim Higgins, Fine Gael MEP for Ireland North-West said the fact that only 2pc of people who could have claimed compensation for delayed and cancelled flights managed to do so was proof that the current rules were failing passengers. The extension to air passenger rights voted through the EU parliament is beyond what the European Commission had proposed. EC 261/2004 clarifies rules to ensure eligible passengers receive compensation. Under the changes, handbags and airport shopping will be allowed free of charge on all flights from next year, compensation for cancelled and delayed flights will kick in after just three hours and airline practices such as forcing you to buy a new return ticket if you do not take the first leg of the journey will be banned. Airlines consider the changes penal. The London Daily Mail pointed out that airlines can potentially avoid having to pay compensation if they show that they have taken all reasonable steps to minimise the delay caused when they have a sick pilot.
TUI travel reduced its operating loss in Q1. TUI said mobile sales were growing most rapidly amongst its customers. The company, which owns Falcon Holidays in Ireland, said it is focusing on cutting costs and selling holiday packages directly to customers. It blamed unrest in countries including Egypt and Thailand for a decline of about 6pc. Customer numbers fell 36pc in France, 10pc in Germany (the company’s biggest market) but higher selling prices in Ireland/UK meant revenue there was up 1pc while customer numbers dropped 2pc. Separate figures are not available for Ireland but Helen Caron reported last month that Ireland had done well last year thanks to its focus on differentiated product such as holiday villages. Strong early served as a protection against what turned out to be a dramatic slowdown in sales during summer (listen here), Customers said that while they like to do some research online, many of them went on to book their holiday with a travel agent (listen here).
Tourism Ireland held their board meeting at King John’s Castle in Limerick city. Pictured in the castle courtyard with medieval animators are Niall Gibbons, Chief Executive, Tourism Ireland (third from left), Tourism Ireland board members, and Marie Slattery, Sales and Marketing Manager, Shannon Heritage (far right).
Sunway and Wings Abroad introduced an extra shared flight to Turkey for summer 2014. The flight will operate from Friday May 23 until September 20. Sunway prices start from €479 for 7 nights in the four star Sea Pearl Hotel, Kusadasi. Price includes flights, airport transfers, 7 nights B&B accommodation, 20kg free checked in baggage allowance, resort representative service and all taxes.
Turkish Airlines and Changi airport Singapore delivered a joint product presentation for the travel trade followed by dinner in the Marker Hotel, Dublin. Turkish Airlines showcased their 43 domestic and 202 international destinations including nonstop daily flights to Singapore via Istanbul. Singapore Changi Airport is the 5th busiest international airport worldwide carrying 53.7m passengers in 2013 and a regular choice as one of the most user friendly airports in the world. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Irish visits to Germany are likely to be just under 140,000 for 2013, up around 3.4pc on the 2012 figure of 135,039 (288,508 overnights). Germany is Ireland’s eighth most popular destination with a 3pc market share. Klaus Lohmann, director of the German National Tourist Office based in London claimed “even more reasons for Irish visitors to come to Germany for a holiday in 2014, our UNESCO campaign, an enormous variety of cultural events and things to do.”
As the Sochi winter Olympics began so did the circus of media whine, arriving journalists complained on a twitter feed that only six of nine media hotels were ready for guests. “less snow than Scotland” the London Talegraph mocked. The campaign was deliciously parodied by Andy Borowitz (Sochi Hotel Guests Complain About Topless Portraits of Putin in Rooms). The Canadian Institute of Diversity and Inclusion also poked fun at the event (“the games have always been a little gay. Let’s fight to keep them that way”).
- Carol Anne O’Neill was appointed interim Head of Ireland for Falcon Holidays and Thomson, will assume responsibility for the management of the business in Ireland after transition period working with Helen Caron. Carol Anne has 28 years’ experience in the industry in both tour operating and retail. She has held senior management positions as Operations Director for Falcon Holidays, Commercial Director of XL Holidays and Head of Sales and Marketing for Wings Abroad and in both of the latter cases she started the companies in Ireland.
- London based Getabed appointed John McKibbin to the newly-created role of sales manager Ireland. John previously worked with Travelcube and Needahotel.
- Shannon O’Dowd of The Travel Corporation (formerly 1STS) is to take up the position of Sales Executive with Etihad Airways.
- Gary Byrne is the new Account Manager for the Las Vegas CVA in Ireland at Aereps, he previously worked at Falcon Holidays, Abbey Tours and Topflight Worldwide.
- New Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr will take up the post on May 1. The former head of the passenger airline business said he is to lead the battle against low-cost carriers and fast-growing Gulf airlines.
- The Westbury Hotel was awarded the “Best Business Hotel Ireland” in the Business Destinations 2014 Travel Awards, for the second year running. Qatar won Business Airline of the Year. Comedian Omid Djalili was this year’s celebrity host. Amadeus research released at the business travel show in London indicated half business travellers are left out of pocket as travel expenses fall out of policy, a significant minority are unaware of company travel policy on mobile roaming charges, and many worry for business performance when travel is reduced. The report Amadeus Business Travel Insights showed a small increase in business travel trips in 2013, with an average of 13.1 trips being taken per person compared to 12.7 in 2012. The number of individuals taking one or more business trips has doubled between 2011 and 2013 (4pc vs. 8pc), indicating that a greater breadth of employees across companies are making business trips. There is a clear link between seniority within the workplace and frequency of travel trips – over 80pc of directors and MDs made 10 or more trips in the last 12 months.
- Amadeus announced its expansion into the Airport IT space with the acquisition of UFIS Airport Solutions.
- Amadeus has launched a system that automates the air ticket reissuing process, significantly reducing time to two minutes. It includes 94 airlines that file their rules in CAT31.
- Alan Lynch is to rebrand Citiescapes as Travel Escapes which he says “makes more sense as the name incorporates more of what we offer, cities only account for 20pc of our tours.” The company will fade out their Citiescapes brand with immediate effect, having offered Escorted tours, River Cruises, Ocean Cruises and City breaks for 22 years. They will continue to promote the brand Cruisescapes “as one of Ireland’s leading River & Ocean cruise organisers.” There will be more cross marketing between the two brands. Escorted Tours are still expanding and Travel Escapes now have tours to all five continents.
- Dublin Airport was the second fastest growing airport in the EU last year in the 10-25m passenger range behind Berlin Tegel. Istanbul Atatürk was the fastest growing large airport with growth of 13.6pc and Ankara the fastest growing in the 5m-10m range with growth of 18.2pc. Passenger numbers at Dublin Airport increased by almost 6pc to 20.2m in 2013. Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison said the airport had a good month in January, with 16 new services already announced and significant capacity expansions agreed for many existing routes for the summer season we are very positive about the prospects for this year.”
- Lufthansa will roll-out its inflight mobile phone service across its entire long-haul fleet of over 100 aircraft this year.
- According to an investor report from Investec, 40pc of Aer Lingus long-haul passengers in 2012 were transfer passengers (Aer Lingus mainline 17pc, Aer Lingus Regional 4pc, United/JetBlue 19pc) compared to 33pc in 2010.
- Air France unveiled a new fully-flat business seat (see video and take tour): the Zodiac Cirrus Aero Seat, designed by JPA design created by designer Mark Collins of Design Investment and by Brandimage, similar to that used by Cathay Pacific and American Airlines. Air France will offer a 10w A380 service Paris-Abidjan next winter.
- Tenders will be called in coming months for a new 900sqm food & beverage zone in Dublin Airport Terminal 1, to be completed by mid-2015. The Irish Whiskey Collection is to be upgraded to a new concept called The Whiskey Collection, featuring whiskey brands from around the world.
- Shannon Airport Authority is seeking a quality international Travel Retail group to manage its travel retail travel store at Shannon Airport under a ten-year joint venture partner contract. The name will be Shannon Duty Free and the planned start date is 1 July.
- Lufthansa Dublin to Dusseldorf is being increased from 2 to 4 weekly and Munich from 3 to 4 weekly with an A320 replacing the A319 which operated a weekly last summer.
- Russian airline S7 are to resume their weekly flights between Dublin and Moscow every Saturday starting June 21 despite rumours that the service would be increased. Airbus A320 family aircrafts will serve this route. Tickets are already available.
- According to analysis of scheduled flight data by Anna aero, there were 670 airports across Europe with scheduled services in 2013.
- Business groups in Kerry have begun a campaign to maintain Government support for the daily Kerry to Dublin air service.
- It was reported that a Chinese man ate 300 meals for free in Xi’an airport using one flight ticket and returning daily.
- Leo Varadkar declared that trains carry more air around than passengers during off-peak times. The National Transport Authority was skeptical of a proposal that a Dublin rail system could be built for €1.95bn, around half the cost of Metro North in just 26 months and would be more extensive than Metro North, describing it as “completely unreal and fantastical”. The alternatives being considered are the €4.1bn Dart Underground, €150m Swords-Dublin Airport to city centre line and €3.7bn Metro North.
- The Irish Aviation Authority launched inaugural Aviation Industry Awards, inviting nominations directly from individuals and businesses that have made an outstanding contribution to the sector. There are 18 awards including the outstanding contribution to Irish Aviation Award. Online submissions should be directed to www.aviationawards.ie and deadline for entries is Friday March 28. The Irish Independent started speculating as to who get nominated.
- The Commission for Aviation Regulation published its quarterly Quality of Service report using information provided by the Dublin Airport Authority. The price cap is reduced due to breaches in the quality of service term by approximately 2 cents per passenger..
- Norwegian Air has finally gained the permits to begin operating out of Ireland from next month. Regulation of its long-haul operations, documentation and planes will move from Norway to Ireland, giving it the right to fly using crews from outside Europe. North American airline pilots union, the Airline Pilots’ Association International, claimed the decision by Norwegian to base its long-haul operation in Ireland will give it an unfair economic advantage over rivals in Europe and the US. It was claimed in Oslo this was an attempt to circumvent Norway’s labour laws. England’s ALPA said Norwegian is exploiting the system by using cheaper Asian crews on its long haul routes. The IAA issued a statement, claiming that ”misguided statements have been made in the Scandinavian media in recent days with regard to the Irish Aviation Authority concerning its safety regulatory performance and capability are derogatory and are not factual.” As Norwegian prepare to offer cheap flights to New York and against Michael O’Leary’s summer comment that Ryanair could offer trans-Atlantic flights from $10 (although this was counted out in the short term once again at Ryanair’s quarterly results presentation) Robert Neaste looked back at the history of trans-Atlantic low costsince Freddie Laker’s £59 flights in 1977 and Don Burr’s People’s Expressadventure in the 1980s,
- SAS has launched a new generation of its loyalty programme EuroBonus. SAS carried 1.7m passengers in January, down 0.2pc. Load factor was 63.6pc, down 1.4.
- Priority pass have added 70 lounges to their global network over the last six months.
- Mathias Roehr, CEO of German flight simulation pioneers Cockpit Sonic offered full scale plane cockpit on the market for €230,000 offering A320 or Boeing 737NG flight decks with a full 180 degree view the equivalent of three 60 inch HD video projectors.
- Passengers started a riot over delayed flights as many Chinese attempted to return home after New Year.
- Flybe are adding a second Saturday flight to East Midlands from Belfast City and upgrade from a turbo-prop Q400 to an Embraer 195 and improve scheduling to Edinburgh and Glasgow from March 29. Ten aircraft are to be grounded in March and four more by the end of the summer 2014 season. Job losses are expected to be around 450, down from the estimated 500 announced in November.
- Delta Air Lines CEO Richard Anderson is opposing a proposed codeshare between Etihad Airways and Air Serbia objecting to foreign state-supported carriers.
- Dublin based Glenbeigh Construction won the contract the fit-out of the new Aer Lingus lounge at Heathrow Terminal 2.
- The European Commission has opened an in-depth investigation to verify whether the Cyprus government’s €102m plan to restructure Cyprus Airways are in line with EU state aid rules.
- Qantas won prizes for Best Overall Wine Cellar, Best First Class White, Best First Class Sparkling, Best First Class Cellar, and Best Business Class Cellar at the Cellars in the Sky Awards 2013. Emirates won Best First Class Red and Best Business Class Fortified/Dessert Wine, while Eva Air received Best Business Class White and Best Business Class Sparkling. El Al won Best First Class Fortified/Dessert Wine award. Cathay Pacific took the accolade for Best Business Class Red. Qatar Airways and Air New Zealand were the winners of the Best-Presented First Class and Business Class Wine List awards. Oneworld won the Best Airline Alliance.
- Heathrow is to allow aircraft to land closer together to cut delays.
- Bmi Regional is to go all-economy and stopped selling business class tickets
- Swords-based Cityjet are to serve Avignon from Amsterdam weekly from May.
- Thai AirAsia X was cleared for long-haul flights.
- Etihad launched limited edition amenity kits to those travelling in Diamond First, Pearl Business and Coral Economy
- United Airlines is to drop Cleveland as a hub airport and cut flights by 60pc.
- As Etihad and Alitalia moved closer to a deal with both airlines in the final stages of due diligence, Italian transport minister Maurizio Lupi said Lufthansa’s worries about a deal with Etihad just confirm that Alitalia is on the right track. Michael O’Leary commented that Etihad is likely to adapt Alitalia to put more emphasis on long-haul with short-haul feed as it did with Air Berlin.
- Virgin Atlantic is to withdraw from Australia continuing London-Hong Kong but dropping the onward flight from Hong Kong to Sydney from May. Virgin Atlantic blamed the weakening Australian dollar for its decision. Virgin Atlantic is the 12th European airline to exit Australia, leaving only BA.
- The ERA Regional Airline Conference April 2-3 2014 in Lisbon is open for registrations.
- Aer Lingus overall numbers for January were up a respectable 2pc compared to January 2013, to 651,000 passengers. including regional services. Long-haul passenger traffic rose 7.3pc to 59,000, while short-haul numbers were down 1pc to 513,000. Aer Lingus short haul was down 1pc, Aer Lingus Regional was up 21.5pc. Load factor was 71.7pc long haul and 63.5pc short haul.
- Etihad Airways launched daily flights between Abu Dhabi and Al Medina, a key religious and cultural hub in the western province of Saudi Arabia.
- Cork Airport hosted a travel industry event in association with Tourism Flanders and Aer Lingus. The event provided travel trade professionals and travel media with an overview of what the Flanders region of Northern Belgium has to offer the global leisure traveler. Aer Lingus operates twice weekly flights from Cork Airport to Brussels, giving business and leisure travelers direct access to this popular destination at the heart of Europe.. Pictured shows Andrew Daines, Tourism Flanders Director, UK and Ireland; Lisa Thomas, Travel Trade Manager, Tourism Flanders; Dominic Daly, Royal Belgian Honorary Consulate; Ivan Beacom, Aer Lingus Sales Manager and Kevin Cullinane, Head of Communications, Cork Airport.
- MSC Cruises’ launched six one-minute videos on the company’s YouTube channel, directed by Gianluca Bomben and produced by Carlo Concina.
- A four year old child drowned in a cruise ship pool on board Norwegian Breakaway renewing the debate over lifeguards on cruise ships.
- Sunway research indicated that more holidaymakers are booking their trips with local travel agents instead of online.
- Portmarnock hotel and 180-acre golf links, purchased for €7m in 2005, was put on the market for €15m.
- Blarney Golf resort, built at a cost of €30m, was put up for sale with a dramatically reduced price tag of €2.5m. Profits at the Moran Hotel Group rose 14pc last year to €25.94m.
- Waterways Ireland ended the public consultation process on new bye-law changes to houseboat moorage on Ireland’s canals. The cost of permits for an annual houseboat mooring fee are to rise to between €1,250 to €3,500 under the proposals. Waterways Ireland, Fáilte Ireland and the Midlands Regional Authority launched a free ‘Lakeland Treasures’ app for iPhone at Belvedere House in Mullingar.
- The 6.5km Blessington greenway opened linking Blessington with Russborough House.
- The Met office reported rainfall was above average everywhere in Ireland in January. Belmullet reported its wettest January since 1993. Download the January 2014 Weather Summary.
- The Irish Echo in Sydney reported thatAustralia deported 891 Irish people for overstaying their visa terms since mid 2010.
- Jason Harrington, celebrity blogger and former airport security worker at Chicago O’Hare airport revealed that staff would laugh at the images of naked passengers on body scanners.
- Destination Nashville won the Best Creative Events and Best Overall Programme at the ADMEI awards in Washington DC.
- It was announced that the much-delayed 202-room Shard Shangri-La hotel within England’s tallest building, will open to guests on May 6.
- Simon Calder asked why even though airlines don’t make money from First Class with fares twice the price of business class, they remain doggedly committed. Jolyon Attwooll listed ten places that deserve more tourists.
- Dubai is to introduce a tourist tax from the end of next month to help fund projects for the 2020 World Expo convention.
- Holidaymakers in Gambia were warned to avoid ferry travel between Banjul, the capital, and Barra, following a fatal accident on Sunday
- Repairs to Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue ‘could make it darker‘, the statue is facing renovation after being struck by lightning last month and could take on a darker hue owing to a shortage of replacement stone, heritage officials have said. The statue is due to be included in the greening of major landmarks by Tourism Ireland for St Patrick’s Day,
- Many travel-related images have been shortlisted for the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards.
- Boyne Valley Tourism launched their inaugural Tourism Conference and Exhibition “Showcasing a Unique Destination: The Boyne Valley” on Feb 27-28 in the City North Hotel.
- Robert Ballard who discovered the wreck of RMS Titanic, will return to Titanic Belfast on March 20 for a public lecture and a unique ‘Evening With Dr Ballard’ White Star Line dining experience.
- Egypt launched an aggressive marketing campaign to win back lost holiday makers.
- The Sandals Barbados resort is to close on April 1 for a multi-million dollar make-over.
- Get Taxi is introducing cab-hailing technology in hotels, airports, rail stations and restaurants throughout London.
- Saint Peters Bay Luxury Resort & Residences on the North West coast of Barbados will be home to New York Broadway performers from 19th – 29th March, 2014.
- W Hotels is to debut in Amsterdam in a former telephone exchange building on Dam Square, behind the Royal Palace in the centre of the city.
- New members of Marriott Rewards are eligible to receive 5,000 Avios points for every two stays at a Marriott International hotel.
- Agent promotions this week include Cash in with Etihad and earn rewards on return flights from Dublin to onward destinations for bookings until March 31. First class flights from Dublin to Australia and South East Asia earn a €100 gift voucher value. Pearl Business class sales a €50 gift voucher. Economy class sales are entered into a daily draw. Celebrity Cruises offered €30 Love2Shop vouchers with every sailing departing between April 1 and June 30 when booked before February 28. Celebrity Cruises 123Go! campaign offered the chance to win Modern Luxury prize packs. Brand USA launched United Stories of America – a pan-European Social Media competition that offer agents (Northern Ireland only) the chance to win a holiday to the USA every month. O’Callaghan Travel in Dundalk won the Sunway €500 giveaway for January 2014 for the top sellers of Longhaul/USA/Cruise bookings in January.
- Jane Hurley (centre of picture), winner of the Topflight and Creation Travel holiday promotion on Limerick’s 95FM in January, receiving a presentation from Cona Moore, General Manager, Creation Travel and Graham Hennessy, Topflight.
- The winner of the surfing holiday with Nick Kelly’s Surfholidays in Ericeira in Portugal is Joan Gleeson of Thurles, Joan and four guests will stay in Ecolodges, a uniquely designed ecological resort in its own private setting.
- Aer Lingus €29.99 citybreak sale ends tonight. Etihad business class sale offers include Dublin to Abu Dhabi or Dubai from €2,142, Bangkok from €2,510, Sydney from €3,702, Melbourne from €3,693, Brisbane from €3,714, Perth from €3,714. Economy class offers include Abu Dhabi from €522, Dubai from €522, Perth from €823, Sydney from €834, Bangkok from €640, Seychelles from €593, Maldives from €548, Kuala Lumpur from €613 and Ho Chi Minh City from €641. Trailfinders have 14 nights in Koh Samui & Koh Phangan, Thailand from €1659.