Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Ryanair join GDS from Weds Next, Egypt flights suspended & Aer Lingus’s Unhappy Friday

This week:

  • DFA advises against all travel to Egypt, Sharm programme cancelled for rest of season.
  • No strike: But Aer Lingus €5m out of pocket
  • Travelport Ryanair GDS deal means agents will sell Ryanair inventory from Wednesday next but, crucially, NOT their cheapest fares.
  • Thailand expects more growth from the Irish market.
  • Tiarnas of tourism converge in the House of Lords

April 2014 cover 300The latest issue of Travel Extra will be in agencies and other outlets this week. It features a ten page summer cruise supplement, previewing the 2014 summer season after a very interesting year in the industry, which saw the first major reconfiguration of market share in the Irish market for 15 years. There are reports from the major events and conferences over the last month including ITB, BIT Milan, and the IHF conference, a preview of the pick of the 28 new routes launching from Ireland in April, comment from industry leaders Clem Walshe and Karl Tyrrell on the OHG collapse, the Travelport-Ryanair deal, Don Shearer’s holiday choice, and much more. There is also a review of the world’s highest bungee swing: “it is not pride that comes before a fall, but sheer unadulterated terror.”

Somewhat unexpectedly, to say the least, the DFA followed the lead of Germany in evacuating Irish tourists out of Sharm el Sheikh after an updated travel advisory at Wednesday lunchtime: Due to an increased risk of civil unrest and a heightened threat of terrorist incidents, Irish citizens are advised to avoid all non-essential travel to Egypt at this time including Sharm El-Sheikh and the rest of the Sinai.

The advisory allows travel to the Red Sea costal resort of Hurghada and other Red Sea resorts outside the Sinai peninsula, where Irish citizens are advised to arrive and depart by air and to strictly avoid travelling outside the resort and Luxor and Aswan (including cruises between them) where Irish citizens are advised to exercise caution and arrive and depart by air. Which is all very frustrating when the only flights got to Sharm.

It led to a fervent evening for Falcon Holidays and Thomas Cook who share a Thursday morning Thomsonfly charter which returned full but left a lot of unhappy would-be outbound holiday makers whose holiday was abruptly cancelled.

The Westminster government still excepts Sharm from its “don’t go” advisory but the flight programme from Belfast is summer-only. It was claimed that Giza‘s horses are facing starvation due to a downturn in tourism at Egypt’s pyramids.

Travelport Ryanair DSC_4454According to Travelport, the Merchandising Platform launched in Powerscourt last April was the deal-clincher behind Ryanair’s re-entry to GDS. The partnership, announced at the Hospital Club, Covent Garden on Tuesday last March 10, is exclusive to Travelport until October. The interface has already been alpha and beta tested (in advance of the announcement) and means that Travelport will load almost all the Ryanair inventory (but not, crucially, their very cheapest promotional fares which are among three classes of fares held back) to Galileo on Wednesday next and on Worldspan in the coming weeks. Within a few months the Ryanair inventory would be on Travelport’s own universal api servers. There will be no point of sale fee. Picture shows Ryanair’s Chief Marketing Officer, Kenny Jacobs and Travelport’s Executive Vice President & Chief Commercial Officer, Kurt Ekert, making the announcement.

sinead reilly h&sSinéad Reilly (pictured), who heads up Travelport in Ireland said “This is great news for the travel agency community in Ireland, the low cost carrier domination was the source of difficulty and this has overcome that difficulty. It is bringing value back in the travel agent ability to add value for the consumer. This is a hugely important partnership for travel agencies in Ireland, and we are delighted to be providing them with fares and ancillaries from one of the highest profile low cost carriers in the world and a very important one here in Ireland. Ryanair has fully embraced what we can uniquely offer through our industry-leading technology and we look forward to working exclusively with the Ryanair team over the coming months to help them reach new travellers whilst providing more in-demand, low cost air content to our Irish travel agency and tour operator customers.” The ITAA responded they were “delighted with the announcement that Ryanair and Travelport will be working in partnership. The move will make it easier for our travel agents to book air fares efficiently. This will be particularly of use for business travel. Anything that allows us to offer better value, security and choice to Irish consumers will always be met with open arms.” Charlie Taylor commented the deal would help Ryanair double the number of business passengers it currently has. 

TAOISEACH ATTENDS TOURISM EVENT IN HOUSE OF COMMONS, KICKING OFFOf the three politicians who spoke at the CHAMP event in London’s House of Lords, guess which one got the name of the event wrong? Not once, mind you, but four times. Yes, the Taoiseach. Enda Kenny kept calling the event “Champs” like it was a wine bar (listen here), while Theresa Viliers the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (listen here) and Ed Milliband, leader of the Labour Party (listen here), both called it correctly. The event is in its 11th year, a warmly cross-party occasion organised by James Winston, Judith Cassidy to Tourism Ireland and hosted graciously by former Labour politician Alfred Dubs (listen here). Niall Gibbons spoke of the importance of the event (listen here) and introduced the speakers. Irish ambassador to London Dan Mulhall was there for his first St Patrick’s day in London. Ed Milliband paid tribute to Paul Goggins who died earlier this year. Ivan Lewis, shadow Northern Ireland secretary was also present. Picture shows Brian Ambrose, Chairman of Tourism Ireland; Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland; Theresa Villiers, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland; An Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Ed Miliband, Leader of the British Labour Party, with the “greened” London Eye in the background. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

St Patrick’s weekend sees a record number of icons turn green around the world. The list was only completed this weekend (asterisk marks a new greening) and goes:

  • Argentina: El Monumento a la Carta Magna y las Cuatro Regiones Argentinas (commonly referred to as the ‘Spanish Monument’), Buenos Aires,* Galileo Galilei Planetarium, Buenos Aires,*
  • Australia: Sydney Opera House, Old Parliament House, Canberra,* State Library of New South Wales, Sydney,* AFL match, Sydney (stadium, big screen, exit lighting and fireworks),* Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, Pitt Street Mall (pedestrianised shopping street), Sydney,* Council House, Perth
  • Austria: Burgtheater (City Hall), Vienna, Kaprun Castle, Zell-am-See region,* Skiwelt Söll (ski resort),* Viennese Giant Ferris Wheel (or Wiener Riesenrad) in the Prater Amusement Park*
  • Belgium: Brussels Grand Place* including Brussels Town Hall, Manneken Pis statue, Belgium (“dressed” in Irish costume)
  • Brazil: Christ the Redeemer statue,
  • Canada: Whistler, Canada’s famous ski resort in British Columbia,* City Hall, Toronto, City Hall, Montreal,* Cabot Tower on Signal Hill, St John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador,* Canadian Museum of Nature, Ottawa, “Tower of Hope” atop the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Winnipeg*
  • China: The Great Wall of China* Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower, Shanghai, Canton Tower, Guangzhou
  • Czech Republic: Petřín Lookout Tower, Prague,* City Hall Viewing Tower, Ostrava*
  • Denmark: Little Mermaid, Copenhagen
  • Egypt: The Great Pyramid of Giza and the Sphinx (pictured),
  • England: London Eye, HMS Belfast, London, Selfridges, London, Selfridges, Birmingham, Selfridges, Manchester,* Manchester Town Hall.
  • France: Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland® Paris,* Euronext Paris (formerly the Paris Bourse),* Moulin Rouge, Paris. Irish Embassy, Paris*.Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), Lorient*
  • Germany: TV tower in Berlin’s Alexanderplatz, Allianz Arena, Munich, BMW Welt, Munich,* Amerika Haus, Munich,* Odeonsplatz in central Munich, ‘Lighthouse’ building in Düsseldorf, Neumünster church (built over the tomb of St Kilian), Würzburg, Town Hall, Würzburg, Olympic Tower in the Olympic Park, Munich,* Town Hall, Hannover,* Aer Lingus check-in desks at Frankfurt, Berlin, Hamburg and Munich Airports,* AVIAREPS building, Frankfurt,* Irish pubs network
  • India: Taj Mahal Palace hotel tower wing, Mumbai, India*
  • Italy: Leaning Tower of Pisa, Porta San Giacomo, Bergamo (the imposing entrance to the Città Alta)* Fountain of Piazza dei Martiri, Reggio Emilia* Virgin Active fitness centres in Milan will green their spinning classes*THE TREASURY IN THE ANCIENT CITY OF PETRA, JORDAN, JOIN TOURISM
  • Jordan: The Treasury in the ancient city of Petra (pictured),*
  • Luxembourg: Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), Place Guillaume II, Luxembourg city*
  • Malta: Porte des Bombes, Valletta*
  • Mexico: El Ángel de la Independencia, Mexico City*
  • Monaco: Prince’s Palace
  • Netherlands: Evoluon Eindhoven* Splendor (music centre), Amsterdam*
  • New Zealand: Sky Tower, Auckland,
  • Norway: Holmenkollen ski jump, Oslo*
  • Portugal: Museu Condes de Castro Guimarães, Caiscais*
  • Pudong Shangri-La Hotel old and new towers, Shanghai*
  • Saudi Arabia: Kingdom Tower*
  • Scotland: Clyde Auditorium, affectionately known as the ‘Armadillo’ (SECC), Glasgow, The SSE Hydro, Glasgow,* Glasgow Prestwick Airport*
  • Slovakia: Radisson Blu Carlton Hotel, Bratislava*
  • Slovenia: Ljubljana Castle,* Triple Bridge, Ljubljana (three bridges across the Ljubljanica River)*
  • South Africa: Table Mountain, Cape Town,
  • South Korea: N Seoul Tower, South Korea*
  • Spain: Cibeles Fountain and Palace, Madrid, Palacio de Communiaciones, Madrid, Tower of Hércules, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Galicia, Town Hall, SalamancaTHE ICECONCERT HALL IN LULEÅ (SWEDISH LAPLAND) JOINS TOURISM IR
  • Sweden: Ice Concert Hall in Lulea (pictured)
  • Switzerland: Rhine Falls, Neuhausen near Zurich (one of the highest waterfalls in Europe, pictured)*
  • United States: Niagara Falls (on both the Canadian and US sides), ‘Welcome’ sign, Las Vegas, Empire State Building, New York, City Hall, San Francisco, Massachusetts State House, Boston, City Hall, Savannah,* Lick Observatory, San Jose, California,* Downtown Disney, Orlando,* Chicago River, Chicago MYSTERY GREENING,* Chicago “Taking it to the Streets”, Congress Parkway,* State Street,*, Chicago “Tall Buildings and Chicago Icons”, 311 South Wacker Drive “White Castle Building” (65-storey skyscraper),* Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower,* Chicago Board of Trade,* Millennium Park /Jay Pritzker Pavilion,* Soldier Field stadium (home to the famous Chicago Bears team),* Trump International Hotel & Tower,* Wrigley Building,* Chicago “Eating Green Around the City”, Chicago “Broadway in Chicago Goes Green”, Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University,* Bank of America Theatre,* Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower Place,* Cadillac Palace Theatre,* Oriental Theatre,* Chicago “Northside Goes Green, State Bank of Countryside*. Four iconic skyscrapers in Philadelphia, including Cira Center (29-storey skyscraper in west Philadelphia), One Liberty Place (61-storey skyscraper) and Two Liberty Place (58-storey skyscraper), BNY Mellon Center (54-storey skyscraper). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Dublin Airport goes green for St Patrick's weekend Mar 14-17 2014More than two million people are expected to take to Irish streets for St Patrick’s Day celebrations over the next three days. One that won’t be turning up for St Patrick’s Day: the great white shark which has turned away and is heading in the direction of Greenland. Bar 54 at Hyatt Times Square has created a new cocktail for St Patrick’s Day. Dublin airport also went green. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

flanders group 002

Travel Extra journalist and historian Ida Milne was in her element on the Aer Lingus/Visit Flanders press trip to Ghent and Ieper (we’re going with the Flemish spelling for Ypres now, the English WW1 soldiers called it Wipers). ‘Visiting the battlefields of Flanders is very much a living history experience. Farmers are still finding mustard gas cannisters and shells in the fields when they plough, and we got to see some of them. So even 100 years on, the war is still having a traumatic impact on local people’ New attractions are being developed. Milne says the newly refurbished Yser Tower in Diksmuide particularly interesting – visitors to the 22-floor museum can smell the chloral and mustard gas, feel the fear of soldiers in the Death Trench. There is a Peace Village hostel linked to the Irish Peace Tower, The hostel was originally intended as a place where young Irish people would get together to explore their common heritage in the war. Now it’s open to all. Picture shows the group of Irish journalists who visited the Flanders battlefields in advance of the centenary of the outbreak of WW1: Sheena Davitt of the Daily Mail, Clodagh Finn of the Examiner, Ida Milne of Travel Extra, Anita Rampall of Visit Flanders, and Ronan McGreevy of the Irish TImes at Caterpillar crater, on Hill 60, which shows the impact of the war on the landscape.

panel discussion

The Tourism Authority of Thailand’s European director Tanes Petsuwan said he expected further growth from the Irish market in 2015 after visitors from Ireland climbed 4.34pc to 62,924 in 2013, already signalled by an 18.65pc increase in arrivals from Ireland to 6,592 this year. (listen here). Picture shows Joanna Cooke chairing the Thailand panel discussion with Tony Collins of Topflight, Brendan Barry of Discover Travel and Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra (listen here) treated subjects such as the performance of the Irish market, Topflight’s new dedicated Thailand brochure, the availability of xml rates designed for other markets (such as India) to Irish consumers and the ongoing protests in Bangkok and their impact on Irish tourism. Picture shows Karen Maloney of Etihad and Jackie Herssons of Travelmood at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

fain donald sheehan

Cruise Shipping Miami coincided with Spring Break, which led to an odd mix of party-goers on South Beach. The impressive turnout of cruise line CEOs addressed the big topics facing the industry, principally the strict air pollution standards that go into effect in 2015. CLIA CEO Christine Duffy said 21.7 million global passengers will cruise this year up from 21.3 million in 2013. To meet the growing demand for cruising, 24 new ships will launch by the end of 2015. Chief executives of Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises were on stage together to size up the state of the global cruise industry Tuesday morning and gave a calmer-seas outlook. Kevin Sheehan (pictured on right), president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, said: “we deserve a higher price, I think we’re poised for that right now.” Arnold Donald (pictured centre), new CEO of Carnival said that cruising is “more cost effective than visiting your relatives, and depending on your relatives, we’re a lot more fun.” Richard Fain (pictured on left) CEO of Royal Caribbean described the past few years as an anomoly. “The reason that’s so noteworthy is that it was so unusual because as an industry, over its history, the industry has had such strong growth and good performance.” Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises said it’s important to push aside the old cruising image and create a more modern one. Consumers still wonder “what am I going to do onboard or if they have to wear a black tie.” There are almost 900 exhibiting companies and the organisers expect about 15,000 people to attend the four-day event filling all four halls of the city’s Convention Centre, including the world’s largest shipbuilders, 400 destinations, information technology providers, ship equipment suppliers and entertainment companies, a far cry from the 150 people in a hotel room 30 years ago. New this year is an interactive Food and Beverage Pavilion focusing on the latest in shipboard culinary trends, products and equipment. Other industry sectors include ship design and refurbishment, ship services and hotel operations. Minister Leo Varadkar led a small but active Irish delegation at the event. Leo’s verdict: “It was interesting and an education. I went to the state of industry session and met all the senior executives. There is definitely lots of scope to grow cruise tourism in Ireland and we have many advantages but it is a tough business and it is important that we go into it with our eyes open and are cautious about any investments.”ann marie dalton group

Dermot Merrigan of Irish Ferries won best golfer with a score of 44 points at the first TIGS outing of the season sponsored by Amadeus at impressive links (Par 71) course at St Anne’s Golf Club on Dublin’s Bull island. Best lady golfer went to Audrey Headon of World Travel Centre with a score of 34 points. Best team winners were Dermot Merrigan of Irish Ferries, Seamus McConville of Irish Ferries and Brendan Moran. TecSupport sponsored some prizes on the day. Picture shows Anne Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines with Audrey Headon of World Travel Centre and Gillian Lowry at the opening TIGS event of the season in St Anne’s Golf Club sponsored by Amadeus. If you are interested in joining TIGS check out their website for more information. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.KIRCHBERG

Topflight took their top ski agents to St Johann and Kirchberg, where agents were presented with their Top Agent Ski Award at 1900 metres on the Kitzbuhel Alps. Picture shows Mark Clifford of O’Hanrahan Travel, Graham Hennessy of Topflight, Brenda Ryan of Cassidy Travel, Don Shearer of Worldchoice, Bernie O’Callaghan of Barters and Michael Bowe of Bowe Travel at the presentation of the Topflight Top Agent Ski Award at 1900 metres on the Kitzbuhel Alps. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Spring arrived in the Alps affecting snow conditions in some resorts. The further south you go the lower the temperature is. You can expect softer snow conditions in the Alps than the Pyrenees. Sierra Nevada in the south of Spain had the lowest temperatures of all European resorts on Thursday. Western areas of Canada received light snow on Thursday while over in eastern America there was up to 60cm of fresh snow in Killington, Sugarbush and Sunday River. All the European markets are seeing some of the best spring ski deals for a decade thanks to sun at home, snow in the Alps and a late Easter. An English based ski company has offered to pay any fine incurred by parents booking a holiday during term time. The number of parents fined for taking their children out of school for a holiday rose by more than 70 per cent last year in England, after the Westminster Government hardened its stance on the issue.

john grehanJustsunshine put its Tunisia programme on sale, using a weekly Tunis Air charter service to Monastir from June 21 to September 27. Within two hours of sending out log on credentials to Irish agents for the new website this morning, the first booking was completed online by Gemma Duffy, Manager of Best4Travel in Navan. John Grehan (pictured), who heads up the Irish operation says: “the feedback in general from the Irish travel agents has been hugely positive, probably because the site is so uncomplicated and packed with relevant information for the agent and their customers. Admittedly we are a little later than expected getting the product to market, but I was determined to make sure we had the right flight day and timings. We now have the best flights and all the well known hotels in Tunisia”. Owned by The El Mouradi hotel group, Just Sunshine feature more than their own properties to ensure there is a terrific mix of accommodation with “The Classic” Tunisia 1 week touring holiday on sale for selected dates throughout the season. The brochure will be distributed by the end of the month.

The Sunway Nouvelair service to Enfidha moves from a Saturday to Friday flight. Flights begin April 11 and continue until October 31.

Hotel prices in Dublin have increased by up to 86pc this St Patrick’s Day, according to the Trivago Hotel Price Index reported monthly by hotel comparison website Prices are also up in Limerick, Kilkenny, Galway, Waterford and Cork but, interestingly, most are down on this time last year. Elsewhere in Europe, hotel prices have increased for the spring season. Based on the 50 most popular European cities on Trivago, one night in March will cost an average of €109. This is an 8pc increased from the February monthly average of €101 per night. Compared to last month, the most significant increases can be found in Rome (up 28pc to an average of €122 per night), Istanbul (up 27pc to €109), Geneva (up 25pc to €277) and Florence (up 22pc to €117). The Irish price list for March goes:

  • Belfast €94, +1pc on last month +2pc on last year
  • Cork €90, +7pc on last month -5pc on last year
  • Derry €81, +1pc on last month -5pc on last year
  • Donegal €125 -4pc on last month +13pc on last year
  • Dublin €113 +14pc on last month -7pc on last year
  • Galway €86, +5pc on last month -12pc on last year
  • Kilkenny €89 -2pc on last month -4pc on last year
  • Killarney €91, +1pc on last month -8pc on last year
  • Limerick €75, +1pc on last month -5pc on last year
  • Sligo €84, +2pc on last month -9pc on last year
  • Tralee €81 -1pc on last month -9pc on last year
  • Waterford €79 -2pc on last month -7pc on last year
  • Average €91, +2pc on last month -2pc on last year

PwC said the average daily room rate for Dublin was €89 last year, putting it in 14th place among the cities surveyed. Dublin’s occupancy levels are 4th in Europe. Occupancy has passed pre-recession levels to 79pc, up from 67pc in 2008. They predicted they would rise again this year to 80pc and that rates will increase 5.2pc this year to €94, and 3.8pc next year to €96. Revenue per available room (which rose 11pc last year) will increase 5.2pc this year, and 3.8pc next year.

ireland inspiresVideo of the week is the Ireland Inspires feelgood video produced by BigO Media for Fáilte Ireland (watch here) was uploaded on Tuesday and is heading towards 1m hits. Check out the cool animation of the monk jumping on to a manuscript page. It will be shown at embassy events around the world over St Patrick’s weekend. The song is Steve Winwood’s Higher Love, as reworked by James Vincent McMorrow. There was no mention of Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison or Thin Lizzy in the list of Irish music stars, I hear you cry. (Question: Which leading Irish travel trade personality played support to both Rory Gallagher and Thin Lizzy at Cork Opera House?). The timelapse techies are at work again this week, with intriguing timelapse takes of plane-filled skies by NATS and of the winter storm Vulcan.

dermot o'loughlinThe four-hour Friday-morning stoppage, scheduled by SIPTU, did not take place after Justice Paul Gilligan granted an injunction to the Dublin Airport Authority, but the threat of doing so still left Aer Lingus over €5m out of pocket. Aer Lingus sued for damages on Friday, accusing SIPTU of inducing a breach of contract between them and their customers and damages inflicted by unlawful means. Unusually it also took individual action against SIPTU official Dermot O’Loughlin (pictured).

SIPTU said it would fully oppose the Aer Lingus action. “We will be consulting with our legal advisers over the next number of days and we will be vigorously resisting this action in the courts.” The pursuit of Dermot O’Loughlin is unusual (although not unprecedented) in trade union relations, raising interesting questions for David Begg (member of the Aer Lingus board) and the Labour cabinet members who control 25pc of the Aer Lingus. Coming just as the Government is committed to new legislation guaranteeing the right to collective bargaining (ironically relting from the Supreme Court case involving Ryanair) the timing of Aer Lingus threat is sensitive for Government unions and even for IBEC. Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry speaking in advance of the dispute on RTÉ Radio.

The Liveline programme treated the Onholiday group collapse (listen here) with customers who faced demands for payment by hoteliers, including a woman who paid €1,048 for her holiday with Lastcheck. The main bedbanks in the Irish market reacted to coverage of the OHG failure by emphasising their integrity and financial stability in comparison. karl tyrrell h&sKarl Tyrrell of Bookabed has written a piece for the print edition of Travel Extra asking agents to check the profitability of the bedbanks they deal with. He called on agents to use established Irish companies/bedbanks offering payment post arrival rather than other bedbanks coming into Ireland selling off at unsustainable margins. Bedbanks argue:

  • It hard to bond a product that agents don’t pay for until guests arrive.
  • If they were getting paid like tour operators do (eight weeks before travel) or an airline (the date the ticket is booked/issued) it would be different.
  • The OHG accounts which were freely available showed the VAT liability as a provision and it was obvious if it was called in that the company would be insolvent.
  • Most bedbanks in Ireland only get paid by agencies after arrival so bonding would be pointless (unlike OHG in Ireland who insisted on pre payment).
  • With bedbanks only getting paid after arrival, there is no protection for bedbanks if an agency goes bust the week or week before arrival. Bedbanks usually pay their suppliers post departure meaning the collapse of anyone in the chain wouldn’t have too much impact on an Irish agent.

interview-aer-lingus-image-2Aer Lingus CCO, Stephen Kavanagh told Paul Hogan of that Aer Lingus are looking at Florida (Miami?) and possibly another gateway on east coast for 2015. “We have started using leased 757s as pathfinders – a tool to see if the A330 can be put on, but not just as a bridging solution – the 757s are the only current solution for 170-200 seat demand in our network. In the next 18 months we are looking to issue an RFP for up to 40 short-haul aircraft which will also serve as the 757 replacements, and growth. We have also evaluated transatlantic-capable A321neos, but also possibly 737s. The -900s will replace the seven A330s, including some lower capacity -200s which are now too small, and the -900 Regionals will be used for east coast operations. Dublin has a significant advantage of geography and a lack of congestion over Heathrow and Amsterdam, not to mention the unique pre-clearance product. There’s a lot of people in Europe not connected to North America, but for us the opportunities for short-haul growth lie in improving load factors without necessarily needing more routes and new aircraft – we have average loads of around 75pc on the short-haul network, I want to get an eight in front of this number. Gatwick was an implementation failure in terms of pricing and marketing. It’s a case of what might have been, I don’t think we’ll be trying anything similar in the near term. Dublin’s Terminal 2 was not specifically developed as a connecting terminal, but working with DAA, we are finding it fit for purpose, especially this year which is the first season we can market pre-clearance comprehensively across all US flights. And the attractions are not just price sensitive – our move into the JFK domestic terminal and the arrangements with JetBlue offer MCTs of just 45 minutes.

  • Belfast City Airport has introduced unlimited free wi-fi.
  • An internet forum suggested Aer Lingus are considering “bid to upgrade” on Trans Atlantic service. Under a system being used by several airlines, passengers who booked in economy can make an offer to upgrade to business class on a flight if there is availability. It is being considered but is a long way off implementation.
  • The IAA say total traffic increasing at Irish airports by 6.2pc in February 2014 compared with last year. Commercial terminal flights at Dublin were up 7.2pc (an average of 404 daily movements), Cork was down 5.3pc, (46 daily movements), Shannon up 10.9pc (40 daily movements).
  • Ryanair February customer service statistics indicate 91pc of 30,000 flights arrived on-time, less than one complaint per 1,000 passengers, less than one bag complaint per 2,000 passengers and over 99pc of all complaints answered within seven days. Ryanair is to contract in B737-800 aircraft from Fly Dubai. Next up in the Ryanair image change: the calendar girls may become a thing of the past under its new customer friendly approach.
  • Air passengers are told to “expect teething problems” at the new €3bn Heathrow Terminal 2 when it opens on June 4. Aer Lingus move there on July 9. There are fears it will be a repeat of the Terminal 5 horror show in 2008. A large number of the retailers will be local brands, with John Lewis opening its first ever airport store.

Etihad Regional - New Fleet OrderEtihad Regional announced an agreement to lease four ATR 72-500 aircraft, which will see the carrier boost its regional fleet to 12.

  • The Irish Aviation Authority is to provide air traffic control services in Northern Irish airspace on a trial basis as part of an initiative between Irish and British jurisdictions for better co-operation and improved safety. The UK-Ireland Functional Airspace Block launched the first-ever operational trial to test new ways of delivering air traffic control services to airlines and gather information on efficiencies that could be gained through the SESAR concept of ‘dynamic sectorisation’ the tactical switching of air traffic services between providers.

Car Park mapShannon passenger numbers were up 10.9pc in February. Shannon Airport launched Park4Less which it says is Ireland’s cheapest online airport car parking with a month-long introductory offer of €24.99 per week. The Park4Less car park will be located at the former long-term 4 Car Park, adjacent to the Air Traffic Control tower at the airport. Park4Less is open for booking online. A new traffic management system is in place at Shannon Airport.  The new system features revised set-down and pick-up arrangements.

  • Aer Lingus have partnered with CarTrawler to offer an improved car rental experience on Industry-leading car rental brands include Avis, Enterprise Europcar, Sixt and National.
  • US Airways ticketing and baggage operations will relocate from Concourse J in the South Terminal to Concourse D in the North Terminal at Miami.
  • United Airlines will deploy the first of its newer, bigger Boeing 787 Dreamliners on routes within the United States this summer before it shifts the jet to a new Los Angeles-Melbourne route in October. The “dash-9” will be about 20 feet longer and able to carry about 40 more passengers thatn the current 787-8 Dreamliner.
  • Frankfurt passengers are world’s highest users of mobile boarding passes, according to the Passenger IT Trends Survey 2013 (download 2.55 MB) survey from SITA.
  • The ERA Regional Airline Conference 2014 will be held in Lisbon, Apr 2-3.
  • Emirates will expand its European network with a new daily flight to Oslo to Dubai from September 2.
  • Etihad launched a new programme to improve sleep quality on its long-haul flights. Investment in the on-board experience including new luxury all-natural bedding. Etihad Airways will increase its services between Abu Dhabi and Moscow to double daily from June 1 and triple daily from October 1.
  • Abu Dhabi International Airport was announced as the winner of the Asia heat of this year’s Routes Marketing Awards.
  • Another caller to Liveline alleged he was asked by an airline employee if he left his bombs at home.
  • It is all speculation rather than news on the missing Air Malaysia flight MH370 (eg: “it’s CONCLUSIVE jet carrying 239 was seized by individual or group with significant flying experience”), much of it emanating from Washington rather than Kuala Lumpur. Skeptics of the hijack theory included Eoghan Corry who was asked on Raidio na Gaeltachta (éist anseo) about his controversial assertion that he assumed almost every flight he boarded these days carried a couple of people with stolen or incorrect passports. As the influence of technology grows, Joe Shute reported that pilots are struggling to stay alert in the cockpit.

Skymark-newCAuniform_zps7efc9f75Air hostesses told Japanese Skymark Airlines airline that their skirts were too short and invited sexual harassment” with a uniform intended to attract more customers. Skymark’s royal blue outfit was launched last week and the length of the dress has drawn criticism with the Japan Federation of Cabin Attendants, 

  • US Airways plane with 149 people on board that suffered a nose gear collapse on the runway of Philadelphia International Airport on Thursday has been removed.
  • American Airlines Group plan to fly bigger jets between American and US Airways hubs, cutting its reliance on regional American Eagle-branded carriers. AA and JetBlue ended their interline agreement.
  • British Airways’ B787-9 Dreamliner aircraft, the first of which will arrive next year, will be fitted with a First cabin.

Siobhain Mulholland lowcost picSiobhain Mulholland (pictured) has been appointed Commercial Manager of Lowcostbeds Ireland. Siobhain started her career in the travel industry in 1993 with Centre Travel, Dundalk going on to Budget Travel and the Garda Holiday Club prior to joining the lowcosttravelgroup in 2011.

  • The winner of the Travel Corporation Facebook Friday incentive was Eilish Walsh of Cavan Travel, where agents have been sending their booking references for any Insight Vacations, Uniworld Boutique River Cruises and Contiki holidays. Eilish Walsh won a choice of a Tour with Insight Vacations, a Tour with Contiki Holidays or a Cruise with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises.

sharon wilson topflightRoyal Caribbean’s Sharon Wilson joined Topflight for a training day on Tuesday. Picture shows Sharon Wilson of Royal Caribbean with Maria Pazienza and in the front row Roisín Carbery and Cora Munds of Topflight.

  • O’Callaghan Travel, Dundalk won the February Sunway incentive – this is the second month in a row.
  • Travel agents can travel to Tunisia for just €99 to celebrate the launch of Sunway’s ‘Revisit Tunisia’ campaign.

Tour America Deloittes

  • Picture shows staff of Tour America celebrating the Deloitte’s Best Managed Company award on Friday, their 5th in a row and the second year to be awarded the prestigious Gold award: Tracy McLoughlin, Leslie Marshall, Eimear Martin, Amy Henderson, Liz Wright, Sinead Murphy, Niamh Doherty, Natalie Hanley, Kathleen O’Rourke, Ross Waters, Aoife Keating, Daniel McCluskey, Sarune Zerauskaite, Sarah Kinsella, Kate Keegan, Glenda Dwyer and Alice Carrick.

Tony Collins, Buakaw & Barry Hammond (1)Picture shows Tony Collins and Barry Hammond of Topflight with Buakaw Banchamek the champion welterweight Thai kickboxer at ITB, Berlin.

  • Sunway previously announced details of the campaign with holidays from just €299 and all inclusive deals from €399.
  • Severe fog affected the Cheltenham day trips. Michael O’Leary’s Savello was a 16-1 winner at Cheltenham, his fourth at the home of National Hunt. The other O’Leary horse, the controversial Last Installment unseated his rider six fences from the finish. Brian O’Connor said O’Leary is a lot more hands-on with his horses than is commonly imagined (he once said “Eddie buys all the horses, does all that. I just write the cheques. We have an appropriate division of labour”). The death of four horses and injuries to four jockeys including serious injuries to Darryl Jacobs and Ruby Walsh marred the festival. Ireland’s total of 12 winners was the third highest ever, behind the 14 in 2013 and 12 in 2011.
  • Hotel comparison website wants to pay travellers for hotel reviews in an attempt to make its comparison website more authentic and trustworthy. Its mystery guest programme piloted in Germany before being launched here with a mission statement to “combat the increasing difficulty of guaranteeing online reviews are accurate and genuine,” Users save money on their hotel booking by completing an online questionnaire. The results are displayed on Trivago to create comprehensive hotel information and reviews. Hoteliers can purchase test results for further insight and to maximise their visibility and bookings
  • HRS listed Europe’s top 10 most popular new hotel openings in 2013. topped by Dora Hotel in Istanbul.Annette O'Neill -  Director of Sales & Marketing
  • Annette O’Neill (pictured) has been appointed Director of Sales and Marketing at Fitzpatrick Castle Hotel.
  • John Ó Ceallaigh explored the 52nd-floor infinity pool inside Shangri-La London, champagne bar and other luxuries in advance of its opening.
  • Palacio Nazarenas, Orient-Express, Cusco is the best hotel in the world according to ReviewPro’s study measuring online guest satisfaction. Oberoi, Four Seasons and Orient Express (which recently changed its name to Belmond) lead the ranking for large brands, while Constance, Capella and Montage are the best rated small brands.O'Callaghan & Temple St. 10
  • O’Callaghan Hotels in Dublin is funding equipment to treat babies in Temple St Children’s Hospital.
  • TripAdvisor’s China website came under fire with what researchers called “thousands of suspect reviews.”
  • HRS say improving adherence to travel policy is the second highest priority for travel managers worldwide in 2013-14.

Skjeldam og Viestad MS Nordkapp _Copyright Lars Åke AndersenPicture show Daniel Skjeldam, CEO of Hurtigruten and Andreas Viestad. The celebrity chef who is to create Norway’s Coastal Kitchen on board Hurtigruten sailings.

  • Celebrity Cruises will broadcast the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil onboard its ships sailing to Alaska, Bermuda and Europe.
  • Quark Expeditions launched their Arctic 2015 season.
  • Norwegian announced its winter 2015/16 itineraries. Norwegian Escape is to homeport in Miami year-round. The hull of Norwegian Cruise Line’s next ship will be painted with an underwater scene depicting a giant sailfish, turtle and other sea creatures. The company commissioned the artwork for the Norwegian Escape from marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey. The 163,000-ton vessel will be Norwegian’s largest ever when it debuts in October 2015. Norwegian Cruise Line cancelled its entire Tunisia programme, citing an incident that occurred Sunday when one of its ships visited the Tunisian port of La Goulette. Norwegian says Tunisian officials refused to allow Israeli nationals on the 2,402-passenger Norwegian Jade the right to disembark the ship during the call, which was part of a Mediterranean cruise.
  • Tenerife reported a total of 72,419 Irish holidaymakers in 2013, up 5.5pc compared to 2012 (68,671 people). In 2013, more Irish opted to stay in 3-star (9,311 people) and 4-star hotels (21,019 people) – 41.9pc of the total. The number of Irish visitors staying in the city of Santa Cruz, the island’s capital city, increased by 47.3pc compared to 2012. The northwest of Tenerife (La Laguna, Bajamar, Tacoronte) and the south also saw a 6pc increase from Irish holiday makers. Tenerife is the third most popular of the Canary islands in the Irish market.
  • The new Darren Clarke Centre of Excellence opens at Sicily’s Donnafugata Golf Resort and Spa this month.

Today, Universal Orlando Resort revealed never-before-released details about the Hogwarts Express experience that will debut as part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley – the all-new, magnificently themed land opening this summer.Universal is to allow park visitors to ride the Harry Potter train between London and Hogsmeade at its park in Orlando, opening with its Diagon Alley attraction this summer.

  • Ciaran Mulligan’s announced a new low cost annual travel insurance price starting from €17.95. Insurances say 42pc of claims during 2013 were for medical assistance and they have seen significant increases in claims over €100,000 in the past number of years.
  • Karl Tyrrell says Bookabed’s sales are up over 170pc
  • Tourism Concern warned that poorer labour rights and conditions are the price of all-inclusive holidays.
  • Travellers to Hungary beware, from 15 March photographers are required by law to ask permission to take pictures from everyone who will be in the shot. Critics say the law is ‘vague and obstructive‘.
  • Ferrari are to open a theme park at PortAventura resort near Salou in 2016. Attractions will include Europe’s fastest and highest vertical accelerator and a hotel in the shape of an F1 front wing.
  • The 53rd SKAL North American Congress takes place May 1-4, 2014.
  • The 15 month delay in appointing a US ambassador to Ireland, the longest since 1935, was raised by Enda Kenny with Barack Obama (don’t tell Obama, but US attaché Stuart Dwyer is doing a great job in the absence of an ambassador).
  • Nepal said Himalayan peaks could be leased to private tourism companies in an attempt to ease increasing congestion on Mount Everest.
  • Paul McGinley was the recipient of the Distinguished Services to golf award at the Irish Golf Writers’ Awards at Portmarnock Golf Club, sponsored by Carr Golf. Roddy Carr asked Padraig Harrington at the evening Q&A session if he had two words for Paul, what would they be, to which Padraig answered “Pick Me”.
  • Channel 4 broadcast live from the International Space Station.
  • Tourism New Zealand launched a new trade website. New Zealand considered whether to drop the Union Jack from the corner of its flag.
  • A groom flying from Atlanta to Costa Rica forced his Delta Air Lines flight to divert to the Cayman Islands after he got into a “drunken argument” with his new wife en route to their honeymoon. The man was escorted from the flight and taken into custody by Cayman Islands police. The bride continued on with her trip to the Costa Rican capital of San Jose.
  • The London Telegraph listed cities that outshine their capitals.

vera stedman briefing_4664Vera Stedman, Tourism Ireland’s deputy director at the London office, briefed Irish travel media at the offices in London. She said that the marketing campaign for 2013 had yielded growth and that social media would be at the heart of their campaigns in Britain in 2014.

  • The centenary year of the Easter Rebellion, 2016, is being considered by the government as timely for a repeat of the Gathering.
  • Aileen Hickey, Tourism Ireland’s manager for the Nordic region led a delegation of 17 Irish tourism enterprises to the biennial COS roadshow, a three-city trade mission to Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm.
  • Northern Ireland Tourist Board has chosen Antrim born film star Liam Neeson to be the voice of its latest TV advertising campaign in Ireland (watch here).
  • Limerick City of Culture campaign has identified five events which have international appeal. They will be launched in the English market at an event next week.

TARGETING BRITISH TOURISTS FOR IRELANDPicture shows Helen Wycherley, Celtic Ross Hotel, Rosscarbery; Minister Pat Rabbitte TD; Jim Maher, Select Hotels of Ireland; and Vanessa Markey, Tourism Ireland, on the Tourism Ireland stand at the Best of Britain and Ireland travel trade fair in Birmingham.

Duncannon beach will host the country’s only Beach Parade this St. Patrick’s Day.

Robert Ballard will open a new Ocean Exploration Centre at Titanic Belfast this month. Brick City, one of the world’s most popular and fun exhibitions using Lego bricks, is coming to Titanic Belfast in May.

MINISTER JOHN PERRY LENDS A HAND TO BOOST TOURISM FROM SPAINPicture shows Minister for Small Businesses John Perry; Barbara Wood of Tourism Ireland; Justin Harman, Irish Ambassador to Spain; Juan Carlos Arcones and Carlos Sánchez, both Aer Lingus Spain at a St Patrick’s reception in Madrid hosted by Tourism Ireland in conjunction with the Irish Embassy.

  • The Irish Water Safety Association warned that a full moon this Sunday 16th March will mean higher “spring” tides.
  • Dublin’s freedom bell at the Smock Alley Theatre, the first Catholic Church bell to ring in Dublin in 1811 in defiance of the Penal Laws, is to be restored as part of a €620,000 tourism investment.
  • The Environmental Protection Authority said raw sewage is still being discharged into rivers, lakes and the sea in 42 towns and villages, including Arklow, Clifden, Cobh, Killybegs, Passage West, Ringaskiddy and Youghal.
  • Fáilte Ireland announced a new marketing plan for Lough Derg.
  • First Vogue, now Vanity Fair, photographer Annie Lebowitz shot the Game of Thrones cast for Vanity Fair’s latest cover in Ireland including Emiliaa Clarke, Kit Harington and Peter Dinklag
  • After the first Irish-bred Golden Eagle under the reintroduction programme was shot, the director of the Golden Eagle Trust Laurence O’Toole said he was concerned about “urban prejudice” against small farmers as guardians of the landscape.

Stena Line 3Ferry week begins this week and both major ferries operating out of Ireland, Irish Ferries and Stena Line, have announced that children under 16 will travel for free by car on all routes and all sailings to Britain up to December 18, book Irish Ferries by March 29th, with Stena Line by March 31st.

Irish Ferries - Kids go FreeTopflight are offering Madeira this April from €599pps.

  • Balcony stateroom are on offer for the same price as an outside stateroom with Royal Caribbean on select holidays before 31 March 2014.
  • Holidayonline lead-in prices are from €292, Tunisia from €292, Morocco from €342, Lanzarote from €388, Fuerteventura from €389, Tenerife from €375, Gran Canaria from €392, Madeira from €562, Egypt from €677, or phone 01-7640469.
  • And the answer to the quiz: rock-n-roll babe Dominic Burke of Travel Centres played support to BOTH Rory Gallagher and Thin Lizzy.



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