TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Willie Walsh hangs up his Christmas stocking



Niamh Wade and Hans "Sem" Steinkasserer in Kirchberg

Niamh Wade and Hans “Sem” Steinkasserer in Kirchberg

The headlines this week:

*Europe is piste off with low snow

*Ireland’s value for money ratings have doubled

*Tourism Ireland calculates growth at 8.8pc for 2014

*ITAA outlines plans for Holiday World Show Dublin

Travel Extra TV

video-of-week-dec-21Our video of the week shows the Island of Ireland Peace Choir performing ‘Silent Night’ in three languages on board a Brussels-Dublin flight. Watch here.

  • Dublin Airport organised a surprise welcome home for Carmel O’Connor, who is spending Christmas with her family in West Limerick for the first time in four years. But Carmel had a surprise of her own… Watch here.
  • Eamon O’Neill played festive tunes at the arrivals gate at Ireland West Airport Knock to greet his daughter Ashling, who is home from London for Christmas. Watch here.
  • Tourism Ireland uploaded their new Jump into Ireland (watch here) and Jump into Northern Ireland (watch here) TV ads.
  • American Airlines passenger John Mitchell uploaded footage of severe turbulence on a flight from Incheon to Dallas. The flight was diverted to Japan and 12 people were injured. Watch here.
  • Aer Lingus uploaded its Dublin-New York promo video. Watch here. The airline also uploaded a promo video for its new Family First product. Watch here.
  • What does an airport sniffer dog do when they’re not sniffing? Watch here.


willie-walshSlots was the word on everyone’s lips this week when it emerged that IAG chief Willie Walsh had made a bid for Aer Lingus, ten years after he was ridiculed for trying to orchestrate a management buy-out.  The Financial Times was most blunt: IAG want Aer Lingus’s slots. Davy’s suggested the bid had strategic merit. The share price rose as the guys with the braces awaited another bid. Read the IAG statement here. Travel Extra suspects there is more than Heathrow slots at stake (as one tweet had it: a bunch of Heathrow slots with an airline attached). Aer Lingus throws lots of options open for IAG, a long haul and short haul service with a lower cost base than BA or Iberia and the potential to feed the expanded airline group’s two and a half hubs more efficiently than either.

The ITAA issued its advance statement outlining plans for the annual Holiday World Show Dublin which will return to the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin on January 23-25 to celebrate its 26th year. First time exhibitors include tour operators and travel agents Wendy Wu Tours, Travel Mood, Travel Republic, USIT, Agne Tours, Orlando Vacation Homes and Dawson Travel. New and returning destinations include Brazil, Lithuania, Slovakia, Jamaica, Ontario, North Cyprus, Santa Monica, Botswana, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tanzania, the Algarve and Spain’s Region of Valencia and Costa Calida. To see the full list of exhibitors, also including new International Hotels and European Camping Destinations, visit To find out more about exhibiting at the Holiday World Show you can view the exhibitor brochure here, or email Maureen Ledwith at or telephone + 353 (0)1 291 3700.

shaun quinn micahel cawley1 (2)Fáilte Ireland chairman Michael Cawley was in the front rank as Fáilte slipped in ahead of Tourism Ireland and ITIC to give their end of year report, previously a January event. The prediction for 2015 is a further 6pc growth in tourism, based on capacity growth, although he said Germany and Scandinavia are both still under-served from Ireland (listen here). Significantly, value for money ratings have doubled in five years. Click here for the full report. The new Michael Cawley approach was apparent: “The only way to make money is to increase your asset utilisation,” he said in reply to Cyril McAree’s question about the complaints about labour costs (listen here). Michael Cawley welcomed multi-year budgeting and the retention of the lower 9pc VAT rate (listen here).

Tourism Irl reflect on sucessful 2014-2 copyTourism Ireland calculated growth at 8.8pc for 2014 with the best year ever for visitor numbers from North America, Germany, France and Spain. The revised target for 2025 is 10m visitors. Emerging markets should receive a boost as a result of the introduction of the British-Irish Visa. Plans for 2015 include the next phase of the Wild Atlantic Way, the new Dublin Discovery Trail Dubline, Irish Design 2015 and Yeats 2015. They also launched their final SOAR report of the year. Minister Paschal Donohoe said Dublin businesses will be asked to fund an advertising campaign to promote tourism in the city next year in order to compete with other European capitals. “An important area that we will need to explore for the Dublin tourism market is looking at how we can develop a funding model that asks a number of people to make a contribution to a product that will support our business in the long term,” he said (listen here).

For those who thought snow conditions in Europe could not get any worse, they just have. Anywhere that didn’t already have a skiable base still hasn’t as a dusting of snow in many resorts on Wednesday was followed by rain over parts of the northern Alps on Thursday. Things could work out worse than 1990 when the season was saved by St Nick’s face-saving snowfall on Christmas Eve.

A record number of resorts will not be able to open for the start (or perhaps all) of the Christmas week. The Irish favourite Westenderof does not have a single lift open. Among the high profile casualties in France are Morzine, Les Gets and Flaine. In Austria, the south wind that is keeping the mountains unseasonably warm continued to blow.

Resorts that are open are doing the best they can on artificial snow. Resorts are expecting to be full for Christmas but are reporting cancellations from the drive-in market and very poor advance bookings for late January and February, especially accommodations that do not have strict cancellation policies.

geoff niamh skilift copyThe freed up beds could lead to a good season for late bookers. Those who fly and are not seeking off-piste have been finding decent ski conditions where the snow cannons have had a chance to work. They included a media group hosted by Topflight, Claudia Waldbrunner and Christoph Soeckl of Kirchberg Tourism in Kitzbuhel-Kirchberg, where the balmy resort conditions belied the ski conditions on the mountain (watch here). Kirchberg has ten lifts open and some terrific skiing on the Pengelstein and Piste 18. The group visited the Erber Schnapps distillery, had some genuinely mouth-melt food in the Kitzbuhel casino and experienced some of the lively night life in Casper Drekkel’s Eisbar. They stayed in the Hotel Metzgerwirt and were hosted for lunch by Aegidius “Gidi” Koiel in the Hotel Bräuwirt, which has some of the best facilities in Austria for wheelchair bound skiers. Picture shows Geoff Hill and Niamh Wade. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

An advance party were hosted in Bad Hofgastein by Martin Zeppezauer and Hermine Mortsch of Gastein Tourist Board and found Sportgastein with good skiable terrain on Monday (watch here). Bad Gastein has the advantage of thermal spas and is due to host the Today FM Topflight ski trip on January 24, on which 625 Irish skiers are expected to accompany Ian Dempsey’s breakfast show.

Elsewhere across the Alps the higher resorts are claiming good powder conditions. Isola 2000 claims to be the only resort that is 100pc open in France. Val Thorens, Tignes, Val d’Isère, Les 2 Alpes and Serre Chevalier in France, Zermatt, Saas-Fee, St Moritz and Davos/Klosters in Switzerland, and Cervinia, Monte Rosa, Livigno, Passo Tonale, Val Senales, Sestriere and Cortina in Italy.

Sölden has 24 lifts open in Austria. Hintertux, Kaprun, Obergurgl and Ischgl are all up and running. The very good early season conditions in Norway continued this week, with the best new snow in Voss. Scotland’s three open resorts have plenty of snow but high winds have caused some lifts to close.

New snow has boosted the North American resorts, with two big storms dropping lots of new snow on Mammoth and Squaw. Colorado and Utah also saw excellent snowfall.

The FIS Alpine downhill ski event in Munich on January 1 has already been cancelled due to lack of snow. The circuit is in Italy this month with events in Val Gardena, Alta Badia, Madonna di Campiglio and Santa Caterina are going ahead.

Ray Scully group mont blanc copyRay Scully and a group of Irish trade who headed for Tignes reported skiing was good overall, with 27 of 79 lifts open, 50cm on the top and 20cm in village. They experienced excellent skiing with patchy visibility on Wednesday, Thursday morning and clearing to sunny blue skies on Friday. While most pistes were open in Tignes, runs to the Village of Val D’Isere were closed. It snowed Friday night with a good dusting showing as they left the resort at 6am Saturday Morning. Picture shows Ray Scully, Des Abbott, John Devereux, Alan Lynch, David O’Hagan, Joe Tully, Aidan Coghlan, Frank Fahy with Mont Blanc in the background.

Marie Claire Porter, Tanya Airey, Michele Anderson, Deirdre Sweeny (all Sunway) and Jimmy Murphy AMA Waterways copy (2)Sad news this week: Jimmy Murphy, 82, lost his battle with cancer on Thursday. A towering figure in the travel industry, he was founder of Brendan Tours and AMAWaterways and a pioneer of the rivercruise industry worldwide.  Murphy spent nine years with a retail travel agency in Dublin before moving to New York. He served as a sales executive with Aer Lingus for eleven years before co-founding Irish specialist Brendan Worldwide Vacations in 1969. In 2006, Murphy sold the company after it had become one of the country’s most successful tour operators. As Chairman and Chief Executive of Brendan Worldwide Vacations based in Los Angeles, Murphy was responsible for bringing large numbers of American visitors to Ireland and then expanded the business to tours to South America and other destinations worldwide. He once told Travel Extra of what motivated him to found Brendan: The commute on the 7:11 from Westport, Connecticut. “It wasn’t a bad commute. It was just the fact that it was the same train every morning, the 7:11.” During his tenure at Brendan Worldwide Vacations, Murphy spent four years as national treasurer of American Society of Travel Agents. He was one of the co-founders of the United States Tour Operators Association, serving as founding president and the company’s first-ever chairman, followed by a second chairman stint in 1992. In 1995, Murphy received ASTA’s Allied Member of the Year Award and in 2003, was inducted into the ASTA Hall of Fame. Murphy co-founded AmaWaterways in 2002 with Schreiner and Karst, noting that river cruising was “a thing of the future,” recognising the opportunities for innovation that were to come from this rapidly growing segment of the travel industry. He served as chairman and co-owner of AmaWaterways until his death. Picture shows Marie Claire Porter, Tanya Airey, Michele Anderson, Deirdre Sweeny, all Sunway, with Jimmy Murphy on one of his last visits to Ireland last year. Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

US President Barack Obama’s not so surprising announcement that he plans to re-establish diplomatic ties with Cuba, has some in this country wondering what it will mean for Irish who have for decades made Cuba one of their top long haul holiday destinations. Cuba had direct connections with Ireland in the 1970s and has remained a popular choice with Irish people, with 7,000 a year visiting the country. Tourist industry sources said this week that a price rise was inevitable when Americans are cleared to visit a country to which they are currently banned from travelling.

Nollaig Shona Daoibh from all at Travel Extra magazine. We hope you have a happy and peaceful Christmas.

Travel Trade

boat trip four copyPicture shows Kathryn MacDonnell of STB, Brendan Barry of Discover Travel, Valerie Norberg of J Barter, and Hilary Mahon  of Sunway, on the Spanish Tourist Board fam trip to Gran Canaria and Lanzarote.

Topflight’s Tony Collins hosted the trade at their Christmas event on Tuesday. Simon Daly, Topflight Worldwide Manager, thanked the trade for their support and committed the tour operator’s continued support to the trade in 2015. Connie Gallagher from Mullingar Travel won the main prize of the evening.

The winners of the draw for the ITAA Member Stands for the Holiday World Show were: Best4Travel, e Travel, Earths Edge, Keith Prowse Travel, Travel Escapes and Wallace Travel Group. Each of the winners will be given a stand at the Holiday World show.

Knock event for trade1Zara Sheerin from NUIG was the guest speaker at Ireland West Airport Knock’s eighth annual travel trade event at the Lodge at Ashford Castle, which had a record attendance. She spoke about the impact of digital and social media on business in Ireland and how agents can maximise the potential of the digital world for their businesses. The event was attended by 50 of the regions’ leading travel agents. Picture shows Carole Carmody of The Travel Corporation, Fidelma Burke and Kirsti Costello of Grogan Travel, Tuam, at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Enterprise car hire ended Europcar’s license to operate National and Alamo brands and announced it will explore how best to take National and Alamo to European customers.

Hilary Alexander of Greers Travel, Janet Cahill of O’Leary Travel, Fiona Egan of Grogan Travel, Gillian Foley of Club Travel, Mary Jones of Lee Travel, Catherine Myler of Newbridge Travel, David Stringfellow of FCM, Shybu Varghese of Skyline Travel, and and Gopika Walia of 747 Travel were among the prize winners in the Emirates Awesome Autumn Madness trade competition.

Fahy Travel in Galway won Falcon Agent of the Month.

Carol Anne O’Neill will leave her position with Falcon Holidays and Thomson, part of the TUI Group, at the end of January 2015. Carol Anne, who has worked for the company for over 15 years most recently as Head of Ireland, is leaving to further her career in a different sector within the travel industry.

Turkish Airlines hosted 120 agents and family to the Christmas Santa Train Experience at Ireland’s most popular Santa Experience in Rathwood Home and Garden, Co Wicklow.

orlandoLee Osborne of Bookabed, Dave Cole of Universal and Holly Best of Virgin Atlantic hosted eight Irish travel professionals in Orlando. The group had brunch at the Virgin Clubhouse Lounge in Gatwick airport before flying premium economy on Virgin Atlantic. They stayed at the Loews Royal Pacific, and did showarounds of the Universal hotels, researched the theme park rides in Universal, Islands of Adventure and Wet ‘n Wild, sampled the food and nightlife of the City Walk and fine dining at the Rosen Shingle Creek. They also had time for essential Christmas shopping in the local malls and premium outlets. Picture shows Liz McGonagle of Padraic Keogh Travel, Aisling O’Donovan of Club Travel, Joanna Corrigan of Abbey Travel, Lee Osborne of Bookabed, Sarah Murphy of Marble City Travel, Yvonne O’Donohoe of O’Donohoe Travel, Claire Byrne of Roscrea Travel, Elaine Massey of Killiney Travel, Sarah-Jayne Lawlor of Cassidy Travel, and Beverleigh Fly of Bookabed on the Bookabed/Universal/Virgin fam trip to Orlando.

Travelport appointed Maria Chevalier as Global Vice President of Corporate Incubation.

Funway Holidays will launch its Chill vs Thrill agent incentive in January: Quote promo code THRILL50, CHILL50 or BOTH50 (twin or multi-centre holidays) when booking a package holiday to any of Funway’s Chill or Thrill destinations by Jan 31 to be in with a chance of winning a fly-drive holiday to Orlando and St Pete.

British Airways and Iberia travel agent incentive: Book customer in First and Business Class before midnight, Dec 31 on either airline and enter the keyword POFRW1415 in the OSI field to be in with a chance of winning 100,000 Avios or 9,000 Avios runner-up.

British Airways’ World seat sale continues until January 15, 2015 for travel starting January 15. The USA & Canada seat sale also continues until January 15 for travel January 15-November 30. See your GDS for full details and destinations.

Travelport announced an agreement with ICE Portal to provide visual hotel content on the Travel Commerce Platform. Travelport also added new features to its Smartpoint desktop technology.

Norwegian Cruise Line launched its Bonus Commission incentive. Agents can earn up to 10pc bonus commission on selected European winter sun sailings.

Oasis Travel Dec 2014 copyOasis Travel helped with the annual Cool FM Cash for Kids Mission Christmas by collecting toys and gifts at donation points at branches in Lisburn, Howard Street and Lisburn Road in Belfast, Bangor and Holywood. Picture shows Louise Crawford, Sharon McKee, Angela Taylor, Aaron Fletcher and Jennifer Ford at Oasis Travel’s branch on Howard Street celebrating a Christmas Jumper day.

Deal Watch

  • NITB Christmas gift ideas: Early bird ticket to the Irish Open at The Royal County Down Golf Club, May 28-31, Costs £25 (book before Dec 31). Game of Thrones Experience at Clearsky Adventure Centre, gift vouchers available for the Archery Movie Set Experiences, Glamping mini break and the Film Locations Cycle Tour. Spa breaks from £60pps. Red Bull Crashed Ice Downhill World Championship, Stormont, Belfast, Feb 20-21, tickets £25 for two adults and two children. Segway tour of Titanic Belfast, costs from £30.
  • ITAA offers of the week, ‘Girlie Getaways’: 7 nights all inclusive Girls Surf & Yoga Holiday, Tamraght, Morocco from €772pps incl. 5 yoga lessons, 5 surf lessons, return flights and transfers, depart May 9. 5 nights Shopping Trip to New York from €590pps incl. return flights Dublin-JFK, depart January 22. 2 nights B&B Weekend to see Wicked in London from €299pp incl. theatre ticket and return flights, depart February 20.
  • The Abbey Hotel in Roscommon is offering 2 nights B&B from €105pps incl. evening meal. Call 090 6626 240 for more info.
  • Falcon all inclusive family offer: 7 nights Dublin-Cala Millor, Majorca from €2,559 for two adults and one child and from €3,039 for two adults and two children, depart September 1 2015.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights all inclusive Dublin-Port Des Torrent, Ibiza from €739pp, depart May 27 2015.
  • Project Travel is offering 4 nights B&B in Tromso, Norway from €745pps incl. return flights ex-Dublin. Project Travel is also offering a Northern Lights Highlights voyage, depart March 18: 2 nights B&B in Tromso, 3 nights half-board on Hurtigurten’s MS Nordlys from €1,092pp. See to book or call 01 2108 3981.
  • Click and Go offers all including return flights from Dublin, taxes and charges: 2 nights in Turim Iberia Hotel, Lisbon from €175pp. 7 nights in the Hotel Croatia from €445. 7 nights all inclusive in the Allegro Playacar Hotel, Cancun, Mexico from €939pp incl. transfers. 3 nights in Derag Livinghotel, Dusseldorf from €289pp. 2 nights in the Citadines Brussels Saint Catherine hotel from €289pp. 2 nights in the Dodo Hotel, Riga from €295pp.
  • Sunway is offering 6-day artic cruise from €1,149pp direct flights from Dublin, transfers tax and 20kg baggage pp, depart March 18.
  • Sunway summer 2015 offers to Orlando, deposit of €100pp required: 7 nights Pointe Orlando Resort from €619pp; 7 nights Cabana Bay Beach Resort from €679pp; 7 nights three-bed holiday home and 7 day car hire from €699pp; 7 nights All Star Movie Resort from €735pp. Travel May 2015, all prices incl. return flight and taxes.
  • Travel Department is offering 3 nights to Iceland from €549. 2015 trips to China are available from €1,429. 14 nights B&B in South Africa from €2,499pp incl. flights, tax, guided excursions, transfers, Kruger safari and evening meals. – a solo-friend option is also available. Trips to Rajasthan and the Pushkar Fair are available from €1,599 in 2015. Travel Department will partner with RTÉ Lyric FM’s Marty in the Morning show to offer opera holidays to destinations including Lake Garda and Verona.


trivago 1Dublin is the most popular destination for New Year’s Eve for Irish holidaymakers, according to London comes in at number two (€302), followed by Galway (€120), Paris (€218) and Killarney (€113). Unsurprisingly, Dublin is the most expensive Irish destination at €154 for a standard double room on December 31, compared to €90 in Limerick and Waterford. The top ten: 1 Dublin (€154), 2 Donegal Town (€147), 3 Sligo Town (€139), 4 Kilkenny (€129), 5 Galway (€120), 6 Killarney (€113), 7 Tralee (€103), 8 Cork (€97), 9 Limerick City (€90), 10 Waterford (€90).

Dalata is seeking to acquire nine of the Moran Bewley’s hotels for €455m, comprising 2,506 rooms. The Red Cow Hotel will remain under the control of Limerick businessman Tom Moran and his family. The deal will be subject to clearance from competition authorities and shareholder approval at an EGM on Jan 5.

  • Ampleforth, the group that operates the Fitzwilliam hotel and the Bailey pub in Dublin filed a pre-tax profit of €1.9m for 2013, up 8.5pc.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel in Dublin is to be renamed the InterContinental Dublin from January 1 after a franchise agreement was signed with the InterContinental Hotels Group.


  • Visit Scotland’s Burns Night celebrations: Burns an ‘a’ that Festival, Ayrshire, January 23-26; Big Burns Supper, Dumfries, January 23-31.
  • Google revealed Ireland’s most searched airlines and travel operators: 1. Aer Lingus, 2. Irish Ferries, 3. British Airways, 4. Ryanair, 5. Stena Line, 6. Emirates, 7. Flybe, 8. Etihad, 9. Abbey Travel and 10. Air France.
  • The Canadian man who gained attention last month by offering a free round-the-world air ticket to any woman with the same name as his ex-girlfriend has found “the one”: Elizabeth Gallagher from Nova Scotia.
  • Rifai, Borrego, Fernandez Montes y Callejón entrelanan manos por acuerdoSpain signed an agreement between the UNWTO and the Municipality of Torremolinos to host the Second International Conference on Tourism De-seasonalisation on June 3-4. The conference will take place in the Palacio de Congresos alongside the X Travel Market.
  • France banned UberPOP carpooling service after taxi drivers staged a protest in Paris. UberPOP is different to other Uber products because it allows private individuals to use their own cars to drive passengers at a reduced price.
  • A passenger on a China Eastern flight triggered a two-hour delay at an airport in Hainan after he opened an emergency exit (and triggered the inflatable slide) in a bid to disembark more quickly.
  • Kenya’s Tourism Regulatory Authority will update its national classification of tourism facilities and services.
  • Magaluf authorities hope to ban pub crawls and drinking in the street in an effort to rid the resort of its drunken, “Shagaluf” reputation.
  • Airbnb agreed to collect tourist tax from customers in Amsterdam.
  • The Tower of David Museum in Jerusalem launched a new English speaking tour of King Herod’s palace called Bookends of the Gospels. Entry ₪70.
  • The UNTWO Tourism Barometer report says 1bn international tourists will have travelled by the end of 2014.
  • Visit USA appointed Tracey Spuyman a CEO.
  • Art shop owner Maria Dellos from Arizona recovered her lost luggage this week – 20 years after it went missing.
  • was bought by Swiss-based travel company Bravofly Rumbo Group for $120m.
  • The US Olympic Committee will make an official bid for the 2024 Olympic Games. Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco are in the running for official bid city.

Food & Drink

  • Galway hosted the world’s first Buckfast cocktail competition.
  • London mayor Boris Johnson defended the two Irish businessmen who opened up England’s first cereal café, Cereal Killers, after they were grilled in an interview with Channel Four.
  • PiaPia restaurant in Tokyo banned couples on Christmas Eve because they will make other customers feel lonely.


In response to a question from Travel Extra at the Fáilte Ireland results, Michael Cawley said he expected air fares to fall slowly, and reverted to Ryanair-speak in castigating Delta for retaining the profits generated by a 40pc drop in fuel costs (listen here). He pointed out most other airlines are heavily hedged into 2015, HSBC reported recently that Ryanair is 90pc hedged to both Mar 2015 and Mar 2016 while Aer Lingus is 50pc hedged to 2015. Other airlines figures are: Air France-KLM 55pc, EasyJet 80pc (and 58pc to Sept 2016), Finnair 61pc, Flybe 95pc to Mar 2015 (and 74pc to Mar 2016). IAG 52pc, Lufthansa 65pc and SAS 29pc.

  • German media reported that Ryanair are to start operations at Munich’s main airport.
  • Air conditioning is suspected of causing crew and passengers on a US Airways A330 to be taken ill.
  • Passenger numbers are up 8pc at Dublin Airport this Christmas.
  • Aer Lingus Regional is to serve Donegal-Glasgow when it takes over the Dublin-Donegal PSO route in February, replacing Loganair/Flybe on the route.
  • Clare County Council has called on Aer Lingus to reverse a decision to sub-contract cabin crew services on its Shannon to Boston route to an American company for 2015.
  • “We will come to all your [Lufthansa’s] large airports except Frankfurt,” Ryanair marketing head Kenny Jacobs told Wirtschaftswoche “We just recently held talks in Munich and the only thing really missing is suitable take-off slots. Nothing has been signed yet but Munich fits perfectly for us because prices are high and there is enough space.”
  • Dublin airport has signed a partnership with Coindrum to install a machine in T1 that allows travellers departing the Euro zone to exchange unwanted Euro coins for vouchers that can be spent at Aer Rianta International’s The Loop duty-free store, with a 10pc bonus.
  • Ryanair flights to Gothenburg are being switched from the City Airport to the more distant Gothenburg-Landvetter Airport, used by most other airlines, until Jan 31.
  • aer lingus movemberAer Lingus’ Movember campaign raised over €35,000 for the Irish Cancer Society. More than 50 staff members grew moustaches and on board collections were organised on all European flights during the last week of the month.
  • Aer Lingus announced details of its Family First offer: Half price on checked baggage and advance seat selection for children aged 2-11 travelling on short haul flights.
  • Belfast International Airport expects to handle 150,000 passengers over Christmas.
  • Book parking at Dublin Airport with Quick Park before Dec 31 to receive complimentary family pass for CityScape Dublin Luxury sightseeing and free admission for a night at the dogs.
  • An Air France flight en route to Paris from the Dominican Republic had to make an emergency landing in Shannon this week because vegetables on board triggered a cargo smoke warning.
  • The Mayo Male Voice Choir will perform in Ireland West Airport Knock from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Tuesday (December 23).
  • Beijing will build a third airport to deal with congestion and delays. The new airport will be located 29 miles south of the city centre and will take five years to complete.
  • Air France-KLM issued its third profit warning in six months, cutting its 2014 earnings goal by €200m.
  • Passengers flying with Ryanair and Aer Lingus this Christmas are reminded to leave the Christmas crackers at home.
  • Aer Lingus’ January Seat Sale is now open: Book by January 9 for travel From January 1 to March 31. Britain from €19.99 one-way, Europe from €39.99 one-way and North America from €209 each way.
  • Ryanair announced a new 6w Manchester to Stuttgart service, operating from April 2. Ryanair also added 3 routes to its Athens summer schedule to Budapest, Bratislava and Santorini.
  • United Airlines will increase its services to China during the 2015 summer season with double-daily flights to Shanghai and a daily service to Chengdu.
  • 2 Etihad - A380Etihad unveiled its first A380 and B787 to over 200 journalists in Abu Dhabi. Picture shows Hareb Al Muhairy, VP UAE; Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer; Abdul Qader Hussein Ahmed, VP Government and International Affairs; James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer; Khaled Al Mehairbi, SVP Government and Aeropolitical Affairs; Hasan Al Hammadi, SVP Executive Affairs; with members of the airline’s cabin crew in front of Etihad Airways’ first A380.
  • Emirates anticipated over 80,000 passengers on Dec 19, the busiest day during the Christmas season.
  • Etihad Airways announced a codeshare agreement with Hong Kong Airlines.
  • Staff at Bombardier Aerospace in Newtownabbey, Co Antrim raised £1,700 for cancer charity Action Cancer.
  • Iberia and Brazilian airline TAM announced a codeshare agreement.
  • A Flybe jet flying from Glasgow to Belfast City Airport on Tuesday night was forced to make an emergency landing at Belfast International Airport after one of its engines caught fire.


andrew bolton (2)Andrew Bolton has been appointed Ireland manager for Celebrity Cruises to replace Tryphavana Cross. Andrew will report to Claire Stirrup in her new role as head of sales. Lorraine Quinn will continue to work with Celebrity Cruises as business development manager for Ireland and Nicki Tempest-Mitchell will oversee the Ireland team as director of sales.

Carnival Corporation has ordered two new cruise ships for its cruise lines Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Line. A new 3,954-passenger Vista-class ship will launch in March 2018, and will be a sister ship to Carnival Vista, scheduled for launch in spring 2016. Holland America’s new 2,650-passenger Pinnacle-class ship is scheduled for delivery in November 2018 and will be a sister ship to Konigsdam, to launch in February 2016. The two as-yet-unnamed ships will be built at Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

Carnival Corporation has appointed Christine Duffy, formerly CEO of CLIA, as president of Carnival Cruise Lines, effective February 1, 2015. Christine Duffy started her career as a travel agent.

Costa Cruises renamed its Costa Classica ship Costa neoClassica after a $28m refurbishment. Changes include updates to the pool deck, a refurbished wellness facility with a new TRX area, new interiors and soft furnishings, new balcony furniture in the ship’s suites, personal Illy brand coffee pod espresso machines and Elemis beauty products in all 654 cabins. The, 1,680-passenger ship went into dry dock in Genoa on Nov 8 and will re-emerge Dec 18. Costa was previously responsible for Travel Extra’s favourite ship-nomenclature mishap: the Costa Fortuna.

Sean McCarter1 copyThe Cruising Club of America awarded the 2014 Rod Stephens Trophy for Outstanding Seamanship to Sean McCarter, skipper of the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Yacht Race Irish entry Derry -Doire in recognition of the way he directed his crew during a dramatic man overboard rescue in the harsh northern Pacific Ocean last March.

Norwegian Escape is to feature a sprawling ropes course and aqua park. Located on the top deck, the three-story ropes course with a zip track that allows participants to glide through the air, an aqua park with the popular free fall water slide familiar from breakaway-class ships, and an all-new water feature called the Aqua Racer slide, in which competitors can race side by side on tubes. Outdoor activities include a nine-hole, mini-golf course with a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme, and a bocce ball court. Norwegian Escape will offer childcare services for children ages six months to three years as part of the Guppies programme.

Cruise & Maritime Voyages parent company, Global Maritime Group, has acquired Astor and signed a long-term charter of the vessel to CMV.

Irish Ferries is offering a free ferry trip to Britain for a car plus two passengers for those who book on the Oscar Wile from Rosslare or the Epsilon from Dublin to France, June-August. Other promotions on the French services include a 10pc discount on reservations made by Jan 5. New for 2015 is the on board family meal deal for two adults and two children for €29.95.

Stena Line expects to carry over 144,000 passengers across the Irish Sea over the Christmas period.


Fáilte Ireland has uploaded the  Annual Industry Tourism Review, a Business Tourism Breakfast, the announcement of the first batch of festival funding and revenue management workshops. Deadlines are approaching for our regional festival funding applications as well as the Irish Tourism Industry Awards 2015.

CANADIAN TV SHOW ‘THE TRAVEL GUY’ FILMS IN IRELANDCanadian TV presenter and travel writer Frank Greco was in Ireland this to film for his show ‘The Travel Guy’, as a guest of Tourism Ireland in Toronto and Fáilte Ireland. The itinerary included visits to the Cliffs of Moher, Inis Mór, Glenveagh Castle as well as surfing in Sligo. Picture shows Frank Greco filming at Glenveagh Castle, Co Donegal.

Eight American business tourism buyers IRELAND IS ‘THE BUSINESS’ FOR INFLUENTIAL AMERICAN GROUP!visited Ireland this week as guests of Tourism Ireland and Custom Ireland. Their itinerary included site inspections of Dublin hotels like the Marker and the Shelbourne; a cliff walk at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore; the Irish Whiskey Academy in Midleton; Killarney National Park; and the Cliffs of Moher. Picture shows the group with Adriaan Bartels, Cliff House Hotel; Marie McKown, Tourism Ireland; and Crothúr Murphy, Custom Ireland, at the Cliff House Hotel in Ardmore, Co Waterford.

Ireland was named Best Destination: Europe at the Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards in New York and Best Tourism Destination by the readers of Global Traveler magazine.

1.5m TV viewers in Sweden tuned in to an episode of reality show Bonde Söker Fru (Farmer Searches for a Wife) that was shot in Northern Ireland during the summer. The show features single farmers who go on a dream date with their chosen partner. Peter Karlsson and Helena Johansson went on a romantic break to Ireland. They visited Dunluce Castle, Giant’s Causeway and the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, Titanic Belfast, City Hall, Queen’s University during the visit. The itinerary was prepared by NITB.

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE!Russian travel writers Ivashchenko Antonina of S7 Magazine and Natalia Bredun of Harper’s Bazaar visited Ireland as guests of Tourism Ireland. Their itinerary was designed by Fáilte Ireland and included visits to the Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre, the Burren, Aillwee Cave, Charles Fort, the Rock of Cashel, Newgrange and Dublin. Picture shows Amy Keegan, Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre; Eliza Gorbunova, Tourism Ireland; Ivashchenko Antonina, S7 Magazine; Natalia Bredun, Harper’s Bazaar; Brenda King, Fáilte Ireland; and tour guide Gerry Ronayne, at the Tullamore Dew Visitor Centre, Co Offaly.

New York Times columnist Ratha Tep wrote that visitors can experience “staggeringly scenic sea cliffs” at Dublin Bay for “little more than the cost of a pint” by taking a trip on the DART instead of spending the “extra hours and expense travelling west”.

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