TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: The Ghost of Cyprus Airways & Who’s in the Running for Travel Agent of the Year?

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The headlines this week:

*New airline, old name & logo – Cyprus Airways will be back

*Michael O’Leary talks fares and flatulence

*Why shoppers should think Spain

*Travel agent of the year – Louise, Caroline or Jacynta?

*Ryanair’s load factor jumps by an astonishing 7pc

*Meet Falcon’s new Head of Ireland

*Willie’s wisdom on coping with failure

 

Travel Extra TV

video-of-week-jan 11Our video of the week shows tourist Blake Platt challenging Disney villain Gaston from Beauty and the Beast to a push up contest at Disney World Florida. Watch here.

  • Ryanair uploaded a video showing a remote control model of a B737-800 jet, built from scratch by crew member Giuseppe Mercandante. Watch here.
  • Ryanair’s new TV ad: Watch here.
  • Aer Lingus’ year in review: Watch here.
  • Neil Rooney of Movember Ireland talks about Aer Lingus’ charity campaign last year. Watch here.
  • Aer Lingus uploaded a TV ad promoting flights from Belfast City (watch here) and the ‘Take a Smile Sale’ (watch here).
  • A journey to San Francisco with Emirates: Watch here.
  • A drone captures the diversity and beauty of New York City: Watch here.
  • A jet struggles to land in high crosswinds at Leeds Airport. Watch here.

Headlines

Holiday world cake 25 years_0317Members of the trade can pre-register here for the Holiday World Show Dublin 2015 Media & Trade Morning from 10am to 1pm on Jan 23 in the RDS Simmonscourt. This year’s show will see some 1,000 travel experts from 50 countries on hand to provide expert advice and the opportunity to discuss the 2015 season with members of the travel media and travel trade. Those who pre-register will be emailed a pre registration number enabling them to gain free fast track access, free Internet access and a free show catalogue, courtesy of The Sunday Times. Click here for a downloadable Travel Extra branded 2 for 1 Holiday World ticket for Travel Extra readers/subscribers.

belfast holiday world showNew exhibitors at Belfast Holiday World next week will include Belfast International Airport and tourism bodies for destinations as diverse as China, Oklahoma, Kansas, Canada, North Cyprus, Andalucia and Antalya joining ‘old friends’ like New York, United Airlines, Malta, Cyprus, Tunisia and India (doubling its stand size for this year’s show). Picture shows Meagan Green’s photo shoot for the show which takes place at the King’s Hall in Belfast on Friday Jan 15, Saturday 16 and Sunday 17. Highlights include a 50+ show located with the caravan and wedding destinations portfolio.

Cyprus Airways Airbus A320 landing at Dublin AirportNow you see it, now you don’t — but it looks like we will see it again soon. The Cyprus government, which recently bought the Cyprus Airways logo, plans to establish a new airline in the coming months after Friday’s closure of Cyprus Airways. The new company will also be named Cyprus Airways, according to Cyprus works minister Marios Demetriades.  Mike Kelly’s photograph shows a Cyprus Airways Airbus A320 landing at Dublin airport.

Margrethe VestagerThe end had been coming for some time, perhaps since Eurocypria was allowed to fail in November 2010. New EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager (pictured) ruled on Friday that Cyprus Airways has “no real prospect of becoming viable with state subsidies”, and said the airline must therefore pay back €65m of “incompatible” aid received. Michael O’Leary signalled his intention to apply for an AOC license for Ryanair within Cyprus. O’Leary hilariously described Cyprus as “half the size of Ireland and twice as political” (listen here to Michael O’Leary speaking in advance of his meeting with the Cyprus government in August). Cyprus finance minister Harris Georgiades declared “the state aid only managed to prolong the inevitable. Instead of restructuring the company when there was still time, the previous administration insisted on dogmatically denying any privatisation effort. Handing over the money to the company, in strict violation of the EU directive, ruined any future restructuring attempt as well as any chance of finding a strategic investor.”

CYPRUS-ECONOMY-AIRLINEPackage holiday bonding protection does not apply to Cyprus Airlines (as it does not apply to other scheduled airlines). Anyone who has paid with a credit card can either take the alternatives on offer or make a claim. Passengers who have arranged flights up to Feb 9 were instructed to contact Cyprus-based travel agency Top Kinisis who have been contracted by the government to clear up the mess (+35722 869999) Those travelling after Feb 10 should await a further announcement.

EU Commissioner Neelie Kroes authorised previous restructuring packages worth €95m in Sept 2007 and €31.3m in 2012. Cyprus notified her successor,  Joaquin Almunia, that it wanted to give a further €73m in December 2012 extended to €102.9m by October 2013. This was a problem under EU guidelines: a company on the rescue can only receive restructuring aid once over a period of ten years under the “one time, last time” principal and any company that receives restructuring aid has to sufficiently contribute itself to the cost of restructuring. The Commission found that Cyprus Airways’ own contribution is significantly below the level of 50pc required by the guidelines. Margrethe Vestager’s ruling on Friday was the death knell for the airline which was founded in 1947, employed  560 people, had a fleet of six aircraft and was flying  to 13 destinations.. There are currently 70 airlines operating in Cyprus and some have already increased frequencies to take the Cyprus Airlines market share.

willie walsh_9312We think airline consolidation will be a positive.” Willie Walsh came to address the Pendulum summit in the Marker Hotel in Dublin, telling the obligatory Michael O’Leary joke and advising delegates: Learn from others but develop your own style that you are comfortable with. He said of the Terminal 5 disaster, “leaders need to admit when they make a mistake so they can fix it. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man. Your reputation grows with every failure.” He also warned of the fine line between confidence and cockiness, said being unreasonable is not a bad thing. Take calculated risks and declared never go on holidays – marketing people will mess with your logo.

Spanish trio_4832Nine new cities will be added to Spain’s high speed rail network in 2015, giving the country more high speed rail kilometres than France and Germany combined and leaving it second in the world to China. The change means Granada is now half an hour journey from Malaga (listen here). Spain remains, by some margin, Ireland’s favourite holiday destination (listen here). In a function for travel media Gonzalo Ceballos spoke about emerging trends such as Spain as a shopping destination with individual stores offering 20pc discount schemes for foreign passport holders (listen here); the family holidays on offer (listen here); increased capacity in 2015 (listen here); the year of Theresa of Avila, saint and feminist icon (listen here); the potential of genealogical tourism to Spain (listen here). The office will continue to promote the real Spain (listen here). Pictures shows Kathryn MacDonnell, Sara Rivero and Gonzalo Ceballos of the Spanish Tourist Board at the event.

falconKos is Falcon’s big destination launch for 2015 (listen here). A new holiday village and two new Senasatori hotels have been added to the tour operator’s portfolio as it concentrates on a differentiated product (listen here) and continues its support of the travel trade – half of Falcon’s sales in Ireland are made through the trade (compared with the global figure of 10pc for the TUI/Thomson Group). Picture shows the Falcon team: Charlotte Brenner marketing manager, Chris Logan the incoming head of TUI’s Irish operation, Carol Anne O’Neill the departing head of the Irish operation, Antoinette Young distribution manager and Carol O’Connor from the marketing department. Ryanair Carol Anne O'Neill

Departing Falcon Irish head Carol Anne O’Neill declared that the early booker is back for 2015 (listen here). TUI group reported increased profits in 2014 and while Carol Anne noted the Irish profit is not stripped out (listen here) ,she said Falcon increased sales across all its product range in 2014 (listen here). Carol Anne is departing to become head of sales and marketing in Ryanair. She thanked the Irish trade for their support in a somewhat emotional valedictory speech (listen here).

Chris Logan_4859The Scottish-born Chris Logan, who took over the role as Ireland head and will commute from England to his job in Dublin, reflected humorously on his personal (listen here) and professional career (listen here) so far managing TUI’s weddings business and then the property portfolio in England before coming to Ireland. He thanked the Irish trade for the welcome that had been accorded him since the appointment was announced.

MIchael O'Leary Late Late Jan 9 2014 001 copyThe last time Michael O’Leary went on RTÉ’s Late Late Show he told the audience: “the customer is always wrong.” The new cuddly Michael charmed the audience and the viewers on Friday night. He admitted we should have been softer and more responsive to what our customers wanted two or three years earlier. A highlight of the interview were some illustrative points about his pride in Ryanair’s Irish identity, pining that too many start-up companies in Ireland sell out too quickly. There was just one risqué remark which host Ryan Tubridy shrugged off  with a nervous giggle: Children are like farts, you can just about tolerate your own – a rewotked  Jonathan Tropper quote. Watch here (starts at 2 minutes 25 seconds, ends at 19 minutes 45 seconds)

Eamonn McKeon Dec 30 2014_4736 (2)The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation released it analysis of where the Irish travelled last year (see here). ITIC noted that holiday trips increased over the period increased by 2pc, although corresponding revenue did not increase as bed nights away from home fell by 4pc. Demand for business trips appears to have been particularly buoyant. The volume of holiday trips reached 2.9m with an expenditure of €698m, this equates to an average spend per trip of €239 or €66 per night spent away from home. It noted declines in long haul trips (down 14pc), trips to England (down 2.5pc) and Spain (down 4pc), while destination markets that saw increases included North America (up 14pc), France (up 8pc), and Portugal (up 5pc).

Travel extra cover Feb 2014The February 2015 Holiday World issue of Travel Extra is now online (read here) with a roundup of all that you can expect at the show and our travels to six of the seven continents over the past twelve months.

Aer Lingus was named among the ten safest budget carriers in the world by airlineratings.com, but there is some confusion about the selection method for a ‘world’s safest airlines’ list, confined to airlines that fly to the USA and are IATA members and filled the odd requirement that it is “built a fleet using Boeing, Airbus and McDonnell Douglas aircraft and does not operate Russian-built aircraft. “ The top ten were: Air New Zealand, Cathay Pacific Airways, British Airways, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Eva Air, Finnair, Lufthansa, Qantas and Singapore Airlines. The top ten budget carriers were: Aer Lingus, Alaska Airlines, Icelandair, JetBlue, Jetstar, Kulula.com, Monarch Airlines, Thomas Cook, TUI Fly and WestJet.

Have the Americans stolen all our snow? As the white stuff fell from Massachusetts to Georgia (and Arizona baked once more), weather in the Alps is all over the place with a mixture of rain, snow, wind and some sun predicted for the coming days. Levels remain way below where they should be for early January with the best skiing at high altitude. While resorts have enjoyed clear skies the lack of new snow is taking its toll on lower slopes, especially in France, Switzerland and the Pyrenees. Colder temperatures and heavier, more widespread snow is due next week. New snow fell across Scandinavia, and Bulgaria saw some new snow. The best skiing continues to be found in the USA, with most resorts seeing some good sunshine this week. New snow in Canada added to the already excellent base depths across the country.

Classic resorts BA fam trip to DubaiFiona Dobbyn of Classic Resorts and Tara McGee of British Airways took eight agents to Dubai in conjunction with British Airways. They stayed at the 5*Fairmont The Palm and the 5* Waldorf Astoria The Palm, dined at the Atlantis the Palm, at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Waldorf Astoria, The Fairmont the Palm and St Regis in Abu Dhabi. They visited the At the Top of the Burj Kalifa, the world’s tallest building, the Gold and Spice Souk, a Dhow Dinner Cruise around the Marina and Ferrari World on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi to ride the fastest roller coaster in the world. Picture shows: Kay Bourke of McDermott Travel, Amanda Byrne of Flyaway Travel, Eliza Geraghty of 1 Stop Travel, Stephanie Nagle of Limerick Travel, Tara McGee of British Airways, Tim Carey of The Travel Boutique, Shirley Webster of Cassidy Travel, Fiona Dobbyn of Classic Resorts, Sally Lynch of Centre Travel and Carmel Keogh of Roscrea Travel.

awards Miriam O'Callaghan speaks_1494Louise Brennan Ormsby of Club Travel, Caroline O’Toole of Fahy Travel, and Jacynta Mullen of Abbey Travel will square up for the coveted title of ITAA travel agent of the year at the Irish Travel Industry awards, to be compèred by Miriam O’Callaghan on Thursday Jan 22 in Dublin’s Lord Mayoral Mansion House. The travel agency of the year category has been split into two sections for large and small agencies this year. After much deliberation, the 156 nominees in 32 categories were announced on Friday. Member Award Winners falls to a panel of judges, chaired by Tom Lonergan while agencies vote for winners in the other categories.

Travel Agency Awards

  • ITAA Corporate Travel Professional: Olive Taaffe of Club Travel, Catherine Monaghan of FCm Travel Solutions, Louise Dunne and Karen Ray of The Travel Brokertrio
  • ITAA Leisure Travel Professional: Louise Brennan Ormsby of Club Travel, Jacynta Mullen of Abbey Travel, Caroline O’Toole of Fahy Travel,
  • Most Innovative ITAA Member Marketing Campaign: Navan Travel, Club Travel, Tour America
  • ITAA Corporate Travel Agency: Atlas Travel Group, Corporate Travel Management, FCm Travel Solutions
  • ITAA Travel Agency of the Year (Under 10 Employees): 1 Stop Travel, Blackpool Travel, Fahy Travel Worldchoice, Navan Travel, O’Hanrahan Travel, Rory Mc Dyer Travel, The Travel Broker, Travel Escapes
  • ITAA Travel Agency of the Year (Over 10 Employees): Abbey Travel, Club Travel, Corporate Travel Management, J Barter Travel Group, Shandon Travel, Tour America, Travelfox.ie

Air Travel Category

  • Airline to Europe: Aer Lingus, British Airways, Ryanair, SAS, Turkish Airlines
  • Business Class Airline to Europe: Air France, British Airways, Lufthansa, SAS, Turkish Airlines
  • Airline to North America: Aer Lingus, Air Canada, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, Virgin Atlantic
  • Long Haul Airline: British Airways, Emirates Airline, Etihad Airways, Malaysia Airlines, Virgin Atlantic

Tour Operator Category

  • European Sun Tour Operator: Sunway, Falcon Holidays, Topflight, Cassidy Travel, Concorde Travel
  • Escorted Tour Operator: Contiki, Cosmos, Insight Vacations, Riviera Travel, Sunway
  • Specialist Tour Operator: Discover Travel, If Only, Sunway, The Travel Corporation, Travel Focus
  • Ski Tour Operator: Crystal Ski, Topflight
  • Long Haul Tour Operator: Classic Resorts, If Only, Sunway, Topflight, Travel Focus

Cruise & Ferry Category

  • General Cruise Company: Celebrity Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruises, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean
  • Ultra Luxury Cruise Company: Azamara Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Yacht Club, Royal Caribbean, Silversea Cruises
  • Specialist Cruise Company: Ama Waterways, MSC Cruises, Riviera Travel, Royal Caribbean, Uniworld
  • Ferry Company: Brittany Ferries, Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries, Stena Line

Agency Services Provider Category

  • Technology Provider: Amadeus, Bookabed, Proactive Labs, Travelport
  • Car Hire Company: Affordable Car Hire, Alamo, Flexible Car Hire, Hertz, Your Car Hire
  • Travel Insurance Provider: Accident & General, Blue Insurances, KMT, My Travel Insurance, Viasure
  • Tourist Board: Dubai, New York, Spain, Tunisia, Visit USA
  • Supplier Support Team: Amadeus, Bookabed, MSC Cruises, Sunway, Travelport
  • Accommodation Only Provider: Arrow Tours, Bedsonline, Bookabed, Globe Hotels, Lowcostbedsfive suppliers
  • Supplier Representative of the Year: Jennifer Callister of Royal Caribbean, Rebecca Kelly of MSC, Thomas McNally of Bedsonline, Lee Osborne of Bookabed, and Jeanette Taylor of Sunway

Destinations Category

  • Worldwide City Destination: Dubai, Las Vegas, New York, Orlando, Sydney
  • European City Destination: Barcelona, London, Paris, Prague, Rome
  • Ski Destination : Andorra, Austria, France, Italy
  • Summer Sun Destination: Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Turkey
  • Winter Sun Destination: Dubai, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Morocco, Tenerife,
  • Worldwide Theme Park: Disneyland Paris, Portavantura, Siam Park Tenerife, Universal Orlando Resort, Walt Disney World Resort,
  • Worldwide Hotel: Chain Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Marriott, Radisson.

The Irish Travel Industry Awards are an initiative of the Irish Travel Agents Association in association with Amadeus. Award categories are sponsored by American Airlines, British Airways, Cork Airport, DAA, Hertz, Port of Cork, Travelbiz.ie and Turkish Airlines. Ancillary sponsors are Falcon, O’Leary Insurance Group and The Travel Corporation. 

Travel Trade

low cost beach partyThe Lowcost group gave away thousands of lowcostholidays vouchers from 7am this week in Pearse Street train station in Dublin and hosted their own beach party in the station in “an effort to put a smile on commuters faces as they head to work.” All agent bookings made with lowcostbeds before Jan 31 will be entered into a weekly draw with four agents each winning a €500 voucher.

  • Lowcostholidays launched its new holiday booking app for Ireland.
  • BookaBed reactivated their €100 a day giveaway for the month of January. Agents who make a booking will be entered into a daily draw. The first week’s winners were: Denise Winters of Garda Holiday Club, Nicola York of Justsplit.com in Portlaoise of Siobhan Cotter of West Cork Travel, Bantry.
  • Discover Travel are offering a €30 One4all voucher with every Discover Travel booking made between now and Jan 31.
  • Themeparkbeds.com says agents can pass on savings of almost 30pc to customers booking a hotel in a Disney resort creating dynamic packaging opportunities for agents.
  • TravelCube is offering agents with bookings of €250 or more during January 2015 entry into a prize draw to win one of five tickets to see Take That in May.
  • Tour America’s autumn fair will take place in the Red Cow on Sunday, October 4.sheila deasy
  • Celbridge-based Freedom Travel is seeking two new staff members, one full time and one part time.
  • Following a mystery shopping campaign, MSC Cruises selected Sheila Deasy from Lee Travel (pictured) to win a €500 One4All shopping voucher.
  • The Travel Corporation is seeking a Marketing & PR Executive and a Sales & Events Co-ordinator.
  • The RailShop Team in Dublin is offering a new set of group rates for 90pc of mainland Europe Destinations.

WTC fam trip PortofinoWorld Travel Centre Belfast took agents on a fam trip to Orlando in December, clearing US immigration at Dublin airport. They flew on the direct Aer Lingus service and stayed in two of the Universal on-site hotels, Cabana Bay Beach Resort and Portofino Bay, as well as visiting the Royal Pacific & Hard Rock hotels within easy reach of the Universal theme parks Islands Of Adventure and Universal Studios. They also visited Wet n Wild, the nightlife of Universal CityWalk and the Blue Man Group live show. Picture shows Brendan Mallon of WTC, Karen McKenna of Co-Operative Travel, Gill Johnston of Terra Travel, Olivia Irwin of Erne Travel, Barbara Freeburn of Downe Travel, Leanne Clyde of Willis Travel, Nicola Jess of Century Travel and Andrea Hunter of Aer Lingus at the Portafino hotel.

  • Top Connect completed the acquisition of TravelSIMshop.com.
  • Registration is open for IPW 2015 in Orlando, May 30-June 3.
  • Redweb launched a brand new website for luxury escorted holiday provider Insight Vacations.
  • Florida Huddle from Wednesday to Friday next has 355 organisations registered for the state’s annual tourism showcase hosted by Fort Lauderdale CVB. Opening event is at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66 and the closing event takes place on the Lawn at the Riverside Hotel.
  • Travelport invested in German tour operator distribution company travel-IT.
  • Colleagues from media, film and theatre gathered on Monday to pay tribute to Aodhán Madden, who passed away last weekend. Among his many accomplishments was in conjuring up perhaps the fastest travel article ever to appear on the pages of the Evening Pressjimmy murphy feb 2003 (2)
  • A funeral service takes place for Jimmy Murphy, founder of Brendan Tours and AMA waterways in the church of St Vincent de Paul on Griffith Avenue tomorrow Monday, 10am, followed by funeral to Santry.
  • Skal Galway Christmas event takes place on Friday, January 16 in Galway Golf Club at 7.30pm, where a drinks reception will be followed by sit down meal and after dinner entertainment, €35 per person.
  • Feddi Aravena of APG will be departing for Chile after promoting Westjet at the Holiday World show in the RDS at the end of the month.

Deal Watch

Click and Go offers: 2 nights B&B in the Mediterran Hotel, Budapest from €209pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart Feb 13. 3 nights in the Park & Suites Prestige Val d’Europe, Disneyland Paris from €935 for two adults and one child incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart Feb 18. 7 nights B&B in the Real Marina Hotel & Spa, Algarve from €329 incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights self-catering in the Vilamore Apartments, Alvor, the Algarve from €249pp incl return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, travel in May. 7 nights self-catering in the BelleVue Club Apartments, Alcudia, Majorca from €755 for two adults and one child incl. return flights ex Dublin, transfers, taxes and charges, travel in May. 21 nights self-catering in the Tabaiba Centre Apartments, Costa Teguise, Lanzarote from €599pp incl return flights ex Dublin, transfers, taxes and charges, travel in May. 3 nights in the Hotel 3k Madrid, Lisbon from €179pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges.

Travel Counsellors offers: 7 nights All Inclusive St Vincent and the Grenadines, Mexico from €1,775pp incl. return flights and transfers, book before Jan 19, depart June 6. 7 nights All Inclusive cruise on board Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas from €1,1588pp incl. free gratuities and return flights ex Dublin, depart June 13. 7 nights B&B at an Evason Pool Villa in Thailand from €1,650pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, one checked bag and private transfers, depart Feb 9.

Sunway winter sun offers: 7 nights self-catering Lanzarote from €329pp ex Dublin, Cork or Shannon, depart Jan 17. 7 nights self-catering Fuerteventura from €299pp ex Dublin, depart Jan 17. 7 nights self-catering Tenerife from €349pp ex Dublin, depart Jan 18. 7 nights self-catering Gran Canaria from €399pp ex Dublin, depart Jan 17. 7 nights self-catering Morocco from €299pp ex Dublin, depart Jan 17. For more info, see sunway.ie or call 01 231 1800.

Crystal is offering €100 off per booking with Crystal Summer.

Abbey Travel is offering two days and nights free at Disneyland Paris for arrivals from April 1 to October 31 plus for each adult booked, a child under seven receives free accommodation and park tickets. To book, call 01 804 7160 or see abbeytravel.ie.

Hastings Hotels is offering an overnight stay for two at Ballygally Castle in Antrim from £60pps incl. hot chocolate on arrival, a romantic two course meal and breakfast. To book, see hastingshotels.com or call 048 2858 1066.

Irish Ferries and Haven Holiday Parks offer: a 7-night stay at Marton Mere Holiday Park in high season for up to 6 people costs from €873 incl. return ferry and standard carrivan, depart July 3. Short breaks start from €299 for three nights. See irishferries.com/haven.

Sunway long haul offers: 7 nights B&B at Avista Resort & Spa Hotel, Phuket, Thailand from€898pp. 4 nights at the Circus Circus Hotel, Las Vegas & Grand Canyon from €889pp incl. jeep tour. 7 nights All Inclusive in the Occidental Grand Xcaret Hotel, Cancun, Mexico from €1,265pp.

NITB offers: 1 night B&B at the Corick House Hotel & Spa, Clogher from £65pp, available until Dec 31, call 028 8554 8216 to book. 1 night B&B family break at La Mon Hotel and Country Club, Castlereagh, Belfast from £169pp for two adults and two children incl. an evening meal, activity guide, complementary treats and games for kids, plus milk and cookies, available until June 30. Call 028 9044 8631 to book.

Thomson is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Oceanis, Psalidi, Kos from €949pp, depart Sept 5.

Falcon Holidays is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Holiday Village, Port des Torrent, Ibiza from €2,199 for two adults and one child, and from €2,749 for two adults and two children.

Sunway cruise offers: 6 day Arctic Highlights tour with Hurtigruten from €1,149pp incl. hotels, half-board on board accommodation, return flights ex Dublin, depart March 18 10 night Norwegian Cruise from €817pp incl. free Ultimate Dining and up to $300 on board spend, travel now until the end of Feb. 7 nights All Inclusive Luxury River Cruise with Ama Waterways from €2,069pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, depart March 25.

Hotels

Trivago irish prices jan 2015The average hotel room in Ireland on Trivago’s price comparison engine cost €88 this month, up 2pc on January 2014, and down 5pc month-on-month. Kinsale has both the highest price (€106) and the biggest increase (12pc) ahead of traditional high-pricers Kenmare (€101) and Killarney (€94). Waterford was cheapest at €73, down 10pc on last January and €18 a night cheaper than neighbour Kilkenny.

  • The former TUI Travel Accommodation & Destinations is now called Hotelbeds Group.
  • Research by Travel24.com said that tourists take an estimated 3.1m soap bottles, 1.6m notepads and 3.1m towels from hotels each year.
  • After it was announced that George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin are planning a visit to Ireland this summer, searches for Dublin on hotels.com were up 139pc, while Kilkenny was up 62pc.
  • National Geographic is to launch a collection of 24 boutique hotels.

International

  • While on a ski holiday in the Glacier 3000 resort in Les Diablerets, singer Madonna wrote “Revolution” (with “evol” inverted to read “love”) on one the lifts. Gstaad Tourism office told the Schweiz am Sonntag that it is definitely not okay for visitors to scribble messages on lifts for posting on social media.
  • Ski operator Powder White announced an accommodation partnership with the Warren Smith Ski Academy.
  • Spotted in Disney: Seven Californians and two people from Utah have confirmed cases of measles likely contracted on trips last month to Disney theme parks in California.
  • French hotel group Accor is opening a new HQ in Doral, Miami for its North America, Central America and Caribbean divisions.
  • Six tourists, six crew members and one pilot on a skydiving trip in New Zealand had to parachute from the jet before it crashed into a lake. No one was injured.
  • A record 43.4m tourists visited Los Angeles in 2014.
  • The Italian National Tourist Board’s 2015 events calendar is available now. See here.
  • Monarch Travel Group admitted it needs to improve its agent porta, Travelbox, following complaints from retailers.
  • Travel publisher Lonely Planet acquired a strategic stake in action sports media company Teton Gravity Research.
  • New Zealand’s South Island was hit by one of the strongest earthquakes since 2011, measuring a magnitude of 6.4.

Food & Wine

  • Bewley’s Café on Dublin’s Grafton Street is to close soon for at least six months for refurbishment. The café’s 140 staff will be made redundant.
  • Pat Whelan of James Whelan Butchers is hosting a butchery demonstration at the Avoca, Rathcoole on Jan 13, 27 and Feb 10, 6.30pm to 10pm. The classes will demonstrate knife skills, and pork and beef butchery, and include a tasting of Pat’s pulled pork and a glass of wine. Classes cost €99, which includes a copy of The Irish Beef Book by Pat Whelan and Katy McGuinness, and a pork joint to practice on. Book online at jameswhelanbutchers.com.

Aviation

dublin airport hall_4353Further increased frequencies for Dublin routes are emerging for the summer ahead: SAS are going to take the Stockholm from 6w to daily and Turkish Airlines have a major announcement concerning their Dublin to Istanbul route on Tuesday next when they will upgrade the service from 10w to double daily. Shannon is expecting increased frequencies from some its operators. The Germanwings route to Cologne, which operated from Knock in 2014 and was loaded in the system for Shannon in 2015, does not now seem likely to operate after all. The appearance of Istanbul on the Belfast Airport wikipedia page this week as a destination was somewhat premature. Negotiations are still under way as to whether Shannon or Belfast will get the next Turkish service to Ireland. Despite the political initiative that has been unravelling, the route will probably require a high level of support on the trade and cargo side for Turkish Airliens chiefs to give approval.

  • Christoph Mueller will now leave his role on February 28 – and not in May as previously announced. Aer Lingus chair Colm Barrington will take over executive responsibility immediately and take over as CEO in March until a new appointment is made.
  • Willie Walsh’s IAG made a second offer for Aer Lingus at €2.40 per share which was rejected by the board. The first offer was €2.30.
  • Ryanair load factor grew spectacularly in December, by seven points to 88pc. Bookings grew by 20pc to 6.02m customers, tolling annual traffic to December rose 6pc to 86.4m customers.
  • Aer Lingus reported record passenger numbers of over 11m for 2014, up 3.2pc from 10.7m passengers in 2013. Load factor was up 0.6 percentage points to 79pc. During the month of December the total number of passengers carried, including Aer Lingus Regional, was 705,000 down 3.8pc compared to the same month in 2013 reflecting a planned reduction in short haul capacity.Knock airport external
  • Knock reported its busiest ever year in 2014 as passenger numbers reached 703,324 up 5.7pc on 2013. The airport now serves over 20 International destinations and is served by three of Europe’s major International airlines, Aer Lingus, Flybe and Ryanair. August 2014 also saw the airport experience its busiest ever month with a total of 102,774 passengers English traffic was up 9.4pc on 2013 numbers. Particularly strong performers were Ryanair’s London services to Stansted and Luton, which carried an extra 44,000 passengers (up 20pc), whilst Aer Lingus’s London Gatwick service was up 6pc. Flybe services to Manchester and Birmingham, also performed strongly with passenger numbers up 9pc across both routes.
  • Cork airport became the first airport in the world to launch flight tracking feature on its app.
  • Michael O’Leary told Handelsblatt that Ryanair wants to increase their market share in Germany from the current 4pc to 15-20pc in four years (report in German here, AFP report here). Ryanair are in discussions with eight German airports currently not being served.
  • TAROM is ending its Dublin operations from January 12.
  • Ryanair won its case in the Regional Court of Hamburg’s (Landgericht Hamburg) against the screenscraper website, eDreams, ordering it to refrain from using the subdomain “Ryanair.eDreams.de” and also from using the same unlawful term as a subdomain in Google Ads.
  • Ryanair put tickets on sale for special flights to and from Cardiff this autumn for Ireland’s Rugby World Cup pool games against Canada on Saturday September 19 and France on Sunday October 11, with extra flights to/from Cardiff for quarter final weekend on October 17 and 18, and Warsaw for Ireland’s Euro 2016 soccer qualifier against Poland on Sunday October 11.KLM ANNOUNCES ARRIVAL TO NORTHERN IRELAND
  • KLM Royal Dutch Airlines will recommence a daily service from Belfast City Airport to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport in May 2015, departing Belfast at 10am and Amsterdam at 11.15 local times. Picture shows Katy Best of Belfast City airport and Stormont minister Arlene Foster..
  • Aer Lingus is to lease a B767-200 (ER) from Omni for their daily Shannon to Boston route, currently operated by a B757-200 wet-leased from Air Contractors. The aircraft  will cover the drop in capacity brought on by the cancellation of plan to bring back A330-200 EI-EWR into the fleet. The contract is set to run from June 8 through to December 30, 2015.
  • Shannon Airport Authority is planning to seek tenders this year to construct a new hangar which it expects to cost between €7m-10m before VAT.
  • Despite starting over 40 fewer routes in 2014 than in 2013, Ryanair still launched more new routes than any other airline in the world in 2014: 134 new routes, 50 routes ahead of Germanwings.
  • Qatar announced details of its inflight Wi-Fi and mobile phone connectivity on the new A350.
  • Sunway have put Cork to Izmir on sale for 2015.
  • Galway’s two local authorities, have appointed Future Analytics Ltd to carry out a feasibility study on the future use of the Galway-Carnmore airport.
  • Malaysia Airlines shopping voucher giveaway commenced on Monday.
  • Korean Air Lines executive Cho Hyun-ah has been charged with violating aviation security law after she achieved worldwide notoriety by kicking a crew member off a flight for offering macadamia nuts in a bag, instead of on a dish. The plane returned to the gate at John F Kennedy airport to disembark the flight attendant.
  • Judge Bernard Barton appointed Michael McAteer as interim examiner to Transaero Engineering Ireland in Shannon to try and save the insolvent Russian-owned aircraft maintenance company which employs 200 people in Shannon.
  • A Cyprus police officer shot dead a stray ‘terrorist’ dog at the Paphos airport runway on Thursday.
  • The US Transportation Security Administration is implementing additional security measures for airport and airline employees nationwide, screening the screeners.
  • Dublin Airport released a new version of its app which integrates Flightradar24’s flight tracking feature. Download the app on iTunes or Google Play Store.
  • Flights were temporarily suspended at Dublin Airport on Thursday night due to high winds.
  • American Airlines launched its redesigned in-flight magazine, American Way, and a new magazine app.
  • British Airways claimed website searches surged 68pc on the first day back to work.
  • Flybe expanded its codeshare agreement with Cathay Pacific to include connections available via Amsterdam Schiphol and Paris CDG.
  • Flybe announced that it will add a weekly service from Cardiff to Düsseldorf, operating from April 25 to October 3 on an 88-seat Embraer 175 jet. One way available from £39.99.
  • Finnair removed fuel surcharge fees for Plus members who book European Classic flights.
  • John Travolta will host the 12th annual Living Legends of Aviation Awards in the Beverly Hilton Ballroom on January 16.
  • Flybe announced its January seat sale: Up to 25pc off 173 routes, effective for travel between Feb 4 and July 15. Book before Jan 14.
  • London City Airport reported 3.65m passengers in 2014, an 8pc increase.
  • SATA, which operated the Dublin-Madeira route until 2013, is undergoing the process of changing its brand name and image to become Azores Airlines.
  • Australia-based Macquarie Group’s aircraft leasing subsidiary is reported in talks to buy a portfolio of new aircraft from Dublin-based lessor AWAS for more than $4bn.

Afloat

  • MSC Cruises added Malta to its western Med sailings, and will make seven calls in seven days.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line launched Norwegian’s Freestyle Choice promotion in Ireland.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line President and CEO (and fourth generation Corkman) Kevin Sheehan has decided to leave the company and will be succeeded by Frank Del Rio. So does this mean a new name for O’Sheehan’s Irish pub on board NCL cruise ships?
  • Norwegian Escape is to feature a Snow Room in its Thermal Suite, which Norwegian Cruise Line is billing as the largest at sea, when it launches in November.
  • Crystal Cruises 2017 itineraries include 32 maiden calls and a record number of overnights.
  • Port Everglades opened its refurbished $24-million Cruise Terminal 4 on Thursday. PE is the world’s second-busiest cruise ship port.
  • Princess Cruises has announced it will move Emerald Princess to Sydney in November 2016 for its first season in the antipodes.
  • Carnival Miracle will include the RedFrog Pub, Alchemy Bar, Seuss at Sea and Hasbro, The Game Show when it returns from refurb in March.
  • Silverseas Silver Wave promotion has been extended until Jan 31 offering shipboard credit of up to $1,000 per suite on select sailings.
  • Three people died after a catamaran carrying dozens of foreign tourists on a pleasure cruise capsized off Costa Rica on Thursday,
  • A four-year old boy was hospitalised after nearly drowning in a pool onboard Royal Caribbean‘s Oasis of the Seas.
  • A report for CLIA concluded an average of 20 minor safety incidents are reported on cruise ships each year.

Ireland

The Office of Public Works is to continue to offer free access to all OPW Heritage Sites on the first Wednesday of every month. Last year 70,000 visitors from at home and abroad availed of the concession, which commenced in 2011. A full list of participating sites can be viewed on heritageireland.ie.

Kilkenny’s newest visitor attraction, the Smithwick’s Experience on Parliament Street, has made it onto Lonely Planet’s list of hot attractions for 2015.

Kieran Bain, Belfast and Morgan Ellis, Bangor, enjoy a lunchtime ride on the Wee Toast Tours bike with owner Ron KennaBelfast-based Ron Kenna and Wee Toast Tours launched his pedal bike with on-board barrel and tap tour, enabling visitors to Belfast and locals to sample a drop as they tour the city. The 860kg 15-person pedal bike, features stationary seats for each passenger as well as a set of foot pedals for each member of the party to contribute to the bike’s motion. The bike is steered by Ron, the designated driver, who also has control of the hydraulic brake. Similar Dutch-manufactured bikes are already popular in America, Germany and the Netherlands.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art in Kilmainham reported 306,662 visitors in 2014, a big increase from 2013 when visitor figures were 121,221. The main IMMA building was closed for most of 2013, with just the garden galleries and an offsite gallery in Earlsfort Terrace open to the public. The building reopened in October 2013 and had been closed since October 2011.

NITB’s 2015 events: Red Bull Crashed Ice, Feb 20-21. Belfast Children’s Festival, March 6 to 13. Féile an Earraigh, March 10 to 17. Irish Open 2015, May 28 to 31. Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia at Titanic Besfast, June 21. Tall Ships Race, July 2 to 5. Happy Days Enniskillen International Beckett Festival, July 23 to August 3. NI Open Challenge, August 3 to 9. European Heritage Open Days, September 12 to 13. 1850 230 230 or visit discovernorthernireland.com.

je-suis-charlieNous sommes Charlie at Travel Extra. And in the dreadful week that is in it, congratulations to French air authorities for keeping disruption to a minimum at Charles de Gaulle airport in the most trying circumstances.

Email editor@travelextra.ie to have your say or it’s @TravelExtraIre on Twitter if that’s your bag.

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