The headlines this week:
- Bardo Museum blow for Tunisia – and for cruise industry
- Breaking news from Cruise Shipping Miami
- Sneak preview as Ethiopian bring the Dreamliner to Dublin
- Tromsø direct from Dublin, a Northern yights special
- Another spin on the publicity merry-go-round for Ryanair’s T/A for a Tenner
- Three’s a crowd: Flybe departs from Dublin route to London City
- Trouble at Travel Centres
Travel Extra TV
Plenty of videos uploaded this showcasing St Patrick’s Day celebrations around the world this week, including our video of the week, which shows a time-lapse of the annual dyeing the Chicago River green. (Watch here). Meanwhile, Tourism Ireland celebrated the occasion with songs from Downpatrick (Watch here), and WOWAir marked Iceland’s inaugural greening (Watch here).
- Bath time is tricky for this baby elephant at Ayutthaya Elephant palace & Royal Kraal in Ayutthaya, Thailand. Watch here.
- New York City captured through 3,000 images in one minute. Watch here.
- See Aer Lingus’ promo video for the Dublin-Washington DC direct service. Watch here.
- Ryanair posted a video of its new on-time jingle. Watch here.
- A man armed with a machete tried to storm a checkpoint at an airport in New Orleans. Watch here for Euronews’ report.
- The Emirates A380 performs a hat trick in Auckland. Auckland is the only destination other than Dubai with three Emirates A380s arriving daily within an hour. Watch here.
- The latest instalment in Airbus Blue5’s humorous videos promoting environmental issues explores water conservation – stopping the drop. Watch here.
It was NOT the start to the summer schedules we wanted. Protesters blocked the first Ryanair departure from Copenhagen. The flight took off very late, after a delay blamed on trade union activists but said by Denmark’s trade unions to be due to normal procedures. Most of the summer schedules roar into action next weekend with some exciting developments including Finnair’s return to the Dublin-Helsinki route. Dublin’s other routes include Agadir and Nantes with Aer Lingus, Barcelona with Vueling, Bournemouth with Flybe, Copenhagen and Lublin with Ryanair, Newquay with Aer Lingus Regional and Paris Orly with Transavia, with more to follow in May and June: Addis and LA with Ethiopian, Cardiff with Flybe, Chicago with United Airlines, Doncaster with Aer Lingus Regional, Geneva with Swiss, Gothenburg with SAS, Halifax (Canada) with Europe Airpost and Washington DC with Aer Lingus, Shannon’s new routes are Kaunas and Manchester with Ryanair, Cork’s new routes are Prague with CSA from May 14 with Cardiff with Flybe and Ibiza with CSA to follow in June, Belfast’s new routes are Rome, Prague, Las Palmas and Zakinthos with Jet2, with Las Vegas and Orlando from Virgin and Reyjavik from WoW to follow in June. Picture shows ten new aircraft parking spaces and three new aircraft taxiing lanes being prepared at Dublin Airport. Listen here to Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Another first for the new Ryanair: a statement to the Stock Exchange attempting to calm a storm created by their own (albeit historical) publicity machine: “In the light of recent press coverage, the Board of Ryanair Holdings Plc wishes to clarify that it has not considered or approved any transatlantic project and does not intend to do so”. It came about because the Ryanair trans-Atlantic for a tenner media circus was started anew. Michael O’Leary described Monday’s statement that Ryanair’s board gave the green light for transatlantic flights as “a miscommunication”. This particular miscommunication generated 1,200 news articles and ended up on prime time television and radio across most of the TV and radio stations despite the fact there is nothing new to report except a reminder of how Ryanair does business. The board gave the CEO the freedom to jump into the market if the price of wide bodied craft falls, which it shows no sign of doing. Nothing has changed. Trans-Atlantic remains a long term goal. Ryanair will not be offering the service themselves, but will establish a sister airline to link 12-15 airports in Europe with 12-15 in North America. Industry reaction included Routesonline’s Ryanair one step closer to going long-haul and Airline Reporter’s Ryanair to fly across the Atlantic? Using which aircraft. Even The Economist joined the discussion. To go to the main source himself, listen here to Michael O’Leary’s thoughts on how Ryanair’s trans-Atlantic sister airline could offer transatlantic at under €100. Listen here and éist anseo to Travel Extra editor Eoghan Corry on the subject, and also on The Irish Times Inside Business podcast.
There was lots of excitement at Dublin airport’s Runway 28 on Friday as Ethiopian Airlines’ B787 Dreamliner made its first visit to the capital ahead of its inaugural Dublin-Addis Adaba flight in June. Trevor Buckley’s tweet shows a group of aviation enthusiasts gathered on the mound to take snaps of the jet. Travel Extra‘s Michael Kelly took this picture after touchdown as well as shots of the interior. CEO Tewolde Gebremariam and crew were on board flight ET700 from London Heathrow, while Minister Paschal Donohoe and Kevin Toland of there DAA were at the other end to welcome them. Ethiopian Airlines fly from Addis Ababa to LA via Dublin this summer, connecting Ireland to 49 destinations in Africa. It will be Ireland’s first direct service to sub Saharan Africa. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Qantas CEO Alan Joyce returns to Dublin to speak at the CAPA conference on Tuesday to Thursday at the Powerscourt Hotel. The conference will be opened by Ireland’s Minister of Transport, Tourism & Sport, Paschal Donohoe on Wednesday morning with Alan Joyce up to speak on the Evolution of a “hybrid airline group at 2pm on Wednesday. Other speakers at events (moderated by Richard Quest of CNN) include Ryanair CCO David O’Brien and CEOs Stephen Kavanagh of Aer Lingus, Kevin Toland of DAA, Aidan Brogan of Datalex, Conor McCarthy of Dublin Aerospace, Eamonn Brennan of the Irish Aviation Authority. Participating CEOs include Kurt Knackstedt of ACTE, Athar Husain Kahn of AEA, Adel Ali of Air Arabia, Martin Gauss of AirBaltic, Kresimir Kucko of Croatia Airlines, Saad Hammad of Flybe, Sebastian Mikosz of LOT Polish Airlines, Xiuzhi Zhang of Spring Airlines, Sean Brogan of Stobart Air and Mattijs ten Brink of Transavia. Other participants include Chief Revenue Officer of Aer Lingus Mike Rutter, Sinead Finn of Affinity, Zhihang Chi of Air China, Albert Casanova of Air Europa, Bobby Healy of CarTrawler, Cath Lynn of Easyjet, Maxime Marembaud of CWT, John Slattery of Embraer, Jim Callaghan of Etihad, Joni Sundelin of Finavia, Ciro Camargo of Gol, Murray Smyth of SITA, Derek Sharp and Ian Heywood of Travelport.
Irish citizens in Tunis were advised to avoid the city centre, remain indoors and monitor closely the local media after a militant attack on the Bardo Museum (the world’s best collection of mosaics) that killed 20 tourists, including 12 MSC Cruises shore excursionists. Tunisia’s tourist industry is responsible for 15pc of GDP and 14pc of all jobs and has already been crippled due to the collapse of its main inbound market, Libya. Five cruise lines have cancelled port stops to Tunisia for the rest of the year. Costa Fascinosa departed on Thursday and passengers were given the opportunity to disembark in Palma and be flown home by Costa. MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises cancelled all stops. MSC Splendida will call at Valletta, Malta, for the rest of the season. MSC Fantasia will call at Palma, Mallorca. MSC Preziosa will call in at Caglia. Hapag-Lloyd Cruises cancelled Europa’s port stop in Tunis on April 6. Star Clippers cancelled port calls in Hammamet in April and October 2015 for Star Clipper. AIDA cancelled all port calls in La Goulette for AIDAblu, AIDAsol and AIDAvita. True to form, Ireland has proven more resilient than other markets in the face of an attempt to target the country’s tourist industry. Sunway report only about 3pc of Irish people who had booked have cancelled and they have had “quite a few new bookings since the attack”. John Grehan of Just Sunshine, who also run a summer programme to Tunisia, reports no cancellations and “business as usual”. The DFA updated its travel advice on Tunisia and advised people concerned about the welfare of any Irish citizen in Tunis, please contact our Consular Assistance Unit in Dublin on (01) 478 0822 and suggested those visiting or planning to stay in Tunisia should register your details with the Department. Social media users promised to visit Tunisia this summer with the hashtag #JeSuisBardo, a reference to the Charlie Hebdo attacks back in January.
Big announcements at Cruise Shipping Miami Included features and itineraries for MSC’s MSC Seaside, due in November 2017. MSC Cruises’ chief executive Gianni Onorato said the first Seaside-class vessel will offer what it calls “the most original and interactive aqua park at sea” including the latest in high-tech slides, a sea-level promenade that circumnavigates the ship with outdoor spaces, shops and an extended MSC Yacht Club area. MSC claim Seaside class ships are “the iPhone of the cruise industry’ for their radical design. The 4,140 passenger Seaside will sail year-round from an expanded and renovated terminal and berth in Miami to the Caribbean.
Participants at Cruise Miami included Carnival’s Arnold Donald, MSC’s Pierfrancesco Vago, Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio, and Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain (pictured). Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio said that a fare hike of $5 per day would result in more profitable cruise lines. Richard Fain said Royal Caribbean had “not managed to raise pricing in six years. The old myths of cruising are persistent and they’re holding us back.”
Claus Bodker, director of Cruise Baltic said cruisers are searching for “authentic” and “exclusive” shore excursions and tours – and they’re willing to pay more for the experience. Gianluca Suprani of MSC said that while many cruise lines are decreasing the number of ships in South America, MSC’s bookings there are up. There were some jokes. When MSC’s Pierfrancesco Vago suggested teaming up with Norwegian’s three lines, NCL, Regent Seven Seas and Oceania, Carnival’s Arnold Donald retorted: “once you guys do that, we’ll buy you.” And there was some new jargon in a jargon-filled industry: Norwegian’s Frank Del Rio talked about the “quality of the fill,” which apparently describes passengers who want value more than deepest discounts.
Red Sea Holidays‘ first ever Irish brochure was launched featuring direct flights from Dublin to Sharm el Sheikh. Red Sea Holidays is headed up in Ireland by Niall McDonnell (pictured). Red Sea will operate direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh this summer utilising 40 seats on the Falcon charter commencing May 21 and continuing until October 22.
More quibbling between the yanks and the Gulfers at the US Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s 14th Annual Aviation Summit in Washington, DC. James Hogan CEO of Etihad said Open Skies has been “a model of success, generating enormous benefits for travellers and for airlines in the US, the UAE and around the world.” He said: Etihad is a David, a David who’s been facing Goliaths since 2003, when we started. In virtually every market we’ve entered, we’ve had to face existing competitors, with established businesses, established infrastructure, established sales and marketing, established brands, and established customer bases. In many cases, those established airlines were gifted amazing infrastructure – airports, terminals, slots, landing rights – over decades. To take them on, we’ve had to work harder and we’ve had to work smarter. That’s called competition.” In the discussion Hogan added that Gulf airlines are separate, very different, we don’t lobby together, Etihad’s fiercest competitor is Emirates. Emirates Airline President and part time Lismore resident Tim Clarke said American consumers, international gateway airports, local and regional economies, and businesses will be the ultimate victims of the protectionist campaign being run by Delta, American, and United Airlines. In Dubai Boeing’s Jeff Johnson said he did not think there will be a change in Open Skies. Boeing’s Kevin Conner said aircraft demand is not slowing down due to growth in Asia. Arabian Business asked: did Mr Bean compile the US airlines report into subsidies? Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos said “obviously they are trying to block competition.”
Travel Extra‘s editor went all the way to Tromsø to see the Northern Lights, and there they were, hiding out in Donegal, all along. Hurtigruten hosted a trio of intrepid Irish writers and if the eclipse, scenery, and periodic sightings of the aurora borealis didn’t take your breath away, the storms and the cold would. “Bracing doesn’t do it justice,” Patric Baird said after a visit to Nordkapp, the northernmost point in Europe. “The ink in my pen froze,” said Tom Sweeney, “writer’s block.” Picture shows Eoghan Corry, Cassie Leibinger, Tom Sweeney and Patric Baird in Tromsø. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
Matt Corcoran’s King Travel and Richard Cullen’s Killiney Travel have had their membership of Travel Centres revoked after a meeting in Dublin last week. Travel Centres currently have 74 members, Worldchoice 54 (including 12 in the north) and Travelsavers 47.
Travel Centres agents continued their fam trip to China in conjunction with Bedsonline and Turkish Airlines. Pictured at the Forbidden City in Beijing: Thomas McNally of Bedsonline, Ann Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines, Tara Szafranek of Travel Broker, Elaine Massey of Killiney Travel, Liana O’Shea of East Cork, Caroline O’Connor of Creation Travel, Erica O’Reilly of King Travel, Lisa Cusack of Midland Travel, Catherine Bowe of Bowe Travel, and Pamela Brownlee of Flyaway. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.
- Amadeus say the launch of Amadeus Ticket Changer Refund and Amadeus Ticket Change Involuntary will be supported by an educational campaign offering interactive e-learning tools to help travel agents learn more about the product suite. The an automated suite of products enables travel professionals to manage re-pricing, re-issuing or refunding requests in a matter of minutes.
- Neil Burns launched journ.ie “to help users in the Hospitality Industry connect with their customers quickly and easily, identify high quality online conversations and the originators of this content, highlight upcoming opportunities, conduct market research, and manage reputation.”
- Enquiries for trips to Cuba are up150pc since January, as Irish holidaymakers rush to visit the pristine Caribbean island before the Americans arrive. Abbey Travel has joined Cuba Travel in the market and is promoting two group holidays. Cuba cruise announced weekly cruises from December 2015, featuring two days in Havana.
- Amadeus appointed Champa Magesh to as new MD for Amadeus Ireland and Britain.
- Emirates are seeking additional Sales Executives based in Dublin and Munster.
- Champa Magesh was appointed managing director of Amadeus for Ireland and England.
- Cronins Coaches will sponsor Skåll’s next event on April 16. Skålleagues will enjoy lunch in Mary Bowe’s Marfield House in Co Wexford and then coffee and scones in Ester O’Brien’s Woodbridge Hotel. Tickets cost €35 for members and guests. Guest places are restricted to two per member. Coach pick-ups: 10.30 Connolly Station, 11.00 Stillorgan Park Hotel. Return: 17.45 Stillorgan Park Hotel, 18.15 Connolly Station.
- Early bird booking for Travel Professionals Skillnet’s Excel courses closes at 6pm tomorrow (March 23). Excel Level 1 takes place in Dublin on April 7 and Level 2 takes place on April 21. Cost €150. More info/bookings.
- Balkan Holidays will add an additional weekly flight from Belfast to Bourgas, Bulgaria, operating every Sunday from June 22 to August 2.
John Malone Partnership will invest €5m in the 197-room five-star InterContinental Hotel in Ballsbridge (known as the Four Seasons until January) after purchasing it for an undisclosed sum from London & Regional Property. JP Kavanagh (pictured) recently returned from Dubai to become GM of the hotel. The partnership owns the five-star Westin Hotel on College Green as well as the Trinity City Hotel, the Hilton Dublin and the Limerick Strand Hotel. 73-year-old John Malone, who is North America’s largest land owner, recently bought properties including Humewood Castle in Co Wicklow for €8m, Ballylinch Stud near Thomastown, Co Kilkenny, and Castlemartin, the 750-acre Kildare estate formerly owned by Tony O’Reilly, for €28m.
Footage of Manor House Hotels member Abbeyglen Castle were broadcast on the big screen in Times Square, New York. A four-minute video entitled I’m a Celebrity Get Me in There featured appearances from Ryan Tubrity, Brendan Grace, Mary Kennedy, Sharon Shannon, Tony Tormey and the late Tony Fenton. Picture shows owner Brian Hughes in front of the screen.
- The average room rate for business travellers in the USA is $306.91 according to Business Travel News’ 2015 Corporate Travel Index. San Francisco was the most expensive city followed by New York City ($494.95); Boston ($465.52); Honolulu ($398.83); and Seattle ($389.11).
- A Sheraton Hotels survey found that 60pc of respondents reported increased wine consumption when traveling and 54pc said they’d be willing to pay more for a premium glass or bottle of wine when on the road. Respondents would be most likely to give up their smartphone for a day (29pc), sex for a week (23pc), or their social media accounts for a week (23pc), in return for a premium highly rated glass of wine
- Openings this week included the adults only Memories Jibacoa halfway between Havana and Varadero in Cuba, 173-room Raffles Jakarta, 273-room Four Seasons in Bahrain Bay, Hyatt Place in Columbia, South Carolina, Baccarat Hotel & Residences in New York, the Hilton Mississauga Meadowvale in Ontario, Canada and Holiday Inn Express in Fargo, North Dakota. Mövenpick Hotel Istanbul Golden Horn is to open March 31. Hyatt Regency Tbilisi Hotel is to open in 2017. Embassy Suites San Antonio International Airport Hotel was sold for $29.5m. Boscolo Exedra Nice joined the Autograph Collection.
- MarBella Corfu will expand their family offering when the hotel re-opens on April 24.
- New CEO at Loews Hotels Kirk Kinsell plans an asset-light growth strategy, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal.
- Tony Capuano of Marriott said soft brands are becoming more widely accepted by owners and guests alike and, although intended primarily as a conversion platform increasingly are purpose-built. Seven of Marriott’s 76 Autograph are purpose built and the company has a further 18 new-builds in the pipeline.
- Butlins will invest £2.4m in renovating the Bognor Regnis resort, The Shoreline Hotel.
- Revenue at the K Club in Kildare was up 10pc to €13m last year.
Solar bear? A polar bear attack on among the sky-watchers who went to Svalbard to watch Friday’s eclipse, Jakub Moravec from the Czech republic, had a happy ending when Moravec lived to tell the tale. Mayor of Svalbard’s main settlement Longyearbyen Christin Kristoffersen was among those who cautioned that the eclipse influx to a region which has 3,000 polar bears was not going to end well.
A new survey from SnowTrex highlighted ski areas which cater specially to women’s needs: Orcières Merlette (FR), Carezza (IT) of Carinthia (AT) on the southern side of the Alps are best for a spring tan, Schladming (AT), Les Deux Alpes (FR) or Livigno (IT) are best for shopping, best for child-care offers, Val Cenis (FR) and Obsteig (AT), Kitzsteinhorn, Quatre Vallées and the Small Matterhorn (all in Switzerland) for power ladies.
RTE revealed correspondence between three government departments that suggested that queues at passport control in Dublin airport reached 45 minutes during August bank holiday last year. Watch here Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry commenting on the issue on RTE six-one news.
- Europe’s first snowball fighting competition took place in Avoriaz,
- Egypt tightened visa rules for individual travellers. Khaled Ramy, Egypt’s new tourism minister targeted 20m tourists by 2020.
- Namibia Tourism is looking to Irish and British tourists to host unbounded numbers.
- Tourism Fiji launched a competition for international day of happiness on Friday inviting four instagrammers to Fiji to show case Fiji and encourage others from all over the world to share their own images of things that make them happy to enter a competition to win an eight-night trip for two people to the happiest country on earth.
- New York’s Mayor de Blasio and NYC & Company announced a growth programme: Road to 10m more visitors.
- Heidelberg Marketing launched holiday packages for cyclists and offers guided tours for groups
- Emirates will be flight partners for the World Youth and Student Travel Conference (WYSTC) 2015 is taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre in South Africa Sept 22-25 2015.
- The International Health and Wealth Conference takes place October 15-17 in the Algarve.
- SeaWorld launched a new print and TV campaign called Meet the Animals in a bid to improve its public image following the Blackfish documentary controversy. Meanwhile, SeaWorld appointed Joel Many as the new chief executive from April 7.
- The 63rd Reindeer King’s Cup Championships reindeer race will be held in Inari, Finland on March 28 and 29.
- 35,000 runners participated in the 2015 Tel Avi Marathon. Meanwhile the Bible Marathon takes place April 9 from Rosh Ha’ayin to Shiloh.
- The National Tourism Service in Chile plans to stimulate tourism on Easter Island by offering marketing and tourist services support to local organisations.
- An American tourist was bitten by a shark while snorkelling at Hapuna Beach Park on Hawaii’s Big Island.
- The economic observatory of Parisian tourism found that the number of inbound visits were down 1.4pc, while the domestic market remained stable.
Food and Wine
The Burren Slow Food Week Festival takes place May 16 to 24. The theme of this year’s festival is Land and Sea. The festival will feature 34 food events, including cooking demos by Michelin Star chefs Derry Clarke and JP McMahon. Other highlights include a talk by John and Sally McKenna, a Food Producers Forum and a family-friendly grow it yourself workshop. Picture shows John Sheedy of Sheedy’s Restaurant, Birgitta Hedin Curtin of Burren Smokehouse, Jason Horner of Leen Organics and Gerry Sweeney of Burren Seafoods.
Take a look at USA Today’s spiciest eating challengers in America, some of which you need to sign a waiver before consuming. Read here.
Steven Lamb of River Cottage is hosting a one-day class at the School of Food in Thomastown, Co Kilkenny on April 11, 10am-5pm. Steven will be cooking a pig in a day, teaching the basics of butchering, making sausages, air-dried ham, braw, bacon, chorizo and salami. Participants will be cooking devilled kidneys and paté. Costs €120. Book at townoffood.com or call 056-7754397.
Three’s a crowd. The number of operators on the over-served Dublin to London City route has gone from three to two, Flybe are cancelling their service from May leaving BA and Cityjet on the route.
CityJet has extended its Dublin-London Service with the launch of an additional flight on Sunday’s from April 19 brining Sunday flights to four, serviced by 95 passenger AVRO85 Regional Jet.
Ryanair launched its Winter 2015 schedule three months earlier than 2014 with 1,600 routes across its European network, reminding consumers of the consumer product upgraded to allocated seating, a free second carry-on bag, reduced fees, a new website, a new app with mobile boarding passes, and Ryanair’s Family Extra and Business Plus services. Ryanair took delivery of nine Boeing 737-800’s increasing its fleet to 306 aircraft.
Richard Branson’s Virgin, BA’s only English competitor at Heathrow, wrote to the Oireachtas Transport Committee to express concern that that connecting flights it offers to Aer Lingus passengers to destinations such as Barbados, San Francisco, Vancouver and Hong Kong will not be protected.
DAA unveiled an exhibition of signed jerseys from all 34 teams, Ireland’s 32 counties plus New York and London, that compete in the GAA All-Ireland football and hurling championships.
Etihad said it is willing to sell Aer Lingus stake to IAG.
As a pilot’s union strike caused the cancellation of services on Wednesday, the Lufthansa CEO said the airline needs a deeper overhaul. An Air France meeting with trade unions on savings plan was cancelled.
- Belfast’s troubled Shorts plant was given a lift by a £1bn CSeries aircraft order.
- Alan Joyce is the second most mentioned businessman in Australian Media, according to a profile of the Tallaght man in the Financial Times.
- Avios unveiled the Apple Watch wearable-friendly BA and Iberia loyalty programme app
- Qantas warned of a fake Facebook scam offering a free first class flight.
- Kenny Jacobs of Ryanair told the Retail Week Industry Conference: Stand for one thing as a brand. You can’t dance at every wedding. We started off as Robin Hood but we did become the Sheriff of Nottingham.
- Finnair A350 flights start on Apr 9, with long haul services to start in the autumn to Shanghai, then Beijing, Bangkok, Hong Kong and Singapore.
- KLM will cancel some flights to Bangkok, Chengdu, Rio, Hangzhou, Nairobi, Shanghai, Xiamen & Toronto in May due to ongoing union talks. KLM halted their 787 order and plans for an Edmonton route.
- Etihad’s investment in Air Serbia has revived Belgrade Airport, and challenged the hub order in Central/Southeast Europe.
- Turkish Airlines added Bari and Porto to its route network Aer Lingus Shannon to New York flights returned early to satisfy St Patrick’s Day demand.
- Austrian Airlines launched a medium-haul fleet renewal programme.
- The Aer Lingus & G-Mac Foundation partnership was renewed.
- Aengus Kelly’s AerCap was reported to be studying the 737 Max meaning Boeing has achived a near sweep of jet lessors.
- Norwegian CEO Bjorn Kjos was reported to fear domestic competition from Ryanair.
- Belfast-based Lagan Construction won two contracts for runway works at Heathrow worth an estimated £10m.
Etihad Airways and Universal Pictures unveiled the Fast & Furious 777 aircraft at LAX. The seventh instalment in the film franchise is in cinemas April 3. Picture shows actor Vin Diesel after arriving from Abu Dhabi.
- Tribs the first restaurant of the new Nice-Côte d’Azur Airport opened.
- Flynas from Saudi Arabia signed with SITA.
- LOT Polish airlines signed with Travelport.
- Europe’s Regional Airlines called for a European plan on airport capacity that focuses on building new runway and terminal capacity.
- Steven Udvar-Hazy of aircraft lessor Air Lease Corp speculated that Airbus and Boeing are facing bubble trouble, saying the massive backlogs at the two dominant airframers are not as solid as they once were, citing orders placed by over-ambitious low-cost carriers and struggling airlines in markets such as Russia and Indonesia. Airbus has a backlog of 6,400 jets and Boeing 5,790,
- Aer Lingus has rejected an allegation by Andrew Haines of the London CAA that Aer Lingus is in breach of consumer law in their handling of passengers hit by disruption to flights: “procedures, relating to the provision of information to customers affected by operational disruption, are fully compliant with all the relevant regulations. We have provided a number of documents to the CAA in recent months to substantiate this point and we continue to engage with the CAA to address their concerns.”
- EL AL announced its 50th Boeing aircraft arrival.
- Cannes air show for light aviation and business aviation on June 4 – 6 is moving to Lyon-Bron airport more central and easily accessible airfield after eight years at Cannes-Mandelieu, bringing the event closer to a greater number of cities less than 1h30 flight away by single-engine.
- Air Zimbabwe is seeking a $260m capital injection.
- Red Arrows announced four displays for the north.
- Nicole Kidman is the face and voice of Etihad Airways’ new Flying Reimagined brand campaign. Picture shows Peter Baumgartner, Chief Commercial Officer; Nicole Kidman; and James Hogan, President and CEO, at the launch of the new campaign. Watch the TV ad here.
- Malaysia Airlines’ appointment of Christoph Mueller as CEO was brought forward to May 1.
- A BA flight from Heathrow-Dubai was forced to return to London 30 minutes after take off because of an especially ghastly smell coming from the toilet.
- American Airlines and US Airways will combine their frequent flier programs next month.
- There a very brief delay at Dublin Airport on Monday after a dog was loose on the runway.
- EasyJet posted this photo of the solar eclipse taken on board Flight EZY6747 Belfast-Reykjavik. It was taken over the Faroe Islands.
- Emirates opened a $6.2m lounge at Los Angeles International airport, the airline’s 34th worldwide. It is available to First and business class passengers and to Platinum and Gold members of Emirates Skywards.
- Boeing started using Panel Assembly Line, a new automated system, which will build wing panels for B737s.
- London City Airport said that the number of passengers using their phones to download their boarding passes has increased 7pc to 21pc. The number of passengers using manned desks in the terminal was down 7pc to 29pc, while 54pc of passengers now check in online.
- The Malaysian government announced a new airline called flymojo. It is expected to start operating in October using Bombardier CS100 aircraft, which will operate from Koto Kinabalu and Johur Bahru.
- Etihad Airways completed a Korean Finance Lease for its second new A380 aircraft.
- Flybe will commence its daily Stansted-Isle of Man service on March 29, 3w Standsted-Newcastle service on March 29 and daily Stansted-Newquay service from May 16.
- Both Delta and United Airlines are expected to launch an app for Apple Watch before its release on April 24.
Excitement is building for the launch of high-tech Anthem of the Seas (part spaceship, part cruise ship, if Royal Caribbean are to be believed) on April 20-22 with a sizeable Irish contingent travelling for a pre-launch cruise. Travel Extra will be there, determined to be first in the pool, a pattern we have established at seven of the last nine Royal Caribbean ship launches.
Fred Olsen, headed up in Ireland by Alan Lynch’s Cruisescapes, offers nine different embarkation points on its Braemar cruise in October.
- CroisiEurope says 60-passenger Princesse Apsara will sail the Mekong, while two new 24-passenger canal barges, MS Daniele will cruise on the Briare Canal, between Burgundy and the Loire Valley and MS Deborah will take a route along the Garonne Canal from Toulouse to Damazan.
- CLIA research released at Cruise Shipping Miami that the average cruise traveller is 49 years old, married, and earns $114,000 per year.
- Scenic Tours is adding more ships in 2016, Scenic Amber for the Rhine, and Scenic Azure for Portugal’s Douro River. In addition Scenic Spirit will cruise the Mekong and Scenic Aura will cruise the Irrawaddy.
- Holland America’s new Koningsdam, due to launch April 2016, will feature a three-deck atrium and steel artwork sculpture meant to represent a string quartet.
- Royal Caribbean teamed up with Florida International University to build a 132,500-square-foot facility dedicated to training students and entertainers for Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara.
- Lowcostbeds offers of the week, based on 7 nights 2 sharing, arrive May 17: 3* Silchoro apts, Albuferia, Portugal from €11pppn room only. 3* Ourasol acts, Albuferia, Portugal from €15pppn room only. 3* Ola Bouganvilla, Santa Ponsa, Majorca from €13pppn room only. 3* Sun Beach, Santa Ponsa, Majorca from €15pppn room only. 3* Hotel Kristal, Torremolinos, Costa del Sol from €17pppn B&B. 4* Hotel Sol Principe, Benalmadena, Costa del Sol from €35pppn B&B.
- Hastings Hotels Tom Jones tribute offers: 1 night B&B in Slieve Donard Resort & Spa for £65pp incl. tickets to the Tom Jones Tribute Show, May 1. 1 night B&B in the Stormont Hotel for £52.50pp incl. tickets, May 2.
- 1 night B&B in Brooks Hotel from €74.50pps incl. complimentary turndown service, free in-room Wi-Fi and a copy of this year’s One City, One Book choice, Roddy Doyle’s The Barrytown Trilogy. Valid April 2015 only. Book here.
- Tourism NI offers of the week: 3 nights B&B Craig Cottage Bed and Breakfast, Dunseverick, Bushmills, Co Antrim from £30pppn, available until June 30, call 028 2073 1480 to book. 2 nights B&B The Valley Hotel, Fivemiletown, Co Tyrone from £75pps incl. one evening meal, available until March 13 2016, call 028 6862 2200 to book. 2 nights B&B Manor House Country Hotel, Irvinestown, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh from £65pps, available until April 30, call 028 6862 2200 to book. 2 nights B&B Clandeboyne Lodge Hotel, Bangor, Co Down from £122.50pps incl. cocktail on arrival, a bottle of Deakin Estate Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet Merlot in the Coq & Bull Brasserie on the night of your preference, available until April 30, call 028 9185 2500 to book.
- ITAA guided tours offers: 10 days All Inclusive Imperial Highlights of Central Europe tour with Corrib Travel from €1,429pps, depart June 5. 9 days All Inclusive India Golden Triangle Tour with Blackpool Travel from €2,290pps, depart September 5. 12 days Amazon to Andes Tour with Fahy Travel from €2,749pps incl. flights transfers, accommodation and sightseeing, depart June 15.
- Falcon is offering 7 nights self catering Alcudia Pins, Majorca from €1,099 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Shannon, depart May 9.
- Pembroke Townhouse in Ballsbridge is offering 1 night B&B from €45pp until the end of April. Call 01 6600277 to book.
- Thomson is offering 7 nights self catering Avenida Park, Reus, Salou from €1,279 for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Dublin, depart May 22.
- Natural Retreats Castlemartyr is offering 7 nights for the price of 5 or 5 nights for the price of 4. Six people can stay 5 nights in a 3 bed mews from €30pppn, checking in April 6. Four people can stay 7 nights in a 2 bed lodge from €38pppn, checking in April 2. Visit naturalretreats.ie to book or call 01 685 3013.
- Travel Department is offering 10 nights B&B in The Legendale Hotel Beijing from €1,799 incl. flights, taxes, hotel transfer and excursions, depart September 6 or November 10. No single room supplement. Visit traveldepartment.ie to book or call 01 637 1600.
- Topflight cruise offers: 7 nights Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Fantasia from €1,495pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, direct transfers, 4 nights Grand Hotel La Pace Sorrento, taxes and luggage allowance, depart July 13. 7 night Eastern Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Poesia from €1,499pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, return transfers, 2 nights in Hotel Amadeus in Venice taxes and luggage allowance, depart June 6. 7 nights Treasure of the Mediterranean cruise on board the MSC Preziosa from €1,299pps incl. return flights ex Dublin, meals and onboard entertainment, rail tickets to Rome Centre, 3 nights B&B in the Hotel Glori in Rome, taxes and checked in luggage. Visit topflight.ie to book or call 01 2401 701.
- Sunway Bodrum, Turkey offers: 7 nights self catering Summer Garden Apartments from €399pp, depart August 30. 7 nights B&B Baba Beach Hotel from €429pp, depart August 30.
- Travel Department Supersaver offers: 7 nights B&B Ascot Hotel, Sorrento from €499pp incl. return flight ex Dublin, transfers on arrival, taxes and charges, depart March 31. 7 nights B&B at Hotel Arnolfo & Aqua Laetitia, Monecatini from €499pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, transfer on arrival, taxes and charges, depart April 14 or April 23. 3 nights B&B Reykjavik Lights Hotel or Radisson Blu Saga Hotel, Reykjavik from €349pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart April 23. To book visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 637 1600.
- Sunway is offering a 14-night full board Food Heroes cruise on board P&O’s Ventura from €1,230pp. Marco Pierre White will make a guest appearance, offering cooking demos, masterclasses, hosted dinners and book signings. Visits to Lisbon, Seville, Gibraltar, Cartagena, Malaga, Casablanca and Madeira. Depart May 6.
The finalists for the inaugural Irish Tourism Industry Awards were announced on Thursday. Sixty-eight finalists were named across 11 of the 12 prize categories (the finalists for Best Design in Tourism will be announced March 30). The Gala Awards Night takes place at Doubletree by Hilton Dublin, Burlington Road on April 24, book tickets here before April 15. The finalists:
- Best Adventure Experience: CycleWest Ireland Ltd, Erris Beo, Gaelforce Events, Killarney Adventure Race, Unique Ascent, Vagabond Adventure Tours.
- Best Business Tourism Innovation: CREATESMARTER 2014, MICE Focus Ireland 2014, One Young World Summit 2014, The Adventure Travel World Summit Killarney 2014.
- Best Environmental Tourism Innovation: Bord na Mona Lough Boora Discovery Park, Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark, Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience, Doolin Cave Co Clare, Inch and Foyle Wildfowl Project Donegal County Council, Top of the Rock Pod Páirc and Walking Centre in West Cork.
- Best Festival/Event Experience: A Giant’s Journey 2014 in Limerick, Bram Stoker Festival 2014, Croke Park Classic 2014, Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann Sligo 2014, Punchestown Festival 2014, Rose of Tralee International Festival, St. Patrick’s Festival.
- Best Food Experience: Bike Buffet by Westport Smarter Travel, Fab Food Trails, Galway The Food Destination, Kinsale Good Food Circle, Shells Cafe and Little Shop in Strandhill, The Food Summit with Good Food Ireland, The Kerrygold Ballymaloe Literary Festival of Food and Wine.
- Best International Access Initiative: Aer Lingus, Air Canada Vacations, Dublin Airport / daa, Irish Ferries, Shannon Airport, The Travel Corporation.
- Best International Marketing Initiative: American College Football by Anthony Travel Inc, CIE Tours International, DERTour, Dublin Airport / daa, Expanding Distribution Channels by Abbey Tours, Odyssey International Trafalgar Australia.
- Best Local Authority Tourism Initiative: Boyne Valley Destination – Meath and Louth County Councils, Burren and Cliffs of Moher Geopark – Clare County Council, Cavan County Council – Cavan Burren, Parkland and WWW 1 Trench Experience, Kerry County Council, Kilkenny County Council, Viking Triangle – Waterford City & County Council, West Mayo Municipal District – Westport.
- Best Urban Experience: Dublin City Bike Tours, Dublin City of a Thousand Welcomes, Irish Whiskey Museum Dublin, Fab Food Trails, Smithwick’s Experience Kilkenny, Wakedock – Dublin Docklands.
- Best Cultural Experience: A History Past and Present – Abbey Tours, Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange & Knowth), CIE Tours Wild Atlantic Way Tour, Doagh Famine Village – Donegal, Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Waterford Viking Triangle.
- Best Leisure Tourism Innovation: Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, Guinness Storehouse, Irish Whiskey Museum Dublin, Sheep’s Head & Bantry Tourism Co-operative, Viking Triangle – Waterford, Wells House and Gardens – Co Wexford.
Mark Graham, who won the Travel Extra award for travel book of the year last year, is embarking in a new project: six trips during April, May and June (two each month) hitting a mountain, lake, beach or forest to enjoy some outdoor adventure activities He will then spend seven weeks in July and August cycling the full 2,750KM of The Wild Atlantic Way from Donegal to my front door in Tramore Co. Waterford. Seven weeks at an average of 70 – 80KM a day, five days a week (Saturday and Sunday off).
For a chance to win a playing place at this year’s Irish Open Pro-Am, with overnight accommodation included, golfers should register on Tourism NI’s website. Entrants must have a GUI Membership Card and the minimum handicap requirement is 18 for men and 20 for ladies.
- Sixty international journalists were in Dublin last weekend to cover the St Patrick’s Day Festival.
- Tourism Ireland hosted an evening reception at March Madness in London on St Patrick’s Day. 12,000 business appointments were made at March Madness over the two days.
- The fourth annual Irish Cycling Show takes place in the RDS Main Hall on April 18 and 19. The event will feature a hose of stands, stunt teams, an indoor cycle track and seminars. For more information, visit irishcyclingshow.ie.
- Ennis will host Ireland’s biggest gospel music festival from May 8 to 10.
- Tourism NI is promoting a host of upcoming sporting events: Guinness Pro 12 Final, Kingspan Stadium, Beflast, May 30. International Youth Football Competition, July 26 to 31. Metzler Ulster Grand Prix Bike Week, Dundrod circuite, Co Antrim, August 3 to 8. Gran Fondo Giro d’Italia, Titanic Belfast, June 21. Giant’s Causeway Coast Sportive road cycling event. The Irish Open, Royal County Down Gold Club, Newcastle, May 28 to 31.
- Belfast won a place on a global Here & Now edition of Monopoly. Inga Norvilyte of LoveBelfast fronted the campaign.
Somewhere beneath the bubbles is Travel Extra‘s Eoghan Corry, dunking in the very salty and snowy Barents Sea in Vardø, northern Norway, temperature was minus 4 with wind chill but the water was a balmy two and a half degrees above freezing: 70 degrees north and 31 degrees east, further north than the north coast of Alaska and further east that Istanbul, Kiev or St Petersburg. It is the easternmost stop on the Hurtigruten Nord Lys solar eclipse and northern lights cruise. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.