TRAVEL Extra’s Sunday Supplement: Ryanair’s Slimmer Seats & Achtung Hotel Prices

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Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland (on right) speaking at the Digital Marketing Forum at ITB Berlin with Doug Lansky, Nick Hall and Inga Hlin Paladottir, Mar 4-6 2015

Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland (on right) speaking at the Digital Marketing Forum at ITB Berlin with Doug Lansky, Nick Hall and Inga Hlin Paladottir, Mar 4-6 2015

  • Ryanair lose the yellow and slim the seats
  • Germany tells Dublin hotels to watch the hotel rates
  • Doubletree looks for more opportunities in Ireland
  • Salou experience launched in Dublin
  • 83 confirmed exhibitors for Irish Travel Industry Trade Show in April

Travel Extra TV

Our video of the week shows the lively party on board a boat in the Sea of Galilee from the recent fam trip to Istanbul and the Holy Video of week March 8Land, in association with Turkish Airlines. Watch here. See headlines for more.

  • Willie Walsh talks about IAG’s performance in 2014. Watch here.
  • Aer Lingus chief technology officer Ravi Simhambhatla talks about IT and tech opportunities at the airline at the recent Career Zoo event. Watch here.
  • Footage from the easyJet Business Travel Show: Watch here.
  • Emirates put together a video showcasing the results of a study measuring its contribution to the European economy. Watch here.
  • CGI hoax of the week features a naked man escaping from Buckingham Palace. Crown jewels anyone? And check out the reaction of the Irish guy on the sequel.

Headlines

ITAA CEO Pat Dawson and President Martin Skelly.Eighty three exhibitors have confirmed for Citywest on April 24-25 with a waiting list for the Irish Travel Industry Trade Show, which will be the biggest Travel Trade Show ever staged in Ireland and the only B2B event on the island guaranteed to bring together every aspect of the industry. The show will coincide with the ITAA AGM and front line staff will be bussed in from all parts of Ireland for a programme of social events and networking over two days. For the first time, a Trade Show for travel industry professionals will bring together owner/managers and front line staff alike from all over Ireland to meet suppliers and hear about their products. Picture shows Martin Skelly, President, and Pat Dawson CEO of the ITAA. See list of exhibitors here.

kenny jacobs michael o'leary copyPassengers are getting wider but Ryanair seats are getting slimmer. Having decided it is time to lose the yellow, Ryanair also decided to slim their seats, adding a new meaning to the phrase “cutting the fat”. Michael O’Leary hosted travel media in the Hospital Club in London’s Royal Opera House on Wednesday to tell them that Ryanair is to end its most draconian fees and new aircraft interiors will be roomier, airier, and gentler on the eye.  Ryanair say slimmer seats will give passengers more space and it will also increase capacity. Kenny Jacobs (pictured with Michael O’Leary) says the seat width of 17 inches will not be affected. “It means slimline seats that have less bulk and therefore give each customer more space. I’ve sat in them and they are more comfortable and spacious. The current model has a lot of bulk. I believe the seat is slightly more ‘accommodating’ as well as giving a bigger space between the seat in front.” Slim-line seats are made with lighter weight materials and include less cushioning. Southwest Airlines used slim-line seats to add another row of six seats across on every flight. The dreaded airport check-in fee, which Ryanair say is paid by only 0.5pc of customers, will drop from €70 to €45. The missed departure charge will be reduced from €110 to €99. The airline will also allow customers to cancel a flight within 24 hours of booking in future, for a fee of €15. A new €5 Hold the Fare charge will be introduced for customers who would like to reserve a seat for 24 hours before committing to the purchase. Fliers will be able to pre-order breakfast over the web on some key routes. “We don’t want to be loved — just liked a bit more,” Michael O’Leary said. Later this year, the website will be amended so travel insurance is not automatically selected for customers and real time airline fare comparisons will be live on ryanair.com. O’Leary said he wanted to turn the airline into a travel retailer, specialising in flights. He said it would use the new Ryanair app to sell more products to customers, especially events at destinations. Other planned changes include customer reviews on its website, which will be shared via social media and retail partnerships to offer passengers more value.

carol anneTourism minister Paschal Donohoe joined the Ireland stand at ITB Berlin on Wednesday after a lunch for key tour operators serving the Irish market. Dertours are the major trade partner for Ireland (with TUI, Trent and Servis also prominent), but all could be about to change with Ryanair’s moves into Germany, telegraphed somewhat by the presence of Carol Anne O’Neill of Ryanair at the show. Carol Anne is pictured with Christian Rubel of Tourism Ireland. Christian Rubel said up to 40pc of Irish visitors come through the trade (listen here) and were important for marketing Ireland (listen here). He said German figures would be raised to 750,000 visitors and possibly 1m, but a number of things would have to happen first (listen here). German people were interested in coming to Ireland and the people factor led to a high repeat business (listen here) and stressed the importance of access along with marketing (listen here). See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Mark henry_7650Speakers at the extensive ITB seminar programme included Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland at the digital forum and Kenny Jacobs of Ryanair at the ITB Market and Distribution Day.  Mark Henry was asked by moderator Nick Hall about Airbnb, and said that while it was an unregulated sector and Tourism Ireland could not promote unregulated accommodation, the body was looking for guidance through revised legislation from the government. Listen here to the Digital Shuffle, Mark Henry’s presentation. Listen here to American travel writer Doug Lansky, listen here to Inga Hlin Palsdottir of Iceland tourism and listen here to the question and answer session which included a stern difference of opinion about the role of tourism body websites.

mary farrellMany of the USA delegation experienced high drama getting to the event. Top of the Rock marketeer Mary Farrell’s flight on Sunday were delayed by eight hours because of an ice storm and one ITB bound colleague went home to Manhattan. Dianna Vaughan of the Hilton group’s new brand Curio said their aircraft was four hours on the tarmac being repeatedly de-iced at Newark. Picture shows Ken Barrows of Leisure Pass North America and Mary Farrell of Top of the Rock at ITB.

tim fenn_1188Some German tour operators complained at ITB about hikes in Dublin city centre hotel prices. A little light was shed on the controversy over group rates in Dublin hotels by Tim Fenn CEO of the Irish Hotels Federation, speaking to Travel Extra in the margins of ITB. He said that Dublin hotels had changed their business model in response to the influx of new business tourists attracted by the Conference Centre. Group rates which were offered to coach parties had been unprofitably low, and hotels were now looking elsewhere. He said there was little prospect of further hotel development within the canals because of the potential for business and residential property delivering a higher yield although there is adequate hotel accommodation outside the city centre. Picture shows Tim Fenn of the Irish Hotels Federation, Niall Gibbons CEO of Tourism Ireland and Bernard Loughran CEO of Sixt Ireland at ITB.IMG_7670

The Hilton Group hosted travel media on the 31st floor of the Waldorf Astoria in Berlin, where journalists were told that the group has more hotel rooms open and more hotel rooms under construction than any other hotel group. From August, complimentary Wi-Fi access will be available to loyalty club members who book direct with Hilton. The 4,100 hotels will have digital check-in and by the end of the year customers will be able to use their smartphone to go straight to their rooms. “That is just the beginning of the future,” John Vanderslice (pictured) global head of luxury hotels, said that Hilton opened 1,350 hotels in 79 countries last year (listen here). At the luxury end, Waldorf Astoria has gone from five hotels seven years ago to 50 hotels including the Conrad brand. Canopy was introduced as a brand this year. Hilton’s Curio will add Reichshof Hamburg and Rumeli Han Istanbul to its portfolio in 2015 and 2017.

Hilton_1210John Greenleaf of Doubletree by Hilton told Travel Extra the group was seeking further investment opportunities in Ireland following the Morrison and the former Burlington Hotel. He revealed that the previous owners of the Burlington Hotel wanted to sell the name separately so the group had to change the name to the more cumbersome Doubletree by Hilton on Burlington Road. Picture shows Gregor Andréewitch, GM of the Waldorf Astoria Berlin, and John Vanderslice, global head of luxury hotels, addressing the media at the event.

Holy land baptismThree years ago Niall Glynn of Croatia Tours expanded his Marian Pilgrimages business to the United States. A measure of the success of the expansion, they hosted 34 group leaders and travel media on a fam trip to Istanbul and the Holy Land, in association with Turkish Airlines. Picture shows Eleanor Goggin of the Sunday Independent, Joe Supple of East Coast FM, Nadine O’Regan of The Sunday Business Post and Onur Gul of Turkish Airlines watching the baptism vow renewal at the River Jordan.holy land watching baptism See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. The party toured Galilee, Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Watch here video of the baptism ritual, watch here the song after the marriage renewal, and, to prove pilgrimages are not all prayer and meditation, watch here some wine tasting with a difference in Cana (100 metres from the reputed site of the “water into wine” miracle) and see our  video of the week for footage of the lively party onboard a boat in the Sea of Galilee. For the Istanbul leg of the trip, see more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Rathgar travel launches SalouJames Malone’s Rathgar Travel launched the Salou Experience in the Drury Buildings. Listen here to James Malone introducing the programme, which includes 3-day passes pp to PortAventura, return transfers from Reus Airport (€15 extra from Barcelona) and accommodation. Flights are not included. 7 nights half board available for under €700 for two adults and two children travelling in May. Maria Targa Montserrat of Salou Tourist Board presented all Salou has to offer, while Coro Miguel of PortAventura talked about the resort’s €125m investment in expanding its parks over the last five years. This year sees Cirque du Soleil’s Amaluna make its European debut at PortAventura. Next year will see the opening of the Ferrari park and hotel. Picture shows Paul Dawson, Maria Targa Montserrat, James Malone, Martin Skelly, Xavier Garset and Gonzalo Ceballos. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Nashville CVCNashville CVC hosted the travel trade and press at an event in Dublin’s Liquor Rooms. A suitable setting, as the Irish have two things in common with the folks in Tennessee, said Deana Ivey: A love of booze and a love of music. There was plenty of both on the night, with award winning songwriters Jon Randall and Jessi Alexander, who have penned tracks for Miley Cyrus and Alison Krauss, keeping the punters entertained as they sipped a refreshing whiskey punch. Heather Middleton of Nashville CVC spoke to Travel Extra‘s Conor McMahon about how Irish people share a kinship with Nashville when it comes to music (listen here), the best things to do in Nashville (listen here) and how the Irish palate might have to adjust to Nashville’s speciality hot chicken (listen here). Picture shows Dan Rogers of Grand Ole Opry, Lauel Bennett of Nashville CVC, Deana Ivey of Nashville CVC, Nashville songwriter Jon Randall, Nashville songwriter Jessi Alexander, Heather Middleton of Nashville CVC, Wayne Chandler of Grand Ole Opry, and Brad Hinton of the Country Hall of Fame Museum. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

960297_10152696260522727_2027467956501439144_nThe Hills Balfour PR team hosted the Irish travel press at a relaxed afternoon tea in The Merrion Hotel as part of their regional roadshow. Picture shows Grace Armitage, Tryphavana Cross and Daniela Resenterra, who showcased Hills Balfour’s newest clients, Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, Gambia Tourism Board and Mercator Travel. Over a tiered selection of Battenberg, muffins, scones and sandwiches, Daniela Afternoon tea with Hills Balfour the MerrionResenterra introduced Kenya Tourism Board’s upcoming Safaricom marathon and half marathon, which takes place June 27 in Lewa. Participants are invited to share the route with giraffes, zebras and elephants in the open savannah – a startling difference from the barriers and concrete of city marathons. Meanwhile, Mauritius will host the AfrAsia Bank Mauritius Open golf tournament on May 7-10 as the island is looking to develop itself as a big golf and active destination. Those who are looking for fun in Florida other than Orlando are encouraged to visit Fort Lauderdale, which is the go-to place for those looking to do a bit of celeb spotting and is a great destination for gay travellers too.

k_club_5Prince Albert of Monaco and Michael Smurfit are pictured laying the sod at the 70-room extension of the K Club in Straffan, bring the total to 139. GM Michael Davern said the extension is an indication that the golf business is not performing as it used to and the hotel business is performing better than it used to. He said that having only 69 rooms was a handicap for the K Club as it tried to compete for corporate business in the five-star sector.

Interest among international buyers in IPW 2015 in Orlando is pacing with the record levels at Las Vegas in 2013, when the current record of 6,400 delegates attended. Cathy Keefe spoke to Travel Extra at ITB about plans for the show which will feature parties at Disney and Universal Orlando. The number of press at ITB is approaching 400, with 479 in Vegas and 472 in Chicago.The 30 or so Irish delegates will cathy_1047be hosted at the Hyatt-Regency Grand Cypress, famous for the Ben Dunne snort-spree in 1992 followed by is threat to jump from the 17th floor. Picture shows Michael Martin and Cathy Keefe of the US Travel Industry Association at ITB.

IMG_0390Some readers experienced technical problems accessing Mary McAleese’s splendid speech to the Irish Hotel Federations conference in the Sliabh Russell Hotel in Ballyconnell last week. The speech was arguable the best in the long and eloquent history of the IHF gala dinner. Listen here for an audio version.

Travel Trade

Niall McDonnell BW-5x7Red Sea Holidays, headed up in Ireland by Niall MacDonnell, has been granted a tour operator license by CAR. Red Sea intends operating to Sharm El Sheikh this summer using seats on the Falcon charter commencing May 21 and continuing until October 22.

Visit Wales and Welsh Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism, Ken Skates hosted trade and media for St David’s Day at Glencairn, the residence of British Ambassador Dominick 2MG_5117Chilcott.

The trading name Independent.ie Travel has been listed by P&P Associates, Patteson Court, Nutfield Road, Redhill, Surrey in England in their travel agency licence awarded by the Commission of Aviation Regulation. Atlantic Sky Team Tours, Unit 12, First Floor, Glenrock Business Park, Bothar na Mine, Galway, and Diversity Travel Ltd, Manchester One, 53 Portland Street, Manchester have been awarded travel agency licences by CAR. The trading name Independent Travel has been added to those of Linevana Ltd, which trades as Cassidy Travel. Stein Travel’s Tralee branch office has been changed to Lee Travel following the acquisition of Stein Travel by Lee Travel before Christmas.

Travelfox launched website FlyCork.ie in association with Cork Airport, offering exclusive packages from Cork Airport and is expected to sell inbound holidays for visiting tourists in the future.

ann marie dalton groupThe first outing in the Travel Industry Golf Society programme takes place Wednesday at Portmarnock Links sponsored by Turkish Airlines. Picture shows Anne Marie Dalton of Turkish Airlines with Audrey Headon of World Travel Centre and Gillian Lowry at the opening TIGS event of last season.

  • ClickandGo.com is seeking a Customer and Operations Executive. Closing date is Friday next March 13.
  • Travelport announced that it will add airport express services to travel agents using a plugin on its Travel Commerce Platform.
  • Francesco de Marchis was appointed chief technology office at lowcosttravelgroup.
  • Travelport announced a multi year full content agreement with LATAM Airlines Group.
  • Stephen McKenna featured in an Irish Independent profile: Atlas Travel “has moved with the times.”
  • Fosun purchased a stake in Thomas Cook.

Hotels

Boston-based Pyramid Hotel Group bought the 132 bedroom Temple Bar Hotel in central Dublin for €30m. The three-star premises also includes Busker’s Bar & Cafe and the Alchemy Night Club. The group’s 57 hotels include the Ritz Carlton in Los Angeles and the Westin Las Vegas.

kirsty rothwellKirsty Rothwell of DTZ Sherry FitzGerald said a weaker euro will boost hotel sales in Ireland on top of the 60 hotels sold in 2014 with a combined spend of €555m. The Crystal Collection of seven hotels in Leinster and Munster are on sale for a combined €35m price tag. Ulster Bank is due to bring a portfolio of pubs and hotels, Project Coney to the market. DTZ said US purchasers accounted for 87pc of the foreign spend or €275m of the hotel assets. Europeans 5pc and Asians 3pc. Dublin accounted for 59pc of purchaser spend, the South West 11pc, South East 10pc, Shannon 8pc, Midlands East 7pc, the West 4pc and the North West 1pc.

Prior to ITB the 18th International Hotel Investment Forum attracted 2,000 delegates from 70 countries to the Hotel InterContinental in Berlin. Elizabeth Winkle of STR Global noted Europe had seen 18 months of consecutive RevPAR growth and demand in Europe was back to that seen in the early 2000s.

  • Ireland’s Blue Book confirmed Sea View House in Sligo, has been awarded 5 Stars from Fáilte Ireland in the Individual Self-Catering Cottage category.
  • A report by Grant Thornton finds that the hotel industry lags behind others in adopting technology to meet customer demand.
  • IHG is to develop 10 hotels in Germany by 2019, to be branded Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express. They will add 1,700 rooms to Germany’s current development pipeline of 4,000 rooms.
  • Holiday Inn Express unveiled their new design with wider beds, smart TVs for streaming and the removal of work desks.
  • A report by Grant Thornton finds that the hotel industry lags behind others in adopting technology to meet customer demand.
  • HVS annual European Hotel Transactions report, said European hotel transaction volumes rise to a total of €14.4bn, up 86pc on 2013 and highest the onset of the financial crisis. The 2015 European Hotel Valuation Index saw a fifth consecutive year of value growth.
  • Marriott plans to have 150,000 rooms in Europe by 2020, up from the 40,000 rooms it operated in 2010, with 70pc of new rooms to come from select service and luxury lifestyle brands including Moxy Hotels, Courtyard.
  • Chinese company Jin Jiang International bought the 1,100-hotel Louvre portfolio from Starwood to create a 2,300-plus hospitality company.
  • Preferred Hotel Group rebranded as Preferred Hotels & Resorts. Irish members include Domoland, the Dylan, the Europe, the Fitzwilliam, and the K Club. Preferred Hotels & Resorts’ 650 properties are organised into five collections.
  • Starwood opened Le Méridien New Orleans, following a $29m conversion of the former W Hotel. Starwood is to open 40 hotels in Europe in five years, a portfolio increase of 30pc.
  • Staybridge Suites Chihuahua opened in Mexico. InterContinental opened Staybridge Suites Chihuahua following an investment of more than US$11m.
  • Las Alcobas, a former residence nestled in the sophisticated Polanco district of Mexico, opened this week.
  • Qatar Airways is to move into the hotel business.
  • The Jumeirah Group will open its second hotel in Turkey in Bodrum on May 1.
  • The Grosvenor House hotel on London’s Park Lane was put up for sale this week after its owner defaulted on its debt.
  • Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts announced that Le Touessrok Resort & Spa, Mauritius will be taking reservations on March 30 for stays starting from November 1.
  • Mandarin Oriental launched an investigation after hackers stole credit card data from card processing systems at some hotels in Europe and the US.
  • B2B hotel distribution technology provider Hotelzon appointed Emrah Sezgin as sales manager in Norway, Rui Miguel da Silva Fachadas as sales manager in Portugal and Linda Lennard as sales manager in London. Mathias Andersson was appointed COO.
  • A hotels.com survey claimed Dublin prices on their site have risen 10pc. The Irish Hotels Federation disputed this quoting the CSO figure of 5pc and saying hotels.com account for less than 2pc of hotel bookings in Ireland.

International

ski cable carThe Ciampinoi cable car in Val Gardena in the Dolomites ground to a halt after a huge tree was blown over onto the cable on Thursday. Around 200 skiers were winched to safety from cable cars buffeted by 130 Km/h winds.

Yet more snow has fallen across the Alps, with fantastic conditions being reported across the mountain range. The snow petered out in the west on Thursday but was still falling across Austria further east. Strong north-easterly wind hampered lift operations in many resorts. There was more fresh snow to report in the Pyrenees on Thursday 5th March, with around 20cm of dry powder at most resorts. Lots of fresh snow in the Rockies as well, with heavy falls recorded in Colorado and California.

The Historial Jeanne d’Arc opens March 21 in Rouen, a museum over five levels with 1,000sqm of exhibition space.

A survey by Topdeck Travel suggests women are most likely to upload selfies in front of famous landmarks, while men prefer to broadcast adventurous activity updates. The average holiday maker uploads 27 photos during and after a holiday, according to a poll of 2,000 people.

  • India Tourism in London partnered with Culture Aangan Holidays, to launch a new Rural Tourism campaign.
  • Skiers were stranded in the French Alps last weekend after a 50-tonne boulder cut off the road to Val Thorens and Les Menuires.
  • ONYX Hospitality Group said it plans to operate 10 properties in India by 2022.
  • The London government is to sell its 40pc stake in Eurostar to Canadian-based Patina Rail LLP for £751.1m.
  • Japan is to promote ninja tourism as part of a new collaboration between tourist agencies and local governments.

Food and Wine

Galway Food Festival takes place this Easter bank holiday weekend, April 2-6. Chef Derry Clarke will open this year’s event, now in its fourth year. 70,000 punters and 100 chefs are expected to attend.

The Irish Beer and Whiskey Festival expects to attract 15,000 visitors to the RDS on St Patrick’s Week.

waldorf_1240We know you want to know what was served at the Waldorf Astoria in Berlin (by the hotel chain that invented red velvet cake, veal oscar and eggs benedict): pommes gaufrette filled with Berliner currywurst, Mignons of beef rocket salad and pommengranate, mini paupiette with baby chicken, canopy profiterole filled with duck mousse and apple chutney, rolled canopy with veal tenderloin and green sauce, Quinoa salad with mango and cilantro, Crayfish canneloni, spelt-canopy with goal cheese and sweet onion jam, rye bread crostini, Prager ham and quail egg, and grilled green asparagus and local ham.

Aviation

Ryanair has bought three additional Boeing 737s for delivery in early 2016, raising its total order to 183 737 NGs in addition to orders for 200 “Boeing MAX 200 aircraft which will bring its fleet to 520 aircraft and help it meet its target of 160m customers a year by 2024. The three new aircraft are valued at $280m.

IMG_1295 copyLufthansa innovations announced at ITB Berlin include FlyNet broadband internet service on board all long-haul flights and upgraded seats on all Lufthansa long-haul aircraft from the third quarter of this year with the latest cabins and state-of-the-art seats in every travel class. Three new prices are available for economy class eats, the low-cost “light” option with carryon luggage, “classic” with one piece of checked luggage and allocated seat, and flex option which allows rebooking. Lufthansa will add Tampa, Cancún, Panama, Malé and Mauritius to their schedule for winter 2014-5. Picture shows Lufthansa Chief Commercial Officer Jens Beschoff and head of communications Martin Riecken speaking in Das Meisterstick in Hausevogteiplatz in Berlin during ITB.

Cork airport got two new routes this week. Flybe are to start a 2w all year round service from Cork to Cardiff on June 6th, using a 118 seat Embraer 195 aircraft to operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Flybe will also serve Dublin as part of plans to open a Cardiff base and serve 11 destinations. CSA Czech Airlines is to fly Cork to Ibiza 2w from June 11 to September 21, a charter for Travelagent.ie which will add 8,000 seats to Cork Airport’s schedule.

Flybe plans to operate Dublin-Cardiff 6w from Jun 1 with 6 additional service ex CWL at 0630 from 31 Aug using an Embraer 195.

Swiss are to commence 4w from Dublin to Geneva on June 26 using an A319 leaving Geneva at 06.10 and Dublin at 08.00. Aer Lingus operate daily on the route.

Aer Lingus Regional/Stobart Air plan to re-launch Dublin-Doncaster 5w from May 29 using an ATR 42. The previous Aer Lingus Regional service ceased at the end of summer 2010.

Norwegian flights in Norway, Sweden and Denmark were grounded by a pilots’ strike, leading to the cancellation of almost all its local services. The 650 pilots are on strike in a dispute over pay. Industrial action began after talks broke down on Saturday, but those on strike increased from 70 to 650 on Wednesday. The pilots are striking in order to achieve a collective labour agreement with Norwegian’s parent company, instead of its local subsidiaries, and for the same employment terms to be put in place across Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Ryanair celebrates milestone of carrying 6 million passengers at Ireland West Airport KnockGlen Ford from Ballina who was travelling to East Midlands was the 6 millionth Ryanair passenger to fly through Ireland West Airport Knock and was presented with a pair of return flights to East Midlands. Knock was one of Ryanair’s first bases in 1987 and the airline opened two of its first English routes to Leeds/Bradford and Stansted in 1989. Picture shows Glen Ford, Lisa Buckley and Vicky Killoran of Ryanair, Martin Ford, Collette McDonnell of Ryanair,  Audrey Elliott, and Joe Gilmore of Ireland West Airport Knock.

The north’s Centre for Economic Policy recommended against the abolition in the region of Westminster’s air passenger duty “‘when the cost to the public finances is taken into consideration.” The report endorsed the London case that “targeted interventions” such as Westminster’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund “have the potential to present more appropriate options for securing economic benefits”.  Belfast International Airport Managing Director Graham Keddie claimed the report “fails to acknowledge the blatant and unique geographic challenge” faced by the north and described it as a “missed opportunity.

liam berneyWillie Walsh and Stephen Kavanagh met unions on Friday to discuss the IAG bid for Aer Lingus. Wilie Walsh propsed legally binding Registered Employment Agreements to copperfasten terms and conditions for employees. ICTU’s Liam Berney (pictured) said they had heard nothing to make them change their minds: “The Government, if they make a decision to proceed without the issues of the workers being addressed, they can obviously do so but I think that would have some consequences.” SIPTU’s Eoin Reidy said the meeting brought no new information. IMPACT’s Matt Staunton said he remained unconvinced. Union advisor Paul Sweeney argued that the state should buy Ryanair’s share and effectively renationalise. Willie Walsh told a Wings Club lunch that IAG is not a brand; rather it wants to retain brand equity. Consolidation was good for cost control and bargaining potential with suppliers. Michael O’Leary said at the Ryanair event in London “one of the big areas of discussion between ourselves and IAG would be what kind of competition remedies will IAG have to offer up to the European Commission to be able to allow a takeover to take place,” Economist Kevin O’Rourke asked: what is the problem that selling Aer Lingus is supposed to solve?

Liow Tiong Lai copyMalaysia’s transport minister Liow Tiong Lai told Reuters that Malaysia Airlines bean tracking the location of its long-haul flights every 15 minutes or less, a proposal put forward by the UN aviation agency after the disappearance of the carrier’s Flight MH370 a year ago, Some of the many theories about what happened: it crashed in southern Indian ocean after a hijack, technical or pilot error or a fly-by of the pilot’s home island of Penang, was accidentally shot down by the Americans during joint US-Thai military exercises in the South China Sea, was deliberately shot down by the Americans near Diego Garcia (fearing a 9-11 situation), was hijacked to Kazakhstan or Pakistan, was abducted by aliens and (wait for it) MH370 and MH17 were the same aircraft.

Cityjet Christine OurmièresSpeculation about CityJet has been muted since last week’s announcement that chief executive Christine Ourmieres-Widener is leaving the airline with immediate effect. She has headed the airline since succeeding Geoffrey O’Byrne-White in 2010. She had previously worked directly with Air France-KLM. Her departure comes just a few months after CityJet’s deputy chief executive and chief financial officer Michael Collins also suddenly resigned.

christoph mueller h&s iata 001Aer Lingus staff used to refer to him as “Herr Cut,” and Malaysian Airlines staff may adopt the moniker. Christoph Mueller assumed his position as CEO of Malaysian Airlines last Sunday, one week before the anniversary of the MH370, and announced plans on Monday to cut capacity by 10pc to focus on profitable domestic and regional routes and axe 6,000 of its 20,000 employees. Mueller, described as a “battle-hardened veteran” by Time magazine, plans to expand seats on Asian routes by 5pc and is reviewing European and Mideast routes with a view to ending some. Malaysian’s routes to the Middle East and Europe, which include the Irish favourite Amsterdam as well as London and Paris, were being “carefully evaluated” and could be discontinued if they did not contribute to group profitability. Malaysian Airlines will cease to operate by June 30 and operations will be migrated to a new airline, Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAB), which starts on July 1. First cuts included a 25pc price cut for Brahim’s Holdings, holder of a 25-year RM6.25bn in-flight catering contract. This is the fifth attempt to restucture the airline since 2001.

  • Ryanair is to treble its Berlin Schonefeld operation with a new base from October 27 , the airline’s 73rd. The rumoured German domestic routes are not among the 16 new routes announced.
  • Aer Lingus passenger numbers dipped 0.9pc in February. Long haul grew 22pc but this was offset by short haul weakness (down 2.9pc).
  • Ryanair passenger numbers in February were up 29pc to 5.8m with load factor up 11 points to 89pc. The rolling 12 month total is 89.1m.
  • BMI regional announced that Peter Simpson will succeed Cathal O’Connell as CEO,
  • FLY Leasing sold three Boeing 737-800s.
  • JetBlue and Aer Lingus expanded their codeshare agreement.
  • Kevin Cullinane, Marketing manager of Cork Airport told Fiona Donnelly of Cork’s 96FM that they are engaging with 20 airlines about new routes for 2016.
  • Customers who book and fly with Flybe in March will get double Avios across the whole Flybe network.
  • Ethiopian Airlines won the Regional Airline award at the Air Transport World Airline Industry Achievement Awards in Washington DC.
  • BA’s upgrade to First ex Ireland offer ends March 13.
  • Eurowings revealed details of their new pricing at ITB, twice weekly services from Cologne to Dubai, Bangkok, Phuket, Varadero and Punta Cana, with two A330-200s flown by Sunexpress with one way fares of €99 to Dubai. Eurowings will cover Lufthansa traffic within Europe which is not touching the hubs:
  • The new look Loop at Dublin airport will be unveiled next Thursday.
  • The Air Finance conference returns to the Convention Centre Dublin January 18–20 2016 after its successful conference in January.
  • Ice storms caused the cancellation of 40pc of La Guardia on Thursday, according to flightaware.com
  • Emirates announced that it will launch a daily service from Dubai to Bali from June 3.
  • Turkish Airlines plans to add seven aircraft to its fleet in 2015. The carrier will not be operating an A380 this year.
  • Following the closure of its Facebook and YouTube accounts, US Airways stopped using its @USAirways Twitter account last weekend as part of its merger with American Airlines.
  • Qatar Airways will increase its inflight entertainment TV/movie channels from 950 to 2,000.
  • Flybe marked its 6th year operating Newquay to London Gatwick on St Piran’s Day (March 5) by having a group of Cornish singers serenade passengers.
  • Etihad Airways is to increase its Abu Dhabi to Tehran service from 3w to a daily service from April 15.
  • United Airlines CFO John Rainey said he would like to see a replacement for the B757. He said the A321neo had “issues”.
  • Lufthansa will operate a service from Frankfurt to Male in winter 2015, with A340.
  • Boeing handed 319 employees lay off notices in Washington. These jobs will be phased out at the end of April 5.
  • EasyJet is looking to use drones to quickly supply spares to grounded aircaft.
  • Avolon reported revenue was up 35pc in 2014 to $606m. The lessor reported the delivery of 41 owned and managed aircraft and the sale of nine aircraft in 2014. Avolon said this week that it believes Airbus is looking to get the lessor to order A321newoLR.
  • Avolon delivered an A321-200 to Philippine Airlines, the fifth aircraft on lease to the carrier.
  • Ethiopian Airlines won the Regional Airline of the Year Award at the Airline Industry Achievement Awards.
  • IAG reported February 2015 passenger numbers were up 8.0pc to 5m. Load factor was up 0.9 points to 76.2pc.
  • Irish lessor FLY Leasing sold three B737-800s for $137m.
  • Iberia‘s order of A330-200s will join the carrier’s long haul fleet 14 months earlier than planned, between December 2015 and November 2016.
  • Etihad are to fly their A380 to New York on flights EY103/102, one of two Etihad daily services between Abu Dhabi and JFK.
  • Oman Air is to fly daily to Singapore and four-times weekly to Goa from March 29, and four-times weekly to Dhaka from August.
  • Virgin will fly a second daily B787-9 from London Heathrow to San Francisco five-times weekly this summer, before upgrading this to a daily service in October.
  • Lufthansa’s first class cabin has been fitted on all long-haul aircraft based at Munich airport. Munich’s satellite is on course for opening in April.
  • British Airways Executive Club members who take return flights on selected transatlantic BA and American Airlines routes by April 27 can earn up to 7,000 bonus Avios points.
  • Oman Air will fly daily to Singapore and four-times weekly to Goa from March 29, and four-times weekly to Dhaka from August.
  • Qatar Airways first class lounge at Doha’s Hamad International will open at the end of April.
  • Watch here Capt Niall Cummins of the Irish Aviation Authority explaining the regulations of recreational drone use in Ireland, which exclude their use in public places.
  • Watch here the beautiful flight with Super Constellation through the Swiss Alps
  • Watch here the new SAS cabin.

Afloat

Stena Superfast X commences service in Dublin next Thursday, the highest profile Stena middle or southern corridor inauguration since Stena Adventurer entered service on the Irish Sea in 2003 and Stena Europe in 2002.

Royal Caribbean will base all three of its Oasis-class cruise ships in Florida in 2016. That same summer Anthem of the Seas will sail its first summer season out of Cape Liberty, visiting Bermuda. Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas will sail alternate seven-night Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries out of Port Everglades. In autumn 2016 Harmony of the Seas, which launches April 2016, will not sail Caribbean itineraries to begin with, but will replace Oasis of the Seas in Port Everglades in autumn 2016 when Oasis of the Seas moves to its new winter homeport of Port Canaveral.

richard-fainCruise Shipping Miami opens on March 16, having established itself over 30 years as the premier forum for the industry with 900 exhibitors and 11,000 attendees from 125 countries, Topics include The Geography of Cruise Tourism, Safety and Ship Operations, Market Segments and Cruise Product Development. While Leo Varadkar attended the event last year Paschal Donohue will not be making the trip, although there will be a small core of representatives of Irish ports pitching for business at the event. Eamon Bradshaw and Brian Sheridan of Galway Port will host a St Patrick’s Day party along with Skal Miami at the Dream South beach Hotel. Picture shows Richard Fain Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean who will be speaking at the opening plenary session with Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival, Frank J. Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian and Pierfrancesco Vago, chairman of MSC.

  • Irish Continental Group, owners of Irish Ferries, reported passenger numbers are up 4.8pc in 2014 to 1.643m. The overall sea passenger numbers were up 2.6pc, to 3.2m passengers. ICG reported operating profits for 2014 were up 9pc to €32.7m. Pre tax profits were €56.7m.
  • Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company has received seven expressions of interest from operators to provide a seasonal ferry service to Holyhead to replace the Stena HSS.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line launched its ‘Freestyle Choice Plus’ promotion for bookings before April 8. On selected cruises, guests can bring their family and friends along and only pay the port fees.
  • Splendour of the Seas will move to Thomson Cruises in the summer 2016.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line has appointed Andy Stuart as its president and COO, just five months after Drew Madsen replaced Kevin Sheehan.
  • Genting Hong Kong bought Crystal Cruise Line for $550m. Genting, which owns Star Cruises, Asia’s largest cruise line and a major shareholder of Norwegian Cruise Line. The deal is expected to close in the second quarter of 2015. Crystal will increase its fleet size with a third ship say that, as a result of the acquisition, in addition to Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony.
  • Silversea introduced air and land package fares for Silver Galápagos expedition cruises available on new bookings made after Thursday last on the ship’s year-round Galápagos sailings.
  • P&O Cruises Britannia arrived in Southampton ahead of her launch.
  • Carnival Cruise Line is to expand its nine-night and longer itineraries from autumn next.
  • Carnival Triumph is to move from Galveston to New Orleans in 2016, with New Orleans-based Carnival Elation moving to Jacksonville and the Jacksonville-based Carnival Fascination to San Juan. Carnival Liberty and Carnival Breeze are moving to Galveston.
  • Stena Line is offering trips to Britain with a saving of €36 for a child or €70 for a friend when booking for travel on stenaline.com.

Deal Watch

Lowcostbeds‘ Ibiza offers: 3* Blue Star apartments, San Antonio Bay from €28pppn room only. 3* Central Park apartments, San Antonio  from €27pppn self catering. 3* Tropical Gardens apartments, Figueretas from €37pppn self catering. 3* Mare Nostrum Hotel, Playa d’en Bossa from €46pppn room only.

  • ITAA‘s offers of the week for Easter: 12 days full board voyage on the Norwegian Coast from €908pps, depart March 26, 27, 28 or 30. 7 nights at Club Funimation, Borik, Croatia from €1,899 for two adults and two children incl. return flights and transfers, depart March 30. 7 nights half board at Golf Residence Hotel, Tunisia from €369pps incl. return flights, transfers, checked in bag and rep service, depart March 27 or April 3.
  • Irish Country Hotels St Patrick’s Day offers: 2 nights in Clew Bay Hotel, Westport from €109pps incl. transfers to Croagh Patrick and packed lunch. 1 night in the Garryvoe Hotel, Ballycotton Bay from €149 per couple. Stay between March 16 and 19. See irishcountryhotels.com for more.
  • Click and Go’s offers of the week: 3 nights in the Golden Park Hotel, Budapest from €199pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes and charges, depart March 15. 7 nights All Inclusive in the Donat Hotel, Zadar, Croatia from €419pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights B&B in the Senhora da Guia Hotel, Cascais from €599pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in March. 7 nights self catering in the Sol Timor Apartments, Torremolinos, Costa del Sol from €999pp for two adults and one child incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes, charges and transfers, travel in April. 7 nights B&B in the Centra Coconut Beach Resort Samui Hotel, Koh Samui, Thailand from €899pp incl. flights ex Dublin, taxes, transfers and one checked bag each, travel in June.
  • Falcon Holidays is offering 7 nights All Inclusive Dublin to Holiday Village, Marmari, Kos from €2,189 for two adults and one child, and from €2,839 for two adults and two children, depart June 6. Visit falconholidays.ie to book or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Thomson is offering 7 nights full board Dublin to Sensatori Resort Crete from €1,159pp, depart June 7. Visit thomsonholidays.ie to book or call 1850 45 35 45.
  • Travel Department is offering 11 nights Delhi, the Taj Mahal and Rajasthan, India from €1,899pp incl. return flights ex Dublin or Cork, transfers, excursions and accommodation (with no single room supplement for solo travellers).
  • Project Travel is offering 12 day full board, round trip voyage through Norway’s fjords with Hurtigruten from €1,558pp incl. return flights ex Dublin, one B&B hotel night before and after the voyage and inside cabin, depart March 24, 25, 26 or 28. For more, see project-travel.ie or call 01 210 8391.
  • Lowcostholidays offers of the week: 7 nights self catering at Rio Apartments, Algarve from €299pp, depart May 11. 7 nights in Days Inn Kissimmee, Orlando from €629pp, depart May 15. 7 nights B&B NYX Hotel Cancun, Mexico from €987, depart April 15. 7 nights B&B Deevana Patong Resort & Spa from €1,049pp, depart April 15. 2 nights B&B Norfolk Plaza Hotel, London from €153pp, depart April 17. 2 nights Timhotel Montmarte, Paris from €189pp, depart April 17. All prices include return flights ex Dublin, taxes and accommodation. See more offers here.
  • Sunway is offering 7 nights B&B in the Kalofer Hotel, Bulgaria from €399pp. Sunway is offering 7 nights B&B in the Meridiana, Lake Garda from €684pp. Depart May 30. Prices include flights ex Dublin, return airport transfers, taxes and charges, 20kg checked baggage pp and Sunway rep service, depart May 30.
  • Sunway Norwegian offers: 7 nights full board on Norwegian Epic from €2,650 for two adults and two children, calling at Barcelona, Naples, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Cannes, Palma Majorca and Barcelona, departs October 25. 7 nights full board Norwegian Jade from €799pp, calling at Venice, Dubrovnik, Athens, Kusadasi and Split, departs May 9.
  • Sunway Turkey offers: 7 nights B&B at Sea Pearl Hotel from €399pp, departing Dublin March 28 or April 4. 14 nights B&B from €599pp departing March 28 or from €399pp departing April 4. All prices include return flights, return airport transfers, rep service and 20kg baggage allowance pp.
  • Travel Department is offering 4 nights B&B at the Courtyard Berlin City Centre from €799pp incl flights ex Dublin and half day guided tour of Berlin and a night at the Deutsche Opera Berlin for a ballet performance of Romeo & Juliet, departs April 29. Travel Department is offering 5 nights B&B at the Holiday Inn Moskovskye Vorota, St Petersburg from €999pp incl. flights ex Dublin, one night ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre, half day guided tour of St Petersburg and half day guided tour to Catherine’s Palace, departs May 19 and October 15. Visit traveldepartment.ie or call 01 6371 600.
  • Tourism NI offers of the week: Coach and ticket to Irish Open on May 28-31 with Travel Solutions, Lisburn from £49pp, call 028 9045 5030 to book. 1 night at The Cottage Schoolhouse, Downpatrick, Co Down from £50 per unit, available unti August 31, call 028 4488 1185 to book. 3-night mid week stay at An Creagán, Evishatrask, Sixmilecross, Omagh from £160 per unit (3 bedroos, sleeps 9), available until March 31, call 028 8076 1112 to book. 2 night couple’s retreat in double ensuite Tavnaghoney Cottages, Cushendall, Co Antrim from £125pps, available until March 28, call 028 2177 2416 to book. Tourism NI suggests a number of ideas for Mother’s Day: Victorian Afternoon Tea in Lady Ada’s tea room at The Argory, Dungannon, Co Tyrone. Lunch with Queen Macha at Navan Centre & Fort, Armagh, March 15. Urban Photo Walk in Belfast with Urban Explorers, March 14 and 15. Dancing at the ceili at the MAC in Belfast. Spring Walking Festival in Arch Nature Reserve, Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, March 14. Mother-daughter spa break at Corick House Hotel & Spa, Tyrone from €142.60pp.
  • British Airways world seat sale: Kuala Lumpur from €170, Shanghai from €170, Abu Dhabi from €130, Johannesburg from €250, Dubai from €144, Accra from €255, Entebbe from €265 and Nairobi from €195. Sell March 6 to April 9 for travel from March 6 to December 15. See your GDS for more. BA have included 90 routes out of Heathrow, Gatwick and London City in the sale.

Ireland

London’s House of Lords pre St Patrick’s Day event, CHAMP will not have Taoiseach Enda Kenny or Prime Minster David Cameron this year but proceeds as normal at Westminster. The lunch time event takes place on Tuesday.

  • The line-up for the 2015 Doolin Folk Festival was announced. Mick Flannery, Sharon Shannon, Stockton’s Wing and Declan O’Rourke are among the acts who will take to the stage at the Hotel Doolin Marquee, June 12-14. Day and weekend tickets are on sale from entertainment.ie.
  • A green Ireland float featured in this weekend’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. The float was led by Panti Bliss and supported by Tourism Ireland and the Irish Consulate in Sydney.
  • Shannon Airport chairperson Rose Hynes, travel writer Mark Graham and Fiona Monaghan of Fáilte Ireland were the guest speakers at The Burren Tourism Story 2015 in the Pavilion, Lisdoonvarna.
  • Discover Fermanagh Open Weekend took place this week.

2+ MILLION GERMANS TO READ ABOUT DONEGALJournalist Oliver Abraham of Bild newspaper in Germany visited Donegal this week as a guest of Tourism Ireland. His itinerary, which was designed by Fáilte Ireland, included a tour of Glenveagh castle and gardens and a guided cliff walk at Slieve League. Oliver enjoyed an overnight stay at Castle Leslie in Monaghan. Picture shows Oliver Abraham with Trés Connaghan, Glenveagh National Park.

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

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