15 JUNE 2009

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Air New Zealand cuts London flights

AIR NEW ZEALAND is cutting back the London to Hong Kong flights from a daily service to five times a week.  The airline is stopping the Wednesday service from 23 September and the Monday service from 12 October 2009.  The airline blames the continuing recession for the cut back in frequency. www.airnewzealand.com

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Business Travel Market 2009

BUSINESS TRAVEL MARKET is being held at Excel in London on 17-18 June 2009.  The event is a must for anyone involved with organising and booking business travel.  The show is a perfect forum for business travel arrangers, buyers and managers to network, share ideas and to develop future relationships with one another.  The Business Travel Market is dedicated to giving advice, tips and information on business travel. www.businesstravelmarket.co.uk

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Eurowings returns to Newquay

EUROWINGS, a Lufthansa Regional franchise partner, is returning to Newquay Airport with a weekly service to Dusseldorf on Saturdays from 20 June to 12 September 2009 arriving from Dusseldorf at 11:20 and departing 30 minutes later using a Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jet. www.lufthansa.com

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IATA warns of more airline losses

IATA held its AGM at Kuala Lumpur last week with Director General Giovanni Bisignani warning that 2009 will be another year of big losses for the world’s airlines.  He said that airlines will lose a total of USD9bn taken with the USD10.4bn airlines lost in 2008 and that with the return of higher fuel prices the global recovery was being put at risk.  He said "Greedy speculation must not hold the global economy hostage.  Failure to act by governments would be irresponsible.  We must use this crisis as an opportunity for governments, partners and airlines to build a stronger industry.  Travel is more accessible than ever in price and purchase options.”  Turning specifically to the airlines he said “To survive in the global online market, you need to reshape your services and business models to provide the greater value that travellers are willing to pay for."  Mr Bisignani will be ON THE SOAPBOX for the first July issue of AERBT (6 July 2009). www.iata.org/pressroom/speeches/2009-06-08-01.htm

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Oneworld is ten years old

ONEWORLD alliance is ten years old in 2009 and the alliance has had record revenues over the past year of USD850m from sales, a rise of 25%.  However the Oneworld members declared a loss of USD1.7bn but this was much better than either Star Alliance or SkyTeam.  The alliance was finding sales in key European markets strong with a rise in businessflyer corporate accounts of 12% to nearly 10,000.  Moreover, oneworld member Iberia Regional Air Nostrum will fly once a week from Barcelona and twice a week Madrid to Corfu starting in the peak summer period on the 26 July until 6 September 2009.  The airline will also fly twice a week from Bilbao and Valencia to Funchal. www.airnostrum.com www.oneworld.com

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Qatar Airways adds Amritsar and Goa

QATAR AIRWAYS is adding two new services from Doha to Amritsar and Goa in October 2009.  The Doha to Amritsar service begins on 11 October four times a week using Airbus A320 aircraft.  The Goa service will also operate four times a week using Airbus A320 starting on 25 October 2009.  The Airbus A320 will have 12 seats in Business Class and 132 seats in Economy Class. www.qatarairways.com

 

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West Coast of Africa gets extra flights

WEST AFRICAN countries Gambia, Senegal and Sierra Leone are all new destinations by Nigeria’s Arik Air.  The airline began services between Lagos to Banjul, Dakar and Freetown earlier this month with the arrival of a new Boeing 737-800, the aircraft joins a 737-700 that was delivered to the airline in March 2009.  The services will be operated four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. www.arikair.com

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COMMENT: IATA speaks of huge losses

So IATA are warning of big losses at the airlines (see story below), this is nothing new, in fact in 2008 IATA announced the same and then gave out a USD10.4bn loss from the world’s airlines.  The association seem to be saying they need help from other parts of the industry so that some of them can survive this recession.

Not so long ago the airlines removed travel agents booking fees and expected them not to make as much as a whimper about the loss of revenue.  The airlines thought they might be able to do without agents as more reliance was put on direct online sales over the internet.

I have no doubt there is some comfort in internet sales but how much premium business does an airline get from the internet, I think the vast majority of sales online are for lower priced tickets that might begin to fill up planes but might not make too much profit.  Some airlines are finding it hard to put people in planes even with knock down prices at this time of deep recession.

The key is survival and some airlines in the industry must change, the way they do business, the kind of customer they attract even maybe it is time for them to change the product they sell.

Many travel agents are still very angry at the airlines for the way they were treated as the booking fees were withdrawn, some travel companies nearly did not survive.

Well according to IATA 2009 will be another terrible year for the airlines, with huge negative figures, I wonder how many of the airlines both large and small will survive into 2010?

Terry Spruce

Guest Editor

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Boeing Current Market Outlook

BOEING published the 2009-2028 Current Market Outlook on 11 June 2009 in a presentation by Randy Tinseth, Vice President Marketing Boeing Commercial Airplanes in London.  The aircraft manufacturer forecasts that over the next 20 years the market will need some 29,000 new commercial aircraft valued at USD3.2tr. Over the past 30 years traffic growth has been stable at around 5% per year and the company believes this trend is set to continue.  The outlook suggests that airlines will take delivery over the next 20 years of 2,100 regional jets valued at USD70bn, 19,460 single aisle aircraft valued at USD1.42tr, 6,700 twin aisle aircraft valued at USD1.51tr and 740 large aircraft valued at USD220bn. www.boeing.com/commercial/cmo

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Central Japan Railway and JAL team up

CENTRAL JAPAN RAILWAYS (JR TOKAI) and Japan Airlines have decided to join together in an effort to stimulate visitor demand to Japan.  From 1 July 2009 foreign visitors who buy their air tickets through the JAPANiCAN website can also purchase train tickets for the JR Shinkansen tour to Kyoto or Takayama.  Visitors will travel on the high speed trains known worldwide as bullet trains or shinkansen.  Both companies are looking forward to working together in this venture and hope to show more of the Japanese culture to foreign visitors. www.jal.com www.japanican.com

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Holiday Inn Express opens new Pretoria hotel

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS along with partners ISO Leisure has opened the new Sunnypark hotel in Pretoria.  The 304-room hotel is located in the Sunnypark shopping centre near the Department of Industry’s Trade Campus.  The work began in March 2008 to convert the 20-storey residential tower into a new hotel. www.ihg.com

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Incheon voted best airport

INCHEON AIRPORT in Seoul (South Korea) has been named by international travellers as the world’s best airport for customer service, according to the Airports Council International.  All the top four places were taken by Asian airports, second was Hong Kong, third Kuala Lumpur and fourth Singapore.  In Europe, Zurich was top and in North America Dallas Fort Worth was considered the best. www.worldairportawards.com/awards_2009/airport2009.htm

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Oxford to Jersey weekly charters

OXFORD AIRPORT will see a 50-seat Air Southwest Bombardier Dash 8-300 on a Saturday from 11 July to 12 September 2009 on a weekly charter.  The flight is being operated in co-operation with the Channel Islands Travel Services.  Passengers will use the Oxfordjet business terminal which can be quickly converted into a terminal for handling commercial flights of this nature. www.oxfordairport.co.uk  www.airsouthwest.com

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Terminal One takes SWISS

SWISS INTERNATIONAL AIR LINES moved into Heathrow Terminal One on 11 June 2009 and joins the other Star Alliance members already in the facility.  SWISS has check-in desks and two dedicated for First and Business Class passengers in Zone F and G with the Swiss ticket desk opposite the check-in.  SWISS HON, Miles and More Senator members, First and Business Class passengers can use the designated First and Business Class areas in the new Star Alliance CIP lounge in the terminal.  The BMI lounge also welcomes the Miles and More members in the terminal. www.swiss.com

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ON TOUR: Belfast

Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland, it was granted city status by Queen Victoria in 1888.  The city has been a key part of the Irish linen industry, tobacco and rope-making.

Belfast is still the centre for arts, industry, education and business.  The city is the heart of Northern Ireland economy and the legal system here is one of the best in the United Kingdom.

Today Belfast is a place where people want to visit.  In 2008 some 7.1m people visited the city, these bringing much needed revenue of UKP437m to Belfast and to the whole of Northern Ireland.

There are three main ports, two airports Belfast International and George Best City Airport, named after the world famous Manchester United footballer.  The third port is the seaport with large commercial and industrial docks.

In 1999, the city had 1.5m visitors bringing UKP114m and only two cruise ships but the number of cruise ships had increased in 2008 to 39.  Business trips to Belfast in 1999 totalled 190,000, in 2008 some 659,000 business trips were made.

The city is steeped in history and even today there are many reasons to come, the re-opening of the Ulster Hall, a famous and very popular music venue, the City Hall being opened later this year and the Ulster Museum www.ulstermuseum.org.uk that should be re-opened in September.

Pubs, clubs and restaurants feature highly in this city, McHugh’s www.mchughsbar.com in Queen’s Square is in Belfast’s oldest building that dates back to 1711.  It includes a 100-seat restaurant and bar downstairs.  Again if your taste is funky modern then Apartment www.apartmentbelfast.com in Donegal Square is your kind of venue.  Laverys www.laverysbelfast.com in Bradbury Place is a restaurant, bar and live music club.  It has been a family run club for over 90 years but has five different venues on three floors, so most music tastes can be catered for.

The city of Belfast has links back to the Bronze Age, the Giant’s Ring a 5,000 year old henge monument is nearby and there are remains of many iron-age forts on the hills.

Belfast’s calendar of events is full but maybe none as spectacular as the Tall Ships Atlantic Challenge from 13 to 16 August 2009.  This event will bring many thousands of visitors just to watch the start of the race and to see the magnificent sailing ships www.tallshipsbelfast2009.co.uk

Apart from the Ulster Hall, City Hall and the Ulster Museum there are many more historic buildings to visit in Belfast, the Stormont Parliament Buildings, Queens’ University, the Botanic Gardens and Belfast Castle.

Those who want to shop Victoria Square is the place to go, opened in June 2008 with shops, restaurants and a cinema.  There are even free concerts and entertainment in Custom House Square.  Belfast has over 40 public parks and gardens, one dedicated to Princess Diana.

Another interesting fact is that Belfast is twinned with four cites, Nashville, Tennessee (USA), Bonn (Germany), Hefei (China) and Wonju (South Korea).

Maritime is highlighted here with the famous Harland and Wolfe shipyard, the place were the ill-fated RMS Titanic was built in 1912.  Harland and Wolfe still build maritime platforms in the dock.  Shorts Brothers, the world's first aircraft manufacturers started a production facility here, Shorts Brothers is now part of the Bombardier Group with the factory still manufacturing components for the Canadian-based company. www.bombardier.com

Belfast is a thriving container and cruising port, a growing city and a vibrant place to visit with lots of different and interesting things to do.

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Aer Lingus expands at Gatwick

AER LINGUS will increase the number of destinations served from Gatwick by adding six more cities in Europe.  The Irish national carrier will start services from Gatwick to Bucharest, Eindhoven, Lanzarote, Tenerife, Vilnius and Warsaw.  Aer Lingus will continue with services to Dublin, Faro, Knock, Malaga, Munich, Vienna and Zurich but has decided that the Nice service will be discontinued during the winter months.  When the new routes are begun Aer Lingus will operate 118 round trips a week from Gatwick.  The new services start on 25 October except Vilnius that will begin on 10 September 2009. www.aerlingus.com

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British Airways in talks with unions

BRITISH AIRWAYS is in talks with Unite, a union that represents cabin crews and baggage handlers at the airline in an attempt to get agreements over cost cutting measures to help the airline survive during the downturn.  The airline is also in talks with BALPA, who represent the pilots at the airline.  British Airway’s Chief Executive Willie Walsh received a 6% pay rise for the year that ended in March 2009 but he and Finance Director Keith Williams have accepted a pay freeze for this year and will work for free in July. www.ba.com

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Crowne Plaza opens two new hotels

CROWNE PLAZA has opened two new hotels, one in South Africa and the other in Kenya.  The 318-room Crowne Plaza Johannesburg - The Rosebank has returned to the Crowne Plaza brand name after an absence of two years.  The hotel is operated under a franchise with the Hospitality Property Fund.  In the middle of the business, leisure and residential Rosebank district, the hotel has undergone a 315m South African Rand refurbishment.  The hotel now includes two upmarket restaurants and bar, as well as new spa and gym facilities.  IHG will open the second Kenyan Crowne Plaza in the autumn, the 163-room five-storey Crowne Plaza Nairobi will include two bars, two restaurants, banqueting hall, meeting rooms, health club, swimming pool, sauna and a gym.  The fifth floor will be a 30-room Crowne Club Floor with lounge facility and guests will have 24-hour business service including wireless high speed internet access in the lobby. www.crowneplaza.com

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Hyatt opens new hotel

HYATT HOTELS AND RESORTS opened a new Hyatt Place at Birmingham/Downtown in Alabama.  The new 150-room hotel is on the corner of 40th Avenue South and 20th South Street, near to the financial and legal centre of Birmingham, a short walk from Five Points South, a key entertainment area of the city for dining and nightlife.  All the rooms feature a 42inch high definition television.  The facility will offer complimentary wi-fi connectivity throughout the hotel, an indoor pool and gym for those who need it. www.hyattplace.com

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John McEwan is new ABTA Chairman

JOHN MCEWAN, Chief Executive of Advantage, is the newly elected Chairman of ABTA.  Daniele Brocolli of Britaly Travel was the other candidate.  Formed in 1950 ABTA now represents over 5,300 travel agencies and 1,000 tour operators throughout the British Isles. This election was the first time that all member of the association were able to vote. www.abta.com

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Passenger car share at Luton Airport

LUTON AIRPORT has launched the UK’s first airport passenger car share scheme.  The new scheme was launched at the airport on 9 June 2009, which is national liftshare day.  Luton Airport has been operating the scheme for employees with liftshare and is extending the service to passengers who are registered.  The scheme is particularly useful to frequent flyers that are making the same journey as they share cars with others and this in turn will reduce CO2 emissions.  The car share scheme is part of a larger sustainable transport scheme including improvements to public transport at the airport for passengers and staff. www.liftshare.com www.london-luton.co.uk

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United completes upgrade on international 767s

UNITED AIRLINES has completed the upgrade on all of the international Boeing 767s.  The fleet of international Boeing 767 are all now fitted with fully lie-flat beds in both United First and Business classes.  United Airlines has completed 18 of the 24 Boeing 747s in its fleet and will begin to reconfigure the international Boeing 777s in September 2009. www.united.com

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HAPPY TALK: An airport mix-up

During the 'rush hour' at Houston's Hobby Airport, an un-named airline’s flight was delayed due to a mechanical problem.

Since the airline needed the gate for another flight, the aircraft was backed away from the gate while the maintenance crew worked on it. The passengers were then told the new gate number, which was at the other end of the terminal some distance away.  Everyone moved to the new gate, only to find a third gate had been designated for them.

After some further shuffling, everyone got on board, and as they were settling in, the flight attendant made the standard announcement, "We apologise for the inconvenience of this last-minute gate change.  This flight is going to Washington, DC.  If your destination is not Washington, DC, then you should 'deplane' at this time."

A very confused-looking and red-faced pilot emerged from the cockpit, carrying his bags. "Sorry," he said, "wrong plane."

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