26 APRIL 2010

YOUR WORDS


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Airline Associations call for change

Three airline associations have called upon Europe and member states for a commitment to support European airlines affected by the volcano and its aftermath. At the beginning of the week much of European airspace remained closed to any commercial air traffic and this has meant many airlines face huge costs and logistical nightmares.

The associations, ELFAA (European Low Fare Airline Association, ERA (European Regional Airline Association and IACA (International Air Carrier Association) have said that they are doing their utmost under the new passenger rights regulation EU261/2004.

Currently that regulation means that airlines must without exception provide care of passengers including food and accommodation for an event totally outside their control. The associations say that European governments can not ignore the economic consequences the volcano in Iceland is having on the airlines. The three associations have proposed a series of operational and financial measures to the European Commission to ease the financial burden on the airlines. www.elfaa.com www.eraa.org www.iaca.be

 

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Blue1 doubles flights into London

Blue1 is adding an extra return daily service from Helsinki to London Heathrow starting on 26th April. The airline now has services from Heathrow leaving at 08.15 and 15.15, Blue1 are planning to improve the services even more in October. The airline is a Finnish airline, is part of the SAS Group and is a member of the Star Alliance. www.blue1.com www.sas.com

 

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Cessna delivers first CJ4

Cessna have delivered the first Citation CJ4 to an unnamed customer, the aircraft is the largest of the CJ range of aircraft and this aircraft is fitted with GreenTrak flight planning software. GreenTrak uses a process called cost indexing to minimize total trip cost by balancing the cost of direct operation, fuel burn and carbon emission.

The aircraft was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration in March. The CJ4 is approved for single pilot operations and has seating for up to six passengers. www.cessna.textron.com

 

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FAA awards expanded type inspection to Dreamliner

The Federal Aviation Administration has awarded the type inspection authorization to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, this allows for FAA personnel to participate in the collection of important data during the flight-test programme. The award of the authorization by the FAA is confirmation that the administration is ready to addition certification data on the airplane.

The flight test programme reached 500 hours on the 16th April when prototype ZA003 landed in Florida to undergo extreme weather testing at the McKinley Climatic Laboratory at the Eglin Air Force Base. www.boeing.com

 

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IATA says airlines suffering

In Berlin, IATA Director General and CEO Giovanni Bisignani has said that airlines will lose more than estimated $1.7 billion because of the volcanic ash cloud. This is on top of the estimated $2.8 billion the airlines could lose in 2010. The airline industry lost $9.4 billion in total last year, this crisis is devastating according to Bisignani.

The scale of the crisis eclipsed 9/11 when US airspace was closed for three days. The Director General expects that the industry could take up to three years to recover from the volcano crisis. IATA said that from the 17th to 19th April, when the air-traffic delays and disruptions were at their worst, lost revenues reached $400 million per day.

The volcano affected some 29% of the world’s passengers during the crisis, this is about 1.2 million passengers each day. www.iata.org

 

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London Oxford opens for 48 hours

London Oxford Airport remained open for 48 hours continuously as soon as it is notified that controlled airspace becomes accessible on Tuesday evening.

The airport contacted all the based business aviation operators so that they could make arrangements to get out of position aircraft back to base and offered the airport facilities for commercial regional airlines that may need to provide additional services to repatriate stranded passengers from all over Europe. www.londonoxfordairport.co.uk

 

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Poland signs for electric trains

Bombardier has signed a contract to supply eleven Bombardier TRAXX electric locomotives to Koleje Mazowieckie – KM. The two cab electric locomotives are planned to pull the KM double-deck coaches in a push and pull operation in the Mazovian region of Poland.

The trains can reach speeds of 160 kmh and the new locomotives are due for delivery in 2011. www.bombardier.com

 

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CRUISE NEWS APRIL 2010

This edition of Cruise News is being brought to you at sea aboard Diamond Princess somewhere in the South China Sea.  “Diamond” has a fine Internet café claimed to be the largest at sea and is complete with its own dedicated coffee bar.  It is very busy providing a service for business emails, social chit chat, and contributing towards AERBT.  But don’t expect at sea the same download speeds as on land.  This one is probably the best so far but patience is required.

At 115,000 tons Diamond Princess cannot fit into the Panama Canal locks.  For those familiar with Princess it is a development of its very successful Grand Princess class and later on this year will have a major re-fit including “Movies Under the Stars”, the poolside film screen and “The Sanctuary”, an adults only rest area.  Diamond is well thought out and offers both fixed seating reservations and casual dining but with two-thirds of the passengers Princess regulars it is the traditional arrangement that is easily the most popular.

Cruising from Bangkok to Xingang (for Beijing) one port follows another usually with a day at sea inbetween.  Our harbour visits include Singapore, and in Vietnam Phu My, the fast developing port for Ho Chi Minh (still called Saigon by the locals), and the holiday resort of Nha Trang.  There is an overnight stay in Hong Kong (including the harbour side laser light show) and on to Keelung (Taiwan) and Okinawa, 1,000 miles south of Japan proper.  A maiden visit to the new Shanghai cruise terminal follows and then finally Xingang.

Princess is now part of the Carnival Corporation – which includes P&O and Cunard.

It was a successful British challenge to the US market but based in Los Angeles.  Much of its UK heritage remains including afternoon tea (with sandwiches, scones and cakes), a very popular rendezvous much appreciated by the Americans.  On this voyage the gambling is well supported and the stage shows excellent with live music and some interesting acts.  It’s not music hall in the traditional sense, but nevertheless well-liked international entertainment.

The ship is full with 1,133 from the United States, 491 from the UK, 303 Canadians, 210 from Germany, 178 Brazilians and 122 from Australia.  Amongst 2,655 passengers 30 countries are represented, with the average age just over 60.  For the previous voyage (in the reverse direction) the Brits outnumbered the Americans, a fine tribute to the Southampton sales office.  With the ship’s staff coming from 45 nations it is a truly international gathering. 

Announcements for the most part take place just three times per day, and only in English.  It is a quiet ship with plenty of deck space available for those who want to sit out in the sun.   For passengers in the suites and top cabins Sabatini’s specialist Italian restaurant is open for breakfast, a recent innovation.  The fayre is the same as elsewhere but it is quieter than the Horizon Court main self-service area.  There is now a complimentary ice cream bar open on one of the swimming pool decks during daylight hours.

Unlike some operators Princess does not charge for transport from the ship to a convenient landside point, usually the centre of the town or city.  Cold towels and water is provided quayside.  What is chargeable is behind the scene tours which include the bridge, backstage, the kitchens and food storage areas, and also the engineering areas.  Much more comprehensive than previous arrangements these can take up to four hours.  Also proving very popular are gourmet kitchen ‘teach ins’ by the Executive Chef in small groups.  The bonus here of course is that you can actually eat what is prepared.

The Princess brand has evolved over the years rather than leaped forward establishing a fine reputation for quality and service.

London in March

Olympia in West London is not the most attractive venue for a public participation holiday show in late March.  Frankly it is an outdated Victorian monstrosity which the Germans failed to bomb in World War II and should either be re-developed (it has a railway station of sorts, not that many people know that) or disposed of completely. 

Excel in Docklands is an alternative, but that also suffers from lack of accessibility.  Other than the two Earls Court halls, which are under a threatened redevelopment shadow, London does not have a large scale central area exhibition centre.

In spite of all these misgivings The Cruise Show, held over a weekend at the end of last month, was a great success, both in terms of numbers and the business completed.  The attendance number was around 16,000 spread over two days and 70 cruise and cruise related companies took part.  These ranged from the small offshore, very specialist single number passengers operators, to the likes of Royal Caribbean and the Carnival Group, with the largest ships accommodating 3,000 plus.

Extremely well supported were the four cruise stage presentation areas:  Sky Travel, New Ships, Specialist Cruises, and one sponsored by the Carnival Group which includes P&O Cruises, Cunard Line, Princess, Holland America Line, Carnival Cruise Lines and Costa. 

The speakers were of the highest calibre too, including John Ward, Editor of the Berlitz Cruise Guide; Jo Rzymowska, Associate Vice President & General Manager – UK & Ireland, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line; Trudy Redfern, her opposite number at Silversea; Larry Pimentel, President and CEO, Azamara Club Cruises; and on the river cruise front Tony Williamson of Avalon.  AERBT will carry the story when the 2011 show is announced.  Note the date.  It is well worthwhile making the effort to attend.

OUR TEN-STORY NEWS ROUNDUP

The Chief Executives of Carnival UK, Azamara Club Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line will address this year’s ACE UK Cruise Convention, now in its fourth year, trade only and established as Britain’s annual industry get-together.  It is Southampton’s turn to host the event this year 24-26 June.  More than 600 delegates, including over 400 travel agents, are expected to attend.

David Dingle (Carnival UK), Larry Pimentel (President of Azamara Club Cruises) and Kevin Sheehan (NCL) will cover topics including upselling to luxury, the value proposition of cruising and the state of the industry. 

A record six ships will be showcased at the Convention: Celebrity Eclipse, Cunard’s QM2, Compagnie du Ponant’s Le Boréal, NCL’s Norwegian Epic, P&O Cruises’ Azura and Princess Cruises’ Crown Princess.  Well done to ACE for masterminding the event which has to be planned at least a couple of years ahead.

This year’s Convention also includes a panel debate with: Kathryn Beadle, Sales and Marketing Director of Hurtigruten; Giles Hawke, Sales and Customer Services Director, Complete Cruise Solution; Carol Marlow, Managing Director P&O Cruises; Trudy Redfern, Senior Vice President, Silversea; Jo Rzymowska, Associate Vice President, Royal Caribbean; David Selby, Head of Cruise, Thomson & Island Cruises; and Peter Shanks, President and Managing Director, Cunard.

AZURA is the name of P&O’s latest and greatest, a sister ship of Ventura.  Both are developments of Carnival Lines Grand Princess series and were built in the Fincantieri yard at Trieste (Italy).  Azura was named by the former ballerina Darcey Bussell at Southampton earlier this month.

P&O largely caters for British holidaymakers and for its maiden season, Azura will cruise out of Southampton, ideally placed for the motorway system with its airport offering most domestic destinations and Heathrow just one hour away.  Coach travel is available from a long list of cities (it could not be easier – just drop your cases by your coach at the pick-up point and they will arrive in your cabin).   

At 116,000 tonnes and 290 metres in length Azura has a great deal to offer.  Her 'signature' features include a restaurant by Michelin-starred Chef Atul Kochhar, and a wine bar and restaurant by TV's Olly Smith, The Retreat open air spa terrace, SeaScreen outdoor cinema and the fleet's first single staterooms.  This summer she will undertake a series of mainly two-week cruises to both the Baltic and Mediterranean before wintering in the Caribbean.

CRYSTAL CRUISES, the luxury operator, is to introduce their version of open dining from January 2011.  Clients will choose one of the three dining arrangements (Classic Main, Classic Late or Open Dining by Reservation) at the time of booking.  Taken together, the new programme is being called Perfect Choice Dining.  Reservations can be made in advance for any time between 18:15 and 21:15.  Announcing the arrangement Crystal President Gregg Michel stressed that for passengers who prefer Crystal's traditional fixed dinner seating system in the main dining room, nothing will change.  “And that's still a significant group,” he noted.  Many Crystal regulars are fond of the "familiarity of the experience, the same table and same section of the dining room at night, the same senior waiter who knows their preferences.”

DFDS SEAWAYS has appointed the expertise of two Wildlife Officers on board cruise ferry King of Scandinavia which sails from Newcastle to Amsterdam.

The Wildlife Officers, from whale and dolphin charity ORCA, will give lively presentations to passengers, organise deck watches and point out the exciting habitants of the North Sea, as well as running fun and educational children’s activities.  Common wildlife to spot en route includes dolphin, harbour porpoise, gannet, great skua, fulmar, kittiwake, and if you’re lucky, even minke whales.

ORCA is a UK-based charity committed to the study of whales, dolphins and porpoises, and the promotion of their conservation worldwide through enthusing, inspiring and educating others.  ORCA and DFDS Seaways have been working in partnership since 2007, studying marine mammals in the North Sea and providing educational facilities to customers on board.  DFDS Seaways say they are delighted to be supporting ORCA by funding the Wildlife Officer positions and running these activities.

The North Sea DFDS service is daily from April to September with King of Scandinavia the alternative ship but lacking the wildlife watching experience.  The courtesy facility is also offered on the special ORCA Wildlife Watching Mini Cruise to Amsterdam which includes two nights on ship, coach transfers to Amsterdam and the best part of the day in this beautiful capital city. www.dfds.co.uk/Orca

DISNEY took one of the largest stands at the March Cruise show, marking the line’s return to European waters and also introducing Disney Dream for 2011 (See AERBT December 2009).  In many ways the Disney vessels are retro ships, the current pair, and the new twosome, both having a silhouette not dissimilar to the original 1940’s Queen Elizabeth, now laid to rest in Hong Kong harbour.  How many of the guests can remember the first Queen Elizabeth liner?

In any event Disney has on offer either 12-night northern Europe cruises from Dover, or 10- and 11-night Mediterranean offerings from Barcelona.  The whole experience is billed as a family holiday, dining for instance rotating through themed restaurants, your servers (American for waiters) moving with you from one resturant to another.  Quality entertainment is a feature of the whole package and for adults. 

THE MAJESTIC LINE, a specialist operator, will add at least another two Skye and Inner Hebrides cruises for the 2011 season.  The cruises will be aboard Majestic’s two traditional vessels The Glen Massan and Glen Tarsan.  Both boats share the same traditional construction and are designed to accommodate up to 11 people in 5-star comfort.  

The layout of the vessels encourage informality and relaxation.  They have been designed to allow guests to experience some of Scotland’s most wonderful scenery and witness wildlife (including eagles, otters and seals) all from the comfort of a matchless vantage point.  There will be ample opportunity to experience some of the unique culture and heritage of the West Coast and Inner Hebrides such as Eilean Donan Castle, The Clan Donald Centre and Invererie the UK’s largest community not connected to the road network.

THE WORLD CUP, being held in South Africa from 11 June until 11 July, might be an excuse for some to get away from it all and spend the time at sea.  For others the fact that they are on a cruise will be something of an inconvenience.

Cruise companies will no doubt be offering on-board connections to the blanket coverage being offered by the TV contractors.

AERBT has learnt that guests vacationing on sister companies Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International have obtained rights to air all games of the 2010 FIFA World Cup while at sea in international waters on every ship across the three fleets.

Guests sailing with any of the three cruise lines during the entire series of the matches can watch them in the comfort of their staterooms, and in designated onboard lounges.  Special programmes are being organised so that fellow likeminded guests can get together for the games, with plenty of food and beverages available.  If anyone has watched a big sporting occasion on board a ship at sea, usually in the theatre or large lounge, it can be fun.  The Captain is the referee and it’s bad news for anyone who gets a red card.

If any other cruise line is thinking of matching this facility please let AERBT know.  We would be pleased to publicise the offering in the next edition of cruise roundup.

MUSCAT, capital of Oman in the Arabian Gulf, is the latest port to promote its cruising aspirations.  It's also a return to Oman's centuries old maritime heritage at the crossroads of the India to East Africa sailing routes.

Mohammed bin Hamoud al Toobi, Oman Under Secretary of Tourism said: "Few people realise the value of cruise tourism, an area of great interest to us.  For several years, we have enjoyed double digit growth in ship arrivals, a medium sized ship of 1,500 passengers is equivalent to three Boeing Jumbos landing, so this is a key opportunity."

Oman is experiencing a marketing push into Europe spearheaded by Oman Air, the country’s highly esteemed airline.

In January Queen Mary 2 made her maiden call into Muscat's new US$7m cruise terminal.  RCCL Brilliance of the Seas, at 90,000 tons, smaller than QM has been a very recent visitor.  All in all about two dozen cruise lines have included the Sultanate in their itineraries for this year.  P&O’s Arcadia and Aurora have both visited the port recently on their world voyages.

Muscat, described in this month's Conde Nast Traveller as “one of the Arab World's cleanest, safest capitals,” has plenty to tempt visitors ashore.  Cruisers can enjoy a half day Muscat city tour, taking in the Grand Mosque, the Muttrah souk (don't miss the frankincense) and dining experiences along the Corniche.

PRINCESS CRUISES is to base Sea Princess in Australia for the 2011-12 season, taking the size of the locally based Princess fleet to an unprecedented four ships.  Fly packages are available from Europe and most other places.  Sailing from Sydney between October 2011 and March 2012, the 77,000-ton ship will offer cruises to New Zealand, Japan and Tasmania.  She joins Dawn Princess, Sun Princess and Sapphire Princess in sailing Australian waters. 

The move of Sea Princess to Sydney means that Sun Princess will head north to Brisbane becoming the first Princess Cruises' ship to be based in the Queensland capital.  Sun Princess cruises from Brisbane and will include seven two-week sojourns to New Zealand, two 11-night South Pacific cruises to Fiji and an exciting new 41-night voyage to Asia, featuring visits to Brunei, Vietnam, Japan and China including Beijing.

Meanwhile, Dawn Princess will return to Melbourne for another summer season, offering cruises to New Zealand, around Australia and to Tahiti and Hawaii.

WINDSTAR CRUISES is an independent operation which might not be familiar to readers although it was once part of the enormous Carnival family.  Its three ships all have sails.  Windstar's ships are officially motor-sail-yachts (msy), but the designation belies the vessels' unique rigging.  The sales unfurl in two minutes at the push of a button.  All functions are operated from the bridge by computer control, and it is an open area for passengers who can drop by and acquaint themselves with the crew.

In a normal summer (say 2010) the company’s three ships, Wind Spirit, Wind Star and Wind Surf, will frequent the Mediterranean, visiting ports big, and with their shallow draft, small.  However for 2011 a number of Baltic cruises have been added featuring Spirit, at 5,350 tons and 148 passengers, the smallest ship in the fleet.

All the sailings are of seven nights, initially from Le Havre, thence from Oslo, followed by two cruises from Stockholm.  

Keen sailing ship fans can take in the transatlantic sailings in both directions but prospective passengers should note that at 12 knots in a motor mode they are not that quick and facilities on board, whilst ideal for European waters, are limited for ocean crossings.  TV is provided as well as DVD’s. 

Malcolm Ginsberg at sea approaching Taiwan.

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COMMENT - Safe Flying, Passengers Rights and Business Sense

This week has seen a number of key things happen and I am sure we all will have some kind of opinion. First the volcano has thrown up a number of problems relating to air travel.

The Icelandic volcano is still giving headaches to the UK Met Office and National Air Transport Services (NATS). As they repeatedly say the situation is dynamic and can change hour by hour. The only thing that everyone wants is to be safe when flying, both the authorities and airlines agree but when the skies over Europe were blanketed with layer of ash then someone had to do something, it appears that first some flights were made by monitoring aircraft followed by airliners flying along the same route. Then comparing the test data and seeing if it was possible to fly safely in the skies.

Thankfully, the regulations were changed but still have some restrictions which are sensible. The situation is dynamic and can change so an area of sky will be clear one day but not the next, but with this kind of restriction at least some flying can take place and areas of dense ash can be avoided.

Many of these airlines were losing cash and need to get their aircraft flying again, after all a plane on ground does not make any money but the authorities are taking the right stance, safety is the most important matter in all cases.

It is important for anyone who travels to be as safe as it can be made and there is enough evidence from previous experience of flying through ash clouds to say that is has a higher risk of engine failure so should be considered dangerous, but now it is safe to fly through lower density of ash clouds and that is good for all, of course if aircraft experience problems then that must be reported to the authorities immediately and the appropriate actions taken. That is paramount to continue safe flying.

Once it had been proved to be safe flying through a lower density of ash and then agreed with all concerned, the authorities, airlines, regulators, airframe and engine manufacturers the airspace was deemed to be safe but with conditions and restrictions, again safety is paramount and must always remain so.

I applaud everyone for what they did in this matter. Their efforts got the planes back in the sky.

The second thing is passengers rights, under current EU law, airlines must provide accommodation and food for any delays incurred whether it is their fault or not. The law is EU261/2004 but the airlines complained about it then and the volcano has proved how damaging it can be to the airlines, a number of airlines have considered taking to the courts but have decided against it, knowing that they would lose. How can it be fair for a passenger who buys a very cheap ticket, then an incident which is outside the control of the airline expect to be given accommodation and food far in excess of the value of the ticket by that airline. Very good for passenger but very bad for the airlines, this law is unfair in this volcanic situation and needs to be changed.

The principle of EU261/2004 is to make airlines that delay or cancel flights because of technical difficulties under their control responsible for the accommodation and food for all passengers involved. That is what this law was meant to be, to protect passengers from airlines just abandoning them when it was the airline’s problem not when it was an act of god.

Again, most insurance companies won’t issue policies that cover acts of god, so the vast majority of passengers that are making their way home by surface means, are having to find the money out of their own pockets. Many thousands are still stranded as you read these words, struggling to get home.

The UK government did try and help but the crisis proved too great for them, they thought about using the Royal Navy and that brought a little hope but that plan was soon stopped. They did collect returning troops from Afghanistan and took some 200 stranded passengers from the Spanish port of Santander, well done for that. Now more passengers stranded in Spain have returned on a cruise ship, the Celebrity Eclipse that sailed from Bilbao with over 2,000 passengers. The tour operators came to the aid of those passengers.

Again, everyone is making for the French channel ports, did the government think there would not be thousands of people turning up with little or no money. Well that is exactly what did happened and sad stories of frustrated and almost desperate people trying to get home. The long lines of people reminded me of lines of refugees fleeing from conflict carrying all their worldly goods.

It is all well and good that the ferry companies say they can cope but again you here stories of passengers waiting for hours to board a cross channel ferry, some even having to buy bicycles to be allowed to board.

Well in a few weeks we will get back to normal but all of us will have memories of that Icelandic volcano. Those involved in transport had better take a few crisis management courses because some did not come out of this crisis very well. On the other hand quite a few travellers did triumph over adversity.

Terry Spruce, Guest Editor

 

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Aviara Resort to be managed by Hyatt

Hyatt has been selected to manage the Aviara Resort in June 2010. The resort will be known as the Park Hyatt Aviara Resort and is the 25th property operating under the Park Hyatt brand. The long-term agreement is subject to third party lender approval  www.hyatt.com

 

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Car accident causes train delays

Travelers using the First Great Wester Trains West country services were delayed after a car crashed into a gas main in Maidenhead in Berkshire. The accident ruptured a gas main and the railway line had to be closed for safety reasons.

First Great Western had put into operation an emergency timetable after having to stop trains from Paddington prior to Maidenhead by adding extra services from Reading to get people home. Normal services were resumed after the National Grid fixed the gas main.

 

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Embraer cuts first part for Legacy 500 jet

Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer performed the first metal cut for the new Legacy 500 business jet on the 19th April at their Sao Jose dos Campos facility. The prototype aircraft is due to make her maiden flight in the second half of 2011.

The first part of the aircraft manufactured by the company is the forward fuselage on which the radome, radar and glide-slope antennae are fitted and is made from an aluminum alloy. The Legacy 500 will be able to carry up to twelve passengers. www.EmbraerExecutiveJets.com

 

 

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Hotel Indigo in San Antonio

Hotel Indigo has opened in San Antonio, the second property in the city and joins Hotel Indigo San Antonio Riverwalk. The Hotel Indigo at the Alamo is also the second property that the brand has opened in 2010 after Nashville last month.

The 91 room hotel has been renovated but is a 100 year old building in the heart of downtown. The building still retains its woodwork and marble interior but has many modern features such as casual gourmet dining and a 24 hour business centre. www.ihg.com

 

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Iceland closes Keflavik International

Iceland has closed Keflavik International Airport due to volcanic ash. The national carrier Icelandair will move all its transatlantic traffic temporarily to Glasgow in Scotland. Flights from Europe will be re-routed to their final destination via Glasgow. Icelandair will operate the Boston and New York flights directly from Glasgow. Passengers traveling to and from Iceland will have the option of flying to and from Akureyri Airport which is 4 hours drive from Reykjavik. Icelandair is unable to say when the airport will be re-opened. www.icelandair.is

 

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Monarch Airlines 'shuttle'

Monarch Airlines flew passengers from Palma de Majorca to Madrid in an effort to get their clients back to the UK. From Madrid they hired coaches and began driving their stranded passengers back to the UK via France and the channel tunnel.

The airline has used an Airbus A300-600 completed a second flight and repatriated a further 361 passengers. www.monarch.co.uk

 

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PremiAir flies helicopters

PremiAir has been flying its fleet of twin-engined helicopters repatriating businessmen between London and Dublin that were stranded when the UK closed its controlled airspace last week. The company also made flights using helicopters flying to and from Germany, Belgium and France that was until France closed their airspace to Visual Flight Rules (VFR) traffic.

PremiAir has two types of twin-engined helicopters in its fleet, the Sikorsky S-76 and Eurocpter AS-355 Twin Squirrel.

PremiAir operated these flights under VFR or Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC). The company consulted their in-house meteorologist before performing these flights and during the time of the flights the company was constantly monitoring the weather situation for any significant changes. www.premiair.co.uk

 

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HAPPY TALK This is your Captain speaking

A plane was taking off from the airport. After it had reached a comfortable cruising altitude, the captain made an announcement over the intercom 'Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Flight Number XYZ, non-stop from A to B. The weather ahead is good and, therefore, we should have smooth and uneventful flight. Now sit back and relax - ARGHHH! OH, MY GOD!'

Silence followed and after a few minutes, the captain came back on the intercom and said, 'Ladies and Gentlemen, I am so sorry if I scared you earlier, but, while I was talking to you, the flight attendant brought me a cup of coffee and spilled the hot coffee in my lap. You should see the front of my pants!'

A passenger in Economy said, 'That's nothing. He should see the back of mine!'

 

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Just a short note to remind readers that the Farnborough International Airshow is only four months away and runs from Monday 19 July until Sun 26 July, the last weekend and the Friday public days.

There is still some exhibition space available but this is limited.  To highlight the very latest opportunities available is an ‘Exhibitor Special’ version of the show's FIRST magazine. Simply click below to view the excellent packages.

Amanda Stainer
Exhibitions and Events Director
Farnborough International Ltd

VIEW MAGAZINE : http://cde.cerosmedia.com/1S4baa4de5d7072731.cde

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BAR UK want EU261/2004 amended

BAR UK has called upon the European Union to make changes to regulation EU261/2004. This regulation was solely intended to give passengers rights when airlines had individual delays or cancelled flights, not for when there was a wholesale closure of airspace by government rulings or without any limitation of time.

It is also relevant that airlines can not resume normal operations when airspace restrictions are lifted. BAR UK insists that this regulation is when used in this way, draconian, disproportionate and often impractical.

This particular situation has delayed passengers, most have been delayed far longer than they might have been and the airlines have lost millions as a result. BAR UK are seeking an urgent review of the regulation now and in the future but not to change anything would be a disservice to everyone. www.bar-uk.org

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Cebu Pacific orders more A320s

Cebu Pacific has ordered a further seven Airbus A320s. The Philippines based carrier now has 22 A320s on order from the European aircraft manufacturer. The A320s are due to be delivered between the last quarter of 2010 to 2014 and are to be powered by CFM56 engines.

Cebu Pacific currently operates a fleet of 21 A320s. www.cebupacific.com

 

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Eurostar adds extra trains

Eurostar has run over 60 extra trains to help stranded air passengers back to the UK since the volcano erupted, offering extra seats and running as many normal services as possible.

Over the last week Eurostar will have run nearly 400 trains and are attempting to help as many people as much as they can over their difficulties and the company has carried over 50,000 extra passengers more than expected. www.eurostar.com

 

 

 

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Hyatt Regency Curacao opens

Hyatt Regency Curacao Golf Resort, Spa and Marina opened on the 29th April. The hotel has 350 rooms, beachfront, an 18-hole Old Quarry championship golf course designed by Pete Dye, the Atabei Spa and a full service six slip marina. www.curacao.hyatt.com

 

 

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LEA sees private jet bookings rise

London Executive Aviation (LEA) has seen corporate and private jet bookings soar as businessmen and executives attempt to circumvent the airlines flight backlog. Patrick Margetson-Rushmore LEA chief executive says that despite the opening of UK airspace, there will still be problems for business as the airlines try and catch up with stranded passengers.

This is the time that business-jets come into there own. Business can not wait for the airlines to get back to normal, so executive jets can help business restart in Europe. With the sudden demand, LEA expects to carry hundreds of passengers over the next couple of weeks. www.flylea.com

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Network Rail announce winner

Network Rail has announced the winner of the competition to design the new King’s Cross Square. Architects Stanton Williams has won the competition and will design the new square that will become one of London’s biggest public spaces.

The new square will be the final piece of Network Rail’s of King’s Cross Station redevelopment. It will incorporate new design giving more space for passengers and bring back into public view the 150 year old Grade 1 listed station façade, not seen by the public for 30 years. www.networkrail.co.uk

 

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ON TOUR Mount Murray Hotel and Country Club

This four star hotel is situated in 200 acres of tranquil Manx countryside. The hotel is located between the Ronaldsway Airport and Douglas, the largest town and capital of the Isle of Man. The hotel has 90 large guest rooms, a modern health and fitness centre, hydrotherapy unit and an indoor swimming pool.

The Mount Murray Hotel is the only hotel on the island with its own 18 championship length golf-course. The course is just over 6,350 yards playing the maximum in length and a par of 71, with variable teeing all the holes can be played shorter for the less accomplished player. Starting with the first a 572 yard par 5 called Three Fields and completing the round with the eighteenth a 595 yard par 5 called The Long. The course has its fair share of hazards like water on the third hole to catch stray shots.

The course has its own club house opened in April 2007, it includes a large bar, snooker room, a 100 seat restaurant, The Wentworth Suite, The Balmoral Suite and The Turnberry Suite. All the suites can accommodate a different number of people for meetings and functions.

There is also a 24 bay driving range, 12 bays are covered so you can practice your swing in rain or shine. The course has three professional golfers on hand to offer advice and help in any way they can. Private tuition can also be arranged on request. The range in the summer on weekdays is open at 8am and closes at 10pm and at the weekends it opens at 9am and closes 8pm. In the winter it opens all week at 8am, weekdays it closes at 9pm and weekends at 7pm.

Mount Murray Hotel and Country Club has the Lake View Bar and Lounge, for fine dining the Murray’s and Lake View Restaurant both have a relaxed and informal atmosphere.

As for the Isle of Man most will know it for the TT races and the triskelion but it is much more. The island has been inhabited since before 6500BC and has even been part of Scotland. Today, the island is a self governing British Crown Dependency with Queen Elizabeth II as the Lord of Mann but it is not part of the United Kingdom. The Isle of Man is also not part of the European Union. It has two official languages, English and Manx Gaelic. In Manx Gaelic the Isle of Man is called ‘Ellan Vannin’ and many signs are in both English and Manx Gaelic, the language nearly died out in the 1970s but has seen a revival. Nowadays the schools on the island are once again teaching the language to the local children and it is beginning to be spoken more widely.

The Tynwald is the name of the island’s parliament, founded in 979AD and it is said to be the oldest continuous parliament in the world. In July each year on Tynwald Day, they hold a ceremonial meeting at Tynwald Hill where titles are announced and new laws are described and enacted by Tynwald during the past year.

The island is 32 miles long and 14 miles at its widest point and is in the middle of the Irish Sea and lies closest to Scotland, then England and then Wales.

For centuries the symbol of the Isle of Man has been the triskelion, or the ‘Three Legs of Man’. Its origin is explained in the Manx legend that Manannan repelled an invasion by changing into the three legs and rolling down the hill and defeating the invaders.

Apart from the roads used during the TT races, there are plenty of other sights to see, Peel Castle has been proposed as a possible site for the Arthurian Avalon.

Being an island, seafood is a speciality, all kinds but you are recommended to try Queen Scallops or ‘Queenies’. You also get very good crab, lobsters and all manner of fish. Fishing used to be a major industry on the island but this has declined over the years.  

You should also try the national tradition dish of ‘Spuds and Herrin’ a plain dish of boiled potatoes and herrings. If you prefer you should try kippers, of course you know they are smoked herrings, especially good at breakfast. Manx kippers are smoked locally at Peel. The island has its own breed of sheep, the Loaghtan. They are bred for their dark red meat and are important in Manx cuisine.

Apart from the capital Douglas, there are other significant towns, Peel on the West coast, Ramsay in the North and Castletown, Port Erin and Port St Mary in the South. There are over 80,000 living on the island, but at times it seems that everybody knows everybody.

The island has a steam railway running between Douglas and Port Erin, an electric railway running between Douglas and Ramsey and an electric mountain railway which climbs Snaefell, the highest mountain on the island at 2,034 feet above sea level.

There is also the Groudle Glen Steam Railway that runs from May to September and is a narrow gauge manned entirely by volunteers, this was originally built in 1890s fell into disuse and has been restored over the last 30 years. The railways are mainly for tourists but some locals use them for commuting. There is an extensive bus network around the island on its 688 miles of public roads.

Ronaldsway is the island's airport and there are scheduled flights to the UK and to parts of Europe.

Douglas is the main port for the Isle of Man and a ferries are operated by the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company to Liverpool and Heysham, there are also summer only ferries to Belfast and Dublin.

The island has something for everyone, tourist or businessman, fine country walks and fine dining too in the many restaurants and hotels in the towns in all corners of the island. Maybe if you want somewhere nearby and different then you should visit the Isle of Man and the Mount Murray Hotel and Country Club in particular.

 

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