Κυριακή, 31 Μαρτίου 2013

VietJetAir prepares for a long, hot summer of amazing holidays


Vietnam's fastest growing airline is picking up the pace as summertime approaches by adding an extra 1,600 extra flights – equivalent to 300,000 seats – to better serve passengers travelling from mid-May until the end of August..
Desmond Lin, Business Development Manager of VietJetAir, said: “The holiday begins once you go on board one of our flights. Our dynamic and professional cabin crew always ensures our valued customers have a comfortable, entertaining and memorable flight – that’s the VietJetAir way.
The Hanoi - Danang route will go from two to three round trips per day, meanwhile flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, Phu Quoc, Vinh and Haiphong will double (from one to two round trips) from May 20 to August 31, 2013.

During the summer period, VietJetAir will be opening a new route from Hanoi to Nha Trang, one of the country’s most famous beach destinations, starting with two round trips per day. There will also soon be a daily flight from Ho Chi Minh City and the coffee capital of Vietnam, Buon Ma Thuot in the Central Highlands. Existing routes from Ho Chi Minh City to Hai Phong and Bangkok as well as from Hanoi to Dalat are also due to increase in frequency.

As ever bookings can made via 
www.vietjetair.com, or by calling +84 1900 1886 or contacting your nearest VietJetAir sales outlet in Vietnam or Thailand.
“We are committed to creating more low-cost flying opportunities for our customers by expanding our network and scheduling even more flights,” said Desmond Lin. “Our attention to detail regarding safety and professionalism as well as our affordable costs, means we are not only the best choice for holidays makers but also businesspeople flying regularly in Vietnam or between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City. With VietJetAir you can save more, and fly more whether you’re travelling for business or pleasure.”

VietJetAir has grown from strength to strength since its debut flight on December 31, 2011. The airline now has more than 400 flights a week all operated by brand new Airbus A320 aircraft and has served over one million passengers. The carrier also boasts 10 routes with domestic connections and one international route, and, according to Lin, will soon introduce more international flights to major cities around Asia.

Iberia Express celebrates its first year of activity


Iberia Express celebrates its first year of activity by establishing itself as one of the most punctual airlines in Europe: since March 2012 it has operated 23,000 flights with an average punctuality level of 94%.

The company, which has transported 2.8 million passengers in its first year of operation, has managed to place itself as the fourth airline at the airport of Madrid-Barajas in these first 12 months.

The CEO expressed his satisfaction with the results achieved by the company in its first year of activity: “in an economic context as complex as 2012, and even with the increase in airport taxes that were not included in our forecasts and whichresulted in an impact of €2.5 million that we absorbed, in Iberia Express we have managed to close the first fiscal year surpassing our initial objectives".

"Our financial results, our market position as the fourth airline at Madrid-Barajas and our punctuality rates, are a clear sign that the model works and that Iberia Express is a company capable of operating short and medium-haul flights in a competitive and efficient manner."

In its first year of operation, the airline has operated more than 23,000 flights on a total of 24 routes, including nine internationalroutes (Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin, Dusseldorf, Edinburgh, Stockholm, Mykonos, Naples and Riga) and 15 domestic routes (Lanzarote, Malaga, Alicante, Fuerteventura, Granada, Ibiza, GranCanaria, Menorca, Palma de Majorca, Santiago de Compostela, La Palma, Seville, Tenerife, Vigo and Jerez), with origin or destination in Madrid, its base of operations. The company's average fleet was 10.4 Airbus A320, going from 4 aircraft at the start of operations to the current 14.

airBaltic - New Holiday Destinations and Better Connections in Summer


For the summer season, Latvian airline airBaltic has introduced six new warm-weather destinations, added flights to major airports, and returned popular cities on the Mediterranean, Caspian and Black Sea coast to its routemap.

Michael Grimme, Chief Commercial Officer of airBaltic: “For the coming season, airBaltic has made improvements to more than 20 routes. Our six new routes are perfect for your warm-weather getaway.  For the first time, destinations such as Olbia, Heviz-Balaton, Larnaca, Malta and Rijeka will see a scheduled air connection with Riga, and you can still manage to catch a flight to become the First Passenger in history to travel on one of the new routes.”

For the summer season starting March 31, airBaltic has introduced six new destinations - Olbia (Sardinia, Italy), Rijeka (Croatia), Prague (Czech Republic), Larnaca (Cyprus), Heviz-Balaton (Hungary),  and Malta.

Destination served (from North Hub Riga)
Flight frequency
Start date
Price *,
Basic
Price*,
Business Flex
Olbia (Italy)
2 flights weekly
May 4, 2013
59 LVL/ 85 EUR
315 LVL/ 449 EUR
Malta
1 flight weekly
May 11, 2013
59 LVL/ 85 EUR
315 LVL/ 449 EUR
Prague (Czech Republic)
4 flights weekly
Jan 1, 2013
49 LVL/ 69 EUR
229 LVL/ 325 EUR
Larnaca (Cyprus)
1 flight weekly
April 6, 2013
79 LVL/ 113 EUR
489 LVL/ 695 EUR
Heviz-Balaton (Hungary)
1 flight weekly
May 4, 2013
45 LVL/ 64 EUR
399 LVL/ 567 EUR
Rijeka (Croatia)
2 flights weekly
June 6, 2013
55 LVL/ 77 EUR
409 LVL/ 582 EUR
* Lowest fare, including taxes, fees and service charges, on www.airBaltic.com, subject to availability


Hawaiian Airlines orders 16 A321neo aircraft


Following a Memorandum of Understanding in January 2013, Airbus recently announced a firm order for 16 A321neo aircraft from Hawaiian Airlines – the first single-aisle order of Airbus aircraft for the carrier. The aircraft will feature a comfortable two-class cabin with approximately190 seats. Hawaiian has not yet announced its engine selection.

“As our Airbus fleet expands, so does our destination network,” said Mark Dunkerley, president and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines. “Our fleet of A330s has prompted great response from our customers and employees alike. And the addition of the A321neo to our fleet is expected to generate around one thousand new jobs at our airline.”
“Airbus prides itself on being part of our customers’ growing successes, and this order is the perfect example of how the right plane at the right airline can alter not just a business culture, but a local community,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “The A320neo Family brings a further greening of our product line, and considering the environmental consciousness of the Hawaiian people, this aspect of the aircraft is another driver for eco-friendly, sustainable growth at the airline. It’s also the most comfortable single-aisle flying today.” 

Aviation Leaders to Attract the Best and Brightest to the World Capital of Civil Aviation


ACI is pleased to announce the official launch of the anticipated Young Aviation Professionals Programme that will attract three talented aviation professionals to Montreal, Canada— the world capital of civil aviation.
The launch of the programme follows the January 9, 2013 signing of a high-profile memorandum of agreement between aviation heavyweights, Airports Council International (ACI), the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to support the development of aviation career professionals. At the signing of the memorandum, ACI Director General Angela Gittens commented, "ACI is proud to work alongside ICAO and IATA as we continue to develop professionalism in the industry. The global aviation business is becoming more complex and for the first time this will give the best and the brightest an opportunity to participate in its future development from three perspectives."
As part of the Young Aviation Professionals Programme, each of the three candidates will spend four months at ACI, IATA and ICAO, for a total of 12 months, where they will contribute to and deepen their knowledge and understanding of aviation safety, security and environment, with a focus on the inter-relationships between regulatory activities and the airport and airline industries.
Young Professionals will be accompanied by a personal mentor throughout each leg of the programme and provided with regular performance feedback during and the end of their assignments. After successful conclusion of the programme, the Young Aviation Professionals will be retained on a roster for consideration for potential future employment opportunities with ACI, IATA and ICAO.
Candidates under the age of 35, with a minimum of a Master's degree (or equivalent), and an interest in international civil aviation policy development are encouraged to submit their candidature by completing an online application. Candidates must include a letter of motivation that details their professional achievements to date, overall interest in and suitability for the Programme, and career aspirations in regulatory activities and/or the aviation industry. All programme details, documents and the online application form are available at the following URL: http://bit.ly/10bdPd2.
The closing date for receipt of applications is 11 April 2013.

airberlin inaugural flights to Warsaw and Chicago


airberlin is now operating up to three flights a day from Berlin to Warsaw. Recently Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, CEO airberlin, Hartmut Mehdorn, Chief Executive of Berlin Brandenburg Airport and Dr. Jerzy Józef Marganski, Poland’s Ambassador to Germany, inaugurated the new connection between the German and Polish capitals at Berlin-Tegel Airport.   
  
"We look forward to welcoming the flight guests who will be travelling from Berlin to Warsaw with airberlin as of today. This service up to three times daily makes us the airline offering the largest number of flights between Berlin and Warsaw. The flights are optimally integrated into our route network, giving passengers access to numerous connections on our European and worldwide route networks. The addition of nonstop flights to Warsaw is in line with the improvements we are making to the efficiency of our route network, which we strategically revise in 2013. Poland is a key market in this respect," said Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, CEO airberlin.   
  
Hartmut Mehdorn, Chief Executive Officer of Berlin Brandenburg Airport: "The launch of the route to Warsaw further strengthens the airberlin hub at Tegel Airport. I am particularly pleased that our capital city is now even better connected with the capital city of our neighbour Poland thanks to this new service. Additionally, it creates more transfer options for Polish passengers in Berlin, especially for long-haul destinations. The Polish market offers great development potential for our company, and accordingly we provide our Polish-speaking passengers with information in their native language on our website and in flyers."    
  
"Berlin and Warsaw, Poland and Germany: They are getting closer and closer! I am very pleased about the new connection between Berlin and Warsaw. For me, it means that another airline has recognised Poland’s potential. I am convinced that this service will benefit Warsaw as much as Berlin, and contribute to the growing German-Polish partnership. It will enable those who are visiting for short periods of time for personal, political or commercial purposes to take care of their affairs with more flexibility. At the same time, this new connection is another addition to the assortment of destinations available from the Warsaw and Berlin airports. The new connection is also an important step towards creating a more complete network between Poland and Germany. It also offers a good opportunity for German and Polish guests alike to be personally won over by the commercial potential and tourist attractions offered in both countries", said Dr. Jerzy Józef Marganski, Poland’s Ambassador to Germany.  
  
From Monday to Friday airberlin operates three flights a day from Berlin to Warsaw. At the weekend one flight leaves for Warsaw on Saturdays and two flights on Sundays. As of today, the airline is also increasing the number of flights to Krakow to three per day. airberlin will continue to operate up to two flights a day to Gdansk. Passengers from Poland have a choice of connections to nine cities in Germany and 42 destinations on the European route network, including Dusseldorf, Vienna, Gothenburg, Stockholm, Copenhagen and Oslo, as well as Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Rome and Tel Aviv. On the intercontinental route network there are a total of six long-haul destinations to choose from. The new connection to Chicago, which airberlin is also initiating on 23rd March from Berlin, is especially attractive for flight guests from Poland. Other destinations on offer in the USA are New York, Miami and Los Angeles. Through airberlin’s partner Etihad Airways there are codeshare flights available from Abu Dhabi to another 26 destinations in Australia, Asia and Africa.   
The day finally arrived: airberlin took off for the first time from Berlin to Chicago, thus becoming the first airline with a nonstop connection from the German capital to the city on Lake Michigan. After Fort Myers, Los Angeles, Miami and New York, Chicago is now the fifth US destination to which airberlin flies nonstop from Germany. Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, CEO airberlin, and Hartmut Mehdorn, Chief Executive of Berlin Brandenburg Airport, inaugurated the new connection in an official ceremony at Tegel Airport attended by special guests Klaus Wowereit, Governing Mayor of Berlin, and James Melville, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the United States of America. Flight AB7420 took off at 10:00 from Berlin-Tegel and landed at 13:10 local time at the fourth largest airport in the world, Chicago O’Hare International Airport.  
  
Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, CEO airberlin, made the following statement on the occasion of the inaugural flight event: "The addition of the new connection between Berlin and Chicago is in line with our network strategy for 2013. With this nonstop service we are not only strengthening our Berlin hub, but at the same time continuing to build up our presence in the USA which is a strategically important growth market for airberlin. The Midwest is a major economic and industrial centre, and Chicago is the trade and logistics centre of the United States of America. At the same time, this new connection enables us to further maximise the synergies available with our oneworld® partner American Airlines. Starting today, we will extend the existing American Airlines codeshare agreement in the U.S. by 41 connecting destinations from Chicago."  
  
Klaus Wowereit, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, added: "The nonstop service from Berlin to Chicago makes a strong mark on international aviation and is an important step in the expansion of our transatlantic connections. Thanks to airberlin’s commitment, our city is directly connected to the third-largest metropolis in the United States. The foundation for new economic and cultural contacts has been laid. I will be speaking locally with my Chicago colleague Rahm Emanuel and business representatives about the opportunities opening up for Berlin as a result of this."  
  
Hartmut Mehdorn, Chief Executive Officer of Flughafen Berlin Brandenburg GmbH: "airberlin’s new long-haul service to Chicago further boosts the appeal of Berlin-Brandenburg as an aviation location. Passengers can now fly from Tegel Airport to four cities in the United States: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. I am very pleased that airberlin is continuing to expand its hub in Berlin."  
  
James Melville, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of the United States of America: "We are delighted that the United States is the favorite long-distance travel destination for Germans and we want to give a warm welcome to everybody who comes to us as a tourist or business traveler, for education or family visits."  
  
The 295 guests enjoyed jazz music, mini burgers and cupcakes at the gate in anticipation of their flight to Chicago. The flight guests include a Berlin delegation with Klaus Wowereit, the Governing Mayor of Berlin, as well as airberlin CEO Wolfgang Prock-Schauer, who will be marking the occasion of the maiden flight by visiting the third largest city in the US and meeting with business and media representatives there.  
  
airberlin operates the service on its new route to Chicago on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays with an Airbus A330-200. Starting 1st May, Germany's second largest airline will also fly every Wednesday and Sunday, thus increasing the number of weekly flights from three to five. With the optimal departure times in Berlin, airberlin currently offers feeder flights from eight German cities as well as twelve further European destinations including Helsinki, Krakow, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Stockholm, Vienna and Zurich. The connecting flights to Chicago via Berlin are particularly attractive for travellers from Warsaw, the new European destination in the airberlin route network. In the U.S. airberlin offers its flight guest, due to the expanded codeshare agreement with the oneworld partner American Airlines, also numerous connections from all airberlin destinations in North America in almost every region in the United States. Travellers from Berlin can easily reach major American cities such as Minneapolis, New Orleans and Seattle with only one stop via Chicago.  

New Queen Alia International Airport Terminal Officially Launches Full Operations


Airport International Group (AIG) – the Jordanian consortium responsible for the rehabilitation, expansion and operation of the Queen Alia International Airport (QAIA) – has announced the successful launch of the new QAIA terminal’s full operations on Thursday 21st March, 2013, following an eight-hour overnight transfer that took place the prior evening. 
The transfer began Wednesday night, 20th March, 2013, with the evacuation of the old QAIA terminals and the relocation of all passengers and staff to the new state-of-the-art airport. Upon evacuation, road access to the old terminals was gradually closed, ensuring that all future traffic is directed to Jordan’s landmark airport. 
The critical process involved strict synchronization between Security, Operations, Maintenance and the EPC contractor. It also encompassed the careful coordination of 4,000 staff, 30 concessionaires, 25 airlines, eight state authorities, six car rental companies and four new car parks, making it one of the largest undertakings in the history of the airport.  
The transfer process ended when the old terminals’ last flight, Dubai-bound Fly Dubai, took off at 10:15 PM Wednesday evening, and the new terminal’s first official flight, inbound RJ, landed shortly after at 11:00 PM. The new airport underwent intense testing for operational readiness prior to the transfer, thus ensuring smooth system integration and flow.
“The official launch of the new Queen Alia International Airport terminal marks an important chapter in Jordan’s aviation industry and economic development. With its advanced capabilities, the airport will play a major role in placing Jordan on the map as an ideal choice for leisure and business travelers, as well as a convenient transfer hub, bolstering the kingdom’s tourism and business traffic,” said AIG CEO Kjeld Binger. “This new national milestone would not have been possible had it not been for the visionary leadership of His Majesty King Abdullah II, and the hard work and dedication of thousands of individuals collaborating together towards a common goal, one that will bring about the prosperity of the entire Jordanian nation. I am very proud of what we have accomplished today, and look forward to great things to come.”
Binger went on to thank AIG’s partners and employees for “a job beautifully done”, and said that AIG’s partnership with the Jordanian Government in the implementation of this project represents a model example for successful public-private partnership.
Inaugurated under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II on 14th March, 2013, the new terminal had kicked off its soft opening on 3rd March by running select commercial flights. The 100,000-square-metre building boasts vastly improved infrastructure and cutting-edge facilities that are capable of catering to the steady surge in Jordan’s passenger traffic, catapulting QAIA’s annual capacity from 3.5 million passengers to 9 million passengers, and later on to 12 million passengers. 
The Kingdom’s newest terminal is set to introduce an exceptional traveler experience and is equipped with the latest technologies and automation systems to maximize efficiency, security and service quality. It features a larger check-in area, clearly marked signage, modern flight information monitors, comfortable seating, a larger duty-free area and a wider variety of food and beverage outlets, among other greatly enhanced features. 

Birmingham is the UK's Most Punctual Airport /Midlands Media Awards


Birmingham Airport was the UK’s most punctual airport in the last quarter of 2012, with 85% of scheduled flights and 84% of charter flights operating on time. Overall, this was six percent higher than the national average for scheduled services (79%) and ten percent better for charter services (74%).
The report by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) shows that compared with the same period last year, Gatwick had the biggest fall in on time performance (-5%), while Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted all increased their average delays by three minutes.
Birmingham also had the shortest delays of all airports, with an average delay of nine minutes for scheduled flights and 14 minutes for charter services. This compared to the national average of 12 minutes for scheduled and 19 minutes for charter flights.
When compared to the same quarter in 2011, Birmingham’s average delays reduced by four minutes on charter services and one minute for scheduled flights. The number of on-time services increased at Birmingham by 5% for charter flights and remained at 85% for scheduled flights.
Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport, said: We work very hard with all our partners to get our passengers on their journey on time and we’re therefore really delighted that we have come top of the punctuality charts for Q4 2012. Our airlines and passengers are clearly benefiting from the investment that we’ve made in our facilities over the last few years and reports like this demonstrate that we operate an efficient and hassle-free airport.” 
During October to December 2012, Birmingham Airport handled 1,897,550 passengers and 11,808 aircraft movements.


Birmingham Airport to be Main Sponsor of Midlands Media Awards

In addition, Birmingham Airport is again proud to be sponsoring the Midlands Media Awards for 2013, orgnanised by The Birmingham Press Club – with new categories for Blogger of the Year and Best News Website.
The media sector is a fast-moving and rapidly-changing industry and we have acknowledged that by paying due regard to the digital age,” said Press Club Chairman Ed James.
And in a further nod to technology, for the first time ever, journalists, photographers and broadcasters throughout the East and West Midlands will be able to submit their entries on-line. Postal entries will still be received, however.
He said:  “Birmingham Airport has been a staunch supporter of Birmingham Press Club over many years and we are delighted to have again secured its backing for another year.
The awards evening is the Press Club’s flagship event – and one that is eagerly-awaited by everyone, not just those in the media industry but by our many supporters as well.”
Paul Kehoe, CEO of Birmingham Airport, said: “We’re delighted to be supporting this important Midlands media event for the seventh year.  The awards programme has gone from strength to strength and gives the deserved recognition to talent that is so prevalent in our region within the dynamic world of 24 hour news.”
Now in their 12th year, the awards recognise the achievements of journalists and photographers working within the region’s newspapers, magazines, digital platforms, television and radio.
Paula Kelsey, managing director of Cloud 9, the event management company, which is organising the awards on behalf of the Press Club, said that entries for the awards’ 21 categories had to be received by March 22nd.  A short-list of nominations will be announced on May 13th.
Full details on how to enter the awards are obtainable from Paula Kelsey on 0115 841 9699 or 07774 741883 or by e-mailing paula@cloud9em.co.uk and details are also on the official Midlands Media Awards website www.mma2013.co.uk. Companies seeking sponsorship opportunities, or anyone requiring further information about the awards evening, should also contact Paula Kelsey.

This year the categories are:

• Blogger of the Year (New)
• Business Journalist of the Year
• Campaign of the Year (New)
• Columnist of the Year
• Feature Writer of the Year
• Headline of the Year
• Journalist of the Year
• Magazine or Supplement of the Year
• Public Choice (New)
• Newcomer Student of the Year
• Newspaper of the Year
• News Photographer of the Year
• News Photos of the Year
• News Reporter of the Year (Daily)
• News Reporter of the Year (Weekly)
• News Website of the Year
• Radio Journalist of the Year
• Scoop of the Year
• Sports Journalist of the Year
• Sports Photographer of the Year
• Television Journalist of the Year

Σάββατο, 30 Μαρτίου 2013

China set new strategy to increase outbound tourism


The Outline for National Tourism and Leisure (2013-2020)’, recently issued by the government of China, sets the ground for the redefinition of tourism development and management in the country.
The Outline for National Tourism and Leisure (2013-2020), issued by the State Council of China, focuses on promoting the taking of paid annual leave days and boosting the healthy development of the tourism sector in China, in particular by ensuring the coordination of different sectors.
Where previously cultural norms have stopped many in China from taking an annual leave, the Outline, which reinforces existing Regulations for Paid Annual Leave for Employees, encourages government agencies, social organizations, enterprises and public institutions to promote the use of leave days, giving moreover Chinese workers more freedom and flexibility on the issue of where and when to travel.
The successful implementation of the new Chinese national tourism strategy will surely impulse both domestic and outbound tourism in China and we particularly welcome the decision to promote travelling at different times of the year” said UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai. “This document calls on a variety of sectors to strategically consider their actions in view of the development of tourism; it is another proof that China fully understands that sustainable tourism growth requires cross-cutting policies at a national level”, he added.
The Outline, advocated for a long time by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), comes four years after the tourism sector in China was acknowledged as a ‘pillar’ industry of modern services and one of the major social and economic sectors on the government´s agenda.

Where International Visitors Spend $14.4 Billion?


Spending by international visitors in January 2013 outpaced January 2012 levels by nearly 11 percent.
International visitors spent an estimated $14.4 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month.
Record-setting growth in the travel and tourism industry continues to contribute to the strength of our nation’s economy,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “International travel and tourism represents our country’s largest services export, and in 2012, record spending in the United States by international travelers contributed to $2.2 trillion in overall U.S. exports - the highest level in our country’s history. But there is more work to do. That is why we are working every day to implement the National Travel and Tourism Strategy to attract more visitors to our shores and support the nearly eight million Americans employed in this critical industry.”
Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $10.9 billion during January, an increase of more than 10 percent when compared to last year. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors also increased by more than 11 percent to $3.5 billion for the month, an increase of $355 million when compared to January 2012. Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of January in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.6 billion.
The January international travel and tourism spending data builds on the strong report recently released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which showed that for, employment in the travel and tourism industries increased 2.2 percent in 2012 after increasing 1.8 percent in 2011. Overall, tourism and tourism-related industries supported 7.7 million jobs in 2012, an increase of 2.1 percent when compared to the previous year. About 5.5 million (71 percent) of these positions were direct tourism jobs - jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors - while 2.2 million (29 percent) were indirect tourism-related jobs - jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors purchase.
Increasing U.S. travel and tourism will not come at the expense of national security. The President’s plan for commonsense immigration reform includes a number of proposals to support his commitment to increasing U.S. travel and tourism while maintaining our nation’s security. Specifically, the President’s immigration proposal reforms the Visa Waiver Program to strengthen law enforcement cooperation while facilitating more efficient trade and tourism to the United States, securely streamlines visa and foreign visitor processing, facilitates public-private partnerships aimed at increasing investment in foreign visitor processing, and strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry.

The Future of Tourism at PATA Youth Forum Bangkok


The Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) will organise the PATA Youth Forum, with the theme, “Search, Connect, Experience – The Future of Tourism.”
Hosted by the College of Innovation at Thammasat University, the Forum will take place Thursday April 25 at Sri Burapa Auditorium, Thammasat University, Tha Pra Chan Campus, Bangkok. The Forum will commence one day prior to the 2013 PATA Annual Summit and is aiming to attract hundreds of young professionals and students from overseas and Thailand.
Speakers include hospitality lecturers from the University of Macau and Taylor's University in Malaysia. There will be a quick-fire Q&A session with senior executives from acclaimed hospitality industry leaders in Thailand.
There will be great insights and forecasts by speakers from globally recognised digital, social media and search brands that are transforming the online travel space.
Mr Martin J Craigs, PATA CEO said: “Searching, connecting and experience are all proactive steps for Next Generation young professionals. The emphasis of the Forum will be very much on new ideas and opportunities for anything connected to travel.”
The Forum has sessions such as “Experience – Making Events Happen,” “Experience - Same, Same - But Different,” “Developing Innovative Experiences,” and “The Future of Tourism: Industry Perspectives from Thailand.”
On behalf of the PATA Youth Forum hosts, the College of Innovation at Thammasat University in Bangkok, Prof Dr Walter Jamieson, Director of the Service Innovation Program, said: “The Service Innovation Program within the College of Innovation at Thammasat University is honoured to host the PATA Youth Forum. It is a unique opportunity for the University and the Program to offer Thai hospitality to students from abroad and within the country. We will ensure that students will have an opportunity to build long-term relationships between individuals and institutions. We look forward to welcoming you on April 25.”
Registration is now open. The fee for the PATA Youth Forum is US$50. Package prices, including the PATA Annual Summit, the PATA Youth Forum, and Digital Innovation Asia, which all take place the same week, are also available.

IHG offers free internet for all loyalty members worldwide


IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group) today announced that it will be providing free internet to all its 71m loyaltyprogramme members, worldwide.
The announcement comes as IHG reveals the results of a global online survey* which show that nearly half of adults (43%) would choose not to stay in a hotel that charged for internet.
IHG is the first and only hotel group to offer free internet in all hotels to all loyalty programmemembers, globally - whether they stay the night or come in for a coffee or an impromptu meeting. It will benefit millions of guests globally as IHG has the most rooms and is in more countries than any one of the other four largest hotel companies in the world**. This will start from July 2013 for Elite members and extend to all members during 2014.
The move comes as IHG announces that it will be enhancing and renaming its industry-leading loyalty programme Priority Club® Rewards as IHG Rewards Club in July and introducing a range of new benefits for members.
Internet access is increasingly important to hotel guests and a key consideration when planning their hotel stays. New research* commissioned by IHG reveals that:
43% of adults surveyed said that they would choose not to stay in a hotel that charged for internet.
23% of respondents said that free internet in rooms and throughout the hotel is the most important amenity when staying in a hotel for business, compared to 7% who chose room service.
Travellers from China placed the most importance on online connectivity – with nearly half (47%) listing it as the most important thing to them when staying in a hotel for business, followed by those from Russia (26%), the US (23%) and India (22%).
Travellers from the UK (18%) and the US (14%) both listed paying for internet as the second most annoying thing when staying at a hotel after noisy guests (22% and 24% respectively).
Globally, more female respondents (14%) say free internet throughout the hotel is most important to them when staying for leisure, compared to 2% who listed having an in-room hairdryer..
From July, new benefits will include:
free internet to all Elite status members from July 2013 and extending to all members during 2014;
the ability to earn Elite status faster by staying in three or more of IHG’s hotel brands;
Reward Nights will count toward earning Elite status; and
Platinum Elite members’ “extra” nights will roll over toward maintaining their status in their next membership year
*IHG Internet in Hotels Survey carried out by YouGov Plc in March.
All figures unless otherwise stated are from YouGov Plc.
8,306 adults were surveyed in China (1,016), France (1,005), Germany (1,032), India (1,011), Russia (1,018), UK (2,070) and US (1,154).
Fieldwork was undertaken between 1-8 March 2013.
The survey was carried out online.
The figures for each country have been weighted and are representative of all adults (aged 18+) in each country.
Full survey results are available on request.
**Data obtained from Smith Travel Research January 2013 Hotel Census.

SWISS adds daily non-stop Zurich-Singapore service in its new summer schedules


Swiss International Air Lines will be expanding its services and capacities to Asia and North America in its 2013 summer schedules. The airline’s Asian route network will be enlarged with the addition of a new daily non-stop flight between Zurich and Singapore from mid-May. In addition, the existing Zurich-Beijing and Zurich-Newark services will be switched from Airbus A340 to Airbus A330 operation, providing greater capacity. SWISS’s European networks from Zurich and Geneva will also be selectively expanded to meet the corresponding seasonal demand.

More services from Zurich 
SWISS will be expanding its range of services to and from Asia during the 2013 summer timetable period. From 
12 May onwards the airline will offer a new daily non-stop flight between Zurich and Singapore. The new route will be operated with Airbus A340-300 equipment providing 219 seats in a three-class cabin configuration. Singapore is SWISS’s eighth Asian destination from its Zurich hub.

The airline will also be increasing the capacity on its Zurich-Beijing services from the start of the summer schedules by switching these flights from Airbus A340 to A330 operation. Additional capacity will also be offered to and from North America from the end of March, when the equipment used on the Zurich-Newark service is also switched to an Airbus A330 with 236 seats. And, as in 2012, the frequencies on SWISS’s Zurich-Chicago route will be raised from a daily service to eleven flights a week from June onwards.         

SWISS is also making selective adjustments to its European services from Zurich in its summer schedules in response to seasonal demand. These will see frequencies increased to various popular leisure destinations, especially in Southern Europe. The airline will add a further daily flight to its Zurich-Lisbon route from April onwards. And two new destinations, Olbia and Catania, will join the network from July to August. Olbia receives two weekly services, while Catania will be served with one weekly flight. SWISS will also be expanding its Zurich-Barcelona service from 28 to 32 flights a week over the same July-to-August period, while services on the Zurich-Dublin route will be increased from seven to nine weekly flights.

Seasonal service expansion for Geneva, too
SWISS will also be expanding its range of services from Geneva to a total of 15 destinations in its 2013 summer schedules in response to seasonal demand. The two new destinations of Olbia and Catania will be added to the Geneva-based network from May onwards, each receiving twice-weekly service. Frequencies will also be increased from May on the Geneva-Malaga route (to four weekly services) and the Geneva-Palma de Mallorca route (to five weekly flights). And a further point will be added to Geneva’s destination portfolio at the end of June: Porto, which will receive twice-weekly service until the beginning of September. 

73 destinations in 39 countries
The SWISS route network will extend to 49 European and 24 intercontinental destinations in the airline’s 2013 summer schedules, or a total of 73 destinations in 39 countries. The services will be provided by a fleet of 92 aircraft (including five aircraft operated under wet-lease arrangements).

Edelweiss Air / SWISS leisure flights
SWISS will also be providing further summer air services to attractive leisure destinations all over the world with its partner Edelweiss Air. From Zurich, the new services introduced last summer to Tampa Bay and Vancouver will be offered once again. Weekly services will also be provided from Zurich to various other destinations including Male and Punta Cana. Geneva-based customers will be offered weekly services to Heraklion, Kos, Larnaca and Rhodes.
In a further extension of the partners’ collaboration, one of SWISS’s three daily Zurich-New York flights will be operated by Edelweiss Air from the end of March onwards. SWISS’s sister carrier will be performing these flights using a SWISS Airbus A330-300 featuring SWISS’s usual three-class product.

Airport groundhandling: MEPs add safeguards for service quality and worker


New rules to make groundhandling services at large EU airports more competitive were narrowly approved in a Transport and Tourism Committee vote on Tuesday. MEPs inserted service quality standards and staff provisions to prevent any deterioration of working conditions. Parliament will have the final say in a plenary vote in April.


The committee agreed to boost competition for restricted, airside services by requiring at least three groundhandling companies in airports handling at least 15 million passengers and/or 200,000 tonnes of freight per year. These thresholds had been set at 5 million passengers and 100,000 tonnes of freight in the Commission’s initial proposal. 

I pushed for more liberalisation, but compromises had to be made”, said rapporteur Artur Zasada (EPP, PL) after the close vote (19 in favour, 17 against, 8 abstentions). “We added very good social provisions, minimum quality standards and one common procedure for applicants”, he pointed out.

Improving efficiency and service quality
MEPs inserted common criteria for minimum quality standards to apply to operational performance, staff training, adequate equipment, information and assistance to passengers, safety, security and compliance with environmental requirements. Exact figures, requirements and thresholds are to be set by the each airport and clearly indicated in the tender documents for awarding groundhandling concessions, says the committee text.
Rules allowing airport service integrators and air transport companies to supply groundhandling services would become more flexible, but all groundhandlers – including subcontractors - would have to meet the operational minimum quality standards defined by each airport and comply with appropriate socal and working conditions, so as to ensure fair competition. Service providers who fail to meet these standards could incur penalties and even be prohibited from providing further services.

Prevent social dumping, limit subcontracting
Handling companies as well as their subcontractors must “apply the relevant representative collective agreements and national laws of the concerned Member State”, says the adopted compromise text. They should also “submit a detailed list of all the specific tasks that are – or may be - subject to sub-contracting and which are not linked to the main activity”, MEPs said.

Separate accounts to avoid cross-financing
According to the amended text, separating the accounts of airports and groundhandling operators would suffice to guarantee financial transparency and prevent distortions of competition. The Commission had proposed a legal separation of these entities,



INTERNATIONAL VISITORS SPEND $14.4 BILLION IN JANUARY 2013, UP 11 PERCENT FROM JANUARY 2012


U.S. Travel and Tourism Exports off to Great Start after Record-Breaking 2012
WASHINGTON -Spending by international visitors to the United States in January 2013 outpaced January 2012 levels by nearly 11 percent, according to data recently released by the International Trade Administration (ITA). International visitors spent an estimated $14.4 billion on travel to, and tourism-related activities within, the United States during the month.
Record-setting growth in the travel and tourism industry continues to contribute to the strength of our nation’s economy,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Francisco Sánchez. “International travel and tourism represents our country’s largest services export, and in 2012, record spending in the United States by international travelers contributed to $2.2 trillion in overall U.S. exports - the highest level in our country’s history. But there is more work to do. That is why we are working every day to implement the National Travel and Tourism Strategy to attract more visitors to our shores and support the nearly eight million Americans employed in this critical industry.”
Purchases of travel and tourism-related goods and services by international visitors traveling in the United States totaled $10.9 billion during January, an increase of more than 10 percent when compared to last year. These goods and services include food, lodging, recreation, gifts, entertainment, local transportation in the United States, and other items incidental to foreign travel. Fares received by U.S. carriers (and U.S. vessel operators) from international visitors also increased by more than 11 percent to $3.5 billion for the month, an increase of $355 million when compared to January 2012. Overall, the United States enjoyed a favorable balance of trade for the month of January in the travel and tourism sector, with a surplus of $4.6 billion.
The January international travel and tourism spending data builds on the strong report recently released by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA), which showed that for, employment in the travel and tourism industries increased 2.2 percent in 2012 after increasing 1.8 percent in 2011. Overall, tourism and tourism-related industries supported 7.7 million jobs in 2012, an increase of 2.1 percent when compared to the previous year. About 5.5 million (71 percent) of these positions were direct tourism jobs - jobs where workers produce goods and services sold directly to visitors - while 2.2 million (29 percent) were indirect tourism-related jobs - jobs where workers produce goods and services used to produce what visitors purchase.
Increasing U.S. travel and tourism will not come at the expense of national security. The President’s plan for commonsense immigration reform includes a number of proposals to support his commitment to increasing U.S. travel and tourism while maintaining our nation’s security. Specifically, the President’s immigration proposal reforms the Visa Waiver Program to strengthen law enforcement cooperation while facilitating more efficient trade and tourism to the United States, securely streamlines visa and foreign visitor processing, facilitates public-private partnerships aimed at increasing investment in foreign visitor processing, and strengthens and improves infrastructure at ports of entry.


Oasis of the Seas Sails Europe in 2014, Briefly


Royal Caribbean is sending one of their biggest ships, the 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas, to Europe in 2014 — but only for an abbreviated season. This follows an announcement earlier this month where eight Royal ships will be based in Europe next year.
Oasis of the Seas will depart on a 12-night Eastbound cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona on September 1, 2014 and a 14-night sailing from Rotterdam to Fort Lauderdale on October 14.
While in Europe Oasis of the Seas will offer two five-night Western Med sailings and a seven-night Barcelona to Rotterdam sailing.
While in Rotterdam, Oasis of the Seas, will go to Képpel Verolme shipyard for routine maintenance.
Bookings and detailed itineraries become available  April 11.

Newer MSC Ship Offers Year-Round Caribbean Cruises from Miami


It’s been about a year since the 3,502-guest MSC Divina was first christened, and a little less than that since MSC announced that she’ll do a Miami stint this year. This week the line said that MSC Divina will offer year-round Caribbean service from Miami, starting November.
Currently, only Carnival Breeze offers year-round Caribbean cruises from Miami.
In 2014, the upcoming Norwegian Getaway will join Carnival Breeze and MSC Divina, bringing the count to three ships offering year-round Caribbean service.
For the first time in several years cruise passengers will have more options (in Miami), other than Carnival or Royal Caribbean,” said Stewart Chiron the Cruise Guy.
Year-round itineraries for MSC Divina have not been released.
Source:Cruise Radio

Queen Mary 2 Celebrates 200th Crossing This Year


Cunard Line’s flagship Queen Mary 2 will mark a major milestone on her 6 July 2013 voyage from New York to Southampton, achieving her 200th Transatlantic Crossing in her ninth season since entering service in 2004.  The milestone will be commemorated with various activities and special speakers and performers on board to add to the celebratory mood.
As part of the Cunard Insights on board enrichment program, Stephen Payne OBE, who was largely responsible for the overall design of Queen Mary 2, will present a fascinating perspective on her construction.  Stephen also will be the guest of honor at an evening gala on board, which will include a commemorative dinner with a special menu.  In addition, BBC newsreader and Classic FM presenter Nick Owen will lecture on board.
Also adding to the festivities will be 16 musicians, plus a band leader and vocalist, from the world-renowned Juilliard School of Dance, Drama and Music.  The group will perform as a jazz orchestra providing a selection of Big Band, Swing and Glenn Miller style music and smaller ensemble pieces.  Other Juilliard performances will include an evening event in the Royal Court Theatre with full orchestra and vocalist, an afternoon tea dance, lunch time jam sessions featuring an ensemble in the Chart Room, and a late evening ensemble in Illuminations. The band leader and members of the orchestra will also give two jazz master class lectures and a live Q&A.
Queen Mary 2 is still the largest, longest, tallest, widest and most expensive ocean liner ever built.  She is also the fastest passenger ship in the world.
Source: Cunard

Travelers say eating healthy and exercising on the road are more stressful than airport security


SAN FRANCISCO - A new survey from TripIt, the leading mobile travel organizer from Concur, revealed that eating healthy, exercising on the road, and coming home to a to-do list are more stressful for frequent travelers than airport security.

When asked how stressful certain travel-related activities are, 67 percent of frequent travelers said exercising was either somewhat or very stressful; while 66 percent said eating healthy was stressful. The top five activities identified by the majority of respondents as stressful include:
Travel-related activity
"Somewhat
stressful"
"Very
stressful"
Total
1. Exercising
50%
17%
67%
2. Eating healthy
47%
19%
66%
3. Coming home to things waiting for me
45%
19%
64%
4. Airport security
44%
15%
59%
5. Driving in an unfamiliar city
42%
12%
54%

The majority of travelers did not find checking in to the airport, the flight itself, picking up a rental car, or communicating with partners and/or kids to be stressful.

"As someone who is constantly traveling, eating healthy and keeping up my fitness routine are incredibly important," says Trish Friesen, editor in chief at TripStyler.com"My two biggest travel health tips are to make sure there's always a rainbow of color represented on your plate, and in a pinch, never underestimate the amount of exercise that can be done on the carpet of your hotel room."
To help travelers exercise and eat healthy while on the road, TripIt recommends these tips:
  • Carry healthy, portable snacks, like whole almonds or a banana to curb cravings
  • When ordering from a menu, substitute an appetizer or small plate for the entree
  • Opt to walk or take the stairs, instead of the people mover or escalator
  • Aim to increase your steps with an activity tracker or app, and take the scenic route
  • Ask the hotel concierge for a map of local running routes or trails
  • Take advantage of hotels that loan guests workout gear, yoga mats or shoes
  • Use the hotel room to do crunches, push-ups, and chair dips any hour of the day.