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April 2015 Travel News & Alerts

01 April 2015

Embassy Closures for the Month of April

Please be informed that the following embassies will be closed in April on the specified dates:

All or Most Embassies: 3rd April 2015

1. Australia Embassy: 6th April 2015

2. Bangladesh Embassy: 14th April 2015

3. India Embassy: 14th April 2015

4. Myanmar Embassy: 13th – 21st April 2015

5. People's Republic of China Embassy: 6th April 2015 

6. Philippines Embassy: 2nd April 2015

                                      9th April 2015

7. South Africa Embassy: 27th April 2015

8. Thailand Embassy: 6th April 2015

                                  13th – 15th April 2015

9. Vietnam Embassy: 28th - 30th April 2015

 

No visa applications will be processed during this period.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

SIA’s new Silverkris Lounge in Heathrow T2

Singapore Airlines has opened a Silverkris lounge in London Heathrow's Terminal 2 since its move to the new terminal last September.

There are separate areas for First and Business passengers, capacity at 50 and 158 respectively.

In the First Class lounge, customers will be proactively provided with an at-seat service, including a choice of welcome drinks on arrival, together with a hot towel service similar to that experienced on board. Self-service buffet with à la carte menus will operate throughout each day, contrary to Business Class lounge where only self-service buffet is made available for guests.

Whilst the Business Class lounge includes a bar area, complete with a professional bar tender, where customers can enjoy a range of premium drinks, including freshly prepared cocktails. First Class guests will also have access to visit the bar area should they wish.

Customers will be able to enjoy flexible and dedicated spaces, from specific dining and living areas, to specially designed productivity pods, Singapore Airlines’ new signature armchairs and even private cove areas. Providing a residential feel including curated art pieces, the space offers selected self-service drinks and snacks, as well as a travel concierge facility for anyone needing some quick assistance with flights and seating.

As part of the design, a completely new Gallery space is also offered close to the entrance and accessible to both First and Business Class customers.

Located in T2B close to gate B36, the new lounge is open to first class and business passengers flying with SIA or any Star Alliance airline, and to SIA Krisflyer and Star Alliance Gold members.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Beijing removes custom procedure for transit passengers

From 15 April 2015, passengers arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport on international flights (including those from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan) and connecting to a flight to a third country within 24 hours will be exempt from customs procedures at the airport. The policy applies to all travellers, irrespective of their nationality.

The new streamlined process is the latest effort to entice passengers to choose Beijing Capital as a transit airport; the Chinese capital already offers visa-free stays of up to three days for some transit passengers.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Optimistic MICE Market in China at IT&CM and CTW China 2015

At last week’s IT&CM and CTW China 2015, it was revealed at certain conferences that the MICE industry is strengthening, with collaborations among various cities and increasing demand of the country as a destination for European clients.

Joint forces to share MICE expertise

As a growing number of cities in China realize the potential and value of MICE, the Shanghai Municipal Tourism Administration (SMTA) is taking the lead in creating a platform at the annual two-day China International Meetings and Conferences Forum (CIMCF) to share expertise and raise standards. CIMCF is a networking and educational platform for MICE industry players to learn about new trends and how cities have to develop to be more ready as MICE destinations. Seven cities have joined forces to advance MICE: Shanghai, Beijing, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, Jiaxing and Ningbo.

The conference has also revealed Europe’s improving economy and China's 72-hour visa-free transit policy has grown demand for long-haul MICE into China.

 

Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad debuts in Western India

Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced today the official opening of Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad, the second Hyatt-branded property in Ahmedabad and the first Hyatt Regency-branded hotel to open in Gujarat state.

Strategically located in the city center, Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad is within walking distance of the Sabarmati riverfront, only 20 minutes (9.4 km/5.8 mi) from the airport and in close proximity to the business and shopping districts. The hotel offers: 210 spacious rooms, including 19 suites; large meeting space options for corporate and social events; and multiple dining options to suit every occasion.

Hyatt Regency Ahmedabad features 210 guestrooms including 19 suites, which offer a peaceful view of the Sabarmati River as well as the city of Ahmedabad. Ranging from 355 to 1,614 square feet, the guestrooms are contemporary and spacious. They are furnished in soothing shades and provide a refreshing elegance for guests to relax and revitalize. Each guestroom offers an ergonomically designed minibar; an iHome station with Bluetooth connectivity, digital clock and radio; a 40” LED TV; motorized curtains; and a spacious rain shower with a moveable wooden bench rest for guest convenience and comfort.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

New Etihad U.S Premium Lounge at Abu Dhabi International Airport

Etihad Airways’ guests flying to the United States can use Abu Dhabi International Airport’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection Facility to preclear U.S. Immigration and Customs before boarding their flights in Abu Dhabi. This preclearance facility is the first of its kind in the region. As a result, guests can experience fewer queues and shorter connections times for onward flights in the U.S. 

For the convenience of Etihad’s First and Business Class guests travelling from or via Abu Dhabi to destinations in the U.S., a dedicated U.S. Premium Lounge has opened. Now guests can relax after having cleared Immigration and Customs, before boarding their flight. The lounge offers premium guests comfortable seating as well as hot and cold refreshments and snacks while they wait to board. Guests can also catch up on the latest news on TV screens. Other convenient facilities include a prayer room, luggage storage and restrooms with disabled toilet.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Garuda strengthens relationship with Accor

On 8th April, Garuda Indonesia and Accor signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) in Jakarta, strengthening a partnership that officially started in 2012.

Under the deal, the two companies will offer special rates and facilities, including online transactions, for customers, as well as joint promotion campaigns. For Garuda clients, this means access to more than 3,600 hotels operated by Accor globally. For Accor, it means access to an airline with more than 600 flights a day.

With the MoU, customers of both parties will get benefits such as special rates at Accor hotels, Accor’s Earning Mileage and Garuda’s Mileage Redemption.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Novotel in Yangon

Accor has returned to Yangon for the first time in more than a decade with the opening of a new Novotel. 

The new Novotel Yangon Max offers 366 rooms and suites, plus a range of facilities including seven F&B outlets, a fitness centre, spa, tennis court, yoga room, outdoor swimming pool, children’s pool and kids’ club.

For the MICE market, the hotel features two ballrooms, a conference room and six meeting rooms.

The new hotel becomes Accor’s third property in Myanmar, joining the Novotel Inle Lake Myat Min and The Lake Garden in Nay Pyi Taw, which forms part of the MGallery Collection.

The company is also planning to bring its Pullman and Sebel brands to Yangon, as well as launching its first Novotel in Mandalay.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

NASA investing in the future of aircraft

NASA has established a new group intended to advance the research of new materials that could be used to manufacture aircraft.

The US space agency has teamed up with five other organisations, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and General Electric Aviation, to lead studies into new lightweight composite materials that could be used to improve aircraft performance.

NASA said the project’s goal is to “reduce product development and certification timelines [for new composite materials] by 30%.

Composite materials are already being used in modern aircraft, such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. They are preferable to standard aluminium as they weigh less, increasing an aircraft’s fuel efficiency, and are more resistant to corrosion.

7th Best Western in Bangkok by 2016

The company recently signed a new-build midscale hotel in the central Sukhumvit district of Bangkok, making Best Western one of the biggest hotel groups in the Thai capital.

Located on Sukhumvit Soi 16, the new Best Western will offer 75 rooms, all equipped with flat-screen TVs and free Wi-Fi. The hotel will also include a restaurant, fitness centre and meeting space.

Scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2016, the new hotel will join the six existing Best Western hotels in Bangkok: Best Western Premier Sukhumvit, Best Western Premier Amaranth Suvarnabhumi Airport, Best Western Plus At 20 Sukhumvit, Best Western Plus Grand Howard, Best Western Mayfair Suites and Best Western Klassique Sukhumvit.

And the company is also considering plans for further hotels in the city, including the potential launch of its new lifestyle boutique hotel concept, Vib, and its extended stay brand, Best Western Executive Residency.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Fare Revision on Malaysian Airlines and Qantas

In April there will be fare revisions for the following airlines:

Effective 2nd April 2015 Fare revision
Effective 8th April 2015 Fuel surcharge reduction and introduction of seasonality.Together with partner Emirates, Qantas will implement Peak Period (Q Surcharge) and Day of Week.

Peak period surcharge for Economy Fares

Route Applicable Dates
Singapore – Australia 10 Dec – 23 Dec ; 29 Jan – 06 Feb
Singapore – New Zealand 10 Dec – 23 Dec ; 29 Jan – 06 Feb
Australia – Singapore  01 Jan – 03 Jan, 09 Feb – 14 Feb
New Zealand - Singapore 01 Jan – 03 Jan, 09 Feb – 14 Feb

Day of Week Surcharges

Cabin Route Applicable Dates
Economy Singapore to Australia/ New Zealand Friday, Saturday
Australia/ New Zealand to Singapore Saturday, Sunday
Business Singapore to Australia/ New Zealand Thursday, Friday
Australia/ New Zealand to Singapore Sunday, Monday

To ensure current rates still apply for Qantas, tickets must be issued by 7th April, 6pm. 

Bahrain eases visa for foreigners

Following on from the new visa policy announced in September 2014, the government of Bahrain has announced a second phase updates which will allow business visitors and tourists to spend longer periods of time in the country.

The move also improves ease of access for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) residents and visa holders. In October last year, the new visa policy was implemented allowed nationals from over 100 countries to obtain a visa either online ahead of travel, via the Bahrain government’s eVisa website, or on arrival. The results of the policy move showed improved visitor arrivals.

Hence from April 1st, both business visitors and tourists will be able to spend longer periods of time in the Kingdom, as the new policy dictates that business visas will be valid for a month and are multi-entry, whilst visitor visas are valid for three months and are also multi-entry.

GCC residents of any nationality will be eligible to receive multi-entry visas on arrival or online making it easier for expatriates living in the region to travel to Bahrain.

Furthermore, nationals from countries that are not included in the countries eligible for eVisas or visas on arrival can still apply for eVisas if they have a visit visa for any other GCC country.

The new policy is also being accompanied by improvements to the individual screening process, ensuring faster and more effective processing of applications.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Four Seasons in Seoul opening this year

FOUR Seasons Hotels and Resorts will open its first property in Seoul later this year aiming to tap the popularity of the South Korean capital among tourists and business travellers alike.

The 25-storey Four Seasons Hotel Seoul, developed in partnership with Mirae Asset Global Investments, will open on Sejongro Square in the city's CBD.

The property will offer 317 luxury guestrooms, an exclusive bar and a number of high-end restaurants. It will also have a selection of meeting rooms, a saltwater swimming pool and a state-of-the-art fitness centre.

It will target Chinese and Japanese visitors, who form the majority of foreign tourists to South Korea, as well as domestic tourists. Its central location is also expected to appeal to business people.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Taj Group opens Taj Dubai in Burj Khalifa

Accommodation at Taj Dubai includes a total of 296 rooms: comprising Taj Club Rooms, 16 Junior Suites and 15 Luxury Suites with panoramic views of Burj Khalifa, dancing fountains and Dubai Mall.

The hotel offers state of the art rooms seamlessly blending contemporary elegance while paying homage to the local environment.

Taj Dubai houses two lavish suites.

The Maharaja Suite, inspired by opulent Maharaja’s palaces in Rajasthan including a picturesque roof terrace of the 33rd floor of the hotel.

The Presidential Suite, with its fine balance of understated elegance and opulence, measuring 680 square meters, occupies the entire 35th floor, with its own fitness suite and yoga room.

Taj Dubai will feature its exclusive Members’ only Private Club for the first time outside of India.

Chambers has been created to suit the needs of today’s discerning business traveller and membership is by invitation only.

It entitles guests to an array of benefits such as private dining, bespoke conference and business facilities.

Enhancing guest experiences, Jiva Spa offers an array of signature treatments, inspired by traditional Indian therapies for guests to unwind and rejuvenate.

The ethos of treatments is carefully drawn from the rich wellness heritage of India, fabled lifestyle and culture of Indian royalty and healing therapies that embrace Indian spirituality.

The Taj group, established in 1901, is a pioneer and market leader with 128 hotels, resorts and palaces spanning sixty four locations in India and fifteen international locations in four continents.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Abu Dhabi International Airport’s Terminal 1’s Upgrades

Abu Dhabi Airports announced the opening and operating of several facilities at Terminal 1 of Abu Dhabi International Airport, which will improve overall operational efficiency and increase the speed at which passengers move through the airport. The expansion programme to install these facilities forms part of Abu Dhabi Airports’ ongoing Capacity Enhancement Programme (CEP) to manage the increasing growth in passenger numbers ahead of the opening of the Midfield Terminal in 2017.

These are the changes to the Terminal:

• The installation of 350 metres of new walkways directly linking the passenger arrival gates to the immigration halls and transfer screening facilities;

• The opening of 9 new aircraft stands to accommodate the increasing number of large and wide bodied aircraft at the airport;

• The introduction of 16 brand new state of the art X-Ray screening machines, capable of processing 2,000 transfer passengers per hour, further accelerating passenger movement and reducing waiting time;

• The enablement of transfer passengers arriving at Terminal 1 to proceed directly to Terminal 3 without the need for further screening.

 

These upgrades to the Terminal 1 infrastructure is set to improve passengers’ experience and increase efficiency as well as security.

Passengers will have more space in which to move about and will spend less time queuing, giving them more of an opportunity to enjoy the multiple retail, F&B and entertainment facilities on offer.

The improvements to passenger flows inside Terminal 1 are being complemented by a new road network that will enhance airport access to all travellers, whether arriving or departing, from both Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The work is expected to be completed within the next month. Vehicles departing from arrivals, departures and the car parks will now be able to get straight onto roads to central Abu Dhabi, Dubai and local areas such Al Raha, Yas Island and Khalifa City.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

VietJet Double Daily to Ho Chi Minh City End May

Vietjet has added a second daily flight from Ho Chi Minh City to Singapore, starting at the end of May.

The Airbus A320 operator said when launching a daily service to the City State last year that it planned to go double daily on the route. IT was also hinted that flights from Hanoi and Danang are in the pipelines.

With two round trips per day, the new route will have a capacity of 5,040 seats per week. The expanded schedule will see daily flights depart Singapore Changi International Airport at 1.50pm and 6.00pm (local time) and Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City at 8.55am and 2.00pm (local time). The flight duration is around two hours.

Vietjet currently operate 150 flights per day with a fleet of 21 A320 Airbus aircraft on 28 routes domestically and internationally.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Air New Zealand to launch thrice-weekly Auckland-Buenos Aires flights December 2015

Commencing on 1 December 2015, Air New Zealand will launch its first ever scheduled service to South America on the Auckland-Buenos Aires route. 

Flights will run three times a week on Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays on a Boeing 777-200 aircraft offering business, premium economy and economy classes, including the airline’s ‘SkyCouch‘ concept that converts rows of three economy class seats into a flat bed.

Subject to regulatory approvals, Air New Zealand will also offer onward connections from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, through a codeshare partnership with Aerolineas Argentinas. The Argentine national carrier will also codeshare on the Buenos Aires-Auckland service, as well as on trans-Tasman services to Sydney and Melbourne.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.

TFE Hotels to bring Vibe Hotel to North Sydney CBD in 2017

TFE Hotels has unveiled plans to bring Vibe Hotel concept to Sydney. The new-build property in the north of the Australian city is due to open in early 2017, and will feature a series of new brand amenities designed to cater for modern travellers.

These will include technological features such as free Wi-Fi and bars and lounges with power points and USB ports, a focus on the local community and charities, a fitness programme with healthy-eating menus, local running track maps and an in-room yoga channel, plus a new meeting concept designed to “inspire and spur creativity”.

The 188-room Sydney hotel will become the third “next generation” Vibe Hotel in Australia, following the recently-launched Vibe Hotel Marysville in Victoria and Vibe Hotel Canberra Airport, which is due to open later this year.

 

For further information please contact your travel manager.