January 2016 Travel News & Alerts
Embassy Closures for the Month of January
Please be informed that the following embassies will be closed in January on the specified dates:
All or Most Embassies: 1st January 2016
1. Australia Embassy: 26 January 2016
2. Cambodian Embassy: 7th January 2016
3. Canadian Embassy: 6th January 2016
4. German Embassy: 6th January 2016
5. Indian High Commission: 14th January 2016
26th January 2016
6. Italy Embassy: 6th January 2016
7. Mexico Embassy: 2nd January 2016
8. New Zealand Embassy: 4th January 2016
9. Poland Embassy: 6th January 2015
10. Russia Embassy: 1st – 8th January 2016
11. Spain Embassy: 6th January 2016
12. Sweden Embassy: 6th January 2016
13. Switzerland Embassy: 6th January 2016
14. United Kingdom: 6th January 2016
15. United States of America Embassy: 18th January 2016
No visa applications will be processed during this period.
Amadeus launches OBT
Amadeus is rolling out a self-service online rebooking solution to save travel agents time and money and improve customer loyalty.
The Amadeus Ticket Changer (ATC) Shopper, enables customers of participating travel agencies to go online to rebook their flights any day, any time. This latest addition to the ATC suite is the world’s first self-service online rebooking solution.
ATC Shopper can modify all types of tickets and fares, before and after departure. With easy 24/7 online access to different routes, itineraries and schedules, customers can rebook their flights on their own and feel confident that they secured a good deal.
For online travel agents, ATC Shopper can greatly reduce the number of calls to call centres, lower the risk of errors, and improve customer satisfaction and loyalty.= Amadeus expects that ATC Shopper’s ease of use will increase flight changes and as a result, improve earnings for online travel agencies offering this option to their customers.
Malaysian Airline signs codeshare with Emirates
Malaysia Airlines will codeshare on Emirates’s four times daily service to Dubai from Kuala Lumpur from February 15th, 2016 as part of the partnership between Malaysia Airlines and Emirates which was signed early December 2015.
The flights offered by Malaysia Airlines from Kuala Lumpur to Dubai will therefore increase from one to four daily, although all flights will be operated on Emirates aircraft. The new codeshare will enable customers seamless and convenient connections to Emirates’ more than 90 global destinations. This includes 38 destinations in Europe on a daily and even double daily basis for key European cities such as Paris, Rome, Munich, Frankfurt, Madrid, and Barcelona; as well as Canada and Latin America.
The partnership will also see the Malaysia Airlines and Emirates frequent flyer programmes aligned, giving customers expanded opportunities to earn and redeem points. The details of the benefits will be shared progressively over the next quarter. The service to Dubai will be operated three times a day on the Boeing 777 and once a day on the Airbus 380.
The partnership focuses on building seamlessness for our passengers to enable strong connectivity to Malaysia Airlines’ network to Malaysia / South East Asia and the Emirates network to Europe, Middle East, Canada, Latin Americas and Africa.
Malaysia Airlines will be suspending its Kuala Lumpur-Dubai route by 15 February and will re-accommodate passengers on its codeshare flights with Emirates.
IATA sees decreasing fares contributing to global passenger traffic
Global air passenger traffic grew 5.9% year-over-year in November, slowing from October’s 7.1% growth, according to IATA’s Air Passenger Market Analysis.
IATA commented that the 5.9% growth is considered ‘healthy’ and that last November’s result is above the average 10-year average growth rate of 5.6%. IATA reasoned that labour strikes at Lufthansa and the shutdown of Russia’s Transaero, the country’s second-largest airline in terms of RPKs, as temporary factors that drove down demand during the month.
Falling airfares are largely behind the current good health of the air passenger market, IATA said, citing data for the first ten months of 2015 indicating a 5% decline in average fares.
Combined world traffic on domestic routes grew 6.4% YOY, down 0.9 point from October. Capacity on the world’s domestic routes increased 4.4% YOY; the total passenger load factor for domestic travel was 81.1%. Domestic travel in India was up 25.1% YOY; China’s domestic travel also had a strong month, with RPKs rising 8.4% YOY. US domestic travel was up 9.1% in November, the third month of strong results. Reflecting the closure of Transaero, Russia’s domestic traffic fell 7.1% YOY in November.
International passenger traffic globally was up 5.6% YOY in November, falling 2 points from October. Yet international travel on Latin American carriers surged, rising 10.7% YOY, part of a robust growth in air travel the region has seen year-to-date, IATA said.
Hotel Indigo Lower East Side opens as the 5,000 hotel in the IHG group
InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has unveiled the Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York as its 5,000th hotel globally.
The opening of this landmark New York property takes IHG’s global system size to 5,000 hotels, in nearly 100 countries.
The 293-room Hotel Indigo Lower East Side New York is a joint venture between IHG and Brack Capital Real Estate (BCRE) and is IHG’s third Hotel Indigo® brand in New York City. It is located in one of Manhattan’s most attractive neighbourhoods and reinforces IHG’s leadership position in the boutique segment, the fastest growing in the hotel industry.
In December 2003, the number of IHG properties globally totalled just over 3,500. Since then, a net 1,500 hotels have been added to the portfolio, with IHG’s emphasis on quality driving guest satisfaction levels to an all-time high. This includes the hospitality industry’s largest ever brand refresh for the Holiday Inn® brand family, during which IHG removed more than 1,000 properties across the brand’s estate and re-launched a further 3,300.
To mark the occasion, IHG has released details of several other recent landmark hotel openings around the world. Each opening contributed to IHG breaking through the 5,000-hotel milestone and forms part of IHG’s ‘5,000 Club’.
Flight Centre and Tigerair collaboration
Tigerair Australia and Flight Centre Travel Group have formed a new partnership aimed at promoting the airline’s services and offers to the travel agency’s customers in Australia.
The three-year agreement will see the two parties coordinate sales and marketing efforts, significantly expanding Tigerair Australia’s distribution reach. In return, Flight Centre will gain access to Tigerair’s full range of products, including airfares and ancillaries.
To support the Flight Centre partnership, Tigerair Australia now has a dedicated agency support team to assist travel agents with any queries or make changes to bookings. And the airline plans to introduce real-time live chat option to further support agents.
Japan has most punctual airports and airlines
Japanese airports are among the best in world for on-time performance, a new study has revealed.
According to OAG’s Punctuality League for 2015, Osaka’s Itami Airport recorded the world’s highest punctuality rate, with 93.85 of its flights arriving and departing within 15 minutes of their scheduled time. And Tokyo’s Haneda Airport was the top-ranked large airport, with 91.25% of its flights on time. Other highly ranked Asia Pacific airports included Adelaide (90.18%), Perth (88.58%), Cairns (88.40%), Brisbane (88.31%), Christchurch (88.14%), Nagoya (88.11%), Auckland (88.67%), Sydney (85.20%), Melbourne (85.02%) and Singapore (84.57%).
And Japan’s airlines also performed well; JAL and ANA were the highest ranked carriers in Asia, with on-time performances of 90.44% and 89.7% respectively. Both were also ranked in the top five most punctual airlines in the world, with Latvia’s airBaltic (94.39%) taking top spot.
In the Asian league table, Oceania’s airlines also performed well, with Virgin Australia (88.56%), Qantas (88.08%) and Air New Zealand (87.33%) completing the regional top five. India’s IndiGo (84.57%) was the highest ranked Asian low-cost carrier, followed by Thai AirAsia (84.28%).
The world’s five most punctual airports were Osaka Itami, Brussels South Charleroi, Panama City, Tokyo Haneda and Stavanger, while the five most punctual airlines were airBaltic, Copa Airlines, Azul, JAL and ANA.
AccorHotels grows the Pullman and Sofitel brands in Asia
AccorHotels has expanded its Pullman portfolio in China with the opening of its first property in Qingdao, the port city in Shandong province.
The Pullman Qingdao Ziyue is a new-build hotel located five minutes’ drive from Qingdao’s Liuting International Airport, which serves multiple domestic and international airlines.
The new upscale hotel offers 238 rooms and suites, all featuring separate baths and rain showers, flat-screen TVs, docking stations for electronic devices and Wi-Fi.
There are three restaurants serving international, Shandong and Shanxi cuisine, plus an indoor pool, fitness centre and 1,700m² of conference and banqueting space, including a 900m² ballroom.
AccorHotels now operates a portfolio of 27 Pullmans in mainland China.
Meanwhile, AccorHotels has won the rights to manage two properties under the development of GuccoLand in Tanjong Pagar, Singapore and Damansara City, in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.= Located between Chinatown and the CBD, Sofitel Singapore City Centre will include a range of F&B outlets, an outdoor pool, executive lounge, eight function rooms and a 620m² ballroom.
The Sofitel Kuala Lumpur Damansara meanwhile, will be positioned to the west of the CBD, towards Petalingjaya. A new MRT station at the Damansara City development will provide connectivity. The hotel will offer three restaurants and bars, an executive lounge, spa, fitness centre and outdoor swimming pool with pool bar. There will also be five function rooms and an 840m² ballroom.
The two new hotels join an existing portfolio of 12 Sofitels in Southeast Asia, covering Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Navi Mumbai International Airport in the pipeline
The Indian government has approved four bids for the planned Navi Mumbai International Airport.
The Economic Times reports that the country’s Aviation Ministry met with the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) recently, where it gave “in-principle” approval for proposals from four bidders.
CIDCO invited global tenders for the long-delayed project in February 2014. It received nine applications and four were then shortlisted.
The four successful bids were from GMR Group, Hiranandani Developers, Zurich Airport and Mia Infrastructure-Tata Realty & Infrastructure. They will now have until the end of April 2016 to submit their final financial bids, with the winning applicant expected to be selected no more than three months later.
Navi Mumbai International Airport is a proposed greenfield airport, which will cover more than 2,000 hectares of land. It is expected to commence operations in 2019 with an initial capacity of 35 million passengers per year, rising to 90m by 2030.
Aviation Festival in Singapore February 2016
Over 2,000 leaders in global aviation will come together in Singapore this 23-24 February at the 12th annual Aviation Festival Asia 2016 to tackle these challenges head on. This annual conference and exhibition will span seven streams of content with over 150 experts sharing their insights on the latest innovations in aviation and where the industry is heading for the future.
This is the place to get practical advice from leading airlines and airports on how you can streamline your business and improve profitability; learn about the latest technological innovations shaping the future of our industry and their application for your business; and explore how you can put the passenger experience at the heart of your strategy and become a truly customer centric airline.
Join C suite, influencers and the innovators from the entire aviation industry all in one place. All These airlines are already confirmed to join us: Etihad Airways, Delta Air Lines, AirAsia, Jetstar, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand, Finn Air, Gulf Air, Air India, Garuda, Sri Lankan Airlines, V Air, Cebu Pacific Air, Air France KLM, Air Astana, ANA, flydubai, Hawaiian Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, Royal Brunei Airlines, Nok Air, Peach Aviation, Spring Airlines, Swiss International Airlines, Hong Kong Airlines, VietJet Air, Tigerair and more.
Some key highlights include Arif Wibowo, President and Chief Executive Officer, Garuda Indonesia, Juha Järvinen, Senior Vice President – Chief Commercial Officer, Finnair, Barathan Pasupathi, Chief Executive Officer, Jetstar Asia Airways and Vinay Dube, Senior Vice President - Asia Pacific, Delta Air Lines. For more information on the conference, click here.
Hyatt PoS attacked by Malware
Hyatt Hotels Corp. disclosed that malware has been discovered on point of sale computers in its hotel system. A company spokesperson told Reuters that the malware was found on Nov. 30.
Hyatt said it launched an immediate investigation, consulting with third-party cyber security experts, and it has since strengthened security. It did not disclose how many of its more than 600 Hyatt-managed properties were affected. The company will provide updates to consumers on its website.
Hong Kong International Airport expands
Hong Kong International Airport opened a new $10 billion concourse last week.
The Midfield Concourse’s 19 gates and 20 aircraft parking stands will allow the airport to handle an additional 10 million passengers per year and will serve approximately 20% of passenger flights once it begins operating at full capacity in March, Hong Kong International said.
The five-story, 1.1 million-square-foot concourse sits between the airport’s two existing runways and connects to Terminal 1 via an automatic people mover. Construction on the concourse began in 2011.
Hong Kong International has handled 68.2 million passengers this year, up 8.3% from last year. In 2014, the airport was the 10th busiest in the world by passenger volume, according to Airport Council International.= American, Delta, United, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines fly direct from Hong Kong International to the United States, according to the website Skyscanner.
Hilton opens 32nd Chinese hotel in Hunan
Hilton has signed its first hotel in China’s Hunan province, which is home to more than 65 million people. The property becomes the 32nd Hilton-branded hotel in China.
Hilton Zhuzhou is located in the province’s second largest city and offers 368 rooms and suites, all with views of the Xiang River. At 158 metres high, the hotel is the tallest building in the city.
Facilities at the hotel include Chinese, Italian and international restaurants, two bars, a 25-metre heated indoor swimming pool, a 24-hour fitness centre and a spa. And for the MICE market there is 3,000m² of conference and banqueting space, comprising nine function rooms and a 1,280m² ballroom.
Hilton Zhuzhou forms part of a mixed use development that includes commercial, residential, retail and entertainment areas. It is located just 1km from Zhuzhou Railway Station and 49km from Changsha’s Huanghua International Airport.
International SOS partners with MedAire to publish medical and travel security risk
MedAire launch Travel Risk Map 2016 to help organisations better understand the risks in the markets where they operate and travel.
MedAire and International SOS have published a Health Risk Map since 2010. The map was renamed to Travel Risk Map for 2016 to take into account the newly added travel security risk ratings. It is the industry’s first integrated medical and travel security risk map.
The Travel Risk Map displays each country’s medical risk rating and travel security risk rating. The result is a comprehensive overview of risks by destination to aid organisations and staff in their travel risk mitigation efforts.
An analysis of international business travel against the Travel Risk Map ratings found that nearly 1 in 3 trips abroad are to countries with a higher medical or security risk rating than the travellers’ home country.
A recent Ipsos Global Advisor study asked participants about their concerns and preparations when travelling abroad. The report found that while 8 in 10 travellers have felt their personal safety could be threatened while abroad, less than 4 in 10 travellers research crime at destination, neighbourhoods to avoid, safety standards of public transport, or security features of their accommodation before they travel. The study also reported that while 71% of senior executive travellers have experienced a medical problem abroad; only 15% assess adequacy of local healthcare before travelling.
AccorHotels reaches new milestone in UK growth
AccorHotels has cemented its position as the UK’s leading growth hotel group by opening its 30,000th room and remains on track to meet its ambitious target to increase the number of rooms by over 30%by 2017.
Working rapidly towards their ambitious growth targets, AccorHotels UK and Ireland has expanded its network in 2015 in line with the group’s strategy to develop its portfolio in key destinations across the world.
Highlighting the continued success of AccorHotels’ brands to attract new partners, AccorHotels signed a commercial agreement with Amaris Hospitality to manage 1,617 rooms in October.
The 11 hotels are already integrated onto the AccorHotels platforms and the rebranding process is well underway.
AccorHotels has seen significant growth from its leading midscale brands; Novotel and Mercure, well-known international brands for both business and leisure travellers with close to 14,000 rooms in the UK, while also increasing its footprint in the upscale and budget segments.
The relaunch of its powerful distribution network, market changing digital and technical offering as well as a wide range of digital solutions across its brand websites during the year has also proved an attractive proposition.
The successful year of expansion has seen AccorHotels become the global benchmark in hospitality, with the continual reinvention of its offering including launching new food and beverage concepts during autumn 2015.
JAL suspends Narita-Paris flights from January
JAPAN Airlines (JAL) is suspending daily flights from Tokyo's Narita International Airport to Paris after demand fell roughly 60% in the aftermath of the terror attacks on the French capital in November. The daily flight will be suspended from January 12 and a decision will be made in February whether to extend the measure or to resume regular operations.
Load factors were down as much as 30% as passengers cancelled their holidays immediately after the November 13 attacks in Paris. Bookings for later in the year were also down.
The load factor on flights to Paris from Haneda has also fallen, by 40%, and JAL intends to continue serving the French capital from Tokyo's second airport.