May 2015 Travel News & Alerts

01 May 2015
Embassy Closures for the Month of May

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

All or Most Embassies: 1st May 2015 

1. Indonesia Embassy: 14th May 2015

                                     16th May 2015

2. Norway Embassy: 17th May 2015

3. Russia Embassy: 4th May 2015

                               11th May 2015

4. Sri Lanka Embassy: 4th May 2015

5. United States of America Embassy: 25th May 2015


No visa applications will be processed during this period.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Lufthansa re-introduces New York-Frankfurt night flight

Lufthansa has reinstated its night flight, LH 405, which departs New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport at 21:55 and arrives in Frankfurt at 11:35 the following day with a Boeing 747-8. 

The afternoon flight, LH 401, remains constant, with an Airbus A380 departing JFK at 15:55 and arriving in Frankfurt at 05:30 the following morning.

This latest flight schedule offers even more travel choices and better connections to the Lufthansa Group Airlines’ network of over 260 destinations in 100 countries. And with Lufthansa’s A380 and 747-8 now both serving JFK, passengers will benefit from an even better travel experience. Lufthansa’s premium products and service features, now available on all Lufthansa flights to and from JFK, include a modern cabin design, new service concepts and the most up-to-date on-board amenities in all classes.

With the return of the popular evening flight, this gateway will accommodate the increased travel demands that the summer months normally bring.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Free WiFi in all Spanish airports by year end

Spain's airport authority says it will start providing free and unlimited Wi-Fi in 46 airports across the country by the end of the year.

Airport authority AENA says its board has approved a plan that envisions making Spanish airports among Europe's best for fast and free Wi-Fi service for passengers.

Free Wi-Fi is currently available in most Spanish airports but there's a 30-minute usage limit.

AENA said in a statement Thursday that faster speeds will be offered, plus a premium service for passengers willing to pay for it.

The authority says it expects the new free Wi-Fi system will be available at airports toward the end of this year.

The U.N.'s World Tourism Organization says Spain is the No. 3 international tourism destination after France and the United States.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Starwood expands in Canada

Starwood is strengthening its footprint across Canada with the signing of two new properties, The Westin Calgary Airport and The Westin Edmonton Gateway in 2017.

With 250 guestrooms, The Westin Calgary Airport will be located directly on Calgary International Airport property. The five-story hotel will feature a Westin Club Lounge, 30,000 square feet of meeting space, restaurant and lounge.

The Westin Edmonton Gateway will offer 225 guestrooms, as well as a Westin Club Lounge, full restaurant, contemporary bar and more than 10,000 square feet of meeting space. The hotel will be located near The Anthony Henday Expressway, which encircles Edmonton, providing convenient access throughout the city and to downtown.

Both hotels will embrace the Westin brand positioning of For a better you by offering programs designed to inspire balance and enhance well-being, leaving guests feeling better than when they arrived. The properties will be fully equipped with the brand’s signature amenities, such as the world-renowned Westin Heavenly Bed, the Heavenly Bath experience, and an ergonomic work area for optimal productivity.

Starwood Hotels is also pleased to welcome The Gupta Group / Easton’s Group of Hotels, to the Starwood family. The Gupta Group recently acquired The Westin Bristol Place Toronto Airport Hotel, assuming the franchise licensing agreement for the hotel. The hotel is located adjacent to Toronto Pearson International Airport and just 25 minutes from downtown Toronto. With the purchase of the property, Easton’s Group, led by owner Steve Gupta will invest $9 Million in renovations to the hotel over the next year. 

The momentum continues for Starwood Hotels in Canada, with opportunity for growth across all its brands, including the newly introduced Tribute Portfolio. A robust pipeline of future openings is spurred by growth of Starwood’s Specialty Select brands.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Finnair expands network with oneworld codeshare

Finnair is strengthening ties with fellow oneworld alliance members Japan Airlines and Qantas with new codeshare services to Busan, South Korea and Perth, Australia.

Finnair passengers can now enjoy more convenient access to Busan with Japan Airlines daily service via Tokyo Narita. South Korea’s second-largest city has a population of 3.6 million with growing economic importance.

Busan adds another destination to the already extensive codeshare options offered between Japan Airlines and Finnair.

From June 26th Finnair passengers can connect to Perth via Singapore on services operated by oneworld partner Qantas.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Sydney to have Automated departure SmartGates by June

The Sydney airport might install the smart gates by June this year, followed by eight of Australia's largest international airports including those in Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth, Darwin, Cairns and the Gold Coast.

With the use of the smart-gates, eligible travellers will have an option to self-process through passport control which provides a more secure and efficient way to clear through passport control. The gates makes use of data in a passenger's ePassport and face recognition technology to carry out customs and immigration checks that are usually conducted by a Customs and Border Protection officer.

People who are above 16 and hold an ePassport from countries including Australia, New Zealand, the UK, the US and Singapore are eligible to use the SmartGates. Under trial arrangement, people holding Switzerland, Canadian or Irish ePassport and aged 16 years or over and people aged 10-15 years old and are travelling with a minimum of two adults holding Australian ePassport can also make use of the technology under trial arrangements.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Ritz-Carlton to open in Jeddah by end of summer

The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, will open its second hotel in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in Jeddah late summer with The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah. The latest addition to the portfolio will serve as the perfect showcase of the great traditions of Saudi hospitality; an eye-catching landmark situated over eight acres of land on Al Hamra Corniche. The new hotel with its splendid architecture will be a majestic addition to the city’s vibrant hospitality scene, with unmatched conference facilities to cater to the local, regional and international markets.

The Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah underscores the brand’s development ambitions in the region. With a mix of universally recognized service and state-of-the-art amenities, all tempered with local flavor, the Ritz-Carlton, Jeddah aligns well with Saudi Arabia’s burgeoning status as an economic powerhouse attracting visitors from around globe. Featuring 224 guest rooms, including 30 exquisitely laid out royal suites spanning 500 square meters each, the hotel will cater to a diverse range of visitors from short-stay business guests through to large wedding groups. The hotel will also boast four dining outlets, offering visitors and residents alike a taste of Ritz-Carlton’s excellent culinary experience.

Reflecting the rising importance of the meeting and incentives sector in the Kingdom, the hotel also boasts a staggering 63,356 square meters of meeting space. The hotel will be equipped to host major conferences and exhibitions with the Grand Auditorium venue, capable of seating 1,500 guests, while the hotel’s restaurant and dining outlets can serve over 500 guests during any time throughout the whole day.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Korean Air strengthens China Airlines codeshare agreement


Korean Air has announced an extended codeshare agreement with China Airlines, increasing the flights offered by Korean Air between South Korea and Taiwan.

Following regulatory approval, flights will be added between Seoul and Kaohsiung and also between Busan and Taipei.

A codeshare is an aviation business partnership whereby a flight operated by one airline, is jointly marketed by one or more other airlines.= The agreement will allow Korean Air to sell tickets with its marketing flight number KE on the flights operated by China Airlines.

Prior to the extended agreement Korean Air, code sharing with China Airlines, offered a total of 25 flights per week on just the Seoul – Taipei route; fourteen flights operated by Korean Air and eleven flights operated by China Airlines.

The new codeshare agreement will allow Korean Air to provide an additional 21 flights between South Korea and Taiwan (seven flights on the Seoul – Kaohsiung route and 14 flights on Busan – Taipei route), offering more flexibility, convenience and choice to passengers.

Korean Air currently has codeshare partnerships on 195 routes with 33 airlines worldwide, including Air France, Aeromexico and China Southern.

Korean Air will continue to expand opportunities for code share partnerships in order to provide the most convenient schedules for its passengers.

For further information please contact your travel manager.

Heathrow installs journey calculator screens at baggage claim belts

Screens have been installed at Heathrow Terminal 2 showing passengers live price and journey time comparisons between taxis and the airport’s train service to central London.

The screens - a world first - combine real-time traffic, weather and Heathrow Express train service information into one user-friendly data feed, or ‘journey comparison generator,’ at the terminal’s baggage reclaim zone.

The aim is to help customers make the fastest and cheapest choice of onward travel.

British Airways First and Business Class Lounge at Changi Airport

British Airways will open a new business and first class lounge at Singapore’s Changi Airport later this year.

BA closed the lounge earlier this month, with travellers welcomed at the adjacent and quite excellent Qantas Singapore Lounge a privilege of being an Oneworld member.

The lounge is expected be similar with other premium BA lounges like the recently made-over in Amsterdam (see below).

Singapore hosts two daily BA flights from Singapore to London, one of those on the airline's flagship Airbus A380.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Frankfurt Airport’s $4.4bn expansion

The German airport’s owner and operator, Fraport AG, announced it would start construction of Terminal 3 this year.

Studies projected that up to 73 million people would use the airport by 2021. This exceeds its current capacity.

The airport served 59.6 million passengers last year, a 2.6 percent increase from 2013.

Fraport says the airport in its current form has a maximum capacity of about 64 million passengers a year and it needs to start building a new terminal now to meet future demand.

Terminal 3 is expected to become operational in 2022.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Qatar’s second A380 Heathrow Service

Qatar Airways will introduce a second Airbus A380 aircraft on the London Heathrow to Doha route from 1 July. It will replace the existing A330 aircraft. The arrival of the second A380 on the Doha-to-London service reinforces Qatar Airways’ presence in the United Kingdom, with six flights a day between the two cities in addition to daily direct services from Doha to Edinburgh from May and double daily services to Manchester.

Flight QR002 will depart Heathrow at 21.30 and arrive in Doha 06.10 the following morning. Flight QR001 departs Doha at 12.35 and arrives at London Heathrow at 17.55 the same day.

The aircraft features First, Business and Economy Class over two decks. There are a total of 517 seats, with eight in First Class, 48 in Business Class and 461 seats in Economy Class.


For further information please contact your travel manager.

Mövenpick to debut in Dubai Media City by 2017

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has revealed plans to open its first property in Dubai Media City in 2017, a move that will capitalise on the vibrant business district’s fast-paced expansion.

The 251-key Mövenpick Hotel Dubai Media City will stand adjacent to the US$1.23 billion ‘innovation hub’ announced by the Dubai Government last year – a new centre for communications and technology facilities that spans an area the size of two football pitches across DMC, Dubai Internet City and Knowledge Village.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ DMC debut with Mövenpick Hotel Dubai Media City will take the upscale hospitality specialist’s Dubai portfolio to eight properties by 2017.

The company recently unveiled plans to open the 246-key Mövenpick Hotel Apartments Downtown Dubai in the same year.

Mövenpick Hotel Dubai Media City will feature rooms and suites with a minimum size of 42 sqm.

The property will also have four restaurants and lounges, a spa, gymnasium and swimming pool, while a large divisible ballroom and four meeting venues with natural daylight will be available for events and conferences.

Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts’ current Dubai portfolio spans six properties in locations including Ibn Battuta Mall near Jebel Ali, Jumeirah Lakes Towers, Jumeirah Beach on The Walk, Bur Dubai, Deira and Mamzar near Sharjah.


For further information please contact your travel manager.