Emirates trims Sydney flights

From the end of October, Sydney-bound passengers taking Emirates’ from Europe will lose one of their convenient connections over Dubai.

Besides impacting on travellers departing Emirates’ main destinations in Europe on lunchtime and early afternoon services, it will also affect passengers taking the carrier’s A380 service from Manchester (see Route of the Month in the September edition of Business Traveller) which is launched tomorrow (September 1)

Emirates is suspending one of its three daily flights linking Dubai with Sydney. It means that passengers departing Europe with an Emirates service between lunchtime and early afternoon and which would reach Dubai around midnight will no longer have an onward connection.

The flights being cancelled are EK414 which leaves Dubai at 0215 and EK415 which departs Sydney at 0600. Both operate non-stop with long range 286-seater B777-200s.

Granted, the early bird service out of Sydney will not be missed (who wants to check-in for very long flight at 0400?) but the 0215 from Dubai is popular with canny travellers. That is because they know this flight lands in Sydney at 2210 when the terminal is deserted and so there is less chance of a delay at customs and immigration. 

The carrier’s existing daily flights into Sydney, a one-stop B777-300ER service (via Bangkok) departing Dubai at 0905 and a non-stop A380 flight leaving at 1015 will continue unchanged. These flights are linked with Emirates’ overnight flights from Europe and these too will remain unchanged.

It is understood that Emirates will instead use the B777-200s to double the frequency of its non-stop Dubai-Los Angeles service from seven to 14 flights a week.

Emirates has a monopoly on this route and it is anxious to strengthen its position on this increasingly popular route  before rivals appear. Turkish Airlines has said it will launch a four times a week service out of Istanbul next March while Qatar Airways is believed to be interested in serving Los Angeles from Doha.

All in all, though, it’s not good news for Emirates’ passengers taking the kangaroo route to Sydney. Not only do they lose a flight option but fewer seats spell higher fares.

For more information visit emirates.com.

Report by Alex McWhirter

Czech Airlines quits the UK

After 72 years of service, Czech airline CSA will withdraw from the UK market at the end of October. 

The shock decision comes at a time when the loss-making Czech national carrier is being forced to slim down its European network in order to save money.

It means that besides the complete axing of flights from Prague to London Heathrow and Manchester, Skyteam member CSA will be reducing flight frequency on other European routes too.

In a statement issued to Business Traveller, Philippe Moreels, CSA’s VP for sales, marketing and finance says, “Our flight schedule for the winter season reflects the next stage on the path to creating a more flexible, efficient airline. Unlike previous approaches to restructuring, which were based primarily on cost cuts, the main point of the strategy now is a new network concept where the least profitable flights are cut.”

A further and not well translated statement issued by CSA’s head office notes “As of the upcoming winter season, the CSA network does not count [sic] on a presence in the UK market, ie the operation of flights to London and Manchester.”

CSA’s UK network has been trimmed in recent years in face of stiffer price competition not just from British Airways but also from budget carriers like Easyjet, Bmibaby and Wizzair.

In its heyday CSA served no fewer than seven UK airports:  London Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted plus Birmingham, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. 

Its current schedule covers just Heathrow and Manchester and with timings that are not particularly convenient for business travellers.

Withdrawing from Europe’s largest single travel market does not seem to be a sensible move.  But it is understood that CSA’s decision was influenced by the fact it can earn many millions of dollars from the sale of its Heathrow slots.

At the time of writing CSA’s UK website continues to display flight schedules from November 1. But a CSA spokeswomen verbally confirmed to Business Traveller that the carrier’s UK flights will cease from the start of the winter timetable.

For more information visit czechairlines.co.uk.

Report by Alex McWhirter

Qatar Airways increases India frequencies

Qatar Airways is to expand it services from Doha to Delhi, Cochin and Amritsar this autumn, with a total of 14 extra flights amounting to a 20 per cent increase in frequencies.

The Doha-Amritsar service will go from four-times weekly to daily from September 1, while the current daily route between Doha and Cochin will see two extra flights per week added on September 1, and a further two from November 5. Finally a second daily frequency will be added to the Doha-Delhi service on October 31.

The additional flights will take the carrier’s India capacity up to 88 services per week, with a total of eleven cities served including Bengaluru, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Trivandrum, Kozhikode, Ahmedabad, Goa, Delhi, Amritsar, and Cochin.

The news comes ahead of several new additions to the Qatar Airways network over the next few months, with Phuket due to launch on October 12, Hanoi on November 1, Nice on November 24, Bucharest and Budapest on January 17, 2010, and Brussels on January 31, 2010.

For more information visit qatarairways.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

Ryanair to close Belfast base

Low-cost carrier Ryanair is to close its base at Belfast City from this November, blaming the delay in the airport’s runway extension.

The airline launched its Belfast base in 2007, and currently flies from the city’s conviently-located City airport to five UK destinations (Bristol, East Midlands, Prestwick, Liverpool and Stansted). 

Ryanair had planned to offer routes to other European cities from the airport once the runway extension had been completed, but says that a public enquiry means the extended runway will not now be delivered until at least 2012, four years after it was originally due to be completed.

Commenting on the decision Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary said: 

“It is very disappointing that the promised runway extension at Belfast City Airport has still not materialised more than three years after we opened the base at Belfast City. It makes no sense for Ryanair to continue to invest in Belfast City, operating restricted routes with less than full payloads between Belfast and other UK airports (which suffer a double APD penalty) unless there is clear and immediate prospect of Ryanair being enabled to safely operate longer European routes from Belfast City Airport and for this we need the runway extension.”

“While we recognise the right of the Government and people of Northern Ireland to subject this small runway extension to an extended planning process, these repeated delays, the reference to a public inquiry and now the further delay to the public inquiry for spurious noise reasons, shows a lack of willingness on the part of the local authorities to grow and develop traffic, routes, tourism and jobs in Northern Ireland.

“In these circumstances sadly we have better alternative airports elsewhere in  the UK and Europe, all of whom are willing and able to provide us with the runway infrastructure and low cost facilities we need in order to operate our lowest fare flights immediately, safely and profitably.”

For more information visit ryanair.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

Pudong Shangri-La makes airport limousines Wi-Fi capable

Pudong Shangri-La Shanghai’s luxury fleet of Mercedes-Benz S300L vehicles now feature Wi-Fi internet connection.

The eight new limousines recently replaced Buick sedans as the hotel’s premier transport option.

Other amenities available are fresh hand towels, chilled mineral water, local and international publications and a Shanghai handbook. For entertainment, there is a range of music CDs and DVDs to make the one-hour journey to Pudong International Airport more enjoyable.

A one-way airport transfer, using a Mercedes-Benz S300L, is priced at CNY880 (US$129) including tax. Hourly and daily rentals are also possible at varying rates.

For more details, contact conc.slpu@shangri-la.com

Margie T Logarta 

Business Traveller September edition now live

Subscribers to the print version of Business Traveller can access the edition online a whole month before everyone else. All of our special reports and destination features are uploaded to businesstraveller.com each month, and the September edition has just gone live.

Subscribe to Business Traveller today for just £42.95, and as an added bonus you’ll receive a complimentary subscription to The Gourmet Society (worth £53.50), offering discounts at over 3,500 top restaurants across the country. The Gourmet Society dining card is welcomed at a wide variety of participating establishments, from everyday family favourites to Michelin starred restaurants. For more information and to subscribe visit businesstraveller.com/gs.

This month’s packed issue includes:

  • A report on Qatar’s oil-free future
  • A look at what budget hotels can offer the business traveller
  • The latest media players reviewed
  • Meetings and events in Miami
  • Your comprehensive guide to Heathrow airport
  • A day in the life of Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park’s head concierge
  • Has traditional in-flight entertainment has had its day?
  • International restaurants in the French capital
  • Route of the month: Manchester to Dubai

If you are already a subscriber to Business Traveller, simply log in here (using the email address attached to your subscription), then click on the archive button on the navigation bar for full access. If you are unsure of your log in details, or have any problems accessing the archive as a print subscriber, click here to send us an email.

Mexicana suspends flights

Oneworld carrier Mexicana has suspended all flights, three weeks after filing for bankruptcy protection.

Mexico’s transport minister Juan Molinar announced the winding up of operations in Mexico City on Saturday, August 28. Low-cost affiliate carriers, Link and Click, have also ceased operations.

The 89-year-old airline – one of world’s oldest aviation companies – has debts of about half a billion pounds. It was forced to file for bankruptcy protection after cost-cutting talks with trade unions ended in stalemate.

Last week an investor group annouced its intention to buy a majority shareholding in the company. But with some 1,000 cabin crew jobs at risk the government moved to block the purchase.

Mexicana, like airlines around the world, suffered in recent years with the global recession and record high oil prices in 2008.

However, the airline was decimated financially when the swine flu outbreak in Mexico last year lead to the temporary collapse of inbound and domestic tourism.

For more information visit mexicana.com.

Report by Martin Ferguson

Business Traveller September issue is now live

Subscribers to the print version of Business Traveller Asia-Pacific can access the online edition a whole month before everyone else. We upload all of our destination features and special reports to businesstraveller.asia each month, and the September issue has now gone live.

Subscribe to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific before September 30, 2010, and you will receive a free one-year membership to the TraVision MileageManager, an online tool that consolidates your frequent flier mileage information from multiple programmes into one statement and delivered to your email inbox.

To subscribe, go to http://www.panaceapublishing.com/newsagent/subsoffer/TraVision

This month’s issue includes:

• A close look at multi-transport cards around Asia-Pacific

• An update on Hongkong’s shopping scene and the bargains scattered around the city

• A four-hour guide to Auckland

• A look into London’s developments and preparations for the 2012 Olympics

• A profile of Santiago’s emerging economy and investment opportunities

• A journey through time to untouched Fez in Morocco

• The low down on Cathay Pacific Business class and Continental Airlines BusinessFirst class

• The revitalisation of Shanghai’s Hongqiao airport

• A conversation with former Microsoft senior executive and founder of the charity Room to Read John Wood

• A look into the growth of serviced-apartments

• A colourful tour of Capadoccia

• An update on the myriad of cuisines that hotels in Singapore have to offer

• Tips on reviving your health and achieving a work-life balance

If you are already a subscriber to Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, simply log in here http://asia.businesstraveller.com/login/ (using the email address attached to your subscription), then click on the current issue for full access. If you are unsure of your log in details, or have any problems accessing the current issue as a print subscriber, click here (mailto:enquiry@businesstravellerasia.com) to send us an email.

BlackBerry wins reprieve from India ban

India has delayed a ban on certain BlackBerry services for 60 days while it studies mechanisms proposed by the handset maker Research In Motion (RIM) enabling “lawful access” to encrypted data.

The ban on the instant messaging and corporate email services was to start today. Last-minute talks between RIM and government officials, reported by Business Traveller yesterday (see news), helped avert the move.

The government issued a statement early this morning (Hongkong time) saying: “The Home Ministry will review the security issue relating to Blackberry services within 60 days, by which time the Department of Telecommunications will submit its report.”

It mentioned that RIM made “certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies and these would be operationalised immediately”.

Indian authorities, along with others the Middle East and Asia, believe that BlackBerry’s secure services are a threat to national security as data is encrypted and transmitted via overseas servers that cannot be decoded or intercepted.

Alisha Haridasani