Singapore Airlines poised to fly to Sâo Paulo

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is to fly to South America from March 2011, linking Singapore with Sâo Paulo via Barcelona. This is the carrier’s first South American destination.

Flights will operate thrice weekly between Barcelona and Sâo Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport under code share arrangements with Star Alliance partner Spanair. This will see the carrier’s code on Spanair’s flights on the route, providing SIA customers access to a progressive market.

SIA already adds its code to Spanair’s domestic flights between Barcelona and Bilbao, Madrid and Palma Mallorca.

The airline already operates daily flights to Barcelona via Milan. To facilitate seamless connection to Sâo Paulo, three of the flights to Barcelona will be made direct while keeping the remaining four flying through Milan. Timings for the connections to Sâo Paulo are yet to be confirmed.

Other Asian airlines that serve Sâo Paulo are Japan Airlines from Tokyo via New York and code sharing wtih American Airlines; ANA via London and code sharing with TAM (see news) and Air India from Mumbai via New York and code sharing with TAM.

For more information, visit www.singaporeair.com

Alisha Haridasani

Sol Melia to open second London property

Sol Melia is to debut its Me by Melia brand in the UK, with a 173-room Norman Foster designed hotel on the corner of Aldwych and The Strand.

Due to open in 2012, Me London will be located opposite One Aldwych hotel, within a new-build property situated on the site of what was the iconic Marconi House, and the adjacent Citibank building.

The hotel will combine the historic facade of Marconi House along with a new Portland Stone building, and will feature 173 rooms across four categories, as well as a 730sqm convention centre and two destination restaurants and bars on the ground level.

The hotel had been earmarked for the Silken Hotel Group, but the acquisition by Sol Melia for €133 million means it will now become the second property by the group in London, joining the Melia White House close to Regents Park.

Sol Melia describes the Me by Melia offering as “is the most innovative and avant-garde luxury brand” in its portfolio, with two Spanish properties by the brand in Madrid and Barcelona, two in Mexico, and a forthcoming hotel in Vienna.

For more information visit me-by-melia.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

First Look: Cathay’s new lounge at Hong Kong Airport – The Cabin

Cathay Pacific The-Cabin

Cathay Pacific will open the doors of a new lounge – The Cabin – at Hong Kong International Airport Terminal 1 on October 11, 2010. The lounge is a premium lounge for both First and Business Class passengers, Silver and above Marco Polo Club members, and Sapphire and above oneworld members.

The Cabin, located by Gate 23, is on a lower level accessible by stairs and a lift both of which lead immediately to the reception. The design throughout the entire 1300sqm lounge follows Cathay Pacific’s signature style with a combination of marble, wood and granite as well as floor to ceiling windows along the length of the lounge capturing maximum amounts of natural light and views of the runway.

The reception splits off in two directions with The IT Zone on the right hand side and The Deli, The Health Bar and The Relaxing Zone on the left. Unlimited WiFi internet is accessible through the lounge without the need for a password.

The IT Zone consists of two sections: the main area and an IT room.

The main area is equipped with 21 iPads and 6 iMacs, as well as plenty of power outlets for those working with laptops. Furthermore, there are 21 of Cathay’s new ‘Solus chairs’: a futuristic bubble-like chair, which provides each person with a private space consisting of a small built-in table, coat hanger and power outlet. In total there are 41 of these chairs around the entire lounge in the other zones. The entire back wall is made of glass with LED lighting that pulsates every half an hour to help passengers keep track of the time.

The IT room has 11 private workstations, each equipped with an iMac, a printer and a telephone. There is also a meeting room with videoconferencing facilities.

At the other end of the lounge, to the left of the reception, guests will first come across The Deli – a self-serving buffet bar and a delicatessen catered by The Peninsula serving antipasti, salads and sandwiches.

Further down, past The Deli, is the Health Bar serving freshly blended fruit and vegetable smoothies and juices.

Finally, the Relaxing Zone is located at the far end of The Cabin: a dimly-lit area with more Solus chairs and, for those with families, sofa areas with coffee tables.

Alex McGowan, Cathay Pacific’s Head of Products, said that that the new lounge is
at Gate 23 because it is close to the airline’s preferred departure gates and has been created since “…forward projections of the number of passengers indicated that we needed the new space because of a growing member base [in the Marco Polo Club].” It joins Cathay’s three existing lounges at the airport: The Wing, The Pier, G16 and The Arrival for passengers.

See below for pictures of The Cabin:

 

 

 

 

View our story on Cathay Pacific’s new lounges at London Heathrow Airport here.

Alisha Haridasani

Cathay Pacific and Alaska Airlines announce code share

Cathay Pacific announced yesterday a new code share with Alaska Airways that will see travellers able to connect on to Seattle and Portland via Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver with Alaska Airlines due to a growing demand amonst the Asian market for business and leisure trips to Seattle and Portland.

The code share commences for booking 29 September for travel starting 7 October 2010 and sees Cathay Pacific’s “CX” code go on Alaska Airlines flights between the cities of Seattle and Portland and three of Cathay Pacific’s North American gateway cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.

The agreement means that Cathay passengers will have “streamlined handling of checked baggage” according to Alaska Airlines President Brad Tilden.

Cathay Pacific flies twice daily to and from Los Angeles, San Francisco and Vancouver.

Alisha Haridasani

Ascott launches first property in Dubai

The Ascott Park Place debuts in Dubai tomorrow, October 1, 2010. It is the first Ascott for the city, joining The Ascott Limited group’s Middle East portfolio, which already consists of Somerset Al Fateh in Bahrain and Somerset West Bay in Doha.

Occupying 15 floors of the mixed-use Park Place Tower complex, the 118-unit property is located within Dubai’s central business district and easily accessible to the Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

It features one-, two- or three-bedroom apartments as well as two-storey lofts. All are equipped with ensuite bathrooms, kitchens, iPod docking stations and complimentary Wi-Fi access. There is a restaurant, swimming pool and rooftop gym.

An opening rate of AED775 (US$211) for a one-bedroom apartment is available.

In 2013, The Ascott Bahrain at the Raffles City Bahrain is expected to open.

For more information, visit www.the-ascott.com

Alisha Haridasani

Additional passenger data for US flight bookings

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is reminding passengers on any flights to, from, within and over the US of the need to provide Secure Flight Passenger Data (SFPD) for all reservations booked on November 1, 2010 and beyond.

Compliance is mandatory.

Failure to provide the required passenger data could result in denial of transport or denial of entry into the boarding area. Airlines will have the right to cancel any reservation without complete passenger information. The TSA has required the carriers to publish these policies to make sure the industry and travellers are aware of the new security mandate.

Information required:

• Full Name (as it appears on passport)
• Gender
• Date of birth    
• Nationality
• Passport/Document type
• Passport/Document issuing country/state
• Passport/Document number
• Passport/Document expiry date
• Redress number (if available)

All the passenger information will be kept confidential and only for use in the Secure Flight Program of TSA.

For more details, visit www.tsa.gov

Margie T Logarta

The AA launches prepaid loyalty cards

Travellers can earn AA Reward points when they take out one of two new prepaid Mastercards with the Automobile Association.

Launched in partnership with e-money solutions provider Tuxedo, the AA Spend and Earn Mastercard Prepaid Card, and the AA Travel Euro Currency Mastercard Prepaid Card both offer points in a similar way to the organisation’s existing AA Credit Card. Members earn one point per £1 spent on motoring products, one point per £2 spent on other goods, and double points for AA members.

The Euro card in particular may be of interest to travellers, as there is no charge for use at retail outlets or ATMs when you withdraw €50 or more. The card itself costs €9.95 to purchase, but this is refunded after the first £100 has been loaded on to the card. The currency is converted at the point of load – customers can check the daily exchange rate for the card by clicking here.

Note that there are charges for account services including additional and replacement cards, cash withdrawals under £50/€50, and credit card, Post Office and PayPoint transfers. For a full list of fees click here.

For more information visit theaa.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

Alitalia to launch Rome-Rio service

The Italian carrier will commence flights between Rome and Rio de Janeiro from June next year, adding to its existing service to Sao Paulo.

The carrier will launch a three-times weekly service to Rio on June 4, increasing to four-times weekly from July. The outbound flight will depart Rome Fiumicinio airport at 2230 on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday (plus Friday from July 2011), arriving in Rio at 0540 the next day, with the return leg leaving Rio at 1445 and landing back in Italy at 0710 the following day.

The news service adds to Alitalia’s existing seven flights per week between Rome and Sao Paulo, and the carrier says timings into Rome will allow passengers “excellent connections with the domestic and international network of Alitalia”.

The Rome-Rio service will be plied with new three-class (economy, premium economy and business) A330 aircraft, as part of Alitalia’s fleet renewal plan (see online news July 27).

For more information visit alitalia.com.

Report by Mark Caswell

 

BA, AA and Iberia clinch transatlantic deal

British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia have signed an agreement finalising the details of their joint transatlantic business venture.

An announcement from BA today (September 29), confirms that commercial co-operation on routes between Europe, the US, Mexico and Canada, will begin as early as October.

The deal comes in the form of a “revenue share agreement”, which BA says will “provide customers with greater access to discounted fares, more convenient connections and better access to the airlines’ global network.”

BA said the deal would also allow Oneworld to “compete on an equal footing” with other airline alliances that have received approval for similar transatlantic ventures. Air France and Delta Air Lines, important members of Skyteam, signed a similar agreement back in 2007, later to be joined by KLM and most recently Alitalia.

The European Commission (EC) gave the green light for BA’s transatlantic tie-up in July, with anti-trust immunity from the US Department of Transportation following just days later.

Virgin Atlantic’s president Richard Branson, fiercely opposed to the BA/AA deal, voiced concerns over the creation of a “monster monopoly”, branding the decision by the EC as “shameful” (see online news July 14).

For more information visit ba.com, aa.com, iberia.com, virginatlantic.com.

Report by Andrew Gough

Ethiopian Airlines to join Star Alliance

The carrier is to become the third African airline within the Star Alliance, joining existing members Egyptair and South African Airways.

Ethiopian Airlines will be mentored during the joining process by founder Star member Lufthansa, with the aim of integration within the next 12 months.

The carrier will add five new countries to the Star network (Chad, Congo, Djibouti, Mali, and Niger), and a total of 29 new African destinations, and will bring the total number of Star carriers to 29.

Star Alliance said that the acceptance of Ethiopian Airlines is “an integral part of Star Alliance’s Africa strategy”, citing market studies conducted by IATA and ICAO which show that Africa is forecast to have the second highest growth rate in air traffic over the coming years.

Commenting on the acceptance Jaan Albrecht, CEO Star Alliance said:

“On behalf of the Chief Executive Board, it gives me great pleasure to invite Ethiopian Airlines to join the Star Alliance network. Ethiopian’s extensive intra-African network will provide more choice for our travellers and bring the Star Alliance benefits to new markets. Moreover, we will in future have three main hubs in Africa – Addis Ababa, Cairo and Johannesburg – allowing for an ideal access to the continent from either the North, Centre-East or South.”

Ethiopian Airlines is due to take delivery of a number of new aircraft over the next few years, including orders for Boeing Dreamliners (see online news July 29, 2009), B777-200LRs and Airbus A350-900s.

Recent Star Alliance entrants include Brussels Airlines (see online news December 11, 2009), TAM (see online news May 13), and Aegean Airlines (see online news June 30). However Shanghai Airlines is due to leave the alliance at the end of October, due to its merger with prospective Skyteam member China Eastern (see online news April 16).

For more information visit staralliance.com, ethiopianairlines.com.

Report by Mark Caswell