Fairmont-Raffles group outlines three-year growth plan

The Asia-Pacific is providing an important focal point for Fairmont-Raffles Hotels International, which is actively seeking contracts in many countries in the region.

The parent company which also manages the Swissotel chain, is keen on China, India and Saudi Arabia, boasting several projects coming online and a porfolio of signed contracts.

“In China, we are looking at a dozen opportunities with a target of 30 hotels,” said James Kaplan, the parent company’s senior vice-president, global development, recently told Business Traveller.
Sanya, a popular resort destination in southern China, has one property under development and two more are targeted in the next three years. With hotels already established in Beijing (Fairmont, Raffles and Swissotel), Shanghai (Fairmont Peace Hotel and Swissotel) and in the picturesque Kunshan (Fairmont Yangchang Lake and Swissotel), Fairmont-Raffles is eyeing the secondary cities of Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Tianjin and Dalian.

“[In Guangzhou and Shenzhen] meetings and incentives will be the main driver – we will have fairly large meeting spaces,” Kaplan revealed.

The company also hopes to acquaint Chinese travellers with its own brand of luxury products such as the Fairmont Gold tier, which provides customers with a heightened sense of exclusivity through larger guestrooms and dedicated staff personified by the “Gold manager” – a kind of personal assistant – and the Gold butlers. They will likewise have access to the Gold Lounge, a feature of all Fairmont properties. It is where private check-in and check-out take place.

In other areas in Asia-Pacific such as Jakarta, a Raffles is under construction and a Fairmont will go public in Bali in January. The Makati financial district in Metro Manila will welcome a Fairmont next year.

In India, the company has three signed contracts in Bangalore, with a recently opened hotel in Calcutta and two Fairmont hotels under construction. Jaipur gets a Fairmont in a few months.

The company is opening a Swissotel and a Fairmont in Saudi Arabia this month and early 2011 respectively. “We have an enormous project in Mecca,” Kaplan said. The Abraj Al Bait towers which will house a Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel, will be the largest building in the world by mass and will include other hotels and a retail and residential development. Fairmont Hotel will be located in the centre, just under the Clock of Islam feature.

Early next year, hotels will be coming up in Jeddah and Riyadh as well as a Fairmont resort in Muscat in 2012
The iconic Raffles hotel in Singapore is also looking at a full renovation.”We’ll reprogram retail, add a ballroom and 40 to 50 rooms. The government has given permission to increase the gross floor area,” Kaplan said.

Kaplan is not worried about oversupply. He said :”The hotel business is cyclical. These markets in 10 year time will say there are not enough hotels.” He added that New York has as many international standard hotel rooms as the whole of India, so there is definitely room for improvement. “Moscow will be undersupplied when I retire.”.

For more about Fairmont-Raffles, visit www.frhi.com

Andrea Zavadsky and Alisha Haridasani

SIA deploys A330-300 on Singapore-Guangzhou route

Singapore Airlines has deployed an Airbus A330-300 aircraft on the Singapore-Guangzhou route from today, October 31, 2010, marking the Guangzhou 2010 Asian Games.

The aircraft departs from Changi Airport at 0810, arriving in Baiyun International Airport at 1205. The return flight leaves Guangzhou at 1315 and arrives in Singapore at 17:25.

Thereafter, the flight frequency of the scheduled return flights, using A330-300 aircraft, will be increased to one per day from the current five per week for the Northern Winter schedule.

For more details, visit www.singaporeair.com

Margie T Logarta

JAL and CX strike up new codeshare pact

Japan Airlines (JAL) and oneworld partner Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) are in a new codeshare agreement that sees JAL’s flight indicator “JL” on flights operated by CX via Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore to destinations in Asia-Pacific, Africa, Australia and Europe. This takes place from November 1, 2010.

The designated services with the new tags are Hong Kong-Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Penang, Surabaya, Ho Chi Minh City as well as Johannesburg, Brisbane, Rome and Milan. The Bangkok-Mumbai, Bangkok-New Delhi and Singapore Colombo routes are also included in the codeshare.

Reservations for travel starting from November 1 are now open.

The cooperation follows a previous announcement by the two carriers that they would codeshare on all their flights between Hong Kong and Japan and 13 selected domestic routes operated by JAL from October 31.

For more information, click here or visit www.jal.com or www.cathaypacific.com

Alisha Haridasini

TAM launches in-flight connectivity

TAM Brazilian Airlines has launched in-flight mobile services on one of its Airbus A321s, with more aircraft to be equipped next year.

The carrier is using technology provider OnAir to offer its passengers mobile phone access onboard domestic flights between Guarulhos (Sao Paulo), Recife, Natal, Fortaleza and Porto Alegre.

TAM says that the service will allow up to eight passengers to use their mobile phones at any one time, with the service activated once the aircraft reaches an altitude of 4,000 metres.

Passengers will also be able to access emails and the internet through smartphones, although note that this will be through GPRS networks, rather than broadband internet. Users will be charged according to international roaming rates.

TAM says it plans to equip more aircraft on domestic routes with the technology next year.

For more information visit tam.com.br, and for a closer look at the future of in-flight connectivity, see Stay Connected in the November 2010 issue of Business Traveller.

Report by Mark Caswell

Business Traveller November 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 November 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 which airlines are offering mobile phone and wifi services
  • The latest desktop replacement laptops
  • Meetings in Lisbon
  • A day in the life of an event planner at London’s Grosvenor House
  • A round-up of the top hotel bars in Tokyo
  • A report on Schiphol’s plans to entice transfer passengers
  • Four hours in Doha
  • A report on black cabs vs minicabs at Heathrow
  • A look at the changing skyline of Rome
  • A round-up of new tax free products on sale at the airport
  • Developments at London’s Olympic site
  • Fun-filled itineraries for time out in Kuala Lumpur
  • A report on the South African city of Durban
  • A look at the new taxes being levied on air passengers
  • Our frequent traveller is subjected to the middle seat in economy
  • A look at the Paris to Tokyo route with JAL and Air France

If you are already a subscriber to Business Traveller, simply log in and then click here 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.

BA announces six-month profit

The carrier has announced profits of £158 million for the six months to September 30. In its interim management report the carrier also said that all of its long-haul fleet will be fitted with the new First seating by the end of 2011.

The £158 million before-tax figure was recorded during what is traditionally the most profitable period of the year for airlines, but nevertheless compares with a loss of £292 million over the same period last year. The turnaround was also achieved with a background of ash cloud and strike disruption over the first half of this year.

The full interim management report has been posted on our forum, and includes the news that BA achieved an operating profit of £370 million in the second quarter of this year, compared to a loss of £17 million for the same period in 2009.

CEO Willie Walsh said that BA’s “concerted efforts to introduce permanent structural change across the airline has led to a reduction in non-fuel costs and a return to profitability”, and confirmed that the first of its cabin crew recruited on new terms and conditions have completed training and will start flying on Monday (November 1).

The carrier also said that 12 of its aircraft have now been fitted with the new First seating, with the rest of its long-haul fleet to be fitted by end of 2011. For more information on the new BA First product, click here.

BA said that it will also bring another of its parked B747 aircraft back into service next summer, to fulfil a planned increase in capacity, and the carrier has also converted options on two more Embraer aircraft to serve Cityflyer operations out of London City (see online news October 19).

On the subject of increased APD charges, which come into effect on November 1 and will see a hike of up to 55 per cent in fees on some long-haul flights, BA said that “We already meet our carbon costs twice over even before these increases”, and warned that “Excessive taxation puts aviation’s social and economic benefits at risk”.

For more information visit ba.com, and click here to take part in the forum discussion on today’s results.

BA has also launched its latest sale, with discounts across all cabins. The promotion runs until November 9, and more details can be seen here.