China plans to ban Skype

The Chinese government plans to ban Skype in the nation, adding to the list of restricted internet services such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter.

People’s Daily, the government’s official mouthpiece, stated that the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) will only enable state-owned China Telecom and China Unicom – two of the largest phone service providers – to provide customers with their own Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), making other services providing VoIP illegal.

The ministry has not determined a timetable of when the policies will be implemented, according to the report published on the People’s Daily website.

A Skype spokesperson claims that Skype is still functioning amidst the uncertainty and that users can access Skype through the company’s joint venture with Chinese mobile internet provider TOM Online.

Alisha Haridasani

Jetstar signs interline agreement with Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair

Low cost carrier Jetstar has signed interline agreements with Cathay Pacific Airways and Dragonair, enabling passengers of these airlines to also book and purchase Jetstar tickets within a single transaction.

The agreement will allow Jetstar passengers access to Dragonair’s extensive network across China via Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport in Vietnam, and to Cathay Pacific’s Southeast Asian network, while passengers on Cathay Pacific and Dragonair can access Jetstar’s domestic routes around Australia.

Jetstar has interline agreements with 15 other airlines, including Qantas, American Airlines, Air France and Japan Airlines, providing passengers with access to more destinations across the globe.

For more information, visit www.jetstar.com

Alisha Haridasani

Korean Air to feature business-only A380 upper deck

Korean Air has released further details of the configuration of its first A380-800 Superjumbo to be delivered in May 2011.

As previously reported on Business Traveller (see online news October 21), Korean will feature a its lie-flat Prestige Class business seating (for details and pictures of the seats, click here)

The airline now says it will have a total of 94 of these seats on the Upper Deck, reserving it for premium flyers. Senior Vice President and head of the Passenger Business Division of Korean Air,  Walter Cho says the effect will mean travellers will “…feel exclusivity like they’re travelling in their own private jet.”

The Prestige Class seats have 74 inches between seats and “extra large seat partitions” offering what Cho says is “normally the comfort and privacy reserved for First Class passengers on other airlines.”  

Korean’s configuration of the A380 will mean it will have only 407 seats: 12 first class and 301 economy class seats on the first level, and the 94 Prestige Class seats on the upper deck.  It is the first airline to devote the entire A380 second level to the business flyer, although as reported on Business Traveller (see online news December 11), Singapore Airlines is reportedly considering this for its new A380 deliveries in 2011.

Korean Air has ordered ten A380 aircraft with the first five to be delivered by the end of 2011 and an additional five by 2014. The airline will launch its A380s on short haul routes to Japan and East Asia in May, and then expand to Korean Air’s U.S. and European routes in August 2011.

To see how other airlines have configured their A380s, click here

For more information visit koreanair.com

Tom Otley

Qatar increases capacity on Doha-Madrid route

From the start of 2011, Qatar Airways will introduce its Boeing B777-300 on the Doha-Madrid route, replacing the Airbus A330 and therefore increasing capacity to accommodate high demand.

The dual-class aircraft seats a total of 335 passengers – an approximately 30 percent increase in capacity – with 42 business class seats in a 2-2-2 configuration and 293 economy class seats in a 3-3-3 configuration.

The high demand on this route is reflective of Qatar Airways’ growing presence in Europe. The carrier now serves 21 cities after mounting flights to Barcelona in June and Nice in November.

Next year, its European portfolio will be strengthened further with the introduction of flights to Budapest (January 17), Brussels (January 31) and Stuttgart (March 6).

The aircraft has also expressed intentions to further expand its fleet to 140 young aircraft in time for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Currently, the carrier has 93 aircraft with orders for five superjumbo A380s scheduled for delivery in 2012. The carrier also has 30 B787 scheduled for delivery by the end of 2011, 32 B777s and 80 A350s to replace its current fleet by 2013.

For more information, visit www.qatarairways.com

Alisha Haridasani

Fog in India disrupts flights

Heavy fog has hit north India for the past two days, grounding flights across the region due to low visibility as well as bringing trains to a halt at railway stations.

In Delhi alone – a major airport and railway hub – at least 78 flights have been diverted over three days day at Indira Gandhi International Airport (IGI Airport) and several others delayed. Visibility fell to below 50 metres on the morning of December 27, 2010, affecting 49 flights in total: 16 domestic fights and seven international flights were diverted while 26 flights were cancelled. Additionally, five trains going in and out of the capital have been diverted.

Fog started to descend upon the nation on December 26, which disrupted over 70 flights immediately: 40 flights were diverted, 38 flights were cancelled and at least 100 trains were delayed.

Though Low Visibility Procedures have been lifted, flights are still dealing with the backlog of passengers stranded at the airport. The meteorological department has predicted the fog to continue, which may cause further disruptions.

For flight statuses at IGI Airport, visit www.newdelhiairport.in

Alisha Haridasani

Emirates offers Shopping Festival packages

Emirates has teamed up with several beach and city hotels in Dubai to offer special packages during the Dubai Shopping Festival, which runs from January 20 to February 20, 2011.

Travellers that book four night stays at partner hotels will receive one night free. The shopping festival offers upto 50 percent discounts and free gifts at all malls, which already offer tax free shopping.

The offer can be purchased online or through travel agents. There are 23 participating hotels, which include the Westin Mina Seyahi Beach Resort, Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Grand Hyatt, Dubai Marriott, Kempinski Hotel Mall of Emirates and Fairmont Dubai among others. Package prices start from US$55 per person, per night, including airport transfers and breakfast.

For bookings and more information, visit www.emirates.com/dsf

Alisha Haridasani

Technology round-up: Christmas special

Businesstraveller.com brings you the latest travel gadgets and accessories, available this Christmas, to make life on the road easier. This week: The Samsung Galaxy Tab, HTC Desire HD and Fujifilm’s 3D digital camera. Also, Google Maps 5.0.

Samsung Galaxy Tab

Samsung really went all out to get its new Galaxy Tab noticed, with most high street mobile phone and technology retailers scrambling to offer deals on the device. Its main selling point, apart from running the excellent Android 2.2 Froyo operating system, is its size when compared to its main rival, the iPad. Its seven inch screen means it’s less cumbersome than the iPad, and can even fit in pockets (albeit relatively large ones). While Google maintains that its Android OS is not meant for tablets, only mobile phones, the Samsung Galaxy Tab uses it well. The Tab has 3G and wifi, and its built-in browser supports flash. Samsung has even released a number of special apps to make use of the Galaxy Tab’s screen size, as most Android apps are designed for smartphone-sized screens. Of all the Android-powered tablets to emerge in recent months, the Samsung is arguably the one with the highest profile.

PRICE Around £500 with various contracts available

CONTACT galaxytab.samsungmobile.com

 

HTC Desire HD

The HTC Desire HD’s name is perhaps slightly misleading. Rather than be, as the name suggests, the HTC Desire but with a higher resolution, the HD is significantly larger in terms of screen size, and has markedly different looks. The HD doesn’t have the grey metallic case of its older sibling, rather its shiny black styling is more of the iPhone ilk. The most notable thing about the HD is its enormous 4.3” screen that despite being power-hungry makes for an excellent internet browsing and entertainment experience. The HD also has Dolby Mobile and SRS virtual surround sound speakers, and runs Android 2.2 Froyo with HTC Sense. Other notable features include an 8MP camera, 720p HD video recording and a blisteringly fast 1GHz processor.

PRICE Free on contract

CONTACT htc.com

 

Fujifilm FinePix REAL 3D W3

Fujifilm’s FinePix REAL 3D W3 digital camera shoots 2D and 3D images and high definition video through its dual 10MP lenses, which mimic the position of one’s eyes. The results can be seen immediately, on the camera’s view screen, without the need for special glasses, or when connected to any 3D-ready TV via the HDMI connection. Images can also be printed onto special “lenticular” paper, creating a 3D picture again without the need for glasses.

PRICE £300 internet prices

CONTACT fujifilm.com

 

App of the week

Google Maps 5.0 for Android

Google Maps is arguably one of the most useful apps available on any smartphone, and if not then it is under appreciated. Whether you’re a fan of apps featuring augmented reality, spirit levels, toilet locators or angry birds, no matter what your inclination you’re at some point going to find yourself geographically challenged. Google Maps has remained largely unchanged since its birth five years ago, with its 2D, north-pointing maps and reliance on a strong connection. But with the release of Version 5 comes a dramatic new look, with 3D interactive maps. Instead of downloading segments of 2D maps, the new app will draw the buildings in 3D as you go. Finger gestures allow users to tilt and rotate the view. Version 5 also incorporates clever map caching that stores map data for the most visited areas, meaning an end to the slow, square-by-square loading times.

PRICE Free

CONTACT google.com