Etihad suspends Tripoli service

Etihad Airways has suspended its thrice-weekly service to Tripoli effective immediately, it was announced this afternoon.

The carrier attributed its decision to “safety and operational challenges” it has observed in recent months at the Libyan capital’s airport.

The suspension is temporary, the airline said.

Richard Hill, Etihad’s chief operations officer, said: “Regretfully, we have taken the decision to temporarily suspend our flights to Tripoli.

“As the safety and security of our guests, employees and assets remains our number one priority, our assessment of the existing situation at Tripoli airport does not provide the level of assurance we require to ensure safe operation of our flights.

“Once we are satisfied that the arrangements at Tripoli airport meet our requirements, we will resume services.”

The move comes less than two years after Etihad launched its Abu Dhabi – Tripoli service (see news, January 2012).

The airline has also temporarily suspended its twice-weekly cargo flights to Tripoli.

Graham Smith

Jumeirah to open its first Russian hotel

Jumeirah has announced it will be opening its first Russian hotel in St Petersburg.

The group has signed a management agreement to manage a luxury property on Nevsky Prospect in the city.

The hotel will be located within the structure of Wavelberg House, a building of national cultural importance built in 1912, which stands on the corner of Nevsky Prospect and Malaya Morskaya Street, close to the Hermitage and 30 minutes from Pulkovo airport.

Jumeirah St Petersburg

Scheduled to open “within the next three years”, it will contain 74 rooms, including 18 suites, three bars and restaurants, meeting facilities, a spa, and a rooftop hydrotherapy pool.

Gerald Lawless, president and CEO of Jumeirah Group, said: “Jumeirah’s hotels and resorts in Dubai have always been so popular with Russian visitors that we are delighted now to be able to bring the brand to Russia itself.

“The good news is that our first hotel in the Russian market is in such a prestigious location at the heart of St Petersburg in a building that has such a rich heritage.”

Jumeirah currently operates 22 hotels and serviced apartments, including 11 in the Gulf region, six in Europe and five in Asia. A further 15 hotels are under development.

Graham Smith

Shenzhen airport to open new terminal

Shenzhen Bao’an International Airport has completed three test days of the brand-new terminal, and is scheduled be open on November 28. The current terminals A, B and D (International) will cease operations at 2200 on November 27, and all services will be switched to the new terminal at 0600 the next day.


The new 451,000sqm terminal is three times bigger than the current terminals combined, providing 62 airplane bays and 15 parking areas. Levels 1 and 2 are for international and domestic arrivals respectively, while level 3 is the boarding area. Level 4 is for departures, and will have eight areas providing 192 check-in counters, in an arrangement illustrated by the chart below:




China Southern


(#1-12) – China Southern

(#13-24) for group check-in – Spring Airlines, Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Chengdu Airlines, West Air


Hainan Airlines, Sichuan Airlines, Xiamen Airlines, Chengdu Airlines, West Air

D, E (International)

Shenzhen Airlines, China Southern, Air China, China Airlines, Uni Air, Air Asia, Tiger Airways, Silk Air, Korean Air, Air Asiana


China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines, China United Airlines, Lucky Air, Okay Airways, Hebei Airways, Shandong Airlines, Tibet Airlines

G, H

Shenzhen Airlines, Air China


The terminal provides a wide range of facilities and services including a children playground, mobile phone charging stations, smoking rooms, prayer rooms, a business centre, lounges, shops and restaurants. There are also “air-conditioning trees” that also act as broadcast speakers and fire extinguishers.


Last year, 29,568,800 passengers on 240,000 flights used the Shenzhen airport. It is estimated that by 2020, the numbers will reach 45,000,000 passengers and 375,000 aircraft taking off and landing per year.

Click here for a Shenzhen feature from Business Traveller Asia-Pacific’s November issue.

For more information, visit

Valerian Ho

Etihad adding eight live TV channels to IFE

Etihad Airways is introducing eight live television channels to its in-flight entertainment (IFE) system, allowing passengers to watch news and major sports events.

From tomorrow, 21 Etihad widebody aircraft will screen live broadcasts of BBC World News, BBC Arabic, Euronews and Sport 24.

CNBC, Japan’s NHK World Premium and CNN will be introduced during November, and Sky News Arabia will follow in the coming months.

The move means passengers will, for instance, be able to watch live Premier League football games and, over the next few weeks, the final three races of the Formula 1 season — as they happen.

Peter Baumgartner, Etihad’s chief commercial officer, said: “In-flight entertainment is a key part of the guest travel experience and the introduction of the eight live channels, from brands such as Sky News Arabia, CNN and the BBC, as well as top global action on Sport 24, will be a fantastic addition to Etihad Airways’ flights.”

All eight live channels will be available on 37 of Etihad’s widebody aircraft by the end of 2014.

Graham Smith

The Mandarin Cake Shop to open pop-up store at HKIA

Hong Kong International Airport will play host to The Mandarin Cake Shop in offering visitors a special pop-up store as part of their Gourmet Gallery.

Between November 1 2013 and January 2 2014, visitors to the airport can experience Mandarin Oriental’s signature offering without having to visit the hotel at all.

Rose petal jam

Treats on sale at the store range from Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong’s famed rose petal jam and x.o. sauce to the brand’s signature Taste of the Legend tea leaves. In addition, an array of The Mandarin Cake Shop’s iconic homemade chocolates will be available.

x.o. sauce

Finally, in keeping with the festive season, travellers seeking Christmas-themed delights can treat themselves to several products, including Orange Walnut Stollen, Christmas Praline and even Christmas Leckerli cookies.

Taste of the Legend tea

The Mandarin Cake Shop’s Gourmet Gallery will be located in the departure zone in Terminal 1 and will be open between 8am to 8pm daily.

Mandarin Oriental has been expanding its brand, with new properties to open in Chongqing (see here) and Shenzhen (see here) over the coming years.

For more information, visit

Clement Huang

Qantas offers sneak peek of upcoming lounges

Qantas has unveiled details of its new lounges in Hong Kong and Los Angeles ahead of the official venue openings in spring 2014.

The lounges will draw inspiration from their local destinations in terms of their design and dining offerings.

The Qantas Hong Kong lounge is due to open in March 2014, and will feature contemporary interiors that reflect the “diversity, colour and luxury lifestyle” of Hong Kong.

How it will look: An artist’s impersssion of the Hong Kong lounge

Entrance: The Hong Kong lounge is due to open in March

Customers will also be able to sample traditional Hong Kong food including dim sum dumplings served on yum cha trolleys.

In addition, Qantas consulting chef Neil Perry will be creating a regional inspired Asian flavour lounge menu that features classics from his Rockpool and Spice Temple restaurants.

The Los Angeles (LA) business class lounge will be jointly owned by Qantas and fellow Oneworld members, Cathay Pacific and British Airways.

When completed, the new facility will be more than twice the size of the current lounge, and offer nearly 600 seats.

At ease: An mock-up of how the LAX lounge will look

The lounge will be opened in phases – the first part in April 2014 – and completion of the entire facility is expected by the second half of the year.

Comfort: Rendering of the sitting area

Recent lounge openings include Cathay Pacific’s The Bridge at Hong Kong International Airport (see here), and a new Star alliance lounge at LAX (see here).

For more information, visit

Clement Huang  

Double points offer welcomes Qatar to Oneworld

Cardholders of all Oneworld member airlines’ frequent flyer programmes will receive double mileage points over a two-and-a-half month period when flying with Qatar Airways.

Similarly, members of Qatar’s Privilege Club loyalty programme will receive double Qmiles rewards when flying with the carrier’s new Oneworld partners.

The offer marks the entry of Qatar into the alliance. The Doha-based carrier officially joined Oneworld at midnight earlier today (see news, October 29).

The deal runs from November 15 to January 31, apart from during the Christmas holiday period of December 20 to January 5. The offer terminates a week earlier for Cathay Pacific’s Marco Polo Club cardholders on January 24 and those flying with Cathay.

Earlier this month, Qatar brought in changes to its QMiles Privilege Club, including introducing a new Platinum tier (see news, September 9). There are now four tier levels — burgundy, silver, gold and platinum.

Privilege Club Platinum and Gold members will from today be able to access 550 airport lounges worldwide offered by Oneworld member airlines when they fly with one of the alliance’s carriers.,

Graham Smith

Emirates launches Conakry route

Emirates has launched services to Conakry in the Republic of Guinea – the carrier’s 24th destination in Africa and sixth new destination launch this year.

Situated on the Atlantic coast of Africa, Conakry is the nation’s economic, financial and cultural centre. The city is home to two million people – a quarter of the nation’s total population. Main products include agriculture and minerals, with the country being one of the world’s largest producers of bauxite, and containing rich deposits of diamonds and gold.

The operation between Dubai and Conakry will be a linked service that includes Dakar in Senegal as well. Emirates flight EK795 departs Dubai at 0720 and arrives at Conakry International Airport at 1400 the same day. The flight will then leave Conakry at 1525 and reach Dakar at 1705, before departing again at 1835 for a 0740 touch down in the UAE the next day.

The route is operated by an Airbus A340-300, and features a three-class configuration. There are 12 seats in first class, 42 in business and 213 in economy.   

The new service provides opportunities for travellers in Guinea to connect to the carrier’s worldwide network through its Dubai hub, particularly to Asia, the Middle East, India and Australia.

The gulf carrier has recently detailed its growth plans, which will see it bolster its A380 and Boeing 777 fleet with 53 and 64 more of each aircraft type respectively (see here).

For more information, visit

Clement Huang

Regal to introduce smartphone key technology

Guests staying at the soon-to-open “iclub by Regal Sheung Wan Hotel” will be able to unlock their room doors via their personal smartphones and standard mobile devices.

The new select-service hotel from Regal Hotels International will open its doors early 2014, and feature locks in all guestrooms that are compatible with the new technology.

Branded as “iclub mobile key check-in”, the feature is designed to streamline the hotel arrival process. Once guests have signed up for the service, they will receive details of their room number by SMS text messaging or through the hotel’s new Mobile Key by OpenWays smartphone app.

Upon arrival, guests can bypass the traditional check-in procedures through the reception desk, and instead go straight to their room to unlock the door. According to Regal, the technology is compatible with any of the 6.5 billion mobile phones in the world.

The new initiative is part of the brand’s hospitality mobile strategy. Having fewer guest transactions at the front desk lowers costs and in turn allows the hotel to designate manpower and resources to other areas in the hotel where services are needed most. In addition it reduces cost associated with purchasing plastic keycards.  

The group also announced that the feature will be extended to other upcoming properties in Hong Kong, including iclub by Regal Tin Hau Hotel, scheduled to open in mid 2014, and iclub by Regal Soho Hotel, opening 2015.

For more information, visit

Clement Huang

Four suites fit for the famous

These four suites are so exceptional that they have proven fit for the finest – hosting royalty, rock stars and actors in the past year or two.  

Ritz Carlton Suite Ritz Carlton Hong Kong

Hotel: The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

The star-studded unit: The Ritz-Carlton Suite

Features: This 415-sqm, two-bedroom suite is located on floor 117 ­– one of the city’s top vantage points for skyline gazing. The king-size Sealy bed offers 600-thread-count bed linen and down feather pillows and throws, and is complimented by a 55-inch flatscreen LCD TV, a 160GB Classic iPod, Bang & Olufsen BeoSound 8 speaker dock. The bathroom, meanwhile, has its own 32-inch TV, whirlpool, sauna and massage bed, as well as Acqua di Parma bath amenities. There’s also a separate pantry, working area and a walk-in closet. And a butler, of course.

High-profile guest: The one, the only, Lady Gaga 

When they stayed: During the Hong Kong stop of her world tour in April 2012

How much it would cost: Approximately HK$100,000 (US$12,897) per night


Hotel: The Hotel Raphael, Paris Suite Arc de Triomphe The Hotel Raphael

The star-studded unit: Suite Arc de Triomphe

Features: The 73-sqm suite features Louis XV- and Louis XVI-style furniture in ivory tones and bathrooms adorned with tiles and mosaics, a plush four-poster bed with elabourate bedding and a 60-sqm balcony overlooking the Arc de Triomphe! This suite combines creature comforts such as fresh flowers and wine-cellar access with high-tech fittings such as a universal control panel and flat-screen TVs.

High-profile guest: Eva Mendes, who stars in the film Holly Motors. Her boyfriend Ryan Gosling is reported to have visited and stayed in the suite with her during shooting as well.

When they stayed: During the filming of the the movie Holly Motors, which is set in the hotel and was recorded 2012.

How much it would cost: From €2,500 (US$3,447) per night


Jimbaran Puri Bali Two-Bedroom Garden View Pool VillaHotel: Jimbaran Puri Bali, Indonesia

The star-studded unit: Two-Bedroom Garden View Pool Villa

Features: A 350-sqm, two-bedroom duplex suite with spacious separate living, sleeping and outdoor spaces. There’s also a large stone bath and walk-in shower, a private terrace with pool, and the entire “suite” offers 180 degree view of Jimbaran Bay.

High-profile guest: This villa has proven a hit with a number of celebrities – from royalty to rock stars. In 2012-2013 the villa hosted Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger and Crown Prince Henrik of Denmark, among others.

When they stayed: 2012 and 2013

How much it would cost: From US$835


Hotel: Capri Palace Hotel & Spa, Italy Capri Palace Hotel and Spa Presidential Paltrow Penthouse Suite

The star-studded unit: The Presidential Penthouse Suite

Features: The 150-sqm suite takes up ­the entire top floor of the hotel, and comprises marble flooring, antique furniture, a fireplace, walk-in wardrobe, a ceiling window above the bed and a 300-sqm hanging garden complete with heated swimming pool! All with a 360 degree panoramic views. Oh and the second bedroom has its own plunge pool on top of that.

High-profile guest: Gwenyth Paltrow

When they stayed: Her and her family have been regular guests for a while. So much so that in 2009 – after an extensive refurbishment – the suite was dedicated to the actress.

How much it would cost: €6,100-7,700 (US$8,299-10,603)