Eau d’Iberia: Airline creates its own scent

Whether or not this idea smells like roses remains to be seen, but Iberia has created its own scent.

The Mediterráneo de Iberia aroma will be used on all the Spanish carrier’s aircraft and in its VIP lounges from tomorrow.

The airline promises it to be a “fresh, soft and delicate fragrance that provides a sense of wellbeing, a warm welcome to the airplane… [with] notes of fruit, flowers and wood, and a touch of citrus: lemon, orange, bergamot and mandarin, elegantly combined to highlight the delicate scent of orange blossom”.

Carolina Martinoli, director of marketing at Iberia, said: “Our aim is to go further than a simple brand image change. We want to transform the customer experience in every point of contact.

“The sensory element, such as the music and scent, support this change. We have created an exclusive, fresh and lively scent, with a Spanish touch, which is consistent with our brand personality.”

Singapore Airlines has been using its own fragrance, Stefan Florida Waters, since the 1990s.

Iberia is also chosen a new selection of music to entertain passengers as they board and disembark its aircraft.

These 12 songs by Spanish artists “reflect the lively and expressive attitude of the new Iberia, with a selection of Latin and Mediterranean nuances which convey freshness and energy”.

iberia.com

Graham Smith

Sri Lankan Airlines is now in Oneworld

At a signing ceremony today at the newly opened Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Sri Lanka (named after President Mahinda Rajapaksa and located in his hometown of Hambantota), Sri Lankan Airlines officially became a member of Oneworld. From tomorrow (May 1) onwards, all of its passengers will enjoy more benefits from other airlines in the alliance. 

It is the first airline in the Indian subcontinent to join an alliance. 

Nishantha Wickramasinghe, chairman of the airline, said he hoped to make Sri Lankan a “vibrant Asian hub, vibrant Asian destination” while becoming a new hub for Oneworld. The carrier is responsible for 40 per cent of the visitors to the island country. 

Bruce Ashley, Oneworld chief executive, asserted that, with its first Indian subcontinent member having joined, the Oneworld network has covered all the major business cities in the world and there are no gaps that need to be filled, although the alliance continues to talk to airlines, including those in India. China, he said, has been well covered by Cathay Pacific and its sister airline Dragonair. 

Sri Lankan Airlines 

Rupert Hogg, chief operating officer of Cathay Pacific, pointed out that Sri Lanka Airlines’ admission has a “special significance” as it represents Oneworld’s “biggest expansion since the alliance was established 15 years go”, following new members such as Qatar Airways (see story), Lan, Tam and US Airways (see story). “In fact, we believe it is the biggest and fastest expansion of any alliance to date.” He also highlighted that with the merger of American Airlines and US Airways having created the largest airline in the US (and the largest in the world by passenger number), it also makes Oneworld the leading alliance in the the country. 

Although still a relatively small operator, Sri Lankan Airlines has almost doubled in size since the end of civil war in its home country four years ago, and there are aggressive expansion plans in place. It operates a 21-strong fleet that includes eight Airbus A320s/321s, seven A330-200s and six A340-300s. The airline has on order of 10 new aircraft, with four of them being A350-900s, the first of which is to be delivered later this year.

The Sri Lankan flag carrier became member-elect of Oneworld in 2012 (see story), with Cathay Pacific (CX) as its sponsor. After completing a readiness review conducted by CX it was then put on track to offically become a member. The Colombo-based carrier will bring two new destinations to Oneworld’s network– Hambantota in Sri Lanka, and India’s Tiruchirapalli. But more importantly, being a Oneworld member helps enhance Colombo as a transit hub, according to the airline’s chief executive Kapila Chandrasena. “Currently the percentage of transfer passengers is 45 per cent, and it will hopefully become 50/50. We expect an increase in point-to-point traffic to Colombo as well,” Chandrasena said.

Colombo, with Bandaranaike as its main international airport (the other being Ratmalanam, but it remains mostly for domestic flights), is a popular transit point for India and the Maldives. 

From tomorrow (May 1) onwards, all 100,000 members of Sri Lankan’s Fly Smiles loyalty programme will have their frequent flyer privileges recognised by all Oneworld member airlines. Platinum cardholders of Fly Smiles will gain Oneworld Emerald status, while Fly Smiles Gold will be equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire, and FlySmiLes Classic to Oneworld Ruby.

Perhaps one of the biggest perks premium passengers of Sri Lankan Airlines and Fly Smiles Platinum and Gold members will be most delighted by is access to 600 plus lounges offered by Oneworld members around the world. For example, when flying out of Hong Kong International Airport, they will no longer be limited to the Plaza Premium Lounge, but will be able to make use of great facilities such as The Wing and The Bridge (see story) by Cathay Pacific, and the new Qantas business lounge (see story). 

At Bandaranaike, Sri Lankan Airlines offers the Serendib and Serendiva Lounges, and Chandrasena believes that they are sufficient to handle demand for the next two years. A new pier is expected to open in 2016, by then there should be more offerings.

In terms of in-flight products, most of the airline’s fleet has been retrofitted with new business class flatbeds complete with next-generation inflight-entertainment system. They won’t be installed on the A340 aircraft, which will be phased out by October. Chandrasena has also revealed that the airline is planning to make orders for B737-800s to increase its fleet’s flexibility in capacities and efficiency. New destinations being considered include Hyderabad in India, and countries such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Vietnam. 

Visit www.srilankan.com and www.oneworld.com 

Sri Lankan becomes Oneworld member

Sri Lankan Airlines has today officially become a Oneworld member.

The carrier, which became a member elect of the alliance in mid-2012 (see news, June 2012), now offers Oneworld’s complete range of services and benefits.

The move means that the 100,000 members of Sri Lankan’s Flysmiles loyalty programme, in effect, have their frequent flyer privileges extended to whenever they fly with any Oneworld member airline.

Sri Lankan joins Oneworld

Flysmiles Platinum cardholders have Emerald status in the Oneworld programme, while Flysmiles Gold is the equivalent to Oneworld Sapphire, and Flysmiles Classic is Oneworld Ruby.
Cathay Pacific served as Sri Lankan’s sponsor into Oneworld.

Flysmiles Platinum and Gold members can now use any of the more than 600 airport lounges worldwide offered by Oneworld member airlines whenever they fly with one of the alliance’s carriers.

Sri Lankan Business Class passengers are also able to use Oneworld partner airline lounges.

And, the 150 million members of other Oneworld airlines’ frequent flyer programmes can earn andredeem awards and tier status points and receive all other Oneworld benefits on Sri Lankan.

Sri Lankan joins Oneworld

Sri Lankan Airlines operates a fleet of 21 aircraft from its Colombo base and has orders for ten more aircraft, including four A350-900s.

Its entry into Oneworld brings three new destinations to the network, Kochi, Tiruchirappalli and Thiruvananthapuram, all of which are in southern India and will expand the alliance’s global coverage to 860 destinations in more than 150 countries.

TAM Airlines and US Airways joined Oneworld on March 31 (see news, April 1).

oneworld.com

Graham Smith

Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Pangyo opens

Marriott International has announced the opening of a new Courtyard by Marriott-branded property in Seongnam, a satellite city of Seoul. The 282-room Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Pangyo is located approximately 20 kilometres southeast of the Korean capital and set within the Pangyo Techno Valley, a fast-developing IT cluster in the city.

The hotel is part of a 19-story mixed-use building, and occupies the 8th floor and above. Offices, shops and F&B outlets are located in the levels below.

Courtyard by Marriott Seoul Pangyo implements a smoke-free policy throughout the hotel’s premises, and offers guestrooms ranging in size from 26 to 42 sqm. All rooms are equipped with a 40-inch flat screen television, workstation and internet connectivity.

An executive lounge is located on the top (19th) floor and offers guests residing on the executive floor complimentary daily breakfast, evening happy hour with canapés, meeting room usage and complimentary coffee and tea.

Food and beverage options include all-day dining restaurant Momo Café and the Momo bar, which overlooks the Pangyo Techno Valley.

There are also seven multi-functional meeting rooms that can accommodate small business meetings. The largest space, Pagoda, can host 40 guests.

To celebrate the opening of the new hotel, Marriott International is offering a “Stay three Nights and Save 33 per cent” offer that is valid now through to May 31. 

For more information, visit www.marriott.com

Clement Huang

Accor to open M Gallery hotels in UK

Victory House, London Leicester Square, MGallery by Sofitel

Accor will open three M Gallery boutique hotels and renovate six mid-scale Mercure properties in the UK by next year.

The M Gallery hotels will be located in Windsor, Cheltenham and Aberdeen and will join the brand’s only other UK property, the Francis Hotel in Bath.

The flagship Mercure hotels to undergo refurbishment will be Bristol Holland House Hotel and Spa, Cardiff Holland House Hotel and Spa, Oxford Eastgate Hotel, Sheffield St Paul’s Hotel and Spa, Exeter Southgate Hotel and Box Hill Burford Bridge Hotel.

M Gallery Aberdeen

The Aberdeen M Gallery property

M Gallery Cheltenham

The Cheltenham M Gallery property

The renovations of all six properties will begin this year. They will join the existing flagship Mercure London Bridge.

Thomas Dubaere, managing director of Accor UK & Ireland, said: “With three new elegant hotels in the M Gallery Collection and six flagship hotels for Mercure, we are really proving the strength of our brands in the UK.”

Accor currently has 200 hotels in the UK. It is opening a Sofitel hotel in Dubai tomorrow (see news, March 20).

accorhotels.com

Graham Smith

Norwegian to scrap EU long-haul airline plans?

Norwegian’s plans to build an international long-haul airline based in Ireland may be scrapped if it fails to gain backing from the US Department of Transportation (DOT).

The carrier launched flights to the US and Bangkok from its Nordic base last year, and in February gained an operating licence, enabling it to host the business in the EU, where it can operate under more favourable conditions and take advantage of the Open Skies trade agreement with the US.

The airline is currently operating under a temporary licence and is awaiting a decision from the DOT for a permanent licence.

The application for a permanent licence has been fiercely contested by some parts of the industry. They claim the main reason for the move is to bypass Norway’s strict labour laws, avoiding high labour costs and enabling it to employ cheaper Thai workers.

Norwegian denies this claim and said the move is to gain access to future traffic rights to and from the EU.

Bjoern Kjos, Norwegian’s chief executive, said: “An additional delay — or in the worst case, a negative decision by the US DOT — may regrettably force us to reverse our commitment to build an international long-haul airline in Ireland.”

Kjos also confirmed the delay in gaining the permanent licence has led to it suspending talks to purchase 20 Dreamliner planes from Boeing.

He said: “”Unfortunately, the delay in the DOT process has given us no other choice than to put our ongoing negotiations with Boeing to purchase 20 new 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft — due to be registered in Ireland — on hold until Norwegian Air International’s future in the US has been decided.”

Earlier this year, Norwegian ordered four more B787-9s despite issues with its Dreamliner fleet (see news, February 13).

norwegianair.com

Tom Newcombe

Plaza Premium Lounge to make Heathrow debut in June

Plaza Premium Lounge will launch its first European facility at London Heathrow Terminal 2: The Queen’s Terminal on June 4, the same day as the airport terminal opens.

For Business Traveller Asia-Pacific’s earlier report about the lounge, see here.

As a pay-in service, the new lounge will be open to all travellers departing from the terminal, regardless airline or class of travel. The cost of entry will be £38 (US$63) per person for two hours.

The lounge has five shower rooms, five en-suite private relaxation rooms, and a Wellness Spa offering treatments by British organic spa brand ILA. Food and beverage highlights include a champagne bar with tapas selection and an a la carte menu featuring guest recipes from British celebrity chefs.

Dining area

Other facilities within the lounge include high-speed wifi, international newspapers and magazines, TV’s and full flight information.

“With our extensive experience in designing, managing and operating airport lounges around the world, our goal is to make every journey better for travellers. We are absolutely thrilled to announce our arrival in Europe in conjunction with the launch of Terminal 2 at London Heathrow,” said Song Hoi See, founder and CEO of Plaza Premium Lounge Management Limited.

The lounge will be open daily from 0500 to 2300. Bookings can be made online through the company’s official website.

For more information, visit www.plaza-network.com

Sri Lankan Airlines officially joins Oneworld

At a signing ceremony today at the newly opened Mattala Rajapaksa International Airport in Sri Lanka (named after President Mahinda Rajapaksa and located in his hometown of Hambantota), Sri Lankan Airlines officially became a member of Oneworld. From tomorrow (May 1) onwards, all of its passengers will enjoy more benefits from other airlines in the alliance. 

Nishantha Wickramasinghe, chairman of the airline, said he hoped to make Sri Lankan a “vibrant Asian hub, vibrant Asian destination” while becoming a new hub for Oneworld. The carrier is responsible for 40 per cent of the visitors to the island country. 

Bruce Ashley, Oneworld chief executive, asserted that, with its first Indian subcontinent having joined, Oneworld members have covered all the major business cities in the world and there are no gaps that need to be filled, although the alliance continues to talk to airlines, including those in India. China, he said, has been well covered by Cathay Pacific and its sister airline Dragonair. 

Rupert Hogg, chief operating officer of Cathay Pacific, pointed out that Sri Lanka Airlines’ admission has a “special significance” as it represents Oneworld’s “biggest expansion since the alliance was established 15 years go”, following new members such as Qatar Airways (see story), Lan, Tam and US Airways (see story). “In fact, we believe it is the biggest and fast expansion of any alliance to date.” He also highlighted that with the merger of American Airlines and US Airways having created the largest airline in the US (and the largest in the world by passenger number), it also makes Oneworld the leading alliance in the the country. 

Although still a relatively small operator, Sri Lankan Airlines has almost doubled in size since the end of civil war in its home country four years ago, and there are aggressive expansion plans in place. It operates a 21-strong fleet that includes eight Airbus A320s/321s, seven A330-200s and six A340-300s. The airline has on order 10 new aircraft, with four of them being A350-900s, the first of which is to be delivered later this year.

CX to be first airline to operate out of Changi T4

Changi Airport Group (CAG) and Cathay Pacific Airways (CX) have announced that the Hong Kong-based airline will be the first carrier to operate out of Singapore’s Changi Airport’s Terminal 4 (T4) when it officially opens in 2017. The country’s own Singapore Airlines is expected to continue to operate out of Terminal 3.

As previously reported by Business Traveller Asia-Pacific (see here), T4 will be built on the site of the former Budget Terminal (BT). The two-storey, 25-metre-high structure will be about seven times larger than the old BT, enabling it to serve both full-service and low-cost carriers.

CX has operated out of the old Terminal 1 ever since the airport opened in 1981, and its passengers will be able to enjoy the benefits of the new terminal including a new premium lounge located in the second mezzanine level of T4. Sized at more than 800 sqm, it will be significantly larger than the carrier’s existing facility at Terminal 1, and command views into the apron and runway similar to the airlines’ new lounge, The Bridge, at Hong Kong International Airport (see here).

CX is one of Changi Airport’s first airline partners, and is now among the top 10 largest airlines at the airport in terms of passenger volume, according to CAG. The carrier offers nine daily services from Hong Kong to Singapore, including one via Bangkok, plus four weekly services to Colombo via the Lion City.

The relocation to the T4 will provide CX with ample room for future growth. The new terminal is designed to handle 16 million passengers annually, and will feature 21 contact stands – 17 for narrow-body and four for wide-body aircraft.

“Operating at Changi Airport’s T4 offers us the perfect opportunity to bring self-service and automated options to more of our passengers, giving them more control over how they want to use their time at the airport. With the exciting range of shopping and dining options lined up at Terminal 4, we envisage that the time savings, and in turn the improved travel experience, will be appreciated by our discerning passengers,” said Wilson Yam, general manager, Southeast Asia, Cathay Pacific Airways. 

For more information, visit www.cathaypacific.com and www.changiairport.com

Clement Huang

Five travel pet peeves

This story never gets old: We all have a love-and-hate relationship with travel, and there are just things that you can’t stop grumbling about. Here are five of ours:

WHAT? There are still airports making us take off our shoes at security check.

WHY? The thought of walking on the cold floor bare-footed after thousands of others have done the same just sends shivers down our spines.  

SOLUTION Leave your party sandals in the checked bags for later – wear loafer-style shoes and socks when catching your flights.

 

WHAT? The lounge is a half marathon away from your departing gate.

WHY? Why we hate this is obvious, but it’s worse when they make you run for the gate with a final call and then the flight is delayed when you are on board – we could have used another glass of champers in the lounge!

SOLUTION Choose an airline that belongs to an alliance – that way, the possibility of being able to use a lounge closer to the gate is higher.

 

WHAT? People taking pictures all around the airport and giving us an annoyed look when you pass through in front of the camera. Worse still, people now suddenly stop right in front of us and take selfies, sometimes making us bump into them.

WHY? Look, you might have a whole day, and perhaps taking your one holiday trip in the year – we are in a hurry and have work to do! 

SOLUTION The good ol’ “Excuse me!”

 

WHAT? A passenger cracking open the window shade when the cabin light is still off and everyone is still asleep, or trying to enjoy a movie.

WHY? Need we say more? 

SOLUTION My dear flight attendant, would you go ask that fellow passenger to please close the shade! Or pick a B787-operated flight where the windows can be dimmed from central control.


WHAT? People who bounce up for the overhead bin to grab their bags and then run for the exit when you are still trying to get out of your seat

WHY? Look, we know you are busy – so are we – but the plane door is still closed and the five seconds you have saved by jumping in front of us aren’t really going to make your life that much better.

SOLUTION Not much we can do other than letting these hyperactive fellow passengers save five seconds from their lives. We’ll just do it at normal speed.

Read the “Frequent traveller” column in the May issue of Business Traveller Asia-Pacific to hear about the pet peeves of our funny and grumpy correspondent. To subscribe, click here.

And what about yours? Share with us what you hate about travel.

Clement Huang and Reggie Ho