Easyjet app adds real-time aircraft tracking

Easyjet has become the first airline to offer real-time aircraft tracking to its mobile app.

The Flightradar24 tracking feature went live on the low-cost carrier’s app this morning.

It allows passengers to view the exact location of the aircraft they are due to travel on up to three hours prior to departure. Family and friends can also track the status of their loved one when their flight is in the air.

Easyjet app aircraft tracking feature

The app will show the aircraft’s route, speed, altitude, distance travelled, total distance to destination and aircraft type.

James Millett, Easyjet head of digital, said: “We’re delighted to have launched live location-based flight tracking to our award-winning app.

“More than 800,000 customers use our app every week to make travelling across our network of more than 780 routes even easier.”

Easyjet will increase services from Scotland next year when it adds an extra aircraft to its base at Edinburgh airport (see news, November 27).


Graham Smith

Frasers opens Mercedes-Benz-styled apartments

Serviced apartment operator Frasers Hospitality has teamed up with Mercedes-Benz to restyle some of its residences.

Six out of 70 apartments at Fraser Suites Kensington have been given the Mercedes-Benz Living @ Fraser redesign.

In early 2016, nine apartments at Capri by Fraser Singapore will receive the same design, followed by a roll-out across Asia.

Frasers Mercedes Benz apartment

Frasers Mercedes Benz apartment

All of the apartments to have been converted are two-bedrooms, with seats in S-class leather, curved styling to replicate the luxury cars, and even spotlights by the side of beds (extremely bright) along with art work from the Mercedes-Benz museum on the walls.

Each apartment has a “Black Magic Wall”, a media wall with smart TV and a Burmester sound system, as well as chandeliers by Swarovski in an “S” shape both for Swarovski and S Class.

Each apartment has separate living, dining and bedroom areas and a fully-fitted kitchen.

Rates start from £2,100 per week for a two-bedroom apartment.


Tom Otley

Lufthansa and ground staff union reach agreement

Lufthansa has agreed a compensation package with 30,000 ground staff, avoiding further strike action that has dogged the airline for the past couple of years.

The German carrier said it will make a one-off payment of €2,250 to each employee with a 2.2 per cent rise.

As part of the deal struck with union group Verdi, workers have also entered into a “fundamentally reformed” collective labour agreement regarding the corporate pension scheme.

The deal covers Lufthansa airport staff as well as catering, IT, freight and maintenance workers.

However, Lufthansa is also embroiled in a dispute with cabin crew (see news, November 25) and will meet with representatives of the UFO union on Wednesday.

For newly recruited staff as of January 1 next year, the union succeeded in agreeing on a pension scheme within a Defined Contribution Model. Lufthansa will pay an employer’s contribution amounting to 5.2 per cent of the salary, and in addition, the employees will contribute a co-payment of one per cent.

Volkens added: “I am glad that we can continue to offer an appropriate pension scheme to our employees with this agreement. At the same time, we are able to reduce our risks and costs regarding the pension scheme on a long-term basis due to this new collective labour agreement.”


Tom Newcombe

Turkish Airlines to fly Sabiha Gokcen-Dubai

Turkish Airlines will launch a daily service between Istanbul’s Sabiha Gokcen airport and Dubai next month.

From December 24, the carrier will operate a B737-800 on the route, which will increase to ten-times weekly on March 3.

The service will compliment Emirates’ daily flights on the same route, which the Gulf carrier will commence on December 15 (see news, November 9), as well as Turkish Airlines’ own twice-daily service between Istanbul Ataturk and Dubai.

TK’s Sabiha Gokcen-Dubai route will launch as flights TK758/759 on December 24, reports airlineroute.net.

Outbound service TK758 will depart Istanbul at 2150 and arrive in Dubai at 0420 the next day. Return leg TK759 will leave Dubai at 0520 and land in Istanbul at 0835.

From March 3, three-times weekly flights TK756/757 will be added, operating on Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Outbound service TK756 will depart Istanbul at 1115 and arrive in Dubai at 1740. Return leg TK757 will leave Dubai at 1840 and land in Istanbul at 2155.


Graham Smith

Qatar Airways suspends Osaka service

Qatar Airways will suspend its nonstop service to Osaka Kansai International airport in March for “commercial reasons”.

The carrier currently operates a daily service between its Doha hub and Osaka. From January 12, this will be reduced to five-times weekly before ending on March 31.

The final departure will take place on March 31, with QR802 leaving Doha at 0140 and landing in Osaka at 1655. Return leg QR803 will take-off from Osaka at 2240 and arrive in 0440 the next day.

Qatar Airways said it will offer “alternative travel solutions” via its customer care department.

The Gulf airline will continue to operate daily nonstop service to Tokyo Haneda and Tokyo Narita airports.

Last month, Qatar Airways anounced it will launch a Dreamliner service between Doha and Birmingham next year (see news, October 26).


Graham Smith

Malindo Air to serve Sri Lanka daily

Malindo Air will launch a new service to Sri Lanka next month, with reservations for the carrier’s daily flight between Kuala Lumpur and Colombo now open.

Service will begin on December 15, with flights operated by the B737-800. It features a two-class configuration with 12 seats in business and 150 in economy.

Flight OD185 will depart Kuala Lumpur at 2200 and arrive in Colombo at 2255. The return service on flight OD186 will take off from Colombo at 2355 and touch down in Kuala Lumpur at 0615 the following day.

As a hybrid carrier, Malindo Air offers a near full-service offering at competitive prices. Personal televisions are available in every seat, while a free meal will be offered on the flight. Business class passengers also benefit from larger baggage allowance at 40kg.

For more information, visit malindoair.com

Clement Huang

Sheraton 2020 gains traction

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts has provided more details about its 2020 plan, designed to refresh the brand and its standing in the public eye.

The groundwork for the five-year initiative has already been laid, with Andy Kong, brand manager, greater china, Sheraton, Westin and Le Meridien revealing that a new digital online platform was launched earlier this year – designed to be more intuitive with compelling content.

For example the search engine has been streamlined so guests can see all properties with availability within a certain destination, rather than having to check each property individually.

A US$100 million global advertising campaign has also been developed, with the group debuting its first Chinese television commercial in Zhuhai this weekend. The campaign is expected to run until 2017, with a focus on generating buzz through carefully executed social media strategies.

With the aim of opening over 150 new properties by 2020, Kong reiterated the need for the brand to continually innovate the guest experience. This has resulted in the reinvigoration of the lobby bar experience with the launch of “Paired”. The new F&B program comprises artisanal small plates and bar snacks that are served alongside premium wines and local craft beers.

Another key point of Sheraton 2020 includes the launch of Sheraton Grand. As previously reported (see here), this will see over a hundred premier Sheraton properties elevated to the new Sheraton Grand tier. Initially focused on global gateways to target high-value travellers, the brand aims to better match guests’ experiences and showcase Sheraton’s best properties.

A total of 10 Sheraton hotels have so far been elevated to the new tier, with five of those being based in Asia-Pacific. These include:
Sheraton Grand Bangalore Hotel
Sheraton Grand Beijing Dongcheng Hotel
Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit
Sheraton Grande Taipei Hotel
Sheraton Grande Tokyo Bay Hotel

Sheraton’s brand expansion is unlikely to affected by the recent US$12.2 billion acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts by Marriott International (see here), said Sunny Heng, managing director of Sheraton Zhuhai. A veteran hotelier with more than 30 years experience, Heng believes that the individual hotel brands will continue to develop and grow independently.   

For more information, visit sheraton.com

Clement Huang

Jetstar Asia launches flights to Da Nang

Jetstar Asia has launched its inaugural flight between its base in Singapore and Da Nang, making it the first low-cost carrier (LCC) to connect the two destinations.

Da Nang is the second Vietnamese port served by the airline after Ho Chi Minh City.

As a growing tourist destination, Da Nang is well known for its coastal beauty, golf courses and landmarks that reflect the influences of the traditional Champa kingdom as well as Japanese, Chinese and French cultures.

“LCCs have been operating in ASEAN for many years and we recognise the positive transformation that Jetstar and other low-fare carriers have made on tourism and the economy,” said Tran Chi Cuong, deputy director of Da Nang department of culture, sports. 

“Tourism to Da Nang has been on the rise and we expect to welcome close to 4.6 million visitors by the end of 2015.”

The three-times weekly service operates every Tuesday, Friday and Sunday, with flight 3K 541 departing Singapore at 1805 and arriving in Da Nang at 1935. The return service sees flight 3K 542 take off from Da Nang at 2015, before touching back down in Singapore at 2345.

Flights are operated with an Airbus A320, which Jetstar Asia has outfitted with 180 economy seats in a single-class configuration.

For more information, visit jetstar.com.sg

Clement Huang

Five airlines that sponsor football teams

Football’s global popularity has resulted in airline sponsorship becoming increasingly common for many teams.

Here, we look at five carriers who have aligned their brand with a football team.


Emirates has always held football as an important asset in its sponsorship portfolio and has deals in place with both Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain.

Emirates Stadium

The airline’s partnership with Paris Saint-Germain began in 2005 and extended its reach as the club’s main shirt sponsor from 2006.

Its relationship with Arsenal dates back to 2004; in addition to its shirt partnership, which under the most recent deal will last until 2018/2019, Emirates also holds the naming rights to the club’s home ground, Emirates Stadium in north London.

Emirates also sponsored clubs including AC Milan, SL Benfica, Hamburger SV, Real Madrid CF and Olympiacos FC.



Delta joined the football world as the Chelsea’s official global airline partner in 2012.

Although the airline is not a principal sponsor, Chelsea chief executive Ron Gourlay best highlighted both the team and the carrier’s benefits through the club partnership.

Delta will guarantee the team can reach all destinations and travel in comfort, while encouraging the airline’s transatlantic growth in utilising London as an important hub.



Etihad has been Manchester City’s main club partner since 2009. The team’s home stadium has been renamed Etihad Stadium, which now acts as the centre of “Etihad Campus”, an area of Sportcity which includes a training facility, which opened in December 2014, and open land that will see future developments.

Last year, Melbourne City FC announced Etihad as its principal partner, while later that year it was revealed that Etihad would become New York City FC’s principal partner as well.

Both partnerships are part of a five-year deal and will feature Etihad’s name and logo on the players’ shirts. In fact, Manchester City and New York City will have essentially the same colours and design.



Qatar is one of two, alongside Nike, of FC Barcelona’s main partners.

In 2011, the Qatar Foundation entered into a five-year deal with the Spanish team. However, after two years the deal was resigned to announce Qatar Airlines as the main sponsor.

Among the benefits, the carrier has added it name and logo to players’ jerseys. Not only has the investment aided in publicity for the airline, but it has also increased the number of flights between Doha and Barcelona.



Sunderland Football Club is sponsored, in part, by South African Airways.

The partnership was announced in 2013 and the airline continues to help the team on all aspects of travel throughout Africa.


Brooke Bumgarner

Four Seasons opens reservations for second Dubai hotel

Four Seasons Dubai DIFC is now accepting reservations from mid-April, with rates starting at AED1,350 (£245).

The group opened a Jumeirah Beach resort at the end of 2014 (see news, October 2014) and recently announced it was working on a second hotel in the city, which will be located at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) (see news, September 2015).

Renovation on the new hotel, a former office block, is due to complete in the second quarter of 2016.

Four Seasons DIFC

Four Seasons DIFC

Set on the south-east corner of the Podium section at DIFC, the property will have 106 rooms and suites, less than half the room count of its sprawling beach-side sibling.

The more intimate scale makes it stand out among neighbouring business-oriented hotels like The Ritz-Carlton DIFC (341 rooms) and Jumeirah Emirates Towers (400 rooms).

Pedestrian walkways connect the hotel to the various offices, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, and retail outlets at DIFC.

Four Seasons Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)

Four Seasons DIFC

Podium lounge, which serves drinks and light meals, will open up to an outdoor terrace

The AED1,350 starting rate is for a Superior Room, which comes in at 34 to 35 sqm and with amenities like a limestone bathroom, iPad mini, and complimentary internet.

Rooms and suites in the furthest corner of the building have views of Burj Kalifa.

The sixth floor Presidential Suite has 180-degree views and stretches across 255 sqm, but can be enlarged by connecting up to four additional bedrooms.

Four Seasons DIFC

Four Seasons DIFC

Four Seasons DIFC

Among the restaurant options will be an American diner. The rooftop of the hotel will have a Sky Bar and terrace as well as an outdoor pool, while the spa will have five treatment rooms and a fitness centre.

Guests have access to all the facilities at Four Seasons Jumeirah Beach and can sign any meals or other bills to their room at DIFC.


Paul J DeVries