Frasers Hospitality to open second Istanbul property

Frasers Hospitality will open its second property in Istanbul next month.

Fraser Place Antasya Istanbul is located in the Umraniye district on the Asian side of the city, and will offer 80 apartments with one and two-bedroom options.

Fraser Place Antasya Istanbul

Apartments will feature fully equipped kitchens and free wifi, and facilities include a 24-hour concierge service, restaurant, gym, indoor pool, steam and sauna facilities, business centre and meeting rooms.

The property will join the existing Fraser Place Anthill Istanbul, which is located on the western side of the city.

Fraser Place Antasya Istanbul

Frasers Hospitality bought the Malmaison and Hotel du Vin brands in 2015, and recently announced that it had acquired four UK properties through this subsidiary from Swire Properties Hotels Holdings (see news December 11, 2015).

Mark Caswell

Fraser Place Antasya Istanbul

Dakota to open new Glasgow and Leeds hotels

Dakota Hotels will open new properties in Glasgow and Leeds this year, with plans to bring its new Dakota Deluxe brand to major cities throughout the UK.

The group has two established hotels in Glasgow and Edinburgh, which opened in 2006 and 2007 respectively, and is now expanding with a new partnership with Evans Property Group.

Dakota Deluxe Glasgow is scheduled to open this spring, and will be located on Pitt Street, just around the corner from the Malmaison Glasgow.

Dakota Deluxe Glasgow

The hotel will feature 83 rooms including 11 suites, all with smart TVs, media hubs, Sky HD packages and free wifi.

Dakota Deluxe Leeds will follow later this year, and will be located in the Bond Court are of the city.

The group aims to have at least five openings in the next five years, with primary target cities of Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Manchester and Oxford.

Dakota Hotels was launched by hotelier Ken McCulloch, founder of the Malmaison brand, and responsible for the Aviator Hotel at Farnborough airport.

Mark Caswell

Ritz Paris delays opening until early June

The fire that broke out at Hotel Ritz Paris earlier this month (see news January 19) will delay its much anticipated reopening until June this year.

The change in opening date from mid-March will give the hotel a few extra months to work on the damage caused by the fire.  

Reservations are currently accepted from June 1, with an Executive Room starting at €1,200 (£914) a night, but an exact date will be confirmed in the next few weeks.

Ritz Paris

The fire started on the top floor of the hotel in the early morning of January 19, leading to the closure of Place Vendome and the evacuation of a number of surrounding buildings.

No one was present in the hotel at the time. The Ritz has been closed since August 2012 for a €200 million (£152m) refurbishment.

Paul J DeVries

Flybe confirms Exeter-Norwich launch details

Flybe has announced details of its new domestic route between Exeter and Norwich airports.

The service will launch on March 24, with six flights per week and fares from £17.49 each way.

Flights will depart Exeter at 1205 (Monday to Friday) and 1045 (Sunday), arriving at 1315 and 1115 respectively.

The return leg will leave Norwich at 1520 (Monday to Friday) and 1220 (Sunday), landing back into Exeter at 1640 and 1340 respectively.

The new route is a result of the UK government’s Regional Air Connectivity Fund (see news March 2015).

The government invited proposals for commercial services to be operated on a shortlist of new international and domestic routes to and from UK regional airports handling fewer than five million passengers a year.

A list of the successful routes and their carriers can be seen below.

Mark Caswell

Regional Air Connectivity Fund

Regional Air Connectivity Fund

First look: the new Swiss B777-300ER

Swiss Business class cabin

Photos from a tour of the aircraft will follow – the images below are from Swiss.

Swiss took delivery of the first of its nine new B777-300ER aircraft today. The aircraft, which bears the registration HB-JNA, was flown directly to Zurich from Boeing’s Everett Factory.

The B777-300ER has a configuration of 340 seats: eight in first class, 62 in business and 270 in economy. The seating will be familiar to passengers from the Swiss A330 fleet, though there are slight differences in all cabins. In business class, for instance, there is a new tray table while perhaps the biggest change in economy is with a 10-across configuration of 3-4-3. Pictures of this are available in the slideshow at the bottom of this piece.

As previously noted (see news January 28), the Boeing aircraft also offers in-flight wifi with a choice of three data packages costing between CHF 9 and CHF 39 to meet customers’ varying internet needs.

Swiss First travellers will be offered a 50MB package on each flight free of charge. Swiss will also offer an in-flight mobile phone option on this aircraft for a trial one-year period (including SMS text messages and data transmission) using roaming technology.

The new B777-300ERs will gradually enter service from the start of the 2016 summer schedules, largely deployed on services to Hong Kong, Bangkok, Los Angeles, San Francisco, São Paulo and Tel Aviv.

Swiss also unveiled its new Senator, first and business class lounges at Zurich airport today – for details click here.

Tom Otley

United to launch San Francisco-Singapore route

United Airlines B787 Dreamliner

United is to launch non-stop flights between San Francisco and Singapore on June 1.

The daily service will be operated by the carrier’s B787 Dreamliner aircraft, and will be the longest scheduled non-stop flight by a US carrier.

Flight UA1 will depart San Francisco at 1125, arriving into Singapore at 0645 two days later, with the return leg UA2 leaving Changi airport at 0845 and landing back into the US at 0915 the same day.

United says that the new non-stop service will save travellers up to four hours journey time each way, compared with the carrier’s current one-stop service and “competitors’ schedules”.

Flight time on the eastbound service will be around 15 hours 30 minutes, with the westbound flight taking around 16 hours 20 minutes.

United says it has timed the new service to connect at San Francisco with “an extensive network of services throughout the US, Canada and Latin America”.

The new route will be the first non-stop service between San Francisco and Singapore. Singapore Airlines has previously offered non-stop flights between its base and both New York and Los Angeles, but these were dropped in 2013 (see news October 2013).

The carrier plans to restart Singapore-US services once it takes delivery of the ultra long-haul version of the Airbus A350 (see news October 2015).

The new United service may be the longest non-stop route by a US carrier, and the longest flight by the B787 Dreamliner, but it won’t be the longest non-stop service worldwide.

That honour currently belongs to Qantas’ A380 Dallas-Sydney route, and will be superceded by Emirates’ B777-200LR service between Dubai and Panama when it launches at the end of March (see news January 14).

Mark Caswell

Swiss unveils new Zurich lounges

Swiss Zurich-lounge

Swiss today unveiled its new Dock E lounge complex at Zurich Airport, timed for the arrival of the first of its new Boeing 777-300ERs.

The new First Class, Business Class and Senator lounges are located in the airport’s Terminal E.

Swizz Zurich Dock E lounge

The three lounges total more than 3,300 square metres and are close to the long-haul departure gates.

All three lounges have access to an outdoor terrace with views of the airport and the Swiss Alps beyond.

Swiss Zurich Dock E lounge

The new spaces have been designed in zones with open areas, working areas, screened off for privacy, and rest zones.

The lounges have chefs preparing fresh meals, while the Senator Lounge has a Whisky Bar offering over 120 different whiskies.

Swiss Zurich Dock E lounge

The Swiss First Lounge has a restaurant with an extensive menu, including the option of fondue or raclette on the terrace in the winter months as they take in the spectacular vistas.

The lounges open officially from Monday of next week. Speaking at the media opening, Markus Binkert – chief commercial officer said:

“More and more our customers choose an airline because of the overall customer experience, not just what is in the air. We need outstanding lounges like these ones particularly in our hub.

“For many customers, flying is a one-stop product as they choose a hub to connect through, and as competition from other hubs increases we have to differentiate ourselves.

“The new hubs achieve this: we have limestone walls, Swiss hospitality and cuisine, and a warm and earthy colour scheme scheme which represents Switzerland very well. Free wireless, lots of plug sockets to charge their items, space but also privacy so people can properly relax, hence the zone concept of the design of the lounge.

“Our location on top of Dock E is that it’s so great to be so close to the gates, so customers can leave the hassles of passport control and security behind and enjoy the lounge until the very last moment.

“But finally, it is the fact that we have a one-of-a-kind of a terrace overlooking runway 28 and the background of the Swiss Alps. I think people will talk about that, but also the whisky bar with a choice of 120 whiskies.”

Swiss Zurich Dock E lounge

The CEO of Swiss, Harry Hohmeister, told me

“The lounge is a real differentiator. We have many competitors, but to Asia it is the Middle East carriers including Turkish, and to the west the European carriers such as Air France and British Airways, so you have to make sure the competition is benchmarking you rather than the other way round. These lounges are top of class, so they will be benchmarking us for a while.”

Business Traveller also had a tour of Swiss’ new B777-300ER aircraft today – photos and more details will be posted here.

ANA confirms A380 order

Japanese carrier ANA has confirmed an order for three Airbus A380 aircraft.

Reports that the airline was poised to place the order circulated at the start of the month (see news January 4), and Airbus has now confirmed that ANA will take delivery of the superjumbos from 2019.

The announcement means ANA will be the first Japanese airline to fly the A380 – fellow Japanese carrier Skymark Airlines had previously ordered six A380 superjumbos, but this agreement was cancelled in 2014, prior to the carrier filing for bankruptcy in early 2015.

Airbus A380

The news follows this week’s announcement that Iran Air has agreed to purchase 118 Airbus aircraft as part of its civil aviation renewal programme. The order will include 12 A380 superjumbos.

The two new agreements are a boost for Airbus’ A380 programme, which has seen new orders stall in recent years.

British Airways is also understood to be considering leasing or buying more A380 aircraft as part of its fleet expansion plans (see news January 19).

Mark Caswell