Long delays at Amsterdam Schiphol

Amsterdam Schiphol

Amsterdam Schiphol airport is suffering from long delays at present, including disruption which has led to thousands of bags being delayed.

The increased security is a result of a decision taken after a joint meeting of the Mayor, Public Prosecution Office, Chief Royal Military Police and the Police of the municipality of Haarlemmermeer (in consultation with the NCTV)


and was said to be “based on a ‘signal’ relating to Schiphol Airport”.

“The additional measures are visible and noticeable. Security has been intensified. In addition to these measures, various invisible measures have been put in place as well.”



Thai Airways hopes to serve US non-stop

Thai Airways B777 business class

Thai Airways has earmarked either San Francisco or Seattle as destinations  it would like to serve non-stop once it takes delivery of its B787-9s next year, according to the Bangkok Post.

San Francisco in particular would provide more connection opportunities for passengers, as it is a major hub of fellow Star Alliance member United, while Seattle is the nearest major west-coast city Thai could serve.

However, the ability of Thai Airways to relaunch flights to the US depends on the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) upgrading Thailand’s aviation status to category one.

The FAA downgraded Thailand to category two status last year following a “red flag” from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), meaning all Thai-based carriers were banned from launching new routes to the US.

According to the Bangkok Post, the country has since worked hard to upgrade its air safety, with Thai Airways launching a “Safety Beyond Compliance” project to help Thailand’s aviation industry comply with international standards.

“If the Thai aviation regulator solves the problem and the red flag is lifted, the FAA would also allow Thai-registered carriers to fly in and out of the country [US] as usual,” said Thai Airways’ president Charamporn Jotikasthira.

Thai Airways previously served New York and Los Angeles via Japan and South Korea, but was forced to cut both services due to poor yields. Compounding this was the four-engine gas-guzzler A340-500 used on the routes, which severely affected the carrier’s profit margins amidst the high costs of fuel  (US$111 per barrel then compared to US$41 today).

However, with the Star Alliance member taking delivery of its first batch of fuel-efficient B787-9s next year, the airline has stated its intention to launch non-stop services.

For more information, visit thaiairways.com

Clement Huang

Accorhotels opens first Novotel property in Xian

Novotel Xian

Accorhotels has opened the first Novotel-branded property in Xian and Shaanxi Province.

The 275-room Novotel Xian SCPG is located next to the new Xian Incity shopping mall, and is a 30-minute drive from Xiangyang International Airport. Meanwhile, the city’s most popular attraction, the Qin Tomb Terracotta Warriors and Horses, is a 45-minute drive away.

Each guestroom features wifi connectivity, an iPod docking station and a pillow menu. Other standard in-room amenities include flat-screen television, work desk and mini bar.

The hotel is also home to a restaurant and bar. Food Exchange Buffet Restaurant offers a mix of international and local cuisine while Tang Tea Bar serves up an extensive menu of Chinese tea and drinks.

Other facilities include two private dining rooms, a fitness centre, and 365 sqm of meeting spaces that comprises of four multi-function rooms.

To commemorate the opening, Novotel Xian SCPG is offering a special room rate of RMB 568 (US$85) nett, which includes breakfast for two. The promotion lasts until August 31.

For more information, visit accorhotels.com

Clement Huang

China Southern to reduce Amsterdam capacity

China Southern Airlines Airbus 380

China Southern Airlines will reduce capacity of its Beijing–Amsterdam route from August 29.

According to Luchtvaartnieuws.nl (Dutch only), the Skyteam member will replace the existing A380 with the smaller A330-300, representing more than a 40 per cent reduction in seating capacity.

Service times will remain unchanged. Flight CZ345 departs Beijing daily at 0030 and arrives in Amsterdam at 0510. The return service sees flight CZ346 take off from Amsterdam at 1450, before touching back down in Beijing at 0615 the following day.

According to the Dutch outlet, the decision to axe the A380 from the route is linked to a decrease in travel demand for Europe, following the recent terrorist attacks throughout the region.

Furthermore, Chinese nationals are favouring Australia and the US as potential destinations due to the recent relaxing of the visa application process.

For more information, visit csair.com

Clement Huang

Singapore Airlines and Flybe launch interline agreement

Singapore Airlines' A380 in final approach

Singapore Airlines has signed a new interline agreement with Flybe, allowing travellers to purchase through tickets from 19 airports across the UK, onto SIA long-haul routes from Manchester, Amsterdam, Paris and Dusseldorf.

Examples include Flybe connections from the Scottish airports of Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness, via Manchester and onto Singapore, from London City via Amsterdam or Paris CDG, and from Birmingham via Amsterdam, Paris CDG or Dusseldorf.

SIA says that benefits of the new deal include

  • single-ticketing on interline destinations available through singaporeair.com
  • through-checking of luggage, with the larger SIA economy baggage allowance of 30kg per person applying
  • customer protection in the event of either leg of the journey being disrupted
  • a reduction in Air Passenger Duty versus purchasing long-haul and short-haul tickets separately

From October 30 SIA will also launch a new transatlantic service between Manchester and Houston.

singaporeair.com, flybe.com

Swiss latest carrier to suspend Istanbul service

Swiss A320

Swiss has become the latest in a growing list of airlines who have decided to either suspend, cancel or reduce capacity to Istanbul.

According to routesonline.com Swiss International Airlines will temporarily suspend its six-weekly Zurich to Istanbul service between October 30 of this year and March 25, 2017.

Swiss, which is a subsidiary of Lufthansa, is following at least another four airlines who have either suspended or completely cancelled their Istanbul services.

The recent terror attacks both in Istanbul and elsewhere in Turkey have led to a decline in passenger traffic.

A couple of months ago both Iberia and US carrier Delta suspended flight operations and they were followed this month by China Southern.

And last week The Taipei Times reported that the Taiwanese carrier EVA Air has just suspended operations to Istanbul.

And yet this is a route which EVA Air launched only a few months ago with high hopes of expanding its global presence.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had issued an “orange alert” for Turkey following the failed coup in Ankara. The orange alert means that visitors coming from Taiwan should be highly cautious and avoid unnecessary travel to Turkey.

With Asian travellers notoriously cautious when overseas it would appear there will be little demand for EVA Air’s service.

On top of this Emirates says it is to reduce capacity to Istanbul by withdrawing flights to the city’s secondary Sabiha Gokcen airport, even though they were started only last December.

In a statement emailed to Business Traveller, Emirates says “We are suspending services to Sabiha Gokcen from August 1. This decision was made as part of our routine operational review, to ensure that our capacity is deployed to best serve customer demand across our global network. We remain committed to Istanbul and will continue to serve its main airport with 11 weekly flights.”

One would suspect other foreign airlines may well adjust their Istanbul flight schedules in the months ahead.  Much will depend on the future situation.

Swiss is a subsidiary of the Lufthansa Group and a fair number of its passengers will be connecting off long-haul Swiss flights from North America, Asia and so on.

So some passengers will be inconvenienced. However, judging by past experience, in such a situation Swiss passengers will be protected on flights operated by other members of the Lufthansa Group or fellow Star Alliance carriers.

For now Turkish Airlines continues its regular operations. But one must remember that Turkey’s national airline is a major sixth freedom carrier and therefore many of its passengers are flying through, rather than to or from, Istanbul.

swiss.com, evaair.com, emirates.com, turkishairlines.com

Accorhotels launches Hertz partnership

Accorhotels and Hertz partnership car 2

Accorhotels has launched a new partnership with Hertz, offering discounted rentals and additional benefits including upgrades and complimentary additional drivers.

Members now benefit from the following:

  • A 10 per cent discount on pre-paid and non-pre-paid  Hertz Classic retail rates worldwide
  • One additional driver at no extra cost
  • 900 Hertz Gold Plus Rewards points (enough for one Reward Rental Day) upon enrolment
  • Complimentary one-car class upgrades, depending on member status
  • Five Le Club Accorhotels points per Euro spent with Hertz until the end of August (usually three points per Euro spent)
  • Status matching between memberships (Silver, Gold and Platinum tiers)

The new benefits are available to members in Europe, Asia-Pacific, Africa, Middle East, Latin America and Canada.

More information and details on how to enrol are available here.

accorhotels.com, hertz.com