Hainan Airlines is heading to Madrid in March

Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines is launching its first service to Spain on March 22, 2018, with non-stop twice-weekly flights between Shenzhen and Madrid.

Flights will operate on Thursday and Sunday when flying from Shenzhen to Madrid, a journey that takes 14 hours and 15 minutes, and on Monday and Friday in the opposite direction, which is slightly shorter at 13 hours 5 minutes.

The new route’s schedule is as follows (all times local):

Flight No.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
HU7983ShenzhenMadrid14352150Thu, Sun
HU7984MadridShenzhen00001955Mon, Fri

Hainan Airlines is flying its Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner aircraft on the route. Unfortunately, these do not feature the airline’s newest Dreamliner cabins, which have started being available on certain retrofitted B787-9 aircraft since May 10, 2017.

The B787-8 notably has a business class cabin laid out in a 2-2-2 set up with all seats facing directly forward, as opposed to the new B787-9’s 1-2-1 layout with seats positioned in a herringbone formation. But while the newer aircraft arguably have superior seats, both aircraft do have fully flat seats in their business class cabins. Economy class is laid out 3-3-3.

Hainan Airlines has increasingly been launching routes out of its hub in Shenzhen, located in China’s southern Guangdong province just across the border from Hong Kong.

The rise of mainland Chinese carriers increasingly has placed pressure on Hong Kong’s flagship airline, Cathay Pacific, with the former – Hainan Airlines included – typically offering cheaper fares.

A return business class fare on Hainan Airlines’ upcoming Madrid service starts at RMB15,826 (US$2,469), for example. A similar ticket on Cathay Pacific’s own five-times-weekly service between Hong Kong and Madrid, which is served by its B777-300ER aircraft, costs notably more starting at HK$34,450 (US$4,406).

Hainan Airlines is also set to launch direct flights from Shenzhen to Brussels starting March 20 this year, whilst Cathay Pacific will be launching its own services to the Belgian capital from Hong Kong from March 25 onwards.

hainanairlines.com

IndiGo Airlines commences operations to Colombo

Indigo commences operations in Colombo

IndiGo launched flight operations to Colombo on Saturday 20th January, 2018. The airline now connects Chennai and Bengaluru to the Sri Lankan capital.

With this new addition, Colombo became the 8th international and 49th overall destination on IndiGo’s network.

Schedule as follows:

Flight No.OriginDestinationDepartureArrival
6E 1201ChennaiColombo655815
6E 1202ColomboChennai9151100
6E 1203ChennaiColombo12001325
6E 1206ColomboBengaluru14251555
6E 1205BengaluruColombo18001930
6E 1204ColomboChennai20302155

 

Commenting on the launch, Capt Ashim Mittra, VP Flight Operations, IndiGo says, “IndiGo is delighted to commence its new daily services to and from Colombo. These new connections will not only boost corporate and leisure travel but will also contribute to significant growth in cross border trade and commerce. We are hopeful that these new flights will provide affordable and unmatchable travel experience to our passengers across the country and beyond.”

goindigo.in

Jazreen Deboo

IndiGo launched flight operations to Colombo on Saturday 20th January, 2018. The airline now connects Chennai and Bengaluru to the Sri Lankan capital.

With this new addition, Colombo became the 8th international and 49th overall destination on IndiGo’s network.

Schedule as follows:

Flight No.OriginDestinationDepartureArrival
6E 1201ChennaiColombo655815
6E 1202ColomboChennai9151100
6E 1203ChennaiColombo12001325
6E 1206ColomboBengaluru14251555
6E 1205BengaluruColombo18001930
6E 1204ColomboChennai20302155

 

Commenting on the launch, Capt Ashim Mittra, VP Flight Operations, IndiGo says, “IndiGo is delighted to commence its new daily services to and from Colombo. These new connections will not only boost corporate and leisure travel but will also contribute to significant growth in cross border trade and commerce. We are hopeful that these new flights will provide affordable and unmatchable travel experience to our passengers across the country and beyond.”

goindigo.in

Jazreen Deboo

Park Inn New Delhi unveils voice-activated smart hotel rooms

Park Inn By Radisson New Delhi IP Extension has launched voice-activated smart hotel rooms. It is the first property in India to provide an app-free in-room voice assistant, with WebRTC technology. (WebRTC is a collection of communications protocols and application programming interfaces that enable real-time communication over peer-to-peer connections.)

Six studio rooms in the hotel have been fitted with Amazon Alexa’s Echo Dot devices which enable guests to control lights, music and television settings with voice commands. They can also use the smart device to set wake-up calls, request room cleaning, in-room dining, laundry services and check-out.
General Manager, Park Inn by Radisson IP Extension, Saurav Dutta says, “Internet of Things (IoT) & voice-enabled technologies are without a doubt the future and we are excited to pioneer these comprehensive & intuitive smart hotel room features in India. With the voice-activated in-room solutions we expect a 50 per cent improvement in housekeeping efficiencies; ensuring speedier completion of service requests. Eventually, the intent is to diversify & grow the connected room features, as part of our on-going efforts to offer bespoke experiences that evolve with the needs of our patrons.”

The hotel plans to expand its AI (Artificial Intelligence) service to other rooms as well after the response of guests in the coming days.

radisson.com

Jazreen Deboo

Park Inn By Radisson New Delhi IP Extension has launched voice-activated smart hotel rooms. It is the first property in India to provide an app-free in-room voice assistant, with WebRTC technology. (WebRTC is a collection of communications protocols and application programming interfaces that enable real-time communication over peer-to-peer connections.)

Six studio rooms in the hotel have been fitted with Amazon Alexa’s Echo Dot devices which enable guests to control lights, music and television settings with voice commands. They can also use the smart device to set wake-up calls, request room cleaning, in-room dining, laundry services and check-out.
General Manager, Park Inn by Radisson IP Extension, Saurav Dutta says, “Internet of Things (IoT) & voice-enabled technologies are without a doubt the future and we are excited to pioneer these comprehensive & intuitive smart hotel room features in India. With the voice-activated in-room solutions we expect a 50 per cent improvement in housekeeping efficiencies; ensuring speedier completion of service requests. Eventually, the intent is to diversify & grow the connected room features, as part of our on-going efforts to offer bespoke experiences that evolve with the needs of our patrons.”

The hotel plans to expand its AI (Artificial Intelligence) service to other rooms as well after the response of guests in the coming days.

radisson.com

Jazreen Deboo

Cathay Pacific appears set to announce flights to Cape Town

Cape Town

Cathay Pacific appears set to launch new non-stop flights to Cape Town later this year, marking the Hong Kong carrier’s second destination in South Africa after Johannesburg.

According to the South China Morning Post, the year-round service is expected to be announced soon, and Cathay Pacific appears to be keeping its cards close to its chest until then.

Responding to an enquiry by Business Traveller Asia-Pacific, the airline said it is “always exploring opportunities to fly to new destinations where there is strong market potential, and announcements are made when there is a decision”.

Currently, Cathay Pacific passengers can travel between Hong Kong and Cape Town by flying the airline’s daily service to Johannesburg (JNB), operated by its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, and then connecting on to flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town (CPT) by Kulula Airlines, a low-cost subsidiary of British Airways franchisee, Comair.

This journey takes 17 hours and 55 minutes in total with a minimum transfer time of 2 hours and 45 minutes. According to the Post, a non-stop flight would take about 14 hours.

The route will contend with Singapore Airlines’ own service to Cape Town, which the carrier is set to increase from four flights per week to once a day starting March 26, 2018. These flights also go through Johannesburg, however unlike Cathay Pacific’s existing service, the entire route is operated by Singapore Airlines under the same flight number and with the same aircraft, the Airbus A350.

Cathay Pacific is also set to launch new non-stop services to Washington DC this year, with its newest aircraft, the to-be-delivered A350-1000, currently set to make its international long-haul debut on the route. Flights to the US capital are due to take off on September 15, 2018.

cathaypacific.com

United Airlines launches Sydney’s longest route

United Airlines has launched what is now Sydney’s longest route, connecting the New South Wales capital with its hub in Houston with year-round daily flights.

Covering a distance of approximately 13,829km (8,593 miles), the flights take 17 hours 50 minutes on the Houston (IAH) to Sydney (SYD) flight, and 15 hours 40 minutes on the return leg from SYD to IAH.

“United is the largest US carrier offering the most seats between Sydney and the United States and we look forward to continuing to serve as Sydney’s airline of choice,” said United’s president of international network, Patrick Quayle.

“Our new service to Houston provides customers direct access to one of the country’s largest business centres and it offers customers the opportunity to conveniently connect to hundreds of cities including Miami, Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington, DC, Mexico City, Cancun, and more.”

United already flies non-stop to Sydney from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO).

As with these routes, the airline is flying its Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft on the route. Unfortunately, this will mean that travellers looking to experience the airline’s newest Polaris business class product won’t be able to do so on this route (the Polaris seating is currently only available on the airline’s B777-300ER and select retrofitted aircraft).

The Dreamliner has 48 seats in business class laid out in a 2-2-2 configuration, meaning window seat passengers do not have direct access to the aisle – an increasingly common feature in newer business class products. The aircraft also has 116 seats in economy as well as 88 in Economy Plus.

It’s worth noting that Economy Plus is not the airline’s premium economy offering. United currently does not offer such a cabin, however last week it confirmed its planned introduction of a Premium Plus cabin that would function as a premium economy class. United aims to begin introducing these seats “later this year”.

Details of the new service are as follows (all times local):

Flight No.FromToDepartsArrivesDays
UA101Houston (IAH)Sydney (SYD)20000630+2Daily
UA100Sydney (SYD)Houston (IAH)11501035

“United Airlines’ new service will not only help drive tourism and trade, but create exciting new pathways to the US, Canada and Central and South America,” said Sydney Airport CEO, Geoff Culbert.

“The US is our third-largest international visitor market. This route means exciting new connections throughout the US.”

The route is expected to bring in 27,000 visitors to Sydney each year.

united.com

American Airlines unveils NY-Chicago shuttle

The skyline of New York City

American Airlines Unveils NY-Chicago Shuttle, Other New Service

 

By Bob Curley

 

New air shuttle service between New York’s LaGuardia International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare international Airport will debut on April 4, 2018, American Airlines has announced.

 

New air shuttle service between New York’s LaGuardia International Airport and Chicago’s O’Hare international Airport will debut on April 4, 2018, American Airlines has announced.

 

The business-travel oriented shuttle will depart hourly, with a total of 15 flights daily from dedicated gates and featuring extended check-in times for travelers and luggage, and free beer and wine service in the main cabin.

 

American also operates air shuttles between LaGuardia and Boston Logan International Airport, LaGuardia and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, and between Reagan and Logan.

 

The shuttle service debuted alongside a major expansion in American’s flight schedule, with the addition of new routes and 52 new nonstop flights coming in 2018. These will include new flights from Philadelphia International Airport to Oklahoma City, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Pensacola, Florida; flights from Charlotte Douglas International Airport and Dallas-Fort Worth to Panama City, Florida and South Bend, Indiana; and service between O’Hare and Walkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport in Pennsylvania.

 

The new flights will commence on June 7.

 

Vasu Raja, vice president of network and schedule planning for the airline, said that with the additions, American is “serving smaller cities more frequently [and] visiting places we’ve never flown before.”

 

The airline also recently announced new international service to Budapest, Hungary, Prague, Czech Republic, and Reykjavik, Iceland.

 

 

Hilton to open third Curio hotel in London

Hilton to open third Curio hotel in London

 

Hilton is opening a new Curio hotel in Stratford in 2020. The 18-storey London Gantry will have 285 guestrooms, with several bar and restaurant spaces, including a rooftop bar looking out across across the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to London’s skyline.

 

Located opposite Stratford International Train Station, the new hotel will enjoy good transport connections, with Westfield Stratford City shopping centre nearby and easy access to London’s Excel and O2 arenas.

 

Patrick Fitzgibbon, senior vice president, development, EMEA, Hilton said: “Stratford is London’s fastest growing business and leisure district, and a major contributor to the capital’s economic growth, with 125,000 new jobs forecast to be created in East London by 2030.

 

“The legacy of the 2012 Summer Olympics is evident, with world class facilities in transport, entertainment, shopping and sport, all within walking distance of The Gantry London.”

 

Warren Malschinger, director, The Gantry Group said: “The London Gantry will be our first project in partnership with Hilton and we are excited to add the Gantry to the exclusive Curio Collection by Hilton.”

 

Design studios ICA were responsible for the hotel’s architecture. Chris Fegan, Director, ICA said: “It was great to work closely with a client whose vision was to create a landmark hotel which had the local neighbourhood at its heart. By layering the heritage of Stratford into the design we feel that we have created something that is iconic and will be a unique experience for guests.”

 

A hallmark of the hotel’s look is contrasting materials and old-school glamour with reclaimed chandeliers and velvet upholstery in a striking contemporary setting. Details such as artwork and ornaments reference the area’s heritage.

 

The Gantry London, Curio Collection by Hilton will be located on De Coubertin Street, London E20 1AE.

American Airlines moves to eliminate cash transactions

American Airlines 787-800

Credit Cards Required to Pay Fees at More AA Ticket Counters

 

By Bob Curley

 

American Airlines is moving to eliminate cash transactions at airport ticket counters.

 

American Airlines is moving to eliminate cash transactions at airport ticket counters.

 

The Miami Herald (http://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/business/airline-goes-cashless-at-miami-airport-20180117) reported January 17, 2018 that the airline has stopped accepting cash to pay for checked or overweight bags at Miami International Airport and more than 50 other locations, including New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.

 

Travellers who don’t have credit cards are directed to nearby, ATM-like ReadyStations, which convert cash to debit cards for a $5 fee. The machines will dispense debit cards with up to $1,000 in value.

 

“Moving away from cash allows American to assist customers more efficiently. It also reduces the complexity of work for our agents who will no longer have to worry about handling cash, find exact change or close out a cash drawer at the end of the day,” airline spokeswoman Alexis Aran Coello said in a statement. “In general, our ticket counter agents support the transition to a cashless environment.”

 

United Airlines went cashless at Miami International Airport about three years ago, and also refers passengers with cash to ReadyStation kiosks. Many are international travellers who carry cash to avoid steep transaction fees charged to their credit cards when they are in the U.S.

 

http://www.aa.com

 

Lyft rises as Uber stumbles

Uber Beacon

 

Twice as many Americans (and some Canadians) hailed a ride from Lyft last year than in 2016, building brand awareness as rival ride-sharing company Uber struggled with a variety of public-relations and business challenges, Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/bizcarson/2018/01/16/lyft-doubled-rides-in-2017/#3a49e1817d6b) reported January 16, 2018.

 

Twice as many Americans (and some Canadians) hailed a ride from Lyft last year than in 2016, building brand awareness as rival ride-sharing company Uber struggled with a variety of public-relations and business challenges, Forbes (https://www.forbes.com/sites/bizcarson/2018/01/16/lyft-doubled-rides-in-2017/#3a49e1817d6b) reported January 16, 2018.

 

Lyft reported that it completed 375.5 million rides in the U.S. and Toronto, Canada in 2017, up from 162.6 million rides in 2016. Toronto, Lyft’s first international market, was added last year.

 

Lyft’s customer base rose from 12 million to 23 million between 2016 and 2017, and the number of Lyft drivers doubled to 1.4 million. The company now has operations covering 95 percent of the U.S. population, officials said.

 

“I’ve been at Lyft five years, and every year is bigger and more exciting than the last, but 2017 really felt different,” said Woody Hartman, Lyft’s vice president of operations. “It felt like the year in which the public really got to know us for our mission and our values and that led us to bring a bunch of new passengers and drivers onto the platform and achieve the kind of growth that we did.”

 

Meanwhile, market leader Uber — which has not yet released its 2017 U.S. data — was beset by problems that included a consumer boycott and the loss of its CEO.

 

Still, Uber continues to dominate the global rise-sharing market, completing 4 billion rides worldwide in 2017.