US airlines applaud Trump crackdown on Middle Eastern carriers

Emirates B777-300ER

A top official at Delta Air Lines has praised the Trump administration for taking tough steps to ensure that foreign airlines are not unfairly benefitting from government subsidies as they compete with US carriers.

Speaking as a representative of the Partnership for Open and Fair Skies coalition, Delta’s chief legal officer and executive vice president Peter Carter said the Trump administration “has moved mountains in understanding that these subsidies are contrary to Open Skies agreements and need to be addressed”, reports Forbes.

As a result of negotiations with the Qatari government, Qatar Airways will now provide audited financial information to US regulators to address concerns about subsidized operations on flights to and from the US.

“If they are not using subsidies and have transparent financials, [Qatar Airways] becomes a full-fledged member of the international airline community, playing on a level playing field,” said Carter.

Federal officials are holding similar talks with the government of the United Arab Emirates about Emirates and Etihad Airways. “I would hope our government has the same kind of relationship with the UAE that it has with Qatar and can do a deal that would require government-owned airlines to operate without benefit of a subsidy,” said Carter.

The Partnership for Open and Fair Skies includes most major US airlines and their labour unions. The group claims that Qatar, Emirates, and Etihad have received a combined $50 billion in subsides from the governments of their respective home countries.

openandfairskies.com

It’s official: travellers are happy to be in airports

Happy Or Not terminal

Does the excitement of travel outweigh hassles like queueing at airline check-in counters and security checkpoints? It may, because air travellers are surprisingly happy to be in airports around the world, The Telegraph reports.

Data compiled by HappyorNot, the company responsible for the mood-rating kiosks found at 160 airports in 36 countries, show that travellers are far more likely to push the button indicating that they are “delighted” or “very happy” than those indicating their mood as just plain “happy,” “sad,” or — worst of all — “don’t even ask”.

HappyorNot said that 62 per cent of travellers push the happiest button, compared to 17 per cent who rate their mood as happy, 7 per cent who choose the sad face, and 14 per cent who choose the saddest of all buttons.

“The small hours on the weekend are the worst time to travel, while mornings mid-week are consistently the happiest times,” said HappyorNot CEO Heikki Väänänen, whose company shares their data with airport management companies.

“Specifically, 9am and 8am are the happiest times to travel, and 2am and 3am the unhappiest (perhaps unsurprisingly).

“Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are the most pleasant days to travel; Sunday and Saturday the least,” he added.

Travellers are consistently happiest at security checkpoints, while self-rated moods were lowest at baggage claim in the early hours of the morning.

Väänänen said the value of the ratings are twofold: “providing airports with extensive and useful data while also making travellers feel empowered and valued.”

happy-or-not.com

Seven new resorts in Asia-Pacific

Six Senses Fiji Pool Villa

Seven new resorts in Asia-Pacific

 

More accommodation choices for holiday retreat in the region

 

Lotte Arai Resort

Opened in December last year, the resort is located in Myoko of Niigata Prefecture in Japan. It takes two hours from Tokyo on the Shinkansen bullet train and two hours from Niigata airport by car. The 257-room ski resort features the longest zip tour in Asia, which is 1,501-metre long. There is also the longest tubing course in Japan (192 m), bouldering the artificial rock climbing, 11 slopes and ten off-piste areas.

lottearairesort.com

 

 

7 Secrets Resort and Wellness Retreat

Under Small Luxury Hotels of the World Group, the new resort is situated in Nipah Bay of Lombok in Indonesia. Each of the 24 temple-like suites feature European hydro massage Jacuzzi, private butler, Italian technology system, and Indonesian artworks. Hotel staff can arrange helicopter ride to see the island from above or charter a luxury catamaran for a sailing trip.

7secretsresorts.com

 

Six Senses Fiji

Opening its doors in April this year, the resort is located on Malolo Island, featuring private beach stretching 650m. It will feature 24 one- and two-bedroom pool villas all with private pools, decks and outdoor showers. In addition to a wide range of water sports from snorkeling to surfing, it offers The Wellness Village, consisting of a Six Senses Spa, gym, hot and cold whirlpools, an alchemy bar and an elevated treetop yoga pavilion.

sixsenses.com

 

Sheraton Grand Danang Resort

Started operation in January, it is located on the white sandy beach of Non Nuoc, 20 minutes of drive away from the airport. The 258-room hotel has a wide range of F&B options, ranging from Vietnamese dishes to Asian favorites. At Tea Lounge, it offers barista-made coffee, an assortment of over 25 world class and local teas with the views of the infinity pool blending into the East Sea.

starwoodhotels.com

 

 

Mövenpick Resort & Spa Boracay

Opened in December last year, siting in front of the 200-metre private beach. It has a range of leisure facilities including the island’s biggest multi-level swimming pool spanning some 3,300 sqm, to the Sol Marina Beach Club, which plays host to international DJs and dance acts. For F&B, The Café serves fresh pastries and cakes, and daily afternoon Chocolate Hour; while the pool bar offers cocktails and light snacks.

movenpick.com

 

REVĪVŌ

Located in hills of Nusa Dua in south Bali, REVĪVŌ will be opening in March this year, surrounded by forest, dense tropical rainforest and the Indian Ocean. The resort will offer 16 Balinese-style suites, including two 4-bedroom villas. It will also highlight 8,000 sqm fitness area, comprising of a yoga barn, a martial arts hall, a reformer Pilates studio, a gym with TRX, boxing and kinesis equipment, a 25-metre-long lap pool and a 1,500 square metre landscaped park for outdoor exercises.

revivoresorts.com

 

Banyan Tree Anji, China

Scheduled to be open in May this year, the property is about one-hour drive from Hangzhou. The mountain resort will offer 151 spacious rooms, suites and villas designed with a local flair, offering guests mountain views. It will have its first boutique jewelry shop Element Jewelry, a spa, conference and events spaces, fitness facilities, kids club, two restaurants, one lounge and one bar.

banyantree.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hotel update: Global round-up

Swissotel Al Ghurair Dubai

Hotel update: Global round-up

Business Traveller rounds up new and upcoming hotels from brands including Marriott International, Rosewood and Hyatt

 

The Wick Hotel, Hudson, New York State

 

Tribute Portfolio, part of Marriott International, has opened The Wick Hotel in the town of Hudson two hours from New York City. Fashioned out of a mid-nineteenth century candle and soap factory, the hotel offers 55 guestrooms and suites along with a spa treatment room, fitness centre, and event space. The Wick also offers local craft beer, wine and spirits as well as dishes using locally sourced ingredients at the lobby bar. The hotel lies just a block away from the Amtrak station, which connects to New York City’s Penn Station.

 

thewickhotel.com

 

Swissotel Al Ghurair, Dubai

 

Al Ghurair Properties has partnered with Swissotel Hotels and Resorts to open the first Swissotel in the United Arab Emirates. Located within the Al Ghurair Centre Complex, one of the region’s popular shopping destinations, the hotel lies in close proximity to Dubai’s famous landmarks as well as its corporate districts. The property contains 428 rooms and 192 apartments as well as a 6,096 sqm spa facility, a fitness centre and enough meeting space to accommodate 300 people. It is 10 minutes away from Dubai International Airport.

 

swissotel.com

 

Rosewood Phnom Penh, Cambodia

 

Rosewood Hotels and Resorts has opened its first urban hotel in Southeast Asia. Residing in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, the hotel is part of the 39-storey Vattanac Capital Tower, in the city’s business district. The Vattanac Capital Tower is the city’s tallest building, and Rosewood Phnom Penh sits at 188 metres. It boasts 175 rooms, 37 of which are suites, all with views of the city skyline. Guests can choose from dining venues that serve Asian, Japanese or European cuisines, as well as Sora, the highest bar in Phnom Penh. The hotel also offers a fitness facility.

 

rosewoodhotels.com

 

Melia Serengeti Lodge, Tanzania

 

Located in the Serengeti National Park, the Melia Serengeti Lodge is the brand’s first sustainability-focused hotel. Forty-five per cent of the lodge’s energy is generated by solar panels, and the building’s design allows for natural ventilation as opposed to cooling through air conditioning. Among a wide range of suites and terrace rooms, the lodge features three restaurants, two of which offer African, Mediterranean and oriental cuisine while the other serves Tanzanian fare. The property also lies on the western border of Lake Victoria and organises optional safaris for its guests.

 

melia.com

 

Coming Soon

 

The Grand Central Hotel, Belfast

 

Hastings Hotels will open the Grand Central Hotel in Belfast in June 2018. Housing 300 bedrooms in 23 storeys, it will be Northern Ireland’s largest hotel. The design is based on Belfast’s original Grand Central Hotel, which opened its doors in 1893 on Royal Avenue but was demolished in the 1980s. Alongside two conference suites, three meeting rooms and a private reception lounge, the hotel will feature two restaurants, the Seahorse Bar and Bistro on the first floor and the Grand Cafe on the ground floor.

 

hastingshotels.com

 

Grand Hyatt Grand Cayman Hotel & Residences

 

The Grand Hyatt brand is expanding into the Caribbean with the announcement of its upcoming hotel in Grand Cayman. Anticipated to open in 2020, the property will span across seven acres of Seven Mile Beach, a focal point of tourism on the Cayman Islands. It will house 351 guestrooms and suites as well as a spa, fitness centre, three swimming pools and various retail shops. The hotel will also feature 7,620 sqm of meeting and event space, which will make it the largest function space in the Cayman Islands. Located along the southern end of West Bay Road, the property will be less than a mile away from George Town’s city centre and only 10 minutes from Owen Roberts International Airport.

 

grand.hyatt.com

Singapore Airlines launches new A380 on London route

The new business class seat on Singapore Airlines' new A380 superjumbo

Singapore Airlines has debuted its new A380 aircraft on the key London-Singapore route, with the superjumbo taking off from Heathrow this morning.

Passengers were treated to a light show and dragon dance performance to celebrate Chinese New Year.

As previously reported, the carrier’s newly delivered A380 aircraft features new seating in all classes. Business Traveller has already posted reviews of the economy and business class products on the Singapore-Sydney route, and will be reviewing the premium economy and fist class seating on the London route in the next few weeks.

The new aircraft will initially operate flight SQ322 between Singapore and London on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

On the return leg it will operate flight SQ305 from London until April 5, when it will switch to flight SQ317 on April 7 (operating on Mondays, Thursday and Saturdays).

The new cabin products will be line-fitted to five new A380 aircraft being delivered to SIA, and will then be retrofitted to a further 14 superjumbos already in the carrier’s fleet.

From Sunday February 18 the new aircraft will also be rostered onto flights to Hong Kong – additional destinations are due to be revealed “in the coming months”.

Commenting on the news Sheldon Hee, Singapore Airlines, General Manager of UK & Ireland said:

“Bringing the new A380 and new cabins to London so soon after their launch is all part of our continued commitment to the UK market – it was only fitting to do so nearly 10 years after Singapore Airlines debuted the first A380 aircraft at Heathrow back in 2008!”

singaporeair.com

Trump floats higher air travel fees and Amtrak cuts in Budget

Amtrak

President Donald Trump’s proposed federal budget calls for higher fees on air travellers, slashing funding for passenger rail service, and privatising the operation of the US air-traffic control system.

USA Today reports that Trump’s fiscal year 2019 budget would allow the US Transportation Security Administration to increase security-related fees on each air-travel segment flown from $5.60 to $6.60 as of October 1. In 2020, the fee would rise to $8.25.

The increased revenue would be used to improve security screening equipment and other airport enhancements.

The proposal — like most of Trump’s budget plan — is considered a non-starter in Congress, however. While supported by airport officials, the airline industry and its allies strongly oppose raising the fees.

Airlines do support Trump’s proposal to take air-traffic control operations out of the hands of the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and award them to a private contractor. But lawmakers are also expected to reject that plan.

Trump’s budget proposes cutting funding for Amtrak, the US national passenger rail corporation, in half, USA Today reported. That’s another idea that has been rejected by Congress in the past and has little chance of success this year, analysts said.

Hilton opened nearly 400 hotels in 2017

The Gantry London, Curio Collection by Hilton

Hilton opened a total of 399 hotels last year comprising just under 60,000 rooms, with net room growth for 2017 standing at 51,600 rooms.

Nearly 20 per cent of new properties were across the group’s five newest brands – Canopy by Hilton, Curio – A Collection by Hilton, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, Home 2 Suites by Hilton and Tru by Hilton.

Hilton also reached several regional milestones, including opening its 100th property in Greater China (the Hilton Quanzhou), reaching 200 hotels in Asia Pacific with the opening of the Waldorf Astoria Chengdu, and passing 100,000 rooms trading in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

The group says it has over 174,000 rooms currently being built , which it claims represents “the largest number of rooms under construction in the industry”.

In total Hilton has around 345,000 rooms in the pipeline across 107 countries and territories, of which 39 Hilton does not currently operate in.

The figures were announced as Hilton published its full year results for 2017, recording a net income of US$1.26 billion. Revenue per available room across the group’s portfolio increased by 2.5 per cent.

hilton.com

China Southern plans Wuhan-London service

Qingchuan Bridge in Wuhan china

China Southern Airlines looks set to add a second nonstop route to London later this year, with flights from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

The carrier has yet to confirm the news, but local website xinhuanet.com, as well as aviation development website blueswandaily.com, suggest the Wuhan-London Heathrow service will launch on May 30, with a thrice weekly service operated by A330-200 aircraft.

It is also understood the airline will launch a three times weekly route between Guangzhou and Rome Fiumicino in July.

China Southern currently flies twice daily between London Heathrow and Guangzhou, having doubled its daily frequency in June last year.

China Southern to add second daily Heathrow service

There are currently no nonstop flights between London and Wuhan – Air France previously operated a nonstop service from Paris, but this was dropped in 2014.

csair.com/en

Willie Walsh: APD reduces chances of Level launching from UK regions

Level

International Airlines Group CEO Willie Walsh has said that low-cost subsidiary Level could launch flights from regional UK airports – but only if the government abolished Air Passenger Duty.

Walsh said that IAG is looking to expand Level, which launched long-haul flights from Barcelona last year, and will add services from Paris to the Caribbean and North American in July.

But he warned in a letter to MPs that operating Level flights from the UK is not financially viable, with long-haul economy APD rates currently standing at £78, only £10 less than Level’s lead-in one-way fares of around £88.

Walsh said that “If APD was axed, IAG could open new routes and operate Level from regional airports”, with possible airports including Birmingham, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Manchester.

The letter also said that APD “undermines Britain’s position as a global trading nation post-Brexit”, adding that “it’s foolhardy for a trading nation reliant on developing international connections post Brexit to tax aviation so harshly”.

In the last Budget the Chancellor announced a freezing of all short-haul APD rates, as well as long-haul economy APD charges, but passengers travelling in premium cabins will see rates increase in April 2018 and again in April 2019.

iairgroup.com

Marriott International opens Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal

Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal - Exterior Facade

Marriott International has opened Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal. This is the 15th Courtyard to open in India and the second for the brand in Bengaluru, the first one being Courtyard Bengaluru Outer Ring Road.

Situated in Hebbal, Bengaluru’s micro economic and commercial zone, Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal overlooks the Nagavara Lake. Its 188 guest rooms feature a contemporary décor and amenities and are designed to be functional for business travellers. Room categories are Deluxe rooms, Executive rooms, Junior suites, Executive suites and the Presidential suite. 

The hotel has around 822 sqm of spacious and flexible meeting and banquet spaces. Leisure facilities include a roof top infinity pool, a fitness centre and a spa.

Nazaara is its rooftop restaurant overlooking the lake and cityscape serving north west Indian cuisine, The Hebbal Café serves international and regional dishes and B’lore 45 is its bar that serves  signature cocktails like the Espresso Martini and Concoction 45. There is also a grab-and-go shop called on the property.

“Bengaluru is seeing a rise in demand in the hospitality sector. Based on the success of the other Courtyard hotel in the city, we see tremendous opportunity for our new property in Hebbal,” said Mike Fulkerson, Vice President, Brand & Marketing Asia-Pacific, Marriott International.

marriott.com

Marriott International has opened Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal. This is the 15th Courtyard to open in India and the second for the brand in Bengaluru, the first one being Courtyard Bengaluru Outer Ring Road.

Situated in Hebbal, Bengaluru’s micro economic and commercial zone, Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal overlooks the Nagavara Lake. Its 188 guest rooms feature a contemporary décor and amenities and are designed to be functional for business travellers. Room categories are Deluxe rooms, Executive rooms, Junior suites, Executive suites and the Presidential suite. 

The hotel has around 822 sqm of spacious and flexible meeting and banquet spaces. Leisure facilities include a roof top infinity pool, a fitness centre and a spa.

Nazaara is its rooftop restaurant overlooking the lake and cityscape serving north west Indian cuisine, The Hebbal Café serves international and regional dishes and B’lore 45 is its bar that serves  signature cocktails like the Espresso Martini and Concoction 45. There is also a grab-and-go shop called on the property.

“Bengaluru is seeing a rise in demand in the hospitality sector. Based on the success of the other Courtyard hotel in the city, we see tremendous opportunity for our new property in Hebbal,” said Mike Fulkerson, Vice President, Brand & Marketing Asia-Pacific, Marriott International.

marriott.com