Travel Extra’s Sunday Supplement January 19 2013: A snowbound show, dancing dolphins & luciferous lithium batteries


Five days to go to Holiday World Dublin and the excitement is mounting. Three inches of snow did not deter the hardy holiday-hunters of Belfast who turned out for the opening of Holiday World Belfast. The snowbound Friday preceded a big increase in the attendance on Saturday. You can view photographs from the show here, and also photographs from the events hosted by the Spanish Tourist Board for travel agents and for travel media in Deane’s Restaurant.

You can listen to the radio advertisements for Dublin Holiday World show here and here.

On the week that British Airways confirmed its increased capacity at Dublin Airport, Simon Daly and Karen Keogh hosted 11 travel and business writers on a media trip to Miami (click for photographs).

The visit following an itinerary similar to the agents fam trip in October, staying at Turnberry Isle Resort Miami and the famous Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel, a location for movies such as Goldfinger and Scarface. The trip included a visit to the Miami Seaquarium (pictures show Mark Evans and Eoghan Corry getting up close with dolphins), Aventura Shopping Mall and the News Café.

The group sampled BA’s business class product and lounge facilities in T5 and BA’s evolving business class product. Simon says the T5 experience will be complete when Dublin flights deplane at a T5 gate (something that is likely to happen from 2015), rather than the current bus transfer to the flight connection centre and then a second bus to T5 outbound. Inbound there is no stop at the flight connection centre.

Pictured at the News Cafe in Miami on the British Airways fam trip to Miami Jan 12-15 2012, David O’Mahony of the Irish Examiner, Leontia Fetherston of Smarts Communications, Debbie McCann of the Irish Mail, Margaret Canning of the Belfast Telegraph, John Mulligan of the Irish Independent, Adirenne McGill of the Ulster News Letter, Mark Evans of the Evening Herald, Eoghan Corry of Travel Extra, Deirdre Veldon of the Irish Times, Gary McDonald of the Irish News, Susan Morrell of the Sunday Business Post and Martin Breen of the Sunday Life.

Gonzalo Ceballos (pictured above) of the Spanish Tourist Board reported 1,199,017 Irish visitors to Spain in 2012, virtually unchanged from 2011. The Canaries took an astonishing 39pc of this market, followed by Catalonia with 19pc, Andalusia with 18pc and the Balearics with 10pc. In 2012 there were 9,350 flights between Ireland and Spain with an average load factor of 83.4pc (Lanzarote 90.62pc, Canaries 87.31pc, Andalucia 86.12pc). Capacity was down marginally from 1.75m to 1.74m seats.

Irish Tour Operators will sell 300,000 seats into the Irish market in 2013, the president of the Irish Tour Operators Federation John Devereux told a media briefing hosted in Dublin’s One Pico restaurant by Gonzalo Ceballos of the Spanish Tourist Board.

Four CEO’s and two CFO’s of the six biggest tour operators were represented at the briefing, Philip Airey of Sunway, Helen Caron of Falcon Holidays, John Devereux of American Holidays, John Kinane of Thomas Cook, Kevin Nolan of Topflight, and Ray Scully of Crystal Holidays. See here for pictures.

North America will see a 20pc increase in capacity this summer. Falcon and Thomas Cook who command more than 50pc of this market between them, both resume Tenerife charters this summer. Sunway will launch Corfu, operate Agadir through the summer for the first time in some years and launch a charter holiday flight series from Kerry to Palma-Majorca on Thursday June 27th. Topflight are going into Madeira and are expanding their traditional Italian market, operating three Verona flights with Aer Lingus. Crystal report a strong start to the ski market with double digit growth on last year, and enhanced interest in their Al Fresco product.

There is no mistaking the video (and talking point) of the week in the travel industry. A significant proportion of dreams turn into nightmares (80.5pc – according to a Dutch study), but when Boeing decided to call their flagship 7E7 (later 787) the Dreamliner in June 2003, nobody in the giant corporation expected it would turn into a recurring nightmareliner.

Potential passengers around the world were woken up on Thursday morning by newscasts of video footage of a 787 being evacuated, not the sort of coverage you want in the days of hungry 24-hour news channels. To put this week’s events in context, this is the first time that the FAA has issued a general grounding of an aircraft model since they grounded McDonnell Douglas DC-10 following a fatal crash in 1979. Sales of the DC-10 never recovered.

Japan has been the only country badly affected by the grounding. Tokyo was most affected city, losing 264 weekly flights.

The real questions for Boeing’s engineers and the investigators who grounded the fleet worldwide by Friday evening is why did they have two lithium battery fires, one of them in-flight, a real concern compared with the unrelated cracked windscreens and other incidents. The FAA has asked for modifications to the electrical system to reduce the risk of the battery overheating or catching fire.

In the meantime Jeff Smisek has cancelled the gung-ho Dreamliner video they used to show on United flights immediately before the safety briefing.

Boeing’s order book is likely to be the biggest casualty of the incident. The company has delivered 50 of these craft (24 to JAL and ANA), but has 800 more on the pipeline. It issued a cautious, classically understated 129-word response to the crisis and a more feisty questions and answer format defence of its lithium battery.

What next? Will we see Michael O’Leary in Seattle with his fat cheque book, offering to buy up all those unsold Dreamliners at bargain rates in a repeat of his 2001 737-800 deal?

harvey's pointHarvey’s Point Hotel (above) was named ‘No 1 Hotel in Ireland’ in Tripadvisor’s annual Traveller’s Choice awards, and No 11 in Europe, making this a big week for the north west. Not content with winning the Gaelic football and soccer championship, the same parish in Donegal had two hotels in the top five (Harvey’s Point and Lough Eske).

The Tripdadvisor’s Traveller’s Choice top 25 hotels in Ireland for 2012 threw up a lot of familiar names but a few surprises as well:

1 Harvey’s Point, 2 Hayfield Manor, 3 Killarney Park, 4 Lough Eske, 5 Glasson Country House, 6 Mount Juliet, 7 Inchydorney, 9 Merrion Hotel, 9 Wineport, Athlone, 10 RitzCarlton, Powerscourt, 11 Four Seasons Ballsbridge, 12 Castle Macroom, 13 Aghadoe Heights Killarney, 14 Ballygarry House Tralee, 15 Westport Plaza, 16 Ariel House, Ballsbridge, 17 Adare Manor, 18 Doonbeg Lodge, 19 Europe Hotel, Killarney, 20 Croke Park Hotel, 21 River Lee, 22 Ashford Castle, 23 Bayview. Ballycotton, 24 Kelly’s, Rosslare, 25 Twelve Hotel, Barna.

As part of the same process, Tripadvisor announced their 2013 world champions. Top Hotel in the World: was the Four Seasons Hualalai Hawaii, Best Bargain Hotel the SeaCoast Inn, Hyannis, Mass, the best Hotel for Service was the £35 a night Lauriston Court Hotel, Llandudno, Wales. The Top Small Hotel was Anastasis Apartments, Imerovigli, Greece, and the best B&B and Inn was Casa Portagioia, Castiglion Fiorentino, Italy.

The tourism industry is skeptical, to say the least of Tripadvisor’s claim that its “get the truth, then go” reviews and ratings can NEVER be manipulated. But you don’t get a high rating without a good product. Harvey’s Point received a total of 1,020 reviews from guests. Things have apparently become a bit more sophisticated than the days when the fictitious 111 Hotel restaurant in London managed to get a top 70 rating on the strength of its made-up customer reviews. The manipulation of Tripadvisor ratings remains an inexact science.

In what looks like a publicity stunt rather than anything that can be enacted into legislation, the Socialist Party in European Parliament wants to make the Ryanair one bag policy illegal under European law. Ryanair responded that safety not revenue is behind their rule. Elsewhere, some of their passengers claimed that Ryanair had taken off 20 minutes earlier than scheduled, leaving them behind in Warsaw. Manchester Airports Group agreed to buy Stansted for £1.5bn. American Airlines unveiled its new look. Australia reported that domestic air fares were down as capacity increased14.2pc, with Qantas, Virgin Australia and Tiger scrapping for market share. Body scanners that show the naked body are apparently to be phased out, after the American TSA cancelled a software contract with Rapiscan because they could not update their software to protect people’s privacy.

Swiss are to increase capacity on Dublin-Zurich this summer with extra flights and a second season of larger aircraft. DAA officials travelled to Oxford to rescue the proposed Dublin-Oxford route by Minoan. Cork Airport reported that passenger traffic for 2012 was 2.34m, down less than 1pc. Emirates celebrated its first year in Dublin with the news that it had carried 220,000 passengers and 10,000 tonnes of cargo into and out of Ireland. The Aer Lingus share price in Dublin closed 5 cent up on last week. Almost 1pc of all Aer Lingus shares were traded in Dublin on Tuesday as the price shot up, 4.7m shares (Davy stock brokers reported acquiring 1m shares and disposing of 1.2m). A day earlier, almost 1m Aer Lingus shares were traded. There is a suggestione that Etihad were doing some of the buying.

Aer Lingus launched their GAA tournament for the Gathering in Croke Park. It takes place in Galway of September 18-21, with 16 teams, Asia/Gulf, Australia, Britain combined, Buenos Aires, Canada, Chicago, Denver/Indianapolis, European Irish, European non-Irish, Kilburn Gaels London, Milwaukee, New York, Philadelphia Barley House Wolves/Allentown, Robert Emmetts London, St Gabriels London and San Francisco,

Ryanair announced their 56th and 57th bases would be opening in Marrakesh and Fez in Morocco. This significant move into North Africa has been speculated since early October. Snow caused the closure of Bristol and Bournemouth airports and the cancellation of 400 flights at Heathrow on Friday and a further 100 on Saturday.

Having ended their sale offering travel in spring, Aer Lingus went straight into a summer sale, 20pc off all seats to Europe, USA fares starting from €259, book by Jan 25 travel by Sept. Ongoing sales include Air France/Delta/KLM (book by Jan 22, travel by June), BA (book by Jan 22, travel by Sept), Qantas (book by Jan 24, travel by June) and United (book by Jan 22, travel by June).

Yvonne Larkin, Sinead Daly, Bernie Whelan and Ciara Macconnell.Travel Counsellors reported their first recruits of 2013; Sinead Daly from Co Meath and Yvonne Larkin from Tramore. Picture shows Yvonne Larkin, Sinead Daly, Bernie Whelan and Ciara McConnell.

India’s fee for a single visa tourism visit valid for 6 months remains at €50 for Irish passport holders, but rose to €152 for UK passport holders.

The EU commission has given Amadeus the top sector ranking as European R&D leader in travel and tourism, having invested €347.5m in R&D in 2011.

Picture of the week is the shot of Chantal Beyer, 24, standing next to a rhino seconds before she was gored at a wildlife safari park in South Africa.

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