Plans are being developed to expand automated customs processing. Smart-Gates are currently available to those arriving into the country with Australian or New Zealand smart-chip passports, but the government is hoping to extend this to include those with US, UK and Chinese passports in the future. Automated departure processing is also being evaluated, along with the use of next generation e-Gates and mobile e-Gates.
Qantas has added Select to Q-Eat services on flights between Australia and Hong Kong. Business travellers can now pre-select their meals on QF30, QF128 and QF98 services via the ‘Manage your Booking’ link at qantas.com up until 12 hours prior to departure. The service is already available on Singapore, London, Dubai and Los Angeles routes as well as the airline’s Dallas to Brisbane route, with others likely to be added as it continues to roll out the service.
Rydges Hotels & Resorts will manage The Latimer Hotel in Christchurch. Scheduled to open on 1 October, it is the first new-build hotel to open in the city following the earthquakes of 2011. The Rydges Latimer Christchurch, as it will be known, will feature 138 rooms as well as a restaurant, bar and the city’s largest conference/function space, catering for up to 360 people.
Aviation authorities in the US are set to relax the ban on the use of laptops and iPads during take-off and landing. Research undertaken by the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) found the devices are safer than previously thought and that they no longer interfere with navigation systems. Changes to the ruling will mean passengers flying into or out of the US will be able to keep their laptops on during landing or take-off respectively, but will still have to switch off at the other end of their journey. The change only applies to the US for the time being, with the FAA to release its findings in September, after which more countries may relax the rules. Mobile phones must still be switched off, with the FAA expected to further investigate mobile phone use in the future.
The Hunter Valley will soon be home to its first conference centre. The $4 million facility is part of a series of enhancements to the Crowne Plaza Hunter Valley, which are due for completion by the end of 2014. Other enhancements include upgrades to the hotel’s existing exhibition space, the addition of a permanent marquee, extensions to the bar and restaurant areas and the refurbishing of its 150 rooms and 169 villas.
Sydney’s southwestern suburb of Warwick Farm will soon be home to a Holiday Inn. The fully renovated 146-room Sunnybrook Hotel will re-open under the Holiday Inn brand on 10 September and will include a restaurant, gym and pool along with an adjoining pub that is part of the Sunnybrook Hotel complex.
Grafton Airport in Northern NSW will receive a $2.1 million upgrade after receiving a grant from the Regional Development Australia Fund. Works will include an extension to terminal facilities, additional aircraft parking and upgrades to runway lights. Work is scheduled for completion by the end of 2014.