FCM Travel Solutions' latest roundup of travel industry news from the month of May.
Fastpass at Dubai International Airport
Dubai International Airport is introducing a new pre-clearance system. The next generation border control system, which will be service arrival and departure points, will see travellers able to clear passport control in as little as 10 seconds. It is also already operational in Terminal 3 and will rollout in Terminals 1 and 2 later this year.
Qantas introduces in-flight meditation
Qantas is introducing in-flight meditation to its in-flight entertainment offering. The meditation video series has been specially designed to bring a sense of calm, offering passengers a new way to relax while in flight. The 10-minute guided meditation is set to aerial footage of some of the most beautiful landscapes around Australia. Customers can choose from scenes including deserts, bushland, coasts and forests. An immersive virtual reality (VR) version can be downloaded before travelling via the Qantas VR App. The video series will be available from June.
Qantas Hong Kong changes
Qantas plans to switch aircraft on its Sydney-Hong Kong route. Between 31 March and 6 June, the carrier will operate a mix on A380s and A330s between the two cities.
Virgin adds in-flight WiFi to LAX route
Travellers flying with Virgin Australia between Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and Los Angeles can now enjoy WiFi while in flight. The service costs $9 for one hour or $20 for the entire flight. Connection speeds allow for web browsing, email, messaging and social media, but are insufficient for video streaming and services such as Skype and FaceTime are blocked. Another point to note is that service outages may occur at times during the flight, due to lack of satellite availability. Four of the carrier’s five B777-300ERs used on the LAX routes are already fitted with the WiFi technology, with the service rolling out to the last aircraft this month.
Singapore Airlines MEL-WLG takes off
Singapore Airlines has officially launched its new Melbourne-Wellington service. Flights SQ247/8 operate on Tuesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays on B777-200 aircraft.
Triangle service takes flight for Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines has launched its new daily triangular service to Sydney and Canberra. The move adds a fifth daily service to Sydney and boosts frequency to Canberra, up from four times weekly. Flight SQ288 operates on B777-300ER aircraft adding first and premium economy options to Canberra for the first time, as well as lie-flat seats in business class.
Qatar Airways offers hi-speed WiFi
Qatar Airways has added the latest WiFi technology to its B777 and A380 aircraft. This means their passengers will be among the first to experience high-speed broadband while in the flight. Each guest will receive one hour of free access, with the option to add extra time for a fee.
New British Airways lounge
British Airways has opened its newest lounge, which is located in a newly completed extension of Aberdeen. Next in line to receive a new BA lounge will be New York JFK’s Terminal 7, followed by Geneva, San Francisco, Johannesburg and Chicago.
British Airways TSA Pre-check
Travellers flying with British Airways will now enjoy shorter security queues at US airports. The carrier has signed up to the TSA Precheck program, so approved passengers are no longer required to remove items of clothing at security checkpoints and laptops can remain in hand luggage.
Emirates boosts Heathrow
Emirates is upping the frequency of its Dubai-London Heathrow route. The carrier will add a seventh daily flight on Saturdays over July and August. The three-class service will operate on B777-300ER aircraft.
Emirates plans to launch daily non-stop services between Dubai and Edinburgh. The move aims to complement the carrier’s existing double daily services to Glasgow. The new route will lauch on 1 October operating on three-class B777-300ER aircraft.
United Airlines boosts US East Coast
United Airlines is boosting US East Coast services. The carrier plans to add new destinations from its hubs in New York/Newark and Washington-Dulles, as well as upping existing route frequencies and boosting capacity by operating larger aircraft on select routes. From 4 October, non-stop services from New York/Newark to Memphis and New Orleans will rise to four times daily and Orlando to nine times daily. Meanwhile, a new non-stop route to Palm Springs will operate between 19 December 2018 and 30 March 2019. At Washington-Dulles Airport, services to Ithaca and Scranton will rise to twice daily.
AccorHotels acquires Movenpick
AccorHotels has signed a deal to acquire the Movenpick Hotels & Resorts portfolio, subject to regulatory approval. The deal covers 84 properties in 27 countries, mostly in Europe and the Middle East, but includes a further 42 hotels set to open over the next three years, including properties in the Middle East, Africa and Asia-Pacific.
Hilton Worldwide has signed two new Tapestry Collection properties in Peru. The 117-room Hotel Bel’Arte Lima and 86-room Hotel Museo de Osma will both open in 2021. The hotel group has also recently opened the 162-key Embassy Suites by Hilton Montreal Airport.
IHG China expansion
InterContinental Hotels Group has signed deals for 10 new properties Western China. Spanning seven of the groups brands, the properties are located in Chengdu, Mianyang High-Tech Zone, Jiuzhai, Puzhehei, Guiyang Financial City, Chongqing, Xian High-Tech Zone, Lanzhou, Guilin and Meishan.
DoubleTree Malaysia debut
Hilton Worldwide has opened its first DoubleTree Resort in Malaysia. The 316-room DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Penang is located on Penang’s north coast overlooking the Indian Ocean. The hotel features a choice of dining venues, a fitness centre, swimming pool and flexible meeting space for up to 120 delegates and a spacious ballroom with a capacity of 550 guests.
IHG Bulgaria debut
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has opened its first property in Bulgaria. Located in the city centre of the country’s capital, the 194-room InterContinental Sofia features an onsite restaurant and meeting and event space for up to 300 guests.
Park Inn Istanbul
The Radisson Hotel Group has opened a new property in Turkey. The 97-room Park Inn by Radisson, Istanbul Odayeri is located 10 minutes from the city’s new airport, which is due to open later this year. It features an onsite restaurant, lobby lounge and four meeting rooms accommodating up to 90 guests.
Marriott Mali debut
Marriott International has opened its first hotel in Mali, West Africa. Located close to Modibo Keita International Airport, the 200-room Sheraton Bamako Hotel offers easy access to the city centre, major embassies, corporate offices and government buildings. The property’s club rooms and suites come with exclusive access to the Club Lounge and the hotel also features a choice of dining venues and bars, a 24-hour fitness centre, spa and outdoor swimming pool as well as a range of meeting and event spaces, including a Grand Ballroom.
IHG Indigo London
InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has opened a new Hotel Indigo in London. The 95-room Hotel Indigo London – 1 Leicester, which is located in the city’s theatre district, boasts an onsite restaurant and an offsite fitness centre.
North Sydney Vibe opens
The 187-room Vibe Hotel North Sydney is now open Located on the city’s North Shore, the property features a casual dining atrium, a rooftop bar, fitness centre, swimming pool and meeting and conference space for up to 110 people.
AccorHotels has plans for a new Mercure property on the Gold Coast. The 160-room Mercure Southport, which will be part of the new Queen Street Village precinct, will feature conference facilities and a rooftop bar.
BreakFree of George revamped
A $3-million revamp of Mantra Group’s BreakFree on George property in Sydney is now complete. Furniture and furnishings have been updated in all 160 apartments as well as public areas.