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In the News this Week...
brought to you by News Editor, Roger Bray
Cyprus Airways to launch Heathrow flightsabout 15 hours ago
Born again Cyprus Airways plans to start flying between Heathrow and its home base at Larnaca Airport next month. Starting on 5 November it will operate three times a week from Terminal Three – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays- using an Airbus A319 aircraft. Fares will start at £70 from London and €65 on the return leg. The airline has also announced it will not charge penalty fees for changes to basic fare tickets. It has established a UK base through an agreement with Flight Directors, which has offices at Gatwick and in Chertsey, Surrey. Paul Argyle, managing director of Flight Directors said his firm was “delighted” to partner with the carrier. “This is a wonderful opportunity and a real, positive sign of the market for air travel returning.” It would satisfy part of the pent up demand for sunshine holidays". ;Originally launched in 1947, the airline ceased flying in 2015 following an EU crackdown on state aid. Its brand was revived two years later, by start up Charlie Airlines, majority owned by local investors.
Miami voted top US airport in survey1 day ago
Miami International has emerged as favourite “mega” US airport among North American passengers. It finished above New York’s JFK in an annual survey of US and Canadian travellers by consumer analysts J.D. Power. Third place went to Minneapolis – St Paul. Chicago O’Hare was least popular, with Toronto Pearson and Boston Logan second and third from bottom respectively. Among “large”, or second tier, airports, Louis Armstrong New Orleans pipped Tampa to first place, with Raleigh-Durham (North Carolina) third. Least popular in that category was Philadelphia International, with New York’s La Guardia and Baltimore-Washington respectively second and third from bottom. For the purposes of the research mega airports handle 33m passengers or more annually, while large airports cater for 10m – 32.9m. Smaller airports were omitted this year because of the drastic fall in traffic caused by Covid-19. Labour shortages reduced consumer satisfaction with food, drinks and retail outlets at airports.
Causeway Coast among walk breaks from HF Holidays5 days ago
Guided hikes on Northern Ireland’s Causeway Coast are among several new tours for next year and 2023 from long established HF Holidays.. Beside the Giant’s Causeway – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the seven night trips will take in Rathlin Island and the summit of Carnanmore. With deparftures on 10 June and 10 and 24 September next year they will cost £1,219 a head. That will cover flights from London, three meals a day, transport to and from the walks, en suite accommodation in the seaside town of Ballycastle and a our of Belfast. Among the operator’ other new holidays are a week of walks taking all the highest points in the Shropshire Hills, and a four night break hiking the Gotaleden Trail in West Sweden. Both trips are similarly guided and inclusive of meals.
South African Airways takes off again6 days ago
South African Airways was set to take to the skies again tomorrow, just over a year since its fleet was grounded amid mounting financial problems exacerbated by the pandemic. The move follows agreement on a rescue funding package worth around £540m. There is no sign of the early return of London services, however. After launching with flights between Johannesburg and Cape Town the airline will start operating next week to five African cities: Harare, Lusaka, Maputo and Kinshasa. Interim CEO Thomas Kgokolo said its purpose was"to rebuild and sustain a profitable airline that once again takes a leadership role among local, continental, and international airlines.”
Northern Lights balloon flights planned7 days ago
Viewing the Northern Lights from a hot air balloon is on offer from a new operators this winter. Lapland Ballooning has been set up by the owners and founders of Aurora Safari Park, drawing on the experience of a partner who has been running such flights over the Masai Mara game park in Kenya for 25 years. Customers paying £199 will be able to get what it claims to be an “optimal” view of the aurora from a tethered balloon over Swedish Lapland, or take a trip for £510 a head over the Råne River Valley and its frozen lakes and forests. The company expects most people taking the flights to be staying at the Park. SAS has announced plans to fly non stop between Heathrow and Lulea, about one hour’s drive away on the Gulf of Bothnia. Flights will operate on Mondays and Fridays from 17 December to 21 March.
BA's Azores flights spark holidays launch8 days ago
Tour operator Sunvil has been quick to take advantage of British Airways planned new flights to the Azores. The airline will fly from Heathrow to the main island of Sao Miguel and the lesser known Terceira. Sunvil, a leading promoter of travel to the Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic, is to offer four different packages. One will take in both islands. Among the others – all on San Miguel – will be a seven night trip including four whale watching excursions. Both BA services will operate once a week – the former from 2 July until 3 September, the latter from 10 July until 28 August. Flights to Ponta Delgada, the islands’ capital, will operate on Saturdays. They will depart from at 9.35am, arriving at 12.20. Terceira flights will leave Heathrow on Sundays at 7.55am, arriving at 11.10am. London bound flights will depart at 1.35pm and 12.10pm respectively, arriving at 6.25pm and 5.05pm.
Holidays on Scotland's Fife trail launched9 days ago
A self guided walking break on part of the the 116 mile Fife Coastal path is one of three itineraries added for autumn by Inntravel. The holiday starts in Anstruther, takes in fishing villages, and offers the chance to visit smokehouses and distilleries. For the second half of the four night break customers are based in the university town of St Andrews, with its ruined castle and sands where the opening scene of Chariots of Fire was filmed. There they can take a walk on the 7km town trail. The trip costs from £345 for each of two sharing, which includes baggage transfers, notes on the route – it’s rated easy – four nights’ b&b and transport back to your car. The other two new itineraries are in Snowdonia and western Sicily, for six and seven nights respectively. The latter includes a visit to the Egadi Islands. The two UK holidays are available until 31 October and then from 1 March to 31 October next year. The Sicily break similarly operates until 31 October but the runs from 1 April until 15 June and starts again on 1 September next year.
Pre-return test scrapped as travel rules ease12 days ago
Fully vaccinated travellers will not longer need to take a pre-departure test before coming home to England, the Government announced today. The decision will take effect from 4 October. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also announced that, starting later next month, the much criticised Day 2 PCR test will be replaced by a cheaper lateral flow test. The move is particularly good news for silver travellers as, while they may be able to cope with the sometimes high cost of a PCR test it removes concerns that a positive pre-return test might leave them stranded abroad for ten days. The current traffic light system will also be simplified. Green and amber lists will disappear, leaving a single red category. Meanwhile eight countries will be removed from the red list from 4am on Wednesday (22 September). They are Turkey, the Maldives, Egypt, Oman, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.
The Scottish Government has followed suit – but only partially. It is retaining the need for pre departure and Day 2 PCR tests, noting “The testing of international travellers, both before and after travel, is an important part of our border health surveillance to minimise the risk of importing variants of concern.”
Few Covid cases on UK cruises - industry claims12 days ago
Fewer than 50 Covid cases have been reported among a total of over 100,000 UK passengers on cruises in domestic waters, according to a report. The encouragingly low tally was quoted by Ben Bouldin, chair of the Cruise Lines International Association, in and interview with Travel Trade Gazette. He told the publication each case had been “managed extremely well” and handled “in full collaboration” with public health departments and the Department for Transport and said the figure demonstrated health and hygiene protocols were “absolutely working” on board ships since operations restarted in May.
New Aussie hiking route12 days ago
Like most current travel news the scheduled opening this month of a spectacular new Australian hiking route in the time comes with a covid caveat. If the promise grabs you, file it away on the bucket list. The Grampian Peaks Trail, about three hours west of Melbourne, will run for 160 kilometres through Victoria’s Grampians National Park, home to the largest number of rock art sites in southern Australia. The whole route will take 13 days but the Grampian Peaks Walking Co can organise shorter guided hikes, starting with three days and nights with boutique accommodation for those seeking a comfortable bed after a hote shower and dinner.
Heathrow gets new low cost Nice flights13 days ago
Romania’s Blue Air was scheduled to start flying between London and Nice today (16 September). Aiming to attract weekenders, the budget fare airline will operate up to four times a week from Heathrow, on Thursdays, Fridays, Sundays and Mondays. At the time of writing its website showed flights available until 29 October. Blue Air has been flying between Bucharest and Heathrow since last December. It also flies between the Romanian capital and Luton.
France: new way to get restaurant access emerges14 days ago
Planning a trip to France? A new and simpler way has emerged for travellers to ensure they are allowed into establishments such as restaurants, bars and museums. It is necessary to show evidence of full vaccination using a QR code. But getting that code has been complicated and somewhat time consuming, especially for older travellers with limited computer skills.
Now, though there has been surprisingly little fanfare, double jabbed non-EU tourists can request a QR code for domestic use from the French government. You will need to provide the following evidence by email: a vaccination certificate (via the NHS app), a valid passport, return travel tickets and a completed application form. These documents can be provided in PDF, JPG or PNG form, and sent to [email protected]. The email subject line should read: COUNTRY OF RESIDENCE / SURNAME First name / Date of arrival in France in the format DD-MM-21. You will receive the QR code by email once the application has been processed, which can then be presented on paper or electronically.
You can find full information on the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office website and on the French government website
The lingering question is: why has this alternative emerged now, apparently out of the blue, when information on the service appears to have been available, though not published, since at the latest early August? Neither UK travel firms nor tourism officials in France appeared aware of it during extensive checks by this new editor. Francophiles going through the rigmarole of downloading codes from the NHS app and transferring them to the French TousAntiCovid app may be justified in wondering if they have been short changed.
Spare fully vaccinated travellers need for tests - ABTA urges15 days ago
As the Government considers its next traffic light overhaul, ABTA has urged it to scrap pre-return and post arrival tests for returning travellers who are fully vaccinated. The association says sumer holiday bookings this year were down by 83% compared with 2019 – and almost half its members said they had seen no increase since 2020 – despite the vaccination programme rollout. In a letter to the Transport Secretary and the Chancellor it argues that with over 80% of eligible UK adults already vaccinated “the time has now come to put in place a stable framework for international travel; capitalising on the success of the vaccine rollout by making the individual risk status of the traveller a cornerstone of future travel policy.”
The association calls for and end to the much criticised traffic light system. All destinations should be treated as open “by default” though a short red list should be retained as a guard against the importation of concerning variants. It says summer foreign holiday bookings were 83% lower than in 2019 and almost half of travel companies had seen no increase since last year despite the vaccination programme. On top of that 58% of this summer’s bookings had been postponed or cancelled and nearly 100,000 jobs in the outbound travel sector had been lost during since the pandemic began some more than 18 months ago.
“The Government’s overly cautious travel requirements have led to the UK trailing behind its European competitors. Not only was the UK much slower than other countries to restart, with more stringent restrictions, it has also failed to capitalise on the progress of the vaccine rollout. EU citizens who have been double vaccinated have been able to travel within Europe without the need to test for months, a contrast to the expensive and onerous arrangements that have applied in the UK.”
The coming review should be used to open up safe travel by putting the individual risk profiles at the heart of UK travel policy – capitalising on the vaccine rollout and maintaining a red list for managing known variants of concern. “There is no logical explanation as to why people who are fully vaccinated should be taking expensive PCR tests – or any test at all – when returning from lower risk countries.”
Sea Cloud Spirit for maiden voyage16 days ago
The latest addition to a yacht family with a fascinating 90 year history is scheduled to set sail on its maiden voyage tomorow (14 September). The elegant tall ship Sea Cloud Spirit will spend autumn cruising the western Mediterranean from Cittavecchia, calling at ports including Naples, Olbia in Sardinia and the Sicillian capital, Palermo. In winter she will head for the Canary Islands.The windjammer carries up to 136 passengers and 25 of its 69 outside cabins or suites have balconies. There are fitness and wellness centres on board, the latter with a Finnish sauna, a steam bath and a hairdressing salon.
As with her sister ships – Sea Cloud and Sea Cloud II, voyages will be under sail for most of the time. The first of them – then named Hussar – was built in 1931 for breakfast cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post by her husband, Wall Street businessman EF Hutton. When he signed it over to her after their divorce she renamed it Sea Cloud. He next husband, Joseph E Davies, was made US ambassador to the Soviet Union, and the couple sailed to Leningrad, where the yacht served as a floating centre for diplomatic receptions during Stalin’s purges. During World War II it was used by the US Coastguard. After the war it was sold to the Dominican Republic dictator Rafael Trujillo, who had been a frequent guest aboard, and renamed Angelita. When he was assassinated in 1961, family members sailed for Cannes with his body and a huge amount of cash on board – but the new government forced the crew to turn back. Back in the US – and now called the Antarna – the vessel was the subject of disputed ownership and finances and was allowed to deteriorate until a German ship’s captain and a group of Hamburg-based businessmen revived her fortunes and – once again called Sea Cloud – launched her as a cruise ship.
Boston's seaport gets huge new hotel16 days ago
With views over the harbour, a huge new hotel has opened in Boston. The Omni Boston Hotel at the Seaport has no fewer than 1054 rooms and suites in two 22 storey towers. It is a short distance from Logan International Airport and within comfortable walking distance of the Massachusetts capital’s main shopping streets, the new England Aquarium and historic attractions including the Old North Church. The lobby has a platform stage, inspired by the steps outside the nearby Institute of Contemporary Art. The hotel has a range of eateries including a French brasserie, a spa, a fitness centre with Peloton bikes and a rooftop outdoor pool.
Travel tests may be axed for double jabbed17 days ago
The end could at last be in sight for expensive and inconvenient travel test requirements. The Government was reported today to be considering axing pre-tests for fully vaccinated people returning at the end of their trips – and getting rid of the need to take a PCR test soon after they get back. According to the Mail on Sunday the change could take effect in time for next month’s half term holidays. It is possible there could be an announcement as early as the end of this week.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the Andrew Marr Show he had sought advice on the issue. Asked by Nick Robinson if the PCR test would go, he replied: “I haven’t said that but I want to get rid of that test as soon as I possibly can. We only keep measures in place if they are absolutely, totally necessary. Now that may sound obvious to most people but it’s now always how Government works. Sometimes Government do things and they get a bit too used to its and I just think all these things should be kept under review.” Asked if he was saying either people shouldn’t be able to visit a country or – if they can – they should be spared “all these expensive tests”, he replied:: "I’d like people to be able to visit whatever country they want to visit for whatever reason. In a normal world it should be no business of the Government. Everybody understands why we’ve had to take a different approach for the past year or so but that extra burden, the cost of a PCR test to a typical family going in holiday is horrendous and I’d like to take that away as soon as I can but it must be based on the public health advice ".
Though there has been widespread criticism of the sometimes high price of PCR tests, some travel agents have complained that the pre-departure test is the greatest deterrent to overseas travel. A positive result before heading for the airport or the Channel could mean a costly and inconvenient delay abroad before returning home. And while some countries will remain on the red list, meaning travellers from those destinations will still face quarantine on arrival in the UK, relaxation of the testing rules cannot come as moment too soon for the beleaguered travel industry.
BA to launch new ski flights19 days ago
British Airways will launch new flights to Salzburg from Southampton and London City Airport in time for the coming ski season. The Austrian city is close to resorts including the 25 that make Ski Amadé area, which claims to cover 760 kilometres of pistes. Though they are not all connected, they are served by 270 lifts on a single pass. Flights from Southampton will operate on Saturdays, departing at 1pm and returning at 4.50pm. Services from London City will operate on Fridays and Saturdays and returning to Dockland at 10.50am.
Fellini Museum set to open19 days ago
Sets from movies including La Dolce Vita will be recreated at a new museum dedicated to the life and work of celebrated Italian director Federico Fellini. The museum is scheduled to open on 15 September in the Adriatic coastal resort of Rimini. It will occupy the Renaissance Sismondo Castle, the upper floors of the art nouveau Cinema Fulgor and the so called Square of Dreams, a 40 square metre space between to be used for video installations, augmented reality and pop ups. Visitors will be able to attend showings of Fellini films – such as La Strada and The Nights of Cabiria -which will run throughout the day. Exhibits will range from drawings, scripts and costumes to multimedia presentations. Fellini was born in Rimini in 1920. He died in 1993, aged 73.
Club Med to open Spain resort20 days ago
Club Med is to open a new all inclusive resort in Spain next spring. Set in 12 acres of terraced gardens, Club Med Magna Marbella will be about a 20 minute walk from the town centre and its Mediterranean beaches. Marketed as a perfect springboard for exploring Andalusia, it will also be around 1hr 10mins by road from Ronda, 2hrs from other cities including Cordoba and Seville, and 40 minutes from Malaga and its airport. The resort will have five pools, including one for adults only and one each for water sports and children. There will be a spa, two restaurants and three bars. Bookings open on 12 October.
easyJet to launch Manchester-Jordan flights21 days ago
easyJet is to launch flights from Manchester to Jordan this winter. Starting on 6 December the low cost carriers will fly to Aqaba, on the Red Sea. Besides providing winter sunshine, Aqaba is a jumping off point for Wadi Rum and Petra. Services will depart twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays. Bookings have already opened, with one way fares starting at £95.99. Jordan is currently on the Government’s amber travel list