Bahrain Duty Free posts profitsThe Bahrain Duty Free Shop Complex posted a net profit of BD1.5 million ($3.98 million) for the year 2001. Farouk Yousuf Almoayyed, chairman of the board of directors, said the company performed well during the year despite the global slump. A lower level of charter airline traffic activity through Bahrain International Airport also affected sales, which amounted to BD13 million, down 5.2 per cent compared with the previous year. The board approved a 40 per cent dividend, equal to BD800,000 cash, out of which 20 per cent has already been distributed as interim dividend. World airports hit by 3pc fall in passenger traffic GENEVA: International and domestic airports around the world saw a three per cent drop in passenger traffic last year, accelerated by the September 11 attacks in the United States, the Geneva-based Airports Council International said. Of the world's 30 busiest airports, 27 handled fewer passengers than in 2000, with San Francisco, the worst hit, seeing a drop of 15.7 per cent. Le Meridien to manage Abu Dhabi Grand ABU DHABI: Le Meridien is to take over the management of the Abu Dhabi Grand hotel. The hotel group replaces Rotana Hotels, which ceased management of the five-star property last week. France's Accor was the other contender for the deal. The new management will also continue the Dh120 million ($32.67 million) expansion of the hotel, currently under way. Exhibitors line up for Dubai air show DUBAI: Sales for the Dubai 2003 air show are taking off after a high profile event presentation was held at the Asian Aerospace expo, the organiser Fairs and Exhibitions (F&E) has said. It said it had signed China's Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Corporation as well as Fairchild Dornier, the German aircraft manufacturer and had received a strong response from the Asian and Australasian aerospace community. Qatar relaxes visa rules DOHA: Qatar has relaxed entry visa rules for nationals of 33 mostly Western and advanced countries and an immigration official said visa fees for these visitors had been brought down to QR50 ($13.7) for a two-week visit visa for tourism and business. Under new rules, expatriate residents of other Gulf countries can also now travel to Qatar by any airline and seek a two-week visit visa on arrival. They will however be required to pay QR105 as visa fee. Air taxi service to link Jizan with Furasan JEDDAH: An air taxi service will be launched soon to link Jizan city with Furasan island in Saudi Arabia. The kingdom has already signed a deal with an international firm to execute this project at a cost of SR60 million ($15.9 million), a report said. The project will start with two planes, each a capacity of 10 passengers, that operate round the clock. Sharjah may win India airport deals SHARJAH: Sharjah International Airport is likely to win management contracts to partially run major Indian airports. The emirate is vying for these contracts in partnership with Frankfurt Airport Services Worldwide (Fraport). The Sharjah-Fraport combine had also initiated talks with airports in the Levant region for similar arrangements. KAC seeks role in new airline KUWAIT: The Kuwait Airways corporation (KAC) is seeking a role in a new airline planned by the government. The KAC management has urged the government to allow it to invest in the proposed new airline during a meeting with the National Assembly's Economic and Finance Committee. It also asked the government to enact a law to specify KAC's partnership with the new carrier as well as allow it to cover only regional destinations so as not to compete with KAC and erode its profits, a local media report said. Emirates signs $90m Islamic finance deal DUBAI: Emirates airline has signed a Dh330 million ($90 million) Islamic financing agreement for an airliner - the first financing of a full aircraft using Islamic financing vehicle, over a 10-year term. Delivered on February 27 and now in operation, the aircraft was the 21st of 27 Airbus A330-200s currently on firm order. The A330 fleet is powered by Rolls Royce Trent 700 series engines. Yemenia plans Kochi flights DOHA: Yemen's national carrier Yemenia is negotiating with Indian civil aviation authorities to begin flights to Kochi (Cochin) in Kerala. The airline's area manager in Qatar, Abdul Salam A Al Salafi, said Yemenia planned to fly to Kochi from Sanaa via Dubai and was awaiting 'sixth freedom rights' (lifting passengers from a third country). Oman Air revenues touch $36m MUSCAT: Oman Air has achieved revenues of the order of RO14.2 million ($36.9 million) in the last year, one per cent more than the previous year despite the sluggish aviation sector and increased competition, Abdul Rahman bin Harith Al Busaidy, acting chief Indian airline launches holiday packages DOHA: Indian Airlines has launched special holiday packages to Goa and Kerala for travellers from Qatar. The Fitness Flyaways or Kairali packages include return airfare, accommodation at deluxe villas, all meals and a personal lifestyle and fitness evaluation. The Goa Flyaways include airfare, airport transfers, accommodation and all taxes and sightseeing, said the airline's manager in Qatar, Sushil Mandal. Final Swissair flight marks end of an era ZURICH: The last outbound Swissair flight on March signalled the end of an era and the sad finish to one of the world's most respected airlines that flew the flag of a small country around the globe. The aviation legend gives way to Swiss which has been put together around former regional carrier Crossair with 2.7 billion Swiss francs ($1.6 billion) in capital provided by Swiss companies and the government in a national rescue deal. Swiss began operation on March 31 with the start of the summer timetable Swiss to roll out new marketing campaign DUBAI: Swiss, the new inter-continental airline for Switzerland, will roll out a new marketing and sales programme in the Middle East in the coming months to gain from an expected upswing in regional travel. The company held a one-day meeting in Dubai for its senior sales and marketing managers from across the Middle East, focused on regional marketing and sales strategies for 2002. Meanwhile, the airline has appointed a safety advisory board comprising three internationally acknowledged specialists in aviation safety. US warns airlines on passenger data WASHINGTON: US authorities have warned airlines which fail to comply with a law requiring them to turn over advance lists of international passengers for screening. The defaulting carriers could be fined and possibly lose the right to land in the United States, the US Customs Service warned. Yugoslav Airlines to relaunch Dubai ops DUBAI: Yugoslav Airlines Jat is poised to make a comeback into Dubai skies in May after a 10-year-absence. The airline proposes to start with three Belgrade-Dubai-Belgrade flights per week, operated with Boeing 727 aircraft, said Bosko Bojovic, director of the holidays department, adding the frequency could be increased to four a week with bigger-capacity aircraft depending on demand.û Ritz-Carlton wins three Euro awards DUBAI: The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company has started the year on a high note, winning three major European travel awards over the past two months. The luxury hotel company won this year's Business Travel World award for the Best Business Hotel Group (fewer than 100 properties) while the Ritz-Carlton Dubai was named the best overseas hotel in incentive category at the the 15th Meetings and Incentive Travel Industry Awards in London. The group's Hotel Arts Barcelona won the Best Overseas Hotel in meetings category award. Le Meridien resort launches polo holidays DUBAI: Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina and the Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club held the first annual 'Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Polo Holidays Trophy', launching the concept of polo holidays into Dubai, a further addition to the many activities already offered in Dubai, the hotel group said. Cairo hotel taps the magic of Nile CAIRO: A landmark Cairo hotel is tapping the magic of the majestic River Nile in its bid to lure back tourists from Europe to Egypt. Located on the banks of the Nile, the Semiramis Inter-Continental Hotel, is among seven Six Continents hotels offering tourists exceptional value winter packages starting at just $30 per person per night until the end of June. The hotel offers 730 rooms and extensive leisure and business facilities. Movenpick sales slumped in 2001 ZURICH: Swiss hotel group Movenpick Hotels and Resorts said its sales slumped last year reflecting the "extremely difficult market conditions" experienced in the industry following the September 11 attacks in the US. The group said sales at its leased operations fell 5.8 per cent to 180.2 million Swiss francs ($107 million) while sales at its management operations dropped 13.6 per cent to 228.9 million Swiss francs. A Passage to India at Nirvana MANAMA: Master chefs in the culinary art of creating Mughlai dishes and tandoori foods enchanted diners at a 16-day Passage to India festival at Le Royal Meridien's Nirvana Restaurant in Bahrain. Chef Mohammad Idris, with 25 years' experience in the kitchens of top-class restaurants in India and Saudi Arabia, and his assistant Manish Dua, "provided their own style of culinary expertise in cooking in the grand Mughal manner" during the festival. Fairmont starts off on a high note DUBAI: With more than half of the 394 rooms and suites available during its initial opening period, The Fairmont Dubai has achieved a credible occupancy rate of between 75 and 80 per cent, according to Michael Kaile, vice president and general manager, who said this underlined the strength of the Dubai market as a tourism and commerce centre. The Fairmont Dubai opened in early February on the Shaikh Zayed Road. Hotel offers adventure packages DUBAI: The newly opened Hilton Ras Al Khaimah has launched a choice of four "4x4 adventure packages" offering either one- or two-night short breaks with 4x4 guided tours, accommodation, all meals and leisure activities. The tours take in some of the emirate's most beautiful locations, the hotel's general manager Franck Sebire said. Guests can choose from one-night packages to Wadi Bih or a desert safari for Dh340 ($92) per person. The two-night packages to Khasab or the East Coast are charged at Dh860 per person and Dh610 per person respectively. Radisson SAS launches 'Summer Magic' DUBAI: Luxury hotel group Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts, which currently operates eight Middle East and North Africa properties, has conjured up a special family 'Summer Magic' holiday offer cutting standard room rates by up to 30 per cent and offering free stays for children throughout the summer. The offer is valid between June 1 and August 31 at any of the hotel chain's 108 properties in 37 countries in Europe, Middle East, Africa and China. Taj Palace unveils new executive floor DUBAI: Taj Palace Hotel Dubai has officially unveiled its new executive floor, dubbed the Taj Club Dubai. The club which occupies the second floor of the hotel, offers complimentary limousine transfer to and from airport, exclusive and express check-in and check-out services, complimentary breakfast, late check out up to 4pm, free Internet access and local calls, complimentary pressing of one suit or dishdash, complimentary high afternoon tea or all day juice bar. The club will become the choice of business travellers, the hotel said. WonderLand park gets $2.7m expansion Dubai: The WonderLand Theme and Water Park has unveiled 18 new attractions, designed to cater to visitors of all ages. The new attractions are part of a Dh10 million ($2.72 million) expansion project which will bring a new range of rides and games to complement the park's existing facilities, WonderLand general manager Adel Saqer has said. Hala festival attracts 150,000 visitors KUWAIT: Kuwait's fourth annual shopping festival pulled in some 150,000 visitors while sales at participating shops hit KD45 million ($150 million). Festival organisers said the "Hala February" shopping extravaganza was a success helping boost the local economy and drive up hotel occupancy rates to 80 per cent. Qatar to launch summer promotions DOHA: Qatar will launch its first nationwide summer promotions in June. To be marketed under the brand name Qatar Summer Wonders, the maiden festival will start on June 15 and run until the end of August. The Summer Wonders will include promotions throughout the country by hotels, clubs, airlines, shopping centres and entertainment companies, said a report. Hertz opens Abu Dhabi airport branch ABU DHABI: Hertz UAE has opened its ninth UAE branch at Abu Dhabi International Airport. A full range of car rental services, using a brand new fleet of vehicles, will be available from the Hertz counter in the airport's arrivals hall. Al-Futtaim Group, the Hertz franchisee in the UAE, marked the development by offering 500 miles free on every car rental for members of Gulf Air's Golden Falcon Club frequent flyer programme. Non-approved agents 'still active in Bahrain' MANAMA: Non-approved travel agents are still doing business in Bahrain, despite the introduction of the new Iata Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) late last year, travel agents who became BSP members have complained at a meeting called by the Association of Bahrain Travel and Tours Agents. Bahrain hospitality sector takes a $36m hit MANAMA: Bahrain's hospitality and airport services sector lost $36 million in the past six months after Europe's once-thriving holiday air charter business came to a grinding halt. Four of Europe's biggest charter airlines had been using Bahrain International Airport as its mid-way hub between numerous UK and Western European cities and popular vacation destinations in the subcontinent, southeast Asia and Oceania, operating as many as 40 flights during peak holiday season. "All of that changed after September 11," said a local aviation official. Exhibitors 'vow to return for Confex 2003' LONDON: Exhibitors have vowed to return to next year's edition of the International Confex, Europe's leading annual forum for the meetings, events and corporate hospitality industry. On-site exhibitor stand rebookings were at a record high at end of this year's show in London, with over 70 per cent of stand space for the 2003 event already booked, the organisers said. Confex 2002 attracted more than 1,300 exhibitor firms and over 8,500 visitors. 2,000 firms line up for Moscow travel fair MOSCOW: More than 2,000 companies from over 100 countries and regions were expected to take part in MITT 2002 (Moscow International Travel & Tourism exhibition) at the end of March. Organisers ITE Travel Exhibitions predicted visitor figures would reach 100,000 including trade visitors from the first three days and public from the final day. Draft law on Sharjah airport gets the nod SHARJAH: A draft law to set up a Sharjah International Airport Authority has been approved by the Sharjah Consultative Council. The council also discussed plans by the Sharjah International Airport Free Zone to set up a technology complex. Sharjah is also considering setting up a centre for studies and research jointly with the free zones authority, Department of Economic Development and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Bahwan unveils holiday packages MUSCAT: Bahwan Holidays, Oman's largest tour operator, has unveiled a wide range of Thomas Cook India Coach Tours in Europe and North America. Also on offer are an array of exclusive holiday packages to a variety of destinations in the Middle East, Far East and Australia. Thomas Cook Holidays are partners of Bahwan Travel Agencies LLC and the packages are priced competitively, said Bahwan's general manager Shankar Bose.