Radisson SAS forges ahead with faceliftInternational luxury hotel group, Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts is forging ahead with a $80 million refurbishment programme, encompassing 14 hotels throughout Europe and the Middle East. The programme includes Bahrain's Diplomat Radisson SAS which is upgrading 13 of its floors, including all guest-rooms and creating new food and beverage outlets. Jeddah Sofitel opens new restaurant JEDDAH: The Sofitel Alhamra Hotel in Jeddah has opened a new Mediterranean-themed restaurant, La Veranda. General manager Robert Tissot said the menu features authentic cuisine from different Mediterranean countries. The aesthetically-designed restaurant is located around the swimming pool area with its pergolas designed in a Mediterranean style. Sheraton Doha launches new-look floors DOHA: The Sheraton Doha Hotel and Resort has launched its new-look executive and classic floors, completing its extensive expansion and renovation programme. The 109 rooms on the two Executive floors - sixth and seventh - and a Classic floor (eighth) have been especially designed and equipped to meet the needs of the executive business traveller and upmarket tourists, the hotel said in a statement. Four suites have been converted to Executive Japanese guestrooms to cater to the demands of the increasing number of Japanese business travellers. Movenpick opens for business in Qatar DOHA: The Doha Corniche Movenpick Hotel opened for business last month with delegates and journalists attending the World Travel Organisation (WTO) meeting as the first guests. The four-star, deluxe boutique hotel, which will have a formal inauguration later, has 154 rooms including executive suites. Almost all rooms have a sea front view. Hyatt named best 5-star hotel in South Sinai CAIRO: The Hyatt Regency Sharm El Sheikh has been named as the best five-star hotel in South Sinai, its general manager Garry Friend has said. The award, recognising the hotel's role in promoting tourism to Egypt, was presented at a ceremony marking World Tourism Day by tourism minister, Dr Mamdouh El Beltagui . Rotana offers special breaks for GCC residents BEIRUT: The Gefinor Rotana Hotel in Beirut is offering special Rotana Break rates for GCC nationals and residents. The hotel is offering a single room for $100 and a double for $110 until September 30 next year under its Rotana Break package which provides a range of value benefits. Under the Rotana Break Plus package, guests are offered a fifth night free for every four nights stay except for a blackout period between December 17 and January 7 and February 25 to March 10. Golf resort offers family special DUBAI: The Jebel Ali Hotel & Resorts in Dubai is offering a special family package as part of its autumn golf rates. Golfers can play a nine-hole round for only Dh90 ($24.5) and 18 holes for Dh165 while family members who are not golfers can enjoy the beauty and privacy of the resort's 800-metre-long beaches and three pools, a hotel spokesperson said. The offer runs until December 15. Promising start for new Holiday Inn DUBAI: The 252-room Holiday Inn Bur Dubai, which was officially opened by its chairman, Saudi businessman Abdul Aziz Al Shiha, has registered 40 per cent occupancy since it began operations. General manager Robert Rosetti said that the hotel had two guests on the day of its soft opening on September 12 which increased to 120 a few weeks later despite a general slowdown in the travel and tourism sector. Two win Muscat magic promo draws CAIRO: UAE journalist Said Salash and travel agency worker Mohan Nayar have won Magic of Muscat packages at the launch of the joint Oman Air-Six Continent Hotels promotion in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The promotion allows travellers to take autumn or winter breaks with Oman Air from Abu Dhabi, Dubai or Al Ain to one of four hotel properties operated by Six Continents Hotels in Oman. The package is available until April next year. Bahrain bans garlands sale in nightclubs MANAMA: Bahrain has banned the sale of garlands at hotel nightclubs for patrons to give performers on stage. The ban, imposed by the Information Ministry's Tourism Affairs, comes into effect on December 16. Proceeds from the sales are normally split between performers and club proprietors. Flights full for Eid holidays DUBAI: Airlines operating in the UAE have reported brisk bookings for flights during this month's Eid holidays, putting a smile on the faces of airline officials and travel agents hit hard by the downturn in travel after the September 11 attacks. Airlines say flights to Indian Sub-continent, Levant and Middle East destinations as well as intra-Gulf services have been attracting brisk bookings, local media reports said. Airlines hike Bahrain-India, Far East fares MANAMA: Airlines operating on the Bahrain-India routes have raised their fares following an agreement on fare structure drawn up by the yield improvement committee's subcommittee, ending a fare war. Fares to the Far East are also expected to rise this month. Saudis face new regulations for US visa RIYADH: Saudi nationals travelling to the US have to submit a passport-size photograph, along with their visa applications, showing their full face without any head covering. They are also required to furnish their complete postal address in Saudi Arabia, and not just the PO Box, to the US embassy, the local media reported adding that traffic to the US and other western countries had started to pick up. UAE airports slash landing, parking charges DUBAI: Airports in the UAE have cut their landing fees and other charges in a move to ease problems faced by global carriers. While the Dubai airport slashed landing and parking fees for aircraft by 50 per cent, airports in northern emirates announced case by case reductions ranging from 5 to 25 per cent. Qatar Airways offers Kerala package DOHA: Qatar Airways Holidays is offering Gulf residents a chance to drive away aches and pains with a trip to Kerala. India The holiday division of Qatar Airways says the health and rejuvenation package, which includes houseboat cruise, five-star hotel accommodation and three massage treatments at Ayurvedic centres, has been prepared in association with the Kerala Tourism Development Corporation and the Taj Group of Hotels. Singapore Airlines first-half profits sink SINGAPORE: High-flying Singapore Airlines (SIA) has said its interim profits for the half year ended September plunged 88.2 per cent year on year to S$134.8 million ($73.3 million) as a result of a global aviation slowdown aggravated by the terrorism crisis. Expansion plans for Baisan Institute MANAMA: The Baisan Institute of Hospitality Management (BIHM) has undergone a BD200,000 ($530,463) expansion, to meet increasing demand from Bahraini job seekers. The expansion aims to meet the need for more skilled Bahraini manpower in the country's growing tourism industry, said BIHM chairman Mohammed Dadabhai. BIHM currently has 200 trainees, enrolled in 14 programmes. US hotels hit hard by terror attacks LONDON: The September 11 terror attacks in the United States had a devastating effect on hotels in the US, Canada and the Caribbean, says a new industry survey on "Implications of September 11, 2001 on the Global Hotel Market" by the Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels. But it added that while the hotel markets worldwide "have been adversely affected by the attacks, there is underlying strength in the sector". BA launches Concorde promotion DUBAI: Passengers from Gulf states who travel first class on British Airways London-New York flights will get a free upgrade to Concorde on the return trip from New York. The special promotion, which will run until March 31 next year, has been launched to celebrate the supersonic jet's 25-year history in the Middle East, the airline said. The Concorde returned to the skies on November 7. Gulf Air provides online booking service MANAMA: Gulf Air passengers can now book their seats through the airline's newly-improved website. The launch of online booking and reservations services is the second phase in the website enhancement. Passengers are directly connect to the airline's Falcon Reservations System and make their reservations, get destination descriptions and itinerary information, using their personal computer. Cyprus Airways offers companion fares DUBAI: Cyprus Airways is offering Dubai-Europe return companion fares for Dh1,200 ($326.7) as part of its latest schedule. The fare applies to a companion, who accompanies another passenger travelling at the standard Dubai-Europe return fare of Dh1,600. The offer runs until March 31 next year except for a blackout period between December 17 and January 7. Thai Airways facing collapse, says report BANGKOK: Thai Airways International chairman Virabongsa Ramangkura says the carrier is struggling under $2 billion debt and could collapse within three years, local media reports say. He said a massive restructuring was needed if Thailand's national airline was to survive. Thai Airways' debt was 18 times its equity, he said. Sabena suspends most US, Canada flights BRUSSELS: Belgium's ailing Sabena airline has said it had temporarily suspended most of its flights to Canada and the United States because bookings had dropped after it filed for bankruptcy protection. The airline is preparing a recovery plan amid growing doubts about its ability to survive. It has also scrapped flights to some African destinations. Plan for Saudi plane leasing firm on hold DUBAI: A plan to set up an aircraft leasing firm in Saudi Arabia has been put on hold while investors review prospects after the recent downturn in the airline business, an official has said. He added that investors were still being approached for the proposed $200 million Islamic Aircraft Leasing Company, but the project had been hit by the fallout from the September 11 attacks in the US. Egypt to use $29m fund as flight incentive CAIRO: Egypt has approved a 33 million euro ($29 million) fund to encourage charter flights bound for Egyptian tourist destinations other than Cairo and Alexandria, the Ministry of Tourism said. Payments will be made from the fund every week from November 15 for two to three months to the agent of the charter company, with the Egyptian government bearing the cost of empty seats up to 30 per cent of the aircraft's capacity, it said. Emirates wins top marks in UK poll DUBAI: Dubai-based Emirates airline has been voted the Best Scheduled Airline in a poll conducted by UK's The Telegraph newspaper for its Travel Awards 2001 - toppling Singapore Airlines from the top spot, with Virgin Atlantic third. A total of 5,863 UK adults were questioned about their favourite airlines, destinations, hotels, travel companies and tour operators. Delta Air Lines reports $295m loss ATLANTA: Delta Air Lines, the third-largest US carrier, has reported a $295 million third-quarter loss against $273 million earnings last year as the lingering economic slump and the travel slowdown after the September 11 attacks eroded its revenues. Delta said the loss, which excludes a $104 million gain from a federal bailout programme, came as revenues fell to $3.4 billion from $4.35 billion. The airline said that the September attacks had eroded quarterly revenues by about $400 million. October traffic down, says Cathay Pacific HONG KONG: Hong Kong's dominant airline Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said its passenger and cargo traffic fell sharply in October due to the global economic slowdown and the impact from the September 11 air attacks on the United States. It said it carried 834,066 passengers in October, 16.6 per cent less than the same month last year and carried 67,258 tonnes of cargo, 9.2 per cent lower than a year ago. Troon Golf to manage new UAE club DUBAI: US-based luxury brand golf management company, Troon Golf, has been named to manage the UAE's newest club set to open in March next year. Troon Golf has been appointed to manage Emaar Golf Club at the Emirates Hills residential development in Dubai. The project is being developed by Emaar Properties. The course is being created by master architect Desmond Muirhead in association with seven-time European Order of Merit winner, Colin Montgomerie. Kuwait airport traffic falls 6pc KUWAIT: Passenger traffic at Kuwait International Airport fell six per cent in October because of world tensions following the September 11 attacks in the United States, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said said. The number of passengers who used the airport last month was 262,157 compared to 278,464 in October 2000 while the number of incoming and outgoing flights also fell six per cent to 2,525 flights. Italy firm to set up helicopter plant in Qatar DOHA: Italian helicopter manufacturer Agusta will set up a maintenance and assembly plant in Qatar, the Amir of Qatar's chief of staff, Shaikh Mohammad bin Saud Al Thani said after signing an accord for construction of the plant last month. He said the plant would initially carry out maintenance work on civilian and military helicopters and go on to assemble helicopters at a later stage. Netjets sets up unit in Riyadh DUBAI: Netjets, which has pioneered the concept of fractional ownership of private jets in the Gulf, has announced it will set up a $5 million maintenance and service facility in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The company also announced that it had launched 'All Hours Option' programme for business jet users, to offer more flexibility and wider ownership choices for executives in the region. Hertz scoops three more awards DUBAI: Rental car major Hertz has scooped up a number of international awards recently. In September, it was named the Best Car Rental Company Worldwide for the ninth consecutive year at the Business Traveller Awards ceremony in London. Hertz Euorpe chief Charles Shafer received the award from Princess Anne. It also won best car hire company titles from Irish magazine Business Travel and the Travel Trade Gazette. Muscat hotel boosts meetings facilities MUSCAT: The Crowne Plaza Muscat has boosted its conference facilities with refurbishments, additions and equipment improvements. Renovation work has transformed the hotel's Al Mandaloun Conference area and created the new Al Khanjar boardroom. Kenya Airways opens new office in Dubai DUBAI: Kenya Airways' new office in Dubai has been opened by Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, president of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation and chairman of Emirates airline. The airline's general manager for the Middle East and Asia, A M Kioko, said the new office was a symbol of confidence of the airline in the region and Dubai. German aircraft firm to open Mideast office DUBAI: A German corporate aircraft consultant and VIP aircraft design engineering company plans to open its Middle East headquarters. Alaman Flying Palaces (AFP) which made its debut at Dubai 2001 air show, said it had shortlisted the UAE and Saudi Arabia as the potential venue of its headquarters. Dubai-Abu Dhabi air taxis to start DUBAI: A new luxury service using sea planes between Abu Dhabi and Dubai is to start this month. The service is being launched by Emarat Link Aviation with 12 flights a day. A UAE report said the introductory return fare had been fixed at Dh550 ($150) and Emarat Link will use advanced Cessna Caravan aircraft for the service. Oman wins seat on World Heritage Council PARIS: Oman has won a seat on the World Heritage Council, garnering the highest number of votes in elections held recently by the 166-nation Unesco General Assembly. The country's election for the six-year term came after three run-off rounds in which 17 countries competed for seven vacant seats, a report said. Hospitality institute posts 37pc profit rise MUSCAT: Oman's National Hospitality Institute (NHI), which plays a key role in training young Omanis for the industry, has said its net profit for the year to end of September rose by 37 per cent to RO113,000 ($293,827) from RO89,000 in the same period the previous year.