IA plans to expand UAE operationsIndian Airlines plans to broadbase its UAE operations and is contemplating services to every emirate in the country, said A K Goyal, commercial director. He was speaking after the launch of a new service to Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum) - its 13th direct Indian destination from Sharjah. Air-India launches online booking MUSCAT: Air-India has launched an e-marketing initiative providing passengers the facility to purchase air tickets through its website, www.airindia.com. The facility, which is initially being offered to those who purchase their tickets in India for travel from any of Air-India's 11 online stations in the country, will progressively be extended to other markets worldwide. Qantas chooses Mercator's Rapid Solution DUBAI: Australia's Qantas Airways has successfully migrated to Rapid Cargo, the revenue-accounting solution from Mercator, the IT division of the Dubai-based Emirates Group. The implementation, in conjunction with a new management reporting system developed by Qantas, is expected to improve Qantas Freight's financial operations, providing vital management information and greatly improving productivity and cost-efficiency, according to a Mercator. Gulf airlines to boost flights to Malaysia ABU DHABI: Gulf Air and Qatar Airways will increase flights to Malaysia during the coming months to meet demands in the tourism industry, a report said. Gulf Air will increase the number of flights from UAE to five from the earlier three per week while Qatar Airways is still considering the number of flights to be increased. Emirates and GE mark a milestone DUBAI: Emirates Airline has marked one million flight hours in revenue service with GE CF6.80C2 engines in its fleet. Part of the airline's fleet since 1985, the GE CFG-80C2 engines have exhibited high performance and outstanding dispatch reliability powering the carrier's Airbus A310 and A300 wide-body aircraft. Muhammad Al Lamadani, general manager of sales for Northern & Eastern and Middle East for GE Aircraft Engines (GEAE) presented a commemorative plaque to Emirates chairman Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum. Also present were James Shuppert of GEAE and Adel Al Redha of Emirates group. Lufthansa offers ski holiday packages DUBAI: Gulf travellers looking for special deals with great value can make their vacation special during Eid Al Adha holidays by considering one of Lufthansa's winter holiday packages to Salzburg in Austria, with costs starting as low as Dh2,766 ($754). The packages, which include return economy airfare, a choice for three to seven nights at four and five-star hotels with breakfast and ski packages, are valid until April. EU seeks to fine airlines for overbooking FRANKFURT: Airlines that overbook flights could face heavy fines under a proposed law by the European Commission, German news weekly Focus has reported. The magazine said that the EU would propose a fine of at least 750 euros ($668) to each passenger "bumped" from a flight. For routes of more than 3,500km, carriers would have to pay passengers 1,500 euros and on low-fare tickets 375 euros. Airlines get more time to install safety devices ABU DHABI: The UAE has extended a deadline for airlines using its air space to install collision-warning devices in their aircraft. The earlier six-month deadline given by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) expired on January 1. Aircraft weighing 5,700kgs or more must now be equipped with the ACAS Space II device by June 1, a GCAA official said. Shaheen relaunches service from Oman MUSCAT: Pakistani carrier Shaheen Air International has relaunched its service to Karachi from Muscat, a report said. The airline, with two flights per week on Thursdays and Fridays, operates services to all major cities in Pakistan - Lahore, Islamabad and Peshawar. The cargo services have also been extended to all major cities in Pakistan, the report said. Oman Ramada Hotel opened MUSCAT: The Oman Ramada Hotel, a four-star property, has opened for business, a report said. Ahmed bin Abdulnabi Macki, Oman minister of national economy and deputy chairman of the Financial Affairs and Energy Resources Council, inaugurated the hotel. Thailand resort offers healthy packages DUBAI: The Chiva-Som International Health Resort in Thailand is offering special packages for visitors during February. The packages, starting at $1,480 for four nights, includes the resort's unique health and well-being treatments, a hotel spokesperson said. The package also include three Chiva-Som spa cuisine meals per night, daily massage choice, complete health and well-being consultation and a chance to take part in specified fitness and leisure activity programme. Two Millennium hotels to open in UAE LONDON: US-based group, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, is two open two five-star hotels in the UAE under management contract. The Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi is scheduled to open in the spring while the hotel in Sharjah is under development, the company said in a statement. The group has appointed Franz Zeller as the general manager of the Millennium Hotel Abu Dhabi. Le Meridien extends '3 4 2' promo DUBAI: Luxury hotel group Le Meridien has extended its '3 4 2' promotion to the end of March. The group said it was extending its winter promotion offering a free night for every two booked at its properties in the Middle East and West Asia due to its overwhelming success. It covers both resort hotels such as the new Le Meridien Sharm El-Sheikh and the group's Dubai properties as well as city hotels in Cairo, the Levant, Saudi Arabia and India. New three-star hotel opens in Doha DOHA: A new three-star hotel has opened in Doha giving a boost to the government's efforts to promote tourism in Qatar. The 10-storey, 84-room Gulf Horizon Hotel, situated between the Souq and Corniche, offers full facilities including a 90-seat restaurant and a party hall which can accommodate around 400 people in addition to a separate conference hall. Hilton HHonors clinches Hermes Award PARIS: Hilton HHonors, the company's frequent guest programme, recently won the prestigious Hermes Award in Paris. The award recognises excellence and exemplary initiative in the Worldwide Hospitality industry, for best customer loyalty programme. Hilton HHonors was rated number one for the best customer loyalty programme beating six other hotel loyalty programmes. The award was received by Hilton International's director of relationship marketing, Europe , Middle East and Africa. Starwood launches family program DUBAI: International hotel group Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide has announced a Travel Friends and Family program with specially reduced rates starting as low as $39 for travel industry associates and their families. The program, running until March 31, spans some of the group's finest properties in the region. Radisson SAS offers new MICE package DUBAI: Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts has introduced 'Meet & Sleep', a tailor-made, all-in-one-rate, meetings package, across its network of eight Middle East and North African properties. The package consists of a full day's meeting room hire, two coffee breaks, buffet lunch or set menu, water, markers, notepads, pens or pencils and standard audio visual equipment - overhead projector, screen and flipchart - besides the best available corporate overnight stay rates. $7.3m facelift for Coral Beach Resort SHARJAH: Coral Beach Resort in Sharjah is getting a Dh27 million ($7.35 million) facelift. The renovation will upgrade the resort into the four-star slot, from its hitherto three-star status. Phase Two of the renovation, involving brand new facilities on the beach front adjoining the existing property, is also planned, said managing director Shaikh Mohammed bin Faisal Al Qasimi. Radisson SAS Kuwait opens ladies lounge KUWAIT: The Radisson SAS Hotel, Kuwait, has opened a new exclusive ladies lounge named 'Chai Al Dhaha' or 'Morning Tea'. The 50-seat lounge is on the upper floor of the hotel's dual-level foyer and is decorated with majestically-designed chairs and wooden walls. New luxury resort planned at Hawar MANAMA: A new luxury tourism resort featuring artificial islands with a port, private beaches, berths for yachts and a five-star hotel is to be built at the Hawar Islands in Bahrain. The Danaat Hawar will be divided between several smaller islands which will be privately owned and three main islands which will each be divided into 150 housing lots of various sizes which will be put up for sale to citizens, companies and investors. Oman tourism law up for approval MUSCAT: Oman is set to introduce a comprehensive law aimed at galvanising tourism in the Gulf Arab state, according to media reports. The law which has been submitted to Sultan Qaboos for approval, aims to increase the contribution of tourism to the country's GDP to 3 per cent by 2020, a top official said. Visa fees have been reduced and other measures, including the easing of travel restrictions, are in the pipeline, he said. DTCM opens office in Zurich DUBAI: The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing has opened an office in Zurich (Switzerland) to target the Swiss and Austrian markets. The new office is the 15th in the DTCM's network of overseas offices and the sixth in Europe. "The opening of an office in Zurich signifies a decisive aspect of our long-term approach to develop powerful ties and build effective partnerships across Europe," said DTCM director general Khalid A bin Sulayem. SAA passenger traffic increases 1.7pc RIYADH: A total of 13.73 million passengers travelled by Saudi Arabian Airlines in 2001, an increase of 1.7 per cent over 2000. The airline transported more than 4.5 million passengers in the summer of 2001, a record in the 50-year-old company's history, said Khaled Abdallah Ben Bakr, the airline's director general. It also transported more than two million pilgrims who performed Umra, in the period from mid-October to mid-December. Radisson SAS voted 'best hotel group' DUBLIN: Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts, which operates eight hotels in the Middle East and North Africa and has another three in Egypt under development, has been voted 'The Best Hotel Group Worldwide' by Irish Travel Agents. The international chain received the award at the Irish Travel Trade News Awards ceremony in Dublin. The runners-up were Marriott, Meridien, Starwood and Hilton. Emirates wins UK award 11th year in row DUBAI: UAE airline Emirates has been voted the 'Best Airline to the Middle East' by Travel Weekly, a leading British travel trade publication. This is the 11th year in succession that the airline has won this award, said a statement. Emirates, which has won more than 200 awards in its 16-year history, flies six times a day from Dubai to the UK. Taj Group eyes hotel in Oman MUSCAT: Taj Group of Hotels, India's largest hotel chain, is planning to set up a five-star deluxe hotel in Oman through a management contract, a Taj Group official based in Dubai. The move is part of the group's expansion plan in the Middle East. "We are also looking for other Middle East countries like Bahrain and Egypt," the official said. Holidaymakers to UK down 34pc LONDON: The number of holidaymakers visiting Britain was more than a third lower in November than a year ago as the tourism industry continued to feel the after effects of September 11, official figures show. National Statistics said the number of visitors arriving in the UK for a holiday in November fell to a seasonally adjusted 591,000, down 34 per cent from a year ago. In the first 11 months of 2001, 8,628 million holidaymakers visited Britain, down 12.9 per cent compared with the same period in 2000. Skywards offers special bonus miles DUBAI: Members of the Emirates Airline's Skywards frequent flyer programme in the UAE are being offered special rewards for flying with the airline until Eid Al Adha. Members purchasing their tickets in the UAE will receive up to 60,000 Skywards miles every time they fly on any of Emirates' Europe, Far Eastern, Australian, Indian and Middle Eastern destinations until February 28, the airline said. Oman, Qatar discuss joint tourist visas MUSCAT: Oman and Qatar have discussed plans to issue joint tourist visas, a report said. The move follows the recommendation of approving joint visas by the Omani-Qatari Joint Committee at its meeting in Muscat last February. Malaysia expects more Gulf visitors DUBAI: Malaysia expects an increased number of visitors from the GCC countries this year, the country's minister for culture, arts and tourism, Dato Abdul Kadir Bin Haji Shaikh Fadzir, said during a visit to Dubai. Fadzir who met representatives from Gulf-based airlines to discuss increasing the number of flights from the region to Malaysia, said the number of visitors was expected to climb to 250,000 this year from 120,000 last year. India unveils strategy to woo Gulf tourists DUBAI: The Government of India Regional Tourist Office (Goirto) has unveiled its marketing strategy for the current year. The country's mix of mysticism, the human touch, Himalayan splendour, enchanting packages with royal experience, spa resorts with rejuvenation packages, golfing holidays and family holiday destination are being targeted in the strategy, said Gour Kanjilal, regional director, Goirto, Dubai. Dubai show to focus on adventure travel DUBAI: A first of its kind exhibition in the Middle East showcasing adventure travel destinations and the latest range of equipment for action sports will be held in Dubai later this year. Adventure Show 2002, to be held at the Airport Expo Dubai from October 9-11, will bring together the world of adventure travel and action sports and is targeted at holidaymakers and adventure aficionados. Dubai golf wins world recognition DUBAI: Dubai's golf industry that has received recognition for its world-class status at the International Association of Golf Tour Operators (IAGTO) annual awards ceremony in South Africa. Dubai was recognised as the "Emerging Golf Destination of the Year" worldwide, beating off challenges from Malaysia, Turkey, Egypt, Costa Rica, several large US states, and even home country South Africa, Dubai Golf said in a statement. Hertz launches global fleet guide DUBAI: Car rental company Hertz has launched a comprehensive Global Fleet Guide Manual as a sales tool for travel agents. The guide features examples of vehicles on the Hertz fleet in Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and Canada, with photographs of car models available in each car group. Seminars on travel planning set at Pata SINGAPORE: OAG publishing, a leading source of flight information, will organise two seminars on business travel planning as part of this year's Pata Travel Mart Corporate Travel Day in Singapore. The seminars on April 11 are aimed at specifically for corporate travellers, travel managers and arrangers. New Saudi tourism policy soon JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is planning to announce a national plan to promote domestic tourism within the next three months, a report said. Prince Sultan bin Salman, president of the Saudi Supreme Commission for Tourism, said the September 11 attacks had "changed some dynamics of the travel and tourism industry" and the new policy will address almost everything, like licensing, infrastructure and manpower. Passenger traffic up 43pc at Fujairah FUJAIRAH: Passenger traffic at the Fujairah International Airport surged 43 per cent in November over the same period last year while cargo movement soared 123 per cent, airport authorities announced.