In Brief


Emirates Best in Class again  
DUBAI: Emirates, the ‘defending champion’ of the Best Airline Based in the Middle East/ Indian Sub-continent from the Official Airline Guide (OAG) won the award again this year, staving off competition from other airlines based in the region.

Maurice Flanagan, Emirates’ vice-chairman and group president said: “I’m delighted with this accolade from world travellers polled by OAG. We know we have a great airline and it’s gratifying to see it recognised in this manner.”
Key awards for Qatar Airways
DOHA: Qatar Airways’ Doha, London, Dammam and Milan stations have won the airline’s coveted Outstanding Station Awards for sales performance, spearheading the airline’s strong sales growth in the 2003/2004 financial year.  The airline’s CEO Akbar Al Baker presented the stations with their respective awards. The winners of the different categories, based on the size and complexity of the station’s operations, were: Doha (Platinum Award),  London (Oryx Award), Dammam (Gold Award) and  Milan (Silver Award). “The performance of these stations, and other stations throughout the network has allowed Qatar Airways to increase its passengers sales revenue by 47 per cent and its cargo sales by 73 per cent in the last year,” said Al Baker.

Next generation 737s for RJ
AMMAN: Boeing and Royal Jordanian Airlines (RJ) have agreed in principle to renew the progressive carrier’s mid-range fleet with ten new 737 Next Generation airplanes, five purchased and five leased. The new fleet will phase out older Airbus A310 and A320 aircraft currently in service. Royal Jordanian will use these best-selling airplanes to expand service in markets throughout the Arabian Gulf, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe.  The airline is expected to take delivery of the first Boeing 737NG in September next year. The Next-Generation 737 is the newest, most technologically advanced single-aisle airplane in its class.

Cyprus Airways records rising traffic from Bahrain
BAHRAIN: Cyprus Airways has recorded a 6.7-percent increase in passengers travelling from Bahrain to the Mediterranean island. The news comes as Cyprus Airways reports increased passenger traffic on six of its eight Middle East routes for the first four months of this year. All Cyprus Airways’ regional destinations, excluding Jeddah and Riyadh, witnessed significant passenger traffic growth in the first four months of 2004 with Dubai recording a spectacular 159.4 per cent increase.

GF to fly Muscat-London daily
MANAMA: Gulf Air president and chief executive James Hogan announced that the airline will launch daily non-stop service from Muscat to London from this month. “The overriding premise of Gulf Air’s network development is to get our customers where they want to be, when they want to be there,” said Hogan. “They wanted a direct London to Muscat route, and we’re about to launch it. Muscat is a fast growing tourist destination with matched focus on developing business.” The new service starts on June 21 and brings to 34 the number of Gulf Air flights between the Gulf and London each week.

THY to lease new aircraft
ISTANBUL: National carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) said it was in talks with US aircraft maker Boeing and Europe’s Airbus about the purchase or rental of new aircraft. General manager Abdurrahman Gundogdu said he expected these talks to be completed by the end of the year. More immediately he said the company has also agreed to lease 12 or 13 used aircraft, six originating from collapsed Swiss national carrier Swissair to replace 11 BAE Systems RJ-type regional aircraft which have been temporarily withdrawn from the fleet for maintenance.

EK SkyCargo bags award
DUBAI: At the Cargo Airline of the Year Awards in London recently, Emirates SkyCargo won the Best Cargo Airline to the Middle East, for the sixteenth time in a row and Best Cargo Airline to the Indian Subcontinent, for the sixth consecutive time. The Dubai Cargo Village, which plays such a vital role in Emirates SkyCargo’s global growth, was also honoured as Best Middle East Cargo Airport.

Etihad wins traffic rights, adds extra flights
ABU DHABI: Etihad Airways has secured traffic rights the lucrative Indian and Philippines markets. The airline also announced that it will begin an extra flight to Damascus, Syria. The four-times per week direct service to Damascus, Syria and Amman, Jordan is effective June 11, 2004. The new direct flight will operate on Fridays, providing needed capacity on this important and popular route.

EK to create easier access to Western Australia
DUBAI: Emirates has signed an Interline Agreement with Western Australia’s Skywest Airlines that will allow Emirates’ international passengers to fly from Perth onto the State’s unique regional attractions on one ticket. The agreement will provide benefits for both Emirates and Skywest customers through a seamless ticket transaction.

GF introduces direct flights from Dubai to London
MANAMA: Gulf Air has announced that beginning June 21, the airline will offer direct flights from Dubai to London. The addition of the London-Dubai route brings to 33, the number of Gulf Air flights between London and the Gulf each week. “Gulf Air now has the greatest frequency of flights to the region out of Heathrow,” said Gulf Air president and chief executive James Hogan.

New F&B outlet to open at the Beach Rotana
ABU DHABI: The Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers announced the forthcoming opening of the new Finz Seafood Restaurant, which is the 5th “new” outlet and the 10th restaurant at the Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers scheduled to be ready in July 2004. Commenting on the announcement Omer Kaddouri, general manager of the hotel, said, “The choice of dining experiences at the Beach Rotana Hotel & Towers is vibrant and multicultural and Finz will be an additional choice for the Abu Dhabi market to enjoy.” As the name suggests, Finz will offer a wide variety of seafood in a relaxed, upmarket atmosphere. The restaurant, located at the end of the Jetty in front of the Beach Wing, is a unique wooden structure (wood especially imported from New Zealand), built on a ‘pontoon’ like base, overlooking the sea.

Golden Tulip takes over Novotel, Seeb
MUSCAT: The Golden Tulip in the Sultanate of Oman took over the Novotel Hotel in Seeb recently, complementing its portfolio of 17 other Golden Tulip hotel properties in the Middle East area, including Khasab in the Sultanate of Oman. The four-star Golden Tulip Hotel in Seeb offers branded value at a reasonable price. The rebranding is another positive development in adding value to the services and facilities at this highly popular property. The hotel is conveniently just 2km from Seeb International Airport and adjacent to the Oman International Exhibition Centre.

‘Hot’ offer at Waikoloa Beach Marriott
HAWAII: Guests at the award-winning Waikoloa Beach Marriott on the Big Island of Hawaii have more to do than sit on a beach (though the resort’s palm-lined beach is spectacularly beautiful). With the new “Hot Lava, Cool Resort” package, hotel guests who stay five nights or more get a free automobile pass, good for seven days entry into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. It’s all part of the Marriott’s Celebration of the Land, which encourages visitors to see the Big Island’s natural wonders.   

Mina Seyahi voted one of top three ME resorts
DUBAI: Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina has been voted one of the leading resorts in the region by readers of Business Traveller Middle East. The property came third in the competitive Best Middle East Resort category, behind only The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain and Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai. The hotel finished top of the upscale Le Meridien group, which is one of the largest hotel management companies in the region. Michael Scully, general manager at the hip lifestyle resort, said: “Any award that is judged by customer feedback and votes means a huge amount to us, and shows we are delivering on our guest promise.”

Cinco De Mayo opens at InterCon Jordan
AMMAN: InterContinental has announced the opening of its New Mexican Restaurant Cinco De Mayo. Wood art and lined glass decor create a tastefully festive atmosphere. The large, bustling venue is good-natured and colourful, with the requisite Mexican festive ambience and paraphernalia wherever the eye can see. Cinco De Mayo feels intimate but is actually quite large. The food is a combination of fusion Mexican, Latin American and Spanish.