In Brief

Moscow ... appealing

QA increases flights to Moscow
DOHA: Qatar Airways has increased its flight frequency to Moscow from three flights weekly to four.

Qatar Airways has also upgraded their aircraft to A320, which has a total seating capacity of 144 seats replacing the A319, which was flying to the Russian city earlier. Qatar Airways inaugurated its Moscow service in August 2003. It has witnessed great success over the past year to the Russian capital, one of its 53 destinations on its growing route network. It has also changed flight operations from Sheremetyevo Airport to Domodedovo Airport for easy and more efficient access to passengers.

Air Arabia to fly to Yemen
SHARJAH: Air Arabia has announced plans to fly to Sanaa, Yemen from November 9. A one-way ticket from Sharjah to Sanaa starts at Dh300 ($82) - excluding government taxes, said a spokesman. The fares, however, will vary from one country to another. Air Arabia flights to Sanaa will depart from Sharjah two days a week, every Saturday and Tuesday, at 7am and will arrive in Sanaa at 8:45am local time.

EK backs football, golf
DUBAI: Emirates Airline has announced its sponsorship of a unique football partnership with all three English official football governing bodies. It will be the first-ever sponsor of the referees and match officials in English Football, one of the most popular and widely-viewed spectator sport worldwide. The multi-million pound, three-year deal started this season with the Coca-Cola Football League matches and the FA Community Shield in Cardiff. The airline also supported the 2004 BMW International Open in Munich as official airline of the tournament, for the second year in a row this August.

Royal Jet opens Kuwait office
ABU DHABI: Royal Jet, the luxury private aircraft charter company, has spread its wings to Kuwait after it opened shop in Jeddah recently, the company has announced. Safeer Al Jazeera Corp will represent Royal Jet in Kuwait. Plans are to open a Royal Jet sales and marketing office in Kuwait City shortly to meet the growing demand in the Kuwaiti market. Ammar Balkar, vice president, sales and marketing, Royal Jet, said “Kuwait is an important market in the private air charter industry and our expansion plans reflect the success that Royal Jet has enjoyed since day one.”

Etihad to fly Gatwick, Mumbai
ABU DHABI: Etihad Airways has advanced the launch of its Gatwick operation to September 1. Initially, the airline will fly thrice weekly to Gatwick. According to a report, the schedule will be increased to seven weekly flights from the
end of October. All operations will be conducted from the well-serviced North Terminal of Gatwick Airport. The addition of the new flights is part of the airline’s ongoing expansion. A new route to Mumbai is also scheduled to begin around mid-September.

Nepal deal from Qatar Airways
DOHA: Qatar Airways is offering an exciting promotional offer to Kathmandu.
Customers who purchase a Business Class ticket to Kathmandu will receive private airport transfers in Kathmandu, three-night accommodation at Radisson Hotel (including breakfast, service charges and taxes), a 60-minute scenic Himalayas mountain flight on Cosmic Air, and earn a minimum
of 9,564 Qmiles. This incredible value is moderately priced, starting from $999. Accompanying passengers have the option of travelling on Economy Class. The special promotional offer to Kathmandu is valid for purchase from Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman until the end of September. Qatar Airways flies to Kathmandu 11 times a week.

Cathay UAE revenue up 50pc
DUBAI: Cathay Pacific Airways’ UAE operations recorded growth between 30 and 40 per cent in passenger traffic, 11.8-percent growth in cargo tonnage and a 50-percent revenue increase for the first half of 2004.
According to a report, Navin Chellaram, Cathay’s country manager for the UAE and Oman, said, “Cathay has recorded growth both in passenger traffic and cargo freights from the UAE and the Dubai-Hong Kong route is the busiest with 11 weekly flights, four flights via Mumbai and seven direct flights.” The past year has seen a surge in demand for people wanting to travel First Class from Dubai to Hong Kong and vice versa, he said. The airline is also planning a Ramadan offer for families looking for budget holidays.

Jordan to promote aviation
FARNBOROUGH: Jordan will step up international promotion of its aviation capabilities with participation in the Middle East aviation pavilion at Le Bourget, Paris next year and a country pavilion at Dubai 2005, the ninth international aerospace exhibition, in November next year. Hopes for the international promotion were spelt out by HRH Prince Feisal Ibn Al Hussein, Chief of Staff of the Royal Jordanian Air Force, at a visit to the first Middle East aviation pavilion at the recent Farnborough International Air Show. The prince said Jordan is unique in the region because it has two private sector companies producing aircraft currently in business as well as many companies involved in training and the supply of aviation services. He said that despite a developing aviation sector, the Middle East needed to look for specialised markets.

SriLankan starts golf packages
COLOMBO: In conjunction with the annual SriLankan Airlines Golf Classic, the carrier has launched a special package for Gulf golf enthusiasts wishing to participate.  Built to USGA standards in the verdant hills around Kandy, the host Victoria Golf Club ranks among the 100 ‘most beautiful courses in the world’. At 6,945 yards, the course is par-73 and offers five par-5 holes.
Competing categories include a new international team event, men’s and ladies’ competitions, senior and junior play and more. The four night/five day package is available for Dh2,260 per person flying Economy Class with departure on October 26 from Dubai, returning from Colombo on October 31. Business Class travel is available at Dh1,640 extra. Included
in the price are return airfare, twin-sharing accommodation, transfers and entrance to the golf play, with airport taxes and meals extra. Chief executive Peter Hill said the new package was one of the series of initiatives at SriLankan to develop the country as a sports and leisure centre, but one with a difference.

Etihad seeks Saudi route
MANAMA: Etihad Airways is negotiating with Saudi authorities to offer a destination to the Kingdom, it was revealed. Etihad Airways’ regional and international relations head Khalid Al Muharabi said the airline was planning to acquire eight 330, 340 and 380 Airbus planes. “We hope to have 16 destinations available to our customers by the end of the year,” he said in a recent media report.

QA flies daily to Paris
DOHA: Qatar Airways has upgraded services to France’s capital to a daily flight as part of its summer schedule. Adding the two extra weekly frequencies, on a Tuesday and Saturday, to its popular five times per week schedule, will give passengers a chance to fly away to the City of Lights at their convenience. The new services will boost connectivity for travellers going through Paris and Doha to the Middle East, the Indian sub continent or the Far East. The flights are scheduled to let passengers arrive either early in the morning or early in the evening.

Oasis Leasing profits up
ABU DHABI: Oasis International Leasing, the Abu Dhabi-based big ticket leasing company, has reported strong half year results for 2004. The company posted a net profit of $1.272 million, compared with $0.917 million in the first half of 2003. Oasis Leasing chairman Mohammed Saif Al Mazrouei said the restoration of airline passenger demand to pre-9/11 levels means signifies robust global growth. The number of aircraft available for sale or lease are reducing and lease rates and aircraft values are improving, he said. Orders for new aircraft are also strong and developments in the local aviation markets are particularly encouraging, such as Etihad’s order for Airbus equipment.

Oman Air ends Mombasa flights
MUSCAT: Oman Air, the Sultanate’s national carrier, will terminate its twice-weekly flights to the Kenyan port city of Mombasa from September 1. A statement from the company said that the decision was based on new visa restrictions imposed on Omani tourists by the East African country, which have led to a drastic decline in the number of Omani nationals travelling to Kenya on holidays and visits. The airline, a subsidiary of Oman Aviation Services, will double its flights to Zanzibar to four a week. Oman Air also flies to the Tanzanian capital Dar-Es-Salaam.

SriLankan to buy 3 Airbus jets
PARIS: SriLankan Airlines, which is majority-owned by the Sri Lankan government, said it plans to acquire five additional aircraft by the end of the year, including three Airbus jets. The airline said it would buy one Airbus A340 widebody jet and two Airbus A320 planes, as well as two Turbo Otter air taxis. Officials at the airline and at Airbus could not say whether the new planes would be bought directly from the Toulouse, France-based plane maker. SriLankan, which is 51-percent owned by the government and 43.4 per cent by Dubai’s Emirates airline, currently operates 17 aircraft, including 14 Airbus planes.

Swiss, Dubai Airport ink deal
DUBAI: Dubai Civil Aviation (DCA) has signed an agreement with Swiss International Air Lines (Swiss), Switzerland’s flag carrier, to allow Swiss passengers to use DCA’s First and Business Class lounges at Dubai International Airport. Swiss passengers can now make use of DCA’s luxurious lounges, whose services include rooms for resting, shower facilities, buffet selections, internet access, telephone and fax services, as well as satellite television and comfortable seating. Felix Rodel, area manager for Swiss International Air Lines, Middle East, Iran and Pakistan, said, the use of the lounges have enhanced service levels for passengers travelling from or through Dubai with a superior level of comfort and amenities. In addition to the lounges in Dubai, travellers can also avail of Swiss lounges on arrival at Unique Zurich Airport. Swiss offers travellers a Swiss First Lounge for first class passengers, Swiss Business Lounge for business and Swiss TravelClub Gold and Silver members, the VIP Lounge for high level private welcomes and the Allegra Lounge, which is available to all Swiss passengers, providing refreshment areas, showers and work stations.

Qatar Airways bags awards
DOHA: Independent aviation quality monitor Skytrax has ranked Qatar Airways’ cabin crew the best in the Middle East and rated its inflight entertainment eighth in the world. The crew were rated fifth in the world in an annual survey of some 130 worldwide airlines’ cabin staff. The entertainment award makes Qatar Airways one of only 10 airlines in the world to be recognised in this category, which includes Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific and British Airways.

Philippine airlines eye Bahrain
MANAMA: A Philippine carrier may begin Bahrain operations before the year-end. Aviation approvals are awaited from both Manila and Bahrain aviation authorities. Two Philippine carriers, Philippine Airlines (PAL) and Cebu Pacific, have been proposed by Philippine travel and tourism authorities to operate a flight to Bahrain to capitalise on over 180,000 unused seat entitlements under a Bahrain-Philippine air agreement. PAL is the Philippines’ national carrier while Cebu Pacific is privately owned.