In Brief


Turkish Airlines may halve fleet

Turkish Airlines has said it would cut more than 1,000 staff and may halve its fleet after air traffic dropped 35.6 per cent in the wake of the September 11 attacks in the United States. Up to 12 planes may be withdrawn from the fleet next year and up to 18 in 2003. The company, slated for eventual privatisation under pledges to the IMF, had already announced plans to sell seven of its Airbus A310/300 aircraft by 2003, leaving it with 61 leased planes.

Oman Air to levy surcharge

MUSCAT: Oman Air is levying an insurance surcharge on all passengers in response to the sharp increase in various costs, which includes insurance premiums, security measures and the unexpected changes in the industry since the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in the US. Most regional and international airlines have imposed the security surcharge of $5 per trip.

BA cuts flights to Muscat

MUSCAT: British Airways (BA) has reduced its flights to Muscat as part of its route restructure sparked by the terror attacks in the US. An airline official said BA which operates seven flights a week from Muscat via Abu Dhabi, will reduce its service to six a week. The airline has also cut back flights from other Gulf destinations as part of the restructure.

Delta may resume Dubai service from March

DUBAI: Delta Air Lines has said it might resume its suspended Dubai-New York JFK service from March 18 next year. The resumption of the thrice-weekly service would depend upon the political climate and a resurgence of demand on the US-Middle Eastern routes which has dropped after the devastating attacks on the United States, a report said.

Virgin puts off Dubai flights plan

DUBAI: British entrepreneur Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic airline has put off plans to start flights to Dubai by over a year. "It is unlikely that we'll fly in the immediate future to and from Dubai, as the airline industry has been suffering the past few months," said Branson in Dubai. Branson had earlier announced that the Dubai flights would begin in March next year.

Emirates named best medium haul airline

DUBAI: Emirates Airline has been named the world's Best Medium Haul Airline 2001 by readers of Business Traveller, the UK's best-selling business travel magazine, ahead of British Airways and Singapore Airlines. Emirates group managing director Maurice Flanagan received the award from the Princess Royal at a luncheon at The Dorchester Hotel in London.

Air-India suspends duty-free service

DOHA: Air-India has suspended its on-board duty-free service for what it called administrative reasons, a report by Qatari media said quoting the airline's acting manager in Qatar, S N Rite. On-board duty-free sales are supplementary source of income for the airline and include such items as cigarettes, perfumes and alcoholic beverages.

Tunisair halves losses in first half

TUNIS: Tunisian airline Tunisair has reduced its losses by 51.43 per cent to 10.895 million dinars ($7.71 million) in the first half of 2001 from the same period in 2000. Revenues rose to 297.350 million dinars in the period from 267.126 million last year. Analysts blamed the airline's losses mainly on higher financial costs and increased amortisation.

BA partner launches new routes

LONDON: British Mediterranean Airways, the independent franchise partner of British Airways, has started flying to two new destinations - Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and Almaty in Kazakhstan - under its Winter 2001/2002 schedule. The new schedule also includes expanded services to Baku, capital of Azerbaijan, the airline said.

US airline starts reinforcing cockpit doors

DUBAI: American carrier US Airways has begun reinforcing cockpit doors on all its aircraft, the airline has announced. The process was expected to be completed in 30 days. The reinforced cockpit doors is one of the measures being considered by international airlines as part of its efforts to boost security after the terror attacks in the United States last month.

Air-India has new manager in Qatar

DOHA: Ashok Kumar has taken charge as the new manager of Air-India in Qatar. Kumar replaces Darius Jal Chibber who was transferred to Tokyo in August, local media reported. His last posting was in New Delhi as customer relations manager for North India.

Airlines forge alliance to boost flights

MANAMA: Royal Jordanian (RJ) is to have an interline agreement with Gulf Air with effect from November 1. It will also increase its flights to Bahrain next summer. A high-level team from the Jordan airline discussed the interline plan with Gulf Air, which will allow both airlines to sell each other's routes and to co-operate further to overcome difficulties caused by the present global aviation slump.

Gulf Air to shed up to 450 jobs

MANAMA: Gulf Air will reduce between 400-450 staff all over its network by the end of the year in the wake of the global slump which has affected the industry worldwide. The airline said more staff were being encouraged to join an early retirement scheme and voluntary severance package while contracts of expatriates working in some departments would not be renewed.

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US cruise liner calls on Dubai

DUBAI: American cruise liner 'Silver Shadow' called in at Dubai late last month in what the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing said was a vote of confidence in the emirate as a safe destination. The luxury liner berthed in Dubai for a passenger exchange with a few passengers disembarking, 100 embarking and 150 in transit.

Cathay launches new service

MANAMA: Cathay Pacific has launched its twice weekly service between Hong Kong and Riyadh via Bahrain. Flight 733 from Hong Kong will arrive in Bahrain at 8.45pm and leave for Riyadh at 9.55pm, reaching the Saudi capital at 11.20pm. The return Flight 734 will leave Riyadh at 12.30am on Monday and arrive non-stop in Hong Kong at 1.25pm.

KAC to resume Pakistan flights

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait Airways Corporation (KAC) has announced the resumption of flights to Pakistan. The airline's public relations manager, Adel Buresli, said the decision to resume regular flight schedule to Pakistan from October 31 follows a confirmation by Iata that Pakistani airspace is safe for commercial aircraft.

Abdullah opens Sheraton Amman

AMMAN: Jordan's King Abdullah has opened the five-star Sheraton Amman Al Nabil Hotel and Towers at a grand event attended by more than 1,000 dignitaries. It is the first property in Jordan for Starwood Hotels and Resorts. The 286-room hotel has 48 towers rooms plus six suites and one royal suite.

Hotel extends conference facilities

DUBAI: The Emirates Towers Hotel in Dubai has extended its conference facilities by opening five new conference rooms. The new rooms in the Emirates Towers Offices are in response to the overwhelming demand for such facilities at the hotel, the hotel's owner Jumeirah International said in a statement. Meanwhile, Emirates Towers was named one of the runners-up in the best new business hotel award presented by the Business Traveller magazine. Its sister property Jumeirah Beach Hotel was voted the best resort hotel in the world and the best business hotel in the Middle East.

Sheraton Oman offers 'super weekend'

MUSCAT: The Sheraton Oman Hotel is offering a special "Super Weekend" at just RO25 ($65) for a single or double room per night. The special offer is valid on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday nights until December 15, a hotel spokesman said. It includes a buffet breakfast, free stay for children under 12 years sharing their parents' room, complimentary shuttle transfers to Sheraton Qurum Beach Resort, complimentary entry to the hotel's six-lane bowling alley and other recreation facilities.

Beirut hotel lures GCC residents

BEIRUT: The Gefinor Rotana Hotel in Beirut is offering special "break rates" for GCC citizens and residents. The Rotana Break Rate package at $100 for single room and $110 for double room includes a range of value added benefits. It is valid until June 30 next year. Another package, Rotana Break Plus, offers a fifth night free for every four nights stay at the hotel.

Inter-Con, Holiday Inn win top UK awards

CAIRO: Inter-Continental has been named the best hotel chain both in the Middle East and Europe, while Holiday Inn has been selected as the best international mid-market hotel chain, by readers of one of Europe's leading business travel magazines. The three awards were presented by Princess Anne, the Princess Royal, to Tom Oliver, chairman and CEO of Six Continents Hotels, at the 2001 Business Traveller Reader Poll Awards ceremony in London.

SAS International is now Rezidor SAS

BRUSSELS: SAS International Hotels (SIH), the parent company and operator of Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts and Malmaison, has changed its brand name to Rezidor SAS Hospitality. Kurt Ritter, president and CEO of Rezidor SAS Hospitality and Radisson SAS Hotels and Resorts, said there would be no change to the existing brands, which have their own, distinct brand identities.

Lebanese ski resort plans expansion

CAIRO: The Mzaar Inter-Continental Resort, the first top-class ski resort facility of its kind in the Middle East and Africa, is expanding to meet increased tourism and conference demand for what is fast becoming one of Lebanon's prime attractions. Six Continents Hotels has announced the construction of a new conference centre and an accommodation extension providing 36 rooms and two suites for the luxury venue at the heart of the Mzaar 2000 ski complex.

Hilton launches Arabian specials promo

DUBAI: Hilton International is offering guests up to three free additional nights per stay at a choice of 19 hotels with the "Hilton For Free - Arabian Specials" promotion throughout the Middle East. Guests are offered one night free for every two nights booked, two nights free for every three nights booked and three nights free for every four nights booked, said Guy Epsom, the group's regional director for sales and marketing.

New Dubai Holiday Inn gets five-star status

DUBAI: The Holiday Inn Bur Dubai Hotel has announced that it has been awarded a five-star rating by Dubai's Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM). Throughout the world, most Holiday Inns are categorised as four-star properties, the Holiday Inn Bur Dubai creates an exception to this rule based on its special features.

Conrad Cairo marks second anniversary

CAIRO: The Conrad Cairo Hotel celebrated its second anniversary last month. Since its official opening in 1999, Conrad Cairo has succeeded in positioning itself as the preferred hotel with a 94 per cent customer satisfaction rate, a hotel spokesman said.

57 Bahrain travel agents fail to qualify

MANAMA: Fifty seven of the 110 travel agencies in Bahrain were left without airline ticket stocks, after failing to qualify for membership of the International Air Transport Association's (IATA) new Billing and Settlement Plan (BSP) which went into effect last month. And BSP-approved agencies have agreed in principle not to sell tickets to non-approved agents, said Association of Bahrain Travel and Tours Agents (Abtta) chairman Mohammed Al A'ali.

Thomas Cook plans luxury resort in Dubai

DUBAI: Thomas Cook, the number two European leisure organisation and the third largest travel group in the world, plans to set up an exclusive, luxury resort in the Jumeirah Beach-Jebel Ali belt of Dubai as part of a multi-million dollar investment programme, its chairman and CEO Stefan Pichler has said.

Sheraton Dubai unveils conference centre

DUBAI: The Sheraton Dubai Hotel and Towers has unveiled its new $1 million executive conference centre. It is also renovating its existing Hatta Room to the same specifications. The new facilities offer the latest systems for sound reinforcement and audio, video and projection, and touch screen remote controls. "Dubai can become one of the leading conference destinations of the world, but there is a need for more facilities such as these," said general manager James Munro.

Egypt honours Ritz-Carlton's tourism role

CAIRO: Egypt's tourism minister, Dr Mamdouh El Beltagui, has presented a special certificate of appreciation to Ritz Carlton Sharm El Sheikh general manager, Ricco de Blank, during celebrations marking the World Tourism Day last month, praising the hotel's diligence and commitment to promoting tourism in Egypt.

Reed offers online flight, hotel bookings

LONDON: Reed Travel Exhibitions (RTE) is to offer an online flight and hotel booking service for everybody attending its worldwide portfolio of events. The service will allow exhibitors, buyers, visitors and media to organise their travel and accommodation at the same time as they register for any of RTE's international or regional exhibitions.

Pata mart buyers offered Nepal tours

SINGAPORE: Buyers at the 25th Pata Travel Mart next year are being offered four tour options to feature country Nepal covering various tourism themes. The complimentary tour programmes designed for the mart's buyers include Heritage Tour; Tour of Lake City, Pokhara; Nirvana Tour; and Royal Chitwan National Park Tour.

Dubai voted best international airport

DUBAI: The Dubai International Airport has been voted the Best International Airport 2001 in the world by readers of Conde Nast Traveller. The winning criteria were the best shopping/duty free facilities, pre-flight facilities and lounges.

Bahrain Hotels chief on world body

MANAMA: Bahrain Hotels Company (BHC) chief executive Mohammed Buzizi has become the first Gulf representative to be appointed a board member of the Pacific Asia Travel Association (Pata). He will serve on the 80-member board's industrial council.

14 students kick off hotel course

DUBAI: The newly established Emirates Academy of Hospitality Management in Dubai has kicked off its first bachelor's degree programme with 14 students representing nine nationalities. The first batch of students come from the UAE, Bulgaria, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Lebanon, Portugal and the United Kingdom.

ITE Travel Exhibitions reveals new developments

LONDON: ITE Travel Exhibitions, a division of ITE Group plc, has appointed Stanislava Blagoeva-Duschell as division director as part of new developments over the summer months. ITE is continuing to develop its commitment to the Russian, Central & Eastern European regions and is encouraged by the increased outbound and inbound figures of 2000 in the region.

Radisson SAS offers $891 lure for MICE

DUBAI: Radisson SAS Hotels & Resorts, which operates eight Middle East properties, with two more due on line soon in Egypt, is offering 1,000 euro ($891) off the total cost for events booked at any of its 111 hotels worldwide. The 1,000-euro cash incentive is valid for events taking place until March 31 next year, and booked by November 15 this year, with the total net value of the booking no less than 15,000 euro.

Dubai steps up drive to lure CIS visitors

DUBAI: Dubai is stepping up its drive to attract more business and leisure visitors to the emirate from the former Soviet Union countries. The Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) said it was increasing promotions in Russia, CIS and the Baltic States as part of the drive. It also sent a 19-strong team to last month's Seventh International Trade Fair for Tourism in Moscow - Leisure 2001 Moscow.