Yala attack will not harm tourism

By Samantha Whybrow
The recent terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka’s most visited national park, Yala, should not deter tourists, according to Jetwing EcoHolidays CEO, Gehan de Silva Wijeratne.
“The incident took place in block 2, where visitors do not have access,” said Wijeratne, stressing the LTTE could easily have targeted block 1, where visitors do have access.

Wijeratne pointed out that block 1—open to tourists—has several army camps the LTTE could have targeted if it had wanted to, indicating the LTTE was not attempting to target tourists.
“It doesn’t look like an economic or tourism strike, rather, it seems to have been a military engagement,” he stated.
The tourism sector will await a pronouncement from government and park authorities that the park is safe to visit before recommencing tour operations, after it was closed due to the attack.

Wijeratne is confident there will be a minimal impact on tourism due to this latest incident. He points out that tourists are more likely to be deterred by continuous negative international coverage about the human rights situation in Sri Lanka, as tourists may believe they might be supporting an oppressive regime by traveling to the island.
For its part, the tourism sector will be cautious about recommencing operations to the park, while at the same time giving background reassurance that this was not a tourist attack.

Tourist operators will be telling their clients there has been an incident, notes Wijeratne, and will give them the option to rearrange their schedules to travel elsewhere in Sri Lanka.
However, Wijeratne believes most will not be deterred and will continue to visit the park. Against the backdrop of international terrorist incidents, Sri Lanka remains a relatively safe place to visit as tourists are not targets.
“Tourists have more chance of being a target of terrorists in London where terrorists target civilians,” said Wijeratne.


SriLankan MICE meet Indian MICE

SriLankan Airlines together with the Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau are putting up their best to entice big Indian business to think Sri Lanka for their next meeting.
Wrapping up a marathon run of meetings in Hyderabad and Bangalore in September, SriLankan Airlines, the Conventions Bureau and the local hotel and tour operators say they may have convinced more Indian Business to come to Sri Lanka for their next MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibition) event.
Coinciding with the road show and creating an opportunity for Indian business to experience Sri Lanka’s MICE facilities, SriLankan Airlines’ MICE division launched a series of all inclusive packages for Indian businesses to hold their next meeting in Sri Lanka.

The joint industry initiative offers two nights three days packages starting at INR 12,000 and include airfare, airport transfers in Sri Lanka, accommodation and state of the art meeting and conference facilities.
Indian businesses can choose from a variety of settings for their meeting from metropolitan Colombo to historic Kandy or the Cultural Triangle to the tropical beaches.

The airline’s strong presence in India with ten destinations and nearly a 100 flights per week is an added incentive to promote MICE traffic from all over the subcontinent. The airline operates daily flights to Bangalore and Hyderabad.
The promotional offer will be available at all SriLankan Airlines offices and partner travel agents in Hyderabad and Bangalore.
An estimated 20,000 Indians travelled for meetings and conferences to Sri Lanka in 2006, with the Sri Lanka Conventions Bureau expecting to attract over 800,000 out of the total nine million Indian out bounding traffic by end 2008.-


Firefly to expand operations

(AFP) - Malaysia Airlines’ new subsidiary Firefly has been given approval to substantially expand its operations, with three more hubs to operate domestic and international routes, a report said Thursday.
State news agency Bernama said Firefly, which currently has a hub on the resort island of Penang, can now operate out of Subang near the capital Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru in the south and Kota Kinabalu on Borneo island.
Malaysian Airlines (MAS) managing director and Firefly chairman Idris Jala said the subsidiary’s operations would help the beleaguered parent company return to financial health.

“This year (MAS) is aspiring to achieve the highest profit in its 60-year history, having achieved four consecutive quarters of profit, and the airline is now poised to move into its 2008 profitable growth agenda through Firefly’s expansion plan,” he said.
Firefly managing director Eddy Leong told Bernama that the airline, which was launched last April, will begin twice daily flights between Penang and Subang -- Kuala Lumpur’s second airport -- from October 29.

He said Firefly will offer six domestic and nine regional routes from Penang, 12 domestic and 13 regional routes out of Subang, and seven domestic and 14 regional destinations from Johor Baru.
Leong did not name the destinations but said the expanded network will serve the needs of a potential customer base of 150 million in Southeast Asia.


Hainan Air plans overseas listing after merger

(AFP) - Hainan Airlines, China’s fourth-largest carrier, plans to list abroad after finalising this year a merger with a number of smaller aviation companies, its chairman said Friday.
Grand China Air, the enterprise that will result from the merger with Xinhua Airlines, Shanxi Airlines, and Chang’an Airlines, is just months away from entering operations, Chen Feng told a group of reporters in Beijing.

“Grand China Air will complete all the (preparation) work and be launched formally before the end of the year,” he said.
“For the listing issue... we will definitely do it. But you should just wait for the good news about where and how we will do it.”
He said Grand China Air would have a fleet of roughly 240 to 250 aircraft, making it a close rival of Chinese aviation’s Big Three.
The smallest of those, China Eastern, had a fleet of 209 aircraft at the end of June, but plans to buy several additional planes in the coming years.

“HNA Group (Grand China’s parent) will introduce about 20 to 30 planes every year in the next five years,” Chen said.
Hainan Air has ordered 10 Boeing 787s, but is currently in the process of dealing with a delivery delay, according to Chen.
“It affects our operations and overall planning. But it’s not simply a question of asking for compensation. We will be rational and reasonable,” he said.
Meanwhile, Hainan Air also plans to enter into insurance in a joint venture with Taiwan’s Shin Kong Life.
“I hope it will formally start operations at the beginning of next year,” said Chen, who expects to be chairman of the 50-50 venture.

It is not unusual for China to approve insurance joint ventures where the local partner specialises in a completely unrelated business.
One example is AXA-Minmetals Assurance, invested by French-based insurance giant AXA and China’s Minmetals, a company trading in metals, minerals and electrical products.


Emirates with Montblanc offer exclusive million dollar necklace set on board

Emirates Airline has joined together with Montblanc to offer customers on board the opportunity to purchase a unique diamond jewellery set, worth US$1 million, for a good cause.
From now until 31st March 2008, customers on board all Emirates flights can register their interest in purchasing the one-of-a-kind Ruban d’amour diamond necklace and matching earrings. In April, the winner’s name will be drawn from those who’ve expressed interest in purchasing the set for US$1 million.

The winner, along with a companion, will be flown First Class on Emirates to Montblanc’s jewellery workshop in Paris to witness master craftsmen put the finishing touches to their custom jewellery set.
The master design of the necklace and earring set can be personalised, based on options pre-defined to ensure the aesthetic qualities of the set are maintained.
US$150,000 of the sale proceeds will be donated to UNICEF in support of its educational projects for children in the Middle East.

Terry Daly, Emirates’ Divisional Senior Vice President of Service Delivery, said: “We are very pleased to invite our customers on board to participate in the sale of this beautiful diamond jewellery set.
“Our discerning customers have come to expect a high level of comfort on board, coupled with services that cater to their tastes, including a wide-ranging duty free sales service. This marvellous set complements the high quality of our onboard service and I am confident that it will attract quite a number of expressions of interest.”

The offer is part of celebrations to mark the launch of a female jewellery collection by Montblanc.
Montblanc’s Chief Executive Officer, Lutz Bethge, commented: “Once again we are joining with Emirates to launch one of the finest and most exclusive Montblanc creations of all time. Passengers will have the exciting opportunity of shaping the final design of a precious, one-of-a-kind necklace and earring set, making it their own unique gift to the ones they love the most.
“Their loving gift will also help children in need, as part of the proceeds will be donated to UNICEF’s project for children’s education in the Middle East.”

In a first for the travel retail industry, Emirates and Montblanc collaborated last year on a silent, onboard auction of the exclusive Montblanc chronograph centennial watch which netted US$250,000 for the Emirates Airline Foundation. The airline’s onboard charity uses donations by passengers to fund projects around the world in aid of underprivileged children.
The centrepiece of the Ruban d’amour diamond jewellery set is the exclusive Montblanc diamond. This star-cut stone features 43 facets for maximum brilliance. It was first created and patented exclusively by Montblanc. The necklace is designed around an extremely rare 2.5 carat Montblanc diamond, while the matching earrings each feature a 1.5 carat Montblanc diamond.
The jewellery set can be crafted with a choice of precious stones: The Ruban d’amour Neige is diamonds set in white gold; the Ruban d’amour Blanc et noir features black nephrite jade; pink sapphires complement the Ruban d’amour Rose; while Tahitian and Australian pearls adorn the Ruban d’amour Crème.
The duty free sales guide on board gives full details of the Sparkling Million offer and passengers can request an application form and envelope from their cabin crew.


World’s first superjumbo delivered to Singapore Airlines

(AFP) Airbus was to make the first delivery of its A380 superjumbo jet on Monday to Singapore Airlines, with elation and relief expected at a ceremony in southern France to mark the occasion.
The heads of both companies were expected to hail a major advance in air travel as the A380, the world’s biggest passenger plane, finally leaves the company’s factory in Toulouse after a difficult birth.
Delivery of the doubledecker plane is 18 months later than scheduled because of a series of production problems that have embarrassed Airbus and hit the plane maker’s reputation among the world’s airlines.
The handover is therefore a symbolic moment for Airbus as the group attempts to put its problems behind it, while Singapore Airlines will at last be able to implement its vision for the plane.

Monday will be the first time the group has unveiled how the interior of the the A380 will look, with the industry curious to find out which features have been incorporated in the cabin.
The 73-metre-long (239-feet) two-storey giant can carry a maximum of 853 people in an all-economy set-up (525 in the normal three-class configuration) and has 50 percent more floor space than the next biggest aircraft, the Boeing 747-400 jumbo.
Singapore Airlines has requested about 470 seats in its planes, promising even more spacious business and first-class travel and extra leg room for economy flyers.

The first plane is to leave Airbus headquarters on Tuesday for Singapore before making its maiden flight with passengers on board on October 25 on a Singapore-Sydney route.
The plane will begin regular services on October 28.
Airbus has announced slips to the A380 schedule on three separate occasions, principally down to complications with the wiring of the more than 330 miles (530 kilometres) of cable in each aircraft.

Lack of cooperation between French and German engineers -- Airbus has plants in Britain, France, Germany and Spain -- was partly to blame and the group has since launched a severe restructuring plan with 10,000 job cuts expected.
The first delivery of the A380 comes a week after US rival Boeing announced trouble with its flagship project, the new midsized 787 Dreamliner, which is now six months behind schedule.
The operational problems experienced by both Airbus and Boeing demonstrate the complexity of the design, engineering and manufacturing involved in modern airliners.

The A380 has been at the source of most of Airbus’s problems in the last two years, provoking management changes, financial losses and the unpopular and politically-sensitive cost-cutting plan.
Most recently, the plane has been at the centre of an insider trading scandal, with managers and key shareholders suspected of selling shares in Airbus parent group EADS before the A380 production problems were made public.
All those implicated have denied wrongdoing and a judicial investigation is underway.
Sixteen airlines have placed firm orders for the A380, with Dubai-based Emirates the leading client among a customer list that includes predominantly Asian, European and Gulf-based carriers.
But beyond the hype about the size of the world’s biggest passenger jet some analysts doubt that the aircraft will ever make money.

The A380 is designed to satisfy expected demand from two types of airline: those operating from hub airports such as Dubai, Singapore or London, and others that have limited take-off slots at crowded airports and want to maximise capacity.
Airbus has 180 firm orders and commitments to buy according to its latest figures, but the group has admitted it must more than double this figure for the project to be profitable.
Due to the delays and cost overruns, Airbus needs to sell 420 A380s at catalogue prices to cover its costs -- up from 270 when the programme was launched in 2000.

Given that catalogue prices are discounted, the final sales figure needed for breakeven will be even higher than this.
Airbus claims the A380 will offer the lowest cost per passenger of any airliner flying and will also emit less carbon dioxide per passenger and significantly reduce noise at takeoff and landing.
But its giant size means that it requires modifications to airport infrastructure, limiting the number of destinations it will be able to fly to.
It is expected to serve longhaul routes linking airport hubs and major cities such as Dubai, Doha, Johannesburg, London, New York, Singapore, Sydney and Tokyo.










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