Hotel Indigo opens in Manchester city centre

Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station has opened its door to guests, marking its presence in one of the UK’s largest cities.

The boutique hotel is located at the gateway to the Northern Quarter in Manchester, and is adjacent to Exchange Square, the city’s shopping district. Known for its bohemian bars, the Northern Quarter has a lively music scene, with a wide range of places to eat and drink.

Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station features 187 guest rooms. The three room designs blend Manchester’s industrial past with modern luxury. Double rooms are available from £119.

Nicholas Northam, Managing Director for the UK at Interstate Hotels & Resorts, commented: ‘We’re very proud to welcome the Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station to our growing UK portfolio. It is a truly stunning hotel that I’m sure is going to delight both leisure and business travellers alike.’

James McDevitt, General Manager, Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station, commented: ‘We are truly proud to launch Hotel Indigo Manchester – Victoria Station. The hotel is situated in a prime location for those visiting Manchester and who wish to see and appreciate the city’s artistic side. Working with local designers, the interiors reflect the creative personality of the area, whilst reinforcing this first-class hotel we have created.’

The hotel will feature a restaurant and bar, Mamucium, led by award-winning Mancunian chef Andrew Green. The 120-seat restaurant will serve a menu of classic and locally sourced food with a Northern flavour. The key attraction will be the silestone and brass bar area, as well a cafe, M Cafe, within the restored building.

There are currently 27 Hotel Indigo properties in Europe with another 17 due to open in the next 3-5 years, IHG said in its release.

London Gatwick announces new route to Shanghai by China Eastern

London Gatwick has launched a new route to Shanghai, offering British passengers direct access to one of China’s key business hubs.

Operated by China Eastern, Gatwick’s new service to Shanghai Pudong Airport will operate three times every week – on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Operated using an Airbus A330-200, the route will provide over 70,000 seats and over 3,700 metric tonnes of cargo capacity – in both directions – every year.

China’s largest city, Shanghai is one of the world’s fastest-developing metropolises. The focal point of China’s growth story, Shanghai dominates the Yangtze River Economic Zone – a region accounting for 20 percent of China’s GDP. In addition to being a global financial hub and the centre for trade, technology and real estate within China, Shanghai is also an attractive tourist destination, known for its unique style of architecture.

Guy Stephenson, Chief Commercial Officer, Gatwick Airport said: ‘The addition of one of the world’s biggest financial centres to Gatwick’s route network is very good news for the UK, particularly as connections to China and other non-European countries are set to take on extra significance in the New Year and beyond.

‘With China being one of the UK’s main trading partners, this is a vital business route connecting two of the world’s most important cities – but Shanghai is equally an exciting and much sought-after tourist destination. We’re pleased to welcome China Eastern to Gatwick for the first time and are delighted that our passengers now have direct access to everything that China’s largest city has to offer.’

The new Shanghai route comes after an increased demand from Gatwick passengers for flights to China. The number of passengers travelling to China from Gatwick increased by 54.3 percent year-on-year during the first half of the current financial year.

Gatwick operates over 60 different long haul routes, with one in six of the airport’s 46 million annual passengers now travelling to long-haul destinations, the airport noted.

Birmingham Airport opens new executive ‘Clubrooms’ lounge

Birmingham Airport has said that it has opened its fifth executive lounge, which will complement the existing No. 1 Lounge at the airport.

Opening under the Clubrooms brand, the new lounge will offer premium experience to passengers flying from Birmingham Airport. The Clubrooms offers full table service, a la carte dining, wines, cocktails and runway views. Located on the main concourse, nearest to most of the departure gates, the Clubrooms offer interconnecting rooms available to guests aged 12 years and over.

Entry is £35 for a stay of up to three hours pre-flight. Guests can also upgrade their visit with Moet & Chandon or Veuve Clicquot champagne packages for an additional £15, when booking online.

Richard Gill, Acting Commercial Director at Birmingham Airport, said: ‘We have had a successful and longstanding relationship with No1 Lounges, and we’re delighted to announce the addition of the Clubrooms to our existing lounge offer. The new lounge is located on the international pier near to the gates – a perfect location prior to boarding.

‘Customer service is a top priority for us. We have already invested significantly into the Airport’s facilities and will continue to do so, to ensure our customers have a great experience when travelling with us. Customers desiring a premium airport experience now have the Clubrooms as an additional lounge to choose from.’

Opened in 2012, the existing No1 lounge is located in the Departure Lounge adjacent to Next, and is priced at £28 for adults and £18 for children. In addition to the Clubrooms and No1 Lounge, Swissport operate two Aspire lounges. Prices start at £20.99 for adults and £15.99 for a child (aged 2-11), and both lounges offer a quiet zone and charging facilities for laptops, tablets, mobile phones and iPads. Guests can also enjoy a wide range of complimentary food, wines, beers and spirits.

The fifth lounge at the Airport is the Emirates Lounge – an executive lounge for First Class traveller, Business Class travellers or Skywards Gold members, located near gates 40-68. The Emirates Lounge offers guests complimentary fresh food, a full bar service and shower facilities. Business Class passengers are also offered a complimentary Chauffeur-drive within 70 miles of Birmingham Airport, the Airport said.

London Heathrow launches new Aira app for visually impaired passengers

Heathrow Airport has announced the launch of the Aira app that will benefit nearly 6,000 visually impaired passengers that travel through Heathrow each year.

Starting December 3, visually impaired passengers at Heathrow will have access to on-demand, personalised assistance via the Aira app. The launch of the app coincides with International Day of Persons with Disabilities, observed by the United Nations since 1992 to empower the one billion people in the world that have some form of hidden or visible disability.

Available free of charge, the app will connect passengers directly to a trained professional agent for advice on navigating through Heathrow and assist with finding specific locations – including gates, special assistance facilities, retail outlets and restaurants. It will also provide live information on news affecting their journeys.

The move comes as the number of passengers requesting special assistance at Heathrow is rising by approximately 8% each year, with over one million requests in 2017 alone. Heathrow has been taking proactive steps to transform the service it provides for these passengers, supported by a £23 million investment in an upgraded contract with its special assistance partner, OmniServ. Last year, the airport launched the use of the ‘SignLive’ app, which connects passengers to trained British Sign Language translators on demand, before and after their travel through Heathrow.

Jonathan Coen, Director of Customer Relations and Service at Heathrow, said: ‘We are transforming the assistance service we provide to our passengers and empowering them to be as independent as possible when they are travelling through Heathrow. We have already invested GBP23 million in an upgraded contract with our special assistance partner, OmniServ, and introducing new equipment, training and technology to help improve our service. Aira takes us one step further – and will deliver a better travel experience for the 6,000 passengers each year that would otherwise feel less independent and less prepared when they begin their journey via Heathrow.’

The Aira app can be accessed by pre-loading it on mobile phones and an agent will be available to provide guided assistance on demand upon arrival at Heathrow. Alternatively, passengers can also pre-book special assistance through their airline and seek information on the app simultaneously, Heathrow said in a release.

American Airlines and British Airways offer London- U.S service from £294 return

American Airlines and British Airways are offering services from London to the U.S. from £294 return per person, according to a release by British Airways.

This holiday season, American Airlines and British Airways will fly from London to Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando and Philadelphia,.

Together, American Airlines and British Airways will offer up to 70 flights a day from London to the U.S. Customers flying across the Atlantic on board American and British Airways will receive complimentary meals and drinks from the bar, and the latest movies, television programs, music shows and box sets. Tickets are available to book at aa.com/lowfares.

In 2019, the two airlines will launch new routes, with American’s new daily service from Heathrow to Phoenix, Arizona taking off from March 31, 2019. The new flight will be the airline’s first trans-Atlantic flight from Phoenix. Meanwhile, British Airways is set to become the only airline to offer a direct flight from the UK to Pittsburgh. From April 2, 2019, the airline will launch a year-round, four-per-week service to the Pennsylvanian city from Heathrow. From April 4, 2019, the airline will also launch a two-per-week summer service from Heathrow to Charleston, South Carolina and will be the only airline flying direct between Europe and the southern U.S. city.

Further, Iberia and Finnair are also part of the North American Joint Business Agreement on routes between Europe and North America. Together, the four airlines offer their customers more travel choices – up to 134 departures a day linking 34 North American cities to 22 European cities.

British Airways is investing £4.5 billion for customer service improvement, including offering advanced Wi-Fi services and power at every seat, fitting new interiors on the 128 long-haul aircraft and acquiring 72 new aircraft. American is investing more than £3 billion in the customer experience, with benefits such as the installation of Wi-Fi, which is available in every cabin on all American Airlines operated flights from London Heathrow, British Airways noted in its release.

WestJet to expand services to Canada from Dublin

Canadian airline WestJet is planning to increase services between Atlantic Canada and Dublin Airport in summer 2019.

The airline will launch a new daily summer service from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Dublin from next April, but is discontinuing its existing summer service from St John’s, Newfoundland to Dublin.

The Halifax-Dublin service will operate from April 29, 2019 until October 25, 2019. Last month WestJet announced that it would operate a new three times weekly Calgary-Dublin service next summer.

Applauding the move, Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison, said ‘Canada has been a really strong market for Dublin Airport in recent years, with excellent business and leisure traffic, and this expansion will help it grow even further. Additional capacity will generate more tourism visitors for Ireland and further enhance the already strong business and trade links between Ireland and Canada.’

The expansion will increase WestJet’s capacity from Atlantic Canada to Ireland by 27 percent, as the new Halifax service will be operated by a new Boeing 737-MAX aircraft. The Halifax flights will be timed to optimise connections with WestJet’s services to central Canada and the Atlantic provinces.

Halifax will be one of six Canadian destinations served directly from Dublin Airport next summer; joining Calgary, Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, and Hamilton, Ontario. Dublin Airport will also have direct services to 18 destinations in the United States next year as part of its largest ever transatlantic offering.

Dublin Airport has served nearly 27 million passengers in the first 10 months of the year, which is a 6% increase compared to the same period in 2017. More than 1.6 million additional passengers have travelled through the airport between January and October.

London Heathrow to commence new flights to Cornwall from April 2019

London Heathrow Airport will commence a new direct air route to Newquay from April 2019, offering passengers a greater range of choice, the UK Secretary of State for Transport has announced.

The new route comes as the government seeks to ensure all regions of the UK are well served by airports and routes to the rest of the country. A public service obligation, the route will be jointly funded by a government and Cornwall Council initiative and will give passengers a choice of more than 200 destinations across 85 countries.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: ‘The government has been clear that maintaining and enhancing air routes that help bring together the UK, is one of the key benefits of any expansion at Heathrow.

‘This new route will see the people of the South West profit from a direct connection into our national hub airport even before it expands, building on the government’s ongoing commitment to the Newquay route, protecting choice and strengthening trade and travel opportunities for the whole UK.’

Cornwall Airport Newquay’s Managing Director, Al Titterington, said: ‘We have been working for many years to make sure that Cornwall Airport Newquay has direct access to Europe’s busiest hub, and with this new service it opens not just a connection to the UK’s leading gateway, but also the world.

By having direct flights to Heathrow, it grows the strength of Newquay and Cornwall’s brand abroad, which is great for the local business community and those wanting to visit our beautiful county.’

John Holland Kaye, CEO at Heathrow airport said: ‘We are delighted to secure a more regular service to Newquay, connecting exporters from Cornwall to global markets through Heathrow and making it easier for inward investors, tourists and students from all over the world to get there.

‘Following the successful launch in 2016 of an Inverness service, the UK’s two furthest mainland airports will now be connected to the UK’s biggest port.’

Airlines flying to any UK destination from Heathrow will continue to benefit from a £15 discount on airport charges. This is only one in a package of measures that Heathrow is implementing to support more domestic flights within the UK, the airport said.

Dublin Airport announces 1.6 million extra seats, adds 14 new services this winter

Dublin Airport has recently said that it has introduced nearly 1.6 million extra seats across its route network for this winter season, a 12 percent increase in capacity compared to last year.

The airport also said that it will operate 14 new services at Dublin Airport for winter 2018. Four new services have been launched recently – with Laudamotion launching a service to Vienna, Aeroflot starting a new route to Moscow and Ryanair adding Frankfurt and Luxembourg to its route network from Dublin.

Further, 10 services which started during the summer season will also operate this winter schedule for the first time. Hainan Airlines will continue operating to Beijing, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, Icelandair to Reykjavik, Aer Lingus to Philadelphia and Seattle, and Ryanair continuing its services to Athens, Bari, Marrakesh, Santander and Paphos into the winter for the first time.

In addition, Norwegian will expand services to Stewart International in New York and Lufthansa has increased frequency on its Frankfurt route, the airport said.

‘This is set to be the busiest winter schedule ever at Dublin Airport offering significant additional choice for both business and leisure travellers. Whether you are looking for a city break, a winter sun destination or a trip further afield to the Asia Pacific region there are plenty of options to choose from,’ said Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison.

‘We have been working closely with both existing and new airline customers to further strengthen our route network and provide greater choice and flexibility this winter,’ he added.

Dublin Airport added that the expansion of its route network will continue into next year as 16 new services have already been announced for 2019. ‘There is much to look forward to in 2019, with five long-haul destinations in North America to Calgary, Hamilton Toronto, Montreal, Minneapolis St. Paul and Dallas and 11 European short-haul routes planned for next year,’ according to Mr Harrison.

Dublin Airport has flights to almost 190 destinations in 43 countries, operated by 56 airlines. Passenger numbers have increased by 6% – 1.6 million – so far this year, with almost 27 million passengers using the airport between January and October, it said.

British Airways announces new flights to Rome from London City Airport

British Airways has recently announced the launch of new flights to the capital city of Rome from London City Airport.

The year-round service is the fourth Italian city to be served by British Airways direct from the Docklands and will operate every day except Saturday. Each way hand baggage only fares to Rome from £70 are available on www.ba.com

British Airways’ airport manager, Andrea Sperini, said: ‘I’m very proud to see the Italian capital becoming part of our network. It is one of the oldest cities in Europe and a treasury of art, history, traditions, politics and local food – almost anyone can find something to explore and enjoy. ‘

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer, said: ‘We are delighted to add another capital city to our schedule taking the number of routes we fly from London City to Europe up to 34. Rome is a destination that will be welcomed by both our leisure and business customers and alongside Florence, Milan and Venice will be our fourth route to Italy.’

Richard Hill, Chief Commercial Officer at London City Airport, said: ‘By adding another major European city to its network, British Airways is creating further choice for tourists and business travellers who want to use London’s most central airport as their bridge to the continent.

‘Like London, Rome is an iconic destination, bursting with culture, history, and home to an international business district, and the route is an attractive addition for customers to and from Italy’s capital city. Ahead of a 20 per cent boost in capacity during 2019, this new service further underlines British Airways’ continued investment in their London City operation.’

British Airways is investing £4.5 billion over the next five years for improving customer experience. As part of that investment the airline recently unveiled a brand-new lounge at Rome’s Fiumicino Airport. Spread over 460 square metres, the space can host almost 140 customers.

In addition, British Airways will offer WiFi and power in every seat, fit 128 long-haul aircraft with new interiors and take delivery of 72 new aircraft. The airline will also be introducing new Club World seat with direct aisle access next year, it said.

TUI UK announces winter 2019 programme from Birmingham Airport

TUI UK, one of the UK’s leading holiday makers, has announced its winter 2019 programme at Birmingham Airport, with new weekly routes to Agadir, Morocco and Marsa Alam, Egypt and additional flights to Hurghada, Egypt.

The winter 2019 season will offer an increased capacity of nearly 21,000 additional seats at Birmingham airport. Customers will also have the option of 10 and 11 night holidays to Orlando Sanford from April. There will also be an additional day added to the flight programme for flights from Birmingham airport to Hurghada in Egypt.

TUI UK’s Director of Aviation Planning, Karen Switzer, said: ‘Adding more choice and flexibility for demonstrates our commitment to Birmingham airport and the local area, as we continue to focus on expanding access to our amazing range of holidays through an extended flying programming concentrated on the core destinations that we know our customers want to visit.’

Birmingham Airport’s Acting Aviation Director, Tom Screen, added: ‘We are pleased TUI has announced that it will be introducing a direct route to the Moroccan city of Agadir this winter. We have seen the popularity of Agadir growing during the colder months as it’s a destination which enjoys warm climates all year round so for TUI to serve this demand from Birmingham is fantastic. What’s more, TUI will also be offering ten and eleven-night holidays from Birmingham Airport to Orlando Sanford Airport Florida, as well as additional flights to Hurghada departing on Tuesdays. We look forward to continuing to work with TUI on popular destinations like these in the future.’

For the first time ever, TUI will also be selling summer 2020 holidays from early November – the earliest the tour operator has sold a summer programme. For summer 2020, Birmingham airport will see the launch of additional long haul flights to Sanford Florida, offering customers the choice of two flights per week and 10/11 night holiday durations.

TUI customers will be offered several free kids places and offers on all TUI favourite hotel concepts including Family Life, Sensatori, Splashworld, Holiday Village and Suneo Club, the airport said.