East Coast Trains Announces Low Fares between London and Edinburgh

East Coast Trains, a UK based train service, has announced a low fare for Scottish Executive class tickets between Edinburgh and London.

The new fares will cost £99 return, compared to the £199 return on normal prices, and they are effective from February 3, until March 4, 2013.

The offer is only available through travel management companies, and is booked in standard class but is automatically upgraded to first class. The normal return first class fare is around £416. The tickets are inclusive of complimentary in-seat meals in first class, and free Wi-Fi.

An East Coast spokesman said, ‘We are already seeing modal shift by business travellers from air to rail, and we are steadily gaining share on Edinburgh-London.

The latest National Passenger Survey by transport watchdog Passenger Focus shows we have achieved 92 percent overall satisfaction, the highest score on East Coast since the survey was launched back in 1999.’

With the new fare, the rail company is targeting airline passengers on the route between the two cities, the numbers of which have already decreased by 2 percent from the traffic in the same period last year.

In the National Passenger Survey, conducted recently by independent transport regulator, Passenger Focus, the company recorded a 92 percent overall satisfaction rating.

The company managing director, Karen Boswell, said, ‘We are naturally delighted to have reached such a high overall satisfaction rating with our services.

We want to say thank you to our customers for responding so positively to the many improvements we’ve already made. Our clear message to them and everyone who travels with us is that this is only the beginning.

The improvements to our stations, particularly at London King’s Cross, have contributed to this impressive vote of confidence in our railway. We still have much more to do, particularly on the punctuality and reliability of our services: recently, we’ve seen severe weather causing problems with Network Rail’s infrastructure – track, signals and overhead power lines.

When our train service performs reliably, as we saw during the period this survey was carried out, customers rate us more positively. We’re working hard with Network Rail to secure sustained improvements – while our own engineering teams are constantly striving to deliver the most reliable service possible with our existing train fleet.’

Flybe Announces New Service from Glasgow to Shannon

Flybe, a UK-based airline company, has launched its newest service from Glasgow Airport in Scotland to Shannon Airport in Ireland.

The airline is offering three times weekly flights to Shannon from Glasgow from May 1, 2013, with inaugural fares commencing at £36.99 one-way.

Simon Lilley, the airline’s director of marketing, said, ‘Flybe is committed to developing further its route network out of Glasgow. We have every confidence that this additional new service will prove successful in offering an attractive and affordable way for travellers to access this growing business and leisure destination that is widely regarded as the West of Ireland’s premier gateway.

Our new service to Shannon will further complement our already extensive schedule to and from Glasgow Airport that now features a total of nine routes and a total choice of up to 312 flights each week. We look forward to welcoming our first passengers on board in May and would advise people to book early to take advantage of the lowest possible fares.’

Amanda McMillan, the managing director of Glasgow Airport, said, ‘The Irish market is very important for us and the addition of Shannon provides people in Glasgow and the West of Scotland with easy access to Limerick, which is the ideal base from which to explore the Irish West Coast.

Flybe has been very active in identifying new destinations that it feels will work out of Glasgow Airport and with the convenient flight times on offer, we are confident this route will be a success.’

The new service is expected to strike a chord with holidaymakers who wish to visit Ireland in 2013 to take part in the country’s yearlong tourism event, The Gathering.

Wizz Air Announces New Routes from Glasgow Prestwick Airport

Wizz Air, the Hungary based low-cost airline, has announced two new routes from Glasgow Airport in Scotland.

The airline is offering two routes to Gdansk and Warsaw in Poland from Glasgow Airport from March 1, 2013.

The twice-weekly flights to Warsaw are priced at £48.99 one way, while the flights to Gdansk are priced from £31.99, one way.

Amanda McMillan, the managing director of Glasgow Airport, said, ‘We are thrilled to welcome Wizz Air on board which is yet more good news for Glasgow Airport. Not only will it provide our customers with greater choice, it will further strengthen our connectivity with some of Europe’s major cities and it means we can add Poland to our long list of destinations after an absence of more than 15 years.

Wizz Air is an ambitious and rapidly growing airline which carried over 12 million passengers in 2012 alone, and we are looking forward to working alongside the team at Wizz to ensure it enjoys further growth and success at Glasgow. This announcement underlines our commitment to expanding our route network and delivering the routes and services our customers demand.’

Stijn Vandermoere, the head of network development and scheduling at Wizz Air, said, ‘Wizz Air is pleased to announce these two new routes operating from Glasgow Airport giving more consumers access to Wizz Air’s low fares and great customer service. Our popular low fares have strongly grown our business in four UK airports and we’re already the number two airline at one of London’s main airports. We believe there is also significant growth potential in Scotland and our move to Glasgow Airport is a step towards future passenger and route growth.

We are confident that Polish visitors to Scotland will embrace the convenient airport location and we urge Scottish consumers to try Wizz Air’s award winning service and low fares. To celebrate our arrival at Glasgow Airport Wizz Air released seats to Warsaw and Gdansk from just £23.99. This ultra low fare already includes taxes and the highest booking fee and can be booked from today at wizzair.com.’

The airline allows one small cabin bag per person, free of charge, which must be able to fit under the seat in front. All other baggage is to be paid for.

Hawaii to promote 18 Big Island events for 2013

The tourism authority in Hawaii is planning to promote 18 big events on Big Island for 2013.

The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) has entered into an arrangement with the City and County of Honolulu, and the counties of Hawaii, Maui and Kaua’i to arrange the programmes. The itinerary will comprise 98 events and includes programmes to be held state-wide that will receive funding under HTA’s County Product Enrichment Programme (CPEP) for 2013.

Mike McCartney, president and CEO of the HTA, said, ‘As part of our marketing efforts to perpetuate and promote authentic and unique experiences on Hawaii Island, the HTA has selected CPEP events that reflect the distinction of each island and what makes it a one-of-a-kind destination. Our partnership with the County of Hawaii has allowed us to showcase year-round experiences exclusive to Hawaii Island, that highlight our people, place and culture for both residents and visitors to enjoy.’

The CPEP’s prime intention is to provide visitors with unique experiences in Hawaii, and the 18 events for which funding is to be offered include the Hilo Grown Ag-Tour, the Ka’u Coffee Festival and Hula Arts at Kilauea in Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park. The programmes have been planned to involve tourists of all ages and interests, so no one should feel left out.

The CPEP was created in 2002 as a partnership between the HTA and local counties, to diversify tourism programmes in the islands.

For more information on the HTA and for details of the forthcoming events, visit www.hawaiitourismauthority.org.

Myrtle Beach to focus on wedding tourism

Tourism authorities at Myrtle Beach are to focus on wedding tourism this year.

Officials of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce said that this year it would focus more on marketing the Grand Strand as a wedding destination. The chamber is focussing on weddings because statistics show that last year, 25 percent of all marriage services performed in the US were destination weddings. With more people opting to get married in exotic locales, the demand for unique and bespoke wedding services is high, and authorities at Myrtle Beach are gearing up to meet that demand, which is estimated to be worth about $18bn in the US.

Trends in the marriage industry have changed a great deal in the US. While in the past couples opted marry in their hometowns, education and exposure to new horizons is luring them to the more exotic locations.

Meeting up with media representatives to promote the destination, officials said that they were focusing on the beach’s versatility to attract more wedding planners to the area. Myrtle Beach wedding planner, Cheryl Cox, said, ‘We cover quite a gamut from beach weddings to plantation weddings to weddings if you want something more rustic, whether a barn or country type, Low Country weddings. We offer it all. For example, if the groom wants to come to the Grand Strand, we have wonderful golf courses and we have that opportunity, the ladies can have shopping or spa day, so we also have the wonderful entertainment venues.’

Local officials are hopeful that 2013 will be a prosperous year for the destination, with increasing hotel occupancy indicating that visits are on the increase. There is a general consensus among wedding planners that Myrtle Beach is affordable and has a good reputation as a family destination. With many visitors planning entire vacations around a wedding event, the area has the potential to attract a whole new cliental.

UK Business Travel Grows Despite Economic Slowdown

Business travel in the UK has grown in 2012, even while the country’s economy was registering a slowdown in the same period.

A report published by UK-based Guild of Travel Management Companies (GTMC) said, that the last quarter of 2012 showed a 4 percent overall increase of services offered by travel management companies, when compared to the same quarter in 2011. This infers that the travel industry has grown even when UK Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the same quarter saw zero growth. For the full year 2012, members of the GTMC have recorded a 4 percent increase over the same period in 2011.

In the period from October to December 2012, hotel sales have increased by 2 percent when compared to the same quarter in the preceding year; rail recorded a 10 percent increase in the last quarter of 2012, and 9 percent increase year on year. Car hire has increased by 7 percent in the last quarter of 2012 and 9 percent year on year.

The association’s chief executive officer, Paul Wait, said, ‘The GTMC 2012 year end transaction figures are very heartening, business travel is still buoyant and deals are being done. Similar to the commentary coming out of the City regarding the strength and growth of share prices, suggesting growing business confidence, the GTMC survey proves that despite the economic performance to date air travel transactions have remained at a constant level.

I have maintained a position that business travel should be regarded as an investment and not a cost and that it is vital to a successful company performance. The Coalition Government in its mid-term review has stated that business growth is one of its key objectives and therefore it is essential that UK companies increase their investment in business travel to achieve this goal.’

Gatwick Airport Protests against Frequent Flight Cancellations Due to Bad Weather

Gatwick Airport in the UK has expressed its anger at frequent flight cancellations by airlines following the forecast of bad weather conditions, including snow.

The airport has written to Patrick McLoughlin MP, Secretary of State for Transport, requesting a solution to help keep flight cancellations to a minimum due to bad weather conditions, a problem which has recently impacted on the travel plans of a significant number of business and leisure travellers.

Stewart Wingate, the airport chief executive officer, said, ‘It just cannot be right that passengers are being asked to accept apologies for pre-emptive flight cancellations. Huge numbers of business meetings and holidays will have been impacted and misery caused to travellers.

The over-scheduling of flights at Heathrow during the winter period should stop, but we also need to maintain and grow our connectivity to the world.

I am proposing that for the key winter months of December, January and February, Heathrow declares a level of capacity it can cope with in winter conditions. The additional flights then, for those three months, can move to Gatwick and Stansted.

As a result there would be better use of the existing capacity at our London airports, safety would be enhanced and passengers will not have to panic every time it snows. London’s and the UK’s reputation is on the line and the airports should work together to make this happen.’

The airport has recently introduced an £8 million snow fleet to keep its runways clear of snow. The new equipment includes 98 vehicles, with snowploughs, brushes, cutters, blowers, and de-icing vehicles.

Boeing Dreamliner Battery May Not Be At Fault

Boeing, the US based aircraft manufacturer, has been cooperating with US and Japanese investigators to discover the problem with its next generation Dreamliner 787 aircraft, and recent report suggests that the fault may be with the aircraft’s electrical components.

Earlier, airlines had grounded the aircraft globally, on fears regarding its airworthiness, following incidents of its onboard battery catching fire. Two Japanese airlines, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airlines, were the first of many to ground their Dreamliner aircraft and commence an investigation into the safety standards of the aircraft, claimed to be the first to offer mid-size airplane capabilities on long-distance routes.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had also issued an emergency airworthiness directive for temporary suspension of operations for all Boeing 787 Dreamliners in the US, a decision that resulted in the grounding of all Dreamliners flown by United Airlines.

Recent investigations suggest that the fault may not be with the battery used onboard the aircraft, but with the electrical system that monitors battery voltage, charging and temperature.

The Japanese transport ministry official, Shigeru Takano, said in an interview with the BBC, ‘We have found no major quality or technical problem with the lithium-ion batteries.’

Currently, Boeing has around 800 planes on its production line, due to heavy demand for the aircraft from commercial and military organisations across the world.

The aircraft is claimed to offer greater fuel efficiency from its lightweight, as well as customisable interiors, cleaner air, a lower cabin altitude, high humidity, better windows, and more overhead storage space for aircraft passengers, making it the most sought after next generation aircraft, prior to its recent problems.

Silversea Announces New Voyages in 2013

Silversea Cruises, a cruise operator, has announced a new collection of eight short cruises for 2013.

The company is offering four- to seven-day voyages to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean for busy professionals looking for a short break.

The new shorter voyages for 2013 include the four-day Northern Europe Voyage aboard the Silver Cloud, from June 15 to 19, 2013, a Mediterranean Voyage aboard the Silver Wind, from March 16 to 20, 2013, a Mediterranean Voyage aboard the Silver Wind from May 14 to 18, 2013, a five-day Mediterranean Voyage aboard the Silver Wind, from March 11 to 16, a five-day Mediterranean Voyage aboard the Silver Wind, from May 18 to 23, and many more.

Ellen Bettridge, the company president for the Americas, said, ‘Many travellers today have busy schedules that make it difficult to fit in time for an extended luxury cruise vacation. It’s important for us to offer options that cater to these consumers as well as those who have time for longer voyages.’

The shorter cruises range from four to seven days, with fares commencing from £1,040, and are claimed to be the perfect way for first-timers to sample a cruise. The cruises are available to book through the Silversea website (www.silversea.com).

The company also has a special collection of extended voyages from 34 to 54 days on offer for travellers who enjoy a more relaxed pace.

Ellen Bettridge, said, ‘Our Grand Voyages are the perfect option for true travel enthusiasts who can spare the time and prefer a more immersive on-shore experience. You can circle South America, sail around Europe or sweep across hemispheres between Asia and the Americas-all while enjoying the personalised luxury of our intimate ships and all-inclusive shipboard lifestyle.’

Emirates Announces New Service to Tokyo

UAE-based airline company, Emirates, has increased its commitment to Japan with the introduction of a new service between Dubai and Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

The daily, non-stop flights will be commencing from June 3, 2013. Haneda Airport is the 131st destination served by the airline, and a three-class Boeing 777-200LR will operate the service

Thierry Antinori, Emirates executive vice president for passenger sales worldwide, said, ‘As Emirates’ third gateway in Japan, the Dubai to Haneda route will help to build on the vibrant relationship between the United Arab Emirates and Japan, in terms of trade and increasing the opportunities for business and tourism.

Emirates has been operating to Japan since 2002 when we introduced non-stop flights to Osaka; our commitment continued when we launched flights to Narita International Airport in 2010.

We are confident that the demand in terms of both passengers and cargo is strong enough to warrant Emirates operating non-stop, daily flights to both of Tokyo’s airports, offering our passengers more flexibility on the route to Dubai and onwards to over 70 destinations in the Indian Ocean, Middle East, Africa and Europe.’

The airline had previously announced another new service, this time to Poland, commencing from February 6, 2013. The airline is offering a daily service to Warsaw in Poland, from Dubai in the UAE, with a 237 seat Airbus A330-200 aircraft.

The airline is currently offering five flights daily for its passengers from London Heathrow Airport in the UK to Dubai, as well as two flights daily to Dubai from Glasgow Airport in Scotland. The airline also offers direct to Dubai flights from Birmingham, London Gatwick, Manchester and Newcastle airports in the UK.