Etihad Airways Reports Busiest Day during Holiday Season

Etihad Airways, a UAE-based national airline, has reported setting a record for the number of passengers carried across its worldwide network in a single day.

On Saturday January 5, 2013, the airline carried 33,802 passengers, its record highest number of people flown in a day, beating an earlier record of 33,766 people flown on July 14, 2012.

Etihad Airways has reported a successful festive holiday season, with January 3 and 4, 2013, reporting yet more of its busiest ever days, with 32,622 and 32,918 passengers flying each day respectively.

James Hogan, the airline president and chief executive officer, said, ‘It has been a busy start to 2013 for Etihad Airways and it is highly satisfying to beat our previous record for passengers carried in a single day.

Etihad Airways carried record numbers of passengers in 2012, was voted World’s Leading Airline at the World Travel Awards for an unprecedented fourth consecutive year. Our challenge is to build on these achievements during the coming 12 months.’

Earlier, the airline had announced flying a total of 10.29 million passengers in 2012, an increase of 1.88 million passengers when compared to 2011.

The airline, which has recently acquired a stake of 3.96 percent in Virgin Australia Holdings, also owns a 2.99 percent holding in the Irish airline, Aer Lingus, and a 29 percent stake in Air Berlin, the second largest air carrier in Germany.

The airline flies to Aberdeen, Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Isle of Man, Jersey, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle, and Southampton airports in the UK.

February half-term: cut the costs of a family holiday

Everyone with a family knows how expensive it can be to take your kids on holiday, especially if you can only bring them away when school has broken up. That’s why we’ve put together some tips on how you can cut the costs of a family break this February half-term, so you can have a trip away together without breaking the bank.

1.       Enjoy a staycation

Many people instantly think of a holiday abroad with sun, sea and sand when they hear family getaways. But we want to prove that you don’t need to jet away to a sunny location to enjoy yourself – although, this is, of course, sometimes nice too!

We’re spoiled for choice when it comes to fantastic places in the UK to visit, from Wales and Scotland to Dorset and London. Whether you want a city break where your kids can soak up some culture or you are more interested in spending some time in the fresh, open air, you’ll find something that will pique your interest in Britain. So, why do you need to go anywhere else?

Just think of how much money you will save on aeroplane tickets, particularly if you have a number of children to pay for!

2.       Visit friends or family

These days, lots of people have friends and family all over the country – we know we certainly do! So a school holiday like February half-term is a good opportunity to make the most of these connections and visit your loved ones.

If the kids’ grandparents live in different areas of the country, we’re sure they’d love to spend time with your little ones. This could be a great chance for them to bond with one another – and also give you a break for a few days! But if you’re planning to visit friends, we would check that they’re OK to have your brood around for a week or so, as you don’t want to outstay your welcome.

3.       Stay in a home away from home

You don’t have to just stay with relatives or close mates to enjoy seeing the beautiful sights in the UK, as you can rent a cottage, farmhouse or barn and relax in a home away from home. These types of accommodation are particularly popular among families, as you can completely relax in a property of your own, with the kids’ toys strewn in the living room, the children being noisy early in the morning and appliances such as a TV and DVD player on hand.

With hotels and B&Bs, you are forced to pay for lunches and dinners out for the entire family every night. However, with self-catering accommodation, you can save a lot of money by whipping up something for dinner yourself. We think this is particularly useful if you have kids with fussy palates, and will mean you don’t have to budget so much for your trip during this busy school holiday period.

What’s more, if you have siblings with children too, you can pitch in for a large holiday cottage in Wales from Sykes Cottages or somewhere else in the UK, and split the costs of the accommodation and food between you all, which will save you quite a bit.

4.       Get active and creative

You might have grand plans of taking your youngsters to many museums, galleries and activity centres during the February half-term, but it is not cheap to do this, and with every extra child and day spent away, the costs can spiral out of control.

We’d recommend finding things to do that don’t cost a penny. Bring your bikes along and you can go for long rides through the countryside, which will enable children to enjoy being outside in the fresh air. But, this is February and if the weather takes a turn for the worse, it is a good idea to have a back-up plan. In this case, we’d whip out paint sets, crayons, reams of paper and any other crafty bits you can find. You and your kids can have hours of fun trying to make something – just be sure you are able to clean up all your mess afterwards!

Travelodge Appoints New Chairman to Tackle Finances

Travelodge Hotels, a UK-based company that owns and operates hotel properties, has appointed a new chairman, Brian Wallace, who is expected to help steer the company out of its financial troubles.

Wallace has extensive experience of serving in the hotel industry and was the deputy chief executive at the Hilton group. He is taking over the hotel chain at a time when it has announced a decision to offload around 49 properties to other operators.

Grant Hearn, the chief executive of Travelodge, said, ‘I am really excited to welcome Brian as the new Chairman of Travelodge.

He has extensive experience of the hotel industry, which will be invaluable as we continue to grow the Travelodge brand and deliver on our successful growth strategy.

I have known Brian for over 12 years and believe he will be a real asset to our company.’

Previously, the company had agreed a financial restructuring, for the long-term future of the business, in conjunction with a Company Voluntary Arrangement (CVA). Under the terms of CVA, 347 hotels and 70 percent of the estate will be left as it is, and 109 hotels will be offered a rent reduction on completion of the restructuring. The company has also identified 49 hotels that will be handed over to new operators. To date, only two of these have been handed over to new management.

Grant Hearn has previously explained, ‘The financial restructuring, including the CVA, will leave Travelodge in a much stronger position going forward and will ensure a long-term, sustainable future for the business. Once this joint process is completed, Travelodge’s debt, interest costs and lease liabilities will be significantly reduced. This new appropriate level will provide greater security for our staff, suppliers, landlords and developers. This is a successful brand with millions of customers and the company will emerge in excellent shape from this process.’

Myanmar offering river cruises

The tourism department in Myanmar (formerly Burma) is attracting customers to the nation with new river cruises.

The nation, which had until recently been under military rule, is slowly making efforts to enhance tourism and tourist flow. It is now offering various river cruises to attract tourists from far and wide. As the nation was under sanctions from the west until recently, its reputation as the most authentic Asian culture in the world means that tourists will have more reasons to visit and experience the river cruises that will introduce them to the culture and architecture of this once avoided country.

A trip to Burma is unique in that the nation is believed to be the most ancient and ardent follower of Buddhist culture in Southeast Asia. It has thousands of Buddhist temples and examples of architecture and offers many other historical and religious experiences. The river cruises attempt to capture that unique aspect of the nation for the traveller.

One such trip is being offered by Viking River Cruises with its brand new 16-day ‘Memories of Mandalay’ Irrawaddy River cruise. The itinerary will see travellers sailing from Pyay to Mandalay and the starting price is $5,500 without airfare. A similar offer is being made by Orient Express company, which is operating an 11-night river cruise to the more northerly Gorges of Bhamo. The cost for a single cabin is $4,030 for 11 nights, without airfare.

Solo travellers could opt for the Grand Circle Cruise Line’s new 15-day land tour and Irrawaddy River cruise, from Bagan to Mandalay. Almost all of the river cruises will visit Buddhist monasteries, explore villages with British Colonial architecture and introduce travellers to Rangoon and Mandalay.

Most tour packages include a horse-drawn carriage ride through the Bagan archaeological zone that has hundreds of temples that are at least a thousand years old, all within a 26 square-mile region.

Disney to provide wireless wristbands for the benefit of visitors

Walt Disney is to use wireless wristbands to help enhance its services to visitors.

The company said that the wireless-tracking wristbands have been designed to make the theme park hassle-free for customers, and they are expected to be operational in the coming months.

The wristband, MagicBands, will be linked to customers’ credit-card information and will function as room keys and park entry passes. They will use radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips. It is believed that MagicBands is part of a bigger system, called MyMagic+. The bigger project will allow the park to collect personal information, including the names of guests, their purchasing and riding patterns and real-time location data. This could be used to enhance products and services and also allow the park to design new services for its customers. For example, the data will allow mascot characters to use the information transmitted by the MagicBands to greet visiting children by name. Those who are concerned about their privacy will have the option of controlling how much data is shared, or even opting out of the programme for good. A new part of the official Disney World website, My Disney Experience, makes it easy for parents to manage MagicBand privacy controls for each member of a family.

In a blog entry, Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said, ‘Imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favourite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park. With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.’