Qantas announces ‘The Ultimate Trip’ flights from Heathrow to Sydney

Qantas is offering 70 people the opportunity to win ‘The Ultimate Trip’: a five-night stay in Sydney, Australia, travelling from Heathrow on the Qantas A380.

The announcement comes as Qantas honours Heathrow’s 70th anniversary and its partnership with the airport. ‘As part of [the] celebration, travellers are invited to share their favourite Heathrow memory – from amusing anecdotes to heart-warming tales – to be in with a chance to win one of the 35 pairs of tickets available,’ the airport said. Entrants can upload their story at

As part of ‘The Ultimate Trip,’ which is set to commence in May 2017, the winners will have the opportunity to explore the Australian city during their five-night stay in a central Sydney hotel. Heathrow will announce the full itinerary at in January 2017 as part of Qantas’ Australia Day celebrations, it said.

Markus Svensson, Qantas Regional General Manager, UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa said; ‘We’re thrilled to be partnering with Heathrow at this very exciting time for the airport. Qantas has held a fantastic partnership with Heathrow for almost 70 years and we’re proud to be able to offer 70 passengers complimentary flights to Sydney, as a celebration of the past, present and future of air travel.’

Heathrow is the UK’s hub airport, operating more than 80 airlines connecting to more than 180 destinations and welcoming over 70 million passengers every year. Following an investment of more than £11bn over the past 10 years, passengers have voted Heathrow the ‘Best Airport in Western Europe’ two years in a row, ‘Best Airport Terminal’ for the Terminal 5 five years in a row and ‘Best Airport for Shopping’ seven years in a row.

Qantas A380 flies daily from London Heathrow to Sydney and Melbourne, both via Dubai, Heathrow said.

In-demand jobs for Brits looking to move overseas… with a few surprises

Brits looking to move overseas may benefit from the list of the most in-demand jobs in some of the most popular global destinations, which brings a few surprises along the way.

International relocation specialist Robinsons Relocation has released a list of the most ‘in-demand’ vocations for Brits wanting to start a new life overseas.

Based on data gathered from Robinsons’ 15,000 international relocations in the last year, the most popular emigration destinations include Australia, America, Canada, New Zealand and Spain. Robinsons has also mapped the most in-demand jobs, including some of the more unusual roles these destinations are looking out for.

While medics, engineers and professional services are in high demand across the board, some of the most unusual jobs in demand include bee keeping, wine making and cartography.

In Australia, the most in-demand sectors are currently medical (including doctors, sonographers, nurses, dentists) the professional services (accountants, lawyers), engineering & construction (architects, project managers, surveyors), as well as teaching, telecoms & IT, and skilled-trades. However, also in demand are roles such as cartographer, locksmith, shipwrights, lift mechanic, forester and stallion master. The average Australian wage currently is reportedly around AUD72,000 (£42,700), significantly above that at home.

Meanwhile, in America, the currently most sought after roles are for pharmacists, with software engineers, physical therapy and speech language pathology also in demand. And Canada is looking out for workers in the restaurant and food service industries, along with medical professionals and construction workers.

New Zealand is seeking agricultural roles, as well as construction, nursing, engineering and beef and chicken farmers. Among its perhaps more surprising roles required are bee-keeping, tree surgeons, and wine makers.

Spain, another popular destination for UK emigrants, is currently seeking professionals with engineering, customer service, IT, finance, online marketing, skilled trades, and language teaching experience.

Ian Brown, Head of International Moving at Robinsons Relocation, said: ‘Last year, more than 153,000 people emigrated from the UK, many of whom were pursuing careers overseas. Whatever you’re planning on doing for work, it’s worth checking out the latest Government guidelines for the most ‘in-demand’ skills and of course, going through the correct Visa procedures. And whether you’re a bee keeper, boat builder or bio engineer, Robinsons can help you move all your stuff and make the whole process simple for you.’

UK’s IHG to open 15 Holiday Inn Express Hotels in Australia

UK’s InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has said that international investment company, Pro Invest Group, has established a $150 million fund to develop a portfolio of 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels across Australia.

Pro Invest will set up a hotel operating company to initially build and operate 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels. The hotel chain will have a total of nearly 2,150 rooms, spread across Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane. IHG will enter into franchise agreements for each of the hotels, and the first hotel will open at Macquarie Park in North Ryde, Sydney in the autumn of 2014.

The company claims that the hotels will be clean and simple, and provide a clear choice for business and leisure travellers that require a high quality hotel with free breakfast and free Wi-Fi. Holiday Inn Express North Ryde will have 190 rooms to meet the growing demand from the local business community for quality accommodation at a competitive price.

Ronald Barrott, principal of Pro Invest said, ‘This fund is comprised of a group of offshore investors, all who see the potential of investing in both the Holiday Inn Express brand, and Australia. We believe now is the time to grow this brand in the market and travellers will certainly benefit from having one of the world’s biggest hotel brands to choose from.

‘My previous experience in the UK tells me this partnership with IHG will be a long and successful one, and that there is plenty of opportunity to grow this initial portfolio of 15 Holiday Inn Express hotels to become many more in the years to come.’

Barrott had previously led Stannifer Hotels to become one of the UK’s largest and most successful select service hotel groups.

IHG Asia, Middle East and Africa CEO, Jan Smits commented, ‘The announcement of this investment fund comes at a great time for IHG in Australia. Our current hotel brands here, InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn, are already well known and regarded by our hotel owners, and Holiday Inn Express is a welcome addition. We announced our first signing under this brand earlier this year and that hotel will open in Perth, Western Australia in 2015. Pro Invest’s portfolio will launch with the opening of Holiday Inn Express North Ryde in autumn 2014.

‘We have established a strong hotel franchising model to provide owners and investors in Australia, such as Pro Invest, with a reliable and profitable alternative to our equally-successful management model. This is an exciting example of the growth and development of IHG in this market, and a strong sign of confidence in IHG’s offering,’ he added.

There are currently 30 hotels open and operating under IHG’s InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn brands in Australia. Launched in 1991, the Holiday Inn Express brand has now grown to over 2,200 hotels worldwide, the biggest brand within the IHG portfolio. A further 450 hotels are due to open in the next three to five years.

Brits contesting ‘Best Jobs in the World’ promotion

British candidates are still figuring strongly as Tourism Australia’s ‘Best Jobs in the World’ competition enters its next phase.

23 applicants from the UK have already excelled themselves to battle to the second stage of the competition against 350,000 other initial applicants from 196 countries. Now they are in a pool of just 150 applicants from 35 countries for the six dream jobs that await the lucky winners. These are, wildlife caretaker in South Australia, chief funster in New South Wales, park ranger in Queensland, taste master in Western Australia, outback adventurer in Northern Territory and lifestyle photographer in Melbourne, Victoria.

To take part in the competition, candidates had to produce a video that lasted for 30 seconds and which gave them the opportunity to pitch for the specific job that they were applying for. Those that were selected now have to provide job references in the hope that they will then be short-listed to visit Australia for a final assessment in June. From this invited shortlist, the six successful employees will be chosen and their names announced on June 21.

Besides the fun aspect of the competition and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that 6 lucky applicants will be invited to experience, Tourism Australia has an important promotional message that it intends the promotion to convey with regards to the country’s Working Holidaymaker (WHM) programme. On its immigration website the Australian government says, ‘The Working Holiday and Work and Holiday programs encourage cultural exchange and closer ties between arrangement countries by allowing young people to have an extended holiday, supplemented by short-term employment.’

Qantas Commences Bookings for Its Network with Emirates

Qantas Airways, Australia’s national airline, has begun to accept bookings for its newly expanded network, in partnership with UAE-based Emirates Airlines.

The partnership will be operating its expanded network from March 2013, and has received an interim authorisation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The airline’s chief executive officer, Simon Hickey, said, ‘The feedback from customers since the Qantas and Emirates partnership was announced has been fantastic, so we are pleased people can start booking from today.

No airline can fly everywhere but the combined Qantas and Emirates network means our customers can fly to a wide range of destinations and earn frequent flyer points in the process.

One of the main advantages our customers will notice is one-stop access to a much wider range of cities across Europe via Dubai, rather than having to fly to London and backtrack.’

Tim Clark, the president of Emirates Airline, said, ‘The interim approval clears the way for Emirates and Qantas to be geared up to provide customers with a unified experience from day one. The Emirates and Qantas partnership will provide customers unparalleled access to the respective networks and services including the A380 experience.

This approval comes two weeks after our first aircraft departed from Concourse A at Dubai Airport, the world’s only purpose-built A380 concourse and the ‘home of the Emirates A380′.

Qantas’ A380 passengers flying in from Australia will be able to enjoy the unrivalled experience in terms of comfort, convenience and choice of facilities in Concourse A, before boarding their flights to our rapidly expanding European network or our destinations in the Middle East and Africa.’

Qantas cuts ties with Tourism Australia

Qantas, an Australia-based air carrier, said that it is cutting all of its ties with the official tourism agency in Australia.

It is believed that the move has been sparked by the deepening ill feeling between the current Qantas management and former chief executive, Geoff Dixon, who is now the chairman of Tourism Australia. The move will mean that the carrier will sever a 40-year old partnership with the tourism organisation.

In a statement, the company said that it had ‘suspended any future dealings’ with Australia’s official tourism agency. It went further and said, ‘Qantas cannot continue to collaborate with an agency whose chairman is a member of a syndicate committed to unravelling Qantas’s structure and direction.’

The airline’s chief executive, Alan Joyce, is believed to have written to Tourism minister, Martin Ferguson, stating that their $50m marketing deal was being suspended. Joyce however said that the company would continue to support the nation’s tourism operators. He said, ‘We deemed it prudent to suspend our partnership with Tourism Australia, we will of course continue to be a proud sponsor of tourism in Australia through other means. The tourism industry can be assured that not one dollar of tourism marketing will be lost as a result of this decision. We believe we are better off working with the states closely in terms of tourism activity. We are not pulling back on tourism support, we are working and have been working in the past with some states like Queensland, like Victoria, like NSW – all the states in the country.’

In a statement, Qantas said, ‘This conflict has arisen from the involvement of Tourism Australia’s chairman with a syndicate that is actively canvassing fundamental changes to the Qantas Group strategy, including the proposed partnership with Emirates.’

Enthusiasts head to Australia for November eclipse

The upcoming solar eclipse in November has seen enthusiasts packing their bags for Australia.

This year, a solar eclipse is scheduled for November 14, and Australia is said to offer one of the best vantage points for those wishing to experience one of the world’s most unique phenomena. Shortly after dawn on November 14, watchers in northern Australia will be rewarded with the sight of the moon passing in front of the sun, plunging the surroundings into darkness.

Those wishing to view the event from across the Coral sea should be in place by 6:39am local time. If the skies are clear, watchers will be able to see the progress of the moon’s black disk with the sun’s glowing corona stretching beyond it. The darkness resulting from a total eclipse of the sun is expected to last just over two minutes.

It is expected that more than 50,000 tourists, about a half of them from foreign nations, will travel to Australia to see the eclipse. Most are expected to camp in the Cairns-Port Douglas area in Queensland. Those visitors staying in resorts are advised to travel to a viewing site, as it is unusual for a total eclipse to be visible from a resort area. Hotel bookings have peaked in the best viewing areas, with some hotels having been fully booked for November 14 for three years. About 5,000 tourists will stay in camper vans and makeshift accommodation.

Some visitors have been particularly innovative, having made arrangements to view the eclipse from boats, trains and special positions on land. Some have even planned to take to the skies using hot air balloons. It is also expected that tourists will visit other part of Australia once the event is over.

Nearby places of interest include Sydney, Kakadu National Park, Yellow Water Billabong, Nourlangie Rock and the ancient rock site of Uluru.

A regular visitor to eclipse events said, ‘Everyone gets really quiet. After people start seeing it for a few seconds, they start screaming and crying. When it’s over, the party starts. People start dancing and singing.’

The next eclipse will see enthusiasts flocking to Morocco.


Emirates enters into accord with Tourism Australia

Emirates, a Gulf-based air carrier, has announced that it has entered into an agreement with Tourism Australia to develop tourism and related activities between the Gulf and Australia.

As part of the agreement, both parties to the deal will spend up to AUD14.3m over the next three years on joint marketing activities.

The deal underlines the airline’s intention to expand its alliances with other companies. It has already signed a 10-year code share deal with Australia’s flag carrier, Qantas. The new deal, which is believed to be the air carrier’s largest investment in a global tourism body so far, is expected to increase the number of visitors from key markets in Europe and New Zealand. The airline also said that it would focus on leading inbound visitor markets to Australia, such as the UK, Germany and New Zealand. It will also focus on France and Italy.

Salem Obaidalla, Emirates’ senior vice president, Commercial Operations, Far East & Australasia, said, ‘Emirates’ AUD14.3m partnership with Tourism Australia takes the airline’s investment in ‘destination Australia’ to the next level. This is the largest investment Emirates has ever made with a global tourism body, highlighting our commitment to Tourism Australia’s strategy for attracting global travellers. We believe the proposed partnership with Qantas, pending regulatory approval, will further grow tourism to Australia from key European markets.’

The company assists travellers from 30 European locations to travel to Australia via one stop in Dubai. It currently operates 70 flights per week to Australia via its Dubai hub, and offers 21 services to Sydney, 21 to Melbourne, 14 to Brisbane and 14 to Perth.


Qantas Announces New Schedule for UK Service in 2013

Qantas Airways, the national airline of Australia, has released its new schedule for flights from the UK.

The new timetable will be effective from April 1, 2013, when its joint operations with UK based British Airways comes to an end after 17 years. The new timetable will reflect the new 10-year global partnership with Emirates Airlines, a UAE-based airline company.

The airline has reported that its daily flights to London Heathrow airport, from Melbourne and Sydney, will be rerouted through Dubai airport in the UAE, instead of its previous stop at Singapore. The airline has announced that ‘Dubai will become the Qantas gateway to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.’

The global partnership between Quantas and Emirates is pending approval from the regulatory bodies, and once effective, Quantas is expected to shift its hub for European flights to Dubai from Singapore.

As part of the ongoing changes, direct flights between Sydney and Singapore are expected to reduce to 11 flights per week, from the previous, twice daily.

Alan Joyce, the Qantas Group chief executive officer, said, in a statement, ‘This agreement represents a step-change for the aviation industry.

It is far bigger than a code share. Or even a joint services agreement. This is the biggest arrangement Qantas has ever entered into with another airline.

(This is) a ten year partnership, which will be good for all parts of the Qantas Group. Subject to regulatory approval, it will include integrated network collaboration with coordinated pricing, sales and scheduling and a benefit-sharing model.

This will deliver significant benefits to our business.’

Australia still popular with UK winter travellers

When it comes to planning a winter holiday, Australia is still one of the most popular destinations with travellers from the UK.

A recent report from Tourism Australia, the government agency that is responsible for the promotion and marketing of Australian destinations to international tourists, has confirmed that around 30,500 visitors from the United Kingdom arrived in the country in July 2012, which might reflect a decrease of 4.4 percent on the same period in the previous year, but around 50 percent of holidaymakers to Australia were repeat visitors, reflecting that British holiday makers still have a lot of affection for the country.

Visitors from the UK have generated GBP1.8 billion in total expenditure in 2011, and that figure is expected to grow to around GBP3.4 billion by 2020.

Rodney Harrex, regional general manager for the UK and Northern Europe for Tourism Australia, said, ‘These figures show that when Brits get to Australia they’re not disappointed, it’s a really positive sign that Sydney harbour, the Great Barrier Reef, all of the places you’ve heard about and hundreds that you haven’t, live up to and often surpass expectations. My message is; what are you waiting for? There’s a cliche that a visit to Australia is a once in a lifetime trip but these figures show that’s not true in reality, Australia is somewhere British holiday makers keep going back to.’

Australia will be hosting world class events in the near future, including the British and Irish Lions Rugby Tour to Australia in June 2013, and an Ashes tour also in 2013, encouraging more British travellers to visit the country.

Tony Carty, the managing director of Travelbag, a UK-based travel company, said, ‘This is a really positive sign for Australia and our stores see many customers that have repeat booked holidays out there. For those who have been before, it’s about getting off the beaten track and discovering a new side to Australia – with such a large country to work your way around, there’s no limit to the options. As an Australia specialist, our job is to make planning a trip achievable and help tailor an itinerary to our customers’ needs. Events like Australia Day on 26 January, the British & Irish Lions Tour and Sydney New Year’s Eve are coming up in store enquiries so our job is to use those events to trigger bookings – clearly the flight is worth it!’