Hainan Airlines launches new direct service to Shenzhen from Dublin Airport

Dublin Airport has announced the launch of Hainan Airlines’ new year-round direct service to Shenzhen.

Known to be China’s tech hub, Shenzhen is described as ‘China’s most innovative city’ by Lonely Planet and ranked second in its Top 10 Cities to visit in 2019. The city is a about a 40-minute bullet train ride away from both Hong Kong and Guangzhou.

The airline will operate two flights per week between Dublin and Shenzhen. The service will be operated on Mondays and Fridays with a Boeing 787-900 Dreamliner with 289 seats.

‘We are delighted Hainan is expanding its network from Dublin by adding this second destination to China,’ said Dublin Airport Managing Director Vincent Harrison. ‘Shenzhen is a really exciting destination for both business and leisure travel,’ Mr Harrison added. ‘The new route will further increase trade, tourism and investment between Ireland and China and expand the growing number of Chinese visitors to Ireland.’

Hainan Airlines’ General Manager Ireland, Ryan Zhang said: ‘We are delighted to launch this second direct route between Dublin and China. We are proud that Hainan Airlines is playing a central role in forging greater friendship and cooperation between our two countries. We look forward to welcoming many Irish and Chinese guests on board our five-star Skytrax service.’

Shenzhen will be Dublin Airport’s second destination in mainland China, as Hainan already operates a Dublin-Beijing service. Last June, Hainan launched the service to Beijing via Edinburgh. On alternate days the service either operates direct between Dublin and Beijing or has a stopover in Edinburgh.

Hainan’s Shenzhen service is one of 20 new routes at Dublin Airport for this year. Dublin Airport has flights to nearly 200 destinations in 43 countries, operated by 56 airlines.

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays offers GBP100 discount on package holidays to popular sun destination

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, UK-based travel and holiday companies, have announced the launch of flights and holidays to popular sun destinations at discounted prices, for summer 2019.

Until Wednesday, holidaymakers can take advantage of a £100 discount per person on package holidays with Jet2holidays to Mainland Spain, the Balearics, the Canaries, Portugal and Madeira for this summer, offering savings of £400 for a family of four. By entering the promo code ‘SAVE100S&P’ holidaymakers departing to any of these destinations between April 1, 2019 and October 31, 2019 with the UK tour operator will benefit from the offer.

Jet2.com is also offering discounts on all flights to the same destinations between the same dates, with charges reduced by 10%. Tickets are available to book at www.jet2holidays.com or www.jet2.com

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: ‘There’s no better time to book your place to the sun with our award-winning tour operator and airline. With a £100 saving per person on holidays, and 10% off flights to many of our most popular destinations in Spain and Portugal, we are looking forward to putting a lot of holidaymakers in a very sunny mood this weekend.’

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays were recently named as one of the top brands in the country for customer service. The flight and holiday company was ranked 29 out of a total of 315 brands in 2018 for delivering excellent customer service in the 2018 UK Customer Experience Excellence Analysis, published by KPMG Nunwood. The research by KPMG Nunwood was collected via an online survey where over 10,000 UK customers were interviewed.

British Airways announces new route to Split from London City, expansion of holiday routes at Heathrow

British Airways has announced the launch of its new holiday route to the Croatian city of Split from London City Airport next year.

For the very first time, the airline will start operating three flights a week to the popular Dalmatian Coast sunspot in June through to September. Tickets are available on sale on www.ba.com with each-way hand baggage only fares, based on a return journey, starting from £75.

British Airways also operates flights to Split from Heathrow Airport and will increase frequency there from five to seven flights a week next year. In addition, the airline is adding extra frequency to two popular Greek Islands from London City next summer with an extra flight on Fridays to Skiathos and a Tuesday flight to Mykonos.

Luke Hayhoe, British Airways’ general manager commercial and customer, said: ‘With the arrival of our new aircraft next year we have been looking at a number of new route and additional frequency possibilities. Split is the second largest city in Croatia and is becoming increasingly popular with customers looking for an alternative holiday destination or who are joining a cruise ship.

‘It was a natural addition to our summer leisure schedule. This summer British Airways flew to 30 destinations in the UK and Europe from London City Airport as well as the daily service to New York. This is ahead of a big boost in capacity for 2019.’

Richard Hill, chief commercial officer at London City Airport, said: ‘For the first time ever, London City Airport will offer a connection to Croatia, and the increasingly popular town of Split – a fascinating gateway to the idyllic Dalmatian coast.

‘This is a stunning holiday destination that demonstrates London City’s increasing offer of leisure destinations for everyone, and British Airways’ commitment to continued growth here. We’re thrilled that Split is a new destination in 2019, meaning the airline has its widest range of leisure routes ever, from the Balearics to the Greek islands, providing summer getaway options that our customers will love.’

In addition, British Airways has announced an increase in frequency on leisure routes from Heathrow next year to Chania, Preveza and Kalamata from two to three a week; Faro from four to eight a week; Ibiza, from seven to eight a week; Berlin, from 46 to 47 a week; Malaga from nine to 10 a week; and Venice, from 14 to 15 a week.

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.

Omega Breaks offers night flight for Northern Lights seekers

Omega Breaks, the UK-based tour operator, has announced plans to offer its night flight service from Cardiff again in March 2019, enabling stargazers to sight the Aurora Borealis.

The plan follows the success of an inaugural trip in March, and the next night flight in search of the Northern Lights will take off on Friday March 8, 2019. The trip offers customers an opportunity to take to the skies on board an aircraft to seek out the Northern Lights, the colourful dancing lights resulting from the ionization of solar particles entering the earth’s magnetic field at high atmosphere.

Deb Barber, Chief Executive Officer of Cardiff Airport, said: ‘Our customers will really enjoy the opportunity to take off from Cardiff and discover one of the world’s most amazing natural phenomenons from the sky. This was such a unique and popular addition to our schedule back in the spring, so it’s great to see the return of the Northern Lights experience with Omega Breaks in 2019.’

Peter Truman, Astronomy Consultant at Omega Breaks, added: ‘These unique flights, which have been operating for 20 years, really offer an excellent opportunity to see the Northern Lights.

‘We are above the main obstacle, cloud cover, and also have a much wider overall view of the Auroral Oval from around 36000ft above sea level, than you do at ground level.’

The Omega Break experience will begin at Cardiff Airport with a presentation in the terminal from guest astronomer Pete Lawrence, presenter of the BBC’s Sky at Night programme. He will be joined by Nigel Bradbury, a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and an active amateur astronomer for over 40 years. Seeking out the best views of the Northern Lights, the three and a quarter hour-long flight will take off from Cardiff in the darkest hours of the night, with on-board commentary by the two expert astronomers. Bookings can be done at the Omega Breaks website.

Birmingham Airport offers new flight update service via Facebook messenger

Birmingham Airport has announced the introduction of its new flight update service – Flight Smart – for departing passengers via Facebook messenger.

The Flight Smart flight update service was originally offered via Twitter, having launched in summer 2017. Following the success of the programme, Birmingham Airport will now add Flight Smart to Facebook messenger as well. Passengers can send their flight number to the Flight smart messenger page and instantly receive live flight updates direct to their mobile and tablet devices.

Jo Lloyd, Business Development Director – Birmingham Airport said: ‘In this digital age we live by our mobiles, so to be able to see where to check in, what gate to use and which restaurant to choose from, all from your phone or tablet, takes the stress out of travelling. The twitter Flight Smart has been heavily used by our passengers since its inauguration, but we were conscious that not everyone uses twitter, with the addition of Facebook messenger Flight Smart all passengers can have up to date information on their journey at their fingertips.

Paul Brugger, C.E.O of TIC said: ‘Birmingham Airport has been running BizTweet under the Flight Smart brand for eighteen months, due to its phenomenal success they will be launching our complementary Facebook Messenger service. At a touch of a button the airport will be able to provide even more passengers with real-time, high personalised operational and customer service messages directly to passengers via these two platforms.’

Facebook messenger also offers more detailed content, allowing passengers to access maps and directions, information about restaurants and contact details, enabling them to plan ahead of their trip. Flight Smart was developed in collaboration with Cork -based technology company, TIC for Facebook Messenger.

Passengers using Flight Smart on Facebook messenger may type @flybhx into the search tab on the Facebook app or the Birmingham Airport facebook page to get live updates. This service helps passengers get constant flight updates until departure and also allows family and friends to track the flight, the airport said.

Thomas Cook Airlines announces 10 additional flights a week from Bristol for Easter 2019

Thomas Cook Airlines has announced the addition of 10 flights a week for Easter 2019 from Bristol airport.

With the introduction of 10 additional flights a week from April 3, 2019 until the end of the month, Thomas Cook Airlines has added over 12,000 seats to destinations including Turkey, Tunisia, Egypt, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote and Majorca. Tickets are now on sale via www.thomascookairlines.com.

Henry Sunley, Commercial Director at Thomas Cook Airlines, said: ‘This is a bigger Easter programme from Bristol than ever before, with our season traditionally ramping up from May 1. It’s great to be able to reward our customers who fly with us from Bristol airport with even more choice and we look forward to adding more destinations from Bristol in the near future.’

Nigel Scott, Business Development Director, Bristol Airport added: ‘This is exciting news. The increased capacity for next year builds on the strong growth we are experiencing with Thomas Cook from Bristol Airport in 2018. It provides even more choice for passengers when using their local airport to travel to a variety of exciting holiday destinations. We look forward to working with Thomas Cook on future route opportunities.’

For summer 2019, Thomas Cook Airlines flight-only services from Bristol airport, one-way in economy, include services to Turkey from £168.99, Gran Canaria from £203.99, Hurghada, Egypt from £325.99 and Lanzarote from £203.99. With the new services, Thomas Cook Airlines now flies to 25 sun and beach destinations from Bristol, while increasing its number of seats on sale at Easter by 40 percent in 2018.

Thomas Cook is also offering a package holiday from Bristol airport, flying with Thomas Cook Airlines one-way in economy with seven nights in Turkey from £2,035 for a family of four, or £508 per person including discounted prices for children. Stay will be arranged at the five-star Sentido Perissia in Side on an all-inclusive basis, departing from Bristol on 8 April 2019. Tickets can be booked at www.thomascook.com, it said.

Jet2 extends summer season in Ibiza for summer 2018 and 2019

Jet2.com and Jet2holidays has announced an extended seasonal service to Ibiza for this summer and in summer 19, following strong demand for holidays beyond the peak summer periods.

Ibiza is popular with British travellers for summer and remains a sought-after holiday destination beyond the peak season. The airline has put additional flights on sale to Ibiza from five UK bases between late September and the end of October this year. Jet2 is extending the seasonal service from Birmingham, East Midlands, Glasgow, Manchester and Newcastle Airports.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: ‘Our commitment to providing award-winning flights and holidays means that we continue to attract more and more customers, and today’s announcement is yet more evidence of that. This news is a real boost for the tourism industry and economy in Ibiza, and is living proof that we are not just working to fill hotels in the peak summer season but that we are working with our hotel and industry partners to achieve the best possible results in shoulder seasons too.’

Vicente Torres, President of Ibiza Island Council, said: ‘We are very pleased with these increases in capacity which are in line with the efforts of the Consell d’Eivissa to promote Ibiza during the out of season period. We believe that Ibiza has a great offer in spring, autumn and winter and these periods are popular with tourists who want to know about the cultural, gastronomic and sports offers of the island. We are confident that this initiative will be very successful.’

For 2019, the summer season and services will also start earlier in Ibiza, as the company has introduced April flights from four of its UK bases. For the first time, customers with Jet2.com and Jet2holidays will be able to travel to Ibiza in April, opening up the destination for the Easter holidays. The additional flights will operate twice-weekly from Birmingham, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and London Stansted, Jet2.com said.

easyJet offers ‘Hands Free’ luggage option for passengers

easyJet, the UK-based European regional airline, has said that it has launched ‘Hands Free’, allowing passengers to check in their hand luggage at the Bag Drop desk for an extra fee.

At The Bag Drop Desk, luggage will be tagged as priority and taken care of through to the arrival airport. ‘Hands Free’ hand luggage will also be among the first to be delivered at the baggage belt at arrivals. The new ‘Hands Free’ service comes at a price of £4 per person, or £10 for a group bundle per flight.

Passengers choosing Hands Free will be given small plastic bags to carry their essential items onboard, and are free to take any items purchased at the airport on board. Passengers will also able to board first after those with Speedy Boarding.

Andrew Middleton, Ancillary Revenue Director at easyJet said: ‘We’ve seen a fantastic response from customers upgrading to the ‘Hands Free’ experience and we’re confident once you go ‘Hands Free’ you’ll never want to drag cabin baggage through the airport again.’

‘Alongside low fares and friendly customer service, our customers tell us that the airport experience is a hugely important part of their flying experience.’

The ‘Hands Free’ service has reportedly been a success since its launch in France this Spring, with over 9,000 passengers choosing the option in just four weeks. easyJet has now rolled it out across its entire network with the exception of London Gatwick, it said.

easyJet flies over 270 aircraft on more than 880 routes to over 140 airports across 31 countries. The UK-based low fares airline carries over 78 million passengers annually, of which more than 12 million are travelling on business.

Thomson and First Choice introduce Vietnam to winter 2017 schedule, add more long-haul destinations

Thomson and First Choice have recently announced the introduction of Vietnam to their winter 2017 programme.

Further, the holiday company Thomson said that the Caribbean islands of St Lucia and Cayo Santa Maria in Cuba – destinations that were introduced to its summer 2017 programme earlier – will also be extended into the winter season. The move comes as the company seeks to build on the 350 percent increase in long haul holidays over the past 10 years.

The island of Phu Quoc is the latest long-haul destination to be added to Thomson and First Choice’s offering. Located off the coast of Vietnam with white-sandy beaches, Phu Quoc is popular for relaxing, and features dense tropical jungle and reefs. With a choice of tour and stay options, Phu Quoc is an option for travellers looking to stay and explore spots like Hanoi, Ha Long Bay and Ho Chi Minh City, as well as a trip along the Mekong River to Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

The first direct flights to Phu Quoc International Airport from the UK will operate on Thomson Airways’ 787 Dreamliners and will depart from London Gatwick every Wednesday, taking 12 hours to reach the destination.

In addition, as a reported first ever for the UK travel industry, Thomson is introducing multi-centre holidays via its website, enabling customers to plan and book their multi-trip holiday online without having to wait for a confirmation of the itinerary. Costa Rica, Cuba, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Goa are the first destinations available for booking on a dedicated tab on Thomson’s website, which is expected to go live mid-late November.

Mark Hall, Director of Product for Thomson and First Choice, said, ‘Our focus for winter 2017 remains on the growth of our long-haul programme using our fantastic 787 Dreamliner and Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island is a fantastic addition. We are also thrilled to announce the extension of St Lucia and Cayo Santa Maria, Cuba into our winter programme, along with an array of new city breaks and long haul destinations. Our multi-centre holiday offering is an exciting venture and another important part of our continued commitment to offering customers more choice and flexibility seizing the opportunity to deliver what customers are demanding.’

The programme for winter 2017 will be on sale from mid-late November, Thomson said.