Wizz Air UK announces two new routes from London Luton to Russia

Wizz Air UK, the UK-based, wholly-owned airline subsidiary of Wizz Air Holdings Plc, has said that it will launch two news services from its London Luton base to Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport and Pulkovo Airport in St Petersburg.

This is the first time that Wizz Air will connect its low-fare UK network with Russia’s two important cities. Since the launch of Wizz Air UK a year ago, the airline has become the largest operator at London Luton Airport, with over 40 percent market share.

The new flights on the Moscow route will launch on October 1, 2019 and will operate daily. The St Petersburg route, on which Wizz Air UK will be the sole British operating carrier, will also launch on 1 October 2019 and operate daily. Fares on both routes start from £25.99 one way including all taxes and non-optional charges.

Owain Jones, Managing Director, Wizz Air UK, said: ‘Today marks the launch of two of the most exciting routes so far in Wizz Air’s network. For the first time, Wizz Air is giving our customers the chance to travel from the UK to two of Russia’s greatest cities, avoiding high legacy airline prices with our ultra-low fares. We’ll be the only UK carrier flying to St Petersburg and on both new routes, our customers will enjoy Wizz Air’s great travel experience on-board Europe’s youngest and greenest aircraft. Moscow and St Petersburg are each steeped in culture and history, having seen some of the most momentous events in world history and should definitely be on everyone’s list of places to visit. The whole Wizz Air team looks forward to welcoming customers old and new on-board our new flights linking the UK and Russia.’

Currently Wizz Air has over 8.5 million seats on sale on its 61 London Luton routes, representing 20% growth year on year. With the new Moscow routes, Wizz Air now offers 100 low fare routes to 28 countries from ten UK airports.

InterContinental set to open new hotels in Russia and CIS

Travellers seeking the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) brand in Russia and the CIS will have more choice as the company plans to expand in the region with the opening of three hotels: Holiday Inn Express Naberezhnye-Chelny, Holiday Inn Express Samara and Staybridge Suite Baku.

Holiday Inn Express Naberezhnye-Chelny is the third hotel planned as part of the multi-development franchise agreement signed with Regional Hotel Chain in March 2013, to develop 15 new hotels in Russia by 2019.

The 145-room new-build property will open in the second quarter of 2015. It is not only the first IHG hotel to be built in Naberezhnye Chelny, but also the first internationally branded hotel in the area.

The newly built 115 room Staybridge Suites hotel will operate under a franchise agreement with Asnaf Alkon Group. The first branded extended-stay hotel in Baku, Azerbaijan, Staybridge Suites Baku is expected to see high demand for longer stays from the city’s thriving energy industry and an influx of tourism from neighbouring countries.

The 145-room hotel Holiday Inn Express Samara will be newly constructed on an office building site and will open by the end of 2015. The hotel will occupy a central location in the city of Samara – a host city for the 2018 FIFA Football World Cup. The hotel will operate under a franchise agreement with Rosa Mira Group, a first time owner with IHG.

Robert Shepherd, IHG chief development officer, Europe said: ‘These three signings demonstrate IHG delivering its growth ambition across Russia and the CIS.

‘We continue to see considerable headroom for growth here, particularly in the mid-scale and upper-mid scale segments. The Holiday Inn Express brand is gaining great momentum across Europe and despite being a new hotel brand in Russia; we’re delighted it is being so positively received in this region.

‘The brand has strong consumer appeal worldwide and it is proving just as popular with our owners and investors. Its efficient concept reduces build costs and operating costs, supporting a strong return on investment.’

With its stated goal being to create ‘Great Hotels Guests Love,’ IHG has 19 hotels (5,283 rooms) open in Russia and the CIS with a further 10 hotels (2,644 rooms) in the pipeline. The Group is planning to have 100 hotels open, or in the pipeline, in the region by 2020.

Launched in 1991, Holiday Inn Express has over 2,200 hotels around the world.

 

easyJet Announces New European Services

The Civil Aviation Authority in the UK has recently granted easyJet, the UK based airline, the rights to fly between London and Moscow.

The airline will be commencing its service from Spring of 2013. The low cost carrier will be operating an Airbus A320 aircraft on the route between London Gatwick and Moscow Domodedovo airports, with two flights a day. The aircraft will have a capacity of 180 seats on each flight.

Carolyn McCall, the airline chief executive officer, said, ‘easyJet is delighted to have been awarded the rights to fly between London Gatwick and Moscow. We believe this is the right decision for consumers both in the UK and Russia.

Russia has a fast growing economy and is a country rich in culture and history. We believe that our flights will be popular with both business and leisure travellers alike. easyJet has proved again and again that when we enter a new market we open it up – bringing in competition and lower fares and enabling more people to travel on the route. We look forward to welcoming passengers on board next Spring.’

The return fares for the route commence from £125, compared to existing economy fares of more than £1,000.

easyJet has also been granted the rights to fly between Milan Linate airport and Rome Fiumicino airport in Italy, by the Italian competition authority (AGCM). The new route will become operational from 2013, operating with Airbus A319s and offering five services every day on the route.

Frances Ouseley, the airline’s country director for Italy, said, ‘This decision represents a core milestone in the market. We believe that our services will be popular and have proved again and again that when we enter a new market we open it up – bringing in competition and lower fares and enabling more people to travel on the route. We look forward to welcoming passengers onboard in the following weeks.’

Park Inn by Radisson Odintsovo Greater Moscow to Open in Russia

The Park Inn by Radisson Odintsovo Greater Moscow hotel has planned to open in Moscow, Russia.

The 122-room hotel is owned by Belgium-based hotel company, Rezidor Hotel Group, and will be a member of the Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group. The property is expected to open in mid 2013, and will be located close to Skolkovo, near the business centre of Odintsovo. The location of the hotel is in the centre of the city of Odintsovo.

Kurt Ritter, the president and chief executive officer of Rezidor, said, ‘Russia and its capital city Moscow are a key development market for our dynamic mid-market brand Park Inn by Radisson. Our brand portfolio in the country now comprises 25 hotels with 6,300 rooms in operation or under development, and we are looking forward to further strengthening our Park Inn by Radisson footprint in Russia.’

The hotel will be featuring 122 guestrooms; an all-day dining restaurant; a lobby bar; event spaces and facilities; a fitness area; and an enclosed parking area. The hotel is adjacent to Moscow’s Vnukovo International Airport offering direct flights to Europe on main airlines.

The Skolkovo Innovation Centre, located next to the hotel, will be open in 2014, and will offer a contemporary commercial and educational complex, for use by technology-based information communication, biomedicine, space, and nuclear companies. The property also hosts Sberbank’s National Corporate University, whose professionals will also be able to find accommodation close to their place of work at the hotel.

Air Berlin Announces New Service to Kaliningrad in Russia

Air Berlin, the Germany-based airline company, is currently offering a new route, from Berlin in Germany to Kaliningrad, in Russia.

The airline will be flying the new route three times per week, having commenced the service on June 5, 2012.

Opening the new route, the airline chief executive officer, Hartmut Mehdorn, said, ‘The economic relations between Germany and Russia continue to grow, and this means an increased demand for air travel, especially in the market sector of business travel. No other airline connects these two cities non-stop from Germany. Our new route between Berlin and Kaliningrad fills this gap in the European route network.’

Dr. Till Bunse, director of marketing and public relations for Berlin Brandenburg Airport, said, ‘We are pleased that airberlin will fly non-stop from Berlin to Kaliningrad. For business travellers, the new route is an especially important addition to our Eastern European offerings.

Furthermore, travellers from Russia can transfer in Berlin and continue on airberlin flights in all directions.’

The airline will also be offering a new route from September 15, 2012, between Poland and Lithuania. Currently the Berlin hub is offering flights to and from Dusseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt and Munich in Germany; as well as to Vienna (Austria), Milan (Italy), Paris (France), and Scandinavia. The new route will connect all of the existing routes to Kaliningrad, in Russia.

Andrey V Zverev, ambassador and trade representative of the Russian Federation in the Federal Republic of Germany, said, ‘The opening of a new route between Berlin and Kaliningrad affirms the expansion of political, economic, scientific and cultural relations between our countries. As an airline, airberlin has already proven itself to be a reliable partner with high service quality. Therefore, we welcome this new route.’

Russians get four-day holiday… for gardening

Brits will be enjoying a long weekend in June thanks to the Queens Diamond Jubilee. And the extra long bank holiday break has caught on, Russia will also be getting a long weekend, thanks to in-coming president Vladimir Putin, to do gardening.

The ‘national staycation’ in Russia will take place from May 6th to May 9th, over Russia’s World War Two Victory Day, which is on May 9th.

Mr Putin’s inauguration falls on May 7th over the weekend ‘staycation’.

‘Many people want more holidays at this time, so that people could go to their allotments, their gardens,’ Mr Putin said, according to the government website.

Less in line with a focus on leisure time, Mr Putin adds: ‘I ask that production work (in heavy industry) is streamlined accordingly.’

The current prime minister recently won a return to the Russian presidency for a six-year term. But the election has been surrounded by controversy, with accusations that the election was slanted in his favour.

The opposition has said they will not recognise the results, in which Putin gained over 63 per cent of the vote.

Russia have been urged to launch an investigation by the European Union and the US over accusations of fraud in the voting system.

The result has seen many Russians protesting the election in demonstrations and large rallies have been organsied in Moscow.

Wildfires Could Hurt Russia’s Travel Industry Alongside Devastating Wheat Crisis

Russia’s ongoing heat wave may have taken a turn for the worst. The fires, which have blazed on the edges of capital city Moscow for the better part of two weeks, have approached a secret nuclear research centre, inspiring panic amongst city residents and prompting embassies to advise against travel to the Russian capital. Moscow is currently engulfed in smoke and hazardous dust.

The warning comes at a bad time for the Russian economy, which is already fighting the effects of one of the worst agricultural crises in recent history. With output levels at an all-time low and most exports suspended, the country’s economy may soon weather its worse season yet. Although Russia is not a major centre for tourism in Europe, the declaration will certainly hurt Moscow’s economy.

Environmental groups have claimed that air chemical levels recorded in Moscow just one week ago were almost seven times higher than those recommended by the country’s Ministry of Health. Other observers have pointed to the existence of a secret nuclear facility as evidence that the government is uninterested in safety, quoting the previous Chernobyl disaster as a worst case scenario.

The country’s ongoing fires appear to be on the way out, however, as authorities claim to have taken control of the major blazes. Air quality within the capital remains poor, with most residents appalled at the sudden increase in air toxicity caused by the blaze. While most of the damage is due to forest fires, Russian environmental groups have pointed to government chemical use as a major problem.

It could be months before Moscow’s tourists return, but for the meantime those within the capital are positive that things will soon go back to normal. The city’s thick layer of smog is beginning to clear, providing much needed hope that the city’s streets will once again fill up with people.

Russia’s Siberian Extremities are Becoming More Accessible to Travellers

Who goes on holiday to Siberia? Well, according to recent statistics from Russia’s Tourism Board, a greater number of people every year. While the remote Russian back country may not feature on the standard North Asian travel itinerary, hundreds-of-thousands of tourists are treating themselves to a holiday in Siberia, eschewing the traditional sunny beach in favour of the world’s best scenery.

Just ten years ago, travel throughout Russia’s far eastern regions was virtually unheard of. Access roads offered limited travel within the area, although those without four-wheel drive vehicles were often left stranded in the region’s dangerously rough scenery. However, with the region’s famous railway serving record customers annually, the world’s backyard is undergoing a renaissance.

Travel industry experts have pointed to Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Round motorcycle series for the region’s new found success, while others have insisted that the increase in tourism is simply a natural development. Given the truly wonderful scenery and nature on offer within Siberia’s more accessible regions, it appears that one of the world’s last true gems has been exposed to the world.

Most travellers opt to use the region’s railway system, combining a classic holiday idea with some of the area’s top natural attractions. Lake Baikal and its surrounding shores are a popular point for many European tourists, with a growing number of people visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site every season. Fresh fish and local products are popular souvenirs, each competitively priced.

While it seems unlikely that Siberia will win praise from the beach-and-resort crowd, the region is one that’s almost completely unspoilt by mass tourism. Given the relative expense of holidaying in Moscow or St. Petersburg, a railway trip through some of Russia’s undiscovered back country may be the best option for this year’s Far Eastern getaway.