British Airways Parent Company Expresses Interest in Acquiring Portugal’s TAP Airline

The parent company of British Airways, the UK-based airline company, has expressed an interest in investing in TAP Airline, Portugal’s national air carrier.

International Airlines Group (IAG) is keen to acquire TAP Airline stock if the Portuguese government decides to sell the airline company, which has reported an operating profit for 2011 of EUR485 million. IAG also owns Spain-based Iberia Airline, and has currently entered into an agreement to acquire British Midland International from Lufthansa, a German airline company. The company is trying to strengthen its presence in the European airline market, and TAP Airline would appear to meet all of the required criteria.

The company is also searching for an airline to partner in China, as part of its Oneworld alliance, a global airline partnership.

The IAG chief executive, Willie Walsh, said, in the annual report to the company’s shareholders, ‘The only other airline we have expressed interest in is TAP Portugal, which may soon be privatised. TAP has an extensive network into Brazil and Africa, two strategically important markets for IAG. If privatisation goes ahead we would want to look more closely, but there’s no guarantee we would bid. Continuing to develop the Oneworld alliance also remains key. One weakness we need to address is the fact that, unlike our two rival alliances, we lack a domestic partner in Mainland China, which we think is a necessity. Consolidation is not just about takeovers and mergers. It’s also about forming the right partnerships for the new realities we face as an industry.’

IAG is also thought to be considering taking stakes in American Airlines and Japan Airlines (JAL). Both companies have had brushes with bankruptcy in recent times. American is still in chapter 11 bankruptcy and JAL came out of bankruptcy last year and could file for an Initial Public Offering.

Spainair facing legal action after leaving thousands of passengers stranded

The Spanish government has launched legal action against airline Spainair after it stopped operations on Friday, cancelling 220s flights, which left 22,000 passengers stranded.

The airline according to the government, has violated Spain’s aviation regulations, and legal proceedings could lead to Spainair facing fines of up to €9m (£7.5m) for two ‘serious infringements’.

Development Minister Ana Pastor has confirmed the action after the airline – owned by a consortium based in the northeastern region of Catalonia – stopped its operations due to a lack of funding.

Officials revealed that the decision to close was made after the regional government – which holds a controlling stake in the company – announced it was unable to fund the airline.

The Catalan government named the ‘current economic climate’ and ‘European legislation concerning competition’ as the major factors which influenced its decision.

Last week Qatar Airways pulled out of talks to buy a stake in the airline, which according to the Catalan regional government destroyed Spainair’s only rescue plan.

The company has been searching for new investors since November and reports revealed that Qatar Airways was interested. The company employed around 2,000 staff and used the services of around 1,200 ground staff.

For some years the airline had struggled to compete with low-cost carriers operating in the country.

In 2010 the airline reported an operating loss of around €115m (£96m) and only survived due to finance provided by the Catalan government and private investors.

In Brussels, the European Low Fares Airline Association has announced that any of its members – including Ryanair and Easyjet – that fly overlapping routes with Spainair, would offer stranded passengers special discounted fares, which are subject to seat availability.

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Spain is cheapest place to holiday in Europe

 Holiday prices to Spain have dropped by up to 40 per cent at some resorts in Spain, research has revealed.

In the last five years the price of holidaying in Spain has dropped dramatically. A range of standard get-away items, such as sun cream and drinks, totalled less than £38 on Spain’s Costa del Sol.

Making Spain the second cheapest destination in a survey by Post Office Travel Money.

Another major factor was the rising value of the pound, up 6.4 per cent against the euro in the last three months.

If you want to get a bit further away, you can see even more value for money in Sri Lanka – where the same items cost just £28 – making it the best value for money place to holiday. However getting there is obviously rather more expensive.

The survey also showed the more expensive places to holiday, with the eight standard items costing £113 in Barbados and £115.69 in Brisbane (the most expensive destination).

The eight items in survey included; a cup of coffee, a local beer, a can of Coca-Cola, a bottle of sun cream, a bottle of water, insect repellent, a pack of cigarettes and a three course meal for two adults with a bottle of house wine.

Other value destinations included: Prague, Bulgaria, Cancun and Budapest.

In comparison more expensive destinations included Singapore, Auckland and Costa Rica.

Post Office Travel Money head Sarah Munro said: ‘The message that came out clearly from our holiday budgeting research was that 2012 will be all about affordability.

‘Holidays may still be a priority but they are not a necessity and people will not knowingly get into debt to fund them.

She added: ‘The winning destinations will be those that offer good value, not just for flights and accommodation, but for tourist staples like meals out and drinks.’

Spain deemed ‘uncool’ by young travellers

 For the last 40 years Spain has been the holiday destination for us Brits, but now young British travellers see the country as ‘uncool’.

 

A new report has revealed that under-30s don’t want to spend their time abroad in the Spanish Costas, following in their parents’ footsteps.

 

Spain has been likened to iconic brand Microsoft, which is seeing competition from Apple. The Spanish Tourist Office believes that up and coming resorts in Europe are challenging the once-popular destination.

 

Enrique Ruiz de Lera the new director of the Spanish Tourist Office in the UK said: “The younger generation of travellers is just as likely to holiday in Turkey and Croatia as in Spain”.

 

He admitted that Spain faced significant challenges, and was seeking to learn solutions from major consumer brand experiences.

 

“These destinations are competing hard. They have excellent products and they have learnt from our mistakes. We need to refresh our brand”.

 

Mr Ruiz de Lera admitted to trade magazine Travel Weekly that young people see Spain as ‘uncool’, in the same way that under-30s don’t want to buy Levi jeans because their parents wear them.

 

Spain is planning to work with music channel MTV to supply branded content as part of a drive to encourage younger travellers to visit its shores.

 

The Tourist Office also want to encourage visitors to see different parts of Spain during their beach break.

 

Mr Ruiz de Lera added “A visitor to the Costa del Sol can add on a few days in Malaga, for example”.

 

Article by Charlotte Greenhalgh

Enjoy a late sunny city break in Spain

As warm summer gives way to cooler autumn days, it’s only natural to start feeling as if the time for travel is over and there is nothing left in the year but a never-ending sequence of dull, grey, colourless days of chilly winds and rain and snow. Or maybe I simply have a penchant for the dramatic… The best of summer may indeed be behind us, but no one seems to have told that to Southern Europe, where it’s still warm and pleasant even thought it’s almost October.

September is a busy month in sunny Spain. There are no bad times to visit Barcelona – a city alive with culture, history and gorgeous architecture that is at times bizarre, at times lovely, but always mesmerizing – but if you happen to be in Catalonia this week, it’s the perfect time to drop by the City of Counts, just in time for La Mercè Festival. Going back to the late 19th century, La Mercè is a festival held every year on September 24th, but with several days of festivities leading up to it.

Wine aficionados will be glad to know the Festival includes a Catalan Wine Fair, where you will be able to taste some of the wines of the region. There is also a marathon race, a pyromusical event and a special correfoc. The correfoc is a very Catalan tradition, in which a group of people dress up as devils and dance to the rhythm of drums, while setting off fireworks among the crowds. During the day you can admire the castellers dressed in red-and-blue, trying to build the tallest human tower possible. The streets of the Old Quarter will also be filled with street performers, including people dancing the Sardana, a traditional Catalan dance.

Driving a car hire in Barcelona during the festivity days, specially in the centre of the city, is ill-advised, as many of the streets will be closed, there will be crowds and parades, and the traffic will be hectic. However, the metro will be open all night, so you won’t be left stranded! Even though it’s still warm in Barcelona this time of year, the nights can be chilly, so be sure to take a sweater. If you plan to watch the correfoc, protective clothing is important, including a hat and glasses, so as to protect your skin and eyes from the flying sparklers that are sprayed at the crowds.

If you’re staying a bit further south and travelling to Catalonia is not a practical option, driving your car hire to Murcia for the Feria de Murcia is another fun option. This festival goes back to the 18th century and lasts most of September. The festival is actually a collection of smaller festivals and events, which include competitions, bullfights, folklore, the Moors and Christians Festival and several others!

Autumn may be starting, but Spain still has much to offer, so pack up your bags and enjoy the new season!

Brits gain average of 8lb from USA’s large portions

An enjoyable holiday can often leave you with a few extra pounds, as well as the suntan. Delicious foreign food and lazy days in the sun, it’s not surprising holidaymakers pile the pounds.

 

However, new research has found that the weight gained on a holiday can differ dramatically depending on the destination.

 

Predictably, the US is one of the worst. Popular all-you-can-eat buffets, enormous portions had lead to many travellers gaining an average of 8lb on a two week trip to the USA.

 

Following closely in second place is the Caribbean; it’s all-inclusive resorts left many holidaymakers with an average weight increase of 7.4lb on their holiday.

 

The study has also included France and Spain in the top five, although their portions may not be as large as the US wines, cheese and pasta laden with calories have left those visiting France with an increase of 7.4lb and Italy 7lb.

 

Four in ten holidaymakers blamed the increases in alcohol consumption whilst away, with one in six admitting they found it difficult to say no to seconds.

 

Surprisingly half of travellers only realise they have piled on the pounds once home, with one in five not noticing until they see the holiday pics.

Spain still the cheapest place to holiday

A new poll commissioned by Post Office Travel Money has shown that holidays to Spain are the most affordable for holidaymakers, with a typical basket of holiday essentials, such as food, drink and sun protection costing 42.15 pounds Sterling, much less than it would have cost in other popular holiday destinations in Europe and beyond. The survey, which was undertaken in 14 counties around the world, revealed that the pound is worth so much more than it was last year. So with the pound stretching further in Spain, it should be at the top of the list for holidaymakers who want to save as much money as possible, say ulookubook.com.

Ian Raine, ulookubook.com, comments: “While the cost of ten holiday essentials in Spain may seem a little expensive, it is relatively cheap when compared to the cost of the same items in other destinations, as the same items would cost 92.81 pounds in Miami Beach, and 77.01 pounds in Brighton. This is a huge reduction in price compared to the other examples, and it shows that even the most cost conscious traveller can easily budget for a holiday to Spain.”

According to the survey, the price of a basket of goods, which includes food, cigarettes alcohol and sunscreen in Spain is now 15% less than last year’s most popular holiday destination, Portugal. In fact, other popular destinations in Europe were among some of the most expensive, with the same items bought in France costing 81.48 pounds. Prices in Spain have stayed at the same level since 2010, when they were 36% lower than in 2007, and in Europe, the same amount of holiday cash will buy the same amount of Euros as it did last year, with 1 pound getting around 1.06 Euros, which is all the more reason to look for the cheapest holidays to spain.

Raine continues: “The pound is particularly strong this year, and the Post Office Travel Money survey shows that travellers will be able to get a lot more for their money this year, particularly in Europe, where prices have been slashed considerably. However, while many countries in Europe will be much cheaper for tourists this year, Spain represents the best value for money for Brits this year. So with the extra holidays during April coming up, and the Summer fast approaching, the cost of all-inclusive Majorca may not be as expensive as people may think this year, which is of course, fantastic news for every holidaymaker.”

Yoga retreats launched in Spain

Get practising your salute to the sun as London based Yoga Wellbeing announced today that it will launch its first international yoga retreats in sunny Spain this June. Initially located in the Sierra Espuna National park, the retreats promise to offer just what yogis will be looking for in a European holiday; stunning views, comfortable accommodation and good hearty home cooked meals.

Starting retreats in Spain was a natural progression after running a number on home soil in the UK. Founder of Yoga Wellbeing, Laura Watson, commented “Spain offers a different pace of life and a warmer climate which we believe helps beginners get off to a good start in their yoga journey”. The format the retreats take is flexible with customers able to do as much or as little as they want. “On full days yogis will be taught twice per day, once in the morning and once in the evening, and in between classes they have time to explore. We have partnered with a number of local businesses some English and others Spanish to supply rewarding activities such as mountain biking, climbing and paragliding which can be enjoyed as additional extras.”

Yoga Wellbeing is a UK based Yoga School with its main office in London. It specialises in private & corporate yoga tuition; the teaching style offered draws influence primarily from the Hatha & Vinyasa flow schools of thought. If you would like to find out more about Yoga Wellbeing’s holidays, please visit their dedicated website (www.yogaholidays.co), you can contact the team using the contact form or by calling them on +44 (0)845 834 0895.

The Benidorm effect boosts holiday searches

The popular ITV comedy series Benidorm, which plays on the outdated stereotypes of those who go to the Spanish resort, has prompted a huge surge in interest in the destination.

  • Hit TV series, Benidorm, sparks renewed interest in the destination
  • Searches for the Spanish resort up 159 per cent

Figures released today by travel comparison website travelsupermarket.com show that searches to the destination have increased by a whopping 159 per cent during the programme, which airs at 9pm on Friday nights. This is compared to searches for the destination at the same time on other nights of the week.

The idea of ‘screenspiration’ is by no means a new phenomenon – previous travelsupermarket.com research showed that one in five British travellers (17 per cent) have been inspired to go to a destination after seeing it in a film. Destinations such as New Zealand (Lord of the Rings Trilogy) and Australia (as featured in the Baz Luhrmann film of the same name) received significant tourism boosts after they received publicity through films.

Bob Atkinson, travel expert from travelsupermarket.com, said: “People love to be inspired by films, TV and celebrities for their holidays and it’s great to see such a surge in interest to Benidorm. Those looking for a good value deal on a trip to the Spanish resort should shop around and use price comparison to make sure they get the best deal. It is worth comparing the price of booking separate flights and accommodation to the cost of a package holiday deal to see which offers the best value, especially with the huge number of low cost flights to Alicante and a wide range of accommodation types, from villas to 5 star hotels, self catering to all inclusive.

“Benidorm is enjoying a bit of a renaissance and represents great value at the moment; it’s the perfect recession destination where you can have a good time without spending a fortune and this is clearly demonstrated on the show.”

Alongside Medical Tourism, ‘Fertility Travel’ Gain a Global Audience

Over the last decade, the medical tourism industry has grown at double-digit rates. Spurred by the rising costs of adequate healthcare in the West, a series of high-quality international hospitals have seen their bookings more than double as residents of the United Kingdom, the United States, and other major population centres such as Australia search for safe, reliable, and affordable care.

But it’s not just medical tourism that’s moving overseas – it’s ‘fertility tourism’. The latest boom in international medicine has seen a growing number of UK and US-based couples travel overseas in search of reliable fertility treatment. It’s set to become a multi-billion dollar annual industry and, if it survives the PR onslaught many Western hospitals are preparing, a revolutionary health leader.

Spain is one of the world’s most popular fertility tourism destinations – a vibrant country with one of Europe’s most reliable health systems. Due to the prevalence of clinics and the high prices given to egg donors (many are paid over €900 for their eggs), the country is Europe’s most visible centre for fertility treatment, hormonal medicine and artificial conception.

The fertility tourism industry represents a chance not only to conceive, but to do so at a significant discount when compared to the options available in Britain. The cost of treatment in the UK tends to exceed £20,000 – a fee that’s often given for surgical procedures that don’t guarantee fertility or hormonal stability. Going overseas represents a financial saving and an increase in clinic quality.

While it seems unlikely that the industry will grow to the size of the medical tourism industry, it’s likely to become a major healthcare playing piece over the next decade. The medical tourism world has grown dramatically in the last five years, with more ultra-luxury hospitals appearing in nations such as Thailand, Costa Rica, and the United Arab Emirates.