Saturday, 24 February 2018

United and Delta cut NRA discounts

Two major US airlines have joined a growing list of companies to cut ties with the National Rifle Association following the Florida school shooting.

United and Delta airlines have both announced they are ending discounts for NRA members.

The killing of 17 people in Florida has revived the gun control debate in the US, with student survivors playing a leading role in calling for change.

Firms with links to the US gun lobby have faced calls for a boycott.

Activists have flooded the NRA's corporate partners with comments on social media under the hashtag #BoycottNRA.

United and Delta airlines were the latest firms on Saturday to drop their ties to the powerful gun advocacy organisation. Between them they fly more than 300 million passengers a year. Other firms dropping ties to the NRA include:

Enterprise Holdings, which owns rental car brands Alamo, Enterprise and National, said discounts offered to NRA members would end on 26 March

Another car rental firm, Hertz, also said it was ending discounts offered to NRA members.

The family-owned First National Bank of Omaha said it would not renew NRA-branded credit cards, citing "customer feedback"

Insurance firm Chubb said it had stopped underwriting an NRA-branded insurance policy three months ago
Software firm Symantec said it had stopped its discount programme with the NRA

Two removal firms, Allied Van Lines and NorthAmerican Van Lines, ended their affiliate relationship with the NRA and asked for their details to be removed from its website

Insurer MetLife Inc also cut ties.

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Delta updates its service nd support animal policy

In January, Delta announced policy changes for those travelling with service and support animals to support the airline's top priority of safety, after an 84 percent increase in reported service and support animal incidents since 2016. Based on conversations with key stakeholders in the disability community, the airline is further enhancing its policy effective March 1.

"We are implementing these changes for the safety of all customers, employees and trained service and support animals flying Delta, while supporting the rights of customers with legitimate needs, such as veterans with disabilities," said John Laughter, Delta's Senior Vice President — Corporate Safety, Security and Compliance. "While we will require that all animals not confined to kennels in the cabin have up-to-date vaccinations, we enhanced our policy to make online submission optional for those individuals who are blind or have reduced vision or other disabilities and have trained service animals."

Friday, 23 February 2018

Sun Country Airlines cuts staff numbers by 20%

Sun Country Airlines is cutting 350 workers from its ground service operations at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

The Eagan-based company told employees Tuesday it will contract those jobs out to Global Aviation Services Inc.

Executives say the move will make Sun County more efficient. Layoffs begin immediately, with workers able to reapply for positions with Global Aviation as soon as Wednesday.

local media says affected workers include nonunion positions inside the terminal, such as ticket counter agents, skycaps and those who provide wheelchair services.

The decision will trim nearly 20 percent of Sun Country’s workforce of about 1,830.

In December, Sun Country was purchased for an undisclosed sum by New York-based Apollo Global Management.

Sun Country serves 41 airports in the U.S., Mexico, the Caribbean and Costa Rica.

Girl injured by dog during boarding a Southwest Airlines aircraft

It seems there is hardly a week going by these days without some sort of horror story about animals flying in the cabin of some airlines in the USA. 

Sometimes its more unusual critters like snakes, spiders and peacocks in the news, although not hamsters - Spirit Airlines told one passenger to flush one of those down the toilet.  This week it is a more common pet, usually mans best friend, that is making the news after it apparently injured a fellow passenger - a little girl of about six or so years of age.

The incident took place on a Southwest Airlines plane as the flight was boarding at Phoenix on Thursday. A Southwest spokesperson said the dog’s teeth “scraped a child’s forehead” and paramedics checked the girl, who appeared to be 6 or 7 years old. The spokesperson went on to report that the dog was in the plane’s first row of seats with its owner, who claims to have warned the little girl not to approach his dog.

Police interviewed the girl’s family and the dog’s owner. The family decided to remain on the plane, while the dog and its owner left and took a later flight. 

flydubai sees profits and revenue increase

The Dubai based low-fare airline flydubai said Wednesday that its earnings and profits have increased, revenue reaching 5.5 billion dirhams ($1.5 billion) in 2017 compared to 5 billion dirhams ($1.37 billion) in 2016.

The profits for airline reached 37.3 million dirhams ($10 million) last year, up from 31.6 million dirhams ($8.6 million) the year before. However, flydubai’s profits are still less than half the 100.7 million dirham-mark ($27.4 million) recorded in 2015.

Canada's Sunwing Travel Group and Planet Hollywood Create Partnership For Massive Expansion

Sunwing Travel Group, North America's largest vertically integrated travel company, has signed a deal with iconic lifestyle brand Planet Hollywood to dramatically increase the footprint of Planet Hollywood's hotel operations globally. Initially, Planet Hollywood Beach Resort Costa Rica will open in the fall of 2018 and Planet Hollywood Resort Cancun will open in late Spring of 2019. These two properties mark Planet Hollywood's first foray into the in-demand luxury all-inclusive category.

Two lavish, all-inclusive Planet Hollywood resorts openings in less than two years

For more than 25 years, the Planet Hollywood brand has been positioned as the authority on entertainment and popular culture.  Capitalizing on its close celebrity ties and the universal appeal of movies, television, music, and sports, the Planet Hollywood brand has been successful across the gaming, restaurant, lodging, retail, leisure and entertainment sectors.

Finnair extends the operating period for its Chicago and San Francisco routes

Finnair is extending the operating period for both its Chicago and San Francisco routes during the upcoming fall. The Helsinki-Chicago route will be extended until December 3 with two weekly flights. Originally, the route was set to operate from April 19 until October 27. Chicago is the largest city in the American Midwest and a global hub for business, leisure and the arts. Finnair started a seasonal service to Chicago during the summer of 2015.

The Helsinki-San Francisco route will now be extended until December 5 with two weekly frequencies. Originally, the route was to be operated from May 3 until September 27.  San Francisco is well-known for its buzzing food scene, hilly terrain, Victorian architecture and proximity to Silicon Valley. Finnair began a seasonal service to San Francisco during the summer of 2017. 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Visa Launches Program to Give Consumers a Better Travel Experience

Visa,  today unveiled a new program focused on giving consumers a better experience for any mode of travel, whether by air, rail or car. By engaging directly with airlines, transit operators, car manufacturers, rental companies, parking and fuel providers, Visa can help create innovative solutions that integrate new and emerging technologies into every kind of journey.

The Transportation Center of Excellence is a global service that brings together the power and scope of Visa's programs including the Visa Developer Platform, Visa Token Service, Visa Ready for Transit and Visa Global Transit Solutions with its global network of Innovation Centers and Studios.

PenFed Credit Union, Gary Sinise Foundation and American Airlines Plan Free Benefit Concert in Puerto Rico

PenFed Credit Union, along with Gary Sinise Foundation and their official airline partner American Airlines, today announced plans for a special benefit concert featuring Gary Sinise & the Lt. Dan Band on March 2, 2018 to raise awareness of Puerto Rico's hurricane recovery needs and to provide an evening of entertainment open to all.

"Hurricane Maria is still impacting Puerto Rico," said James Schenck, President and CEO of PenFed Credit Union. "Although the devastating winds and flood waters hit five months ago today, millions of Puerto Ricans continue to feel the aftermath of the storm in their daily lives. Many survivors have endured months without electric power, fresh food and running water. This free concert is a team effort to remind our fellow Americans of the ongoing needs of Puerto Ricans, and show our appreciation for everyone who has stayed on the island working hard to contribute to Puerto Rico's recovery and renewal."

Best Beaches In The World.................

TripAdvisor®, the travel planning and booking site, announced this week, the winners of its Travelers' Choice® awards for Beaches. The gorgeous Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos won the top honour as the best beach in the world this year, up from the number two ranking last year and reclaiming the top spot it held in 2016. Florida's Clearwater Beach was the number one beach in America, up three spots from its U.S. ranking one year ago, and capturing the top spot in the country it held in 2016. Award winners were determined based on the quantity and quality of traveller reviews and ratings for beaches on TripAdvisor, gathered over a 12-month period.

TripAdvisor has awarded 355 beaches overall, including the top 25 in the world and local lists for Asia, Europe, Africa, South Pacific, South America, Middle East, Caribbean, Central America, Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, France, Germany, Greece, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Portugal, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, the U.K. and the U.S.

Read on to find out the top ten beaches in the world.

Copa's Fourth Q Results

Out this week, Copa's fourth quarter results. 

Copa Holdings reported net income of US$100.8 million for 4Q17 or earnings per share (EPS) of US$2.38, as compared to net income of US$90.5 million or earnings per share of US$2.14 in 4Q16. Excluding special items, which for 4Q17 include a non-cash gain of US$0.5 million associated with the mark-to-market of fuel hedge contracts, the Company would have reported a net income of US$100.3 million, or adjusted EPS of US$2.36, compared to an adjusted net income of US$54.7 million or adjusted EPS of US$1.29 in 4Q16.

For full year 2017, net income reached US$370.0 million or EPS of US$8.72, compared to a net income of US$334.5 million or earnings per share of US$7.90 for full year 2016. Excluding special items, which for 2017 include a non-cash gain of US$2.8 million associated with the mark-to-market of fuel hedge contracts, Copa Holdings would have reported an adjusted net income of US$367.2 million or EPS of US$8.66, compared to an adjusted net income of US$201.4 million or adjusted EPS of US$4.75 for full year 2016.

Airbus’ A321LR goes the distance to open new horizons for airlines

The best-selling A320 Family marked a new milestone last week with a Paris-to-New York nonstop flight flown by the A321LR – demonstrating this jetliner version’s ability to serve new markets and operate on heavily-travelled North Atlantic routes with the highest levels of efficiency and comfort.

The LR designation is for ‘long range’ and with good reason: the A321LR has the longest range of any single-aisle commercial aircraft today, able to fly 7,400 kilometres nonstop.

Its ‘long legs’ are signified by the No. 1 A321LR’s livery featuring the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty – a representation of the Paris/New York route flown yesterday from Le Bourget Airport near the French capital to the New York region’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. The aircraft also is well suited for intra-regional airline segments in Asia, the United States and other markets.

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Norwegian takes delivery of final Boeing 737-800 aircraft

Norwegian, arguably the World’s Best Low-Cost Long-Haul Airline, today took delivery of its 100th direct buy Boeing 737-800 aircraft, the last of this aircraft type in its fleet. Norwegian originally ordered 42 737-800 in 2007 and leased 26 of these aircraft between 2008 and 2016. The airline now has a total of 118 737-800 aircraft in its fleet.

“Today’s delivery marks the end of an era for Norwegian. When we first introduced the Boeing 737-800 aircraft to our fleet 11 years ago, we did so because it was a modern aircraft with a record of reliability, fuel efficiency and low operating costs,” said Bjørn Kjos, CEO of Norwegian. “Now, at the dawn of a new era, our fleet expansion will continue with more environmentally friendly aircraft as we prepare to take delivery of more than 100 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft over the next few years.”

Finnair opens direct flights to Minsk, the capital of Belarus

Finnair is expanding its network and will open a direct, year-round route between Helsinki and Minsk on June 9, 2018. Flights between Helsinki and Minsk will be operated twice per week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, with an Embraer 190 aircraft. Currently, Finnair also co-operates with Belavia on the Helsinki-Minsk route and Finnair’s own flights will bring the total amount of weekly flights up to five. 

Minsk is well known for its history, architecture and cultural arts scene. The city’s many museums and historical sites also offer interesting activities for travellers interested in history and culture.  

“A direct route to Minsk compliments well our network and will serve especially well customers travelling between Belarus and North America,” says Juha Järvinen, Chief Commercial Officer for Finnair. “Additionally, our new Minsk flights will connect well to Finnair’s Asian and European network.” 

Russian flights to Egypt put back to April

The planned resumption of Russian flights to Egypt over two years after they were banned by Moscow over security concerns has been postponed until April, Cairo airport officials said Tuesday, citing delays in booking procedures and the reopening of offices of the countries’ national airlines.

Modern baggage-scanning equipment has been installed and Russian security will be allowed to oversee operations in Cairo as part of the reopening of the route, initially planned for February, they said, hinting that the main requirements placed by Russia have been met and the reason for the delays could lie elsewhere.

The move comes as a setback for Egypt, which has hoped for a resumption of the flights for months, when its warm winter weather draws tourists from countries to the north, including what was once a large amount from Russia. Airport officials gave no further reason for the delay.