For week ending 2 September 2016.
Spring has officially sprung in Australia and with it there's plenty happening in the travel industry for you to catch up on. Virgin Australia has officially launched its new Economy Space + offering available on both international and domestic flights. In hotel news, the popular QT brand makes its Melbourne debut with a 188 room CBD hotel opening today. In international news, travellers transiting through the Middle East should be aware of the new Doha airport tax effective 1 December 2016.
All this and more in our weekly news round-up brought to you by FCM Travel Solutions.
Qantas axes oneworld fuel surcharges
Qantas has removed fuel surcharges on oneworld fares departing Australia. The change applies to oneworld Explorer, Global Explorer, oneworld Circle Trip Explorer, oneworld Circle Pacific, oneworld Circle Asia & South West Pacific and oneworld Circle Pacific fares.
Shanghai Airport hotel upgrade
The revamp of the Mercure Shanghai Hongqiao Airport Hotel is complete. The 224-room hotel reopened on 28 August with a brand-new look. It features a restaurant, fitness centre and a range of meeting spaces.
Cathay North America boost
Cathay Pacific plans to add three weekly services between Hong Kong and Boston from
26 March as well as three extra weekly services to Vancouver from 28 March.
United Airlines will soon launch services to Cuba. The carrier will offer non-stop flights from New York/Newark and Houston to Havana from 29 November.
Finnair adds in-flight wi-fi
Finnair plans to install high-speed wi-fi across its short-haul A320 fleet. Travellers can expect connection speed of 12 mbps or higher. The carrier will begin retrofitting aircraft with the new technology from May 2017 with the upgrades set to be completed by June 2018.
QT Melbourne debut
Melbourne will soon be home to a hot new hotel. The 188-room QT Melbourne, located in the heart of the CBD, near Collins Street, will open its doors on 5 September. The property features
a choice of restaurants, bars and more.
Virgin reveals card surcharges
Virgin Australia has announced its new percentage-based card payment fees. From 1 September, the previous fixed Booking and Service Fees for card payments was replaced with a 0.6% fee for debit cards and 1.3% fee for credit cards. Fees will be capped at $11 for domestic bookings and $70 for international bookings.
Singapore Airlines and Air New Zealand extend codeshare
Air New Zealand and Singapore Airlines are extending their codeshare alliance. Air New Zealand’s code will feature on Singapore Airlines’ new four times weekly service from Singapore to Wellington, via Canberra, which commences on 21 September.
Four Points Benin City
Starwood Hotels & Resorts has opened a new property in Nigeria. The 176-room Four Points by Sheraton, Benin City is located a five-minute drive from the airport and just 10 minutes from the government and business district. It features an all-day dining restaurant and choice of bars, a 24-hour fitness centre, an outdoor pool and 400sqm of flexible meeting and event space.
Virgin launches Economy Space+
Virgin Australia has introduced of the new Economy Space+ product. Available in the main cabin of domestic and international flights, replace the carrier’s existing ‘Extra Legroom’ offering. On long-haul services to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, travellers will benefit from at least 25% more legroom than the main Economy cabin, preferred overhead lockers, dedicated check-in and priority boarding (where available), as well as guaranteed first meal choice and a noise cancelling headset. It will also be available of Virgin’s A330-200s, B737-800s, E190 and ATR-72 aircraft. Economy Space+ can be bought through your travel manager at a lead in cost of $10 one way for domestic and short-haul international routes and $50 on long-haul international routes. Prices will vary based on route, fare type and time of purchase.
New Doha airport tax
Doha Hamad International Airport in Qatar is introducing a new airport tax. From 1 December, a charge of 35 Riyals (approximately A$12.70) will be levied on all travellers, including those in transit. A similar airport levy was recently introduced in Dubai.
Starwood Hotels & Resorts has opened its first Westin-branded hotel in Jakarta. The 272-room Westin Jakarta is located on floors 50-69 of the mixed-use Gama Tower. The property offers a choice of dining venues and event facilities for up to 200 guests.
Delta LAX move
Delta Air Lines plans to relocate its operations within Los Angeles International Airport. Currently housed in terminals five and six, the carrier will move to terminals two and three to be alongside some of its airline partners, including Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic. Following remodelling works, the space will provide an in-line baggage system for connecting flights as well as a private Delta One check-in lounge, new Delta Sky Clubs and fast check-in for Delta Shuttle services.
IHG Germany expansion
InterContinental Hotels Group plans to add five new properties across Germany. The expansion will include new Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels in locations including Profzheim, Mannheim, Regensburg and Oberhausen over the next three years.