Enchanting Europe

With the southern hemisphere countries already saturated in sunshine, Booking.com introduces interesting seven destinations to provide the ultimate retreat during the summer months.

Surrounded by volcanoes and geysers, Iceland’s capital Reykjavík attracts tourists with its scenic Hallgrímskirkja Church said to have been designed to resemble the rocks, mountains and glaciers of Iceland’s landscape, as well as Nautholsvík Beach where bathers can plunge into the geothermal water.

In Italy, Naples is edgy thanks to effusive locals, scooters zooming past and a tangle of tumbledown streets. The birthplace of pizza, it has plenty of attractions to visit from Castel dell’Ovo to the Archaeological Museum.

There’s an extra something to life in the Spanish capital Madrid. Start your day in the leafy Retiro Park on your way to a morning at the Prado then have a late lunch and afternoon siesta, before rising late to join the locals for dinner.

Budapest in Hungary bewitches every visitor. Houdini’s hometown is full of unfading beauty that holds you captive. A gentle soul emanates from within this city built on imperial strength, and people engage in a high-stakes hustle to claim their own piece of happiness.

Standing behind towering city walls, Dubrovnik beach town in Croatia has stunning, panoramic views over the emerald Adriatic Sea. Promoting itself as the world’s design powerhouse, Sweden’s capital Stockholm is a serious contender for Scandinavia’s friendliest citizens. You’ll be welcomed with open arms to this urbane city, where medieval alleys, majestic parks and an awe-inspiring Royal Palace will leave you eager to explore.

Porto in Portugal is home to the sleepy Douro River, where boats have dropped anchor for centuries as travellers tumbled forth into Porto’s lattice of sun-drenched streets. Today, cellars stocked with sweet wine vie for attention among studios, cafes, and baroque buildings strung with colourful washing lines.

Find out more at Booking.com

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Source – TheNation

#Shanghai may build new airport for business flights

Shanghai is considering building a new business aviation airport to meet the rising demand for business jets in the city, an official from the Shanghai Airport Authority said on Tuesday.

“In addition to the existing business aviation bases, Shanghai is also planning a new business aviation base elsewhere in the city,” said Jing Yiming, president of the Shanghai Airport Authority, at the opening of the three-day Asian Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition.

“The market potential of Shanghai’s business aviation is huge, where we’ve seen more than 20 percent year-on-year growth in the sector during the past few years. So far, a total of 67 general aviation enterprises and 371 general aviation aircraft have been registered with the Civil Aviation Administration of China’s East China Regional Administration,” Jiang Huaiyu, an official from the administration was quoted as saying by the Shanghai Observer.

“So it is necessary for Shanghai to have an independent airport handling business and general aviation,” Jiang added.

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Currently, the second business aviation base at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport is under construction, and is expected to become operational in 2018.

There were 900 turbine helicopters and 450 business jets in China as of 2016, with compound annualized growth rates of around 6 percent and 9 percent, respectively, over the past decade, said Charles Park, director of marketing analysis and planning of Honeywell Aerospace.

Read also: Top 10 world’s busiest airports

Wang Qi, vice-president of China sales and chief representative of ATR, said the development of general aviation will create opportunities for less populated airports.

“About 92 percent of passengers are concentrated in the top 50 of the nation’s 219 airports, while the bottom 100 airports only handle 1.6 percent of the total passenger flow, where general aviation can play their role,” said Wang.

The concept of general aviation is not limited to business needs, said Liao Xuefeng, chairman and CEO of China Business Aviation Group. “A variety of non-commercial actives including agricultural aviation and rescue can benefit from it.”

According to Bill Schultz, senior vice-president of business development in China for Textron Aviation, China’s general aviation market offers diversified jet demand.

The 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20) has a similar supportive trend in areas including tourism, air mapping and emergency rescue, he said.

According to the guiding rules of the State Council on promoting the development of the general aviation industry, issued in 2016, China plans to build around 200 new general aviation airports between 2016 and 2020, bringing the nation’s total to about 500.

This article appeared on The China Post newspaper website, which is a member of Asia News Network and a media partner of The Jakarta Post

#Indonesia – Ministry wants travel agencies to create ‘New Bali’ package tours

The Ministry of Tourism wants travel agents to come up with 10 new package tours that they will call the “New Balis” in order to entice international tourists to visit not only the Island of the Gods but also other places of Indonesia.

As the ministry enters the second year of its three-year business plan for the promotion of tourism outside Bali, the focus has shifted from branding, which was executed last year, to advertising. In 2018, the government aims to reach the selling stage.

“If branding is catching people’s attention, advertising aims to persuade people to come to Indonesia, while selling includes giving discounts and price cuts,’ said Tourism Minister Arief Yahya.

“Both airlines and travel agents need to be creative. Perhaps they can do joint promotions or hard-selling promotions to attract tourists to come to Indonesia,” he added.

The ministry is also hoping that the promotion of less popular destinations will distribute air traffic more evenly, alleviating congestion at the airports serving Bali and Jakarta. “The air connectivity problem is an urgent matter for us, since most tourists come to Indonesia by airplane,” said Hiramsyah Sambudy Thaib, who heads a team at the Tourism Ministry tasked with accelerating the development of new tourism hot spots.

The ten promoted destinations include Solo, Medan and Lombok, all of which have their own airport operating 24 hours a day. Airports that are currently being upgraded to accommodate large planes are Silangit Airport in North Sumatra and Leo Wattimena Airport in North Maluku.

“This is a huge opportunity for both airlines and travel agents. They can reverse the tour offerings from two days in Bali and one day in Lombok, for example, to one day in Bali and two days in Lombok, so that it won’t all be concentrated in Bali,” he added.

Construction work to extend the runway of Silangit Airport is slated to conclude by September. Meanwhile, Leo Wattimena Airport currently can only accommodate ATR 72 planes. An upgrade will enable the airport to accommodate Boeing 737s to attract tourists to Morotai. The runway extension is targeted for completion by June next year.

To support continued growth in air traffic, the government is in a process of deregulation to make it easier for airlines to add more flights to Indonesia.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Garuda Indonesia names Ida Fiqriah first female pilot to attain captain’s rank

National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia has inducted Ida Fiqriah as its first female pilot to reach the rank of captain of Boeing B737-800 NG planes, a narrow body-style aircraft, after she successfully recorded 10,585 flight hours.

It is hoped Ida can later also become the first female pilot captain for wide-body aircraft.

Garuda Indonesia operational director Capt. Novianto Harupratomo personally pinned a Boeing B737-800 Bar Captain rating emblem on Ida in a ceremony on Wednesday.

“It’s not by chance that the induction ceremony coincides with Kartini Day, which will be celebrated across the nation on April 21. This moment clearly shows that Garuda Indonesia gives equal opportunities to anyone who shows top work performance in their profession,” said Novianto in a press statement.

He further said that attaining the position of pilot captain was not easy and took a lot of hard work, adding that Capt. Ida Fiqriah’s achievements had made her an Ibu Kartini of the modern era and it was hoped that her career developments would inspire all women in Indonesia.

Ida has also had the longest career at Garuda of any of the company’s female pilots. She has now flown for Garuda for around 18 years. Her career began in 1999 as a first officer or co-pilot. Graduating from aviation school PLP Curug in Tangerang, Banten, in 1999, Ida has piloted various Garuda Indonesia aircraft, starting with the Boeing B737-300/400/500 series and the wide-body Airbus A330-300/200.

Of Garuda Indonesia’s 1,380 pilots, only 30 of them are women. “We hope the induction of Ida Fiqriah as a pilot captain can motivate all female pilots in this company,” said Novianto.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Iran, Russia agree on visa-free stay for tour groups

Iran and Russia have eased visa requirements for Iranian nationals visiting Russia and vice versa, following an agreement signed by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Russian President Vladimir Putin in late March.

Tehran Times reported on Monday that “based on the agreement, tour groups of 5 to 50 people heading to Russia from Iran or vice versa will be granted a visa-free stay of up to 15 days”.

The move is expected to increase tourism between the two countries.

Russia’s Tour Operators Association executive director Maya Lomidze said that Russia was welcoming more Iranian visitors following the launch of direct flights from Iran to St. Petersburg, Moscow and Sochi.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Five innovations that could transform air travel

Aircraft interiors have long been a battleground for luring passengers with plusher cabins, bigger seats and fancier food. The fight for a new generation of travelers is intensifying as a dearth of upcoming new jetliner models forces airlines to get creative.

Among developments this year, Qatar Airways revealed a business berth which can be swiveled to form a meeting area for four, or even a double bed. Dubai-based Emirates is giving its flying bars a saloon-style redo with table seating targeted at passengers who prefer to linger over their Bloody Mary. Its A380s already offer airborne showers, while those operated by Etihad Airways of Abu Dhabi boast a three-room suite with personal butler. At the same time, Airbus Group says it may shrink the double-decker’s so-called grand staircase to add capacity and improve the model’s mass-market appeal.

The next generation of gizmos, on show at the 2017 Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg starting Tuesday, includes innovations aimed at boosting seat density, automating in-flight service (watch out cabin crew!) and keeping passengers entertained. Alongside the more practical advances are others that may not ever see the light of day. Bloomberg picks out five innovations worth a look.

Cyborg server

Tired of losing the beverage-cart lottery? Paris-based Altran has invented a robotic waiter that takes your drink and snack order in advance and rolls it up to your row. The self-driving trolley also collects garbage at the end of the flight, which leaves more time for human attendants to focus on important issues like safety. And fashion violations. Alas, the robot lacks arms, so the job of passing hot coffee to window-seat passengers will be outsourced to the lucky aisle-seat occupants.

Germ killer

Using technology that’s already in action to disinfect hospitals and municipal water supplies, the GermFalcon will zap ultraviolet light across the cabin to sanitize armrests, tray tables and even toilets. It looks like a beverage cart with arms and can destroy bacteria and viruses on 54 seats in 1 minute. There’s already so much radiation at airports and in planes, who’s going to be bothered by a few rays more?

Flying gourmet

If your steak’s overdone you can soon send it back. Deutsche Lufthansa is making flight-safe cookers that fry eggs, toast bread and steam rice at 30,000 feet. Don’t worry about your freshly pressed suit smelling like a greasy spoon by the time you land for your meeting: the science-lab look-alike comes with a fume hood. And a lock meant to prevent a skillet full of sizzling sirloin from flying down the aisle during turbulence.

Window surfing

You’ve secured the window seat, popped in your earbuds and nestled your travel pillow into place. Now for a relaxing view of, err, stock prices. Vision Systems, based in Lyon, France, wants airlines to turn their windows into pane-shaped infotainment screens that passengers can swipe through to see flight details, order drinks and — naturally — buy stuff. If you want to unplug, the screens can be dimmed so you can see the clouds through tinted glass.

Space maker

Sliding seats are the way of the future. That’s what Molon Labe Designs wants you to believe. Its pitch for reconfiguring cabins includes an aisle seat that slides over the middle seat to widen the corridor during boarding. The Denver-based startup also boasts middle seats that are the industry’s widest at 21 inches, and positioned farther back and slightly lower than the neighboring spots, creating less scope for armrest battles.

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Mouse delays London-to-San Francisco flight for 4 hours

How he squeaked through security is anyone’s guess.

A little mouse made for a big delay on a British Airways flight from London to San Francisco.

The passengers were all buckled up and ready to go when the crew told them that a mouse-spotting meant they couldn’t take off.

The crew joked that the mouse couldn’t enter US airspace without a passport, and told everyone they needed a whole new plane. That meant a four-hour delay.

They told KGO-TV in San Francisco after the flight arrived Wednesday that despite the delay most passengers were happy to be on a mouse-free aircraft, especially knowing they’d be eating on the flight.

British Airways apologized and said they were satisfied that only two-legged passengers were on the flight once it took off.

Source: TheJakartaPost

Travel – AirAsia X becomes first Asian low-cost airline to fly to the US

AirAsia X (flight code: D7) has received clearance from the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) to fly to the US.The airline is the first Asian low-cost carrier to secure approval to operate scheduled passenger flights to the US.

The approval allows AirAsia’s long-haul, low-cost sister airline to operate services to any destination within the US. AirAsia X is currently considering flights to several US states including Hawaii as part of its route expansion plans.

AirAsia X Group CEO Datuk Kamarudin Meranun said, “This is a major milestone for AirAsia X. Our expansion up until now has concentrated on Asia, Australasia and the Middle East, and we are excited about our first foray into an entirely new market as we look beyond Asia Pacific.”

“I’m confident travellers will respond well to our award-winning service and the kind of connectivity we can offer with our Fly-Thru product. As part of our expansion plans, we are also looking to resume our very popular London route, and are working towards securing the necessary approvals.”

 A pioneer in travel and technology, AirAsia offers a wide range of innovative products such as mobile app, extensive self-service options, inflight wifi, inflight entertainment, premium coffee, online duty-free shopping, Premium Flex and Fly-Thru.

Fly-Thru allows guests to seamlessly connect to anywhere within AirAsia’s wide network with just one stop at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Asia’s No. 1 low-cost carrier hub – and other convenient transit hubs in Thailand and Indonesia, without having to pass through immigration and with their baggage checked through to the final destination.

AirAsia Group boasts an extensive route network to over 120 destinations in Asia Pacific, including some 60 unique routes within the Asean region, and unmatched flight frequencies.

Source: TheNation