Weekly Travel Update November 18th

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Travel News 18 Nov 2016

For week ending November 18th

This third week of November we have seen the mayor of London Sadiq Khan revealing his decision to officially support the legal action against Heathrow expansion, Hyatt opening four property in Pakistan and Etihad expanding codeshare with Hong Kong Airlines. We also heard rumours about Alitalia's new crisis and cutbacks. Check out our weekly news round-up to discover all the travel updates from the past week.

EasyJet announces three new routes from London Luton airport

The airline will fly to Nantes, Marseille and Valencia, with tickets on sale now, and the first flights will commence from February next year. Across the new routes the airline is expected to fly 133,000 passengers per year from the airport, operating four times a week to Nantes and Marseille, and three times a week to Valencia. EasyJet is expected to fly more than six million passengers from the airport this year, an increase of 500,000 in the last 12 months.

Aer Lingus announces transatlantic expansion

Aer Lingus announced new transatlantic routes and extra flights on existing routes. As of September 1 next year, the airline will start a three-times weekly service to Miami and will also increase its Los Angeles flight to a daily service from summer 2017.

Khan reveals backing for Heathrow expansion legal challenge

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has revealed he will officially step in and support legal action taken by council against the Heathrow Third Runway decision. The Labour politician said that Transport for London (TfL) was preparing to join four Conservative councils in a combined High Court case against expansion of the west London terminal. Khan, who strongly backed the building of a second runway at Gatwick, told the London Assembly this week that he "would not stand by" and see residents "suffer increased air and noise pollution".

Conrad opens in Chicago

Conrad has opened a new hotel near Chicago’s Magnificent Mile shopping district. Located on Erie Street, the 20-storey hotel features 287 rooms including 24 suites and two “hospitality suites”. It also has 930 sqm of event and meeting space and ten meeting rooms. Other facilities include an American and Italian restaurant, with menus designed by celebrity chef Richard Sandoval. A Japanese restaurant, also developed by Sandoval, is set to open next summer.

Hilton rebrands Bristol property under Doubletree offering

Hilton has rebranded the Hilton Bristol under its Doubletree offering, following a renovation programme. The Doubletree by Hilton Bristol North is located off junction 16 of the M5, close to the M4/M5 interchange and the business parks of North Bristol, and around eight miles from the city centre. All 161 rooms have been refurbished, and the property also features a 24-hour gym, swimming pool, whirlpool, sauna, steam room, eight renovated meeting spaces, and outdoor courtyard, and Brunel’s Hat Restaurant specialising in local cuisine.

Alitalia facing a new crisis?

Alitalia was relaunched a couple of years ago with high expectations when Gulf carrier Etihad acquired a 49 per cent stake in Italy’s national airline and the plan was to return Alitalia to its former glory. But Italian media report that it hasn’t worked out that way and now Etihad is beginning to lose patience: later this month Alitalia is expected to announce cutbacks. Trade unions claim that as many as 2,000 jobs could be lost. On European routes it is understood that Alitalia will adopt BOB (buy on board) catering and between 15 and 20 of the carrier’s short-haul A320s could be retired.  There will be reductions in ground support to bring Alitalia’s cost structure more in line with its low-cost rivals and the airline is still expected to lose Euros 400 million this year while no improvement is expected in 2017.  And yet when Etihad became involved with Alitalia the forecast loss in 2016 was estimated at Euros 50 million.

Qantas introduces new virtual reality app

Australian carrier Qantas has launched a new app offering customers an interactive virtual reality (VR) experience of some of its Australian destinations. Videos that can be accessed prior to travelling to the destinations as the Qantas VR app is designed to offer a travellers a preview of what the country has to offer. Customers are also able to book tickets to featured destinations directly through the app.

Hyatt to open four Pakistan properties

Hyatt is about to open its first properties in Pakistan, with four hotels to be located in Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and Rawalpindi. The Grand Hyatt Islamabad is scheduled to open in 2023, and will feature 400 rooms, seven food and beverage outlets, two ballrooms, seven meeting rooms, a spa, fitness facilities. The hotel will also be the first internationally-branded golf resort in the country, and will be located off the Murree-Islamabad Expressway, around 30 minutes from Islamabad’s city centre and diplomatic area.

Corporate Traveler US and Freebird announce partnership

Clients of Corporate Traveler US are now able to rebook their disrupted flights in less than 30 seconds from a mobile device, thanks to a newly launched partnership with Freebird, a first-of-its-kind mobile rebooking tool. Freebird technology empowers travellers to skip the line by instantly rebooking tickets at no additional cost in the event of a flight disruption. Corporate Traveler customers that opt in to the Freebird service will receive automatic email or text message notifications if a flight is cancelled, delayed more than four hours or if there is a missed connection. From there, travellers are empowered to simply select a new flight from a list of available options, click, and book a new ticket instantly on any airline, at no additional cost, with just three taps on their phone.

Hong Kong Airlines and Etihad expand codeshare

The two airlines have obtained regulatory approval to codeshare on nine additional routes, bringing the total number of services in their codeshare agreement to 14 and giving air travellers enhanced connections between Australasia, Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America.