Weekly Travel Update December 9th

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Travel News 09 Dec 2016

For week ending December 9th

While we all get into the spirit of Christmas, the business travel industry keeps moving forward with lots of great hotel openings and airlines news: Marriott announced 28 new properties for 2017, low-cost carrier Norwegian will increase the number of flights between Gatwick and the US and LATAM launches Santiago-Melbourne service.. Read our weekly aggregation of the latest news relevant to all business travellers and travel related businesses!

Aer Lingus launches new loyalty programme

Aer Lingus has launched a new loyalty programme that will allow members to earn Avios, British Airways’ reward currency. The airline first released details of the new Aer Club scheme last year (see Aer Lingus joins Avios loyalty programme and now states that the scheme has now officially launched. Together with the ability to earn Avios, the airline’s introduction of Aer Club marks a move from a miles-based programme to a revenue-based programme, which rewards members based on the amount paid per ticket.

Norwegian to launch US flights from Edinburgh and Manchester

Norwegian will launch flights to the US from Edinburgh and Manchester next year, offering one-way fares as low as £135, and double its Gatwick long-haul services with flights to South America and Asia. The carrier also announced plans to launch transatlantic routes out of Cork, following the approval of its EU operating permit from the US Department of Transportation. Three years since the Scandinavian carrier made the application, routes between Cork and Shannon to Boston and New York in summer 2017. More details will be published when flights go on sale early next year.

Belfast regains its “New York” service

After the disappointment in Belfast last month when United announced the end of its long-standing New York service, Icelandair is stepping in to fill the gap. Whereas United operated non-stop with a B757 jet out of Belfast International, Icelandair will roster a Bombardier Q400 turbo-prop from the city’s close-in Harbour airport. However, Icelandair will not be flying non-stop. Instead it will mount a sixth-freedom operation (passengers carried by an airline of a third country but via its hub) with passengers offered connection via Reykjavik.

San Francisco airport recruits 'therapy pig'

LiLou, a Juliana-breed pig, has become a member of the airport’s ‘Wag Brigade’ team of pets and becomes the first known airport ‘therapy pig’ in the US, and promises to surprise passengers “with her winning personality, charming costumes, and painted nails”. LiLou loves performing tricks for her audience, and also visits several other facilities in San Francisco including senior citizen centres and hospitals, according to the airport. The SFO Wag Brigade has been bringing trained animals to the airport terminals for three years: “We have more than 300 dog, cat and rabbit volunteer teams, but LiLou is the first pig in our program,” said Dr Jennifer Henley, animal assisted therapy manager at San Francisco SPCA. “It’s wonderful to witness the surprise and delight that LiLou brings to people during therapy visits.”

JW Marriott set to open first Singapore property on December 15

JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach is set to open its doors next week on December 15. The hotel, which has been designed in collaboration with renowned French designer Philippe Starck, will be offering a total of 634 rooms with each room equipped with an IPTV entertainment system, high-speed fibre optic internet connectivity, up to seven USB sockets and a mobile wifi phone that functions anywhere within the property.

Norwegian to increase US services by over 50 per cent

Low-cost carrier Norwegian is to increase the number of flights between Gatwick and the US by 55 per cent next summer. The move will see the airline offer a total of 34 weekly long-haul flights from the London airport, up from 22.

LATAM to launch Santiago-Melbourne service

LATAM has announced a new non-stop service between Santiago and Melbourne, commencing October 5, 2017. The carrier will operate the route three times-weekly using a B787-9 aircraft configured for 220 seats in economy, 54 in Space + (premium economy) and 30 in Premium Business. The flight will be the longest in LATAM’s history, and the first non-stop service between the two cities.

Boeing B787-10 begins final assembly

Boeing has begun the final assembly of its B787-10 aircraft, ahead of its scheduled launch in 2018. The aircraft is the largest of the Boeing Dreamliner family and can accommodate up to 330 passengers in a two-class configuration. Final assembly will see “all major sections joined, interior and exterior components completed, power turned on and production tests begin” before an expected first flight in 2017. Singapore Airlines is the launch customer for the B787-10, with a scheduled delivery of 2018.

Malaysia Airlines offering 40 per cent off flight redemptions

Malaysia Airlines’ loyalty programme, Enrich, is offering members a discount of 40 per cent off miles for flight redemptions with up to 22 destinations in ASEAN, North Asia and China. The airline claims the campaign is designed to help its loyalty members better plan their 2017 travel to capitalise on upcoming long weekends and festivals. That said, the campaign runs until midnight (GMT +8) on December 13, 2016 but is valid only for travel until 31 March, 2017.

Plaza Premium Group to manage new Cathay Pacific Heathrow lounge

Hong Kong independent airport lounge company, Plaza Premium Group, has been appointed to manage Cathay Pacific’s reopened London Heathrow Terminal 3 lounge. Plaza Premium will provide hospitality, bar, catering, front-of-house and housekeeping services at the new Heathrow lounge. The collaboration follows a similar agreement between the group and the airline for the Cathay Pacific lounge at Vancouver International Airport, which opened in May this year. In addition to managing the Cathay lounge, Plaza Premium is set to open its own new lounges at Heathrow in Terminals 3, 4 and 5 next year, along with a new Aerotel transit hotel in a former office building attached to Terminal 3.

Marriott to open 28 luxury hotels in 2017

Marriott International is set to open 28 new luxury hotels across six brands in 2017. Just to name a few, Ritz-Carlton will be adding four new hotels in the next year, with openings due in Langkawi and Astana, the luxury boutique brand Edition is set to open hotels in Bangkok and Barcelona by the end of 2017, while JW Marriott will debut two new properties, the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver and the JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort and Spa in Vietnam..

Radisson opens Oakland airport hotel

Carlson Rezidor announces the opening of the Radisson Hotel Oakland airport. Located just two miles from Oakland International airport, the hotel features 266 rooms and suites, an outdoor swimming pool, 24-hour gym, business centre and gated parking.