ROUND-UP: March 13-17, 2023
Accusations and lawsuits flew last week from Flair Airlines after four of its planes were seized due to over-due lease payments; Canada Jetlines and Qatar Airways considered a collaboration; Brazil blamed Canada for its re-imposition of visas; China finally re-opened its borders to tourists; and a popular Canadian tourism figure announced her retirement.
Accusations, but not planes, were flying as Flair Airlines said that one of Canada’s top two airlines was trying to “kneecap” its operations after four of its planes were seized in a “commercial dispute” over overdue lease payments. The Irish lessor refuted the claims, and Flair sued, portending a legal battle to come.
Disgruntled air travellers will soon have an extra ear to hear their complaints thanks to additional funding from the federal government for the Canadian Transport Agency. Ottawa says the $75.9 million funding over three years, starting in 2023-24, will help strengthen passenger rights by giving the Agency additional resources to reduce the backlog of existing complaints, including hiring 200 more staff.
With Spring Break sprung and summer looming, the recent decision to cap flights and the number of travellers at Toronto Pearson fails both passengers and airport workers, said the union representing the latter. “The GTAA is punishing the travelling public by limiting flights and services as a band-aid solution to airport congestion, instead of fixing the problem by implementing common sense solutions to improve job quality and hire needed workers,” said Unifor national president Lana Payne.
The three-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak a pandemic on March 11, 2020, was marked. The death toll is nearing 7 million worldwide, and the United Nation’s health organization said it’s not yet ready to say the emergency has ended.
Blaming Canada (and other countries, including the US, UK, and Japan) for not offering reciprocal benefits, Brazil is re-imposing visa restrictions on Canadians, effective Oct. 1. The protocol had been dropped in 2019 by a previous regime in a bid to bolster the country’s tourism industry.
After a three-year halt during the COVID-19 pandemic, China reopened its borders to tourists and began resumed issuing all visas on March 15. China is one of the last major countries to reopen its borders to tourists and has been one of the most restrictive regimes in the world during the global health crisis. The announcement came after China declared a “decisive victory” over COVID-19 in February.
Japan dropped its request for people to wear masks after three years, but hardly anything changed in the country that has had an extremely high regard for their effectiveness at anti-virus protection.
Canada Jetlines reports it is in discussions with Qatar Airways to explore a potential collaboration between the two airlines that would give the Canadian carrier’s passengers access to the middle eastern airline’s flights to Doha (and beyond) from Toronto Pearson.
An expanded domestic summer schedule from Swoop will see new routes and capacity, including service between Hamilton and Charlottetown. The ULCC will also return service to Deer Lake, NL, with enhanced connectivity from southern Ontario, with flights operating six times weekly from Hamilton and Toronto. The carrier has announced new seasonal extensions, including flights from Edmonton and Abbotsford to Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos.
Lynx is adding Montreal to its network from June 5, taking the total number of North American destinations served by the airline to 15.
Air Moana, a new domestic airline in Tahiti, has taken flight with regular and direct flights to Tahiti, Bora Bora, Raiatea, Rangiroa, Moorea, Nuku Hiva, Hiva Oa and later this year, Tubuai and Rurutu.
The ‘Spring Sale’ from Transat and Air Transat offers travellers discounted rates up to 40% on flights to Europe, the South, the US, and Canada, as well as on South and Europe packages, for travel through Oct. 31 (exceptions apply). Booking deadline is April 3. In addition, travel agents get 3X BONBON per booking, that’s $3 per flight booking and $15 per package booking.
Through April 21, clients can take advantage of Seabourn’s “Alaska & Pacific Coast Canadian Resident Offer” with rates at par with the US dollar on 27 Alaska & British Columbia voyages in 2023. For even greater savings, Canadian residents can combine the offer with more than 20 other Seabourn promotions, including “Seabourn Club Savings” offering 5% savings on select sailings for Seabourn Club guests.
Twenty thousand new hotel rooms are needed in Metro Vancouver by 2050, with 10,000 of those new rooms necessary just in Vancouver, says a new study by Destination Vancouver. But special events, like the World Cup of soccer, will cause significant capacity problems as soon as 2026. If the supply of hotel rooms remains at current levels, demand will exceed supply by 2026 in the summer in the City of Vancouver; 2028: in the summer in the rest of Metro area; and 2040 every month of the year.
A new Alice in Wonderland-inspired hotel, The Tempus, is set to open on the grounds of Charlton Hall, north of Alnwick in the north of England. Each of the 15 bedrooms has been inspired by Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland with a nod to the estate’s existing accommodation. 2023 also marks 125 years since the death of the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.
Engaging in a little pre-St. Patrick’s Day promotion in Toronto at a recent event were Tourism Ireland’s Canada manager Sandra Moffatt and RIT (Royal Irish Tours) VP Conor Duffy (r), along with special guests John Kelly, CEO, McConnell’s Irish Whisky (c) and Michael Barton, regional director – Canada, Invest Northern Ireland.
Playa Hotels & Resorts has announced it will manage a new Wyndham resort in the Dominican Republic. The 404-room resort in Samaná will be renovated and rebranded as Wyndham Alltra Samaná, targeting the all-ages segment. The opening date of the rebranded resort is set for this summer. It will be the fourth Wyndham Alltra resort managed by Playa.
The all-suite and villa oceanfront resort Fairmont Kea Lani on Maui recently underwent an extensive renovation of all of its accommodations designed to highlight and promote the island’s cultural heritage. The enhancements are continuing in 2023, with the creation of an interactive Hawaiian cultural centre, new culinary venue, and a renewed lobby experience.
MSC Cruises has partnered with marine conservation charity ORCA to deliver a comprehensive ship strike mitigation program for the line’s deck officers to reduce the likelihood of collisions with whales, dolphins, and porpoises in oceans around the world. Bridge Officers aboard MSC Bellissima are the first to participate in the online training program.
Celebrity Cruises has launched a new content series spotlighting a wide range of game-changing leaders and crew members across its fleet, diving into their real-life stories and their extraordinary achievements. Called “The Tangerine Table,” each 10-minute episode will feature a small group of Celebrity officers or crew sharing their career journeys, the people and places that have inspired them along the way, and their lives at sea. Viewers can tune into the conversation and watch full episodes on both YouTube and Facebook.
Citing the early removal of the ice boom, Niagara City Cruises launched its season March 16 – its earliest opening day ever. Last year the boom was removed March 29. Cruises (from the Canadian side) will sail to the base of the Falls on weekends until March 31 when service goes daily.
Luxury specialists Travel Edge Network has launched a new “Champions” program that features a group of hand-selected advisors who will act as brand representatives and ambassadors for the luxury travel host agency network. The advisors, who represent diverse regions across Canada and the US. were chosen following an open call for applications. Canadian members of the inaugural Champions group include Ajay Karah – Plan A Travel Solutions, and Laura Kelley – Elsewhere by Laura.
Stéphanie Bishop is retiring after four decades in the travel industry, the last 15 years as managing director of the Globus family of brands’ in Canada. The popular Bishop is set to depart the company in May, leaving a new hand-selected leadership team to oversee Canada’s sales, marketing, and finances for Globus, Cosmos, and Avalon Waterways.
Dima Fahed has been promoted to business development representative at Transat. She joins the Ontario, Atlantic and Western sales team, effective March 20.
MSC Cruises Canada appointed travel industry veteran Tammy Thompson as BDM for Ontario and Atlantic Canada, based in Toronto. With over 20 years’ experience in tourism marketing and sales both nationally and internationally, Thompson lists Sunwing, Thomas Cook and the Cayman Islands DOT on her resumé, along with her most recent position as BDM for the Barcelo Hotel Group in the Canadian market. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Handa Travel announced that founder Inderjit Handa died on Jan. 26, three days before his 86th birthday. The well-known and active Ontario travel agent founded the company at a desk in a health food store in 1976 and turned the one-man operation into a chain serving customers in the Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto regions.
After over 35 years on Broadway and having won over 70 major theatre awards, The Phantom of the Opera (photo) is ending its run. The last performance is scheduled for April 16. Broadway Inbound notes that special discounts and promotions are still available to groups of 10-plus that want to see the show one last time.
LAST WEEK IN TRAVEL HISTORY
In 1944, the International Air Transport Authority (IATA) was created to regulate air traffic among nations.
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First published at Travel Industry Today