ROUND-UP:April 5-9, 2021
Qatar Airways operated the world’s first fully vaccinated flight; a new airline plans to debut at YTZ this fall; and several cruise lines announce summer re-start dates in non-US ports.
Qatar Airways operated the world’s first fully COVID-19 vaccinated flight on April 6. Designed to showcase the airline’s stringent health and safety measures, the special three-hour “flight to nowhere” departed from Hamad International Airport carrying only vaccinated crew and passengers onboard, with passengers also served by fully vaccinated staff at check-in.
Starting May 1, passengers travelling to Singapore will be able to use IATA Travel Pass to share their pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test results upon check-in with their airline, as well as on-arrival at the immigration checkpoints at Changi Airport. IATA advises that travellers intending to use the pass should check with the airline they are travelling with for eligibility.
Southwest Airlines plans to recall more than 2,700 flight attendants who took leaves of absence last year, the latest sign that the travel industry believes it is recovering from the pandemic. The recalls will take effect June 1.
Malta is reopening for tourism. Both vaccinated and unvaccinated tourists will be welcomed from June 1.
Carnival Cruise Line has extended its pause in all operations from US ports through June 30.
Start-up Connection Airlines, a division of Boston-based charter operator Waltzing Matilda Aviation (WMA), plans to begin operations in October (subject to regulatory approvals), connecting Toronto Billy Bishop City Airport (YTZ)with airports in the Northeast and Midwest United States using Q400 turboprop aircraft.
Alaska Airlines is officially a member of oneworld. The 89-year-old airline is the 14th full member of the global alliance, which includes American Airlines, British Airways and Cathay Pacific.
Emirates Skywards, the loyalty program of Emirates and flydubai, has rolled out an exclusive offer to help members fast-track to a higher tier status. Members can automatically earn double Tier Miles on all Emirates and flydubai flights booked by June 30 for travel through Dec. 30.
BY THE NUMBERS
Perhaps not surprisingly due to fewer planes flying, the total number of commercial airline accident decreased in 2020, according to IATA’s annual safety report. Last year, the total number of accidents decreased to 38 from 52 in 2019. Fatal accidents also decreased from eight in 2019 to five in 2020. The all-accident rate, however, was 1.71 accidents per million flights, higher than the five-year (2016-2020) average rate at 1.38. Total flight operations reduced by 53% to 22 million in 2020.
Through May 31, Transat’s “Here Comes the Sun” promo offers exclusive perks and rates starting at $899 on South packages between Sept. 1 and April 30, 2022. Amenities include reduced deposit of only $100; Price Drop Guarantee; the option to change travel dates, destination and/or hotel up to seven days before departure; the option to cancel the trip at no charge up to 25 days before departure; and final payment due 25 days before departure. Plus, travel agents earn five times the Bonbon rewards, which means $25 per room.
G Adventures reports the milestone of having conducted 100 trips since its operations restarted in September. G says the 100th trip departed April 2 in Costa Rica, one of 11 countries the small-group adventure operator has been able to run tours in since the global pandemic hit and destinations around the world began implementing changing entry requirements.
An unprecedented 46-night experience from AmaWaterways will take 144 guests through 14 European countries on four of the luxury river cruise line’s ships on an itinerary specially curated by the company’s president Rudi Schreiner. The journey, which combines segments on the Seine, Saone, Rhone, Moselle, and Danube rivers, sets sail June 1, 2023, with rates starting at US$25,999 p.p. Reservations are now open.
After eight years on the drawing board, the long-anticipated Spanish debut of Four Seasons is complete with the opening of the Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Madrid, a stunning restoration of a collection of seven historic buildings in the heart of the capital. Amenities include a new restaurant concept by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Dani Garcia featuring a year-round outdoor terrace, the city’s largest spa, and 3,700 meticulously restored historic artefacts juxtaposed with contemporary Spanish artworks and comfortable furnishings.
Québec first Marriott Autograph Collection hotel will debut this month with the opening of Hotel Humaniti Montréal. The sophisticated boutique property will include 193 rooms, an outdoor rooftop pool and terrace, multi-level fitness studio, and wellness spa. The boutique hotel’s flagship h3 restaurant and lounge will offer guests and visitors an avant-garde beverage program paired with elevated local cuisine. Billed as Montréal’s first ‘Smart Vertical Community,’ the lifestyle-oriented Hotel Humaniti complex also incorporates residential condominiums and commercial office spaces.
Sonesta Resorts Sint Maarten is offering up to 40% off all-inclusive rates with its “Spring into Summer” for bookings made through May 31 at the adults-only Sonesta Ocean Point Resort and the family-friendly Sonesta Maho Beach Resort, Casino & Spa. Use the booking code SPRING40. Travel must be completed by June 30. Meanwhile, the “Welcome to Wellbeing” package, for travel through Dec. 23, offers 45% off, plus a host of additional amenities.
After being docked since March 2020, due to the pandemic, Norwegian Cruise Line will return to service with new itineraries sailing Europe and The Caribbean beginning July 25. The cruise line will restart operations at a reduced capacity with Norwegian Jade, Joy and Gem as the first of its 17-ship fleet to welcome guests back on board. The former will sail seven-night itineraries in the Greek Islands out of Athens starting July 25; and week-long Caribbean itineraries will be available from Montego Bay, Jamaica as of Aug. 7 on Norwegian Joy, or from Punta Cana, Dominican Republic on Norwegian Gem beginning Aug. 15.
Viking will sail again this summer with a collection of initial itineraries around Bermuda and Iceland, as well as adding two additional cruises in the UK. All guests must be vaccinated to board.
Seabourn says it is developing plans with Greece to restart operations in the Mediterranean with a series of sailings operating round-trip out of Athens beginning July 3.
ATTRACTIONS & THEME PARKS
Visitors to the Walt Disney World can now remove their masks temporarily for outdoor photos. The change tweaks a requirement that all workers and visitors aged two and up wear masks except when they are actively eating or drinking, provided they are socially distanced and not moving about. The mask mandate includes those who already have been vaccinated.
FAMS & INCENTIVES
Goway has launched a revitalized agent loyalty program, GowayPro, which offers cash rewards for every sale made. Bronze-status members earn 0.25% on FIT and Groups bookings, as well as a flat $5 reward per passenger for air-only bookings. Through the tiered system, members can earn up to 1% on all FIT and Groups bookings. Membership status is determined by annual gross sales from the previous financial year (April 1-March 31). Once agents join the program, cash rewards are automatically added to their rewards card upon their client’s return date.
Registration has opened for the Caribbean Travel Marketplace. Slated for May 11-14, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA)-hosted event will be virtual this year. For more details about registering the 39th annual event, visit the website or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Farewell: Julia Dywelski has left her position as Canadian director of the German National Tourist Office citing “purely personal reasons” that see her moving back to Germany. A replacement for the position is being sought and until then, enquires should be sent to Samantha Carreira, email@example.com.
Operating since 2004, redtag.ca has unveiled a rebrand designed to focus on customized getaways and diverse product selection. Its new slogan, “See the World, Your Way,” and updated website encourage customers to plan dream future getaways by building custom trips with flights, hotels, vacation packages, cruises and car rentals anywhere in the world.
Yellowknife, NWT’s Top of the World Travel is celebrating 30 years. The Ensemble agency is marking the milestone with a campaign for the next 30 weeks that includes the introduction of a new website and various activities to reflect on its history, and express gratitude to clients and partners. “The majority of our customers reside in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut with most communities connected by air only. They have put their faith and trust in our team of travel advisors all these years. It is quite humbling actually,” says co-owner Susan Mercredi, adding that the anniversary has extra meaning “after the year we’ve all just experienced.”
Bolton, Ont.-based Sportscorp Travel has acquired Charrisma Travel Group effective April 1. The move is designed create growth opportunities while strengthening Sportscorp’s presence in the leisure market. Sportscorp was founded in 1981 specializes in sports group and corporate travel. The companies are Uniglobe partners and members of Ensemble.
The highest suspension bridges in Canada will be unveiled in May in Golden, BC, courtesy of attractions and hospitality experiences company Pursuit. The multi-season mountain experience will feature two expansive suspension bridges, sitting at 130 and 80 metres high respectively, connected by forested trails at the edge of two Canadian mountain ranges (Colombia and Rocky) and offering up dramatic 360-degree views of expansive alpine vistas, a roaring 61-m. waterfall, and mountain river in the deep canyon below. Located in southeast BC 90 minutes from Banff, the mountain town of Golden is surrounded by six Canadian national mountain parks.
Ford House, the historic estate of Edsel (son of Henry) and Eleanor Ford, will open its most significant expansion in over 90 years in May. The state-of-the art, environmentally friendly two-story Visitor Center will feature an exhibition and audio-visual experience, The Ford Family Story, and a dedicated space for travelling and rotating exhibitions. Located in Grosse Pointe Shores, northeast of Detroit, the scenic 35-hectare estate on the shores of Lake St. Clair features five historic buildings designed by Detroit architect Albert Kahn, including the 2,800-sq.-m., 60-room main home, and offers interpretive tours, family activities, lectures, exhibits, and gardens and grounds events.
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First published at Travel Industry Today