Παρασκευή, 29 Απριλίου 2016

Dassault Aviation to present long range Falcon 900LX at the International Marrakech Air Show

SAINT-CLOUD, France - Dassault Aviation will present its long range Falcon 900LX at the fifth International Marrakech Air Show.

Dassault's front line Rafale fighter will also be featured at the show, which opened on 27 April, as part of a French Air Force exhibit.

The 4,750 nm (8,800 km) Falcon 900LX is the most advanced version of the proven and highly capable Falcon 900 trijet line, which has set records for reliability, versatility and fuel economy since it was first introduced. Equipped with advanced winglets that reduce drag and optimize climb performance, the Falcon 900LX can fly non-stop from Rabat to Dubai, Delhi or Washington, or from Marrakech to Johannesburg or Rio. It is the only jet in its class capable of landing with nearly a full fuel load enabling, for example, a takeoff from Rabat with a stop in Marrakech for additional passengers before continuing to intercontinental destinations without refueling.

Since it was first introduced, the Falcon 900 family has evolved into six different versions, the latest of which is the 900LX, certified in 2010. It is equipped with the most advanced equipment on the market, including Dassault's second-generation award winning EASy II flight deck and FalconCabin HD+ cabin management system. Its three engine configuration - unique to Dassault - offers improved runway performance and added safety margin when flying over oceans and hostile terrain.

"In addition to performance and cabin comfort, aircraft efficiency has become a decisive factor in choosing an executive jet," said Gilles Gautier, Vice President, Falcon Sales for Dassault Aviation. "And the Falcon 900LX is the most efficient business jet in its class, offering 40% better fuel economy than any competing aircraft."

Qualities like this, added to the legendary robustness of Falcon jets which are designed and built to the exacting standards of Dassault fighters, make them top performers in North Africa which has more than a dozen Falcon aircraft currently in operation.

"We are extremely bullish over prospects here," said Gautier. "With its buoyant agricultural and petrochemical sectors and fast growing financial industry, the regional market appears poised for solid long term growth."

Hilton Garden Inn Shines in Sunderland

SUNDERLAND, UK - Hilton Garden InnHilton Worldwide's (NYSE: HLT) upscale global brand of hotels, today announced the opening of Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland, located next to the Stadium of Light, home to Sunderland's Premier League football club.

Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland is managed by HMI Hospitality Management International and operated under a franchise agreement with Hilton Worldwide. The 141-room hotel is the brand's first property in the North of England.
"We are delighted to bring the Hilton Garden Inn brand to Sunderland, right next to the popular Stadium of Light. It is exciting to be situated so close to one of the UK's top sporting venues, catering to event goers, business travellers and football fans alike" said John Greenleaf, global head, Hilton Garden Inn. "The hotel joins more than 45 Hilton Garden Inns across Europe and offers guests a convenient and enjoyable place to stay."

Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland's close proximity to the Stadium of Light - one of the country's best sporting, events and conference venues - makes it an ideal location for both business and leisure travellers. It is the first hotel which is in immediate vicinity of the stadium, making it an attractive option for visitors, including those attending Beyonce's high profile performance at the venue in June.

The property is also within easy reach of major tourist attractions such as the Angel of the North, Sunderland Empire and Durham Cathedral, as well as major businesses, such as Nissan and its supply chain, EDF, Barclays, Nike and many more.

In addition, the Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland boasts the Karbon Grill Kitchen and Bar, a stylish and contemporary restaurant, serving a range of Pan-American cusine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, while The Pavilion Pantry is open 24 hours and features a complete selection of salty snacks, sweet treats, cold beverages and frozen items.
"The new Hilton Garden Inn is the perfect base for football fans attending matches at the Stadium of Light, business travellers attending a convention or meeting nearby or tourists visitng sites such as the National Glass Centre, Penshaw Monument, or the beaches of Roker and Seaburn" said Kim Kelso, general manager. "Thanks to the Karbon Grill Kitchen and Bar the hotel will also serve as a destination for discerning diners, looking for unique Pan-American cusine"

The hotel has conference facilities on site, with three dedicated meeting and event rooms each boasting natural daylight and space to accommodate up to 50 people. In addition, the conference and events facilities at the Stadium of Light, just next to the hotel, can cater for more than 1,000 people with a range of large rooms suitable for all manner of events, including weddings and corporate functions.Those who are organising and attending events at the Stadium of Light will be offered special hotel rates and benefits at Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland.
Hilton Garden Inn guests will see why Life's Better at the GardenTM through amenties and services offered at each location, including complimentary W-Fi throughout the hotel, 24-hour business centre, fully-equipped fitness centre, as well as use of the Olympic-size swimming pool adjacent to the hotel.
All guest rooms boast the brand's signature bedding featuring fresh, white duvets and crisp linens, as well as a spacious and clutter-free work desk with an ergonomic desk chair.
Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland participates in Hilton HHonors®, the only hotel loyalty program that allows members to earn Points & Miles® on the same stay and No Blackout Dates on reward stays. HHonors members always get our lowest price with our Best Price Guarantee, along with HHonors Points, digital check-in and no booking fees only when they book directly through Hilton.
Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland is located at Vaux Brewery Way, Sunderland, SR5 1SU.
 For more information or to make a booking, please visit Hilton Garden Inn Sunderland.

JetBlue expands services from New York to Boston and 5 Florida destinations

JetBlue launches new daily service between New York’s LaGuardia Airport and Boston's Logan International Airport and five popular Florida destinations.
Starting on Monday, October 31, 2016, JetBlue will offer six-times weekday service between LaGuardia Airport (LGA) and Logan International Airport (BOS). The airline will also offer two roundtrips on Saturdays and three roundtrips on Sundays. With the new route, JetBlue will operate flights between Boston and all three of New York City’s major airports, providing even more travel options for customers in both of the airline’s northeast focus cities. Seats are available for purchase beginning today with fares as low as $49 one-way.
The airline will also add frequencies between Newark and five of its most popular Florida destinations:
* Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL)
* Orlando International Airport (MCO)
* Tampa International Airport (TPA)
* Fort Myers’ Southwest Florida International Airport (RSW)
With two additional daily frequencies to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood and one additional daily frequency to each of the other Florida cities, JetBlue will now operate up to 30 daily flights out of Newark. The new schedule will begin Sunday, October 30, 2016 with seats on sale starting this Sunday, May 1, 2016

Aeromexico strengthens its presence in Guadalajara

GUADALAJARA, Mexico - Aeromexico, Mexico's global airline, was present at the 2016 edition of the Tianguis Turístico travel trade show where it announced its newest routes and flights to further enhance its domestic and international connectivity network.
The carrier's Director of Corporate Sales, Jorge Goytortua, announced the airline's ongoing growth plan for 2016, focused on its domestic network through its major hubs where it plans to multiply the number of flights connecting these destinations.
"Aeromexico has hubs in different cities, including the Guadalajara International Airport, currently our third largest hub in Mexico that served more than 1.3 million passengers in the second half of last year," said the Sales Director.
As a symbol of Aeromexico's commitment to its customers in the State of Jalisco, Goytortua noted that on June 1st, the carrier will start to serve the Cancun market with nonstop flights on board its modern AM Contigo AM B737-800 aircraft with 174 passenger seats, connecting passengers to its domestic and international destinations from cities like Fresno, Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Mexicali, among others. Customers will also be able to continue on their journey to Havana in Cuba from Cancun.     
He also announced that on July 1st, the carrier will start to serve the Guadalajara-Mérida route with a daily nonstop flight operated with Embraer 190 aircraft with 99 passenger seats, connecting to Chicago, Ontario, San Francisco, and Tijuana, among other destinations in Mexico and the United States.
Flight schedules for this new service are as follows:
AM 447 / 07:10 a.m. / 09:50 a.m. / Daily, except Tuesday

AM 448 / 02:02 p.m. / 02:32 p.m. / Daily, except Tuesday

AM 447 / 10:46 a.m. / 01:02 p.m. / Daily except Tuesday

AM 448 / 03:28 p.m. / 06:08 p.m. / Daily except Tuesday

AM 2107 / 07:10 a.m. / 09:35 a.m. / Daily

AM 2106 / 04:00 p.m. / 06:08 p.m. / Daily
*Times are published in local time and are subject to changes without notice.
Mr. Goytortua also spoke about the growing number of flights from the capital of the State of Jalisco, adding that "Starting on June 1st and July 1st, respectively, we will add a third and fourth daily flight to Tijuana, and starting on June 18th, we will add two weekly flights to Fresno for the summer season, for a total of six weekly flights to this destination."
The carrier will also add another weekly flight to Sacramento during the high season starting on June 21th for daily service to this Californian destination, thus reaffirming its commitment to strengthen its flight connections to benefit its customers. Aeromexico decided to announce its latest growth plans at this year's edition of the Tianguis Turístico travel trade show, recognized as one of the most important platforms to promote business and tourist activities in Mexico.

Etihad Holidays partners with AccorHotels

etihad holidays

Etihad Holidays, the leisure holiday division of Etihad Airways, has announced a new partnership with world leading hotel operator, AccorHotels, to provide an even greater choice of hotels for its guests.
Guests of Etihad Holidays will now be able to book flight inclusive packages and hotel stays with the knowledge that they are securing the best rate from AccorHotels’ extensive range of hotels.
The partnership with AccorHotels will give Etihad Holidays’ guests access to 12 additional hotel brands, ranging from luxury to budget, giving both business and leisure travelers alike more choice than ever before: High-end brands including Sofitel, Pullman and Grand Mercure; medium range brands such as the Novotel and Mercure; and budget brands including Ibis will be added as a result of the partnership.
Guests who book online through Etihad Holidays will enjoy instant confirmation of their booking, last-minute availability offers and best available rates across all room types, ensuring a real time booking experience.
Guests can find the latest breaking deals from Etihad Holidays by visiting www.etihadholidays.com or calling 800 2324.

Enjoy a unique experience during Istanbul Shopping Fest 2016

Istanbul which is one of the best destinations in the world for shopping, announced the dates for its annual shopping festival.
Istanbul Shopping Fest will be held 1-31 July 2016. During July 2016, Istanbul offers a vacation to remember with the marvelous joys of shopping. Travelers can enjoy unmatchable discounts of up to 70% on global luxury brands during the day, and take in the unique cultural aura of this wondrous city at night.
Istanbul, the only city to bring together the candid soul of the Orient with Western dynamism, presents the opportunity for a brand new vacation experience. You can go luxurious in one of Istanbul's 120 shopping centers, enjoy endless lively streets like Bağdat Street, İstiklal Street and Nişantaşı, or hunt for authentic, handmade items by local designers and craftsmen in less touristic parts of town.
For more information visit, http://istshopfest.com/en/

Tourisme Montréal kicks off a promising Summer tourist season

MONTRÉAL - Tourisme Montréal, in collaboration with its industry members, kicked off the 2016 summer tourist season on 22 April at the annual spring tourism fair. The organization is predicting a strong summer tourist season marked with an influx of travellers from the United States, Ontario and other regions of Québec.  
According to the Conference Board of Canada, the volume of tourists is expected to grow by approximately 2.9% overall in 2016. This growth is expected to be around 5.6% in 2017. So far this year, the number of international tourists entering at Québec borders has already increased by 13.6%. If the favourable economic environment persists, this growth should continue throughout the year, particularly this summer.
"Tourism is one of the major industries expected to continue growing in Québec through to 2020. The promising forecasts for 2016 and the excitement building around the city's 375th anniversary are winning conditions to make Montréal a leading international tourist destination," said Yves Lalumière, President and CEO of Tourisme Montréal.
A wide range of new summer attractions in Montréal
There's no doubt that Montréal is enjoying unprecedented momentum. With 2017 fast approaching, the city is actively refreshing its offer this year. On the agenda is the inauguration of an innovative new hotel this summer, the William Gray, and the opening of new attractions that will help Montréal stand out as a tourist destination. These include:
Montréal en histoires: Beginning in May, the Cité Mémoire project will transport visitors through Montréal's history by leading them along a technologically enhanced route through Old Montréal.
Au Sommet Place Ville Marie: This new viewpoint on Montréal will also feature an interactive and participative activity for visitors to take part in, based on 11 themes related to modern-day Montréal.
In addition, Montréal's top museums will offer visitors some very original programming. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts will feature the exhibition Toulouse-Lautrec illustrates the Belle Époque, and will also open a new Pavilion for Peace, featuring several works from the Michal et Renata Hornstein collection. Meanwhile, the Musée d'art contemporain will showcase works by Edmund Allen, while the McCord Museum hosts the Canadian premiere of Eleganza: Italian Fashion from 1945 to Today. Pointe-à-Callière Museum will present the Of Horses and Men — The Émile Hermès Collection, Paris for five months.
Summer tourism will be bolstered by the business travel and sports tourism sectors, as Montréal prepares to host several large-scale events and conferences, including the World Social Forum 2016 and Nacubo 2016. These two conferences alone will draw more than 50,000 delegates to the city this summer.
"I encourage our partners and members to become true ambassadors of the city as we work to make Montréal one of the most highly sought-after destinations on the planet," said Mr. Lalumière.

Choice Hotels International signs master development agreement to enter Middle East

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - Choice Hotels International, Inc., one of the largest hotel companies in the world, announced the signing of a master development agreement with Equinox Ventures Ltd, a joint venture between Equinox Group Ltd. and Al Tayyar Travel Group, to introduce and develop three of Choice's most prominent brands: ClarionComfort and Quality across the UAE and Saudi Arabia. This announcement, its fifth EMEA market portfolio expansion in the past six months, is part of Choice's strategy to continue to expand its brand internationally.
The Middle East travel industry is forecasted to rise to $98 billion by 2017, from $71.8 billion in 2014, according to Phocuswright. With an emerging middle class looking to travel both within the region and internationally, and an increase in inbound business, leisure travel and tourism, there is growing demand for mid-market and budget accommodations as well as a continued desire for upscale brands.
Shuja Zaidi, President of Dubai-based Equinox Group Ltd. said, "Currently, markets such as Dubai, Riyadh, Jeddah and Makkah are undersupplied in mid-market hotel accommodations, providing an opportunity for a strong hotel brand such as Choice to bring its portfolio to the market. We believe that the next wave of growth and expansion in our region belongs to the mid-market segment. To prepare for it, it was only natural that we partner up with one of the largest and most globally recognized brands with a portfolio that spans from mid- to upscale properties and can offer travelers what they need.
Abdullah Aldawood, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Altayyar Travel Group said, "Our cooperation with a global player like Choice will help us close the gap in our efforts to integrate all parts of our travel business. We had started with the acquisition and development of hospitality assets and asset management and are now ready to roll out globally recognized brands in the region, working closely with our partners to bring their expertise and regional knowledge."
The master development agreement is anticipated to deliver approximately 25 hotels and 8,000 hotel rooms for Choice's portfolio in the UAE and Saudi Arabia by 2021.
"We are delighted to sign this agreement with Equinox Group and Al Tayyar Travel Group that will help Choice establish a presence in the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and also offer a platform for rapid expansion. Drawing on their regional expertise and infrastructure, we are perfectly placed to provide travelers with the quality mid-market hotel accommodations they need, all backed by Choice's global hotel platform and brand reputation for value and service," said Mark Pearce, senior vice president, international division, for Choice Hotels.
This agreement is the fifth EMEA market portfolio expansion Choice has announced in the last six months, having signed agreements related to the co-branding of 19 properties in Germany, Austria and Hungary under the Comfort and Quality brands, and another deal to establish multiple hotels in Belgium. Choice is further growing its presence in Germany with two new Comfort brand hotels in Frankfurt and Düsseldorf, and recently launched its upscale Ascend Hotel Collection in the UK and France. 
Turkey is another strategically important market for Choice where it currently has three hotels in Istanbul and one in Kahramanmaras, and a growing development pipeline.

News in brief

GO Group announces service at 5 London airports
The GO Group, an international provider of airport ground transportation, has announced a new lower-cost private car service in London. The service is available at both major London airfields: Heathrow (LHR) and Gatwick (LGW) as well as its smaller airfields: London City Airport (LCY), Stansted (STN) and Luton (LTN). The service operates a fleet of Prius+ hybrids, which have been cited for their eco-friendly gas (petrol) consumption as well as low fuel emissions. Passengers will be met by English-speaking, uniformed drivers, all of whom have passed security background checks and have received extensive safety training. "The GO Group is extremely pleased to offer this new service in London," says President John C. McCarthy.  "Travelers can now enjoy the same safe, economic and reliable transportation that has become synonymous with The GO Group."

Caribbean resorts with best summer package deals
(Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

The CuisinArt Golf Resort & Spa; Westin Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach Resort & Spa; Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman; and Le Soleil d'Or are all featured in this compilation of resorts offering quality summer packages for travelers to the Caribbean.

UHD TV: Like nothing guests have seen
Ultrahigh-definition television presents an opportunity for hotels to top the viewing experience most guests experience at home, TV industry experts say. "Hotels have lost that position and this is an opportunity to recapture that," said Fred Crespo, Samsung hospitality group's director of technology and business development.

Royalton plans 4 openings in St. Lucia, Jamaica in early 2017
Jamaica and St. Lucia will be home to four Royalton Luxury Resorts early next year. "As Royalton Luxury Resorts is becoming an established and successful brand, we now have the ability to build these resorts from the ground up and consider every part of our guests’ experiences," said Jordi Belfort, managing director of Royalton parent company Blue Diamond Resorts.

Remarks of Tony Tyler at the European Aviation Club, Brussels

It’s been about four years since I addressed the European Aviation Club—shortly after I joined IATA. Thank you for the invitation to return to Brussels shortly before my retirement. The invitation is timely for another reason—the recent terror attacks. It was a horrific reminder that we live in a world in which some have an agenda of darkness.
Crises bring out the best in people. The citizens of Brussels, for example, demonstrated their fortitude with a quick return to normal.
I want to make special mention of our colleagues at Brussels Airlines, Brussels Airport and all the carriers who worked tirelessly to reconnect Europe’s capital to the world. Your impressive team effort has done our industry proud in demonstrating that terrorism will not defeat the values of a free and open society. And that is the best tribute that we can pay to the memories of the victims of that terrible day.
Crises can also be revealing in other ways. I must say that I was shocked and disappointed to see the European Commission’s (EC) communication the day after the attack. It reminded passengers of their rights under EU Regulation 261, for the flight disruptions caused by the terrorist bombings. At that time, the airport was not operational and heartbreaking recovery efforts were still underway.
Why was there no recognition of the extraordinary circumstances or the extreme efforts being made to resume services? How much more encouraging would it have been for the EC to have offered a simple reminder that patience by all would be needed in a situation where there was much uncertainty, severely damaged infrastructure and very few available options.
Of course we should not read too much into a single statement. But sadly, its adversarial tone too often appears in the relationship between European institutions and the air transport sector.
Air Transport in Europe
Air transport plays a critical role in Europe. It connects the continent from within—giving substance to the vision of European integration. It also connects the continent to the rest of the world. In both cases, vital economic and cultural links are created. And in doing so, aviation supports Europe’s competitiveness, 12 million European jobs and 4.1% of European GDP.
The EC’s publication of the European Aviation Strategy last December affirmed aviation’s vital role. Congratulations to all involved in achieving this powerful recognition for the first time. On many issues, however, I must say that the strategy seems satisfied with the status quo. Perhaps that is driven by the reality that the Commission is not the only regulator in Europe. Aligning all the needed institutions behind the strategy—including member states—will take significant cat-herding skills.
The risk is that the strategy becomes perceived as irrelevant or lacking in ambition. So it is important to demonstrate that the strategy is inspiring concrete actions. That will pay big dividends. Backed by the right strategic vision, the continent’s airlines are capable of delivering much more value to the European economy!
The European airline industry faces real challenges. In 2016 we see Europe’s airlines making a 4.3% net profit margin—or $8.80 per passenger. That’s an improvement, but Europe’s airlines still lag those in North America which are set to make a 9.5% margin or about $21.44 a passenger. While that’s an exceptional result for the airline industry, it is pretty much normal for other enterprises.
Financially healthy airlines are better able to contribute to Europe’s economy—building connectivity, investing in more modern fuel-efficient aircraft, improving service quality and so on. So it is important to close the gap by addressing the constraining factors facing Europe’s airlines.
Ask a European airline CEO what’s needed and you are likely to hear (1) reduce high taxes, (2) simplify and harmonize complex and onerous regulation and (3) improve infrastructure that is too often inefficient, costly and in short supply. In other words, they need Europe to become an easier place to do business.
That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Indeed the European Aviation Strategy recognizes these same challenges. But it is light on defining concrete solutions. For example, the word simplification does not appear even once in the document!
The industry has a role to play. Someone reading the strategy might be surprised that taxation hardly gets a mention, given how much we all complain about high taxes in Europe. But of course, taxation is dealt with by the EU member states, not Brussels. And EU rules align with global standards in exempting international aviation from VAT and fuel tax. The strategy committed to creating an inventory of European taxes and examining their impact. We welcome that. And with the aim of delivering concrete results, IATA will partner with the EC to make it happen.    
That activity will join the “to do” list for IATA’s Brussels team. Empowering aviation to achieve its full potential contribution to Europe needs industry-government cooperation across a broad spectrum. To illustrate, here’s a small sampling of our agenda in Brussels
 - Formalizing the 80/20 rule in slot regulation—one of the many developments that is being held-up by the UK-Spain dispute over Gibraltar
 - Reforming EU Regulation 261 on passenger rights so that it has a clear scope, is fair, reflects global principles and delivers real value to passengers. While waiting for this revision, which is also being held up by Gibraltar, we must make sure that interpretive guidelines do not go beyond their purpose by creating new law
 - Ensuring that member states implement the PNR directive using global standards for data collection
Establishing safety regulation for drones without reducing the available capacity of airspace
 - Achieving EU-level guidance on cyber security that member states apply uniformly
 - Expanding the network of one-stop security airports and promoting the risk-based approach to security
 - Monitoring member states’ implementation of the Package Travel Directive which prescribes that airlines need a “security” to protect passengers against their bankruptcy—a tricky one given that it contradicts DG Move’s very sensible determination that regulating airlines’ bankruptcy is not necessary, as the number of passengers involved is infinitesimal
 - And lastly, keeping Europe focused on a global approach to managing aviation’s environmental impact—including the European Aviation Safety Agency’s (EASA) as its role in environment evolves.
Don’t worry, I am not going to spoil your lunch by delving into a detailed discussion of each of these. IATA’s team in Brussels, led by Monique de Smet, Director for EU Affairs and Giancarlo Buono, Regional Director for Safety and Flight Operations, address these and other issues with the relevant stakeholders and decision-makers on a daily basis. My objective is to demonstrate the scope of issues where IATA’s expertise and global view is being tapped in the context of Europe.
I’ll focus the rest of my remarks on infrastructure and smarter regulation—areas addressed or intimated in the EC Strategy where I see particular potential to create value for Europe if we can make progress.
Airlines cannot function without infrastructure. Without airports and air traffic control we are, literally, going nowhere. And both must be cost-efficient and capable of accommodating demand.
Single European Sky
After decades of discussion, there is nothing that hasn’t already been said about the importance of a Single European Sky. Progress is frustratingly slow. I struggle to identify any since I last spoke to this audience. Over those four years, failure to achieve SES has cost European competitiveness at least EUR 20 billion and the environment has suffered many millions of tonnes of unnecessary carbon emissions.
We cannot change the past but we have a duty to shape the future. With that in mind, IATA commissioned a study on opportunities that airspace modernization would bring. Achieving the Single European Sky would make Europe a more prosperous place. If we look ahead to 2035, the boost to GDP would be EUR 245 billion in that year alone.
The impact of that on European lives would be significant. The EUR 245 billion would come from two sources. A million extra jobs would account for EUR 64 billion. And improved productivity would translate to a further EUR180 billion in new GDP. That comes from time saved, more connectivity options and lower costs from improved efficiency.
The study is comprehensive and available on our website if you want to examine the data. There is lots of it!
The potential impact on quality of employment in high value generating industries is particularly impressive. With airspace modernization we can expect employment in knowledge-intensive sectors to grow 1.3% faster in 2035 than otherwise. That would lead to faster annual growth for trade in services, increased R&D expenditure and more patent applications.
My message is that Europe will be a more prosperous place if we can achieve SES. The Commission clearly understands that. The stumbling blocks are the individual member states who are holding Europe to ransom with a misguided perception of what is in their national interest. The hope is that EUR 245 billion is a hard number to ignore. And I wish my IATA successor—Alexandre de Juniac—extreme stamina in reminding member states of what is at stake when they pander to self-interested, highly-compensated air traffic controllers. For too long they have isolated themselves from change—and the European economy can ill-afford to continue to pay the price.
Given that we are in Brussels where the controllers continue to thumb their noses at the efforts of everyone else to recover from last month’s terrorist attacks, I want to make one further point. It’s time to find a way to mitigate the devastating effects of ATC strikes. Let controllers strike if they want to, but we need to develop contingency arrangements that guarantee service continuity. When Belgian controllers suddenly and simultaneously all feel too ill to work there is no technical reason why other European ANSPs couldn’t do the job for them--with a little advance planning.
Before leaving the topic of infrastructure, I should make two points about airports.
The first is to express concern that Europe is falling behind in capacity. Eurocontrol estimates that by 2035 there will be a 12% shortfall in capacity. And I can see why. It is very difficult to build or expand airport infrastructure in Europe. Of the 168 slot-constrained airports in the world, 101 are in Europe.
Our study estimates that addressing airport capacity constraints will add nearly EUR 60 billion to Europe’s 2035 GDP. I don’t think that the European Aviation Strategy sufficiently recognizes what is at stake. It talks about efficiency gains, capacity management and incentives for under-utilized airports. These may have some minimal impact. But the only durable solution is to build.
There is no time to lose. Already there are lots of eager competitors in the Gulf or closer—such as Turkey—who are building big hubs. Their strategy is to make aviation a driving force in their economies. If Europe wants to realize the benefits of a competitive air transport sector, it needs to build airports—and do so with shorter timeframes than today.
The second point is on cost efficiency. Since 2000 we have seen airlines cut their non-fuel unit costs by about 40% while airport costs have increased by well-over a third. Europe recognized this problem in the Airport Charges Directive (ACD). Where the ACD has been implemented we have seen improvements with advances such as service level agreements, more effective user consultation and independent regulation.
Let me be clear. Airports and airlines are partners. The best relationships are where we consult transparently to agree on what kind of infrastructure needs to be built, at what cost and at what service levels. But it is not a partnership of equals. Airports are monopoly providers. With a few rare exceptions where market power assessments reveal that there is competition between airports, an independent regulator is needed to balance the airline/airport relationship. 
That delivered a breakthrough at Heathrow where charges were at last capped at 1.5% below annual inflation rates—this was meant to drive efficiency even while proceeding with agreed capital expenditure. All of Heathrow’s issues have not been magically solved, but it is significant progress. And it shows that we need tougher incentives for all EU member states to implement the Airport Charges Directive.
Smarter Regulation
And that brings me nicely to my second big message—which is the need for Smarter Regulation. Air transport is highly regulated. Regulation on safety has been a great success story. But we are far from being able to apply that statement universally across all forms of regulation. And the complexity of the European system makes it even more difficult.
EU 261 is the favorite unequivocal example of bad regulation in Europe. With the best of intentions, the Commission created a complex regulation on passenger rights. The European Parliament added even more complexity to it and increased the burden to industry. And the courts all over Europe continue to expand its scope with each new decision that they take.
The result is a regulation that goes far beyond its original intent. It adds considerable cost to the industry. The penalties are often disproportionate. It creates an atmosphere where airlines become the adversaries of their customers. It does nothing to solve any of the root causes of delays or cancellations. And I bet that if the authors of the regulation could see it now, they would have taken a different approach.
There is no recipe for perfect regulation, but we have worked with our members to formalize an approach to Smarter Regulation which includes principles like:
 - Making sure that the regulation is solving a real problem
 - Doing a rigorous cost/benefit analysis to understand its impact
 - Aligning with global standards
 - Making it simple and easy to implement
 - Focusing on desired outcomes—not prescriptive micro-management, and,
 - Most important of all, conduct thorough and sincere consultation with industry before drawing it up
None of this is rocket science. But it is a formula that is all too rarely followed. As a result, we spend as much time trying to amend ill-conceived regulations as we do trying to build useful ones. Again we see this in Regulation 261. Once a regulation is on the books, it becomes very difficult to control, let alone amend.
I have to say, however, that I was pleased we didn’t see a knee-jerk reaction on security regulations across Europe following the terrorist attack at the airport here.
Extending the security perimeter, as some have suggested, is not the solution. Look at what the pre-screening has done at Brussels Airport. It’s created large and dense crowds that could be targeted. Not to mention the huge inconvenience to people who want to travel. I experienced that myself last Friday. And I will experience it again this afternoon—likely in rain, but possibly in snow as well.
The focus surely has to be a return to normality as soon as possible. And by normality I mean ensuring that the airport doesn’t have artificial restrictions on its capacity just to reduce the queues. People want and need to travel. Normality means meeting that demand.
In the long-term we all know that an intelligence-powered, risk-based approach will keep us secure. The goal is to stop terrorists before they get to the airport.
It is reassuring to see Europe and other governments are also continuing to evolve the risk-based concept for what happens at the airport in consultation with industry through known traveler programs, one-stop security agreements and other initiatives. These focus resources where the risk is greatest. Of course we must always keep in mind the need for harmonization—a concept that is particularly relevant in this case as states expand PNR requirements. Security will be best served by one European standard followed by all its member states.
I believe that we are on the cusp of a great example of Smarter Regulation in another important area—managing aviation’s climate change impact. Later this year, governments will be asked to agree on a framework for a global market-based measure (GMBM) at the 39th ICAO Assembly.
Most governments – especially here in Europe – and industry are aligned. We share the same Four Pillar Strategy—of technology, operations, infrastructure and market based measures. And we are committed to the same targets, the most immediate of which is capping net CO2 emissions from 2020 with carbon-neutral growth. Global Market Based Measures form one pillar of the strategy and are essential to achieve carbon-neutral growth.
I am under no illusions that reaching agreement at ICAO will be easy. But I feel positive about the prospects of success. The industry is doing everything that it can to support success—including agreement on a global mandatory carbon offset scheme as the preferred option.
How does this fit with the Smarter Regulation model? Well, it’s solving a real problem. Offsetting creates real benefits through measurable reductions with the big advantage of being easy to implement with minimal cost. It is being pursued as a global standard. The industry is engaged in the discussion with the governments. And we are working together to solve a common challenge. So it ticks all the boxes for Smarter Regulation.
The industry is united. And I hope that we can count on Europe to be a positive force for agreement at ICAO. And I will go further. Europe has been instrumental in raising climate change on the global agenda. It needs to put some muscle into its fervor. Specifically, I will repeat the call to deliver the millions of tonnes of annual CO2 savings that the Single European Sky will generate. And Europe must also become much more of a driving force in making sustainable alternative fuels commercially viable.
Vision for the Future
As you may have heard me say, I believe that aviation is a force for good. I have been privileged to work in aviation for nearly four decades and to serve in the unique role of IATA’s Director General and CEO for five years. In all my travels and experiences, I have seen examples of aviation as a force for good in every corner of our planet. And, more importantly, I see enormous potential for it to deliver an even more positive impact.
These past five years have been challenging for Europe—economically and socially. In my interactions with the Commission, parliamentarians and national governments over that period, I have always been proud to advocate for aviation—because whatever we ask is ultimately mutually beneficial. Europe’s fortunes grow more positive with a strong aviation sector.
Aviation is important to Europe today. I believe that governments will gain tremendously by recognizing our common interests and paying even more attention to the sector’s needs. And by addressing infrastructure challenges, building a Smarter Regulatory framework and earning a license to grow from achieving its sustainability targets, there is nowhere to go but up for aviation—in Europe and globally.
Thank you.

Mobile travel transactions boom in the Middle East, language playing a significant role

At the new ATM Global Stage, Phocuswright’s Middle East analyst, Jeff Strachan, chaired an interactive event, at which regional analyst’s examined the latest consumer and technology trends driving the market.
Phocuswright, has revealed that mobile transactions from Middle East travellers are set to hit double digits for the first time ever in 2016 as consumers become increasingly comfortable using their handheld devices for travel purchases.
“Transactions from mobile devices are expected to cross 10% this year, reaching double digits for the first time in 2016, With exciting trends like ever-improving technology infrastructure and a young population with an appetite for travel, the Middle East region is poised for enormous growth in the next three years, both online and off; and companies need to stay ahead of the curve in order to remain competitive in the area,” said Strachan.
The latest round of Phocuswright research also highlights the growth in online penetration in the region, which is on track to hit 31% of total revenues in 2016, up from 25% in 2014 and 27% in 2015; with 19% of all revenues delivered online via supplier-direct websites, and 12% of all revenues emanating from online travel agencies (OTAs).
OTAs are also gaining hotel revenue share according to the data. In 2014, 56% of all OTA revenue was attributed to airlines; whilst in 2016, 46% is forecast to go to hotels, with airline share dropping to 52%.
“There’s been a huge surge in confidence in the security of online transactions in the Middle East in the last 12 months and, as more and more people across the region start to rely on their mobile devices as a speedy, secure and reliable way to get things done, this can only increase. From everyday transactions such as bill paying to bigger and more emotionally driven purchases such as hotel stays and holidays, online is rapidly replacing offline interaction,” said Nadege Noblet-Segers, Exhibition Manager, Arabian Travel Market.
According to Phocuswright, OTAs represent 75% of all online revenues to hotels, and 28% of all online bookings to airlines, who have a much better online direct performance (61% from website direct and 11% via mobile).
Online travel agency representatives including Stephen Ekbergh, Founder and CEO TravelStart; Mark Forrester, Managing Director, Occupancy Marketing; and Ross Veitch, Co-Founder & CEO, Wego Pte Ltd, highlighted the challenges and opportunities for online distribution in the region.
According to Phocuswright, key source markets including India and Saudi Arabia are making rapid movement to online travel transactions with language playing a significant role in search, particularly in Saudi Arabia where over 50% of hotel and air search terms are in Arabic language.
Understanding the Indian marketplace was examined in a single session with an executive interview with Indian online travel company, Ezeego. Its CEO & Director, Neelu Singh, shared insight into how Middle Eastern destinations can better get to grips with the requirements and interests of Indian tourists in order to drive inbound visitor numbers and increase spend.

Become a drone pilot with photography and filming skills

Drones are increasingly becoming integrated into contemporary life and are used for a wide range of industrial applications. For the filming and movie making industry however, the benefits of using a drone are extraordinary, with aerial film making fast becoming a respected and valued practice.
The UK’s leading training academy for drone piloting is extending their airborne offering this spring, as UAVAir announce the launch of their Aerial Video Editing course.
The innovative course is one of the first of its kind and for anyone wanting to get a step ahead the competition, it is set to prepare those who attend with invaluable and highly sought after skills in the developing filming industry. The course will take place Bourneville College in Birmingham on Saturday 28th May. Places are limited, so those interested in furthering their career are urged to sign up soon.
UAVAir has been giving pilots across the UK the skills and certifications required to fly an aerial vehicle safely and professionally for since 2015, and are further helping to expand the standard of the commercial drone industry with the addition of their new course.
Ben Keene, Operations Director commented “Many directors and production companies are impressed with the wide range of shots that using a drone can bring to them, however, employing a professional with the legal certifications and practical skills to do so can be difficult. We aim to help this sector thrive, by giving certified drone pilots the opportunity to learn a tangible skill that can see them further their airborne career and entering into this flourishing industry. Designed for those with limited or no knowledge of digital editing, our experts will make sure those who attend will leave the day with the capabilities of seeing a filming project through, from flight to final cut”.
The training course this May is instructed by leading industry professionals Lee O’Connell and Michael Surcombe who have honed their skills working on projects for respected organisations ranging from Apple Education to BBC News.
Find out more about the Aerial Video Editing course here: http://www.uav-air.com/aerial-video-editing-course/

Sheraton Hotels & Resorts designates Sheraton Los Angeles Downtown Hotel as “Sheraton Grand” property

STAMFORD, Conn. - Sheraton Hotels & Resorts announced the designation of Sheraton Los Angeles Hotel as a Sheraton Grand, welcoming it to the brand’s new premier tier of hotels recognized for their enticing destinations, distinguished designs, and excellence in service and guest experiences. Joining 23 other Sheraton Grand properties around the globe, Sheraton Grand Los Angeles recently completed an all-encompassing $75 million renovation, featuring a full refurbishment of all 496 guest rooms and suites, a complete refresh of the lobby and meeting spaces, and introduction of new dining experiences. Sheraton Grand is one of many initiatives currently underway for Sheraton 2020, a comprehensive plan designed to solidify Sheraton as a leading global hotel brand of choice, everywhere.
Sheraton Grand Los Angeles has become a shining star and wonderful representation of not only the Sheraton Grand tier, but of the brand itself,” said Dave Marr, Global Brand Leader, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts. “It’s exciting to see how this hotel has completely transformed, representing the Sheraton brand’s new elevated and customized approach to design, as well as its Sheraton 2020 efforts.
As part of the revitalization at The Bloc, a landmark mixed-use property in downtown, the Sheraton Grand Los Angeles has completed a $75M redesign, led by internationally renowned interior and product designer Colum McCartan of McCartan. With a top to bottom revitalization now complete, guests can enjoy completely updated guest rooms, featuring all of the Sheraton brand’s signature amenities and services, including a premium sleep experience. Glittering in golden hues with a 21st century interpretation of the local area’s art deco heritage, the lobby features a coffee shop by day where guests can relax and work, turned into a lobby bar by night that offers signature cocktails and the Sheraton brand’s new lobby bar menu, Paired. Guests can take in the sights of LA and enjoy the year-round warm weather on the rooftop deck, as well as dine at the hotel’s new restaurant District on the Bloc, featuring a menu inspired by the extraordinary sustainably-grown ingredients purveyed by local farmers. Sheraton Grand Los Angeles also offers Sheraton Club, the brand’s private club lounge that features exclusive amenities and personalized service.
It goes without saying that the hotel team and management put a lot of time and passion into elevating Sheraton Grand Los Angeles to become a true flagship property for the brand,” said Jonathan Litvack, General Manager of Sheraton Grand Los Angeles. “Downtown Los Angeles is going through a full resurgence with businesses flocking to the neighborhood, which is buzzing with new restaurants and retailers every day. It is important more than ever for our hotel to exceed guest expectations from both a design and service culture perspective.
Sheraton Grand Los Angeles offers a total of 30,000 square feet of meeting space, equipped with the latest technology and tools to ensure an ideal gathering, whether for business or leisure. The hotel boasts 26,000 square feet of newly renovated flexible indoor event space, including the 10,000 square feet California Ballroom, accommodating up to 900 guests. The hotel also features glamorous outdoor spaces with sweeping city views, unique fire features and cabanas, accommodating up to 200 guests.
A Clear Vision
Sheraton Grand is just one of many initiatives currently underway for Sheraton 2020, a comprehensive 10-point plan revealed in June 2015 designed to put Sheraton Hotels and Resorts firmly back into the global spotlight. A nod to the plan’s clear five year vision, Sheraton 2020 also includes a new multi-million Sheraton-focused marketing campaign; the launch of a new elevated food and beverage lobby program, Paired; continuous innovation of the Sheraton guest experience; an unwavering commitment to service excellence; the implementation of revenue and profit-driving initiatives to benefit owners and developers; and a goal of adding more than 150 new Sheraton hotels worldwide by 2020.