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Things to know abut travel this week
  • Things to know about travel this week
Travel Extra TV.

A video went viral of musicians Sheldon Thornhill and Sean Sullivan leading an impromptu sing-along of delayed passengers in the waiting area of Toronto’s Pearson Airport. Passengers awaiting a delayed flight to Newfoundland and Labrador belted out “Sweet Forget Me Not,” “Grey Foggy Day,” “Aunt Martha’s Sheep” and other folk classics.  Watch here.

  • A girl who has battled cancer achieved her dream of becoming a British Airways cabin crew member. Watch here.
  • Go behind the scenes as 1,800 runners take part in the Cork Runway Run here. Model Chanel Iman flies from New York to Abu Dhabi for an exclusive photoshoot to reveal Etihad‘s  new Grid Girls Uniform for the 2017 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Watch here.
  • Heathrow Airport‘s new Christmas bear ad is already being called a classic. Watch here. In a season of giving, Qantas explains how UNICEF donations can help children all over the world here.
  • Ryanair launched the “Great Christmas Giveaway” competition and fundraiser in aid of ISPCC Childline, its 2017 charity partner. Watch here. Tourism Ireland shows you the best of Ireland in just one minute. Watch here.
  • Watch here a video of a story featured by Travel Extra this week as Chargé d’affaires Reece Smyth pardons Dustin the Turkey in the US Ambassador’s Residence in Phoenix Park, Dublin ahead of Thanksgiving 2017.
Behind the headlines

The Grand Dame of Dublin hotels, The Gresham Hotel, has been a Spanish Lady – for a while now and is looking good for a 200-year-old, tbanks to a massive makeover. Bought for a reported €92m, it’s been rebranded as the Riu Plaza The Gresham. It’s only the second Riu Plaza property in Europe, after Berlin, but the offshoot of the family-run empire has a big footprint in the Americas, with Riu Plaza hotels in New York, Miami, Mexico and Panama. Ricardo Luque Ferrandez, Managing Director, Riu Hotels & Resorts, left the sunny climes of Miami Beach to launch the rebrand and spoke to Travel Extra here  Picture shows Ricardo Luque Ferrandez MD and Laura Malone, Director of Communications,  at the  relaunch.

In yet another bit of fallout from Brexit, Belfast and Derry may be banned from the European Capital of Culture competition as the European Commission maintains that they will be outside the EU after 2019, so will be ineligible for consideration. The cities launched a high-profile bid to secure the title for 2023 back in July by mayors of Belfast Nuala McAllister and Maoliosa McHugh of Derry.

Travel Trade

Visit USA hosted an agents’ appreciation night in Church on Dublin’s Mary Street during a week of Thanksgiving celebrations. Caroline Gallagher from the Travel Department won the big prize of the night – a fam trip place to Aer Lingus’ new destination, Seattle, while Caroline Mongey of FCM won a €150 prepaid Mastercard, courtesy of Hertz, who were partners for the night along with Experience Kissimmee and Francine Sheridan’s Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board. Catch the pictures from the night here or on Facebook here.

Irish visitor numbers to Cyprus have dwindled from 70,000 a year to 6,525 so far this year – which is itself up 69pc on last year. But Cobalt Air sees a chance to bring back the boom, it told invited agents and operators in Dublin, as it formally launched its year-round service from Dublin to Larnaca. The airline’s Irish executive, David Lee, told Travel Extra that it’s looking to expand next year from 2w to 3w. Bookings for agents here are handled by Paul Nolan’s APG. Full story here. Picture shows Paul Nolan, APG, and David Lee, Cobalt Air, with prize-winner John Spollen of Cassidy Travel. and connect to the album from the night here or on Facebook here.

Louth-born James Treacy, Senior PR Executive for Tourism Australia in Ireland, Britain and northern Europe, is to leave the tourism organisation. He said “It’s with great sadness that tomorrow is my last day at Tourism Australia. I’ll be heading to tour operator Abercrombie & Kent in a newly created PR & Comms Manager role, starting on December 1.” 

Nine years ago, Pamela Brownlee was told that she’d be crazy to open a travel agency as “everyone’s booking online nowadays”. Almost a decade on, and the Fly Away Travel boss is seen celebrating with staff Rachel Devers and Elma Ni Ghiollarnath at her agency in Mayo. 

Pre-tax profits at the main Irish arm of Hertz rose by 21pc to €15.6m last year. But revenues at Hertz Europe Service Centre Ltd fell from €62.72m to €60.63m.
Strange world

Mickey has a new rival – a penis-themed theme park in South Korea. Legend has it was built to keep the spirit of a fabled virgin happy, and Haesindang Park features 300 statues.

The airline whistleblower who exposed the actions of the Korean Air chairman’s daughter who forced a plane to return to its gate at JFK Airport in a tiff over macadamia nuts is suing her and the airline, accusing them of illegally demoting and ostracising him.

A group of Indian farmers say they woke up shocked to find that their chartered train had sped 160km in the wrong direction. They were travelling overnight to the western state of Maharashtra after taking part in a protest rally in Delhi. The railway firm denies the allegations.

The Swiss town of Albinen, located in the scenic canton of Valais, wants to pay people €21,461 each to move there. The town has just 240 residents.

Comic actor Sacha Baron Cohen offered to pay the fines for six Czech tourists who were  detained in Kazakhstan’s capital Astana for dressing up as his character Borat in mankinis.


NYC & Company launched a $15m campaign called ‘True York City’ which will pair iconic sights with a deep dive into local neighbourhoods and their unique experiences. To showcase the campaign a new website was launched at nycgo.com/famousoriginal

A bus driver died in a “complete inferno” after deciding to drive straight into boulders on a narrow mountain road to try to save his passengers, an inquest heard. British driver Maurice Wrightson had been driving down from French ski resort Alpe d’Huez with a coach full of resort staff in 2013 when the brakes failed and he took the full force of the crash.

Authorities in Rome have started classes for 750 taxi drivers to learn manners and English.

Caribbean nations hardest hit by twin Hurricanes will get more than $2bn to underwrite rebuilding efforts. At a donor conference held by the United Nations and regional organisation CARICOM, donor nations will give $1.3bn in aid and at least $1bn in loans and debt relief.

Food & Beverage

Breanagh Catering, which operates Copper Face Jacks on Dublin’s Harcourt Street, recorded pre-tax profits of €5.16m last year.

Conor Halpenny, a young chef mentored by Ross Lewis of Chapter One, won the Euro-Toques Young Chef of the Year competition presented by La Rousse Foods.

British pub chain owner Mitchell & Butlers – in which Irish horseracing names JP McManus and John Magnier have a combined 23,1pc stake – said Brexit and rising costs have created “unprecedented headwinds” for the pub industry.

Kevin Coppinger, who co-owns Corbett’s and Coppingers bar in Thurles with All Ireland winner Lar Corbett hit back at the storm over a Black Friday 99 cent pint promotion. He said pubs are being forced into cut-price promos to compete with cheap beer in big supermarket chains.

An Italian-themed restaurant is to open at the redeveloped Royal Hibernian Way off Dawson Street in Dublin 2.


Hotel owner and operator Tifco plans to add 60 bedrooms in a five-storey extension to its Crowne Plaza property near Dublin Airport.

The company which operates the Shelbourne Hotel on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green, Kennedy Wilson-owned KW Shelbourne Ops Ltd, recorded pre-tax profits of €3.9m last year.

Rugby coach Joe Schmidt lit up the Shelbourne Christmas tree, and greeted fans at the hotel during the week. Catch the album here on or Facebook here.

US President Donald Trump is feeling his own Trump Slump as average room rates have fallen by as much as 63pc in 12 of his 13 hotels. Hardest hit was Trump Las Vegas, according to  analysis by FairFX, the currency provider. The only one to see a rate rise? His property in Doonbeg, Co Clare.

The family of a small boy who died in an accident at an Atlanta hotel filed a lawsuit with Marriott International. The Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel is facing litigation after the five-year old became trapped in a revolving track at the popular 73rd floor Sun Dial revolving restaurant.

MGM Resorts, owners of the Las Vegas Mandalay Bay hotel from where a gunman shot dead 58 people, is being sued by more than 450 victims of Stephen Paddock.

Managing Director Bill Kelly reports that occupancy rates at the Kelly’s Resort Hotel in Rosslare hit 92pc last year. He was speaking after new accounts show that pretax profits increased from €688,261 in 2015 to €772,282 in 2016.

Ireland’s largest hotel operator, Dalata Hotel Group, is to extend its existing lease agreement on the Ballsbridge Hotel until at least October next year. There is then the option to extend the lease further up to March 2019.

Photo: Robbie Reynolds

And Dalata Hotels officially launched its own-brand coffee offering, called Red Bean Roastery. Alan Deller, General Manager of Clayton Hotel, Leopardstown, Dublin; Samuel Pezzaioli, Cafe Manager; and Pat McCann, CEO Dalata Hotels, are pictured at the opening of the standalone Red Bean Roastery Coffee Shop at the Clayton Hotel Leopardstown.

Hollywood boutique hotel The Standard plans to become America’s first hotel with its own lobby ‘pot shop‘ in a joint venture with a cannabis firm.

Glasgow Airport was closed temporarily after a towing vehicle hit a passenger plane getting ready for take-off. The incident happened in “freezing conditions” on Friday, November 24,  and involved a British Airways plane.

Builder John Sisk & Son is firm favourite to win a near €99m contract to build a hangar for Boeing that will house its  biggest aircraft at Gatwick Airport.

Monarch’s administrators have won their appeal against a British Court decision which prevented them from selling valuable take off and landing slots at Gatwick and Luton airports. EasyJet, IAG, Wizz Air and Norwegian Air Shuttle have all previously expressed an interest in buying the slots.

Domhnall Slatteru’s Dublin-based Avolon firmed up an order for 55 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft and 20 Boeing 737 MAX 10s, and said it may order 20 more, in a deal probably worth more than $4bn (€3.4bn).

Aer Lingus cabin crew have been hailed as “absolute professionals” online by passengers after “awful turbulence” affected a flight from Boston to Dublin on Tuesday, November 21..

Dozens of flights to and from Schiphol Airport were delayed or cancelled because of a technical problem with air traffic control systems.

State-owned airline Air China suspended flights between Beijing and North Korea due to a lack of demand,

Insurers have agreed to pay €81m to settle claims that security lapses led planes to be hijacked in the 9/11 attacks. The settlement on behalf of defendants including American Airlines and United Airlines was described in papers filed in Manhattan federal court.

Gatwick restated plans for a second runway after reporting that the six month period to the end of September was the busiest in its history with passenger numbers rising by 5.1pc to 26.4m.

Air France KLM defended its new GDS booking fee, conceding that two-thirds of the group’s seats are sold through travel agents. Jean-Marc Janaillac, Air France-KLM chief executive, said the airline was forced to impose a fee to maintain its position against leading rivals.

Berlin Brandenburg Airport, originally scheduled for 2011 had its opening date put back a SEVENTH time – this time to mid to late 2020.

British Airways was criticised in social media for a new boarding policy which will see passengers with the cheapest tickets forced to board last. The airline claimed the new policy, which is being introduced from next..

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Things you need to know about travel this week.
  • Tim Husbands jumps ship from Titanic to Westport House
  • Ireland wins best stand feature at upbeat WTM in London
  • Training the big concern at Let’s Talk Tourism
  • Dalata aims to be biggest hotel operator in key cities
  • Dublin ranked 7th of 17 European cities for tourism spend
  • Dublin Airport in cours for 29.6m 
  • Space man Chris Hafield visits Shannon
Travel Extra TV.

Taking your shoes off is one thing, socks is another – British Airways gauges public opinion of inflight etiqutette. (Watch here).

Etihad Airways is celebrating its 14th birthday. Watch here how the Abu Dhabi carrier has grown.

Qatar Airways is appealing for Open Skies to remain, maintaining air links to the United States. Watch here.

Tourism Ireland pays tribute to the capital’s historic buildings here.  

In what India TV describes as “yet another incident bringing embarrassment to the IndiGo Airlines”, its ground staff manhandled and dragged a passenger at Delhi Airport. Watch the report here.

It’s the airport where you can check in without talking to any staff. BBC News here reports on the new Terminal 4 at Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Behind the Headlines

Watch here Irish agents at WTM. Watch here Minister Brendan Griffin speaking at WTM, Watch here the Irish Stand at WTM, Picture shows Biddy Hughes of Westport House and Catherine Grennell-Whyte at the event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

TripAdvisor added badges to its peer review listings warning potential visitors to do additional research on hotels or resorts which “may put guests at risk” The badges are not intended to be punitive, say TripAdvisor, and have been added to for example hotels where cases of sexual assault have been reported.

Travel Trade

Northern Ireland’s largest independent tour operator Travel Solutions is offering ski holidays from British airports for the first time. The operator already offers charter flight-based ski packages from Belfast and from January it will also offer departures from Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Stansted to two Bulgarian ski resorts, Pamporovo and Borovets.

Pic – Paul Mealey

Insight Vacations hosted 35 travel professionals from the Canadian Automobile Association, all specialists in driving holidays. The group’s trip was supported by Tourism Ireland and Fáilte Ireland. The group is pictured outside Ashford Castle in Cong, Co Mayo, with Insight Vacations’ Dorothy Switalska (front, second right)

A man who lost his driving licence ouside a Flights Centre was pranked by a travel agent who sent him a letter saying he’d booked a first class trip to the Maldives, costing over £5,000. Will Armstrong saw the funny side after being told it was a joke.

Strange world

A Qatar Airways flight en route from Doha to Bali had to make an emergency landing after a female passenger found out her husband was cheating on her. The Iranian woman used his  fingerprint to unlock his phone while he was asleep. Flight attendants were unable to calm the woman as she repeatedly hit him, forcing a diversion to India.

An English travel firm has launched weekend breaks for women going through a divorce. Orchid City and Spas says divorce parties are the new craze that started in the US.

Facing debts of more than €13.6bn, the city of Rome is reported to be considering pocketing the coins lobbed into the Trevi Fountain.

The mayor of Venice has branded tourists who complained about being charged €526 for lunch in a restaurant close to St Mark’s Square as “cheapskates”.


Sandals Resorts International has responded angrily to claims by Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Brown that the resort group has been seeking to avoid its tax obligations. It called the remarks “vicious, sustained and defamatory” and it said Sandals Grande Antigua is the “most significant contributor to the economy”.

China has called on French authorities to take more action in protecting the safety of its visiting  nationals after another mass robbery in Paris. In the latest incident a group of 40 tourists were tear-gassed and robbed in a hotel car park.

  • Deutsche Bahn is to increase rail fares between Berlin and Munich by 13.6pc – but the new high-speed line plied by ICE Sprinter rains will cut journey times between the cities by two hours to just under four hours.
  • Travel site Cancun.com is offering a nice travel job – being the face of the brand for six months, and being paid $60,000 for your efforts, as well as VIP access to clubs and activities as well as all living expenses.
  • The UAE Foreign Ministry has advised Emiratis against travelling to Lebanon, whether from the UAE or other countries. It follows similar warnings from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain in cautioning against travel to Lebanon following the resignation of Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri and fears of renewed violence in the country.
  • Travel industry chiefs in Britain have said plans by local councillors for a London tourism tax would be disastrous.
Food & Beverage

Myles and Sharon Doyle, owners of The Porter House, Castlebridge, Wexford,

Myles and Sharon Doyle, owners of The Porter House, Castlebridge, Wexford, won both the National Irish Pub of the Year and Best Local Pub at the Irish Pub Awards held at the RDS in Dublin and attended by over 300 publicans. The awards are a joint venture between the Vintners Federation of Ireland and the Licensed Vintners Association. The winners were: Innovative Pub of the Year – The Roadside Tavern, Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare; Best Music Pub – Matt The Millers, Kilkenny City; Best Outdoor Space – The Terrace at Dinn Rí, Co. Carlow; Outstanding Customer Service – The Bog Road, Portlaoise, Co Laois; Best Tourist Pub – The Stag’s Head, Dublin; Pub Personality of the Year – Johnny Quilty, The Goat Bar & Grill, Clonskeagh, Dublin; Best Local Pub – The Porter House, Castlebridge, Co. Wexford; Best Food Pub – Mickey Finn’s, Redcross, Co. Wicklow. Connect to the album here.

Photo ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

With football fever building up in both rugby and football, probably the world’s best keeper turned up in Dublin. Carlsberg Ambassador Peter Schmeichel was promoting the Danish beer partnering with the FAI to give every Irish football fan in Copenhagen a free pass to the Carlsberg Experience and a free pint before the away playoff game against Denmark.

The owners of famous London restaurant The Ivy have been given the green light to open in Dublin at a location on the corner of Dawson Street and Molesworth Street.


Cathal Hughes, Tim Husbands, Owen Hughes and Harry Hughes at Westport House. Photo: Keith Heneghan

The Hughes Group, which run Westport House announced a high profile new CEO for the property – Tim Husbands, the Chief Executive of Titanic Belfast. Brothers Cathal, Owen and Harry Hughes of The Hughes Group have just completed the acquisition of the historic Westport House and estate from the Browne family. Last week Harry Hughes was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year.

Airbnb is reported to be among those interested in buying Wyndham Worldwide’s European holiday rental business. First-round bids are due this month for the travel company’s European home unit, which could fetch almost €1bn.

Demand for Dublin hotel rooms will need to increase by 15pc over the next five years if current profit and occupancy levels are to be maintained as extra capacity comes onto the market. That’s according to a new report by Crowe Horwath and Cushman & Wakefield which showed that about 4,000 new bedrooms are due to come on stream in Dublin over the next five years.

Michelle Hourican, ACCA Council Member, with Pat McCann of Dalata in Dublin, Photo: Mac Innes Photography

Dalata Hotel Group has told investors that it hopes to add an additional 8,000 bedrooms to its British portfolio over the next five to seven years in a bid to become the biggest operator of three- and four-star hotels in 20 British cities. CEO Pat McCann was speaking at a meeting of accountants in Dublin and said the Irish group has the edge over competitors across the water because of its decentralised structure. (Connect to the album here). He said  announcements this week, including plans to open a 300-bed hotel in Scotland and an investor day in London, are part of the company’s strategic approach to accelerate its expansion in Britain, It’s been reported that Dalata is aiming to take 10-15pc of the market in each of its 20 targeted cities, which include Liverpool, Edinburgh, Cambridge, York and Oxford.

Elena Baturina, Russia’s richest woman with a $1bn fotune, has another €1.5m in the bank this week from the Morrison Hotel after the Dublin property paid its owner a dividend in the booming Dublin market.

Pre-tax profits at Dublin’s Gibson Hotel fell by 60pc to €807,000 last year. But revenues at the hotel, bought in recent months by Dalata Hotel Group, rose 7pc to €15.39m.

The Radisson Blu hotel at Dublin Airport last year returned to profitability, with pre-tax profits of €737,393. Its owner, CG Hotels, said it intends to continue implementing a range of capital projects designed to enhance the 228-room property.

Castlegrove House, Co Donegal; Glenlo Abbey in Galway; Richard Corrigan’s Virginia Park Lodge, Co. Cavan; and Co Mayo’s Killadangan House are joining Ireland’s Blue Book of hotels, country house and restaurants next year. The new additions bring the total number of properties in the collection to 54, the highest since the Blue Book Association began in 1974.


Iberia Express is to extend its summer service from Cork Airport to Madrid Barajas, in total adding 5pc more seats for 2018. Full report here.

Ryanair is back servicing the Belfast International to London route – except it’ll be flying to Stansted instead of Gatwick. A new route to Malta from the North was also launched. Full report  here.

Hopes of interlining with Norwegian..

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John McKibben hosts travel trade guests at the Outreach Moldova event in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin

Things to know about travel this week
  • Dublin-lovin’ Celebrity will return for five MORE mini cruises in 2018
  • Irish Ferries wil have DAILY service to France in 2018 thanks to new ferry
  • Aer Lingus maps its A321 targets and could take TWELVE new aircraft 
  • Much ado about nothing, Ryanair keeps profit guidance and reports record pax
  • Adare opens its doors €50m later
  • Assessing the mood music at WTM in Excel
  • Agents’ chance to win a car is back with Blue Insurances
  • Conor McCarthy hires the first 48 of 150 new jobs at Dulbin aerospace
  • 3,000 pilots apply for 100 jobs at Aer Lingus
  • Climbing Uluru to be banned from October 2018. 
Travel Extra TV.


Aer Lingus, which has been supporting breast cancer research for the past three years, visits the Breast Cancer Research lab at the Lambe Institute for Translational Research in the National University of Ireland, Galway. Watch here.

Watch here as British Airways‘ Mexican-born pilot Andy Fonseca gives you a tour of its new 787-9 Dreamliner.

Watch the delivery ceremony of Emirates‘ milestone 100th Airbus A380 in Hamburg here.

Footage shows the disruption just one drone caused at Gatwick Airport in July. Watch here.

Airport authorities in Cologne didn’t see the funny side of it when a drunken tourist rode a baggage belt here.

Singapore Airlines is fighting back against the rise of the Middle Eastern carriers. Glimpse inside its latest business class cabin here.

Behind the Headlines

Adare Manor reopened after a 21-month €50m refurbishment, employing new staff at higher wage levels that has sent the entire industry into a spin. Adare, Ballyfin, and Ashsford, which also completed a €50m refurbishment last year, have projected Ireland into the luxury market at a new level. A new 42-bedroom wing brings the total number of bedrooms to 104, additions include a  350 capacity ballroom, a new La Mer spa, pool and relaxation area, boardroom and cinema. New walking trails and walled gardens have been added to the 842 acres of parkland.


The travel trade turned out to support Outreach Moldova, the charity for which John McKibbin is a director.  Watch video report here. Founder Suzanne O’Connell spoke about her life project in helping bring improvements to the decayed Moldovan orphanages she found 17 years ago, her speech featuring some harrowing footage (watch entire speech here), Hazel Messenger said an orphanage support “nanny” could be sponsored for a year for just €700m (watch here). Pictures shows Barry Walsh of Concorde/Joe Walsh Tours, John McKibbin of Getabed, Sandra Corkin and Julie-Anne Vaughan of Oasis Travel and Ciaran Mulligan of Blue Insurances at the Outreach Modlova event. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. See ORM website here.

A surprise from Ryanair’s annual results (see deocument), forward bookings are 2pc ahead of last year. Guidance remains unchanged despite flight cancellations, as signalled in earlier statements, Ryanair said that fewer than 100 captains and 190 first officers have left in the current year, slightly more turnover than previously.  It has recruited more than 700 pilots in the period and more than 900 since January and has 2,500 qualified pilot applicants.  It is recruiting 40-50 pilots per week for Dublin, Stansted and Madrid bases. Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry discussing the results on RTE Morning Ireland.

World Travel Market in London, the world’s second biggest travel trade event, kicks off tomorrow, with Brendan Griffin among 70 tourism ministers participating at the show’s various events. It is a good place to take stock of the industry mood for 2018, with some anxious faces among the star performers. Roger Dow of the US Travel Association will be speaking at the Colorado press breakfast on Monday.  Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry will be speaking at the Thailand event at lunch time Monday. Mark Henry of Tourism Ireland will be speaking on How to Build a Dream Content Team on Tuesday 16.45.

Michael Caslin’s 747 Travel has match tickets available for next weekend’s play-off between Denmark and Ireland in Copenhagen, as part of his packages from €489+taxes not including ticket price.

While the Department of Foreign Affairs was remaining low-key on the Catalan protests in Spain, the Irish Travel Agents Association was warning holidaymakers to avoid demonstrations in Barcelona. President Cormac Meehan and CEO Pat Dawson travelled to Spain to assess the situation. Full report here.

Following the worst terror attack since 9/11 in Manhattan, New York tourism chiefs are urging visitors not to cancel trips. The Halloween attack killed eight people, including six foreign tourists. Fred Dixon, president and CEO of NYC & Company said the organisation was “deeply saddened” by the attack, but added that he was “thankful and reassured by the swift actions of the NYPD and first responders”.

Travel Trade

Blue Insurances’ third win a car competition will run from November 2017 to November 2018 in in association with Toyota Sandyford. Every 5 policies sold each month automatically secures an entry into the monthly draw. Members of the Irish Travel Trade or Insurance Brokers can also avail of one bonus place at the Grand Final by visiting Toyota Sandyford and requesting a test drive using the code DontRenewUnlessItsBlue.  Each of the 12 monthly winners as well as the 1 bonus winner will get a mystery prize and be invited to the Grand Final in Dublin in December 2018 to compete for the Toyota Yaris Hybrid. See agent login. Picture shows Ciaran Mulligan (Blue Insurance) & Loughlin Murphy (Toyota Sandyford).

Pat Dawson and Cormac Meehan of the ITAA attended the fourth Summit of Travel Agencies Associations in Valencia. Picture shows Cormac Meehan, Mark Meader of the American Society of Travel Agents, and Pat Dawson, following a bilateral meeting at Regional Government Headquarters in Valencia.

Travel Centres conference 2017 in Mullingar next weekend will bring together 150 agency owners, managers, staff and suppliers. Speed-dating workshops on the Saturday will culminate in an online quiz to win €2,500, a raffle for a limited edition print by Graham Knuttel, Dress code on the Saturday will be fancy dress lookalikes, with music by a Freddie Mercury tribute band. Sponsors include Aer Lingus, Amadeus, Blue Insurance, Celebrity Cruises, Crystal Ski, Hertz, MSC Cruises, Intrepid Travel, Royal Caribbean, Travelport and Turkish Airlines.

Shannon Airport are headline Sponsor of the Worldchoice 2017 conference which will be on Saturday November 18th at the Radisson Blu hotel in GalwayCarol Anne O’Neill of Worldchoice said 80pc of members are located outside the Dublin area and 50pc of members are within the Shannon catchment area.  Declan Power said the opening of the M18 motorway means Shannon Airport is now even closer to the entire west of Ireland.

Hurtigruten and KLM hosted travel agents on a group trip to Norway, travelling on KLM City Hopper, via a hub tour highlighting facilities, amenities and transfer procedures at Schiphol. Before departing they overnighted at Scandic Neptun Hotel in Bergen, travelled  to the top of Mount Floyen via the Fløibanen funicular, visited the Hanseatic Museum, Bergen’s Aquarium and the Magic Ice Bar. They cruised north from Bergen on the newly refurbished MS Nordnorge, through Hjørundfjorden, Ålesund and Trondheim, from whence they returned. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

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Cathal Austin fo the Irish Mirror looking out from Rupea fortress in Transylvania on a group trip hosted by Blue Air

Things to know about travel this week.
  • Easyjet moves to Tegel to become Berlin’s biggest carrier
  • Drac-tac and Romania’s Transylvania problem
  • Great Northern bought by booking.com
  • Etihad host the trade
  • Paradores host a tapas night
  • Not enough check-in desks at T2
Travel Extra TV.

Watch here the cavalcade for Air Berlin’s last flight.

Former banker Joe Dowd‘s life changed when a life-changing brain injury in 2014 left him with severe physical and cognitive challenges. Watch here as he returns to the air on a flight from Heathrow to Dublin to visit friends and family, supported by British Airways.

 A South Australian man says he will never forget the screams of his teenage daughter as she was thrown into the air by a 4.5m great white shark in an attack the family says could have been straight out of  Jaws. Watch here as she is saved from death.

Aer Lingus‘s AerClub has had a bit of a baptism of fire. Now the airline is showing how to maximise value from your SuperValu shopping with the scheme. Watch here. 

While other airlines, such as Malyasian Airlines, are turning away from A380s, Emirates can’t get enough of them. Watch here as it gets ready to welcome the 100th into its fleet.

Etihad is now on Apple Pay. If you’re not a techie, find out more from the airline here. 

Fokker out: watch as KLM says farewell to an old friend and workhorse here.

Qantas appears to be happy with its new Dreamliners. Watch here as it introduces the onboard experience. It’s a new level in luxury – if you can afford it.

If you haven’t got the cash to splash on Qatar’s QSuite, you can always drool over it here.

Tourism Ireland hosted Australian model Erin Holland on a trip around Dublin. Watch here.  And with Lonely Planet raving over Northern Ireland, Tourism Ireland also takes us on a tour of the Causeway Coast here.

Behind the Headlines

Has Easyjet won the battle for Berlin? The Luton based carrier announced a deal to take over leases for 25 Air Berlin aircraft and gain access to Berlin Tegel Airport as the former second largest German airline was liquidated on Friday. It also has launched a recruitment campaign to attract about 1,000 of Air Berlin’s pilots and cabin crew. Ryanair has complained that Germany has illegally divvied up Air Berlin’s assets describing it as a stitch-up.

For the week that was in it, Paul Nolan of APG/Blue Air and the Romanian Tourist Board hosted a group of Irish travel writers in Bucharest and Transylvania to highlight the 3w route to Cluj, in Romania’s forest-and-nature region (2w in winter). The extent of the tourist board’s fang-toothed  (Hallowe’en?) dilemma became immediately apparent. To Drac or not to Drac? Although Clontarf’s own Bram Stoker had never visited Transylvania, he has turned it into an inadvertent tourist destination, judging from the souvenir shops. His information came from encounters with Transylvania specialist Emily Gerard (1849-1905), a friend of Lady Jane Wilde. Her folktale research was done in an area 600km away from Wallachia, where held sway Vlad Țepeș, the impaler and son of Vlad Dracul. Thanks to a tenuous connection with Vlad, the hilltop Bran Castle is now Romania’s top tourist attraction with 360,000 visitors a year, in a location en route from Bucharest to Romania’s most touristy city, Brasov. The village is lined with stalls selling Dracula memorabilia, not bad for a fictional character invented by a Dublin northsider. The writers visited a house in Sighișoara which also hosts a plaque claiming to be his birthplace, despite being built 200 years after his death. All the Drac-tac serves as a bit of a distraction from the real wonders of Transylvania, a spectacular natural park, UNESCO-listed fortified churches that are unique to the area, Saxon heritage cities, Gothic cathedrals from three religions, and stunning hilltop castles.  The food and red wine was tasty and, yes, the parting glass was sung. Watch here video report of trip. Picture shows the group on the battlemented walls of Brasov: Paul Nolan of APG, Radu Zaharie tour guide, Eleanor Goggin, Aileen Eglington, Cathal Austin, Declan Mescall, Jim Gallagher, Tom Sweeney and (front) Eoghan Corry. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook. Of course, regular Travel Extra readers wil know that Dracula is really from Co Derry. Watch here and leagan gaeilge anseo.

Fáilte Ireland’s tourism barometer found that, while overall industry sentiment is healthy, it is less positive than in recent years. Half of those surveyed in hospitality said British business is down, while two in five experienced a drop in visitors from the North, particularly evident in northern counties — Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Longford, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan, and Sligo.

Travel Trade

Overseas trips by Irish residents July to September was up 10.7pc to 2,495,000.

The first discussions on a venue for the Irish Travel Agents Association conference for 2018 have begun with Dubai the front runners. Celina Tavares’ achievement in hosting a successful ITAA conference in Oporto has been praised by the tourism board. Irish numbers to Portugal are up 11.6pc this year, Porto up 46.7pc, Central Portugal up 54.9pc, Lisbon up 12.4pc, Alentejo up 20.4pc and Algarve (from the highest base) up 9.1pc. Watch here video report of ITAA conference 2017, the agents. Watch here Cormac Meehan speech at the Vista Alegre Porcelain event at Ílhavo, Aveiro where ITAA delegates were hosted after the conference. Watch here Cormac Meehan speech at the close of conference activities in Ferreira centre on the banks of the Douro. Watch here ITAA presentation to Cathy Mannion. Watch here speech by Sandra Lorenz of Northern Portugal tourism, and Watch here speech by Silvia Ribau of Central Portugal tourism. Watch here Silvia Ribau theatre speech before a performance by father and son duo Fernando and Fernandito MeirelesWatch here video report of the travel trade visit to Central Portugal after the conference. Watch here video report of Travel Extra’s visit to Northern Portugal. Watch here visit to Fatima. Picture shows Celina Tavares of Visit Portugal Ireland, Antonio Padeira of Visit Portugal London and Raquel Carneiro. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Pat Dawson and Cormac Meehan are to attend the fourth summit of travel agencies associations in Valencia this week.

Bangor travel agent, Chandra Rowan of Feherty Travel won the Travel Consultant of the Year award at the Northern Ireland Travel Awards at the Slieve Donard Hotel in Newcastle, Co Down. Downe Travel won agency award and Doreen McKenzie was the lifetime achievement award winner. Tourist Information Centre 2015 ‐ Belfast Welcome Centre; Special Achievement Award 2015 – Uel Hoey; Outstanding Contribution  – Killyhevlin Hotel; Ni Visitor Attraction 2015 ‐ Seamus Heaney Homeplace; Travel Student Of The Year 2015 ‐ Lauren Willis; Travel Insurance Company – Blue Insurance; Luxury Cruise Line – Silversea; Specialist Cruise Line – Hurtigruten; Cruise Line – Royal Caribbean; Holiday Add‐Ons Or Car Hire Provider – Holiday Extras; Airline, Belfast City Airport – Aer Lingus; Airline, Belfast International Airport – Easyjet; Airline Worldwide – Emirates; Ferry Company – Stena Line; Accommodation Only Specialist – Room Team/Wtc; Travel Industry Internet Booking System – Jet2holidays; Worldwide Tour Operator – Gold Medal/Travel 2; Specialist Tour Operator – American Holidays; Luxury Tour Operator – If Only; Ski Operator – Topflight; Tour Operator To Europe – Jet2holidays; Tourist Board – Spanish Tourist Board; Travel Trade Manager/Representative Of The Year – Robert Wilson; Travel Marketing Initiative 2017 – Car Give Away Promotion, Blue; Insurance; Best Sales Support Team To Ni Travel Trade – Travel Solutions; Travel & Tourism Industry’s Roll Of Honour – Ciaran O’Hare; Travel Consultant Of The Year 2017 – Chandra Rowan; Multiple Retail Agency Branch 2017 – Thomson, Newry; Travel Industry Award 2017 – Doreen McKenzie; Travel Agent Of The Year – Downe Travel. Watch here video report of awards. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Patricia Kenny and Marian Benton of Map Travel hosted a Paradores tapas evening in the Royal College of Surgeons. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Winners of the first four places on the Topflight fam trip to Austria in December, Donna Kenny of  Cassidy Travel, Karen Armstrong of One World Travel Craigavon, Eleanor McGivern of Traveller Secrets and Katherina Murray of Dawson Travel. Topflight hosted travel agents on a ski trip to Kilternan. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Etihad hosted travel media and trade at separate events in House in Leeson St. Picture shows Shannon O’Dowd and Karen..

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Sergio Frau of Visit Benidorm with the Cross of Benidorm and sun setting over the city, September 22 2017

Things to know about travel this week
  • How Michael O’Leary rescued victory from disaster
  • So farewell then, Thomson become TUI but what happens Falcon?
  • Michael
Travel Extra TV.

TV ad as Falcon and Thomson get set to change to Tui - YouTube

The countdown is on to the rebranding of Falcon and Thomson to Tui. Watch the TV ad, above, or find out more from them here.

USA Today shows the power of yet another hurricane – this time Maria – as planes are left flipped over in Puerto Rico. Watch here.

Touchdown? Well almost. Watch here as a Eurowings A320 makes a very late go-around at Manchester Airport in England.

Singer Aled Jones checks out Belfast with Discover Ireland. Watch here.

Behind the Headlines

Striding purposely into a somewhat chaotic press briefing, Michael O’Leary (watch here) took on his critics head on after the decision to cancel 2pc of flights and declared  Ryanair will honour EU 261 commitments without quibble or question, ending speculation that they would try to get out of the payments by clipping extraordinary circumstances. He outlined the background to the decision to cancel flights (watch here), how cancellations raised alarm about rosters (watch here), and when punctuality fell from 90pc to 70pc Ryanair was forced to act (watch here). Ryanair expect to re-accommodate 80pc of flight cancellation (watch here) in flights on the same day (watch here). He said Ryanair will honour EU 261 commitments “without quibble or question” (watch here), flight cancellation customers will receive email (watch here), and most flight cancellations will be on trunk routes (watch here).

O’Leary delivered an apology to customers who were unnecessarily worried (watch here), and said the airline may have to increase crewing levels (watch here) and was seeking to allocate leave in blocks of two weeks instead of four weeks (watch here). “We need 150 pilots on standby, they had 30 to 40” (watch here). He said the flight cancellations unlikely to happen ever again (watch here), and the flight cancellation crisis is not the biggest cock up in Ryanair history (watch here), He is not calling for heads to roll over flight cancellations (watch here). There would be average of 48 cancellations per day (watch here).

He said they needed to move at weekend to avoid more flights being cancelled (watch here) and answered criticism about delays in taking the flights taken off sale (watch here) and the delay in publishing a full list of cancellations (watch here).

He argued that Ryanair has 4,200 pilots and does NOT have a pilot shortage (watch here), Ryanair incentives for direct entry captains includes a 10,000 signing on fee (watch here), Ryanair has recruited pilots from Norwegian as well as losing them (watch here) and Ryanair is not concerned about share price (watch here).

He did not expect the mess-up to affect the progress of AGB (watch here), declaring without a hint of irony “in Ryanair we hold up our hands when we mess up” (watch here).

On separate issues he dismissed speculation that the ECJ Mons decision would affect labour contracts (watch here), said Ryanair were no longer negotiating with Norwegian (watch here) and said he expected Ryanair to be one of 10 or 12 parties making binding offers for Alitalia, which would be made by December and take six months to assess (watch here). For full press conference (watch here). He said aircraft deliveries similar to last year (watch here). Ryanbair have already taken delivery of two aircraft have five due in October and five in November. Listen here to Travel Extra’s Eoghan Corry on the flight cancellations on the RTE Sean O’Rourke show. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Visit Benidorm hosted international travel media on an alternative Benidorm press trip. Picture show Sergio ray of Visit Benidorm and Eoghan Corry editor of Travel Extra eight metres underwater. It does not get any more alternative than that.. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Travel Trade

The Commission of Aviation Regulation has extended the deadline for submissions on the future of the licensing and bonding system until October 20. They have published a consultation paper and alongside this a detailed report. They also extended the deadline for the Travel Trade Licensing section of the Commission for Aviation Regulation (available here)

Clare Dunne of The Travel Broker

Clare Dunne‘s Travel Broker in Clontarf in Dublin is looking to hire a Customer Service/Sales Consultant to join the team here. Previous industry experience is desirable but not essential. A passion for travel and an enthusiastic ‘Can do will do’ attitude is a must. http://travelbroker.ie/jobs.aspx

Alana Byrne, from Newbridge Travel in Co Clare, is this week’s winner of the Classic Collection Holidays €100 voucher from M&s. The competition features on their agents’ Facebook page here and also on the TPG Travel Partners Group page.

Riviera Travel in Britain is now using Dublin Airport as a gateway to the US for its English and Scottish clients. The agency is offering flights from Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Bristol, Isle of Man and Leeds Bradford for its major tours. On some tours, there are also flights from Newcastle, Bristol, Gatwick and Heathrow.

The luxury long-haul travel agents were out in force to catch up with Sri Lankan Airlines’ Jeremy Soertsz and Sai Mahendran, plus Aviareps’ boss Paul Spencer and Ireland reps Eamon Flanagan and Jens Bachmann at Matt the Thresher, Dublin. Jens spoke of the all-Airbus carrier’s  connections from Ireland via Heathrow to Colombo or codeshare with Etihad Airways via Abu Dhabi. Its A330 long-haul aircraft offer 27 seats in business and 269 in economy, with wifi and GSM calling connectivity. Brendan Barry from East Cork travel won the night’s prize of two return tickets from Ireland to Sri Lanka. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Judy Coughlan, from Travel Cheaper

Turkish Airlines and the Tourism Authority of Thailand were on the road, visiting Belfast, Dublin and Cork, with places on their mega fam to Thailand and Vietnam up for grabs. See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

On the first night, Elaine Truesdale from Clubworld Travel (Lurgan office) was the first to win to join Turkish Airlines & Thailand Tourism’s office joint fam trip to Bangkok, Phuket and Ho Chi Min City in November.

Rhode Island

See more pictures here or connect with the album on Facebook.

Belfast’s other prize-winner was Linda Millar (Brayn Somers Travel) who won two return economy tickets to Phuket and 7 nights at Best Western Premier Bangtoa Beach Resort.

The Dublin roadshow saw Club Travel’s  Aoife Devine pick up the mega fam prize. Jay Farrell – Flight Centre won the two return tickets to Phuket and seven nights at Best Western Premier Bangtao Beach Resort, while Kathleen Kinane from Club Travel walked away with a giant model aircraft, and a last-minute additional prize of return trip to Thailand was won by Travelmood’s Olivia Byrne.

Emma Arnott, Tourism Authority of Thailand, and Turkish Airlines’ Onur Gul and Hasan Mutlu have their final roadshow winner in Dublin

In Cork, Judy Coughlan, from Travel Cheaper, won the mega spot while Meadbh Byrne, Trailfinders, won the return tickets and seven-night hotel prize. In Cork, Judy Coughlan, from Travel Cheaper, won the mega spot while Meadbh Byrne, Trailfinders, won the return tickets and seven-night hotel prize. Pictures from the Dublin event here.

When the sun’s beaming down here at home, you could forgive travel agents for praying for rain. But you can have too much of a good thing, and many in the industry have been worked hard looking after clients during the turbulent hurricane season. And there’s a lot to be said for  that personal touch, with Dave O’Grady of Donabate Travel taking a call from the Dominican Republic to make sure two of his clients got their taxi transfer back to the airport while he was at the SriLankan Airlines event.

Strange world

Glasgow airport is introducing a ‘Take Care of my Bear’ tag to be given out to any child travelling from the airport with a soft toy. And the airport is asking the travelling public to help reunite any found toys with their owners.


More than 75% of hotels across the Caribbean are operational and the vast majority of the region remains unaffected by the devastating hurricanes Irma and Maria.

That’s the message from the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, which has embarked on an awareness drive following high profile media coverage of the storm damage and some misperceptions that the entire region has been affected by the recent hurricanes.

For the first time the CHTA has produced a detailed information website, caribbeantourismupdate.com, for consumers and the travel trade alike to see which destinations and properties have been affected by an unprecedented season of hurricane activity.

Food & Beverage Hotels

Pre-tax profits at the hotel group that operates the five-star Hayfield Manor in Cork city and the four-star Killarney Royal hotel rose by over 50pc to €5.43m last year. Tripoint Investments Ltd is owned by the Scally family.


A new range of low fares for passenger carrying hand luggage only has been introduced by Air Malta.The Go-Light rates lead in at €39 one-way including all taxes. The new fare category is the first step being taken by Air Malta to become a “hybrid” airline.

Qantas’s first B787-9 Dreamliner has just rolled out of the paint shop ahead of its delivery to the airline and debut on domestic routes before flying its first international route from Melbourne to Los Angeles this December.

Afloat Ireland Deal Watch
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