Wednesday 30 May 2018

THAILAND: SALA Chaweng Beach Resort Introduces 2-bedroom Presidential Oceanfront Pool Villa

SALA Chaweng Beach Resort has opened a 2-bedroom Presidential Oceanfront Pool Villa, a 286 square metre (sqm) private beachfront masterpiece.

The new luxury resort’s highest room category also features a 52 sqm private pool, steps from the sandy shores of north Chaweng beach, making it one of the largest private pools on offer within a resort on Koh Samui.

The infinity pool at the 2-bedroom Presidential Oceanfront Pool Villa runs the entire width of the 13.5-metre beach frontage and is framed by a 114 sqm wooden pool deck.

It is shaded by two ancient banyan trees that keep the extensive outdoor lounge and al fresco dining areas naturally cool.

Full-length glass windows along the front of the villa can be drawn open to blur distinction between outdoor and indoor living spaces.

Curved archways subtly define the interior spaces, and draw references to the curvature of the full moon, a lunar muse that inspired many of the design elements applied around the resort.

To follow this overall design thread, the designers handpicked all the lamps, sofa seats, bathtubs, and other decorative items.

A few steps up into the inner sanctum of the villa are two bright and airy bedrooms, each measuring a generous 25 sqm and featuring king-sized beds, walk-in wardrobe areas, and bathrooms with freestanding circular bathtubs.

The expansive 30 sqm master bathroom also comes with outdoor shower and bathtub options.

As part of the SALA Signature Selections, guests can choose from a variety of scents for bath soaps, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions and pillow types to fine-tune their bespoke experience.

The open design and stunning setting of the Oceanfront 2br Presidential Pool Villa lends itself perfectly to intimate weddings and exclusive gatherings for up to 25 guests.

Private events are fully catered by the resort, whether it’s a poolside BBQ birthday celebration in the afternoon or a sunset wedding cocktail reception and party on the expansive deck.

To ensure ample time for event setup, the villa must be booked as part of the event reservation for a maximum of six overnight guests following the event.

The 2-bedroom Presidential Oceanfront Pool Villa is part of the phase one launch of SALA Samui Chaweng Beach Resort.

The Oceanfront Wing comprises 52 pool villas and pool suites sized between 74 sqm and 304 sqm, featuring private pools between 18 sqm and 52 sqm in size.

Just in time for summer, a beach bar will open at the resort in July to complement THE TENT Beachfront Restaurant.

The second phase of SALA Samui Chaweng Beach will be completed in 2019 and will comprise 83 rooms, pool villas and pool suites, as well as the SALA Spa and SALA Gym.

A garden oasis swimming pool with inviting Garden Pool Bar, plus an open-air show kitchen with an exciting roadside restaurant and bar concept.

Rates for the 2-bedroom Presidential Oceanfront Pool Villa at SALA Chaweng Beach Resort start at THB 28,000 net (GBP 650 / AUD 1,165) per night.

Tourism Observer

INDIA: Jet Airways Probed Following Complaint Of Alleged Fraudulent Practices.

Markets regulator Sebi has sought information from Jet Airways following a complaint of alleged fraudulent practices.

In a filing to the stock exchanges today, the airline said last month the regulator sought views of the statutory auditors and the audit committee on certain allegations.

However, the carrier did not elaborate on the complaint.

The disclosure came in response to a clarification sought by the BSE on reports about alleged fraudulent practices by Jet Airways promoter Naresh Goyal and fall in its share prices.

Referring to the reports, the airline said similar allegations had earlier been communicated to it by Sebi in June 2016, based on a complaint received by the regulator.

The company had provided its response to Sebi in July 2016. No further communication was then received from Sebi in the matter, the filing said.

The airline said that in a communication on April 30, 2018, Sebi forwarded to the company another complaint received by it containing substantially similar allegations.

The regulator also sought the views and recommendations of the statutory auditors and the audit committee of the company on the same, it added.

The company has already taken necessary steps in this regard as directed by Sebi and is in communication with Sebi in the matter, the filing said.

There was no immediate response from a Jet Airways spokesperson on the issue.

After posting a Rs 1,036 crore loss in the three months ended March 2018 mainly due to high oil prices and weaker rupee, Jet Airways last week said that it may see a rise in debt for the next one or two quarters.

Shares of Jet Airways rose nearly 2 per cent to Rs 427.30 in late morning trade on the BSE.

Earlier this week, rating agency Icra lowered its credit ratings on Jet Airways' short-term and long-term loan facilities citing weakened financial performance as the airline is unable to pass on rise in jet fuel prices to the customers.

Tourism Observer

VIETNAM: Mandarin Oriental Inks Deal For New Hotel In Ho Chi Minh

Mandarin Oriental has signed a management contract for a new hotel in Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Vietnam.

Scheduled to open in 2020, the Mandarin Oriental, Saigon, will form part of Union Square Saigon, a commercial building in the heart of the city, that is currently under renovation.

The hotel will be situated on the upper floors of the mixed-use complex, which will also house a variety of international luxury retail outlets.

Mandarin Oriental, Saigon will comprise 227 guestrooms and suites, six restaurants and bars, a range of meeting and banqueting spaces, a fitness centre, a spa and an outdoor swimming pool.

Ho Chi Minh city is the leading commercial hub in Vietnam and at the heart of the country’s rapidly growing economy.

We are delighted to be opening a hotel in such a prime location in the city.

We look forward to working with our partners to create a world-class experience and to bringing Mandarin Oriental’s renowned level of service excellence to Vietnam for the first time, said James Riley, Group Chief Executive of Mandarin Oriental.

Mandarin Oriental, Saigon is adjacent to the Saigon Opera House and the People’s Committee Building and within walking distance of most of the key landmarks in the city.

Its position is ideal for guests wishing to enjoy the city’s vibrant dining and shopping areas.

Jonathan Au, General Director of Union Square Saigon, said, With its exceptional design, locale, history and culture, Union Square Saigon is destined to become a landmark destination.

We are delighted to welcome Mandarin Oriental to this project, which will not only raise the level of luxury hospitality in the city, but will also increase awareness of Vietnam internationally.

Tourism Observer

HONG KONG: Hong Kong Airlines Launches Flights to Moscow, Russia

Hong Kong Airlines has launched non-stop flights connecting Hong Kong with Moscow.

The new seasonal service, which will operate thrice weekly, marks the airline’s entry into Europe.

Hong Kong Airlines Vice Chairman Mr Tang King Shing said: Hong Kong Airlines is proud to be the only Hong Kong based carrier operating a direct service to Moscow.

Hong Kong and Russia have enjoyed a strong bilateral partnership as seen in the visa-free arrangements for travel between the two destinations.

Our new service will provide more choice and greater convenience as more travellers look to Russia for a holiday getaway.

The internationally-acclaimed full-service airline Hong Kong Airlines announced that it will add frequency of its flight service to Osaka to two flights daily and that to Sapporo to one flight daily.

The arrangement is believed to meet the growing travel and trade demand between Hong Kong and the two cities, further strengthening the airline’s network in Japan.

Mr. Li Dianchun, Chief Commercial Officer of Hong Kong Airlines, said, The Japan destinations have been quite popular among Hong Kong Airlines’ passengers.

Satisfying response has been received since the commencement of flight service to Sapporo and Osaka in December, in view of which we have been proactively exploring to add frequency to these routes so as to meet the travel demand of our passengers.

In addition, Hong Kong Airlines will launch its flight service to Yonago soon on 14 September, bringing more travel choices for the passengers.

Hong Kong Airlines currently flies to over 30 destinations in the Asia-Pacific region. With the upcoming flight service to Yonago and the additional flight service to Osaka and Sapporo, by then Hong Kong Airlines will operate a total of 60 weekly flights.

The flights between Hong Kong and Japan, including two daily flights to Okinawa, Tokyo and Osaka respectively, one daily flight to Sapporo and five-time weekly service to Kagoshima, as well as twice-weekly flights to Miyazaki, Okayama and Yonago respectively.

Hong Kong Airlines will then have 8 flight destinations in Japan, which represents a further upgrade of its destination network in the country.

Established in 2006, Hong Kong Airlines is a full-service airline firmly rooted in Hong Kong with a wide destination network covering over 30 major cities across the Asia Pacific region, including Gold Coast, Beijing, Shanghai, Taipei, Tokyo, Sapporo, Bangkok, Bali and Okinawa.

The current operating fleet is made up of 32 Airbus aircraft with an average age of around 3.9 years, consisting of 27 passenger aircraft and five freighters, being one of the youngest fleet in the world.

Hong Kong Airlines has been awarded the internationally acclaimed 4-star rating from Skytrax since 2011.

Adhering to the concept of Fresh and Very Hong Kong, Hong Kong Airlines is committed to Bringing Greater Journeys Sky High, and is dedicated to providing a pleasant and enjoyable journey to all passengers.

Hong Kong Airlines Ltd, IATA: HX is an airline based in Hong Kong, with its headquarters in the Tung Chung district and its main hub at Hong Kong International Airport.

It was established in 2006 as a member of the HNA Group.

Hong Kong Airlines’ growing network currently covers over 30 cities regionally, including the Gold Coast, Auckland, Beijing, Shanghai, Bangkok, Bali, Taipei, Seoul, Tokyo, Sapporo and Okinawa.

And the newly launched Vancouver and Los Angeles routes in 2017. The airline has a combined fleet of 35 aircraft. The current passenger fleet has 31 aircraft with an average age of about 5 years as of September 2017.

Hong Kong Airlines codeshares with the following airlines:

- Asiana Airlines

- Air Astana

- Air India

- Air Mauritius

- Bangkok Airways

- China Eastern Airlines

- Etihad Airways

- EVA Air

- Fiji Airways

- Garuda Indonesia

- Grand China Air

- Hainan Airlines

- Jet Airways

- Kenya Airways

- Royal Brunei Airlines

- Shanghai Airlines

- Virgin Australia

Tourism Observer

CHINA: Air China To Start Flying Beijing To Hanoi 1st June 2018

Air China will launch a new service between Beijing and Hanoi on 1 June 2018.

The non-stop route will enable passengers to travel from Beijing to Vietnam's charming capital city in just four hours.

The new route between Beijing and Hanoi will be operated under flight numbers CA741/742 four times a week, on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays.

Outbound flights will depart from Beijing at 01:25 and arrive in Hanoi at 04:15 while inbound flights will depart from Hanoi at 05:45 and arrive in Beijing at 10:25.

Founded over 1,000 years ago, Hanoi has a long and complex history reflected in its eclectic range of architectural styles, including its French colonial buildings.

As well as the Neo-Gothic Hanoi Cathedral and the countless Chinese temples and pagodas that can be spotted throughout the city.

In 2017, bilateral trade between China and Vietnam surpassed USD 100 billion for the first time, while China remained Vietnam's largest trade partner for the 13th consecutive year.

According to the General Statistics Office of Vietnam, Chinese holidaymakers made over 4 million trips to Vietnam in 2017, an increase of 48.6% over the previous year.

Air China Limited is the flag carrier and one of the major airlines of the People's Republic of China, with its headquarters in Shunyi District, Beijing.

Air China's flight operations are based at Beijing Capital International Airport.

In 2015, the airline carried 90 million domestic and international passengers with an average load factor of 80%.

Air China was established and commenced operations on 1 July 1988.

This as a result of the Chinese government's decision in late 1987 to split the operating divisions of Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) into six separate airlines.

- Air China

- China Eastern

- China Southern

- China Northern

- China Southwest

- China Northwest

Air China was given chief responsibility for intercontinental flights and took over the CAAC's long haul aircraft Boeing 747s, 767s, and 707s and routes.

In January 2001, the former CAAC's ten airlines agreed on a merger plan, according to which Air China was to acquire China Southwest Airlines.

Before this acquisition, Air China was the country's fourth largest domestic airline. The merger created a group with assets of 56 billion Yuan (USD $8.63 billion), and a fleet of 118 aircraft.

In October 2002, Air China consolidated with the China National Aviation Holding and China Southwest Airlines.

On 15 December 2004, Air China was successfully listed on the Hong Kong and London Stock Exchanges.

In 2006, Air China signed an agreement to join the Star Alliance. It became a member of the alliance on 12 December 2007 alongside Shanghai Airlines.

In July 2009, Air China acquired $19.3 million of shares from its troubled subsidiary Air Macau, lifting its stake in the carrier from 51% to 80.9%.

One month later, Air China spent HK$6.3 billion (USD $813 million) to raise its stake in Cathay Pacific from 17.5% to 30%, expanding its presence in Hong Kong.

In April 2010, Air China completed the increase of shareholdings in Shenzhen Airlines and became the controlling shareholder of Shenzhen Airlines.

This allowing Air China to further enhance its position in Beijing, Chengdu, and Shanghai as well as achieve a more balanced domestic network.

On 2 December 2010, Air China received Spain's highest tourism industry award, the Plaque for Tourist Merit.

Air China was the first foreign airline to receive the award, which is given to organisations and individuals contributing to the Spanish tourism industry.

On 23 December 2010, Air China became the first Chinese airline to offer combined tickets that include domestic flights and shuttle bus services to nearby cities.

The first combined flight-shuttle bus ticket connected Tianjin via shuttle bus with domestic flights passing through Beijing.

Air China began offering free Wi-Fi internet service on board its aircraft on 15 November 2011, making it the first Chinese carrier to offer this service.

However reported by users, the service is not allowed on smartphones, only tablets and laptops.

In 2012, after pressure from PETA, Air China stated that it would no longer transport monkeys to laboratories. PETA welcomed the airline’s announcement.

On July 3, 2013 in time for the company's 25th anniversary, Air China successfully tested Wireless LAN in flight. It was the first global satellite Internet flight in Mainland China.

In early 2015 it was announced that the airline had selected the Boeing 737 Next Generation and 737 MAX for its fleet renewal programme of 60 aircraft.

The deal, with a value of over $6 billion at current list prices, has yet to be finalized.

The entity Air China Limited was registered in 2003, and its shares began trading in Hong Kong and London on December 15, 2004.

Originally the airline corporate entity was Air China International, which was founded 2002 Air China International incorporated China Southwest Airlines and the air transportation services of the China National Aviation Corporation, becoming a new entity.

The Air China HQ Building the corporate headquarters, is located in Zone A of the Tianzhu Airport Industrial Zone in Shunyi District, Beijing.

The company registered office is on the ninth floor of the Blue Sky Mansion, also in Zone A of the Tianzhu Airport Industrial Zone.

The enterprise logo of Air China consists of an artistic phoenix pattern, the name of the airline written in calligraphy by former national leader Deng Xiaoping, and "AIR CHINA" in English.

The phoenix logo is also the artistic transfiguration of the word "VIP". Air China is a member of Star Alliance.

Air China is primarily based in its hub of Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA:PEK), where it operates numerous long range aircraft on routes to North America, Europe, South America, Africa and Australia.

Its fleet is made up of an assortment of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, including: Boeing 737's, Boeing 777's, Boeing 747's, Boeing 787's along with Airbus A319's, Airbus A320's, Airbus A321's and Airbus A330's.

Air China also operates a second hub in Chengdu International Airport, where it primarily flies domestic routes.

Air China's route network extends throughout Asia to the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America from its hubs at Beijing Capital International Airport and Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.

It also currently reaches a significant number of Asian, Australian and European destinations from Shanghai. Some international routes operate from Chengdu, Chongqing, Dalian, Hangzhou, Kunming and Xiamen.

It is one of the few world airlines that fly to all six inhabitable continents.

On 10 December 2006, Air China began serving its first South American destination, Sao Paulo-Guarulhos via Madrid-Barajas. This was the airline's longest direct flight.

The service was initiated with a Boeing 767-300ER, but due to increased demand, the service has been upgraded to an Airbus A330-200.

Regular flights between Mainland China (PRC) and Taiwan (ROC) started in July 2009.

Due to the political status of Taiwan, all Air China airframes that operate flights to and from Taiwan are required to cover the flag of the People's Republic of China on the fuselage.

This including a number of Airbus A320s, A330s, A340s, Boeing 777-200s, and Boeing 747-400BDSFs.

Air China introduced its new Airbus A330-300 to long-haul operations beginning with services to Düsseldorf, Germany in summer 2011.

These aircraft provided the same two-class cabin standard as the Airbus A330-200 except that the economy cabin had no seat-back entertainment system installed with the exception of the first two economy rows which also had increased legroom.

Dusseldorf is now the third German destination on the Air China network. The airline launched a new Beijing-Milan-Malpensa service on 15 June 2011, complementing the airline's existing service to Milan from Shanghai.

Deliveries of the carrier's 19 new Boeing 777-300ERs commenced in mid-2011, with the aircraft forming the new backbone of its future longhaul operations.

The new Boeing 777-300ERs replaced the Boeing 747–400s on routes to U.S. destinations such as Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco, but was expected to first enter service on flights to Paris from March 2012.

The Boeing 777-300ER began to replace most 747 service once sufficient numbers entered the fleet.

Air China expanded its operations in India with a Beijing-Mumbai route begun in September 2011, while the existing Delhi route was upgraded to the A330.

The airline also launched service to Mumbai from Chengdu on 2 May 2012. The airline began using the Boeing 777-300ER on one of its two daily Beijing-Los Angeles flights on 1 February 2012.

Beginning in late-2012 to early 2013, the airline will replace the Boeing 747-400s currently servicing the New York and San Francisco routes with the Boeing 777-300ER.

With the addition of the Boeing 777-300ERs on the US routes, Air China increased frequency on the Beijing-New York route, changing the flights from 7 to 11 flights a week by adding two new flights to the route.

On 21 January 2014, the airline launched its service to Hawaii with flights from Beijing to Honolulu, the first nonstop flights between the two cities.

The airline also increased the frequency of service on the Beijing-Houston Intercontinental route from four times weekly to daily service from 30 March 2014.

Beginning 10 June 2014, Air China introduced new nonstop service from Beijing to Washington-Dulles, operated by a Boeing 777-300ER.

As of September 29 2015, Air China also introduced a 3 times weekly flight to Montréal–Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport in a codeshare with Air Canada.

The Montreal flight was extended to Havana from 27 December 2015.

Air China started its direct flights to Johannesburg, South Africa from 29 October 2015. The flight operates three times weekly.

Air China fleet consists of a total of 402 aircraft.

Air China has placed orders for 170 aircrafts

Tourism Observer

INDIA: Jet Airways Suspends 4 Pilots For Taking Selfies Midflight From Leh To Delhi

The flight was on its way from Leh to Delhi on April 19 when the pilots clicked selfies.

An internal investigation has been initiated by Jet Airways.

Jet Airways has reportedly grounded four of its pilots for allegedly clicking selfies on a training flight.

Though the flight wherein they allegedly clicked the photographs was a training flight without any passenger, yet the act was in violation of the norms specified for airlines.

Among the pilots grounded by Jet Airways are a senior instructor level commander and three trainee pilots.

The flight was on its way from Leh to Delhi on April 19 when the pilots clicked selfies.

An internal investigation has been initiated by Jet Airways.

This is not the first such incident involving Jet Airways that has come to light.

In 2014, one of the pilots of the airline had violated civil aviation safety guidelines by allowing his friends and colleague to not just access the cockpit area, but also click pictures with the pilots on duty.

The pilot, Sahil Arora, had posted the photographs on his Facebook timeline, inviting sharp reactions.

In one of the pictures, the pilot was seen posing with a female friend, while another person, not a pilot could be seen sitting inside the cockpit area.

In some photographs, the pilot was also seen posing inside the cockpit area with air hostesses and other crew members.

Besides, another photograph that had gone viral on social media featured Arora and another pilot sticking their upper body out from the cockpit window and clicking a selfie.

According to the norms prescribed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), not everyone can access the cockpit area of a flight.

Apart from the pilots, only DGCA inspecting officials, engineer or trainee pilots can enter the restricted zone.

Tourism Observer

SINGAPORE: Cathay Pacific And Cathay Dragon Flew 2,980,654 Passengers April 2018

Cathay Pacific's and Cathay Dragon's traffic figures for April 2018 show a slight drop in the number of passengers carried and an increase in cargo and mail uplifted compared to the same month in 2017.

Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon carried a total of 2,980,654 passengers in April 2018 – a drop of 0.8% compared to April 2017.

The passenger load factor decreased 1.9 percentage points to 84.5%, while capacity, measured in available seat kilometres (ASKs), increased by 0.9%.

In the first four months of 2018, the number of passenger carried grew by 2.0% while capacity increased by 3.1%.

The two airlines carried 174,489 tonnes of cargo and mail last month, an increase of 6.7% compared to the same month last year.

The cargo and mail load factor rose by 2.3 percentage points to 68.0%.

Capacity, measured in available cargo/mail tonne kilometres, was up by 4.2% while cargo and mail revenue tonne kilometres (RTKs) increased by 7.9%.

In the first four months of 2018, the tonnage rose by 7.8% against a 4.7% increase in capacity and a 7.7% increase in RTKs.

Cathay Pacific Director Commercial and Cargo Ronald Lam said, The earlier start to the Easter holidays this year resulted in a reduction in backend demand during April when compared to last year.
However, we enjoyed a high front end load factor during the month and yield improvements helped offset the loss in traffic volume.

Our routes to Europe, the United Kingdom and the United States performed well, as did those to mainland China and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, the positive momentum in our cargo business continued into April. Tonnage grew ahead of capacity while yield strengthened.

After a slight slow-down in our Hong Kong and mainland China markets early in the month, volumes started to pick up again during the month and network flow from the Americas, Europe, India, Japan and Southeast Asia continued to show strength.

Tourism Observer

INDIA: AirAsia Under Corruption Investigation In India

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation registered a case on Tuesday against more than ten major officials of AirAsia Group in India, Malaysia, and Singapore, who, according to authorities, collaborated with civil aviation officials to expedite the approval process and change aviation policies to suit the company.

The officials allegedly had lobbied for speedy clearances, removal of existing rules, and changes in regulatory policies to benefit startup domestic carrier AirAsia India.

The case report characterized the actions by the airline group as a criminal conduct.

The report also specifically named AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes.

Authorities on Tuesday conducted simultaneous raids at five offices of AirAsia India, which, according to a CBI statement, led to recovery of certain documents into which an investigation continues.

The CBI said the criminal conspiracy amounted to an attempt to amend/remove the then existing 5/20 rule in 2013 that restricted startups domestic flying for at least five years with a minimum of 20 aircraft before flying international routes.

Regulators amended the rule by removing the five-year caveat while retaining the required minimum of 20 aircraft.

The CBI report refers to lobbying agents who won contracts from AirAsia for favors as a quid pro quo.

Information has further revealed that indirectly the entire operation of AirAsia lndia was controlled by parent company AirAsia Berhad, by overriding the Board of Directors of AirAsia lndia, said the report.

A so-called brand license agreement allegedly resulted in day-to-day control by AirAsia Group of Malaysia over AirAsia lndia, which at the time violated guidelines of India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board.

CBI serves as India’s premier investigating agency.

It has evolved from an anti-corruption agency to a multi-faceted, central police law enforcement agency with a legal mandate to investigate and prosecute offenses anywhere in India.

AirAsia India operates as a joint venture between Tata Sons and Malaysia-based AirAsia, with a small stake held by two individuals.

A statement from Shuva Mandal, director of AirAsia India, denied any wrongdoing by the company and noted its cooperation with all regulators and agencies to present the correct facts.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a case on Tuesday against AirAsia (India), AirAsia Berhad, and its top executives, including group chief executive officer (CEO) Tony Fernandes, for allegedly entering into a criminal conspiracy with the UPA government to change rules to get overseas flying rights.

The conspiracy, it’s alleged, was hatched just a month before the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections.

The case is based, among other findings, on a clutch of internal emails between senior executives of AirAsia and the Tata Group.

One such email with the CBI is that of top Tata Trusts executive Venkataramanan Ramachandran, who is named in the FIR, allegedly giving personal assurances from then civil aviation minister Ajit Singh.

It also conveys an assurance from the head of the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB) to go ahead with investment plans even when they were challenged in court as early as October 2013.

Met Mr Ajit Singh a short while ago. He said approvals should come soon and that our planning should be on the basis of the 5/20 rule getting scrapped, reads the email by Venkat to top AirAsia executive Tharumalingam Kanagalingam, who is also named in the CBI FIR.

AirAsia strongly denied the charges.

AirAsia India Limited (AAIL) refutes any wrongdoing and is cooperating with all regulators and agencies to present the correct facts.

In November 2016, AAIL had initiated criminal charges against its ex-CEO and had also commenced civil proceedings in Bengaluru for such irregularities.

We hope to bring early resolution to all such issues, said Shuva Mandal, director, AirAsia India Ltd.

Venkat’s email further states: “Met the chairman of FIPB today. He said they are going to strongly defend the policy in the courts next week and they have filed affidavits to that effect. The same is repeated by the ministry of commerce today.”

Venkat is the managing trustee of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust and is responsible for management and oversight of all the Tata Trusts.

Tata Sons and AirAsia Berhad own 49% each in AAIL while Venkat and former TCS CEO S Ramadorai hold 1.5% and 0.5%, respectively, in the airline.

In its FIR, the CBI has alleged that bribes were paid for securing a permit for international operations by removing or amending the 5/20 rule – which restricted any airline with less than 5 years of experience and 20 aircraft from flying overseas.

A total of nine individuals, including corporate lobbyist Deepak Talwar, have been booked by the CBI along with unknown government officials serving during the UPA-II regime, officials of the civil aviation ministry and others.

Public servants of the now-disbanded foreign investment promotion board (FIPB) have also been booked on charges of corruption and criminal conspiracy.

Apart from CEO Fernandes, directors of AirAsia Group, Malaysia, have also been named.

According to the agency, a secret Cabinet note was sent on February 27, 2014 to the Cabinet to amend/remove the existing 5/20 rule for operation of international schedule in civil aviation.

Further, the civil aviation ministry had sent clarification in the form of supplementary note on March 5, 2014 to the Cabinet.

The proposal at that time, however, could not be approved since the Election Commission had announced Lok Sabha General Elections on March 5, 2014, reads the agency’s FIR.

The FIR states that private individuals Deepak Talwar and Sunil Kapur acted as lobbying agents.

Indicating that these lobbying attempts extended until 2016, the FIR states: During 2015-16, AirAsia remitted about Rs 12.28 crore to M/s HNR Trading Ltd, Singapore (co-accused) for a sham contract on the basis of a bogus agreement on plain papers, which was utilised for paying bribe to unknown public servants of Indian government and others for securing permit for operation of international scheduled air transport services.

Talwar, already wanted in criminal cases by probe agencies, is said to have made a presentation on a strategy to target government officials for which he was apparently paid Rs 17 lakh, the FIR mentions.

The purpose, according to CBI, was to fulfill Fernandes’ aim to have the airline venture to be able to fly internationally from day one.

To facilitate this, Rajender Dubey played a role of a liaison agent and was instrumental in seeking appointments and facilitating meetings for officials of AAIL with various Indian government officials for clearance of formalities, the FIR says.

It added that Fernandes and Kanagalingam intentionally chose to beat the legal framework and policies of the aviation sector.

The CBI has alleged that Fernandes employed Sunil Kapur, owner of M/s Travel/Total Food Services as a lobbying agent by awarding an on-board catering contract as a quid pro quo without any negotiation.

Elaborating on the FIPB violations, the FIR states that AirAsia Group of Malaysia was indirectly allowed day-to-day control over M/s AirAsia (India) Ltd through a brand licence agreement, which was a violation of the then guidelines of FIPB as only 49% FDI was allowed in aviation sector.

Searches were carried out by the agency at six locations including Delhi, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Bengaluru.

AirAsia India refutes allegations

AirAsia India, the budget airline part-owned by Malaysian tycoon Tony Fernandes, has hit out at allegations that it bribed Indian officials in an attempt to change the country’s strict aviation rules.

Shuval Mandal, a director at the airline, said his company“refutes any wrongdoing, after Indian criminal investigators accused Mr Fernandes and his associates of being part of a criminal conspiracy that involved secretly hiring lobbyists and bribing civil servants.

Mr Mandal added: The company is co-operating with all regulators and agencies to present the correct facts.

In November, 2016, AirAsia India had initiated criminal charges against its ex-CEO and had also commenced civil proceedings in Bangalore for such irregularities. We hope to bring early resolution to all such issues.”

Mr Fernandes’s AirAsia joined forces with India’s Tata group in 2013 to form AirAsia India, a budget carrier in which each held 49 per cent.

Under Indian rules, the airline should have been run by the Indian conglomerate, but a report published by India’s Central Bureau of Investigation and citing reliable source information has alleged that Mr Fernandes was actually in control.

The report also accused the company of setting up a $1.8m fund to pay lobbyists and unknown public officials in an attempt to get the government to drop a law that airlines could only fly internationally if they had been operating for five years and owned 20 aircraft.

That requirement to have been running for five years was scrapped in 2016, though companies still have to own 20 aeroplanes before flying internationally. AirAsia India has said it hopes to meet this requirement by the end of this year.

Mr Tony Fernandes wanted the airline venture to be able to fly internationally from day one, the report said. “

Source information has further disclosed that unknown public servants…entered into a criminal conspiracy to expedite the approval process and change in aviation policies to suit the company.

It went on to say that an AirAsia employee handed over a closed packet containing Rs5m ($74,000) to a man call Mr Sriram in the coffee shop of an upmarket Mumbai hotel to facilitate the removal of the 5/20 rule.

It did not say who Mr Sriram is.

AirAsia India is already under investigation by India’s Enforcement Directorate for alleged questionable payments worth Rs223m.

That allegation, about which little has been made public and to which AirAsia India has not responded, was at the centre of a dramatic boardroom row between Tata Sons and its former chairman Cyrus Mistry.

Mr Mistry was dismissed as chairman in 2016, and subsequently said he wanted to expose alleged ethical and governance breaches at India’s largest conglomerate, including the payments made by its joint venture with Mr Fernandes’ company.

Shares in AirAsia fell more than 7 per cent on Wednesday in Malaysia.

Tourism Observer

CHINA: Xiamen Airlines Makes 200th Aircraft With First Boeing 737 MAX

Xiamen Airlines has taken delivery of its first Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, expanding its fleet to 200 aircraft.

The airline passed the first milestone of 100 planes in 2013 and has continued to grow by adding roughly 20 aircraft per year, now doubling the size of its fleet within five years.

After gorwing its fleet to 100 airplanes in 2013, Xiamen Airlines accelerated its expansion move into international markets.

The airline bought the first Boeing 787 Dreamliner in August 2014 and launched the first intercontinental flight, between Xiamen and Amsterdam, in July 2015.

Over the following two years, the airline launched 10 intercontinental flights to cities across Europe, North America and Oceania, including Los Angeles, Melbourne, New York, Seattle, Sydney and Vancouver.

All the intercontinental flights are now serviced by Boeing 787 aircraft.

In the last 5 years the airline's operating profits have increased year-by-year, reporting gross profits exceeding 10 billion Yuan (approx. US$1.5 billion).

The airline has now been profitable for 31 consecutive years, reflecting the rapid growth, and huge potential, in China's civil aviation industry.

Over the past five years, the US, Europe and China recorded an average annual growth rate of roughly 4%, 6% and 10% in civil aviation passenger volume, respectively, while Xiamen Airlines experienced an average growth rate of 15%.

With a white egret logo on its tail fin, the latest model of the Boeing 737 family started its maiden trip for Xiamen Airlines on a direct air route from southeast China's Xiamen to the eastern city of Shanghai.

Born in 1984 in the Xiamen Special Economic Zone, Xiamen Airlines is the epitome of China's surging civil aviation amid the country's reform and opening, said Che Shanglun, chairman with Xiamen Airlines.

The airline has achieved total profits of 10 billion yuan (about 1.57 billion U.S. dollars). It has also celebrated 31 consecutive years of profitability.

It's a milestone of Xiamen Airlines to become a big carrier with the 200th aircraft joining the fleet, said Che, adding that the airline doubled its fleet from 100 to 200 in less than four and a half years.

Boeing has had a very special relationship with Xiamen Airlines in the past three decades.

Now it receives its 737 MAX, which will surely make it more profitable," said Kevin McAllister, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.

With the delivery of this aircraft, we hope it begins the next chapter of our long-term relationship, he said.

As the latest member of the Boeing 737 narrow-body aircraft family, the 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing's history.

Boeing has gotten more than 4,500 orders from nearly 100 customers worldwide.

The 737 MAX boasts advanced technology winglets and LEAP-1B engines, which contribute to its reduced fuel use and carbon dioxide emissions compared to the single-aisle airplanes it replaces.

In 2017, Boeing delivered a record high of 202 new aircraft to China, representing its sixth consecutive year of more than 140 deliveries to the country, according to Boeing China.

Boeing's global deliveries of commercial aircraft reached 763 in 2017, with those to China making up 26 percent.

Now, each one of three Boeing narrow-body 737 family aircraft is made for the Chinese customers.

China's surging aviation industry has been creating great opportunities for global companies, especially U.S. giants and many enterprises on the extensive industrial chain, said insiders in the aviation industry.

As an air carrier of all-Boeing fleet, Xiamen Airlines uses the fleet of 737s, 757s, and 787 Dreamliners to expand its airline network home and abroad, including ten transcontinental air routes.

Che announced that the airline has set a target to expand its Boeing fleet to 560 by 2035, similar to the current fleet size of the country's biggest carrier, China Southern Airlines

Tourism Observer

KAZKHSTAN: Air Astana Opens Aviation Technical Centre

Air Astana has opened a new Aviation Technical Centre at Astana’s Nursultan Nazarbayev international airport.

The new Aviation Technical Centre enables Air Astana to undertake all aircraft engineering and servicing requirements up to heavy maintenance level.

The project was financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development at a cost of US$ 19 million.

The Aviation Technical Centre’s energy efficient, single span hangar offers 5,500 square meters of floor space and can accommodate a widebody type like the Boeing 787 or Boeing 767 alongside a single aisle aircraft like the latest Airbus A320neo family at the same time.

The Canadian designed structure is designed to remain fully operational even under the extremely low temperatures experienced in Astana during the winter months.

In addition to the hangar, the Aviation Technical Centre incorporates a spare parts warehouse and a complete range of workshops for the repair and overhaul of aircraft components.

An auxiliary building provides space for the existing Air Astana Engineering and Centre to significantly expand training of engineering and maintenance staff to international standards.

Peter Foster, President and CEO of Air Astana, said, For Astana, the added aerospace infrastructure contributes to the city’s standing as the leading air hub in Central Asia, whilst for Air Astana , it represents another significant step in expanding the carrier’s capabilities and boosting its international reputation for excellence.

Tourism Observer

USA: Delta To Launch Mumbai Flights Next Year

Delta Air Lines has unveiled plans to launch nonstop flights between the United States and Mumbai, India, next year.

Delta also intends to expand its existing codeshare relationship with partner Jet Airways to provide seamless connections to other destinations within India, subject to government approvals.

The Mumbai announcement follows agreements between the U.S. and the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Qatar to address the issue of government subsidies provided to state-owned carriers in those nations.

The framework created by the agreement allows Delta to move forward with flights to India.

It is exciting to be able to announce Delta's return to India from the U.S. as part of our vision to expand Delta's reach internationally, said Delta CEO Ed Bastian.

We are thankful to the president for taking real action to enforce our Open Skies trade deals, which made this new service possible.

We are looking forward to providing customers in the U.S. and India with Delta's famously reliable, customer-focused service operated by the best employees in the industry.

The service is subject to government approval and full schedule details are expected to be announced later this year.

Tourism Observer

SINGAPORE: Eric Piatti Appointed GM At Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore

Eric Piatti has been appointed as General Manager of the Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore, the first Dusit-branded property within the country, scheduled to open in Q1 2019.

Mr Piatti is responsible for overseeing the pre-opening and ongoing operations of the new 198-room resort, which is located within the Laguna National Golf & Country Club and has the distinction of being the only resort in Singapore to offer direct access to a golf club.

Mr Piatti brings to his role more than 30 years of senior management experience at luxury hotels in the USA, Switzerland, Japan, China, India, Egypt and Thailand.

Prior to joining Dusit International, Mr Piatti spent five years as General Manager of Swissôtel Nai Lert Park, Bangkok, Thailand.

During his career he has also served as General Manager of Swissôtel Beijing, China during the Olympic Games and Fairmont Heliopolis & Towers, Cairo, Egypt.

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore represents a key milestone in Dusit’s global expansion and I am delighted to have the opportunity to lead this stunning resort and introduce Dusit’s Thai-inspired, gracious hospitality to the country, said Mr Piatti.

Ideally positioned to meet the needs of golfing enthusiasts, leisure travellers, and MICE clientele, the resort has vast potential, and my team and I look forward to making it a huge success.

Mr Piatti holds a Bachelor's Degree in Hospitality Management from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne.

His mother tongue is French, and he is fluent in English, German and Italian.

Tourism Observer

CHINA: Grand Hyatt Hotel Jijiang Rebranded As Jinmao Hotel Lijiang

The Grand Hyatt hotel in Jijiang has been rebranded as the Jinmao Hotel Lijiang in The Unbound Collection by Hyatt.

The hotel is the first in China to join The Unbound Collection by Hyatt.

The 305-room Jinmao Hotel Lijiang combines traditional architecture with contemporary design, offering guests an authentic taste of the traditional Naxi culture, breathtaking natural views, and a story-worthy experience.

Together, Hyatt and the Jinmao group also announced the renewal of the management agreement for the iconic Grand Hyatt Shanghai, located in the heart of the Lujiazui financial and business center in Shanghai, eastern China.

We are humbled by the trust and confidence shown by the Jinmao Group and are excited for the opportunity to bring the next level of hospitality to our Chinese guests, said Asia Pacific Group President David Udell, Hyatt Hotels Corporation.

The renewed collaboration demonstrates the shared vision of Hyatt and Jinmao in bringing care and new, one-of-a-kind experiences to Chinese guests.

It further demonstrates Hyatt’s commitment to innovative collaboration with our owners to positively impact our guests’ experiences.

Jinmao Hotel Lijiang joins recent openings in the portfolio including Hotel Martinez in Cannes and The Eliza Jane in New Orleans.

Working hand-in-hand with Hyatt for the last 20 years has allowed us to create a hotel that raises the bar for the industry, said Tang Yong, executive director and CEO of Jinmao (China) Hotel Investments and Management Limited.

Jinmao received strong support from Hyatt while creating Jinmao Hotel Lijiang.

The hotel is a new beginning for both of us, but with Hyatt’s global expertise and Jinmao’s deep understanding of the local market, we believe our relationship will continue to grow and strengthen.

The collaboration between Hyatt and Jinmao began in 1999 with the opening of the Grand Hyatt hotel in Shanghai at the iconic Jin Mao Tower in Pudong.

A significant milestone in the history of China’s hospitality industry, Grand Hyatt Shanghai was the tallest hotel in the world when it opened and has won numerous awards.

Tourism Observer

QATAR: Qatar Airways Improves In-Flight Dining Experience

Qatar Airways has launched a new on-board dining experience for its Premium customers.

The new concepts, which will commence on the airline’s European routes, include newly-designed tableware, in-flight dining menus, cutlery and chinaware.

Qatar Airways has also put a greater focus on featuring regional influences within the menu design process, which now sees the inclusion of new signature dishes to the in-flight menu based on route destinations, such as the offering of porcini and truffle risotto on Italian sectors.

Traditionally prepared Arabic main dishes such as kabsa, biryani and flame-grilled meats, which offer a taste of the Middle East, will feature as a choice option across most routes.

New signature warm desserts will be introduced to passengers in the Business Class cabin, in addition to an afternoon tea experience on board selected routes.

Attention to detail has been given to every new concept, from the mini condiment grinders dispensing ground black peppercorns and Himalayan pink salt, to tableware such as the linen-lined bread baskets that house a freshly baked trio of bread.

Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive, Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said, Qatar Airways is thrilled to introduce a whole new on-board dining experience that will push the boundaries of Premium travel for our esteemed passengers.

Every new concept was designed and produced with the highest attention to detail and quality, to meet the exacting standards of our passengers.

Qatar Airways is collaborating closely with local farms and suppliers to produce products for our specific needs, promoting a farm-to-table approach.

Our in-flight dining menus are designed to align with the four seasons, better incorporating the use of locally-grown produce and tapping into authentic foods of local provenance delivering the very highest international standards.

The national carrier of the State of Qatar has recognised the emerging trend of its travellers being more aware of their dietary needs and expressing interests in healthier food options.

As such, the airline will now feature lighter options, such as fresh crisp salads, woodland berries, warm breakfast oatmeal and more.

Healthier drink options such as cold pressed juice will also be available on selected menus to revitalise during a long flight.

The airline has also improved its indulgent treats, including an enhanced caviar service offering for First Class passengers, which is perfectly accompanied with a Balik-style salmon and showcased on a bespoke crystal plate.

Qatar Airways launched a pre-select dining option last year, whereby passengers travelling in First and Business Class are able to pre-select one main course from the à la carte on-board menu as far as 14 days in advance and up to 24 hours before take-off.

This is in addition to the existing Dine-on-Demand service already available for First and Business Class passengers.

To pre-select a meal, passengers simply need to log into ‘My Trips’ on the Qatar Airways website and choose from the seasonal menu available on their flight.

Meals can also be ordered through the Qatar Airways mobile app.

Tourism Observer

ASIA: Asia Pacific Airlines Carried 29.8 Million Int. Passengers in April 2018

Preliminary traffic figures from the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) for the month of April 2018 show growth in international air passenger and air cargo demand progressed at an encouraging pace, driven by further expansions in global service and manufacturing sectors.

A combined total of 29.8 million international passengers were carried by the region's airlines in April, representing a robust 9.3% increase compared to the same month last year.

Business activity strengthened across major advanced and emerging market economies during the month, with positive confidence levels boosting growth in business travel demand.

At the same time, continued availability of affordable airfares driven by promotional campaigns supported growth in leisure travel markets.

Overall, demand as measured in revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) increased by 8.3% year-on-year, ahead of the 7.2% expansion in available seat capacity.

As a result, the average international passenger load factor edged 0.8 percentage points higher to 81.5% for the month.

Whilst there are signs that international trade flows may be easing, international air cargo demand for the region's carriers, in freight tonne kilometres (FTK) terms, saw an encouraging 5.8% year-on-year increase in April.

Improvement in client demand within the region, on the back of stronger domestic conditions, aided growth in air cargo markets.

After accounting for a 6.6% expansion in offered freight capacity, the average international freight load factor was 0.5 percentage points lower at 64.1% for the month.

Commenting on the results, Mr. Andrew Herdman, AAPA Director General said, Overall, during the first four months of the year, Asia Pacific airlines carried an aggregate total of 118 million international passengers, a solid 7.3% increase compared to the same period last year.

Correspondingly, air cargo demand registered an encouraging 5.7% growth during the same period, on top of the strong 9.6% annual increase recorded in 2017."

SSustained growth in the region and the wider global economic expansion lends credence to a positive market outlook for the remainder of the year.

However, operating conditions remain challenging, with airlines still facing intense competition and the pressure of sharply higher fuel costs, up more than 30% compared to last year.

The region's carriers continue to explore avenues for further growth, whilst implementing pro-active measures to control costs and achieve further operational efficiencies.

Tourism Observer

UAE: Etihad To Donate To Charity 150,000 Meals Per Year

Etihad Aviation Group has launched a community programme that will deliver 400 meals per day to charity.

The initiative will be held throughout 2018 and beyond, with approximately 150,000 meals to be donated every year.

As part of its sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts, the Abu Dhabi-based airline has teamed up with the Grace Conservation Programme of Emirates Red Cross and Red Crescent Society and Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority to donate inflight meals to labourer residences in the Mussaffah area of Abu Dhabi.

The meals are initially prepared for the airline’s three on board cabins – First Class, Business Class and Economy Class – and are then transported in a purpose-designed truck to keep them fresh.

Emirates Red Cross and Red Crescent Society will provide an equipped kitchen and trucks to collect and store meals for distribution.

Khaled AlMehairbi, Senior Vice President and General Manager Etihad Airport Services Ground – Abu Dhabi Hub and CSR Strategy, said, We are strongly committed to the local community and proudly support various charities worldwide.

Etihad is always looking at new ways to extend the reach of our charitable and humanitarian efforts.

This drive is guided by the values and legacy of our late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.

He inspires and motivates us to share and give back to the communities we are living and operating in.

Sultan Al Shehi, General Manager, Grace Conservation Programme of Emirates Red Cross and Red Crescent Society, said, We are excited to launch this initiative in collaboration with Etihad Aviation Group and Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority.

This partnership reflects Abu Dhabi’s spirit of sharing and giving.

We have worked together with Etihad Aviation Group to support many charitable and humanitarian activities.

However, this partnership is especially important for its size and scale.

Tourism Observer

SOLOMON ISLANDS: Visitor Arrivals To Solomon Islands Shoot Up To 29% In Q1 2018

Visitor arrivals to Solomon Islands were up 29% in Q1 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017.

The latest figures from the Solomon Islands National Statistics Office (SINSO) show international visitation increased from 4881 to 6296 with January (+33%), February (+13.5%) and March (36.3%) all showing positive growth.

Visitor arrivals to Solomon Islands were up 29% in Q1 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017.

The latest figures from the Solomon Islands National Statistics Office (SINSO) show international visitation increased from 4881 to 6296 with January (+33%), February (+13.5%) and March (36.3%) all showing positive growth.

Australian visitor arrivals continued to dominate.

The 2195 figure recorded for Q1 represents a 17.6% increase over the 1867 result achieved in 2017 and equals 34.8% of all international visitation.

A strong New Zealand result saw arrivals increase from 301 to 356, an 18.3%, firmly cementing the country in place as the second largest source of visitation.

Papua New Guinea and the US maintained their third and fourth positions, increasing 39.3% and 35%, respectively.

Tourism Observer

FINLAND: Finnair To Launch Flights to Hanover, Germany

Finnair has unveiled plans to launch flights between Helsinki and Hanover, Germany, next summer.

The new route will start on 29 April 2019 with five weekly frequencies and will become a daily and year-round frequency as of 1 June 2019.

Hanover is one of Northern Germany’s largest cities and hosts several important fair and trade events throughout the calendar year.

The city will be Finnair’s seventh destination in Germany as the airline already flies year-round to Berlin, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Hamburg, Munich and Stuttgart.

We are very excited to open a new route to Hanover and to continue our growth and expansion into Germany as it is a very important market for Finnair.

We’ve also significantly increased our presence in the German market for the upcoming 2018 summer season by adding approximately 35 percent capacity compared to last summer, said Juha Järvinen, Chief Commercial Officer at Finnair.

Additional capacity is also being added for the 2019 summer season on some popular European routes.

Finnair will add four weekly frequencies to Barcelona from the beginning of June until the end of the summer season.

An additional frequency will be added to Reykjavik, making it a daily destination for the entire summer season. In addition, an additional daily frequency will be added to Warsaw on both Saturdays and Sundays.

The airline is also adding capacity on its Helsinki-Dubai route for the upcoming winter 2018 season.

One weekly frequency will be added which means Finnair will fly seven weekly frequencies to Dubai.

In addition, two of the weekly frequencies will now be operated with a A350, instead of a narrow-body aircraft.

Flying some of the Dubai frequencies with the A350 during the winter season will also allow us to offer our Finnair Business Class product with full-flat seats on this popular leisure and business route, Juha Järvinen said.

Tourism Observer

GERMANY: Lufthansa Orders 9 Airbus A320neo Planes

Lufthansa has firmed-up a previous option for six further Airbus A320neo.

The latest agreement brings Lufthansa Group’s total order for the A320neo to 122 - 77 A320neo and 45 A321neo.

In addition, the airline has signed an order for three more A320ceo, bringing the group’s A320ceo orders to 273.

With a total of 395 A320 Family aircraft on order, the Lufthansa Group is also Airbus’ biggest A320 operator with nearly 400 A320 Family aircraft in service.

Lufthansa was the launch operator of the A320neo.

We are delighted to see this additional order from our biggest A320 operator Lufthansa Group, said Eric Schulz, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer.

Benefitting from the Airbus commonality and the A320 Family’s efficiency and environmental credentials such as reduced noise, lower fuel-burn and emissions, we are pleased the airline has decided to come back for more.

The Airbus A320neo family is a development of the A320 family of narrow-body airliners, launched on 1 December 2010 by Airbus.

They are essentially a re-engine; neo stands for new engine option, with a choice of CFM International LEAP-1A or Pratt & Whitney PW1000G engines. The original family is now called A320ceo, for current engine option.

The first flight of the A320neo took place on 25 September 2014. It was introduced by Lufthansa on 25 January 2016. Airbus has 6,031 firm orders as of March 2018.

The new aircraft cabin offers a more modern look and feel, a new air purifier with filters and a catalytic converter removing unpleasant smells from the air before it is pumped into the cabin and light-emitting diodes for ambience lighting and passenger service unit.

It offers better and larger luggage storage. The flight crew controls the cabin through touchscreen displays.

The new Space-Flex optional cabin configuration increases space-efficiency by a new rear galley configuration and a Smart-Lav modular lavatory design allowing an in-flight change of two lavatories into one accessible toilet.

This allows up to 9 more passengers for the A320neo, and up to 20 more passengers for the A321neo without putting more sardines in the can with the larger Cabin-Flex modified exits.

Lufthansa is the launch operator of this standard variant. The first A320neo rolled out of the Airbus factory in Toulouse on 1 July 2014.

It first flew on 25 September 2014. A joint type certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration was received on 24 November 2015.

Nearly 28 years after the first A320, on 25 January 2016, the A320neo entered service with Lufthansa, the type's launch customer.

Six months later at Farnborough Airshow, John Leahy reported that the eight in-service aircraft had achieved 99.7% dispatch reliability.

After a year in service, Lufthansa confirmed the 20% efficiency gain per passenger with up to 180 seats, along with reduced noise and CO₂ emissions.

By the end of February 2017, 28,105 scheduled flights had been performed by 71 A320neo aircraft with 134 cancellations for a 99.5% completion rate.

Spirit faces Pratt & Whitney PW1000G issues on four of its five A320neos and don't fly them above 30,000 ft because the bleed air system froze shut on occasion due to cold temperatures, the same problem facing IndiGo.

By March 2017, 88 A320neos had been delivered to 20 airlines, 49 with the PW1000G and 39 with the CFM International LEAP-1A.

The fleet had accumulated more than 57,600 flight hours and 37,500 cycles (1.5h average); over 142 routes the average stage length is 900 nm and like the A320ceo the neo flies an average of 8.4 block hours and up to 10 cycles a day with Lufthansa operating 45 min. sectors from Frankfurt to Hamburg or Munich to China Southern Airlines flying close to 6 hr sectors.

Operators confirm the 15% per seat fuel-burn savings even counterbalanced by the added weight on short sectors, which can rise to 16–17% on longer routes and to 20% or more for Lufthansa with 180 passengers up from 168 with two more seat rows; and Airbus plans to deliver about 200 A320neos.

Tourism Observer

HONG KONG: HK Bellawings Orders 18 Global 6500 And Global 7500 Business Jets Worth Approx US$1.14 billion

HK Bellawings Jet Limited, a leading aircraft management company based in Hong Kong, has signed a letter of intent (LOI) with Bombardier for up to 18 Global 6500 and Global 7500 business jets.

If all firm orders and options are exercised, the transaction would be valued at approximately US$1.14 billion based on 2018 list prices.

David Coleal, President, Bombardier Business Aircraft and Zhang Yijia, President, HK Bellawings.

HK Bellawings’ President Mr. Zhang Yijia, said, We are glad to announce our letter of intent to purchase 18 Global 6500 and Global 7500 on the first day of EBACE.

Global 6500 and Global 7500 are the top-of-the-range aircraft from Bombardier’s latest generation.

The two models align with HK Bellawings’ rapid development to be a one-stop business aviation solution, empowering us to reach higher and further in the long run.

The recently launched Global 6500 jet could connect Hong Kong or Singapore with London, while the renamed Global 7500 aircraft could connect New York to Hong Kong, and Singapore to San Francisco, nonstop.

Bombardier announced today that it has signed a letter of intent (LOI) for up to 18 Global 6500 and Global 7500 business jets with HK Bellawings Jet Limited, a leading aircraft management company based in Hong Kong.

We’re thrilled with the tremendous response we have received since launching our newest Global aircraft just days ago, said Peter Likoray, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Sales and Marketing, Bombardier Business Aircraft.

Our leading Global aircraft will contribute to the continued success of HK Bellawings Jet Limited and its operations in the region.

We are glad to announce our letter of intent to purchase 18 Global 6500 and Global 7500 on the first day of EBACE.

Global 6500 and Global 7500 are the top-of-the-range aircraft from Bombardier’s latest generation.

The two models align with HK Bellawings’ rapid development to be a one-stop business aviation solution, empowering us to reach higher and further in the long run,” HK Bellawings’ President Mr. Zhang Yijia said.

The recently launched Global 6500 jet and the renamed Global 7500 aircraft set the standard with the longest range and the largest cabins in their respective classes—all while offering Bombardier’s signature smooth ride.

The Global 6500 aircraft joins the high-performing Global aircraft family, offering additional range and speed, as well as highly favorable operating costs versus smaller competing aircraft with less range.

The Global 6500 can connect Hong Kong or Singapore with London.

The Global 7500 aircraft now has an unmatched range of 7,700 nautical miles, a full 300 nautical miles further than initial commitments.

It is the only business aircraft that can connect New York to Hong Kong, and Singapore to San Francisco, nonstop.

Based in Hong Kong, HK Bellawings Jet Limited is a distinguished business jet management company dedicated to providing a diverse array of professional, highly efficient and comprehensive business aviation services and solutions.

These include business jet management, aircraft maintenance, travel concierge service, aircraft acquisition service, and business aviation consultancy. They operate a fleet of Challenger and Global business aircraft.

Tourism Observer

GERMANY: Air Hamburg Orders Four More Legacy 650E Business Jets From Embraer

Air Hamburg has signed a purchase agreement with Embraer for four more Legacy 650E business jets.
The contract has a value of USD 103.6 million, based on current list prices.

With this additional order, the Germany-based business charter operator, which serves European, Russian and Middle Eastern destinations, will expand its Embraer flagship fleet to 17 aircraft - 15 Legacy 600/650 and two Phenom 300.

Air Hamburg is the world’s largest operator of the Legacy 600/650 aircraft models.

The delivery of these aircraft is expected to begin in the second quarter of 2018 and continue at a rate of one per quarter through the first quarter of 2019.

Our partnership with with Embraer dates back to 2013 with our first Legacy 600.

With this additional order, we are eager to grow our Embraer fleet by 30% to meet market demand for these popular aircraft, said Simon Ebert, Owner of Air Hamburg.

The premium comfort of the Legacy 650E’s three cabin zones and the convenience of all the amenities, the reliability, performance and generous baggage allowance help drive the satisfaction of our customers.

he Legacy 650E offers a 10-year or 10,000-flight hour warranty for systems and components - OEM and supplier, matching the warranty period to that of the airframe.

The Legacy 650E offers three distinct cabin zones with one of the largest cabins in its class.

As the global launch customer of the Legacy 650E, Air Hamburg has proven the success of the aircraft in delivering a superior customer experience, said Michael Amalfitano, President & CEO, Embraer Executive Jets.

We are proud to support the continued growth of Air Hamburg’s flagship fleet, which reaffirms the value of our partnership and of the Legacy 650E.

Tourism Observer

HAWAII: Kailua-Kona The Coffee destination Of Hawaii

Kailua is an unincorporated city in Hawaiʻi County, Hawaii, United States, in the North Kona District of the Island of Hawaiʻi.
The population was 11,975 at the 2010 census, up from 9,870 at the 2000 census.

It is the center of commerce and of the tourist industry on West Hawaiʻi. Its post office is designated Kailua-Kona to differentiate it from Kailua located on the windward side of Oʻahu island, and it is sometimes referred to as Kona in everyday speech.

The city is served by Kona International Airport, located just to the north in the adjacent Kalaoa CDP.

Kailua-Kona was the closest major settlement to the epicenter of the 2006 Kiholo Bay earthquake.

The community was established by King Kamehameha I to be his seat of government when he was chief of Kona before he consolidated rule of the archipelago in 1795.

It was later designated as the capital of the newly unified Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. The capital was later moved to Lahaina, and then to Honolulu.

Royal fishponds at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park were the hub of unified Hawaiian culture.

The town later functioned as a retreat of the Hawaiian royal family. Up until the late 1900s, Kailua-Kona was primarily a small fishing village.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the region has undergone a real estate and construction boom fueled by tourism and investment.

Kailua is located along the shoreline of Kailua Bay and up the southern slope of Hualālai volcano. There are no major rivers or streams in Kailua or on the Kona side of Hawaii.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the City has a total area of 39.9 square miles (103.3 km2), of which 35.6 square miles (92.3 km2) are land and 4.2 square miles (11.0 km2), or 10.67%, are water.

Kailua-Kona is bordered to the north by Kalaoa, to the south by Holualoa, and to the west by the Pacific Ocean from Kailua Bay in the south to Honokohau Bay in the north. The Kailua-Kona postal code is 96740 (post office boxes – 96745).

Kona has a tropical, semi-arid climate with warm temperatures year-round, typical of its latitude in the tropics.

It is the warmest place in the United States of America in January on average. The coolest month is February, with an average high temperature of 81.2 °F (27.3 °C), while the warmest is August, with an average high of 86.9 °F (30.5 °C).

In addition to being the warmest place in the United States in January, it is also the city with the highest record low in the United States with an all-time low temperature of 56 °F (13 °C).

Humidity is generally between 50% and 70%. Kona is generally dry, with an average annual precipitation of 32.05 inches (814 mm).

Mornings are typically clear, while thermal clouds created in the day raise the temperature during the day.

Vog can cover parts of the Kona coast from time to time depending on the activity of the Kilauea volcano and the island winds. Kailua-Kona is located on the leeward side of the Hualalai Volcano, sheltering the town from wind and rain.

As of the census of 2000, there were 9,870 people, 3,537 households, and 2,429 families residing in the City.

The population density was 278.0 people per square mile (107.3/km²). There were 4,322 housing units at an average density of 121.7 per square mile (47.0/km²).

The racial makeup of the City was 38.7% White, 0.5% Black or African American, 0.5% Native American, 18.3% Asian, 13.2% Pacific Islander, 1.9% from other races, and 27.07% from two or more races.

10.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

There were 3,537 households out of which 35.0% have children under the age of 18 living with them.

49.6% were married couples living together, 13.6% had a female householder with no husband present, and 31.3% were non-families.

22.6% of all households were made up of individuals and 7.2% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older.

The average household size was 2.78 and the average family size was 3.26.

In the City the population was spread out with 27.3% under the age of 18, 9.0% from 18 to 24, 28.8% from 25 to 44, 24.9% from 45 to 64, and 10.0% who were 65 years of age or older.

The median age was 36 years. For every 100 females, there were 98.8 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 95.8 males.

The median income for a household in the City was $40,874, and the median income for a family was $46,657.

Males had a median income of $30,353 versus $26,471 for females.

The per capita income for the CDP was $20,624. 10.8% of the population and 6.5% of families were below the poverty line.

Out of the total population, 11.9% of those under the age of 18 and 3.9% of those 65 and older were living below the poverty line.

Kailua-Kona saw an economic downturn during the 2008 national financial crisis but in the early 2010s has seen significant growth and economic development.

Tourism also saw a downturn in the late 2000s but has since seen some resurgence.

The University of Hawaii has plans for its Hawaii Community College Palamanui Campus.

Since the early 2000s the Kona side has seen significant amounts of vog from Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Kīlauea via wind patterns up the South Kona Coast around Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea.

Visitor industry statistics show the vog has little effect on tourism traffic to the Kona area

Kailua is the start and finish of the annual Ironman World Championship triathlon, the annual Kona Coffee Festival, and the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament.

Kona coffee is the variety of Coffea arabica cultivated on the slopes of Hualālai and Mauna Loa in the North and South Kona Districts.
Throughout the 10-day Festival, celebrate the harvest as Kona coffee farms offer a firsthand look at growing this world-famous crop, the coffee art scene fills with inspiration, and music and dance enrich cultural exchanges.

Kona coffee and food events offer tastings, and hands-on cultural events help tell the story of Kona’s rich coffee history.

There are about 650 farms cultivating coffee in the Kona district.

The typical size of a Kona coffee farm is 3 acres.

Kona coffee represents approximately 95% of the coffees produced on the island.

There are about 3,500 acres of land utilized in Kona coffee farming, producing about 3.8 million pounds a year, valued at about $14 million.

There are working coffee farms and mills along the Kona coffee belt that open their farms to visitors.

Plan a visit and you’ll meet farmers who have a story to tell, millers and roasters and Kona coffee pickers who pick each ripe cherry by hand.

Ali'i Drive, Kailua's oceanfront downtown street, starts at Kailua Pier.

It has also been given the designation as a Hawaii Scenic Byway called the Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast.

This byway features archaeological sites that have survived for hundreds of years.

North of the pier is the Kamakahonu royal residence and Ahuʻena Heiau.

Another royal residence is Huliheʻe Palace, used by members of the Hawaiian royal family until 1914.

The Historic Kona Inn and other shops are on the street.

Churches on the drive include Mokuaikaua Church, Hawaiʻi's first Christian church built in 1820, and Saint Michael the Archangel Catholic Church.

Parks include La'aloa Bay also known as Magic Sands or White Sands Beach and Kahaluʻu Bay, which is a popular snorkeling location.

Boat tours which allow tourists to swim with dolphins, watch whales, and fish in the ocean usually depart from Honokohau Harbor.

Kailua-Kona is served by television station KLEI and by the newspaper West Hawaii Today which is owned by the Black Press

The Hawaii Department of Education operates public schools. Kealakehe Elementary School, Kahakai Elementary School, Kealakehe Intermediate School, and Kealakehe High School are in the Kailua CDP.

Tourism Observer

Tuesday 29 May 2018

KAZAKHSTAN: Kokshetau Blue Mountain City

Kokshetau is considered one of Kazakhstan’s most charming cities, located among beautiful lakes and mountains covered with dense coniferous forests.

Kokshetau is translated from Kazakh as Blue Mountain and the name is apt.

The Blue Mountain (Kokshe Tau) is the highest peak in the Kokshe Mountains, reaching 947 metres.

Many songs, poems and legends about the beauty of the area have been passed from one generation to another.

Locals have given the place a variety of names: the Area of Blue Lakes, Kazakh Pearl and the Area of Blue Mountains.

The city was established on the bank of Kopa Lake in 1824 as a fortress.

In 1868, it became a regional centre and today has a population of 160,000.

During the late 1930s, many residents of other Soviet Union republics were forcibly settled in the region because of the political repressions against ethnic Polish and German communities.

On March 16, 1944, the city was named the Kokshetau region’s administrative centre.

The picturesque image of the city that we see today on postcards was shaped in the 1970s-1980s.

During that time, Kokshetau saw rapid development, new residential districts and industrial factories.

The city became a major hub of railway and aviation routes.

Today, the city has a delightful appearance with clean streets, roads, quiet parks and squares promoting its cosy image.

Kokshetau is an urban area of youth and students with 10 higher educational institutions, 12 colleges, six lyceums and 20 schools.

The city has numerous museums, theatres and a cinema.

Abylai Khan statue adorns the main square of the city. Abylai Khan was regarded as a wise politician and diplomat, who was recognised by both the Chinese and Russian empires.

For centuries, the city and outlying areas were major political and intellectual centres of northern Kazakhstan.

Kokshetau has a beautiful mosque constructed in the beginning of the 20th century and a Russian Orthodox Church temple of Archangel Michael.

In 2004, a Roman Catholic Church was built in Gothic style using red bricks. A new mosque for 1,200 people named after Nauan Khazret opened in 2015 and construction of a new Orthodox Church is underway.

Kokshetau and its surroundings are famous for their nature and wonderful landscapes.

Burabai National Park is one of Kokshetau’s major sights. Borovoe Lake is the most significant among its lakes and distinguished by its size. Located 70 kilometres from the city, the lake is extremely popular among local and foreign tourists.

Kokshetau National Park, established in 1996, is situated 60 kilometres to the southwest of the city. The Zerenda, Shalkar and Imantau lakes can be found there with numerous pedestrian and equestrian routes.

The areas have excellent accommodations with hotels, sanatoria and rest houses constructed on the coasts. The soft mountain climate, clean air and curative dirt make rest here not only pleasant but also useful for one’s health.

Natural attractions and the city of Kokshetau have established their own unique image and strive to become a centre for international ecotourism. It is truly one of the most charming cities in Kazakhstan.