Thursday 28 November 2019

TURKEY: Hagia Sophia Will It Become A Mosque Again?

Hagia Sophia or Holy Wisdom is the former Greek Orthodox Christian patriarchal cathedral, later an Ottoman imperial mosque and now a museum Ayasofya Muzesi in Istanbul, Turkey.

Built in AD 360 at the beginning of the Middle Ages, it was famous in particular for its massive dome. It was the world's largest building and an engineering marvel of its time.

It is considered the epitome of Byzantine architecture and is said to have changed the history of architecture.

The Hagia Sophia construction consists of mostly masonry. The structure is composed of brick and mortar joints that are 1.5 times the width of the bricks.

The mortar joints are composed of a combination of sand and minute ceramic pieces displaced very evenly throughout the mortar joints. This combination of sand and ceramic pieces could be considered to be the equivalent of modern concrete at the time.

From the date of its construction's completion in 537 until 1453, it served as an Eastern Orthodox cathedral and the seat of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, except between 1204 and 1261, when it was converted by the Fourth Crusaders to a Roman Catholic cathedral under the Latin Empire.

The building was later converted into an Ottoman mosque from 29 May 1453 until 1931. It was then secularized and opened as a museum on 1 February 1935. It remained the world's largest cathedral for nearly a thousand years, until Seville Cathedral was completed in 1520.

The current building was originally constructed as a church between 532 and 537 on the orders of the Byzantine emperor Justinian I and was the third Church of the Holy Wisdom to occupy the site, the prior one having been destroyed by rioters in the Nika riots.

It was designed by the Greek geometers Isidore of Miletus and Anthemius of Tralles. The church was dedicated to the Wisdom of God, the Logos, the second person of the Trinity, its patronal feast taking place on 25 December, the commemoration of the birth of the incarnation of the Logos in Christ.

Although sometimes referred to as Sancta Sophia as though it were named after Sophia the Martyr, sophia being the phonetic spelling in Latin of the Greek word for wisdom, or Shrine of the Holy Wisdom of God.

The church contained a large collection of relics and featured, among other things, a 15-metre (49 ft) silver iconostasis.

The focal point of the Eastern Orthodox Church for nearly one thousand years, the building witnessed the excommunication of Patriarch Michael I Cerularius officially communicated by Humbert of Silva Candida, the papal envoy of Pope Leo IX in 1054, an act that is commonly considered the start of the East–West Schism.

In 1453, Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Empire under Mehmed the Conqueror, who ordered this main church of Eastern Orthodox Christianity converted into a mosque.

Although some parts of the city of Constantinople had fallen into disrepair, the cathedral had been maintained with funds set aside for this purpose, and the Christian cathedral made a strong impression on the new Ottoman rulers who conceived its conversion.

The bells, altar, iconostasis, and other relics were destroyed and the mosaics depicting Jesus, his Mother Mary, Christian saints, and angels were also destroyed or plastered over.

Islamic features such as the mihrab a niche in the wall indicating the direction toward Mecca, for prayer, minbar or pulpit, and four minarets were added. It remained a mosque until 1931 when it was closed to the public for four years.

It was re-opened in 1935 as a museum by the Republic of Turkey. Hagia Sophia was, as of 2014, the second-most visited museum in Turkey, attracting almost 3.3 million visitors annually.

According to data released by the Turkish Culture and Tourism Ministry, Hagia Sophia was Turkey's most visited tourist attraction in 2015.

From its initial conversion until the construction of the nearby Sultan Ahmed Mosque, aka the Blue Mosque of Istanbul, in 1616, it was the principal mosque of Istanbul.

The Byzantine architecture of the Hagia Sophia served as inspiration for many other Ottoman mosques, including the Blue Mosque, the Şehzade Mosque, the Süleymaniye Mosque, the Rustem Pasha Mosque and the Kılıç Ali Pasha Complex.

In 1935, the first Turkish President and founder of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, transformed the building into a museum. The carpets were removed and marble floor decorations such as the Omphalion appeared for the first time in centuries, while the white plaster covering many of the mosaics was removed.

Nevertheless, the condition of the structure deteriorated, and the World Monuments Fund placed Hagia Sophia on 1996 World Monuments Watch, and again in 1998. The building's copper roof had cracked, causing water to leak down over the fragile frescoes and mosaics.

Moisture entered from below as well. Rising ground water had raised the level of humidity within the monument, creating an unstable environment for stone and paint. The WMF secured a series of grants from 1997 to 2002 for the restoration of the dome.

The first stage of work involved the structural stabilization and repair of the cracked roof, which was undertaken with the participation of the Turkish Ministry of Culture.

The second phase, the preservation of the dome's interior, afforded the opportunity to employ and train young Turkish conservators in the care of mosaics.

By 2006, the WMF project was complete, though many other areas of Hagia Sophia continue to require significant stability improvement, restoration and conservation.Hagia Sophia is currently the second most visited museum in Turkey, attracting almost 3.3 million visitors annually.

Although use of the complex as a place of worship - mosque or church was strictly prohibited, in 2006 the Turkish government allowed the allocation of a small room in the museum complex to be used as a prayer room for Christian and Muslim museum staff.

Since 2013 from the minarets of the museum the muezzin sings the call to prayer twice per day, in the afternoon.

In 2007, Greek American politician Chris Spirou launched an international organization - Free Agia Sophia Council championing the cause of restoring the building to its original function as a Christian church.

Since the early 2010s, several campaigns and government high officials, notably Turkey's deputy prime minister Bulent Arınç in November 2013, have been demanding that Hagia Sophia be converted into a mosque again.

In 2015, in retaliation for the acknowledgment by Pope Francis of the Armenian Genocide, the Mufti of Ankara, Mefail Hızlı, stated that he believes the conversion of Hagia Sophia into a mosque will be accelerated.

On 13 May 2017 a large group of people, organized by the Anatolia Youth Association (AGD), gathered in front of Hagia Sophia and prayed the morning prayer with a call for the reconversion of the museum into a mosque.

On 21 June 2017 Presidency of Religious Affairs or Diyanet organized a special program, which included the recitation of the Quran and prayers in Hagia Sofia, to mark the Laylat al-Qadr, the program was broadcast live by state-run television TRT.

On 31 March 2018 Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan recited the first verse of the Quran in the Hagia Sophia, dedicating the prayer to the souls of all who left us this work as inheritance, especially Istanbul's conqueror.

Strengthening the political movement to make the Hagia Sophia a mosque once again, which would reverse Atatürk's measure of turning the Hagia Sophia into a secular museum.

In March 2019 Erdogan said that he will change the status of Hagia Sophia from a museum to a mosque, adding that it was a very big mistake to turn it into a museum.

As a UNESCO World Heritage site, this change would require approval from UNESCO's World Heritage Committee.

On 1 July 2016 Muslim prayers were held again in the Hagia Sophia for the first time in 85 years.

Many religious structures have been modeled on the Hagia Sophia's core structure of a large central dome resting on pendentives and buttressed by two semi-domes. A notable Venetian example is the High Altar of Santa Maria della Salute.

Several mosques commissioned by the Ottoman dynasty closely mimic the geometry of the Hagia Sophia, including the Suleymaniye Mosque and the Bayezid II Mosque. In many cases, Ottoman architects preferred to surround the central dome with four semi-domes rather than two.

This is true in the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, the New Mosque - Istanbul, and the Fatih Mosque. Like the original plan of the Hagia Sophia, many of these mosques are also entered through a colonnaded courtyard. However, the courtyard of the Hagia Sophia no longer exists.

Many Neo-Byzantine churches are modeled on the Hagia Sophia. The Kronstadt Naval Cathedral and Poti Cathedral closely replicate the internal geometry of the Hagia Sophia. The interior of the Kronstadt Naval Cathedral is a nearly 1-to-1 copy of the Hagia Sophia.

The marble revetment also closely mimics the source work. Like Ottoman mosques, many churches based on the Hagia Sophia include four semi-domes rather than two, such as the Church of Saint Sava in Belgrade.

Several churches combine the layout of the Hagia Sophia with a Latin cross plan. For instance, the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Louis (St. Louis), where the transept is formed by two semi-domes surrounding the main dome.

This church also closely emulates the column capitals and mosaic styles of the Hagia Sophia. Other similar examples include the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, Sofia, Saint Clement Catholic Church, Chicago, and Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.

The Catedral Metropolitana Ortodoxa in Sao Paulo and the Eglise du Saint-Esprit (Paris) closely follow the interior layout of the Hagia Sophia.

Both include four semi-domes, but the two lateral semi-domes are very shallow. In terms of size, the Eglise du Saint-Esprit is about two thirds the scale of the Hagia Sophia.

Synagogues based on the Hagia Sophia include the Congregation Emanu-El (San Francisco), Great Synagogue of Florence, and Hurva Synagogue.

CANADA: Air Tanzania’s Plane Impounded In Canada For An Old Debt

An aeroplane being delivered to Tanzania's national airline has been impounded in Canada over a Namibian-born farmer's $33-million compensation claim, Tanzania's foreign minister said.

The DHC Dash 8-400 aircraft, a turboprop also known as the Bombardier Q400 which seats up to 90 people, is the second to be seized in connection with case.

In August, an Airbus 220-300 aircraft was seized in South Africa's Johannesburg airport, after it landed on a flight from Tanzania, but was released in September.

The same person who went to court in South Africa, and caused the impounding of Airbus in August, went to a Canadian court, Tanzania's Foreign Minister Palamagamba Kabudi.

The plane, built by Canada's De Havilland company, was due for delivery as part of a fleet expansion of the government-run Air Tanzania.

We won in a case with this man in South Africa, Kabudi added, speaking at a government function broadcast on state-media in Tanzania's capital Dodoma.

I wonder why this person has emerged in Canada - but our lawyers are getting ready.

Kabudi appeared so angry over this matter.

He did not give details of how or where the plane was seized.

I summoned the Canadian ambassador to Tanzania and clearly told him that Tanzania is not happy and we are actually angry, Kabudi said.

Canadian High Commission did not answer any calls about the same matter.

In 2017, in a separate case, another Q400 turbo-prop plane was impounded by a Canadian construction firm over a $38 million lawsuit.

That plane was released later reportedly after a financial settlement.

Canada should also know that it is not the only manufacturer of planes in the world, Kabudi commented.

This seizure related to a case dating back to the 1980s, when Tanzania's government nationalised a massive, privately-owned bean and seed farm, seizing everything including equipment, 250 cars and 12 small planes.

The owner, who is now 86, was awarded $33 million, almost 30 million euros in compensation in the 1990s but the government only paid $20 million.

The outstanding balance of $16 million has accrued interest over the decades and now stands at $33 million, according to his lawyer.

The farmer has been fighting for years to get the outstanding amount.

Monday 25 November 2019

BRAZIL: Alitalia And Azul Ink Codeshare

Azul and Alitalia have signed a codeshare agreement which will significantly increase route options for both airlines’ customers. The agreement will be particularly important for Alitalia, which continues to struggle financially.

The codeshare deal will provide both airlines access to each other’s route network, which will particularly important for Alitalia. The Italian flag carrier hasn’t been profitable for a while now, and efforts to get it back on its feet have hit a number of hurdles.

Codeshare deals are signed between airlines all the time. Most of the time they’re signed by airlines located in neighboring regions.

A codeshare agreement allows one airline to sell seats on another airline’s routes as if they were their own. Gaining access to routes outside of their normal operating area is the main objective.

In the case of Azul and Alitalia, the new codeshare deal will allow them to offer a number of new routes on the other side of the Atlantic.

Alitalia will immediately gain access to the huge number of domestic destinations served by Azul.

According to Abhi Shah, Azul’s vice president of revenue, Alitalia customers will be able to connect to Azul’s more than 100 domestic destinations, more than half of which are exclusively served by Azul.

This could be a lucrative prospect for Alitalia, as it will allow it to connect Brazil’s large Italian/Italian heritage population with Italy itself.

On the other hand, Azul will be able to increase its trans-Atlantic presence, a key objective the airline has publicly stated it is aiming towards.

Azul also announced plans for a joint venture with TAP Air Portugal earlier this month. As the largest operator of scheduled trans-Atlantic flights between Europe and South America, TAP Air Portugal will be a key strategic partner for Azul.

Although the codeshare agreement with Azul will offer Alitalia customers many new South American destinations, Alitalia itself isn’t doing so well.

This year it seems there have been reports of new parties showing interest in an Alitalia acquisition every other week. But none of the rumors have amounted to much so far.

From easyJet and China Eastern in March to Lufthansa and even the owner of Rome’s S.S. Lazio, Alitalia has struggled to find investors to keep it afloat.

It seems Delta Air Lines has come the closest to signing an investment deal with Alitalia, but recent news of a larger bid from Lufthansa may have scared the American airline away.

Regardless of who invests in Alitalia, the airline still needs to sort out a new business plan for its relaunch.

While it seems the news of a codeshare agreement with Azul will be seen as a positive, there are a number of other much bigger issues to sort out before Alitalia can become a success again.

Saturday 23 November 2019

SERBIA: Serbia Becoming Tourist Heaven For Chinese

As of now Serbia attracts millions of tourists every year, despite being beset by political and economic difficulties due to its turbulent past during the 1990s.

The latest figures show that from January to August nearly 2.5 million tourists visited Serbia, a 6% rise from the same period last year. They include a large number of Chinese, Turkish and German tourists.

Lijana Stankovic, public relations manager of the National Tourism Organization of Serbia, said Turkey and Serbia share many cultural similarities.

What the Turks think about Serbia, they have shown by devising a slogan, 'Discover the Closeness,' because of their first impression when they come to Serbia. They also find nightlife in Belgrade very attractive.

Stankovic added that the Chinese who do not require a visa to visit Serbia are drawn by the unspoiled nature and cultural and historical sites.

Serbia's government signed an agreement with Fliggy, an online travel platform owned by Alibaba, for promotion of the country as a tourist destination.

Also, the tourism office has partnered with Turkey's national flag carrier Turkish Airlines (THY) for promotions.

Foreign tourists prefer spending their holiday in the big cities, while domestic tourists make a beeline for spa resorts.

The first choice of domestic tourists are spas, mostly Vrnjacka and Sokobanja – followed by the mountains of Zlatibor and Kopaonik.

Foreigners flock to the capital Belgrade or the cities of Novi Sad, Zlatibor, Vrnjacka Banja and Kopaonik, famous for its scenic views and hot springs.

The Iron Gate, Danube Gorde and Lepenski Vir, the first urban settlement in Europe dating back to 9,000 B.C. are not-be-missed destinations, she added.

We suggest walking the ancient paths of Roman Emperors on the UNESCO site of Gamzigrad Felix Romuliana, along with Vinimacium and Mediana.

Visit our UNESCO-listed monasteries of Studenica and Sopocani, and you will learn about the true values of life.

Make sure not to miss the impressive view from Belgrade fortress, the eternal guardian of our capital overlooking the confluence of rivers and nations for centuries," she concluded.

Serbia's second-largest city of Novi Sad is gearing up to become the European Youth Capital in 2020 and Capital of Culture in 2021.

It is home to the world-famous music festival EXIT which will celebrate its 20 years in 2020.

Friday 22 November 2019

BRAZIL: Azul Brazilian Airlines Renews Fleet

Azul Brazilian Airlines continued its fleet renewal last week when it received its first Airbus A321neo, the first of an order of 13. The aircraft, with a capacity for 214 passengers in a single-class configuration, is Azul’s largest narrow body and second A320neo family aircraft.

More than just being the delivery of a new airplane, though, the arrival of Azul’s first A321neo represents a landmark of a process the airline has been undertaking since 2016: the development of its ambitious fleet plan.

From its first flight in 2008, the airline relied solely on the Embraer 190 and 195 to position itself in the Brazilian market until 2011 when the ATR 72 came into play.

Benefitting from the then-empty Campinas/Viracopos Airport as a hub, Azul quickly grew as Brazil’s third-largest carrier in terms of traffic.

Little by little, however, the Embraer fleet started showing its shortcomings. Although having a smaller capacity than the Airbus and Boeing aircraft that its competitors operated, the aircraft lacked efficiency.

This was even more evident on larger flights. Brazil is vast, and Azul found it very difficult to operate longer flights with the Embraer in an efficient way.

That’s why in November 2014, with Brazil on the edge of an abyss that would show the biggest recession in the country since 1929, Azul made a big gamble, ordering 63 Airbus A320neos. The first one arrived in October 2016, starting operations that following December.

The A320neo quickly proved to be much more efficient than the E195. Even though the overall cost per trip of the Airbus is around five percent more than the cost of the Embraer, the cost per seat of the European aircraft is 29 percent lower since the A320 has 56 seats more than the E195, 174 against 118, the cost per seat of the European aircraft is 29 percent lower.

This allows Azul to increase its margins in markets that, during recent years, were matured by the Embraers, at the same time reducing the relative cost.

Abhi Shah, Azul’s Chief Revenue Officer, stated on a conference call, We could not have started Azul with large narrow bodies 10 years ago.

But now we have built a network that has enough feed and enough traffic that can fill Neos and so we are going to get the double benefit of improved fuel burn of the A320neo and more economies of scale.

This can be seen by the current routes served by Azul’s A320neos. The aircraft mostly connects high-density routes from Azul’s strongest markets to major Brazilian cities, as well as connects the carrier’s hubs — Viracopos, Confins and Recife — plus focus cities — Belem, Cuiaba, Curitiba, Goiania and Porto Alegre — to each other.

Apart from these, a big chunk of the routes connects the airline’s hubs — Viracopos/Campinas and Belo Horizonte/Confins — to cities in the north and northeastern regions of Brazil.

Before the Airbus, the airline could not connect these cities with as much efficiency as its competitors. The better unit cost brought by the performance of the A320neo on longer jaunts allow the airline to push further its capacity within these sectors.

The hub-and-spoke system is an important aspect of Azul’s network, so once these routes are connected with a stronger revenue and lower unit costs, all the other flights benefit from that in a kind of a chain reaction.

On the investors call for the third quarter of 2018, Abhi Shah stated that the A320 is driving great connectivity throughout our network and that is helping the smaller routes, the E-Jet routes, the ATR routes.

Another important aspect of Azul’s new fleet seat cost efficiency is that it makes the airline able to be in a good position when competing directly against LATAM and GOL, with the best example of in Guarulhos.

Before the introduction of the A320neo, Azul had a very small presence at Brazil’s largest airport. From August 2016 to August 2019, the revenue passenger kilometers (RPK ) grew from 131.1 million to 426.7 million, an increase of 225.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the domestic RPKs of Azul’s network increased 61.7 percent from 3Q 2016 to 4Q 2019. This means Azul grew four times more in Guarulhos than it has grown in the whole domestic market during the same period.

Azul’s CEO, John Rodgerson, previously stated that it is important to note that we have put some A320s in the Guarulhos airport because we have the most fuel-efficient aircraft in Latin America today, and with the lowest unit cost and lowest trip cost and its range.

So obviously in a more competitive market you are going to put your best-performing asset.

Monday 18 November 2019

RUSSIA: Neşet Koçkar Buys Intourist From Thomas Cook Group

Turkish investor has acquired Intourist, one of Russia's largest tour operators, from collapsed travel group Thomas Cook Group, the Russian company said Friday.

Neşet Koçkar, the second-largest shareholder in the Thomas Cook Group, announced Friday the signing of an agreement to acquire Intourist from the Thomas Cook Group, Intourist said in a statement, not revealing how much the deal was worth.

Koçkar, who also owns Turkish tour operator Anex, was quoted as saying: Once we have recapitalized and restructured Intourist, we intend to share Intourist with the Russian people through an IPO to celebrate its glorious comeback.

Intourist is Russia's oldest tour operator, created by the Soviet authorities in 1929 to organize highly controlled visits to the USSR for foreign visitors.

It was privatized in the early 1990s. Late last year Thomas Cook bought Intourist from billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov's Sistema holding firm.

Thomas Cook collapsed in September this year, triggering Britain's biggest peacetime repatriation of stranded holidaymakers.

Friday's deal will see Koçkar acquire Thomas Cook's inbound, outbound and domestic tour operator businesses, as well as retail stores, technology and other assets, Intourist said.

Completion of the transaction is subject to regulatory approvals, Intourist added.

Intourist is a very solid brand in the history of both Russian and international tourism and we simply cannot let it vanish, Koçkar said.

Intourist is a very valuable asset, said Viktor Topolkarayev, the company's director.

The company sustained its regular commercial activities despite the difficulties of Thomas Cook in the U.K., he added

Intourist is a Russian tour operator, headquartered in Moscow.

Intourist was the official state travel agency of the Soviet Union, founded in 1929.

Intourist was responsible for managing the great majority of foreigners' access to, and travel within, the Soviet Union.

In 1933 Aron Sheinman started work for Intourist in London and filled the post of Director from 1937 to 1939. When he was dismissed he refused to return to Moscow, and gained British citizenship later that year.

The enterprise was privatised in 1992.

In 2011 VAO Intourist established a joint venture with Thomas Cook Group plc with shares owned by the Thomas Cook Group of 50.1%. The incoming business within the joint venture was fully transferred to the Intourist LLC which intends to continue to expand the tour operating services and host tourists.

CHINA: Human Face Fish Sighted In A Lake

A creepy-looking fish was recently spotted by tourists swimming in a lake in southwestern China. It wasn’t its size or shape or colour that scared the pants off onlookers, but rather its human-like features.

With large, sunken eyes, defined nostrils, full lips and enough contouring that would make any makeup artist proud, the fish, which has since been identified as a carp was caught on video lurking below the water.

At one point in the video, it surfaced to munch on something near the shoreline before submerging below the water again, seemingly smacking its lips.

Sunday 17 November 2019

TURKEY: Pamukkale The Home Of Travertine Hosts 2.3M Visitors

Pamukkale, a region that enjoys global fame for its travertines, ancient ruins and healing waters, saw an increase in the number of visitors, with 2.3 million in a 10-month period of the year, adding another record to the ones it has broken this year.

A total of 2.1 million visitors came to the region last year in the same period, according to Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism data.

Pamukkale in central Denizli province, was the fourth-most visited site in Turkey last year, this year it hosted 284,498 visitors in October, up 43% compared to the same month last year.

Denizli Tourist Hoteliers and Operators Association President Gazi Murat Şen said on Wednesday that Pamukkale has had the best year in terms of number of visitors.

We aim to attract 3 million visitors by the end of the year, Şen said, adding that they will achieve this goal due to the intersession holiday of schools, he said they also want to host 5 million people in the medium term.

Underlining that 2019 has been a golden year for Pamukkale, Şen said: we aim to promote our country in the best way by staying above Turkey's average.

In fact, our goal is to exceed the number of visitors at Hagia Sophia and Topkapı Museum. We continue our efforts for everyone to see the fascinating view of the travertines.

Şen noted that tourists from Far Eastern countries as well as Russia, Germany and South America, led to intensified visitor traffic, adding that a significant number of foreign visitors participated in long-term Turkey tours which had increased the income per tourist.

Pamukkale is a town in western Turkey known for the mineral-rich thermal waters flowing down white travertine terraces on a nearby hillside. It neighbors Hierapolis, an ancient Roman spa city founded around 190 B.C.

Ruins there include a well-preserved theater and a necropolis with sarcophagi that stretch for 2km. The Antique Pool is famous for its submerged Roman columns, the result of an earthquake.

Pamukkale, meaning cotton castle in Turkish, is a natural site in Denizli in southwestern Turkey. The area is famous for a carbonate mineral left by the flowing water.

It is located in Turkey's Inner Aegean region, in the River Menderes valley, which has a temperate climate for most of the year.

The ancient Greco-Roman city of Hierapolis was built on top of the white castle which is in total about 2,700 metres (8,860 ft) long, 600 m (1,970 ft) wide and 160 m (525 ft) high. It can be seen from the hills on the opposite side of the valley in the town of Denizli, 20 km away.

Known as Pamukkale or Cotton Castle or ancient Hierapolis or Holy City, this area has been drawing the weary to its thermal springs since the time of Classical antiquity.

The Turkish name refers to the surface of the shimmering, snow-white limestone, shaped over millennia by calcium-rich springs. Dripping slowly down the vast mountainside, mineral-rich waters foam and collect in terraces, spilling over cascades of stalactites into milky pools below.

Legend has it that the formations are solidified cotton which is the area's principal crop that giants left out to dry.

Tourism is and has been a major industry in the area for thousands of years, due to the attraction of the thermal pools.

As recently as the mid-20th century, hotels were built over the ruins of Hierapolis, causing considerable damage.

An approach road was built from the valley over the terraces, and motor bikes were allowed to go up and down the slopes. When the area was declared a World Heritage Site, the hotels were demolished and the road removed and replaced with artificial pools.

Overshadowed by natural wonder, Pamukkale's well-preserved Roman ruins and museum have been remarkably underestimated and unadvertised; tourist brochures over the past 20 years have mainly featured photos of people bathing in the calcium pools.

Aside from a small footpath running up the mountain face, the terraces are all currently off-limits, having suffered erosion and water pollution at the feet of tourists.

Pamukkale's terraces are made of travertine, a sedimentary rock deposited by water from the hot springs.

In this area, there are 17 hot water springs in which the temperature ranges from 35 °C (95 °F) to 100 °C (212 °F).

The water that emerges from the spring is transported 320 metres (1,050 ft) to the head of the travertine terraces and deposits calcium carbonate on a section 60 to 70 metres (200 to 230 ft) long covering an expanse of 24 metres (79 ft) to 30 metres (98 ft).

When the water, supersaturated with calcium carbonate, reaches the surface, carbon dioxide de-gasses from it, and calcium carbonate is deposited. Calcium carbonate is deposited by the water as a soft gel which eventually crystallizes into travertine.

In this museum, alongside historical artifacts from Hierapolis, there are also artifacts from Laodiceia, Colossae, Tripolis, Attuda and other towns of the Lycos (Çuruksu) valley.

In addition to these, the museum has a large section devoted to artifacts found at Beycesultan Huyuk that includes some of the most beautiful examples of Bronze Age craft.

Artifacts from the Caria, Pisidia and Lydia regions are also on display in this museum. The museum's exhibition space consists of three closed areas of the Hierapolis Bath and the open areas in the eastern side which are known to have been used as the library and gymnasium.

The artifacts in open exhibition space are mostly marble and stone. Hierapolis is broken down into ruins.

Pamukkale is a tourist attraction. It is recognized as a World Heritage Site together with Hierapolis. Hierapolis-Pamukkale was made a World Heritage Site in 1988.

The underground volcanic activity which causes the hot springs also forced carbon dioxide into a cave, which was called the Plutonium, which here means place of the god Pluto. This cave was used for religious purposes by priests of Cybele, who found ways to appear immune to the suffocating gas.

Tadpoles can be found in the pools.

The hotels built in the 1960s were demolished as they were draining the thermal waters into their swimming pools and caused damage to the terraces.

The water supply to the hotels is restricted in an effort to preserve the overall site and to allow deposits to regenerate.

Access to the terraces is not allowed and visitors are asked to follow the pathway

These locations are also well known for their travertine formations:

- Egerszalók in Hungary

- Badab-e Surt in Iran

- Mammoth Hot Springs in the USA

- Pink and White Terraces in New Zealand

- Hierve el Agua in Mexico

- The White Whale in Italy - Bagni San Filippo (Siena)

- Baishuitai in China

- Garmchashma in Tajikistan

- Tatev in Armenia

- Terme di Saturnia in Italy

- Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area, A similar UNESCO world heritage travertine cascade in China.

- Dolok Tinggi Raja in Simalungun Sumatra Indonesia

TURKEY: Antalya Hosts 14 Million Visitors For The First Time

As one of the leading tourist destinations in the world, the Mediterranean resort city of Antalya has hosted more than 14 million visitors for the first time in its history.

According to data from the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism, the number of tourists arriving at Antalya and Gazipaşa airports as of Oct. 15 reached 14.05 million.

It had hosted some 12 million tourists in approximately the same period of last year.

The city had welcomed some 13.6 million tourists throughout 2018, and with some two-and-a-half months left it is moving toward a goal of 16 million tourists.

Russia took the lead in the number of tourists visiting Antalya among 193 countries.

Between Jan. 1 and Oct. 15, the number of tourists from Russia increased by 15% compared to last year, reaching 5.2 million.

Germany came second with an increase of 16% with 2.3 million tourists, followed by Ukraine with 776,000 visitors, the U.K. with 656,000, Poland with 516,000, and the Netherlands with 397,000 tourists.

Professional Hotel Managers Association (POYD) President Ulkay Atmaca said that they had a good September and October compared to previous years. Pointing to the 20% growth achieved in the first half of October, Atmaca stressed the importance of this figure.

He pointed out that the season was also longer this year compared to the previous years. From May to September, it was considered the high season. Mobility started in April this year, and it still continues in October, which shows that the season is prolonged. It is good for the tourism sector, Atmaca said.

We have broken a record in October. We had set the 16 million target for the end of the year, and Antalya will probably reach this target and set a new record. We set a new record every month. So 2019 has been the year of records for us, he added.

Having hosted 2.3 million German tourists last year, Antalya welcomed over 2.5 million visitors from Germany between January and October.

On a monthly basis in October last year, 368,941 German tourists visited Antalya, while in the same month this year, the city attracted 423,206 visitors from the said country.

The growth in the German market, which is essential for Turkish tourism, has pleased the tourism sector.

Antalya, which hosts millions of tourists every year as one of the leading tourism centers of the world, stands out with its luxurious hotels, sea, sand and sun, as well as its historical and cultural texture.

According to data from the Provincial Directorate of Culture and Tourism regarding Antalya Airport, 14.1 million foreign tourists came to the city between Jan. 1 and Oct. 31, 2019.

Russians took the lead in the number of tourists coming on a daily and monthly basis, followed by Germans.

Professional Hoteliers' Association (POYD) Chairman Ulkay Atmaca said that the hoteliers in the province are proud of the increase in the German market, recalling that they brought over 2.5 million German guests to Antalya in the first 10 months of this year.

Stressing that this figure will reach 3 million by the end of the year due to the collective effort of the sector and all its stakeholders, Atmaca said they expect to close the season with more than 3 million German visitors.

2016 taught us a lot, one of which was market diversity and publicity. We conducted studies in this direction, he continued, underlining that Turkey set records and experienced significant increases in all markets.

Erkan Yagcı, chairman of the Mediterranean Tourism Hoteliers and Operators Association (AKTOB), stated that 2015 was the best year for the German market with 3.2 million German visitors, pointing to a rapid recovery in the German market after 2016.

The increase in this market has pleased the sector. We think that these figures will continue to increase. We want to reach the 2015 figures in 2020 and beyond, he noted.

TURKEY: Istanbul Sabiha Gokçen Airport Receives Malaysia Airlines

Istanbul's Sabiha Gokçen Airport, located on the city's Asian side, welcomed its first long-haul flight on Saturday.

The Malaysia Airlines flight landed at the airport at noon. The Airbus A330 aircraft was welcomed with a water salute to mark the occasion.

The flight crew was greeted with bouquets and the passengers received some Turkish delight. It was followed by a cocktail where a custom made cake was cut.

The number of Turkey-Malaysia flights has increased in recent years. The weekly flights from Sabiha Gokçen Airport will be on Saturdays until Jan. 11, 2020.

With the Malaysia Airlines flight, the airport's number of international destinations reached 128. Some 49 foreign airlines currently operate flights to Istanbul's second airport.

Istanbul Sabiha Gokçen International Airport is one of two international airports serving Istanbul, the largest city in Turkey.

Located 32 km southeast of the city center, Sabiha Gokçen Airport is in the Asian part of the bi-continental Istanbul and serves as the hub for some airlines, including Pegasus Airlines as well as a secondary base for Turkish Airlines and Borajet.

The facility is named after Sabiha Gokçen, adoptive daughter of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the first female fighter pilot in the world.

Although Istanbul Airport, located 63 km away on the European side of Istanbul, is larger, Sabiha Gokçen is still one of the largest airports in the country.

The airport was built because Ataturk International Airport located on the European side was not large enough to meet the booming passenger demands both domestic and international. The airport opened on 8th January 2001.

In June 2007, Turkish conglomerate Limak Holding, India's GMR Group and Malaysia Airport Holding Berhad (MAHB) consortium gained the contract for upgrading and maintaining the airport.

In mid-2008, ground was broken to upgrade the international terminal to handle 25 million passengers annually. The new terminal was inaugurated on 31 October 2009.

SAW's international terminal capacity originally was 3 million passengers per year and the domestic terminal capacity was 0.5 million passengers per year.

In 2010, Sabiha Gokçen airport handled 11,129,472 passengers, a 71% increase compared to 2009. The airport was planning in 2011 to host 25 million passengers by 2023, but had already handled more than 31 million passengers by 2017.

In September 2010, the airport was voted the World's Best Airport at the World Low Cost Airlines Congress in London and received the award.

The other awards received by the airport in 2010 were: Turkey's Most Successful Tourism Investment 2010, the highly commended award from Routes Europe, and the Airport Traffic Growth Award by Airline News & Network Analysis web site

With 28,285,578 passengers and 206,180 aircraft movements in 2015, Sabiha Gokçen International Airport is the third busiest single-runway airport in the world, after Mumbai and London Gatwick.

However, both Mumbai and Gatwick actually have two runways and are only considered single-runway because they can only operate the second runway if the main one is out of use. This makes Sabiha Gokçen the world's busiest true single-runway airport.

A second runway is currently being built and is expected to be operational in June 2019. The second runway will increase the hourly capacity from 40 to 80 movements. After the second runway is built, Lindbergh Field in San Diego will be the busiest true single runway airport in the world.

On 23 December 2015 at approximately 2:00 AM, explosions were reported to have occurred in a parked Pegasus Airlines aircraft, killing one cleaner and wounding another inside the plane.

Five nearby planes were reported to be damaged as well. The operations were reported to continue normally soon after, however with heightened security measured in place.

Three days later, it was reported that PKK-affiliated terrorist group Kurdistan Freedom Falcons had organized the attack.

TURKEY: China Southern Airlines, China's Largest Airline To Fly More Chinese Tourists To Istanbul

China Southern Airlines, the country's largest airline, is introducing the world's largest passenger aircraft - the Airbus 380 - on its Istanbul route, due to an increased interest in Turkey.

The use of such aircraft and Turkey's flag carrier Turkish Airlines' (THY) new destinations in China, including the central northwestern city of Xi'an, will help Chinese companies bring more tourists to Turkey.

Turkey has seen high interest from Chinese tourists in recent years, boosted by improving cultural and economic ties between the two countries.

According to the Culture and Tourism Ministry data, some 292,000 Chinese citizens came to Turkey in the first eight months of this year, an increase of 12.66% compared to the same period last year.

If this upward trend continues, the number of Chinese tourists is expected to hit 500,000 by the end of the year.

As Chinese airlines launched flights to Turkey one after another to get their share, Chinese companies with existing lines to Turkey have also scheduled additional flights from new destinations.

Last May, China Southern Airlines launched flights from Wuhan, the largest city in Central China with a population of around 11 million, in addition to its Beijing line.

Regarded as China's largest airline in terms of fleet, the company schedules flights from Beijing's Capital airport. And the airline is now planning to carry more passengers to Turkey by expanding the type of aircraft due to intense demand from its citizens.

With necessary permits, the company will resume its flight from Daxing, the second airport of Beijing, to Istanbul Airport with the Airbus 380, which can carry up to 853 passengers in a single-class economy configuration or 555 passengers if in a three-class configuration.

China marked Turkey Tourism Year in 2018 and hosted dozens of events around the country. Around 400,000 Chinese tourists visited Turkey last year.

This number is expected to approach 500,000 this year and surpass 750,000 by 2020. The number of Chinese tourists in the country is expected to rise to 1 million in two years.

Chinese citizens mostly visit Cappadocia, one of the prominent destinations frequented by Chinese tourists in Turkey, Pamukkale, Ephesus and Istanbul.

Meanwhile, Airbus 380s could not use now-closed Atatürk Airport except for special operations due to the lack of suitable runways and taxiways.

However, with runways, taxiways and passenger bridges fit for wide-body aircraft, Istanbul Airport can easily accommodate the A380.

Airbus previously announced that it would halt the production of A380 passenger aircraft and that the final delivery would take place in 2021.

The A380 has a body length of 73 meters, a height of 24 meters, and a wingspan of 80 meters. The aircraft can fly at a top speed of 1,185 kilometers per hour, with a range of 14,800 kilometers.

China Southern Airlines Company Limited is an airline headquartered in Baiyun District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.

Established on 1 July 1988 following the restructuring of the CAAC Airlines that acquired and merged a number of domestic airlines, the airline became one of China's "Big Three" airlines alongside Air China and China Eastern Airlines, the world's seventh-largest airline measured by passengers carried and Asia's largest airline in fleet size, revenue, and passengers carried.

With its main hubs at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport and Beijing Capital International Airport, the airline operates more than 2,000 flights to more than 200 destinations daily and was a member of SkyTeam until 1 January 2019.

The airline started a frequent flyer program partnership with American Airlines in March 2019. The logo of the airline consists of a kapok flower which is also the city flower of Guangzhou on a blue tail fin.

The parent company of China Southern Airlines Company Limited is China Southern Air Holding Company, a state-owned enterprise that was supervised by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council.

China Southern is headquartered in the China Southern Air Building at 68 Qixin Road in Baiyun District, Guangzhou, Guangdong Province, China.

It was previously at 278 Jichang Airport Road in Baiyun District.

China Southern had plans to open a new headquarters facility on a 988-acre (400 ha) site on the outskirts of Guangzhou, about 4 miles (6.4 km) from Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. Woods Bagot won a competition for the architect firm which would design the facility.

The proposed site consists of two parcels of land on opposite sides of a highway leading to Baiyun Airport; both sites are shaped like wings. The site will have a bridge and light rail system that operates above the highway to connect the two parcels, which will each have distinct functions.

For instance, the east parcel will house internal functions such as the data center facilities, staff dormitories, and the training center. The airline wants it to be aesthetically pleasing from the air since it sits below a runway approach.

The site will have a lot of outdoor space, which Woods Bagot designed along with Hargreaves Associates and Sherwood Design Engineers.

Jean Weng, a Woods Bagot Beijing-based principal, said most Chinese cities are very dense and very urban, but China Southern wants to create a human-scale campus, that's close to nature. The new headquarters was opened in August 2016.

China Southern Airlines serves 193 destinations in 35 different countries worldwide.

It maintains a strong presence in the domestic market with its main hubs at Beijing Capital International Airport and Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport with secondary hubs at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport, and Urumqi Diwopu International Airport, along with other focus cities in Changchun, Changsha, Dalian, Shenyang, Shenzhen, Wuhan, and Zhengzhou.

The airline plans to continue to develop Chongqing and Urumqi as hubs as well to exploit the domestic market potential.

China Southern offers 485 flights a day from its Guangzhou hub and 221 from its Beijing hub. The airline provides services to 65 international destinations.

Most of the international flights link Guangzhou with world cities. There are also plenty of international flights operated through Beijing, Shanghai, Urumqi notably to Central Asia and Dalian to Japan, South Korea, and Russia.

China Southern Airlines has developed an extensive network to Southeast Asia and also has become the Chinese airline with the largest presence in Australia.

China Southern is also considering expanding into the South American markets, as well as further expansion into the African market.

Guangzhou Baiyun aircraft collision: On 2 October 1990, a hijacked Xiamen Airlines Boeing 737 crashed into a China Southern Airlines Boeing 757, killing 128 people from both aircraft.

China Southern Airlines Flight 3943: On 24 November 1992, China Southern Airlines Flight 3943, a Boeing 737-300, crashed into a hill near Guilin, Guangxi, due to an engine thrust malfunction. All 141 people on board were killed.

China Southern Flight 3456: On 8 May 1997, China Southern Flight 3456, a Boeing 737-300, crashed on approach to Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport killing 35 people and injuring 9.

On 13 November 2017, China Southern Flight 6406, a Boeing 737-800, with 151 passengers, was en route at 7800 meters (FL256) about 90 nm southwest of Changsha (China) when the crew received a cargo smoke indication and decided to divert to Changsha Huanghua International Airport.

The aircraft landed safely on runway 36 about 20 minutes later. The crew initiated an emergency evacuation via slides; one passenger was injured - sprained ankle during the evacuation. Emergency services found no trace of fire, heat or smoke.

On 5 January 2018, during a blizzard that hit the northeastern United States, a China Southern Boeing 777-300ER's wingtip struck the tail end of a Kuwait Airways Boeing 777 while taxiing at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, causing damage to both aircraft. Nobody was injured.

In 2013, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordered China Southern Airlines to pay $11,600 in fines for violations of the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) during the airline's transport of monkeys to laboratories in the United States.

The USDA found the airline had transported more than 1,000 monkeys into the United States without federal permission to do so and had transported the animals in insecure crates.

Previously, the airline had been ordered to pay $14,438 for AWA violations during one transport that left more than a dozen monkeys dead after they went without food and water for an extended period of time.

Following these most recent violations, China Southern announced that it would no longer transport monkeys to laboratories. PETA had protested against the airline for these shipments.

CANADA: WestJet Dissabled Passenger Complains About His Wheel Chair Getting Damaged By Baggage Handlers

A Vancouver man says baggage handlers dropped his specialized wheelchair on three separate WestJet flights, but the airline has yet to repair the damage.

Mitch Stark moved from Toronto to Vancouver earlier this year. Between May and August, he flew between the two cities on three flights operated by WestJet.

During the first flight in May, he watched from his window seat at the front of the plane as baggage handlers attempted to manually lift and load the 250-kilogram (450-pound) chair into the aircraft.

Instead, Stark said, it was dropped.

These are my legs and in my mind I’m thinking, they just dropped my legs, he said, describing what went through his mind as he saw the chair falling.

Whats more, Stark said he witnessed this happen on multiple occasions.

It would literally drop onto the ground, bounce off of the ground like a basket ball, he said.

Then when they did get it into aircraft they would turn the wheelchair on its side because it doesn’t fit in the aircraft.

He immediately filed a complaint with the airline and has tried for the last several months to get his wheelchair repaired.

In addition to missing fenders and lights, cracks and a dysfunctional armrest, the specialized chair that once enabled him to stand upright can no longer do so.

This wheelchair is missing one of the integral parts in a wheel in order for it to be stable for me to stand up, he said.

From the first incident until now, I haven’t been able to use something that me and my family paid a lot of money for me to be able to stand, like any other person in the world.

Damage is estimated at around $9,000, according to Stark.

A WestJet spokesperson apologized for the delayed repair, saying the company is working with a third party to fix the damage.

WestJet said it hopes to have the repairs done soon.

A Halifax man who uses a wheelchair is calling out WestJet for giving him the runaround and being ill-equipped to accommodate his disability.

Connor Hirtle, who is a C6 quadriplegic and requires the assistance of a caregiver, was travelling back to Halifax on Sunday after a weekend with friends in Toronto.

He says he arrived at the airport an hour and a half before his flight was set to take off, but was subjected to a lengthy search by airport security.

All my bags got searched. We each had a carry on, each of us, my medical bag all of it was for some reason thoroughly searched, Hirtle said.

That took up an easy 45 minutes, but two WestJet representatives came to security and advised me, ‘We’ll wait for you.’”

Hirtle says he was at the gate about 10 minutes prior to his flight, but a manager with WestJet told him he wasn’t allowed to board.

We sat there for probably 10 or 15 minutes watching the plane, just sitting there at the gate, said Hirtle. There were three other ladies that WestJet wouldn’t allow on either.

After the flight departed, Hirtle and his caregiver booked the next flight available to Halifax. The flight included a layover in Ottawa, which Hirtle says makes travel even more difficult, as he frequently has to get in and out of his chair.

He called WestJet and tried to get his money back, but was told that wouldn’t happen.

She just explained this was a basic fare flight, we can’t really change it for you, we can’t supply you with another flight, he said.

Hirtle is a part of a special program with WestJet that gives him a little extra seating room. But Hirtle says that was ignored on both the flight to Ottawa and Halifax, and he was seated in sections of the planes with little to no leg room.

Hirtle also noted that his flight from Ottawa to Halifax experienced a delay, as flight attendants were waiting for a mother and her son to board.

Which was perfectly fine, I don’t mind waiting at all, said Hirtle, but it was just the fact that WestJet just told me in Toronto that we weren’t allowed to do that.”

When Hirtle travels, he brings a second wheelchair that he uses to shower. That wheelchair, Hirtle says, ended up on his original flight. His other wheelchair received partial damage to his brake and wheels.

I expect some, with how airports and companies handle your luggage. It’s just this a bit more fragile, which they even mark on, but this time I guess they just didn’t care, he said.

After speaking with several different WestJet communications representatives and receiving the same response, Hirtle turned to social media to express his frustrations.

His Facebook post was shared hundreds of times, with many others calling for Hirtle to get his money back.

People are sort of disgusted with what went on, Hirtle said. I don’t usually do that, but I’ve been on many flights and never had this issue.

WestJet called the situation unfortunate and stated they are reaching out to Hirtle to again offer our apologies along with a further explanation on our policies.

The company would not, however, confirm whether he would receive a refund.

As we take all claims of this nature very seriously, our team will also ensure that any mobility device damage claim is expediently processed, the statement reads.

While we recognize this situation was disappointing, to ensure we meet the needs of guests requiring special assistance we do request at least 48 hours of advance notice to ensure we support those requests.

WestJet added that guests are encouraged to be present at their gate at least 40 minutes prior to departure, as their cut-off time for boarding is 10 minutes prior to any scheduled departure.

Since we operate over 700 flights daily, understandably any delay can impact thousands of guests and our policies are in place to ensure we offer a consistent experience across our network, the statement adds.

Air passenger rights activist Gabor Lukacs says Hirtle’s situation with WestJet speaks to a larger problem that people with disabilities have to deal with whenever they fly.

It so appalling to see a man with a disability being treated this way. This type of treatment is way too common when it comes to flying.

WestJet treated Hirtle poorly from both a legal and common sense perspective.

It was unreasonable. Ten minutes is the cut-off in such situations, my understanding is Hirtle presented himself right at the 10-minute mark at the gate.

It was entirely unreasonable to not fly him out on the flight in which he held booking.

The airline bears some responsibility when a passenger shows up to security under their own recommended timeline.

The airline does have a way to prioritize passengers in security, he said. The airline cannot be expected to hold the flight, but in this situation it would have made sense.

Saturday 16 November 2019

CANADA: Swoop Airline Introduces Flights From Winnipeg To Five Destinations

Swoop, a low-fare airline that’s a subsidiary of WestJet, announced on Friday it will soon be offering direct flights from Winnipeg to five new destinations.

Increased connectivity has the potential to strengthen our economy and is good for our community. With Swoop adding more routes, it shows they are confident in Winnipeg as a place to grow their business, said president and CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg Dayna Spiring.

The airline said beginning this weekend it will offer the following new flights:

- A flight between Winnipeg and Orlando will be offered two times a week, on Tuesday and Friday, beginning on Nov. 15 until April 24, 2020;

- A flight between Winnipeg and Las Vegas will be offered twice a week, on Monday and Friday, beginning on Nov. 15 until April 24, 2020;

- A flight between Winnipeg and Fort Lauderdale will be offered twice a week, on Monday and Saturday, beginning Nov. 16 until April 25, 2020;

- A flight between Winnipeg and Tampa Bay will be offered twice a week, on Thursday and Sunday, beginning Nov. 17 until April 23, 2020; and

- A flight between Winnipeg and Los Cabos, beginning on Nov. 17, will be offered one time a week until Dec. 18 and then two times a week until April 23, 2020. The flights will be offered on Wednesday and Sunday.

Swoop is a Canadian ultra low-cost carrier (ULCC) owned by WestJet. It was officially announced on September 27, 2017, and began flights on June 20, 2018.

The airline is based in Calgary, Alberta and was named after WestJet's desire to "swoop"or jump into the Canadian market with a new business model.

Shortly after launch, WestJet announced that Swoop would not be based in Calgary, but in another nearby market like Edmonton, Abbotsford, Hamilton or Winnipeg.

On February 1, 2018, Swoop officially began selling tickets to the public, announcing John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport as their main hub and Edmonton International Airport as their western hub.

Swoop operates a fleet composed entirely of Boeing 737 Next Generation aircraft, specifically the Boeing 737-800. Swoop plans to operate a fleet of six aircraft in 2018, scaling up to 10 aircraft by spring 2019.

Swoop's current fleet is equipped with Recaro BL3520 leather seats and pink antimacassars over the headrests. Each seat includes a tray-table, seat pocket, an adjustable headrest, and movable armrests.

Swoop focuses on point-to-point flying, not offering connections. In terms of destinations, Swoop's biggest hub is John C. Munro Hamilton International Airport, offering service to almost all destinations.

Swoop's western base is Edmonton International Airport. Some destinations, such as Sangster International Airport are served seasonally.

Swoop has an agreement with travel company Sunwing that allows passengers out of Hamilton, London, Abbotsford, Winnipeg and Edmonton to book Sunwing vacation packages with Swoop flights.

Winnipeggers can now book their flights through to April. More information is available on the Swoop website.

CANADA: WestJet Flight Diverted To Pearson International Airport In Toronto

A WestJet flight that was supposed to land at the Region of Waterloo International Airport on Friday afternoon had to land in Toronto instead.

It was due to what the airline is calling a "mechanical reason,"

Flight 556 landed safely at Pearson International Airport.

The 95 passengers on the plane then continued their journey back to Kitchener via bus.

WestJet Airlines Ltd. is a Canadian airline founded in 1996. It began as a low-cost alternative to the country's competing major airlines.

WestJet provides scheduled and charter air service to more than 100 destinations in Canada, the United States, Europe, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

WestJet is currently the second-largest Canadian air carrier, behind Air Canada, operating an average of 777 flights and carrying more than 66,130 guests per day.

In 2018, WestJet carried 25.49 million passengers, making it the ninth-largest airline in North America by passengers carried.

WestJet is a public company with more than 14,000 employees, and is not part of any airline alliance. It operates three variants of the Boeing 737 Next Generation family, the Boeing 737 MAX, as well as Boeing 767 and Boeing 787 aircraft, on select long-haul routes.

WestJet has two direct subsidiaries, WestJet Encore which operates the Bombardier Q400, and WestJet Link, which operates the Saab 340B. The airline's headquarters is located adjacent to the Calgary International Airport.

In 2018, WestJet had passenger revenues of CAN$4.733 billion.

WestJet is operated by WestJet Airlines Ltd., a public company, incorporated and domiciled in Canada. Its shares are publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) under the symbol WJA.

As a result of the 100% offer from Onex Corporation in April 2019, it emerged that as of June 2019, Silchester International Investors was WestJet's largest shareholder with 16.5% of the float, while Letko Brosseau and Associates owned 10% of the company.

The parent company's accounts include various directly wholly owned subsidiaries, also incorporated in Canada, including WestJet Vacations Inc., WestJet Encore Ltd. and Swoop.

On 13 May 2019, the company announced that it had accepted an offer from Onex Corporation to purchase the company, a $5-billion deal that would require shareholder approval in July and regulatory approval.

The Onex offer was for $31 a share, substantially higher than the closing price of approximately $18 at the close of trading on the previous business day.

WestJet and WestJet Encore currently fly to 108 destinations in 25 countries throughout North and Central America, the Caribbean and Europe including 36 cities in Canada and 23 in the United States.

WestJet's largest hub in terms of daily departures is Toronto Pearson International Airport, the airline's main connection point in Eastern Canada and Calgary International Airport, the airline's main connection point in Western Canada.

WestJet provides the most Canadian flights to Las Vegas and Orlando, offering non-stop routes some of them seasonal from nine Canadian cities to Las Vegas and eleven to Orlando.

Since 2008, WestJet is the largest international carrier, by volume of passengers, flying into Las Vegas. WestJet also serves 20 destinations in the Caribbean and seven in Mexico, some on a seasonal basis.

In July 2015, WestJet announced flights to London Gatwick Airport operated by Boeing 767 aircraft, which had not previously been part of the airline's fleet, starting spring 2016.

In January 2018, WestJet announced its first flight to mainland Europe. WestJet started flying between Halifax and Paris in May 2018. The airline in this route is being operated with its new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

In October 2018, new international destinations and routes were announced. Starting in 2019, WestJet began direct flights from Calgary to Dublin and Paris. WestJet is using its new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft to fly these new routes.

In addition, the current Calgary to London Gatwick Airport route, which was formerly served by WestJet's Boeing 767 aircraft, has been replaced by new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft.

At the end of October, WestJet also announced two new destinations. It began flights between Calgary and Atlanta, WestJet's expected joint-venture carrier Delta Air Lines largest hub, in March 2019. WestJet is the only carrier operating a direct route between Calgary and Atlanta.

The airline also announced flights between Toronto and Barcelona, its second destination in mainland Europe which began in May 2019.

FINLAND: Finnair Steady Growth

Finnair Chief Executive Officer, Topi Manner, started his speech by stating that the goal of the carrier now is to deliver sustainable, profitable growth, as the airline moves forward from its previous phase of accelerated growth.

Finnair, while it’s home market is fairly small, as Finland only has more than 5.5 million people living in the country, the airline and its main hub, Helsinki Vantaa Airport (HEL), became a connecting point between Europe and Asia.

We are also a big, small airline in a sense that we are big enough to do things, we are small enough to get them implemented, the airline’s CEO said, adding that we are agile, we are known to have made courageous and determined decisions.

Like the decision to become the launch customer for the Airbus A350 in Europe. Previously, Finnair also became the global launch customer of the ATR 72 and the MD-11.

Some of these bold decisions are also to be made going forward, notes Manner. So, where does Finnair go next

Helsinki (HEL) became a connecting point between Europe and Asia for Finnair and it would further strengthen ties between Finland and Asia, as the shortest northern route is available due to the optimal geographical position of Helsinki, the airline’s CEO stated.

In the past five years, Manner noted, Finnair doubled its capacity to Asia. Interestingly enough, 50% of the carrier’s revenues come from transfer passengers, while local traffic contributes 30%. 73% of the transferring passengers are from Asia, the airline’s data shows.

And Finnair plans to grow further in the continent by focusing on Asian megacities, such as Beijing, China or Tokyo, Japan, where the company plans to further increase frequencies, rather than adding more destinations in Asia.

Its current business model allows it to be placed between the giant airlines on one hand and low-cost carriers on the other hand, Manner says.

But low-cost carriers, namely Norwegian Air Shuttle, offer no resistance to Finnair in Scandinavia the only two destinations the long-haul low-cost carrier serves are Thailand, namely Bangkok (BKK) and Krabi (KBV), meaning Finnair has absolutely no pressure from the lower price point.

The only other local competitor in Northern Europe is Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS), which flies to Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo.

The Finnish airline announced that it would introduce Premium Economy class cabin to further diversify its product on board in 2020. Finnair’s costs in fuel have been growing faster than its revenues, the company’s presentation highlighted, with the former growing by 6.1% since 2014, while the latter has grown 5.5% since 2018.

A premium economy cabin would allow Finnair to cater to the demand of the passengers and offer more comfort, as the Senior Vice President of Customer Experience, Piia Karhu, has highlighted by stating that over 50% of leisure and business class passengers responded that they would very likely or extremely likely travel on the newest cabin offering.

For Finnair itself, Premium Economy makes for very valuable real estate, Karhu said, as the airline is able to sell Premium Economy seats from one and a half to two times higher than basic economy prices, improving yields.

The airline plans to invest between $3.8-4.4 billion (€3.5-4 billion) into its fleet and other assets until 2025. Some of that investment would go into the growth, but most of it would be dedicated to the replacement of its aging fleet.

The average age of Finnair’s 83 aircraft is 10.2 years, with its narrow-body fleet, especially the Airbus A319 (eight aircraft) and the Airbus A320 (10 aircraft), being by far the oldest aircraft that the carrier operates, with an average age of 18.6 and 17.4 per aircraft, respectively.

As of October 30, 2019, Finnair only has five Airbus A350 aircraft on order and no other jets planned, Airbus Order and Deliveries file states.

Over the next six years, the Helsinki-based company plans to operate 100 aircraft in total, with approximately 30 of those being wide-bodies.

Ole Orvér, the Chief Commercial Officer of the company, did not specify any concrete plans about Finnair’s future fleet, however, stated that while the airline was happy with its current narrow-body fleet, not necessarily the same could be said in the future.

Going forward, we will have something that brings low cost, efficient operations and of course a customer proposition that works, Orver said, but whether Finnair will switch to a single type of short-haul aircraft, he was reluctant to answer, stating that it is purely down to price.

During 2019, the airline announced new partnerships with Fiji Airways and China Southern Airlines to further increase capacity and route offerings into Asia, including its existing oneworld alliance agreements with Cathay Pacific, Japan Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, SriLankan Airlines and Qantas.

Furthermore, the Finnish carrier plans to operate more than 100 weekly flights to Asia in Summer 2020. Newest destinations in 2019 include Beijing’s newest airport, Daxing International (PKX), Sapporo, Japan (CTS), while Busan, South Korea (PUS) and Haneda International Airport (HND) in Tokyo, Japan are set to be inaugurated in March 2020.

Currently, the airline has two main time banks when long-haul flights depart, between 5 and 10 AM and between 3 and 7 PM, with some flights departing around midnight.

In 2020, Finnair plans to offer midday departures, to allow smoother connections for transferring passengers. Following the expanded time banks, the airline will utilize its assets in a more efficient way, notes Ole Orvér.

All in all, Finnair’s goals are clear as the snow up in Lapland – expanding into the ever-growing Asian market and securing crucial slots and time windows to land or depart from the busiest airports in the region.

Finnair will hold the monopoly on direct flights between Busan, PUS and Sapporo for now, as no other European airline serves these two Asian cities.

However, the question remains how sustainable this model is long-term, even if the airline secures the limited capacity into the future, as current industry trends are shying away from the hub-and-spoke model and instead focusing on point-to-point traffic.

Nevertheless, the current conditions that Finnair operates in, including its top of the line wide-body fleet of 14 Airbus A350 and eight Airbus A330 aircraft, allows it to be the dominant airline on the Siberian air corridor, a crucial junction between Europe, China and Japan.

The fact that most of its passenger revenues come from transferring travelers, mitigates the risk of low-cost carriers putting a strain on the airline’s earnings on intra-European flights, as passengers are fed through its hub in Helsinki to connect either to or from Asia.

USA: Airlines And Flights Regularly Cancelled

A report from the U.S. Department of Transportation looked at the airlines that had the highest percentage of flights canceled for July 2019. The percentage was calculated from the total flights the airline canceled divided by the total flights it booked in July.

Overall, major airlines had relatively low cancellation percentages.

Of Tampa International Airport's, American Airlines, the airport’s third largest airline, had the most cancellations with 2.3 percent of its flights canceled.

Southwest Airlines, which is Tampa’s largest carrier, had a cancellation rate of 1.4 percent, making it the airline with the 11th most canceled flights and Tampa International’s most canceled carrier.

Delta Airlines, TPA’s second busiest carrier, performed well with only 0.4 percent of its flights being canceled. United Airlines, the fourth busiest carrier at Tampa International, also performed well with 1.3 percent of its flight being canceled in July.

ExpressJet Airlines, which does not operate out of Tampa, had the highest percentage of cancellations at 5 percent. Hawaiian Airlines, which is also not in Tampa, had the lowest cancellation rate with only 0.1 percent of flights cancelled in July.

Spirit Airlines, which has gained a reputation for cancellations, was the ninth most canceled airline, placing ahead of American Airlines.

Find the comprehensive report here

GAMBIA: TAP Air Portugal Starts Three Flights A Week To Banjul

TAP Air Portugal has launched flights to Banjul, capital of the Gambia.

A regular operation is now offering three flights a week, departing from Lisbon.

Flights between Lisbon and Banjul are being operated by Airbus A320.

The service departs on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 20:55 and arrives in Banjul at 00:10 the next day.

The return leg departs at 01:05 on Wednesday, Fridays and Sundays, to land at Humberto Delgado Airport at 06:05.

The beach, nature and adventure are Banjul’s hallmarks that give the African city life: the colourful and lively markets contrast with the white sand of the beaches and the lush green nature that characterizes Banjul.

On a cruise across the Gambia River, you can see hippos, monkeys and more than 500 bird species.

With this new route, TAP has once again expanded its operation to Africa, adding one more country and one capital to its network of destinations on the African continent.

In 2018, TAP carried more than 1.1 million passengers on African routes, a growth of 11.3 per cent over the previous year.

TAP Air Portugal is the flag carrier airline of Portugal, headquartered at Lisbon Airport which also serves as its hub.

TAP – Transportes Aéreos Portugueses – has been a member of the Star Alliance since 2005 and operates on average 2,500 flights a week to 87 destinations in 34 countries worldwide.

TAP – Transportes Aéreos Portugueses – has been a member of the Star Alliance since 2005 and operates on average 2,500 flights a week to 87 destinations in 34 countries worldwide.

The company has a fleet of 88 airplanes, and all of which were manufactured by Airbus and the remaining 22 by Embraer and ATR, operating on behalf of the regional airline TAP Express.

In June 2015 the company was semi-privatised and became majority-owned by the Atlantic Gateway Consortium, led by David Neeleman, who founded JetBlue and Azul Brazilian Airlines and co-founded WestJet, together with Portuguese entrepreneur Humberto Pedrosa.

The Atlantic Gateway Consortium purchased 61% of the carrier from the government of Portugal on 24 June 2015, with an option to buy the Portuguese government's remaining 34 percent stake in 2018.

This deal has been surrounded in controversy because it was completed at the end of the center-right government's mandate with wide opposition from TAP employees.

On October 2015, a new left-wing government has sought to return majority control of the airline to the state, having signed in February 2016 a deal with the private consortium.

This indicates that the company is 50% owned by the Portuguese state, 45% by the Atlantic Gateway Consortium and 5% available shareholder to collaborators and employees of TAP Air Portugal.

According to the JACDEC Airliner Safety Report released in January 2011, TAP Air Portugal was rated Western Europe's safest airline and tied for fourth worldwide with three other airlines - Qantas, Air New Zealand, and Finnair.

The JADEC report rates TAP Air Portugal well above any of its competitors in its prime geographic operating areas: Europe, Atlantic Islands, Africa, North America and South America.

TAP Air Portugal Flight 425: the crash of Flight 425 at Madeira Airport on 19 November 1977 remains TAP Air Portugal's only fatal accident.

Flight 425 was flying to Madeira Airport from Brussels via Lisbon. The Boeing 727 crashed while landing on runway 24 in heavy rain. Before the crash, the pilot had made two unsuccessful attempts to land and had decided to make one more attempt.

The plane touched down too late and overran the runway which was, at the time, only 1,600 metres (5,200 ft) long. The plane crashed onto a beach at the end of the runway, splitting into two pieces and bursting into flames.

Of the 164 people aboard, 131 were killed and 33 survived. It is the second-deadliest aeroplane accident in Portugal after Independent Air Flight 1851.

The crash prompted officials to explore ways of extending the short runway on Madeira. Because of the height of the runway relative to the beach below, an extension was very difficult and too expensive to perform.

A 200 m (656 ft) extension was built between 1983 and 1986. In 2000 the runway was extended to 2,781 m (9,124 ft) length and became capable of handling wide-body commercial jets such as the Boeing 747 or Airbus A340.

USA: Spirit Airlines Starts Nonstop Flights Out Of Tampa International Airport

Spirit Airlines will soon start non stop flights out of Tampa International Airport and it plans to evolve its presence in the market even more.

Spirit is launching a new daily service to New York, Newark, New Jersey and Indianapolis on Thursday.

Last week, the airline also started service to Nashville International Airport.

The ultra low-cost carrier has added more new passengers in fiscal year 2019 than any other airline at TPA. With the new connections, Spirit will now serve 24 destinations from Tampa.

TPA has served a record 22.2 million passengers for fiscal year 2019 and Spirit has been responsible for nearly 40 percent of the passenger growth, or 437,000 passengers.

The airline's presence in Tampa Bay is also extending, with the announcement of a new partnership with ZooTampa.

Spirit will be the presenting sponsor of the updated Macaw Flyover. The flyover now has a new, longer flight path for the birds and more macaws in the exhibit.

Spirit Chief Commercial Officer Matt Klein on Spirit's plans for the Tampa Bay market:

On Spirit's growth in Tampa: We are about 25 percent larger this year than we were last year in our seat capacity. We peak out at 29 departures per day on our busiest days from here.

The Tampa has been growing overall. We have been 40 percent of new growth of customers at the airport. It's been a great partnership.

Generally speaking, we run one flight a day. Tampa itself is giving us a lot of thoughts on opportunities in the future here in terms of how much more we can do. When you are more than a destination like Tampa is becoming, you can support more flights year round and not just seasonal.

On determining what routes would work for Tampa: In the New York metro area we added service from Newark as well as LaGuardia Airport. Those by themselves tell you how we view Tampa. We would like to do more. When we come from larger cities, it's natural people want to come to Tampa.

We started the Nashville service and earlier this year added San Juan. Puerto Rico overall has been a really good market for us and Tampa feeding into Puerto Rico seemed like a fit.

Our product allows us to be successful in certain kinds of routes that other airlines may not be able to find the same path of success in.

We are looking for two main things pieces to the decision, if there is a natural affinity between city A and city B and if cities are being served by somebody else that fares seem to be too high.

It's our obligation to grow markets, grow routes. We just don't take market share, that's not what we do. What we do is make the market bigger overall. When fares are too high, there aren't enough seats.

On getting into large markets: In some airports they are constrained. There's not as many gates available and in some cases no gates available. Or in the case of New York's LaGuardia Airport, it's what is called slot control.

You can only have so many takeoff and landing slots we have access to. We have to make highly prioritized decisions. It's a highly sought after asset.

Here at the Tampa airport, we work closely with them and there's still room for growth here. We utilize our assets, gates as much as we can and we have more seats on airplanes than what most other airlines have and that allows us to spread our cost over more seats and lower fares.

On types of travelers for us, we are primarily a leisure airline for vacationers and people visiting friends and family.

We do care about business travelers and see more so small business owners and not large corporations. We have a big front seat product that's good for someone who is on a business trip.

GERMANY: Lufthansa Strike, Hundreds Of Flights Were Cancelled

Lufthansa has cancelled 1,300 flights after it lost a last-minute legal bid to halt a strike by cabin crew.

The two-day action by members of the UFO union centres on disagreements over pay and conditions.

About 180,000 passengers are set to face travel disruption.

The UFO union said it would hit all Lufthansa flights from German airports.

Other airlines in the group – including Eurowings, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, and Brussels Airlines - are not affected.

Lufthansa cancelled 700 flights on Thursday and 600 on Friday, amounting to about one-fifth of its planned flights over the 48-hour period.

A Frankfurt labour court rejected an application from the airline to prevent the strike on Wednesday, which is part of a long-running dispute.

The carrier achieved an Adjusted EBIT of €1.3 billion for the third quarter of 2019, only slightly below the €1.4 billion of the prior-year period.

Against the backdrop of higher fuel costs, which were €171 million above their 2018 level in the third quarter, the group delivered a sound business performance for the period.

Our airlines were able to translate their premium quality and market strength into solid third-quarter earnings, confirms Carsten Spohr, Lufthansa chief executive.

At Eurowings the turnaround measures are showing first results; and at Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines and Lufthansa Cargo we will be taking tangible corrective action to improve earnings.

Lufthansa passengers can breathe a sigh of relief after the airline and cabin crew trade union UFO announced there are no new strikes on the horizon.

The two sides agreed to enter arbitration to resolve wage disputes.

German airline Lufthansa agreed to enter arbitration with cabin crew labor union UFO to resolve ongoing wage disputes, the two sides announced on Tuesday.

In a joint statement, the UFO union and Lufthansa said that talks over the past few days had been constructive and showed that we can come to a solution together.

The two sides have been locked into a dispute over pay for some 21,000 staff members as well as the union's legal status.

According to UFO, Lufthansa agreed to withdraw several lawsuits against the union and to make improvements for entry-level workers.

In exchange, the union agreed to refrain from further strikes while negotiations are ongoing.

The move comes as a potential new wave of strikes threatened to impact hundreds of Lufthansa flights as well as its four German subsidiaries — Germanwings, Eurowings Germany, Lufthansa City Line and SunExpress Germany.

A two-day strike by Lufthansa cabin crew led to 1,500 flights being canceled last week, bringing the airline's operations to a standstill.

Lufthansa and UFO said they hope a neutral arbitrator will help find a solution that is acceptable to both sides.