Wednesday 18 December 2019

CONGO DEM REP: Congo Airways Orders Two Embraer E175 AIrcraft

Embraer and Congo Airways have signed a firm order for two E175 aircraft, with purchase rights for a further two.

The deal has a total value of US$194.4 million at current list prices, with all purchase rights exercised.

Desire Bantu, chief executive of Congo Airways, said: These new jets will replace our current turboprop offering and allow us to serve routes both within the Democratic Republic of Congo, and regionally to west, central, and southern Africa, from our hub in Kinshasa.

“We will now have the flexibility and the right sized aircraft to serve our market, which is growing so rapidly an additional order may be required, for which the E2 is a particularly compelling option.”

The aircraft will be configured in a dual class layout seating 76 passengers in total, with 12 in business class.

Deliveries will begin in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Raul Villaron, vice president sales, Africa and Middle East, Embraer Commercial Aviation, said: “It’s great to welcome another airline to the Embraer family of operators, especially in Africa where the demand for regional travel is growing strongly.

“We look forward to supporting Congo Airways as they continue to upgrade their offering to their customers.”

Embraer is the world’s leading manufacturer of commercial aircraft up to 150 seats with more than 100 customers across the world.

Congo Airways, the flag carrier of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), is exploring the possibility of basing an aircraft in the neighboring country of Congo Brazzaville.

The airline recently grounded its fifth-freedom route from Kinshasa, DRC’s capital, via Douala in Cameroon to Cotonou in Benin, citing low passenger demand. But the two overseas markets could re-join the network as part of a five-point service originating in Brazzaville.

We want to open also Abidjan in Cote d'Ivoire and Libreville in Gabon, but according to our study we must connect Libreville to Brazzaville,chief executive Desire Balazire Bantu said.

If the aircraft goes Brazzaville, Libreville, Douala, Cotonou and Abidjan it will make a nice job.

The round trip could be completed in one day with two sets of flight crews, he added.

Congo Airways launched Kinshasa-Douala-Cotonou flights in December 2018 with a 160-seat Airbus A320. Management had hoped to serve the route with a 69-seat De Havilland Canada Dash-8 Q400, but settled for the larger jet due to maintenance and scheduling commitments elsewhere in the network.

The original routing is unlikely to be restored even if a Q400 becomes available, Balazire said, as the first leg can only attract about 35 passengers each way.

Opening a base in Brazzaville would also allow Congo Airways to launch flights to Bangui, the capital of the Central African Republic.

The airport asked us to go there, but there is no market for travel from Bangui to Kinshasa, he noted. But there is from Brazzaville to Bangui.

Congo Brazzaville has not had a flag carrier since 2016, when Equatorial Congo Airlines (ECAir) collapsed under a huge debt pile.

Two privately owned local airlines – Canadian Airways Congo and Trans Air Congo – maintain operations from the capital and Pointe-Noire.

Congo Airways launched in 2015 and currently deploys two A320s and two Q400s on flights between 14 airports in the DRC plus Johannesburg in South Africa.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

VIETNAM: Azerai Ke Ga Bay Opening April 2020

Azerai Ke Ga Bay, a luxurious and secluded oceanfront retreat in south-eastern Vietnam, is set to launch in early 2020.

It will become the third property in Azerai Resorts’ growing portfolio.

The hotel is scheduled to open April 1st, with first bookings available online early in the New Year.

The 55-room resort, which will succeed Princess D’Annam Resort & Spa on the same site following a six-month renovation, is located 180 kilometres east of Saigon on a sweeping five-kilometre white sand beach on the South China Sea.

Framed to the north by Hon Ba Island, with its historic 1899-built colonial French lighthouse, and to the south by soaring sand dunes, the property cultivates one of the most naturally splendid oceanfront settings in the country.

The guest rooms, suites and villas at Azerai Ke Ga Bay evoke a contemporary aesthetic defined by elegant and simple design, with 21 units boasting either plunge pools or more spacious private pools.

The resort’s three villas are generously proportioned at 360 square metres and complemented by private pools.

Azerai Ke Ga Bay marks the brand’s first beach resort, and follows Azerai La Residence, Hue, a historic city hotel overlooking the Perfume River in Vietnam’s former imperial capital, and Azerai Can Tho, a tropical retreat set on a peaceful islet in the Mekong Delta.

Friday 13 December 2019

Enjoy Middle Eastern Cuisine

Middle Eastern cuisine is the cuisine of the various countries and peoples of the Middle East. The cuisine of the region is diverse while having a degree of homogeneity.

It includes Arab, Iranian, Israeli, Jewish, Assyrian, Azerbaijani, Armenian, Georgian, Kurdish, Cypriot, Greek and Turkish cuisines.

Middle Eastern cuisine has been claimed by many to be one of the most popular and fastest growing ethnic cuisines.

Popularly used ingredients include olives and olive oil, pitas, honey, sesame seeds, dates, sumac, chickpeas, mint, rice, and parsley.

Popular dishes include kebabs, dolma, falafel, baklava, yogurt, doner kebab, shawarma and mulukhiyah.

The Middle East includes the region formerly known as the Fertile Crescent which is the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers - Sumeria, Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia, where wheat was first cultivated, followed by barley, pistachios, figs, pomegranates, dates and other regional staples.

Fermentation was also discovered here to leaven bread and make beer in Mesopotamia, and the earliest written recipes come from that region.

As a crossroads between Europe, Asia, the Caucasus and North Africa, this area has long been a hub of food and recipe exchange.

During the first Persian Empire, the foundation was laid for modern Middle Eastern food when rice, poultry and various fruits were incorporated into the local diets.

Figs, dates and nuts were brought by merchants to conquered lands, and spices were brought back from the Orient.

The area was also influenced by dumplings from Mongol invaders; turmeric, cumin, garlic and other spices from India; cloves, peppercorns and allspice from the Spice Islands; okra from Africa; and tomatoes from the New World.

Religion has also influenced the cuisine; neither Jews nor Muslims eat pork, making lamb the primary meat.

Since the Qur'an forbids alcohol consumption, wine and other drinks are made in countries such as Lebanon, where vineyards like Chateau Ksara, Chateau Kefraya and Chateau Masaya have gained international fame for their wines.

Prior to its Islamic regime, Iran was also noted for its wine making. Chateau Ksara is also very popular for its arak Ksarak, an alcoholic drink produced in the Levant.

Al-Maza is Lebanon's primary brewery, which was also, at one time, the Middle East's only beer-producing factory. Lebanon has always been well known in the region for its wines and arak, making it an exception when it comes to lack of alcohol in the region.

Grains constitute the basis of the Middle Eastern diet, both historically and today. Wheat and rice are the major and preferred sources of staple foods.

Barley is also widely used in the region and maize has become common in some areas as well. Bread is a universal staple—eaten in one form or another by all classes and groups at every meal.

Aside from bread, wheat is also used in the forms of bulghur and couscous. Burghul is cracked wheat, made by partially cooking the wheat grains in water, drying it in an oven or in the sun, then breaking it into pieces of different of size.

Typically, it is cooked in water, with flavorings, much like rice. Burghul is also used in making meat pies and as an ingredient in salads, notably in tabbouleh, with chopped parsley, tomato, lemon, and oil. Freekeh is another common grain, made from immature green wheat.

There are many types of rice produced and consumed in the region. Plain rice is served under grilled meats or with meat/vegetable stews. In more complex rice dishes, there are layers of meat, vegetables, sauces, nuts, or dried fruits.

Butter and clarified butter or smen are, traditionally, the preferred medium of cooking. Olive oil is prevalent in the Mediterranean coastal areas.

Christians use it during Lent, when meat and dairy products are excluded, and Jews use it in place of animal fats such as butter to avoid mixing meat and dairy products.

Most regions in the Middle East use spices. Typically, a stew will include a small amount of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, cumin, and coriander. Black pepper is common, and chili peppers are used occasionally, especially as a separate sauce or as a pickle.

Parsley and mint are commonly used both in cooking and in salads. Thyme and thyme blends or za'atar are common in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine and Israel, and a mixture of dried thyme and sumac or crushed sour berries is a common breakfast item with oil and bread.

Sumac is also sprinkled over grilled meat. Garlic is common to many dishes and salads.

Lamb and mutton have always been the favored meats of the Middle East. Pork is prohibited in both Islam and Judaism, and as such is rarely eaten in the region.

Prominent among the meat preparations are grilled meats, or kebabs. There are a wide variety of these grills, with many regional specialties and styles.

The most common are the cubed cuts on skewers, known as shish kebab in most places. Chicken may also be grilled in the same fashion. Another common variety is kofta kebab, made from ground meat, sometimes mixed with onions and spices, shaped around the skewer like a long sausage and grilled.

Kebabs are typically a street or restaurant food, served with bread, salad, and pickles. It is not usually prepared in domestic kitchens.

Meat and vegetable stews, served with rice, bulgur, or bread, are another form of meat preparation in the region. Kibbeh is a pie or dumpling made with meat and cereal.

The most common are made with ground meat mostly lamb and burghul, worked together like a dough, then stuffed with minced meat that has been fried with onion, aromatics, and, sometimes, pine nuts or almonds and raisins.

This can either be in the form of individual small dumplings shaped like a torpedo, or in slices like a cake, baked on an oven tray with the stuffing placed between two layers of the dough.

One variation is kibbeh naye, raw kibbeh, which is made by pounding raw meat and burghul together with seasoning and served with dips of lemon juice and chili sauce.

Vegetables and pulses are the predominant staple of the great majority of the people in the Middle East. They are boiled, stewed, grilled, stuffed, and cooked with meat and with rice.

Among the green leaf vegetables, many varieties of cabbage, spinach, and chard are widely used. Root and bulb vegetables, such as onions and garlic, as well as carrots, turnips, and beets are equally common.

Squash, tomato, eggplants, and okra are distinctive elements in the cookery of the region. Eggplant is often fried in slices and dressed in yogurt and garlic, or roasted over an open fire, then pulped and dressed with tahini or sesame paste, lemon juice, garlic, and cumin, a dish known as baba ghanoush.

Tomato is the most ubiquitous ingredient in Middle Eastern cookery. It is used fresh in a variety of salads, cooked in almost every stew and broth, and grilled with kebab.

Beans and pulses are crucial to the diet of the region, second only to cereals. Fava beans are eaten both green and dried.

Dried, they are boiled into one of the most popular Egyptian foods: ful medames, a domestic and street food, eaten for breakfast or any other meal, mashed and dressed in oil, lemon, and chili.

Similar dishes are found in all other parts of the region. The famous Falafel, now popular in Europe and America, was originally made from dried fava, crushed and formed into a rissole with herbs and spices, then fried.

It is also made from chickpeas or a mixture of the two. Green fava are cooked like other green beans, boiled and dressed in oil, or stewed with meat. The haricot beans and black-eyed beans are also common.

Lentils, split peas, and chickpeas are widely used in soups, with rice, in salads, or with meat. Hummus, made from chickpeas and sesame paste, originated in Syria and Lebanon.

Stuffed vegetables are a dish most associated with the Middle East in the popular mind. They are commonly called dolma, the Turkish word meaning stuffed, but also the Arabic mahshi.

Grape leaves, chard, and cabbage are stuffed with rice, ground meat, pine nuts, and spices, and then stewed in oil and tomato. Many vegetables are similarly stuffed and stewed or baked, such as squash, onion, tomato, eggplant, peppers, and even carrots.

Mezze is common throughout the Middle East. It consists of a number of small dishes that are picked at leisure: cheese, melon, nuts, various salads and dips, such as tabbouleh, hummus and mutabbal, pickles, and also more substantial items, such as grilled meat, kibbeh, and sausage.

Middle Easterners commonly consume milk, fresh or soured. Yogurt, a Turkish contribution, is commonly consumed plain, used in cooking, used in salad dressing, or diluted as a drink. White cheeses, like the Greek feta and halloumi, are the most common in the region.

Turkish coffee is the most well known beverage of the region. It is thicker than regular coffee and is made by boiling finely ground coffee in water and then letting the grounds settle. Instant coffee is also popular.

Aside from coffee, there is also an alcoholic drink called arak. It is most famous for its potency and milky-white color when water is added, producing the drink nicknamed "the milk of lions".

Water and ice are almost always added because of an alcohol content between 30% and 60%. Arak is colorless in its pure form and is aniseed-flavored. In the Middle East, arak is served in social settings and with mezze.

Some Christians in the Middle East, such as the Assyrians and Armenians produce their own home made beer and wine. A common drink among Muslims served during Ramadan is Qamar Al Deen, a thick and sweet apricot drink.

The apricots are boiled with sugar and water until they are thick and placed on wooden planks left in the sun until dry. A fruit leather is left, which is then melted with water and sugar and drunk.

Another popular drink is Jallab. It is made by diluting a mixture grape molasses, dates, and rose water and served with crushed ice. Some also serve it with raisins or pine nuts.

Ayran and Doogh is a beverage made from yogurt very popular in certain Middle Eastern countries such as Turkey and Iran.

In some Arab countries of the Middle East, especially in the Arab states of the Persian Gulf, it is common for people to take their food from a communal plate in the center of the table.

Rather than employing forks or spoons, people traditionally dine without utensils; they scoop up food with their thumb and two fingers or pita bread.

In the Arab culture, the left hand is considered unclean. This however is changing now with utensils being widely used for dining. Even left-handed people eat only with the right hand.

A common exception is that the left hand may be used to hold a drinking glass when eating greasy food with the right.

It is proper etiquette to compliment the host on the food and their hospitality. Similarly, it is important to try every plate on the table. If a guest does not leave food on his plate, the host generally fills it immediately.

The Middle East places emphasis on enjoying meals with family and friends.

In Iran, the term daste shoma dard nakone which means - may your hand not hurt - in Persian is used to thank someone. Similarly, in Iranian Azerbaijan the term - eliz agırmasın - is used, with the same meaning.

Typically, dishes are served according to savoury or sweet, rather than in courses. Food is served in various platters and dishes at a dining table, served in plates, and eaten with cutlery, as is the European tradition.

In traditional Iranian restaurants, a large, low table lined with Persian rugs and with cushions around the sides is the setting for feasting; people sit cross-legged in a circle, and food is served in the centre, again eaten with cutlery in separate plates.

Afterwards, tea will be served in kamar baareek glasses or narrow waist glasses with sugar lumps, Persian sweets, and possibly a ghalyoun, enjoyed in the same communal fashion.

When entertaining dinner guests at home, it is seen as discourteous to one's guests to serve the sufficient amount of food for all guests, lest one appears miserly. For this reason, food is always prepared lavishly and in large quantities.

An important Persian concept that applies to food and also extends to other areas of daily life is the practice of taarof; this is an exercise of self-restraint, whereby if one is offered any food or drink, they will initially politely decline, regardless of how hungry or thirsty they might be.

Once the host has insisted and offered repeatedly, they will help themselves. No food and drink is to be accepted upon the first time of being offered it, lest one appears greedy.

Tea is usually served in little curved glasses that you hold not by the stem, but by the lip: you never add milk, but you can add water as you drink it to dilute the tea, which is sometimes still steeping when you get it.

Coffee is generally available. The coffee is drunk carefully there are grounds on the bottom; it is also thick and black, and each cup is individually brewed, often with the sugar already in it, and milk is usually not to be added.

Since it is offered all the time and everywhere, it is a gesture of hospitality and you must always take the coffee or tea, even if you only put it to your lips or just take a few sips. Your cup will always be refilled if it is less than half full.

Because you must never pour your own drink, you must always be alert throughout the meal as to whether your neighbor's cup or glass needs refilling.

If it is less than half full, it needs refilling; alternately, if yours is less than half full, your neighbor is obliged to refill it. If he or she does not, do not refill it yourself, for this will cause him or her to lose face.

Instead, diplomatically indicate your need by pouring a little more drink into your neighbor's glass, even if it doesn't really need it.

If you are the honored guest, you will be expected to make a toast, usually soon after the host does or at the end of the meal, just before everyone departs.

Dining is done with forks and spoons and knives, Western style. The knife is held in the right hand, and the fork in the left. Do not switch hands for knives and forks.

Smoking is ubiquitous in Turkey. People smoke between courses during dinner.

The host sits at the head of the table, with the honored guest seated next to the host. In addition, the honored guest sits on the side of the table farthest from the door.

At business meetings, the key people sit in the middle, flanked on either side in descending order by their aides, with the least important people sitting at the ends of the table farthest from the middle, and closest to the door; the arrangement is mirrored on the other side.

Men and women eating at someone's home might dine in separate areas and spend the entire evening separated or at separate times, with the men dining first.

The honored guest is served first, then the oldest man, then the rest of the men, then children, and finally women.

Do not begin to eat or drink until the oldest man at the table has been served and has begun. You may want to ask your host when it is appropriate to begin.

At the end of the meal, it is appropriate to thank the host or hostess for a wonderful meal.

In restaurants, you often order each dish as you want it, so that they are not ordered all at once at the beginning of the meal. In informal restaurants, you may be required to share a table. If so, do not force conversation: act as if you are seated at a private table.

Waitstaff may be summoned by making eye contact; waving or calling their names is very impolite. Dining etiquette for business meals. Most business meals are lunches.

Business meals are generally not good times to discuss business or make business decisions; they are intended to build the more important personal relationship.

Take your cue from your Turkish associates: if they bring up business, then it's okay to discuss it, but wait to take your lead from their conversation.

Water, and other drinks, may not be served until after the meal is over, as some believe that drinking while eating is not healthy.

When you are at a colleague's home for a formal meal, you will be invited to sit anywhere you like at the table; resist the impulse to sit down, and wait until your host gives you further instructions.

These will generally come after the host or oldest man is seated, and often you will be placed at his side. It is a great honor to be invited into a Turkish home. Once inside, you may need to remove your shoes, this is not the custom in restaurants, however.

If you move from room to room in a Turkish home, be sure to always allow the more senior members of your party to enter the room ahead of you.

It is customary to say Afiyet olsun which means - May what you eat bring well - being before or after eating, and to say Elinize saglik, it is a compliment to the hostess, meaning Bless your hand after the meal.

During the month of Ramadan, food consumption increases dramatically throughout Muslim communities. Breaking the fast becomes a banquet, with exchanges of invitations between kin and friends, and public banquets held by charities and associations.

Cafes and pastry shops are open at night, and a carnival atmosphere prevails in the streets. Many Muslims, following the reported example of Muhammad, break their fast with a date, followed by a variety of dishes.

Sweet pastries and puddings are always present on Ramadan nights everywhere. The end of Ramadan is marked by a festival, Id 'al-Fitr, a feast that breaks the fast, during which a great quantity and variety of sweets and pastries are consumed.

The other major Muslim feast is that of 'Id al-Adha, the feast of the sacrifice, which occurs during the pilgrimage month.

At this time an animal, usually a sheep or a goat, is slaughtered in every household that can afford it, and great banquets are prepared, with an obligation to give food to the poor.

In North America, Middle Eastern food first came became popular in the 1990s with the so-called Mediterranean diet. According to the Mayo Clinic, the benefits included reduced risks of heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and cancer.

Tuesday 10 December 2019

SINGAPORE: Singapore-Newark Route Is The World’s Longest

At over 8,000 nautical miles, The Singapore-Newark route is currently the world’s longest with regularly scheduled service. It’s a very prestigious route flown by Singapore Airlines using its Airbus A350-900ULR aircraft designed specifically with the route in mind.

First opened with the Airbus A340-500 earlier in the century, the route relaunched in October 2018 with the ULR aircraft being able to perform the flight with better economics than its predecessor.

Before the relaunch, the only other option for New Yorkers looking to head to Singapore and vice versa was through intermediary cities such as Frankfurt, increasing the journey time by hours.

It allows enough time for a business traveler to make it to their hotel early in the morning and freshen up before getting to the office to start the typical workday at 9 A.M.

Though timed perfectly, the flight regularly clocks in at an eye-watering 16 to 18 hours of flight time in each direction.

SQ22 leaves Singapore a bit before 1 a.m. and gets into Newark at around 5:30 a.m. or earlier. The proper strategy for this flight is to stay awake the first half of the flight and sleep the second half.

Qantas recommended a similar strategy to test subjects on its research flight from New York to Sydney in October.

This way, one basically sleeps during the nighttime of the destination and wakes up prior to landing. While not a perfect cure for jet lag it is the equivalent of having an early morning start vs dealing with a 12-hour time difference.

That’s what I did for the most part and this is something Singapore Airlines doesn’t seem to understand.

The airline insists on timing meal services around Singapore time instead of Newark time. The main meals on the flight are served at a time when people should be sleeping.

There is an initial meal service after take-off, which is acceptable, but the timing of the second meal service is downright disrespectful since it is more geared towards people operating on the departure time instead of the arrival time zone.

This effectively negates the notion of getting some proper rest on a business class flight.

Singapore Airlines insists in pairing meal times to the origin and not the destination.

The cabin on Singapore Airlines’ Airbus A350-900ULRs consist of only two cabins, premium economy and business. While the premium economy seats feature only recliner chairs, business class seats come fully-equipped with lie-flat seats.

There are a lot of complaints about this seat being cramped and having to sleep at an angle but for someone of average height, the seat is great and I actually prefer it to a lot of the reverse herringbone style type seats due to the width of the bed space in the upper body area.

Bulkhead seats in rows 11 and 19 are recommended for taller folk but those are hard to come by since Singapore Airlines reserves them as bassinet seats but will occasionally release them to high-value customers.

Many would say I missed out on the flight but I didn’t I accomplished exactly what I intended to do, maximize rest on the flight.

Often times we lose sight of what business class is about, it’s primarily a method of effectively get rest to be ready to go right upon reaching your destination.

Economy class is about being miserable and first class is about having fun. Business class is business.

The more you travel, the more you start to appreciate sleep. You can only be so excited sitting in a reverse herringbone seat for the umpteenth time, you don’t need to stay awake to revel at the fact I’m not in coach.

That’s what you do when sitting in Cathay Pacific first class because that’s first class. That’s supposed to be fun, even though you do aim to sleep well on those flights too.

SPAIN:American Travelers Enjoy Free Stopovers In Madrid All On Iberia

Iberia customers in the United States are now able to stopover for free in Madrid while traveling to or from any of the airline’s 108 European, African and Middle Eastern destinations through their hub in the city.

The “Stopover Hola Madrid” program allows American passengers to stay up to six nights in the Spanish capital and can help travelers plan their visit with discounts for hotels, airport transfers, restaurants, museums and other experiences.

Joining the trend of European airlines allowing complimentary stopovers at their hubs including Icelandair, Swiss International Airlines and TAP Air Portugal, Iberia customers can choose to make the stopover either on the outbound portion or return segments of their itineraries.

One major difference from other European airlines, however, is that Iberia’s program is only available for passengers with itineraries from the U.S.

Moreover, Iberia doesn’t just stop with its country’s capital. The airline is also offering 25 percent discounts on domestic Iberia, Iberia Express or Iberia Regional flights to allow travelers to explore more of Spain. Spain’s national carrier, Iberia serves 32 Spanish destinations.

The program, dubbed Madrid a la carte, will also give a free two-day public transport card to those who sign up.

Customers will also be given a special discount to hire a car from Avis and to stay in a hotel ran by the Meliá chain.

Iberia Plus cardholders will also receive more special benefits.

Special discounts will also be given to Hola Madrid customers on select experiences such as to visit top art museums such as the Prado and Reina Sofia, as well as discounts at the museums’ restaurants.

Viator-arranged sightseeing, dining and flamenco tours are also discounted on the program, as well as longer excursions operated by Alsa.

Saturday 7 December 2019

BULGARIA: Nikola Todorov Is New Executive Chef At Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko

Nicholas' childhood dream was to become a chef and he has not stopped pursuing his goal.

He graduated from the Professional School of Tourism in his home-town of Varna, majoring in Culinary Arts. He began his professional career as a chef in 2005 at the newly opened Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko.

Due to his tenacity and talent, the young chef rose through the ranks of Demi Chef de Partie, Chef de Partie, Chef de Cuisine, Junior Sous Chef and Sous Chef.

In the meantime, the culinary specialist has spent several months supporting four sister hotels as a part of a task force program; namely the former Kempinski Hotel Zografski Sofia, Kempinski Palace Portorož in Slovenia, Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea in Jordan and Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay Bodrum in Turkey.

In 2009, during the National Culinary Cup competitions organised by the Bulgarian Association of Professional Chefs, Chef Todorov and his team won first place in the culinary team category.

In the same year he joined the Bulgarian national team for the International Culinary Competitions in Istanbul. In 2015, he had the opportunity to hone his skills in Russia.

There he worked at the famous Kempinski Grand Hotel Gelendzhik as Executive Sous Chef, overseeing four restaurants and banquet rooms with a capacity of up to 1000 people.

After two and a half years of this exciting experience, Chef Todorov returned to Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko as Executive Sous Chef and as a member of Chef Trevor Portelli's team.

Last summer, Chef Todorov successfully completed six weeks of intensive training with Chef Rémy Giraud at one of the most renowned restaurants in France, Les Hauts de Loire, awarded with 2-Michelin star for over 25 years.

In addition to his mother tongue, Chef Nikola Todorov speaks fluent English and Russian.

Nikola Todorov takes on his new role as Executive Chef of Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko from Chef Trevor Portelli, who has headed the hotel's culinary team for the past two years.

The Maltese culinary professional will continue his career at home at Kempinski Hotel San Lawrenz Gozo.

SWITIZERLAND: Kempinski Appoints Melissa Salibi Chief Human Resources Officer

Kempinski Hotels has appointed Melissa Salibi to the role of chief human resources officer and member of the management board.

In her new role, she will drive the Kempinski human resources agenda worldwide by overseeing the entire spectrum of human resources affairs with the support of the corporate human resources and training team.

An experienced human resources professional, Salibi started her career in 1999.

Along the years, she gradually progressed into various human resources and training-related managerial roles, developing herself into a knowledgeable and strategic professional.

In 2015, Salibi joined Kempinski’s Dubai regional office as regional director of human resources Middle East & Africa, overseeing more than 20 operating properties and actively supporting pre-openings and leading special projects.

Earlier this year, she was promoted to senior director of human resources, Middle East & Africa.

A creative leader with a passion for people, Salibi is relentlessly focused on building high performing teams, while delivering an enhanced people experience.

An experienced Human Resources professional, Melissa Salibi started her career in 1999. Along the years, she gradually progressed into various Human Resources and Training-related managerial roles, developing herself into a knowledgeable and strategic Human Resources professional.

Her performance and entrepreneurial spirit paved the way for her appointment, in 2013, to a regional role as Director of Human Resources - Middle East, Africa and India during the merger between Fairmont, Raffles, and Swissôtel, which then became FRHI Hotels & Resorts, overseeing 18 properties and developing the Human Resources function in her region.

In 2015 Melissa joined Kempinski's Dubai Regional Office as Regional Director of Human Resources Middle East & Africa, overseeing more than 20 operating properties and actively supporting pre-openings and leading special projects.

Earlier this year Melissa was promoted to Senior Director of Human Resources, Middle East & Africa.

Melissa holds a Bachelor's Degree in Health & Social Services, specializing in Psychological Counseling, from the University of South Africa and a Master of Science in Organisational and Business Psychology from the University of Liverpool, England.

A South-African national, she speaks fluent English in addition to her mother tongue, Afrikaans.

A creative leader with a passion for people, Melissa is relentlessly focused on building high performing teams, while delivering an enhanced people experience.

USA: United Airlines Buys 50 Aircrafts From Airbus

United Airlines has made a firm order for 50 Airbus A321XLR aircraft as it begins to phase out older models and launches an expansion of transatlantic routes from its key United States hubs in Newark/New York and Washington DC.

United plans to take delivery of the first A321XLR in 2024 and expects to begin international service with the aircraft in 2025.

The new Airbus A321XLR aircraft is an ideal one-for-one replacement for the older, less-efficient aircraft currently operating between some of the most vital cities in our intercontinental network, said Andrew Nocella, United executive vice president and chief commercial officer.

In addition to strengthening our ability to fly more efficiently, the A321XLR opens potential new destinations to further develop our route network and provide customers with more options to travel the globe.

The A321XLR is the next evolutionary step in the A320neo/A321neo family of aircraft, meeting market requirements for increased range and payload in a single-aisle aircraft, and creating more value for the airlines by enabling economically viable service on longer routes than any comparable aircraft model.

We are delighted to be re-United with our friends in Chicago and thank them for their trust.

The selection of the A321XLR by the leadership of United Airlines is a ringing endorsement of the range, payload, and fuel efficiency that Airbus incorporated into this state-of-the-art aircraft, said Christian Scherer, Airbus chief commercial officer.

The exceptional versatility and performance of the A321XLR enable new operational efficiencies that flow to the airline’s bottom line.

The A321XLR will be operated by the same crew, powered by the same engines and have the same cabin as the A321neo, with more than 90 per cent commonality.

Combining the A321neo’s two rear centre fuel tanks into one adds fuel capacity and reduces structural weight.

Other significant changes include structural reinforcements and modified landing gears for the increased MTOW, increased braking capability, higher tire speed, and additional flap and slat configurations.

MALDIVES: Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa Opens

The all-new, all-inclusive Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa has opened its doors in the Indian Ocean.

The latest addition to the Emerald Collection is located on Ra Atoll in the northern Maldives archipelago, comprising a 20-hectare private island with a wrap-around reef within walking distance of the beach.

Boasting 120 villas, divided into 60 beach villas and 60 overwater villas, each has been designed by architect Edward David Poole who brings a Singaporean and Italian influence to create modern, sleek interiors, unique to the Maldives.

With sustainability front of mind, long-lasting Langhi Langhi leaves are used to build canopies and solar panels can be found on every villa, powering the island’s hot water.

Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa offers an array of culinary options at four concept restaurants covering cuisine from every continent, including Amazonico, the Maldives first and only South American restaurant.

The resort also comprises an Emerald spa offering a range of Balinese and Thai treatments, two large tennis courts, two paddle courts, an air-conditioned gym and sports centre and a dedicated Dolphin kids club.

With its own diving centre, guests can explore the greatest wonders of the Indian Ocean guided by the support of PADI qualified instructors.

Situated on the beach front, the water sports centre provides kayaks, windsurfs, sailing boats and jet skis to guests looking to explore the resort’s otherworldly lagoon.

Friday 6 December 2019

SOUTH AFRICA: South African Airways To Be Rescued With £200 Million To Avoid Imminent Collapse

South African Airways is to be placed into a business recuse following a sharp deterioration in its financial position.

The flag-carrier has battled mounting losses for a number of years, and will now seek an equity partner as the South African government looks to limit its liability.

The carrier last made a profit in 2011.

Officials said they planned to bring in a business rescue practitioner to take charge of the carrier and operate the airline with the assistance of management.

The government will also inject R4 billion (£200 million) into the carrier to avoid imminent collapse.

The state-owned carrier said strike action last month had severely impacted its financial position.

Full service resumed on December 1st, with the airline agreeing to a six per cent pay rise for cabin crew.

South African Airways said South African Airways is today in a position to announce that the board of directors of SAA has adopted a resolution to place the company into business rescue at the earliest opportunity.

As previously announced, the South African Airways board of directors and the executive committee have been in consultations with the shareholder, the department of public enterprises, in an effort to find a solution to our company’s well-documented financial challenges.

South African Airways understands that this decision presents many challenges and uncertainties for its staff.

The company will engage in targeted communication and support for all employee groups at this difficult time.

South African Airways will endeavour to operate a new provisional timetable and will publish details shortly.

The company greatly appreciates the continued support of both its customers and partners in the travel industry around the world.

It is important to point out that services operated by South African Airways’ subsidiary airline, Mango, will continue as usual and as scheduled.

The airline is the first South African state group to enter business rescue since the ruling African National Congress took power in 1994.

However, it is increasingly seen as expendable, with the government keen to divert resources to other areas of the economy.