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China sees rising demand for hub airports

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Recent reports show that operations at China’s hub airports experienced a surge throughout the first half of 2024.

Experts at China’s Development Research Centre of the State Council pointed out that the ongoing recovery of the Chinese aviation industry stems from the better than usual performance of the national economy.

Likewise, as the nation’s macroeconomic state improves, the integrated development of the aviation sector and the deep integration of related industries can further stimulate demand.

An influx of foreign guests

Key airports also noted an increase in international passenger trips, which have been supported by the Chinese government’s efforts to promote international exchanges. These initiatives have included visa-free entry for certain partner nations, as well as well-staged tourism campaigns.

Approximately 14.64 foreign travellers entered China’s airports over the past six months, up by 152.7 percent year-on-year. According to the National Immigration Administration, 8.54 million of these entered visa-free.

Gradual recovery

Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport in southern China, in particular, noted that its operations increased gradually over the last six months. Guangdong Province’s key international hub clocked 248,000 flights, up by 15.17 percent from June 2023.

Passenger throughput for the Guangzhou airport also increased by 26.67 percent from last year, manifesting as 36.65 million individual travellers between January and June.

This upsurge has been attributed to greater demand in the aviation sector which has risen gradually over the past two years.

 

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Tourism seen as key to Southeast Asia’s economic recovery

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Global research firm McKinsey’s economic report for the first quarter of this year showed how tourism is becoming a key factor for economic recovery in Southeast Asia.

However, while some countries are experiencing robust growth, others face challenges. This, in turn, has created a diverse range of opportunities and considerations for the regional travel industry.

Consumption is key

One such success story is Indonesia whose economy received an ample boost from strong domestic consumption rooted in spending for the recent elections, as well as this year’s Ramadan festivities.

Increased domestic spending is also seen as a potential driver of local tourism which, in turn, could offset the adverse impact of the rupiah’s recent depreciation against the US dollar.

On the rise

Malaysia also posted growth of around 4.2 percent with its gross domestic product (GDP) thanks to higher tourist arrivals and spending. The positive outlook for Malaysian tourism, as well as retail and exports, shows how the country offers a welcoming environment for foreign nationals. In turn, this may be seen as a harbinger of growth for the luxury and experiential travel sectors.

Vietnam also enjoyed substantial growth in its tourism industry at the beginning of this year. Favourable visa policies paired with tourism stimulus measures boosted international arrivals by nearly 72 percent compared to Q1-2023. Travel advisors also look upon the country as filled with promise as an emergent destination thanks to its diverse cultural and leisure attractions.

Slow but steady

While the Philippines posted the highest in terms of economic growth at 5.7 percent, the country is currently going through its slowest expansion since 2010 due to high inflation and cautious spending. While this may adversely impact domestic tourism, it could make the country more attractive for international visitors due to potentially favourable exchange rates.

Singapore, on the other hand, got a proverbial shot in the arm from a recent spate of international concerts. Indeed, the fact that it was the only Southeast Asian city on pop star Taylor Swift’s recent world tour underscores the country’s potential when it comes to event-centric tourism. But while the country’s tourism sector sees potential opportunities in urban and cultural attractions, Singapore’s economic growth remains slow to recover.

For its part, Thailand remains optimistic that tourism will be what improves its economy which, at the beginning of the year, recorded the slowest expansion among its regional peers.

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China announces plans to open Ming Dynasty tombs to tourists

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The Chinese government announced its plans to open the Ming Tombs Scenic Area to further awareness regarding  the Ming Dynasty’s rich cultural legacy. 

Officials made the announcement during the 2024 Ming Culture Forum held in Beijing’s Changping district.

According to experts, authorities will gradually open more tombs in the Ming Tombs Scenic Area to visitors over the next several years. It is expected that all these culturally relevant places will be open to the public by 2030.

A gradual opening

The first phase of the reopening runs from late 2024 to 2025, covering the Tomb of Emperong Sizong in Siling and that of Emperor Shizong in Yongling.

The second phase is slated for 2026 and will run until 2028. This phase covers the opening of the ruins of what is known as the New Imperial Residence, as well as the tombs of Emperor Xianzong in Maoling, Emperor Xiaozong in Tailing, and Emperor Xizong in Deling.

The final phase from 2029 to 2030 involves the opening of three more imperial tombs in Xianling, Yuling, and Qingling. 

What’s inside?

All the tombs slated for reopening will be used to display numerous cultural relics dating from the Ming Dynasty. It is expected that these artefacts will be displayed as they are with relevant signs and explanations regarding their provenance and relevance.

By doing so, Chinese cultural officials hope to create a site that comprehensively explains the whole construction process involved in the creation of the Ming Tombs, as well as the architectural characteristics and construction skills that characterised the era.

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Air Arabia launches new route connecting Sharjah and Vienna from 20th Dec 2024

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Air Arabia has announced the launch of its newest route connecting Sharjah and Vienna, the capital of Austria. Commencing operations on December 20th, 2024, the new service will operate with a frequency of 4 non-stop weekly flights, providing travellers with a direct and efficient connection between the two vibrant cities.

Schedule from and to Vienna, effective December 20, 2024 (all times local):

Flight Departure Time Arrival Time Aircraft Frequency
G9 970 Sharjah 08:00 Vienna 11:25 Airbus A320 Monday/Friday
G9 971 Vienna 12:15 Sharjah 20:50 Airbus A320 Monday/Friday
G9 970 Sharjah 18:00 Vienna 21:25 Airbus A320 Wednesday/Saturday
G9 971 Vienna 22:25 Sharjah 07:00 Airbus A320 Wednesday/Saturday

Adel Al Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer, Air Arabia, said: ” The addition of Vienna to Air Arabia’s expanding European network, not only strengthens the airline’s commitment to providing affordable travel globally but also opens exciting opportunities for both leisure and business travellers. This newly introduced route reflects our ongoing commitment to offering travellers with diverse and compelling destinations and we look forward to welcoming our passengers onboard to explore the historic and dynamic city of Vienna.”

Air Arabia operates a fleet of Airbus A320 and A321 neo-LR aircraft, the most modern and best-selling single aisle aircraft in the world. The cabin configuration across the fleet provides added comfort with one of the most generous seat-pitch compared to any economy cabin. The aircraft is equipped with ‘SkyTime’, a free in-flight streaming service that allows passengers to access a wide selection of entertainment directly to their devices. Customers can also enjoy a variety of delicacies between snacks, meals, and sandwiches from the on-board ‘SkyCafe’ menu at affordable prices.

Customers can now book their direct flights from Sharjah to Vienna by visiting Air Arabia’s website, calling the call center, or through travel agencies.

 

 

 

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Oman Air reinforces sustainability goals with eco-friendly on-board earphone packaging

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As part of ongoing efforts to increase the sustainability of its onboard experience, Oman Air has redesigned the packaging for its Economy Class earphones, replacing single-use plastic PET foil with a recyclable Kraft paper envelope. Working with Linstol, a global eco-friendly in-flight products provider, the airline anticipates the change will enable it to eliminate 6.48 tonnes of non-recyclable waste material each year, an amount which equates to saving an estimated 110 trees from deforestation or conserving 207,360 litres of water.

“We are delighted to introduce this latest initiative on board, which represents our ongoing commitment to our planet by reducing the environmental impact of air travel, while ensuring our guests enjoy a comfortable and convenient experience that aligns with their values,” said Con Korfiatis, Chief Executive Officer. “We believe that small changes make a big impact and we continue to look for innovative solutions in all corners of our operations, while promoting and advocating for initiatives that support both the UN Sustainable Development Goals and Oman’s national objectives.”

Oman Air continues to boost its sustainability efforts by integrating eco-friendly materials and cutting waste, thereby supporting the circular economy. Last year, the airline was able to save around 21.6 tonnes of plastic by replacing the wrapping for blankets and mattresses in its premium cabins with an eco-friendlier paper-based alternative, as well as reducing plastic water bottles and cuplets and more efficiently managing its potable water consumption. Meanwhile, it has implemented various emissions reduction initiatives and is actively engaged in fostering the development of Sustainable Aviation Fuels in support of Oman’s strategy to achieve Net Zero Emissions by 2050.

 

 

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Disneyland Paris sets Guinness World Records for the “largest aerial display of a fictional character formed by multirotors/drones” using 1,571 drones

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During the Bastille Day celebrations on the evening of 14th July, Disneyland Paris made history by accomplishing a remarkable feat: setting a new GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title for orchestrating “The Largest Aerial Display of a Fictional Character Formed by Multirotors/Drones.” A staggering 1,571 drones illuminated the night sky, creating a breathtaking giant tricolour Mickey Mouse head over Sleeping Beauty Castle. This mesmerising display captivated guests and marked a monumental achievement for the resort.

This stunning showcase of storytelling and innovation was made possible thanks to the Disneyland Paris Entertainment teams, in collaboration with its official technology provider Dronisos, Europe’s leading drone show technology provider. Months of work culminated in a spectacle that set a new benchmark, exemplifying Disneyland Paris’ dedication to surpassing guest expectations. The team used more than 1,630 drones, including pyro-drones, to illuminate the sky throughout the entire performance, with some sequences requiring more or fewer drones.

Combining pyrotechnics, lights, and breathtaking drone choreography, the spectators witnessed a 12-minute nighttime show that took them through five creative scenes representing the most beautiful Disney classic stories inspired by France, including some of the greatest symbols of French culture like the Eiffel Tower, the emblematic rose window of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, and iconic scenes from Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios films such as “Beauty and the Beast,” “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” “Sleeping Beauty,” “The Aristocats,” and “Ratatouille.”

“We are thrilled and proud to have set this GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ title,” said Ben Spalding, Entertainment Producer at Disneyland Paris.

“It’s a testament to the creativity, innovation, and hard work of our entire team. This achievement underscores our commitment to delivering unforgettable experiences to our guests,” explained Matthieu Robin, Entertainment Creative Lead at Disneyland Paris.

While the Bastille Day fireworks, which combined drones and fireworks, was a one-night-only event, Disneyland Paris continues to enchant guests with the Disney Electrical Sky Parade. Introduced in January 2024, this spectacular nighttime parade features more than 500 drones*, synchronised with lasers, video projections, lights, and fountains, all set against the iconic backdrop of Sleeping Beauty Castle. This show is enhanced by illuminated floats that symbolise the beloved icons of the Main Street Electrical Parade like Mickey Mouse and his friends’ train, Elliott the adorable dragon from Disney Animation’s “Pete’s Dragon,” and Cinderella’s enchanting carriage, all portrayed in the night sky. The parade is set to unforgettable, electro-synthetic music, specially remixed for this extraordinary night, reinforcing the atmosphere of this magical nighttime celebration.

This summer and fall, Disneyland Paris invites guests of all ages to join in the wonder and excitement of the Disney Electrical Sky Parade. With dazzling nightly performances, this is a delightful must-see event that adds to the magic of a visit to Disneyland Paris.

 

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SITA signs 5-year network infrastructure deal with London Heathrow 

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Passengers with luggage arriving at London Heathrow Airport Terminal 2.

 

SITA, the global leader in air transport technology, has signed a five-year extension with Heathrow Airport to support Heathrow’s vast and growing network infrastructure. Through this agreement, SITA will provide a wide range of network, telecommunications, and connectivity services, while introducing innovative new solutions to businesses operating within Heathrow.

Since 2011, SITA has built a strong relationship with Heathrow, reinforcing the airport’s infrastructure as it became the busiest airport in Europe, with nearly 80 million passengers in 2023. As part of the new agreement, SITA will continue to strengthen Heathrow’s digital infrastructure, managing its extensive network as the airport continues to expand and improve its IT infrastructure. This includes supporting thousands of network access switches and wireless access points, and thousands more analogue and internet phone lines. With this, Heathrow will continue to benefit from SITA’s deep knowledge and understanding of the complex airport environment.

In addition, as part of the deal, the SITA on-site team at Heathrow will deliver new projects and ongoing support around the network telecoms infrastructure, cyber-security, radio and operational technology. They will be on hand to support Heathrow’s internal customers, B2B commercial customers, and the airport’s wider supply chain. With this new model, SITA will also enhance the commercial telecoms offering for Heathrow’s B2B customers, delivering high-quality communications solutions to a variety of internal clients, including airlines, ground handlers and retailers.

Sergio Colella, President, Europe at SITA, said: “As air traffic increases across European airports, airports are increasingly prioritizing IT to strengthen their operations, and give their passengers a seamless experience. With this fantastic agreement, SITA continues to show why we remain the air transport industry’s most trusted partner. By delivering a robust IT infrastructure, our goal is to make sure Heathrow can future-proof its network needs for effortless operations, all while making the passenger experience more enjoyable. This partnership also opens exciting new avenues for commercial clients enabling the London airport to offer its customers a raft of new opportunities.”

Helen Elsby, Chief Solutions Officer, Heathrow Airport, says: “We are delighted to extend our partnership with SITA as strengthening and enhancing our IT infrastructure is critical to our mission to be an extraordinary airport fit for the future. Having a robust and reliable network is essential for delivering seamless operations and meeting the needs of millions of passengers and numerous businesses that rely on Heathrow every day. In addition to providing this assurance, the partnership also provides the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the innovative solutions that SITA brings to our industry and to our customers.”

 

 

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dnata expands partnership with British Airways in USA

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dnata, a global air and travel services provider, has been awarded a multi-year contract by British Airways at Newark International Airport (EWR) in the USA.

The agreement will see dnata provide quality inflight catering services to the UK’s flag carrier on its services to London Heathrow Airport (LHR). dnata’s highly trained teams will produce and uplift 150,000 meals annually to ensure an excellent dining experience on board the airline’s twice daily flights.

The new contract expands the two parties’ long-standing partnership which now covers five cities, including Boston, Dallas, Houston, Nashville and Newark, in the USA.

Peter DeVito, Chief Executive Officer, dnata Catering North America, said: “We are delighted to expand our great partnership with British Airways throughout the USA. Our expert team will consistently produce exceptional culinary offerings that will contribute to the passenger’s travel experience. We will continue to invest in our team, infrastructure and product improvement to remain at the forefront of industry excellence.”

Including British Airways, dnata provides catering and retail services to 40 airline customers at 12 airports with a team of more than 1,000 hospitality professionals throughout the USA. In the financial year 2023-24, dnata Catering & Retail teams uplifted more than 9.8 million meals in the country, which represents an over 9% growth year over year.

dnata’s catering and retail division is one of the world’s leading inflight hospitality providers. The company’s 10,500 catering professionals produce over 110 million meals annually, serving full service, low-cost and VIP carriers from more than 60 locations.

 

 

 

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Air India Express launches ‘Xpress Holidays’ with MMT

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Air India Express, under the Tata Group, has introduced a new travel platform called ‘Xpress Holidays’ in collaboration with MakeMyTrip. This initiative aims to streamline travel bookings by offering integrated services for flights, accommodations, and transportation.

The partnership with MakeMyTrip allows Air India Express to provide a diverse range of attractive travel packages tailored to different preferences. According to the airline, travelers can now access exclusive deals directly through its website, enhancing the booking experience.

‘Xpress Holidays’ offers end-to-end holiday solutions, encompassing not only flights and accommodations but also additional services such as airport transfers, sightseeing tours, and curated experiences. This integrated approach ensures that travelers have a seamless and enjoyable journey from booking to arrival.

Ankur Garg, Chief Commercial Officer at Air India Express, emphasized the platform’s role in becoming a comprehensive travel solution. He highlighted that ‘Xpress Holidays’, powered by MakeMyTrip, aims to offer curated offers on flights, accomodations, and other travel essentials across India and key international destinations.

MakeMyTrip will prominently feature ‘Xpress Holidays’ on its holiday package page, showcasing curated deals that include Air India Express flights. Saujanya Shrivastava, Chief Operating Officer for flights, holidays, and Gulf at MakeMyTrip, assured travelers of personalized holiday packages backed by MakeMyTrip’s commitment to service excellence. The launch of ‘Xpress Holidays’ marks a significant milestone for Air India Express and MakeMyTrip, promising travelers a seamless booking experience with exclusive deals and comprehensive travel packages. As travelers increasingly seek convenience and value, this partnership aims to cater to diverse travel needs with enhanced offerings and personalized services. Whether booking a flight, accommodation, or a complete holiday package, ‘Xpress Holidays’ aims to simplify travel planning and elevate the overall customer experience.

 

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Resorts World Cruises returns to Taiwan for a second year

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Popular demand resulted in the return of Resorts World Cruises to Taiwan for a second year on 12 July.

The route kicked off with Resorts World One launching from Keelung on 12 July. 

To celebrate the ship’s maiden voyage from Keelung, Resorts World Cruises’ management, including president Michael Goh, vice-president of sales Victoria Hsu, and Resorts World One captain Johan Bohman, welcomed Taiwan International Ports Corporation vice-president of administration Lu Zhan You to officiate the first sailing. 

This first-ever outing saw a sold-out cruise with over 3,600 passengers and crew.

Goh said of the launch: “We have gone to great lengths to make each deployment special and to further customise our offerings for the local market to enhance the overall experience for our passengers from ship to shore.”

Into Japanese waters

During its three-month deployment, the vessel will offer 24 sailings, departing twice a week from 12 July to 22 September 2024. These roundtrip cruises will visit Kyushu and Okinawa in Japan.

Passengers can choose from the two-night Okinawa Weekend Getaway Cruise, departing every Friday, and the five-night cruises that every Sunday from Keelung to destinations including Kumamoto, Kagoshima, Sasebo, Nagasaki, Naha, Miyakojima, Ishigaki, and Motobu. Selected two- and four-night Okinawa cruises will also be available from Kaohsiung starting 18 August.

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