Earlybird prices for luxury cruises
Uniworld’s luxury river cruises in Europe feature stateroom accommodation such as the Antoinette suite, pictured, as well as all meals onboard with complimentary drinks, excursions, signature lectures and onboard entertainment. The Boutique River Cruises include a selection of 2013 trips at 2012 prices for new bookings prior to June 30, with savings up to $3000 per couple. The itineraries include: Castles along the Rhine; Enchanting Danube; European Serenade; Imperial Capitals of Europe; European Jewels; and Paris & Normandy. The eight-day Castles along the Rhine journeys from Basel to Amsterdam is priced from $3479 per person twin share with additional pay-in-full savings from $500 and early booking savings of $250 also available. Details at www.uniworldcruises.co.nz
Specials on Suite Ship fleet
Avalon Waterways is offering savings of $1300 per couple on some of its 2013 European river cruises, with savings of $650 per couple on all others. Next year’s offering has six new itineraries with the addition of two more Suite Ships joining its fleet next year. The new cruises range from eight to 13 days and include the Tulips of Northern Holland, Austrian Highlights & Bavaria, the Capitals of Central Europe, The Rhine & Moselle and Highlights of Germany. Other itineraries returning in 2013 cover the length of Europe’s great waterways, ranging from eight to 24 days on the Seine, Rhône, Moselle, Rhine, Main and Danube rivers. The Suite Ships are aimed at the Australasian traveller and have two decks of all-suite accommodation. These have 30% more cabin space than the average competitor and feature wall-to-wall panoramic windows that draw back into an open-air balcony. Details at www.avalonwaterways.co.nz
European costs shock Americans
Sky-high prices in many European cities, with transatlantic airfares up 11% higher on average than 2011, are deterring Americans from going there for summer holidays, the Wall Street Journal reports. Online travel agency Kayak.com says tickets from the US to Paris are 22% higher than at the same time a year ago. London is up 14% and travel experts say prices will go much higher during the Olympics, which run from July 27 to Aug. 12. It's the same story with hotels. The average price found in Kayak searches for London between Memorial Day and Labor Day was $US241, up 24% from the same period last year. Munich and Stockholm are both up more than 20% compared with last year.
A330 to boost Virgin Australia
Virgin Australia’s push into the corporate market will get a boost later this month when it takes delivery of a widebody Airbus A330 sporting a new business product and lie-flat seats. It will be the first A330 featuring Virgin's own design. "It will be very different than the existing A330 product, an even better one," says chief executive John Borghetti Borghetti. "And as good as the A330 product is, the [planes] that are coming will be next generation in every respect." The new aircraft are part of Mr Borghetti's three-year campaign to claim at least 20% of the corporate market. This also includes a widening network of lounges, valet parking, an expanded international network and a restructured frequent-flyer programme. Meanwhile, a Roy Morgan Air Travel Survey in Australia shows the percentage of business travellers who would consider using Virgin Australia for their next domestic business trip has risen to 54% for the year to February, up from 50% the previous year.
Politicians debate Sydney’s next airport
Australia’s infrastructure minister, Anthony Albanese, has accused NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell of pursuing "short-term politics" through his continued opposition to a second Sydney airport. Mr Albanese says the federal government will continue to push for a second international airport and maintains the economic costs of not acting soon will be “substantial.” “This issue needs a bipartisan and evidence-based approach. Sydney needs a second airport sooner rather than later,” he told The Australian Online. A 3200-page independent report on Sydney's aviation needs, released last month, says the existing airport arrangements are not sufficient to cope with future demand. Mr O'Farrell believes Sydneysiders should not have to put up with more aircraft noise and he favours a fast-rail service between Sydney and an expanded Canberra airport was “the most sensible option.” Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has come out in support for a second airport. “Sydney Airport will always be Australia's principal aviation hub and we need to focus on maximising the efficient use of the existing airport infrastructure,” he says. “However, it is also timely to start planning for a second airport in the Sydney basin to ensure that future international and domestic aviation growth opportunities can be realised.”
Taiwan flying gets cheaper
Foreign low-cost carriers are starting to penetrate the aviation market in and out of Taiwan. Malaysia’s Asia Air, now the largest low-cost carrier in Asia; Japan’s Peach Airline and Jetstar; Korea’s Eastar Jet, T’way Airline and Jin Air; and Singapore’s Tiger Airways have all increased routes to Japan, Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore. JetStar has increased its Taipei-Osaka service to two flights per day since the end of March. Meanwhile, Peach Airline will launch its Osaka-Taipei flights in the third quarter of this year. Taiwan’s aviation authority has allocated the Songshan-Seoul Gimpo air traffic rights partly to Eastar Jet and T’way, which are expected to launch their flights by the end of April.
Go direct to Nanning, China
Travel companies in Singapore and China have joined forces to launch twice-weekly direct flights between Singapore and Nanning in southern China on Jetstar Asia. The scheduled service, which will run until March next year, is mounted by Singapore's ASA Holidays and AZ Holidays in partnership with a tour operator in Nanning. Jetstar Asia is said to be the only operator to provide direct routes between Singapore and Nanning after other carriers, such as China Eastern, ceased serving this route last month. Instead of taking almost eight hours via Guangzhou or Hong Kong, the direct flight will be only three and a half hours.