Pullman overlooks Sydney Harbour
Accor has put its five-star Pullman brand on its recent acquisition of the harbourside Quay Grand Suites Sydney. It joins two other Pullmans in Sydney – Pullman Sydney Olympic Park and Pullman Sydney Hyde Park, which is undergoing a major upgrading programme that followed its re-branding from Sydney Marriott in May 2012.
Other Australian establishments that will eventually don the Pullman monicker are the Sebel Cairns, Sebel King George Square Brisbane and Sebel Albert Park Melbourne. This will occur in the next six months put Pullman on track to becoming Australia’s largest five-star network.
The Pullman name refers to the opulent train carriages that were designed by George Pullman in the mid-1800s and transformed travel and dining across America. Accor acquired the Pullman name in 1991 and re-launched the brand in 2007.
Smartphones aid air travellers
Airline passengers want more control of their journey and are looking for more self-service and mobile-based offerings to reduce stress during travel, the 2012 SITA/Air Transport World Passenger Self-Service Survey says.
The survey is carried out with a sample of the 280 million passengers who pass through six of the world's leading airport hubs: Abu Dhabi, Beijing, Frankfurt, Atlanta, Mumbai and Sao Paulo.
It reports that 70% of passengers now carry smartphones, which is fueling the demand for services such as self-boarding and flight information updates on their mobiles.
Self-service continues to be increasingly popular with passengers: almost two thirds used a self-service channel to check-in on the day of the survey, up from just over half last year. Close to 90% of passengers rated flight status updates on their mobiles and self-boarding as their top self-service technologies.
Sighteeing flight cancelled
Antarctica Sightseeing Flights has cancelled its planned flight from Auckland to to the ice in February, citing insufficient demand. Managing director Phil Asker says less than 100 passengers had booked on the chartered Boeing 747-400 flight. He says passengers who booked could get full refunds or a discount of $A250 off the price of other Antarctica sightseeing flights from Australia. Five of these are scheduled, including one just added from Perth..
Skies open over Myanmar
Myanmar has become flavour of the year for foreign airlines. Qatar Airways began a three-weekly service from Doha to Yangon (Rangoon) this week while Taiwan’s Eva announced it would boost its five flights a week from Taipei to daily from October 28. Sixteen foreign airlines fly to Myanmar and five more – DragonAir, All Nippon Airways, Singapore Airlines, Condor Airlines (Germany) and Trans Asia Airways – are preparing to offer flights.
This burst of traffic is putting pressure the 50year-plus Yangon International Airport, so the government is looking for investors to build a second international airport at Bago, 80km from Yangon, on the site of a Japanese-built airport from World War II.
New tours to Europe
Cosmos is offering four new choices of Regional Discoveries tours in its 2013 Europe brochure:
• Mediterranean Flavours: 13 days from $2526* per person twin share. A meandering journey through some of the most celebrated regions of Southern Europe, starting in Madrid and visiting Valencia, Barcelona, Marseille, Cinque Terre, Venice and Rome.
• Hidden Treasures of Northern Italy – eight days from $1502* per person twin share. A focus on the playgrounds of the rich and famous in Northern Italy, including Milan, Cinque Terre and Lake Maggiore.
• Discover Provence – eight days from $1794* per person twin share. An escape to the sun-drenched hills of Southern France, based in Avignon with visits to Marseille, Nîmes, Arles, Les Baux de Provence and Aix en Provence.
• A Taste of Ireland – six days from $1262* per person twin share. A fresh look at the Emerald Isle, beginning in Dublin before visiting Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, Killarney and Blarney.
* For conditions, earlybird savings and other details, visit www.cosmostours.co.nz