March 2014 Travel & Industry News
Velocity change fees
Virgin Australia’s Velocity frequent flyer program is introducing penalties for changes to upgraded flights. From 8 April, amendments and cancellations to tickets upgraded using UpgradeMe Points will be charged at 3500 points or $35 if made more than 24 hours before flight departure. Points will be forfeited for changes made within 24 hours of departure, including no-shows.
Novotel executive rooms
The Novotel Sydney Central has a new room category. Executive rooms, located on the top two floors of the hotel include a full range of amenities as well as complimentary internet access, Nespresso coffee and mineral water.
East Africa Joint Visa
A new East Africa travel visa was announced at a recent travel trade show in Berlin. The new visa, which came into effect on 1 January 2014, simplifies movement around Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda. The cross-border tourist visa costs US$100.
New Qantas regional routes
Qantas has plans to introduce five new regional routes to its domestic network. New services include daily flights between Brisbane and Port Macquarie, effective 1 May, and nine weekly flights between Brisbane and the Queensland town of Miles from 14 July. Other additions include a weekly Melbourne-Coffs Harbour service from 7 June, weekend flights on the Sydney-Hervey Bay route and up to three weekly services from Sydney to Hamilton Island.
Qatar unveils new A380 first class seat
Qatar Airways has unveiled details of the First Class cabin to be fitted in its new A380-800. The First Class seats will have a 90-inch pitch and transform into a fully flat bed, with an individual 26-inch TV screen (see pictures below). Meanwhile, the carrier also plans to upgrade business class seats and entertainment on select A320 and A330-200 aircraft. The new business class seats will recline to a 180-degree flat bed. Modification to nine A320s and seven A330-200s are already underway and expected to be completed this year.
New Brisbane Rydges
Construction will begin this month on a new four-star Rydges hotel at Brisbane Showground. The 208-room property will include a restaurant and bar and is expected to open in 2015.
VA Velocity upgrade changes
Virgin Australia has amended its upgrade policy so that Velocity frequent flyer members can use their points to upgrade from Saver fares to Business Class. Saver fares can now be upgraded on all domestic flights, subject to availability. Upgrading to business class on sectors up to 600 miles will require 10,000 points; 17,500 for 601-1200 miles; 30,000 for 1201-2400 miles and 35,000 for 2401-3600 miles.
Mantra regional expansion
Mantra Group has signed a management deal for its first property on the NSW south coast. Formerly known as the Best Western Wollongong, the property, which is located in the heart of the CBD, has rebranded to Mantra Wollongong.
SQ opens Sydney SilverKris lounge
Singapore Airlines has officially opened its new SilverKris Lounge at Sydney Airport. The new ONG&ONG-designed concept gives Business and First/Suite passengers their own dedicated area to work or relax. The new lounges are already present in London, Hong Kong and Singapore, with more to be rolled out progressively, including at the four other Australia airports served by the carrier.
New Choice hotels
Choice Hotels has added four regional and surburban properties in New South Wales and Victoria to its portfolio. In New South Wales, the 4-star Quality Hotel Monte Pio in Maitland and the 3.5-star Comfort Resort Moby Dick in Yamba. In Victoria, the Quality Suites Beaumout Kew, which joins the portfolio on 1 April, and the 3.5-star Comfort Inn Greensborough located in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.
Perth-Christchurch link returns
Air New Zealand will once again operate seasonal direct services between Perth and Christchurch. The carrier will offer two flights weekly between the two cities from 13 December 2014 to 25 April 15. The flights will be sold in partnership with alliance partner Virgin Australia.
BLUE Sydney adds iPads
BLUE Sydney, a Taj Hotel is offering guests access to iPad Air devices. The free web-enabled devices will be available in all guestrooms as well as public spaces.