Thomas Cook is offering potential and existing customers real-time holiday tips and advice from its top travel experts this summer.
The operator said: ‘For summer 2013, representatives of Thomas Cook’s product, overseas and customer services teams will share their accumulated knowledge with customers through the all-new ‘Ask & Answer’ service available exclusively on Thomascook.com.
‘The all-new online resource allows customers to research their holiday on thomascook.com in the same way that they would do in a store or over the phone, connecting them with Thomas Cook travel specialists and enabling them to tap into an extensive pool of knowledge and expertise.’
In development since February 2013 and ‘soft launched’ at the end of April, ‘Ask & Answer’ has received an average of 54 questions a day, with more than 1,900 answers to customer questions posted to date.
The tool offers site visitors with a specific enquiry the opportunity to post any question they like regarding their holiday and receive a reply within 72 hours via the same forum.
An enquiry about Majorca – for example, asking about the proximity of a water park to a property or to find out if a hotel can cater for people with a gluten allergy – would be dealt with by the Thomas Cook representatives best positioned to respond.
Mike Hoban, sales, marketing and ecommerce director at Thomas Cook UK & Ireland, said: ‘In addition to the excellent service [the service] offers, the insights we will gain in to our customers’ needs and requirements will allow us to tailor our web content even further, ensuring that our ‘frequently asked questions’ grows organically over time to better serve the needs and expectations of our customers.’
Thomas Cook said ‘Ask & Answer’ is another illustration of its strategy of enhancing the end-to-end customer experience across retail, web and mobile.
Sourced by e-tid.com
Tui Travel and Abta have defended allocated seating charges after a complaint by a couple travelling on their honeymoon made national headlines.
The Daily Mail reported that consumer Rosa De Filippo was told she would have to pay an extra £7.50 per seat to sit next to her fiance on a flight after discovering they were sitting separately.
She discovered the surcharge after booking a Thomson package holiday to Sicily and viewing her pre-assigned seats online which were separated by an aisle.
Abta said such charges were not unusual in the aviation industry with many airlines now offering allocated seating on the basis of a discretionary charge.
“Many airlines give the option of paying in advance for pre allocated seating which has proved popular with passengers avoiding the need to check in very early,” said an association spokesman.
“You may well still sit together even if you have not used pre allocation but booking in advance removes a degree of uncertainty. Airlines will always ensure that families with small children sit close to each other.”
A spokeswoman for Tui said: “Thomson Airways always tries to seat customers travelling together next to each other wherever possible.
“However, along with many other UK airlines, we offer a service whereby customers can pre-book specific seats. This service not only guarantees that customers can sit together, but also allows them to choose their preferred seats within the cabin.”
Other airlines who charge for advanced reserved seating include Aer Lingus which charges between £5 and £14, Thomas Cook which charges £5 for adults and £3 for children and WizzAir which charges £7 when booked online and £14 at the airport.
Sourced by TTG Digital
By Sophie Griffiths,
Britain is now the second biggest tourism market for Tunisia, with the potential to be the first within a number of years, the Tunisian minister for tourism said last night.
Speaking in London, Jamal Gamra said: “Last year we had 330,000 British tourists visiting our country. This year we are aiming to bring more than 350,000 tourists. We are on a very positive tract.”
Gamra said the country’s overall target was to reach seven million tourists “from all over the world” – not bad for a country that has a population of just over 10 million, and just over two years ago was seeing the first revolution of the Arab Spring.
“We lost 2.5 million tourists during the year of the Arab Spring,” Gamra admitted, “but we recovered two thirds of that. Before the revolution we had seven million tourists exactly. Last year we had around six million, and we’re now aiming to reach the figures of 2010.
“We want to progress to increase by one million tourists each year. We want 10 million tourists by 2016.”
Gamra added however that its number one tourist market of France had not bounced back as quickly as Tunisia had hoped, and that British numbers were increasing more rapidly. “France has not responded very well. Our target for this year is one million tourists – less than what we recorded in 2010, which was around 1.4 million tourists.” Asked by TTG whether Britain could overtake France in years to come, Gamra conceded it would still take a “good few years”, but that looking at the figures, it was possible.
Meanwhile, Garam said he was keen for Tunisia to alter its image so that it was seen as more than a beach holiday.
“We are seen as a sea-and-sun destination in the UK, but we are working to diversify what we offer. We have more than 50 therapy hotels, we have golf courses, we are a cultural destination as well.”
Sourced by TTG Digital
The Wales Air Forum shared several news articles from various sources each providing different parts of the puzzle. So what exactly do we know about Bruce Dickinson’s company and it’s plans?
Cardiff Aviation Ltd will be based at the 132,000 sq ft Twin Peaks hangar at MoD St Athan. The company will formally launch in July 2012 with 250-300 full time jobs being created within the first year. Within two years there could be in the region of 1,000 to 1,500 jobs created by the company.
Cardiff Aviation Ltd wants to provide heavy maintenance for Airbus and Boeing types of aircraft inside the Twin Peaks hangar which can accommodate aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767.
The company is not intending to just concentrate on maintenance as it will form as part of a “total aviation service package” that they offer including flight and technical training, certification and aircraft sourcing and leasing.
Cardiff Aviation Ltd are hopeful that the development of new airline services for South Wales are included as Cardiff Airport has tremendous potential to challenge the successful English regional airports.
The first customers are likely to be “Boeing 737 operators” according to the company, and will be revealed later this month. But Bruce Dickinson has stated that “several more major and independent airlines” have shown interest in employing the business.
Update: 9th May 2012
Cardiff Aviation Ltd has purchased it’s first simulator which is a Boeing 747 simulator and will be delivered in June.
Update: 23rd May 2012
Cardiff Aviation Ltd has taken the delivery of it’s first Boeing 747-200 flight simulator.
Cardiff Aviation Ltd mentions that VIP air taxi & medevac operations are under consideration.
Video of the Cardiff Aviation Ltd facility – click here
Update: 12th July 2012
Cardiff Aviation Ltd has officially received the keys to the Twin Peak hangar at MoD St Athan.
At present everything is running as planned and there is hope of an announcement in three weeks or so.
All recruitment enquiries should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Update 21st July 2012
Mario Fulgoni appointed as executive chairman
Confident that the Civil Aviation Authority certification to maintain aircraft being operated in the UK to be secured within 8 to 12 weeks.
Cardiff Aviation now has all of it’s senior management team in place.
Update 5th September 2012
Bruce Dickinson has reported that Cardiff Aviation has obtained their Maintenance Repair Overhaul (MRO) number however they are waiting for the documentation to arrive via post
Update 12th September 2012
Bruce Dickinson has reported that there will be a clearer idea on the Cardiff Aviation recruitment schedule within a few weeks.
Update 6th October 2012
Two Canadair CL-215 waterbomber aircraft arrived at Cardiff Aviation Ltd
Bruce Dickinson was on board one of the aircraft and believed they are beeing stored with some maintenance to be carried out on them.
Update 31st October 2012
A Yakutia Air Boeing 757-200 arrived at Cardiff Aviation Ltd for maintenance. It is to have an engine change.
Update 7th January 2013
Bruce Dickinson reported on the Cardiff Aviation Ltd website that he was unpacking Boeing & Airbus heavy maintenance tooling worth 6 figures.
Update 14th January 2013
Bruce Dickinson reported on the Cardiff Aviation Ltd twitter feed that a Boeing 737 had arrived for maintenance and also another Boeing 737 arrived for maintenance the previous weekend.
While doing research it was logged by the South Wales Aviation Group that a Jetstar Pacific Boeing 737-400 VN-A194 landed at St Athan today from Budapest. There was no record of an aircraft arriving during the weekend however another Jetstar Pacific Boeing 737-400 VN-A192 arrived at St Athan on 21st Dec 12.
Update 15th January 2013
Bruce Dickinson reported on the Cardiff Aviation Ltd twitter feed that Colin Harrison has been appointed as Head of Base Maintenance. Bruce also states that Colin Harrison has had previous experience at Cobham, Airbus & British Airways.
Update 7th Mar 2013
A Air Via Airbus A320 LZ-MDD arrived at Cardiff Aviation Ltd for a repaint and cabin re-configuration. This aircraft is the first of three aircraft due from Air Via.
Update 22nd Mar 2013
The Air Viar Airbus A320 LZ-MDD appeared from the Twin Peaks hangar in WOW air livery. This aircraft departed to Keflavik to operate a wet lease on behalf of the new Icelandic low cost carrier.
Update 23rd Mar 2013
Air Via Airbus A320 LZ-MDC arrived at Cardiff Aviation Ltd for a repaint and cabin re-configuration. This aircraft is the 2nd of Air Via aircraft to arrive at Cardiff Aviation Ltd.
Update 9th Apr 2013
Cardiff Aviation are eyeing up projects such as becoming an Airbus A320 sharklet retrofitting centre. If the idea materialises, Dickenson says, Cardiff Aviation wants to take over another 45,000m² (485,000ft²) “super-hangar” on the eastern side of the airfield, which can accommodate up to six narrowbodies.
Update 19th Apr 2013
Cardiff Aviation has sealed a partnership with the European branch of US fuel-system maintenance specialists North American Aircraft Services (NAAS).
Update 10th May 2013
Cardiff Aviation aquires European Skybus, and with it a number of simulators
Update 30th May 2013
Cardiff Aviation shift B737-400 simulator from Istanbul to Karachi
Update 18th Jun 2013
Cardiff Aviation secures £5m investment. Finance Wales, the UK SME investment company and Welsh Government subsidiary, has contributed £1.6m to the project, with the remainder of the sum coming from private or privately-owned investors including Dickinson and Fulgoni.
The Wales Air Forum as usual will keep you informed of any updates. If you require any information then please send us an e-mail. email@example.com
Visit our main website www.walesaiforum.co.uk
By Phil Davies,
EasyJet today confirmed a major multi-billion dollar fleet upgrade involving more than 200 aircraft.
The budget airline has agreed to acquire 100 new generation Airbus A320neo aircraft for delivery between 2017 and 2022 and take options on a further 100.
The carrier is also acquiring 35 existing A320s to enter service between 2015 and 2017.
EasyJet said it had negotiated a “very substantial discount” from the list prices of the aircraft of $76 million per A320 and $92 million per A320neo.
Eighty five of the 135 ordered aircraft will be used to replace ageing aircraft as they leave the fleet and return to lessors. The remaining aircraft will be used to continue with a strategy of capacity growth of between 3% to 5% a year.
The deal follows a “highly competitive” fleet selection process, the carrier said.
“Whilst the announcement today will deliver a fleet of 276 aircraft by 2022, as of today, the new arrangements also give easyJet the ability to manage the fleet size to between 165 and 298 aircraft in 2022 depending on economic conditions and opportunities available,” easyJet said.
Chief executive Carolyn McCall said: “All manufacturers competed hard for the easyJet business. Both Airbus and Boeing offered us new generation aircraft that met our requirements and offered greatly improved fuel efficiency.
“Ultimately, Airbus offered us the best deal, and at a price with a greater discount to the list price than their landmark fleet purchase with easyJet in 2002.
“These arrangements combined with easyJet’s cost advantage, leading network and compelling customer proposition mean that easyJet is uniquely positioned to be a structural winner in European aviation.”
The airline’s chairman John Barton added: “Since joining the easyJet board, I have spent a significant amount of time reviewing the rationale for ordering new aircraft and have been actively involved in the selection process, which I am sure has been robust and thorough.
“We have planned that the new fleet arrangements will be financed without recourse to shareholders and believe that the arrangements will enhance returns and dividends to shareholders.
“The new fleet arrangements will enable easyJet to continue its successful strategy of offering customers low fares to convenient airports and efficient and friendly service.”
Sourced by Travel Weekly
By Ian Taylor,
The Home Office has hit back at criticism of the UK visa process for Chinese visitors, suggesting the industry “stop knocking the UK offer”.
Immigration minister Mark Harper said: “We have a good visa service – and our customers agree.” Harper insisted it is “a misconception” that Chinese visitors struggle to obtain a UK visa.
However, he said: “I agree we should do more. I would like to reassure the industry we are committed to increasing the number of visitors from China.”
Travelzoo Asia Pacific head Jason Yap suggested last week that the UK has lost ground to other European destinations, in part because of the cost and hassle of obtaining a visa.
Yap told Travel Weekly: “Everybody else seems to be making visa applications easy but the UK hasn’t done much. People in China and other Asia Pacific destinations aren’t really talking about the UK anymore.”
But in a comment written for this morning’s Travel Weekly Business:am, Harper says: “The Home Office is running a good visa service in China.
“The facts speak for themselves – almost 300,000 visas were issued in 2012 with the vast majority processed in 15 days and around half in just five days. Our customers in China are happy, with 99% of those surveyed saying they were satisfied with the service.”
The minister added: “In the last few months we’ve made considerable improvements to our visa system.” However, he said: “Despite this work, the misconception that it is ‘hard to get a visa’ has become commonplace.
“This neither benefits the travel trade … nor the government trying to instil confidence amongst customers in our visa system.”
Harper said: “I want to work with the industry to close the gap between perception and reality. We need to make sure the UK’s visa system is portrayed accurately, in the UK and overseas, as a service that is continually improving to meet the needs of Chinese visitors.
“We also need to move away from focusing on simplistic and unworkable solutions for visas, for example joining up with Schengen. Compromising the security of our border is not something this government or the British public want.
“We will continue to work closely with travel agents and tour operators to find ways of streamlining the approach for applying for both [UK and Schengen] visas alongside one another.”
He insisted: “We are open to ideas.” But the minister added: “I’d urge everyone to stop knocking the UK offer and instead start shouting about all that Britain has to offer Chinese tourists.”
Sourced by Travel Weekly
A 19-year-old man from Wales has died in Bulgaria after apparently falling from a hotel balcony.
Police in the Black Sea resort of Sunny Beach confirmed Liam Davies’s death. His family have been informed.
The Foreign Office was unable to say where in Wales Mr Davies was from.
Tour firm Thomas Cook said its thoughts and sympathies were with his family and friends, “and our team in resort are providing their total support during this very difficult time”.
The company added: “Our team are also working with local authorities and the British embassy.”
Sourced by BBC News
One kayaker was airlifted to hospital and another taken to shore by a lifeboat crew after getting into difficulty off the Gwynedd coast.
The alarm was raised by a third person on-shore at Trefor, Caernarfon, on Saturday at 13:05 BST.
A helicopter rescue crew from RAF Valley at Anglesey rescued one of the kayakers who had become exhausted.
Holyhead Coastguard said in difficult conditions the kayaks had been taken too far from shore.
Sourced by BBC News
A school pupil was airlifted to hospital earlier today after being impaled on a bike.
The boy – a student at Ysgol Bro Myrddin, Croes-y-Ceiliog in Carmarthen – was released by fire crews with cutting equipment after the incident at 4.20pm.
His condition is not yet known.
News of the rescue emerged on The Mid and West Wales Fire Service’s Twitter feed.
A post at around 5.30pm, read: “Firefighters have released a male casualty who was impaled on a bycycle (sic) in Carmarthen – Air ambulance in attendance #Carmarthenrescue
A spokesman for Mid and West Fire Service later told WalesOnline: “We have left, we released the person using cutting equipment.
“The Air Ambulance was also in attendance.
“It was a male casualty. We were called at 4.20pm.
“He was impaled with a metal rod from a bike.”
Sourced by Wales Online
By Phil Davies,
The aircraft designed as a direct rival to the Boring 787 Dreamliner is due to make its maiden flight today.
The fuel-efficient Airbus A350 twin-jet is due to take off for the first time this morning from Toulouse, where the make is assembled.
The European manufacturer plans to start delivering the first A350s to airline customers by the end of 2014. More than 600 orders have been taken by Airbus for the new generation aircraft – still behind the 890 received for the 787.
The A350 is similar to the Dreamliner in that it is constructed largely of advanced materials, particularly carbon composites, in order to save weight.
Nick Cunningham, an aviation analyst at London-based Agency Partners, told French agency AFP: “All recent programmes before it, both by Airbus, Boeing and others, have had reasonably horrendous technical problems and delays.
“So every time you hit a milestone (such as a test flight), it’s good news because it means that you’ve missed an opportunity to have another big delay.”
Sourced by Travel Weekly