Tunisian tourist board reassures trade following attack

By Hollie-Rae Merrick | 25 March 2015 at 08.37 GMT

The Tunisian tourist board will meet with agents over the coming months as it looks to provide reassurances about travelling to the country in the wake 
of last week’s terrorist attack that claimed 23 lives.

Eighteen tourists were killed in the attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, including 12 MSC Cruises passengers, among them Briton Sally Adey, and five Costa Cruises passengers.

The tourist board’s call for continued support came as several cruise lines, including Holland America Line, Costa and MSC, pulled Tunisia from itineraries.

The tourist board said Tunisia was still the perfect option for a beach holiday, with the resorts of Port El Kantaoui and Hammamet safe.

Sami Tounsi, trade manager for the Tunisian National Tourist Office, said 90% of bookings to the destination from the UK were made through the trade, so support from agents would be key.

“The UK is the second-largest European market to Tunisia and we’ve had steady growth year on year,” he said. “Last year was a record one, with 425,000 UK holidaymakers making it to Tunisia. This year we were expecting 460,000.”

Tounsi said the attack would affect Tunisia, but he hoped it would be only in the short term. “Tunisia must stay out of the news if it wants tourism to bounce back,” he added.

The tourist board said it planned to run roadshows to meet agents and to reassure them.

Michael Edwards, Intrepid Group UK and Europe regional director, said he believed “some tourists are going to think twice” about travelling to Tunisia following the incident.

Thomas Cook and Cosmos Holidays said normal booking conditions would remain unless Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice changed.

Thomson and First Choice have cancelled excursions to Tunis until the end of the month, but are monitoring the situation.

Red Sea Holidays, which is operating to Tunisia for the first time this year, reported no “dramatic” impact on sales.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Germanwings flights cancelled as crews ‘refuse to fly’ in wake of crash

By Phil Davies | 25 March 2015 at 08.24 GMT
Germanwings flights cancelled as crews ‘refuse to fly’ in wake of crash
Passengers were left stranded as Germanwings crews refused to board similar aircraft to the Airbus A320 which crashed in the French Alps killing all 150 people on board.

Flights from Heathrow, Stansted, Manchester and in Germany were affected in the immediate aftermath of yesterday’s tragedy.

A mother and baby from Manchester were believed to have been on board flight 4U 9525 from Barcelona to Dusseldorf which was carrying 144 passengers and six crew.

Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said t was “sadly likely” that there were British nationals on board.

Pilots were said to be refusing to fly for “personal reasons” as concerns were raised about the A320 involved in the disaster – an aircraft built in 1991.

Several Germanwings flights were cancelled as it emerged that the aircraft involved in the crash had been grounded for an hour at Barcelona airport for repairs just a day before the accident.

Pilots and cabin crew expressed their concerns the crash may have been linked to a repair to the nose-wheel landing doors on Monday, The Telegraph reported.

Germanwings parent company Lufthansa denied that there was any link between the repair and the cancelled flights.

A statement last night from the low cost carrier confirmed that some flights had to be cancelled.

“Following the tragic accident on Tuesday, Germanwings reports occasional flight disruptions within its route network,” the airline said.

“This is due to crew members, who decided not to operate aircraft following the reports on the accident of a Germanwings aircraft with 144 passengers and six crew members onboard.”

Spokesman Thomas Winkelmann said: “We understand their decision.”

The two pilots on the doomed flight had reported no sign of any problems before the aircraft disappeared from radar screens from its cruising altitude of 38,000ft before crashing into a remote mountainside at 6,500ft.

The aircraft went into a steady and rapid descent for eight minutes from halfway through its 90-minute flight from Barcelona.

Sixteen German schoolchildren returning home from a Spanish exchange trip and two babies were among the dead, who included 67 Germans, 45 Spaniards, a Belgian, and Turkish passengers.

The first of the A320’ss black box flight recorders had been recovered by last night, holding information about why it suddenly dropped out of the sky.

Airbus confirmed that the aircraft involved in the accident was orginally delivered to Lufthansa in 1991 and it had flown approximately 58,300 hours in some 46,700 flights.

To date, the entire fleet has accumulated some 150 million flight hours in over 85 million flights.

“Airbus will make further factual information available as soon as the details have been confirmed and cleared by the authorities for release,” the manufacturer said.

“The concerns and sympathy of the Airbus employees go to the families, friends and loved ones affected by the accident of Flight 4U9525.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Coroner urges action over toxic aircraft fumes

Coroner urges action over toxic aircraft fumesAirlines must take action to prevent passenger deaths from toxic fumes inside aircraft cabins, a coroner has warned.

People regularly exposed to fumes circulating in aircraft cabins faced “consequential damage to their health,” Sheriff Payne, the senior coroner for Dorset, said.

Payne, who is inquiring into the death of British Airways pilot Richard Westgate (pictured), called on the airline and the Civil Aviation Authority to take “urgent action to prevent future deaths”.

Westgate, a senior first officer, died in 2012 after claiming he had been poisoned by toxic cabin fumes.

Most airline passengers, who fly only occasionally, will not be affected by the problem, but some frequent travellers who are genetically susceptible to the toxins could fall ill.

The coroner’s report, obtained by the Telegraph, is claimed to be the first official UK recognition of so-called “aerotoxic syndrome”, a phenomenon which is blamed by some for the deaths of at least two pilots and numerous other incidents where pilots have passed out in flight.

Co-pilots can normally take over, but campaigners claim the syndrome is a suspected cause of some mid-air disasters.

The coroner’s report, sent to BA and the CAA, reportedly raises five “matters of concern”, including that “organophosphate compounds are present in aircraft cabin air”; that “the occupants of aircraft cabins are exposed to organophosphate compounds with consequential damage to their health” and that “impairment to the health of those controlling aircraft may lead to the death of occupants”.

He also says there is no real-time monitoring to detect failures in cabin air quality and that no account is taken by airlines of “genetic variation in the human species that would render individuals … intolerant of the exposure”.

The coroner called on BA and the CAA to respond to the report within eight weeks, setting out the action they propose to take.

The report is not a full verdict from an inquest, which has yet to be held in this case.

A BA spokesman said it could not comment on the case, but would consider the coroner’s report and respond.

The airline cites independent studies commissioned by the Department for Transport, which found “no evidence that pollutants occur in the cabin air at levels exceeding available health and safety standards”.

The government said that “concerns about significant risk to the health of airline passengers and crew are not substantiated”.

A spokesman for the CAA said it would consider the report in detail but said it was “nothing that passengers or crew should be overly concerned about”.

Frank Cannon, the lawyer for Westgate’s case, told the newspaper: “This report is dynamite. It is the first time a British coroner has come to the conclusion that damage is being done by cabin air, something the industry has been denying for years.”

He said he was acting for approximately 50 other aircrew allegedly affected by the syndrome, working for airlines including Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Etihad, Thomas Cook and easyJet. He is also representing two passengers.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Air France strike cost airline €425 million

Air France strike cost airline €425 millionA 14-day strike by Air France pilots last year cost the airline €425 million, it was disclosed today.

The figure emerged in full year results issued by Air France KLM this morning.

The strike led to multiple flight cancellations resulting in revenues being down by €495 million.

The carrier’s net losses increased to €535 million from €463 million in 2013 as full year passenger revenues declined by 2.7% to €19.5 billion.

Air France KLM is to accelerate cost cuts and reduce investment by €300 million in both 2015 and 2016.

Chairman and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: “By deciding today to reinforce its unit cost reduction efforts and adapt its investment plans, the group is ensuring that it can achieve its key targets of improved competitiveness and deleveraging.”

Capacity growth in the carrier’s passenger business will be limited to 1.1% this year.

However, the group’s Transavia low-cost arm will see capacity rise by 30% in France with a network of 44 destinations from Paris Orly under a new brand identity and with a new website.

The Transavia fleet will increase to 21 Boeing 737s this summer, rising to 37 by 2019, potentially operating flights from all French airports, including on destinations already served by Air France.

“Transavia will maintain its own operating and remuneration conditions, which are key to achieving its unit cost and operating flexibility objectives,” the group said.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

‘Nut rage’ Korean Air exec jailed for a year

By Sophie Griffiths,

A former Korean Air executive who forced a plane to return to the gate after nuts were served in a bag rather than bowl, has been jailed for a year.

Heather Cho, who was vice-president of the airline, avoided a possible maximum sentence of 10 years.

Her plane had been taxiing at New York’s JFK airport on December 5 when witnesses said she became angry because she was served macadamia nuts, which she had not asked for, that were still in a bag and not in a bowl.

Witnesses also testified that Cho had struck a crewmember with the service manual.

She ordered the plane to return to the gate and offload the chief steward.

“This is a case where human dignity was trampled upon,” Judge Oh Sung-woo said on Thursday.

She had treated the flight “as if it was her own private plane”, Judge Oh added. “It is doubtful that the way the nuts were served was so wrong.”

The judge also said Cho had failed to show enough remorse, even after she submitted letters to the court apologising for the incident.

Cho, the daughter of the Korean Airline chair, publicly apologised and subsequently resigned from all her posts at the airline in December.

Prosecutors had requested a three-year sentence in prison on charges of breaking aviation law, assault and interfering in an investigation.

Cho’s defence team had argued that aviation safety had not been violated as the plane was still being pushed by a truck away from the gate.

Sourced by TTG Digital

TransAsia pilots suspended after safety tests

TransAsia pilots suspended after safety testsAlmost 30 pilots working for Taiwanese airline TransAsia are reported to have been suspended after failing or missing safety tests a week after a fatal crash.

The airline said the results were not acceptable and promised to improve the training of its pilots.

Regulators ordered the tests after a TransAsia ATR aircraft crashed in Taipei, killing at least 42 people.

The country’s aviation regulator said that out of 68 pilots, 10 failed oral proficiency tests designed to show how they would handle an emergency.

Nineteen were unable to take the test because of sickness or travel, and were suspended until they could take it, the BBC reported.

“The result is not acceptable for us,” TransAsia chief executive Peter Chen said. “We will definitely strengthen their training.”

The airline has offered $470,000 in compensation to the family of each victim.

Taiwanese media said all the families had rejected the offer.

TransAsia made similar payouts to families of passengers killed in another crash last July.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Pregnant holidaymaker makes complaint to Thomson

Pregnant holidaymaker makes complaint to ThomsonImage via Shutterstock

A pregnant holidaymaker has complained about being internally examined on an aircraft before being told she was not allowed to fly.

Kerry Deane, 32, was 35 weeks pregnant when she tried to fly back from a holiday in Tunisia with her family.

As well as being under the 36-week limit for expectant mothers, she also had a letter from her doctor stating she was fit to fly, the Times reported.

The mother of four, who gave birth a month after the incident last October, had booked the holiday through Thomson although the flight was operated by Tunisian airline Nouvelair.

Both Thomson and Nouvelair Tunisie stipulate that a pregnant woman must have a letter from her doctor after 28 weeks and can fly only before 36 weeks.

The mother had checked four times with her GP and the travel company that she was allowed to fly and showed no signs of going into labour,

However, two medics took her blood pressure and checked her bump before conducting the internal examination behind a curtain at the front of the aircraft, where food is prepared.

Ms Deane, her three children and her partner were then told to disembark at Enfidha airport in Hammamet.

The family were put on another flight to Newcastle and driven home to Kilsyth, near Glasgow, by the company, arriving back 19 hours later than expected.

Ms Deane contacted lawyers after Thomson said it would not compensate her because she had not suffered injury.

She told the Daily Record: “The way we were treated was an absolute disgrace … They didn’t carry out the examination in any sort of sterile way. It’s not about the compensation, I just want to make sure this doesn’t happen to other pregnant women in future.”

A Thomson spokeswoman said: “We are sorry to hear of Ms Deane’s experience. On this occasion the flight was not operated by us but by a third party airline.

“As every airline has its own policy regarding flying during pregnancy we advised Ms Deane to speak directly to this airline prior to travel. As we understand Ms Deane has instructed a solicitor, it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly