Holiday companies cancel Egypt tours until October

Adventure holiday companies are cancelling trips to Egypt en masse for the coming months as conflict continues in the country following the removal of president Mohammed Morsi.

Holiday companies Explore! and Exodus have cancelled several of their planned trips following an advisory from the UK government’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) against all but essential travel to Egypt, except to resorts in the Red Sea region. Exodus has cancelled tours until the end of September and Explore! has cancelled all holidays to the country until October 5. The companies are contacting customers to inform them of the changes and offering them the opportunity of booking another tour or receiving a full refund.

In its statement, Explore! Said, ‘The UK Foreign Office has advised against all but essential travel to most of Egypt. Consequently we have taken the decision to cancel all Explore tours due to depart prior to October 5, 2013, and our Reservations team has contacted customers due to depart within this period to discuss cancelling or transferring their bookings.’

‘Moving forward we will be reviewing the situation in Egypt on a weekly basis and will be looking at tours departing after October 06, 2013 and informing customers accordingly over the coming weeks,’ it added.

Egypt’s violence has had its effect across the travel industry. Thomson has re-routed a cruise that departed last week and was due to call at Alexandria and Port Said. The ship is now visiting Ag Nik, in Crete, and Haifa, in Israel. Thomson and First Choice have also cancelled all outbound flights to Luxor.

‘People should also take considerable reassurance from the fact that the resort of Sharm el Sheikh operates like a country in itself. It is run separately from the rest of the Egypt, benefits from having just one secure road into the resort, and enjoys an exceptionally low crime rate,’ a spokesperson from Thomson said, adding that there have been no related incidents in Sharm el Sheikh.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Thomas Cook said, ‘We continue to monitor the situation in Egypt and are working in close contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, adding: ‘Our experienced teams on the ground assure us that no tourist areas at the Red Sea have been affected. The resorts to which we travel are fully operational and holidaymakers are continuing to enjoy the popular resorts of Sharm el Sheikh and Hurghada.’

Hayes and Jarvis have also issued a statement saying. ‘The Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh is one of our most popular destinations in Egypt and all the reports from resort hotels indicate that it remains safe for holidaymakers.

‘Despite the current situation in other parts of the country, we have had no reports that this has affected people’s enjoyment while on holiday in Sharm el Sheikh or other Red Sea resorts. Of course we will continue to follow FCO advice and advise our customers to do the same.’

While trips to the cities, Nile River cruises and cruise stop offs have been cancelled due to the ongoing violence, the FCO has reassured travellers that they were safe to visit Red Sea Resorts. The St. Catherine’s Monastery World Heritage Site has also been declared trouble free, along with the roads between the resorts and the airports of Taba and Sharm el Sheikh. The regions that are still considered safe for British travellers are the entire region of Sharm el Sheikh, Taba, Nuweiba and Dahab.

 

Cruise industry suffers another cancellation

The cruise industry has suffered yet another cancelled tour due to technical difficulties.

Following problems reported earlier this week with a fire aboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas that has resulted in that vessel being out of action for six weeks of the season, Voyages of Discovery, a cruise line based in West Sussex, UK, has announced the cancellation of a cruise scheduled to begin this Sunday due to a power failure. The cancelled cruise is a 10-day Heritage of the British Isles tour that was due to depart from Portsmouth.

The ship was partway through a 9-day cruise when it suffered generator problems on Tuesday this week. It was subsequently laid up in Killybegs, County Donegal, Northern Ireland, while attempts were made to repair two failed generators that had left only two generators operational. The vessel was carrying 487 passengers at the time, and travel arrangements are in hand to return them to Portsmouth from Killybegs.

Passengers that were expecting to board the June 2 cruise are being contacted to advise them of the cancellation, and will be offered either a full refund or a credit towards a future cruise on the same ship, worth up to 140 percent of their original cruise price.

In a statement the company said, ‘Specialist engineers are working hard to repair the affected generators. MV Voyager will remain in Killybegs while these repairs continue. Voyages of Discovery has apologised to all passengers for these unusual and unforeseen circumstances which have arisen as a result of events beyond their control.’

 

Blaze cancels more Royal Caribbean cruises

Royal Caribbean International, a Norwegian-American owned cruise company with its headquarters in Miami, USA, has announced further cruise cancellations following a fire aboard one of its vessels earlier this week.

Repairs to the fire damage sustained by the company’s ship, Grandeur of the Seas, will take several weeks to carry out, forcing the company to cancel a further six summer cruises. July 12 is now the date when the vessel is expected to resume its programme of 7-day cruises from the US port of Baltimore.

Thousands of passengers will be asked to reschedule their cruise aboard the 2,446 capacity ship while the repairs are carried out to an ‘industrial area’ in its aft that was affected by the fire. They are to be offered a full refund for the cancelled cruise and 25 percent off the price of a future cruise as compensation.

Royal Caribbean Cruises said in a statement, ‘The company has taken the vessel out of service and expects that it will take approximately six weeks to complete the repair efforts.’

When the fire broke out the ship was forced to alter its course in the Bahamas and disembark passengers. The company then had to provide 11 flights to get the passengers home, with some travelling by ferry to Florida where they met train and coach connections. Organising the mass repatriation will have further compounded Royal Caribbean’s losses from the cancellations to its schedules at its busiest time of the year.

Jason Liberty, the company’s senior vice president and chief financial officer, confirmed, ‘The extent of the financial impact was relatively high because the affected sailings were during the premium summer season.’

 

No compensation for BA passengers caught in emergency landing disruption

British Airways, a UK-based airline company, is denying its liability to pay compensation to passengers whose travel arrangements were ruined by flight cancellations during last Friday’s emergency landing procedure.

The cancellation of almost 200 flights occurred when a British Airways flight from Heathrow to Oslo was forced to turn back after suffering engine damage. The knock on effect of the incident resulted in the temporary closure of both of the airport’s runways and meant that thousands of passengers had their travel plans cancelled with little notice.

However, BA is of the opinion that its liability to those affected should not go beyond the food and hotel accommodation that it did provide for stranded passengers. Suggestions that the company should also pay the statutory GBP214 under European consumer legislation to anyone delayed while travelling to Europe have been met by BA’s firm rebuttal, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph. The airline is taking refuge behind the legislation’s ‘extraordinary circumstance’ clause, despite the fact that the incident was caused by a problem with one of its own aircraft. In its defence, the company compared the situation with the diversion of a Pakistan International Airlines flight, which also took place last week due to a suspected on-board terrorist incident.

The inclination of airlines to use the vague wording of the clause to sidestep the paying of compensation in all but the most blatant cases will result in new guidelines being issued soon by the European Commission, detailing the specific circumstances when compensation should be paid. While engine failure due to a bird strike is likely to be deemed an exceptional circumstance, failure due to a problem with maintenance is likely to place the liability with the airline.

In a statement a BA spokesman said, ‘We did all we could to offer duty of care including giving out refreshments and providing hotel rooms.’

 

Poor Asian weather forces cruise line cancellation

Voyages to Antiquity, a cruise company based in Oxford, UK, and which specialises in cultural cruises, has cancelled its Asian winter 2013-14 schedule due to the bad weather that its vessel experienced in the region during January and February this year.

During the last winter season, the company’s ship, Aegean Odyssey, suffered rough seas and gale force winds while in Asian waters, so the decision has been made to leave the vessel idle in Greece for this coming winter. Passengers that are already booked on to the 570 capacity ship for next winter’s schedule will either receive a refund of their deposit or have the opportunity of changing their booking to the soon to be announced 2014-15 programme.

David Yellow, Voyages to Antiquity’s managing director, said, ‘We plan all our programmes with meticulous detail but the problems we encountered, most notably the severe weather the region experienced this past winter, was beyond our control. With this in mind, we are leaving the market for this winter and will dock in Piraeus, Greece as we have in previous years. By exiting at this stage we know that we are disappointing those who have already booked, and we are sorry for these guests.

‘It is important all our cruises match up to our high quality standards, hence we have taken the difficult decision to cancel, and concentrate our efforts on revising the programme in the area for 2014-15. This new cruise programme will feature areas less prone to unpredictable weather, which was a recurrence of the first programme.

‘We hope that our guests will re-book with us for the 2014-15.’

The company intends to avoid the areas where it experienced the worst weather, notably the South China Sea near Borneo, for its revised 2014-15 schedule.

 

Air Nigeria Announces Suspension of Service from London Gatwick Airport

Air Nigeria, the Nigerian national carrier, has announced the suspension of its service from London Gatwick Airport to Lagos, in Nigeria.

Air Nigeria has suspended its international flights, amidst reports of the airline being sold to a new buyer. The London Gatwick to Lagos flight had only recommenced in May this year after a gap of three years. Air Nigeria was offering passengers a daily flight to Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos, from London Gatwick Airport, using an A330-200 aircraft.

The troubled airline has been struggling with a debt burden of around GBP157m, and in June 2012, most of its services had been grounded due to safety worries.

A statement issued by London Gatwick airport reads, ‘Air Nigeria has suspended operations from Gatwick airport from September 10, 2012. No further flights are currently planned. If you hold a ticket for future travel we advise you to contact your ticket agent directly for further information.’

Reports in Nigeria suggest that the airline management has suspended operations following a problem with its employees, and had terminated the employment of around 800 workers last week. The airline is, however, planning to recommence its operations within a year.

Just last week the global air transport authority, IATA, sited safety as the most pressing problem for African Aviation, with the continent’s accident record 9 times worse than the global average. 7 million jobs and nearly USD68bn of business activity is supported by Africa’s aviation industry.

Currently Nigeria has four domestic carriers operating domestic flights. The government of Nigeria is presently considering a new strategy to launch another national carrier.

 

British Airways Cancels Fundraising through Bonds

British Airways, the UK based airline company, has cancelled its plans to raise funds through secured debt instruments.

The company had earlier announced its GBP250 million secured debt issue, through corporate bonds that were to be secured against some of its London Heathrow Airport slots.

International Airlines Group (IAG), the UK-based parent company of British Airways, had previously reported plans to spend EUR1.6 billion in 2012, and an additional EUR4.95 billion on renewing its fleet, including taking delivery of its first Airbus A380 and Boeing Dreamliner B787 aircraft in 2013. The proposed debt issue was originally intended to raise funds for these developments.

IAG has posted a report on its website, which states that, ‘Despite this week’s improvement in the underlying credit rating of British Airways, there was a lack of demand for this bond at a price which would compare with other financing alternatives. IAG has therefore decided not to progress with the bond issue.’

With further reference to the debt issue, the company further commented that, ‘This was subject to investor feedback and market conditions.’

Earlier, ratings agency, Standard & Poor’s, had announced that it had upgraded the credit rating of the debt issue, saying that the airline has performed better than their expectations.

Standard & Poor’s report stated that, ‘The upgrade reflects British Airways’ performance in the first half of 2012, which was better than our forecast. This was mainly due to higher growth of revenue passenger kilometres (RPKs) than we anticipated, and higher average ticket prices.’

 

Ryanair Announces Fewer Flights from Canary Island

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, has recently announced the cancellation of 21 routes from its Canary Island destinations.

Ryanair has reported that the Government of the Canary Islands has terminated its low-cost traffic growth incentive scheme agreement with the airline, as a result of which, the airline has cancelled the 21 routes and reduced flight frequency from the four Canary Island destinations of Gran Canaria, Fuertaventura, Lanzarote, and Tenerife.

The route cancellations and reduced frequencies are expected to result in a 26 percent fall in the airline’s traffic from the Canary Islands, from the current 4.35m per annum to 3.2m per annum. The route changes will be effective from November 2012.

The airline deputy chief executive, Michael Cawley, said, ‘Ryanair sincerely regrets the Regional Government of the Canary Islands’ decision to renege on its low-cost growth incentive agreement with Ryanair. Instead of more than 4.3m passengers and the thousands of local jobs which this traffic sustains, Ryanair’s Canary Island traffic will now fall by over 26 percent to just 3.2m passengers p.a. (per annum).

Ryanair will cut 21 routes and make frequency cuts on 32 other routes, with the loss of over 140 weekly flights. Sadly, over 1.1 million passengers p.a. and over 1,100 jobs will be lost on the Canary Islands to other lower cost airports elsewhere in Europe, where Ryanair continues to grow. These route and traffic cuts can be reversed but only when the Regional Government reintroduces its agreed growth incentives. Rest assured that Ryanair will keep trying.’

 

Ryanair Scraps Flights to Greek Islands

Ireland-based low-cost airline, Ryanair, has announced that it is scrapping its scheduled summer flights to the Greek Islands of Rhodes and Kos a month before the season ends.

The airline claims that its decision to cancel the routes is due to the authorities on the two islands ‘reneging’ on a promotion agreement, and it announced the cancellation of 82 flights a week from October 2, 2012, on 11 routes to Kos and 13 to Rhodes.

The services affected will be those to Rhodes from Stansted, East Midlands, Liverpool and Bournemouth in the UK, and to Kos from Stansted, Leeds Bradford and Liverpool, all of which would ordinarily have been operated until late November.

The promotion agreement that has caused the adverse reaction is claimed to be between Ryanair, the Dodecanese Development Association and the mayor of Kos. In a statement the airline said that the two other parties had, ‘failed to honour an agreed joint marketing campaign with Ryanair to promote Ryanair’s Rhodes and Kos routes this summer.’

The situation is likely to have developed because the budget crisis in Greece has lead to a reduction in funds for tourism authorities and other bodies involved with the tourism industry. The action by Ryanair will do little to improve that situation, with the airline claiming that the cost to the two islands of it shortening its service would be in excess of EUR18m in lost tourism revenue.

Meanwhile, the Greek tourist minister is reported to have said that, ‘the Greek government has not signed any contract with any low-budget airline.’