Heathrow receives new Great China Welcome Charter, joins China tourism campaign

Heathrow Airport is joining the China tourism campaign after receiving Visit Britain’s new Great China Welcome Charter in recognition of the airport’s friendly welcome to Chinese visitors.

The Charter aims to help Chinese visitors to easily identify hotels, attractions as well as retailers and tour operators who provide customers with information in Chinese.

The Charter comes at a time when Air China is looking to double its flights from Heathrow to Beijing in October, when Heathrow will have 51 departures per week to the mainland and 50 to Hong Kong. That would also make Heathrow the only UK airport where passengers can travel direct to destinations including Shanghai, Guangzhou, Beijing and Chengdu.

Chris Butler, Heathrow’s Airline Business Development Director, said, ‘China is one of the most valuable markets for the UK and Heathrow is the only airport in the country able to offer regular, direct flights to both Hong Kong and cities in the mainland. We all gain culturally and economically with closer links there, which is why we were delighted to announce Air China’s doubling of services from Heathrow to Beijing, and why we have recently produced a travel guide in Mandarin for Chinese passengers to help provide them with more information about Heathrow when they arrive.’

Jo Leslie, who manages the Great China Welcome programme for Visit Britain, said, ‘There is strong evidence that businesses who go the extra mile in catering for certain nationalities quickly reap the benefits. Heathrow Airport has been quick to recognise the massive potential of the Chinese market and invested accordingly. We’re delighted to be able to count them as one of our members and hope that many more British tourism and hospitality businesses will follow their example.’

The Great China Welcome Charter was launched in March by Visit Britain to make Britain the destination of choice for the fast growing Chinese market. The Charter now has close to 200 members as Chinese visitors to Britain have doubled in the past five years, and is expected to treble again by 2020.


Cathay Pacific to begin direct flights to Manchester from Hong Kong

Hong Kong based airline Cathay Pacific is to begin direct flights from its home city to Manchester, UK from December this year, the airline has announced on its website.

Starting on December 8, Cathay Pacific will operate the service four times per week, and tickets are now on sale.

The airline noted that Manchester is the third busiest airport in the UK after Heathrow and Gatwick based on passenger throughput figures, and has ‘high potential for further growth.’ It also described the city of Manchester as ‘a regional transport and business hub that is renowned for its architecture, culture, industrial heritage and sports clubs.’

Boeing 777-300ER aircraft will be used to operate the Manchester service, and will include the awarding-winning Business Class, Premium Economy Class and new Economy Class seats. The airline also says that passengers will have the benefit of a state-of-the-art inflight entertainment system in all classes.

Flights will depart from Hong Kong to Manchester every Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, with Manchester departures on the same days.

Cathay Pacific chief executive, Ivan Chu, said: ‘We have a deep commitment to the UK market and currently operate five flights a day to London Heathrow. Business ties between the UK and Hong Kong are very strong and we have been seeing an ever-increasing demand for air travel to and from the Asia Pacific region for both business and leisure traffic.

‘By providing yet more flights to the UK, and the only non-stop direct service between Hong Kong and Manchester, Cathay Pacific will offer passengers even more choice and flexibility and, at the same time, continue to boost Hong Kong’s standing as an international aviation hub.’


Cathay Pacific Expands London to Hong Kong Service

Cathay Pacific Airways, a Hong Kong based airline operator, will be expanding the service between its Hong Kong hub and London Heathrow to add a new return flight.

The airline is adding its fifth daily return flight from Hong Kong from June 27, 2013, as part of its commitment to offer its passengers more choice in long-haul flights. The new London Heathrow flight will be operated with a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

The airline chief executive officer, John Slosar, said, ‘We are offering our customers the best of all worlds: first, products that are second to none, including our new long-haul Business Class, winner of the Skytrax Best Business Class in the world award; second, people and service that have earned us recognition as a five-star airline. And third, the choice to travel when it is convenient with multiple frequencies throughout the day.

Whether getting passengers to their destinations on a nonstop flight or connections via our convenient, world-renowned hub in Hong Kong, we are working to expand the network in a way that brings additional flight options to our customers. It is just another way we are giving passengers more reasons to choose Cathay Pacific.’

The new flight will increase the current service to London to 35 flights per week. The airline is also offering 25 flights a week to New York City, and 17 to Los Angeles, from Hong Kong.

The airline has recently provided new business class interiors on some of its long distance flights, including on its route between London Heathrow and Hong Kong.

Cathay Pacific Averts Threat of Strike

Cathay Pacific Airways, a Hong Kong based airline operator, has reported averting the industrial action by its flight attendants that was announced earlier.

The airline, on completion of talks – mediated by the Labour Department of the country, between the company and the Flight Attendants Union (FAU) – reported that the outstanding differences between the parties have now been resolved.

The airline general manager for cabin crew, Liza Ng, said, ‘The agreement we reached today addresses issues important to the company and the crew. It is incumbent upon the company to always ensure its long-term success when discussing short-term issues. We were able to accomplish that today.’

Some of the agreement points included a commitment to offer all destinations to Hong Kong based crew; and out port based crew can merely operate on routes between out port bases.

The airline chief executive officer, John Slosar, said, ‘This is the best possible outcome for our customers, who have always been at the forefront of this issue for us. They can now look forward to their holiday travel plans with confidence.

This is a good agreement for the company. It allows us to expand our business here at home, bringing even more services to the people of Hong Kong. Specifically, we maintain the flexibility we need to offer what our customers want us to provide.

Beyond that, we were able to look after the interests of the broader cabin crew community in terms of addressing lifestyle issues, which is important because we must keep the interests of all staff at heart. And we have demonstrated that we will listen to staff concerns and respond with appropriate solutions.’

The airline currently offers flights between Hong Kong and destinations in the UK including London Heathrow, Manchester, Aberdeen, Belfast, Edinburgh, and New Castle.

Air New Zealand Cancels London to Hong Kong Service from March 2013

Air New Zealand, a New Zealand-based airline company, has announced the withdrawal of services between Hong Kong and London Heathrow Airport in the UK.

The services will be terminated, effective from March 4, 2013. The airline has confirmed that there will be no changes to its daily London Heathrow to Auckland service, via Los Angeles, in the US.

The airline, which has conducted a comprehensive review of the Hong Kong to London service, has reported that the route has become unprofitable to operate. The termination of the service will lead to job losses for around 70 of the airline’s London-based cabin crew.

Around 8,000 customers that have bought tickets to travel between Hong Kong and London from March 4, 2012, will be booked on to other flights on the same route, mostly with Cathay Pacific, a Hong Kong based airline operator.

In another decision, the airline has entered into a strategic agreement with Cathay Pacific, for the Auckland to Hong Kong route, effective from December 12, 2012. The agreement includes code sharing between the two carriers on existing Auckland and Hong Kong services, which will also provide the airline’s passengers with connections to Mainland China and beyond.

Rob Fyfe, the airline chief executive officer, said, ‘The agreement will see both carriers continue to operate the same frequency between Auckland and Hong Kong while introducing code share on each other’s flights as well as opening up excellent connections between New Zealand and Mainland China.

At the same time, we wanted to strengthen our presence in Hong Kong, which is an important market and vital gateway into mainland China for Air New Zealand. In line with this we have received approval from the New Zealand Ministry of Transport to form a strategic agreement with Cathay Pacific effective from December 12, 2012.’

Cathay Pacific to Offer New Business Class Cabin on Services to London

Cathay Pacific Airways, a Hong Kong based airline operator, will be launching its new business class cabins on some of its long distance flights, and is likely to introduce the cabins on its route between London Heathrow and Hong Kong.

The new in-flight business class cabin claims to offer high levels of comfort, adaptability and ease of operation to cater to every whim and requirement of passengers. The seating distance has been increased to 47 inches in order to offer more legroom to passengers, as well as more space around the seat.

The airline chief executive officer, John Slosar, said, ‘Our new Regional Business Class seat was developed after listening to our customers’ feedback and it underlines our commitment to excellence in innovation and providing an exceptional travel experience. Our continued investment in products and services is a key element of our ongoing commitment to the development of Hong Kong as one of the world’s leading international aviation hubs.’

The new Regional Business Class product will be rolled out on all Boeing 777-200/300 and A330-300 aircraft in the airline’s fleet. The first Boeing 777 aircraft fitted with the new cabin will be commencing operations in January 2013, while the first A330-300 will be operational in the fourth quarter of 2013. The airline expects to offer the product to its passengers from London in 2013.

Some of the features of the new cabin include seats equipped with a universal power supply outlet, a multi-port connector, a personal TV, the StudioCX on-demand entertainment system, a large meal table, and an extendable cocktail table.

Hong Kong Airlines Suspends Flights from London Gatwick

Hong Kong Airlines, an airline based in Hong Kong, China, has announced the cancellation of flights between Hong Kong and London Gatwick Airport in the UK.

The airline is terminating its all-business class flights from September 10, 2012, and will focus on the Asia-Pacific region, after reporting that the ongoing fragile economic conditions in Europe, as well as strengthening of economic conditions in Asia, had influenced its decision.

Yang Jian Hong, the airline president, said, ‘We believe that a regional model focused on Asia Pacific is most appropriate for Hong Kong Airlines at this stage of our growth.

Our key focus will be building our regional network and strengthening our business across China, South East Asia, Japan and Korea. As part of this decision, we will suspend our long-haul flights to London from 10 September, 2012 until further notice.

Our plan is to redeploy the three specially equipped, all-business class A330’s which currently service the London route to charter flights following the suspension.’

The airline had only launched its all-business class flights to Gatwick from Hong Kong as recently as March this year. The all-premium daily service operates from London Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal, with 82 Club Classic seats and 34 Club Premier seats.

Gatwick airport has also recently announced that Malaysia-based Air Asia X had terminated its s flights to the Sussex Airport in March 2012.

Earlier a spokesperson from the airport in the UK said, ‘We have been advised that (Hong Kong Airlines) are evaluating the route and as part of this, the bookings have been closed out in the system.’

1,600ft up – the world’s tallest hotel opens in Hong Kong

Overlooking one of the most spectacular skylines in the world, this hotel offers a birds eye view of Hong Kong from 1,600ft up in the air. The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong became the tallest hotel in the world, and the fourth tallest building, when it opened this week.

And just incase this view doesn’t keep you occupied for your whole trip, there are many other attractions. These come in the form of six restaurants, a sky-high spa with floor-to-ceiling windows and an indoor infinity pool overlooking the iconic harbour.

Herve Humler, president of luxury hotel chain said the building was a landmark hotel which was the culmination of many years of hard work:

‘We have been able to create truly spectacular so we can welcome our guests not just to the tallest hotel in the world, but also to one of the very best hotels in the world,’ he said. ‘We are taking luxury to new heights in every sense.’

You can also enjoy food from one of three restaurants situated in the hotel; including Tin Lung Heen, which is a Chinese restaurant serving refined Cantonese cuisine; Tosca, an Italian restaurant which offers Southern Italian cuisine and the very stylish The Lounge & Bar with fire pits and open kitchens.

The hotel also boasts a shopping mall and state of the art technology including WiFi, iPod docking stations, Blu-ray DVD players and flat screen TVs.

In addition, there is a chocolate-themed lounge named The Chocolate Library on 103rd floor and a stylish patisserie located on 9th floor.

Managers say the jewel in the crown is Ozone, located on the hotel’s 118th floor. It offers contemporary Asian tapas and signature cocktails to a backdrop of incredible views as well as the chance to drink on the world’s highest al fresco terrace.

Philippines Bus Hijacking Results in ‘Code Black’ Hong Kong Travel Ban

Following a disastrous hostage crisis, Hong Kong has banned its citizens from travelling to the Philippines. The special territory, which is controlled by its own government, has set an alert to warn travellers of the potential dangers associated with travelling in the country. HK citizens in Manila have been advised to return home – advice that many have taken swift action on.

Eight tourists from Hong Kong were killed during a bus hijacking in the city, after a disgruntled former police officer took control of a tour bus and executed its passengers. Manila’s police force was slow to act on the crisis, with a hostage team allowing the gunman to open fire on the Hong Kong tourists before moving in on the bus and freeing the remainder of its passengers.

Hong Kong’s ‘code black’ travel warning has yet to be repeated in other countries, although several embassies have warned against travel within Manila. While the Philippines has a violent reputation, insurgencies and terrorist acts are rare in the capital. The vast majority of the nation’s violence can be traced to political and religious tensions in its southern regions.

Residents of the Philippines have observed a day of mourning, with politicians throughout the city of Manila acknowledging that police action against the gunman was too slow. Survivors have since returned to Hong Kong, where they were privately escorted back to their homes following a special charter flight from Cathay Pacific.

The country’s multi-billion dollar tourism industry is likely to suffer, as Mainland China warned its citizens not to travel to the Philippines. The nation’s leader – President Benigno Aquino – met with Chinese officials based in the country to discuss an investigation into the incident, which is likely to explain the inaction of police and counter-terrorism groups within the city.

Hong Kong’s Ritz Carlton Soon to Set the World Hotel Height Record

For years, one of the world’s most well-known hotel chains lacked a presence in Hong Kong. While the Conrad and Intercontinental reserved spots in Hong Kong Island’s immense skyline, there was no sight of the acclaimed Ritz-Carlton luxury hotel on either side of the city’s harbour. Was it a lack of corporate interest, or merely an oversight in one of Asia’s most popular tourist destinations?

It appears to have been neither, as the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company recently announced it will return to Hong Kong with a spectacular new Kowloon-based property. The luxury hotel chain has bought a sixteen-floor share in the brand new International Commerce Centre – Hong Kong’s tallest building  and the world’s tallest mixed-use commercial office and hotel building.

Ritz-Carlton will be joining Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley in the building, which is currently one of Hong Kong’s most expensive office spaces. With the ICC nearing its official opening, hotel employees expect that rooms will be ready within the coming months. The hotel itself will occupy the building’s top sixteen floors, stretching from level 102 all the way to the building’s peak at 118.

Rooms are expected to stretch from fifty to three-hundred square metres, each offering a different experience for guests and a variety of harbour views. The hotel itself has been designed to use both Hong Kong Island and Kowloon as part of its panoramic display, billing itself as one of the world’s best in-room views and offering an unparalleled experience for international visitors.

Expensive? No doubt. While high-end travel has taken a hit throughout the recession, the timely opening of the Ritz-Carlton reflects an upwards turn in global travel spending. Boasting one of the world’s most impressive views and an untouched level of luxury, we’re betting this one’s worth the price tag, however opulent and nonsensical it may be.