Travel News

Pretoria Airspace Closed for Obama's Trip to South Africa

Date: 29 June 2013

United States President Barack Obama's arrival in South Africa at Waterkloof Airforce Base on Friday evening, resulted in a heightening of security and a closure of the air space over Pretoria.

Miliary helicopters were also seen flying over many areas of Johannesburg and Pretoria, while a Black Hawk which will reportedly be transporting the US President, was seen over Cape Town.

US Air Force planes were also seen flying over Cape Town International Airport and Lanseria Airport.

The US President's trip to the country is reported to cost in the region of $100 million (around R1 billion), with a large proportion of this amount going towards security.

Etihad to Allow Cellphone Use on Flights

Date: 19 June 2013

Etihad Airways, the Abu Dhabi based airline and a major player in the aviation industry in the Middle East and Emirates, has announced that passengers on flights to and from the United Kingdom will soon be allowed to use their mobile phones on flights for making calls, texting, and surfing the internet.

This follows a decision by their competitor, Emirates Airlines, back in 2008, to allow passengers travelling on the same route to use their mobile phones.

Etihad had technology installed earlier this month on a number of their planes which will allow for in-flight connectivity.

There are also plans afoot to allow passengers between New York and Abu Dhabi, one of the airline's most popular routes, to enjoy similar connectivity during flights.

Etihad is widely used among business travellers, and the move is set to allow such passengers to remain connected to the office and to their business contacts while in the air.

Eiffel Tower Bomb Scare

Date: 1 April 2013

The Eiffel Tower, Paris's most well-known tourist attraction, and a recognizable feature of the popular European city's skyline, has been evacuated over the past weekend following a bomb scare.

This followed an anonymous tip-off to the Parisian authorities, that the tourist attraction was going to be blown up.

There were approximately 1 400 tourists in the area at the time, and the authorities had to act quickly to ensure that they were promptly evacuated from the scene.

Following the evacuation exercise, a search was undertaken for the alleged bomb, but it appears to have been a false alarm, as no explosives could be found in the area.

This is not the first bomb threat that has been made relating to the Eiffel Tower. Similar threats last year and twice in 2011, and they also turned out to be false alarms.

Air India Crew to Get Into Shape

Date: 28 March 2013

Air India has reportedly instructed its crew members over the age of 40, to get into shape if they wish to continue crewing for the airline.

They will be required to undergo comprehensive medical testing, including blood pressure, blood sugar, height, weight, waist-to-hip ratio and eye tests.

Air India has at least 1000 crew members over the age of 40, and health checks for crew members in this age group are now mandatory under India's aviation regulatory regime.

Crew members are paid based on flight hours, and if they are grounded, they will not be eligible to be paid.  This has caused widespread concern among the older crew members.

The reason for the regulations is that crew members must be physically capable of handling emergency situations as and when they arise, and they must therefore be physically healthy and fit.

FastJet to Team Up with Local Company

Date: 26 March 2013

FastJet has been experiencing regulatory challenges in South Africa in its quest for the acquisition of insolvent airline 1Time, which it intends to use as a means of entry into the South African low cost airline market.

The South African Air Service Licensing Act places a limitation on foreign ownership of local airlines, and provides that foreign entities may not own more than a 25% stake in a local airline.

British-listed FastJet has been searching for a way around this limitation, and has applied late in 2012 to the Minister of Transport for an exemption from this requirement.  The exemption request has, to date, not been granted.

There are reports that FastJet is now in talks with a local company regarding entering into a partnership, which will allow FastJet to own a 25% stake in 1Time, while the local company will own a 75% stake.

Ethiopian Airlines Expands into Africa

Date: 23 March 2013

Ethiopian Airlines, the national flag carrier of the East African nation of Ethiopia, has announced the launch of additional routes into Asia.

The additional routes include flights to Kuala Lampur, Ho Chi Minh City, Manila and Seoul, and will commence operating from 18 June 2013.  The airline will also commence direct flights to Hong Kong, providing passengers with the convenience of not having to stop over in Bangkok.

Demand for flights between Africa and Asia has increased exponentially over the past few years, with a significant increase in business travellers requiring direct access to numerous parts of Africa.

Ethiopian Airlines is the leading East African airline, and the move to increase Asian routes will consolidate its position as the airline of choice for travellers between Asia and East African countries.

Iberia Airlines Employees Embark on Strike

Date: 19 February 2013

18 500 employees of Iberia Airlines, the Spanish national airline, have embarked on a 15 day strike. The strike is the biggest in the airline's history, and has caused the airline to cancel 40% of its scheduled flights. 

It is estimated that 70 000 passengers will be affected by the strike. Passengers who have bookings on the cancelled flights will either be accommodated on alternative flights, or will receive refunds for their ticket fares.

Like many other airlines worldwide, the carrier has been facing financial difficulties and has not been profitable for a period of time. The strike was triggered by news that the airline intended to downsize and retrench over 3 100 employees, in order to become profitable again.

1 500 pilots intend joining the strike early in March, which will further cripple the airline and bring the number of striking employees up to 20 000.

Violent scuffles broke out at Barajas Airport in Madrid, when strikers clashed with police yesterday.

Turkish Airlines Plane Struck by Lightning

Date: 28 January 2013

A Turkish Airlines plane was struck by lightning this week shortly after taking off from Istanbul Ataturk Airport, the city's main international airport.

The airline was carrying 114 passengers, and none of the passengers were injured or killed as a result of the incident.

The lightning strike ignited a fire in the plane's right engine, but the fire was extinguished, and the plane landed safely in the city of Izmir. the third largest city in Turkey.

SAA Employees Embark on a Strike

Date: 19 January 2013

A number of SAA employees, belonging to a newly formed trade union, have embarked in a strike.  According to newspaper reports, employees in the airline's technical team, cargo crew and ground staff may form part of the striking workers.

While there are concerns that the strike may impact on passenger services and disrupt flights, SAA's flights have not been grounded thus far as a result of the strike. There are reports that the extent of the strike has been minimal, but the situation at the airline is being closely monitored for any developments.

The strike comes at a critical time for the airline, as it is currently facing financial challenges, as well as an increase in demand as a result of the need for flights to the African Cup of Nations being hosted in South Africa.

Boost in Travel Statistics Signals End of Rescession

Date: 13 January 2013

A number of airlines worldwide have experienced an increase in passenger numbers during 2012 as compared to 2011, signalling that the economic challenges in many markets, which impacted on the travel industry, may be easing.

Lufthansa, Germany's national airline, experienced year-on-year growth of in excess of 2%, transporting in excess of 75 million passengers.  The trend appears to be an industry-wide one, with many travel service providers having experienced an economically successful year.

In general, economic challenges result in significant drops in leisure tourism, as prospective travellers have less disposable income to spend on travel, and consequently defer their travel plans or plan local holidays by road.

Mango Airlines Offers Free Festive Season Wifi

Date: 23 December 2012

Mango Airlines is offering free in-flight wifi internet until 31 January 2013, on flights between Johannesburg and Durban.

The low cost carrier is aiming at having approximately 20% of its passengers using the free wifi service, with a view to breaking the world record for in-flight wifi use on a flight.

Currently, the world average for in-flight wifi use stands at approximately 8%, and this is due in large part to the costs associated with paid wifi access which deter many passengers from using the service.

 Mango Airlines is aiming at expanding its wifi offerings in the coming year, with a number of additional entertainment features on the cards for passengers.

FastJet to Purchase 1time

Date: 21 December 2012

FastJet, which listed on the London Stock Exchange and which aims to become a leading low cost carrier on the African contintent, has concluded a contract in terms of which it has obtained the option to purchase 1time for R1.

The embattled 1time is currently in provisional liquidation, and if purchased as a result of the deal, will be taken out of liquidation.

Once the option is exercised, FastJet will be in the position to provide low cost domestic flights in South Africa, subject to the necessary regulatory approval being obtained. Airline tickets will be sold on FastJet's website,

FastJet intends rebranding 1time to operate as FastJet, and will commence flights early in 2013. There is also likely to be a move to increase the number of destinations that the airline flies to, including a number of destinations beyond South Africa's borders and into the African continent.

Flights will be operated using a number of the aircraft in 1time's fleet.

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