TRAVEL & TOURISM
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

SIA’s new website allows online booking that streamlines procedures

Mae Fah Luang Garden - legacy of Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother

THAI rearranges flight schedules on European routes

Orient Thai Airlines spreads its wings

America names Emirates top airline for passenger service

SIA’s new website allows online booking that streamlines procedures

Singapore Airlines (SIA) customers can now book flights on other airlines on its website www.singaporeair.com

This effectively extends its selling network by over five times, from the 90 cities that SIA and its subsidiary SilkAir fly to, to more than 450 destinations worldwide. These additional cities are served mainly by its Star Alliance partners and Virgin Atlantic, and there are plans to add more destinations over time.

SIA’s senior vice-president Marketing, Tan Chik Quee, explained, “This is part of Singapore Airlines’ investment to offer better service to our customers. The website is a virtual travel assistant, offering our customers greater choice and flexibility to plan their trips from anywhere in the world.”

Along with the latest inter-airline booking function, customers can also book tickets for more complex trips, including multi-city travel. For example, with the new feature, customers can create an online booking for a flight from London to Phuket with a stopover in Singapore. Previously, such an itinerary required two separate bookings for the respective sectors of the journey.

For KrisFlyer members (SIA’s frequent flyers), a separate feature enables online redemption of frequent flyer miles for tickets. This applies to any of the 44 SIA destinations that offer electronic ticketing (e-ticketing).

In addition, KrisFlyer members can review their most current mile accruals 24 hours after the completion of the flight and check out the latest news and promotions.

The new features on www. singaporeair.com are part of a multi-million e-commerce development plan. Forthcoming features include facilities to enable customers to amend their travel bookings online and book travel packages with hotel accommodation.

The features are available globally on SIA’s websites in 37 countries in five languages - English, simplified Mandarin, Japanese, Korean and French.


Mae Fah Luang Garden - legacy of Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother

The Mae Fah Luang Garden on Doi Tung in Chiang Rai Province has always mesmerized visitors. The gardens are a legacy of Her Royal Highness the Princess Mother and are located on the slopes just below the Royal Villa.

A statue inscribed with the word “continuity” was erected to commemorate the tireless contributions made by the Princess Mother made to uplift the lives of poor and disadvantaged people in the kingdom.

Visitors to this hillside resort come to admire the carefully selected and very rare flora. The valley is covered with an enormous variety of trees and plants which are native to the province.

Mae Fah Luang Arboretum is close to the garden and contains a mixture of lush greenery and a rare collection of rhododendrons from China.

Doi Tung was the royal abode of the Princess Mother. Rooms with a spacious balcony overlooking the mountains and gardens are available where visitors can spend the night.

For more details and reservation, call 02-252-7114 ext 217, 053-767-015-7. or visit the website www. doitung.org.


THAI rearranges flight schedules on European routes

Thai Airways International Plc (THAI) will rearrange its flight schedules on some European routes during the low season. THAI President Kanok Abhiradee announced that the national flag carrier plans to change flight schedules on the European routes between March 31 and October 25.

“During the so-called low season period, there will be 3 flights a week for the Bangkok- Zurich-Geneva and the Bangkok-Athens routes; while 4 flights a week will be offered for the Bangkok-Zurich route,” Kanok stated.

For its domestic services, THAI will increase its weekly Bangkok-Krabi flights to 21, from 18, during the period. The airline’s daily Bangkok-Mae Hong Son flights will also be raised from 3 to 5 between March 30 and August 31.(TNA)


Orient Thai Airlines spreads its wings

Phitsanu Thepthong

Orient Thai Airline Co has received approval from the Ministry of Communications to operate flights from Chiang Mai to Hong Kong, starting from April 1 this year. To mark the occasion, prominent businessmen from Hong Kong are expected to take part in the grand opening ceremony on March 28-29.

This is a positive step, supporting the plans to promote Chiang Mai International Airport as the air hub in this region, by aiming to attract more international airlines to make use of the facility. Some other private airlines have also submitted international destination plans, while THAI Airways International has reduced the number of its air routes, thereby providing an opportunity for the other airlines to take over the former THAI air routes for their operations. Meanwhile, THAI has begun servicing new routes with flights linking Chiang Mai and Chittagong in Bangladesh.

The plan to promote Chiang Mai as the aviation hub in the Mekong sub region is proceeding with backing from the government’s Ministry of Communications. The Ministry also has a project to develop Pai Airport in Mae Hong Son Province, as it has very high potential for servicing more passengers, as it has been shown that some 60-70 percent of tourists and visitors to Mae Hong Son travel from Pai.


America names Emirates top airline for passenger service

Air Transport World (ATW) honored the fast-growing international carrier with the “Passenger Service Airline of the Year” award at the recent 29th Annual Airline Achievement Awards Dinner at Washington’s Capital Hilton Hotel. Emirates SkyCargo also won a silver award for corporate advertising.

Jay Donoghue, ATW’s editorial director said, “Emirates is entering the US market with top marks for excellence and worldwide recognition. This honor, not necessarily given annually, is awarded only when it is truly deserved. US travelers between Dubai and North America will soon have the opportunity to learn what we at ATW have determined: Emirates is one world-class airline.”

Emirates will launch services between the US and Dubai in 2004. Having previously won the same award in 1992, it won again this year for delivering top quality standards to passengers in all classes of service.

Jim Baxter, Emirates’ vice president, North America, said, “Every airline faced monumental pressures this year, and we’re particularly pleased to win as we prepare to enter the highly competitive American market. It means that people who know international air travel best look to us as a global leader in delivering an incomparable passenger experience.”

Emirates, set up in 1985, now serves 64 cities in 45 countries with one of the world’s most modern fleets. Its First Class features state-of-the-art airport lounges with full business facilities, swift check-in and boarding, eight-course meals, a personal video library and in-flight entertainment with the latest films.

Its Business Class features exclusive check-ins, comfortable Business Lounges with Internet access, personal satellite phones in every seat and meals planned by leading world chefs.

In Economy, ergonomically designed seats with generous legroom go hand-in-hand with full five-course meals and warm, genuine hospitality.

Emirates provides an important gateway to Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Middle East. In 2004 it will launch daily non-stop services between New York and its Dubai home base, and plans to fly to other North American cities soon afterwards.