TRAVEL & TOURISM
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BCCT Tourism committee meets

The pleasure of flying

Travel briefs

BCCT Tourism committee meets

Attending the inaugural meeting were Mr. Trevor Allen, Committee Chairman with Committee members (l-r) Andrew Wood, Tom Bishop, Marc Hagelauer, Julianne Rogers, Mr. Allen, Florian Preuss and John Watson.

The inaugural meeting of the British Chamber of Commerce of Thailand’s Travel and Tourism committee recently meet at the Pacific City Club in Bangkok to outline its objectives. For more information about BCCT check out: BCCT Information Services http://www.bccthai.com


The pleasure of flying

Raini Hamdi, TTG Asia
A first-class product agent may want to consider Gulf Air’s new Premium Experience for smart clients who want to fly stylishly but do not want to break the bank.

Shane O’Hare, Head of Marketing shows off the new first class section on Gulf Air.
I tried it recently, flying from Singapore to Sydney, and found the product, at US$2,381, a super value-for-money deal. Singapore Airlines (SIA) charges more than twice for first class from Singapore to Sydney. Granted, SIA is the undisputed king of the skies, particularly after the roll-out of its new first- and business-class cabins in the Extended Range Boeing 777-300, but not everyone can buy such fares without batting an eyelid.
I would happily settle for Gulf Air’s new Premium Experience, first introduced in the last quarter of 2006 and – as with all next-generation airline cabin products – is an improvement. It is clear the current next-generation roll-outs center around more private space and luxury as people have to travel more frequently with as much hassle as before. Gulf Air said it was about “putting the pleasure back into flying”.
The Gulf Air first-class cabin had just eight fully flat Sky Beds (24 in business-class, with no middle seat). I liked the colors – burgundy carpet with just a hint of Arabic motif, golden boards, and gray and chocolate hues for the seats, curtains and other furnishings. These gave a rich, warm glow to the cabin.
Its first-class innovations, including chauffeur-driven limousine transfer from home to airport and the Sky Chef had become more polished and were delivered with a lot more heart. I dare say the Sky Chef innovation is a feather in Gulf Air’s cap over SIA’s.
Onboard my flight was Sky Chef Luke Herbert. Based on what he served when I asked for a salad, along with chicken and mushroom vol au vent with rosemary-scented chicken veloute in a savory pastry case, I had no doubt about his ability.
The idea of an a la carte menu and a lighter bedside one from which you could design your meal and have it at your own time, cooked a la minute by a personal chef, and served by him, brought true gourmet dining to the skies.
Sky Chef Luke also doubled up as personal butler, providing turndown service. I forgot the adapter for my laptop and he immediately produced one. Oh, the joy of working comfortably for seven hours without the battery going dead or the cramped space making you miserable. The whole day had gone, yet I did not feel it. On the contrary, it was a productive day with fine food and service, and that had to be the mark of a great flight.
The only spoiler was a stewardess who during landing, spoke nonstop and loudly to the chef. This ruined the elegant ambience of the cabin, filled with passengers who spoke softly so as not to disturb other passengers.
Otherwise my journey was as Gulf Air had promised: a total experience from home to destination and pleasurable overall, with enough money for shopping in Sydney.


Travel briefs

EXTROPY, a Singapore-based ground transportation and airport services management company, has launched what it claims to be Asia’s first service that allows the pre-booking of executive meet-and-greet and airside transit services. M&gnet is an online booking tool that offers a range of personal services to help busy, frequent fliers. The services cover arrivals, departures and transfers, and packages are also available for specific groups such as women travelers and those with special language requirements.
Prices start from US$30 for transfer services at Suvarnabhumi Airport to US$99 for arrival or departure services at Hong Kong International Airport. Bookings can be made online at www. magnetASIA.com.
THAILAND recorded a slight on-the-year increase in international tourist arrivals in the first quarter, despite the number of tourists coming to the kingdom dropping for the third consecutive month.
There were more than 2.6 million international arrivals at Suvarnabhumi Airport from January to March - a two per cent increase on the year, according to Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) figures.
The Middle East market was the big mover in the first quarter, with arrivals climbing 30 per cent compared to the same period in 2006.
Arrivals from Europe jumped 13.5 per cent on the year - the second biggest increase.
East Asian arrivals to Thailand dropped 8.5 per cent in the first quarter on the year, according to TAT.
Arrivals from China, Singapore and Japan dropped 24 per cent, 16 per cent and 7.5 per cent respectively.
Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan arrivals were down six per cent, 4.5 per cent and two per cent respectively.
IN 2005, Asia’s airlines ordered 400 aircraft from Boeing (39 per cent of total orders received by Boeing that year) and 526 aircraft from Airbus (47 per cent of total Airbus orders). They did it again in 2006 when they ordered 330 of the 1,050 aircraft sold by Boeing (31 per cent of total orders).
Orders received by Airbus from Asian airlines totaled 337, representing 41 per cent of total orders received by Airbus in 2006.
Airbus’s first A380 will be delivered to Singapore Airlines (SIA) in October and throughout 2008, and all deliveries will be made to only three customers – SIA, Qantas and Emirates. Other Asia-Pacific A380 customers include Korean Air, China Southern Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Thai Airways International (THAI) and Kingfisher Airlines. These account for 66 of the 166 A380s ordered worldwide.
Boeing’s B787 Dreamliner also boasts strong patronage from airlines in Asia-Pacific. These airlines – including All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan Airlines (JAL), Air New Zealand (ANZ), Jetstar, Qantas, Air Pacific, SIA, Vietnam Airlines and numerous Chinese carriers, and are committed to operating at least 290 B787s of the slightly more than 500 ordered worldwide. The first B787 is expected to roll out on July 8, 2007.
In Asia’s other economic powerhouse – India – airlines too have ordered more aircraft to boost capacity and passenger appeal. In order to bridge the gap between orders and deliveries, Indian carriers such as Air India and Jet Airways have resorted to leasing aircraft for immediate expansion. This takes place against the backdrop of an increasingly liberal Indian aviation policy. Far from being bipolar, Asia’s aviation growth is germinating from every single sub region. (TTG)