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British Airways has announced that its fleet of Boeing 747 aircraft, known as ‘The Queen of the Skies’, are likely to have flown their last scheduled commercial service.
After nearly five decades of service and millions of miles flown around the globe, it is proposed that the airline’s remaining fleet of 31 747-400 aircraft will be retired with immediate effect as a result of the devasting impact the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the airline and the aviation sector, which is not predicted to recover to 2019 levels until 2023/24.
Just a year ago, British Airways re-painted three of its jumbo jets in heritage colours to mark the company’s centenary. The BOAC jet put in a guest appearance with the Red Arrows much to the delight of spectators at the Royal International Air Tattoo, and sadly the aircraft will shortly be heading towards its final resting place alongside 30 others.
The fuel-hungry aircraft were slowly being phased out by British Airways as they reached the end of their working life in order to help meet the company’s commitment to net zero by 2050. The airline has invested heavily in new, modern long-haul aircraft including six A350s and 32 B787s which are around 25 per cent more fuel-efficient than the 747. As part of the airline’s £6.5 billion injection into customer experience in recent years, existing aircraft have been refurbished and the brand new arrivals have come into the British Airways’ fleet complete with a luxurious business class Club Suite product.
Alex Cruz, Chairman and CEO, British Airways, said, “This is not how we wanted or expected to have to say goodbye to our incredible fleet of 747 aircraft. It is a heart-breaking decision to have to make. So many people, including many thousands of our colleagues past and present, have spent countless hours on and with these wonderful planes – they have been at the centre of so many memories, including my very first long-haul flight. They will always hold a special place in our hearts at British Airways.”
He further said, “We have committed to making our fleet more environmentally friendly as we look to reduce the size of our business to reflect the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on aviation. As painful as it is, this is the most logical thing for us to propose. The retirement of the jumbo jet will be felt by many people across Britain, as well as by all of us at British Airways. It is sadly another difficult but necessary step as we prepare for a very different future.”
BOAC operated its first 747 London to New York service on 14th April 1971 and in July 1989 the first British Airways 747-400, the aircraft type the airline still flies today, took to the skies. Plane spotters who lined Heathrow’s perimeter fences would watch as the magnificent 747-400 would typically take off at 180mph and reach cruising speeds in the sky of up to 565mph.
For the next decade the airline took delivery of 56 more of the aircraft, with its final plane delivered in April 1999. At the time, it was the largest commercial aircraft in the world, and it remained so until the Airbus A380 first took to the skies in 2007.
At one point British Airways operated 57 747-400 aircraft. The original aircraft featured 27 First Class seats and 292 Economy seats. Initially, the upper deck, widely described as the bubble, contained a lounge, with lounge chair seating. It was known as the ‘club in the sky’ and the aircraft also played host to the world’s very first flat bed seat which British Airways pioneered in 1999.
Today’s aircraft can seat up to 345 customers in four classes – First, Club World (Business), World Traveller Plus (Premium Economy) and World Traveller (Economy). British Airways recently refreshed the interiors of a number of its 747 aircraft which were expected to remain in service for several years to come.
The airline’s jumbo jets are currently grounded at various locations in the UK and are now only expected to reach heights of 35,000 feet as they make their final journeys.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) conducted India Luxury Virtual Connect (ILVC), which was designed exclusively for leading travel partners across key metro cities in India to touch base with the Thai private sector while maintaining social distance from their respective homes. The first ever India Luxury Virtual Connect (ILVC) was conducted on July 15 -16, 2020, witnessed participation from around 28 Thai luxury sellers along with close to 130 travel agents across South West India and 130 agents from North East cities of India
ILVC was conceptualized and executed by BRANDit, the official representative firm of TAT’s Mumbai office, led by Lubaina Sheerazi. The objective of ILVC was to introduce brand new products to cater to the luxury segment in India and further to share situation update in Thailand for the Indian buyers to understand the changing landscape of tourism. Basis industry predictions, TAT is presently concentrating its outreach measures on the luxury segment as the Indian elites are expected to make the first travel movements post complete unlocking of restrictions in India.
ILVC followed round-robin setup wherein the buyers and sellers followed a pre-fixed meeting schedule and interacted and shared information relevant to the product. They also got a chance to download brochures, fact sheets and exchange business cards from the virtual resources centre. The daylong event ‘ILVC’ marked as the commencement of a new remarkable era in the travel trade industry through which the world of travel can be connected by only few clicks.
Cholada Siddhivarn, Director, TAT Mumbai, said, “This year has been extremely challenging for all of us in the travel industry and at TAT, we are working each day to come up with creative solutions for our business requirements. We are extremely delighted to have introduced a platform like ILVC to the Indian market and help the Thai private sector and reach out to buyers across the country and discuss the future of travel in the post unlocking period. We are certain that this networking will help us drive arrivals to Thailand as soon as international travel is permitted.”
Vachriachai Sirisumpan, Director, TAT New Delhi, added, “Through it is still not clear when the international tourists from India will be able to travel to Thailand but it is important for us to stay connected with our partners. TAT India Offices would like to connect our Thai hospitality and travel businesses with travel agents in India and use this platform to update the products and services as well as all safety and health measures be taken in order to ensure and boost confidence of tourists. Luxury travel segment is a very important market for Post-Covid travel period which Thailand can ensure to meet the wish list of all travellers for luxury experiences and accommodation also gastronomy, arts and crafts, nature and beaches.”
Thailand was ranked second best in the world for ongoing COVID-19 recovery owing to which it has led to the resumption of the country’s daily activities, including domestic tourism. The Royal Thai Government has declared the relaxation of public places such as malls, restaurants and attractions with heightened safety measures and health regulations. Additionally, domestic flights are functional and leading hospitality brands are introducing safer precautions for the health and safety of each guest as well as employee. Owing to all of these developments, TAT is certain that soon international borders will be reopened to welcome visitors across the world and tourism will emerge again with the guidelines of ‘new normal’
Thomas Cook (India) has signed an agreement with dnata Travel, to operate as the Travel Management Company (TMC) to service dnata’s customers as it closes its TMC operation in India.
The agreement was concluded after an extensive process of evaluation by dnata, aimed at ensuring the continuity of top-quality service levels for its corporate clients in India who wish to transition to Thomas Cook. The transition is expected to be completed over the next few weeks.
Mahesh Iyer, Executive Director & CEO, Thomas Cook India said, “We are delighted to announce today, that after an extensive evaluation exercise, dnata Travel India picked Thomas Cook India as their choice of partner to take over their Corporate Travel portfolio in India. We are grateful for the opportunity to serve dnata’s corporate client portfolio and meet their evolving expectations with regard to business travel. Our first focus will be ensuring continuity of service needs and building on these strong client partnerships. This agreement helps reinforce the Thomas Cook India Group’s continued leadership in the Corporate Travel space, adding both scale and value to our portfolio. We remain bullish on the business travel opportunity and remain focused on sustainable growth enabled by cutting edge service-leadership.”
Rashid Al Awadhi, Regional VP, dnata Travel said, “Whilst we are disappointed to be exiting the corporate market in India, it has always been our intention to provide our valued customers with an alternative option. We are delighted that we can now offer customers the option of a seamless transition to Thomas Cook India.”
Hilton has announced a global, industry-leading cleanliness and customer service program specific to meetings and events. Hilton EventReady with CleanStay is the next phase of the company’s recently launched Hilton CleanStay and was shaped by extensive research and feedback.
“At Hilton, we’ve always believed in the power of in-person connections and take pride in the exceptional experiences our teams create in partnership with event professionals,” said Chris Nassetta, President and CEO, Hilton. “In today’s new normal, we know that people planning and attending events of any size are focused on their health and safety. Hilton EventReady delivers innovative solutions for the entire event experience – from flexibility in planning and physical distancing protocols to transparency in cleanliness policies and inspiring catering options.”
The key tenants of the Hilton EventReady with CleanStay program include:
• Cleanliness Protocols: The program expands on the elevated sanitation standards of the recently-announced Hilton CleanStay program, addressing every touch point of the meeting experience. This includes room seals for guest and meeting rooms, sanitizing stations in public areas and meeting spaces and an EventReady Room Checklist.
• Book-to-Billing Flexibility: Understanding the importance of flexibility, Hilton Teams will work hand-in-hand with customers to align on shared objectives, providing:
O Flexible pricing, space options and contract terms;
O Responsive offers to meet the needs of customers, like simplified agreements for small meetings;
O Hilton EventReady Playbook, which delivers expert guidance and curated resources for solutions, such as Hybrid Meetings that seamlessly combine on-site attendees with those in remote locations, Room Sets and Creative Networking.
• Safe and Socially Responsible Solutions: To responsibly host meetings and events, Hilton Team Members will partner with their clients to achieve the meeting’s objectives while addressing both health and environmental concerns.
This includes presenting creative physical distancing meeting sets and meal service, developing inspiring food & beverage menus and sharing environmental impact solutions measured by LightStay, Hilton’s award-winning corporate responsibility measurement platform.
Each meeting and event experience will be backed by Hilton hospitality provided by dedicated Team Members who aim to overdeliver on client expectations ranging from event professionals to attendees, from booking to billing.
“Meeting and events are a big part of the day to day operations in our hotels across Asia Pacific and we know event planners are even more mindful now about the minute aspects that impact the health and safety of the attendees. It is absolutely imperative that we are ready to meet the needs of our partners and clients when they choose to hold their events at our hotels and Hilton EventReady with CleanStay is our commitment to them that they are in safe hands with us, regardless of the size or scale of their meetings. We are ready to welcome them with the same level of hospitality Hilton has been known for over the past century: with an elevated experience that gives them peace of mind and confidence throughout the process,” said Alexandra Jaritz, Senior Vice President, Brand Management, Asia Pacific, Hilton.
Monaco has launched the Monaco Safe certification that is designed to offer customers and visitors to the Principality of Monaco the best possible welcome in shops, hotels, restaurants, convention centres and all other premises that are open to the public, in accordance with the current health regulations to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Monaco Safe certification is a way of demonstrating attractiveness that can be used by all stakeholders who drive the dynamic Monegasque economy and promote the Principality's image. It is also a strong unifier, open to all, based on a desire to help the economy recover safely. A shared stamp of approval guaranteed by the State. "It is an additional selling point available to the tourism and retail sectors: the Principality of Monaco is safe and attractive, and will continue to be so," said the Government.
With this certification, the Government is also seeking to highlight the efforts of business owners and their employees to ensure that they can offer their customers the best possible welcome.
The procedure for obtaining certification is voluntary and free of charge and conducted entirely online. The scheme is the result of close collaboration between the Department of Health Affairs, responsible for the checks carried out to confirm certification, and the Welcome Office, a dedicated point of contact for the private sector.
Union Minister of State(IC) for Tourism Prahlad Singh Patel virtually joined Chief Minister of Gujarat Vijay Rupani on the inauguration of project “Development of Pilgrimage Amenities at Somnath, Gujarat” yesterday.
The project “Development of Pilgrimage Amenities at Somnath, Gujarat” sanctioned under the PRASHAD scheme in March 2017 has been successfully completed with the cost of Rs. 45.36 crores. High-quality world-class facilities for parking, tourism amenities centre and Solid waste management have been developed under the project.
Patel praised the State Government for the optimum use of the funds released by the Government of India for creating the facilities of international standards. Minister further, assured the State Government for every cooperation and support required from the Ministry of Tourism under tourism sector.
Sterling Holiday Resorts has announced its association with Apollo Clinics to reassure its promise of safe and hygienic holidays through its ‘Sterling Cares’ programme. The announcement of this association comes at the time when Sterling Holiday Resorts has re-opened its 13 resorts across Jaipur, Puri, Sariska, Mount Abu, Lonavala, Mussoorie, Thekkady, Rajakkad (Kerala) Wayanad, Karwar, Palakollu (Andhra Pradesh) and its Nature Trails resorts in Sajan and Durshet; with more to be opened soon.
Ramesh Ramanathan, CMD, Sterling Holiday Resorts said, “We spoke to a large section of our customers during the lockdown and were happy to note that a majority of them were eager to holiday at our resorts post lockdown. They mentioned during our survey that hygiene and safety will be their most important consideration when taking a holiday. The safety and well-being of our guests is paramount. I am very happy to announce that our Sterling Cares program is in association with Apollo Clinics – the most trusted brand in the healthcare sector.”
Dr. Ajay H. Gangoli, Director Medical Services, Apollo Health & Lifestyle, said, “The Apollo Group has the health and safety of patients and healthcare professionals as its top priority. With the on-going COVID-19 pandemic it has become even more imperative that we partner with entities to help create safe and secure environments. We are very happy with this association and we believe that customers of Sterling, will benefit favourably with this association.”
In addition to this Sterling Holidays has also introduced a one-of-its-kind Holiday Insurance, Tech innovations such as QR code menus and has designed a new set of games and holiday activities keeping the norms of social distancing, safety and hygiene in mind.
Other major resorts expected for scheduled reopening are Goa, Kodaikanal, Ooty, and Yelagiri, Darjeeling, Munnar, Nainital, Kufri, Yercaud, and Guruvayur, followed by Gangtok, Manali, Corbett, Dharamshala, Kanha, Anaikatti and Srinagar.
To support the economic recovery, while fostering a reassuring sense of health confidence, the Prince's Government has launched the Monaco Safe certification, which is designed to offer customers and visitors to the Principality of Monaco the best possible welcome in shops, hotels, restaurants, convention centres and all other premises that are open to the public, in accordance with the current health regulations to stop the spread of COVID-19.
The Monaco Safe certification is a way of demonstrating attractiveness that can be used by all stakeholders who drive the dynamic Monegasque economy and promote the Principality's image. It is also a strong unifier, open to all, based on a desire to help the economy recover safely. A shared stamp of approval guaranteed by the State. “It is an additional selling point available to the tourism and retail sectors: the Principality of Monaco is safe and attractive, and will continue to be so,” said the Government.
With this certification, the Government is also seeking to highlight the efforts of business owners and their employees to ensure that they can offer their customers the best possible welcome.
The procedure for obtaining certification is voluntary and free of charge and conducted entirely online. An online service is now available to make it easier for candidates to submit applications and for them to be processed within a very short timeframe - the certification process is based on implementation of the health protocols currently in force for each sector, which are known to everyone: https://teleservice.gouv.mc/monaco-safe
The scheme, which is operational from today, is the result of close collaboration between the Department of Health Affairs, responsible for the checks carried out to confirm certification, and the Welcome Office, a dedicated point of contact for the private sector.
Shops, hotels, restaurants, convention centres and all other premises that are open to the public which obtain certification can then include the official Monaco Safe logo in their own communications and will benefit from a high degree of visibility on the networks generally used by the State. In addition, the Tourist and Convention Authority and the Welcome Office will involve professional bodies and the Monaco Economic Board in publicising the Monaco Safe certification to as many people as possible, and far beyond our borders.
Yatra Online Private Limited, India’s leading online corporate travel platform servicing 850+ corporate and 20,000+ SME clients, has forged an alliance with upGrad Enterprise, the B2B arm of upGrad, India's largest online higher education company. With Yatra’s aim to diversify its portfolio beyond travel, this partnership shall enable its corporate clients to deliver advance learning and skill development for their employees.
From deployment-ready workforce within 6 months, to reducing employee attrition and aligning L&D plan with business growth strategy, upGrad Enterprise will work closely with Yatra’s corporate and SME clientele. The EdTech major will be providing deep skilling programs that align with the client's desired business outcomes to deliver impact at scale.
Commenting on the partnership, Dhruv Shringi, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Yatra.com said, “In a tough economic climate, it is important to develop and reskill the workforce to overcome the challenges being presented. We are excited to join forces with upGrad to provide a platform to our clients who are looking to develop employees’ potential specific to their businesses or a sector. This unique partnership further paves our way to become an end to end business solution provider to our clients”.
"The unprecedented rate of technology advancement is disrupting companies and jobs everywhere. Across verticals, enterprises face barriers to this adoption due to skill-gap in their talent pool. Such barriers can be crippling, hampering business growth. Our strategic partnership with Yatra, which is absolutely first of its kind and creates a new milestone in the education industry, will be focused towards bridging this workforce skill-gap," said Mayank Kumar, Co-Founder & MD, upGrad.
On July 3, 2020, Brand USA, the destination marketing organization for the United States, organized a virtual celebration of American Independence Day for travel professionals and travel trade media across India.
The celebration consisted of traditional 4th of July activities, including a “Great American Cooking Challenge” and a special online screening of National Parks Adventure – Brand USA’s film about the landscapes and wilderness of America’s great parks. The guest of honor at the event was David Ranz, Consul General of the United States of America in Mumbai.
The event kicked-off with Sheema Vohra, MD of Brand USA in India, welcoming guests through her fond memories of celebrating the 4th of July during her time in the U.S.
In her address, Jackie Ennis, Vice President, Global Trade Development, Brand USA, emphasized the importance of the India market and said that with over 1.4 million visitor arrivals to the U.S. in 2018, India ranks amongst the top 10 overseas markets for Brand USA. “The great outdoors, unspoiled wonders, and immense natural beauty makes the United States a great place to explore. We really hope you will be truly inspired to visit us when the timing is right,” she added.
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