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Emirates to serve Panama City from Dubai

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Emirates Airline has announced its plans to launch services to Panama City, beginning 1st February, 2016. The new service will be the longest non-stop flight in the world (17 hours 35 minutes in the Westbound direction) and will be Emirates’ first gateway destination in Central America.

Service to Panama City, Panama’s capital and largest city by population, will commence with a daily flight operated by a Boeing 777-200LR aircraft in a 3-class layout -  8 in First, 42 in Business, and 216 in Economy. The aircraft can carry up to 15 tonnes of cargo. Key imports to the country include pharmaceuticals, machinery products, iron/steel rods, and electronics. Service to Panama City will operate through Tocumen International Airport (PTY).

Both a vibrant metropolis and gateway to tropical destinations, Panama City is also the economic and financial centre of the country with the major industries being international banking, commerce, and tourism. Ideally located between North and South America, as well as the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, Panama City has developed an unrivalled transportation and communication network. It operates two of the busiest ports in Latin America, including the Colon Free Trade Zone - the world's second largest free trade zone. Additionally, the ongoing expansion of the Panama Canal has helped contribute to Panama’s economic growth in recent years.

“Panama City will be our first destination gateway in Central America, providing a convenient option for our passengers travelling from or through our global hub in Dubai and onward to destinations throughout Central America, the Caribbean and the northern part of South America,” said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates Airline & Group. “We’re also pleased to be the only commercial airline to offer a daily, First Class service to travellers on what will be the world’s longest non-stop flight.”

"It is gratifying to see how diplomatic efforts focused on generating development and prosperity for Panama materialise," said Isabel Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of the Republic of Panama.  “New doors to the country will open with a direct connection to the Middle East - a strong and thriving region with great synergies to both Panama and Latin America.”

“This new direct flight between Dubai and Panama City will connect Latin America with the Middle East, Asia and Africa,” explained Eduardo Fonseca Ward, Consul General of the Republic of Panama, in Dubai. “This link will generate a broader global network with countless commercial and cultural opportunities for the two regions. It has been a pleasure to work with the Emirates team, who have shared the vision of Panama and Dubai as hubs of trade, prosperity and hope.”

Later this year, Emirates will be adding 4 additional routes to its global network including Mashhad, Iran and Orlando in September; Bamako, Mali in October; and Bologna in November.

Costa Crociere takes off with Alitalia

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Costa Crociere, an ambassador of Italian style and excellence in the world for 67 years, and Alitalia, the main Italian airline, have signed a three-year agreement thanks to which Costa cruise passengers departing from Italy can use Alitalia scheduled and charter flights to reach the ports of embarkation for Costa cruises around the world.

The agreement, presented today at EXPO Milano 2015, envisages a total of around 100,000 airline seats on Alitalia flights, made available to Costa Cruises in the period 2015-2018. It represents further growth for the Italian market of the “fly + cruise” formula, which Costa Crociere was the first to offer to the world back in 1968.

“There is a well-established relationship in place with Alitalia, which takes on significant value for our guests who are looking for Italian style at all times during their travel experience,” Neil Palomba, President of Costa Crociere, reminds us. “This new agreement underlines our focus on customer service, characterised by the offer of solutions with increased comfort, but also - concludes Palomba - the ability to innovate and to create a system of two Italian companies which represent an essential engine for the growth of tourism in Italy.”

Ariodante Valeri, Chief Commercial Officer of Alitalia, stated: “What we are presenting today with Costa Crociere is an agreement of great value between two companies at the forefront of Italian tourism around the world. In order to give new impetus to tourism, in an increasingly competitive global market, now more than ever, we need to create a system – institutions, large enterprises, trade and services – and the agreement between Alitalia and Costa Crociere is heading in this direction.

Alitalia flights for Costa Crociere will link a total of 27 Italian airports to the following destinations: the Caribbean and the United States, with the airports in Pointe a Pitre (Guadeloupe) and Miami; the United Arab Emirates; Northern Europe with Warnemunde-Rostock, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Stockholm; Trieste for one-week cruises in the eastern Mediterranean.

The agreement between Alitalia and Costa Crociere also envisages significant benefits in terms of schedules, flexibility and above all quality and comfort, the aim being to minimise the time spent managing embarkation and disembarkation procedures and to use all the time available for enjoying the cruise holiday.

Starting from the exclusive “through check-in” service, available at all Italian airports with Alitalia only, on both charter and scheduled flights: Costa cruise passengers will receive boarding passes for all flights through to their final destination, and will also be able to drop off their luggage at the departure airport and have it conveniently brought to their cabin on board the ship.

At Warnemunde-Rostock airport, an even more innovative, top quality service will be available for the return home: on the evening before disembarkation, cruise passengers will be able to drop off their luggage and get their boarding passes for the return flight while still on board the ship.

Norwegian to launch flights from the U.S. to the Caribbean

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

Norwegian has announced it will launch flights from Boston, Baltimore/Washington, D.C. and New York City to two Caribbean destinations: the Guadeloupe Islands and Martinique.

Only two years after launching service to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), Norwegian will be the largest foreign airline at JFK in terms of number of routes. Norwegian will offer a total of seven nonstop routes to Bergen, Copenhagen, Guadeloupe, London, Martinique, Oslo and Stockholm. Overall, Norwegian will operate 31 routes from 10 U.S. airports.

With the new service, Norwegian will offer U.S.-based customers some of the lowest fares to the Caribbean, with an introductory fare starting at $79 one way, valid from all three U.S. airports and starting at $99 one way from Guadeloupe and Martinique in the French Caribbean, also known as the French West Indies.

Norwegian’s new seasonal service to the French West Indies will launch on December 3, 2015, with three flights per week from JFK to the Guadeloupe Islands’ Pointe-à-Pitre International Airport (PTP) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and from JFK to Martinique Aimé Césaire International Airport (FDF) on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

From Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) and Boston Logan International Airport (BOS), Norwegian will operate twice weekly service to both Guadeloupe and Martinique. Flights between Baltimore-Washington and Guadeloupe will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and Martinique on Mondays and Fridays. From Boston flights to Guadeloupe will operate on Thursdays and Sundays, and to Martinique on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Norwegian operates one of the world’s most modern and eco-friendly fleets. On the U.S.-Caribbean routes, the airline will fly its new Boeing 737-800s with 186 comfortable, leather seats and it will be the first airline to offer free Wi-Fi on flights to the Caribbean. Norwegian will also offer customers the option to rent movies and TV shows on their personal devices.

The airline currently offers 25 nonstop routes from the U.S. to London and Scandinavia, providing more European routes than any other European airline. Service from Las Vegas will commence on October 31, 2015; service from San Juan, Puerto Rico, will commence on November 1, 2015; and service from St. Croix, U.S. V.I., will commence on November 5, 2015.

“With these new and exciting routes, Norwegian will offer customers in the Northeast nonstop flights to two of the most idyllic islands in the Caribbean,” said Norwegian’s CEO Bjørn Kjos. “Norwegian is fully committed to the U.S. market and we will continue to expand by offering more great nonstop destinations to American travelers and growing our U.S. crew bases,” said Kjos.

To celebrate Norwegian’s new routes, the airline has partnered with the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board to launch a sweepstakes for one lucky person in Boston, Baltimore/ Washington D.C. and New York City metro areas to win a trip for two to the archipelago, including flights on Norwegian and six nights at some of the islands’ top resorts: La Creole Beach Hotel & Spa, Langley Fort Royal Resort and Auberge de la Vieille Tour Hotel. For terms and to enter, please click here.

“These new flights with Norwegian are historic for our destination. It rewards our efficient global development strategy implemented in the US market. As our number one in-bound area in American arrivals, accessibility from the East Coast has been a cornerstone of our US strategy. Therefore, this partnership with a high-quality airline such as Norwegian, is an excellent opportunity for more East Coasters to finally tick the Guadeloupe Islands off their bucket list,” said Hilaire Brudey, Chairman for the Guadeloupe Islands Tourist Board.

"For travelers based in key markets across the Northeast, the charms of Martinique are now closer than ever," said Muriel Wiltord, Director Americas of the Martinique Promotion Bureau. "On behalf of the entire tourism community in Martinique, I'd like to extend a very warm welcome to Norwegian. We look forward to sharing our corner of the French Caribbean and grow the number of passengers in New York, New England, and the Washington, D.C. area."

For more inspiration and travel tips for Guadeloupe Islands and Martinique, please visit Norwegian’s French Caribbean site.

Guadeloupe and Martinique are both overseas departments of France to which the United States-European Union-Iceland-Norway Air Transport Agreement applies. The agreement authorizes unlimited frequencies between any point or points in the EU and any point or points in U.S. territory for any and all U.S., EU, Icelandic, and Norwegian airlines.

MSC Cruises partners with Etihad Airways

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

MSC Cruises S.A., the world’s largest privately-owned global cruise line and market leader in the Mediterranean and in South America, and Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, announced today a new partnership agreement that will benefit MSC Cruises’ guests travelling to Abu Dhabi and the UAE.

The partnership with Etihad Airways reflects MSC Cruises’ long-standing commitment to its guests and is testament to the Company’s wish to always make its all-around offering a best-in-class experience, both at sea and in the air – with “Fly&Cruise” packages from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland and the UK - with Etihad Airways or partner airlines in its network.

Gianni Onorato, MSC Cruises Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are delighted to partner with Etihad Airways. Both companies are uniquely young, ambitious and dynamic market leaders. With our “Fly&Cruise” packages, MSC Cruises guests will benefit from Etihad Airways’ and our Company’s impeccable service from the minute they leave their homes for a memorable cruise experience on MSC Musica. Through our partnership and also together with Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority we will work to develop Abu Dhabi as an ideal winter cruise destination to further strengthen our offer in the region”.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive of Etihad Airways, declared: “Abu Dhabi is being developed into a leading international cruise destination, with record passenger numbers and ship calls reported during the recent 2014/2015 season. Future projections are even stronger, as the new Abu Dhabi Cruise Terminal opens at the end of this year, and world-class cultural attractions such as Abu Dhabi’s Louvre and Guggenheim museums enhance the local tourism offering”.

“Our partnership with MSC Cruises, as well as Abu Dhabi Ports Company and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority, for ‘Fly&Cruise’ will expand source markets for cruises in the UAE and regionally, bringing in more travellers from destinations across Europe. It will also ensure a comfortable travel experience for guests at all stages of their holiday, including their time in the air and on the sea.”

In its focus on developing the cruise market in the beautiful region of Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Oman, MSC Cruises logically partnered with Etihad Airways. Under the terms of the agreement, MSC Cruises’ guests will be able to fly to Abu Dhabi from Europe with Etihad Airways to cruise in the region in the amazing Arabian winter. Guests will fly with the national airline of the UAE to their cruise during winter 2015-2016 on MSC Musica.

Contributing nearly 20 per cent, in terms of market share, to Abu Dhabi’s 2014-2015 cruise season, MSC Cruises has brought over 100,000 passengers from 115 nationalities to the Emirate between 2011 and 2015. Overall, Abu Dhabi’s 2014-2015 cruise season, that ran from October 2014 until May 2015, welcomed a record 200,407 passengers and 94 ship calls.

Captain Mohamed Juma Al Shamisi, CEO Abu Dhabi Ports, commented: “By providing state-of-the -art facilities to cruise lines and industry partners, we are boosting  Abu Dhabi’s growth potential to be a regular port of call on  the itineraries of leading tour operators from across the world. Our innovation in service and infrastructure has been delivering a lasting impression to visitors to Abu Dhabi, supporting our mission to increase our share of the UAE’s non-hydrocarbon based GDP and to contribute further to the tourism industry.”

From 13 December 2015 to 27 March 2016, MSC Musica will sail 16 seven-night cruises in the region from Abu Dhabi, calling Khor al Fakkan, Muscat, Khasab and Dubai.

MSC Cruises already partners with multiple global brands that are bywords for excellence in their fields. Partnerships with the Lego Group and Chicco are rooted in the Company’s commitment to creating unforgettable holidays for children and families. A partnership with restaurant brand Eataly adds high-end Italian cuisine based on exceptional ingredients to the fleet’s rich dining offering, while Samsung and Expo 2015 - of which MSC Cruises is the Official Cruise Carrier - echo the Company’s focus on technological innovation.

WestJet to start widebody transatlantic service from Canada

  • Written by Teijo Niemelä
  • Category: Air & Sea

WestJet today announced it has selected London, England as the first transatlantic destination from Canada for its wide-body Boeing 767-300 aircraft. Service from Canada to London will be through London Gatwick.

"This news marks the next phase in the international portion of our strategic plan," said Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Commercial. "WestJet is at the right scale to make this step in our evolution. Combined with our low-cost approach and renowned people-driven service, we have the network, brand and infrastructure to successfully enter and grow in the wide-body market. We look forward to announcing, later this summer, our entire schedule and low-fare approach for the spring of 2016."

"Well-managed and efficient airports like Gatwick are ideal for low-cost airlines like WestJet," said Chris Avery, WestJet Vice-President, Network Planning, Alliances and Corporate Development. "We love Gatwick as a convenient airport with great connectivity to central London and access to other low-cost airlines flying to points in Europe and beyond. We look forward to welcoming travellers from Gatwick through our network to destinations across Canada."

"Wide-body capability now allows us to serve London Gatwick from anywhere in Canada and brings into consideration more international destinations in the future. The Canadian cities we will fly from will be determined over the course of this summer," continued Bob Cummings. "We will meet with airports across the country to determine the most suitable ones we believe will meet our needs and those of our guests."

Further announcements on schedules, pricing and launch cities will be communicated later this summer with service commencing in spring 2016.