Wednesday, 1 February 2012

South African Airways starting non-stop flights to Beijing, China

South African Airways will start flying non-stop to Beijing, China, for the first time in the history of the airline, from January next year.

The inaugural flight is scheduled to leave Johannesburg, South Africa, on Tuesday 31 January 2012, and is set to arrive in Beijing, China on Wednesday 1 February 2012.

These flights are now available for sale at great fares through SAA’s reservations department, the website and the travel agency community.

“SAA is most pleased to introduce non-stop flights to Beijing, China. This new route is in line with SAA’s strategy to expand its network to Asia, the fastest growing market in the world,” says SAA’s CEO Siza Mzimela.

China and South Africa established a comprehensive strategic partnership in August last year. The countries subsequently entered into bilateral agreements for cooperation on infrastructure construction, transportation, water resources utilisation, housing, health and education. The introduction of non-stop flights between the two destinations promises to facilitate business and leisure travel between the two countries.

“Introducing direct flights between China and South Africa will promote tourism and trade, not only to South Africa, but also to all the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and other African countries. South Africa and neighbouring destinations such as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe are already popular destinations for Chinese tourists.
“Similarly, for South Africans and other African countries, the flight will open up China as a new tourist destination and create a bridge between South America and China, connecting three very important BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries and promoting trade amongst these countries,” says Mzimela.

Beijing Capital International Airport (BJS) is the main international airport serving Beijing, China and one of the busiest airports in the world. It is located 32 kilometer northeast of Beijing’s city center, owned and operated by the Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited, a state-controlled company. There are three terminals at the airport and SAA will operate in and out of terminal three, which is also the designated terminal for Star Alliance partners.

SAA will operate the route non-stop three times a week with its A340-600 long haul aircraft. 
Business Class on these aircraft offers theaward winning lie-flat seat which reclines to a complete bed and has various seating position settings. Each business class seat is equipped with a privacy screen, a personal reading lamp and leg-rest, footrest, telephone and entertainment handset. All seats are also fitted with a personal television. The seats in economy class on SAA’s long haul aircraft offer a very comfortable pitch of between 33 and 34 inches for increased flying comfort.

Flying time between Johannesburg and Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China takes almost 15 hours. Beijing is one of the most populous cities in the world and the country’s political, cultural and educational centre and the headquarters of most of China’s largest state-owned companies. 

Renaming of Mana Airport at Raipur in Chhattisgarh as "Swami Vivekanand Airport, Raipur

The Union Cabinet today approved the renaming of the Mana Airport at Raipur as "Swami Vivekanand Airport, Raipur". This will fulfill the long pending demand of people of Chhattisgarh as well as the State Government of Chhattisgarh.

The Raipur Airport belongs to Airports Authority of India (AAI) and is suitable for operation of A-320 type of aircraft (VFR/IFR operations). Presently M/s Air India, Jet Airways/ Jetlite and Kingfisher are operating and approx. 85 domestic flights per week to/from Raipur Airport are operating.

Swami Vivekanand, one of the most renowned spiritual leaders, spent major part of his life in Raipur. Hence it will be apt to rename Mana Airport at Raipur in Chhattisgarh as "Swami Vivekanand Airport, Raipur`" paying homage to the spiritual leader.

Lowcost Cebu Pacific Airlines launces long haul flights

Budget airline Cebu Pacific will introduce direct long-haul flights from Manila to countries where many Filipinos live and work, starting the third quarter of 2013, president and CEO Lance Gokongwei said in a briefing Tuesday.

More than 11 million Filipinos live and work in the Middle East, Australia Europe and US. Eleven-hour flights are considered long haul.

“After sixteen years in the airline industry, we are going long-haul,” said Gokongwei. “We're confident we will succeed in serving millions of Filipinos living and working overseas.”

Cebu Pacific will lease eight new Airbus 330-300, Gokongwei said. It carries up to 400 passengers, allowing the airline to sell the cheapest seats in the business at a 35 percent discount, Gokongwei added.

“This aircraft is very well-suited to the kind of network we want to build and the routes we want to launch,” he said.

Since the airplanes are on lease, Gokongwei noted the airline's biggest cost is in developing and marketing routes.

“These will be direct flights offered at a lower cost. The aircraft works best from point to point, and flying direct is more convenient and cheaper,” he said.

Cebu Pacific has no long-haul routes yet.

“Any flight within 11 hours to areas where there many Filipinos, we will go to these destinations,” Gokongwei said, notably the US, Europe and Middle East.

More than half of Filipinos deployed in these regions take multiple stops and connecting flights because no home carrier can fly them there non-stop, according to the young tycoon.

He cited Saudi Arabia, saying only 165,000 passengers flew direct non-stop from Manila in 2010 even though 293,000 Filipinos work in the Kingdom.

“With our long haul operations, we will provide more affordable, direct flight options to Filipinos overseas,” he said.

New Office of protector of Emigrants opens in Jaipur

The Overseas Indian Affairs Minister Mr. Vayalar Ravi inaugurated the protector of Emigrants office (POE) in Jaipur today. Shri Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister, Rajasthan was also present on the occasion. Addressing the Media persons, Mr. Vayalar Ravi said that this is the 9th office of the protector of Emigrants in the county. He said that a large number of people from Rajasthan go abroad for jobs, particularly in the Middle East. Statistics reveal that during the last three years more than one lakh fifty thousand workers of Rajasthan sought emigration clearance for going abroad.

He said that the new POE office is housed in the Common Facility Centre (CFC) of RIICO at the Sitapura Industrial Area in Jaipur. The State Government has taken the initiative and provided premises for the office. Mr Ravi said that POE offices set up under the Emigration Act of 1983; provide assistance to emigrants going abroad for work. These offices grant emigration clearance to different categories of workers going to 17 designated countries. In this work, the POE offices also get assistance from the Indian Missions abroad. The opening of the new office at Jaipur will ensure that prospective emigrants from Rajasthan will not have to travel to Delhi for seeking emigration clearance. Now on, registered recruiting Agents of Rajasthan shall be filing their online applications for Emigration Clearance on at POE office of Jaipur.

Shri Rajendra Pareek, the State Ministers of Industry & NRI, Dr. Jitendra Singh, Energy and Information and Public Relation, Mr. Mahesh Joshi, MP, Mr. Parvez Diwan, Secretary, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs and Mr. S. Ahmad, Chief Secretary Rajasthan Government were also present on this occasion.

Earlier, Mr. Ravi and the Chief Minister Mr. Ashok Gehlot inaugurated the Pravasi Bhartiya Diwas Exibition at Bilra Auditorium. Around 110 stalls of the State Governments, Public Sector Institutions, NGOs and Private Sector have been established

LAX: American Airlines changes Terminal 4 to self-service check-in

American Airlines has changed its Terminal 4 lobby at LAX from old-fashioned ticket counters to self-service kiosks, which, it says, is designed to streamline check-in and bag drop.

AA agents are out in front rather than behind the counter. These agents can show passengers who aren’t familiar with kiosks how to use them. The 36 machines in T4 West Lobby can check in both international and domestic passengers.

Instead of taking bags over to Transportation Security Administration screening, passengers check them in at the self-service machines.

American now has two resolution centers on each side of the west lobby to assist customers with any issues regarding checking-in.

The old bag drop machines, along with Ticketing/Group Check-in and Qantas check-in have been relocated to other parts of the lobby to make it more convenient for travelers to head from the kiosk to departures.

American claims to be the first airline to dedicate an entire lobby to self-service kiosks.

Source: Los Angeles times

Emirates Dublin Route upgrades Aircraft to handle high demand

After three weeks of the airline launching the first direct route from Dublin to Dubai, Emirates said the route has already become one of the airline's most successful route launches.

The new passenger service has load factors exceeding 90% for many flights leading the airline to deploy a larger aircraft on the route from July.

The daily Dubai-Dublin service is currently operated with a 237-seat Airbus A330-200, arranged in a three class configuration.

Emirates' senior vice president Salem Obaidalla said normally, this would provide enough capacity for the first two to three years of a new route operation. However he said Dublin "is exceeding our expectations much faster than was predicted and we need more seats to satisfy demand.".

From July onwards, the replacement Boeing 777-300ER will be deployed providing a total of 360 seats, an increase in capacity of 52%.

The Boeing offers 310 seats in economy class, 42 in business and eight first-class private suites.

Mr Obaidalla said: "A bigger aircraft means more good news for the Irish economy. We can bring extra visitors to the country and carry additional cargo. The A330-200 can carry up to 15 tonnes of cargo in the belly hold - this figure rises to 25 tonnes with the introduction of the 777."

United Airlines Announces New Routes from its Hubs

United Continental Holdings, Inc., today announced plans to launch year-round and seasonal service on several new routes to begin in the summer of 2012. 

"We continue to capitalize on the combined resources of United and Continental to create a network that gives our customers more flights to the places they want to go," said James Starnes, United's director of domestic planning. "The flexibility of our fleet allows us to put the right aircraft in the right markets to serve new communities and to add additional flights to communities we already serve." 

Daily Service between Washington/Dulles and Honolulu 

United will begin daily year-round service between Washington/Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Honolulu (HNL) on June 7, 2012, the only nonstop service between the two points. The flights will operate using Boeing 767-400 aircraft. 

United, the largest carrier between the mainland U.S. and Hawaii, connects the Aloha State with eight mainland cities, as well as Tokyo, Guam and Majuro, offering nonstop service in 23 city pairs. 

From its Dulles hub, United also offers more domestic and international service from the nation's capital than any other airline. 

New Summer Seasonal Flights from Denver, Houston and San Francisco
The airline will also add seasonal service to several popular summer travel destinations. 

Alaska: New daily service between Denver (DEN) and Fairbanks, Alaska (FAI), will operate from June 7, 2012 through Aug. 27, 2012, using Boeing 737-800 aircraft. Fairbanks offers access to Denali National Park, one of Alaska's most visited destinations. The flights complement United's existing Alaska service to Anchorage from hubs in Denver, Chicago, Houston and San Francisco, as well as Seattle. 

South Dakota: United Express will offer daily seasonal service between Houston's Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH) and Rapid City, S.D. (RAP), gateway to the Black Hills, Mount Rushmore and the Badlands National Park, from June 7, 2012, to Aug. 27, 2012. ExpressJet will operate the flights using Embraer ERJ-145 aircraft. United currently serves Rapid City from its Denver and Chicago hubs. 

Wyoming: The airline will also add summer-season flights between its Houston and San Francisco (SFO) hubs and Jackson Hole, Wyo. (JAC), which attracts millions of summer visitors to nearby Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons. The Houston flights will operate twice-weekly from June 8, 2012, through Aug. 27, 2012, using Boeing 757 aircraft. The San Francisco flights will operate daily from July 1, 2012, through Aug. 27, 2012, as United Express, with Bombardier CR7 aircraft flown by SkyWest Airlines. These flights are in addition to United's existing service to Jackson Hole from hubs in Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. 

With these new route additions, United will remain within the previously announced capacity guidance.
Since the October 2010 merger of United and Continental, the larger combined fleet has given the company flexibility to better meet market demand. United has added new routes from its hubs to international destinations such as Lagos, Nigeria; Guadalajara, Mexico; Montreal, Canada; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; Shanghai, China, and Stuttgart, Germany, along with new intra-Asia routes between the Tokyo hub and Hong Kong and between the Guam hub and Okinawa, Japan. 

The merger also enabled the company to add a number of new domestic routes by using a mix of mainline and regional aircraft from both carriers more efficiently. 

In addition, previously announced new service between New York/Newark and Buenos Aires, and between Washington/Dulles and Manchester, U.K. and Washington/Dulles and Dublin, Ireland, will begin this spring. 

About United Continental Holdings, Inc.United Continental Holdings, Inc. is the holding company for both United Airlines and Continental Airlines. Together with United Express, Continental Express and Continental Connection, these airlines operate an average of 5,656 flights a day to 376 airports on six continents from their hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, New York/Newark Liberty, San Francisco, Tokyo and Washington, D.C. United and Continental are members of Star Alliance, which offers more than 21,000 daily flights to 1,290 airports in 189 countries. United and Continental's more than 80,000 employees reside in every U.S. state and in many countries around the world. For more information about United Continental Holdings, Inc., go to For more information about the airlines, see and or follow United on Twitter and Facebook. 

SOURCE United Continental Holdings, Inc.