Al-Ahram Weekly Online   26 August - 1 September 2004
Issue No. 705
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Airlines and airports

Strategic alliance

EGYPTAIR and Gulf Air announced recently the formation of a new strategic alliance between both airlines, Amira Ibrahim reports.

A memorandum of understanding was signed in Beirut during a meeting of Arab Carriers by EgyptAir Chairman Major- General Atef Abdel-Hamid and Gulf Air President James Hogan.

Both carriers, under the agreement, will cooperate to provide more convenient air travel services in the Middle East as well as to other destinations around the world. Areas of cooperation will include jointly operated services, marketing and sales, flight scheduling, cargo, technical services in foreign stations, the leasing of aircraft, and frequent flyer services.

Code-share flights will be organised between Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Cairo and Alexandria to mark the first phase of the agreement. It will also include jointly operated services to leading tourist destinations in Egypt such as Sharm El-Sheikh and Hurghada. This will be extended during the winter schedules to flights further afield, including a Cairo-Bahrain-Sydney route.

Modernised fleet

EARLY this month, EgyptAir took delivery of the second of seven Airbus A330-200s on order, becoming a new operator of the type.

Each aircraft seats 24 passengers in business class and 244 in economy, and is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 700s.

"The Airbus A330-200s is by far the top of the aircraft pyramid in the 250 seat class, with a passenger-friendly cabin, attractive economics and cost-saving modern technology," says EgyptAir Holding Company Chairman Major-General Atef Abdel-Hamid.

Abdel-Hamid told Al-Ahram Weekly that the new aircraft will be used on routes to Europe and within the Middle East, replacing seven old AB 300-600 crafts; all have been sold to Airbus as part of the deal. "Each new AB 330 will be exchanged for an old AB 300-600," Abdel-Hamid stated. He added that the deal would help the carrier to modernise its fleet of 37 planes.

Lufthansa profits

LUFTHANSA is once again in the black six months into 2004 and recorded an operating surplus of 33 million euros. Following a loss of 116 million euros in the first quarter of the year, the group bagged a profit of 149 million euros in the second quarter.

"We used the opportunities presented by the market systematically; we successfully off-loaded our expanded capacity, and our customers appreciate our high quality," said Wolfgang Mayrhuber, Lufthansa's CEO and chairman of the executive board.

Assuming that no new crises occur and that the situation in the fuel market does not escalate further, Lufthansa anticipates an operating profit for the full year of around 300 million euros as well as a clearly positive net result.


Beach offers

A BEACH membership is now available at the private beach of Sheraton Montazah Hotel (+203) 548 0550 in Alexandria.

Daily entry fees are LE60 per person; a weekly membership costs LE200 per person; a monthly membership is LE350 per person and LE1,200 for a family of four. Beach membership includes the use of the tennis court twice a week.

Eastern therapies

FOR THOSE seeking the ultimate anti-stress therapy, you can now indulge in an Indonesian massage or in an invigorating tension-easing, muscle-stretching treatment from Thailand while in Cairo.

The Spa and Wellness Centre in the Four Seasons Hotel Cairo at the First Residence (+202) 573 1212 has looked to the Far East for inspiration and introduced a package to complement its existing range of therapies. Enjoy a Balinese massage using a blend of coconut and basil essential oils, or indulge in a Thai message -- well-known to ease muscle tension and tone the body through the employment of various techniques, which include the masseur walking on the client's back.

New expansions

M…VENPICK Hotels and Resorts (MH&R) has opened up a new property and signed a contract for another in Egypt this summer.

In July MH&R opened the first luxury five-star resort and spa on the Mediterranean coast of Egypt at Al-Alamein.

The Mövenpick Resort & Spa Al-Alamein is ideally located 40 kilometres from the Marina resort, 140 kilometres west of Alexandria and 310 kilometres from Cairo, and has easy access to the local airport.

The resort consists of 252 rooms, three executive and nine royal suites several restaurants catering for all tastes, an indoor heated pool and a free-form freshwater swimming pool, two children's pools, two floodlit tennis courts, two air-conditioned squash courts and a fully equipped health club.

MH&R has also announced a new management contract for a resort in Aswan in Upper Egypt. The agreement was signed with the owner, the Egyptian General Organisation of Tourism and Hotels (EGOTH), to operate the former Aswan Oberoi. The resort will be renamed The Elephantine Island Resort Aswan.

It will include 244 guest rooms and villas with full amenities overlooking the Nile facing the Aswan Botanical Gardens.

The resort will feature four restaurants, two solar-heated swimming pools, tennis courts and a spa.

World travel

GLOBE-TROTTERS can now enjoy luxurious upmarket accommodation at Starwood Hotels & Resorts and see the world for less with its new World Travel promotion -- an international travel deal which allows travellers to stay at Starwood's 740 hotels and resorts worldwide at exceptional rates. The World Travel offer is available until the end of September.

The offer is available at participating Starwood hotels in Asia- Pacific, from 15 June until the end of September, in Europe from 14 June until 5 September, in the Middle East and Africa from 27 May to 12 September and in Latin America from 1 June until the end of September. Rates start at $45 in Asia- Pacific, $58 in Latin America and $49 in North America. For more information visit


Egyptian-Italian cooperation

AN AGREEMENT was recently signed between the Italian Association Palazzo Spinclli per L'Arte ed il Restauro and the Tourist Development Authority, affiliated to the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, for the promotion of new tourist destinations in Egypt and the mutual tourist cooperation between Egypt and Italy.

It is expected that through this joint agreement a big number of visits and Italian delegations will be organised to certain places in Egypt. Also a number of seminars and workshops with Italian businessmen and investors will take place to kickstart investment projects. Seven advanced training sessions will be held in Italy and Egypt for about 100 Egyptian managers, employees and tour operators. Moreover, three international conferences will be held in Egypt and Italy to display Egypt's tourist potentials especially the new tourist areas.

A new website entitled "Discovering Egypt" will be established to promote and market the new tourist centres in Egypt.

Recently, Egyptian Minister of Tourism Ahmed El-Maghraby met Italian Ambassador to Egypt Antonio Badini and discussed the possibility of increasing investment opportunities especially in the west of the North Coast of Egypt. The Italian ambassador said that Al-Alamein is one of the famous areas, one that attracts travellers in general and Italians in particular. He also suggested building a memorial to commemorate the battle of Al-Alamein. El-Maghraby praised the suggestion and commented that Egypt could discuss the proposal with Germany and England to build the memorial.

It is worth mentioning that Italy topped the list of countries exporting tourism to Egypt last year and during the first half of this year.

Photography exhibition

BRITISH AIRWAYS' London Eye is hosting some of the world's most beautiful women through to the end of September.

Supermodels and popstars Elle Macpherson, Yasmin Le Bon, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Jerry Hall, the Spice Girls, Sophie Anderton, Twiggy, Caprice, Laura Bailey, Jodie Kidd and Jasmine Guinness are just few of the women featured in An Eye for Fashion -- a unique exhibition on the landscape at London's top visitor attraction on the South Bank opposite the House of Commons.

The exhibition features images from Fashion Targets Breast Cancer (FTBC) campaigns since 1996. FTBC is a national campaign to raise money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer via sales of T-shirts and pin badges. Each year a different A-list model fronts the campaign with images by world famous photographers like Mario Testino, David Bailey and Ellen Von Unwerth. These pictures are being brought together for the first time to form a unique collection.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer (BrBc) is one of the London Eye's official charities for 2004.


MTF counts down

THE FIFTH round of Egypt's Mediterranean Travel Fair (MTF) will be held next month from 14 to 16 September in the Cairo International Conference Centre (CICC) under the auspices of Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif. The event will be inaugurated by Minister of Tourism Ahmed El-Maghrabi and a number of international and Arab ministers of tourism.

Thirty-five countries have participated so far in the MTF. Some are participating for the first time such as Australia, Canada, China and Mexico. Moreover many Arab countries will double the area of their booths. MTF officials expect to attract about 50 countries this year.

Ten Egyptian governorates are expected to take part in the event including the Red Sea, south Sinai, Alexandria, the New Valley, Marsa Matruh, Beni Sweif, Minya and Luxor.

MTF officials will invite 200 of the most important European companies specialised in incentive and conference tourism especially those from Italy, France, England, Germany and Spain. A number of official meetings would be held at the margin of the MTF, the most important of which is the meeting between the Egyptian Minister of Tourism Ahmed El-Maghrabi and the Malian minister of tourism where a tourist agreement will be signed. There will be also meetings between El-Maghrabi and the ministers of tourism of Greece and Cyprus.

A press conference held by the Egyptian minister of tourism and Tom Nutley, head of the organising company Reed Travel Exhibitions, will be held on the opening day.

Participant airlines such as Gulf Air, Saudi Airlines, Qatar Airways and Yemen Airways will provide daily prizes including free tickets for participants and visitors of the event.

The fair is organised by British Reed Travel Exhibitions, the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism, the Egyptian Hotel Association, the Egyptian Chamber of Travel Agents and the Egyptian Federation of Tourist Chambers.

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