Al-Ahram Weekly Online   13 - 19 May 2010
Issue No. 998
Sky High
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875

Transit lounge

Connecting Italy to the North Coast

THIS SUMMER, Italian cities will be connected to Egypt's north coast beaches of Mersa Matrouh with new charter flights. The regional airliner, EGYPTAIR Express has revealed plans to operate two new flights weekly to Italy. "Effective the end of May, we will launch a new service from Mersa Matrouh to Bologna on Sundays," stated Helmi Rizq, chairman of Express Airlines. "We are about to reach another agreement to operate a second flight on Thursdays to another Italian city. This service is scheduled to start on 14 July." He didn't name the destination asbeing negotiated with Italian authorities.

According to Rizq the airline has been working closely with the travel agencies and tourism offices in Europe so that to meet the requests by travel agents and tour operators.

"Those two new services will help boosting our international network, considering that we operate two regular flights weekly between Cairo and Mersa Matrouh." Both new services will be extended to the end of summer.

Express Airlines operates a fleet of 12 Embraer 170 which mainly serve domestic and regional destinations. "We plan to expand our regular operation this summer, adding more frequencies to a number of flights," indicated Rizq. "Our current Cairo- Budapest route will be served with a daily flight adding two new frequencies to take it from five to seven flights weekly. The Malta service will increase by one more flight to be three weekly flights."

The airline at present operates a regional network which includes Catania served with four flights weekly, Beirut served with two flights weekly, and Jiddah to the Red Sea's Sharm El-Sheikh resort with four flights weekly.

No fly-list

THE US GOVERNMENT is now requiring airlines to check no-fly lists within two hours of being notified of list updates -- a move aimed at preventing known terror suspects from boarding airplanes -- as the man accused in the Times Square bombing attempt did.

Faisal Shahzad, who prosecutors say tried to blow up an SUV in Times Square Saturday evening, was added to the no-fly list early Monday afternoon, only hours before he boarded an Emirates flight bound to Dubai.

When updates are made to the no-fly list, notifications are sent to airlines instructing them to check the updated list. Until now, airlines have been required to check for updated lists every 24 hours. Effective immediately, airlines will have to check the updated list within two hours of being notified of changes.

The no-fly list has been one of the government's most public counterterrorism tools since the 11 September 2001 attacks. Shahzad was able to purchase a last minute ticket from Emirates airlines and board a Dubai-bound airplane at John F Kennedy International Airport. Customs and Border Protection officials saw Shahzad's name on the list of passengers 30 minutes before the flight was to take off. They pulled Shahzad off the plane and arrested him before the plane left the gate.

Amadeus grows up

AMADEUS reported that its company has shown growth in bookings of more than 9 percentage points compared to the previous year. The company expanded its reach, market share, and headcount by opening three new fully-owned Amadeus Commercial Organisations in Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon. In the Middle East, the 13 Arab Air Carriers Organisation regional member airlines selected Amadeus as their exclusive distribution partner in a pioneering 10-year agreement.

It also opened three new offices in Bali, Indonesia; Koh Samui, Thailand; and Yangon, Myanmar, as well as a Middle East regional hub based in Dubai. In the Middle East and Africa region, this resulted in a market share of close to 45 per cent in 2009. In Asia Pacific, Amadeus grew its market share of travel agency air bookings to 33 per cent for 2009.

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