Al-Ahram Weekly Online   5 - 11 June 2008
Issue No. 900
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


Airlines & airports

Outstanding results for BA

BRITISH Airways officials recently announced the latest financial results of the company. According to Chief Executive Willie Walsh, it is an outstanding financial result for the company despite rising fuel prices and significant economic slowdown in the last six months. "We have achieved our goal of a 10 per cent operating margin which I am delighted has triggered the reward scheme for our staff. For our shareholders, too, it signals the welcome return of a dividend, the first since 2001," Walsh said.

He added that delivering 10 per cent has not been easy, "but we have achieved it by remaining focussed on our strategy for the last six years. We tackled our pension deficit and we have strengthened the fundamentals of our balance sheet while at the same time growing a profitable business."

Mervat Alfi, Egypt commercial manger, said that Egypt achieved its full year target with a growth of 8.5 per cent VLY, "an excellent result," emphasising the Egyptian travellers' trust in BA for its brand and quality of its services. "Achievement is mainly driven by the increase in demand for our premium cabins and by the success of introducing our New Club World to the route. BA, in response to increase in demand, now flies the B747 with an increase in capacity of almost 42 per cent VLY," Alfi said.

She added that their profits are up some 45 per cent and operating costs are down 0.7 per cent. Excluding fuel, operating costs are down 3.0 per cent. Fuel prices have hit record highs and continue to climb, driving some airlines into bankruptcy and putting pressure on others.

"Our new Club World cabin is now on our entire Boeing 747 fleet and winning praise and awards from our customers and the industry. We continue to enhance making it even easier for customers to manage their bookings."

Despite the difficulties of the opening of Terminal 5 in the first few days, Alfi added, it is now working well and some two million passengers have gone through it and many have enjoyed the experience. "Phase two of the move of our long- haul services into the terminal begins on 5 June and will include the blue riband New York services and flights to seven other destinations."

More security when travelling

EMIRATES Airline recently signed an agreement with leading UK-based insurer Bupa Travel Services to offer customers extra peace of mind when they travel.

Starting last month, travellers managing their Emirates flight bookings online via were able to opt for travel insurance protection especially tailored for Emirates customers.

These offers include unlimited coverage in the event of a medical emergency, credit card theft, and even kennel and cattery fees. Unlike most other offerings in the market, insurance coverage can be purchased by almost all nationalities (except residents of the USA, Canada and Switzerland) for various trip durations, and for travellers up to the age of 80.

"This is a fantastic new addition to our services," noted Emirates area manager Khaled Al-Serkal. "We are constantly looking for ways to improve client satisfaction, and to make flying Emirates a more relaxed, enjoyable experience. Our new partnership with Bupa puts us another notch above the competition in terms of customer relations."

Nigel Hopkins, Emirates' executive vice-president of service departments, noted, "Emirates is pleased to partner with Bupa Travel Services to provide our customers with tailored travel insurance options, made conveniently available when they purchase their flights online with us."

He added that Emirates' customer base spans the globe. "We needed a high-quality insurance partner with an international reach to match our own. We are confident we have found the right fit in Bupa Travel Services, and look forward to working with them to deliver and develop more such value-added travel services for our customers around the world."

Steve Flanagan, commercial director of Bupa UK membership, agreed. "We are proud to partner with one of the world's leading airlines. Bupa has worked in consultation with Emirates to develop an exclusive and compelling insurance product that would be conveniently available to its customers around the world. We are confident that our product would prove popular, and we look forward to expanding our product range and relationship with Emirates."

New Kuwaiti airline

KUWAIT National Airways recently announced that a new Kuwaiti airline, to be launched in 2009, will be called Wataniya Airways. Company Chairman Abdul-Salam Al-Bahar and Chief Executive George Cooper announced the name and the distinctive new corporate identity and airline colours following the General Assembly of Kuwait National Airways.

Wataniya Airways is the first short-haul premium airline to be launched anywhere in the world in the past several years and has been created to meet the specific needs of the Kuwaiti traveller.

Services will commence from January 2009 and will offer point to point service from Kuwait to destinations south and west of the country in the Gulf and the Middle East, providing flight schedules and destinations that focus on Kuwaiti needs.

Wataniya Airways will start operation with a fleet of two Airbus A320 aircraft offering unparalleled room and comfort for all passengers with the lowest seat density of an A320 of any scheduled airline in the world. There will be a total of 122 seats on the aircraft that will offer legroom and space that cannot be found on any comparable scheduled aircraft anywhere in the world.

Hotels & resorts

Four Seasons promotions

IN RECOGNITION of his outstanding contribution to the success of Four Seasons Egypt, Olivier Masson, general manager of Four Seasons Nile Plaza, was recently promoted to regional vice-president where he will oversee Four Seasons Resort Sharm El-Sheikh and Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano in addition to continuing his exceptional work at Nile Plaza.

Masson joined Four Seasons in June 1998 as general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Caracas. During the last 10 years, he was posted at the Regent Hong Kong, Four Seasons Hotel Jakarta, Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires/Carmelo, and helped open the Four Seasons Nile Plaza five years ago. Masson and his team have done an outstanding job at the Four Seasons Hotel Nile Plaza, and within the first year of opening, the hotel was not only one of the top hotels in Cairo, but among the best in the Middle East.

"I am both thrilled and humbled at this enormous honour. However, this is not an acknowledgment of me but rather recognition of all the people I work with," Masson said.

Masson was born in Morocco, studied in Switzerland and graduated from Florida International University in Miami.

Marriott's environmental awareness

DURING Marriott's third annual celebration of Environmental Awareness Month, Marriott associates worldwide participated in a variety of environmental projects to communicate and celebrate the long commitment of the company to environmentally responsible operations, raise awareness of environmental issues and increase associates' participation in environmental activities.

More than 150,000 Marriott associates at close to 3,000 hotels worldwide were engaged in activities to celebrate and demonstrate their environmental commitment, making the company's biggest effort to promote eco-friendly practices on the road, at work, at home and in the community. The month-long drive enlisted Marriott customers, associates and business partners in a variety of projects to recycle and reuse.

In light of Marriott International's activities, the Cairo Marriott Hotel organised a clean-up campaign at the SOS orphans' village in partnership with "Clean Up the World", where more than 50 associates joined hands. The hotel also offered all of its guests (in house, checking in and dining guests) a free bookmark that included environmentally- friendly green tips to help in preserving the environment.

Opening packages in Sokhna

MAVENPICK Resort Al-Sokhna, which opened on 1 June 2008 and which is strategically situated in the heart of Ain Al-Sokhna, offers lucrative packages celebrating the opening. You can book a double room for LE375 per night, per person on weekdays, and LE425 on weekends on half board basis and inclusive of service charge and taxes.

Nestled amidst an untouched paradise, Mövenpick Resort Al-Sokhna sets the scenery of the idyllic place to go, embraced by the outstanding Red Sea Mountains and palm trees, and fronting the crystal clear waters of the Red Sea.

To entice your taste buds, the multi-cultural cuisines the new resort has to offer appeals to every mood, ranging from originally unique oriental dishes at the Nu-biah Café, to the all day Cataplana Restaurant that offers a deliciously mouthwatering buffet and a la carte menu. The amazing Al-Gezirah Restaurant on the island offers the freshest of seafood right from the sea to your plate, in addition to exotic aromatically spiced barbeque dishes. The variety of bars and lounges at Mövenpick Resort Al-Sokhna leave nothing but upbeat moods, enjoyed with its marked ambiance, through the refreshing selections of beverages offered at the Zen Bar as well as the Pool Bar.

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