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    IN BRIEF (Page: 7, Date: 03/13/2006)

2006-03-13 07:51

Luxury deal

British Airways (BA) will bring First Class services back to its Beijing-London route. BA is now offering a special deal: buy a round-trip FIRST (first class) flight for 53,000 yuan (US$6,592) to select destinations throughout the United Kingdom and Europe, and receive a free round-trip Club World (business class) ticket. The standard round trip, first class fare is 75,000 yuan (US$9,329), and the FIRST travel deal must start between April 1 and July 31, 2006. The Club World travel must start between April 1 and August 31, 2006.

The FIRST cabin was re-designed by leading British interior designer Kelly Hoppen in January 2000 as part of a US$35 million investment. This was part of the biggest product improvement programme BA had ever introduced to premium passengers.

Summer schedule

Lufthansa German Airlines will add flights to and from the Asia-Pacific region in its summer schedule, effective March 26. The carrier's schedule will expand to 163 weekly flights to/from 19 destinations in 10 countries.

One highlight of the new schedule is the double daily service linking Munich and Frankfurt to three major Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. This includes four daily flights between Beijing and Munich, two daily flights between Hong Kong and Munich, and 10 weekly flights between Shanghai and Frankfurt.

Lufthansa continues to provide daily Guangzhou to Frankfurt services. The changes will see the airline operating 38 weekly flights to mainland China and double daily services to Hong Kong, for a total of 52 flights per week.

More choices

Singapore Airlines (SIA) will add another three weekly flights between Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province and Singapore starting March 28.

SIA will offer 10 weekly flights to the southern Chinese city once capacity is increased.

Round trip tickets from Guangzhou to Singapore sell for as little as 1,800 yuan (US$224). SIA is also promoting special fares for flights to Europe, Australia, Malaysia and Bali via Singapore. The special price excludes tax and oil surcharges and is valid for travel between March 28 and April 25.

Online check-in

An online check-in serivce is available, from March 1, for Continental Airlines passengers departing from Hong Kong and Beijing international airports. Passengers can check-in from home or at the office anytime between 60 minutes and 24 hours before scheduled departure.

Continental is offering a 1,000 bonus miles to passengers who use the online service between March 1 and December 31.

Low cost capacity

Rising demand for budget air travel is changing the face of global aviation. The number of low-cost flights rose 9 per cent year-on-year in January, while the overall number of flights globally increased just 2 per cent year-on-year, according to a recent survey by OAG.

Low-cost airline capacity, or the number of seats to be sold, was 8 per cent higher year-on-year, against an overall scheduled service capacity increase of 4 per cent.

While growth rates have slowed in more mature low-fare markets such as the United States and Canada, other regions are adopting low-cost business models "with unbridled enthusiasm," the survey says. On flights to and from the Asia-Pacific region, low-cost capacity was 257 per cent higher than figures from the same period last year. In the Middle East, low-cost capacity was up 203 per cent year-on-year.

Landmark deal

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG), the world's largest hotel group by number of rooms, signed a landmark deal with Chengdu International Exhibition & Convention Group last month to manage six hotels in Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou in Southwest China's Sichuan Province. The six hotels - two InterContinental properties, three Holiday Inn properties and one Express by Holiday Inn - feature a combined total of more than 4,500.

The deal in Sichuan, China's second most populous province with over 90 million residents, is the biggest deal IHG has done in China. It will help the company's portfolio of about 50 hotels edge closer to its aggressive plan to open 125 hotels in China by 2008.

Olympic fever

Shangri-La Hotel Qingdao was recently named an official Olympic hotel for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

About 80 per cent of the hotel's guestrooms and restaurants have been fully renovated and upgraded. A new wing is scheduled to open in 2007, featuring 200 oversized guestrooms, a ballroom accommodating 2,000 guests, a large new spa, a sports centre and new dining options. The hotel is also investing heavily in training and quality assurance in preparation for the international event. "We share the same values of warm hospitality as the host country," said Mr. Gregor Wateler, resident manager of Shangri-La, Qingdao.

Hotel preference

Hurun Report's survey for China's wealthiest entrepreneurs selected Grand Hyatt Beijing as their favourite hotel in the national capital. The survey covered 600 Chinese millionaire entrepreneurs. All of those surveyed are worth at least 10 million yuan (US$1.22 million).

Approximately 28 per cent of respondents said their favourite leisure activity was travel, followed by swimming and golf. The report also shows this demographic appreciates international luxury brands, cars, yachts, jewellery, fashion, and prestigious club memberships.

New office

Super 8 Hotels, one of the world's largest economy hotel operators, announced the opening of its second Area Partner Office (APO) in China and its first Super 8 APO in northern China.

The new APO will provide international-calibre services to Super 8 Hotels in Northeast China, and will assist business expansion efforts in the area. In January, Super 8 opened its first local APO in the southern city of Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province.

In November last year, Super 8 China announced it would open APOs in five key regions over the first half of 2006. So far, seven area partnership agreements have been signed throughout the country.

(China Daily 03/13/2006 page7)


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