For week ending 5 August 2016.
As we move into August there is plenty of news rolling in from around the globe; Virgin Australia have announced changes to credit card payment fees effective 1 September whilst Emirates ups their schedule to Perth. In hotel news Starwood announced plans for a luxury Westin hotel to be built in Darwin and in Melbourne the historic Pentridge Prison will be converted into a 120 room Adina Apartment hotel.
All this and more in our weekly news round-up brought to you by FCM Travel Solutions.
Westin hotel for Darwin
Starwood Hotels has plans for a luxury Westin-branded hotel in Darwin. The property will be located on the waterfront, with construction to begin next year and set for completion in 2020.
THAI announces changes to flight schedules
Thai Airways has rejigged its Bangkok-Brisbane and Bangkok-Perth services. From 30 October to 25 March the departure time on selected flights from Brisbane and Perth to Bangkok will move to late night and the afternoon respectively, with the return flight from Bangkok shifting to a morning departure.
Emirates resumes Conakry
Emirates is relaunching services to Conakry in Guinea from 30 October. Linked to the carrier’s four times weekly service between Dubai and Dakar, flights will operate on B777-300ER aircraft.
Choice expands in Western Australia
Choice Hotels has added three new hotels to its Western Australia portfolio. The 180-room Comfort Inn & Suites Goodearth Perth and 170-room Quality Hotel Ambassador Perth are both located in East Perth, while the 41-room Econo Lodge Karratha, is located just outside this regional town’s centre.
THAI to commence Tehran route
Thai Airways is launching a new four times weekly service between Bangkok and Tehran. The service will debut on 1 October.
Virgin card payment fee changes coming
Virgin Australia has announced it will change its credit card payment fees. In accordance with new government regulations that come into effect from 1 September, the carrier will no longer charge its Booking and Service fee ($7.70 domestic/$30 international) from that date. Instead, a new Card Payment Fee will apply to credit or debit card payments, although exact details are not yet available. The move follows a similar announcement from Qantas last month, with Qantas changing to a percentage-based fee.
Melbourne prison hotel
The historic Pentridge Prison, just outside Melbourne’s CBD, is set to be converted into a 120-key apartment hotel. Pending planning and heritage permits and construction approvals, the property is set to open in 2020, with TFE Hotels to manage the property as an Adina Apartment Hotel.
Etihad London Heathrow A380 boost
Etihad Airways is adding more A380 services on its Abu Dhabi-London Heathrow route. From 18 November, 20 out of the carrier’s 21 services on the route will operate on A380s, up from 19.
Qantas Karratha lounge
Qantas is planning to open a new airport lounge at Karratha Airport in Western Australia. Situated in a new area of the airport’s upper-level, the lounge will be double the existing facility’s size. Expected to open in early 2017, it will offer free wi-fi and complimentary refreshments.
Emirates A380s twice daily to Perth
Emirates has added a second daily A380 service on its Perth route. Flights EK424/425 will now operate on the superjumbo, which replaces the B777-300ER previously used on that service.
AccorHotels plans to open a new property in regional New South Wales. The 52-room Mercure Tamworth will be located within the West Tamworth Leagues Club’s precinct, which includes entertainment venues, food and beverage outlets and conferencing facilities. Hotel facilities also include a swimming pool and gym when it opens in December this year.
Qantas seasonal capacity lifts
Qantas is upping capacity on its Perth-Singapore route. The seasonal boost will see the carrier increase frequency from 10 services weekly to double daily services between 12 December and 6 February. Qantas also plans to add an extra service on its Sydney-Manila route. The additional flight will operate on Thursdays, raising frequency from five to six per week from 15 December to 19 January.
SmartGate glitch fixed
Travellers with long names can now use Australian airport SmartGates. Previously, a glitch in the system could not reconcile truncated names in the machine-readable area of passports with the full name in immigration records, which meant that those with names of more than 24 characters had to be processed manually. The Department of Immigration has announced that for
Australia and New Zealand passport holders, the problem has been rectified, although other nationalities may still encounter problems.