Tuesday, May 26, 2015
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Thursday May 21, 2015

This Week's Travel News


Jet2 Adds New Route to Fuerteventura

Northern Ireland holidaymakers can look forward to even more holiday choices next year with Jet2.com and Jet2holidays' summer 2016 programme, which includes another brand new route - to Fuerteventura!

With the addition of weekly flights to Fuerteventura, an exclusive route for Belfast International Airport, a total of 260,000 seats will be on offer for local customers. People will also have more chances to jet away to their favourite destinations with more seats to Alicante, Ibiza, Lanzarote and Zante.

Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays, said: "2015 has already been a massive year for us following the launch of no less than five new routes from Belfast International Airport. We are thrilled to keep the momentum going with the launch of our new summer 2016 programme with another exclusive route for Northern Ireland, Fuerteventura.

"There really is something for everyone with popular sun destinations including Faro, Ibiza, Malaga, Palma and Tenerife as well as the likes of Pisa, Prague and Rome, which are much loved city break spots. And with more seats available, it's great that even more people have the chance to experience our great value holidays and award winning flights. Roll on next year!"

Flights to Rome and Prague started last month with Gran Canaria taking off last week and Zante due to start on May 27.

Jet2.com flights start from £39 one way including taxes and Jet2holidays package breaks are available from £319 per person secured with a low £60 per person deposit.


Ferry Special Package for Big Ulster Rugby Semi

Rugby fans don't have to miss out on all the action from the Ulster's biggest match of the season, the PRO 12 semifinal tomorrow evening against the Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium. Leading ferry company Stena Line has launched ferry special offers to ensure they can be part of what is set to be a nail-biting match.

From just £25 per person, fans can avail of a day trip which includes return ferry travel from Belfast to Cairnryan and coach transfers to Scotstoun Stadium. The sailing departs Belfast at 07.30hrs, arriving in Glasgow at midday and will then depart Cairnryan at 23.30hrs, arriving in Belfast at approximately 01.50hrs, giving fans plenty of time to soak up the electric atmosphere.

Rugby enthusiasts who would like to stay on after the match and enjoy a weekend in Glasgow can take advantage of Stena's great value hotel breaks which start from only £109 per person sharing for one night and based on four people travelling in the same car. For those who would like to stay even longer and really experience all that Glasgow has to offer, two night breaks are available from only £155 per adult sharing based on four people travelling in the same car.

To take advantage of the offer go to Stena Line website, call Stena Line, or see your local travel agent.


New Link to Amsterdam and the World

After 16 years away, KLM is back in Belfast and committed long term to building a profitable sustainable route to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport. The new route, from George Best Belfast City Airport which began last Monday, will be aimed at both the leisure and business traveller, with the business market expected to fill a bigger share of the seats as the service develops.

Pieter Bootsma, Executive Vice President of Commercial Marketing at KLM, told Northern Ireland Travel News: "We are starting initially and carefully with one daily service but this will be expanded as demand increases. We are anticipating a second daily service by next summer and ideally a third service which would feed into our worldwide connections through Schiphol."

KLM had operated from Belfast International Airport to Amsterdam for 19 years, from 1980 and 1999, and considered both Belfast airports for the new service. However, Belfast City's proximity to Belfast city centre and its attraction for business travellers was the deciding factor. The fact that easyJet currently operates an Amsterdam service from Belfast International was also considered, according to Mr Bootsma.

The new year-round daily service to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport will provide Northern Ireland with not only direct access to the Netherlands but also to global destinations through KLM's extensive network such as Boston, Sydney and Beijing.


New Route to Split Takes Off

Northern Ireland's largest passenger carrier easyJet has launched a new route from Belfast to Split in Croatia. This is easyJet's 26th route from Belfast, and a second Croatia route from Belfast. Jet2 already operates to Dubrovnik.

The new route operates once a week throughout the summer and easyJet expects to carry around 6,000 passengers on the new route in the first summer of operation. Fares start from £26.99 per person one way.

Ali Gayward, easyJet's Head of Northern Ireland, said: "We are pleased to launch these new services today and the addition of Split underlines our commitment to the Northern Ireland market. Split has a rich cultural heritage along with an eclectic mix of bars, restaurants and shops which are sure to make it a popular destination."

Uel Hoey, Business Development Director at Belfast International Airport, commented: "We are excited once again to see further diversification of easyJet's network direct from Belfast International Airport, up to a record number of destination points. Following on from recent route launches to Bordeaux and Reykjavik, Split provides an excellent access point to the beauty of Croatia and the stunning Dalmatian coastline which has long held strong appeal for Northern Ireland holidaymakers."

The historic city of Split is Croatia's second largest city, with just over 165,000 inhabitants. It takes up most of a large Croatian peninsula that juts out into the sea, enclosing the Split Channel.


Belfast City Airport Runway Run Next Month

Ever fancied running down the runway at George Best Belfast City Airport? Well business advisory firm Grant Thornton is inviting teams to partake in the first official runway run in Northern Ireland.

On Wednesday June 24, under the glow of the runway lights, hundreds of runners will take-off down the runway at 11pm as the inaugural Grant Thornton Runway Run touches down at Belfast City Airport.

Richard Gillan, Partner in Charge of Grant Thornton, Northern Ireland said: "We wanted to create a fun sporting event that encourages friendly competition and which promotes team building among Northern Ireland's business community.

"We didn't want a race around a local park which you can do any time - we've pushed the boundaries to create a unique 5k race that we believe will capture everyone's imagination. Belfast City Airport is an important business hub and the perfect venue for what promises to be a memorable yet competitive evening."

The race is open to all businesses and organisations in Northern Ireland who are invited to enter a team of four in one or more of three categories - male, female and mixed. The number of participants is restricted, and those interested are advised to register early to avoid disappointment.


Still Time to Catch Whisky Festivals

As Scotland continues to celebrate the Year of Food and Drink 2015, there's still time to catch some of the events in Whisky Month, a unique programme of events celebrating Scotland's national drink and the people and landscapes behind it, which runs until the end of May.

Whisky Stramash in Edinburgh this Saturday and Sunday is described as 'an event of mystery, entertainment, comicality and madcap pioneering'. Visitors can certainly expect the unexpected at this event in Scotland's capital and a huge array of whiskies to sample from Scotland and abroad is almost guaranteed.

The Mhor Festival in Perthshire also runs this weekend. It promises 'mystery, entertainment, comicality and madcap pioneering', and visitors can of course expect a range of whiskies to sample.

The Islay Malt and Music Festival, Islay runs from May 22 to May 30 and offers traditional music, ceilidhs, Gaelic lessons, golf, bowling and whisky tasting. All of the Islay distilleries have open days throughout the week of the festival offering the ideal opportunity for visitors to indulge in a taste of whisky.


Dreamliner Flights to Mexico and Jamaica

Dublin Airport will have direct non-stop flights to Mexico and Jamaica next summer.

Tour operator Falcon Holidays and Thomson, a member of TUI GROUP, will operate direct non-stop flights from Dublin to Cancun in Mexico, and to Montego Bay in Jamaica, offering a range of its exclusive holiday packages from June 2016.

"We are very excited to be the first Irish tour operator to charter direct non-stop flights to Mexico and Jamaica," said Chris Logan, Head of Ireland for Falcon Holidays and Thomson. "In particular we are delighted to have the opportunity to operate our programme on a Thomson Airways 787 Dreamliner. We believe that the range of exclusive holidays we will be offering coupled with this state-of-the-art jet will be well received by Irish holiday makers. The full programme will be unveiled and available to book from next month."

Falcon and Thomson will operate its new charter programme from Dublin with a Thomson Airways Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which includes Premium Club. The service to Montego Bay will begin on June 12, 2016, while the new Cancun service begins on June 13. Each route will operate weekly for six weeks.

Tighter Restrictions on Families Entering South Africa

Tough new rules being imposed on families entering South Africa will come into force on June 1. From this date parents travelling with children under 18 may be asked to show the child's full birth certificate. Proof of parental or legal authority to travel with a child will be requested from single parents.

The stricter immigration rules, devised to tackle child abduction and the trafficking of young people, were originally to be implemented on October 1 but were delayed until next month.

The new red tape means that parents will need to produce an unabridged birth certificate showing both of their names and, if the document is not in English, a sworn translation is required. Single parents, or those travelling alone with their child, will also have to produce an affidavit in which the absent parent consents to the child travelling, a court order giving full parental responsibility or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the other parent.

Warning Over London Strike Disruption

Anyone planning to travel to London next week should be aware of possible disruption to transport services caused by a proposed strike by members of two unions.

Heathrow Express plans to run services every 15 minutes during shortened operating hours if a threatened 24-hour walk-out by Network Rail workers goes ahead from 5pm on Bank Holiday Monday. Should the RMT and TSSA unions' strike by signallers and maintenance staff take place, on Monday the normal Heathrow Express timetable will be in operation only until 6.30pm, and on Tuesday services will run between 7.30am and 6.30pm.

Trains between Heathrow terminals are also set to finish at 6.30pm on Monday and run only between 7.30am and 6.30pm on Tuesday. Outside of these times, transferring passengers are advised to use the London Underground or bus services.

Keith Harding, Operations Director for Heathrow Express, said: "Our advice to customers using the Heathrow Express on Monday and Tuesday is to check before you travel."


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John Trew


Following seven eventful years as front-line Editor of the Belfast News Letter, John Trew wisely opted for the quieter pleasures of travel journalism.  Now, after 23 years and 270,000 miles, he is living proof that travel not only broadens the mind but the buttocks.

View John's articles

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