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South African Airways will seek to restore a full flight schedule in stages over the weekend.

The news comes after labour groups staged days of strikes in response to a decision from the carrier to cut almost 1,000 jobs and rejected union demands for an eight per cent wage increase.

More than 3,000 South African Airways staff were involved in the action.

The flag-carrier has offered a raise of 5.9 per cent, and estimates the strike cost it $3.4 million a day.

Services are returning to normal following an agreement between the airline and both the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Airways Cabin Crew Association.

The deal means that the airline will operate a near normal service today.

While there will be selected cancellations, principally on the domestic network and on a small number of regional flights, the carrier expects to be able to provide service to all customers. 

Any customers requiring re-accommodation on a rescheduled service or on another airline will be contacted accordingly or assisted at their departure airport.

South Africa Airlines also expects to operate its full schedule tomorrow.

“We are delighted to be able to announce a resumption in normal schedules.

“On behalf of SAA, I would like to express our deep regret at the inconvenience caused to our loyal customers during this industrial dispute.

“We will continue to assist those passengers, that have still not been able to travel, to reach their intended destination as soon as possible,” said Philip Saunders, South Africa Airlines chief commercial officer.

Image: Chen Cheng/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images



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Some 27 people are now known to have died after a passenger plane crashed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.

A Dornier 228-200 plane, operated by Busy Bee, came down shortly after take-off in Goma.

The aircraft crashed into a residential area, with the victims believed to include nine people from the same family who were in one of the houses hit in Mapendo.

The cause of the crash is still unclear.

The plane was carrying 17 passengers and two crew members, officials say, and was on route to the city of Beni.

Image: Cedrick Manja/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images



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Aer Lingus is offering more seats than ever between the UK and destinations in North America for summer next year.

The airline is making almost two million seats available next year – the most it has ever offered – on flights across its extensive transatlantic route network.

Aer Lingus flies from Dublin to 14 destinations across North America – including newly launched Minneapolis – St. Paul – from 16 UK airports, including those in London, Manchester, Birmingham and Edinburgh.

The capacity increase means UK guests can choose from a wide range of additional services to popular summer destinations, including a rise from four to six flights a week to Orlando, Florida and an increase from two to three flights per week to Miami.

Services to Seattle are also being boosted from five flights a week to a new daily service, making it easier than ever for UK travellers to jet off to the Emerald City.

The Irish carrier is to upgrade the aircraft operated on a selection of its North American routes, by introducing larger Airbus A330s on services to Los Angeles, Washington D.C. and Minneapolis – St. Paul – the airline’s latest transatlantic destination – offering more seats in spacious cabins.

Aer Lingus will also have replaced its entire Boeing 757 fleet next summer with four state-of-the-art, single-aisle Airbus A321neo long-range aircraft.

David Shepherd, Aer Lingus chief commercial officer, said: “Transatlantic growth continues to be our priority, and this is being realised in 2020 with the increased frequency and capacity on many direct routes from Dublin with easy access from scores of UK airports.

“Not only does our increased capacity strengthen Ireland’s connectivity with the United States but creates a greater, more efficient connection via Dublin for our neighbours in UK and Europe.

“Our ambition for the future of Aer Lingus is underpinned by a profitable, sustainable short-haul network and our summer 2020 schedule is testament to this commitment.”
UK guests flying to North America with Aer Lingus can pre-clear US Immigration and Customs in Dublin before stepping on board their transatlantic flight.

This means they can arrive as domestic passengers on arrival Stateside, skipping lengthy queues for a swift and smooth welcome to the US.



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American Airlines plans to launch an additional eight domestic routes next summer, offering customers a total of 20 new seasonal routes.

The new routes include routes to Martha’s Vineyard (MVY) and Nantucket (ACK) in Massachusetts, as well as new services from Jackson, Mississippi (JAN) and Des Moines, Iowa (DSM) to Miami (MIA), the airline’s gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean.

“Every year, we evaluate our network and look to create more routes and serve unique destinations whether we’re entering new markets like Casablanca or adding more service to places like Traverse City, Michigan,” said Vasu Raja, American senior vice president of network strategy.

“We continue to deliver the best network with the most options for our customers domestically and internationally during the most popular vacation time of the year.”

Beginning in June, American will add two new ways to get to the lighthouses and sandy beaches of Martha’s Vineyard from two connecting hubs on the east coast – Philadelphia (PHL) and Charlotte (CLT).

The airline will also introduce a new route to the cobblestone streets of Nantucket with Saturday service from PHL.

All three flights will be operated on an Embraer 175, featuring 12 first class seats and 64 main cabin seats.

Next summer, Traverse City (TVC) will see direct service from PHL and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA), giving customers access to the shores of Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay every Saturday.

The airline will also introduce new Saturday service from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) to Portland, Maine (PWM) operated on an Airbus A319 aircraft.

MIA is American’s gateway to Latin America and the Caribbean, and, next summer, customers flying from JAN and DSM will have nonstop service to MIA on Saturday and Sunday from June through August.

Flight times will complement one-stop connections to vacation favourites like Bonaire, St. Vincent, and Montego Bay, Jamaica.

American previously announced seasonal service to National Parks in Kalispell (FCA) and Bozeman (BZN), Montana, and increased service to Alaska, including a new destination, Fairbanks (FAI), which will begin operating in May.

In August, American announced an international expansion that includes entering Africa for the first time with service to Casablanca, Morocco (CMN), from PHL and seasonal service from Chicago (ORD) to Krakow, Poland (KRK); Prague, Czech Republic (PRG); and Budapest, Hungary (BUD).

American will be the only US carrier providing service to KRK, BUD and PRG from ORD.

“Our future is bright, and we see summer 2020 as an opportunity for growth in the leisure destinations our customers truly value,” Raja continued.

“We have 20 new seasonal routes to choose from — narrowing down where to go will be the hardest part.”

New flights will be available for purchase from Monday.



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British Airways has opened a newly refurbished lounge in Geneva.

The facility has undergone significant work and follows a new design concept for the airline, which debuted in 2018.

The lounge has been carefully curated to give guests a warm welcome and offer a place to relax or work prior to their travels.

The space, which has been extended to 327 square metres, is carefully laid out to offer designated areas that are designed to meet different customer needs.

A lively lobby bar is placed in the centre of the space, ideal for socialising and maximising down time.

A tempting display of spirits, beers and soft drinks are available together with a selection of fine wines.

Prosecco is available throughout the lounge for guests to help themselves to.

A peaceful, separate seating area with a mix of elegant armchairs, banquette seating and power outlets are available for those who wish to work or recharge ahead of their journey.

Carolina Martinoli, British Airways director of brand and customer experience, said: “We know the difference our lounges make to our customers and we’re delighted to present the next step in our significant customer investment with the refurbished Geneva lounge.

“Every detail has been carefully considered and we’ve created a space to meet our customers’ needs – whether they want to relax with a hot meal, enjoy a drink at the lobby bar or explore some craft ales, the new lounge is guaranteed to please pre-flight.”



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South African Airways will seek to restore a full flight schedule in stages over the weekend.

The news comes after labour groups staged days of strikes in response to a decision from the carrier to cut almost 1,000 jobs and rejected union demands for an eight per cent wage increase.

More than 3,000 South African Airways staff were involved in the action.

The flag-carrier has offered a raise of 5.9 per cent, and estimates the strike cost it $3.4 million a day.

Services are returning to normal following an agreement between the airline and both the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa and the South African Airways Cabin Crew Association.

The deal means that the airline will operate a near normal service today.

While there will be selected cancellations, principally on the domestic network and on a small number of regional flights, the carrier expects to be able to provide service to all customers. 

Any customers requiring re-accommodation on a rescheduled service or on another airline will be contacted accordingly or assisted at their departure airport.

South Africa Airlines also expects to operate its full schedule tomorrow.

“We are delighted to be able to announce a resumption in normal schedules.

“On behalf of SAA, I would like to express our deep regret at the inconvenience caused to our loyal customers during this industrial dispute.

“We will continue to assist those passengers, that have still not been able to travel, to reach their intended destination as soon as possible,” said Philip Saunders, South Africa Airlines chief commercial officer.

Image: Chen Cheng/Xinhua News Agency/PA Images



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Vanuatu has been revealed as the home of Royal Caribbean’s newest island destination – Perfect Day at Lelepa, Vanuatu.

The project was announced by Vanuatu’s prime minister, Charlot Salwai, and Royal Caribbean International president, Michael Bayley.

Perfect Day at Lelepa will be built with sustainability features designed to safeguard the island’s ecosystems and will be the first carbon neutral private cruise destination in the world.

Cox Architecture, a sustainable, design-focused contemporary architectural firm based in Australia, will serve as the lead architect on the project.

Salwai and Bayley said the destination will be created in partnership with the community of Vanuatu to showcase the distinct natural ecological beauty and diverse local culture of the island nation, as well as provide employment and education opportunities.

“We believe our destinations should be sustainably designed,” Bayley said.

“That idea goes beyond simply protecting the ecological features of Lelepa and includes showing respect for the people and traditions that make this a special place.”

Perfect Day at Lelepa will be audited and certified by an independent third-party expert to ensure it meets the standards for carbon neutrality.

Salwai added: “Vanuatu is a true paradise for both our people and the visitors we welcome to our shores each year.

“Today marks a major step forward in our island nation’s close relationship with Royal Caribbean and one that will support sustainable growth for future generations.

“The Ni-Vanuatu people look forward to welcoming Royal Caribbean guests from around the world to enjoy extraordinary adventures and relaxation during their Perfect Day at Lelepa.”



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Princess Cruises has taken delivery of the 3,660-guest Sky Princess, the 18th ship to join its fleet, at an official handover ceremony at the Fincantieri shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy.

The 143,000-tonne vessel is the first purpose-built Princess MedallionClass ship.

It features an evolution of the design platform used for its three sister ships: Royal Princess, Regal Princess and Majestic Princess.

Sky Princess boasts a host of new features that will also be on another sister ship, Enchanted Princess, which launches in Southampton in June.

These include two Sky Suites, which have the largest balconies at sea and are centrally located on the top decks with 270-degree panorama views.

Each sleeps up to five guests.

Sky Princess’ inaugural cruise is a seven-day Mediterranean and Adriatic voyage on October 20th.

She will sail a short season in the Mediterranean before heading to the Caribbean.

The ship will return to Europe next year, sailing from Copenhagen to the Baltics and Russia.

Jan Swartz, president of Princess Cruises, said: “We wish to extend our sincere gratitude to our long-time shipbuilding partner Fincantieri who delivered Sky Princess to us today.

“As our new flagship in the fleet, Sky Princess represents the absolute best Princess Cruises has to offer our guests by connecting them with what matters most, unique destinations, loved ones, and new friends, while enjoying all the state-of the-art experiences in comfort and style.”

The Princess Cruises fleet will continue to expand with the launch of Enchanted Princess and three additional ships arriving in 2021, 2023 and 2025.



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Royal Caribbean is predicting that its Caribbean cruise tourism business will grow by 50 per cent by 2030, with the overall economic benefit of the sector reaching $6 billion.

President and chief executive officer, Michael Bayley, told the Caribbean Tourism Organisation outlook forum that with the region continuing to grow in popularity among cruisers – eight of the top ten cruise destinations worldwide are in the Caribbean, he said – now is the time prepare for further increases in cruise passenger numbers.

“The Caribbean was, is, will always be, the number one cruise destination in the world,” Bayley told the gathering of ministers, chief executives and policymakers.

“There are considerations that we need to take into account in terms of some of the destinations’ ability to absorb the growth that is coming – in some places the growth is perhaps already at a critical mass – but we need to find a way to accommodate the growth that is inevitably coming to cruise tourism in the Caribbean.”

The Royal Caribbean chief executive noted the success of the cruise line’s recent US$250 million private island destination experience in the Bahamas known as Perfect Day at CocoCay, saying it’s a perfect example of collaboration that benefits both the destination and the cruise line.

“Once we put this product into the market in the US and globally, our phones went crazy.

“The demand we have seen for our ships and our products that go to CocoCay has been amazing,” said Bayley.

“There is a lot of demand for these products and if we can figure out how to collaborate together to create these experiences, they don’t always have to have this shape and form, they can be other types of experiences.”

“As we evolve in terms of our ship design and experiences and what we are creating for our customers we really believe there is a huge opportunity to take all that knowledge, and transfer it into the destinations in a very meaningful way,” he concluded.



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Rivals Carnival and Royal Caribbean have joined forces to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government of Saint Lucia.

The deal will see the formation of a joint venture to manage the existing cruise facilities on the island, and to design, construct and operate a new cruise port.

It was signed during a ceremony at the annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

As part of the memorandum, the trio will establish a long-term concession agreement to formalise the terms and responsibilities for the joint venture to manage and operate the current cruise pier and terminal facilities at the Port of Castries.

Additionally, the joint venture will design, finance, construct and operate a new cruise port in Vieux Fort on the southern part of the island.

The latter will be able to accommodate the latest ships in the cruise industry.

Prime minister of Saint Lucia, Allen Chastanet, called the signing of the deal “historic” and “a major step towards enhancing Saint Lucia’s tourism product”.

“Saint Lucia has had record breaking cruise arrivals over the past few years and we thank our partners Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean for their continued confidence in our amazing destination,” said Chastanet.

“It is essential that we continue to diversify what we have to offer, grow our brand and ensure that different sectors in our island’s economy benefit from the growth in cruise tourism and that Saint Lucians can benefit from the opportunities which arise from the increased numbers; which means we have to improve our capacity.

“This signing is historic, as this project will have a major impact on the sustainability of the cruise sector and the reach of cruise tourism to the south of the island.

“This will also mean employment at several phases of the project, the expansion of existing businesses and the formation of new enterprises.

“We look forward to this partnership as this marks a new day and a significant achievement for our government, for the people of the south of Saint Lucia and for our island as a whole.”

Together, the cruise line brands of Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean Cruises currently account for three quarters of all cruise ship deployment to Saint Lucia.

“This is an exciting day for our guests who already love the beauty and deep culture of Saint Lucia and an important step in sustaining cruise tourism growth for the island,” said Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development for Carnival Corporation.

“We look forward to working closely with our joint venture partners to give cruise passengers great experiences when visiting the island.”

Under the new agreement, the joint venture would optimise the experience for guests visiting Saint Lucia while developing additional cruise infrastructure to support the industry’s latest ships and promote the growth of cruise tourism on the island.

“The cruise market is the fastest growing sector of tourism and in the next decade cruising in the Caribbean region is anticipated to increase by 40 per cent,” said Michael Bayley, chief executive, Royal Caribbean.

“We are excited to partner with the government of Saint Lucia to ensure that the destination directly benefits from that growth, while giving more guests the opportunity to visit this unique gem in the Caribbean.”



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