14 February 2018
The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) has temporarily grounded regional ariline, CemAir, after ruling that its maintenance has been handled by ‘unqualified’ personnel. The airline has assured customers that it is working on the problem and is trying to reach as many of its customers as possible to arrange rebooking of flights or refunding.
Gautrain launches new app
Gautrain has launched a new website and a mobile app that allow travellers to register a profile in order to receive up-to-date travel information online. Gautrain cards are still only available for purchase at Gautrain stations, but passengers can now manage their cards, claim refunds, and plan their trips online. It is also possible to reload funds, buy bulk cards, view transaction history, and check card expiry dates, among other features. The app is available for both Android and iOS. The trip-planning tool allows passengers to find their closest station from their location, or to add a starting address from which they would like to begin their trip. It will also assist them in locating the nearest bus, and to view the train schedules of their departure and arrival stations, as well as the total cost of their trip.
No lounge access for upgraded Qatar Airways passengers
Qatar Airways has changed its lounge access policy for all upgraded passengers. The airline will no longer allow passengers who have upgraded using either money or loyalty points, ‘Qmiles’ or ‘Qcredits’, to enter the airport lounges befitting their upgraded status. Passengers may only access the lounges as per their originally ticketed cabin. This means that passengers who booked an economy-class flight and upgraded to business class would not be allowed to use the Al Mourjan business-class lounge in Doha, or any other business-class lounges around the world. The same applies for business-class to first-class upgrades.
Singapore Airline launches first blockchain-based loyalty wallet
Singapore Airline (SIA) KrisFlyer frequent-flyer programme is to launch the first ever blockchain-based airline loyalty digital wallet, using an SIA-owned private blockchain. The wallet will enable users to unlock the value of their KrisFlyer miles for easy spending using point of sale transactions at retail partners. The wallet app is expected to be available in approximately six months.
BA connects three aircraft to WiFi
British Airways connected three of its long-haul aircraft to high-speed WiFi earlier this month, with 118 aircraft to be connected in the next two years. Passengers will be provided with Internet access approximately 10 minutes after take-off, when the aircraft passes 10 000 feet, and will work with the latest operating system from Apple, Android, and Microsoft. WiFi will be available in two paid-for packages: ‘Browse’, starting at £4,99 (R85), which supports Internet surfing, social media, and WhatsApp; and ‘Stream’, starting at £7,99 (R136), which supports streaming of music and entertainment, including Netflix. Packages are available to purchase for one hour, four hours, or the full flight.
SAA reduces capacity on Washington route
South African Airways has filed aircraft changes for its Johannesburg-Dakar-Washington Dulles route. The airline plans to operate the route with an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, instead of an A330-300. The 249-seat A330-300 has 46 seats in business and 203 in economy. The 222-seat A330-200 has 39 business-class seats and 186 in economy. SAA recently increased capacity on this route in response to congestion following adverse weather conditions caused by an East Coast winter storm in the US in early January.
DoubleTree by Hilton debuts in Kenya
DoubleTree by Hilton, one of Hilton Worldwide’s 14 brands, opened its first property in Kenya last month, the DoubleTree by Hilton Nairobi Hurlingham. Accommodation at the 109-room hotel includes guest rooms, suites and rooms with wheelchair access and roll-in showers. The hotel is situated 21km from Jomo Kenyatta International Airport close to the Karen Blixen Museum, Giraffe Centre, and the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage, as well as Nairobi’s central and financial districts.
It has five meeting rooms with capacity for 250 delegates, and additional space for corporate or social events. A 24-hour gym and a swimming pool is open between 06h00 and 19h00. Dining options include the Atrium Brasserie for breakfast, and an à la carte menu and buffet featuring Indian, Italian and pan-Asian cuisine for lunch and dinner. A piano lounge offers a selection of wines and cocktails. The hotel is the first to open under Hilton’s Africa Growth Initiative.
Cape Town’s Romanian Consulate to close for two weeks
The Consulate General of Romania in Cape Town will be closed from 20 February to 6 March. During this time travellers and travel agents will still be able to submit applications for Romanian visas through the e-visa system. For more information, visit evisa.mae.ro
Vietnam Embassy in Pretoria closes for holiday
The Vietnam Immigration Department, including the Embassy of Vietnam in Pretoria, will close from 14-18 February, in observance of the Lunar New Year holiday. Visa requests submitted before 12 February will receive the visa approval letter on 13 February while requests submitted from 12 February to 21 February will receive the approval letter on 22 February.
Sun City unveils new bike park
Sun City has opened the Sun Bike Park - a multi-wheel, asphalt pump track for skateboards, bmx, mountain bikes, dirt jump bikes and in-line skates as well as a dedicated children’s track for push bikes only. The asphalt surfaces offer more grip and make the track easier and safer to ride on. The Sun Bike Park is open from Tuesdays through to Sundays, and riders can make use of their own wheels or hire bikes. Access costs R80 for a full-day adult pass, while children under six pay R40 for a full-day pass.