6 February 2018

SAA reduces London frequency
SAA has announced plans to introduce the new A330-300 on the London route from March and to adjust frequencies to a single daily service. The airline announced network remediation on the domestic and regional markets late last year and is now focusing on its international network. From 20 April, SAA will operate a single daily flight from Johannesburg to Heathrow, replacing the current double-daily service. SAA has leased the second Heathrow slot, giving the airline the flexibility to reinstate a second flight at the end of the lease period, providing the airline an opportunity to grow and develop in the future.  A flexible re-accommodation policy is in place for customers currently booked on SA236/SA237 to switch to the earlier SA234/SA235 service.

Busy UK railway stations to offer free drinking water
Two of Scotland's busiest railway stations are to have free drinking water fountains installed. Network Rail intends to provide drinking water facilities at Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverly in the coming months. The move will allow commuters to refill their own bottles on the go without having to purchase expensive bottled water from station stores. In England, which saw a similar scheme being introduced in Bristol, the introduction of water fountains is being rolled out across the country. The country hopes to have free filling fountains at stations nationwide by 2021.

Major upgrade for Birmingham Airport 
Construction has begun at Birmingham Airport on passenger experience-focused improvements. The programme includes new boarding gates, redevelopment of the security processing area, and an upgraded waiting area. New digital signage is being erected, and the walkway from the free drop-off car park to the terminal is being covered. The retail and catering offerings will soon include a new prosecco bar and restaurant. The 178-room Hilton Garden Inn Hotel will open toward the end of the year. More terminal operators, security officers, customer relations, and other passenger-facing staff are being recruited to support the upgrades. 

Air France reopens business lounge at Charles De Gaulle Airport, Paris

Air France has opened the first stage of its newly renovated business lounge at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. The second stage will open in July. The lounge, in Hall L, Terminal 2, is available to business-class passengers and Flying Blue Elite Plus cardholders. A dedicated 550 sqm area is devoted to passenger wellbeing, with features such as an ‘Instant Relaxation’ area with loungers and mini-suites; a detox bar with a selection of fine teas; an area dedicated to facial treatments, two private saunas and large luxury showers. Dining options include ‘La Table Gourmet’, with an open plan kitchen where a chef prepares and finishes hot meals; self-service offerings; and a selection of wines.

The lounge features a range of unique areas for different traveller requirements: ‘Le Club’ private area, for spending time in a warm atmosphere; ‘Le Petit Salon’, an area where everything, including smartphones, are silent; an ‘At Your Service’ area, where Air France staff assist with reserving showers, saunas, or helping travellers change seats or flights; and ‘Air France Shopping’ where Air France-branded objects can be bought.

Tanzanian airport gets new transit lounge
A new transit lounge has opened at Tanzania’s main airport. Auric Air has opened a new transit lounge in the domestic terminal at Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport. The air-conditioned lounge has free Wi-Fi, coffee and charging stations for mobile devices.  

Fastjet launches new route 
Fastjet’s sixth Tanzanian route, between Kigoma and Dar es Salaam, went on sale at the end of January, with the first flight scheduled for departure on 1 March. The new route will be operated by an Embraer E190 aircraft, with flights departing on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

Etihad Airlines updates baggage policy
Etihad Airlines has updated its baggage policy to weight-based rather than number of bags. The airline will implement this change in all markets, excluding the US and Canada. Economy Deal travellers will be entitled to 23kg checked bagged, Economy Saver and Classic fares to 30kg, and Economy Flex fares to 35kg each. Business-class travellers will be allowed 40kg, and First Class up to 50kg. Allowances for guests in The Residence on the airline’s flagship A380 fleet are entitled to four bags weighing up 32kg each. Complimentary excess baggage allowances for US and Canada routes will remain at 32kg for Etihad Guest Silver, Gold, and Platinum members, and at 20kg for Platinum members, 15kg for Gold, and 10kg for Silver on all other routes. 

Kenya Airways to launch direct Cape Town service
Kenya Airways will launch a non-stop, direct flight from Nairobi to Cape Town from 6 June. The airline currently operates three flights a week from Nairobl to Cape Town via Victoria Falls, on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and six flights a week via Livingstone. The new direct service will operate on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays using a Boeing 737-800.

CTICC 2 opens for business
The Cape Town International Convention Centre's expansion, CTICC 2, officially opened in January. CTICC 2 adds an additional 31 148 square metres to the complex, including 10 000 square metres of conference and exhibition space, as well as a further 3 000 square metres of formal and informal meeting space. These numbers translate to six exhibition halls, four meeting suites, five meeting pod rooms, an executive boardroom, three open-air terraces including an impressive rooftop venue, a coffee shop, and a multi-level parking garage. The centre is opposite the original convention centre and has an environmentally sustainable design, high-tech venue control systems, high-calibre IT infrastructure, free public Wi-Fi, three production kitchens to cater for every type of event, and a service tunnel under Heerengracht Street connecting CTICC 2 with CTICC 1. Construction of a sky bridge linking the two buildings across Heerengracht will start in the next few months. 

Avis opens new coastal branch and relocates Sandton branch
Avis opened a new KwaZulu Natal branch in Port Shepstone in January. The new branch, situated off the N2, at Unit 01 Oribi Park, Lind Road, will share premises with Avis Van Rental. The car rental company’s  Sandton Gautrain branch will move across the road from its current premises to the Old Mutual building on the corner of Rivonia Road and West Street, level B3, from 1 March. Avis Sandton Gautrain is currently located at Shop 100 Chatz, on the corner of Rivonia Road and Fifth Street. 

New long-term parking opens at OR Tambo
A new long-term parkade has opened at Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport, 500 metres from the terminals. The parking is in the MSP2 parkade under the City Lodge Hotel and has 4 300 parking bays over five levels. Directional signage for the new parking area has been installed on airport access roads. Long-term parking is for travellers who will be away for three days or longer. Travellers can save up to 50% of their total parking fees by booking up to five days in advance. Discounts start at 10% for booking one day in advance, 20% for two days, and increase incrementally up to 50% for the five-day maximum advance booking period. Travellers need to insert the credit card used to make the booking into the card reader to gain access to the parking area. The same applies for exiting the parking. Passengers who have parked in the old Super South area before 1 February will need to go to parking management offices to arrange for transport to take them there. 

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