Second international airport to come on-line in Bhairahawa

The Gautam Buddha airport at Bhairahawa is to be developed into an international one. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to this effect was signed on July 12 between His Majesty’s Government of Nepal and Alpha Consultant Company of France which will be using the “build, operate and transfer” method to develop the airport.

Alpha is to complete the feasibility study in the next nine months. Following this, the government and the company will sign another agreement for the actual construction. The MoU stipulates that if the second agreement is not signed, the government will not be liable for the costs incurred in the feasibility study.

The MoU was signed by Joint Secretary, Air Agreement, Air Service and Airport Operation, Mr. Yagya Prasad Gautam and Chairman of Alpha Construction Company Mr. Andre Vessier. After the signing of the MoU, Mr. Vessier said that Alpha would be investing US$ 100 million in the development of the airport.

RNAC to fly to Bangalore

Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation (RNAC) marked its 42nd anniversary amidst a function in Kathmandu on July 1. The national flag carrier flies to 12 destinations internationally and will be adding one more place from September.

It will start twice-weekly flights to the Indian city of Bangalore from the third week of September, announced Mr. Mohan Khanal, Director, External and Public Affairs of RNAC, at a press meet. He said RNAC was flying to Bangalore, known for its booming IT industry, because tourists from this southern Indian city were having great difficulty visiting Nepal due to lack of direct air acess.

SIA News Mobile services launched

The public can now keep themselves informed of changes to Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) flight departure and arrival times via e-mail, mobile phones or message pagers. This new flight alert messaging service is a key element of SIA Mobile Services, a suite of facilities that provides customers with more ways of obtaining information about the Airline and its services.

Requests to use the flight alert service can be made on SIA’s website ( or using a WAP (Wireless Application Protocol) enabled mobile phone. E-mail alerts are available worldwide, but at present, requests for alerts via mobile phones and message pagers can be made only by the public in Singapore. SIA will progressively extend this service to other countries.

SIA Mobile Services is more than a messaging service. Customers worldwide can access published flight schedules, up-to-the-minute status of all SIA flights, a phone directory of SIA’s offices worldwide, as well as information on special fare offers and SIA’s frequent flyer program, KrisFlyer. There is also a KrisFlyer redemption calculator that can display the mileage required for free travel awards.

Mr. Yap Kim Wah, SIA’s Senior Vice President Marketing Services, said the new services are targeted at customers who are on the move. “People today lead very busy lives, and time is at a premium. Singapore Airlines is using the latest technology to help our customers save time by obtaining information more quickly and conveniently.”

SIA’s WAP services are accessible at SingTel Mobile subscribers in Singapore can also access SIA’s services via its e-ideas WAP portal. SIA will progressively make the WAP services available via other WAP portals in Singapore and other selected countries.

Continued Mr Yap: “We want to allow our customers to stay connected, on the ground and in the air. SIA Mobile Services forms part of this aim. In the aircraft cabin, we have committed $200 million to install a new generation inflight entertainment and communications system that will eventually provide services such as electronic shopping, e-mail and Internet access. All of this will be available in the SIA ‘cyber-cabin’ of the future.”

The introduction of SIA Mobile Services follows other moves to heighten customer service levels through the utilization of new technology. In July 1999, SIA launched its on-line booking facility, SQ-eTravel, and has since introduced new features such as real-time seating plans for First and Raffles Class customers. E-ticketing has been continuously extended to more destinations and is now available in 38 cities. The airline has also announced plans to introduce tele-medical services on board its aircraft later in the year, providing customers with immediate medical assistance in case of emergencies.

SIA Cargo launches Coolrider service

SIA Cargo launched a new premium service called Coolrider, designed to handle highly temperature-sensitive cargo, on July 1. The service is targeted mainly at high-value perishables and pharmaceutical markets.

Coolrider helps cargo shippers and handling agents reduce packaging costs by using specially-designed insulated containers capable of maintaining temperatures between -20 degrees and 20 degrees Celcius. These containers are equipped with sophisticated temperature regulation mechanisms which continuously record and track the temperatures within them. There is a 50% money-back guarantee if the specified temperature increases or drops by more than 2 degrees Celcius during transportation.

The introduction of Coolrider is in line with SIA Cargo’s plans to further strengthen its handling competencies to better meet specific client needs. A dedicated Coolrider team will be stationed at SIA Cargo’s home base, Singapore Changi Airport, to ensure that all transiting shipments receive prompt attention and special handling. Currently, 35 SIA destinations – mainly in Europe, North Asia and Australasia – are equipped to handle Coolrider shipments.

SIA Cargo expects traffic to be concentrated initially between Europe and Australasia, and between Australasia and North Asia. Outbound traffic from Europe and Australasia will comprise mainly pharmaceutical products and perishable goods respectively. Most of these goods are transported to North Asia. Customers can make use of SIA Cargo’s on-line cargo tracking facility ( to track their shipment at any time.

THAI News THAI among world’s seven best airlines

The Oxford-based In-flight Research Survey (IRS) has voted Thai Airways (THAI) among the world’s seven best airlines for product development and service delivery. The rating was done among 150 airlines worldwide, and the ranking which took a year to prepare was published in the June issue of the Orient Aviation monthly.

According to IRS, the seven 5-star airlines achieved the best ranking because they offer the highest standard of products, quality across all travel sectors and deliver a consistently top level of employee service delivery on board and at the airports.

The on-line survey received feedback from approximately 150,000 respondents. IRS conducted individual checks on individual carriers, and more than 500 points are included in the detailed evaluation.

Shark fin soup removed from menu

THAI has excluded shark fin soup from its on-board menu from June 10 in support of the National Environment and Ecological Preservation Policy. “This is Thai’s commitment towards environmental protection of the country’s flora and fauna,” said Mr. Bhisit Kuslasayanon, Executive Vice President for THAI’s customer services.

According to a report, 60,000 Pacific sharks are killed annually to satisfy human appetite for the soup, considered a delicacy in Asian cuisine, causing a dramatic decline in its population.

THAI’s response comes just days after the US House of Representatives voted to ban shark finning on June 6.

Shark fin soup removed from menu

THAI has excluded shark fin soup from its on-board menu from June 10 in support of the National Environment and Ecological Preservation Policy. “This is Thai’s commitment towards environmental protection of the country’s flora and fauna,” said Mr. Bhisit Kuslasayanon, Executive Vice President for THAI’s customer services.

According to a report, 60,000 Pacific sharks are killed annually to satisfy human appetite for the soup, considered a delicacy in Asian cuisine, causing a dramatic decline in its population.

THAI’s response comes just days after the US House of Representatives voted to ban shark finning on June 6.

Easy on-line reservation through Internet

On June 15, 2000, THAI launched THAI flight reservations which is an on-line reservation service through the Internet. The THAI flight reservations web page can be accessed through icons available on <> or <>.

Internet users all over the world can, with the simple click of a button, see the flight availabilty and associated fares in real time as if they were checking the information with THAI’s reservation/ ticketing office. No membership is required to use this facility.

To make reservations, Internet users simply have to create their own traveller identity and passwords, search and select flights from the availability display, accept the fares calculated by the system, create bookings and then purchase and pick up the ticket at the nearest THAI office. Reservations can be made a minimum of 72 hours and a maximum of 11 months prior to departure. Payments must be made, and tickets collected within 72 hours after making the reservation. Tickets must be collected from a THAI office only, and the THAI office must be in the country where the journey commences.

Qatar Airways announces Privilege Club

Chief Executive Mr. Akbar Al Baker recently announced the launch of Qatar Airways Privilege Club, its new frequent flyer program, aimed at rewarding regular flyers for their loyalty.

“We believe that our program has an edge over the competition and fully addresses the needs of the Qatari market. The program, which took 18 months to develop, is fully bi-lingual,” said Mr. Al Baker.

Joining is easy. Simply collect an application form, tear out the temporary membership card, and you start collecting Qmiles instantly. Full membership applies once the member completes three flights within one year with the airline. Once enrolled, members will be able to collect Qmiles, calculated by the length and class of their journey, or based on the number of flights for customers who travel extensively within the region.

In addition, Qatar Airways has signed up a number of partners for the Privilege Club to extend the benefits to cover all aspects of international travel. Miles can also be earned on Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic flights; when hiring a car from Hertz or Sixt Rent a Car; for accommodation at any Rotana, Radisson SAS/Radisson, Radisson Edwardian, or London Inter-Continental hotels; and for all purchases made with a Qatar National Bank credit card.

In terms of rewards, with its range of partners, Qatar Airways is able to offer close to 300 destinations such as Glasgow, Los Angeles, the Caribbean or Rio de Janeiro, in addition to its own network of 24 destinations. Initially limited to Qatari residents, the Privilege Club has been designed to act as an exclusive club offering global benefits.

Privilege Club includes a family program that enables members of a family to earn miles, even if they don’t travel together, awarding full applicable miles to each of the nominated family members.

“We have placed a great deal of attention on simplifying the travel process for our customers, offering them recognition and mileage credits even when they are not aboard a Qatar Airways aircraft,” said Mr. Al Baker. “This is not only a reward for their loyalty. The Privilege Club is designed to be of real assistance to every traveller, wherever they are in the world.”

Gulf Air resumes summer flights to Geneva

Gulf Air resumed its seasonal service from the Gulf to Geneva, Switzerland, commencing July 1, 2000. Two flights weekly operate from Abu Dhabi on Wednesdays and Saturdays, with return flights on Tuesday and Saturday.

“It has become the custom for Gulf Air to operate the Gulf/Geneva route during the summer months to absorb the demand on this sector at this time of year,” said the President and Chief Executive of Gulf Air, H.E. Dr. Shaikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nehyan.

He said that the move reflects the keen interest of Gulf Air to cater to the needs of its customers during summer vacations. The timetable has been carefully planned to provide maximum connectivity with other important destinations in central and western Europe.

The airline will operate its advanced new Airbus A330-200 on the Geneva route. Gulf Air has now taken delivery of the six new aircraft it ordered in 1995.

H.E. Dr. Shaikh Ahmed bin Saif Al Nehyan said that Gulf Air takes pride in being amongst the leading regional airlines operating the advanced A330-200, which has been specially configured for Gulf Air to offer passengers the height of luxury in the air.

The changes and amendments include generous seat spacing with only 231 seats in the space designed for 381; the latest in-seat inflight entertainment systems, and state-of-the-art flying technology. Gulf Air has invested over US$ 550 million in creating its A330 fleet as part of an integrated plan to upgrade all of Gulf Air’s services and consolidate its leading position in serving the region.

Gulf introduces family mileage bonanza

Gulf Air has extended its FALCON frequent flyer program with the bigger family mileage bonanza. Under the new scheme, a member of Gulf Air’s frequent flyer program can nominate upto eight family members who can each earn FALCON miles on the member’s behalf.

“This is a particularly attractive offer for members whose family may be travelling on vacation or school holidays during the summer months,” said a spokesman for the FALCON program begun in 1994.

As FALCON members, a passenger receives a full range of special benefits and priveleges that include generous mileage awards which can be exchanged for free tickets and upgrades, extra baggage allowance, personalized membership cards and luggage tags for special baggage handling, and advanced seat selection.

President Travels, GSA of Gulf Air in Nepal, adds that the airline will resume seasonal services from the Gulf to Geneva, Switzerland using the advanced new Airbus A330-200.

Gulf Air flies twice weekly between Kathmandu and Abu Dhabi.

Transavia increases frequency

Transavia Airlines is to double its frequency between Amsterdam and Kathmandu from September 21, 2000. The airline, previously flying once a week between the two cities, will now be arriving/departing Kathmandu every Tuesday and Friday.

Transavia operates on the Amsterdam-Kathmandu sector from late September to April. The airline started its scheduled service to Kathmandu in September 1998. With this, it has made Nepal within easy reach, especially for Dutch tourists.