TORONTO, Oct. 14, 2019 /CNW/ -After exploring thousands of cities across six continents, Flight Network, one of Canada’s leading online travel agencies, has narrowed down the list of the World’s Most Beautiful Cities.
Flight Network consulted more than 1,000 of the world’s top travel professionals including travel journalists, travel bloggers and travel agents to make the highly-anticipated list. The result is the most comprehensive and definitive list of the world’s best cities, taking travelers from history-filled Dubrovnik to modern Singapore and beyond.
“This list is going to pleasantly surprise travelers,” admitted Flight Network’s Bobby Heard, Director of Inbound Marketing. “It’s not only putting overlooked cities like Bergen, Norway, on the map, but it’s challenging travelers to take a second look at mega-cities like New York that are constantly evolving.”
Flight Network’s World’s Best Cities list helps travelers all over the globe — and their 2+ million monthly visitors — plan their next unforgettable city trip. The travel professionals who contributed to the list were asked to nominate a city that exemplified what they thought was the best combination of natural and manmade beauty, the juxtaposition of nature and architecture and city culture. The in-house travel experts at Flight Network then analyzed and categorized the results based on the number of votes each city received. The final result is a compelling and exciting look at the World’s 50 Most Beautiful Cities.
“This compact collection of expertise from hundreds of the world’s top travel writers is a handy guide for anyone planning their next trip,” said Janna Graber of Go World Travel Magazine.
Updated economic impact numbers unveiled, highlighting YVR’s growing role as a key economic driver for British Columbia
RICHMOND, BC, Sept. 12, 2019 /CNW/ -Today, in an address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Craig Richmond, President & CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority, announced that Vancouver International Airport (YVR) will be increasing its Airport Improvement Fee (AIF) to meet forecasted growth and ensure the airport’s long-term financial health. The AIF will increase from $20 to $25 effective January 1, 2020 for passengers travelling to destinations outside of B.C.
Following the increase, YVR’s AIF will continue to be one of the lowest among the eight major Canadian airports with only Ottawa International Airport collecting a lower fee of $23. Additionally, YVR is the only major airport to offer a heavily discounted rate for regional travel at $5 for flights within B.C. and to the Yukon.
Richmond also shared early results from YVR’s latest economic impact study, showcasing the airport’s role in driving economic benefits for the region. Through its operations, tourism and cargo, YVR helps facilitate $20.2 billion in total economic output, $10.4 billion in total Gross Domestic Product and $1.4 billion in total government revenue in B.C. In addition, YVR supports more than 26,500 jobs on Sea Island and over 126,000 jobs across the province. These numbers are up significantly from YVR’s previous economic impact study in 20151.
YVR earns revenue from three main sources: aeronautical revenue (25%), non-aeronautical revenue (44%) and the AIF (31%), as of 2018. First introduced in 1993, the AIF can only be used to pay for capital infrastructure projects such as terminals and runways. The AIF is essential as the Canadian government does not provide funding to operate YVR and revenue generated from aeronautical and non-aeronautical sources is not enough to cover both the costs of operating the airport and the major capital projects needed to enhance and maintain it. YVR has collected $2.2 billion from the AIF since its inception in 1993 and has spent $3.7 billion on capital projects during that same timeframe.
YVR just completed 74 months of consecutive, year-over-year growth, which enables the airport to deliver on its public mandate—to provide economic and social benefits to its communities. Given this growth, YVR is currently underway with a multibillion-dollar capital expansion program that will see up to 75 major projects completed over the next 20 years. Quotes from Richmond’s speaking remarks for his address to the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade:
Attributed to Craig Richmond, President & CEO, Vancouver Airport Authority
“When major Canadian airports were privatized in 1992, we were given a very clear and powerful public mandate—to make the best possible use of airport lands, in such a way to provide social and economic benefit to our communities.Vancouver Airport Authority uses this mandate as a guiding light for all decisions.”
“Our unique, community-based operating model has helped us grow into a powerful connecting hub and economic contributor—one that supports thousands of jobs, connects local companies with customers around the world and welcomes millions of visitors to our province every year. YVR’s public interest mandate, combined with our unique operating model, allows us to think strategically and make decisions with the future in mind.”
“We recognize this might not be a popular decision with the public, but the increase to the AIF is absolutely necessary for the long-term financial health of the airport and the benefit of our community. It is our responsibility to be stewards of this airport and ensure that in 20 years we see a thriving airport, still making good on our public mandate—and that we have not tied the hands of future boards that would have to make drastic decisions on cutting back on construction or changing the level of service.”
“When we looked out at our capital asset requirements, our debt load and interest coverage ratio, our anticipated passenger traffic and thus aeronautical and non-aeronautical revenue, we determined an increase is necessary to ensure the long-term financial health of the airport.”
“If we took away the AIF, YVR wouldn’t be able to keep up. We wouldn’t be able to make sound decisions that have the success of future generations in mind or meet regulatory requirements. Our infrastructure would wear down, the passenger experience would decline, people would choose other airports for connections and we would not be able to deliver on our public mandate to provide economic and social benefits to our communities.”
Lufthansa begins flights to and from Ottawa, Canada – Frankfurt, Germany
Canadian passengers will have increased opportunities to experience Lufthansa Group carriers when traveling to Europe and beyond
EAST MEADOW, NY, Sept. 10, 2019 /CNW/ – Great news is coming for Lufthansa Group passengers in the Canadian capital. The group, Europe’s largest aviation company, will increase its number of gateways in Canada, commencing service from Ottawa to Frankfurt, Germany. On May 16th, 2020, Ottawa joins the four other Lufthansa Group Canadian gateways: Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
The new Ottawa route, beginning on May 16, 2020 and lasting until October 24, 2020, will be a summer seasonal flight with an Airbus A340-300 offering a seat configuration of 30 Business Class seats, 28 Premium Economy Class Seats and 221 Economy Class seats. The flight will operate five times per week, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. LH 473 will depart Ottawa at 5:50pm and arrive the following day at Lufthansa’s Frankfurt hub at 7:15am. The return flight from Frankfurt – LH 472 – will depart at 1:45pm and arrive back in Ottawa at 4:05pm. All times are local.
“These are exciting times for the Lufthansa Group and its expansion, growth and increased capacity in North America. We have been serving Canada for over six decades and the ongoing expansion of our airlines flying to the region, especially the addition of the new Ottawa – Frankfurt route, underscores the Lufthansa Group’s ever-increasing commitment to the Canadian market, its economy and our customers,” said Hans DeHaan, Senior Director of Sales Canada, Lufthansa Group.
Lufthansa’s Ottawa service employs the Airbus A330-300 in a three-class cabin configuration. The aircraft includes 30 Business Class, 28 Premium Economy and 221 Economy Class seats to accommodate a total of 279 passengers. Lufthansa’s state-of-the-art aircraft offers customers an onboard experience that includes comfortable seating in all classes, acclaimed culinary offerings, a plethora of in-flight entertainment operations and Wi-Fi throughout the entire journey. As the only five-star-rated airline in the Western Hemisphere (certified by Skytrax), Lufthansa is one of a select group of airlines worldwide to earn the coveted rating.
Frankfurt, Germany’s most international city, offers a rich culture and history, with a population of about 5.6 million. The Frankfurt Rhine-Main metropolitan region is one of Europe’s leading economic centers and a popular travel destination. It is home to a wide range of tourist attractions and sights, including world-class ballet, opera, theaters and art exhibitions. As Germany’s fifth largest city, it is the nation’s financial powerhouse—home to the German Central Bank and the European Central bank, which manages the euro. It is also the gateway to Germany’s robust hi-tech scene.
The Lufthansa Group – with its airlines Austrian Airlines, Brussels Airlines, Edelweiss, Eurowings and Swiss International Air Lines – as well as its Star Alliance and joint venture partner Air Canada, additionally offer a large range of options to fly from Canada to Europe and beyond. Passengers specifically arriving in Frankfurt can connect to over 1,300 destinations worldwide through Lufthansa Group carriers and Star Alliance partners—the world’s largest airline network.
Aside from the new Ottawa route, the Lufthansa Group also serves four other Canadian gateways:
Lufthansa Group in Montreal Beginning in March 2020, Brussels Airlines will launch its new, non-stop seasonal service between Montréal, Quebec and Brussels, Belgium. With Brussels’ new gateway in Montreal, Lufthansa Group’s passenger airlines will be fully represented in this region, joining Austrian, which was successfully introduced to Montreal in April 2019, as well as Lufthansa and SWISS.
Lufthansa Group in Toronto Lufthansa offers year-round, daily flights from Toronto to its two hubs in Frankfurt and Munich.
Lufthansa Group in Vancouver Lufthansa and Edelweiss (a subsidiary of SWISS) fly to Vancouver. Lufthansa flies daily from Vancouver to its two main hubs in Frankfurt and Munich, while Edelweiss offers service from Vancouver to Zurich on a seasonal basis.
Lufthansa Group in Calgary SWISS’s subsidiary, Edelweiss, offers seasonal flights from Calgary to Zurich. The next timetable runs from May – August 2020.
The New Service in Brief 2020 Summer Schedule (May 16th, 2020 – October 24th, 2020) in local time
British Airways Pilots’ Two-Day Strike Grounds Nearly All Flights
LONDON — Canadian travel agencies are scrambling to help passengers whose British Airways flights have been cancelled on Monday and Tuesday after a pilots strike grounded the global carrier.
The airline says more than a dozen flights between Canada and London are slated to be cancelled over the two days, affecting about 3,500 passengers based on the size of the scheduled aircraft.
Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is most impacted with four flights each day. One arrival and one departure are cancelled over the two days in Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.
“Customers were sent email notifications if they have been affected,” British Airways said in an advisory to travel agents.
Passengers can receive refunds or rebook for later flights. They may also be able to rebook on partner airlines such as American Airlines, Finnair and Aer Lingus, if seats are available.
Toronto travel agency TTI Travel says some customers have called to inquire but there doesn’t appear to be any alarm.
“We’ve been looking at flights and trying to re-accommodate them and make some decisions around how we support them and what those options are,” said TTI vice-president Lucy Lavigna.
Air Canada says it has added larger aircraft on the route between Toronto and London-Heathrow to accommodate increased demand it has seen in recent days.
“Last night we operated one flight on the route (we have four flights daily) with a 400-seat, Boeing 777 instead of the scheduled 298-seat Boeing 787-9, and will do the same tonight,” said spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick by email.
“That makes for a total of about 400 extra seats in the market. We continue to monitor the situation, but there are no plans for additional capacity at this time, in part because our aircraft are already committed under the existing schedule.”
WestJet Airlines said it’s “business as usual” for the Calgary-based airline.
British Airways cancelled almost all its flights for 48 hours, affecting as many as 195,000 travellers, due to a strike by pilots over pay.
The U.K.’s flagship carrier said in a statement Monday that it had “no way of predicting how many (pilots) would come to work or which aircraft they are qualified to fly.”
As a result, it said it had “no option but to cancel nearly 100 per cent” of its flights for the duration of the strike.
“We have supplemented our fleet by using aircraft and crew from other airlines (wet-leasing) and working with our partner airlines to schedule larger aircraft to take the maximum number of customers,” said the trade support website that details customer guidelines.
British Airways operates up to 850 flights a day. London’s sprawling Heathrow Airport was most affected by the work stoppage as it is the airline’s hub and is used for many of the company’s long-haul international flights.
The departure area at Heathrow Terminal 5 was almost empty, with only a handful of BA flights set to leave on Monday.
There were no queues at any of the check-in desks or security gates and only a handful of people waiting on benches. The terminal is typically quite busy.
British Airways said it stands ready to return to talks with the pilots’ union, Balpa, and that it has offered all affected customers full refunds or the option to rebook. The airline had been preparing for weeks for the strike, giving travellers advanced notice.
“We understand the frustration and disruption Balpa’s strike action has caused our customers,” it said.
“After many months of trying to resolve the pay dispute, we are extremely sorry that it has come to this.”
British Airways says it has offered pilots an 11.5 per cent pay raise over three years but the union says its members want a bigger share of the company’s profits.
The union accuses British Airways of making big profits at the expense of workers who made sacrifices during hard times. British Airways’ parent company, IAG, made a net profit of 2.9 billion euros (US$3.2 billion) last year.
Union leader Brian Strutton said pilots are determined to be heard.
“They’ve previously taken big pay cuts to help the company through hard times. Now BA is making billions of pounds of profit, its pilots have made a fair, reasonable and affordable claim for pay and benefits.”
Innovative technology expedites clearance process and improves passenger experience
Richmond, B.C. August 26, 2019: Today, Innovative Travel Solutions by Vancouver International Airport (YVR) announced the expansion of the border control program at Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) in Barbados with a total of 48 biometric-enabled kiosks now in use. This partnership utilizes ITS’ industry-leading self-service global border control solution, BorderXpress, to enhance security, speed of service and improve the overall passenger experience.
“As air travel continues to experience remarkable growth, we understand the need for greater innovation to solve passenger processing challenges. As an airport operator ourselves, we prioritize researching and designing technology to improve the overall travellers’ experience, not only at our own airport, but across the travel industry,” says Chris Gilliland, Director of Innovative Travel Solutions, Vancouver Airport Authority. “We are proud to expand our global border control solution in Barbados. This is an exciting milestone for our team as we continue to work with airports and governments around the world to meet their critical passenger processing needs.”
BorderXpress was first implemented at GAIA as a pilot program with 16 kiosks in August 2018. The technology has simplified the border clearance process, significantly reducing wait times for passengers at GAIA. The program has now been expanded to include a total of 48 kiosks, available for use by all arriving passengers, expanding from the original use being limited to residents from Barbados, the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region and those who hold permanent or indefinite status in Barbados.
Using the kiosks, passengers scan their travel documents, complete their declaration and eligible travellers will verify their identity and admissibility using facial recognition technology before proceeding to a border services officer for final inspection. This process ultimately reduces time spent with the border services officers and decreases overall processing times for arriving passengers.
“The implementation of an additional 32 BorderXpress kiosks at Grantley Adams International Airport will ultimately simplify the border clearance process for all arriving passengers and reduce wait times significantly,” adds Gilliland. “BorderXpress continues to prove its effectiveness globally and we are excited to explore new opportunities to optimize the border clearance process for passengers, airports and governments.”
BorderXpress kiosks are proven to reduce passenger wait times by more than 60 per cent. In a recently published White Paper by InterVISTAS, the study concluded that the use of kiosks for border control significantly outperforms competing technologies, such as eGates, providing a much higher throughput of passengers. This results in cost and space savings and supports border authorities, allowing their officers to focus on maintaining the safety of the border, rather than administrative duties. BorderXpress provides better exception handling, is fully accessible to persons with disabilities, and can be configured with any desired languages. It can process any passenger, including families travelling as a group.
BorderXpress technology was developed by Innovative Travel Solutions, an independent business unit within Vancouver International Airport (YVR), named Best Airport in North America for 10 consecutive years. ITS specializes in delivering industry-leading travel technology to transform the traveller’s experience. Since 2009, ITS has sold over 1,600 kiosks at 43 airport and seaport locations around the world, helping more than 250 million passengers clear the border safely and securely.
WestJet’s regional airline to begin service to Vancouver, October 27
CALGARY, Aug. 12, 2019 /CNW/ – WestJet today announced that its regional airline, WestJet Link, will begin operating nonstop flights between Vancouver and Cranbrook, B.C., on October 27, 2019.
“This new route linking interior British Columbia with our Vancouver hub provides convenient travel options between the two areas and gives our guests in Cranbrook access to a second WestJet hub with connections across our entire network,” said Brian Znotins, WestJet Vice-President Network Planning and Alliances. “WestJet is now providing the City of Cranbrook with the most flights and options to travel easily across the country and beyond.”
With the addition of Vancouver-Cranbrook, WestJet Link will now operate six routes including Calgary to Cranbrook, Lethbridge, Prince George, Lloydminster and Medicine Hat.
“We are delighted to welcome WestJet Link’s daily service from Vancouver to Cranbrook,” said Anne Murray, Vice President, Airline Business Development and Public Affairs, Vancouver Airport Authority. “As Canada’s second busiest airport, Vancouver International Airport proudly links passengers to cities in British Columbia, North America and around the world. WestJet Link’s route to Cranbrook connects customers to a great B.C. destination and drives economic benefits for our region.”
“The expansion of WestJet’s service, now linking the Kootenay Rockies to both WestJet’s Calgary and Vancouver hubs is a fantastic boost to our inbound visitor economy, while providing a robust global network of travel options for the Kootenay Region,” said Tristen Chernove, CEO of Elevate Airports Inc. and Canadian Rockies International Airport Manager. “The Canadian Rockies International Airport is driven to be the strongest economic catalyst possible for our region and WestJet’s growing air service is helping us reach our goals. We’re excited to see this new service coming in October and look forward to sharing a bright future of success with WestJet at YXC.”
All WestJet Link flights are operated through a capacity purchase agreement with Pacific Coastal by using its fleet of 34-seat Saab 340B aircraft. Each aircraft includes six seats available in WestJet Premium, offering guests advanced boarding, no-charge for two checked bags and seating at the front of the aircraft.
Details of WestJet Link’s service between Vancouver and Cranbrook:
When Chu Lisong Chang and her husband arrived at the Vancouver airport on June 24 to take their Sunwing flight to Toronto, they were shocked to discover that the plane had already left — four hours earlier.
Desperate to return home to Toronto, the couple paid $1,309 for two last-minute seats on an Air Canada flight. It didn’t depart until the next morning, so they spent the night in the airport terminal.
“It was horrible,” said Chang.
She had never received a notification that her flight had been rescheduled, but when she confronted Sunwing and her online travel agency, FlightHub, neither company accepted any responsibility.
“It’s their fault but they’re blaming us,” she said. “What can we do?”
Chang is one of two Sunwing passengers who complained to CBC News last month that they missed their flight — booked using FlightHub — because they didn’t get a flight change notification.
At the time, both FlightHub and Sunwing wouldn’t accept any blame or offer refunds.
However, following a CBC News investigation, Sunwing reversed its stance and offered to reimburse both customers. The airline said that although it had followed proper procedure, it was discovered that the passengers had never actually received their flight change information.
Despite this revelation, neither Sunwing nor FlightHub has admitted any fault. Even so, the passengers are relieved they’re getting their money back.
“I’ve waited so long,” said Chang, who will be reimbursed for her Air Canada tickets. “I’m feeling quite happy now with a little justice.”
When Chang initially tried to get answers in late June, she hit a brick wall. She said Sunwing insisted it had sent FlightHub her flight change information.
Chang said FlightHub told her it had forwarded her the information, so it was her fault she missed the flight.
“They just washed their hands of [it].”
Rolland Li of Vancouver endured a similar experience. His troubles began when he and his fiancée, Hannah Ng, arrived at the Vancouver airport on June 28, and discovered their Sunwing flight to Toronto — booked using FlightHub — had been cancelled.
Unable to afford pricey, last-minute tickets, the couple had no choice but to forgo their trip to visit Li’s parents.
“I felt horrible,” said Li. “When we got home, I honestly just started crying because I only get to see my family once or twice a year.”
Not only did Li never receive a notification about his cancelled flight, but also, he was never alerted that Sunwing had actually rebooked the couple on an Air Canada flight for the same dates.
On top of that, neither Sunwing nor FlightHub would refund the couple’s Sunwing tickets — which cost $996.
“I just felt simply powerless,” said Li. “If the airline doesn’t want to do anything, and then the flight agency I dealt with doesn’t want to do anything, it just kind of seemed like I was out of options.”
‘We made best efforts’
When CBC News first asked Sunwing about Li’s and Chang’s cases, the airline said that it had done its job by notifying FlightHub about the passengers’ flight changes.
FlightHub said it had passed on the notifications to the passengers.
However, several days later, Sunwing sent Li an apologetic email and offered him a refund.
CBC News reached out again to Sunwing. The airline said that it had had “another opportunity” to review both cases and had determined that Li and Chang weren’t at fault.
The airline said that although it had sent the correct information about the flight changes to FlightHub, somehow the passengers never received it.
“While we maintain we made best efforts to advise our customers of these changes and did advocate on their behalf with their travel agency, we appreciate that their travel plans were compromised and sincerely regret the inconvenience they experienced,” said spokesperson, Rachel Goldrick.
When asked for comment, FlightHub suggested Sunwing was to blame, claiming the airline didn’t properly enter the flight changes into a shared software system.
“Sunwing did not send the changes through,” said Nick Hart, CFO of Montreal-based Momentum Ventures, which owns FlightHub.
Sunwing denied the accusation.
What are the rules?
While it could not comment on these specific cases, the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA) told CBC News that, in general, airlines are responsible for advising passengers of flight changes and cancellations.
MONTREAL – This winter will be a good one for Air Transat customers in Vancouver. Thanks to the addition of all-new Airbus A321neoLRs, the carrier will be offering new destinations out of YVR, including Fort Lauderdale, making it the sole company to fly direct between the two cities.
In addition to the Florida hotspot, Air Transat will also be adding departures to Liberia and San Jose in Costa Rica, plus a direct flight to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
Onboard the new aircraft, customers can enjoy an entirely redesigned cabin interior for an elevated inflight experience. Club Class, with its exclusive cabin and personalized service, has been given a new look complete with 12 deep-blue natural leather seats, wider individual touch screens equipped with USB ports and state-of-the-art entertainment system, and leg rests for maximum comfort.
In Economy Class, the light-blue natural leather seats are wider than those of previous generations of Airbus, and are equipped with larger individual touch screens and USB ports to charge electronic devices.
Another benefit of the Airbus A321neoLR is that it’s in line with Air Transat’s continued sustainability efforts. Its engines have the lowest fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in their class, plus it generates 50% less noise and produces about 5,000 fewer tonnes of CO2 a year compared to previous generation Airbus aircraft. Moreover, it lowers NOX emissions, which contribute to smog and acid rain.
Here are the 21 South and Europe destinations Air Transat will offer this winter from Vancouver: