Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Malaysia: travel agents fight misleading airline advertising

The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) has scathed "zero fares" offered by the country's two warring carriers as misleading and demand the advertisements should be banned. The "zero fares" offered are not only for limited seats, but do not include airport taxes, fuel surcharges and other "applicable" fees and taxes.
According to industry observers, the offers were a result of a price war between the country's two fiercely competing carriers, upstart AirAsia and national carrier Malaysia Airlines.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Florida: agents challenge law on Cuba travel

A group of travel agents in Florida sued the state over a new law requiring agents who book trips to Cuba to post a USD 250,000 bond and disclose their clients' names. Earlier this month, a federal judge lifted the measure temporarily to consider the law's legality.

Before the measure was signed into law in June all travel agencies were required to pay the state a one-time USD 25,000 bond.

Despite the recent ruling, the legal battle between the travel agents and Florida lawmakers is not over: Some legal experts say the law oversteps the bounds of state authority.

Source: New York Times; find article here>>.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

China: restrictions for business travelers

Government officials confirmed Thursday that visas for business people will be tougher to get during the Olympic period. Authorities have repeatedly said the security measures are needed because the games are a target for terrorism.

Now, Beijing and other Olympic cities such as Shanghai have stopped issuing official invitation letters, known as notification letters, needed for business visas until late September, unless it involves employment or executing business contracts, an official with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce said.

"We don't take in applications related to any other general business matters, such as attending conferences, visiting factories and business negotiations. Such applications will not be handled until after Sept. 20," Chen Yu said.

Source: International Herald Tribune; full article here>>.

"Blacklist of banned airlines: European Commission adopts an updated list"

As just stated by the EU Press Room, "The European Commission today adopted the eighth update of the so-called blacklist of airlines that are banned from flying into the countries of the European Union due to safety concerns. The new list, which replaces the previous one, can already be consulted on the Commission’s website []
Antonio Tajani, Commission Vice-President in charge of transport said that 'This is another important step in the continuous Commission's effort to enhance civil aviation safety, in the interest of all passengers. The Commission will pursue its cooperation and support to States, their civil aviation authorities and their airlines to ensure that the internationally agreed air safety standards are properly implemented.'."

This release is available in full text.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

"The European Commission adopts its fourth report on visa waiver non-reciprocity with third countries"

According to the EU Press Room,"The European Commission has adopted its fourth report on certain third countries' maintenance of visa requirements in breach of the principle of reciprocity. The report shows that further progress towards full visa reciprocity has been achieved.
Vice-President Jacques Barrot, Commissioner responsible for Justice, Freedom and Security underlined the usefulness of the reciprocity mechanism: 'This Report clearly demonstrates that the dialogue with third countries under the new visa-reciprocity mechanism has once again proven effective, resulting in visa free travel for all our citizens to another 3 countries. The Report however also proposes retaliatory measures where insufficient progress has been achieved. It is unacceptable that nationals from some third countries can benefit from visa free travel to the EU whilst some of our fellow EU citizens can't travel visa free to those countries. This is at the heart of our visa reciprocity mechanism and I am committed to ensuring that that principle is fully respected'."

This release is available in full text.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Mexico: tax on cruise passengers postponed

Mexico's Ministry of Tourism had planned to apply a $5 head tax on cruise passengers who stop at the country's ports starting this summer but has postponed the implementation until Oct. 1. The Florida Caribbean Cruise Association, some Mexican ports and cruise lines are opposed to the tax, which supporters say will generate about $30 million annually.

Source: Travel Weekly; find full article here>>.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Air Hostess Picks Up Chocolate Bar, Wins Space Trip

I thought Willy Wonka only gave away tours of the Chocolate Factory - not space...

Wed Jul 16, 11:02 AM ET

PARIS (Reuters) - A French air hostess will become one of Europe's pioneer space tourists after picking a chocolate wrapper out of the rubbish and finding a winning number in a competition to fly to the upper reaches of the earth's atmosphere.
Mathilde Epron, 32, said she had bought a Kit Kat chocolate bar at her local supermarket but initially threw the wrapper in the bin, telling herself that "it's only others who win."
Two hours later, thinking back to the competition, she decided to try her luck and fished the wrapper out of the bin, only to find a code marked inside.
"For someone who works in air travel it's really a dream come true," she told France Info radio.A spokeswoman for Nestle in France confirmed that Epron had won the prize to take a flight on a four-seater, fighter-sized aircraft built by Rocketplane, a company that builds aircraft intended to provide cheap flights into space.
She will receive four days of astronaut training in Oklahoma City in the United States before boarding the Rocketplane XP aircraft which will reach an altitude of 100 km (60 miles) and allow a five-minute experience of weightlessness.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

South Africa: Tourism Services Association skeptical towards airline passenger protection

According to the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa), a "balanced solution" is needed when it comes to compensating airline passengers denied permission to board a flight because it has been overbooked. There is no legislation in South Africa so far that requires compensation to be paid to a passenger who has been denied permission to board.
Satsa chief executive officer Michael Tatalias fears a Consumer Protection Act providing refund for passengers might end up attracting fewer new foreign airlines. Moreover, if a decision was "skewed" in favour of passengers, ticket prices could increase.

Source:; full article here>>.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Switzerland: "death tourism" unwanted

Swiss Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf says she would like to put a stop to the practice of people travelling to Switzerland to die. Swiss law tolerates assisted suicide when the patient commits the act and the helper has no direct interest. Several organisations offer the service, but only one group to foreigners.

The minister would like to introduce a period of reflection between the first contact made with an organisation and an assisted suicide. During this time the person would undergo counselling from the organisation or third party.

Source:; full article here>>.

Airport Laptop Searches and Anti-Counterfeiting

This is an interesting item out of the G8 meetings held this week. The G8 is looking at plans to give airports the power to scan portable media players for copyrighted material when you fly under its upcoming Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This would give custom officials the power to scan MP3 players, laptops and even mobile phones for illegally-obtained copyrighted material when passengers pass through borders. The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement Measures form part of an international agreement aimed at stamping out piracy. What next? Talk about George Orwell's 1984

Originally published in Association of Retail Travel Agents ARTA E-News For July 11, 2008

Monday, July 14, 2008

New Rules For Data On International Passengers Flying to Beijing

BEIJING, July 1 (Xinhua) - Entry and exit inspection authorities here said that a new regulation, whereby international airlines must provide them with Advance Passenger Information (API) before arrival, took effect on Tuesday.
The move would greatly accelerate the inspection process as it would allow the authorities to screen passengers before they land, said an official with the local border management agency.
He said the required information included the passenger's full name, nationality, gender, date of birth, passport validity and expiry date. Once the flight took off for Beijing, the information would be transmitted to Chinese border management agencies through a special network.
Agencies would receive and begin processing the information two hours before the flight landed at Beijing Capital International Airport. Carriers that failed to provide accurate and timely API would be fined up to 30,000 yuan (4,286 U.S. dollars) per case.

Click here for full article.

"Safer Holidays: Commissioner Kuneva welcomes new water safety guidelines"

According to the EU Press Room,"EU Consumer Commissioner Meglena Kuneva today welcomed the publication of a report entitled 'Protecting children and youth in water recreation: safety guidelines for service providers', which gives basic but crucial advice for reducing water-related accidents, particularly when it comes to children on holidays. The report was drawn up by the European Child Safety Alliance, in cooperation with the Commission and Chair of the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, MEP Arlene McCarthy. Every year, there are around 200 000 swimming pool related accidents in the EU, and another 50 000 injuries related to boating and water sports. Drowning is the second highest cause of death in children and young people aged 0 to 18 years, and evidence shows that water accidents are higher amongst tourists than local residents. Most of these accidents and injuries, however, could be easily prevented through basic safety measures. Today's report contains guidelines for water recreation service providers (hotel managers, rental providers, tour operators etc.), so that they can assess and, where necessary, upgrade their water safety standards. The recommendations include: checking the risks linked to the water-related area and activity, particularly for vulnerable users such as children; providing the appropriate equipment, such as floatation devices; communicating the risks and hazards clearly; and having well-trained staff and an emergency plan in place. Specific recommendations are also set out for certain water-sports, including snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, motor-boating and kite-surfing. The complete guidelines can be found at:"

Thursday, July 10, 2008

"All-inclusive air fares just around the corner as MEP back legislation on transparency"

As stated by the European Parliament Press Service,"Air travellers will soon be able to see at a glance exactly what they have to pay for their tickets, as the European Parliament approved new EU rules. Air fares as displayed will have to include all taxes, fees and charges added to the basic ticket price and known at the time of publication. Parliament approved a deal on this legislation reached with the Council, as it takes on board the EP's key first-reading amendments."

This release is available in full text.

European Union: Commssion promotes sun protection

As the holiday seasons begins, Consumer Affairs Commissioner Meglena Kuneva and Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou have joined forces to help raise awareness of the dangers that excessive exposure to sunlight can cause. Last year, the Commission drew attention to the need for citizens to protect themselves against the dangerous effects of the sun, both against UV-A and UV-B radiation. Citizens should be vigilant and look out for the new sunscreen label "UVA", which stands for equal protection against UV-A and UV-B radiation.

More information here>>.

European Court of Justice: Reg. 261/2004 does not apply to return flights from third country airports into the EU

In Case C-173/07 (Schenkel v Emirates Airlines) ECJ held that Art 3 para 3 lit a of Regulation 261/2004/EC must be interpreted as not applying to the case of an outward and return
journey in which passengers who have originally departed from an airport located in the territory of a Member State to which the EC Treaty applies travel back to that airport on a flight from an airport located in a non-member country. The fact that the outward and return flights are the subject of a single booking has no effect on the interpretation of that provision.
In ECJ's view to regard a ‘flight’ within the meaning of Article 3(1)(a) of Regulation No 261/2004 as an outward and return journey would have the effect of reducing the protection to be given to passengers under the regulation: passengers departing originally from an airport located in a Member State could claim the benefit of that protection only once if they were to suffer the same damage on the outward and the return legs, Passengers who had originally departed from an airport located in a non-member country would not be able to enjoy the protection provided by Regulation No 261/2004.

Full text of judgement available here>>.

Decision reported to IFTTA by Stephan Keiler.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

France: judge orders US airline to stand trial for Concorde crash

A French judge has ordered Continental Airlines and five individuals to stand trial on charges arising from the crash of an Air France Concorde that killed 113 people in 2000. The defendants include two employees of the U.S. carrier, two employees of Aerospatiale, the company that made the supersonic Concorde, and a French aviation official. All are charged with manslaughter.

The crash in 2000 was a factor in the subsequent decision to remove all Concorde jets from service three years later.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

"Aviation to be included in the European Trading System from 2012 as MEPs adopt legislation"

As stated by the European Parliament Press Service, "MEPs adopted legislation on including aviation in the EU Emissions Trading System (ETS), all flights starting and/or landing in Europe (including intercontinental flights) to be included in the ETS from 1 January 2012. The reduction target to be calculated on the basis of airlines' average annual emissions between 2004-2006: in the first period (2012), airline emissions to be cut by 3 percent based on an historic average; emissions will be reduced by 5% in 2013 compared to the historic average."

This release is available in full text.