THIS week was a big one for the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, and Chief Executive Officer Dean Long’s mission to refocus the body to maximise its relevance to the sector post-pandemic. AFTA announced its showpiece event, the National Travel Industry Awards, will be held in Melbourne later this year, relocating to the Victorian capital for the first time since 2006.
The announcement followed the news earlier in the week of industry doyen Richard Taylor’s appointment as AFTA’s Director of Membership Experience, which was received with widespread joy. The part-time role will see Taylor responsible for introducing new membership programs and networking opportunities, alongside his duties with the ever-popular Travel Community Hub.
Aviation is also turning a new page with the turn of the calendar, with several carriers ramping up their schedules to Australia. In addition to multiple resumptions of their local flights by at least four mainland Chinese carriers, Japan’s All Nippon Airways earlier this week boosted its Tokyo-Sydney service to a total of 14 flights per week, going double daily on the route. ANA also said it will resume the Tokyo-Perth route from October, with codeshare services on partner carrier Virgin Australia via PER also on the agenda.
Brisbane was not missing out either, with Emirates doubling its service to the Queensland capital with an additional daily flight. The addition of a Boeing 777-300ER services means the airline will offer almost 12,000 seats per week to Brisbane, combined with its daily Airbus A380. The operational boost comes as Emirates celebrates 20 years of serving Brisbane – not a bad time to announce its return to pre-pandemic levels to the city.
Meanwhile, Qantas Airways also grew its fledgling codeshare network partnership with IndiGo, adding new destinations across India. Qantas launched the agreement with India’s largest domestic carrier in August, and under the second phase of the agreement, customers can now travel to an additional eight cities, for a total of 21 Indian destinations available from Delhi and Bengaluru comprising more than 250 new flights available for booking. Qantas also provided fodder for the evening news when one of its 737s lost an engine en route from Auckland to Sydney – sparking the precautionary deployment of emergency services for its arrival, while those on board were oblivious to the drama until after an uneventful and safe landing.
In the cruise industry, Cunard line has burst into 2023 with a new locally-shot television commercial starring pop princess Delta Goodrem – its biggest to date. The Waltzing Australia campaign is an ode to Cunard’s return to the country’s shores, and was shot on the bow of Queen Elizabeth as she sailed into Sydney Harbour for the first time since the pandemic.
Big Australian news was also announced by Aqua Expeditions, which has welcomed a new local sales representative, the first employee the boutique line has ever had Down Under. Benjamin Garcia joined Aqua at the start of the week, and from his base in Sydney, he will focus on trade relations to strengthen the cruise line’s presence in Australia. And Cruise Lines International Association announced the hotly anticipated finalist list for its upcoming awards night, recognising some of the industry’s stellar performers over the last year or so.
In other news, Disney will take 100 travel advisors to experience its Disney100 celebration at the Disneyland Resort in California, MP Travel was acquired by British company Gray Dawes Group, and South African Tourism launched a recruitment program for new leaders within its operations across the globe, including Australia. Carnival Corporation joined other lines including Royal Caribbean, Hurtigruten and more in announcing the rollout of Elon Musk’s Starlink internet across its fleet, and APT waived supplementary air fees on a number of its European river cruises, while Bench Africa announced its intention to be the first Africa operator to release a post-pandemic brochure into the market.
Finally Helloworld Travel Limited continues to expand its Board, yesterday announcing the appointment of recently departed Tourism and Events Queensland CEO Leanne Coddington as a Director. The move follows the recent addition of former Victorian politician Martin Pakula to the HLO non-executive director ranks.
So much happening and we’re only three weeks into the year!
Have a great weekend everyone