Good morning from a somewhat brisk Ushuaia, where I’ve just returned from a cruise in Antarctica courtesy of Viking Cruises.
It was somewhat fitting to be in the polar regions this week, with several cruise lines conducting naming ceremonies for their new expedition ships over the last few days. On the dock in Ushuaia aboard Viking Polaris we were tied up adjacent to the new Seabourn Venture, while Swan Hellenic’s SH Vega was also adjacent heading off on her latest Antarctic itinerary. Although not yet well known in Australia, new cruise line Atlas Ocean Voyages named two ships in the Beagle Channel at the tip of South America, and Silversea Cruises also inaugurated its new Silver Endeavour with several Australians on board including Phil Hoffmann from Phil Hoffmann Travel and Travel Associates’ Anna Burgdorf. A group of Aussies also explored the region this week courtesy of Ponant aboard its Le Commandant Charcot luxury expedition icebreaker.
Antarctica was also in the news for other reasons too, with Quark Expeditions sadly experiencing an accident during a Zodiac excursion with two guest fatalities, and Scenic’s Scenic Neptune, the submarine aboard Scenic Eclipse, suffering an incident where it encountered ice floes as it surfaced during an excursion and sustained some damage to its external tanks.
Moving onto aviation, and the week started with some rare good news for Qantas which finally appears to be turning the tide in terms of operational reliability, based on new figures for on-time operations. The carrier also issued a market update upgrading its profit forecasts for the six months to 31 December, with a $150 million improvement to previous predictions meaning it now expects a very healthy underlying profit before tax of about $1.4 billion for the six month period. Qantas noted that 60% of its $2 billion worth of COVID-19 credits have been redeemed, with plans to incentivise the full use of remaining credits over the next 12 months.
Other aviation news included the suspension of Malaysia Airlines flights between Brisbane and Kuala Lumpur from 27 March 2023 – after the carrier undertook a “thorough route rationalisation analysis”. The decision came despite claims from the carrier that the Australian market had rebounded quickly – but came along with a strategy to “explore markets that spur economic growth” for the country. Aviation updates also included a last minute make-up between Finnair and Sabre, which will continue to distribute AY fares from 01 December after they finally came to an agreement. And yesterday Air New Zealand finally announced it had filled the long-vacant Australian country manager role, with Kathryn O’Brien named as GM Australia.
Other news included the revelation that G Adventures has made a significant financial investment in Brisbane-based startup Reforest, which offers travellers the ability to minimise their carbon footprint through tree planting initiatives. G Adventures’ stake in the business will see further work on the technology platform, as well as raising the venture’s wider awareness within the global travel industry.
After months of preparation, Luxury Escapes finally unveiled its first bricks and mortar outlet, an office described by CEO Adam Schwab as part of a grand vision to create “the Apple Store of travel“. The initial agency in Chadstone, Victoria is pegged as a possible first step towards developing a larger footprint across the country – up to two stores per state – with the branding exercise seeing clients offered French Champagne and premium ice cream as they engage with the packages on offer.
The week ended with confirmation that Ardent Leisure intends to invest $50 million on further development at its Dreamworld theme park on the Gold Coast, with new attractions including additional rides, a Circus precinct and a new immersive land called Rivertown including a $35 million roller coaster. And in a late breaking update, One&Only has confirmed plans for a new resort in Fiji’s Yasawa Islands, continuing the destination’s strong post-COVID rebound.
Finally the Business Publishing Group joins with the rest of the industry in mourning the sudden death of Tony Millmore earlier in the week. Millmore was a true pioneer, and the legacy continued by his children Andrew Millmore from Travel The World and Louise Millmore of Easts Travel confirms just how influential and visionary he was.
Anyway I’d better wrap things up there because I’m about to start the long journey home. Looking forward to being back on deck at home next week – and in the meantime have a great weekend!