Category Archives: Agents

Slovakia inks deal with VFS Global for visa processing services

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VFS Global has signed a contract with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic for providing visa services in 10 countries worldwide. As per this new contract, VFS Global will now provide visa services for Slovakia in China, India, Kazakhstan, Palestine, Belarus, Russia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Egypt through 38 visa application centres. The rollout of all these new operations is expected to be completed by December 2018. Under the new contract, VFS Global will accept both short and long-term visa applications on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. Chris Dix, Head – Business Development, VFS Global, said, “We are excited about our new partnership with the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. The countries where we will be operating are markets where VFS Global has worked for several years and whose travellers are familiar with our services and expertise. We are also pleased to have the opportunity to serve our new clients in new locations, and bring applicants in these locations the same benefits and high-quality service that we have been offering our customers worldwide for the last 17 years.”

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Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics enter into landmark strategic collaboration for commercial aviation

Inmarsat and Panasonic Avionics Corporation (Panasonic) have agreed to a strategic collaboration for an initial ten-year period that will enable airlines, aircraft manufacturers and passengers to benefit from the combined expertise of the two companies that have been at the forefront of technology and innovation for nearly four decades. Under the terms of the agreement, Inmarsat will become Panasonic’s exclusive provider of Ka-band IFC for commercial aviation and panasonic will now be able to offer Inmarsat’s high-speed, broadband connectivity service, GX Aviation, powered by Global Xpress. Panasonic will continue to invest in its own network and, with GX Aviation as a primary offering for new business, will be perfectly positioned to serve both its current and future customers. In addition, Inmarsat will now be able to offer Panasonic’s market-leading portfolio of services and NEXT solutions to Inmarsat’s commercial aviation customers. The collaboration presents a unique opportunity to leverage Inmarsat’s proven track record of high-quality and innovative global mobile connectivity, and Panasonic’s market-leading in-flight entertainment, digital services and connectivity solutions. Looking forward, Inmarsat and Panasonic will also collaborate on the development of a next generation GX Aviation terminal, as well as new connectivity-enabled services, data analytics and technology to improve overall end-to-end performance. By delivering this step-change in aviation services capability, airlines will have access to new and better solutions that address widely recognized industry challenges of capacity, coverage and compatibility. This will give greater quality, consistency of experience and more choice to airlines and their passengers in the IFC market, which by some estimates could exceed $100 billion by 2035. Rupert Pearce, Chief Executive Officer, Inmarsat, said, “Our highly complementary collaboration with Panasonic combines the unique expertise and proven capabilities …

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IHG signs deal with Al-Arabiya Real Estate Company to launch Staybridge Suites in Kuwait

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IHG has signed a management agreement with the Al-Arabiya Real Estate Company, owned by The Bukhamseen Group, to launch Staybridge Suites in Kuwait. The new hotel is due to open in January 2022 and will add to IHG’s growing portfolio in the Middle East. Located in Salmiya, the 120-keys Staybridge Suites Kuwait Salmiya will offer long-stay guests a choice of one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites. The modern serviced apartments will be stylishly designed and furnished, featuring separate living and working areas, fully equipped kitchens, state-of-the-art entertainment systems and free WiFi. Guests staying at the hotel will have easy access to business areas such as downtown where major banks and financial institutions are located, as well as tourist attractions such as the Marine Museum, Shaab Leisure Centre Park and a variety of shopping malls and restaurants. With the modern-day corporate traveller in mind, Staybridge Suites Salmiya will offer facilities such as an on-site fitness centre, so that guests can maintain their exercise regimen and a swimming pool for a refreshing dip after a long day. Pascal Gauvin, Managing Director, India, Middle East & Africa, IHG said, “We are delighted to partner with Al-Arabiya Real Estate Company, owned by The Bukhamseen Group to debut Staybridge Suites in Kuwait. The Bukhamseen Group has been one of our most valued partners in the Middle East since we signed one of our first Holiday Inn hotels in the region with them more than 40 years ago. We are excited to be working even more closely together to expand our footprint in Kuwait and introduce Staybridge Suites, to cater to the demands of extended stay travellers. We look forward to opening the doors of Staybridge Suites Kuwait Salmiya …

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Embassy of Ireland opens its first visa application centre in Dubai

Ireland Dubai Inauguration Pic - 2018

The Embassy of Ireland, Abu Dhabi, has announced the opening of a visa application centre in Dubai, UAE in partnership with VFS Global. Earlier this year in June, the Embassy had opened its first-ever visa application centre in Abu Dhabi. The Dubai centre has started accepting visa applications from non-UAE Nationals who are based in the UAE and who require a visa in order to enter Ireland. In addition, they will no longer need to visit the Embassy and instead they should submit their visa applications only at the VFS Global centres in the UAE. Opening the visa application centre in Dubai, Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor, TD Ireland, accompanied by HE Ambassador Aidan Cronin, Embassy of Ireland, Abu Dhabi said she very much welcomed the opening of the centre and that the new external visa application centre located in downtown Dubai and operated by VFS Global will provide an excellent streamlined service for the non-UAE nationals who are based in Dubai and who require a visa in order to enter Ireland. Ambassador Cronin also welcomed the opening of the centre and added that this is the second visa application centre in the UAE and the fourth outsourced processing centre for Ireland visas in the GCC. He also said that VFS Global provides a whole range of services for the customer. The centre in Dubai is located at Level 3, Falcon Phase 2, WAFI Mall, Umm Hurair 2. Visa applicants can direct their queries to the call centre number +971 4 2055912 or communicate with the centre via email at info.irelandUAE@vfshelpline.com. Details on visa application procedures can also be accessed at www.vfsglobal.com/Ireland/uae. Commenting on the new centre, Vinay Malhotra, Regional Group …

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dnata doubles operations in Canada

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GTA dnata expands operations at Toronto Pearson International Airport with the start of a new, long-term partnership with Air Transat. Starting from November, GTA dnata provides ground and passenger services to the airline, more than doubling the number of flights handled by its operations. To support the growth, GTA dnata has hired more than 200 additional staff to its team, which now consists of 450 customer-oriented aviation professionals. Mario D’Urso, Chairman, GTA dnata, said, “We are proud to have been selected the ground handling partner of Air Transat at Toronto Pearson International Airport. This long-term contract is a vote of confidence in our quality services and we look forward to supporting the extensive operations of Canada’s largest leisure carrier. It is our aim to exceed our customers’ expectations, and we will continue to work hard to deliver excellent service for all our airline partners in Toronto with our expanded team.” dnata entered the Canadian market by establishing GTA dnata through the acquisition of 50 per cent stake in GTA Aviation’s cargo and ground-handling operations at Toronto Pearson International Airport in 2016. GTA dnata now serves 12 airlines in Toronto, assisting 4,800 passengers and moving two tons of cargo every day. Underlining its commitment to the Canadian aviation market, dnata will also establish flight-catering operations and open a new, state-of-the art facility in Vancouver in January 2019.

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Arabian Adventures invests in Italy

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Arabian Adventures has signed a partnership agreement with HTMS International. Under the agreement, HTMS will promote and sell the UAE-based destination management company’s premium services in the Italian market. Arabian Adventures is the UAE’s leading destination management company. Its full service offering includes everything from personalised meet and assist services at the airport, transfers, hotel reservations, tours, event management and visa assistance. With their passion for excellence and safety, Arabian Adventures’ 450 customer-oriented team members provide best-in-class service to one million customers annually. Arabian Adventures offers its personalised services to consumers directly as well as through its extensive international partnership network. Samir Mehta, General Manager, Arabian Adventures, said, “We are delighted to increase our investment into our international operations with this strategic partnership. The announcement underlines our commitment to the Italian market, where we see excellent business opportunities and solid demand for our quality services. We look forward to welcoming more Italian travellers in the UAE with the legendary Arabian hospitality we are renowned for.” Marco Innocenti, CEO, HTMS Italy, said, “We are excited to partner with Arabian Adventures, a leading destination management company operating at one of our customers’ most preferred destinations, the UAE.” He further added, “Following the recent celebration of our 30th anniversary, this announcement marks another remarkable milestone at the end of a memorable year.”

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Millennium Hotels inks strategic partnership with Hotelbeds Group

LOGO COMBINED- Millenium Hotels and HOtelbeds Group

Millenium Hotels has signed an agreement with Hotelbeds Group that grants all of the Hotelbeds Group brands (Hotelbeds, Bedsonline, Tourico Holidays and GTA) with direct real-time access to over 1.4 million of Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ annual room nights in more than 60 global business and leisure travel destinations. The pact will strengthen Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ distribution through Hotelbeds’ presence in more than 140 markets, spanning a wide range of channels including airlines, MiCE operators, point redemption schemes, retail travel agencies and tour operators representing over 60,000 travel distributors. Mark Redmond, Head – Global Chains, Hotelbeds Group, commented: “We are delighted to be connecting to Millennium Hotels and Resorts’ global hospitality offering. This will be a strong relationship in delivering special rates and availability across the MHR portfolio to our clients, while giving MHR access to higher-margin, niche segments of the travel market.” Also, Nayan Peshkar, Senior Vice President, Digital, Distribution and Revenue Strategy, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, said, “We are pleased to be working with Hotelbeds. This supports the Group’s wider distribution strategy of reducing reliance on static rate and room agreements in the leisure segment.”

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Amadeus expands airline business unit in Dubai regional hub

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Amadeus has expanded its airline business unit capabilities at its Dubai regional hub covering Middle East, Turkey and Africa region. Following the regionalisation of all business units to get closer to their customers, teams in the Dubai regional hub now include those of airlines, travel agencies, airport IT, payments, mobile and legal. Sabine Hansen Peck, SVP, People & Culture, Communication and Brand, Amadeus, opened the new office of the Dubai-based Amadeus Regional Hub. Further, commenting on the occasion, she said, “The Middle East, Turkey and Africa regions are relevant and growing markets for Amadeus. This expansion reflects our commitment to the region.”

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Travelport becomes first GDS operator to offer NDC content

Travelport GDS operator

Travelport has become the first GDS operator to manage the live booking of flights using the International Air Transport Association’s (IATA) New Distribution Capability (NDC) technical standard. The first transaction was made by a British agency, Meon Valley Travel, on October 19 for a short-haul low-cost flight from London to Milan issued by a major European carrier. The new capability allows bookings to be made for any services on the airline without incurring a surcharge. Travelport’s new NDC capability is enabled using similar XML connections to those Travelport already deploys with APIs for over 20 low-cost carriers. The company published a roadmap for its initial range of NDC products in February, having been the first GDS operator in December 2017 to acquire Level 3 certification from IATA as an aggregator. It will also be followed by a series of product enhancements, including a version for online agents in 2019. Gordon Wilson, President and CEO, Travelport, said: “We are delighted to have taken a lead in bringing the NDC era to life. It has required an extraordinary amount of skill and expertise to make this happen and I want to thank my own colleagues at Travelport as well as our partners. We are still at the earliest stages of NDC deployment. Its evolution will continue to take time as we learn from the practical experience of its first use. Meanwhile, we continue to offer a comprehensive global travel commerce platform capable of handling mass volumes of searchable and bookable content at speed for the world’s travel providers and agents.”

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Travelport secures seven new Trip Assist agreements in Europe

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Travelport has announced it has secured seven new agreements in Europe to deploy Trip Assist, its advanced mobile application for travel management companies and travel agencies. The announcement was made during the company’s exclusive Travelport Live Europe event in Rome, Italy, which was attended by over 200 business leaders from across the region. The new agreements are with four Hungary-based travel agencies, Weco-Travel, Air Partner,  utazom.com and OTP Travel, two UK-based agencies, Amber Road Travel and Lycafly, and Italy-based Regent International. Since the mobile solution was launched in May 2018, Travelport has now secured more than 20 Trip Assist customers across the world. By signing up for Trip Assist, the agencies will benefit from a fully branded mobile engagement solution that allows them to support, engage and connect with travellers at every stage of their journey. Incorporating smart itinerary management capabilities and the ability to create agency-defined messages and rich push notifications, the solution will empower the agencies to build stronger relationships with their customers.

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