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Heathrow to be the world’s biggest Airport

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: A controversial decision by British lawmakers will make Heathrow Airport the world’s biggest airport in terms of traffic, CNN reported. At the moment, the world’s largest airport is Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, with a capacity of 104 million.

The new proposal would increase passenger capacity from 80 million to 110 million by 2030 with the addition of a third runway. But not everyone is excited about the new plans.

The construction of the new runway, according to the proposal, would extend directly over an extremely busy freeway, the M25 motorway. Many opponents of the plan say the runway and increased air traffic could become an environmental hazard. On top of this, about 750 homes in the area would be demolished, according to CNN.

House of Commons votes 415 to 119 to approve the National Policy Statement on new runway capacity infrastructure at airports in the South East of England.

MPs have approved plans to build a third runway at Heathrow. #HeathrowExpansion

The new construction is expected to cost about £14.3 billion ($20 billion USD). However, without the expansion, Heathrow will reach capacity by 2034. So, the new plans will definitely make it easier for travelers to visit London in the future.

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Tourists warned of increase in crime by hotel rats’ gangs in Paris

Monitoring Desk

PARIS: Visitors to Paris this summer have been put on alert after a raft of thefts targeting tourists by a gang of petty thieves dubbed “hotel rats”.

The criminals operate by blending in with visitors – both on the streets and in hotel lobbies – before stealthily picking pockets, swiping valuables and stealing luggage.

Tony Mariet, the commissioner of the French capital’s anti-scam police unit, told Le Parisien newspaper: “Some of them mingle with groups of tourists and leave with their luggage and others book rooms in hotels under false names and tour the rooms looking for safes.”

Even the most prestigious hotels are at risk. Knowing that high-end hotels attract high-end clientele, it appears that those with a reputation for expense are being targeted more aggressively than others.

“We are dealing with international professional criminals,” Mariet explains, emphasising the need for visitors to be vigilant at all times. “They go to hotel complexes in Paris but also in suburbs around the city like Courbevoie or Vincennes, where there are also tourists.”

The area surrounding the Champs Elysées and nearby shopping district is another area of high risk. In November last year, 40 Chinese tourists were reportedly attacked with tear gas and robbed in the carpark of the Kyriad Hotel in the Val-de-Marne suburb of the city by a gang of six men.

To tackle the issue, an additional 5,000 police officers will be deployed in Paris until the end of September at seven key sites across the city, including Montmartre, the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.

The UK Foreign Office advises those travelling to Paris to “take sensible precautions… Don’t keep your passport, credit cards and other valuables in the same place”.

It also warns against pickpockets that work in gangs to distract you while another rifles in your bag for valuables, offers advice on how to avoid common scams such as petition, three card trick and gold ring tricks, and advises that “thieves and pickpockets also operate on the Paris underground, RER lines and at mainline stations”.

But it’s not just in Paris that travellers should be on alert, Mariet advises, but other popular European cities; “[the thieves] work in teams. They carry out raids over a few months in Paris, before leaving for other foreign capitals like Rome.”

Last summer saw tourist numbers to Paris return to a 10-year high after a slump brought on by the terror attacks of 2015 and 2016. Last year the city attracted 89 million visitors.

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Turkish Airlines passengers rise some 18%

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: The total number of passengers carried by national flag carrier Turkish Airlines rose 17.8 percent to reach 35.6 million in the first half of 2018, compared to the same period last year.

According to a statement issued Tuesday by Turkish Airlines, it carried 6.3 million passengers in June, up 10.6 percent from the same month in 2017.

The carrier’s load factor — seat occupancy rate — rose 2.6 percent points to reach 79 percent in June, while it climbed 4.3 percentage points to reach 80.4 percent during the January-June period.

International-to-international transfer passengers increased in both June and the first half of 2018, 0.7 percent and 11 percent, respectively. The airliner also carried cargo mail of over 660,000 tons in the first half, up 27.7 percent over the first half of 2017.

Last year, it carried 68.6 million passengers with a 79.1 percent seat occupancy rate. Turkish Airlines, founded in 1933 with a fleet of five aircraft, currently has nearly 330 aircraft, including passenger and cargo planes.

It flies to 304 destinations, including 255 international and 49 domestic destinations. AA



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Double-decker passenger plane to fly to Pakistan

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI: People travelling from Dubai to Pakistan and back will soon experience what it’s like to fly aboard Emirates’ A380 aircraft, the world’s largest commercial passenger plane.

According to UAE-based newspaper Gulf News, the UAE-based carrier announced that it will operate a one-off A380 flight to Islamabad next week. The first Emirates double-decker plane to fly to the Asian country will make its inaugural trip to Islamabad on a special flight EK2524/EK2525 on Sunday, July 8, 2018.

The move, which may later pave the way for a regular deployment of the flagship plane to Pakistan, is meant to showcase Emirates’ products aboard the iconic aircraft. The airline has confirmed that it intends to make the A380 service permanent.

“We are excited that after more than 30 years of operations that the iconic flagship A380 is being brought to Pakistan and we are working with the authorities to make this a permanent flight,” a spokesperson said.

“We are very keen to launch a scheduled A380 service to Pakistan and will continue to work with authorities to realise these plans,” said Shaikh Majid Al Mualla, divisional senior vice president commercial operations centre, Emirates.

Pakistan is one of the biggest sources of tourists in Dubai. In 2017, some 598 million Pakistani tourists landed in the emirate.

The airline has been serving the Pakistani market for more than 30 years now, or since its first plane landed in Karachi on October 25, 1985.

There are about 400,000 Pakistani travellers who are part of the airline’s loyalty programme, the Emirates Skywards.

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Emirates introduces VR seats for the first time in planes

Monitoring Desk

Dubai: Being able to check in online and choose seats prior to departure is a great way to travel. It doesn’t just take away the hassle of standing in long queues at the airports, it also helps ensure that one gets the aisle, window or whatever seat they prefer.

Now, imagine actually seeing your seat and the interiors of the plane.

Emirates has taken things to another level. The airline has just introduced three-dimensional (3D) seat models on its portal, allowing passengers to check out in advance the plane they have booked — before even boarding the aircraft.

Using the virtual reality (VR) technology, flyers can simply go to the airline’s website on their desktop or mobile phone and visualize the interior of the Emirates A380 and the Emirates Boeing 777.

It will be an immersive experience, as customers can virtually enter the plane and scrutinize the interiors. And since the new feature offers 3D-360 degree views of the cabins, the passenger will have a clearer idea if the selected seat is a good fit for their needs.

Passengers can navigate through the economy, business and first class sections and also virtually check out the facilities on Emirates’ iconic double-decker aircraft, such as the onboard lounge and shower spa.

Emirates said it is the first airline to introduce 3D seat models on its digital platform.

For a more realistic experience, users can opt to explore the different parts of the plane and choose their seats completely hands-free by using any VR headset.

“As we continually invest to provide our customers with an unmatched travel experience onboard and on the ground, we also work very hard to give our customers a world-class digital experience,” said Alex Knigge, Emirates’ senior vice president, corporate communications, marketing and brand (digital).

“We are pleased to be the world’s first airline to introduce this cutting-edge web VR technology, which offers our customers an immersive opportunity to learn more about the Emirates experience before they step on board.”

Customers accessing via their mobile devices or the Emirates app for iOS and Android will also be able to explore their seats before checking in online with the 3D seat map. The tool allows customers to navigate from one seat to another, and even allows would-be customers to book their preferred seats from within the 3D environment.

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Emirates to start daily Edinburgh–Dubai service

Monitoring Desk

DUBAI: Emirates plans to link the Scottish city of Edinburgh with Dubai, UAE from early October.

The new flight will become the third daily service between Scotland and Dubai as Emirates already links the UAE and Scotland twice a day.

Hubert Frach, divisional senior vice president, Emirates, elaborated, “We are increasing our capacity to Scotland to meet growing demand.”

He added the new service would offer customers from across Emirates’ global network, particularly from key inbound markets such as Asia and Australia, a direct option to Edinburgh via the airline’s Dubai hub.

The route will be operated by a Boeing B777-300ER in a three-class cabin configuration, with eight private suites in first class, 42 lie-flat seats in business class and 304 seats in economy class.







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Flight attendant lifestyle can increase risk of developing cancer

Monitoring Desk

People who work on U.S. flight crews have higher rates of certain types of cancer, according to a new study out of Harvard.

Not only are flight crews more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, the longer they work in the field, the higher the risk of developing it becomes, researchers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health wrote in the Environmental Health journal.

More than 5,000 flight attendants participated in the study. About 15 percent of the participants reported ever having been diagnosed with cancer, a higher prevalence than the general population.

“Consistent with previous studies, we report a higher lifetime prevalence of breast, melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancers among flight crew relative to the general population,” Dr. Irina Mordukhovich, corresponding author of the study, said in a statement. “This is striking given the low rates of overweight and smoking in this occupational group.”

While the job itself may not inherently breed higher risks of cancer, working in a plane involves “exposures to known and probable carcinogens including cosmic ionizing radiation, circadian rhythm disruption, and possible chemical contaminants in the aircraft cabin,” according to the study.

Each five-year increase spent working as a flight attendant increased risk of non-melanoma skin cancer among women and higher risk of breast cancer in women who had never had children or those who had had three or more. Job tenure didn’t have any visible correlation with thyroid cancer or melanoma, however those who worked in planes before smoking was banned in 1998 reported higher rates of melanoma and non-melanoma skin cancer.

Researchers hope that the study’s conclusions can be used to “minimize the adverse exposures and cancers common among cabin crew.”





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Most and least expensive cities of World

Monitoring Desk

Four of the five most expensive cities in the world in which to live are in Asia, according to a new ranking of the cost of living.

Hong Kong topped the 24th annual survey by Mercer, reclaiming the title of world’s dearest city from the oil-rich capital of Angola, Luanda, which ranked highest last year, but fell to sixth for 2018.

The cost of living in UK cities rose significantly, according to the technology solutions firm’s analysis of 209 cities, with London (19th), Birmingham (128th) and Aberdeen (134th) all climbing up the rankings. Mercer’s Kate Fitzpatrick attributed the rise to a strengthening of the pound against the dollar.

Two Swiss cities were the only European entries in the most expensive top 10, with Zurich in third and Bern in 10th, though Geneva sat in 11th place.

Mercer’s survey, designed to show the cost of living for expatriates, takes into account housing as well as a 200-strong “international basket of goods and services” including transportation, food, clothing and entertainment. The report found that housing market instability and fluctuating inflation and currencies were impacting the cost of doing business in the various cities around the world.

At the other end of the scale, the Uzbek capital of Tashkent slipped 86 places to prop up the table, with Tunis, Tunisia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and Banjul, The Gambia, just above.

Is Tashkent worth a visit? Absolutely, according to Hazel Plush, who visited for Telegraph Travel.

“This Central Asian enigma has plenty up its sleeve, including the ancient Silk Road’s most important cities,” she said.

“Tashkent was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1966, while the country was under Soviet rule. 300,000 people were left homeless, but with matchless Soviet muscle the entire city was rebuilt and restored.

“As a result, you’ll find a charming mish-mash of restored 12th-century mosques and classical Russian architecture alongside blocky Brutalist buildings and statues of workers with bulging biceps.”

Why Luanda?

The Angolan city has topped the survey many times before, but few might be able to point to it on a map.

Lunada’s place near the top of the table is secured as a city in a developing economy where accommodation, locally-produced goods and competing services such as taxis and mobile phone providers are in short supply. Security and the cost of importing goods adds to its expense.

A 27-year civil war destroyed much of the city’s basic infrastructure, which meant that a large percentage of food and goods needed to be imported. That said, the city’s oil industry translates to remarkably cheap petrol.

Mercer’s is not the only cost analysis of the world’s cities. In March the Economist Intelligence Unit released the fifth installment of its annual study of the global cost of living, ranking Singapore the most expensive city on the planet.

Hong Kong, Mercer’s number one ranking, took fourth place, falling two spots.

The world’s 10 most expensive cities

  1. Singapore (=)
  2. Paris, France (+5)
  3. Zurich, Switzerland (+1)
  4. Hong Kong (-2)
  5. Oslo, Norway (+6)
  6. Geneva, Switzerland (+1)
  7. Seoul, South Korea (=)
  8. Copenhagen, Denmark (+1)
  9. Tel Aviv, Israel (+2)
  10. Sydney, Australia (+4)

The Worldwide Cost of Living Survey found Paris to be the world’s second most expensive city, with Zurich third. Oslo completed the top five in fifth place.

The cheapest city this year was found to be Damascus in Syria. The war-torn, tourist no-go zone fell 14 places to claim its title from Almaty in Kazakhstan, which was last year’s cheapest metropolis.

Contrary to Mercer’s findings, the Economist Intelligence Unit saw London slip six places thanks to a fall in the value of the pound.


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New Istanbul airport ‘trademark project’

Monitoring Desk

ANKARA: Istanbul’s new mega airport is a “trademark project” of Turkey, Minister of Transportation, Maritime Affairs and Communications Ahmet Arslan said Friday.

Talking to Anadolu Agency’s Editors Desk in capital Ankara, Arslan said: “It is a prestigious project. It is true. At the same time it is a trademark project for Turkey. At the same time, it is a project that will contribute both to Turkey’s employment and economy.”

Arslan’s remarks came a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s aircraft made the first ever landing at Istanbul’s new colossal airport, which is expected to formally open to air traffic on Oct. 29. The minister said 225,000 people will work at the airport.

About the name of the new airport, Arslan asked: “Why shouldn’t it be named after Recep Tayip Erdogan?”, adding the name would be decided by the president himself.

The Istanbul’s new airport will be one of three biggest airports in world with annual capacity of 90 million passenger in first phase.

The third airport in the city — 90 percent of which is already completed — will be the world’s biggest project built from scratch upon completion.

In the first phase, the airport will welcome 90 million passengers annually. In the second phase, which is expected to be completed in 2023, it is projected that the number would rise to 150-250 million. (AA)


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Post-Brexit: The must-see countries for travellers

Monitoring Desk

LONDON: This weekend marks two years since the UK voted to leave the European Union – and with it the beginning of a bumpy ride for the wallets of British holidaymakers.

According to analysis by travel money experts FairFX, sterling is up as much as 70 per cent against some currencies, but remains 12 per cent down against the euro and 11 per cent down on the dollar compared to June 23, 2016, the day of the referendum.

“The past two years since the Brexit referendum have been eventful for the pound to say the least,” said FairFX CEO Ian Strafford-Taylor, who added there is likely to be more uncertainty for holidaymakers as the Government continues to navigate its way out of the EU.

He said, however, that holidaymakers are growing increasingly savvy in how they purchase their holiday money.

“As people become aware of the impact politics can have on currencies, we’re seeing an increasing number of people topping up their prepaid cards on a much more regular basis as and when the pound is performing well,” he said.

Political and economic uncertainty has seen the pound swing up and down.

In June last year, holidaymakers were warned of dismal exchange rates, with some bureaux des changes selling as little as €0.90 for a pound. Airport branches were accused of “profiteering” and taking advantage of travellers, as the market rate was set much higher at €1.14.

Sterling has rallied somewhat after falling six per cent against the euro and eight against the dollar in the immediate aftermath of the referendum. But first it fell further – a flash crash in October and another slump in November saw the pound at the lowest rate against the euro since 2001, at €1.10.

The pound picked up in April to €1.15 and now sits at €1.14.

Across the Pond, the pound was worth $1.47 on the eve of the referendum, before falling to $1.32. In January 2017, sterling hit a 31-year low against the American currency, at $1.20, but the pound has rallied and today is up to €1.31.

In March this year, a money expert advised holidaymakers to purchase currency for their upcoming trips as the pound was unlikely to be in a better position.

Compared to this time last year, the pound is up 72 per cent on the Argentine peso, meaning British travellers get an extra £420 for every £1,000 spent, thanks to a collapse in the nation’s currency.

Mexico, Brazil and World Cup host nation Russia are three more destinations where Britons are getting more bang for their buck, compared to June 2017, with the difference in 12 months 20 per cent, 18 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively.