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Royal Caribbean and Carnival cruise liners collide in Mexican port

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

Two cruise liners collided with each other this week in a Mexican port. The Carnival Legend had just left its dock when strong winds in the port of Cozumel pushed the vessel into the Enchantment of the Seas. Carnival says that its ship sustained damage to some of its decks and that there was some broken glass when it drifted into the Royal Caribbean ship that was docked in the port.

The Enchantment of the Seas has sustained some damage to its railings and stern according to a spokeswoman. Thankfully no passengers were injured during the collision and both cruise companies have said that the damage sustained is not severe enough to disrupt their itineraries.

One of the passengers on board the Enchantment of the Sea said that he watched the incident unfold. He said that the Legend started to float towards the Royal Caribbean vessel and a tug boat tried to intervene. He goes on to say that by the time the tug had started to do its best to separate the two ships collision had become inevitable. He then reports that there was the sound of shattering glass.

Both companies say that they have contacted the authorities in regards to the accident and have been given the all clear. Both will now continue with their scheduled Caribbean cruises.

Cruise West joins major cruise lines in cutting Alaskan capacity

Thursday, October 1st, 2009

Cruise line company, Cruise West has announced that it will be joining other major cruise lines in announcing a cut in capacity of its Alaskan cruises next year. The small ship operator based in Seattle has said that on top of a reduction of ships in Alaska from five to four in 2010 it would also be cancelling five cruises on board its Spirit of Discovery and replacing them with two separate longer cruises.

The larger cruise lines have said that a lack of demand for berths on board their ships has caused them to pull cruises from Alaskan waters. Companies like Royal Caribbean, Holland America and Princess Cruises say that in addition to the world’s economic problems they blame an increase in regulations and growing taxes being imposed on ships carrying passengers in Alaska for their decisions to move ships away from the area.

Nine of the world’s cruise line companies are at present trying to sue Alaska over a $50.00 per passenger head tax that it recently imposed on ships carrying more than 250 passengers. Carnival Corp. who runs the two lines with the biggest presence in Alaska, Princess Cruises and Holland America, have already said that it is very likely that they will reduce capacity further in 2011.

Jerrol Golden, a spokesperson for Cruise West says that the company’s decision to cut shorter cruises in favour of longer ones should be seen as good news by the industry as it proves people are willing to pay more to spend a longer time aboard the ships.

Tsunami hits the islands of Samoa

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

A massive earthquake off the coast of Samoa has caused a devastating tsunami to hit the island’s coasts. Both Samoa, with a population of around 220,000 and American Samoa, with a population of 65,000 have felt the worst effects of the tsunami that hit the islands of the south pacific.

Several villages have been destroyed and the current report of 34 dead is likely to rise. The earth quake’s epicenter was just 120 miles off the coast of Samoa and caused waves to smash into populated coastal areas on the islands sweeping people and vehicles into the sea as well as destroying homes.

Sea water reportedly swept inland and has left Pago Pago, the capital of American Samoa with electricity outages and vehicles trapped in the mud. The village of Fautasi on Samoa’s main island of Upolo has apparently been totally flattened by the surging seawater and police are trying to move residents to higher land. One journalist who has already visited the local hospital has said that there are bodies everywhere.

The earthquake which measured 8.0 lasted for around one and a half minutes and started a 6.48 in the morning. The editor of the Samoa Observer newspaper said that this was one of the worst times for a tsunami to hit as adults and children would just have been making their way to work and school.

President Obama has already declared the tsunami a major disaster and has ordered aid to be sent to the area.

Hudson hero to return to the cockpit

Tuesday, September 29th, 2009

U.S. Airways have said that Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed his aircraft in New York’s Hudson River will soon be ready to return to work. On January 15th this year, Sullenberger managed to ditch his Airbus A320 safely into the Hudson River just moments after he had taken off from La Guardia Airport. The aircraft got into difficulty after an airstrike with a flock of geese killed both of the aircraft’s engines. All 155 passengers and crew survived the incident.

U.S. Airways say that Sullenberger has now completed all the training that is required for him to return to duty, including simulator training and time flying with an instructor. Sullenberger said in a statement released by U.S. Airways that although he had enjoyed spending more time with his family since the accident, he was ultimately looking forward to rejoining the team at U.S. Airways and getting back into the cockpit.

Jeffrey Skiles, the First Officer on board the A320 that Sullenberger was piloting said back in March this year that he would be returning to the cockpit. Both pilots have been praised for what has been called a textbook emergency landing. The aircraft was at only 2,800 feet when both engines stopped, giving Sullenberger around three and a half minutes to either restart the engines or find an appropriate airstrip to land on. The pilot chose to land on the Hudson River, and Sullenberger says that he tried hard to land the aircraft as close to the ferry terminals as possible, so that rescue would be made easier.

British Airways will now charge for seat reservations

Monday, September 28th, 2009

In yet another move to increase flagging revenues, British Airways has announced that it will now charge passengers to choose which seat they would like to sit in. The move has brought derision from low-cost airlines who say that it is one more move by the airline to try and mimic them whilst still charging premium fees.

British Airways will now charge up to £60 for a passenger to choose where they want to sit before they check in. An airlines spokesperson said the decision to now charge passengers for what used to be a free service is in reaction to customer demand for more control over their seating arrangements. Customers do not have to pay to choose a seat, but if they elect not to, it is more likely they will be assigned a less desirable position on board the aircraft such as a middle seat. For those travelling together in World Traveller Plus it will now cost £80 extra on the price of two tickets to ensure that they are sitting next to one another.

Head of research at the consumer body Which?, Rochelle Turner said it was unfortunate that an airline like British Airways was imitating the budget airlines by making what was included in the price of a ticket now an extra charge. Research at Which? has shown that the majority of passengers just want to pay one charge that covers all and are fed up of the constant price splitting.

The new charge along with the loss of free meals and decreasing baggage allowances is going to start making it more difficult for passengers to see where the differences between British Airways and its low cost rivals actually lie.

Ryanair now invites passengers to smoke

Friday, September 25th, 2009

Low-cost European airline Ryanair has just announced its latest revenue boosting scheme. It will now go against all the rules in the airline book sby allowing passengers to puff on a cigarette in the aircraft cabin. Smoking was phased out across all passenger aircraft during the nineties, and now Ryanair has chosen to bring the practice back. However, there is of course a monetary catch. Passengers will not actually be allowed to bring on board and light up their favourite brand during flights, but will be given the opportunity to buy a packet of smoke-free cigarettes from airline stewards and stewardesses during the flight.

The new brand of smokeless cigarettes will be sold by the airline for €6.00 a pack. A press release from Ryanair says that unlike real cigarettes the smokeless variety do not contain any harmful chemicals or toxins. They are harmless both to those puffing away on them and also those sitting near the ‘smoke-free’ smoker. The cigarettes have the look of the real thing and will provide the requisite hit of nicotine to the user.

Ryanair have not given any detailed reasons as to why they have decided to start supplying the own-brand smokeless cigarettes. All they have said is that in a survey recently conducted, Ryanair found that 24,000 of their passengers declared that they would like the opportunity to light up whilst on a flight.

Ryanair seems to be concerned that it would like to give passengers the opportunity not to have to worry about when they are going to get their next nicotine hit, but at €6.00 per pack many are wondering if this is just the latest in a long line of schemes by the budget airline to tap into more and more bizarre revenue streams.

Bogus rental car owner runs up petrol bill of £3,000

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

Police in the West Midlands are hunting for a man who used a cloned petrol card to pay for petrol nearly forty times at the same BP Supermart petrol station over a period of six days.

The man, who was Asian in appearance and had a black goatee beard according to police, told employees at the BP Supermart that he was the owner of a car hire firm and that he liked to top up the tanks of his rental fleet at night.

The bogus rental car owner would pick up drivers in Birmingham by offering them the chance to fill their cars up with half-price petrol. He would then lead a convoy of vehicles twenty-six miles out of the city to the petrol station in Bilston. The drivers would allow the man to fill up their cars and the con man would pay for the petrol on his cloned card, registered to a haulage company in Tamworth. Drivers of the ‘hire cars’ would then pay the man half the fuel value in cash.

Over the six day period the man managed to run up a bill of £3,000. Police have said that they are looking for a heavily built Asian man between the age of thirty-five and forty. They say that all offences took place at the BP Supermart petrol station which is located on the junction of Mosely and Willenhall Roads in Bilston. The offences by the bogus rental car company owner took place between May 14th and May 19th this year.

Porsche joins the Avis car rental fleet

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

As of 1st October car rental company Avis will be offering the Porsche Panamera to its car hire customers in Germany. The Panamera was unveiled in April last year at the Shanghai Automobile Show and Avis is the only car hire company in the world at present to be able to offer it to its customers. As part of the Avis Prestige Rental Car Service the new Porsche model really will allow customers to travel in both comfort and style.

The four-seat, four-door Panamera is unlike many other high performance sports cars in that it is no longer built just for two. The Porsche will now sit alongside Avis’s Ferrari F430 F1 Spider, the Aston Martin V8 Vantage Roadster and the Jaguar XKR 5.0 Cabriolet in the prestige category. However, unlike its neighbours the new Porsche was built with fuel efficiency in mind meaning that it will be far cheaper to run.

The Panamera has a 4.8 liter, 400 bhp direct injection V8 engine and is designed to be a little lighter than other cars of similar performance. It has optional aerodynamics and PDK dual clutch transmission. The result of these and other innovations, according to Avis, make the Panamera extremely attractive as it means that car is designed to keep fuel consumption down.

The price of hiring a Panamera will start at €189 per day and €567 for customers who wish to take one over the weekend. Although Avis will only rent the Porsche to customers in Germany at the moment it says it will be monitoring demand to see if it will roll the model out over the rest of the network some time in the future.

Hertz car rental in strong financial position

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Hertz has announced that its special purpose subsidiary, Hertz Vehicle Financing has just completed a $2.14 billion issuance of asset backed notes. These are due by the beginning of 2012 and have Controlled Amortization Payment Dates set between November 2011 and the first month of 2012. Hertz have also announced that Moody’s Investors Service have given the notes a rating of ‘Aa1′. The issuance of these notes means that Hertz has managed to complete transactions one year ahead of schedule. This will have an affect on most of its U.S. fleet, which was scheduled to be refinanced by the end of next year.

Hertz car hire has also said that it has no important corporate debt maturities before 2012 and that it still has over $1 billion in corporate borrowing capacity that it has not used.

Hertz’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Mark P. Frissora says that completing the asset backed notes facility demonstrates that the car rental firm has the ability to function strongly even when financial conditions prove to be difficult. The original target for the deal was $1.5 billion, but oversubscription meant that Hertz was able to raise $2.14 billion in refinancing. Frissora declared that along with being able to attract new money to the business, most of the existing lenders recommitted to Hertz with some of them increasing the amount of money they put in. He went on to say that the company was confident that it could refinance any remainder of debt throughout 2010 and that he believed the overall result proved that Hertz was in a very solid financial position.

New car sharing rental scheme comes to New Plymouth

Monday, September 21st, 2009

The town of New Plymouth in New Zealand has come up with a new concept in car hire aimed at persuading those people who may be thinking about purchasing their own car not to bother. Cityhop, New Zealand’s only car sharing company is to roll out its single Daihatsu Sirion for the residents of New Plymouth to hire on an hourly basis.

The idea behind the scheme is not to challenge the other car hire firms who usually target tourists for their business, but to provide a car that locals can use if they need to get to the airport or pick up some shopping. Nathaniel Benefield, New Plymouth District Council’s sustainable transport coordinator says that he hopes that the car will persuade more people to walk, cycle or jump on a bus rather than use their own cars and pick up the Daihatsu Sirion when they really need the use of a car.

The car can be picked up opposite the bus station through use of a smart card and will go out for $15 per hour. The charge will cover all insurance and fuel, but will not cover parking tickets or other traffic violation fines. Registration will cost $50 and anyone who owns a full drivers license is welcome to take advantage of the scheme.

It is hoped that the scheme will start a car sharing trend in New Plymouth similar to those that are already popular in other New Zealand cities such as Auckland and Wellington and in countries like the U.S. and the U.K.