China Southern Airlines has decided not to renew its contract with SkyTeam

Vytautas Kielaitis /

China Southern Airlines has decided not to renew its contract with SkyTeam, the global airline alliance, as of 1 January 2019.

China Southern’s decision reflects its strategic development, the changing trends of the global aviation industry and the evolution of alliances.

SkyTeam and China Southern have agreed to work closely together to ensure a seamless transition for all customers and partners. That process will run throughout 2019 and will complete by the year-end.

Kristin Colvile, SkyTeam CEO: “Network has always been the foundation of SkyTeam. Our new value proposition retains that strong integrated network and combines it with our continued focus on improving customer experience through technology. China Southern has been a valued member of SkyTeam. We respect its decision and wish it well.”

Thomas Cook confirms 20 new own-brand hotels for 2019

Thomas Cook has today confirmed the opening of 20 own-brand hotels between now and end of 2019 including six in Spain, four in Greece and three in Turkey. The new openings include the company’s first Casa Cook in its biggest market, Spain; the first family Casa Cook, and seven confirmed Cook’s Club hotels.

Further new openings are set to be confirmed within the coming months which will take the company’s portfolio to 200 hotels with around 40,000 rooms. This makes it one of the top 40 largest hotel groups in the world.

The expansion is part of Thomas Cook’s strategy to deliver sustainable profitable growth through a carefully-curated portfolio of own-brand hotels that have higher customer satisfaction, more repeat guests and deliver higher margins than the holiday company’s broader selection of hotels.

Casa Cook Ibiza will open next summer as one of the key assets of Thomas Cook Hotel Investments, the hotel fund that the company launched earlier this year with hotel development company LMEY. The 189-room hotel will be managed by Thomas Cook and is expected to continue the success of the first two openings for the brand where more than 75 per cent of guests have been new to the company.

The second Casa Cook for summer 2019 will be the first for families and open in Chania, Crete. The 106-room hotel, delayed from summer 2018, will take an alternative approach to the traditional kids club with more of a focus on learning through play, art and local culture.

Building on the success of the first Cook’s Club in Crete, this summer, Thomas Cook has also named seven new hotels and expects to confirm a further three in the coming months. The new Cook’s Clubs include a managed hotel in Palma Beach, Majorca that Thomas Cook will convert from an existing smartline hotel, as well as two franchised hotels in Turkey, a further two in Greece, and another in Italy. The brand will also open in Gambia in winter 2019. Three further Cook’s Club properties in Bulgaria, Egypt and Greece are expected to be confirmed soon.

Thomas Cook’s largest own-brand is SENTIDO hotels which will add a further six hotels next year to take the total to 70. The new openings include a 184-room hotel in Majorca that will sit in Thomas Cook Hotel Investments and will undergo refurbishment to bring it up to SENTIDO standards.

SunConnect, the holiday company’s other family-focused hotel brand, will open four hotels next summer taking it to 20 hotels across Europe and North Africa. The brand has seen significant investment in quality training and support for its hoteliers in the past couple of years leading to the NPS lifting more than three points in two years.

Aldiana, the club resort that Thomas Cook now owns 42% of following an investment last year, will open a club in Ampflwang, Austria as well as a new-build resort in Calabria.

Enric Noguer, chief of Hotels & Resorts, said: “Expanding our own-brand hotel portfolio is central to the success of the whole business. Operating and overseeing a group of well-managed and high-quality hotels that our customers recognise and turn to for the better service and reliability they experience is an important part of our strategy as a group.

“These latest announcements demonstrate further progress in developing our Hotels and Resorts division into a hotel company within Thomas Cook, working with strong partners and focused around hotel management, franchising, and sales and distribution.

“Next year we will add three more managed hotels taking our total to 24 hotels as we accelerate our ambitions to take on more management contracts for hotels around the Mediterranean.”

Thomas Cook has also removed a further nine hotels that did not meet brand quality standards.

RIU Hotels presents its new hotel in Cape Verde: Riu Palace Boavista

RIU Hotels has just opened the Riu Palace Boavista, which is its fifth hotel in Cape Verde and its third on the island of Boa Vista, following a total investment of 70 million euros. The five-star hotel is located by Praia das Dunas and it offers the exclusive all-inclusive 24-hour service of RIU together with the sophistication of the elegant Riu Palace range. The hotel, which has 505 rooms, three pools and a broad range of cuisine on offer, opens ten years after the launch of Riu Karamboa, the chain’s first hotel on the island.

RIU arrived in Cape Verde in 2005, when what is now the Riu Palace Cabo Verde opened on Sal island and just a year later, what is now Riu Funana opened its doors. The CEO of RIU Hotels, Luis Riu, saw the enormous potential of the destination from his first visit, due to its beauty and its beaches, but above all, its peacefulness, exoticism and the charisma and happiness that the people exude in every corner of the islands. RIU’s great commitment to the destination has resulted in a total of five hotels, which together have 3,480 rooms and 2,500 directly-employed members of staff. Every year, RIU’s Cape Verde hotels receive more than 235,000 guests and the total investment in the islands comes to more than 340 million euros.

“Cape Verde has been a unique experience. We faced all kinds of logistical and infrastructure challenges there, which we tackled using our accumulated experience and Cape Verde’s own determination to develop its tourist industry. We have also been inspired by all of our employees there. We can now say that we have an excellent professional team, who more than make up for their lack of experience with their enthusiasm and appetite for learning. In fact, the new hotel will be managed by local staff who have grown professionally in our Sal and Boa Vista hotels, and who are now at the stage where they can open and manage the various departments of this category of hotel, which is something I am particularly proud of. From the first day, the Cape Verdean people have won the hearts of our guests. When we built the first hotel in 2005, no one expected the destination to have this level of success. This fills us with satisfaction and renews our desire to carry on committing to Boa Vista and Cape Verde,” explains Luis Riu.

The RIU Group has an ambitious expansion plan for the next five years, with a strong commitment to new destinations, especially in Asia and Africa, and large global cities where it plans to open Riu Plaza urban hotels. The hotel chain, which goes back more than 65 years, is characterised by its strong commitment to the destinations where it settles, investing in long-term projects that involve the local community through its purchasing, employment and sustainability policies. RIU is also making a big investment in the development and improvement of an increasingly sustainable operation, and all of its projects are guided by respect for the environments and the local culture and environment.

TUI fly and TUI Deutschland are moving closer together

TUI Group is strengthening collaboration between TUI fly and TUI Deutschland so as to create integrated management of marketing and operations in Aviation in a highly competitive environment. The 49-year-old flight captain and previous co-CEO will be the sole CEO of TUI fly GmbH and member of TUI’s source market Board Central Region.

“Roland Keppler took over as CEO TUI fly Deutschland in the autumn of 2016 under very challenging circumstances and managed to navigate the airline through turbulent times. He prepared the integration of the airline into TUI Aviation and helped develop the strategy of intensifying the integration of our airlines with the source market organisations, which we are now implementing. We expressly wish to thank Roland Keppler for his commitment and wish him all the best for the future,” said David Burling, TUI Group CEO Markets and Airlines.

Oliver Lackmann, who has already been COO and Accountable Manager since March this year, will now join the source market Board Central Region, headed by Marek Andryszak, CEO TUI Deutschland. TUI fly is thus closely involved in all agreements of the German tour operator, and TUI fly and TUI Germany cooperate in order to take joint decisions. TUI fly’s HR functions now report to Sybille Reiß, member of the source market Board Central Region, while all Finance functions report to Mathias Kiep, who also sits on the source market Board Central Region.

TUI Group’s five holiday airlines are also moving closer together. A number of key functions will be pooled in TUI Aviation so as to enhance efficiency between the companies in the UK, Belgium, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Germany. This integration will now also be intensified as the flight operations will also collaborate more closely. Oliver Lackmann, a trained pilot, will take over as Group Director Flight Operations including Compliance & Safety Management and represent TUI fly on TUI’s Aviation Board. He will report to Kenton Jarvis, CEO TUI Aviation.

TUI Group’s fleet now comprises more than 150 aircraft. At the beginning of the year, a comprehensive fleet renewal programme was launched with the acquisition of 72 Boeing 737 Max jets (plus 48 options).