Travel Weekly's Ireland E-Letter: Aug. 14, 2003 August 14, 2003 Share 1 -- UP, UP AND E-WAY: Aer Lingus--flush from the news that it made a profit in the first half of the year--announced it will introduce electronic ticketing in its major markets by year-end. Operating profit at Aer Lingus for the first half of this year was about $16.2 million, an improvement over losses of $14.2 million and $43 million in the same periods in 2002 and 2001, respectively. In the first six months of 2003, expenses declined 14.2% year-over-year and the load factor was 80%, up from 73% a year ago. Aer Lingus chief executive Willie Walsh said Ireland's flag carrier "remains on track to achieve our full-year forecast outcome [but] we must further improve profitability, continue to reduce costs, add new routes and lower our fares." Aer Lingus will introduce e-ticketing via the Amadeus Electronic Ticket Server (ETS). "It is a cost-effective and quick way to issue Aer Lingus tickets, which will save both the airline and travel agents, significant time and money," said Enda Corneille, head of sales for Europe at Aer Lingus. Through ETS, agents in Ireland this month will be able to issue Aer Lingus e-tickets; roll-out in the U.S. will follow by the end of the year, when some 30% of tickets will be electronic. HE STAYED, SHE STAYED: The 1,500-acre Mount Juliet Conrad resort in Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny, is offering its new short-break packages in "gentlemen's" and "ladies'" versions, commissionable at 10%, subject to availability. The 1,500-acre resort, which underwent $1.35 million in renovations last year and became part of Hilton Int'l's exclusive Conrad Hotels chain, has crafted two-night "B&B" stays priced at about $338 per person, double occupancy. Rates include accommodations, breakfast, one dinner and either one spa treatment [for women] or one round of golf [for men]. Champagne welcomes and space-available room upgrades sweeten the deal. Though the golf targets male clients, and the spa package is geared for women, both activities are available to all guests. "We'd be delighted to offer spa treatments to men or get the ladies out on the golf course," said Jill O'Hare, director of sales and marketing. "And if there are guests who don't like either golfing or the spa, we can offer them shooting, horseback riding or fishing as part of the same package." To book, e-mail Trish Condon at Tcondon@mountjuliet.ie, or Gerard Mellet at Gmellet@mountjuliet.ie. For more information, visit www.mountjuliet.com.SLEEP HERE: Dublin is in the big leagues for putting people in beds, according to the city's tourism board and European Cities Tourism. The Irish capital was fourth in Europe in 2002 for overnight stays for the second year in a row, after top-three major markets London, Paris and Rome, and ahead of Amsterdam, Vienna and Barcelona. "Bearing in mind the tough factors facing tourism, it is consoling to get confirmation that Dublin maintains its popularity with overseas visitors," said Frank Magee, chief executive of Dublin Tourism. In 2002, 3.4 million foreign visitors spent an average of four "bed-nights" in Dublin, for a total of some 13 million bed-nights. For more information, visit www.visitdublin.com.RAIL IT: Although the vast majority of visitors touring Ireland avail themselves of motorcoaches or rental automobiles, Iarnrod Eireann--or Irish Rail--indeed provides fast inter-city train services between Dublin and 11 other Ireland destinations, including Belfast, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Waterford. Premium rail services with souped up food service and amenities include CityGold between Dublin, Cork and Limerick, and the Eurostar-style, high-speed Enterprise route between Dublin and Belfast. Iarnrod Eireann trains operate over 1,700 miles of track, carrying more than 30 million passengers annually. Point-to-point Irish Rail tickets and the combination BritRail Pass + Ireland railpass are available prior to departure from the U.S. from BritRail at www.britrail.net or (877) 677-1066; CIT Rail Adventures at www.railagent.com/cit and (800) CIT-TOUR; and Rail Europe/DER at (888) 382-7245 and agent.raileurope.com. For more information on Irish Rail, visit www.irishrail.ie/breaks_and_trips.