AERPACKAGES: Aer Lingus is back in the packaged
vacation business, peddling air-inclusive on-line "Aerpackages"
priced from $717 per person, based on double occupancy, for travel
Sept. 1 to Oct. 15. For example, the $717 "B&B" package
includes roundtrip air from Baltimore, Boston or New York; use of a
rental car for seven days; six night's bed-and-breakfast
accommodations; and daily Irish breakfast. Other departure gateways
are available -- at a higher cost -- as are departure dates later
in the year, at a lower cost. "Aerpackages" offerings -- only
bookable on line -- also include the four-night "Glimpse of
Dublin," priced from $736, and the $936 per person "Three City
Stay" deal to Dublin, Galway and Killarney. Aer Lingus is not
paying travel agents commission on these Web-only deals; for more,
check out www.aerlingus.com.
BLUE SKIES: Dublin-based European lowfare
airline Ryanair said it achieved record traffic and profit growth
for the quarter ended June 30. Passenger traffic grew by 45%, to
5.1 million, although average load factors and yields were down.
Ryanair -- which models itself on successful U.S. carrier Southwest
-- blamed those dips on the launch of 50 new routes and two new
bases of operation; the weakness of the U.K. pound vis-a-vis the
euro; the closure of recently acquired competitor Buzz for the
month of April; and its continuing pledge to offer the lowest
fares. But total revenues rose by 26%, while adjusted net profit
increased by 12%, to a record $49.5 million. For more, visit www.ryanair.com.
BYE, AER RIANTA: Looking to spur development
through competition, Ireland's Dept. of Transport decided to split
up airport management monopoly Aer Rianta and establish independent
authorities at the country's three largest airports -- Dublin, Cork
and Shannon -- within one year's time. "Under the new arrangements
the three airports will compete with each other and vigorously to
pursue new business, free from central control," said Minister for
Transport Seamus Brennan. "This healthy competitive tension and
unrestricted quest for new routes, airlines and passengers will
grow the business to the benefit of the airports, the regions,
tourism, job creation and the country overall." The new Dublin
Airport authority will inherit all of Aer Rianta's debt; the Dept.
of Transport has not yet decided on the future of Aer Rianta's
other holdings. For more, visit www.transport.ie.
OFF TO IRELAND: Fifty new Ireland specialists
accredited by Tourism Ireland's Shamrock Club program will set off
on six-night tours of western and northern Ireland -- including
stops in Galway, Sligo, Derry, Belfast and Dublin, as well as to
the Cliffs of Moher, the Giants' Causeway and Bunratty Folk Park --
this October. The $499 all-inclusive fam trip "is one of the many
program benefits you can only avail yourself of by completing our
online course," notes program manager John Daly. Agents interested
in qualifying for next year's graduation trip can check out the
Shamrock Club Web site at www.shamrockclub.net/register, which offers access to
five online education and certification modules and other
interactive features. For more information, call Daly at (212)
BEAT GOES ON UP NORTH: Advise clients both
tin-eared and "at-tuned" to take in the tempos at the wealth of
music festivals and events set for late summer and early fall up in
Northern Ireland. For more information on music in Northern
Ireland, visit www.tourismireland.com/festivals.html or www.discovernorthernireland.com/events. A sampling of
events set this year follows:
• Irish Classical Guitar Festival, Aug. 28 to 31, University of
Ulster Magee Campus, Derry, www.ulster.ac.uk/culture/guitar.
• The Appalachian and Bluegrass Music Festival, Sept. 5 to 7,
Ulster-American Folk Park, Omagh, County Tyrone, www.folkpark.com.
• Ards International Guitar Festival, Oct. 2 to 5, Newtownards,
County Down, www.ardsguitarfestival.com.
• Mid-Ulster Folk Fest, Oct. 3 to 5, Burnavon Arts & Cultural
Centre, Cookstown, County Tyrone, www.burnavon.com.
• Derrygonnelly Traditional Music Festival, Oct. 10 to 12, Country