el al logo 88.
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With energy prices having dropped some 25 percent from an all-time high of $78.40 on July 14, a number of airlines, though not all, have responded by reducing the fuel surcharges on their tickets.
To its credit, El Al was among the first to lower the charge, even as its business has been under increasing financial pressure. For bookings made after October 5 on flights operating from October 18, the local airline cut the surcharge from $148 to $120 on long-haul flights (round-trip tickets), from $88 to $70 on flights to Europe and from $52 to $40 on flights in the area.
Lufthansa followed up by lowering its charge by $10 to $60 per leg on long-haul flights, including Frankfurt-Tel Aviv, while Swiss kept its surcharges at the same level on Zurich-Tel Aviv flights and lowered it by $10 on intercontinental flights.
Air France said it has reduced its surcharge by â‚¬2 per leg on medium-haul flights, including Paris-Tel Aviv, and by â‚¬7 on long-haul flights.
Of the other airlines flying to Tel Aviv surveyed by The Jerusalem Post, Delta Airlines, British Airways and Air Canada have not cut their surcharges.
In-flight Internet for free
Passengers on El Al and Lufthansa flights equipped with in-flight Internet access will be able to use the service free of charge until the end of the year after Boeing announced it would close down its Connexion by Boeing unit at the end of 2006. A spokesperson for Boeing Israel confirmed that as of October 1 the service was being offered free of charge to all its airline customers.
Boeing decided in August to scrap the service saying the market had not materialized as expected. The decision cost the company $320 million.
Lufthansa, which was among the biggest proponents of the service, reportedly investing $120m., has the connection on one of its two daily flights to Tel Aviv, while El Al has two planes equipped with Connexion, which it uses on long-haul flights to the US and the Far East .
Delta to offer flat bed
Delta Airlines said it will launch new private suites, including flat beds, for its business class passengers starting from 2008.
The launch initially will be in the two new Boeing 777 planes the airline is scheduled to receive at the beginning of 2008 that will be used on the Tel Aviv route. The company said it plans to equip the rest of its 777 fleet starting in the fall of 2008 and also will offer a lie flat option on its 767 aircraft. The entire upgrade is expected to be complete by 2010. Delta currently operates one daily flight direct to Atlanta that was launched in April.
Businessmen steer clear of tourists
A survey conducted by the Tel Aviv boutique hotel Vital, showed that business travelers prefer to stay in hotels away from the main tourist areas when they travel abroad.
Approximately 100 local and foreign businessmen questioned said they would rather be located closer to the city and business district or places where they would be having their meetings. Some 50% said they prefer hotels without elaborate lobbies or without a lobby at all, saying they would rather do their check-in and out with professional clerks who provide the service quickly.
VAT refund service launched
Israeli travelers wishing to avoid the long lines sometimes found at airport VAT refund offices can now claim their refund after their return to Israel. Tel Aviv-based Total Money Financial Services' said it has partnered with VAT refund company Global Refund, enabling travelers to receive reimbursement for shopping in 32 different countries. It also is in talks with various local retail chains to give the option to receive coupons for spending at those stores instead of the cash, it said. With the new offering, travelers can send their invoices to the company by mail or visit its offices in Tel Aviv to initiate the transaction. Information about the company can be found on the its Web site www.totalmoney.co.il.
Make way for Tour de Israel
While the tourism market enters an expected lull for the winter, the industry is exploring new avenues to encourage foreign tourist arrivals. Tour operator International Travel & Congresses has partnered with cycling Web site www.bikeisrael.com to market local cycling events to tourists. The first project the two are working together on is the "full moon tour" at Timna Park at the beginning of November. They are planning a follow-up event at a race around the Dead Sea in January.
Aiming for Spanish, German tourists
The Tourism Ministry said it signed an agreement with Air Madrid to embark on a â‚¬350,000 joint marketing campaign to boost tourism from Spain and Latin America. Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog met with 21 mayors and members of various Spanish municipalities in an effort to strengthen tourism from across the Mediterranean.
Separately, Herzog was in Berlin on Wednesday and met with the German health minister with the intent of encouraging German tourism to the Dead Sea. He also met with the German parliamentary committee on tourism.
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