Thursday, 18 September 2014

Launch dates of new Cambodian airlines

Report by : Gan Yung Chyan
                 / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to All Press & Travel Professionals

Two new Cambodian airlines owned by Chinese and Cambodian investors are planning to launch domestic flights in September 2014. They are Apsara International Air (Apsara Air, in short) and Bassaka Air.

Apsara Air has received its first Airbus A320 aircraft on 8 September 2014 and will launch daily flights from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh on 20 September 2014 before launching flights to 15 Chinese cities including Shanghai, Beijing and Xiamen and at a later stage to Seoul-Incheon, Tokyo-Narita and Russia.

Apsara Air is co-owned by Air Hanuman, an airline ticket wholesaler based in Siem Reap which previously operated charter flights to Utapao from Siem Reap in 2012 using TonleSap Airlines aircraft. The Chief Marketing Officer of Apsara Air, Chris Ho, is Air Hanuman's founder.

Apsara Air's logo shows a Cambodian Apsara dancer whose wings look similar to the wings of Japan Airlines' crane. It has been endorsed as an authentic Cambodian airline.

Bassaka Air previously known as PP Air plans to operate charter flights only but it did not reveal the exact date of its launch in September 2014.

Cambodia Bayon Airlines partially owned by China's AVIC will launch scheduled flights from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and Silhanouville on 21 December 2014.

If Bassaka Air successfully launched flights later this month, Cambodia will have six private airlines by end of December. They include Cambodia Bayon Airlines, Skywings Asia Airlines, Wat Phnom Airlines, Legacy Air, Bassaka Air and Apsara Air.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Praise and Worship Service in Kuta, Bali

Heritage Report by : Gan Yung Chyan
                               / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to Everyone

Kuta is not all about windsurfing, swimming and beach-side shopping. It is also a small town where tourists can worship God  but where to find a spiritual place or worship where there is no church building, no mosque and no temple?

God has a way for travellers who want to keep the seventh day (Saturday) a distinct different day from the rest of the week in Kuta. He negotiated with the management of Harris Hotel & Residences Riverview Kuta who allowed the brethren of Bali's Seventh-Day Adventist Church to rent a meeting room in Harris Riverview four years ago and started a small congregation in the hotel.

The congregation in Harris Riverview form the SDA Halleluyah Church of today. This hotel church has attracted tourists from as far as Tanzania and I was blessed to worship with them on 13 September.

Worship is mainly in Bahasa Indonesia with intermittent short English translations by the speakers and members. The worship starts with an hour of Christians singing hymns in Bahasa Indonesia and English followed by a one-hour sermon.

Sabbath is the birthday of humanity and it is delightful to end the worship service with a birthday song wishing everyone Happy Sabbath, Shalom and Happy Birthday! Free lunch after the service is a privilege for all.

Address: SDA Halleluyah Church, Harris Hotel & Residences Riverview Kuta, Jalan Raya Kuta No. 62, Kuta, Bali. Facebook : gmahk.halleluyah.bali. Contact member or call Harris for directions.

Stay at Harris Hotel & Residences Riverview Kuta at 50 USD per room per night. Harris is Indonesia's largest chain of budget hotels with branches in Batam, Bali, Surabaya, Jakarta, Makassar and other major cities of Indonesia. It is known to play host to Gospel camps, worship services and conferences in Indonesia.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Singapore Airlines wins Skytrax Awards while its subsidiaries were nominated

Report by : Gan Yung Chyan
                  / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to All Press & Travel Professionals

Singapore's best Airline, Singapore Airlines, has won the Best First Class Cabin Award and Best Business Class Seat announced in Skytrax the World Airline Awards at Farnborough International Airshow. Having an award from The Skytrax World Airline Awards is a global benchmark of airline excellence.

Singapore Airlines outbeat All Nippon Airways and Etihad Airways to win first place in the Best First Class Cabin Award.  It also outbeat Japan Airlines and Oman Air to win first place in the Best Business Class Seat Award. However, it has not won any award in the categories of Premium Economy and Best Asia Airline Awards. The Best Economy Class Seat Award goes to Saudi Arabian Airlines while Singapore Airlines is ranked sixth under the same award category.

Singapore Airlines' subsidiaries Scoot and SilkAir have also been nominated under separate award categories by Skytrax.

Many highly-influential First Class passengers prefer to travel with Singapore Airlines due to the highly-pampered service onboard and seat screens that work but Economy Class passengers often complain of seat screens that are unable to work. Besides, Singapore Airlines should only supply each Economy Class seat with a pillow as both the mattress and pillow on the Economy Class take up space and make the roomier space with wide legroom more cramped.

Singapore Airlines is ranked fifth this year for the Best Airline Staff Service in Asia by Skytrax. The first winner of the Skytrax Best Airline Staff Service in Asia Award goes to Thai Airways International. Garuda Indonesia is the second runner-up.

The male crew of Singapore Airlines onboard should smile more. Singapore Airlines should actively promote and market the image of the Singapore Crew instead of the Singapore Girl image although she is the pride of Singapore.

In terms of airline catering, Singapore Airlines is ranked sixth in the category of Best Economy Class Catering and third in the category of Best First Class Catering.

Singapore Airlines' low-cost long-haul subsidiary Scoot is ranked fourth in the Best Low-Cost Premium Cabin Airline Award category by Skytrax this year while SilkAir is third behind Bangkok Airways and  Dragonair under the Best Regional Airline in Asia Award category in 2014.

Tigerair due to the lacklustre inflight and customer service quality is ranked eighth in the Best Low-Cost Airline in Asia Award category behind SpiceJet. The Best Low-Cost Airline in Asia Award goes to AirAsia Berhad. Jetstar Asia Airways is ranked fourth.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines has launched its Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix KrisShop Edition onboard its flights in September 2014 selling exorbitant special collectibles, with the polo T-shirts selling at 63 Singapore Dollars each and 1oz 999.9 Gold Medallion selling at 3088 Singapore Dollars each. There are numerous Chinese translation and grammatical errors in this KrisShop edition collectible though. The publisher of KrisShop should improve the quality of the Chinese translation to attract passengers to buy Singapore Airlines' duty-free items. A lacklustre inflight magazine can be a contributing factor to a lower ranking in the Best Airline Seat Award.

Singapore Airlines maintains third position in the Skytrax Airline of the Year Award overall.

Airport Review : Ngurah Rai International Airport, Kuta, Denpasar, Bali

Airport Review : Gan Yung Chyan
                         / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to Everyone

Ngurah Rai International Airport, after modernization, is now Indonesia's most beautiful airport. The pictures below show the architectural beauty and inner beauty of the airport. However, like KLIA2, it has only a pair of toilets on each level. Queues at the toilets are expected if passenger numbers exceed the airport's target.

Currently, domestic and international flights are handled in the same new terminal but in a few months' time, the refurbished domestic terminal will re-open to handle domestic flights.

Hotel Review : The Stones Hotel, Legian, Bali

Hotel Review by : Gan Yung Chyan
                          / KUCINTA SETIA
Distributed to Everyone

The Stones by night and day

The Stones Hotel in Legian, Bali is a three-year-old five-star hotel managed by the Marriott Group of Hotels. Unlike other five-star hotels in the world, toothpaste and toothbrushes are only provided upon request. If you were a business traveller intending to stay in this hotel, please bring your toothbrush and toothpaste. Other toiletries including bath gel. cleansing shampoo, hair conditioner and towels are available in each room.

In each room, free snacks and bottles of mineral water are served everyday.

The Stones Kitchen of the hotel serves healthy and delicious food. In the morning, it serves a herbal booster concocted with at least apple, ginger and beetroot. Ask The Stones Kitchen for detail.

On top of the roof of one of its buildings is a rooftop swimming pool with a frangipani tree on top of a presidential suite.

There is a Bali painting studio that sells Bali paintings and a BNI merchant bank branch will open in The Stones Hotel by October 2014 to cater to the needs of guests staying in the hotel and other accommodation nearby.

The Stones Entertainment Centre, not owned by the Marriott Group, is ideal for holding mini-conventions and exhibitions in Kuta, Bali.

It is a delight staying in this hotel if you can afford it.