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Neil Sowerby’s travel shorts 16/08/2010

A380 Super-Jumbo’s Manchester debut, a relaxing Elbow, jazz in The Azores and flights for Mecca pilgrims

Published on August 18th 2010.

Neil Sowerby’s travel shorts 16/08/2010

MANCHESTER Airport’s Runway Visitor Park is expecting thousands of spectators on September 1, to welcome the arrival of the world’s biggest airliner when it touches down for the first time. The iconic A380 Airbus – a 517-seat, double-decker aircraft, dubbed the “Super-Jumbo” – is due to land at at 12.25pm, commencing a daily scheduled Emirates service in what will be a world first for a regional airport. The event has been compared with the last flight of Concorde to Manchester in 2003.

The Runway Visitor Park will open from 8am on September 1. Only pre-booked tickets will see visitors gain entry and customers can book them here. Entry is free for those arriving on foot or by bus, but car entry will be by pre-booked ticket only, at £12 per car with up to five occupants. Tickets will be valid until 4pm, enabling fans to watch the A380’s departure at around 3.30pm. The Runway Visitor Park is located next to Manchester Airport’s runways, two minutes from Junction 6 of the M56 motorway, off the A538 on Louis Paulhan Way.

The new services on the A380 will boost capacity by an extra 75 seats a day and introduce Emirates’ award-winning First Class cabin, which includes another world first – onboard showers.

FOR those who claim I don’t know my Air Ace from my Elbow, there was one omission from my otherwise comprehensive review of the new Manchester Airport Terminal One Escape Loungeclick herep>Visitors to the new £1.7m facility were asked to name the song most likely to relax them before a flight and our own dear Elbow topped the poll with One Day Like This from their Mercury Prizewinning album, Seldom Seen Kid. Guy Garvey and the band paid a flying visit to the Lounge en route to Mallorca to receive a commemorative disc.

MEANWHILE, if buying a new shirt is your ideal last minute preparation for your hols, check out the new TM Lewin store, which in Terminal One, opposite Biza Tax and the Duty Free store.

AFFORDABLE luxury? Malta is a great, year-round short break destination, three hours’ flight from Manchester, with a range of chic accommodation, including the recently opened designer George Hotel in the exclusive St Julian’s district, competition for the seafront town house Hotel Juliani with its rooftop swimming pool. The islands’s capital Valletta, a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasts sophisticated lodgings such as Maison la Vallette and Valletta Nobile, while seclusion seekers should head for the ‘silent city’ of Mdina, the medieval capital. There the sensitively restored five star Xara Palace hotel (Relais & Chateaux) attracts the likes of Brad Pitt and Orlando Bloom. Fly to Malta from Manchester between November 8-December 21 or January 10-April 16 2011 to receive Air Malta’s best deal at £99 return including taxes and charges and an in flight hot meal, drink and 20kg free baggage allowance. Visit www.airmalta.com for hotel, flight and car hire reservations and further island information.

MONARCH has added Palma to its winter 2010/2011 routes from Manchester. Thrice-weekly services will operate throughout the winterto the Mallorcan capital with fares from just £38.99 one way, including taxes and charges (£61.99 return). There are also additional flights on exiting services to Alicante, Malaga, Menorca, Gibraltar and Gran Canaria. For further information or to book Monarch flights, Monarch Holidays or Monarch Hotels, please visit www.monarch.co.uk.

THE Azorean island of Terceira is jazzing it up this autumn. The internationally renowned Angra Jazz Festival runs from October 1-4 in the charming, stone-paved town of Angra do Heroí¬smo, a Unesco World Heritage Site (they’re everywhere!). This year’s line up includes; Italian jazz drummer, Aldo Romana; French double bassist, Henri Texier and American sax maestro Joe Lovano. Destination Portugal (01608 738286 destination-portugal) offers a seven night package during the festival from £814pp. The price includes one night on San Miguel followed by six nights on Terceira on a BB basis plus a festival ticket and return flights from Manchester with SATA International (0844 482 1678 www.sata.pt).

SATA International offers a weekly flight (under four hours)(from Manchester to Ponta Delgada on São Miguel Island with prices from £265pp return. The airline also offers the most comprehensive inter-island connections throughout the Azores archipelago with prices from £32pp.

COALITION? Our rulers could learn a lot from the helpful co-operation between Aer Arann and Aer Lingus. Latest bonus from the franchise agreement between the two airlines is a near doubling of services between Manchester and Cork. From October 31, Aer Lingus Regional, operated by Aer Arann, will operate flights twice a day seven days per week – a definite boost for business passengers. That’s in addition to a daily flight to Shannon. Flights to Cork and Shannon with Aer Lingus start from £29.99 one way including taxes. For further flight information and to make a booking visit www.aerlingus.com.

LOW fare airline Jet2.com is running four dedicated flights from Manchester for pilgrims taking part in this year’s annual Hajj, the world’s largest pilgrimage in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Tickets can be booked through Bradford-based Sky-Fly Connections.

This year, the Hajj takes place from November 14-17 and is a demonstration of solidarity amongst the Muslim people in their submission to Allah and sees thousands of pilgrims converge on Mecca to perform a series of prayer rituals. The airline will ensure all catering adheres to Halal methods, no alcohol is served and aircraft crew are sensitive to the practice of prayer while in flight. Prayer facilities will also be available in the airport terminal and the baggage allowance will be increased to allow pilgrims to bring back Zam Zam holy water.

MORE changes at the top at the Manchester Airports Group. Penny Coates, current MD of MAG’s smaller airports, has been promoted to Chief Operating Officer, bringing together the management of Manchester, East Midlands, Bournemouth and Humberside. Current Commercial Director Andrew Harrison, who launched over £80m million of improvements in July 2009, will be Manchester Airport’s new Managing Director.

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