Pattaya Mail turns 12

Vol. XIII No. 29
Friday July 22 - July 28, 2005

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by Saichon Paewsoongnern


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]: 

Tsunami warning system would act fast

Morlek, a kindly monk who cures with herbs

Free Dubai break for Emirates First Class and Business Class passengers

Bangkok braces for drop in London demand

AirAsia to levy fuel surcharge

Air New Zealand Reveals First New-Look Boeing 747

Indonesia eases visas from August 1

Tsunami warning system would act fast

Elfi Seitz

The DSU-Treff, an association of German businessmen, met on July 2 at the Dusit Resort Pattaya. Guests were welcomed by general manager Chatchawal Supachayanont and resident manager Stefan Heintze, and the ladies present received a bouquet.

After the welcome wines, served at the Atrium, all went into the meeting room. Heintze, as the successor to the club’s secretary Nick Bauer, sat together with organisers Walter Kretschmar and Elfi Seitz, and guest speaker Dietmar Glatz presented a short welcoming speech.

Dusit Resort Pattaya general manager Chatchawal Supachayanont and resident manager Stefan Heintze welcomed members of DSU-Treff, an association of German businessmen, on July 2.

Dietmar Glatz was the special guest of the German director of TGI, Walter Kretschmar, to talk about his development of a local early tsunami warning system.

The so-called global early warning system takes approximately 12 minutes until the people in charge can tell that a tsunami might be on its way. With Glatz’s affordable and energy-independent solar warning system, probes are anchored into the seabed between five and 25 kilometers out in the sea and connected with a buoy. Already after only one minute, calculating the pressure of the water, it can be predicted whether or not a tsunami is coming. Automatically an alarm is released and sent to the hotels and other buildings linked to the system.

This system is radar-proof and measures the pressure and the mass of the water. In a case of a tsunami, people will have between 15 and 20 minutes to reach safer ground.

An important element of this warning system is what the hotels or buildings that install it are going to do in the event of an emergency. Dietmar Glatz suggested a plan be made for different zones: red for absolute danger areas, orange for still dangerous areas and green for secure areas. These plans must be displayed and signs must point in the directions in which people can run in an emergency.

“Without a plan as such, the best warning system wouldn’t work, since people are in a panic and traffic jams and accidents would be the result,” he said.

Glatz is now in Phuket to prepare the installation of the first systems, in co-operation with Walter Kretschmar and the TGI. Much has to be considered. The size of the buoys, the radio wavelengths, how to anchor the probes, and most important to inquire the wave-measurements. Two buoys will be anchored for testing and all the systems, be they the buoys, the relay or the probe must be exactly controlled.

The next meeting of the DSU-Treff will be again at the Dusit Resort on Saturday September 3 at 12 noon. Austrian Werner Kubesch will be introducing Module-houses invented by his father.

Morlek, a kindly monk who cures with herbs

Chatchanan Chaisree

Morlek Ritamaeto, a monk at the Klong Yai Temple in Trat province, established and developed the temple 21 years ago. Morlek has studied the use of Thai herbs in traditional medicine, and the temple has become a centre for treating poor patients who are unable to pay for the hospital in town.

Morlek Ritamaeto, the kindly monk of Klong Yai Temple in Trat province.

The main herbs used are betel leaves, cassumunar, and some plants that grow only in particularly hot and humid areas. Paralysis, inflamed bone marrow, and breast cancer are all treated here. This reporter spent some two years traveling between Bangkok and Trat with a family member who was suffering from breast cancer. The patient was considered to be in a hopeless life situation, but after being treated by the kindly monk has now recovered completely.

Morlek has a certificate from the Office of the Royal Household for his expertise in Thai herb cultivation and development. Currently he has a project to build a vihara with 100 posts to support Buddhists who come to make merit on religious days.

Free Dubai break for Emirates First Class and Business Class passengers

Emirates Airline has launched a new promotion offering First and Business Class passengers flying from Bangkok to Dubai and beyond a complimentary luxury Dubai break, plus a choice of additional benefits. The offer is available from June 15 to August 31, 2005.

The Dubai based carrier is offering First Class passengers two nights free accommodation in a deluxe room at the Ritz-Carlton Dubai. Set on its own expanse of private sandy white beach, guests can enjoy luxurious facilities including sumptuous rooms and activities at the Spa and Beach Club. During their stay, travelers can choose from a complimentary ‘Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari’, a ‘Moonlight Sonata Dhow Dinner Cruise’, or the use of a chauffeur driven car for four hours. A 96-hour visa allowance is also provided free of cost.

Emirates’ Business Class travelers can enjoy one night’s free accommodation in a deluxe room at the Emirates Towers Hotel, located in the central business and commercial district in Dubai. A 96-hour visa allowance is included, plus the choice of either a ‘Sundowner Dune Dinner Safari’ or a ‘Moonlight Sonata Dhow Dinner Cruise’ - compliments of the award-winning airline.

Accommodation at both resorts is on a bed & breakfast basis and includes all taxes and service charges.

Emirates First and Business Class passengers also enjoy a complimentary transfer in a chauffeur driven car to and from the airport on both departure and return, ensuring seamless luxury from the beginning to the end of their journey.

Further information and booking is available at Emirates Bangkok Office at 0-2664-1040-4 (reservation), and 0-2664-1045 (sales) or

Bangkok braces for drop in London demand

Jeremy Colson,
TTG Asia

New bookings for travel from Bangkok to London, where 38 people were reported killed in bombings, have already dwindled as prospective travelers adopt a-wait-and-see policy.

Qantas British Airways general manager for Thailand, Julianne Rogers, said the airline had a commercial policy allowing changes and extended this until July 15 for those travelers to return to Bangkok early.

Outbound operator, Gullivers Travel Associates, this morning said it had 70 passengers in London and they could have pushed forward their return to Thailand if requested.

Managing director, David Littlefair said, “Meanwhile we have had no cancellations on outbound trips, nor are we expecting any new bookings until the situation in the UK settles down.”

Although GTA expects a major decline in new bookings in the short-term, Littlefair said, “If they get things back to normal quickly, normal business will probably be resumed by the end of the year. Memories are short.”

A travel agent specializing in expatriate outbound travel said there were no cancellations, but he had received early-return requests. I & E trading general manager, Bill Abbott said, “It’s understandable people want to return early and we will do everything to make alternative arrangements.”

AirAsia to levy fuel surcharge

In light of recent continuing escalating jet fuel prices, AirAsia will be introducing a fuel surcharge on its domestic and regional flights. Effective as of July 14, 2005, all bookings will be subjected to a fuel surcharge. The surcharge is applicable on all AK flights only.

The fuel surcharge imposed will be minimal and lower than surcharges of other airlines.

For travel on all AK flights in Peninsular Malaysia - RM 5 per sector.

For travel on all AK flights to East Malaysia - RM 10 per sector.

For travel on all AK flights in the region (Macau, Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia) - RM 25 per sector (Fuel surcharges will be quoted in local currencies upon booking of flights).

Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer, AirAsia Berhad, said, “We have held off implementing a fuel surcharge for as long as we could, despite the cost of jet fuel being at record highs for the past year. The fact is that the increasing cost of jet fuel prices has led all airlines worldwide, and the transportation industry in general, to adopt some form of fuel surcharge in order to remain competitive.

“With fuel prices being at record highs, there is an urgent need for the government to resolve the calls for domestic air services rationalization. The move would mutually benefit both MAS and AirAsia as a consolidation can help airlines curb high operational costs due to spikes in fuel prices.

“While other airlines have recently raised their fuel surcharges, our surcharge will be one of the lowest seen in the region. It’s essential for the fuel surcharge to offset the cost of aviation fuel, and allow AirAsia to continue offering low fares. Despite this latest development, our fares are still one of the lowest in the region and we will continue to have low fares so that more people can fly.”

AirAsia will continue to review the situation and will consider reducing or scrapping the fee if fuel prices return to normalized levels.

In April 2005, AirAsia announced that it had sought and gained approvals from the government to levy a minimal fuel surcharge on its flights. Meanwhile, AirAsia’s sister company in Thailand, Thai AirAsia, along with Nok Air and One Two Go, have placed a fuel surcharge since May 2005.

Air New Zealand Reveals First New-Look Boeing 747

Air New Zealand last week revealed its first refitted Boeing 747-400 featuring lie-flat beds, digital in-flight entertainment at every seat, and a new class of travel for the New Zealand market called Pacific Premium Economy.

The new long-haul fleet design and physical refit of the first aircraft has taken more than 60,000 hours of work, with the airline’s fleet of eight 747s expected to take until mid-next year to complete, at a cost of approximately NZ$160 million.

In Business Premier class, a comfortable 22” wide leather armchair converts into a 6ft 7.5” (2.02m) bed.

“This is an exciting new era of travel being introduced from Air New Zealand. Inside this first aircraft is a range of products that are recognised as the world’s best, coupled with a design that is all about New Zealand,” said Air New Zealand managing director and CEO, Ralph Norris.

“As our country is so inspiring, we believe the journey to get there should be too, so we’ve considered every aspect of the customer’s experience including new blankets, duvets and pillows, the introduction of Living Nature skincare products as well as newly designed crockery right down to river-stone themed salt and pepper sets.”

The new interior is configured in a three-class layout of Business Premier, Pacific Premium Economy, and Pacific Economy.

The innovative design in Business Premier includes a comfortable, 22” wide leather armchair that converts into a 6ft 7.5” (2.02m) bed that is the longest available in Business Class today and also makes Air New Zealand the only airline to offer a truly lie-flat bed at a Business Class price into and out of New Zealand. Other features include an ottoman footrest that doubles as a visitor’s seat, in-seat power, a high-resolution 10.4” screen to view the on-demand digital entertainment system and active noise-cancellation headsets.

The unique herringbone seating configuration means direct aisle access for all passengers. Seating for 46 is available in the two front cabins on the 747’s main deck and in the front half of the upper deck.

The new class of Pacific Premium Economy is located on the upper deck with seating for 23 and features the largest pitch in its class at 38”- 40”, together with a generous seat width of 18.5”. On-demand digital entertainment is through a personal 8.4” high-resolution screen.

The new class makes Air New Zealand the only airline to be offering premium economy seating on services to and from New Zealand.

“With Pacific Premium Economy fares available at just 25-30% more than economy fares we have seen strong bookings, particularly for San Francisco and London, with a total of more than 7,000 sectors booked across North America and London routes,” said Norris.

Air New Zealand’s Pacific Economy class includes seating for 324 and retains the airline’s leading 34” seat pitch, together with on-demand digital entertainment through high-resolution 8.4” in-seat video screens.

The seat, designed by well-known seat manufacturer Recaro, includes a slim-line shape, memory foam cushioning to shape to the passenger and a flexible seat edge for extra comfort.

The first 747 aircraft will initially fly some Tasman and Los Angeles services on an ad-hoc basis, before commencing scheduled services between Auckland and San Francisco from August 7.

Further aircrafts will be refitted approximately every six weeks, with completed aircrafts to be progressively introduced on the Auckland - Los Angeles - London route (flights NZ1 & NZ2) from November 5 and other routes during 2006.

“Today’s announcement sets a platform for the company to grow its long-haul business, with financial benefits of the new offering expected to commence in the second half of 2006, once the entire fleet is refitted,” said Norris.

“With gearing at a historic low, cash reserves of NZ$1.1 billion, strategies in place to lower operating costs and our new long-haul offering now a reality, Air New Zealand has never been better placed to face the challenges ahead, such as fuel prices and intense competition.”

Norris said the design and refit process had been a technical challenge that was well managed by staff.

“For the past two years hundreds of staff have been involved in developing a new long-haul strategy, creating a design and then commencing the installation of the new product here at our engineering base.

“It has been a huge commitment from the company to get us to the point where we can now begin to reclaim our position as the best long-haul carrier in the world.

“I am extremely proud of everything that our staff have achieved and I look forward to seeing the rest of the fleet completed over the next 12 months.”

The same interior design will be used on Air New Zealand’s eight new Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, the first of which is due to arrive in October this year. From January 25, 2006, the new B77-200ER aircraft will operate daily direct flights between Singapore and Auckland.

Indonesia eases visas from August 1

It is now confirmed that the 14 additional countries slated for visa on arrival facility in Indonesia will be able to do so from August 1.

This brings to 36 the number of countries eligible for the facility.

The 14 countries are: Austria, Belgium, India, Ireland, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Maldives, Egypt, Portugal, Qatar, China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Spain.

While the cost of visa remains at US$10 (Bt.400) and US$25 (Bt.1,000), the validity is now seven and 30 days.

At a press conference last weekend, Minister of Law and Human Rights, Hamid Awaluddin, said the move was to boost tourism to Indonesia. (TTG Asia)


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