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    dnata opens advanced cool chain and bus maintenance facility

    dnata, a leading a global air and travel services provider, has announced significant expansion of its operations in Erbil, Iraq. The company opened a new, advanced cool chain facility and a bus maintenance facility for its state-of-the-art bussing fleets at Erbil International Airport (EBL), which together represent a total investment of US$ 3.5 million. dnata has also announced that it would invest an additional US$ 14 million and add a 16,000 m² cargo warehouse to its infrastructure in Iraq. The three new facilities will create up to 100 local jobs with dnata.
    dnata’s new cool chain facility is capable of processing 10,000 tons of perishables annually. It enables dnata’s cargo team to offer an uncompromised chilled and frozen storage and cool chain product to its airline customers at EBL, catering to product categories including fresh fruit, meat and pharmaceuticals. The facility was designed and built with flexibility and unique product handling requirements in mind, taking advantage of the latest cold storage technologies.
    The new bus maintenance facility was designed to maintain the fleet of eight passenger apron buses and over 10 transportation buses operated at EBL. It will ensure continuous improvements in the safe and productive maintenance of the airport’s bus fleet, supporting smooth transport operations across the airport for passengers, crew and staff.
    dnata’s new cargo warehouse, which is expected to open in 2023, will further significantly enhance the company’s cargo offering in Iraq.  It will be capable of processing 100,000 tonnes of cargo, with a special focus on pharma and other cool chain commodities, annually. The facility will be equipped with the latest technologies, including environmentally sustainable features such as water harvesting, low energy lighting and an all-electric forklift fleet.
    Furthermore, dnata has recently announced that it successfully implemented its advanced ‘OneCargo’ system, digitising processes and maximising efficiencies across its cargo operations in Iraq. OneCargo automates key business and operational functions, including safety and quality monitoring, reporting and ULD management, with an integrated, cloud-based platform. AI-driven tools and analytics provide enhanced visibility on sales and business performance, allowing customers to match real-time demand with available capacity for maximum profitability. In addition, OneCargo eliminates all redundancies and manual check sheets, substantially improving operational efficiency.ADVERTISEMENTdnata currently provides passenger, ground and cargo services to over 25 airlines in Erbil. In 2021, the company assisted over 1.2 million passengers and handled 8,200 flights and 20,000 tonnes of cargo in Iraq.
    Tom Alwyn-Jones, Managing Director of dnata Erbil, said: “Our latest investment in three new facilities will help us further expand and improve our operations in Erbil as demand for reliable and safe cargo services is on the rise across the region. I thank my colleagues for their hard work and our partners for their support and trust in our services. We continue to go the extra mile to consistently deliver superior quality and be the best in everything we do.”
    In recent years dnata has also made strategic investments in new cargo facilities in London and Manchester (UK), Karachi and Lahore (Pakistan), and additional cargo capacity and infrastructure in Brussels (Belgium), Sydney (Australia) and Toronto (Canada). In addition, the company has recently announced that it would invest over €200 million in its operations in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and operate one of the world’s largest and most advanced cargo facility, dnata Cargo City Amsterdam, at Schiphol Airport.
    As one of the world’s leading air services providers, dnata provides quality and reliable ground handling, cargo, catering and retail services at over 120 airports in 19 countries.
    dnata is nominated as World’s Leading Air Travel Service Provider 2021 by World Travel Awards.

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    UK government pledges £7.6 million for rail innovation

    The UK government has made £7.6 million available for cutting-edge technology that will help transform rail travel.
    Rail Minister Wendy Morton has officially announced this year’s First of Kind competition, which invites bids from companies specialising in innovative ways to modernise the railways.
    In partnership with Innovate UK, this year’s competition will award up to £7.6 million to projects creating cutting-edge ideas that are striving towards transforming rail travel for passengers and decarbonising the network.
    The competition officially opens to applicants on 20 April 2022 and closes on 8 June 2022, with bids welcome from organisations of all sizes for projects creating a greener, more cost-effective and passenger-focused railway. The year’s competition is focusing on technologies that improve the industry’s cost efficiency and network performance to support a more reliable railway for passengers and improving rail freight.
    Rail Minister Wendy Morton said:ADVERTISEMENT“I am incredibly excited to launch the sixth round of our First of a Kind competition. In partnership with Innovate UK, we have already invested £35.4 million into over 100 groundbreaking projects.”
    “We’ve seen cutting-edge technologies such as HydroFLEX developed, the first ever trial of a hydrogen-powered train on the UK mainline and software improving accessibility such as the Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay app.”
    “As part of our Plan for Rail, it’s key we continue breathing life into new ideas and supporting innovation and design to deliver greener rail journeys and transform rail travel for all passengers.”
    Last year saw 33 innovators receive grants of up to £400,000 each.
    The First of a Kind fund has helped trial and launch over 100 projects which are promoting greener railways, improving passengers’ rail experience and accessibility on the transport network, and helping the railway to be more cost-effective. Some of these projects include:
    HydroFLEX – the first mainline trial of a hydrogen train in the UK with Birmingham University’s HydroFLEX project, as pictured above
    Window seater – an innovative app, connecting rail travellers to the world outside their window with geolocated audio stories along the railway
    Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay (HEAR) – HEAR is an affordable software supporting hearing impaired passengers that automatically broadcasts audio announcements to passengers’ own devices

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    Business travel bounces back

    Four in five executives expect to travel for business this year in latest sign of post-pandemic bounce back.
    The vast majority of people (80%) believe they will travel for work this year and next, in the latest sign of a surge in demand for international travel following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
    A renewed public focus on sustainability means that most passengers would now prefer to travel by train than plane, new polling by Opinium Research, commissioned by HS1, shows.
    The data reveals how demand for environmentally-friendly travel is surging back following the end of all coronavirus restrictions in the UK.
    Two-thirds of respondents stated they would prefer to travel by train over plane, with 66% saying they are likely to travel to Europe by train over using a plane for business. The figure increased to 77% for leisure passengers.ADVERTISEMENTRespondents stated that Covid-19 had highlighted a need for businesses to take more sustainable travel options, demonstrating a major shift in attitudes towards green transport when going overseas. This was reflected by four in five of those surveyed (81%) saying they want their business to become greener by reducing their carbon footprint.
    Dyan Crowther, CEO, HS1, said: “We’re extremely pleased to see that people are looking to get back out there for business and leisure, and taking up all of the UK’s travel options in 2022.

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    Fred. Holidays Rail Journeys launches new Swiss trip

    Fred. Holidays Rail Journeys has launched a getaway for vintage rail enthusiasts, the Vintage Trains of Switzerland Luxury Package.
    The trip offers a unique and lavish way to experience the central European destination.
    This seven-day holiday combines five-star luxury accommodation and two nostalgic rail journeys on the Glacier Pullman Express and the Golden Pass with first class rail travel throughout.
    Fly from London to Geneva and take a direct train to the pretty lakeside town of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva where guests spend one night in a five-star hotel.
    The following day board the beautiful Belle Époque carriages and travel along the Golden Pass to Zweisimmen and on to Spiez, then south to the Alpine resort of Zermatt where guests will enjoy a two-night stay. ADVERTISEMENTFollowing the two-night stay in Zermatt, board the Glacier Pullman Express for a truly magical experience.
    Four vintage Pullman carriages dating back to the 1920s and 1930s will carry you from Zermatt to Andermatt as you relax in large, comfortable armchairs in sumptuous surroundings and enjoy lunch with drinks in the Goumino dining cars.
    There are two departures on June 23rd and July 14th with prices from £3,699 per person.

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    TUI Group expands Eurostar activities partnership

    TUI Group had upgraded tours and activities partnership with Eurostar, the high-speed rail link between the UK and mainland Europe.
    The agreement the strong and strategic growth in tours and activities, including a steadily increasing number of partnerships with high-profile European businesses.
    The enhanced version of the digital platform now enables Eurostar customers to choose from over 5,000 excursions, activities and tickets, available in all Eurostar destinations.
    In the UK there are hundreds of activities in London alone, but customers can also book excursions in Oxford, Cambridge, Cardiff and Edinburgh.
    There are also experiences available throughout France, the Netherlands and Belgium, including options in the key city destinations of Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels, as well as Versailles, the French Riviera, Rotterdam and Antwerp for those looking to travel on to Eurostar’s connecting destinations.ADVERTISEMENTHenry Ledden, head of digital, Eurostar, said: “As people start planning their first trips after lockdowns, they are looking for new experiences.
    “Our updated activities platform offers a selection of the best things to do across our destinations making it even easier to plan an escape as travel restrictions ease.”
    A diverse selection of experiences is available, from skip the line options at world famous landmarks, such as the Eiffel Tower, Stonehenge and Harry Potter Studios, to must-do activities, including boating along Amsterdam’s canals, Belgian beer tasting and the Downton Abbey tour.
    “Eurostar was our first international rail partner, and we are very proud to grow our collaboration, providing a digital solution to deliver more great experiences for their customers,” commented Nishank Gopalkrishnan, chief business officer of TUI Musement, the tours and activities division of TUI Group.
    “This is also further recognition of the growth of our supply portfolio, globally and within Europe, and the scalability of our digital distribution solutions.”

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