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New York (Asian Health Guide - Health News) Jan 17, 2010

American Airlines

Twitter was buzzing Thursday morning with news that several airlines are flying doctors and nurses to Haiti free of charge to help with relief efforts there in the wake of Tuesday's devastating earthquake. The only problem: The rumors are false, an American Airlines spokesman says. "Last night's hoax on Twitter about American and JetBlue flying doctors and nurses to Haiti for free was just that -- a hoax. We don't know who is responsible, but it's a very low thing to do," airline spokesman Tim Smith said in e-mails sent Thursday. Twitter users also circulated a rumor that UPS would ship for free any package under 50 lbs. to Haiti. In a blog post Wednesday on UPS's Web site, a spokeswoman debunked the rumor and said that destruction of Haiti's roads and communications networks "means our own shipping services to Haiti are on hold." UPS is donating USD1 million to help the people of Haiti through relief agencies, she said. Jan 14, 2010

Australia

Since the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) pandemic in 2003, tourist arrivals in Australia have grown steadily. However, the report estimates that arrival numbers dropped by 2 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) in 2009 to 5.33mn. The industry was hit by dwindling price competitiveness from its major source destinations, which include the UK and New Zealand, as the Australian dollar strengthened. Discretionary spending is being reined in by many potential tourists and business travellers. In 2009, heavy fare discounting by airlines helped the tourism market as it encouraged many to take advantage of the low fares on offer. As global oil prices trend upwards, however, putting pressure on airlines' profitability, we expect fare discounts to peter out to offset the rising costs of fuel in 2010. That said, competition between low-cost carriers in Australia and the Asia Pacific region will keep fares relatively low. We do not expect the H1N1 virus (swine flu) to have a major impact on tourism numbers in Australia as concerns about the virus have been subdued by its moderate symptoms and relatively low mortality rate. For 2010, the report forecasts arrival numbers to begin to tick upwards again, reaching 5.46mn, reaching 6.30mn at the end of our forecast period in 2014. Jan 14, 2010

Qantas Airways

Nearly 400 airline passengers sat on an Airbus A380 jetliner for 3 1/2 hours early Monday when a Qantas Airways pilot reported a mechanical problem just before taking off from Los Angeles International Airport, officials said. Qantas Flight 12 was preparing to depart for Sydney just after 11 p.m. Sunday when the captain reported the problem to the control tower and then headed back to the airline gate, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. All 398 passengers on board the plane waited for 3 1/2 hours before the flight was canceled and they were allowed back into the airport, said Qantas spokesman Michael Abraham. The travelers were put up in hotels and are scheduled to leave LAX at 9:30 p.m. today. "This was due to a break indication fault," Abraham said, declining to specify further. "It really is very routine," he said. "It was just operational." Coincidentally, a second Qantas-operated Airbus A380 reported mechanical problems just before taking off from Melbourne to LAX, leaving 443 airline passengers stranded on the tarmac for five hours Monday. Passengers on that flight were also provided with accommodations and were scheduled to board another flight bound for LAX at 11 a.m. today. Qantas launched flights aboard the Airbus A380 between LAX and Australia in October 2008. Abraham declined to comment on the Australian carrier's mechanical problems on the new, double-decked airliners. This was the longest stretch airline passengers had to wait on LAX's tarmac since Aug. 11, 2007, when a glitch on a single desktop computer shut down the U.S. Customs and Border Protection screening system, followed by a second power outage less than 24 hours later. More than 19,000 passengers were affected by those outages, many of whom spent up to 12 hours trapped on airplanes and at the customs screening area inside LAX's international terminal. Last month, the Transportation Security Administration announced that hefty fines will be levied on domestic airlines that do not supply food and water to passengers after two hours on the tarmac, or do not return to the gate after three hours. International carriers such as Qantas are exempt from the new regulations, which are scheduled to begin around May 1. Jan 4, 2010

United Airlines

Among the several initiatives United Airlines has in place to support the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, the airlines' foundation is matching up to a total of USUSD50,000 to the American Red Cross for monetary donations that United customers and employees are making to the organization through its International Response Fund at united.com. In addition, Mileage Plus[umlaut] members and employees are donating miles to the airline's nonprofit relief partners as part of its Charity Miles program. United is also working with relief agencies to determine how we can best support air lift humanitarian efforts, including transporting aid workers, food, and water. Jan 14, 2010

ZZ Asian Health Guide 100118

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Publication:Asia Health Guide
Date:Jan 18, 2010
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