Week in travel: Thailand extends Maya Bay closure until 2021

Qatar Airways gets named the best airline by AirHelp, while French air traffic control strike leaves tens of thousands of travellers stranded, and Chicago OHare receives new terminal design

Thailand’s stretch of pristine-white sand famous from the DiCaprio starring movie The Beach will remain closed for at least another two years.

The famous Maya Bay needs at least two more years for its recovery — Shutterstock Week in travel: Thailand extends Maya Bay closure until 2021
The famous Maya Bay needs at least two more years for its recovery — Shutterstock

According to Songtam Suksawang, director of Thailand’s National Parks Department, the iconic Maya Bay needs more time for its recovery.

The beach closed in June 2018 as part of a rejuvenation programme aimed at reviving the area’s decimated corals.

“We need more time to allow nature to fully recover. Our team will reassess the situation every three months,” Suksawang told CNN. 

“We will review again then if it is ready to open to tourists.”

Thailand has planted 10,000 new corals in the area over the recent year. However, their growth was interrupted by Thailand’s recent heat wave. The sea temperature rose as high as 32C. Suksawang has explained that this is too hot for the bay’s newly planted corals.

He added that the area also needs more time to expand visitor facilities.

“Our aim is to achieve sustainable tourism,” says Suksawang. “We want to pass on this natural heritage to our next generations.”

Qatar Airways named best airline by AirHelp

Qatar’s flag carrier has managed to continue to provide its passengers with high-quality service. For the second time in a row, the carrier was named the world’s best airline by AirHelp.

The agency that assists passengers when they find themselves in a problematic situation during their travels evaluated 72 airlines in total. The researchers took into account the carriers’ on-time performance, service quality, and claim processing.

With the overall score of 8.23 out of 10, Qatar topped the rankings by American Airlines, Aeromexico, SAS Scandinavian Airlines, and Qantas following in the top 5.

On the other hand, the bottom of the list belongs to Ryanair, Korean Air, Kuwait Airways, and the UK’s easyJet and Thomas Cook Airlines.

French air controllers strike grounds hundreds of flights

Around 75,000 travellers experienced disruptions linked to industrial action of air controllers and other public workers in France. The strike led to the cancellation of nearly 600 flights in the country.

Frech Air Traffic Controllers protested against Emanuel Macron’s reforms — Salvador Aznar / Shutterstock Week in travel: Thailand extends Maya Bay closure until 2021
Frech Air Traffic Controllers protested against Emanuel Macron’s reforms — Salvador Aznar / Shutterstock

The strike took place from Wednesday, 8 May to Friday, 10 May. The workers walked out in protest over president Emmanuel Macron’s plans to reform working conditions. The reforms could reportedly lead to the loss of 120,000 jobs in the public sector.

The action affected major airlines across Europe, including easyJet, Ryanair, British Airways and others.

“Yet again the French air traffic control trade unions are causing unnecessary frustration and disruption for customers at a busy time of year,” British Airways told the Evening Standard.

“Although this situation is outside of our control we would like to apologise to any affected passengers for the inconvenience caused,” said easyJet.

US studio reveals new Chicago O’Hare terminal design

Chicago’s main hub will soon receive a new facelift for its terminal 2. And the Studio Gang, which won an international competition to design it, has revealed the renderings that will be used for a complete renovation.

“The new Global Terminal and Global Concourse is a critical project to unlock O’Hare’s potential as a leader in aviation and Chicago’s future success as a contemporary, truly global city,” said Studio Gang’s Jeanne Gang.

“As a Chicagoan, I deeply understand the importance of O’Hare to our city’s identity, and I am honoured that my hometown has provided my team with the opportunity to realise a design that can demonstrate Chicago’s unique culture, traditions, and diversity to visitors and residents alike.”

The airport will receive an $8.5 billion investment in order to expand in total. $2.2 billion will be used to rebuild terminal 2, which will see both domestic and international operations.

“O’Hare, because of past decisions and lack of decisions — its muscle and its strength for the city economically was beginning to atrophy,” outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said last year.

“This will be a boost of strength to it and something that no other city in the United States will have. A global terminal. A 22 per cent increase in gates for the first time in decades. Adding 75 per cent more terminal space … This is something unprecedented for the city.”

The new renderings are available here

Peruvian chef detained at Los Angeles with 40 frozen piranhas

Emotional support peacock, lizard, or a pony — we have seen it all at the airport halls. But this type of animal is something we would not really love to meet face to face — the infamous piranhas.  

40 vacuum-sealed, frozen piranhas got detained at the Los Angeles airport — Shutterstock Week in travel: Thailand extends Maya Bay closure until 2021
40 vacuum-sealed, frozen piranhas got detained at the Los Angeles airport — Shutterstock

A world-famous chef from Peru — who was featured in Netflix’s “Chef’s Table” series — experienced strict airport policy while trying to bring the creatures through LAX last week.

Virgilio Martinez planned to offer the truly rare dish to his fans at the Los Angeles food festival. However, his 40 vacuum-sealed, frozen piranhas got detained at the airport.

“I was extremely obsessed about bringing piranhas because we serve piranhas in the Amazon at Central, so I said, ‘Guys, why not take a risk to bring piranhas to L.A.?’ ” Martinez said to the Times, referring to his restaurant Central in Lima, Peru.