News and Deals: January 29, 2013 – Smog thick enough to cancel flights hits Beijing, Tourists break billion arrivals record, Russian airline hostess fired over middle-finger blog photo and American-US Airways merger talks in ‘final stages’

Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysees in Paris

Smog thick enough to cancel flights hits Beijing

Extremely high pollution levels shrouded eastern China for the second time in about two weeks Tuesday, forcing airlines in Beijing and elsewhere to cancel flights because of poor visibility and prompting government warnings for residents to stay indoors.

The outlines of buildings in the capital receded into a white mist as pedestrians donned face masks to guard against the thick, caustic air, which stranded passengers during the first week of the country’s peak, six-week period for travel surrounding the Chinese New Year on Feb. 10.

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Tourists break billion arrivals record
The Australian

The number of international tourist arrivals grew by four per cent to 1.035 billion in 2012, up from 996 million in 2011, the Madrid-based United Nations World Tourism Organisation (WTO) said in an annual survey.

Despite economic instability, international tourism “managed to maintain its course”, the UN body’s Secretary General Taleb Rifai told reporters on Tuesday.

The organisation predicts international tourist numbers will grow in 2013 although at a slightly lower rate of 3-4 per cent.

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Russian airline hostess fired over middle-finger blog photo

A web photo of a Russian airplane host raising her middle finger at passengers has resulted in her firing. Aeroflot sacked the girl over her blog post, though she insisted it is not her hand in the picture and the plane belongs to another airline.

The picture appeared on Tatiana Kozlenko’s wall in Vkontakte (one of Russia’s most popular social networks) back in October 2011, and since that time has earned dozens of ‘likes.’

The picture recently became a scandal when it caught the attention of renowned Russian blogger Ilya Varlamov, who reposted it on Twitter, prompting hundreds of re-shares. Aeroflot reacted by promptly firing the girl.

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American-US Airways merger talks in ‘final stages’
USA Today

Will US Airways and bankrupt American Airlines merge?

That has been subject of much speculation for the past year, heightened in November when US Airways made a formal merger proposal that would put its management in charge of the combined carrier.

Now, an answer to that “will the merge” question could be imminent … if a Reuters report proves correct.

Citing four unnamed “people familiar with the matter,” the news agency writes US Airways and American parent AMR “are in the final stages” of merger negotiations.

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By: Matt Long

Matt has a true passion for travel. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see and how to experience the best the world has to offer. Also follow Matt on Twitter, Facebook and

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