Tuesday,  March 21, 2023  1:28 am

Vienna: charming now and forever

Vienna: charming now and forever
Belinda Neumann, Vienna International Airport; Elke Bachner, Vienna Tourist Board; Ernst Holzer, Vienna International Airport.
Christine Hogg

Christine Hogg is the Associate Digital Editor at PAX Global Media. Prior to joining PAX, she obtained her Honours BA in Journalism from the University of Toronto. Upon graduating, she went on to write for several travel publications while travelling the world. Her longest trip was a three-week stint in Europe, and the shortest was a 16-hour adventure in Iceland. Get in touch: christine@paxglobalmedia.com.

Yesterday afternoon, members of the media had High Tea with the Vienna Tourist Board, Austrian Airlines, and the Vienna International Airport at the Ritz Carlton, and in true Viennese style, watched the hotel chef Gael Moutet make a traditional Austrian apple strudel from scratch.

Over delicate open-faced cucumber and herb cream cheese sandwiches and black tea, representatives from each company took turns addressing the media and delivering new updates.

DSC_1494.JPGBelinda Neumann, Vienna International Airport; Elke Bachner, Vienna Tourist Board; Ernst Holzer, Vienna International Airport.

60 years: the charming way to fly

Austrian Airlines is represented by the Lufthansa Group. In attendance at yesterday’s lunch was Peter Daniel, senior manager sales, products and programmes at Lufthansa Group, Canada, representing Austrian Airlines.

“This year, Austrian Airlines celebrates its 60th anniversary, since 1958 when the first Austrian aircraft made a commercial flight between Vienna and London,” Daniel said. “Looking back, Austrian Airlines now has 85 aircraft in its fleet and flies to more than 130 destinations worldwide in 55 countries. In 2017, we carried almost 30 million passengers in our network. We took delivery of our latest aircraft, a Boeing 777, which highlights this history of Austrian Airlines with a new introduction to the market.”

Austrian Airlines uses the marketing slogan, “the charming way to fly”, but as Daniel points out, it’s not just a slogan. “The Austrian employees and staff live this every day of their lives. The airline industry all has the same aircraft and similar service offerings, but what differentiates one airline from another is how the staff interact with the customers and what impressions they leave with them; Austrian Airlines isn’t just about the hardware, but about the whole travel experience itself.”

_DSC1550.JPGThe Ritz-Carlton's pastry chef Gael Moutet shows us how to make a traditional Austrian apple strudel.

Austrian Airlines was recently awarded the Best Personal Service Airline in 2017 from Skytrax, where approximately 90 million individuals were polled. “We’re happy to introduce a new service to Canada onboard our aircraft and that’s the latest new addition of the Premium Economy service offered on all of our long-haul fleets,” Daniel said. “We’re very proud that we’re able to offer this service to our customers here in Canada.”

Vienna: Now and forever

The Vienna International Airport serves the city of Vienna, but as Enrst Holzer of the Vienna International Airport points out, it serves a much greater purpose.

“We’re known as the gateway to eastern and southeastern Europe. We’re further east than the cities of Berlin, or Prague, making us the perfect point of entry for Eastern Europe,” Holzer explained. “The flying time to London or Moscow is roughly the same, about two hours and forty-five minutes from Vienna. Our position in the region makes us very unique because you have one airport with four nations: we’re situated towards the east of Vienna, about an hour drive and an express train to downtown Vienna, but the capital of Slovakia, Bratislava, is just half an hour from our airport. The borders to Hungary and the Czech Republic are roughly forty-five minutes away, and you can even drive to Budapest in two hours from our airport. Those four nations are so important to us.”

_DSC1633.JPGMembers of the Vienna Tourist Board, Lufthansa Group, Austrian Airlines, and the Vienna International Airport at the Ritz-Carlton.

A few years ago, a highspeed rail station was opened in Vienna, allowing travellers to access nearby cities like Salzburg in less than three hours from the Vienna International Airport, without changing trains.

Last year the Vienna International Airport saw a record-breaking 24 million passengers, with traffic from more than 70 airlines and almost 200 destinations being reached non-stop from Vienna.

“We have a very wide network now out of Vienna and we’re very well-represented on the east coast, with Toronto flying up to six times a week,” Holzer said. “In terms of the passenger profile, more than two-thirds fall between the 35 and 55 age range, and 58 per cent of the passengers have university degrees, which is a high-end market we’re very happy about. Every day, there are 276 passengers between Canada and our area, and Canada provides 126 passengers per day, each way, which is quite a substantial number.”

Since 2013, tourism to Austria has climbed by 16 per cent and 2017 was a record year with seven per cent more than the previous year, and more than 110,000 of those arrivals were from Canada.

Vienna: home of art, music, and romance

From taking private Waltz lessons to enjoying daily life in one of Vienna’s many coffeehouse’s, as Elke Bachner, marketing manager for the Vienna Tourist Board points out, you can never be bored in Vienna, or in Austria for that matter.

“It’s a weekend every day of the week in Vienna,” Bachner laughed. “Our new city card to Vienna comes in a duration of 24 hours, 48 hours, or 72 hours, and with the Hop On Hop Off [Vienna Sightseeing Bus Tours], you can choose your own tours.”

Vienna is a very well-connected city and all of the attractions with guided tours now have service available in English, as well as the first language, German. If you do one thing in Austria, as Bachner points out, it’s to discover the tastes of Austria. “what would Vienna be without its pastries?” Bachner asked. “A Viennese pastry delight is the apple strudel, or the sacher-torte.”

Until June 15, Canadians can try their very own High Tea, Viennese Style at the Ritz Carlton on Wellington Street, Monday through Friday, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.