Cheap flights arrive in luxury-loving Japan
NARITA, Japan (AP) — Japan has a reputation for loving expensive things like overpriced real estate, gourmet melons and luxury brands. But the nation is finally discovering the joy of flying cheap, with the arrival this year of three low-cost carriers.
The takeoff of AirAsia Japan, Peach Aviation and Jetstar Japan could change lifestyles. No longer will air travel be mostly confined to business trips and fancy once-in-a-lifetime vacations to places such as Hawaii.
Flying is suddenly growing more casual, including for weekend dining, visits with friends, even day trips.
Ticket prices are plunging by about half, to $200 trips to the southwestern resort island of Okinawa or a $60 hop to Seoul.
The airlines are not only out to woo Japanese away from regular leisure activities such as going to Disneyland or watching a movie. They are also out to convince the notoriously workaholic Japanese not to work so hard.
Elvis among balloons at New Mexico event
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A giant Elvis, an ice cream cone and a child in a wheelchair are among the new shapes set to take to the sky at an annual hot-air balloon festival in New Mexico that’s expected to draw more than 700,000 visitors from around the globe.
The 41st Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta began Saturday with the launch of hundreds of hot-air balloons.
Fiesta officials hope for better weather at this year’s nine-day affair after wind and rains sidelined balloons for a few events last year, cutting attendance by around 100,000 visitors.
Still, organizers last year were able to break a world record by sending up 345 balloons at one time.
“There were some things we just couldn’t control,” director Don Edwards said. “But we still tried to put on a good show.”
Officials aren’t planning to break any records this year, but more than 550 pilots have signed up to fly balloons at the fiesta, Edwards said. That’s slightly higher than in most years, he said.
Reflecting pool drained after invasion of algae
WASHINGTON (AP) — The National Park Service has once again drained the reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital to clean an algae buildup that formed after a $34 million overhaul.
Park service spokesman Carol Johnson says the pool was drained Thursday and will remain empty for at least a week.
Algae and scum have been covering parts of the pool since it reopened. It had been closed for a two-year renovation and was reengineered to draw river water from the Tidal Basin instead of city drinking water. The system is supposed to filter and circulate the water to keep it cleaner than in the past.
The park service says the system that fills the pool is being recalibrated to neutralize nutrients that feed algae.