News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: December 2011

  1. UK Travel Tax increase

    Unlike the Motoring Lobby who managed to squash the increased fuel taxes all efforts by our four major air carriers have been ignored.

    In spite of the joint statement from Carolyn McCall from Easyjet, Willie Walsh from IAG, Michael O'Leary from Ryanair and Steve Ridgway from Virgin Atlantic who jointly calling for APD to be abolished.

    Last Thursday's Autumn statement by the Chancellor states that APD rates "will increase from 1 April 2012, as set out at Budget 2011", with the extension to flights taken on business jets also set to go ahead.

    "Air Passenger Duty (APD) rates will increase from 1 April 2012, as set out at Budget 2011. The Government will also proceed with the extension of APD to flights taken aboard business jets, effective from 1 April 2013."

    Perhaps the Aviation sector needs a more vocal spokesperson - did someone mention Jeremy Clarkson??

    Source: Business Traveller online - original story

  2. London Thames Gateway Airport

    Architect Norman Foster has released details of a self-funded proposal for a huge airport in the Thames Estuary.

    The plan is for a floating airport in the Estuary, to alleviate and eventually replace Heathrow. Foster's proposal is not quite the same as the Mayor's plan, but is similar in its location, and is nothing if not ambitious. Built on reclaimed land on the Isle of Grain, the Thames Hub would be the world's largest airport, operating 24 hours a day and serviced by a huge slab of new transport infrastructure that would include the UK's busiest station, with 300,000 people passing through each day. The airport would be accessible from central London in 30 minutes, and the scheme also incorporates a new orbital rail route around the capital and a second Thames flood barrier.

    Foster has nous when it comes to ambitious airports. His firm's Beijing terminal was briefly the world's largest, while Hong Kong International Airport is built on reclaimed land (on a perhaps less impressive note, he also designed Stansted Airport). But as Financial Times architecture critic Edwin Heathcoate notes, it is a complete re-imagining of the UK's transport, energy and communication infrastructure, a vision of the kind of integration in transport and utilities that has not been considered since the great age of canals and then of railways

    The £50 billion project has inevitably won the backing of Boris Johnson, while dissenting voices come from Kent residents and wildlife groups.

    Source: Londonist - full story

  3. Hilton plans 20 new UK hotels

    Hilton Worldwide says it expects to open 20 new properties in the UK by 2014, in addition to the converted properties joining the Hilton portfolio as a result of the acquisition of the Mint Hotel group.

    Of the 12 new properties so far announced in the UK development pipeline, the majority will operate under the Hampton by Hilton brand, with hotels in Croydon, Burton Upon Trent, York, Luton and Exeter airports, Sheffield, London Waterloo, and two properties in Birmingham.

    In Lincoln Hilton Worldwide is set to open a Doubletree by Hilton hotel, while the group is also developing Hilton Hotels and Resorts-branded properties in London Wembley and Burton Upon Trent.

    In Europe Hilton says it aims to open a total of 110 hotels by 2014, with strategic growth markets including the UK, Russia, Turkey, Germany and Poland.

    Source: Business Traveller - full story by Mark Caswell

  4. Mövenpick Move into West Africa

    Accra (Ghana) now has a Mövenpick property, the 260-room Mövenpick Ambassador Hotel.

    Originally built and presented as a gift by the UK to Ghana after gaining independence in 1957, the completely rebuilt Ambassador Hotel, now resurrected as the Mövenpick Ambassador is ideally located downtown in the central business district, close to Government ministries, major financial institutions, Accra International Conference Centre and 7km from Kotoka International Airport.

    The hotel blends every aspect of 21st century excellence alongside original artwork from contemporary Ghanaian artists with stunning wooden carvings of animals, artefacts and design features. This spellbinding collection of over 1,500 pieces of art adds to the quality of the Mövenpick Ambassador. Many works have been lovingly restored from the days of the old hotel and are displayed in the main lobby and behind the reception area.

    All the hotel rooms have free high-speed internet and a 40-inch LCD TV. Also featured are Executive Club rooms with their exclusive dedicated 24hr Club Lounge, 15 junior suites and a palatial 350sq m presidential suite, overlooking the pool and 16 acres of lush landscaped gardens. These include the largest swimming pool in Ghana - so large that the staff serve poolside guests on roller blades to ensure the drinks stay perfectly chilled.

    Source: AERBT - this and other stories

  5. MS-UK & ACTE-Global Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forum

    We are delighted to announce that Tuesday 15th May has been agreed as the date for the Spring 2012 Forum and even more pleased that we will once more be in the Victoria property currently known as the Hesperia-Victoria Hotel which from the 1st of January will be known as the Doubletree by Hilton Victoria - see article 3 above.

    The previous Autumn Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forum that was held on the 3rd November was attended by journalists from Buying Business Traveller and Airline & Business Travel News, please click HERE to read their stories of the day

    Our planning committee will be meeting early in December to discuss the various suggestions proposed by our delegates last week however if you have any suggestion for a subject or a speaker you would like to hear from then please email your idea to

  6. European Advantage options for airport car rental

    Advantage Rent a Car has confirmed it will expand further in Europe with the opening of eight airport locations across the continent.

    The new business locations are at London Luton Airport, Amsterdam Schiphol, Italy's Bergamo airport, Brussels airport, Paris Orly, Lyon and Grenoble airports in France and Germany's Hamburg airport.

    The recent additions mean the low-cost car rental company now offers 26 European locations across eight countries.

    Source: Breaking Travel News - details

  7. Wi-Fi welcome on East Coast

    Train operator East Coast launched a new welcome page for its popular Wi-Fi service in November - the first of its kind in the UK rail industry - placing live travel and connections information at passengers' fingertips.

    The new real-time Wi-Fi landing page, which passengers see when they first log onto the train operator's on-board internet service, links with the National Rail Enquiries database and East Coast's own train running data and satellite feeds to keep passengers informed of any expected delays ahead of the train.

    The page also links with National Rail's database to provide live, real-time information in an instant on connecting local and regional rail services at each of the East Coast train's calling points along its route, up to 45 minutes after its scheduled arrival time.

    An instant snapshot of service availability on the London Underground and Docklands Light Railway is also displayed thanks to a live link with Transport for London's database - ideal for business travellers using these services on arrival at London King's Cross.

    East Coast hopes the new gateway page, which has been five months in the making, will make rail travel a smoother and more relaxed experience by keeping passengers informed with up-to-the-minute information throughout their journey.

    Source: Breaking TravelNews - details

  8. Wow - a new service to Iceland

    Wow Air is to launch a three-times weekly route between Reykjavik and London Stansted next June, just months after Easyjet commences flights to the Icelandic capital from Luton.

    The new Icelandic low-cost carrier is set to launch routes from Reykjavik to a number of European cities including Basel, Berlin, Copenhagen, London, Lyon, Paris, Stuttgart and Zurich.

    Plans call for the London Stansted route to operate three times-weekly from June 1, 2012, using 158-seat Airbus A320-200 aircraft.

    Wow Air's website says that passengers will be able to choose their seat at the time of booking for a fee, or else will be assigned a seat at check-in. Paid-for refreshments will be available in-flight.

    The new route to Stansted airport follows Easyjet's announcement of flights between London Luton at Reykjavik in March 2012. Icelandair currently offers flights to Reykjavik from London Heathrow, while rival carrier Iceland Express operates flights from London Gatwick.

    Source: Business Traveller - full report by Mark Caswell

  9. Looking for affordable hotels in Europe?

    The good folk at the Daily Telegraph have written a superb article whereby their travel experts have come up with an exciting selection of hotels in Europe for under £100 a night for two people sharing in a room.

    Here are some samples:

    Barcelona - Villa Emilia
    A great-value boutique hotel that works hard to compensate for a slightly out-of-centre location (in the left of the Eixample, just off the Gran Via) with its winning blend of modern design and antique furnishings, attentive service and a secluded rooftop terrace.
    Location Carrer Calàbria, Eixample - Price £89

    Prague - The Savic
    This 17th-century house in the Old Town has been transformed from a neglected apartment building into one of Prague's most gorgeous and in-demand properties. Thorough renovation has led to a walled-off feeling that wraps up its patrons in warm, understated charm. So effective has it been that you'll need to book at least a month in advance, even in winter.
    Location Jilská 7, Prague 1 - Price £75

    St Petersburg - Vesta Hotel
    Perhaps St Petersburg's best-value hotel, the functional Vesta is slap bang is the city centre. It is spacious enough, minimalist and decorated in what can only be described as Ikea style, but adequate if you simply need a place to rest your bones after a day's sightseeing - and you can't get more central than Nevsky Prospekt. The efficient staff make time for the hotel's relatively small number of guests - they'll even provide guides and interpreters.
    ?Location Nevsky Prospekt 92 - Price £65

    full article by Charles Starmer Smith

  10. London Thames Gateway Airport Take 2 - Boris Airport

    London Mayor Boris Johnson also held a briefing last month regarding his plans for a new London airport, hosted by the Institute of Directors (IoD) and its Director General, former British Airways public relations chief Simon Walker.

    This part 2 unveiling discussed the economic benefits of a new hub airport. The Mayor's project does not compete with the recently announced Norman Foster integrated hub (see article two above) which he praised and is sited much closer to the city.

    The report notes that 10 years ago Heathrow offered almost 200 destinations, which dropped to 167 by June 2011, with more expected. While European rivals with multi-runway airports lure business away from the UK, London remains without any direct connection to 12 cities in China, expected to be among the 25-mega cities with the highest GDP by 2025.

    Heathrow now offers just 9,000 seats per week to mainland China and only serves two routes. By contrast Frankfurt has almost twice as many seats and serves four destinations, whilst Amsterdam serves six Chinese destinations.

    Source: AERBT - details

  11. Early warning for travellers to the USA

    If you or one of your travellers were one of the original ESTA (Electronic system for travel authorisation) users by the US Department of Homeland Security your time is running out within the next 30 days. It is not possible to extend or renew a current ESTA. On application if there are more than 30 days left on the old authorization you will receive a warning message during the course of action and be asked if you wish to proceed. Unlike the UK Passport Office you will not be given time credit if you apply early.

    Application is extremely simple and need not take more than a few minutes. However, unlike the original ESTA, there is now a charge, US$14.

    Presently 36 countries participate in the scheme which makes passport control very easy. It is intended for those who plan to enter the United States for 90 days or less for business, pleasure or transit. If you are going from Europe to New Zealand via Los Angeles you will need an ESTA.

  12. Get your Ryanair seats online

    Budget carrier Ryanair will allow customers on all routes to purchase reserved seating from January 10 following a successful six-month trial. The pre-booking service will be charged at €10 each way and will include priority boarding.

    The optional service will allow passengers to secure favourable seats in the front two rows for a swift exit, or over the wings in rows 16 and 17, which offer extra legroom - see a seat plan.

    This move comes as an allocated seating policy is proving increasingly popular with low cost carriers looking to boost ancillary revenues. Easyjet recently launched an allocated seating trial, and Bmibaby launched a FlyPlus fare which includes seat assignment.

    Source: Business Traveller online - read the report by Scott Carey

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