News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: February 2012

  1. Agreement reached over sale of Bmibaby

    In a statement released on February 1st the airline said the deal was for 100% of the shares and all assets and liabilities including aircraft, route network and staff.

    It said the terms agreed were non-exclusive meaning BMI is free to continue discussions with other interested parties.

    BMI said: "The new potential owner would continue to use the existing brand name for an interim period.

    "The currently published summer 2012 schedule would continue as planned and customers can continue to book flights via and via the Bmibaby call centre.

    The statement added: "BMI is pleased with the opportunity that this transaction gives to the Bmibaby business enabling it to be an independent airline with great future prospects.

    "Following the proposed sale, Bmibaby's loyal customers will continue to benefit from the airline's great low fares, wide choice of destinations and high level of service."

    Source: - full report from Lee Hayhurst

  2. Electric storm or just a puff of exhaust?

    More and more electric vehicles are being launched, but is the infrastructure in place to make it a viable car hire option - and is the demand even there?

    In January 2011, it appeared to spell a new age for the motor industry. Along with their turkey dinners, the British public was happily digesting news that the Department for Transport would spend £30 million on creating 8,500 electric charge points across the UK, London mayor Boris Johnson would put in place £17 million-worth of charge points in the capital by 2013, and the coalition would honour Labour's pledge to invest £43 million in electric vehicle grants.

    In the meantime, the big names in car manufacturing have been going electric. Nissan announced that 50,000 of its Leafs would be released worldwide during 2011, Mitsubishi started taking orders for its Mitsubishi I-MiEV, Tesla Roadsters were being snapped up, and the launch of the Ford Focus Electric was confirmed. Renault's new range of ZE electric vehicles - the Twizy, Zoe, Fluence and Kangoo are now regularly featured in TV adverts here. Even Rolls-Royce has joined in, launching the 102EX electric version of the Phantom at the Geneva Motor Show last March. A new, greener future beckoned, it seemed.

    However, the combination of continued economic problems and spending cuts has resulted in uncertainty in the car rental companies. Paul McLoughlin, managing director of Sixt UK, says: "Now the sale of these vehicles has not gone to plan, the government is saying: 'Maybe we shouldn't put in as many charging points because we want to see the cars first.' The manufacturers are saying you need to put the infrastructure in first - it's a stalemate."

    Aside from going electric, are there ways for companies to be greener? Simply renting smaller models will help - and, here, the economic downturn has in fact been a benefit.

    Some hire companies also have "green" collections of lower-emission cars. Avis's Eco Collection, for example, which makes up 10 per cent of its fleet, consists of diesel cars with C02 emissions of below 110g CO2/km. Hertz's Green Collection offers cars with CO2 emission levels below 120g/km, although it is available only at participating locations.

    Meanwhile, Sixt is trialling a car-sharing scheme in Munich and Berlin using low-emission BMWs. Drive Now leases vehicles under 120g CO2/km for 25p a minute.

    According to UK advisory body the Committee on Climate Change, at least 1.7 million electric vehicles need to be on the road by 2020 if we are to cut UK CO2 emissions by a third by that time. That's a long way off - according to the Department for Transport's September statistics, only 1,250 ultra-low emission vehicles (under 75g CO2/km and including electric) were licensed in the first half of this year, compared with 28.6 million other cars.

    Source: Business Traveller - full engrossing story by Liat Clark

  3. Apex prepares for third London opening

    Edinburgh-based Apex Hotels is to open its third London property in March, a 184-room property housed within a former Inns of Court building off Fleet Street.

    Apex Temple Court Hotel is scheduled to open on March 1, and will be located at 1-3 Serjeants' Inn just south of Fleet Street.

    The property was purchased from the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple, and according to Apex will be the first Inns of Court building in London to be converted into a hotel.

    All rooms benefit from wifi internet access and separate walk-in showers and bathtubs, and hotel facilities include an executive lounge, gym, and Chambers bar and restaurant, featuring timber walls, a black and gold marble bar, and a feature fireplace.

    The four-star Apex Hotels brand currently operates four hotels in Edinburgh, one in Dundee, and two in London. For a review of the Apex London Wall property from 2010, click here

    Source: Businesstraveller online - full report by Mark Caswell

  4. Compare airline fees at a glance

    The Civil Aviation Authority has published a table listing the charges levied by the top airlines to make it easier for passengers to work out how much extra they will have to pay for services such as baggage check in and in-flight meals.

    The price comparison document, published to coincide with the peak booking season, includes everything from the cost of reserving a specific seat to checking- in sport equipment and arranging for text confirmations.

    The CAA said it was designed to ensure passengers have all the information they need to choose the best flight.

    The fees and charges comparison table is part of a series of resources being made available to help UK consumers through the 2012 peak booking season, said the CAA.

    As part of this, the CAA will shortly publish further advice and guidance for consumers on what to look out for in booking terms and conditions.

    The aviation authority said it had also worked to ensure all airlines operating in the UK now comply with their obligation to display clearly all unavoidable fees, taxes and charges upfront in their booking processes.

    The 12 page price comparison table can be downloaded in pdf format here

    Source: Travelmole - full article

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

    A new home has been announced for the MS-UK & ACTE-Global Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forums, we are delighted to announce that a partnership agreement has been agreed between MS-UK & ACTE Global with the Grange Hotel properties that will see our Forums being held at the elegant 5 star City Grange Hotel, which is situated within yards of the Tower Bridge Underground station.

    Make a diary note that on Tuesday 15th May MS-UK & ACTE-Global will be holding the 23rd Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forums in the Lion Suite, overlooking the medieval wall of London.

    Our planning committee met last month and are now busy inviting Moderators and speakers for the Spring event, the theme of which is currently "The Changing Face of Travel Management and Procurement"

    If you do not what one of our Foum's is like, check out pictures and videos of previous Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forums.

    You can catch up on our progress with the sessions and speakers by clicking here

  6. Air Berlin to join Oneworld in March

    Oneworld has confirmed Air Berlin will officially join the alliance on March 20, with subsidiary Niki also joining as an affiliate member.

    The BA-founded alliance announced Germany's second largest airline would be joining back in 2010, and a statement said that Air Berlin has "received its green light to board Oneworld after successfully completing a thorough review of its readiness conducted by British Airways, which is sponsoring its entry into the alliance, with the Oneworld central team".

    Austrian airline Niki, a subsidiary of the Air Berlin group, will also join Oneworld as an affiliate member.

    Oneworld currently has 12 full members and around 20 affiliate members (although Mexicana's membership is described as "inactive" since the carrier suspended operations in 2010).

    Oneworld says Air Berlin will add almost 70 destinations to the alliance's network. Its inauguration come ahead of the carrier's move into the new Brandenburg airport in Berlin this June.

    Kingfisher Airlines is also scheduled to join Oneworld this month, and Malaysia Airlines is set to join later this year.

    Often viewed as a low-cost carrier, Air Berlin offers free snacks and drinks on flights, as well as complimentary newspapers, assigned seating, and a frequent flyer loyalty scheme. Rival German carrier Lufthansa is a founding member of Star Alliance.

    Source: BusinessTraveller online - full report by Mark Caswell

  7. Tube stations to get wi-fi before Olympics

    Transport for London (TfL) has confirmed it is in the final stages of a tender process to appoint a provider of wifi internet access on the tube network, with up to 120 stations set to benefit from the service before the Olympic Games in July.

    According to TfL "An announcement of the chosen service provider will be made in early spring, leaving plenty of time for this to be delivered to customers in time for the 2012 Games".

    The service will be available within stations and on platforms, but not within carriages between stations. The news follows the trial of wifi internet access at Charing Cross station.

    A London Underground portal will be made available free of charge, which is "likely to include real time travel information, news, sports, entertainment", but other data services and links to external sites "may be subject to a subscription fee".

    Source: ABTN - full article by Mark Caswell

  8. Brest from London City

    CityJet is to launch services to the port city of Brest in Brittany from the start of the summer season. The Dublin-based airline, part of the Air France KLM Group, will at that time serve eight destinations across France headed by Paris Orly, plus Avignon, Brive, Deauville, Nantes, Pau, Toulon and Toulouse.

    Initially the flights will operate on a Friday and Sunday, flown by one of the airline's 14-strong fleet of Fokker F50s. The twice-weekly schedule is thought best for business people commuting to and from London, and for weekend holidaymakers.

    In total CityJet will offer 18 destinations next summer from London City Airport, with Amsterdam the busiest route offering eight flights in each direction in direct competition with British Airways. The longer routes are all flown by Avro RJ85 aircraft of which the airline has 22.

    Source: AERBT - read this and other stories

  9. EC Probing Joint Venture Among Delta, Air France-KLM and Alitalia

    The European Commission directorate general for competition is investigating whether the transatlantic joint venture among Air France-KLM, Alitalia and Delta Air Lines violates antitrust rules. Meanwhile, it is closing a separate probe into a larger subset of SkyTeam carriers.

    "The Commission will investigate whether the partnership may harm passengers on certain EU-U.S. routes where, in the absence of the joint venture, the parties would be providing competing services," according to an EC press alert.

    The extent and duration of EC's investigation into Delta and its partners "depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case" and the extent of cooperation from the carriers.

    "We remain confident we will resolve any concerns that [the directorate general for competition] may have on this matter," according to a Delta statement. Air France-KLM did not immediately comment.

    The EC also has investigated competing joint ventures, namely those between Oneworld carriers American Airlines and British Airways, and between Star Alliance partners United and Lufthansa. While the latter probe is ongoing, EC concluded its investigation into AA and BA and required the carriers to give up slots at key airports.

    Source: BTN - full report by Jay Boehmer

  10. Iconic London cinema to become luxury hotel

    London's most famous cinema and host of international film premiers, the Leicester Square Odeon, is to be turned into a hotel after being bought by Radission Edwardian.

    There is already planning permission to develop the site into a 245-room hotel with five restaurants and 33 apartments. A two-screen cinema could be retained.

    Radisson described the purchase as "another jewel in the crown" of its growing empire of 12 properties in London and two outside the capital. Director Robert Morley said: "The purchase of this site is one of the most important acquisitions for London.

    "Not only will it be a landmark development for the capital but it will create upwards of 400 jobs. This is what our group is all about - investment in potential, creation of jobs and a huge vision for the future."

    Radisson has not revealed how much it paid to buy the property from Irish debt company National Asset Management Agency. It said it would make significant announcements about its purchase in the coming weeks.

    Source: Travelmole - read the article by Linsey McNeill

  11. Road warriors latest tool

    The brand new Blink mobile app is set to revolutionise hotel booking. The 'last minute' formula for mobile has taken the US travel market by storm and five young Spanish entrepreneurs are now bringing this idea from Silicon Valley to the European market.

    • With this app, you are only four screen taps away from booking a luxury hotel room.
    • More than 200 top hotels have already joined the application, which works with both iPhone and Android operating systems.
    • The app was quickly downloaded by more than 36,000 people after only a few weeks on the market; it stayed for several days at number one for downloads in the travel category and was in the top 12 of general downloads in the iPhone Apple Store.
    • Blink allows you to book accommodation for up to six days and the booking is made genuinely at the last minute, on the day of arrival itself.
    The Blink solution reduces the time this takes by bringing together the best hotel discounts at a specific moment and the customer who is looking for same-day accommodation. This is the first mobile app which allows you to book 4 and 5 star hotel rooms in a variety of countries all over Europe for much less than if you were to book them through any other Internet-based platform.

    Blink was conceived with the aim of revolutionising the European luxury hotel bookings market by mirroring the extraordinary success of similar applications in the US. In fact, this idea was born when three Spanish entrepreneurs went to study in Palo Alto, in the heart of Silicon Valley and only a few metres away from where Steve Jobs launched Apple. Now the team has returned to Europe with the skills and know-how acquired to launch their concept with which they plan to conquer the European market.

    Source: BreakingTravelNews - full story

  12. Sabre seeks to simplify TMC workload

    Sabre Travel Network is launching technology in the UK to simplify payment processes for travel management companies.

    The initiative, Sabre's Travel Settlement Services, is a joint venture with Conferma, the provider of travel and expense technology and booking, settlement and reconciliation systems.

    It is a virtual credit card created at the time of booking and sent automatically to a supplier to guarantee the reservation. At check-out, the card is charged and payment made.

    It replaces the current system whereby UK intermediaries book hotels for clients using the credit card stored in the traveller profile.

    As a result, guarantees and payment settlement must be performed manually through a multi-step process.

    Sabre said the new system would save TMCs time and money and decrease susceptibility to fraud.

    The system will be extended to other markets throughout 2012.

    Source: e-tid - read this and other articles

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