News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: March 2012

  1. We hate APD!

    Air Passenger Duty is the third most unpopular stealth tax in the UK, claimed a poll out last Monday.

    According to a ComRes survey of more than 2,000 people, APD is behind only fuel tax and VAT in the 'least popular' list, with only 24% of people saying they support it.

    It shares third place with the Climate Change Levy. Since 2007 it has increased by 140% on short-haul routes and up to 325% for long-haul routes.

    The research was commissioned by the Fair Tax on Flying campaign group and was revealed in last Monday's Daily Express.

    Emma Boon, campaign director for the TaxPayers' Alliance commented that'The Government should work to cut APD so that we have a more competitive rate and taxpayers get a better deal.'

    If you want to show your disapproval of this pernicious tax you are invited to join with Daily Telegraph readers and sign the petition here.

  2. Still under the same management

    Now part of the Reed Exhibition empire (WTM) London's Business Travel Market is quickly moving ahead with plans to make its fourth annual show at ExCel Centre the biggest and best yet (13-14 June).

    Most significant is a raft of additions to its Advisory Board as well as the Education Committee.

    Anne Godfrey, GTMC Chief Executive; Chris Crowley, BCD Travel and immediate past President of ACTE; Richard Oliver, Qatar Airways' Country Manager UK & Ireland; Darren Williams Eurostar's Head of Global Sales; and Julia Surry from Airplus International all join the Board.

    Crowley states "In only three years BTM has established itself as a growing and important annual industry event. I am delighted to be part of BTM's Advisory Board involved in the event's further development."

    The education sessions' content for the BTM Conference is once again being put together by an independent ACTE-chaired Education Committee. This Committee of volunteers draws from vast experience across all industry sectors and roles. They include corporate travel buyers Yves Galimidi (IKEA), Vicky Anderson (Pfizer), Xavier Houart (Atlas Copco) and Emma Delange (Amdocs) as well as Peter Ducker from the HBAA, Barry Fleming of BCD, Deanna Seiffert of HRS and Matt Beck of Reardon Commerce from the industry.

    If you would like to learn more about the education sessions please contact the chair of the planning committee, Caroline Allen on callen@acte.org

    More details of the BTM.

  3. Old Café new Hotel

    The historic Café Royal on London's Regent Street is to reopen as a 159-room hotel this June, and will form part of The Set, a collection of properties including Hotel Lutetia in Paris.

    The venue closed its doors in December 2008, and has undergone an extensive renovation project to restore listed interiors dating as far back as the 1860s.

    The Café Royal Hotel will feature 159 room including five suites, the restored Grill Room restaurant (previously frequented by the likes of Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Taylor, Winston Churchill and Princess Diana), and spa facilities including an indoor pool.

    Joining an ever-growing list of properties scheduled to open in London before the 2012 Olympic Games, the hotel will form part of The Set, "a collection of contemporary hotels conceived to redefine the concept of the luxury hotel for sophisticated, design literate travellers in the 21st Century".

    The Café Royal Hotel will join the Conservatorium Hotel in Amsterdam as the collection's first members, with Hotel Lutetia in Paris set to be added "in the coming years" following refurbishment.

    Source: Business Traveller Online - read the report by Mark Caswell

  4. American Joins Premium-Economy Race

    American Airlines is joining its largest competitors in rolling out premium-economy seating across its mainline fleet. According to the carrier, installation of the new Main Cabin Extra, which will offer between four and six more inches of leg room than standard economy, begins this fall and should within 18 months spread to the "vast majority" of AA's domestic and international fleets.

    While certain elite-level frequent flyers and full-fare economy ticketholders will gain complimentary access to the new seats (based on availability), others can purchase an upgrade from standard economy from the time of booking through check-in, but only through AA's direct channels, including travel agencies using AA's direct connection. Main Cabin Extra will cost an additional $8 to $108 per segment.

    American's chief competitors, United and Delta, have a head start in providing premium-economy products. Already a staple on United aircraft, the carrier last year announced plans to expand in 2012 Economy Plus seating to its Continental Airlines subsidiary.

    Delta, meanwhile, last year on international routes launched its Economy Comfort seats. In October it announced plans to expand the product by summer 2012 to its entire mainline fleet and 250 regional jets.

    Source: Business Travel News - full report by Jay Boehmer

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

    As we plan to hold our 23rd Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forum, we are delighted to note the first bookings are already flowing in for what will undoubtedly become another memorable day.

    MS-UK & ACTE Global are delighted to be working with our new accommodation partner, in the Lion Suite of the elegant 5 star City Grange Hotel, which is situated within yards of the Tower Bridge Underground station and overlooking the medieval wall of London.

    Our planning committee is now working hard on the details for the Spring event, the theme of which is currently "The Changing Face of Travel Management and Procurement". Full details of which can be seen on our website www.ms-uk.com/travel-forum.html

    Pictures and videos of previous Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forums

    You can make sure of your place at this key industry event by clicking here.

  6. W Hotels Debuts in France with W Paris - Opera

    Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. announces the debut of W Hotels Worldwide in France with the highly-anticipated opening of W Paris - Opéra.

    Owned by Barcelona-based Meridia Capital, the hotel is set inside a historic 1870s Haussman-era heritage building near Opéra Garnier, Galeries Lafayette and Place Vendome in the eclectic, historic 9th Arrondissement in Paris.

    Through W Hotels' unique and distinctive programming, which is inspired by the brand's roots in New York where it was founded in 1998, W Paris - Opéra will set a new scene in the city for both guests and Parisians alike. The opening of W Paris - Opéra marks a significant milestone in the W brand's global expansion as it gears to enter Singapore, Thailand and China later this year.

    W Paris - Opéra will provide a cutting-edge lifestyle experience, featuring 91 stylish guest rooms, including 20 suites and two Extreme WOW Suites (W's interpretation of the Presidential Suite). The hotel's signature restaurant, Arola, marks the debut of Michelin-starred chef, Sergi Arola in France.

    The hotel offers spectacular views of the Opéra Garnier from its ground level and mezzanine floors, including W Lounge, W's take on the traditional lobby, a buzzing social space where visitors can sip, drink and flirt over tapas and cocktails by the hotel's mixologist. Guests can expect the brand's signature Whatever/Whenever® service philosophy, providing guests whatever they want - from the latest in fashion, design, and music in Paris, to the city's most exclusive events and nightspots.

    Source: Breaking Travel News - read the full story

  7. Fuel surcharges returning as Oil prices rocket!

    Emirates is introducing a fuel surcharge for all tickets issued on or after March 1.

    The carrier said the increases reflect "substantial" recent increases in fuel costs and due to the current volatility of oil prices.

    The fuel surcharge differs by markets and routes.

    The majority of online business class return fares between Dubai and London Heathrow now feature a surcharge of AED950 taxes/ GBP£ 163.50 for travel in early March.

    Etihad, Qantas, Singapore, Cathay, ANA and Silk Air have all announced fuel surcharge increases being imposed during March.

    Source: Business Traveller online - full report by Dominic Ellis

  8. Luxury London hotels worst wi-fi 'offenders'

    Travellers are being 'fleeced' by hotel wi-fi charges, according to a study by The Daily Telegraph.

    Its research showed that about two-thirds of hotels worldwide are still charging guests for wi-fi access - with rates as high as £8.50 per hour and £20 per day.

    It said: 'With a large number of bars, cafés, and even branches of McDonald's and Starbucks now offering free wi-fi to customers, hotels are facing growing criticism over the high charges that many continue to impose.'

    The survey found luxury hotels in London were the 'worst offenders', with several charging £20 for 24-hour wi-fi access.

    These included Grosvenor House and the Firmdale Hotels group - which owns six upmarket properties in London, such as The Haymarket and Number Sixteen. At The Dorchester, the only option is a charge of £19.50 per day.

    The highest hourly rate uncovered was €10 (£8.50), a charge imposed by several Marriott hotels, including the A C Hotel in Florence and the J W Marriott in Cannes, said the Telegraph.

    Towards the lower end of the market, Travelodge charges guests £5 an hour or £10 a day, while guests at Barceló Hotels must pay £6.50 an hour, or £15 a day.

    Among hotel chains offering free wi-fi are Best Western, Malmaison, De Vere, Radisson Edwardian and Britannia.

    Souce: e-Tid - the full article

  9. Travelodge opens 500th hotel at London Stratford

    Friday 1st March saw Travelodge open its 500th hotel, a 188-room property in London's Stratford.

    Located on Stratford High Street, the new-build is in walking distance of the Olympic Stadium.

    The property also features the brand's signature bar-café, found in many of its new-build city-centre properties.

    The opening comes less than two years after the budget chain opened its 400th property in Waterloo. It brings Travelodge's London tally to 47.

    The company also announced plans to open 184 more hotels across the capital by 2025.

    Travelodge has also just opened a hotel in Greenwich, with one at Excel exhibition centre due to follow before the Olympics.

    Last week it opened the 141-room Liverpool Central the Strand opposite Albert Dock. Another will follow on Liverpool's Exchange Street later this year. Edinburgh is to get two more properties in 2012.

    Travelodge is due to boost its small Spanish portfolio with city-centre properties in Barcelona and Madrid next year.

    Source: Business Traveller online - read the full report by Michelle Mannion

  10. Air links falling off map

    With fuel prices soaring, airlines are cutting routes. UK travellers to Asia are badly affected. When the summer air schedules take effect on 25 March, Qantas abandons flights from Heathrow to Bangkok and Hong Kong. Qantas passengers to Perth and Melbourne will now fly to one of the Asian hubs on BA, and connect there to the Australian airline.

    China Airlines, the leading Taiwanese carrier, closes its route to Taipei at the end of the winter season. AirAsia X abandons its route from London to Kuala Lumpur on 31 March. The airline blames high fuel prices, weak demand and "exorbitant government taxes".

    Two new links are bucking the trend: on Wednesday, Hong Kong Airlines starts flying a business-class-only link to Gatwick, and in June China Southern starts flying to Guangzhou in southern China from Heathrow.

    Source: The Independent - click on this link to read this and similar articles

  11. Siemens sounds warning over Crossrail tender

    The Government has been warned that it must not bias its decision about Crossrail rolling stock in favour of a British builder. The competition to build 600 vehicles worth an estimated £1 billion starts tomorrow, amid warnings that the future of the British train building industry is in the balance.

    The decision to award the £1.4 billion Thameslink rolling stock contract to Siemens last year meant that the work was lost to Britain's last train-building factory in Derby, which is owned by Bombardier.

    Although Siemens was named as preferred bidder last June the contract has yet to be signed off, although this is expected shortly.

    Even while the Thameslink deal remains unconfirmed, the Department for Transport is now inviting tenders to build the Crossrail fleet - a contract which some industry observers had speculated would be the natural successor to the Thameslink work and likely to be won by the same company.

    Protestors in Derby have been maintaining that this must not happen, because although Bombardier has given its Litchurch Lane works in Derby a stay of execution after winning a contract to build 130 Electrostar vehicles for Southern, its future after 2014 is still uncertain.

    But as the Government prepared to begin the Crossrail procurement process, one of the contenders fired a warning shot. Siemens said that ministers and officials must not show any 'national bias' when reaching their decision about who the builder of the 60-train fleet should be.

    Supporters of Bombardier in Derby do not agree. They are bitterly critical of the fact that the wider economic benefits of awarding the Thameslink contract to the Derby works had been disregarded, although they say that EU law did not prevent this.

    The government said that the terms of the Thameslink contract had been drawn up by the previous Labour government, and that these were binding. No such restriction affects the Crossrail contract, which can start with a blank sheet of paper.

    Apart from Bombardier and Siemens, the other contenders for the Crossrail contract are Spanish CAF and Japanese Hitachi.

    Hitachi has already achieved preferred bidder status to provide the next-generation Intercity Express fleet in Britain, while CAF has just won a contract to build new trams for Midland Metro.

    Source: Railnews - read the full story

  12. Boeing delivers biggest 747 to secret VIP buyer

    The Boeing Company handed over the first passenger version of its upgraded and extended 747 to a secret VIP customer, who sent the gleaming, all-white plane along to a modification centre to transform it into the "jewel of the sky."

    The delivery of the 747-8 Intercontinental - Boeing's largest and most recognizable commercial aeroplane - caps a development delay of more than a year.

    Boeing, the world's second-largest plane-maker marked the milestone with an understated ceremony, keeping the media at arm's length to safeguard the identity of its customer, thought by industry insiders to be the state of Qatar. The Intercontinental is an elongated, upgraded version of the classic 747, which first flew more than 40 years ago. The 747 was the world's largest aeroplane until 2005, when Airbus unveiled its A380.

    Boeing, which competes for orders with rival Airbus, has taken 36 orders - nine from non-airline customers - for the aircraft, which lists at $332.9 million. The aeroplane is more than 12 months behind its initial delivery schedule and some experts say the order book is puny.

    Source: ChicagoTribune - read the full story reported by Bill Rigby in Seattle and Kyle Peterson in Chicago

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