News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: September 2012

  1. MPs call for 'immediate' capacity rise at Heathrow

    The All Party Parliamentary Group on Aviation said that capacity constraints at Heathrow were already "restricting the UK's economic potential" in its Inquiry into Aviation Policy and Air Passenger Duty report published today.

    "The UK's hub airport is a nationally strategic asset that should by supported by the government," said the report. "All efforts should be made to ensure the UK retains and grows hub capacity, whether that entails further capacity at Heathrow, or a new purpose-built hub airport."

    The group said that while this debate on a long-term plan is going on, there should be an "immediate interim solution" looking at ways to increase capacity at Heathrow including the lifting of some flight restrictions and the possible use of nearby RAF Northolt.

    It recommends that the government should carry out "a full assessment of the impact of mixed mode use of Heathrow's runways and of using the existing runway at Northolt more effectively".

    Mixed mode flying involves using both of Heathrow's runways for landing and taking off at the same time. Air traffic controller NATS estimates that using mixed mode and easing night restrictions would increase Heathrow's capacity by 15 per cent but this would be unpopular with residents living under the flight path in west London.

    Source: BusinessTraveller - full report from Rob Gill

  2. Dockland's celebrates

    Universally known as the DLR, London's Docklands Light Railway has now celebrated 25 years.

    Opened by the Queen in August 1967, just before London City Airport, these were the two vital links required to make the "city in the east", really take off. Just as the airport was built on the remains of an old wharf much of the railway was constructed over disused railway viaducts many dating from Victorian steam train times.

    When the DLR opened it operated 11 trains serving 15 stations and in its first year of operation it carried 6.7m people. Today the railway - which is entirely step-free - has 45 stations, just under 30 miles of track, 149 carriages, and moves 86m passengers annually. During the London 2012 Olympic Games it carried 7.2m passengers, twice the normal level.

    Source: BusinessTravelNews - details

  3. The Circle at Zurich Airport given go ahead

    While debate and indecision over the UK's airport policy continues, a groundbreaking new 'airport city' project, The Circle at Zurich Airport, has received legally-binding building permission from the Swiss government.

    Provided that all conditions are met, construction of this ambitious, high concept mixed-use development will commence in 2013, with the aim of creating Europe's premium international business hub.

    Set for completion in 2017 and costing approximately CHF1 billion, The Circle at Zurich Airport will be one of Europe's largest construction projects, with a utilisable area of some 200,000m2.

    Taking its name from its exceptional location, nestled between the rounded contours of the idyllic natural landmark of Butzenbüel hill and the airport itself, The Circle at Zurich Airport will combine an intelligent modular design, ingenious infrastructure, unrivalled global connectivity and world-class architecture to take the 'airport city' concept to a whole new level.

    It will provide a platform for connecting the world's leading service providers with discerning customers from all corners of the globe, in a modern, urbane and quintessentially Swiss environment.

    Its visionary mixed-use design is based on seven autonomous yet complementary modules; customers will benefit from the synergies of a compact, easily accessible complex - just a few minutes' walk from the airport's main terminal - comprising hotels, conference and event facilities, restaurants, and a health and beauty centre as well as offices and headquarters.

    Management agreements have already been signed with Hyatt Hotels Corporation, with the international hotel brand set to manage two hotels - a Hyatt Regency and a Hyatt Place - within The Circle, providing a total of 550 guest rooms as well as convention facilities for 1,500 people.

    Source: Breaking TravelNews - the report

  4. MasterCard signs up with eNett International

    MasterCard Worldwide and eNett International have signed a partnership agreement which provides innovative payment and reconciliation solutions for the travel industry through the use of Virtual Account Numbers (VANs).

    The partnership aims to facilitate high volumes of global payments over a 5 year period and sets MasterCard up as the exclusive payment partner for all eNett VANs generated in Europe.

    eNett International - a Travelport joint venture - is a global provider of specialist payment solutions for the travel industry.

    eNett VANs have been gaining great traction in the European market already and this partnership further reinforces the confidence in this product as a solution for B2B travel payments.

    MasterCard's European Strategic Alliances team recognized the opportunity for eNett VANs, which meet the needs of the travel industry for faster, more secure payment methods which simultaneously provide improved payment to invoice reconciliation.

    Source: BreakingTravelNews - full report

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

    There are literally no more than a handful of seats left for our Autumn event which will be held on Tuesday 18th September in the Bell suite of the superb Grange City Hotel.

    If you would like to know more about our Forum check out our video of the Spring 2012 event.

    Full details of the sessions planned for 18th September are now available on our website.

    If your diary is free-ish on Tuesday 18th September, please give us a call and we will try our best to accommodate you - hopefully it will become a day you won't forget!

  6. Let's hear the cheer for Accor Hotels!

    Accor, one of the world's largest international hotel groups, is to scrap wifi charges at 500 of its properties.

    The move may encourage other hotel chains to follow suit

    The French company, which owns the Ibis, Mercure, Sofitel and Novotel chains, made the announcement after a survey revealed that the availability of free wifi was a key factor when choosing a hotel for the majority of travellers.

    Despite the growing availability of free wifi at pubs, cafes, and even branches of McDonald's and Starbucks, the hotel industry has appeared reticent to offer the service, but the move may encourage other firms to follow suit.

    A study carried out by Telegraph Travel earlier this year revealed that around two thirds of hotels around the world still charge guests for wifi access, with rates as high as £8.50 an hour.

    Luxury hotels in London were found to be the worst offenders, with several charging £20 for 24 hours' wifi access. These included The Dorchester, Grosvenor House and the Firmdale group - which owns six upmarket hotels in London, including The Haymarket and Number Sixteen.

    Budget chains such as Holiday Inn were also found to be charging guests up to £15 a day in Britain and £20 a day in Europe, while Accor was found to charge guests £3.85 per hour at its various properties.

    Accor's decision follows a survey by the hotel booking website, which suggested that 38 per cent of travellers won't book a hotel unless wifi access is free of charge.

    Source: Telegraph - full report by Oliver Smith

  7. FastJet ramps up passengers numbers ahead of jet launch

    The new airline venture in Africa with connections to Stelios Haji-Ioannou recorded a 48% rise in passenger numbers during July, compared with the same period last year.

    Fastjet, which owns East African-based turboprop operator Fly540, carried 60,367 passengers in the month, compared with 40,673 in July 2011. Its load factor was 65.2% for the month.

    Fly540 was set up by investment group Lonhro to focus on key east African routes. It has since expanded to West Africa and Angola.

    Aim-listed Rubicon Investments has purchased the company and officially changed its listed name to FastJet.

    Haji-Ioannou holds a 5% stake in the airline, with the option to take another 10% of the company.

    The airline plans to introduce jet aircraft into its fleet later this year, with the first 156 seat A319 coming into the fleet in November.

    An additional Embraer 170 and an ATR72-200 were planned to join the Fly540 fleet in the second half of August.

    Source: TravelTradeGazette - read the report by Lucy Siebert

  8. Flat pack hotel?

    Low cost furniture retailer IKEA is poised to unveil plans for a chain of budget hotels across Europe.

    The UK, Holland, Poland and new markets such as Germany are reported to be under consideration for the chain of at least 100 budget hotels.

    Inter IKEA, the company that owns the intellectual property rights of Ikea, is eyeing sites across Europe for what it calls "budget design" hotels, the Financial Times reported.

    The hotels will not use the IKEA name and will not be run by the Swedish company but by an established hotel operator, according to an executive familiar with the plans, the newspaper said.

    "We will announce within a few weeks the first location for our budget hotel in Germany and we are in talks with hotel operators to rapidly implement our concept," Harald Müller, a senior manager in Inter IKEA's property division, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany.

    Source: TravelWeekly - read the article

  9. Economic woes set to put brake on price rises in 2013

    Business travellers are likely to see the highest hotel rate increases in South America next year as the region continues an economic boom.

    In contrast, accommodation prices in London will fall back in the wake of the Olympic Games.

    High-speed rail rates will likely increase 4.3% during 2013 as this mode of transportation continues to offer a competitive alternative to air travel in key markets.

    The cost of corporate travel by high speed rail is likely to soar by as much as 9% in premium-class cabins, where corporate travellers typically ride to access free wireless internet and other amenities in Europe as more people switch from air.

    The findings come from a detailed global travel price forecast for 2013 released by Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

    The study indicates that prices in most areas of travel spend are expected to grow modestly around the globe next year, with the most significant inflation expected throughout the Asia Pacific and Latin America regions.

    The Latin America region continues to see overall economic growth, though significant disparities continue to exist that will create varied travel pricing by country next year, according to the report.

    Average daily hotel rates in the region will likely rise about 6.3% in 2013 with Brazil seeing the largest increase.

    The newly formed LATAM Airlines, now the world's second largest airline by market value, will embark on its first full year of operation in 2013, which may result in improved routes and frequencies to, from, and within the region.

    Air fares in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region are forecast to increase by 2.5% with average daily hotel rates up by just 1.3% and car rental by 1.2%

    Economic growth in the Asia Pacific region is expected to stabilise, leading to modest price increases, although specific results vary widely by country.

    While the economies of the US and Canada are experiencing slow and steady improvement, there is no major growth expected for the foreseeable future, which will help contain travel price increases in 2013 for most categories of spend, according to CWT.

    Source: TravelWeekly - full report

  10. EU widens probe of Ryanair bid for Aer Lingus

    Europe's competition regulator has launched an in-depth review of Ryanair's latest bid for Irish rival Aer Lingus, signalling the budget airline may have to make big concessions to ease competition concerns or face fresh failure.

    Ryanair, which already owns 30 percent of Aer Lingus, had an initial bid turned down by the European Commission in 2007 and dropped a second offer in 2009.

    Analysts and investors view its latest 700 million euro ($880 million) bid as a long shot - as is clear from Aer Lingus's shares trading well below the bid price. But the prospect of gaining access to Aer Lingus's slots at premium airports is enough for Ryanair to fight hard for a deal.

    The European Commission said on Wednesday it was launching an in-depth review of the bid after a preliminary investigation suggested competition concerns remained, or had even intensified, since it last looked at the matter.

    Ryanair said last week it would offer unspecified concessions to ease regulatory concerns.

    A source familiar with the matter has told Reuters the company was talking to British Airways and Virgin Atlantic about possibly opening routes and divesting airport slots.

    Analysts said the in-depth investigation was no surprise, and would step up the pressure on Ryanair to offer concessions.

    The Commission said it would decide by January 14 whether to clear or block the deal.

    Ryanair said in a statement the delay would cause its bid to lapse and it would resubmit the bid if the merger was approved.

    Aer Lingus said it expected the Commission to reject the bid as the number of routes on which the two airlines compete was higher than when the Commission rejected the earlier bid.

    Source: Reuters - full article by Foo Yun Chee and Conor Humphries

  11. United to fly Dreamliner to Heathrow

    United is to operate its Dreamliner aircraft on the Houston-London Heathrow route "on a temporary basis" from February 4 next year, and has confirmed B787 services to Tokyo, Lagos and Shanghai.

    The carrier is set to take delivery of its first Boeing Dreamliner in late September, and will initially use it on domestic routes, details of which will be announced "in the near future".

    It will then place the aircraft on regular international flights between Los Angeles and Tokyo Narita from January 3, 2013, and between LA and Shanghai from March 30.

    The aircraft will also be used on flights between Houston and Lagos from January 7, and between Denver and Tokyo Narita from March 31.

    The carrier has also confirmed that its Dreamliner will operate on flights from Houston to both Amsterdam and London Heathrow "on a temporary basis". The Amsterdam B787 service will begin on December 4, while Heathrow will see the Dreamliner from Feb 4.

    Source: Air & Business Travel News - full report from report from Mark Caswell

  12. Virgin Atlantic to launch London-to-Manchester service

    Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic has announced the launch of a London to Manchester service, days after the tycoon's rail business lost the franchise for the same route.

    Virgin Atlantic said it would offer a service three times a day between Heathrow and Manchester airport, its first UK domestic route, from March next year.

    The Virgin group has a track record as a domestic airline operator, through the Virgin Australia and Virgin America businesses.

    The Manchester move has been planned for some time and is not linked to the decision by the government to strip Virgin Trains of the west coast franchise, which operates between London and Manchester, Birmingham and Glasgow. A Virgin Trains spokesman confirmed the move was "unrelated" to the fate of the west coast contract.

    Virgin Atlantic's Manchester route will give the airline an embryonic resemblance to BA, which uses its Heathrow short-haul destinations, such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, to feed passengers into long-haul destinations such as New York and Moscow.

    Virgin Atlantic will hope to lure some of the 650,000 air passengers who fly between London and Manchester each year on to its service, and then on to its long-haul network.

    The airline said more than six out of 10 London-bound passengers from Manchester airport connect to other destinations, many of them served by Virgin Atlantic. The carrier said it had leased an Airbus A319 jet.

    Source: the Guardian - full article by Dan Milmo

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