News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: February 2013

  1. Greek carrier to launch routes from Oxford airport

    Crete-based Minoan Air is to launch flights from Oxford airport to both Edinburgh and Dublin from March.

    The carrier will be the first Greek airline to establish an operational base outside of Greece, when it launches twice-daily flights (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday) between Oxford and Edinburgh on March 4, followed by two flights per day (Wednesday and Friday) to Dublin on March 6.

    Both routes will then increase to twice-daily Monday to Friday from May 10, along with a Sunday service.

    Flights will depart Oxford for Edinburgh at 0730 and 1730, arriving at 0900 and 1900, with the return legs leaving at 0940 and 1945, landing back into Oxford at 1110 and 2115.

    The Dublin bound services will depart at 0630 and 1630, arriving into Ireland at 0800 and 1800, with the return legs departing Dublin at 0845 and 1845, landing back into Oxford at 1015 and 2015.

    The routes will be operated by Fokker 50 aircraft, with lead-in fares from £50 each way, including taxes.

    Source: BusinessTraveller online - full story by Mark Caswell

  2. Amadeus examines changing face of UK business travel

    Amadeus has released a report - Amadeus Business Travel Insights: the 21st Century Business Traveller - which charts the behaviour and aspirations of business travellers across the UK.

    The report is based on a survey of over 400 UK and Ireland adults, who work for large companies and regularly travel for business and was conducted in December 2012, by ICM Research on behalf of Amadeus UK.

    Key findings include from the report include an understanding that technology is changing the face of business travel.

    A tipping point has been reached in the ability to book online: the data displays new opportunities for self managed travel as two thirds of travellers are now able to book their business travel through an online booking tool.

    Only a third of travellers are able to book travel on a mobile or tablet device, providing a significant area of opportunity for travel managers, TMCs and technology companies to put their knowledge and company policies in the hands of the traveller.

    Half (51 per cent) of the survey respondents had to make changes to their travel plans in 2012 with 37 per cent having to amend their flights whilst on the road.

    These statistics indicate a clear opportunity for the travel department to add value as only 30 per cent of travellers said the department had been "very effective" at making the necessary amendments to their bookings.

    The report also delivers some more mixed reading for travel managers.

    While half of the travellers surveyed said that they fully understand their company=s corporate travel policy (51 per cent), this leaves nearly half who have a more limited or no understanding.

    Respondents demonstrated an inability to pin point the value added by the corporate travel department: nearly half (47 per cent) said that the department neither helped nor hindered the business, 15 per cent said the corporate travel department hindered their ability to do business.

    Source:L BreakingTravelNews - full report

  3. Flybe blames APD for 300 job cuts

    Regional airline Flybe has said that 'double' APD charges left it 'no choice' other than to cut hundreds of jobs.

    The Exeter-based airline has announced 300 job cuts, which amount to 10% of the UK workforce and which will affect a fifth of its management team as well as support and production staff.

    Flybe is also considering outsourcing ground handling and catering support to reach a reduction in costs of £35 million.

    The group claims it is hit particularly hard by air passenger duty, as it is charged both ways on UK domestic flights and accounts for 18% of its ticket revenues.Flybe's three divisions will be replaced by two - Flybe UK which will cover all UK-based scheduled flight services and the new Flybe Outsourcing Solutions which will cover external contracts.There will also be further automation at check-ins and fuel efficiency programmes.The airline, which flies from airports including Bristol, Cardiff, Doncaster, Edinburgh and East Midlands, has not confirmed whether any of its routes will be affected.

    Source: TravelMole - details

  4. East Coast Trains takes on the airlines

    East Coast Trains is slashing the cost of its Scottish Executive ticket between Edinburgh and London in a bold move to win more business from airlines.

    The ticket will cost only £99 return compared to the usual ,199 from this Sunday (February 3) until March 4.

    This offer is only available through TMCs, and as with the normal Scottish Executive deal it is booked in standard class but automatically upgraded to first class, which means it does not contravene travel policy when first class travel is forbidden. The walk-up "anytime" return first class fare is £416.

    The ticket is bookable up to 18.00 on the day before travel, and the return ticket is flexible. It includes complimentary at-seat meals in first class, and free wi-fi.

    With a journey time of 4h-4h 30m between the two capitals, East Coast is already chipping away at airlines= market share. This has increased by two percentage points in the last year to 24 per cent, whereas from Newcastle to London it has reached 60 per cent.

    East Coast is currently being run by the Department for Transport, and no date has been fixed for the franchise to be re-let. An intermediate business or premium economy-style class may then be introduced.

    Source: BuyingBusinessTravel online - full report by Dave Richardson

  5. MS-UK 25th Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forum - in partnership with ACTE-Global

    Our Spring Forum has a very challenging Agenda our panellists will be examining the benefits and dangers produced by your travel data. This event will take place on the 30th April held in the luxurious surroundings of the excellent Grange City Hotel.

    Session 1: Big Brother or Best Friend?
    Session 2: Using Big Data for Intelligent Sourcing
    Session 3: Helping Travellers to do the right thing
    Session 4: The 'Buyer Speakeasy'

    The speakers we have lined up so far include:
    Susanne Neufang, the President of ACTE and Getthere
    Yael Klein UK Managing Director, AirPlus International
    Ajay Sodha, Chairman of the GTMC
    Margaret McGrath, Global Travel Director, Accenture
    Peter Manby, Revenue Director, Travelodge
    Claudia Unger, Director of Research and Development, BCD Travel

    If you missed our Autumn event in September some of the pictures taken on the day can be seen on our website www.ms-uk.com/forum-gallery.html

    If you would like to read an independent view of the days' event then read Stanley Slaughter's article

    The Spring MS-UK / ACTE event which is scheduled for Tuesday 30th April 2013 - make sure you do not miss this event - you might also like to pencil in Tuesday 8th October 2013 in your calendar as well as have established that date in our Diary for our Autumn event next year! For further information on our activities click here

  6. Boeing 777-300 ER goes commercial

    American Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to enter Boeing's 777 300ER into commercial service, with an inaugural flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to Sao Paulo last Thursday night.

    The 777 300ER is the first aeroplane in American's fleet to feature international Wi Fi connectivity.

    "The 777 300ER is a critical part of our fleet renewal program, offering additional network flexibility and providing increased efficiency, while delivering a state of the art experience for our customers onboard," said Virasb Vahidi, chief commercial officer at American Airlines.

    American recently requested a delay in filing a plan or reorganization to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and is rumoured to be in talks with US Airways on a possible merger.

    Source: Aviation Today - this and other stories

  7. Air Canada rouge prepares for take-off

    Air Canada has confirmed it will hire as many as 150 new cabin crew as it continues to prepare for the launch of new leisure carrier Air Canada rouge.

    The carrier is expected to take off in July this year as the Canadian flag carrier seeks to compete in the growing leisure travel sector.

    For its inaugural 2013 season, Air Canada rouge will introduce new routes not currently operated by Air Canada to Venice, Italy and Edinburgh, Scotland.

    In addition, Air Canada seasonal services from Toronto and Montreal to Athens, Greece will be flown by the leisure carrier.

    Similarly, existing Air Canada flights operated in cooperation with Air Canada Vacations to Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Costa Rica will be operated by Air Canada rouge effective July 2013.

    Source: BreakingTravelNews - full story

  8. Travelodge unveils new room design

    Travelodge has unveiled a new room concept as part of a ,223 million investment in the brand this year.

    The new design centres around a king size Sleepeezee bed which Travelodge describes as "the Rolls Royce of beds", and which features an 800 pocket sprung mattress, with a quilted mattress topper, "bounce back duvet and pillows", and "a stylish swoosh stripes runner to help create a gift wrap feel to the bed".

    The bed also houses extra truckle beds within its base for families and larger groups, replacing the existing sofa beds.

    Other room enhancements include a "tranquil blue" feature wall, abstract artwork above the bed featuring "relaxing sparkles and shades of blue", a larger desk area, new reading lights, a phone charging socket built into the bed frame, and "a stylish white contemporary en suite bathroom with a power shower".

    Travelodge said that feedback from customers stated they wanted "an inviting, functional, warm, relaxing environment, with the main focus of the room being an extremely comfortable bed".

    The new concept will feature in all new hotels opening this year, and the group will invest £57 million rolling it out to existing flagship and popular city centre hotels from this spring.

    Travelodge says that by autumn next year 80 per cent of its estate will incorporate the new design, and says it is also working with customers to redesign its restaurants and public areas.

    In addition the chain has announced plans to open 14 new properties this year - 12 in the UK and two in Spain.

    Four of the new UK hotels will be located in London (Bethnal Green, Hounslow, Vauxhall and Walthamstow), with further properties in Liverpool, Cambridge, Aylesbury, Southport, Kings Lynn, Sittingbourne, Manchester and Chertsey.

    Travelodge will also open a second hotel in Barcelona and a third in Madrid, bringing the group's Spanish portfolio to six properties.

    Last year Travelodge announced restructuring plans as part of a CompanyVoluntary Agreement, aimed at tackling the group's debts (see online news August 17, 2012).

    Source: Business Traveller - full report by Mark Caswell

  9. Fun in the air with Lufthansa

    Lufthansa is trialling a new in flight entertainment system called Board Connect on a single Airbus A320 stationed in Munich, serving short and medium haul routes.

    The mobile device enabled system, dubbed My Mediaworld by Lufthansa, allows passengers in business and economy class to watch Hollywood films, read digital newspapers and look up a moving map and information about destinations. The service is available via laptop, tablet computer or smartphones which can connect to the on board server via an app.

    Board Connect is a wireless system working on a regular WLAN connection, allowing carriers to offer a wide range of information and entertainment that can be updated quickly and easily as well as offering online in flight sales.

    This means that Board Connect does not require internet access, as content is streamed from an on board server to passengers' devices onboard Lufthansa's A320. However, if the aircraft itself has an internet antenna, passengers can use Board Connect to access the internet.

    The system has been developed by Lufthansa subsidiary company Lufthansa Systems, providing IT solutions for airlines, and has been on trial since December and will finish in February. Virgin Australia and Condor are also trialling the system.

    Lufthansa also continues to roll out its Flynet broadband service across its intercontinental network, with the system being installed on over 80 aircraft by the end of 2012. All forthcoming Boeing 747 8s will be pre equipped with Flynet and the existing four aircraft without the service are due to be retrofitted.

    Passengers onboard Flynet equipped aircraft are also able to stream live sports on the Sport 24 channel. The English language live sports channel is integrated into a free portal and can be received via wireless LAN (WLAN) on a personal tablet or laptop.

    Sport 24 has the broadcast rights for major sports events, including Formula 1 races, the NFL Super Bowl, Wimbledon, the French Open tennis tournament and the Ryder Cup and US Open golf events. It can also stream German Bundesliga and English Premier League football matches.

    By Spring 2013 Sport 24 coverage will be available on all Flynet aircraft.

    Source: Business Traveller online - full report by Scott Carey

  10. Heathrow backs future with £3bn investment

    Heathrow is to invest £3bn in developing infrastructure in a major boost to Britain=s leading airport. Heathrow will say that the £3bn will be used to continue investment in Terminal 5 and Terminal 2, which will be further extended.

    In a signal that the company believes that it could still be backed by the Government, which is undertaking a review of runway capacity, the airport group will announce the modernisation plans later this month. They will cover the period between 2014 and 2019 and follow a £5bn investment plan between 2008 and 2013.

    Alongside the development plans, Heathrow will also reveal a major increase to airline charges, with rises in costs per passenger well above inflation.

    The reason for the increase in the charges is because fewer passengers have travelled through the airport than originally predicted.

    Airlines will have to bear the cost of the charges, which could rise to as high as £25 per passenger from around £17 per passenger now.

    Sir Howard Davies, the former executive chairman of the Financial Services Authority, has been commissioned by the Prime Minister to review aviation needs in the UK. Sir Howard said on Friday that he will look at proposals to rebuild Heathrow as a four runway airport to the west of the present site.

    Other contenders for airport development include keeping Heathrow where it is and adding a third runway, expanding Stansted or building a new airport in the Thames Estuary.

    Source: Daily Telegraph - full story by Kamal Ahmed

  11. Boost for passengers and economy as £20m new stations fund opens to bids

    Local communities are to get improved access to rail services in England and Wales thanks to a £20m fund which will help towards the cost of building new stations.

    The new stations fund, which was announced last year by the Department for Transport and opened for bids last week, is designed to provide vital additional funding for "shovel ready" projects which can be brought quickly into use for the benefit of passengers and the economy.

    Organisations such as local authorities, passenger transport executives and train operating companies keen to boost economic and connectivity by providing new stations are all being encouraged to submit bids.

    Proposed new stations must be at a sufficiently developed stage and the plans supported by train operating companies and Network Rail. While the £20m will contribute towards the cost of scheme construction, bidders must have available a portion of match funding of the project cost.

    Applications will be assessed by a cross industry panel including representatives from Network Rail and the Department for Transport. The closing date for submissions is 25 February 2013.

    Source: BreakingTravelNews - full story

  12. Europcar go BMW

    Europcar is bringing its customers the ultimate choice in luxury, with the addition of BMW to the Prestige fleet for the very first time.

    Answering the demand from its customers, the Prestige by Europcar fleet has introduced a number of models from the BMW 3 and 5 Series range.

    And ensuring that customers can enjoy a world class driving experience, the vehicles on the Prestige fleet come with a number of options over and above the standard vehicle specification.

    The new BMWs are available to book now for collection in February.

    The 3 Series Saloon in automatic guise includes the state of the art BMW Efficient Dynamics technology, as well as BMW media and interior comfort packages, leather upholstery, parking sensors and heated front seats.

    The 5 Series Saloon in Sport automatic transmission also features the BMW media package, exterior folding mirrors and sun protection glass.

    A number of 5 Series M Sport Saloons with eight speed automatic transmission are also being added to the fleet.

    With their dynamic design and contemporary sporty profile, the 5 Series M Sport Saloon perfectly blends form and function.

    The introduction of these vehicles provides Europcar customers a wide range of choice from the prestigious BMW marquee.

    Source: BreakingTravelNews - full story

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