News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: March 2013

  1. Little Red Virgin is coming to the UK

    Virgin has confirmed that its new domestic airline, set to launch at the end of the month, will be called Little Red.

    The carrier will launch on March 31st in Manchester, on April 5th in Edinburgh and April 9th in Aberdeen.

    Initially the airline will offer four daily round-trips between London Heathrow and Manchester, six daily round-trips to Edinburgh and three daily round-trips to Aberdeen.

    Virgin hopes Little Red will grow to rival British Airways, providing short-haul connections for long-haul Virgin Atlantic routes.

    Richard Branson, president, Virgin Atlantic, said: "Virgin Atlantic has been on an incredible journey since we started with a single plane 29 years ago.

    Customers will be allowed 23kg luggage check-in, pre-assigned seats, complimentary snacks and drinks and hot breakfasts on early morning flights.

    Source: Breaking Travel News - full article

  2. Coming soon to an airline near you

    2013 will bring many changes to the airline industry including new fees, higher fares, better technology, better entertainment, etc. This is what is happening across the USA - and very much like our weather - if it happens in the USA we will get our share of it sooner or later in Europe!

    #1 Fees:

    Airlines in the US are taking a different approach to fees this year. Instead of separate baggage, cancellation, or on-board meal fees, they are bundling their fees to create customer packages. In the past, most airlines were unbundling their fees and making customers pay separate amounts for meals, a better seat, etc. Now they are "re-bundling" and giving the customer one price for all of their needs.

    American Airlines introduced customer packages for round-trip flights. Their Choice Essential package costs $68 extra for a round-trip fare. With this package you receive one checked-bag, group 1 boarding, and no-change fee. This offers protection from the $150 change fee and the perks of a free checked bag and priority boarding!

    Choice Plus costs $88 extra for a round-trip fare and includes everything from the Choice Essential package plus 50% AAdvantage mileage bonus, same-day flight change, same-day standby, and an onboard premium beverage.

    They also still offer the Choice package, which is the lowest fare and does not include any additional products unless you pay separately for them.

    Southwest Airlines, known for no baggage fees and great customer service, is now adding a no-show fee for customers who do not cancel their flight if they are not going to show up. Southwest is still not charging for a cancellation so they are still one of the best airlines for fees (in my opinion of course).

    Airlines have been depending more and more on fees for an increase in revenue so do not expect to see these extra fees go away anytime soon.

    We will try to keep you informed as to when (and what) will happen over here.

    Source: Blue Sky - report by Lindsay

  3. He goes - she goes who is Ouigo?

    Ouigo is French Railways' (SNCF) riposte to the budget airlines. The new cut-price service sees SNCF simplify the booking process for TGV trains and increase capacity with extra seats. It means SNCF can drive down its operating costs by 30 per cent and so offer passengers lower fares to compete with low cost air travel.

    According to a report in the Railway Gazette, the first two routes, from Paris to Marseilles and Montpelier, are launched on April 2. One-way fares range between €10 and €85 depending on demand.

    Journey times are as fast as for normal TGVs with, for example, Paris-Marseilles taking 3hrs 15mins.

    But with the lower fares come some drawbacks. Passengers taking Ouigo:
    • Must book online
    • Have to accept a high density one-class layout
    • Can only take one bag free. Extra pieces of luggage must be paid for
    • Must note that no catering is provided
    • Must check-in at least 30 mins before departure
    • SNCF is using modern but converted duplex (double-deck) TGVs for Ouigo
    The one-class layout plus the removal of the bar and baggage areas will allow each train to accommodate a whopping total of 1,268 passengers which is 20 per cent more than for a conventional duplex TGV. By comparison, an 18-coach Eurostar train running to Paris or Brussels from London accommodates a maximum of 750 passengers in a two-class layout.

    In line with budget airline practise, Ouigo passengers at Paris must use an alternative station.

    Not for them the convenience of the Gare de Lyon (the city's centrally located station for regular TGVs), Ouigo passengers have to trek 20 miles to Marne-la-Vallee in the city's outskirts

    Ouigo seems a good idea for those passengers seeking cut-price, yet fast and reliable transportation.

    Source: BusinessTraveller - full report by Alex McWhirter

    For more information visit www.ouigo.com

  4. A Craic in Dublin

    As any good Irishman (or woman) will tell you a Craic is all about having a good time - enjoying other peoples company, conversation, and occasionally having a wee sip of the warming liquid.

    MS-UK's Forums have long been regarded as a good Craic and last year I was berated by an Irish Travel Manager for not organising another event in Ireland - MS-UK last event there was back in 2002. So it is with great pleasure that we can announce that we are coming back to Ireland with our new Forum to be held within the magnificent surroundings of the Clyde Court Hotel on the Lansdowne Road in Dublin.

    We are also delighted to advise you that most of our sponsors will once again be lending their support, including AirPlus, BCD Travel, HRS and Lufthansa plus of course the Clyde Court Hotel.

    So make a diary note to be in Dublin on Wednesday 19th June 2013, come and join in our Forum where you are part of the event - not just sitting and watching. Meet with key suppliers in a pleasant atmosphere and network with your peers with no pressure on you.

    It is like taking a day off and learning whilst you are enjoying yourself - come to think of it it sounds a lot like a good Craic! More details will appear soon on our website.

  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. Mövenpick Hotels celebrates anniversary with new signings

    Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts has embarked on a journey to celebrate its 40th anniversary this year with the signing of two new hotels in China and Thailand.

    The upscale hotel company of Swiss heritage is to open a new beach resort in Hua Hin, Thailand, and a 250-rooom hotel in Enshi City, China.

    The Mövenpick Hotel Enshi will be their first opening in China, marking an important milestone for the company.

    The new 14-storey, five-star Mövenpick Hotel Enshi is set to open this summer and will be based in the heart of the business district of Enshi City, Hubei Province located in Central China. The property will be situated just 2.5 kilometres from the airport and a short drive from stunning countryside that includes the spectacular Enshi Grand Canyon.

    By 2015, Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts will have four properties open in China: the upcoming hotel in Enshi; a 380-room resort on Phoenix Island, Sanya; a 350-room property in Chifeng City, Inner Mongolia, and a 300-room hotel in Jiading, Shanghai.

    Within three years, the company will also be operating eight hotels in Thailand with two in Chiang Mai and one each in Koh Samui, Bangkok and Pattaya in addition to the new signing, the 190-room Mövenpick Resort & Spa, Hua Hin. The upcoming properties will complement the two existing Mövenpick resorts in Phuket.

    The new signings are in line with the global strategy of Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts to open 100 hotels across Africa, Europe, the Middle East and Asia by 2015, evenly allocating around 25 properties to each region.

    Source: BusinessTravelNews - full article

  7. Rosewood Hotels to return to London

    Rosewood Hotels and Resorts is to re-enter the London hotel market for the first time in over a decade, when it rebrands the London Chancery Court Hotel as the Rosewood London later this year.

    The hotel had previously been managed under Marriott's Renaissance brand until 2011, and currently operates as an independent property, marketed under the Preferred Hotels and Resorts portfolio.

    Located on High Holborn, the Grade II listed property is owned by New World Hotel Hospitality, parent company of Rosewood Hotels and Resorts, and was formerly the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance Company.

    It is currently undergoing a US$130 million renovation project, and is scheduled to rebrand as the Rosewood London in October this year. The refurbished hotel will offer 262 rooms and 44 suites, retaining original features of the Edwardian Belle Epoque building including the carriageway entrance, marble columns and the Pavonazzo marble staircase. Facilities will include a restaurant, bar and outdoor terrace, as well as a spa and fitness suite, and 11 events spaces including a ballroom accommodating up to 435 guests.

    The hotel will also feature the Manor House Suite, a private wing accessed via its own street entrance and offering six bedrooms and 587 sqm of living space.

    Rosewood previously managed the Lanesborough hotel on London's Hyde Park Corner until 2002, when it was rebranded under Starwood's St Regis offering.

    The group currently operates iconic properties including The Carlyle in New York and Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, and is due to open hotels in Abu Dhabi and Beijing later this year.

    Source: BusinessTraveller - full report by Mark Caswell

  8. Etihad reportedly acquires Jet Airways' Heathrow slots

    Etihad Airways has reportedly agreed to acquire three Jet Airways slots at Heathrow for $70 million.

    This comes as the UAE carrier negotiates to take a 24% stake in the Indian carrier.

    "The purchase is part of a sale and lease back agreement signed on Tuesday," Etihad is reported as saying. "Jet Airways will continue to operate flights to London utilising these slots."

    Jet Airways operates three daily flights to London, two from Mumbai and one from Delhi.

    Etihad said: "The deal further strengthens the existing commercial relationship, which came into effect in July, 2008, making provision for codesharing between the two airlines.

    "Etihad Airways continues to progress discussions about further investment in Jet Airways."

    Source :Travelweekly - full story by Phil Davies

  9. How big is the market for low cost carriers on long haul routes?

    Some 74% of travellers are willing to travel long haul on a budget airline, according to a survey from search site Skyscanner which questioned 1,800 travellers.

    The travellers say they would sacrifice the extras they receive with traditional airlines to travel long haul (more than four hours) with a budget carrier.

    Of the respondents who were willing to fly long haul with a no-frills airline, 48% would forfeit personal space. Just under a third would book a 10 hour flight, while 22% said they would only go budget for up to six hours.

    Sam Baldwin, Travel Editor at Skyscanner said: "The results of this survey show there is a definite demand for low cost airlines to operate long haul routes - it appears people are more than happy to surrender some level of comfort in order to satisfy their taste for travel, as long as the price is right. In recent years, low cost airlines have started to introduce more mid haul routes, including flights from the UK to Egypt and Jordan, so it is not unfeasible that long haul routes could be next to be added."

    The survey also found 35% of travellers wanted a bigger seat pitch than the 29 inches normally offered on low cost flights. 18% wanted free hold baggage included.

    Source: Blue Sky - full story

  10. ME in London

    ME by Meliá is the fashion-forward brand of the eponymous Spanish hotel group - the London property is the fourth so far, with a fifth due in Vienna - aimed at a savvy, cosmopolitan audience with a party streak.

    The 157 rooms, including 16 suites, are clad in white leather panels (gorgeous, but the maintenance...) with dark grey carpets and silver-grey textiles in the four different levels of rooms and their silver-bronze equivalents in the four different levels of suites.

    All have a black glass wall containing an interactive TV, Nespresso machine and artfully displayed mini-bar products. There's also two restaurants: the sleekly dark steakhouse STK and a bright, cheerful, considerably cheaper Italian restaurant called Cucina Asellina, with an open kitchen, wide arched windows and a glass wall of suspended wine bottles, like a giant specimen case, in the middle.

    Source: Daily Telegraph - full in depth report by Sophie Campbell

  11. Sixt more for Liverpool

    Sixt has opened its first corporate branch in Liverpool, aiming to increase its presence in the UK.

    The new Sixt location, which will create 11 jobs and see £100,000 invested in property, offers car hire in Liverpool at the historic Albert Docks, seven days a week.

    It provides a full range of vehicles to suit both personal and business needs for both van and car rental in Liverpool.

    Customer's looking to hire a car in Liverpool will be able to take advantage of the branch's fleet, which includes economy and family cars, convertibles and premium brands such as Mercedes and BMW, alongside people carriers and van rental.

    The opening is Sixt's fourth location in the north-west region, with three already operating in Manchester and more planned in 2013.

    It also represents yet another addition to the company's 4,000 branches across more than 105 countries, and will maintain the Sixt family's commitment to provide quality vehicles at affordable prices.

    Alongside the introduction of cheap car hire in Liverpool, Sixt provides a range of services including Flexi-rent, which offers SMEs the opportunity to lease premium rental vehicles without long lead times.

    Source: BreakingTravelNews - full story

  12. World's Tallest Hotel in the World Opens in Dubai

    JW Marriott has expanded its portfolio of hotels in the Middle East with the opening of the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai. Acquiring the coveted title of World's Tallest Hotel from the Guinness Book of World Records, the 72-storey property is the first JW Marriott Marquis outside of North America and the 59th addition to the brand's global luxury portfolio.

    Soaring at 355 metres (1,164 feet), the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is just 26 metres shorter than New York City's famed Empire State Building. In addition to serving luxury business travellers, the hotel, which is owned by Emirates Group, will target the lucrative and increasingly important MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) market by filling a long-identified gap in the region.

    Along with cutting-edge business facilities, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai features more than 7,500 square metres of indoor and outdoor event space, including two ballrooms, and a large selection of world-class dining and entertainment options.

    Source: Travel Newsgram - InterMedia@vsnl.com - part of Tata Communications

  13. easyjet adds Copenhagen service

    Low cost carrier easyJet is increasing its services between London Gatwick and Copenhagen with an early morning departure from Copenhagen and an evening departure from London Gatwick.

    The move will see easyJet's flights increase from three to four each day from 24 May 2013.

    easyJet has also increased the frequency of its flights from London Gatwick to the Croatian cities of Split and Dubrovnik as well as Nice in France and currently also serves Copenhagen from Bristol, Edinburgh and London Stansted.

    easyJet celebrated flying 10m business passengers across its network in 2012 and has seen a significant increase in the number of passengers flying with the airline on business.

    The airline made its 'flexi fares' available to all via easyJet.com in 2011 giving passengers greater choice and flexibility with benefits such as unlimited free date changes from one week before, to three weeks after the original travel date and Speedy Boarding included in the fare price.

    Over 200,000 passengers fly easyJet between its largest base at London Gatwick and Copenhagen and this figure will rise to over 300,000 as a result of these service additions.

    Source: BreakingTravelNews - full report

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