News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: January 2014

  1. OK, Westjet you win.

    Before we forget the Christmas spirit we are sure that you will enjoy this story.

    Travelling during the holidays can be a nightmare. Lost presents and luggage, delays and grumpy passengers can make airports the least fun places ever. However, Westjet turned that on it's head for some lucky passengers at Toronto and Hamilton International in Canada.

    Westjet employed a tech savvy Santa in a box who asked passengers what they wanted for Christmas. Passengers then proceeded to board their flights while the Westjet team went shopping for their Christmas presents.

    More than 150 Westjet volunteers took part in the stunt gathering, wrapping and delivering the presents to the passengers destination at Calgary Airport.

    Watch the short video that links to this story to their faces, it's brilliant.

    Source: Blue Sky - check out their web pages here

  2. Decision means No Decision - so No change there!

    On 17th December 2013, 110 years to the day since the era of powered flight began, possible solutions to the UK's aviation capacity crunch were revealed. But even as the Davies Commission published its shortlist for an extra runway for London, politicians refused to be bound by the final decision. Doing nothing - the policy for the London area for most of the time since the Wright Brothers first flew - may yet prevail.

    The Airports Commission, chaired by Sir Howard Davies, decided London will need one more runway by 2030. The interim report shortlisted just two airports for expansion, Heathrow and Gatwick.

    The shock inclusion to the shortlist is a radical proposal to extend Heathrow's existing northerly runway westwards by about a mile-and-a-half, across the M25. It would allow take-offs and landings from the same runway at the same time. A new rail hub on the Great Western line could serve the expanded airport.

    The other two options are a full-length new runway to the north-west of the existing pair at Heathrow, and a second at Gatwick to the south of the main runway.

    Source: The Independent - full report

    Sir Howard Davies has tight-rope walked the line between Cameron and Boris over airport expansion.

    So what would suit you and your travellers best?
    • Another runway at Heathrow
    • An additional runway at Gatwick
    • A new multiple runway airport such as Boris or Norman Foster Island
    Please email your choice to

    We will ensure that the Ministers get to hear your opinion as readers of this Newsletter account for 50% of the corporate travel market in the UK.

  3. Hypersonic is coming - albeit slowly!

    Last month's article, "Concorde 2" produced the greatest amount of interest and correspondence from our readers. For those of you who, like me, mourn the passing of the advance that supersonic flight brought to us may well be interested in some news that one our US based associates recently passed to me.

    Lockheed Martin recently confirmed that its Skunk Works engineers are developing a hypersonic aircraft that will go twice the speed of the SR-71 Blackbird, called the SR-72. The SR-71 is renowned for having flown from New York to London in less than two hours, a world speed record that exceeded Mach 3 and has remained unbroken for over 38 years.

    For the past several years, Skunk Works has been working with Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop a method to integrate an off-the-shelf turbine with a supersonic combustion ramjet air-breathing jet engine to power the aircraft from standstill to Mach 6. The result is the SR-72 will integrate an engine and airframe that is optimized at the system level for high performance and affordability.

    SR-72 is not the first hypersonic Skunk Works aircraft project. With the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), engineers developed the rocket-launched Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2). The HTV-2 R&D project was designed to collect data on three technical challenges of hypersonic flight: aerodynamics; aerothermal effects; and guidance, navigation, and control.

    The SR-72's design incorporates lessons learned from the HTV-2, which flew to a top speed of Mach 20, or 13,000 mph, with a surface temperature of 3500°F. At those speeds, flight time between New York City and Los Angeles would be less than 12 minutes.

    So in the future we may see adverts proclaiming that business travellers can look forward to Lunch in London - Breakfast in New York followed by indigestion in Los Angeles!

    Lockheed Martin projects that the SR-72 could be operational by 2030.

    Source: SAE International - click here to read the full article

  4. Call to action

    As we welcome in the New Year we are delighted to note that our activities book is busier this January than it has been for many years, with clients looking to ensure that they are achieving the best value from their expanded budgets and in many cases exploring to work in areas they had not travelled to before.

    Our colleagues at Callisto UK have advised us that their February workshop sold out in less than a week - these events are proving so popular that Karen McKenna, the founder of Callisto UK is introducing another workshop in March.

    If your organisation is considering an audit of your Travel Procurement programme in 2014 by a Totally Professional Independent body or you require any guidance on a travel expense related issue, please feel free to contact us now so that we can pencil a totally free / no obligation consultation meeting with you into our schedule. You will be in good company, you can find a list of our clients and participants at our past forums by clicking here

  5. New faster train journeys from Sheffield to London launched

    Sheffield World Cup referee Howard Webb visited Sheffield station on Monday 9 December to help blow the starter whistle for faster journeys to London.

    The Yorkshire-born referee, assisted East Midlands Trains, Sheffield City Council and South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) with the dispatch of the 08.29 service from Sheffield which is one of the 68 trains to be improved in the new timetable. Passengers using this service benefit from a journey time of 2 hours 1 minute to London - a six minute improvement on the previous journey time.

    The fastest train to London will now take just two hours, whilst the average journey time has reduced by seven minutes to 2 hours 10 minutes.

    The launch of the new faster train journeys comes on the back of a £70 million investment programme being delivered by Network Rail in partnership with East Midlands Trains. The programme of work includes the upgrade of almost 160 miles of track, with trains able to run at 125 mph on parts of the Midland Main Line route for the first time ever. Other work carried out as part of the investment package includes the replacement of a number of level crossings with bridges, minor re-signalling and work to realign parts of the track.

    Source: Breaking Travel News - details

  6. New president for ACTE

    Rio Tinto travel buyer Kurt Knackstedt became the new president of ACTE on 1st January 2014.

    Singapore-based Knackstedt took over from the association's immediate past president Suzanne Neufang who stepped down after two years in the post.

    Knackstedt, who is currently Rio Tinto's global category lead for travel and expense, previously worked for American Express Business Travel and Travelport after starting his career in corporate travel with Rosenbluth International in Philadelphia.

    He joined ACTE's board of directors in January 2012 as the regional representative for Asia.

    Outgoing ACTE president Neufang said: "It has been a tremendous honour to serve as this association's president these past two years.

    "I have had the satisfaction of seeing how a professional association like ours can advance careers and effect change across an entire industry.

    "The past year has shown what comes from the joint efforts of a dedicated board of directors, a driven volunteer-oriented membership, and a focused professional staff.

    "Our educational programs are well-recognised and well-attended. Our industry positions are well-defined and well-respected. Our view of the future is well grounded in the anticipated needs of our members."

    Source : BBT - click here to read the full story by Rob Gill

  7. Two City jet stories

    Cityjet sale Confirmed : Air France-KLM expects to sell Cityjet and its subsidiary VLM in the first quarter of 2014.

    The group has received a firm offer from Germany's Aviation Gmbh to buy the Dublin-based regional airline, it revealed on Friday.

    The amount Aviation Gmbh has agreed to pay for Cityjet and VLM has not been disclosed.

    However, Air France-KLM said it expects the deal to complete in the first three months of the new year.

    CityJet is also expected to close its London City to Luxembourg route in April, according to media reports.

    Source: Business Traveller - read Graham Smith's article

    Cityjet activity at Cardiff: Cityjet will launch new routes from Cardiff to Glasgow and Paris next month.

    The services, which begin on January 20, will fill the gap left when Flybe cancels both routes on January 19.

    Cityjet will fly to Glasgow twice a day on weekdays and daily at weekends. It will also fly daily, with the exception of Saturdays, to Paris Orly

    . The airline has also announced plans to fly to Edinburgh and Jersey from Cardiff from March 30 and to increase services to Glasgow and Paris during the summer months.

    Source: Business Traveller - full story from Chloe Hay

  8. Ryanair launches free service?

    Ryanair has launched its latest customer service initiative - the ability to register personal details on its website for future use.

    Customers can store their details using the 'My Ryanair' service, and access them when making bookings or checking in online at The carrier says that the service will help passengers "to make faster bookings and check-in quicker online", adding that those registering will also be able to access new business and family services when they are launched next spring, along with a forthcoming Ryanair app.

    The registration service is the latest in a raft of enhancements rolled out by the low-cost airline, in a bid to improve its customer service image among travellers.

    These include a 24-hour grace period for minor corrections to bookings, the introduction of quiet flights before 0800 and after 2100, an additional small carry-on bag allowance (measuring no more than 35 x 30 x 20cm), and a reduction in its boarding pass reissue fee from £70 to £15 for those checking in online.

    In February Ryanair will also move to fully allocated seating policy, and the carrier says it will also reduce its standard airport bags fees "bringing them in line with competitor airlines".

    Source: BusinessTraveller- read this and other reports by Mark Caswell

  9. Roaming charges cost British travellers £112m

    Roaming charges abroad cost British travellers £112m last year, a report has shown, with the average traveller's phone bill increasing by £20

    One in ten travellers saw their bill rise by as much as £50 and almost a third of those surveyed said the increase was up to £200 more, according to a new report recently published.

    The survey was based on the experiences of 1,000 adults who travelled abroad in 2013. In total, three quarters of travellers saw bill increases due to roaming charges.

    The poll also showed that 69 per cent of those questioned thought they would spend more time on their mobile phone or other mobile devices (e.g. a tablet) while abroad if there were no additional charges.

    The European Union introduced caps on roaming charges this year but research by uSwitch showed the majority of smartphones users thought the charges were still too high.

    Plans by the European Commission to lower roaming charges will be implemented in 2016.

    A survey of around 30 hotel groups and more than 40 individual properties, carried out by Telegraph Travel in 2012, found that around two thirds of hotels still charge for Wi-Fi access, with luxury hotels - particularly those in London - often the worst offenders.

    When getting connected is free in public places from a McDonald's to a coffee shop, Wi-Fi charges in hotels are one of a traveller's biggest annoyances.

    It appears that hotels are finally getting the message however. Several high-profile luxury hotels (often the worst offenders) have scrapped their charges since 2012, while Accor, which owns the Ibis, Mercure, Sofitel and Novotel chains, introduced free Wi-Fi at about 700 properties.

    Source: Telegraph Travel - full report by Natalie Paris

  10. This is what properly trained travel agents used to do!

    By now most of us will have realized and recognised the fact that we can save money by booking in advance on one of the online booking systems such as Evolvi or Trainline - but are you aware that these fares can be reduced further?

    But did you know that Rail passengers can save up to a third of the cost of a train ticket simply by splitting their journeys and buying two tickets rather than one, new Which? research has shown the facts - facts that well trained travel agents used to earn their living by - I say well trained because very few are these days.

    We found that simply splitting your journey into two parts, while staying on the same train, can save as much as 32% of the through ticket price. And choosing to travel on a less obvious route can also save as much as 59% of the ticket price.

    You can save money this way on all tickets. However, finding these money-saving tickets is hard because none of the train companies promote this kind of journey.

    For a simple example:- An Edinburgh to Sheffield anytime ticket is £133.50, but breaking your journey in two by splitting at York will save £34.80, or 26%.

    Source: Which? magazine - full story

  11. Passengers given access to IFE on personal devices

    SilkAir, the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, had begun a trial of wireless inflight entertainment (IFE) on one of its Airbus A320 aircraft.

    During the trial, passengers will be able to stream multimedia content such as movies, TV programmes and music directly onto their personal devices while onboard their flight.

    Passengers can access this inflight entertainment content through their laptops, Apple iPhone, iPad, iPod or Android tablets and smartphones.

    Access to the inflight content will complement SilkAir's existing overhead entertainment system and will be complimentary.

    Silk Air hopes the trial will lead to the permanent installation of the system across its aircraft fleet in 2014.

    Source: TravelMole - read this and other reports

  12. Crossrail time lapse - Royal Docks drained for Crossrail works

    A Victorian rail tunnel beneath the Royal Docks in east London has been exposed to the light of day for the first time in 135 years as part of works to prepare for the arrival of Crossrail trains in 2018.

    A hole has been drilled in the exposed crown of the Connaught Tunnel, which runs beneath the Royal Victoria Dock, following work to drain 13 million litres of water from a section of the docks that lie above the tunnel.

    Cofferdams measuring 1300sq. metres, around the size of four tennis courts, was put in place to allow a section of the Royal Victoria Dock to be drained so that Crossrail workers can access the tunnel from above. During the draining of the dock a total of 332 fish were removed and safely relocated on either side of the cofferam.

    Source: Railnews - read this and other stories click on this link

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