News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: April 2006

1 Virgin ups the Business stakes

Virgin Atlantic has unveiled a new three-year growth plan aimed at capturing greater business market share, with products tailored towards premium passengers at the heart of the strategy.

The airline is targeting an increase of at least 10% in the number of business travellers over the next year.

The Virgin Upper Class Suite features the longest fully-flat bed in any business class and on the ground, Virgin Atlantic is also extending its facilities for business passengers.

The new London Heathrow Clubhouse features the ultimate pre-travel experience, including jacuzzi and spa treatments, pool table and roof garden.

There will also be an increased focus on DIY check-in online or at the airport, making the Virgin experience as seamless as possible.


2 Do you fancy a flutter at the Grand National?

VLM Airlines are providing you with the opportunity to Win an exclusive VIP weekend to the Grand National in Liverpool

Liverpool is the Birthplace of The Beatles, but did you know it has also been designated as European Capital of Culture for 2008? The city offers great museums, wonderful shopping opportunities and a whole range of sporting activities, and we are offering you and your partner the chance to win an exclusive weekend to Liverpool - including VIP tickets to the Grand National.

3 VLM Celebration time

VLM Airlines saw after tax profits rise by 43% to Euro 1.35 million in 2005 - its eighth consecutive year in the black.

Operating profits rose 42% to Euro 2.5 million for the same period, with revenue higher than forecast, at Euro 88.5 million compared to Euro 75.6 million the previous year.

On-time performance improved, with 91.7% of flights arriving and departing on time in 2005, compared to 89% in 2004.

Source: Travelmole

4 While Sunderland go down a new service goes up - to London

Whilst Sunderland move from the Premiership to the First Division next season a new rail service "open access" franchise by operator Grand Central is set to begin early in 2007, offering three services a day each way to London.

The decision means that East Coast operator GNER's hopes for 12 extra services every weekday between Leeds and London have been dashed.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) also announced that Grand Central's proposal for a service between Bradford, Halifax and London had been rejected. Meanwhile a sixth daily London to Hull service, run by Hull Trains, will continue.

GNER criticised the ORR's decision, claiming the regulator had rejected its own study which said they had the best case for additional services on the East Coast route, and indicating in January that the additional GNER trains would be approved.

The ORR responded by saying that it had asked Network Rail to urgently look at the timetable to see if additional capacity could be opened up between Peterborough and Doncaster in order to allow the extra GNER services at a later date.

Christopher Garnett, chief executive at GNER, said that the ORR had undermined government franchise policy and accused it of "moving the goalposts" in raising the Peterborough to Doncaster capacity issue now.


5 Forum Success

50 plus corporate industry and travel officials rubbed shoulders and networked at Management Solutions tenth Corporate Travel & Expense Management Forum on the 8th March at the Hesperia-Victoria London Hotel as reported in the Business Travel Europe online Newsletter.

The Agenda for MS-UK's Autumn Forum on Wednesday 20th September looks like the following:

  • In house travel dept versus Call centre (do you get a better service from a TMC implant or a call centre?) - TUPE & the impact on changing TMC
  • What new product(s) is/are on the horizon to allow Corporates / TMC's to reduce bottom line costs?
  • How are self booking tools a dealing with the problem of Surface Transport, Rail & Hotel procurement.
  • Is the Security and Risk Management under control in your company and some suggestions to consider.

We are still negotiating with potential sponsors but hope to publish a very special price for Buyer delegates in the near future.

If you wish to make sure of your place at this rapidly growing event then please send us an email with the word REGISTER in the subject line and we will guarantee your seat and send you a booking form as soon as prices are known.

Further details will appear on our website

STOP PRESS We are delighted to announce that Concur have just agreed to become the first sponsor signing up for our September Forum

6 Eastern fills some Air Wales gaps at Cardiff

Commuter carrier Eastern Airways has announced three new routes from Cardiff International Airport. Starting April 24, the Humberside based airline will offer three flights each weekday to Brussels from the Welsh capital, two to Newcastle, and a daily flight to Aberdeen.

The niche airline will service the new routes from Cardiff using 29-seater Jetstream 41 aircraft, taking over the routes from Air Wales which last week announced the suspension of its scheduled services from the same airport. Says Darren Roberts, Communications Manager for Eastern Airways:

"We looked at the routes made available by the withdrawal of Air Wales, and felt that Newcastle, Brussels and Aberdeen fitted into our schedule well. We are already the biggest operator out of Aberdeen airport, with the oil operators making up a lot of our market in that area, and expect the majority of passengers using these routes to be business travellers looking to avoid overnight stays.".


7 Another American in Paris

Marriott Hotels  have taken over the 782-room Sofitel Paris Rive Gauche. The US chain plans to undertake extensive refurbishment with the property being rebranded as a Marriott in late 2007.

The programme calls for additional suites, a three-storey executive floor including a lounge, revamped food and beverage outlets and an extended health club.

In the meantime, the four star property (originally built in 1972) will continue for business. It's located along the Boulevard St Jacques near the St Jacques Metro station and a 15 minute walk from Montparnasse.

The new Marriott will fill a gap in the chain's Paris portfolio. Weekday room rates currently start at Euros 200 with executive rooms at Euros 225 and suites priced from Euros 270. At weekends the rates are Euros 175, 200 and 270 respectively.


8 VLM mean Business

VLM, the largest carrier in terms of flights at London City Airport, is to add a dedicated business section on its six daily return services from London City to Brussels.

Business class passengers travelling to and from the Belgian capital can now enjoy a host of new benefits which include dedicated seating at the front of the aircraft with distinct headrest covers, complimentary newspapers and a welcome drink of orange juice on morning flights, champagne on flights from lunchtime onwards and a full meal is served.

VLM's business class passengers also have access to an executive lounge at Brussels Airport, along with increased hand and hold luggage allowances of 15kgs and 30kgs respectively.

VLM started routes from London City to Amsterdam and the Isle of Man last year and increased frequencies to Rotterdam and Manchester. The Amsterdam weekday frequency has now doubled to six return flights.

(Source Air & Business Travel News - click here for VLM news

9 American to go flat out

American Airlines have announced that they will become the first US airline to install flat bed seats in Business Class.

The first Boeing 767 aircraft will be fitted out shortly with the rest of the fleet completely refitted during 2007.

Source ExecutivePA .net - click on link

10   Check in yourself

From April 25, all British Airways domestic passengers must either check-in online or use the self check-in machines at the airport. BA is following rival Bmi which began to steer passengers towards similar check-in systems last January. There are differences however.

Bmi's tiny and economy fare (two of the cheapest tariffs) passengers have to self-check, but those travelling on business or premium economy fares or who are high ranking Frequent Flyer Plan members can still use the conventional desks. In BA's case the new system will apply to almost all passengers.

The airline is investing heavily in automated check-in systems as it believes over 80% of its passengers will use these systems by the time BA moves into London Heathrow's Terminal 5 in 2008.

BA is cutting costs at the same time (because fewer staff and check-in desks are needed) as well as using space within the terminals more efficiently.


11   BANNED!

The European Union has banned 92 airlines from using its air space.

It is a headline grabbing statement but from a practical point of view most of the carriers concerned have never flown into Europe and never likely to.

In a sincere move to bolster air safety the European Commission has approved a blacklist, which includes some 50 (yes - fifty) airlines from the Democratic Republic of Congo, 13 from Sierra Leone, 11 from Equatorial Guinea, six from Swaziland and three from Liberia.

Thailand's Phuket Airlines is also on the list as are carriers from Kazakhstan, Afghanistan and North Korea. The suggestion is that you don't fly on any of them when actually in their country of origin.

Article reprinted in full from the Air & Business Travel News>

12   Look to the future

Long haul air travel and rail services are set to experience the most growth when it comes to business travel this year.

The annual Barclaycard Business Travel Survey reveals that, compared to the average 609 miles a week currently travelled, business people will be covering 700 miles a week in the year 2015.

In addition they will be spending an average of an extra night away from home each month in the future but spending less time making shorter journeys.

Source: PA

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