News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: October 2005

1  Heinous bombings again in Bali

Suicide bombers are believed to have been responsible for three explosions in Bali which killed 26 and left at least 100 people injured.

The terrorist attacks came almost three years to the day of the 2002 bombings on the Indonesian island in which more than 200 people died.

The UK Foreign Office said that in the Saturday night incident at least three bombs exploded on Central Kuta and Jimbaran beach in Bali. At least two Britons are know to have been injured.  "There have been a number of deaths, including foreigners," the FO said, adding: "If you are in Indonesia, you should exercise extreme caution at all times because there remains a high threat from terrorism."

A Foreign Office helpline has been set up for those wishing further advice and assistance on: 020 7008 8765.

The FO added: "People still intending in the immediate future to travel to Bali should review thoroughly information on the local situation, and ensure they are taking all precautions and following local advice."

Source: TravelMole

2  BA eases US check in to the USA

British Airways is urging all its customers flying to the United States to enter their immigration details on the airline's website, ba.com, before they come to the airport.

From October 4, 2005, new US Government legislation will mean that all airlines flying to the United States must provide extra Advance Passenger Information (API) to the US authorities before the aircraft takes off.

The new information required by the US authorities includes the customers' country of residence and an address for their first night's stay.

This is in addition to the information already provided by the airlines to the US authorities before take-off, which includes:

Passport number
Country which issues passport
Passport expiry date
Given names (as they appear on passport)
Last name
Gender
Date of birth
Nationality

Simon Parks Smith, head of product management at British Airways, said: "We have further improved our website, ba.com, so that customers can enter all the required API details either at the time of booking or at any time before their flight.

"Every customer can use 'Manage My Booking' on ba.com to enter their API details, even if they haven't bought their ticket on line.

3  Eos arrival

Just a week after Maxjet unveiled its plans for a business-class only London-New York flight, a rival has announced it has started taking reservations.

Eos will launch daily flights between London Stansted and New York on November 1, in direct competition with Maxjet, which plans to launch on the same day. The carrier announced this week that it has started taking reservations, following receipt of certification from the Federal Aviation Authority (Eos is US-based).

The Eos flight will leave Stansted at 10.30am and arrive in New York at 1.29pm, which compares to Maxjet's timings half an hour earlier. The return service departs New York at 7.05pm and arrives in Stansted at 7.30am, again half an hour later than the Maxjet flight.

Source: BusinessTraveller.com

4  Free wi-fi for travellers expands

free-hotspot.com are installing free HotSpots in Paris and London this week and are launching their programme to provide free Wi-Fi service throughout Europe.

The company will establish a pan-European network of wireless HotSpots that are available to users free of charge and without the need to register or provide other personal information online.

free-hotspot.com will install their free Wi-Fi service in restaurants, cafés, pubs, hotels, transit, retail and other public locations across Europe. As part of their HotSpot network development programme, free-hotspot.com will also provide the hardware needed for their free Wi-Fi service at no cost to the HotSpot venue.

Source: Internet Travel News

5  Forum Postscript

A full days exchange of ideas and information was enjoyed by an audience of over forty travel buyers and twenty suppliers at our Autumn Travel Forum on the 20th September.

At the lively conference in London last week organised by Management Solutions (UK), several speakers - mostly but not all from travel management companies - warned that growing numbers of travellers were going outside company travel policy to book flights directly through airline website.

Figures ranged from 10% to 20% of travellers at some companies doing this, both startling figures. Mike Platt, managing director of BTI UK, said one major British company was in danger of losing its airline deal and with it a £100,000 in savings, because so many people were booking direct. This company, he said, was not unique.

It was the “biggest problem facing business travel management,” Mr Platt said and added, in case the point was missed: “Either we bring these travellers under control or it is goodbye to travel management.”

But what is the solution? Mandating travel compliance as some US companies but which is not generally the European way? This does not seem, as yet, a likely option.

We are planning to hold our Tenth Forum on the 8th March 2006 - please put this date in your diary now. If you are interested in pre-registering for the event please advise us of your interest.

6  Green Light for Lower Fares with reduction in Red Tape?

The European Low Fares Airline Association (ELFAA) welcomed the European Commission’s announcement that it will withdraw 68, or one third, of the screened legislative proposals currently pending before the European Parliament and the Council.

President José Manuel Barroso and Vice-President Günter Verheugen also declared that the Commission will now look at laws that are already in force so that it can make them simpler and more effective. Finally, the Commission promised that all legislative proposals will be subject to proper economic impact assessments. This is something that ELFAA has been pushing for since its inception.

This long awaited development is a major step towards simplifying the regulatory environment in the European Union, which is essential for smooth functioning of the European economy and for the realisation of the Commission’s Partnership for Growth and Jobs. Air transport is the area where over-regulation on the EU level has been particularly evident over the last few years.

Source: Internet Travel News

7  Katrina cuts accommodation

Lodging Econometrics issued the first-available in-depth study of the impact of Hurricane Katrina, showing that 286 hotels in the Gulf Coast had to stop service.

In mid-September, 160 hotels were still closed in Louisiana; 93 hotels in Mississippi; and 33 hotels in Alabama.

“The number of reported closings is likely to rise as communications systems are restored and the extent of the damage will become better known as certain areas are re-opened,” said Patrick Ford, president of the company.

“Along the Mississippi Coast, the hotel/casino industry is all but demolished,” the report said.

The storm will also have an impact on hotels under construction. When Katrina hit the area, there were 32 new hotel projects under construction.

“Many ‘starts’ and early planning projects are likely to be cancelled outright or postponed indefinitely,” according to Lodging Econometrics.

Source: TravelMole

8  Virgin First Class Rail Lounge

Virgin first class passengers can now make use of the refurbished first class lounge at Euston Station, following its £175,000 make over. The lounge is split into three areas, for work, quiet time (where mobile phones will not be allowed), or relaxation.

New features include flat-screen TVs, soft chairs, internet points and wifi access, along with a photocopier and fax in the working area. There is also a new reception and luggage area, and the shower and toilet facilities have been upgraded. In addition, the quiet room can be booked for private meetings.

The Euston first class lounge, which attracted over 180,000 passengers last year, now also features a licensed bar, open 11am-11pm Monday to Friday, 11am - 2pm Saturdays and 2pm – 11pm Sundays. Passengers travelling first class with Virgin Trains may use any of their lounges nationwide on the day of travel, where they can enjoy complimentary drinks and snacks.

Source: BusinessTravellerOnline

9  Moscow top price for accommodation

New research from BTI UK shows that Moscow hotels are the most expensive in the world, with room rates averaging £165.21 per night during the first half of 2005.

This represented a 29% year-on-year rise from the corresponding period of 2004, and was well above the worldwide average of £107.74.

Moscow, which replaced Milan as the most expensive city in the survey, was followed by Rome with an average rate of £157.65, Bangalore (£147.83), Paris (£146.10) and New York (£145.83). Milan was sixth this time after rates declined 2% to £141.69, ahead of London, which remained in seventh despite a 6% rise to £136.66. Geneva (£135.97), Athens (£134.23) and Stockholm (£133.67) completed the top ten.

Within the UK, Heathrow Airport recorded the highest average rate after London with £101.23, It was followed by Bristol at £96.73,  Belfast,  Aberdeen at £95.36 and Edinburgh at £92.07.  Glasgow was found to be the cheapest UK city with an average rate of £79.88.

The survey was based on industry figures, together with details of actual room nights booked and rates paid by BTI UK’s clients between January and June 2005 inclusive.

Source: e-Tid.com

10  AirPlus in perfect “Synergy” with new partner

SYNERGI, Inc, One of the largest global travel management organizations in the world, and AirPlus International, a leading international provider of business travel payment solutions, have announced a strategic partnership to provide SYNERGI clients worldwide with greater control over their T&E expenditure using AirPlus’ unique, combined corporate lodged card and data management solutions.

As multi-national corporations continue to consolidate their business travel budgets the underlying demand from procurement departments is for demonstrated cost savings and cost control across the spectrum of the managed travel program. Through this AirPlus agreement, SYNERGI clients now have an additional solution available to them to streamline payment and data management processes.

Source: Synergi Press

11  Dublin Airport costs rise

Ryanair and the Dublin Airport Authority have both criticised the latest pricing regime for the airport, which was announced Friday by the Irish Commissioner for Aviation.

Effective 2006-2009 inclusive, the average annual maximum airport charge permitted at Dublin will be €6.14 per passenger, up from €5.09 currently. The Commissioner, Bill Prasifka, said the new price cap would ensure the DAA had adequate capital to fund additional capacity at Dublin, through the building of a second terminal and extra piers.

But Ryanair condemned the Commissioner’s decision, saying it allowed the DAA, ‘the people responsible for queues and price gouging at Dublin Airport’, to increase charges at a rate well above inflation, which is currently running at less than 3%.

Source: e-Tid.com

12  Starwood launches new brand

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide is targeting the select service hotel category with the announcement of its new brand, “aloft”.

The new hotels were created by the same W Hotels team that is generally regarded as creating one of the most successful new brands in decades.

“In the same way W Hotels broke through the clutter of conformity in the upscale hotel arena, “aloft” will raise the bar in the select-service category, offering urban-inspired, loft-like guest rooms, enhanced technology services, landscaped outdoor spaces for socializing day and night, and an energetic lounge scene,” said the company.

Five company-owned sites are now in various stages of development for “aloft”. Starwood hopes to have 500 properties by 2012.

Source: Travelmole.com

13   Birmingham Business Travel Show

The two-day Business Travel Show will take place this week at the at the NEC, Birmingham on October 5 & 6, 2005.

Opening hours on Wednesday are from 10.00 - 17.00 and on Thursday from 10.00 - 16.45.

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