News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: September 2005

1  BA shakes up customer service dept

Incoming British Airways chief executive Willie Walsh has made his first management changes with the reorganisation of the airline’s customer service and operations department.

The reorganisation will take effect from 1 October, the day after the retirement of the department’s current director, Mike Street. It will see Street’s role split between three executives.

Director of safety and security, Geoff Want, becomes director of all BA’s ground operations in the UK and overseas. He will also take overall responsibility for the airline’s move into Heathrow Terminal 5, which is scheduled for end-March 2008. Heathrow director David Noyes and head of UK regional and international customer service Beverley Bennett will both report in to Want.

Source: e-Tid

2  UK firms “squander” £1.3bn

Unnecessary and extravagant business trips are costing UK companies more than £1.3 billion a year, new research claims.

The YouGov poll of 800 firms found that almost half of companies do not set trip budgets, rising to 59% of small to medium-sized businesses.

The survey findings show that 84% of UK employees take 14 million overnight business trips a year, squandering up to £1.3 billion a year.

The single biggest drain on business travel budgets is accommodation, the poll claims, with over a third (38%) staying in four or five star hotels, only 11% spending less than £50 a night and just 18% staying in budget accommodation.

Source: Travelmole

3  Forum update

We are delighted to announce that our Autumn Travel Forum is a complete sellout, which will no doubt please both our sponsors AirPlus and Outtask.

Outtask will be announcing their new "Procure to Pay at the Speed of Automation" process at an event immediately following our Forum at the Charing Cross Hotel, if you or any of your colleagues would like to attend this event please follow this link and complete the online form - it promises to be an interesting evening.

In order to provide more comfortable space to work in we are planning to hold our Tenth Forum at the Hesperia Hotel in Victoria which is currently undergoing a major refurbishment programme -  Click this link for details of this property  www.hesperia-londonvictoria.com

4  New Rail Website

The National Rail website has been modernised and refreshed to make it easier and faster to use. Train times and essential journey planning information will now be clearer and more quickly accessed.

Significant changes to the site have been made. There is a new “Quick Journey Planner”, a feature which is repeated on most pages of the website while the popular Live Departures Board now appears as a direct link from the home page.

There is also a new ‘Related Links’ section to useful information such as railcards, the award winning TrainTracker service; and even a resource section for school teachers.

A new ‘Passenger Services’ section contains essential journey information about things like the carriage of luggage; animals; information for families, groups and disabled travellers; and details of travel on sleeper services.

The website which receives over 13.5 million journey enquiries every month is the third most visited travel and transport site and the most visited “surface transport” site in Britain.

Source: Internet Travel News

5  Class Act

SAS now offer one-way fares in all three classes, giving business travellers the chance to travel in one class and back in another.

Introduced on 1st September, passengers can choose between three classes – Economy for the lowest fares, Economy Flex for those who need more flexibility, and Business Class for passengers who want extra in-flight comfort.

The new fare structure is available on all routes except for intercontinental services.

In addition, the airline has lifted restrictions on tickets such as minimum or maximum stay requirements and advance purchase conditions.

Source: Business Traveller

6  Fighting Passport Fraud

The Introduction of “e-passports”, starting early next year, will see passport prices rise steeply, and new applicants being called in for one-to-one interviews to obtain the travel document. Fingerprinting and eye scans may also be brought in to tighten security

E-passports, or biometric passports, are to be phased in from February. They will bear a chip containing biometric data - initially, a facial scan taken from a photograph, although a fingerprint scan is likely to be included from 2008.

This autumn the UK Passport Service (UKPS) is likely to announce a huge price rise to cover the cost of biometric passports. Figures are not yet available, but the projected unit cost of the passport in 2006-07, according to UKPS figures, will be £57.93. The unit cost in 2004-05 is £35.60, and the adult passport currently costs £42. On this basis it seems likely that the cost of a biometric passport will be in the region of £60.

Source: The Times ONline

7  Airbus nonstop to Johannesburg from Abu Dhabi

Etihad Airways is to launch a twice-a-week, non-stop service between Abu Dhabi and Johannesburg from 3 December 2005. Every Thursday and Saturday, Etihad’s flight EY603 will fly from Abu Dhabi to Johannesburg at 0045 hours, while EY604 will fly from Johannesburg to Abu Dhabi at 0950 hours. Guests will fly on an Airbus A340-300 configured to host 10 Diamond guests, 30 Pearl guests, and 225 Coral guests.

The South African embassy in Abu Dhabi has reported that South Africa’s exports to the UAE have increased from USD 251 million in 2002 to USD 410.5 million in 2004. Exports during the first quarter of 2005 stand at USD 120.7 million.

“South Africa enjoys a strong and growing economic relationship with the UAE, and we applaud Etihad Airways’ prudent decision to begin passenger and cargo flights to Johannesburg, one of our largest cities and centre of our commercial enterprise.

Source: Airline Travel News

8  New Clubhouse for Virgin Premium

Already famous for its in-flight massages and pre-flight hair cuts, Virgin is going one step further for its premium passengers with a new luxurious lounge at Heathrow.

Upper Class passengers will be able to enjoy the new Clubhouse lounge from this month, when the first phase opens. When the second phase opens at the end of December, the lounge will be twice the size of the original Clubhouse.

If there's still time to get on with work, passengers can access wireless internet access or get online through computer terminals provided in the work area. Alternatively PlayStation portable units are available to play games, download music and watch movies.

Source: Business Traveller

9  Leeds links to the South-West by air

Leeds Bradford Airport has added to its domestic portfolio with Flybe routes now running to the southern city of Exeter as part of its summer schedule for 2005. The route will see Flybe link Leeds with the regional capital of the South-West by air for the first time, uniting these important centres of business, leisure and culture.

The new daily service will run along side Flybe's existing programme to Belfast City and Southampton, providing an ideal alternative to the six hour drive down to the Devonshire coast, one of the UK's most popular holiday destinations

Source: Executive PA e-zine

10  Eurostar Frequent Travellers

Eurostar claims its relaunched Frequent Traveller scheme is simpler than those of its airline rivals. The new scheme, launched this week, means passengers earn points according to how much they pay for their ticket, rather than the type of ticket they buy.

For example, three tickets purchased for between £300 and £499 (equivalent of three return tickets in Business Premier class), would earn 900 points - enough for a return ticket in Standard class.

Eurostar loyalty scheme manager Joanna Ball said: "Our scheme is now far more flexible than before and, with points earned for every ticket purchased, also much simpler than those of competitor airlines."
Points can now be earned on promotional fares and on indirect journeys to Eurostar Connections destinations such as Lyon and Amsterdam.

Source: Business Traveller

11  New Radisson for Birmingham with two dedicated meeting floors

Situated in Birmingham's tallest building will be the new Radisson SAS Hotel. Construction of the landmark 39-storey Beetham Tower is well under way.

General manager Kathrine Ohm Thomas says: "This is a really exciting project for Radisson SAS, which will bring true European flair to the heart of Birmingham as the city's dramatic renaissance continues."

Two floors will be dedicated to meetings and events, with five high-tech meeting rooms and a pre-function area on each floor. All rooms will have natural daylight with floor to ceiling windows. The main event room is 108 square metres and will accommodate up to 120 delegates in theatre style.

Source: Executive PA e-zine

12   KLM’s all business

KLM is to start a business class only service between Amsterdam and Houston from next month. The service will operate six times a week in a 44-seat Boeing Business Jet (BBJ) leased from the Swiss private air charter company PrivatAir.

The new service, which will start on October 30, is aimed at the oil industry, in particular Shell executives, hundreds of whom fly regularly on the Amsterdam-Houston route.

KLM is the third European carrier to start a transatlantic business-class only service. Lufthansa operates from Dusseldorf to Newark and Chicago and from Munich to Newark while Swiss started a Zurich-Newark service earlier this year.

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