News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: August 2004

1  Expect a low fares war at Luton

Ryanair has upped the stakes in its battle with Easyjet by launching 99 pence fares on new routes from Luton.  Last week the Irish no-frills carrier announced its intention to launch nine routes from Luton, traditionally an Easyjet stronghold.

Ryanair will operate routes to Barcelona Girona, Barcelona Reus, Dinard, Esbjerg, Murcia, Nimes, Rome, Stockholm and Venice launch in the New Year.

Ryanair claims its fares are half those offered by Easyjet. The 99 pence fares are one way but exclude taxes and charges, and amount to about £33 for a return ticket once the extras have been taken into account.

Easyjet is also on the expansion trail at Luton. It plans to launch three more routes on top of those launching to Dortmund, Krakow and Warsaw this Autumn. The routes will be announced in the next few weeks. The two carriers will compete directly on the Barcelona routes from Luton. Easyjet is not yet displaying its winter (post October 24) fares on this route.

Source: Air & Business Travel News: www.abtn.co.uk/

2  Business Travel Show switches to Birmingham

The regional Business Travel Show is moving from Manchester to Birmingham this autumn.

The switch to the NEC in Birmingham on October 13-14 comes after six years in Manchester and is in addition to the annual event in London.

The shift to the NEC is designed to support companies in the Midlands secure the best value for their business travel, according to the show organisers Centaur Exhibitions.

Event director Paul Robin said: “Midlands-based businesses are at the heart of the country and travel is an essential part of the business day. “The Business Travel Show is designed to assist businesses in making smart decisions about their business travel buying, helping them to save time and money.”

Source: Travelmole

3  Another jet service for London City Airport

London City Airport is finally to get an Embraer 135 jet operation after the early demise of Jetmagic.

Luxair has ordered a pair of 37-seat ERJ 135s for delivery in the first quarter of 2005. The airline already operates eight EMB 145, dubbing the 50-seater the ‘Eurojet’. The Embraers will replace Fokker 50 aircraft on the Luxembourg – London City route, which is also operated by VLM.

On 1st November Bmi Regional is to launch direct flights to Leeds Bradford Airport operated by a 46-seat ATR42 aircraft. Passengers flying on the new route will have the choice of business and economy classes with full in-flight catering.. The new services will complement the existing Bmi flight schedule between Leeds Bradford Airport and Heathrow, adding over 1,900 extra seats per week between the Yorkshire airport and the UK capital.

London City continues to set the standard for timekeeping with VLM again coming top of the CAA stats with an astonishing 93% of flights on time in April (that is within 15 minutes of the schedule).

Source ABTN; more London City Airport details click:  www.londoncityairport.com

4  Time & Cost Savings for Midlands based travellers

New routes from Birmingham and Coventry could cut time-consuming trips south for Midlands-based travellers.

Bmibaby has stepped into the breach at Birmingham airport following the collapse of Duo. The no-frills arm of Bmi will fly up to 20 routes from Birmingham, which will include a mixture of business and leisure routes.
The first nine routes, which will launch on January 7 are: Alicante, Malaga, Palma, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Belfast (International), Knock (Connaught), Geneva and Prague.

Return fares will start at £25 one-way to Amsterdam and £35 one-way on other routes. Birmingham is bmibaby’s sixth UK base. It also flies from Nottingham East Midlands, Manchester, Cardiff, Teesside and London Gatwick. Go to www.bmibaby.com.

From Coventry German low cost airline, Hapag-Lloyd Express will fly to Cologne/Bonn. It already serves the German city from Manchester.

The route starts on November 1 and fares will start at £14 each way from Coventry. Go to www.hlx.com.

Cologne/Bonn is becoming increasingly popular with low cost carriers across Europe because of its rail connections to Dusseldorf, Hannover and other German cities. Germanwings flies to Cologne/Bonn from Edinburgh, Gatwick and Stansted. Cologne/Bonn is also served by Easyjet from Nottingham East Midlands and Liverpool, and will be served from Gatwick from September.

Source: businesstraveller.com

5  Look Who’s Talking -  Ebookers’ New Service Trick

Following last week’s profit downturn forecast Ebookers is hoping to boost bookings with some chitchat. The European online travel company has launched a toll-free click-to-talk feature on its UK Web site, according to a July 26 release. With one click, Internet shoppers connect to the live support of ebookers travel specialists.

Broadband users can communicate with consultants over the Internet via their computer speakers and microphone. Standard Internet users will receive a toll-free call back from a specialist.

The offering is "designed to maximize bookings by giving an extra layer of customer service and reassurance," said Yashish Dahiya, head of UK business, ebookers.

The company has also signed a contract with VRX Studios Inc to supply interactive destination content including 360-degree virtual tours and interactive maps.

Source: Travel Research Bureau Wire

6  The Trolley bus returns

Stagecoach, the UK bus company, is to put on trial a futuristic hybrid electric bus, part of a bid to encourage local authorities to consider introducing the environmentally friendly vehicle in their areas. The state-of-the-art Designline-manufactured vehicle, which has been successfully operated by Stagecoach in Wellington, New Zealand, will first be showcased in Carlisle and the Lake District from 9 August.

After a two-week test the bus, which has the advantage of being able to run emission-free in densely populated areas, will be demonstrated from 25 August in Coventry and Leamington. The vehicle will then spend a fortnight in Oxford from 13 September, before moving on to Winchester for a two-week spell from 27 September.

The hybrid electric bus is already set to be introduced in Newcastle after Stagecoach North East was selected as preferred bidder to run the vehicle on a premier service in the city. Nine of the £200,000 vehicles are expected to operate on the route, with the service planned to start spring/summer next year. More information available from:  http://www.stagecoachbus.com

7  IATA airlines show increased passenger traffic

IATA has published figures for the first six months of 2004 which show an increase of 20.4% in international passenger traffic and 13% in cargo over 2003. Compared with 2000, which was the last normal year for the industry before the twin calamities of 9/11 and Sars, the results are more sobering. International passenger traffic is up 8.4%, while cargo shows growth of 16.2%. The average load factor for the first six months of 2004 (73%) is 1.4 points above 2000.

Source ABTN - For more information: www.iata.org

8  Hotel prices set to rise

London hotels are hiking room rates on the back of buoyant demand.  Average room rates reached £114 in the capital in June according to hotel consultancy, PKF, which examined a selection of three to five star hotels. This is up 8.5% on the same month last year.

Rival consultants TRI also found an increase in London room rates last month. From a sample of mainly three and four star hotels, it found room rates averaged £92 during June, up 10% year-on-year.

Outside London room rates are also creeping up, to an average £65 according to both consultancies, up about 3% on June last year

Source Business Traveller Online

9  Savings For UK Based Businesses On British Airways

For the first time small to medium sized businesses in the UK will be rewarded every time they fly on business with British Airways. From 26 July, members of the airline's corporate reward scheme -- On Business - will be able to earn points on every British Airways fare they buy, including the lowest economy fares.

Every time an employee of the company travels with British Airways, the company earns points, which can be exchanged for a range of business travel rewards. These include reward flights, limousine transfers to or from a selection of UK airports, Heathrow or Gatwick Express tickets and hotel vouchers. Starwood Hotels, which include the Westin, Sheraton and the W chains are now included for the first time.

Some examples of what business travellers can earn are:

  • five Club World returns to New York earn 5,000 On Business points, enough for two return reward flights to France or Germany in Euro Traveller
  • five Club Europe Birmingham to Rome return tickets earn 2,500 On Business points, enough for one reward flight to France or Germany
  • four return tickets to Boston in World Traveller Plus earns 2,600 points, enough for a free airport limousine transfer
  • eight return tickets to New York in discounted economy earns 1008 points, enough for a free one night stay in a Starwood hotel

Tiffany Hall, British Airways head of UK & Ireland sales and marketing, said: "Small to medium businesses will be able to stretch their travel budgets even further now they can earn on all fares they buy, including the lowest economy fares. They will also benefit from a range of special promotions, giving them the opportunity to save even more."

It will now be easier for members to calculate their savings and control their costs with improved statements, which show redeemed and unused points as cash equivalents. They will still be able to access their account online 24 hours a day.

10,000 companies are signed up for the scheme. Membership is free and available to any UK and Ireland based company with more than five employees, which does not have a commercial deal with the airline.

Source: Business to Business Travel Websites Group

10  Women's expenses more likely to be questioned

Female business travellers are much more likely to have their expense claims queried than those submitted by their male counterparts, a survey has found.

The Visa EU Business Travel Survey 2004, which investigated the habits of more than 900 travellers from the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain, found that a third of women’s expense claims are regularly queried, compared with just a quarter of claims from men.

In one particularly contentious area, nearly twice as many men as women have their claims for watching in-room movies reimbursed without question.

On the findings, business psychologist Professor Cary Cooper said: “The questioning of expenses has a direct impact on personal authority; an impact that the male ego might find difficult to weather. These findings may also be illustrative of women’s role within the workplace. It is really only in the last 15 years that women have entered the management arena.”

Source: Business Traveller online

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