News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: January 2006

1  Buncefield Oil Fire still hurting

Fuel rationing continues to disrupt certain long-haul flights departing from London Heathrow. As a result of the recent fire at the Buncefield oil depot (a major supplier of aviation fuel to Heathrow) airlines continue to be restricted in the amount of kerosene they can uplift.

It means some flights must touch down en route to refuel with a consequent delay to schedules, which could impact on connections.

Worst affected are foreign carriers such as Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Thai Airways, Singapore Airlines, JAL and South African Airlines (SAA), which operate very long routes. Some of these carriers' flights are making a refuelling stop in mainland Europe.

But not all carriers are affected. A Virgin Atlantic spokesperson says that its services were unaffected as home carriers were "higher up the priority list for supplies". British Airways, too, says there were no changes to its long-haul services because it was taking less Heathrow fuel for short-haul routes.

Nobody knows how long the situation will last. In the meantime travellers flying with any airline on a very long distance flight should keep an eye on the situation and contact their agent, airline or airline website for further information.

Source: BusinessTraveller.com

2  All Change

Politicians are not the only ones who decide to change leaders and partners.

A major global travel management company is set to emerge following a flurry of deals which included the sale of TUI's business travel division.
In what was described as a remarkable day for business travel, Dutch company BCD Holdings, which owns US agency WorldTravel BTI, acquired TUI's TQ3 business and took a major/controlling (depending who you speak to) stake in UK agency The Travel Company.

It will form a new company - as yet unnamed - to create the world's third largest travel management firm with 10,000 employees and a turnover of $8 billion.

In related moves, TQ3 and Denver-based business travel provider Navigant will terminate their joint TQ3 Travel Solution joint venture. Navigant will retain the worldwide rights to the TQ3 brand and trademark.

BCD also revealed it will terminate its BTI joint venture with Hogg Robinson to concentrate on the new company.

In a statement, TUI said the corporate sector travel is "going through a process of global consolidation" and that business travel "does not belong to its tourism core business."

WorldTravel BTI chief executive Mike Buckman will become the global CEO of the new company.

The Travel Company chief executive Mike Walley said the consolidation would have an "extremely positive impact" on its services and provide customers with "a stronger global network and buying power."

Sources: Travelmole.com & BusinessTravelEurope.com

3  New Technology Offsets Cost of UK Rail Fare Increases

The rise in rail fares is seen as a challenge and travel purchasing controllers can help their company’s by looking towards new technology.

Travelpackonline.biz the UK’s first policy controlled rail self booking tool developed by Harry Weeks Travel and Leisure Group allows users to access and use the promotional fares offered by the Train Operating Companies.

Users of the system claim to have achieved savings of up to 30% on average transaction values when compared with bookings made through traditional channels.

Travelpackonline.biz offers on site ticket printing, travel policy compliance, and on-line MI reporting.

4  Menu pricing launched by Air Canada

Air Canada's recently announced transatlantic pricing model might well be the future for airline travel. In effect it creates an a la carte menu, with travellers able to choose what they are prepared to pay for, and what they can do without.

The simplified pricing structure for flights to and from the UK classifies its business and economy class offerings into five brands: Executive First, Air Canada Club, Latitude Plus, Leisure and Tourist.

Irrespective of whether you intend to take business or economy (despite the name, Executive First is business class), everyone booking online is now quoted a range of qualifying fares when booking, say, a London-Toronto return. This is in contrast to most airlines which have rigid tariffs and do not explain what each fare type represents (ie: what you get for your money).

In terms of price, Air Canada's prices are similar to those of rival British Airways but where they differ is that the website displays every benefit alongside each tariff. Passengers are then encouraged to upgrade or downgrade according to what they need and how much they are prepared to pay.

Source: BusinessTraveller.com

5  easyJet keeps expanding regionally

easyJet is adding 14 new routes across its European network and is converting three of its bases to solely Airbus operations. Seats will be on sale on Friday 6th Jan

The airline has revealed it sees the potential for growth in the North West of England and Italy in 2006.

The addition of the new routes will increase the total number operated to 247, with more new routes planned for later in the year:

Geneva to Palma and Mallorca
Lisbon to Luton, Milan (Malpensa) and Paris (CDG)
Liverpool to Faro, Krakow, Mahon and Marseille
Malaga to Berlin and Dortmund
Milan (Malpensa) to Naples, Palermo, Olbia and Ibiza

easyJet also announced it is converting three of its UK regional bases - Edinburgh, Glasgow and Liverpool - to solely Airbus operations, replacing the current fleet of Boeing 737 aircraft with nine brand new Airbus 319s this summer, taking the total number of aircraft in its fleet to 116.

Source: Airline Travel News

6  Spring Forum in Full Swing

Management Solutions plans for their Spring Corporate Travel & Expense Forum are moving ahead at a good pace now that both Outtask and AirPlus have agreed to co-sponsor this event.

Although the move to a bigger premises with more facilities is costing considerably more the full day event is still only £149.00 per delegate including a full three course lunch and four 75 minute sessions plus plenty of time for networking.

Speakers already confirmed include well known industry leaders Mike Platt, Kevin King and David Brown.

7  Good News at last for United as rescue plan agreed by creditors

Creditors of United Airlines have voted to approve the carrier's reorganisation plan, further raising hopes that it may emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy early this year.

The plan will be confirmed at a US Bankruptcy Court hearing on January 18.

United chief executive Glenn Tilton said: "These results validate our efforts to develop an exit plan that is in the best interests of all of our stakeholders and maintains our strong momentum toward emerging from Chapter 11 in February."

The financial reorganisation has seen cuts of $7 billion from renegotiated aircraft leases and 20,000 job cuts.

Source: TravelMole.com

8  Courtyard expanding in Europe

The US Marriott chain has just opened its first mid-range Courtyard property in Moscow and intends to add a further five properties in Europe next year followed by an additional two in 2007.

The 218-room Courtyard by Marriott Moscow City is located at Voznesenskiy Pereulok 7, which is a 10-minute walk from the Kremlin. It is 30km from the city's main Sheremetyevo airport and convenient for Red Square, the GUM department store and the Bolshoi Theatre.

In keeping with the quasi-four star standards now seen in the brand's newer properties, Courtyard's Moscow property features two restaurants, a business centre, health club, 24-hour room service and same day laundry and dry cleaning.

But this particular Courtyard doesn't have the economical rates you would usually find elsewhere. A room shortage in the Russian capital means that Moscow hotels are among the world's priciest. Until January 14, room rates at the Courtyard range between $225 and $345 but from then on you will pay $350 to $400. All rates are subject to 18 per cent tax.

The additional Courtyards planned for next year are in: Prague, Vienna, Munich, Paris (Colombes) and Gelsenkirchen (Germany). Following in 2007 will be two properties in the Czech Republic: Prague and Plzen.

Source BusinessTraveller.com

9  Steady growth forecast for business travel

Business travel will experience steady, if unspectacular growth during 2006 with GDS deregulation continuing to dominate the industry, FCm Travel Solutions has predicted.

Managing director Alan Spence forecast growth of 5%, marginally ahead of last year's 4% increase, with India and China expected to be among the strongest markets.

He stressed steady growth was far more preferable than a "boom or bust scenario."

Spence said: "The industry has faced up to so many challenges in the last four years, from terrorist acts to SARS and the impact of the internet, but we have come through that and 2005 has been a positive year," he said.

Spence also predicted that rail travel could experience a renaissance in 2006 as improved service, schedules and rolling stock make it a more attractive proposition.

"The rail companies seem to be getting their act together and so travelling by rail for business purposes has become much easier and quicker."

Source: Travelmole.com

10  Hilton brand re-united after four decades

The UK-based Hilton Group has sold its hotel and leisure division to Hilton Hotels Corporation (HHC) for nearly £3.3bn, re-uniting the worldwide brand which split up in 1964.

The sale of Hilton International was agreed after four months' negotiations with the US-based HHC.

It brings together under one company more than 2,500 properties marketed under a variety of brands.

Source: Businesstraveleurope.com

11  Baggage charge for Fly.be  passengers

The Low-cost airline is to charge for luggage carried in the hold of their aircraft.

Passengers will be charged £4 for each piece of hold luggage or £2 if customers have pre-booked hold luggage in advance.

At the same time, Flybe, whose departure airports include Birmingham, Exeter, Belfast, Norwich and Southampton, is knocking £1 off its fares.

It is also doubling from 11lb (5kg) to 22lb (10kg) the weight allowance for hand luggage on flights and increasing the hold baggage allowance to 55lb (25kg).

The airline flies 113 routes from 40 airports.

easyJet, which increased the amount of hand luggage passengers could carry 18 months ago, said it had no plans to introduce charges for checked in baggage.

Source: TimesOnline

12  New service from Aberdeen

Aberdeen-based bmi regional, the UK’s most punctual regional airline, announced a new three times daily service linking Aberdeen with Amsterdam.

Services commence on 27 March 2006 and will be operated by aircraft from the all-Embraer jet fleet. Convenient timings of the bmi flights provide excellent links for the business traveller, allowing for a full working day in Holland’s capital without the early start required by the current schedule operator.

A choice of business or economy class seating will be offered on board with competitive fares in both cabins. bmi regional’s renowned in-flight service also offers complimentary in-flight food and drink, including a hot breakfast service on early morning flights.

bmi regional managing director, Crawford Rix said:
“Our business and leisure passengers can be assured of convenient flight times, competitive fares in both cabins, generous frequent flyer benefits and of course our renowned in-flight service.”

The new service will bring the total number of domestic and international routes operated by bmi regional to 21. Amsterdam will also become the second Dutch airport served by bmi regional from Aberdeen. Services currently operate between Aberdeen and Groningen five days a week.

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