News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: June 2005

1 BREAKING NEWS

Is that Basra Airport is now officially open for domestic and international flights. Minister of Transportation Salam Al-Maliki flew in Saturday on the first Iraqi Airways scheduled flight since the toppling of the Saddam regime. At a press conference on the Boeing 727 he said the airport would receive commercial flights from Kuwait, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, in addition to London and Frankfurt, starting from mid-July. The minister pointed out that the airport is administered by Iraqi authorities, except for security aspects, which are shared between the Iraqi and British forces, noting that the airport and its surrounding areas and roads are secure (Source Air & Business Travel News -regrettably there is no website for Iraqi Airways)

2 BA starts services to Shanghai

BRITISH Airways joined Virgin Atlantic in the skies between Heathrow and Shanghai this week, ending its UK rival's six-year outbound monopoly on the profitable Asian route.

Following this year's decision by UK and Chinese authorities to relax bilateral aviation restrictions, BA has launched a five-times weekly service to Shanghai Pudong Airport using a Boeing 777 with a four-class cabin.

Visa rules were amended in January to make it easier for Chinese citizens to visit the UK and this will play a critical role in the route's long-term success, he added.

Capitalising on these developments, BA is also increasing its Heathrow-Beijing frequencies from four to six a week, and Hong Kong flights from 17 to 21 this month.

Virgin, by comparison, operates daily services to Hong Kong and five times a week to Shanghai with plans to go daily by late October, said a spokeswoman.

Source: Travelweekly

3 Forum update

In spite of our email problems we are delighted to confirm that bookings are being received and delegates have been able to phone and fax their bookings for our AirPlus sponsored event on 20th September.

We did receive some humourous comments from one of our readers on the proposed agenda for the day and we are reprinting these comments in blue here, we think that she is somewhat frustrated at trying to manage the travel within her working environment - what do you think?

Item 1 "Is there a mis-connect between Procurement's requirements and Traveller's needs in corporations and is it costing them more than just money" Just remind me at what point do Procurement get involved in the process?

Item 2 "Route deals versus Spot Buying - revisited" A look at low cost long haul. It will never, EVER be low enough to satisfy Frugal Dougal, the Scottish union rep of a manufacturing plant! In the current era of credit card madness the concept of long-term savings is one beyond the grasp of the average traveller, much less their budget holder. Without management buy-in independent self-bookers will always sabotage efforts to collate MI to take to airlines to negotiate better rates and no amount of 9/11's, Madrid or Tsunami's can sell the benefits of travel tracking to them because the Lone Rangers are set on saving the company thirty quid by booking direct.

Item 3 "Is travel management really possible?" Only when living under military rule or for cattle travelling under DEFRA rules.

Item 4 "Whose job really is travel management? Procurement dept or travel management company? What about the Company's P/As, Secretaries and Administrative staff?

This live minded lady went on to express a request that "you run a workshop very soon on how to remember every traveller's online booking system personal password reminder question without resorting to violence!"

We welcome any comments - humourous - constructive - or whatever.

We hope to have our booking form up on our website (www.ms-uk.com) by the time you receive this Monthly Newsletter. This event will be held at the Thistle Charing Cross Hotel, starting at 09:00 and finishing by 16:45. In order to avoid disappointment we would recommend that you take advantage of our early booking price (£129 + vat for ACTE/ITM / CIPS members) by booking now - please call 020 8444 7788 or send an email to

colin@ms-uk.com to reserve space and to obtain booking form.

4 Eurostar Embarks On Class 'Reinvention'

Eurostar, the high-speed train operator that links the UK, France and Belgium, is to divide its first-class into separate business and leisure carriages, seating travellers depending on their key reason for travelling. The changes are part of a £1 million per train investment to upgrade its business offering.

From September 1, Eurostar will be making the following changes, shedding the terms 'First-Class' and 'Premium' and embarking on three distinct new classes

Business Premier (the highest class of service):

  • 10 minute fast-track check-in through passport control
  • Exclusive lounge access (and for Carte Blanche card holders)
  • At-seat meal/drinks service and new express breakfast option
  • Power sockets at-seat (UK and Continental sockets)
  • Newspapers/magazines on-board
  • Optional chauffeur service, at additional cost, to and from station in each direction (up to 4 journeys)

Ticket prices will be based on how far in advance bookings are made and the level of flexibility/exchangeability required.

Eurostar's entire fleet of 27 trains is currently being refurbished, with new interiors in all classes plus the bar/buffet cars. Ticket sales for Eurostar's "reinvention" open on June 3rd with the new services beginning on September 1st 2005.

Source: BTB Travel Odyssey Clink

5 Continental open third new route

Continental Airlines started their daily nonstop flights from its New York-area hub at Newark Liberty International Airport to Stockholm, Sweden on the 2nd June.

This is the third of six trans-Atlantic routes Continental is launching from New York this year.

The carrier inaugurated service to Bristol on May 19 and Belfast on May 26. Following the addition of Stockholm, Continental will inaugurate service to Hamburg on June 9; Berlin on June 30 and Delhi on Nov. 1.

Flight times are approximately seven hours and 55 minutes travelling east and eight hours and 45 minutes westbound. The Stockholm flights have been conveniently timed to connect at New York/Newark with an extensive network of service throughout the U.S., Canada and Latin America.

Continental's flights from New York/Newark to Stockholm will be operated with a 172-seat Boeing 757 aircraft carrying 16 passengers in the BusinessFirst cabin and 156 in economy.

Stockholm is the 22nd city in Continental's Europe and Middle East route network and the airline's second destination in Scandinavia. Continental launched daily Boeing 757 nonstop service between New York/Newark and Oslo, Norway in June 2004.

Source: BTB Travel Odyssey Clink

6 UK Hotel revenue rise

According to new figures from TRI Hospitality Consulting, revenue per available room (revPAR) at UK hotels increased by 11.3% year-on-year to £55.36 in April 2005. The rise was driven by a 6.8% increase in average room rate to £75.07 and a three-percentage point increase in occupancy to 73.7%.

Hotels in London reported revPAR up 12.6% at £75.26, as room rates improved by 8.1% to £95.64 and occupancy by 3.1pp to 78.7%.

Provincial hotels, meanwhile, saw slower but still strong revPAR growth of 11.5% to £47.77. Room rates increased by 6.8% to £66.48 and occupancy by 3pp to 71.9%. (Source: E-Tid.com - for full story click here:- http://www.e-tid.com/pma/23553

7 Explosive Growth in Airline Website Usage

Websites for commercial airlines have experienced explosive growth with a 24% increase in market share regarding visits made to the sites in April this year when compared with April 2004. The growth seems to be driven by smaller players in the category, several of whom are experiencing double digit growth in market share.

This has been revealed by a recent report covering online trends affecting the travel industry, published and released by HitWise.

When examining site visits over the past twelve months, HitWise found the most popular sites to be easyJet, RyanAir.com and British Airways.

Source: PA Executive.com

8 Bmi goes low

Bmi is turning its London Heathrow services into a low-cost operation from August 1, scrapping business class on almost all domestic and international routes, simplifying fares and charging economy class passengers for in-flight food and drinks.

Nigel Turner, Bmi's CEO, claims the move is in response to market pressure and it will save the carrier £30 million a year. "Over 50% of our passengers are travelling on business but most of these now do so in the back of the plane. Now we're getting back in sync with what our customers want. We're giving them the choice of paying for what they need."

Bmi is retaining business class on routes from Heathrow to Mumbai, Brussels, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast City.

But Bmi's move may not go down well with premium ticket passengers making long-haul connections at Heathrow. Bmi is a Star Alliance member and feeds passengers to over a dozen member airlines including United, ANA, Thai and Varig.

Source: Business Traveller.com

9 Cornish cream

It's now much easier to reach Newquay from other UK cities.

Not so long ago the Cornish resort was practically cut off from the rest of the UK mainland. Long and torturous road and rail routes meant it took hours to get there.

But it's all change thanks to a raft of new air services which have put the Cornish resort on the map and plumbed it into other major cities and hub airports.

Ryanair launched a twice daily jet service from London Stansted. Plymouth-based Air Southwest introduced a four times a day link operated by Dash 8 turbo-props to London Gatwick. And it has just added more links to Newquay from Leeds, Manchester and Bristol.

On June 10 low-cost airline Bmibaby starts daily jet flights from Birmingham and a four times a week service from Teeside.

Fares for all these air services vary widely. You will get the best rates by travelling midweek. Weekend fares can be sky-high.

Source: Business Traveller online

10 Go East Young Man

The world's biggest companies are opening offices in India and business travel to the country is skyrocketing as a result. New airline services launched in the past couple of months mean there are now more ways than ever to make the passage to India.

The attraction? A lower cost of living than at home and a vast pool of talented IT professionals to call upon.

It's not just in the technology arena that business is booming. India is one of the world's largest destinations for offshore outsourcing of jobs, particularly in the areas of call centres and back-office operations. It is estimated that by the end of the decade, there will be 100,000 people employed in call centres in India.

Business travellers have found that, until recently, getting there to do the business was costly. Direct flights between the two countries are routinely full and fares have been kept buoyant by this demand.

New aviation agreements in the past few months between the UK and Indian governments means that air fares are almost certain to tumble as new airlines have been allowed into the lucrative market while existing carriers have been allowed to up the frequency of their flights.

Since the end of March, Virgin Atlantic has been flying three times a week between Heathrow and Mumbai and has indicated the desire to increase this to a daily service. On 14 May, BMI launched a four times weekly service between Heathrow and Mumbai and hopes to increase this frequency in the future.

BA will launch a new service between Heathrow and Bangalore from October, double the service between Heathrow and Mumbai to twice daily and increase services between London Heathrow and Chennai from two to six per week.

But it's not just British airlines that are launching new services. Jet Airways, which until recently was a domestic-only carrier in India, has also been permitted to join the fray. On May 24, the airline started a daily service between Heathrow and Mumbai.

The airline's UK and Ireland general manager Dan Brewin, formerly head of UK and Ireland sales at British Airways, says the airline has been allowed to enter the market in order for Indian airlines to try to regain share on the UK-India market from carriers such as BA but also from European and Middle Eastern airlines.

Jet Airways' Dan Brewin thinks the extra competition will be good for travellers. "There's no doubt at all that the increase of capacity is going to cause prices to be under pressure and probably to drop."

Source: Times Online

11 Gulf Air bring back Style & Comfort

Gulf Air is set to re-create the golden-age of travel with the much anticipated launch of completely new seating, furnishing and service in its First and Business Class cabins.

The first of six refurbished Airbus A330s has entered service on the Abu Dhabi €" London route, resulting in customers enjoying a host of benefits, the likes of which have never been experienced on commercial aircraft before. Five others will be upgraded between now and July 2005.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive of Gulf Air said: "Gulf Air continues to go from strength to strength. As we move into the next stage of our growth strategy, we are acutely aware that what really sets apart airlines today is service and comfort. What we are now offering is new, unique and extraordinary.

The specially trained crew lay out pyjamas and slippers, hang clothes in a suit carrier .... just like a personal butler would, and magically transform the seat into a luxurious ... and private - bed space mellowed by ambient mood lighting. which gives the cabin the feel of a five-star hotel room, rather than an aircraft cabin. The finishing touches are provided by Sky chefs who offer bedtime snacks and hot drinks to ensure a peaceful night's sleep.

When the seats are returned to normal, they are still extraordinary. Finished with leather armrests, they have large head wings, offer lumbar support and individual power outlets, for laptop use. On-board entertainment is delivered via an impressive 15-inch flat screen monitor and high-tech, noise-cancelling headsets. Oversized tables create a comfortable space for work and dining. Gulf Air's already legendary 'restaurant in the sky' provides the finest dining in the skies with five star gourmet menus prepared on demand by the airline's sky chefs.

Source: Internet Travel News

12 Gresham Hyde Park London to Park Inn

Rezidor SAS Hospitality takes over the management of the Gresham Hyde Park London on June 1 and will re-launch it under its mid-market Park Inn brand.

The 188-room Park Inn Hyde Park, in Lancaster Gate, will be the group's second Park Inn property. The first is the Park Inn Heathrow.

Source: Business Traveller

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