News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: March 2005

1  French Strike Warning

Paris and other major French cities will be the subject of strike action on March 10, which could make it difficult to use public transport.

The strike action, which has been proposed by five of France's largest workers unions is likely to affect transport systems. The French Tourist Office confirmed that French Railways (SNCF) has proposed industrial action although the extent of disruption to travel is unsure at this stage.

The spokeswoman added that the Eurostar is expected to run as normal. In the past airlines have been affected by strike action.

The French Tourist Office is advising travellers to check with their transport operator or tour operator before travelling.

Source: BusinessTraveller.com

2  Increased access to Berlin

This week Easyjet announced its intention to launch flights from London Gatwick to Berlin Schoenefeld, supplementing its existing thrice daily Luton-Schoenefeld service.

Easyjet is the largest low-cost airline at Berlin Schoenefeld, and now offers more routes out the airport than it does from Luton or Stansted.

Rivals on the London-Berlin route include Air Berlin, which operates out of Berlin Tegel and is adding a third weekday service from May 1. Fares start at £7 one-way excluding taxes. British Airways continues to operate from Heathrow to Berlin Tegel five times a day.

Source: BusinessTraveller.com

3  BMI plans to go East

BMI is now getting geared up for the launch of services to Mumbai (India) later in the spring, its first long haul flights out of Heathrow for several decades. With minor administrative details still to overcome final arrangements have not been confirmed for the planned four times weekly flights with a three class Airbus A330 as used on the airline's successful North American and Caribbean service.

Source: Airline & Business Travel News

4  Commission shrinking

Virgin Atlantic is reviewing its travel agent commission scheme less than a year after its introduction.

But it will not say whether it plans to follow the lead of rival British Airways and drop agent payments to zero in favour of net fares. A spokeswoman said: "I'm not sure which way it is going. We are reviewing the scheme but any announcement is still a few months away."

Meanwhile, Kenya Airways is to cut agent commissions from 9% to 1% from April 1.

Source: Travelweekly.co.uk

5  Virgin's Lounging at Euston station

If you or your colleagues are frequent users of Virgin Trains first class travel then Virgin Trains Traveller Club is something you should all be interested in. Complimentary drinks for members and a guest in the lounge facilities at Euston station and priority parking at 17 stations on the network are just a couple of the perks that membership provides.

6  On the (t)rail of the Gold Cup

Extra services for the biggest ever Cheltenham Gold Cup and Festival

First Great Western will be laying on extra trains to and from Cheltenham between 15 March and 18 March as part of an extensive service for passengers travelling to the Cheltenham Gold Cup and National Hunt Festival.

As the festival moves into a new era with a four day format designed to attract the jump racing community from around the world, thousands of customers are expected to travel to the races by train, making it the biggest occasion in the First Great Western special events calendar this year.

Crowds of 200,000 are expected over the four days of the festival and the busiest day will be Friday 18 March, the day of the Gold Cup itself.

7  Aer Lingus online soaring

Aer Lingus recently achieved record highs for the number of bookings made online using Datalex's distribution technology. The airline has achieved the highest number of online sales for any given month since the launch of aerlingus.com. In all, 669,000 seats were sold through aerlingus.com in January, which is a 50% increase on the same period in 2004.

Booking levels have now exceeded Aer Lingus' original maximum expectations of 65% of global bookings being made online.

8  Crowne Plaza Dutch going?

On Friday 4th March InterContinental Hotels Group PLC announced that it has sold the Crowne Plaza, American in Amsterdam to The Eden Hotel Group, for Euro 37 million (£25 million), equivalent to net book value.

The Crowne Plaza, American (174 rooms) will leave the InterContinental Hotels Group system.

Source: Hotel Travel News

9  Car Rental Re-fueling lottery

The average car rental experience involves a string of decisions. The renter must choose from among the various car types with various mileage restrictions, accept or decline insurance waivers, decide whether to include additional drivers. Frequent renters already know the answer to most of these questions, based on corporate agreements, travel policies and past experience.

The typical rental car arrangement includes fuel. "We rent with a full tank," says Paula Stifter, public affairs manager for the Hertz Corporation, "and we anticipate the car to be returned with a full tank."

That means your traveller must find a petrol/gas station near the rental agency and top off the tank. Failure to do so incurs a pricey re-fueling service charge; if your traveller chooses not to touch the filler cap, the rental car company does the re-fueling when the car is returned, at a substantial hike in the price per gallon.

Source: BusinessTravel Executive.com

10 Henley du Vin ready for opening

A former eye hospital, a restored sugar house, and now a converted brewery...it's the latest boutique property from Hotel du Vin.

Like its sister properties, the Hotel du Vin & Bistro in Henley-on-Thames occupies a spectacular building of historic significance. Until early last year the listed buildings that now house the hotel were a working brewery. Set around the old Brakspears Brewery courtyard, what was once the fermentation room is a private dining room and the old malt house is now a billiard room.

There are six suites including three with river views and one occupying the old brew tower, where the bathroom is surrounded in old brewing copper.

Rates start at £115 including VAT and the hotel opens on March 7.

Source BusinessTraveller.com; www.hotelduvin.com

11 New route from the City to the west of Ireland

Euromanx, the Isle of Man based airline today announced that it is to commence jet operations from Galway Airport to European destinations, commencing on Monday 18th April 2005.

Initially, the airline will operate up to two daily services to London City, a direct service to Paris Charles de Gaule and Malaga, Spain. Both routes will run on Mondays and Fridays while the Malaga service will operate on Sundays and Wednesdays.

The service to London City Airport offers business and leisure passengers the ability to fly directly from the heart of Galway to the heart of London in just over one hour. The schedule has been designed to accommodate corporate passengers, offering an early morning departure and an evening return, allowing a full business day in London without having to overnight. Similarly, passengers originating in London now have the choice of an early morning departure to Galway and an evening return.

For more information please follow the link to www.euromanx.com

12 More expansion in the City

Further additional services coming online during the next couple of months at London City Airport include VLM Airlines three times daily services to Amsterdam to compliment their Rotterdam service which has now increased to ten times a day.

Darwin Airlines is commencing operation of the only direct route to Berne from London on Monday 21 February. Lugano is served via Berne with one flight daily Monday to Friday and on Sunday the only route to Lugano from London

For further information please follow the link to:- www.londoncityairport.com

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