News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: March 2006

1 Increased Choice for Scottish travellers

Scottish travellers are set to benefit from new direct links from Edinburgh to the US, Scandinavia and Central Europe this summer.

The most significant new service will be Delta's non-stop link to Atlanta, Georgia which gets under way on June 6.

Starting March 1st Danish budget carrier Sterling started a useful service to Copenhagen. For most of March, flights will operate three times a week but from March 27 the service will be stepped up to a six flights a week service. Until now Bmi has been the sole carrier on this route and fares have been costly.  The cheapest Bmi fare was £363.00 for the cost of a two day midweek trip between March 7 and March 9 - Sterling pledges to undercut these rates.

 Polish budget carrier Centralwings and the Slovakian carrier Skyeurope are also due to start new services in April whilst  easyJet says it will begin flying to Berlin Schonefeld from Glasgow's main airport on May 3. Meanwhile from Prestwick the Dutch budget carrier Transavia will begin flying to Amsterdam on March 26.


2 Washington launch Maxed out

All-business class carrier MAXjet has postponed the start of Stansted-Washington DC flights by three weeks.

The airline's second transatlantic route has been put back from March 15 to April 4 but will operate with an increased frequency of five flights a week instead of the four originally planned.

The airline started flying to New York last November with six flights a week and has extended an introductory return to Washington of £599 for tickets bought by April 3 against the standard fare starting at £999.


3 Is More TMC Chaos on the way?

Accor may be considering the sale of its stake in travel agency Carlson Wagonlit Travel, according to a report in French newspaper Les Echos.

The French daily reported the news this Friday, citing sources in the industry.

Any potential sale is likely to involve a strategic overhaul by the group's CEO Gilles Pelisson, who started at Accor last year.

Accor and U.S. Minneapolis-based Carlson Companies equally own Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

Carlson's brands include Radisson Hotels & Resorts and Regent International Hotels.

Carlson Wagonlit Travel's largest competitor in the market for managing corporate travel is American Express.


4 Hilton Tower Bridge takes shape

Regular users of London Bridge station can't have failed to notice a newly-built Hilton hotel on adjacent Tooley Street. But you will have to wait until next July before sampling it.

The Hilton London Tower Bridge will provide another first class option for this up-and-coming area with its improved links to the capital's West End, the City and Docklands. It forms part of the More London Place development on the South Bank which faces the Tower of London and lies close to both London Bridge and Tower Bridge.

There will be 245 rooms including 54 executive rooms plus an executive lounge and concierge service. Other features include facilities for fine dining, a business centre, wireless broadband, conference facilities for 400 people and a Living Well Express health club.


5 Third Sponsor heralds lowest price

Thanks to two cancellations we received late on Friday we do have two seats left for Wednesday's Spring Corporate Travel & Expense Forum at Hesperia-Victoria Hotel London.

If you can make the day then call our office immediately to join the 48 other delegates.

6 Getting more easyJet

More easyJet routes from London have been scheduled to commence this summer.

Daily flights from Luton to Istanbul will start on June 29, with fares from £62 return. Service to Rijeka in Croatia starts the next day, also from Luton, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, with fares from £52 return.

The airline will also start daily flights from Gatwick to Marrakesh on July 4, but it will not be the first low-cost on the route. A low-cost airline, Atlas Blue, began service last year although its fares of £130 return are double what easyJet says it will offer.

Source: Times Online

7 First look at new coaches

As part of First's commitment to enhancing rail travel, they have taken another step in shaping the future of their trains, by investing in a concept mock-up for a re-design train interior that will be used on their inter city High Speed Trains.

First's  new identity applied to the train's exterior signifies the energy driving the "You First" campaign. The high visibility doors clearly identify entrances and exits. The adjacent electronic displays, communicate to passengers the train's itinerary.

The foyer has been conceived to create a bright and welcoming entrance with improved features to provide extra help for the passenger.

Passing into the luggage stowage area, passengers will notice a vast improvement. This space is fully re-designed and opened up to the saloon to make it light and airy, further enhanced by the new lighting. Security is improved by enabling passengers to keep better sight of their stowed luggage.

8 Flybe safe  

On the 28th February Flybe, one of Europe's leading low-cost airlines, announced that it will become the first low cost airline to offer passengers the choice of including Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance (SAFI) protection as part of their booking process, in-line with Flybe's commitment to giving customers more choice than ever before when travelling low cost.

Flybe is making this move through the European Low Fares Airline Association as part of the commitment it made to Karen Buck - Aviation Minister to provide consumers with a comprehensive protection package which then leaves the consumer with the choice of insuring or not. Such innovative moves gave the government confidence to avoid introducing an ATOL scheme for scheduled flights.

The pioneering move from Flybe offers passengers comprehensive cover and follows the recent demise of EU Jet which left thousands of passengers stranded.

The unique package will be offered as an optional extra from March 1st to all passengers booking a return flight to one of Flybe's many domestic and European destinations.

Source: Flybe online

9 The Irish and Virgin home in on Dubai

Both Aer Lingus from Dublin and Virgin Atlantic from London will commence operations this month to Dubai

Aer Lingus will be operating three days a week with their Airbus 330 at a lead in price of €199 one way.

Virgin Atlantic will be flying their award winning Airbus four flights a week from Heathrow terminal 3 at a lead in price of £319.00 return.

10   Italian Double Act

The Baglioni Hotel (one of Kensington's finest five star properties) will take delivery of a sleek, black Maserati Quattroporte Executive GT, which will be used to transport guests around London, in keeping with the luxurious Italian décor of the hotel. Both the Quattroporte and the Baglioni Hotel London have hand crafted, lavish interiors, using the finest materials throughout.

On request from the hotel's Concierge, Baglioni guests will be able to go shopping, attend that important business appointment or visit the theatre driven in the Quattroporte. Sinking into the sumptuous interior of the car, with seats upholstered in the finest leather from Poltrona Frau with plenty of leg and headroom, Baglioni guests can arrive at their destination in one of Italy's great marques.

This coming together of two of Italy's luxury brands will provide visitors to London with the chance to experience the unique combination of great heritage, exceptional service, elegant design and, a high performance car - a perfect union.


11   Not all as comfortable as they think!

While UK agents may be basking in the knowledge that business appears to be booming, the Guild of Travel Management Companies reports a 10% leap in bookings, there just might be a cloud gathering on the horizon.

This is what Mike Platt, managing director of BTI UK, describes as a "small but growing trend" of companies setting a budget for a particular trip and allowing the traveller to travel as he or she wishes.

Mr Platt told BTE: "There are a number of clients who instead of saying 'You must fly economy class' are saying to the traveller 'If you can get a business class ticket for an economic class price, you can do it.'

"It is a growing thing where customers out there, particularly from medium-sized companies which don't have an enormous deal that they could damage with a legacy carrier, who are saying 'We will set you a budget rather than a class of travel. You can go as you like as long as you don't spend anymore than this."

12   Irish spin 70% into their web

Aer Lingus saw distribution costs drop by almost 40% last year as more than 70% of sales were driven through its website.

The Irish flag carrier, which hopes to be privatised this year, saw passenger carrying rise by one million to eight million over 2004.

The airline's operating profit for the year to December 31 fell to €72.4 million from €107 million the previous 12 months. Pre-tax profit soared to €82.6 million from 1.1 million.

The airline saw total cost increases of €10.8 million despite fuel cost increases of €33.1 million.

Aer Lingus shed 431 staff in the year to give a workforce of 3,475.

Chief executive Dermot Mannion said: "2006 is a year in which we can develop further opportunity, delivering our twin track strategy with increasing focus on the development of our long haul network. Critical to maximising these opportunities is securing investment which will enable all those employed at Aer Lingus to share in running a successful airline for the future."