News Clips for Corporate Travel Management: May 2004

1  JTB contract first non-Japanese technology company to provide new travel agency solution

Expansion of the European Union has just got under way, and already airlines are piling on more services to the east.

Wizz Air plans to launch from Poland next month, but has made further announcements regarding flights from Budapest. It will operate 29 weekly flights from Budapest to London Luton, Barcelona, Athens, Rome, Paris, Prague and Katowice from June 24. The tickets went on sale this week starting at 990 Hungarian Forints (£2.60) not including tax.

Source: BusinessTraveller

2.  BMI’ new link to Canada announced

BMI'S new service from Manchester to Toronto has been launched. The start of the new route makes bmi the  largest UK operator of transatlantic scheduled flights from the regions,  complementing the airline's existing long haul service from Manchester to Chicago and Washington. The Toronto flights will initially operate four  times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Sunday), increasing to daily from 1 June for the peak of the  summer season. For the winter 2004 season bmi have already announced three additional destinations to their  long haul network with services to Antigua, St Lucia and Barbados.

Source: ABTN

3  Czechs seek hub status for Prague Airport

New EU member state the Czech Republic plans to promote Prague’s Ruzyne Airport as a regional hub for Central and Eastern Europe.  Martin Kacur, chief executive of the Czech Airports Authority, believes that its central location, lower landing fees and a euro650m five-year expansion plan will help it to achieve this.

“With a larger, modern facility we feel we are well placed to play a central role for the aviation industry in this part of the world”' he told the Wall Street Journal Europe.

Source: e-tid.com

4  New Low Fares Routes & Destinations

The network of low cost destinations continues to expand this month, with a number of new routes being added by the airlines.

Easyjet confirmed two new routes from East Midlands to Cologne-Bonn and Rome Ciampino, commencing on June 9th.

Their flights to Glasgow and Barcelona from East Midlands will cease on June 8th, but passengers can continue booking these routes through ang2057 www.openjet.com for travel with bmibaby.

Volareweb have introduced a service between Bologna & Paris Orly. Also new from volareweb are flights from Milan Malpensa to Warsaw from June 2nd, and Venice to Warsaw from June 3rd.

Flights can also be booked for travel from Rome Fiumicino to Warsaw for travel from June 16th, and to NEW DESTINATION Krakow for travel from June 18th.

Flights from London Gatwick to Cologne–Bonn started on April 30th, and flights from Berlin to Liverpool and London Luton commenced on April 28th.

Source: Openjet Takeoff

5  Virgin Airbus

Sir Richard Branson's new budget airline, Virgin US, is thought to be close to placing an order for 30 new Airbus aircraft, worth as much as $1.6bn at list price.

If the deal goes ahead it will be a major boost in the European manufacturer's bid to win market share from Boeing in North America. It will also be the first Virgin airline to turn its back on Boeing.

Source: e-tid.com

6  European Rail benefits spread

Railway users will be pleased to learn that they too will benefit from the 10-nation expansion of the European Union which officially took place last weekend.

The popular “Inter-Rail” pass has been expanded to include the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia, making surface travel to eastern Europe far easier and far cheaper than hitherto.

For those who want to take a Grand European Tour by rail the pass now allows total flexibility for travel in up to 27 European countries, plus Morocco.

7  Corporate self-booking levels ‘double’

Double the level of business travel is being self-booked by European company employees this year over 2003.

Figures from web-based corporate travel booking tool GetThere show that staff booked 105 per cent more travel through the system in the first three months of 2004 than the first quarter last year.

Online travel bookings by European companies rose by 204% in the first quarter of 2003 over the same period the previous year, while quarters two, three and four showed similar growth, according to Sabre-owned GetThere. The system is used by more than 500 organisations in Europe.

Source: Travelmole

8  Air Miles Fraud

A man who used to be a check-in clerk for Air Canada has been caught “siphoning off” five million air miles from passengers’ accounts and then using them to fund first-class trips around the world.

According to The Independent newspaper, 24-year-old Satbal Singh, an asylum-seeker from Afghanistan, set up 13 bogus accounts in his name, and then added customers’ frequent flyer points when they checked in for flights with airlines including Air Canada and Virgin Atlantic.

Source: Travelmole

9  Online Hotel bookings grow

Hilton Group hotel chains announced that February 2004 saw internet sourced bookings rise by 34% over February 2003 to over 530,000.

On average, more than 18,500 reservations were made every day during the month, with over 25,000 made during one day alone. Financially, these increases in bookings yielded a 41% increase in revenue over the same period in 2003. The company has attributed the performance during this record month to its electronic and online strategy, promoting no booking fees, special rates and benefits for HHonors (Hilton's frequent visitors programme) members.

Source: ABTN; www.hilton.com

10  Laker flying again?

Rivierajet, is a new operator planning to be one of the first start-ups to offer low-fare transatlantic services and it has recently appointed legendary aviation pioneer Sir Freddie Laker to its advisory board to aid its launch.

RivieraJet claims to be a "new concept in travel" that will offer direct flights from a variety of European destinations to three US gateways.

The airline is basing its operations around the model established by such carriers as JetBlue Airways, where passengers are being offered a good quality product but at reduced fares. RivieraJet plans to operate just a single aircraft type, either Airbus A330-200s or Boeing 767-300ERs, and discussions to source equipment are currently taking place with leading lessors, in partnership with Airbus and Boeing.

The airline is looking for delivery slots for the second half of the year so that services can be launched before the end of the year. Three key gateways to the US, one on the East Coast, one in the North East and one in Southern Florida have been identified and the airline has already agreed tentative deals for terminal use at its preferred airports, believed to include Fort Lauderdale and New York/JFK. These will be served from Berlin, Brussels, London Stansted, Nice and Rome on a two or three times weekly basis.

Source ABTN; www.rivierajet.com

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