Tuesday, 27 March 2012

easyJet to trial allocated seating

easyJet have today announced that they are to test allocated seating for passengers on a range of routes which will affect 40,000 passengers.

The move,  according to Chief Executive Carolyn McCall is to reduce stress on flyers rather than raise revenue. The airline is to charge £12 per seat for premium places at the front or by exit rows and £3 for any other seat on the plane.

Commenting on the move, McCall said: "We've done a lot of research and found unreserved seating can stress people out a little bit, if they're not used to boarding that way," she said. "Our surveys showed that it can be a barrier to people travelling with us."

I can't say that I think that this is a bad thing as customers still have the option to not select a seat or pay a nominal £3 fee. Having just paid to select a seat with BA to America is something that grates a little more, considering they are meant to be a premium rather than low cost carrier.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Coalition (Tories) to have a rethink on third runway at Heathrow

It has been reported that the government are urgently looking at options to increase airport capacity in the south-east amid fears that restricted options are choking off economic growth.

An undoubted sticking point is the coalition agreement which rules out a third runway at Heathrow and this is something that the pro-green Liberal Democrats would not tolerate. It is believed that the Tories now wish to get around this by including this policy in the next manifesto.

This means that if a new runway was to be approved it would realistically be ready by 2018. To their credit, the government have now sought to look at other options which would be ready within months, rather than years. One option would be to use RAF Northolt for business flights as it is located only 13 miles from Heathrow.

Ironically, one man who has done a policy u-turn is Tim Yeo, the Tory Chairman of the energy and climate change select committee who said: "We cannot wait around any longer. We have to get on with this. If we don't, the Chinese and others will take their business elsewhere. There is no time to delay."

He also ruled out 'Boris Island' as did Boris himself yesterday who said: "contrary to popular belief I am not the slightest bit wedded to some remote archipelago in the Thames estuary" along with expansion of Gatwick due to construction work at Gatwick not being able to start until 2019.

The change in tack is likely to create a furore with the Lib-Dems, particularly Vince Cable whose own constituency of Twickenham is under Heathrow's flight path along with one of their own, Zac Goldsmith who has said that he would resign as an MP if a third runway was granted approval.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

No APD Break in Chancellor's Budget

It probably was wishful thinking. Today George Osborne announced that Air Passenger Duty will rise in April as expected by double the rate of inflation and in April 2013 in line with inflation.

The expected news is a blow to travel industry pressure group A Fair Tax on Flying which campaigned for the planned rises to be scrapped. Further expected news is the devolving of power to Northern Ireland of how they will set their own APD rates.

Mike Carrivick, the Chief Executive of Board of Airline Representatives called the continued rise a 'reckless brake on the economy'.

He went on to say: 'It is a day-dream to assume that air travellers will continue to pay increased air taxes without shrinking the market. Hitting families and businesses with ever-increasing APD rates and restricting much needed capacity increases at key airports is a recipe for failure.

To make matters worse, residents and visitors to UK are all affected by yet another aviation tax, under the guise of the EU Emission Trading Scheme (EU ETS). By the time the Chancellor wakes up to the fact that visitor numbers are dropping, other countries will have already benefited at the expense of the UK.

We call on the Chancellor to abandon the April APD increase and to reduce the previous rates by the amount of additional income received from the EU ETS.'

At least George is taxing his mates in their business jets from April 2013.

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Seatguru launch App for plane geeks

For frequent flyers, Seatguru is a pretty useful tool. The website have now sort to move with the times by creating a an app which will help travellers whilst they are on the go.

The app will allow users to identify the plane that they are due to fly on and will show seats that are good to sit in, and ones to be avoided. As part of the TripAdvisor brand, the app will also allow users to browse reviews on the world's largest review site. The app may be at it's most useful when users are able to book flights on the go and to also get real time updates on flights times.

Jami Counter, Senior directos of SeatGuru said: "Our free app gives travelers the peace of mind that they've found the best airplane seat at the lowest price, in an easy-to-navigate display to help make the air travel experience less stressful."

There are currently 45,000 flyer reviews on SeatGuru and as a flight geek, I will be downloading this one myself.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Thomas Cook still holding thousands of Olympic stock

With four months to go to The Olympics, it has been reported that Thomas Cook have 90,000 of its 300,000 Olympic tickets still unsold.

As a company who has made a huge financial commitment to the rights to sell such packages, they are now in a situation when they either hold out and hope that the hype sells the packages or to slash prices and shift the stock until it might be too late. They may also have to consider the effect a discount has on it's client's who paid the full price for packages compared with a punter who get's a last minute deal.

The company are currently under pressure to balance it's bottom line and a price cut may be the best way to recoup some of it's reported £10 million outlay.

Despite the report, a company spokesman said it does not have immediate plans to discount it's packages. The spokesman said: “We have sold around 70pc of our Olympic packages so far and, with the huge demand for London 2012 tickets, we are very confident that we will sell our full allocation.”

A steady PR strategy, for now.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Phone battery flat? Better get on your bike!

A new 'green' hotel has introduced a scheme where hotel residents can keep fit whilst at the same time generating enough power to charge everyday items like phones and laptops.

The Element Hotel in Miami is part of the Starwood chain and hopes to appeal to guests who wish to experience healthy food such as fruit smoothies,egg white wraps, 24 hour fitness centres and saline pools. The Element hotel should also be a nice place to stay with an emphasis rooms with large swathes of natural light.

Commenting on the latest pilot scheme, Brian McGuiness of Starwood said:  "At Element, we're committed to helping guests stay active, healthy and productive on the road. Since its inception, the brand has also served as Starwood's green innovation lab. This initiative perfectly blends these objectives, and we're happy to see this pilot make its debut at Element Miami International Airport."

Good luck!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Cathay Pacific profits dive by 61%

Profits at Cathay Pacific have dropped 61% compared with trading figures for 2010. Figures for Cathay Pacific show that in 2011 they made a profit of HK$5.5bn compared with HK$14bn in 2010, when it was one of the world's most profitable airlines.

The airline has attributed rising fuel prices and the tough economic outlook for the significant change in operating profit. Christopher Pratt, Chairman of Cathay Pacific said:

"Economic uncertainties have continued into the first half of this year. While these uncertainties continue, we expect pressure on economy class yields and our cargo business in particular to remain weak.As a result, 2012 is looking even more challenging than 2011 and we are therefore cautious about prospects for this year."

Thankfully Cathay Pacific are likely to have cash in the bank and are still operating at a profit, a position that American Airlines would very much like to be in.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Report attacks planned rise in Air Passenger Duty

Budget week - the time when every market researcher does some work to state their case against The Chancellor and his red briefcase.

This time I think I agree with a report conducted by The World Travel & Tourism Council which attacks the governments proposed 8% rise in Air Passenger Duty (APD). In real terms, the incremental cost for a family of four flying to Spain would rise by £52, or for a family to Florida, by £260 extra.

These figures are indisputable but the report goes further in its analysis of what a cut in APD would do to the economy. The report suggests that such a change could create 91,000 jobs and add £4.2bn to the economy. I am not convinced by the projected number of new jobs or the amount earned from new revenue which the report claims will be put into the economy as they seem fantastical.

Yet to continually increase tax on people flying into the UK is very harmful for it's business and tourist visitors. The government would clearly love for Briton's to holiday in these isles as a £4m tourism campaign has shown but the country's adverse weather means that it's citizens will long for a week in the sun. The government plans to continually increase APD to 2016 when foretasted taxation would mean a family of four would pay APD of £500 to a long haul destination. We currently have the highest aviation taxes in the world and we will continue to be more and more isolated if this continues.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Top tips for trouble free business travel - from HM The Queen

As the most traveled monarch in history, HM The Queen knows a few things about traveling long distances and how best to avoid any unsightly mishaps. To her credit she has managed to visit 129 countries on 256 overseas tours - with never a day off sick.

Her courtier has revealed that she has three tips which allow her to avoid something as ghastly as 'Delhi Belly'. They are to never eat shellfish, watermelon or salad while abroad.

Having witnessed her on several tours, she is sure to have many other rules. Other tips which could be applied is to keep smiling, even when your companion creates an embarrassing situation. To  ignore jet-lag after long flights and finally to make sure you have someone else to carry your bags.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

O'Leary takes new pop at airports as 'international shopping centres'

In an interview with CNN, Michael O'leary today took the opportunity to criticise airports as 'international shopping centres' which are only for the benefit of 'rich airports'.
He went on to say that due to developments in technology, many of airports operations have now become obsolete.

"If you look at it, we don't really need airports to do much any more. The airport terminal serves very few purposes any more, except that it is an international shopping center, owned and run by rich airports. Check in on the website, arrive at the airport, get through security very quickly, and board your plane," he said. "People want to arrive, get on a plane and fly. They want to spend time at destinations, not waste it at airports."

O'leary believes that the cost of operating planes out of UK airports results in higher fares and is unfair in practice due to a lack of competition between airport owners. Something that is hard to argue with.

Despite his monthly gripes, he believes that Ryanair will continue to dominate in recessionary times alongside other value brands.

"McDonald's does well in a recession. We are the McDonald's, the Ikea, of the airline business." He said.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Alihoco up for an award!

It's pat on the back day here at Alihoco as Tom has been nominated for a travel award. Pretty good going for 18 months work.

Tom has been nominated for Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the Hall of Fame annual dinner on 17th April at The Savoy Hotel.

He faces some stiff competition in his other nominees who include Simon Purchase, Cruising Excursions; Matthew Stuart, Getabed; Greg Marsh, Onefinestay; and Danny Waine, Perfect Weddings Abroad.

Congratulations to all nominees and well done Tom!

Friday, 2 March 2012

ITV's Benidorm boosts internet searches to area

A report by Travel super market has shown that the return of popular television series Benidorm has lead to the number of searchesto Benidorm doubling whilst the programme was on air.The number of searches was compared against results from the previous  week at the same time.

The phenomenon has been described as 'The Benidorm Effect and Bob Atkinson of Travelsupermarket.com said:
 "Once again we have witnessed the 'Benidorm' effect - a huge boost in searches to the resort whilst the show is on air. Many people have laptops or smart phones so browsing the net whilst watching TV has become quite commonplace. In fact this is a trend we only expect to rise in the coming years.

"However the popularity of the resort in 2012 isn't just down to the show. Spain represents good value to Brits this year as the destination is doing all it can to attract visitors with late deals and offers for booking, and in resort. And when comparing prices online for popular destinations, Spain constantly comes out as a cost effective holiday choice for families, couples, groups and singles alike. This year's 93 per cent spike week-on-week shows that while summer may still be a few months away, we are looking to be inspired by warmer climes."

Maybe every country should create their own soap opera rather than spending fortunes on tourism boards. Eastenders Antiguan style would be superb!

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Thomas Cook shares continue to be like a big dipper

Today we are on the way down. After two weeks of improvement in its share price amid talks of a potential take over from Tui Travel, Thomas Cook shares today fell by 5.75p as that talk has died down.

The share price rise was also attributed to a 'buy' recommendation by Investec which lead to the share price doubling in value. Investec have noe changed their stance to 'hold.' James Hollins of Investec said:

'Our positive stance was based on the prediction that Thomas Cook would survive in its current form, with 
  • 1. a supportive banking syndicate, 
  • 2. the short-term appointment of a new chief executive [now expected by the end of March], 3. operational turnaround opportunities, and 
  • 4. the likelihood of asset disposals. However, the shares now offer less than 10% upside to our unchanged 30p price target and we therefore move from buy to hold.'

One further issue is if the banks decide to re-coup monies owed as they too seek to balance their own bottom lines. It's not all rosy just yet.