Greek airports to be hit by ATC strike tomorrow

Greek airports to be hit by ATC strike tomorrowTravellers have been warned that all airports in Greece will be affected by a 24-hour strike by air traffic controllers tomorrow (Thursday).

The walkout is part of a general strike across the country which will also hit ferry services.

Public transport across Greece, particularly in Athens, will be severely disrupted throughout the day, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Air passengers are being advised by the FCO to contact their airline or travel company for more information.

The industrial action by air traffic controllers will affect all airports across the country and all airlines flying to and from Greece, the FCO warned.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Thomas Cook share price drops 20% after Green announcement

Thomas Cook share price drops 20% after Green announcementThomas Cook Group’s share price fell by more than 20% this morning on the surprise news that chief executive Harriet Green was to step downafter just two years in charge.

Shares slumped to 107p at one point in early morning trading, wiping more than £400 million from the company’s stock market value as the City reacted to her departure. Chief operating officer Peter Fankhauser is to take over with immediate effect.

The shares later rebounded to 112p but were still far below yesterday’s level of 139.9p and a high of 190p in March as Green’s departure was digested by investors questioning why she should quit so abruptly.

Green was seen as responsible for Cook’s financial turnaround from likely failure two years ago and was one of the few females leading a major UK public company.

Chris Beauchamp, market analyst at IG, said: “Investors will be right to ask questions over how her departure will affect the turnaround plan, so expect much of the price reaction today to be in connection to this.”

He added that the warning on more moderate growth next year “is a sign that the easy bit has been done”.

Brenda Kelly, chief market strategist at IG Markets, told the BBC: “The resignation is bound to have a negative effect.

“But there are other problems out of Thomas Cook’s control. Over the last few months the market has not looked so good – with the weaker UK currency and a struggling eurozone all having a negative effect.”

Kelly added that Green’s great achievement was to restructure the company, “realising that having so many Thomas Cook outlets around the country was based in history not reality”.

“She recognised that people were going online and looking for deals, that holiday booking tradition was different from Thomas Cook’s heyday in the 70s and 80s.

“It meant huge closures here in the UK and in Ireland, but those difficult decisions meant getting to grips with what’s happening today in the travel market.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Thomas Cook moderates growth forecast for 2015

Thomas Cook moderates growth forecast for 2015Thomas Cook has seen double-digit increases in online bookings in the past year as underlying group earnings rose by 44% to £323 million.

Web penetration rose by 36% to 38% year-on-year with improved web performance in the UK, Germany and Northern Europe.

Demand for concept hotels rose, with summer 2014 bookings up by 43%.

All businesses improved profitability with underlying UK earnings margin up from 2.2% to 3.5% – hitting targets.

Annual group pre-tax losses were cut from £213 million to £115 million.

But Cook admitted that “reflecting the tougher trading environment our outlook for growth in FY15, while still positive, is more measured.

“Accordingly, we now expect to deliver further growth this year at a more moderate pace.”

A first wave of cost savings and profit improvements of £206 million brought overall benefits to £400 million in the year to September. The target for 2015 has been raised from £460 million to more than £500 million.

A second wave target for the 2018 financial year remains at £400 million.

“We have de-risked our business by reducing low profit and high risk operations, through business disposals, strategic reductions in risk capacity in France and Russia, and the removal from sale of low quality product,” Cook said.

“Our work to transform Thomas Cook continues.  We are just two years into our major change programmes and, whilst the transformation has already delivered substantial benefits to the business and its stakeholders, there is more to do.

“We are confident that our robust product strategy, our focus on digital and our continuing profit improvement initiatives will enable us to deliver further significant value this year and beyond.”

Cook said it was encouraged by booking and pricing trends for summer 2015 with capacity from the UK 23% sold, with bookings up by 8% and prices 1% higher.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Green quits Thomas Cook

Green quits Thomas CookThomas Cook CEO Harriet Green has unexpectedly stepped down and is being replaced by chief operating officer Peter Fankhauser.

The change at the top of the company came as Cook released annual financial results.

Green, who joined the company two years ago and rescued it from possible collapse, said: “The transformation of Thomas Cook into a company with a market capitalisation of just under £2 billion and a share price of over 130 pence is one I have been proud to lead.

“I always said that I would move on to another company with fresh challenges once my work was complete. That time is now.

“I wish all of the team at this re-energised company continued success, as they move to the next phase of the company’s development.”

Green joined when Cook’s share price was just 14 pence and it had a market capitalisation of £148 million.

Her remit was to transform the company, placing it on a sound financial footing with a solid operational team able to compete in the consumer travel market.

Fankhauser has held a number of senior roles over the last 13 years at Cook.

He will be supported by Michael Healy, who will continue as group chief financial officer, and chief air travel officer Christoph Debus.

Fankhauser said: “I feel very honoured to be leading this business which means so much, to so many people.

“I am determined to work with all our great colleagues worldwide to build on Harriet’s achievements, continuing to deliver great holidays for consumers and good returns for investors.”

Cook chairman Frank Meysman said: “Harriet has had a highly positive impact on this company.

“We emerge from her transformation stronger, with a clear strategy, world-class leadership team, updated brand, and a renewed focus on the customer.

“The succession plan she devised will now take effect and the new chief executive, Peter, will drive the company forward as we focus on winning the commercial battle against other operators.

“Peter is one of the most accomplished and experienced executives in the travel industry and has played a critical role in our transformation to date.  We are delighted that someone of Peter’s stature will succeed Harriet and lead the next phase of our transformation”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Airbus to invest £100m at Broughton and Filton factories

Plane maker Airbus is investing £100m in research, development and training in a deal with UK and Welsh governments.

The announcement came at an investment conference in Newport designed to create jobs and growth for the UK.

Airbus employs about 6,000 at Broughton in Flintshire and over 4,000 at Filton.

First Minister Carwyn Jones has also pledged £8.1m to support training in Broughton.

That brings the total investment in the plant to £56m, including £48m being provided jointly by Airbus and the UK government to develop new systems and technologies for building the wings for the company’s aircrafts.

The UK Investment Summit Wales conference is being held at the Celtic Manor Resort, bringing together industry leaders, investors and politicians, including Prime Minister David Cameron.

Last year, an extra £100m was spent on research and development in Wales, latest figures show.

On Friday, Airbus also announced that US company Delta Air Lines had placed a firm order for 50 new aircraft.

The research and development elements of the projects will be carried out with the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI), a £2 billion joint investment between industry and government aimed at developing activity necessary for the UK to win work on future aerospace programmes.

‘Backing business’

An Airbus A350-900 test plane Wings for the new Airbus A350 plane are all made at the Broughton factory

Announcing the ATI funding, Mr Cameron said: “Aerospace is a real cornerstone of British business, supporting over 100,000 jobs across the UK and is worth over £27bn to our economy every year.

“With today’s investment we are backing our aerospace sector so that it continues to thrive, as key part of our long-term economic plan to back business, create jobs and secure a brighter future for Britain.”

First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “The aerospace industry is so important to Wales and we need to make sure that the skills of our workforce move at the pace of technological development in this field.”

Welsh Secretary Stephen Crabb added: “Today’s announcement means the company can now manufacture more of the world’s most technologically advanced aircraft wings right here in Wales.”

Paul McKinlay, head of Airbus’s Broughton plant said: “Airbus places great importance on training its workforce and this funding will support development of skills and expertise and ensure Wales is ready to take on the challenges the next generation of technology will bring.”

A total of £48m is being invested in a project at the Broughton plant to develop new systems and technologies for building aircraft wings.

Airbus’s Filton and Broughton plants are responsible for designing, testing and manufacturing the wings for the whole family of Airbus commercial airliners.

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Analysis by Brian Meechan, BBC Wales business correspondent

Airbus is one of the biggest employers in Wales with 6,000 people at the Broughton site manufacturing the wings for its aircrafts.

The UK aerospace industry is in a strong state. It grew by almost 10% last year.

It is a key industry in Wales providing highly skilled and well paid jobs not just at Airbus but also GE Aviation, General Dynamics and British Airways.

Aerospace employs around 23,000 people in Wales.

The money will be used on research and development at the Broughton site.

The Welsh government is also providing a further £8m to the company for staff training over the next five years which is a continuation of financial support it has given Airbus since 2009.

Speaking to some people from small businesses today, they asked why a multi-national company should need taxpayers’ money to train their staff.

It is understandable when budgets are tight in the fields of education, training and apprenticeships.

The argument would be that training workers does not just provide a benefit to the company but to the wider economy by creating a more skilled workforce in Wales which helps us compete internationally.

The Welsh government also offers financial support to attract companies into Wales which often includes money to help train staff.

So if it can be offered to new companies to establish themselves in Wales, why not to businesses that have shown a long-term commitment to the country and its workforce.

Sourced by BBC News


Amazon to move into travel sector?

Internet behemoth Amazon is reportedly preparing to launch its own travel service.

According to Skift.com, the retailer has been sounding out hotels with the new proposition set to launch on January 1.

The initial roll-out looks set to focus only on hotels.

Skift reported that hotels signed up to Amazon’s new service would load up details onto an Amazon network and would then pay the US-firm 15% commission.

Sourced by TTG Digital


‘€500 fine if you wheel your suitcase’ – Venice’s latest tourism law

Italy VeniceBy Sophie Griffiths,

Venice has introduced an unlikely measure in its battle to protect the city from the impact of tourists – banning the use of wheelie suitcases.

The city council passed the latest law amid complaints about the noise of large tour groups dragging their bags over bridges, which local residents have said keeps them awake at night, and ultimately amounts to noise pollution.

Tourists will now be required to pick their suitcases up, with only those that have inflated tyres to be permitted to be wheeled.

Visitors who fail to comply with the laws will face a fine up to €500.

Venetians themselves however, will be exempt from the law.

It is the latest measure introduced in a bid to try and limit the impact of the 20 million tourists that visit Venice every year.

Earlier this year, the city launched a campaign to try and discourage couples from attaching padlocks to the city’s bridges as a symbol of love, arguing that the old structures were too fragile to bear the weight.

There has also been complaints over the number of cruise ships visiting the city, with residents complaining that the ships sometimes sail dangerously close to the shore, and are an eyesore.

Sourced by TTG Digital


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