Ryanair to fly transatlantic ‘within 10 years’

Ryanair to fly transatlantic 'within 10 years'Budget airline Ryanair could offer transatlantic flights within the next five to ten years.

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said there was no chance of introducing low-cost transatlantic flights before then due to a shortage of long-haul planes being available.

However, according to Mail Online, O’Leary said he hoped Ryanair would fly to the US during his time at the helm.

He said: “We’ve had a business plan ready to roll for a transatlantic, low-fares airline. The difficulty is,  as I keep cautioning, that there’s no availability of long-haul aircraft for another four or five years.

“So unless we can secure a fleet of low-cost aircraft, frankly, the business doesn’t get off the ground.

“The future is very hard to foretell, it certainly is unlikely to happen within the next five years, but I’d be disappointed if it doesn’t happen within the period, maybe five to 10 years.”

The airline intends to offer flights between 12 to 14 European cities to destinations across the US.

O’Leary previously said the airline could offer flights to the US for as little as £8, but that would mean paying extra for everything else including meals and baggage.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Air France warns disruption will get worse

Air France warns disruption will get worseAir France has warned that disruption will get worse due to a week-long strike by its pilots.

The strike began yesterday and about 60% of flights are likely to be cancelled today, costing the airline between €10 million and €15 millions a day.

According to the BBC, Air France is urging passengers to change or postpone their travel.

The airline says customers who have booked a flight between September 15 and September 22 can “delay their trip, change their ticket free of charge or claim a refund”.

The pilots are striking against a transfer of jobs by the airline to low-cost carrier Transavia.

Chief executive Frederic Gagey said management was doing everything it could “to try and find a way out of this situation”.

Strikes involving the Vereinigung Cockpit union, which represents Lufthansa’s pilots, are also taking place today in a separate disagreement over early retirement terms.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

SNP vows to scrap APD if it wins independence vote


The Scottish National Party will scrap Air Passenger Duty should the party form an independent Scottish government after a “yes” vote in Thursday’s referendum.

The SNP estimates the levy deters two million visitors a year.

The party has said the air tax would be cut in half and later scrapped should the party form an independent Scottish government after a “Yes” vote this week.

British Airways and EasyJet may be among corporate beneficiaries of a vote to break up the UK, Bloomberg reported.

The UK has the highest aviation tax in the world, BA parent International Airlines Group said in its annual report, with APD jumping 260% on short-haul flights and as much as 360% on long-haul since 2007, compared with an inflation rate of 20%.

A family of four flying economy-class to Australia pays £376 in tax versus the equivalent of £160 in Germany, £15 in France and nothing in 25 other EU countries.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

MPs slam £30 fast track charge amid passport office chaos

MPs slam £30 fast track charge amid passport office chaosMPs claim some passport applicants who paid for a fast track service only to face delays earlier in the year were exploited.

In early summer the number of outstanding requests for passports reached more than 500,000 and now MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee claim the state profiteered from charging £30 for a fast track service.

To bring the situation under control earlier this year the Passport Office took on more staff and extended opening hours.

In mid-June the office announced there would be a free upgrade to the fast track service offered to people who could prove they were travelling within seven days.

By late July around 16,000 people had been ungraded for free.

MPs on the committee criticised the government for not including those who had suffered delays and had to pay the extra fee themselves.

However, it is not suggesting those who upgraded as early as May 1 get a refund for the fast track service.

The committee’s chairman, Labour MP Keith Vaz, said: “The state should not be exploiting its own citizens by making a profit on what is a basic right.

“A British passport, an essential document for travel by British citizens, had become the subject of emergency statements and crisis management.”

A report into the delays said a number of people had “ended up out-of-pocket” as a result.

The Passport Office said it was working to ensure the delays didn’t occur again in the future.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Air France schedule slashed as pilots start strike

Air France schedule slashed as pilots start strikeAir France expects to operate less than half of its flights today (Monday) as pilots start a week-long strike.

The industrial action is expected to cost the airline between €10-€20 million a day.
Air France urged passengers to check the status of their flight before leaving for the airport and modify travel plans to avoid the September 15-22 period if possible.

“On September 15, our flight schedule is updated.

We expect to operate 48% of our flights. Last minute disturbances are not excluded,” the airline said.

Codeshare partner Flybe warned of potential knock-on effects and offered the option for booked passengers to change or postpone flights to avoid the strike period at no additional charge.

The regional carrier said that “to ensure that passengers experience the least possible disruption during this period of industrial action that is entirely out of our control, if you are booked with Flybe on a flight operated by Air France during this time, you can choose to re-schedule your departure to avoid the period 15 – 22 September 2014.”

The dispute at Air France centres on company plans to cut costs to recapture market share from budget airlines by using the Transavia leisure brand.

The airline has said it is open to negotiation on benefits tied to seniority and incentives for pilots who transfer to Transavia, but will not yield to unions demanding that the labour contracts of Transavia pilots carry the same terms as those flying under the Air France brand.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Ukraine missile evidence ‘not shared with airlines’

Ukraine missile evidence 'not shared with airlines'Carriers would have avoided flying over Ukraine long before Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crashed, if information about missiles in the area had been passed on, the boss of Emirates has suggested.

Sir Tim Clark told the BBC there had been evidence of weapons for weeks. But he claimed those in the know didn’t share it with most of the carriers flying across the country.

If the airlines had all been told, he suggests, the industry would probably have by-passed the danger zone. And he added that some carriers did appear to know because they were avoiding the area, but they didn’t share the information.

It is widely believed that a missile downed flight MH17 on July 17, killing all 298 people on board.

Aircraft had been cleared to fly in the area as long as they stayed above a certain height, and a report last week highlighted the fact that three other large passenger jets were in the same area at roughly the same time as the Malaysian flight.

Sir Tim said: “There was evidence that these missiles had been on site, in situ for a number of weeks beforehand.

“Emirates did not know of that fact, and I don’t think many others did. Had we known that, we would probably have reacted in a manner that would have seen a complete avoidance of Ukrainian airspace, probably as an industry.

“We have a concern that information was known by certain stakeholders… and should have been passed… at least to the industry, to the organisations that regulate the industry.

“We understand now that certain carriers were aware of that and had already taken avoidance action.”

British Airways was among several airlines that had been avoiding Ukraine for weeks. But in a recent BBC interview, Willie Walsh, chief executive of parent company International Airlines Group, said that decision was based on information that was publicly available at the time.

Sir Tim is called for an information “clearing house” to be set up, that can warn all airlines if there are any new threats in an area.

Sir Tim also said a “Yes” vote for Scottish independence would heighten the need for a new runway in the south of England. Although he made clear that he didn’t want to get involved in the politics of the decision, he told the BBC:

“Clearly, if they do become independent they will develop their own civil aviation strategies, they will probably develop Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. But therefore there is more impetus required for the remaining parts of the UK to develop their aviation strategy, to fill a gap.”

Like so many others in the business world, the Emirates’ president says that doing nothing is not an option, be it expansion at Heathrow, Gatwick, or even at London mayor Boris Johnson’s preferred location in the Thames Estuary.

After four decades in the business Sir Tim says he’s seen airport expansion plans come and go, but there really does seem to be an urgency to do something this time,

Sir Tim made the point that the UK also needs to grow all of its regional airports, including Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Cardiff, which he described as having great potential.

Sourced from Travel Weekly

Tui directors agree terms of merger with German parent

Agreement has been reached on the terms of the proposed merger between TUI Travel and Germany’s Tui AG, the two travel giants confirmed this morning.

The combined group will have a value of approximately €6.5 billion (£5.2 billion).

A majority of shareholders of the two firms must now vote in favour of the merger if it is to go ahead. Resolutions are expected to be put to shareholders by the end of next month.

Corporate streamlining will lead to potential cost savings of at least €45 million (£36 million) a year in addition to a seven per cent fall in tax rates to 24%.

Additional cost savings are expected to be achieved through the integration of inbound services into the mainstream tourism business, resulting in net cost savings of €20 million (£16 million) a year.

The deal will see the creation of the world’s number one integrated leisure tourism business, “clearly positioned as a fully vertically-integrated tour operator with enhanced long-term growth prospects”.

The agreement provides the potential for the combined group to double the pace of existing Tui AG content growth through further vertical integration – more than 30 additional hotels and up to two additional cruise ships

Historic annual performance suggests a potential contribution to earnings of €1.4 million (£1.1 million) per hotel and a substantial contribution per ship under the Tui Cruises business model.

Acceleration of content growth is expected to drive customer and top-line growth, the two companies said.

Peter Long and Friedrich Joussen will be joint CEOs of the combined group, with Long to become chairman of the supervisory board of Tui AG and Joussen leading the combined group as sole CEO from February 2016.

Long said: “The merger will strengthen and future-proof our combined business by enhancing the certainty of long-term unique holiday growth, and by reinforcing our competitive advantage through further control over the end-to-end customer experience.

“Friedrich Joussen and I are committed to working closely to ensure that we achieve significant synergies, cost savings, commercial benefits and long-term growth as the world’s number one integrated leisure tourism business. All of which will contribute to significant earnings accretion from the first full financial year post-completion and growth in shareholder returns.”

Joussen said: “We have conducted the negotiations goal orientated, seriously and fairly and have completed them successfully. The result is a clear and joint commitment to the merger of the companies.

“The potential cost savings are significantly higher than expected at the start of the negotiations.

“The new Tui will be the leading integrated tourism group in the world and an innovative pioneer in the industry.

“We will set new standards in our industry with respect to growth, quality as well as brand promise and create significant opportunities for shareholders, customers and our employees.

“Our shareholders benefit from faster growth, higher margins and an attractive dividend policy. Our customers receive unprecedented access to exclusive products and services and thereby individual and unique holiday experiences around the globe.

“Our 74,000 employees worldwide in approximately 130 countries will have completely new development and career prospects. The new Tui will definitely be a truly international group and thus also one of the most international employers in Europe.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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