Jackson leaves Monarch as Greybull nears takeover

Jackson leaves Monarch as Greybull nears takeoverMonarch Group confirmed the departure of strategy director Stuart Jackson this week as private equity firm Greybull Capital prepared to take control from owners the Mantegazza family.

Greybull is due to take over on Friday as the Mantegazzas withdraw, having run Monarch for three generations.

Jackson, former managing director of Cosmos, is among 700 redundancies to be announced when the deal completes.

He will leave on November 5 after more than two decades at the company.

The job losses are below the 900 expected following consultation, with the cost cuts demanded by Greybull achieved through some staff accepting changed terms and conditions and others moving to part-time work.

Two-thirds of the 700 job losses involve voluntary redundancies, from a workforce of 3,300. Unions representing pilots, cabin crew and engineers announced support for changes in conditions and pay cuts of “up to 30%” in a joint statement with Monarch last month.

The £75 million share-purchase deal agreed by London-based Greybull for Monarch was expected to complete on schedule, with the Civil Aviation Authority centrally involved.

One industry source dismissed reports that a £150 million pension fund deficit had proved a stumbling block.

Further high-profile departures are expected but with no immediate changes to the executive committee, which includes managing director Phil Boggon, chief commercial officer Adrian Tighe and chief operations officer Nils Christy.

Monarch showed confidence in its continued operation by revealing its summer 2015 schedule from Leeds Bradford including new routes to Alicante and Naples.

A spokeswoman told Travel Weekly: “We are on track for a solvent sale of the group to complete on Friday, which includes Cosmos holidays.”

She added: “The group will continue to offer the UK travel market a unique position as a scheduled European airline which understands the leisure market and is able to deliver allocations to Cosmos as well as third-party operators.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Lufthansa pilots warn of further strike action

Lufthansa pilots warn of further strike actionLufthansa pilots have threatened further industrial action after the airline failed in a court bid to force their union to call off their latest strike.

A labour court in Frankfurt found yesterday that there were no grounds to declare the action illegal.

Pilots began their eighth strike this year on Monday in a dispute over the airline’s attempt to change retirement and pension arrangements.

The walkout, which was extended to cover long haul flights as well as European services, ended last night.

The action affected at least 166,000 passengers and forced the carrier to cancel more than 1,500 flights.

Lufthansa said it was doing its “utmost” to return flight operations back to normal for today (Wedneday).

But Markus Wahl, a board member at union Vereinigung Cockpit, told Reuters: “We explicitly do not rule out further strikes this week if Lufthansa doesn’t budge.”

The union, which represents about 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, is calling on the airline to reconsider its decision to raise the age that they can retire from 55 to 60.

The carrier has offered to retain the scheme for existing members but not to extend it to new recruits.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Tui Travel to trial extended summer season in Greece next year

Tui Travel to trial extended summer season in Greece next yearTui Travel is to extend its summer season in Greece next year in a bid to match this year’s 10% growth in holidaymakers visiting the country.

The message came from chief executive Peter Long following a meeting with Greek prime minister Antonis Samaras.

Long told the annual conference of the Association of Greek Tourism Enterprises (SETE) in Athens: “The relationship that we have built with this beautiful country over the last 50 years is a strong one and one that we are proud of.

“We will continue to invest in the future of Greece, working in close co-operation with the government. This includes trialling an earlier start to our 2015 summer season.”

He said the company is aiming to continue its customer growth at a similar level to this year’s 10% to help drive a strong economy.

“Last year, when I met the prime minister, we committed to increasing passenger numbers by 10%. We have achieved that, bringing some two million Tui Travel customers from across all of our source markets, exceeding our best expectations.” said Long.

“Although, it’s not only about arrival numbers; it’s also about the overall economic and social benefit generated.”

Long called for a greater link between local producers and hotels to help boost local economic spend and increase customer satisfaction; to extend the holiday season; encourage development in the smaller Greek islands; to improve  infrastructure covering regional airports, roads, cruise ports and marinas and invest in modern tourism education to ensure a strong basis for future growth.

“We support 10,000 jobs – directly and indirectly – here in Greece and as a travel organisation; we make up roughly 10% of the total international arrivals in the country.  All of this underpins our leading position here,” he said.

“Our target is to build upon this strong position to support further growth in Greece and to drive this country’s tourism industry to the next level.”

Long added: “We are committed to supporting Greece. It is of great importance that the government, along with all of the industry’s professionals, continue to work together to support further growth in Greece within an environment of stability.

“As a business, we will continue to provide unique holiday experiences using sustainable best practice and working with the local community to boost economic contribution.”

The Greek tourism sector is expected to see a total of 21.5 million arrivals this year as the country seeks to drive economic recovery.

The sector is forecast by the World Travel and Tourism Council, to contribute almost 20% to Greece’s GDP this year, supporting 675,000 jobs.

The SETE annual conference was attended by representatives of the government, the ministry of tourism, tourism associations as well as board members of Tui Travel and hotel partners.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Cardiff Airport drop in passenger numbers prompts Tories’ private ownership call

Welsh Government says figures were ‘expected’

Cardiff Airport

The Welsh Conservatives have called for Cardiff Airport to be returned to private ownership after September saw a year-on-year drop in passenger numbers of 7%.

The fall in provisional figures, compiled by the Civil Aviation Authority, was described as “expected” by the Welsh Government, which said the month had been a successful one at the airport for budget airline Vueling.

But an air industry insider said: “This is more bad news for Cardiff Airport – and the figures don’t include the imminent closure of the CityJet route to Glasgow.

“The downward trend is noticeable – in August the passenger numbers were down 8.2% at 135,900. While there was an increase in aircraft movements in September, that can be accounted for by the Nato Summit, which saw additional one-off traffic for smaller aircraft.”

Shadow Transport Minister Byron Davies said: “These reports of a near double digit decline in passenger numbers at Cardiff Airport in the past two months compared to 2013 are deeply concerning. Welsh Conservatives disagreed with Labour’s decision to spend £52m buying Cardiff Airport, but now it is state-owned, Labour ministers must work hard to help it achieve its potential.

“This reported decline in passenger numbers, together with the recent withdrawal of CityJet flights to Glasgow, fails to create the perception of a prospering international airport.

“The sooner Cardiff Airport is returned to private ownership to encourage private sector investment to help ensure its future, the better.”

A spokeswoman for Cardiff Airport said: “September’s passenger numbers are down from September 2013 – this was expected and is a result of some seasonal adjustments by our airline partners.

“Despite the dip in passenger numbers, September was a successful month for Spanish low cost carrier Vueling with overall load factors up and passengers taking advantage of their routes to Alicante, Malaga, Barcelona and Majorca.

“Both KLM and Aer Lingus have also experienced increased load factors, with passengers using the hubs of Amsterdam and Dublin to connect Wales to North America, the Middle East, Asia and beyond.”

Airport managing director Debra Barber said: “We were expecting this slight dip in passengers – it has been caused by airline fleet changes which are not unusual in the industry.

“We have new and additional airlines and service in the form of CityJet and more recently Ryanair, which is returning to Cardiff with a weekly service to Tenerife next week.

“Flybe has announced flights to Geneva for the ski season, there will be more capacity from Thomson to Malaga and P&O is adding further Caribbean cruise flights this winter.”

Sourced from walesonline


Monarch job losses reduced by 200

Monarch job losses reduced by 200The number of job cuts required at Monarch Travel Group as part of a financial turnaround plan has been reduced by 200.

The original estimate of 900 job losses has been reduced to 700 during staff consultation.

This has been achieved with some employees changing their terms and conditions, with others moving from full-time to part-time working.

Two-thirds of the 700 are voluntary redundancies from the group’s 3,300-strong workforce.

Monarch has been able to meet the efficiencies required on 700 rather than 900 job losses within the staffing element of the company’s new business plan, Travel Weekly understands.

As previously reported, talks are continuing between London investment fund Greybull Capital to buy the group from Switzerland’s Mantegazza family in a deal worth £75 million.

Efforts are being made by all parties to ensure a deal can be concluded before Friday when the group’s licence to sell holidays is due to expire.

Sources have voiced confidence that the rescue agreement can be completed this week.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Flights cancelled as Gonzalo tail hits UK

Flights cancelled as Gonzalo tail hits UKImage via Shutterstock

 

Air passengers are being urged to check if their flights are operating today as gales from the remnants of Hurricane Gonzalo hit the UK.

About 10% of all flights at Heathrow have been grounded as strong winds are expected, with the 20 biggest carriers affected.

British Airways cancelled flights ahead of the expected severe weather.

The remains of the hurricane are predicted to bring heavy rain and gusts of up to 80 miles per hour in some areas, causing disruption to rush-hour travel.

BA said: “Much of the UK and Northern Europe will experience high winds and heavy rain on Tuesday as a result of the tail-end of Hurricane Gonzalo.

“British Airways has agreed with a request from Heathrow airport and National Air Traffic Services to reduce its schedule at Heathrow as there will be a lower number of aircraft allowed to land each hour for safety reasons.

“Other airports have also reduced the number of aircraft they are able to handle.

“We are sorry that a number of short-haul and domestic flights have been cancelled and others may experience delays as a result of the poor weather. We are working as hard as we can to mitigate any disruption.”

The bad weather compounds trouble for passengers with Lufthansa cancelling a raft of flights due to the latest strike by pilots.

Heathrow said: “Strong winds are forecast for Tuesday and some flights may be subject to delays and cancellations. Please check your flight status with your airline before coming to the airport and leave extra time for your journey to and from the airport.”

P&O Ferries suspended all sailings on the Larne-Cainryan route across the Irish Sea due to severe weather however Dover-Calais services were operating to schedule.

The Met Office, which issued a “yellow” weather warning, said the strongest winds were expected “after the rain clears and winds veer north-westerly through Tuesday morning”.

Gonzalo caused widespread damage and a power blackout when it hit Bermuda last week, with winds of up to 110 miles per hour. The island’s airport re-opened on Sunday afternoon and cruise ship visits are due to resume tomorrow (Wednesday) with a call by Celebrity Infinity.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Flight delay compensation ‘on hold’ until court case decision known

Flight delay compensation 'on hold' until court case decision knownAirline passengers affected by long delays are being forced to wait up to a year to find out if they will receive compensation, leaving thousands out of pocket.

A number of airlines, including British Airways and easyJet, are refusing to pay customers who were delayed because of technical faults until the outcome of an ongoing court case is decided, the Telegraph reported.

Passengers can claim £100-£480 per person for delays of three hours or more, or for cancelled flights, when the airline is at fault under EU rules.

But passengers can’t claim for delays caused by “extraordinary circumstances” such as extreme weather.

The Court of Appeal ruled in June that technical problems must not be considered “extraordinary circumstances”, meaning compensation was still due.

Jet2, the airline involved in the case, appealed to the Supreme Court.

The court is due to decide next month whether to grant the appeal, in which case a full hearing will take place next year. It could take until the end of 2015 to reach a decision.

An easyJet spokesman said it had put all claims on hold until it was clearer whether the case would be heard by the Supreme Court.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


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