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


Glasgow Airport announce further expansion of airport terminal


19 November 2014

Glasgow Airport has announced plans to invest more than £3 million into expanding the
terminal building to help service more flights and rising passenger numbers.

This latest expansion of Glasgow Airport will see the construction of a new two storey,
1,400 square metre extension to the airports East Pier with work due for completion by
spring 2015.

The extension to the East Pier, which is home to low cost airlines including Easyjet and
Ryanair, will result in the creation of five additional boarding gates.

The expansion is in direct response to the airport’s growing success and popularity amongst
passengers and airlines. Earlier this week it was revealed that Glasgow Airport has recorded
its 21st consecutive month of growth and this fantastic growth is set to continue well into
2015 as the airport has secured an incredible 29 new routes, 10 of which will be operated by
Easyjet and Ryanair from the airports newly extended East Pier.

In October, Ryanair opened its new Glasgow Airport base with 55 weekly flights to 9 European
destinations with the airline expecting to carry over 850,000 passengers from the airport
within its first year of operating.

October also saw budget airline Easyjet launch Scotland’s only direct flights to Morocco with a new twice-weekly service from Glasgow to Marrakech and the airline will further strengthen its route network from Scotland’s largest city in June with the launch of new direct flights to the French city of Bordeaux.

The expansion to the East Pier will not only provide much needed additional capacity for low cost airlines, it will also free-up existing capacity at the airports Central and West Piers to accommodate expansion from other airlines including Jet2, Lufthansa, Virgin Atlantic and West Jet.

Earlier this year Jet2 announced its own expansion plans at Glasgow Airport for 2015 with the introduction of a sixth based aircraft and the launch of five new routes including Larnaca, Malta and Prague, plus increased flights on existing popular routes including Murcia. The expansion will see Jet2 operating its biggest ever flying programme from Glasgow Airport in 2015.

Amanda McMillan, managing director of Glasgow Airport, said: “2014 has been a momentous year for Glasgow Airport and this latest project brings our total investment figure for the year to £20 million. The extension of the East Pier is in direct response to our success in securing a number of new routes and services. Not only will it significantly enhance our facilities, it will improve the passenger experience for the millions of people who travel through our doors every year.”

Sourced from Air Glasgow


Airlines hit out at Labour plan to charge visitors to enter the UK

Airlines hit out at Labour plan to charge visitors to enter the UKImage via Shutterstock

Airlines have hit out at suggestions that a Labour government would impose a new charge on visitors from countries that are not required to obtain a visa to enter the UK.

The unspecified income would fund 1,000 additional Border Force staff.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the party would fund the staff with a charge for visitors from the US and 55 other countries with a visa waiver agreement with the UK.

People in countries with a visa waiver system of fast-track permission to enter the UK would be charged about £10 per visit under the plans.

Labour estimates about 5.5 million travellers a year would have to pay the new fee – many from the US, Australia and Canada.

But British Air Transport Association chief executive Nathan Stower said carriers have “significant concerns” about the proposal.

“Visitors from countries like the USA and Australia already pay the highest air passenger tax in the world to fly to the UK – £71 from next April – contributing billions of pounds to the Treasury. Adding yet another charge will make the UK more uncompetitive in attracting tourists, businesses and inbound investment,” said Stower.

“It is not clear how this proposed charge would be collected. The vast majority of visitors from those countries that are not required to obtain a visa to enter the UK, such as the USA, do not currently provide information to UK authorities ahead of their visit.

“Furthermore, if more money were to be raised from airline passengers alone, it would only fair for this to fund improvements in the border at airports and not at other ports of entry such as Calais.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Cardiff Airport given £3.5m to attract new airlines

British Airways Airbus A380
Cardiff’s runway could be widened to land the Airbus A380, Carwyn Jones said

Cardiff Airport has been told it can borrow £3.5m of taxpayers money to try to attract new airlines.

The Welsh government described it as the most significant step at the airport since buying it 18 months ago.

It comes after First Minister Carwyn Jones said its future lies in long-haul flights, not competing with Bristol on closer destinations.

The last time such a fund was available was in 2006 when £4m was used by the then privately-owned airport.

Cardiff Airport has had mixed fortunes under public ownership.

It was bought by the Welsh government for £52m in March 2013 and has invested about £10m in improvements at the terminal.

A general decline in passenger numbers was halted, although figures for September showed a 7% reduction on the year.

Earlier in November, the German airline Germanwings announced it was ending flights between Cardiff and Dusseldorf in 2015, following on from Cityjet scrapping a service to Glasgow.

But Ryanair has returned to the airport after an eight-year gap with a weekly flight to Tenerife.

Stability

Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Wales radio programme, Welsh Conservative assembly leader Andrew RT Davies said looking at the figures, the government had “not done a very good job” since taking over the airport.

“Regrettably, there’s been a year-on-year decline of 7% in passenger figures. We know of a series of airlines that have chosen to pull out… and we know the most senior executive there, the managing director, left very quickly at the end of August,” he said.

“There doesn’t seem to be much stability there, but what we need to do is make sure an airport works for Wales and the Welsh economy.”

However he added he did welcome the route development fund announcement but said the government had been slow to put it in place.

“For an airport to be successful, you need airlines to use it and you also need those routes to bring people in as well as take people out because obviously the more people you bring in that’s a greater boost to the Welsh economy,” he said.

“Those people are either coming in on business or tourism and they’re spending and creating wealth in Wales.

“It’s not about the airport, it’s about the airlines.”

Line break

Analysis by BBC political editor Nick Servini

One of the huge challenges that we have had all along since the government announced it was going to buy the airport is how to try to challenge this highly successful commercial operation in Bristol airport, which has something like 5m passengers a year.

Cardiff is around the 1m mark.

The route development fund is an attempt to deal with that. We are moving into the second phase now following the decision to put the airport into public ownership.

The Welsh government is putting £3.5m to try to attract new airlines and new routes and that is why it is saying it believes this is most significant step that it has taken since buying the airport.

From a passenger’s perspective, all they want to know about is what kind of routes and what kind of offer there is going to be and there is a big hope this can make a difference.

Sourced from BBC Wales News


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