Posted: May 15, 2013 Filed under: Passenger Advice, Tour Operator News | Tags: BY, Customer at heart, European Commission, First Choice, Johan Lundgren, Package Travel Directive, Reform, Thomson Holidays, TOM, Tui Travel, Tui UK Plc
By Lee Hayhurst
Tui Travel has urged the European Commission to put the customer at the heart of its reform of the Package Travel Directive.
With a draft proposal due to be published in July, the travel giant’s deputy chief executive Johan Lundgren said there was an understanding of a need for change.
And he said if the rules can be clearly defined in Europe that would provide a platform for companies outside of the jurisdiction of the European Union to be dealt with if they are operating within European markets.
“Our expectation and hope is that there will be a level playing field and everyone will be covered by the same directive. I do not believe, as some are claiming, that consumers could tell the difference between what business model you are operating as a business and that therefore you should not be part of the protection scheme.
“I hope that the commissioner has recognised the fact that from a consumer perspective there is no difference between various players, therefore everyone should be held responsible for the same protection.
“It remains to be seen, we will see what comes out. We have made our points to the commissioner in person. The most important thing is everyone operates a level playing field.”
Lundgren said airlines selling hotels with flights should be included in the regulations because as far as the customer perceives it this is a package and that the ground has shifted since the 1990s when most airlines were flag carriers and therefore considered to be beyond inclusion in regulation.
“You have to look at this from the consumers’ point of view. If we cannot make clear distinctions we have to assume everything that the consumer will buy should be and will be protected regardless of who they buy it from.
“One we have a clear framework to work from and have done our job in our own backyard, we have a much better chance to promote this sort of approach in other source markets as well.”
Sourced by Travel Weekly
Posted: April 19, 2013 Filed under: Airline & Route News, European Aviation News, UK Aviation News, Welsh Aviation News, World Aviation News | Tags: ERA, ETC, EU emissions trading scheme, Europe, European Commission, European Regions Airline Association, Freeze, IACA, International Air Carrier Association, Introduction, Stop the clock
y Phil Davies
A freeze on the introduction of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme for aviation must also apply to flights within Europe, airline bodies have urged.The European Parliament voted on Tuesday to support the ‘stop the clock’ proposal on the controversial ETS.
But the European Regions Airline Association and the International Air Carrier Association called for the moratorium to be extended to all flights departing and arriving at EU airports to prevent discrimination against European carriers operating intra-EU flights.
The ETS moratorium, proposed by the European Commission in November, applies to all international flights to and from the EU operated in 2012 and allows the ICAO time to find a global solution to mitigate emissions.
The full extent of the scheme will remain in place for intra-EU flights and carriers operating these are still obliged to comply with the law in full.
ETS will continue to impose costs and complexity on their European operations with little or no overall environmental benefit, the two airline bodies argue.
As a result, airlines will be financially impacted at different degrees depending on the proportion of the EU versus non-EU flights they operate.
IACA and ERA therefore refute the claim by Commissioner Hedegaard, in the debate before the vote, that “the principle of non-discrimination based on the nationality of operators has always been, and remains, a fundamental part of the EU’s position”, as the moratorium clearly creates discrimination.
Era director general Simon McNamara and his Iaca counterpart Sylviane Lust, said in a joint statement:
“While Iaca and Era support the concept of the ‘stop the clock’ proposal, the unfair two-tier system the European Parliament has voted for this week discriminates against carriers mainly operating intra-EU flights and penalises their passengers.
“Iaca and Era call for the ‘stop the clock’ proposal to be extended to all flights.”
Sourced from Travel Weekly
Posted: April 10, 2013 Filed under: Passenger Advice | Tags: Card Transactions, EEA, EU, Europe, European Commission, European Economic Area, Investigating, Mastercard, Tourists, Visa
By Sophie Griffiths
The European Commission is investigating Mastercard over fees charged for card transactions made by tourists visiting Europe.
The Commission reportedly said that a number of the firm’s “inter-bank fees and related practices may be anti-competitive”, the BBC.
Visa is also being investigated by the Commission over similar practices.
If found guilty Mastercard, which has said it would “fully co-operate” with regulators, could be fined up to $740 million or 10% of its 2012 revenue.
The credit card firm has insisted that it always aimed “to balance the interests of both consumers and retailers”.
The investigation will examine payments made by people from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) – the EU’s 27-member states as well as Norway, Liechtenstein and Iceland – who use their credit and debit cards when inside the area.
The EU has said the main principle of its probe was to ensure that consumers were not harmed.
“When a US tourist uses a Mastercard to make a purchase in [the European Economic Area], these fees can be quite high, generally much higher than those paid in Europe,” European Commission spokesman Antoine Colombani said.
A similar probe in 2007 led to the Commission banning Mastercard from charging cross-border fees within the European Economic Area, the BBC said.
Sourced from TTG Digital
Posted: March 20, 2013 Filed under: Passenger Advice, Tour Operator News | Tags: Bailout Agreement, Business As Usal, BY, Cyprus, Euro, European Commission, FCO, First Choice, Foreign Office, Government, Leaving, monitoring the situation, MT, Passenger Advice, Potential, Raised, Rejected, Sunvil Holidays, TCX, Thomas Cook, Thomas Cook UK, Thomson Airways, Thomson Holidays, TOM, Tour Operators, TUI UK
Tour operators are monitoring the situation in Cyprus as overnight the prospect of the country potentially leaving the Euro was raised as its government rejected a bailout agreement from the European Commission. Banks are due to remain closed today and Tui UK has admitted it is “monitoring the situation”.
It comes after Tui asked Greek hoteliers to sign new contracts during the Greece banking crisis in November 2011, detailing how bills would be paid in the event that it was forced to leave the eurozone and start a new currency.
A Tui UK spokesperson told TTG: “This is a different situation but we are monitoring it.”
Thomas Cook insisted that Cyprus remained an “important destination for us with thousands looking forward to their holiday there this summer”, but it also said it was “closely monitoring the situation”.
The Foreign Office has warned Britons travelling to Cyprus this week to ensure they had a variety of payment options in the wake of the financial crisis, with banks set to stay closed until at least Thursday.
In a statement the FCO said: “We advise those travelling to Cyprus to take different forms of payment with you to ensure you have access to adequate funds (such as pounds, euros, credit/debit cards).”
However despite the worrying headlines, tour operators and Cypriot hoteliers insisted it was “business as usual” on the island, and urged tourists not to be concerned about holidaying in the country.
“The problem isn’t with tourists, it’s with the people living there who are having money taken from them,” Noel Josephides, managing director of Sunvil Holidays said. “I don’t think it will damage its reputation. There may be some bonuses – prices may come down.”
Harry Kyrillou, Planet Holidays’ commercial and aviation director, added that tourism would not suffer as the Cypriots were handling the crisis differently to Greece.
“The locals are not happy, but they are not rioting. Hotels are operating as normal and tourists shouldn’t be worried.”
Antonis Papakyriakou, general manager at the Palm Beach Hotel & Bungalows, said he was “devastated by the impact the news has had”.
“All holidaymakers can rest assured that they can enjoy their holiday on our shores and that Cypriot hoteliers are working as hard, if not harder to ensure that there are no changes on the ground and that guests can use their credit cards and money in the usual way to pay for all their extras,” he added.
Sourced by TTG Digital
Posted: February 27, 2013 Filed under: Airline & Route News | Tags: Aer Lingus, Appeal, Christoph Mueller, EC, EI, EIN, EU, European Commission, Fight, FR, Purchase, Reject, Ryanair, RYR, Takeover
Ryanair has said it will appeal the European Commission’s decision to prohibit the no-frills airline’s offer for Aer Lingus.
In a statement the airline said it will appeal the decision on its latest takeover attempt. It said its offer had been “supported by an historic and unprecedented remedies package that included not one, but two upfront buyers (BA/IAG & Flybe) to take over approximately half of Aer Lingus’ short-haul business”.
Ryanair also branded the decision “political”, accusing the EU of “pandering” to the interests of the Irish Government.
Aer Lingus however welcomed the decision, pointing out it was the first time the EC has had to block the same deal twice.
Christoph Mueller, chief executive of Aer Lingus, said: “Aer Lingus’ position from the outset has been that Ryanair’s offer should never have been made. The series of inadequate remedy offers presented by Ryanair only underlines the view that Ryanair made its offer without any reasonable belief that it could obtain clearance. ”
Ryanair took a very different view from Mueller, arguing in a statement: “It is untenable for the Commission to argue on competition grounds why they have rejected what is an unprecedented and revolutionary remedies package in the Ryanair/Aer Lingus.”
Sourced by TTG Digital
Posted: February 27, 2013 Filed under: Airline & Route News | Tags: Aer Lingus, Competition Ruling, EI, EIN, European Commission, Expected, FR, Ryanair, RYR, Today
By Phil Davies
A ruling on Ryanair’s third takeover bid for Aer Lingus is due to be made by the European Commission today.
The budget carrier, which holds a 29.82% stake in its Irish rival, announced earlier this month that it expected the €694 million deal to be rejected despite putting forward a series of concessions to appease competition authorities.
These included the transfer of competing routes to Flybe to allow the UK regional airline to establish a subsidiary in Ireland and the relinquishing of Aer Lingus routes from Gatwick.
Competition investigators were reported earlier this month to have found that the merger would leave the combined company dominating around 85% of seats on short-haul flights in and out of Ireland – a share that fell to just under 70% under Ryanair’s proposed competition remedies.
The Commission rejected Ryanair’s first bid in June 2007 and the airline abandoned a second takeover attempt in 2010.
EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia confirmed that a decision would be made today (Wednesday).
Ryanair has said it will be left with no alternative but to lodge an appeal through the European courts if the bid is refused.
Sourced by Travel Weekly
Posted: February 13, 2013 Filed under: Airline & Route News | Tags: Aer Lingus, Appeal, Blocked, EI, EIN, European Commission, FR, Purchase, Ryanair, RYR
By Patrick Whyte
Ryanair has said it that its proposed acquisition of Aer Lingus has been rejected by the European Commission.
Ryanair has said it that its proposed acquisition of Aer Lingus has been rejected by the European Commission.
The no-frills airline will appeal “any prohibitive decision” and said that the decision came “despite the fact that Ryanair has met every competition concern raised in the EU’s Statement of Objections and during the review process”.
Ryanair said it had found two upfront buyers – British Airways’ parent company IAG and Flybe – which would “eliminate all competitive overlaps between Ryanair and Aer Lingus”.
A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “Given Ryanair’s remedies package clearly addresses every issue raised in the EU’s Statement of Objections, any decision to prohibit would be manifestly unfair and in contravention of EU competition rules.
“Ryanair has no alternative but to appeal any prohibition decision and we expect to get a fair hearing at the European Courts, as we haven’t received one from Commissioner Almunia and his case team. This decision is clearly a political one to meet the narrow, vested interests of the Irish Government and is not based on competition law.”
Meanwhile, Aer Lingus said it had not received any notification from the EC of an intention to prohibit the offer but added in a statement: “[I]t was and remains Aer Lingus’ position that [Ryanair’s] offer should never have been made.”
Sourced by TTG Digital
Posted: February 6, 2013 Filed under: Airline & Route News | Tags: Aer Lingus, BE, BEE, EI, EIN, European Commission, Flybe, Flybe Ireland, FR, Ryanair, RYR
By David Kaminski-Morrow
UK regional operator Flybe Group’s proposed Irish division would have the right to use the Aer Lingus brand for up to three years following its creation.
The new operating company will be named Flybe Ireland and serve 34 European destinations – a total of 43 routes – from two bases in Dublin and Cork.
Flybe Group says its UK operation already serves around half of these.
If approved by Flybe Group shareholders the new Irish operation would start services at the beginning of the winter season around October 2013.
As part of the agreement with Ryanair to create Flybe Ireland, the company will have the right to use the Aer Lingus brand for a limited time.
“This will allow it to develop its own brand position in Ireland during a realistic transition period,” says Flybe.
Flybe Ireland will commit to operating agreed frequencies on its routes but have the freedom to axe a “certain number of routes” per year, it adds, while maintaining “stable capacity” in the Irish market.
Exceeding this route termination threshold would incur a penalty.
Ryanair’s bid for Aer Lingus – on which the creation of Flybe Ireland depends – is undergoing European Commission scrutiny and a decision on the proposed takeover is due on 6 March.
If Ryanair proceeds with the acquisition, the Flybe arrangement would close around mid-May and details sent to Flybe shareholders in August.
Sourced from Flight Global
Posted: January 31, 2013 Filed under: Airline & Route News | Tags: EC, European Commission, TNT, TNT Express, United Parcel Service, UPS
UPS Boeing 767. Courtesy, UPS
By Victoria Moores
European competition regulators have, as anticipated, blocked United Parcel Service’s (UPS) acquisition of TNT Express, saying the deal could harm consumers.
“The Commission found that the takeover would have restricted competition in 15 member states when it comes to the express delivery of small packages to another European country. In these member states, the acquisition would have reduced the number of significant players to only three or two, leaving sometimes DHL as the only alternative to UPS,” the European Commission said in a statement.
UPS submitted three packages of remedies, in November, December and January, in a bid to secure competition clearance after receiving a statement of objections to the tie-up.
It offered to sell TNT subsidiaries in the 15 problem countries: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Sweden. It was also willing to sell subsidiaries in Spain and Portugal to boost the scale of the disposal and give the buyer access to its intra-European air network for five years.
The remedies foundered because the number of would-be purchasers was “severely limited” and UPS failed to seal an agreement before the end of the Commission’s investigation.
European Commission VP-Competition Joaquin Almunia said: “We worked hard with UPS on possible remedies until very late in the procedure, but what they offered was simply not enough to address the serious competition problems we identified.”
Almunia said businesses would have been “directly harmed” by the takeover because it would “drastically” reduce choice and probably lead to price increases. There are only four integrators in Europe: UPS, TNT, DHL and FedEx.
UPS said Jan. 14 that it had already given up hope of securing competition clearance. TNT Express had agreed to sell its two airlines, TNT Airways and Spanish carrier Pan Air, to ASL Aviation Group to overcome ownership restrictions triggered by the UPS merger. This was conditional on UPS securing approval to acquire TNT Express.
Sourced by ATW
Posted: January 25, 2013 Filed under: Airline & Route News | Tags: Aer Lingus, BA, BAW, BE, BEE, bid, British Airways, Buy, Delayed, EC, EI, EIN, EU Commission, European Commission, Flybe, FR, Remedies, Ryanair, RYR
By Rob Gill
The European Commission has again extended the deadline for making a decision on Ryanair’s bid to buy Aer Lingus.
The commission was due to deliver its verdict on the takeover bid on February 27 but this has been delayed until March 6. The decision had already been delayed from its original deadline of January 2013.
Ryanair is reported to have made a series of new concessions, officially known as “remedies”, in an attempt to persuade competition officials to allow the takeover to go ahead.
The no-frills carrier has been in talks with IAG about selling some of Aer Lingus’ Heathrow slots to British Airways and also some regional routes from Dublin and aircraft to Flybe.
Flybe said in a statement: “Flybe confirms that it is in discussion with Ryanair about the possible transfer of a number of aircraft and operating routes as part of a package of concessions Ryanair has submitted to the European Commission.
“These discussions however, are non-binding and non-exclusive. Additionally, the discussions are also highly conditional given the status of Ryanair’s offer, the uncertainty of the outcome of the commission’s deliberations and the expected lead times around any implementation of the proposed remedies.”
Ryanair’s third bid to buy Aer Lingus values the Irish flag-carrier at €694 million which Aer Lingus’ board has said is too low and the Irish government, which also owns 25 per cent of Aer Lingus, has come out publicly against the move.
Sourced by BBT