Cardiff Airport board member Andrew Sargent stands down after serving two-year term

11:12, 6 April 2015 By Sion Barry
Andrew Sergent believes the airport is in good shape and welcomes the appointment of Roger Lewis as its next chairman

Non-executive of Cardiff Airport Sargent has stood down from the board after completing a two-year term.

He leaves after playing a key role in recent negotiations that has seen Flybe significantly expanding its routes at the airport – which is expected to add a further 400,000 new passengers over the next few years.

He was appointed to the board in 2013 following the acquisition of the airport by the Welsh Government for £52m, minus professional advisory fees, from Spanish firm Abertis.

Mr Sargent was appointed due to his expertise and strong track-record in change management and strategy in the airport sector.

He advised the Civil Aviation Authority on the introduction of NATS ( National Air Traffic Services), and later led the transformation programmes, post and pre-acquisition, at leading UK regional airports Bristol, Luton and Newcastle.

He said: “During the last two years I am proud to have been able to propose, initiate or influence a number of important enhancements to Cardiff’s operating strategy and structure.

“There are positive changes for all to see, not least of which are the improvements to customer service, operations, and the beginning of a long and much needed journey to reduce the cost base.

“All this must not only continue, but accelerate. However, I decided some weeks ago that two years was as much as I was prepared to give this and wrote to Welsh Government on March 30th to confirm that I did not wish my name to go forward for retention.”

Chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union Roger Lewis has been confirmed as the next non-executive chairman of the Rhoose-based airport.

He will take over from Lord Rowe-Beddoe in November.

Mr Lewis will have a direct input into the appointment of a new chief executive of the airport as well any new board members. All board members see their two-year terms expire this year.

The other non executives are David Goldstone, Geraint Davies, Margaret Llewellyn and Philip Ashman.

Mr Sargent said: “I welcome the announcement that Roger Lewis will be the new chairman and wish him and the airport team well.

“What Cardiff needs now is a combination of sound investment, tough decisions and belief in a clear, focused future as an integral part of the Welsh aerospace industry.”

The airport, which currently handles just over one million passengers a year, is operated by a holding company at arms length from the Welsh Government.

Sourced from walesonline


Tunisian tourist board reassures trade following attack

By Hollie-Rae Merrick | 25 March 2015 at 08.37 GMT

The Tunisian tourist board will meet with agents over the coming months as it looks to provide reassurances about travelling to the country in the wake 
of last week’s terrorist attack that claimed 23 lives.

Eighteen tourists were killed in the attack at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, including 12 MSC Cruises passengers, among them Briton Sally Adey, and five Costa Cruises passengers.

The tourist board’s call for continued support came as several cruise lines, including Holland America Line, Costa and MSC, pulled Tunisia from itineraries.

The tourist board said Tunisia was still the perfect option for a beach holiday, with the resorts of Port El Kantaoui and Hammamet safe.

Sami Tounsi, trade manager for the Tunisian National Tourist Office, said 90% of bookings to the destination from the UK were made through the trade, so support from agents would be key.

“The UK is the second-largest European market to Tunisia and we’ve had steady growth year on year,” he said. “Last year was a record one, with 425,000 UK holidaymakers making it to Tunisia. This year we were expecting 460,000.”

Tounsi said the attack would affect Tunisia, but he hoped it would be only in the short term. “Tunisia must stay out of the news if it wants tourism to bounce back,” he added.

The tourist board said it planned to run roadshows to meet agents and to reassure them.

Michael Edwards, Intrepid Group UK and Europe regional director, said he believed “some tourists are going to think twice” about travelling to Tunisia following the incident.

Thomas Cook and Cosmos Holidays said normal booking conditions would remain unless Foreign & Commonwealth Office advice changed.

Thomson and First Choice have cancelled excursions to Tunis until the end of the month, but are monitoring the situation.

Red Sea Holidays, which is operating to Tunisia for the first time this year, reported no “dramatic” impact on sales.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Confusion surrounds new Egypt visa rules

By Juliet Dennis | 25 March 2015 at 08.30 GMT

New regulations are expected on May 15 as part of a security crackdown to deter terrorists from travelling to Egypt.

The UK office of the Egyptian State Tourist Office said talks were ongoing, with exact details due at the end of this week.

But Egypt ministry of tourism spokeswoman Rasha Azaizi said anyone booking a trip independently, and not being met by a ground-handling agent, would need a visa in advance.

Holidaymakers booking through an operator will not be affected, but it was unclear whether tourists who book flight-only or accommodation-only through an agent would continue to be able to obtain a visa upon arrival.

“These changes will just apply to independent travellers,” said Azaizi. “Those people handled by an operator or local ground-handler will not be affected: they need to be met by a ground-handler because that’s who will get the visas for them at the airport.”

She was adamant there would be no major impact for trade business from the UK.

Andy Tomlinson, director of Sutton Travel in Sutton Coldfield, said more travellers could even be encouraged to book via the trade.

He said: “It could work in favour of operators and agents. But it is still up in the air in terms of who needs it [a visa in advance].

“I was worried about DIY packages we put together ourselves, but our clients are met on arrival by a ground-handler.”

Discover Egypt director Philip Breckner said: “As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t affect our customers, but it is confusing.”

Visas are not required for UK visitors travelling to the Red Sea resorts of Sharm El Sheikh, Dahab, Nuweiba and Taba for up to 15 days, and there was no indication this would change.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Tui Group sees ‘significant rise’ in online bookings for summer 2015

By Phil Davies | 25 March 2015 at 08.27 GMT
Tui Group today reported strong demand for summer mainstream holidays and a “significant” rise in online bookings.

Online booking levels for summer 2015 are up 12% year-on-year with 46% of the group’s mainstream programme sold – in line with this time last year.

Unique holidays account for almost three quarters of all mainstream bookings for the coming summer, up by three percentage points.

Overall summer bookings are up by 1% with average selling prices also up by 1%.

“Based on current trading, we remain confident of delivering full year underlying operating profit growth of 10% to 15%'” the Thomson and First Choice parent company said in a trading update this morning.

Tui Group chief executives of TUI Group, Friedrich Joussen and Peter Long said: “Winter 2014/15 is closing out as expected, with our mainstream programme almost fully sold and higher average selling prices in most source markets.

“We are pleased with summer 2015 trading, with continued strong demand for our unique holidays and a significant increase in online bookings.

Hotels & resorts are performing well and cruise sales continue to grow, with the launch of Mein Schiff 4 this June and improved fleet performance by Hapag-Lloyd.

“Accommodation Wholesaler is also delivering another year of double-digit TTV growth.

“We are continuing to implement our strategy post-merger, and will articulate this in further detail at our capital markets update on 13 May 13.

“We are on track to deliver a first half result ahead of last year on a like-for-like basis, and remain confident of delivering full year underlying operating profit growth of 10% to 15%.”

Europe’s largest travel group saw winter 2014/15 closing out “as expected,” with higher average selling prices in most source markets, up 1% overall.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


UK policy failures put travel growth at risk

By Ian Taylor | 24 March 2015 at 08.30 GMT
The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) urged the UK government “not to lose focus” on travel and tourism after forecasting the sector would grow by 4% this year in Britain, outpacing growth in the economy as a whole.

The WTTC published its annual economic impact assessment today, predicting UK travel and tourism would raise its contribution to GDP by 4% this year against forecast economic growth of 2.9%.

The Council put UK jobs growth in travel and tourism at 2%.

The WTTC estimates the industry contributed almost £188 billion to UK GDP in 2014 and accounted for 4.2 million jobs when “indirect and induced impacts” are included alongside the direct impact on the economy.

But the GDP contribution could increase to £195 billion by the end of 2015 or “almost 11% of UK GDP and 13% of total employment”.

However, WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill warned Britain could lose its position as the world’s fifth-largest travel and tourism economy without government action.

He urged the next government “to take three major steps” to ensure the sector continues to grow.

Scowsill said: “First, there is a need to make visa applications easier, particularly for high-spending Chinese travellers.

“Second, the Air Passenger Duty (APD) tax, which remains among the highest in the world, must be reformed.

“Third, a decision must be taken quickly on addressing the chronic under-supply of airport capacity in the South East.”

The WTTC further warned the UK sector could employ 352,000 fewer people and contribute £17 billion less in GDP over the next 10 years if the government and industry fail to implement policies to recruit and manage talent.

WTTC research suggests the UK’s travel and tourism sector faces a major human-resource challenge and severe skills shortage by 2024.

Scowsill said: “Travel and tourism has the potential to contribute five million jobs to the British economy by 2025.

“However, this growth will not happen by itself. It needs progressive and coordinated government policies across the sector.”

The WTTC report Global Talent Trends and Issues for the Travel and Tourism Sector can be found here: http://www.wttc.org/research/policy-research/human-capital/global-talent-trends/

Sourced from Travel Weekly


WRU chief executive Roger Lewis expected to be confirmed as the new chairman of Cardiff Airport

16:40, 20 March 2015 By Sion Barry
WRU boss Roger Lewis expected to be named as the new chairman of Cardiff Airport taking over from Lord Rowe-Beddoe

Chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union Roger Lewis is expected to take up a new role as chairman of Cardiff Airport in November, WalesOnline understands.

In what will be a ministerial appointment he will chair the holding company that operates the airport at arms length from the Welsh Government. An announcement is expected next week.

Mr Lewis will succeed Lord Rowe-Beddoe, who is expected to stand down after a two year term as chair. He was appointed following the Welsh Government’s £52m acquisition of the Rhoose-based airport from Spanish company Abertis in the spring of 2013.

Mr Lewis, 60, will stand down as chief executive of the WRU following the Rugby World Cup this autumn. He took up the role in 2006.

One of his first actions could be to help shape the look of the next non-executive board. As with Lord Rowe-Beddoe their two year terms will expire this year.

While some could remain, it will provide an opportunity to bring in new blood around the boardroom table and potentially more executive experience in the airport and airline sectors.
Lord Rowe-Beddoe will leave with the airport having recently been boosted after negotiating a major expansion of routes with airline Flybe, which is expected to add 400,000 passengers to the airport’s current annual number of just over one million over the next few years.

While having no previous aviation sector executive experience Mr Lewis has held a series of high profile roles, which as well as his current role with the WRU, include being a former managing director at EMI Records and president globally for the Decca Record Company.

He is also chairman of the Cardiff Capital Region advisory board.

The current non-executive board members of Cardiff Airport are Philip Ashman, Margaret Llewellyn, David Goldstone, Geraint Davies and Andrew Sargent.

Following the departure of chief executive Jon Horne last year, the airport is currently in the process of seeking to appoint a new chief executive.

The most senior executive currently at the airport is its interim managing director Debra Barber.

Speaking from Rome, ahead of Wales’s game tomorrow, Mr Lewis declined to comment.

The airport is continuing to hold talks with a number of airlines. High on its list of targets is securing a route into a hub airport in the Middle East, providing for connecting flights into the Far East and Australasia.

Possible candidates include Emirates. However, Cardiff is facing competition from its nearest rival Bristol Airport to land a new route into the Middle East.

The Welsh Government declined to comment when asked about Mr Lewis and chairmanship of the airport.

Sourced from walesonline


Flybe’s new route investment at Cardiff Airport is a good deal for now, but what about the future?

10:34, 19 March 2015
OPINION BY MARTINEVANS
Aviation expert Martin Evans explores Flybe’s investment in new routes at Cardiff Airport but asks what will happen over the long-term

In the airport business it helps to have a short memory.

There are a limited number of airlines to do deals with so if one airline stabs you in the back, the next morning you offer to sharpen the blades for them.

So it was no great surprise when Flybe announced a triumphant expansion at Cardiff Airport thirteen months after abandoning some of the airport’s most important routes at very short notice.

The routes
This was a deal that both parties really needed but of the ‘eleven’ new routes, how much is really new?

Well, two routes, Belfast and Jersey were already being flown by flybe.

Dusseldorf had already been announced as a replacement for Germanwings.

Edinburgh, Glasgow and Paris Charles de Gaulle abandoned by Flybe a year ago, with Edinburgh and Paris Orly already served by City Jet leaving Cork, Dublin, Milan, Faro and Munich as the new routes but of these Dublin is already served by Aer Lingus.
The deal
Route network isn’t the only positive from this deal. Flybe has signed a ten year agreement with Cardiff Airport to base two aircraft at Cardiff.

Having based aircraft is very important, it brings jobs, it brings more convenient arrival and departure times and it helps the marketing of routes. It shows a commitment to the airport and more aircraft can be added later for future growth.

This was a deal that had to be done by Cardiff Airport.

Challenges
The opportunity to become a base for a low cost airline now seems to have vanished.

The weakness at Cardiff is not only having a very strong summer market but a very weak Winter market but also competition from Bristol Airport where the UK’s two biggest low cost airlines have bases.

This is unfortunate because the smmer market at Cardiff is better suited to a low cost airline.

However, the traditional Spanish market is well served by low cost airline Vuelling who, by not having aircraft based at Cardiff, can offer more seats in summer than in winter.

The lack of a based low cost airline makes Cardiff an ideal base for Flybe. They don’t want to compete directly with the low cost airlines who use larger aircraft and have lower costs of operation.

Their business model is to use smaller aircraft offering high frequency services between major cities or routes that are too small for the low cost airlines.

An airport that doesn’t have a based low cost airline needs connections to major UK and European cities and as Europe’s largest regional airline, flybe is the best option available.

Related story: Chief executive of Flybe on the Cardiff investment.

Financial rationale
Flybe also had reasons to need this deal. Flybe has been undergoing a restructuring to take costs out of the business. As part of the restructuring they have grounded a complete fleet of 14 aircraft, the Embraer E195.

These aircraft are too large for high frequency services in the UK market but too small to compete with low cost airlines on leisure routes.

It is unusual strategy for an airline to ground a fleet if there isn’t a definite disposal plan, if the aircraft can cover their operating costs any contribution towards the lease costs would be better than nothing.

Even though the aircraft are grounded, the lease costs still have to be paid.

It was sensible of Flybe to grab the opportunity of earning some revenue with them at Cardiff.

However, we will have an airline at Cardiff operating two aircraft that it doesn’t want to operate any more because it is the wrong aircraft for the UK market.

The problem then becomes one of how is the airline going to grow the business at Cardiff over the ten years of the agreement?

Five of the E195 fleet have already been disposed of and if flybe see an opportunity to dispose of the rest of the fleet will they still retain two of the aircraft for Cardiff or take the more sensible option of disposing of all of them?

Will they extend the lease on these aircraft in 5 years time or will they be returned? What if there can be further expansion of the Cardiff base, will another aircraft type be operated?

Future options
What is probable is that in the second half of this agreement we will see smaller aircraft being operated, probably turboprops.

Clearly the deal works for both parties in the short term, Cardiff gets more routes and passengers, flybe earns revenue from two unwanted aircraft.

However, we should expect the route network to evolve over the next ten years to one that uses smaller aircraft flying more frequently.

That would be not be a bad outcome for the business traveller but it would be one that doesn’t serve the leisure market that Cardiff is currently so dependent on.

If Flybe doesn’t develop a profitable business at Cardiff Airport over the first few years of this agreement with a strategy that fits in with the rest of the UK business then we can expect the knives will be kept polished for future use.

Sourced from walesonline