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

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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


Chancellor says nothing on APD or travel in final Budget

18 March 2015 at 14.15 GMT
Chancellor George Osborne made no mention of Air Passenger Duty in today’s Budget, but Treasury Budget documents confirm APD will rise at the rate of the Retail Price Index (RPI) from April next year.

Changes to APD from this spring, already announced, will see the overall tax take from the duty fall by about £250 million in the next financial year.

But the Treasury still expects to extract £3.9 billion in annual duty from the tax by 2018-19, up from £3.2 billion in the current year.

APD will be charged at two rates rather than four from the start of April, with a short-haul economy rate of £13 and £71 for medium and long-haul flights.

Fares for children under 14 will no longer be subject to APD from May.

The Chancellor made few direct references to travel in his final Budget before the general election on May 7.

However, his pledge to “ensure Britain is the global centre for the sharing economy” could have repercussions for sections of the travel industry.

Budget documents state the Government’s intention to “enable government employees to use sharing economy solutions to book accommodation and transport when travelling on official business”.

Osborne promised “new investment in transport infrastructure for London”, “a comprehensive transport strategy for the North” and “over £7 billion of transport investment” for the South West.

A cut in corporation tax to 20% and review of business rates were calculated to please businesses.

The Chancellor appealed to households by announcing a freeze on fuel duty, a reduction in beer duty and a rise in the personal tax allowance.

Osborne announced a so-called Google Tax on companies seeking to avoid taxes by registering overseas would be introduced next week and apply from next month.

Raising APD by the RPI rate is likely to mean an above-inflation rise next year.

RPI has been consistently higher than the official Consumer Price Index (CPI) since 2009 and the former rate is no longer used by the Government as an official measure of inflation.

The annual RPI rate in January of this year was 0.5% against a CPI rate of 0.3%.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


At least seven tourists dead in attack at museum in Tunisia

By Juliet Dennis | 18 March 2015 at 13.09 GMT
At least seven foreign tourists are understood to have been killed in an attack by gunmen at a museum in Tunisia.

A Tunisian is also understood to be among the dead and there are also unconfirmed reports that tourists are being held hostage.

The shooting took place at the Bardo Museum in the Tunisian capital of Tunis. Unconfirmed media reports say the tourists killed were from France, Spain and Italy.

The parliament is located in the same building as the museum in the Bardo Palace and was in session when the shootings took place.

According to Reuters news agency, around 160 tourists have already been rescued from the museum and between 20 and 30 tourists remain inside.

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Court rules airlines cannot delay compensation payments

Court rules airlines cannot delay compensation paymentsImage via Shutterstock

Five airlines have been told they cannot postpone giving compensation payments to passengers whose flights have been delayed by technical problems.

Jet2, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, Flybe, and Wizz Air had wanted Liverpool County Court to stay, or delay, one woman’s claim over a delayed Jet2 flight, while a Dutch case on the same issue was heard in the European Court of Justice.

But the judge rejected this saying: “a line should now been drawn. Justice delayed is justice denied.’

Lawyers for passenger Kim Allen from Lancashire claimed the ruling could benefit tens of thousands of consumers with delay compensation claims.

Allen is claiming €400 in compensation after a delay flying from Manchester to Malaga in March 2012.

Her Jet2 flight was delayed by almost seven hours due to a technical problem, a flap slat fault, which occurred just prior to take off.

Allen’s case was originally stayed pending last year’s Huzar v Jet2 case in which Court of Appeal judges ruled that technical problems are not an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.

The stay on her case was initially lifted after Huzar’s victory but Jet2 soon made an application to stay Allen’s claim yet again.

The airline wanted to put the case on hold pending the outcome of the Dutch case, which has been referred to the European Court of Justice.

The van der Lans case will mainly look at whether a technical problem that arises spontaneously – as opposed to one which is detected during routine maintenance – is an extraordinary circumstance under EU Regulation 261/2004.

Extraordinary circumstances are the airline’s only defence to paying out flight delay compensation.

Kevin Clarke, flight delay lawyer at Bott & Co Solicitors who represented Allen, said:

“We’re delighted that once again the court has rebuffed the airline’s attempts to continue delaying legitimate passenger claims.

“Bott & Co alone have over 8,000 clients with claims against the five airlines who had requested stays similar to that in Ms Allen’s case.

“We’ve seen continual legal challenges to the finer details of flight delay regulation by the airlines since it was first introduced and it’s pleasing the court is now taking a firm line against them.

“We would hope that the airlines will now finally face up to their obligations to passengers and to settle the hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims outstanding.

“Sadly the history of their conduct over the last decade would tell us to expect yet another legal challenge.”

A spokesman for Jet2 said: “As Jet2.com has only just received the judgment the company is currently considering its position.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Flight delay ruling opens way for compensation payments

Passengers waiting at Gatwick airport

A county court judge has ruled that airline Jet2.com cannot delay the payment of compensation due to passengers for delayed flights.

The ruling could set a precedent that affects thousands of passengers with similar claims in the UK.

Jet2 argued the compensation payments should be delayed pending the outcome of a similar case in the Netherlands.

But the judge at Liverpool County Court ruled that “a line should now be drawn. Justice delayed is justice denied”.

The EU has ruled that airlines must pay compensation for delayed flights, but a number of airlines have yet to pay out.

Five airlines in the UK have made applications to delay payments: Jet2, Thomas Cook, Ryanair, FlyBe and WizzAir.

‘Kept waiting’

The Jet2 case heard in Liverpool involved Kim Allen, who claimed €400 (£292) compensation after an almost seven-hour delay when flying from Manchester to Malaga in 2012.

“We’ve all been kept waiting for so long, but I’m really happy with today’s decision,” she said after the judge’s ruling.

“Hopefully now it’s time for the airlines to pay us what the law says they should.”

Her solicitor, Kevin Clarke from Bott & Co, said he hoped “the airlines will now finally face up to their obligations to passengers and to settle the hundreds of thousands of legitimate claims outstanding.

“Sadly, the history of their conduct over the last decade would tell us to expect yet another legal challenge.”

Disproportionate

The issue stems from the 2004 European regulations that oblige airlines, in some cases, to pay compensation to passengers for cancellations and delays, if they are not due to extraordinary circumstances.

A further ruling by the European Court of Justice in 2009 confirmed that delayed passengers should be treated as if their flights had been cancelled, if the delay was longer than three hours, entitling them to cash compensation.

Despite the ruling, a number of airlines in the UK are still arguing that some technical problems should be classified as extraordinary circumstances, and as such, no compensation should be due.

They have also argued that paying compensation for delays of three hours or more is disproportionate and too great a burden.

Sourced from BBC News


Upturn in summer bookings gathers pace

Upturn in summer bookings gathers paceImage via Shutterstock

Summer 2015 bookings continue to outpace sales a year ago, according to industry analyst GfK.

Year-on-year bookings for the week to February 14 were 7% up, while the previous week they were 3% higher. Summer 2015 sales for the season to date remained 3% up year-on-year to the end of last week.

The upturn began in mid-January following a slow start to 2015. GfK reported a 4% rise in year-on-year bookings in the final week of the month following a 2% increase the preceding week. This compared with year-on-year declines of 4% and 1% in the first two weeks of 2015.

Year-on-year package bookings in the week to February 14 were up 8% and family bookings up 14%. Bookings to eurozone countries also rose 8%, with a £3 increase in the average selling price despite the fall in the euro’s value.

The improvement follows a 4% rise in the number of outbound holidays from Britain last year. Recent Office for National Statistics figures showed holiday departures in 2014 hit 39 million for the first time since 2008.

Travel Designers director Nick Harding revealed he had scaled back marketing on Google and Facebook, saying: “I wondered whether we would cope. We’re cutting back on marketing so we can reduce the number of enquiries. There is only so much we can do.”

Advantage Travel Partnership commercial head John Sullivan said: “The market seems to have gathered momentum.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly