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


Travel industry growth to outpace world economy, says WTTC

By Ian Taylor | 24 March 2015 at 08.23 GMT
The travel industry will grow faster than the global economy this year, according to the latest World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) forecast.

The WTTC’s annual economic impact assessment predicts travel and tourism will grow by 3.7% worldwide this year against a global economic growth forecast of 2.9%.

The Council forecasts the sector’s total contribution to the world economy will reach $7,860 billion or 10% of global GDP, up by $280 billion on 2014, and travel will account for 9.5% of all jobs in the world “once all direct, indirect and induced impacts” are included.

The industry accounted for 277 million jobs worldwide last year, according to WTTC estimates.

WTTC president and chief executive David Scowsill (pictured) said: “Travel and tourism continues to grow faster than the global economy and is an enduring source of job creation and a driver of growth for every region in the world.”

He added: “The sector has recorded strong economic growth in 19 of the last 20 years, providing much-needed economic stability at a time of global economic volatility.

“Governments looking for a sector which can create jobs and drive economic growth should focus on travel and tourism.”

But Scowsill noted: “This industry requires the right regulatory environment in which to flourish, along with progressive policies on visa access, taxation, human resources planning, and sustainability.”

In an interview with Travel Weekly, Scowsill hit out at the UK government for failing to address these issues.

He said: “The UK is not a good example of managing the sector.”

The WTTC estimates the US and China as the two biggest travel and tourism economies in the world, with Germany now in third place, having overtaken Japan, and the UK in fifth.

The Council expects Russia to be the only G20 country to register a decline in travel and tourism growth this year, due to sanctions imposed by the US and European Union over the Ukraine.

The WTTC forecasts South Asia will see the highest travel and tourism growth in 2015 at 6.9% year on year, against growth in Europe of 2.4%.

However, Scowsill said: “The long-term prospects for our sector are very encouraging.

“Travel and tourism will continue to grow faster than the global economy and most other major industries.”

Sourced from Travel Weekly


Airlines face court threat over customer services

 
Three airlines are facing legal action over complaints about how they handle passengers hit by flight disruptions.

The Civil Aviation Authority said Ireland’s Aer Lingus, Britain’s Jet2 and Hungary’s Wizz Air have failed to change their consumer policies in line with its requests.

Andrew Haines, chief executive of the CAA, said passengers have “every right to be disappointed” by the trio.

The move follows a six-month review of passenger disruption policies.

It examined how airlines handle compensation for flight delays and offer information to passengers about their customer rights.

The CAA said it has launched enforcement action against the three airlines and will seek a court order unless they comply.

The allegations against the airlines are:

Aer Lingus and Jet2 have failed to give satisfactory evidence that they proactively provide passengers with information about their rights in line with the requirements set out in European regulation.
Jet2 and Wizz Air have failed to satisfy the regulator that they are consistently paying compensation for disruption caused by technical faults, despite a Court of Appeal ruling clarifying that airlines must do so.
Jet2 and Wizz Air are imposing two-year time limits for passengers to take compensation claims to the court, despite a Court of Appeal ruling that passengers should have up to six years to take a claim to court.
Mr Haines said: “Airlines are well aware of the support they must provide when there is disruption and passengers have every right to be disappointed that a small number of airlines are not complying with the Court of Appeal rulings and continue to let people down in this way.

“Since the law was clarified last year, we have been active to ensure airlines are applying consumer law appropriately and I warmly welcome the response of those airlines that have changed their policies as a result of this work.”

A Jet2 spokeswoman told the BBC that the CAA’s announcement was “materially inaccurate” regarding the airline’s duties to compensate passengers for disruption.
The CAA has been reviewing how airlines compensate disrupted passengers
She said Jet2 was paying compensation for disruption in line with previous court rulings and that airlines “are entitled” to limit to two years the period in which claims are made.

She added: “No enforcement action has been taken. Given the misapprehensions of the CAA, Jet2.com expects that following the mandatory consultation process the CAA will not wish to take the matter any further.”

Aer Lingus spokesman Declan Kearney said the Irish airline was engaging with the CAA to address its concerns.

He added: “Aer Lingus’ procedures, relating to the provision of information to customers affected by operational disruption, are fully compliant with all the relevant regulations. We have provided a number of documents to the CAA in recent months to substantiate this point and we continue to engage with the CAA to address their concerns.”

Wizz Air spokesman Daniel de Carvalho said it is currently reassessing compensation cases.

He told the BBC: “The UK CAA is well aware that Wizz Air is re-assessing these cases and has confirmed to the UK CAA itself, some time ago, that it will apply the UK CAA’s own list of extraordinary circumstances in the relevant cases.”

He said that limiting the time within which claims can be raised to two years has been “upheld by the English courts”.

Sourced from BBC News


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