Business Travel Tech Talk London, 16 October,
Business Travel Awards Europe, 30 October, JW
3rd Annual Business Travel Intelligence Summit
Mayrhuber calls for action by politicians
Wolfgang Mayrhuber said politicians need to act to improve aviation structure.He cited major airports which have "capacity bottlenecks" which stopped the creation of new jobs as one area where politicians could make improvements. The chairman and ceo of the German carrier said better air traffic control and the Single European Sky "are the greatest efficiency-related and environmental project in Europe."But politicians had been talking about this for 48 years. "The time has come to finally implement the project. It would immediately reduce CO2 emissions by about 12%. The politicians must act," he said.Mr Mayrhuber said that while Lufthansa had a record year in 2007 and had had an excellent start to 2008, there were concerns on the horizon.Speaking at the airline's annual meeting in Cologne, he warned of "intensifying competition in the aviation industry" as well as "unforeseeable implications" in the financial markets. He said the uncertainty of the financial markets, record oil prices, possible consolidation in the USA and "unbroken rapid expansion" of the Gulf carriers were challenges to be faced.But he added that "the perspectives for the aviation industry were good” and the "demand for mobility shall continue to rise."
Silverjet secures new funding
Silverjet, the all business class transatlantic carrier, has secured up to $100m in new funding from a United Arab Emirates-based investor.The investment comes in the same week rival all business class carrier Eos Airlines went bankrupt after failing to raise a $50M cash injection.Silverjet, which operates services between London Luton and Newark New York, said it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the investor for an initial $25m.This will be invested to ease debts and give the investor a stake of $8m in the carrier.The agreement also enables the investor to inject a further $75m in the airline for the development of Silverjet and its roll out in new markets including the Middle East, the Far East and Africa.Silverjet said its working capital had "deteriorated and its residual reserve limited because of rising fuel process and the tightening of credit conditions."Lawrence Hunt, Silverjet's ceo, said: "We are delighted to have entered into this memorandum of understanding with a long term strategic investor."This investment places Silverjet in a strong position to further develop our brand and proposition."It is particularly encouraging to have secured this agreement in a challenging environment for all airlines." Eos, a US-based airline ceased operations on Sunday, April 27 after filing for bankruptcy in the US Bankruptcy Court in the Southern District of New York on Saturday, April 26.Most of its 450 employees will lose their jobs.The decision came just a week after the loss-making carrier said it was hoping to receive a $50m cash injection from a "current investor."When the investment failed to materialise, the company announced it did not have enough money to continue.
Continental calls off merger talks
Continental Airlines has called off merger talks with US rival United Airlines.In a statement, the Houston-based carrier said its directors had decided in the current industry climate that the "the best course for Continental is to not merge with another airline at this time."
Europcar buys Australian and NZ companies
Europcar, the French-owned car rental company, has bought the Australian and New Zealand subsidiaries of ECA Car Rental.The two companies have a franchise to operate within 28 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.The acquisition gives Europcar its first entry into direct operations outside Europe.It previously had deals with local partners in Japan and China.Salvatore Catania, Europcar Groupe's ceo, said: "This is an important acquisition in several ways. It is a perfect opportunity to enhance our brand and expand a profitable business from a strong existing base.“It also provides Europcar with direct access and in-house expertise in the Asia-Pacific region, which is the fastest-growing market in the car rental business."
BA increases fuel surcharge
BA has again increased its fuel surcharge. For short haul flights, the charge will rise by £3 per sector to £13. For a return trip the surcharge will now be £26. For long haul flights of under nine hours, the charge will go up by £10 per flight to £63. The surcharge on a return trip will now be £126. For long haul trips of more than nine hours, the surcharge is rising by £15 per sector to £79 per flight. The surcharge on a return trip will now be £158. The new charges will come into force on Friday, May 2.
Brussels Airlines in alliance talks
Brussels Airlines said it is in talks with "various partners" to join one of the major airline alliances.The deal could involve one of its potential new partners taking a stake in the Belgian carrier.The carrier said in a statement: "A possible financial participation of a new shareholder could only be considered under the condition that the sustainable future, the identity and the autonomy of Brussels Airlines are guaranteed."Press reports this week have suggested that Lufthansa was considering buying the airline.
Record revenue for AirPlus
Card company AirPlus International said it achieved record revenues of £14m for 2007, compared with £9m for the previous year. The company, which has 32,000 clients, said settlement turnover rose by 16% to £12.5bn, helped by growth outside its home German market of 40%.Yael Klein, AirPlus managing director, said: "We are very satisfied with the development in the past year."We have once again succeeded in continuing on the path of successful growth of the previous year and of building on our position in the international business travel markets."The extremely good results of the past financial year reaffirm our strategy of solid expansion and ongoing innovation."
Berlusconi threatens to renationalise Alitalia
The incoming Italian prime minister Silvio Berlsuconi has threatened to re-nationalise Alitalia if the EC continued to "whine" about a government loan to the loss making carrier. The Italian government has lent the national carrier €300m despite warnings from the EC of no more cash help. Mr Berlusconi said the government, which already owns 49.9% of the carrier, could buy the rest if necessary.The new prime minister favours selling the carrier to Italian businessmen but no bids have so far emerged.
Finnair reports drop in profits
Finnair reported a profit of €5.5m for the first quarter of 2008, a drop of 40.9% on the €9.9m figure for the same period in 2007.Jukka Hienonen, Finnair's president and ceo, said the company's balance sheet was strong but warned that "the high price of fuel and the uncertain outlook for the world economy raise question marks about the profit outlook for airlines."He said Finnair was not immune from world economic conditions adding "expensive jet fuel has choked the life out of several airlines on different continents. If the present state of affairs continues, there will surely be more bankruptcies and mergers to come."
Austrian losses grow
Austrian Airlines said it suffered a pre-tax loss of €60.4m loss in the first quarter compared to a deficit of €16.3m for the same period in 2007.Alfred Ötsch, Austrian's ceo, said the results had been strongly influenced by the "continued deterioration in market conditions and a range of external factors."He said he expected the airline's earnings to drop because of the conditions adding it would be "a major challenge to achieve a profit that will justify our paying a dividend for the financial year 2009."
TravelRes changes name
TravelRes, the UK arm of the major German online booking company hotel.de, has changed its name after acquiring the hotel.info business.The company will now be known as hotel.info in the UK.The acquisition gives the company's customers access to hotel evaluations by guests as well as b online booking facilities.
On The Move
Management changes at BSI
Charles Cockell has stepped down as managing director of BSI, an online hotel and meetings specialist booking company.He is succeeded by Trevor Elswood, the company's commercial director who will take up his new role today (May 1.)Mr Cockell who has been BSI's managing director since 1995, will take up the role of deputy chairman. Simon Milsted remains a chairman of the company while Mr Cockell will work on company strategy and special projects.
Amadeus strengthens UK sales team
Travel IT company and GDS Amadeus has strengthened its UK sales team with the appointment of Kelly Ward as account executive, North of England.Ms Ward, who will be based in Manchester, joins from Worldspan.
ACTE completes re-structuring
The Association of Corporate Travel Executives (ACTE) has completed its re-structuring of its EMEA region.Caroline Allen, formerly with Travelport, is the Association's new regional director for Northern and East Central Europe and Russia with Jennifer Fitzgerald regional manager for the area. Christine Dunton-Tinnus, who formerly worked as a consultant for ACTE, is regional director, Western, Southern and West Central Europe with Pilar Sanchez Aita as regional manager. Monique Swart is regional director, Middle East and Africa with Cindy Nell as the regional manager.* see BTE Analysis
Hotelscene appoints Squires
Hotelscene, an online hotel and meetings specialist, has appointed Jean Squires as its new director of business development.Ms Squires joins from Hogg Robinson Group where she worked in the consulting division with companies on travel policy and benchmarking projects.
Travel Loop promotes Neto
Spanish travel IT company Travel Loop has promoted Rafael Rodríguez Neto to the role of director of marketing and products.Mr Neto has more than ten years' experience in travel technology and worked in the company's creative department before his promotion.
Mangan new manager at Conrad Dublin
Martin Mangan has been appointed the new general manager at the Conrad Dublin.He replaces Laurens Zierens who recently transferred to the Hilton New York.Mr Mangan was previously general manager of the Royal Marine Hotel in Dun Laoghaire, outside Dublin, and oversaw its re-opening.He has also worked in senior management positions at The Grand Canal Hotel in Dublin and Jury's Doyle Hotels in Dublin and London.He also worked for Hilton Hotels in California from 1995 to 1999.