9 DECEMBER 2013
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The British government’s New Infrastructure Plan (NIP), revealed in this week’s Autumn Statement, has been welcomed by the majority of UK airports and sees £375 billion of planned public and private sector infrastructure investment.
Although that figure includes money assigned to energy, flood defence, waste, water and communications as well as transport, it does allow several key projects to progress.
At the forefront of these is £50 million pledged for a full redevelopment of the railway station at Gatwick Airport and confirmation that there will be no tolling on the planned A14 scheme between Cambridge and Huntingdon, construction of which is planned to start in 2016.
Sir Howard Davies, head of the Airports Commission, called for urgent action in the face of a growing crisis at Heathrow and the other South East airports and has written to Chancellor George Osborne recommending a further £200 million worth of investment in rail and road connections, including new rail links to Heathrow from south London and from the southern counties.
A Heathrow spokesperson said: "We welcome the Airports Commission's recommendation,” and continued to point out that “a direct connection from the south has the potential to improve public transport journey times for millions of people living in places like Surrey, Hampshire and South London.”
A Stansted Airport spokesperson also welcomed the news that the A14 was to be improved, saying this was “a big step towards delivering the faster and better connections between Stansted Airport and the region that millions of passengers and commuters have been calling for.
“We’re delighted that Sir Howard Davies and the Airports Commission recognise the vital role Stansted will play in making best use of existing capacity over the next ten to 15 years and more than double its economic contribution to UK economy.”
Needless to say Gatwick was also ecstatic with the news that the ‘Gatwick Gateway’ was to receive funding. “Of the 35 million passengers using Gatwick airport each year, 14 million arrive or depart by rail; making it the busiest airport station in Britain”, said Gatwick’s Chief Executive Stewart Wingate. “This connectivity will be further improved upon completion of a £53m project to improve platform capacity in early 2014 and with the introduction of the Thameslink franchise later that year.”
The Airport Operators Association (AOA), the trade body for UK airports, also welcomed the publication of the Government’s plan but has called on Ministers to go further by considering the approval of similar schemes at airports across the whole country. Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the AOA, said: “The AOA has set out a list of UK airports where there is a need for projects to improve surface access, and which require Government support. We respectfully ask the Department for Transport to build upon the positive start made in the NIP and work with airports to develop these schemes further.”
It’s early days, but with the NIP also recommending a £10 million prize fund for a town or city to develop as a testing ground for driverless cars, anything is possible.
Just days after taking delivery of its very first Airbus A321 aircraft, JetBlue Airways placed a new order for 15 A321ceo (current engine option) and 20 A321neo (new engine option) aircraft on 29 October, tipping the A320 family order book over the 10,000 mark.
In addition, the airline has opted to upsize 19 A320s currently on backlog to A321s and will be the first airline in the world to take delivery of an aircraft from Airbus’ newest assembly facility, currently under construction in Alabama.
The first member of the A320 family was launched in March 1984 and the prototype made its initial flight on 22 February, 1987. The first examples were delivered to Air France and Ansett Australia in 1988.
The family was soon extended to include the stretched A321, the shortened A319 and the even smaller A318 with all family members using the digital fly-by-wire flight control systems that Airbus pioneered. There has been a continuous improvement process since introduction to service, and the type is now in service with 228 airlines from Adria Airways to Zest Airways. A further 97 airframes are in use with private operators around the globe.
Aegean Airlines has announced that it will expand its UK reach with new flights to Athens from Birmingham Airport commencing June 2014. The seasonal route will operate twice a week, Tuesday and Saturday.
The flights will be operated using 168-seat Airbus A320 aircraft in dual class configuration, offering all passengers a full service which includes complimentary food and drink. The route will operate from 10 June until 25 October.
Business class passengers and Gold Card members will have use of the business lounge at Birmingham Airport and Gold Card members will also be able to carry an extra piece of baggage.
Aegean already offers three daily flights from London Heathrow to Athens along with seasonal flights from Manchester, Gatwick and Stansted Airport to Athens.
The bi-weekly service will provide passengers in the Midlands with direct access to the Greek capital, as well as making it easier for passengers to continue their journey onwards with a through flight to the Greek islands and mainland Greece.
Aegean acquired Olympic Air in October; in doing so adding yet more frequencies and connections for passengers wanting to fly to Greek destinations. www.aegeanair.com
Aer Lingus is set to offer 100,000 new seats across three UK routes in 2014 thanks for a new service and increased frequencies on others.
A new daily service from Bristol to Shannon Airport on the west coast of Ireland was announced on 4 December along with news that flights from Manchester to Shannon will increase from two to three per day and sectors from Birmingham to Shannon will double. The move should lead to 20 new jobs at the Irish airport.
Aer Lingus Regional, which is operated by Aer Arann, will have 96 UK regional flights a week to and from Shannon next summer and anticipates growing passenger numbers to 240,000 next year and to 250,000 in 2015.
The increase in capacity will also benefit those planning to use Shannon as a stop-over to take advantage of the airport’s ‘preclearance’ advantage. Shannon is the first airport outside of the Americas to have full preclearance, which avoids the lengthy queues at customs and immigration on arrival in the USA. British passengers will also see Airport Passenger Duty slashed by up to £50 on transatlantic tickets if they depart from Shannon, where no travel tax applies. www.aerlingus.com
Aeromexico has announced new seasonal services from Chicago to Morelia and Puerto Vallarta. The Mexican airline will begin the flights on 12 December and 21 December respectively; in doing so it adds an additional 31 flights a week to its services from Chicago.
The airline already offers three daily flights from Chicago to Mexico City and one daily to Guadalajara, which represents nearly 1,000 daily seats between these destinations.
New services from Fresno to Morelia, and Sacramento to Bajio/Leon in central Mexico will also begin on 17 December.
Aeromexico intends to extend its Aeromexico Contigo programme to the new routes; this offers customers in the ‘migrant market’ personalised attention and the option to transport bulky luggage.
The airline’s fleet of 115 aircraft includes Boeing 787, 777, 767 and 737 airliners as well as Embraer 145, 170, 175 and 190 models. The new routes will be served by the airline’s fleet of Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which are specially configured for 174 passengers, with increased legroom offered by 18 AM Plus seats.
The Mexican flag carrier airline is based in Mexico City and operates scheduled domestic and international services to North America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe, and Asia. www.aeromexico.com
Belle Air Europe, based in Pristina, Kosovo, has suspended operations, a day after the airline issued a press release to reassure passengers that it was operating normally and planning future destinations including Dortmund.
The airline suspended all its services on 26 November citing “the general difficult economic situation.” The move came just two days after its parent company, Belle Air from Albania, also grounded its fleet.
Belle Air Europe was founded in 2010 and operated flights to Basel, Brussels, Dusseldorf, Malmo, Milan, Stuttgart, Venice and Verona from its base at Pristina as well as Skopje airport. Its fleet consisted of one Airbus A319-100 and one A320-200 at the time it ceased trading.
Meanwhile, Wizz Air has announced a series of “rescue fares” for passengers affected by the closure of Belle Air Europe. The Hungarian airline has launched €39.99 one-way fares on its Skopje routes (which is just two hours from Belle Air’s base at Pristina Airport) to Basel Mulhouse, Dortmund, Milan Bergamo, Venice Treviso and Malmo. To qualify for the €39.99 rescue fares, which are only valid until 15 December, passengers must be in possession of a cancelled Belle Air Europe flight reservation and bring their original reservation when they travel.
Royal Brunei Airlines celebrated its inaugural ‘Betterfly’ service from London Heathrow to Brunei via Dubai on 2 December.
A day of festivities at Heathrow marked the launch of Royal Brunei’s daily Boeing 787 Dreamliner service after the aircraft landed at Heathrow at 06.50 and was greeted with the traditional water cannon salute from the fire crew.
The aircraft departed again at 17.05 bound for Dubai piloted by an all female flight crew captained by Sharifah Czarena Suriany Syed Hashim; the airline’s first female captain.
The airline is set to receive five Dreamliners and aims to become the first carrier to offer a 100% Dreamliner service on all long haul flights. It currently operates across four continents and flies to 15 major cities including London, Hong Kong, Melbourne and Manila.
To mark the inaugural flight, Royal Brunei Airlines created a light-hearted film showcasing a celebratory cake being assembled, mimicking the build of the Dreamliner. The video can be found here: http://youtu.be/W-2xe7Dxw5Q
Royal Brunei took delivery of its first 787 on 3 October when the aircraft departed Paine Field, Washington on the 6,540-mile non-stop flight to Bandar Seri Begawan International Airport in Brunei. www.flyroyalbrunei.com
easyJet has set its sights on the Chinese market with a new dedicated homepage in response to the growing number of Chinese customers flying with the airline.
Carolyn McCall, easyJet’s Chief Executive, commented: “This year easyJet has seen a 25% increase in bookings from China versus 2012. The demand from Chinese customers is predicted to continue to grow over the coming years which means that, with a dedicated homepage, easyJet is ideally positioned to capture more of the market of the millions of Chinese who are travelling to and within Europe every year.”
McCall also announced that the airline was signing up to VisitBritain’s China Welcome Charter, which is aimed at ensuring British businesses make the country the most welcoming destination in Europe by 2015. The move was welcomed by British Prime Minister David Cameron MP, who is currently touring China to boost trade links.
Customers using the new homepage will benefit from content translated into simplified Chinese. The site will connect to a Chinese version of Booking.com’s website and customers will also be able to book their flights in any of nine currencies. Having recently launched a Russian site, www.easyjet.com/cn will be the 22nd homepage to be added to www.easyjet.com.
Emirates swooped into the home of the Oscars on 2 December to launch the world’s longest A380 service. The Airbus touched down in Los Angeles at the end of the inaugural trip, which crossed the Russian Federation, the North Pole and Eastern Canada.
The aircraft has a published duration of 16 hours 20 minutes, more than enough time to delve into over 400 hours of in-flight Hollywood movies that are available onboard.
The Emirates’ A380 is like no other, with 76 exclusive mini-pods in Business Class and 14 private suites in First Class. First Class passengers can even freshen up in one of two on-board shower spas.
The airline started flying to LA in 2008 with the Boeing 777-200LR but the introduction of the 489-seat A380 service is a direct response to demand with over one million passengers travelling between Los Angeles and Dubai so far. The service operates daily, departing Dubai at 0820hrs and arriving at LAX at 1250hrs the same day. The return flight departs LAX at 1600hrs and arrives in Dubai at 1950hrs the following day.
Click here to see the A380 inaugural video: http://youtu.be/2lRuy9V7OiI
Dar es Salaam (Tanzania)-based fastjet celebrated its first anniversary in early December by announcing a second international route.
The airline, which operates three ex-easyJet Airbus A319-100 aircraft, is set to introduce the new route from Dar es Salaam's Julius Nyerere airport to Lusaka in Zambia on 1 February, 2014.
According to the airline: “Despite strong trading between Tanzania and Zambia, driven in part by landlocked Zambia's reliance on Dar es Salaam's port, there is currently no direct air link between Dar es Salaam and Lusaka. A steady increase in the onerous, 25 hour cross-border journeys undertaken by both Tanzanians and Zambians by road, demonstrates a real need for affordable air travel between the two countries, which fastjet intends to fulfil by launching its flights along this route.”
This new route will supplement fastjet’s sector to Johannesburg in South Africa and its domestic network within Tanzania to Kilimanjaro, Mbeya, Mwanza and Zanzibar.
The airline was initially created through the acquisition of Fly540, a carrier operating in East Africa, and flights in fastjet's own name commenced in November 2012. During its first year the airline has carried over 355,000 passengers, many of whom were first-time fliers. www.fastjet.com
flydubai has signed a commitment for 100 Boeing 737 MAXs and eleven ‘Next Generation’ 737-800s. The event is the largest ever order for single-aisle Boeing aeroplanes placed by a Middle Eastern carrier and is valued at US$11.4 billion.
flydubai placed its first order for 50 Next-Generation 737-800s in 2008. The airline took delivery of its first aeroplane in 2009 and was the first airline in the world to debut the Boeing Sky Interior cabin. To date, flydubai has taken delivery of 33 Next-Generation 737-800s.
"flydubai is pleased to continue its partnership with Boeing”, said His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of flydubai. “We believe that the commitment for up to 111 Boeing 737 aircraft will give flydubai one of the best performing aircraft available in the single-aisle market."
According to Boeing, development of the 737 MAX is on schedule with the aircraft’s firm configuration achieved earlier this year and first flight on schedule for 2016. Already a market success, the 737 MAX has accumulated more than 1,600 orders to date and deliveries to customers are set to begin in 2017. Boeing claims the 737 MAX 8 is expected to be “8% per-seat more fuel efficient than the future competition.” www.flydubai.com
On 3 December London Gatwick celebrated four years as a stand-alone airport. With £1billion invested in the airport – from modernising the forecourt, check-in and security areas to overhauling the departure lounges, upgrading the departure gates, runway and immigration halls – the airport has gone through a monumental transformation.
Gatwick now serves 45 of the top 50 European business destinations and, despite the economic headwinds, the number of passengers choosing to fly from Gatwick has increased by over four million people.
The airport’s CEO, Stewart Wingate said: “Turning round the decades of under-investment in Gatwick, transforming it into a friendly and efficient place to visit, as well as ensuring the airport remains a major international gateway for London and the South East has been my priority over these last four years.
“I would say we are making good headway. We now have the UK’s only direct link to Vietnam, routes to high growth markets such as China, Russia and Turkey and in 2014 we will fly direct to Indonesia – countries that some claim can only be connected via a hub airport. This coupled with growing our African and Middle Eastern routes helps make up over 200 destinations that Gatwick connects its passengers with.”
Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines received the ‘World's Leading Economy Class’ award at the high-profile World Travel Awards (WTA) ceremony at La Cigale Hotel Doha in Qatar on 30 November.
In doing so it beat twelve other airlines from around the globe including leading carriers such as British Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Emirates Airlines and Virgin Atlantic. The award comes just a month after the airline received an award in the ‘Asia's Leading Airline Economy Class’ category.
Hainan is also celebrating after its innovative ‘In-flight Charitable Tickets Auction’ was awarded a Mercury Award by the International Travel Catering Association on 25 November. The carrier’s charity auction was introduced in 2001 and is an in-flight service available on selected domestic flights of more than three hours' duration. The minimum bid on a one-way ticket is set at 10 yuan (about US$1.60) during the in-flight auction and all proceeds are used to fund education, environmental protection, healthcare and other public welfare programmes.
The winners are required to use the tickets within one year, and the tickets are non-transferable, but the selected flight can be changed once. The in-flight auction is claimed to create “a relaxed cabin environment” and “addresses the passengers' need to feel noticed.” www.hnair.com
Belgian airline Jetairfly became the first airline in Benelux to operate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner on 4 December.
The new aeroplane was delivered directly from Boeing’s Paine Field in Everett to Brussels and is scheduled to begin flying short and medium haul routes in early December and long haul routes between Christmas and the New Year. It will replace the Boeing 767 in Jetairfly service.
Jetairfly is part of the TUI Travel PLC, the largest tourism group in the world, and as such wears very similar markings to the Dreamliners operated by Thomsonfly.
"We are very excited about the Jetairfly Dreamliner entering service as the first and only 787 operated by a Belgian airline," said Elie Bruyninckx, CEO TUI Belgium. "This aircraft isn't only a perfect match with our innovative and sustainable philosophy. It is also a great asset in our strategy of offering unique holiday experiences to our passengers, especially when they fly between Europe and the Caribbean."
The 787 is the most technologically advanced aeroplane in the sky with composite materials making up 50% of the structure. This allows the Dreamliner to use 20% less fuel and emit 20% fewer CO2 emissions than similarly sized aircraft. www.jetairfly.com
No other destination can match Egypt’s timeless appeal and unique historical sites and this, perhaps, is why it remains a popular holiday choice for many holidaymakers despite the recent troubles.
On 2 December 50 British tourists flew out from Heathrow to join the first Nile cruise on board Discover Egypt’s Royal Viking and a day later Egyptair confirmed that weekly, direct scheduled flights from Heathrow to Luxor will resume on 17 February 2014.
Discover Egypt says it will also reinstate the scheduled service from Heathrow to Luxor for its Nile Cruises and has set timings that will also suit those wishing to connect from other regional UK departure airports. The Luxor direct flights will depart at 14:35 UK local time and arrive back at 13:05.
To reward travellers for their confidence in Egypt there will be no supplements for these flights (normally £120 per person) and a 23kg baggage allowance plus inflight meals are included.
The operator also reported that bookings are coming in daily for what is a peak season for Upper Egypt and classic Nile cruises. www.egyptair.com
Air Canada has launched a new cabin design for its fleet of 34 Boeing 787 Dreamliners, with the first expected in service in March.
The interior will include stylish furnishings in a palette of slate grey and neutral tones with accents of red and blue. The decor, cabin architecture and seating in all three cabins – International Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy – have been designed to provide customers with an exceptional travel experience. An extensive choice of in-flight entertainment on enhanced definition seat back touch-screens will be available for all customers along with power outlets and USB ports.
Highlights of Air Canada's new International Business Class cabin include 20 lie-flat Executive Pods that can be extended into a fully flat sleeping position 80in in length.
Other features include an adjustable pneumatic headrest cushion (that offers a massage feature) and an 18in personal entertainment screen; the largest offered by a North American airline in business class.
The Premium Economy cabin has 21 seats, each providing 38in legroom and generous 19.5in seat width. Economy class features 210 ‘slimline’ seats in a 3-3-3 configuration and a 9in touch-screen personal entertainment screen.
Norwegian Air Shuttle has announced plans to establish a new base in Barcelona, Spain, in spring 2014. This will be Norwegian’s sixth base in Spain, along with those in Madrid, Alicante, Malaga, Las Palmas and Tenerife.
“We have decided to open a new base in Barcelona to meet the demand for non-stop flights to and from Spain’s second largest city and the capital of Catalonia”, said CEO Bjørn Kjos on 28 November. “Barcelona is one of the world’s most beautiful cities where we already have a major presence, but we also see a major passenger potential ahead. At the same time, it is strategically important for us to establish a base in Barcelona, as we are considering the airport for future long-haul operations.”
Norwegian will have three new Boeing 737-800s based at Barcelona-El Prat Airport and recruit more than 100 pilots and cabin crew locally. In addition, it will launch four new routes (to Sandefjord Torp, Hamburg, Berlin and Warsaw) and increase the frequency of existing routes from Barcelona to Stockholm, Helsinki and London as of April 2014. London-Barcelona flights will now be operated on a daily basis. www.norwegian.com
It is reported that a deal has been struck to see Flybe keep its Newquay-Gatwick route going until October 2014 at least.
The invaluable link between Cornwall and the capital was due to come to an end in March but this latest move could give Cornwall Council time to arrange a public subsidy that would guarantee the route longer-term.
In the meantime Flybe has secured new slots at Gatwick that will allow it to provide a twice daily service (morning and evening) to Newquay.
The Department for Transport recently confirmed to Cornwall Council that the route was technically eligible for subsidy as it is the only air link between the south-west and London. As such the government could support an operator (such as Flybe) to the tune of several million pounds a years to run the service for a four-year period.
Several routes in Scotland and Wales are already subsidised and the news that Cornwall could be treated similarly has been welcomed by business leaders in the Duchy.
The infrastructure is already in place at Newquay Cornwall Airport (the former RAF St Mawgan); all that is needed is a carrier willing to take on the route as a long-term prospect. www.flybe.com
Following the launch of the Thomas Cook Group’s unification of its brands under one common symbol, the ‘Sunny Heart’, Thomas Cook Airlines UK took delivery of its first aircraft in the new scheme on 3 December.
G-TCDC is the first Airbus A321-211 to join the airline (see BTN 25 November) and the first Airbus aircraft in the Thomas Cook Group to be fitted with wing-tip ‘Sharklet’ devices which help use less fuel and contribute to an overall fuel efficiency of up to 6% The aircraft is also the first narrow-body aircraft to be fitted with OANS (On Airport Navigation System).
The airline has 23 A321s on order from Airbus and the type will have replaced almost a third of its short and medium-haul fleetby 2016. The first of these brand new aircraft was delivered to Thomas Cook Airlines UK’s sister German airline, Condor in May 2013.
Six A321s will be deployed in the UK by the summer season of 2014 and G-TCDC will enter service in the next few days operating holiday flights to a range of European destinations.
Christoph Debus, Chairman of Thomas Cook Group Airlines and CEO of Thomas Cook Airlines UK said, “Today marks the beginning of an exciting phase for our UK airline, bringing a new experience for our customers as we welcome this new aircraft to our fleet.”
United Airlines has completed an extensive redesign of its fleet of 15 Boeing 757-200 aircraft that fly the Premium Service (PS) transcontinental routes between JFK and LAX and JFK and San Francisco. This means it is set to become the first (and only) airline to offer premium-cabin, flat-bed seats on these sectors.
The revamped aircraft have 28 180-degree flat-bed BusinessFirst seats offering up to 6ft 4in of sleeping space; 42 extra-legroom Economy Plus seats; and 72 United Economy seats. The fleet of 757s also offer personal, on-demand entertainment at every seat with 15.4in monitors in BusinessFirst (9in in Economy) offering movies, television shows and other entertainment options.
Each seat has power outlets and a USB port, and satellite WiFi is now available on 130 of the airline’s fleet – including these PS 757s. Nearly all of United's mainline fleet is scheduled to be outfitted with Wi-Fi by the end of 2014.
The PS service includes multi-course meals in BusinessFirst with wine selections recommended by Doug Frost, United's Master Sommelier (half bottles of premium wines are available for purchase in Economy). Before-flight services have also been improved with upgraded United Club lounges at Chicago, Seattle and San Diego. www.united.com
On 27 November Wizz Air Ukraine announced a new route to be operated on an Airbus A320 from its new base in Lviv in 2014.
The route will connect Lviv with the Israeli capital Tel Aviv and will be flown on Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays from 1 May. It is hoped it will provide a total of over 56,000 seats in the first year of operations.
This latest destination is the ninth Wizz route to be flown from Lviv and the airline now serves five countries from the airfield.
"It has been a bit more than a month since we’ve announced the third base for Wizz Air Ukraine opening in Lviv on April 20, 2014”, said the airline’s General Director, Ákos Bús. “Today I am thrilled to add one more new route that will be operated from this base. We hope that Lviv will benefit from the inflow of tourists from Israel, which would stimulate job creation in tourism and hospitality sectors. On the other hand we are also confident that Lviv consumers will appreciate visiting beautiful Tel Aviv all year round and that it becomes popular to book a long weekend [away] in this friendly and warm city.”
Jane Stanbury travelled to Barcelona on Air Charter Travel
EIBTM, the annual global meeting and events expo held between 19 – 21 November 2013 in Barcelona, Spain, demonstrated that this sector of the travel market is certainly showing signs of strengthening again as new countries become popular group destinations, and new buyers are entering the market. Positive trends were shown with over 65,000 pre-scheduled appointments attended and a 7.7% increase in trade visitor attendance, with 40% of these first time visitors to the event.
The renewed confidence witnessed across the industry was further reinforced by two major research reports presented onsite including the findings of Rob Davidson’s EIBTM Industry Trends Report (www.eibtm.com/trendsreport), and The Right Solution’s IBTM Global Research (IBTMevents.com). Both recorded increased levels of optimism as the meetings and events industry continues to remain a critical driver for supporting organisations in their business development.
The reports commented on the general landscape of the sector describing the changes over the last year. In terms of groups travelling it seems Healthcare and Telcoms are leading the way in MICE activity however the automotive sector which had dropped off is returning to the stage, led by the newer Asian producers, rather than the traditional manufacturers. Back high on the list of groups travelling is the cosmetics sector which now considers MICE (Meetings, incentives, conferences, and exhibitions) activity as an essential part of the marketing mix said Sally Greenhill of The Right Solution one of the report’s authors.
In terms of destinations familiar countries such as France, Italy and Spain are still popular however its anticipated that next year Spain will lose some traction with European countries such as Switzerland and Belgium taking over – somewhat inspired by the Flanders 100 years anniversary – and further afield the Ukraine and Russia are becoming popular. Poland has become a rising star of the new destinations with twelve new venues being built and a further 25 international brand hotels opening across the country. Krzysztof Celuch of the Poland Convention Bureau commented that with Poland’s work force spreading through Europe, and more international companies opening in Poland it is ideally positioned, with EU support, to become a major player in the MICE business arena. He added that one of its strengths was its location at an ideal junction where east meets west making it an attractive proposition for many countries.
Demonstrating the importance of the Polish market Air Charter Travel, the UK-based, large group air charter specialist arranged its first ever Hosted Buyer flight from Poland to EIBTM when working in conjunction with event organisers Reed Travel Exhibitions as it arranged a flight for 168 leading Polish travel buyers from Warsaw to Barcelona. The flight was in addition to the regular London Gatwick originating Hosted Buyer operaton that Air Charter Travel has arranged for the last twenty years. “It was exciting to have the opportunity to fly this group to EIBTM. It presented us with an excellent first time opportunity to showcase the benefits of flying by private charter to a whole new market,” said Tim Procter, Managing Director of Air Charter Travel. “Charter flights mean clients can save time and money by travelling on the day they want, at the time they need, directly to their preferred destination without the need for transfers at hubs or any unnecessary lengthy queuing” says Procter about some of the benefits the Polish buyers experienced.
Technology is also having an effect on trends throughout the meetings industry with new technologies adding creative options for events, helping to improve audience engagement and increasing the audience numbers. However the flipside of the experience is the added costs associated with providing the equipment needed and with requirements to demonstrate ROI for the meetings, it was proving hard to justify the expense. Facebook appears to be the most popular social media platform for the industry as it reflects where delegates are mostly active online.
EIBTM employed technology to improve the quality of its own show as it launched EIBTM Live (www.eibtm.com/live), a virtual education stream tailored to meetings industry professionals across the globe.
Key sessions of the EIBTM Knowledge Programme, were streamed online in real time over the three days of the show and received tweets from as far as Canada, Switzerland, Italy and Netherlands. EIBTM also partnered with Genieconnect, tthe event engagement solutions provider for the industry, to deliver a multi-event App which was available for everyone attending the show. The App was designed to enhance the experience of the attendee before, during and after the show, by putting exhibitor and event listings, features and information at their fingertips and enabling them to keep up to date with all EIBTM news. GenieConnect (www.genie-connect.com), also won this year’s EIBTM Technology Watch (www.eibtm.com/techwatch) for its marketing automation and personalisation tool; MarketingConnect. Along with technology the human side was not forgotten with 100 new educational seminars delivered, new networking areas being created, and an improved floor plan allowing easier navigation of the exhibition.
Reed Travel reports they have already booked out 34% of the floor space for EIBTM 2014 so confirming the optimistic and positive outlook from the buzzing sector. www.eibtm.com
The boffins at Amazon claim to have been working on a new delivery system designed to get packages into customers' hands in 30 minutes or less using unmanned aerial vehicles…
The system, dubbed ‘Prime Air’, is apparently some years away and Amazon says it needs to “advance the technology and wait for the necessary FAA rules and regulations.”
Check out this footage from a recent test flight: http://youtu.be/98BIu9dpwHU
We await the day when a card drops through your letter box saying “we’ve been unable to make a delivery because the drone carrying your package was shot down for infringing airspace”!