BUSINESS TRAVEL NEWS (BTNews)

21 JANUARY 2019

The Business Travel News
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COMMENT: The priority paradox

Like many travellers, BTN is fed up with the growing confusion over bag policies and priority boarding.

The seemingly-innocuous ‘See Terms & Conditions’ injunction attached to bookings – or anything else these days – grows ever more intricate, to no-one’s credit. Passengers are annoyed by the lack of clarity. Airlines lose credibility by being seen to be trying to avoid responsibility for anything, including compensation claims.

Last week Airport Parking & Hotels (APH), the airport parking place company, renowned for its useful travel surveys, produced a welcome new review on the matter, highlighting that Ryanair had recently reduced the amount of baggage non-priority travellers can take on board to just one small personal bag.

APH said the airline promised a decrease in boarding delays as a consequence but a £25 fee if passengers brought a second bag to the gate. Passengers could avoid this fee by previously paying £6 for the benefits of priority boarding, which also allows a second bag on board.

There is, unhappily, another ‘but’, APH added. “With priority boarders now accounting for more than half of the total passengers on board Ryanair flights, many travellers may be left asking if ‘priority’ has now become the majority,” the company said. BTN has in recent weeks experienced serious congestion at the boarding gate. Thankfully unreserved seats are a thing of the past. Providing your hand baggage can go under the seat, why rush?

In an attempt to cut through the confusion, APH has now put together a table to help travellers plan ahead and avoid unexpected baggage fees at the airport. The document compares the priority passes and luggage allowance policies of 10 airlines including easyJet, Ryanair and Flybe and is available on the ‘Know Before You Go’ www.aph.com/community/know-before-you-go section of the company website.

The research compares the size and weight allowances of luggage permitted for priority and non-priority customers. Also listed are the benefits of paying extra for priority boarding and the costs for checking-in luggage before and after the initial time of booking.

Of the 10 airlines researched, two, Ryanair and Wizz Air, demanded that non-priority passengers board an aircraft with one personal bag only. The personal bag must fit under the seat in front – examples include a handbag, small backpack or laptop bag.

For those travelling for longer than a few days, four airlines including Eurowings and Norwegian Air allow non-priority passengers to board an aircraft with one personal bag and one cabin bag as standard. Jet2 and easyJet were found to offer the largest allowance for a cabin bag, with maximum dimensions of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm, the Luton-based airline having no weight limit.

APH said over-packers should make a note to weigh their hand luggage before travelling, since although the majority of airlines provide a weight limit of 10kg, passengers flying with TUI Airways who have not booked a package holiday are limited to carrying just 5kg of hand luggage.

APH also noted travellers who wished to travel with numerous liquids or larger luggage should consider paying the extra fee for hold luggage at the time of booking, since the price of checking-in luggage increases greatly once a flight booking is confirmed. For example, Eurowings doubles the cost for checking-in luggage from £13 to £26 for those who have already confirmed their booking.

easyJet Plus members who pay an annual fee of £199 are permitted to travel with an extra small personal bag and take advantage of priority boarding and seat selection. This includes the various examples of speedy security.

Similarly, along with a fast-track security pass and priority boarding, Thomas Cook Airlines’ Priority Package for £10 ensures priority bags are unloaded first on to the baggage belt at the destination airport.

Are you confused? We are! Visit the APH website.

Aer Lingus unveils new livery

A long-awaited airline new look took to the stage in Dublin on Thursday as Aer Lingus unveiled a new livery, replacing a design in use for 20 years. Star of the show was an Airbus A300-300 showing the changes, including an updated shamrock logo.

The future fleet will be mainly white, a sharp contrast to the former wide use of green, although a muted form of green will still be used in several areas including the tailfin.

The new look comes ahead of the arrival of the first of nine Airbus A321 long-range aircraft Aer Lingus has ordered as part of ambitious expansion plans across the Atlantic.

The aircraft will arrive ready painted in the new livery when they start joining the airline later this year. The rest of the fleet will be repainted as routine maintenance becomes due.

CEO Seán Doyle said the A321s would form the backbone of Aer Lingus’ ambition to become known as “the leading value carrier across the Atlantic” while continuing to serve the interests of premium passengers “as we always have”.

He also took advantage of the opportunity to decry stories of flights being grounded by a hard Brexit after 29 March. “We will continue flying on 30 March as we will have been doing on the 28th,” he said.

www.aerlingus.com

Airports warned over parking

Airport drop-off parking providers were warned of growing pressure last week after it was reported airline passengers are more likely to travel by car or taxi to catch flights from Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton than they were seven years ago.

London’s Evening Standard said the trend had been highlighted in a report showing that despite major investment in rail and coach links to the airports, the proportion of passengers using public transport had actually fallen between 2012 and 2016.

The major exception to the trend was Stansted, with accessibility improved by new coach connections directly to Underground stations such as Stratford, Paddington and Golders Green, the Standard said. London City Airport was also an exception.

The report, from London TravelWatch, said the drop in passengers using public transport “is a concerning trend if the objectives of the airports and the Mayor of London are to be met”.

The proportion using public transport fell from 41% to 39.1% at Heathrow, 44% to 43.6% at Gatwick and 33% to 31.4% at Luton, with public transport failings and cab apps like Uber cited as reasons. It rose at Stansted from 51% to 54.7% and at London City from 50% to 50.9%.

(See also Bristol plans free drop-off zone in this issue).

www.londontravelwatch.org.uk

Amsterdam boost for Aberdeen

Flights to one of Aberdeen International Airport’s top destinations are increasing this summer with KLM bringing in an additional daily flight to Amsterdam, making the total five a day.

The new flights will operate during the months of May, June, September and October. As a result of the extra frequency, an additional 20,000 seats are on sale, increasing capacity on the route by around 10%.

The additional flight will be operated by an Embraer 190, carrying 100 passengers and offering connections to 165 KLM destinations worldwide via the Amsterdam Schiphol Airport hub.

Aberdeen Airport managing director Steve Szalay said: “We warmly welcome KLM’s decision to expand its presence here at the airport and  make more than 20,000 additional seats available for passengers.

“It is a real shot in the arm for Aberdeen Airport as we enter an exciting period with our Terminal Transformation project on course for completion in the autumn.”

Air France-KLM UK & Ireland general manager Benedicte Duval added: “The extra frequency will allow more local people take advantage of KLM’s worldwide network through Schiphol and provide more choice and convenience for inbound travel to Europe’s energy capital, boosting local business.”

www.klm.com   www.aberdeenairport.com

BA boost for Premium Economy

Big improvements including a new “dining experience” for passengers travelling in British Airways’ premium economy cabin, World Traveller Plus, were unveiled by the airline last week as part of its current £6.5bn investment plan.

Changes to the cabin will include new furnishings and an upgraded service with new amenity kits, quilts and pillows while new menus from 1 February will feature a third main meal option and a more substantial hot second meal later in the flight.

Launch menus will include braised British beef (below) with roast new potatoes and onion soubise; roasted guinea fowl with braised red cabbage, green beans, roast potato and mustard and chive jus, and rigatoni pasta in a creamy garlic and herb sauce with leek, pumpkin and baby spinach.

World Traveller Plus passengers will also be able to pre-order their main meals up to 24hr before departure, guaranteeing their first choice. The option can be selected via the ‘manage my booking’ tool on the BA website.

BA unveiled its latest World Traveller Plus seat last year at Gatwick featuring a 50% larger entertainment screen and a six-way adjustable headrest. The seat will feature on the airline’s Airbus A350 aircraft arriving later this year.

www.ba.com

Biofuel world first for Etihad

An Abu Dhabi-based energy research group last week hailed Etihad Airways for achieving the world’s first commercial flight using biofuel made in the UAE. The flight by a Boeing B787 Dreamliner was from Abu Dhabi to Amsterdam.

The announcement was from the Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium (SBRC), a non-profit entity established by the Masdar Institute unit of Khalifa University of Science and Technology.

The B787 was powered by GE’s GEnx-1B engines. SBRC said the flight marked a “major milestone in the development of a clean, alternative aviation fuel to reduce carbon emissions”.

The institute said the initiative also addressed food security in the UAE through the farming of seafood as a core element in the process through the UAE’s Seawater Energy and Agriculture System (SEAS).

Etihad Aviation Group CEO Tony Douglas noted the airline had been at the forefront of aviation biofuel research in the region. “Etihad is fully committed to this project which demonstrates a successful proof of concept that is local, viable, cost-effective and sustainable,” he added.

The sustainable fuel for the flight was derived from oil in Salicornia plants grown on a two-hectare SEAS farm in Masdar City.

www.etihad.com

https://sbrc.masdar.ac.ae

Boeing/Airbus deliveries on track

Aircraft manufacturing rivals Boeing and Airbus scored a near-draw in delivery numbers last year, with the US company slightly ahead with a record 806 commercial aircraft and Airbus announcing a total of 800.

Boeing, which beat its previous all-time high 2017 total of 763, held on the No 1 spot for deliveries for the seventh year running after a surge in the fourth quarter which saw 238 commercial aircraft handed over.

Boeing’s B737 family was the top performer again in 2018, with 580 handed over to customers, almost half of them the updated MAX family. Boeing delivered 69 B737s in December alone and the aircraft made up 72% of the annual total.

The B787 was also said to have performed strongly with 145 delivered from its two assembly plants, but the B777 continued its drop in delivery numbers as Boeing prepares for the introduction of the new B777X next year.

Airbus reached its 2018 aircraft delivery target of 800 after a year of delays due to component shortages, particularly new-generation engines.

The 800 delivery figure was set in early 2018, but at the time excluded the A220. Airbus acquired control of the aircraft in July from Canada’s Bombardier and the inclusion of the A220 in the numbers was enough for Airbus to hit the target.

www.boeing.com

www.airbus.com

Boom moves to next stage

America’s leading contender for the Son of Concorde title, Boom Supersonic, has raised $100m from investors to move to the next stage of development for a Mach 2.2 commercial jet.

The Denver-based company has now renamed the aircraft (below) the Overture. Planned to enter service in about 2025, it will be preceded, possibly this year, by a two-seat, one-third scale demonstrator called the XB-1.

Boom says it will lay the foundation for the larger Overture, designed to seat 55 passengers in an all-Business Class layout. Slightly faster than the Concorde, it would give a flying time between New York and London of less than 4hr and between Sydney and Los Angeles of about 6hr.

Selection efforts are now being made to find a manufacturing site for Overture. Boom has also yet to announce a supplier for the three turbine engines for the Overture. The company says these will need to be able to be adapted to deliver the supersonic speed for the aircraft while conforming to airport noise limits.

Future customers for the Overture include the Virgin Group and Japan Airlines, which have pre-ordered 30 aircraft between them.

https://boomsupersonic.com

Bristol plans free drop-off zone

Calls for action from local communities have led Bristol Airport to agree as part of expansion plans to open an on-site waiting area for taxis alongside a free drop-off facility for private vehicles.

The move follows concerns by residents about the volume of cars dropping off or waiting to pick up passengers in nearby roads, lanes and laybys in order to avoid paying parking charges.

The airport’s commitment to make the change is included in its proposals for a Section 106 Agreement which would accompany permission for growth beyond the current passenger cap of 10m a year.

North Somerset Council is currently consulting on a planning application for facilities required to handle 12m passengers a year by the mid-2020s. The consultation ends next Saturday, 26 January.

Airport planning and sustainability director Simon Earles, said: “We have listened to feedback and this commitment to introduce an on-site waiting area for taxis and a free drop-off facility for private vehicles shows we are taking the issues seriously.

“By accommodating waiting taxis on site and providing a free alternative for private vehicles dropping off passengers, we aim to reduce the impact of growth on local villages. Work is under way to find a location.”

www.bristolairport.co.uk

www.n-somerset.gov.uk

Eurostar third daily to Amsterdam

A third daily direct service between London and Amsterdam and Rotterdam is being introduced by Eurostar from 11 June in response to what the company says is the popularity of its new Netherlands route which launched in April last year.

Eurostar said the increased frequency would give passengers more travel options while making it easier “to choose the environmental benefits of high-speed rail over flying”.

Chief executive Mike Cooper said: “A Eurostar journey from London to Amsterdam results in 80% less carbon per passenger than a flight, and the third service will bring Eurostar’s capacity on the route to the equivalent of 12 flights per day.”

He added: “Our new route to the Netherlands has been met with strong demand from our customers, who increasingly value the ease, comfort and seamless experience of high-speed rail.

“A third train each day will boost capacity while offering more choice and flexibility to travellers connecting between these European cities with highly-competitive fares continuing to start at £35 one way and journey times from just 3hr 13min to Rotterdam and 3hr 52min to Amsterdam.”

www.eurostar.com

Flybe update

The future of Flybe is still confused after a hedge fund which now holds 19% of the shares is threatening an injunction to stop the sale (see COMMENT last week).

Staff at the airline's Exeter headquarters are concerned as to what happens next but within recent days have been paid. Credit card companies are taking bookings and have reportedly relaxed their pre-deal cash restrictions on the company.

Hosking Partners, established in 2014, has also acquired Aeroflot shares, indicating an interest in the air transport area.

Jeremy Hosking is a Brexit supporter but it is not known if the former Stobart chief executive Andrew Tinkler has any involvement.

The Connect Airways consortium that is planning to take over Flybe has increased its offer for the airline and agreed a bridging loan after conditions for the first credit facility could not be met.

Connect, made up of Cyrus Capital, Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group, agreed two weeks ago to acquire Flybe for £2.2m and make available a £20m bridge loan facility to support the airline's ongoing working capital and operational requirements.

In a statement to the market on Tuesday, Flybe said it had had no alternative but to agree to the revisions because unspecified conditions attached to the loan had not been dealt with.

www.flybe.com  www.cyruscapital.com  www.virginatlantic.com  www.stobartgroup.com  www.hoskingpartners.com

Fresh hope for Plymouth Airport

Campaigners fighting to save Plymouth Airport say they are optimistic about the future after a planning inspector reported she was “not minded to modify” Plymouth City Council’s policies in the Joint Local Plan safeguarding the airport for aviation use.

The FlyPlymouth group says the inspector’s final report could be out in March, making the strategy to acquire the airport at a fair market value once the Joint Local Plan process has completed “both realistic and achievable”.

“The task now is to engage with all the stakeholders to work towards a commercial transaction,” the group reported. “How long that will take is uncertain but … subject to the Plan being completed, we could achieve a transaction during the coming year.”

FlyPlymouth over the past seven years has held monthly public meetings followed by a series of quarterly meetings as the debate moved from campaigning to consultation and on to the development of new policies by the city council.

Since 2016, the group has concentrated on developing the first stage of a business plan around general and business aviation while the airport is recommissioned and worked up again.

Now, it says, the clouds could be finally beginning to shift and “Plymouth Airport's prospects are looking brighter as we enter 2019”.

www.flyplymouth.com

www.plymouth.gov.uk

Hampton joins Frankfurt Airport hotels

Business facilities have been boosted at Frankfurt Airport with the opening of a hotel located in the new business district, Gateway Gardens, directly connected to Terminals 1 and 2 and only a 20min drive from the city.

The 196-room Hampton by Hilton is the brand’s newest property and the third in Frankfurt. Joining 10 other Hampton by Hilton properties in Germany, it has been designed to help meet the city’s growing demand for quality airport accommodation.

Frankfurt Airport serves almost 300 destinations via 106 airlines, making it one of the world’s largest and best-connected. It saw more than 64m passengers in 2017, a record number for the airport and a 6.1 % growth on the previous year.

The new 196-room property is a 20m drive from Frankfurt, allowing guests to explore all the city has to offer, including the famous shopping mile, an overflowing choice of local restaurants and world-renowned cultural attractions such as the Städel Museum.

Hampton regional general manager Dieter Esslinger said: “We are excited to grow the Hampton by Hilton experience in Frankfurt and look forward to enriching travellers’ time with our renowned approach to hospitality.”

https://hamptoninn3.hilton.com

www.frankfurt-airport.com

Hong Kong Airport revamp

A number of boarding gates and parking stands at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG) are being renumbered in March to help passengers find their way with the introduction of a Sky Bridge to connect Terminal 1 and the North Satellite Concourse (NSC).

The Sky Bridge, a 200m long weatherproof footbridge equipped with travellators, is one of the enhancement projects at Terminal 1 to increase capacity and provide a hassle-free experience for airport users.

The first phase of the renumbering will be in March, with the second phase following the completion of the Sky Bridge in 2020.

Currently, the boarding gates and parking stands at Terminal 1 are numbered so that the smaller numbers are the closest to the entrances of the restricted area, and numbers increase as passengers walk further into the terminal.

Authorities say the renumbering exercise will follow the same logic, and provide a clear sequence for passengers. Signage will also be updated and extra staff deployed.

On 28 March, Terminal 1 boarding gates and parking stands 15 to 22 will be changed to numbers 5 to 12. Upon the completion of the Sky Bridge, the NSC boarding gates and parking stands 501 to 510 will be renumbered as 13 to 22.

www.hongkongairport.com

New Trains for London City

A contract to supply a fleet of new trains for London’s Docklands Light Railway (DLR), an important link to London City Airport, is expected to be signed “in a few months”, Transport for London (TfL) said last week.

The new models are planned to come into service from 2022, hopefully coinciding with the completion of the airport’s £500m expansion programme.

TfL has now issued an “Invitation to Negotiate” to four pre-qualified bidders – Alstom Transport UK, Bombardier Transportation, Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles and a consortium of Siemens Plc, Stadler Bussang and Stadler Rail Valencia.

This means the four can now proceed to the next stage of the formal procurement process for the trains, which are part of TfL’s multi-billion pound programme of public transport improvements to support London’s growth and new homes and jobs.

The order will include 43 new walk-through trains to increase capacity on the DLR by up to 30%, which TfL says is needed to support the increased popularity of the railway and the continuing redevelopment of the Docklands area.

Features will include on-board real-time information, air-conditioning and mobile device charging points for the first time, to give passengers “better and more efficient journeys”.

https://tfl.gov.uk    www.alstom.com

https://uk.bombardier.com/en/transportation.html

www.caf.net/en   www.siemens.com

Next step for Stansted terminal

Plans for Stansted’s new £150m arrivals terminal have taken a major step forward with the appointment of Mace as the main contractor. Work on the 39,000sq m building is due to start this spring with completion in autumn 2020.

The terminal is the flagship project in the airport’s £600m transformation intended to support future growth and pioneer the next generation of travel at the airport. CEO Ken O’Toole described it as the most critical phase in the programme.

“Stansted’s transformation project is gathering momentum.” He added. “We’ve made fantastic progress so far, but it’s this year when the project starts to take off when work begins on our arrivals terminal.

“The terminal is the most significant contract the airport has awarded as part of this project, and when complete it will provide a first-class, technology enabled, experience for our passengers.”

The new structure will include larger immigration and baggage reclaim areas, a public forecourt and improved access for onward transport options. Stansted will be the only UK airport operating dedicated arrivals and departures terminals.

A fly-through animation has been released showing how Stansted will look after the transformation and how passengers will flow seamlessly through the airport. It can be seen at www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPvpR7qYbzs&t=3s

www.stanstedairport.com

Radisson Blu grows in Abu Dhabi

Two properties have joined the Radisson Blu portfolio in Abu Dhabi, with the arrival of the Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Abu Dhabi Corniche along the sea walk and the Radisson Blu Hotel & Resort, Al Ain in the Garden City.

The Corniche property offers 327 rooms and suites, nine restaurants for a choice of international cuisines for breakfast, lunch or dinner, three swimming pools, a spa and a fitness centre.

Meeting and events space is available from 10 to 2,000 guests, with 14 meeting rooms, two ballrooms and outdoor facilities that include a private beach club for special occasion.

The Al Ain resort features 210 rooms including a range of suites, villas and studios, as well as six restaurants and four bars. A selection of leisure facilities includes swimming pools, tennis courts, a sauna and steam room.

The 1,070sq m of event space includes four meeting rooms, the Oasis Ballroom, which can host 650 guests, and a garden area for social gatherings.

Radisson Hotel Group area senior vice-president Tim Cordon said: “Abu Dhabi continues to flourish as a destination, with significant investment into demand generators for the visitor sector and we’re proud to be playing a supporting role in this evolution.”

www.radissonblu.com/en/resort-abu-dhabi-corniche

www.radissonblu.com/en/resort-al-ain

Royal Brunei adds Brisbane

Passengers on the UK – Australia “Boomerang Route” will have a new way to travel from 11 June when Royal Brunei Airlines begins flights between its home base and Brisbane for the first time since 2011. The non-stop service will be Airbus A320neo.

The airline is already consolidating its position as a key player on the Down Under route following the launch of daily non-stops by Airbus A380 Dreamliner between Heathrow and Brunei in October 2018 offering connections to Melbourne.

CEO Karam Chand said: “We are proud to announce the reconnection of Brunei and Brisbane. Our one-stop London – Melbourne route has proved very popular and we are delighted to offer UK travellers an additional Australian travel destination.

“Thanks to our non-stop route between London and Brunei, UK passengers can travel to Australia in less than 22hr, with a minimum stopover time in Brunei of just 1hr 55min.”

UK & Ireland country manager Adiel Mambara added: “The UK – Australia market is extremely important to us and serving Brisbane again allows us to open up an entirely different part of the continent to our guests.”

Royal Brunei is also offering dual-destination packages to passengers travelling from the UK to places such as Kuching, Kota Kinabalu or Manila via the Brunei hub.

www.flyroyalbrunei.com

SIA extends meal pre-ordering

A new service enabling passengers travelling in Suites, First Class and Business Class from anywhere in its global network to pre-order main courses from the inflight menus has been introduced by Singapore Airlines (SIA).

The company has become the first carrier to roll out the bespoke service on all flights. There are also plans to extend the facility to Premium Economy Class “in the near future”.

Passengers in the premium cabins can view the inflight menu and pre-order main courses from the SIA website at any time from three weeks to 24hr before travel. The system was tested with a soft launch in August for flights to and from northern Asia.

SIA senior vice-president for customer experience said: “The response to our soft launch of the pre-ordering service was very encouraging, and we are now pleased to offer it to all premium-class customers across our global network.

“The introduction of this new service is another of our industry firsts and demonstrates our commitment to the constant enhancement of our product and service offerings, and our increased focus on personalisation for customers, both on the ground and in the air.”

www.singaporeair.com

Sinclair to speak at Aviation Club

The Aviation Club begins its 2019 lunch programme on Thursday 7 February with London City Airport CEO Robert Sinclair as guest speaker. Formerly CEO at Bristol Airport, he joined LCY in October 2017.

His arrival coincided with an exciting time for the airport, which had revealed plans for an ambitious new growth strategy. Just over one year on, the centrepiece £500m development programme, scheduled for completion in 2022, is moving forward.

The airport has also seen a number of new routes and destinations in the UK and abroad introduced, while the promise of improved surface access for passengers is another item high on the agenda.

Latest developments at the airport include the arrival of Polish airline LOT as the latest carrier to introduce services with twice-daily flights to Warsaw, while Flybe has begun an operation to Newcastle, also with morning and evening rotations (BTN last week).

LCY has also released new concept images showing how it is being transformed under the £500m development. Officials say the new terminal design “will reflect 21st-century London, supported by new shops, restaurants, bars and experiences which are synonymous with the capital”. (BTN 7 January).

(See also New trains for London City in this issue).

https://aviationclub.org.uk

www.londoncityairport.com

Southend Airport in expansion mode

Expansion plans for Southend Airport (SEN) over the next 12 months were outlined by owner Stobart Group last week as it celebrated with local and regional businesses and key stakeholders the 10th anniversary of acquiring the airport.

Developments for 2019 already include the current runway resurfacing to allow a greater variety of aircraft to operate and the April arrival of new partner Ryanair, which plans to base three aircraft there, creating 11 new routes.

Further schemes outlined to the assembled guests by Stobart Aviation CEO Glyn Jones (below) include extending the terminal, introducing self-service bag drop facilities and increasing the number of food and beverage outlets for passengers.

Others at the gathering at the Holiday Inn at Southend Airport included Stobart Group CEO Warwick Brady, Southend Borough Council leader John Lamb and chief executive Ali Griffin plus Castle Point Council leader Norman Smith.

Jones told the audience the airport will also be submitting plans to build a second hotel, adding “As we get bigger, we also want to get better – unlike other airports, we have absolutely no intention of letting the passenger experience slip as we grow.”

https://southendairport.com

www.stobartgroup.co.uk

ON TOUR: Amadeus Media Day

Just before the holidays, Business Travel News visited the impressive Madrid headquarters of Amadeus, a company that most of us in the travel industry have heard about but are not sure just where it fits. The occasion brought together travel technology journalists from all over Europe keen to learn more and hear about a largely-unheralded but major player in the air travel scene.



Amadeus has in the past been low key in presenting itself. But times are changing. It is keen to be seen and heard telling the world what it is all about. And what it is all about can be summed up very easily. It is the world’s largest aviation technology supplier.

Essentially a global distribution system (GDS), but now with a host of peripheral activities, Amadeus was established in 1987 as a partnership between Air France, Iberia, Lufthansa and SAS. A public offering was made in October 1999, with the company becoming listed on the Paris, Frankfurt and Madrid stock exchanges.

Progressively and in line with industry evolution, Amadeus has diversified its operations by focusing on information technologies to deliver services spanning beyond sales and reservation functionalities, centred on streamlining the operational and distribution requirements of its customer base.

Amadeus is big, with a 2017 turnover of €4.852bn. It has more than 17,000 employees made up of 146 nationalities and in 2017 processed more than 630m bookings, representing 1.6bn passenger boardings. According to Forbes magazine, it is one of the world’s top 10 software companies.

Introduced by director of group communications Ben Hunt, the Amadeus Media Day was an intense 6hr of presentations covering the whole spectrum of airline data incorporation and financial integration. The term NDC (New Distribution Capability) was introduced, one of many acronyms coming into the industry.

Vice-president for airlines strategy and marketing David Doctor used the WTTC 2017 Economic Impact projections to indicate how he saw growth for the future. (see above)

The Amadeus Travel Platform is the core of the investment programme. It fell to Fredrik Odeen, a 10-year Amadeus veteran, to explain how he and his team work hand in hand with operators and travel sellers to ensure smooth integration. 

Based on fully open systems that harness the intelligent use of data, as a one-stop shop it brings together all relevant travel content – including air, accommodation, train, car hire, insurance and destination – from any source (be it the United Nations-sponsored EDIFACT, GDS, NDC and API) into a single platform. 

Putting it another way Amadeus works for 770 airlines, 128 airport operators, 112 ground handlers, 300-plus hotel chains, 90 rail operators, 45 car rental companies, 29 insurance provider groups and 54 cruise and ferry lines.

The concept is simple. Access to the broadest range of global travel content, all in one place.

With the travel platform, it is able to accommodate different business models, giving flexibility and autonomy over how content is sourced, managed and displayed. The content can be displayed through multiple channels and touchpoints such as self-booking tools, web services, travel agency front office solutions and mobile.

The appointment of Stefan Ropers to lead its Strategic Growth Businesses (effective 1 February) is a clear indication of Amadeus forward thinking. Ropers is an industry heavyweight most recently head of Adobe in central Europe with two periods at Microsoft, first as global head of Server and Cloud Sales, based in Redmond (USA), and then later as COO and CMO Central & Eastern Europe, based in Munich. As part of his new role, Ropers will also take on responsibility for Amadeus' Innovation function.

Amadeus will again have a prominent presence at the Business Travel Show (Olympia London 20-21 February 2019), where the company will be demonstrating the latest version of its integrated trip booking and expense solution, Amadeus Cytric Travel & Expense.

Also being showcased will be a solution to trip planning management as part of the everyday work environment and its integration with Microsoft Outlook and Salesforce.  


This world map offers a graphic indication of the magnitude of Amadeus, showing the key sites and research locations.

https://amadeus.com

AND FINALLY: Mind your manners

As if travel is not fraught enough, eating-out overseas is a minefield for Brits, according to research for tailor-made holiday specialist Travelbag.

Key findings include the fact 92% of UK foodies didn’t feel confident about how much to tip – and 79% didn’t know it’s rude to tip in China.

As for dining etiquette, 80% had no idea it’s offensive to leave chop sticks standing upright in a bowl of rice in Japan while 70% also didn’t know they should avoid crossing their legs when sitting in Dubai

On signalling the waiter, half of Brits did not know a ‘thumbs up’ is offensive in several countries and 63% did not know that the ‘OK’ hand has different meanings in different countries

Travelbag has now created etiquette guides for Japan, Australia, Dubai, Mexico, Thailand, China, Argentina and India, available to download as below:

www.travelbag.co.uk/blog/2018/december/a-guide-to-global-etiquette