Posts Tagged ‘Airlines’

Picking Planes Wired for Wi-Fi

Business Travel Footnotes for June 2011

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A Business Travel Update from Wilcox World Travel and Tours,   1 West Pack Sq, Suite 1700,   Asheville NC   28801   828-254-0746

Airlines

More Airlines are Making More on Those Ancillary Fees

All those fees for services and amenities that used to be included in your airline ticket—baggage (although Southwest Airlines lets you check two bags free and your first checked bag is free with JetBlue Airways), seat assignments, meals, in-flight entertainment–are adding up. The number of airlines charging those fees increased from 23 to 47 last year, according to an annual study by Amadeus, a major global distribution system. Fee revenues were up 38 percent to $21.46 billion. And for a few airlines, ancillary fee revenue now generates nearly 30 percent of their revenue. Topping that list: vacation carrier Allegiant Air, 29 .2 percent; Spirit Airlines, 22.1 percent. (Source: Amadeus press release).

What Bothers Air Travelers Most? Fees and Discomfort

All those ancillary fees and lack of comfort are sore points with air travel consumers and it’s why some people are traveling less, according to a Consumer Reports survey. Eight of ten major airlines got low grades on seat comfort and several others got low marks for cabin crew service, cleanliness and in-flight entertainment. Two exceptions: Southwest Airlines and JetBlue Airways. Southwest got top marks for check-in and cabin crew; JetBlue scored tops on seating comfort. US Airways scored lowest overall and got the worst marks for cabin crew service. Flyers were also unhappy about service fees—40 percent of those who say they’re flying less blame fees. The fewer fees airlines charged, the happier passengers were with them—and, interestingly enough, both Southwest and JetBlue go easy on baggage fees. (Source: Consumer Reports press release).

More People Will Take to the Skies This Summer

The Air Transport Association of America is projecting that about 1.5 percent more people will fly this summer than did last year, to the tune of 2.24 million people in the air every day. The ATA predicts that 206.2 million passengers will fly between June and August. That is well below the pre-recessionary high of 217.6 million in the summer of 2007. (Source: ATA press release).

Airfares Rise in Fourth Quarter 2010

Average domestic airfares rose to $337 in the fourth quarter of 2010, up 5.2 percent from the average fare of $320 in the fourth quarter of 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. Newark-Liberty, NJ, had the highest average fare, $461, while Atlantic City, NJ, had the lowest, $156. Despite that increase, airlines are correct in saying that, long-term, fares are staying low. The DOT calculates that in 1995 dollars, the average airfare in the fourth quarter of 2010 was $236, compared to $288 in 1995 and $300 in 2000. Adjusting for inflation in 1995 dollars, fares in 2010 averaged $235, up 6.7 percent from 2009 but down 21.6 percent from the inflation-adjusted high of $300 in 2000. (Source: DOT press release).

Tarmac Delays Keep Decreasing

There is some good news for flyers. March was the fourth month out of the last six that the nation’s airlines reported no tarmac delays of more than three hours, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report just released by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).  A year ago, in March 2010, the carriers reported 25 tarmac delays longer than three hours.  Carriers also reported a decrease in the rate of canceled flights in March compared to a year earlier.  (Source: DOT press release).

 

Hotels

Hotel Occupancies, Rates Expected to Go Up

Increasing demand, lagging new construction and an economic recovery that should pick up for the second half of the year bodes well for hotels and means travelers will face slightly fuller hotels and modest price increases, according to consulting company PwC. According to Macroeconomic Advisors, the economic growth that slowed somewhat for the first part of year should gain traction in the second half of the year. That, combined with still-subdued hotel development, means U.S. hotel occupancy should average 59.8 percent this year; rates should increase 3.7 percent this year and 5.5 percent in 2012. (Source: PwC press release).

Some Markets See Major Occupancy Increases

Among the top 25 hotel markets in the U.S., five are seeing year-over-year hotel occupancy increases in the double digits. Houston is up 14.8 percent to 65.1 percent; Nashville is up 11.2 percent to 65.4 percent; Norfolk – Virginia Beach is up 10.8 percent to 59.2 percent; Orlando is up 10.8 percent to 76.4 percent and Minneapolis-St. Paul is up 10 percent to 64.1 percent, according to the hotel consulting company STR. (Source: STR press release).

Easter, World Events Cause Temporary Lull for Business Travel

The double-digit growth that business travel had seen earlier this year slowed in April, due primarily to the Easter holiday and world events. These included the earthquakes in Japan and New Zealand and simmering tensions in North Africa and the Middle East. But Pegasus Solutions, the world’s biggest processor of hotel transactions, calls this just a temporary slowdown. “The fundamentals driving corporate travel recovery – overall economies, corporate earnings, business trips and meetings/conference travel – are improving and increasing, while pent-up consumer demand and slow room supply growth portend a better summer travel season than last year’s,” said Mike Kistner, CEO of Pegasus. (Source: Pegasus press release).

Car and Rail

Amtrak to Add More Free Wi-Fi to Trains This Year

Amtrak plans to expand its on-board free Wi-Fi this year. It plans to install AmtrakConnect on more trains in the Northeast Corridor and on more West Coast trains. It has also completed building a dedicated wireless network that improves connectivity and delivers a high-speed signal to trains traveling through New York City tunnels. Amtrak also plans on upgrading its system to 4G to increase available bandwidth. Free Wi-Fi is already available on Acela Express trains between Washington, D.C. and Boston and on Amtrak Cascades trains. (Source: Amtrak press release).

clip_image003[6] Spotlight on:  Sleeping With Your Smartphone

Smartphones and similar handhelds have become so integral to their users’ lives that more than 60 percent of mobile workers sleep with their smartphone, according to a the quarterly Mobile Workforce Report produced by iPass, which provides enterprise mobility services. Ninety-one percent of mobile workers check their smartphones even during off hours, 30 percent check them every six to 12 minutes, even when they’re technically off duty. All of this takes its toll.

  • The average mobile worker works 240 hours a year longer than the general population
  • Thirty-eight percent of mobile workers wake up at night to check their smartphone
  • Thirty-five percent check email in the morning before getting dressed or eating breakfast.
  • Twenty-nine percent report that their mobile technology use causes friction with their spouse or partner.

(Source: iPass press release).

 

Wilcox World Travel and Tours is committed to providing you with useful information on the latest developments in the travel industry. The above information has been compiled from a variety of sources and is updated monthly.

Business Travel Footnotes for May 2011

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A Business Travel Update from Wilcox World Travel and Tours,   1 West Pack Sq, Suite 1700,   Asheville NC   28801   828-254-0746

Airlines

State Department Issues Summer Long Foreign Travel Alert

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 01: Thousands of people cel...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

 

The State Department’s worldwide travel alert issued after U.S. Special Forces units killed Osama bin Laden advises Americans to exercise caution if they’re in areas more prone to anti-American violence. It suggests that travelers overseas enroll in the State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) for travel updates, information and security issues. It’s important to note that support for Osama bin Laden in the Arab world has fallen sharply, according to two highly respected sources, the ABC News Polling Unit and the Pew Research Center, (Source, State Department press release, ABCNews.com)

Issues New DOT Rules Give Passengers a Break

New Department of Transportation rules have brought sweeping changes to the way airlines deal with you. Airlines now must disclose hidden fees, pay back your baggage fee if they lose your bags and pay you more for bumping you—as much as doubling the amount in some instances. Airlines now must let you cancel reservations at no charge within 24 hours of making that reservation as long as it is at least seven days before departure. (Some airlines already do this). The new rule also expands the ban on lengthy tarmac delays. What it doesn’t do, however, is to require airlines to display full fee information on any platform selling airline fees. Right now, it only requires airlines to provide all fee information on their own websites, but not to travel agencies (online or brick and mortar) or travel management companies (TMCs). That makes it tough to do comparison shopping when you’re trying to find the least expensive flight. (Source: DOT press release, Global Business Travel Association press releases).

Airlines Add Employees

For the third month in a row, passenger airline employees increased, by one tenth of a percent. Three network airlines cut employees–American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and United Airlines, according to the Department of Transportation. Low-cost carriers Virgin America, Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air, JetBlue Airways, AirTran Airways and Southwest Airlines increased employees. Low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines reported a 3.1 percent decrease in employees. (Source: DOT press release).

Air Revenues Are Up 13 Percent

Although airlines are battling high fuel costs, the Air Transport Association reported that passenger revenue rose 13 percent in March 2011 compared to the same month in 2010, marking the 15th consecutive month of revenue growth. U.S. domestic revenue grew 12.5 percent, fueled in large part by an 11.5 percent yield increase.Trans-Atlantic revenue grew 7 percent from a year ago, but represented the smallest increase of the four major regions tracked by ATA, largely due to a softer pricing environment. Trans-Pacific revenue rose by 14 percent despite a 10 percentage point drop in load factor.  Routes to and within the Pacific region posted the largest yield increase (16 percent) of any region. (Source: ATA press release).

Airlines Increase Capacity to Meet Demand

Planes are flying full, airline revenues are up, so carriers are adding capacity, according to the OAG Frequency Capacity Trend Statistics. Airlines are adding 17.9 million seats, a 6 percent increase, a percentage point ahead of the 5 percent monthly capacity increase so far this year. The Asia Pacific and Middle East are showing the most growth, intra European routes are next. China is now the second largest domestic market, second only to the United States. (Source: OAG press release).

Hotels

Summer Prospects Are Looking Up For U.S. Hotels

U.S. hotels should see occupancy and rates increase modestly this summer, according to STR, a major hotel consulting company. STR predicts that occupancies will increase 1.7 percent to 66.7 percent and average daily rates will increase 4.1 percent to $103.01. Demand should recover in earnest this summer, according to STR, but rising fuel costs could dampen that. (Source: STR press release).

U.S Hotel Occupancies Up 6.1 Percent in Spring

The U.S. hotel industry is building momentum. March occupancy and rate numbers were up 6.1 percent and 3.8 percent respectively, according to STR. That’s a sign of an ongoing recovery, according to the hospitality consulting company. Major markets showing rate increases are San Francisco, up 12 percent, Oahu, up 9 concerns that there is enhanced potential for anti-American violence in the wake of bin Laden’s death are behind the State Department’s worldwide travel alert. percent, New Orleans, up 8.9 percent and Chicago, up 7 percent. (Source: STR).

Car Rental

Hertz Repositions Fun Cars and Green Collection

Hertz has renamed two of its collections. The Fun Collection is now the Adrenaline Collection, which features muscle cars such as the Camaro SS, the Mustang GT Premium and the Challenger RT. All will come with free Sirius XM radio. The Green Collection is now the Green Travel Collection and is made up entirely of hybrid, plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs). By the end of the year, Hertz expects to have hundreds of EVs on the road. (Source: Hertz press release).

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Business travel hit a post-recession high at the end of the last quarter of 2010, according to the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA). The GBTA Business Travel Index (BTI) is at its highest level since the recession began in 2008. This is good news for the economy, since GBTA Foundation research shows that increasing business travel spending is a leading indicator of future job growth. Stronger economic growth and the expectation of slightly higher prices drove the BTI higher.

* The GBTA revised the index upward from 108 for Q4 2010 to 112, its highest since Q3 2008

* That represent $1.9 billion more in business travel spending than originally forecast

* For the year, total U.S. spending on business travel grew 3.2 percent

* Business travel spending for 2011 is now expected to be up 6.9 percent for the year, up from the original 5 percent forecast

* Travel costs are starting to increase, going up 2.5 percent in 2010 and projected to increase by 2 to 4 percent this year.

Source: GBTA press release.

 

Wilcox World Travel and Tours is committed to providing you with useful information on the latest developments in the travel industry. The above information has been compiled from a variety of sources and is updated monthly.

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Business Travel Footnotes for April 2011

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A Business Travel Update from Wilcox World Travel and Tours,   1 West Pack Sq, Suite 1700,   Asheville NC   28801   828-254-0746

Airlines

U.S. Airline Revenues Are Up—But Oil Costs Hurt

Passenger revenues for U.S. carriers were up 13 percent in February, the latest figures available from the Air Transport Association, marking the 14th consecutive month of revenue growth for a core group of U.S. airlines. Miles flown by paying passengers were up 2.1 percent, while the average price to fly one mile rose 10.8 percent. International markets remained especially strong, with passenger revenue growing 17 percent, led by a 27 percent increase in Pacific revenue. Domestic revenue grew 11.5 percent, fueled in large part by a 10.5 percent increase in yield. Figures are based on data from seven major U.S. carriers and 20 regional carriers. (Source: ATA press release).

Air Traffic is Up, But Still Below Pre-Recession Levels

Air traffic was up 2.9 percent in December 2010 over December 2009 according to the latest figures from the Department of Transportation. The December 2010 passenger total was 2.1 percent above that of two years ago in December 2008 but still remained 3.6 percent below the pre-recession level of 60.8 million in December 2007. The number of scheduled domestic and international passengers on U.S. airlines increased 2.4 percent in 2010 over 2009 to 720.4 million. The number of passengers declined 3.1 percent from the full year 2008 to the full year 2010. U.S. airlines carried 1.9 percent more domestic passengers and 5.9 percent more international passengers in the full year 2010 than in 2009. In December, Southwest Airlines carried more total system and domestic passengers than any other U.S. airline. (Source: Department of Transportation).

Triple Digit Oil Prices Could Crimp Business Travel Growth—But Not Stop It

Short-term oil price spikes might slow business travel growth but shouldn’t stop it, according to a study by the Global Business Travel Foundation. It found that because business travel pays off, companies will continue to invest in it even if rising fuel costs make travel more expensive. Even if oil hits $200 per barrel, business travel and the number of trips taken would continue—although high oil prices would hurt the rate of projected business travel growth over time. (Source: GBTA press release).

No Tarmac Delays of Longer Than Three Hours In February

No airline passengers sat on the tarmac for more than three hours in February, down from 60 flights in February 2010, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). February was the tenth full month of data since a new rule prohibiting carriers from keeping planes on the tarmac for more than three hours went into effect. Large parts of the country saw severe weather during February, and airlines cacneled 4.9 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, compared to 5.4 percent in February 2010 and 3.9 percent in January 2011. The number of canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours increased only slightly, from 289 between May 2009 and February 2010 to 331 between May 2010 and February 2011. There were 19 canceled flights with tarmac delays of more than two hours in February 2011, down from 21 in February 2010. (Source: DOT).

United Continental Expands Wi-Fi Service to More Than 200 Aircraft

United Continental Holdings, Inc., is adding Wi-Fi service to more than 200 domestic Boeing 737 and 757. It’s using LiveTV’s Ka-band technology, which offers offer higher transmission speeds for more extensive onboard connection capabilities, including browsing content-rich websites, sending and receiving e-mails and downloading files. The airline will start offering the new service next year. Right now, United offers in-flight Wi-Fi on 14 aircraft. (Source: United Continental Holdings press release).

Hotels

Hotel Industry is Recovering, But Rates Stay Low

Hotel.com’s Hotel Price Index found that global hotel rates rose two percent last year, but that attractive pricing remains. It found higher occupancy levels for major business centers like London, Paris, Singapore, and New York due to the return of business travel. Las Vegas also benefited, as convention business returned to the desert. International arrivals grew over 5% in 2010 and occupancy in luxury properties in the U.S. is running between ten and fifteen points higher than in the lower star categories. Vegas remains the country’s favorite place to visit, followed by New York, Orlando, Chicago, and San Francisco. Top U.S. cities that saw significant year-over-year increases at five-star properties in 2010 were: Boston (21%), Chicago (20%), Miami (10%), San Francisco (22%), and Washington (16%). (Source: Hotels.com press release).

Outlook for U.S. Hotel Industry Continues to Improve
PKF Hospitality Research (PKF-HR) said outlook for the U.S. lodging industry continues to improve, though at an uneven pace. PKF-HR forecasts that U.S. hotels in the main should achieve a 7.1 percent increase in room revenue in 2011. This is greater than the 5.6 percent room revenue growth rate projected by PKF-HR in December 2010. The improving economy isn’t the only reason for improving demand. Sharp price discounts also help—PKF research found record declines throughout 2009 and early 2010. PKF’s research shows the improving economy is helping the affluent most, which means upper-tier hotels are seeing increased occupancies. They should be able to raise their prices sooner than mid-market and lower-tier hotels.

Car Rental

Auto Europe Warns that Japan’s Disaster Could Hurt Rental Car Inventory

Auto Europe is advising rental car customers, especially those in Europe, to lock in their rentals early because of the impact of the Japanese tsunami and earthquake on Japanese auto parts and technology providers. Because of an anticipated bottleneck, some European manufacturers are already talking about reducing hours, which could affect rental car companies ability to “fleet up,” according to Eric Ledroux, president of Auto Europe. (Source: Auto Europe press release).

clip_image003[4] Spotlight on:  Business Travel Monitor

The American Express Business Travel Monitor shows that hotel rates are holding steady but that increasing demand and higher fuel prices mean that there’s probably no end in sight for rising airfares.

· Domestic and international fares were up seven percent in 2010.

· Domestic hotel rates stayed flat, while international rates bumped up just one percent in 2010.

· The bottom line: companies have to carefully calibrate their travel spending, paying close attention to the economy and their business needs.

Source: American Express press release.

 

Wilcox World Travel and Tours is committed to providing you with useful information on the latest developments in the travel industry. The above information has been compiled from a variety of sources and is updated monthly.

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Business Travel Footnotes for March 2011

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A Business Travel Update from Wilcox World Travel and Tours,   1 West Pack Sq, Suite 1700,   Asheville NC   28801   828-254-0746

Airlines

Air Traffic Is Up—But So Are Oil Prices

Air traffic continues to increase, says the International Air Transport Association, with passenger traffic up 8.2 percent in January, better than December, when severe weather in Europe and North America slowed the recovery. January’s air travel volumes were 18 percent higher compared to the low point reached in early 2009 and some 6 percent above the pre-recession peak of early 2008. The problem with this otherwise rosy picture? Oil prices. The industry’s current forecasts were based on $84 per barrel oil and that price is now up to more than $100, said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO. A $1 increase in the price of oil means the industry has to recover $1.6 billion in additional costs. Bottom line? It’s another challenging year for airlines. (Source: IATA press release).

Airlines Gingerly Test the Waters With Fare Increase

Airlines keep testing the waters with fare increases. Early last month, several carriers initiated fuel surcharges that ranged from $4 to $10, according to airfare comparison website FareCompare.com. Except for some peak travel “miscellaneous” surcharges for popular travel periods, U.S. consumers haven’t seen domestic fuel surcharges since November 2008, according to Rick Seaney, FareCompare’s CEO. And airlines continue to try hiking fares. Late last month legacy carriers tried a $20 fare hike but ultimately cut that in half when low-cost carriers countered with a $10 fare hike of just $10. (Source: FareCompare.com).

American Fined for Charging Bumped Passengers a Fee to Use Travel Vouchers

Read the fine print if you volunteer to give up your seat on an overbooked flight. The Federal Aviation Administration has fined American Airlines $90,000 for failing to disclose that vouchers given to passengers who voluntarily gave up their seats on oversold flights could be redeemed only after paying a ticketing fee of as much as $30. Airlines have to look for volunteers before involuntarily bumping passengers, when the Department of Transportation requires the airlines to pay travelers cash in most cases. Ray LaHood, US Transportation secretary, said that if you give up your seat, you deserve full compensation—and not find out later that they have to pay $30 to use it. (Source: DOT press release).

Major Carriers Tout Service into Tokyo’s Haneda Airport

Carriers are adding flights to Tokyo’s Haneda Airport, located near Tokyo’s business center, even as they maintain service to the larger—and more distant—Narita. Delta Air Lines is now flying between Tokyo-Haneda and Detroit and Los Angeles. American Airlines has also begun flying nonstop between JFK and Haneda. The new service is a result of the Open Skies Agreement that the U.S. and Japan signed in October. U.S. carriers aren’t the only airlines flying into the more conveniently located Haneda; British Airways launched its new route to Haneda in Japan on Feb. 19. (Source: American, British Airways, Delta press releases).

Low Cost Carriers Add Workers; Network Carriers Cut Them

Low-cost carriers reported an increase in fulltime employees in December, the latest figures available, while network carriers reported fewer, according to the Department of Transportation. The result was that the number of fulltime employees for passenger airlines increased .2 percent. It’s a major turnaround for the industry, which saw employee numbers drop for the 28 months up until November 2010, when there was no change. (Source: DOT press release).

Hotels

Hotel Industry Appears to Start Recovery

If you’ve been enjoying low rates and easy availability at your favorite hotels, the market is beginning to tighten, but not by much. U.S. hotel occupancy and rates are starting to edge up. In year-over-year measurements, the industry’s occupancy was up 5.8 percent to 47.7 percent. Average daily rates ended the month with a 2.8-percent increase to $96.64. Demand is strong and room rates are edging up slightly, with the higher end of the market outpacing moderately priced hotels, according to Smith Travel Research. The hotel research and consulting company expects this trend to continue over the next several months, (Source: STR press release).

Luxury Hotels Keep Their Customers Happiest

Value does not mean cheap when it comes to hotels. Even though economy guests say that price is the most important element in their choices, economy hotels received the lowest value scores (79.2) in the 2010 Market Metrix Hospitality Index released last month. Upscale hotels received the top scores for delivering value (83.5). Hotel loyalty programs also played a bigger role for guests in choosing a hotel than in 2009. (Source: Market Metrix press release).

Car and Rail

Amtrak to Add More Free Wi-Fi to Trains This Year

Amtrak plans to expand its on-board free Wi-Fi this year. It plans to install AmtrakConnect on more trains in the Northeast Corridor and on more West Coast trains. It has also completed building a dedicated wireless network that improves connectivity and delivers a high-speed signal to trains traveling through New York City tunnels. Amtrak also plans on upgrading its system to 4G to increase available bandwidth. Free Wi-Fi is already available on Acela Express trains between Washington, D.C. and Boston and on Amtrak Cascades trains. (Source: Amtrak press release).

clip_image003[6] Spotlight on:  How Travel Helps Build Your Business

Hitting the road is good for your company’s bottom line, according to an American Express and Global Business Travel Association study. The study found that companies overlook how travel can give them a competitive edge. Among its findings:

· Every dollar strategically spent on business travel delivers $20 in additional gross profit.

· To get that return requires spending an average of 4 percent more on travel—or about $70 per employee.

· Industries that could benefit from more business travel spending: banking, finance, retail, and pharmaceuticals.

Source: American Express Global Business Travel press release.

 

Wilcox World Travel and Tours is committed to providing you with useful information on the latest developments in the travel industry. The above information has been compiled from a variety of sources and is updated monthly.

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