LCCs Heat Up the Transatlantic Game
The face of transatlantic air travel is changing as low-cost entrants pour into the market. Norwegian Air Shuttle is expanding service to the U.S. this summer, following a years-long battle for approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation and resistance from the three U.S. legacy carriers. Iceland’s Wow Air also is building a network between Europe and the U.S. via Reykjavik. Both carriers regularly offer base fares below $200.
Legacy carriers are getting in on the action, too. British Airways parent company International Airlines Group this summer is launching a low-cost carrier, Level, to fly transatlantic from Barcelona. Air France-KLM plans to launch its own long-haul, LCC, Boost, this year with flights to Asia, and transatlantic expansion also is a possibility. Lufthansa’s low-cost Eurowings brand also is considering expanding its current limited transatlantic service offerings. Source: Travel Procurement
Introducing VAT in Gulf States Is Likely to Raise Prices & Speed Expense Automation
All six Gulf Cooperation Council states—Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar—will introduce value-added tax during 2018, initially at a rate of 5 percent. Expected consequences for corporate travel programs include higher hotel and other costs but also faster adoption of automated expense reporting systems. Meanwhile, per-diem allowances are extremely common in the region, so businesses will have to tackle the cultural challenges of switching to a more transparent expense process or preserve the status quo, which would likely leave them unable to recover trip-related VAT. Source: Business Travel News
Star Alliance Adds Juneyao Airlines as First Connecting Partner
Shanghai-based Juneyao Airlines has joined the Star Alliance as its first Connecting Partner, a new partnership model for smaller regional carriers and low-cost carriers to join the alliance’s network without becoming full members. With the agreement, passengers on Star Alliance carriers connecting to Juneyao flights at both Shanghai airports can check in for their entire itinerary in both directions, and Gold-level Star Alliance members will get privileges on Juneyao flights including priority check-in and boarding and lounge access. Source: BTN
An SME Travel Policy That Has Teeth
Want a travel policy that has some power behind it? Keep it simple, said Partnership Travel Consulting CEO Andy Menkes. He said to focus on three things: Require travelers to use the company’s approved form of payment, which is usually a corporate card; to book through the approved online booking tool or the travel management company of record; and to book preferred airlines and hotels. They should fly on the airlines that offer the company the best discounts, the lowest logical airfare, he said. “Logical being: You don’t take two connecting flights to save $80 when a nonstop will get you there.” Similarly, for hotels, the policy should require travelers to book approved hotels at the negotiated rate in those cities where the company has negotiated rates. Source: BTN
New Law Lets Federal Employees Expense Uber & Lyft
President Donald Trump last month signed a law that ensures federal employees traveling on government business can be reimbursed for using Uber, Lyft and other transportation network operators. Source: BTN
Delta Adds Post-Purchase Upgrade Capabilities
Travelers on Delta now can buy upgrades as separate purchases after making reservations. Regardless of where they bought their ticket, travelers can upgrade to Delta Comfort+, First Class or Delta One as an ancillary purchase through the Delta website or the carrier’s reservations phone line. They also can use different cards; for example, a traveler whose company policy does not allow upgrades could use a corporate card for the flight and a personal card for an upgrade.
In addition, Delta is allowing travelers to upgrade multi-leg journeys by segment. For instance, if a traveler had a short flight to Atlanta that connected to a longer flight, he or she could opt to upgrade only the longer leg rather than upgrading the entire journey, as was previously required. Source: BTN
IAG Will Levy Distribution Charge on GDS Bookings
On Nov. 1, British Airways and Iberia will begin charging a €9.50 fee on fares booked through some third-party channels, including global distribution systems. The Beat, which like BTN is owned by Northstar Travel Group, obtained a memo that BA and Iberia parent company International Airlines Group sent to agency partners. It said the fee, also priced at US$10 and £8, is meant to offset distribution charges and to push booking to channels that use the New Distribution Capability interface or to direct channels like its website or call center. The carriers also “have developed a wide range of NDC-based connections, including direct NDC connections, aggregators, self-booking tools connected via NDC and an IAG booking portal,” according to the memo. Source: BTN
News content licensed from Northstar Travel Media.