The Business of Travel

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The Official Blog of the Global Business Travel Association


Week in Review

Eight airlines have flaws in their e-ticketing systems that could expose passengers’ personal information, TechNewsWorld reports. The airlines are sending unencrypted check-in links, which could allow hackers to view or change passengers’ flight booking details or boarding passes. The airlines in question are Southwest Airlines, KLM, Air France, Vueling, Jetstar, Thomas Cook, Transavia, and Air Europa.

China Airlines cancelled 26 flights departing from or arriving in the country from Friday through Sunday, Focus Taiwan writes. The airline cancelled the flights due to a pilots’ strike.

Thomas Cook is conducting a “strategic review” of its airline and may consider selling it, BBC notes.

From using a privacy filter on your laptop to using a juice-jack protector, The New York Times shares tips for safeguarding your information while traveling.

Luggage-storage service LuggageHero recently raised $1.45 million in funding to expand its operations in the U.S. and Europe, Phocuswire writes. The service enables travelers to book storage space for their luggage or bags on an hourly basis.

Are you looking for a new way to compare hotel prices on your computer? According to HotelMarketing’com, Google’s new Price Insights feature allows users to compare the price of one hotel to the price of others in the same location. Users can also see how hotel rates fluctuate by day.

Gillian Keegan, Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Chichester, recently shared her unique perspective on the outlook for the business travel industry in a post-Brexit world.

According to BusinessGhana, Berlin-based Germania Airline filed for bankruptcy and cancelled all of its flights with immediate effect.

Amtrak is looking to extend its service to the Long Island region, Business Traveller writes. The company has reached an agreement with New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority to “jointly study ways to extend Amtrak service beyond New York’s Penn Station to Long Island.”

United announced it will retrofit more than 100 planes as part of a move to add 1,600 premium seats on nearly 250 jets, AP News reports.


Week in Review

On Tuesday, the UK parliament rejected the Brexit deal that PM Theresa May had reached with the European Union, NPR reports. As the March 29 deadline quickly approaches, it’s possible that the UK will leave the EU with no deal in place. The UK could also unilaterally reverse its decision to leave, as ruled by the bloc’s highest court.

Car rental giant Enterprise is set to acquire corporate travel provider Deem, Skift notes. The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.

Also in acquisition news, TechCrunch reports American Express acquired Japan-based restaurant booking service Pocket Concierge in an undisclosed deal.

According to The Seattle Times, divers have recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the Lion Air jet that crashed in October. The aircraft crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after taking off, killing all 189 people on board.

After the arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Canada, China is asking some of its state-run enterprises to avoid business trips to the U.S. and its allies, Bloomberg notes. The country is also asking them to take extra precautions to protect their devices if travel is necessary.

On the branding front, Travel Weekly reports Marriott is relaunching its loyalty program as Marriott Bonvoy, encompassing its Marriott Rewards, Starwood Preferred Guest, and Ritz-Carlton Rewards platforms.

Aer Lingus also unveiled a rebrand of their logo and livery this week, Buying Business Travel writes. The airline is set to take delivery of four A321LRs this year, which will allow them to introduce a new business class product.

According to Skift, event organizers are planning for stretched budgets this year. A poll of 1,200 event creators revealed that half expect their budget for 2019 to remain the same as the previous year; however, 49% also said they expect to be responsible for more events than last year.

All Nippon Airways is trialing driverless buses in a restricted area at Tokyo Haneda Airport, Business Traveller notes. The airline will run tests until January 25, and if the trial is successful, it could lead to the implementation of driverless buses at the airport by 2020.

The future of travel could also hold flying taxi services. According to Skift, Switzerland’s national rail service is in talks to develop air taxis that would transport customers from rail stations to destinations.


Week in Review

Today, on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, we urge you to join the fight to help end trafficking. It can be as simple as training your associates to recognize the sign or including language in RFPs inquiring about suppliers’ trafficking policies. Making a positive difference starts with the decision to make a change, no matter how big or small. There are resources for travel buyers to help end trafficking, tips on recognizing the signs of human trafficking, and additional resources for buyers and suppliers.

According to SiliconANGLE, Singapore Airlines recently revealed the data of 285 frequent flyers was compromised following a buggy website update.

Travel Leaders Group is set to acquire UK-based event management company Your Event Solutions (YES), Skift notes.

Winter storm Gia is expected to hit a 1,500-mile path from Colorado to the Mid-Atlantic region, USA TODAY reports. In advance of the storm, several major airlines are waiving change fees for passengers traveling through certain airports.

According to The Local Germany, walkouts by security personnel at several airports across Germany led to the cancellation of over 800 flights, affecting over 100,000 passengers. The Verdi union warns that another strike will take place on Tuesday at Frankfurt airport.  

Heathrow is offering local communities the opportunity to ask questions or provide feedback as it prepares to build its third runway, Buying Business Travel notes. The airport will hold 30 consultation events across neighborhoods surrounding the airport, where individuals can weigh in on how the airport should manage noise and local factors that Heathrow should consider in designing future flight paths.

According to ABC7 News, the pilot shortage is causing debate among some individuals in the airline industry. Boeing predicts airlines will need 790,000 new pilots around the world in the next 20 years, but even today, the shortage is causing small regional airlines to shut down. Some argue that the extensive training programs should be relaxed, but pilots warn that the 1,500 hours of flight time is necessary.

Portuguese airline HiFly aims to eliminate all single-use, disposable plastics in 2019, Business Traveller reports. The airline recently took its first flight completely free of single-use items like straws and cutlery.

What should you do if an airline damages your checked luggage? USA TODAY weighs in.

Avis Budget plans to equip 50,000 of its vehicles across Europe and the US with keyless technology, Buying Business Travel writes. The technology enables customers to completely manage their rental experience through the Avis mobile app.

According to Business Traveller, Air France is adding a “Healthy” meal option to the a la carte menu for its premium economy and economy class. Passengers can book the meals for long-haul flights departing Paris from April onwards.

During CES, Google revealed a few updates to Google Assistant including navigation, travel and translation features, The Next Web notes. The voice assistant can now help travelers check-in to a flight, retrieve a boarding pass, provide real-time translations, and more.

Airbnb has partnered with American Red Cross to raise awareness and provide safety information for hosts and guests, 4Hoteliers writes. The goal is to keep people safe from home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.


Week in Review

Happy New Year! The Week in Review is back in action to provide you with the latest business travel industry news.

In late November, Marriott announced that approximately 500 million guests (who made a reservation at a Starwood property) were impacted in a data breach. Today, the hospitality company downgraded its estimate to 383 million compromised records, Skift reports. Since some guests have multiple records in Marriott's system, the number of guests impacted is likely less than 383 million.

According to BBC, London’s Heathrow Airport and Sussex’s Gatwick Airport will invest millions of pounds in anti-drone equipment that can obstruct communications between drones and their operators. This move follows a drone disruption at Gatwick that caused 1,000 cancelled flights over 3 days last month.

In acquisition news, Flight Centre Travel Group has agreed to acquire Casto Travel’s U.S. operations, Skift writes. The Australia-based travel agency has a mission to strengthen its North American presence.

AirlineRatings.com has released its list of the safest airlines in the world for 2019, with Qantas topping the list, USA TODAY notes. The list also includes the 10 safest low-cost airlines.

Qatar Airways acquired a 5 percent stake in China Southern Airlines on 28 December, Buying Business Travel reports. The airline also holds shares in International Airlines Group, LATAM Airlines Group, Air Italy, and Cathay Pacific.

New York was the world’s top destination for business travel in 2018, Business Traveller writes. The annual rankings from Egencia highlight the most traveled-to destinations for business. London, Paris, Shanghai, and Toronto are also among the top five destinations.

According to Skift, new safety concerns present a complicated challenge for event organizers. From extreme weather to terrorist attacks to widespread disease outbreaks, the duty of care bar continues to rise for event planners.

Singapore Airlines is now offering passengers the ability to pre-book their meal choices, Business Traveller reports. This only applies to travelers in suites, first and business class.

Buying Business Travel writes on the importance of having proper risk management processes and programs in place. Is your organization prepared to locate and help your travelers in the face of an emergency?

According to Business Traveller, the global ridesharing industry is valued at $61.3 billion and is expected to grow to $218 billion by 2025.


Week in Review

Concerns are emerging that U.S. Customs and Border Protection is not protecting traveler data after conducting searches of electronic devices, Skift notes.

Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy is acquiring luxury hotel group Belmond in a $3.2 billion USD deal, CNBC reports. The deal is expected to close in the first half of 2019.

Also on the acquisition front, Phocuswire notes Google acquired Where is My Train?, a mobile app in India that provides train timetables and sells rail seats to commuters.

According to Bloomberg, a Boeing 737 jetliner was damaged midair shortly before approaching its destination on Wednesday. Aeromexico Group is currently investigating whether a drone collided with the aircraft.

Brasil’s fourth largest airline, Avianca Brasil, filed for bankruptcy on Monday, Aviation International News notes. The airline cited rising fuel costs, currency fluctuations and the depressed economy for its difficulties.

Average compensation for U.S. travel buyers remained stable at $108,000 between 2017 and 2018, Buying Business Travel writes. GBTA’s annual Compensation and Benefits study reveals salaries, bonuses and benefits for U.S. buyers and identifies disparities in pay based on demographics like gender, education, region, and position.

According to USA TODAY, Delta plans to ditch zone boarding in 2019. Instead, the airline will board passengers based on ticket type.

American Airlines has started trialing biometric boarding at LAX, AirlineRatings reports.

In other biometric news, Skift notes Hertz has partnered with CLEAR to speed up the car rental process using biometric technology.

The same source reports Travelport is being taken private in a $4.4 billion USD deal.

Last month, airline executives from Finnair, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic shared their thoughts on the future of aviation. The executives discussed NDC and the potential impact that a no-deal Brexit will have on aviation and their day-to-day operations.

According to Business Traveller, Malaysia Airlines is rebranding its first class cabins as business class, though the product is not changing.


Week in Review

Marriott International revealed that hackers breached its reservation system, compromising the personal data of up to 500 million guests, The New York Times reports. The personal information includes credit card numbers, addresses, and passport numbers.

The hack began four years ago, and the hackers left behind clues that suggest they were working for a Chinese government intelligence-gathering operation, CNBC notes.

According to Travel Weekly, the hotel chain could face a fine of up to £20 million because of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Canada’s Minister of Transport Marc Garneau announced a new Open Skies-type agreement between Canada and the UK, TravelDailyNews International reports. The agreement will allow Canadian and British air carriers to operate between both countries and give full flexibility on route selection, service frequency, and pricing. It will take effect after Brexit, when the UK will no longer be covered by the EU-Canada Air Transport Agreement.  

GBTA wrapped up its ninth annual conference in Europe last week, with nearly 1,100 attendees from 30+ countries. The hot topics of the conference were automation, fragmentation and consolidation.

During the conference, our Executive Director & COO Mike McCormick and Konstantin Sixt discussed the future of mobility, challenges facing ground transportation and the future of Sixt as a company.

According to TravelPulse, Uber is launching a new minibus service in Cairo. The ride-sharing company wants to alleviate traffic congestion by enticing individuals to use the minibus service in place of personal automobiles.

At the beginning of the month, Conde Nast Traveler reports LaGuardia opened 11 gates in its brand new Terminal B, amounting to 243,000 square feet of space.

Alphabet Inc. subsidiary Waymo launched the first phase of its self-driving ride-hailing service in Phoenix on Wednesday, Auto Rental News writes. A limited number of people can access the app to hail a self-driving vehicle, and each car will feature a safety driver for the duration of the ride.

In other ground transportation news, peer-to-peer car rental app Getaround launched in Denver on Thursday. According to BusinessDen, car owners can list their vehicles for rent through the app by providing a description of their car and setting an availability schedule.

United launched a new premium economy offering for its longer international flights, CNBC notes. The seats fall between coach and business class and come with more legroom, amenity kits, and other perks.


Podcast: Live From Berlin: The Future of Aviation

This week’s episode of The Business of Travel comes to you once again from GBTA Conference 2018 Berlin in Partnership with VDR. Hear the Airline C-Level Panel - The 2020 Vision On Aviation, which took place on Centre Stage during the Conference featuring execs from Finnair, Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic sharing their thoughts on the future of aviation.  

 

 

You can download and listen to The Business of Travel in iTunesStitcherGoogle Play and your other favorite podcast directories. Be sure to subscribe to the show so you don't miss out!


Week in Review

Thai-based hospitality group Minor Hotels has purchased an additional stock in NH Hotels, increasing its holding to 94%, Business Traveller reports. The purchase will enable Minor Hotels to expand in Europe, while also allowing NH Hotels to put down roots in Asia.

Icelandair has signed an agreement to buy budget airline WOW Air for nearly $18 million USD (approximately €15.9 million), Buying Business Travel notes.

According to France24, Airbnb is being sued by French hoteliers for unfair competition. The main trade group for French hotels, The Union of Trades and Industries of the Hotel Industry (UMIH) accuses the home-sharing company of “knowingly violating” certain imposed rules.

What will the election mean for business travel? Regardless of who wins or loses, a change in committee leadership means a change in governing philosophies, ultimately affecting our industry. Here are the main travel-related committees to keep an eye on.  

Birmingham Airport has unveiled a £500m master plan to increase capacity and improve the traveler experience, Buying Business Travel notes. The investment aligns with the airport’s desire to grow traffic by 40% (to 18 million passengers annually) by 2033.

Over the next 20 years, China will account for approximately 19% of the world’s aircraft demand, Business Traveller reports. According to Airbus’ Global Market Forecast, the country is projected to require nearly 7,400 new passenger and freighter aircraft.

Star Alliance is putting virtual reality technology to the test in select lounges, Business Traveller writes. Travelers flying through CDG in Paris and FCO in Rome can try out the virtual reality systems, which may eventually be offered on planes and across lounges globally.

The TSA will begin testing new technology that can screen multiple passengers from up to 25 feet away, Los Angeles Times reports. If the terahertz screening devices pass the initial tests at a TSA facility, they may be further tested at U.S. airports.  

According to IATA’s latest 20-Year Air Passenger Forecast, air traffic could double to 8.2 billion travelers in 2037. The forecast also outlines China, the United States, India, Indonesia and Thailand as the fastest growing aviation markets.

A no-deal Brexit would result in 5 million fewer outbound trips made globally by 2022, Travel Weekly reports. These findings come from a new study by Euromonitor International. They also claim Spain will see the brunt of this, since UK travelers account for nearly 21% of inbound revenues in the country.

Following in Lyft’s footsteps, ride-sharing company Uber has launched a Ride Pass subscription option in select cities, Business Traveller notes.

Chicago’s O’Hare Airport received a new 2.5 million square-foot parking and car rental facility on Wednesday, ABC7 reports. The $242 million facility features 13 car rental agencies, 12 electronic charging stations and “innovative parking guidance technology”.


Week in Review

On Monday morning, a Lion Air plane carrying 189 people crashed into the Java Sea near Jakarta, Indonesia, Express reports. Since then, investigators have found the plane’s landing gear, black box, and part of the aircraft, CNN notes. Officials are still trying to determine what went wrong leading up to the crash.

According to the NZ Herald, Brazilian airline Gol is ditching middle seats in premium economy on its new Boeing 737s, which will be used for non-stop flights from Brazil to the United States.

Citizens from the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Japan will be able to use automatic ePassport gates at the UK border starting in 2019, Buying Business Travel notes. Travelers must have passports with the biometric symbol on the cover in order to qualify.

Air France is preparing to launch a new platform that enables travelers to resell their non-refundable tickets, Lonely Planet writes.

In acquisition news, Travel Weekly reports that Fattal Hotel Group has acquired the 173-room Grand Harbour Hotel in Southampton for £29 million.

Also on the acquisition front, Hyatt is planning on formally closing its acquisition of Two Roads Hospitality within the next two to three weeks, Skift writes.

Business travelers say loyalty matters in the hotel booking process, HospitalityNet writes. According to new research, nine in 10 business travelers view rewards points and perks as a motivating factor in selecting a hotel. The research also reveals that travelers are willing to share their information for a more personalized experience.

According to Skift, the Italian government is renewing attempts to sell bankrupt Alitalia. The flagship carrier has attracted bids from Delta and EasyJet, and it’s possible the airline will gain multiple owners.

Emirates is launching the world’s first biometric path at DXB, which will allow travelers check in, go through immigration, enter lounges and board flights simply by walking through the airport, Business Traveler reports.

Fees and surcharges at U.S. hotels are expected to hit an all-time high of $2.93 billion this year, marking an 8.5% increase from $2.7 billion in 2017, Business Traveler notes.

According to USA TODAY, Southwest Airlines will begin offering free in-flight movies for passengers to watch on their mobile devices.

Los Angeles has approved a $2 billion contract for a consolidated car rental facility near LAX, Los Angeles Business Journal reports. The project is expected to be completed in 2023.


Passage of the FAA Bill Is A Major Win for the Business Travel Industry, GBTA and You

Earlier this month, I sent the note below as an email to GBTA members outlining why the FAA Reauthorization is such a big win for business travel. Read on below for more and tune in to this week’s GBTA podcast where I had the opportunity to talk with Shane Downey, GBTA Vice President of Government Relations, along with Todd Webster of Cornerstone Government Affairs for an in-depth discussion on the recently passed FAA Reauthorization Bill and what it means for business travel.

 

 

In a rare act of bipartisanship in today’s political landscape, Democrats and Republicans worked together to pass a bill that reauthorizes the budget for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for five years. Before the President signed the FAA Bill into law, the Senate passed the bill by a vote of 93-6 and it passed the House by a similarly large margin with a vote of 398-23.

Why is this such a big win for business travel?
As the voice of the business travel industry on Capitol Hill, GBTA staff tirelessly advocates for policies that better the business travel industry. Our Government Relations Committee provides insight to help us identify the issues that matter most, our Chapters engage in advocacy through our annual Government Relations Challenge, and most importantly, many of our members attend our Legislative Summit each year to take our collective voice to the Hill and meet with their Senators and Representatives.

In this one bill, virtually all of the priority issues we have included in our Legislative Agenda for the past five years have now become a reality.

  • Long-Term Reauthorization: GBTA has been calling for a long-term FAA Reauthorization to provide stability to the nation’s air traffic control system, ensuring the ongoing safe, secure and efficient facilitation of air travel. This bill marks the first five-year extension since 1982. This follows years of instability created by three authorization extensions from 2015-2017, a federal government shutdown in 2013, a lapse in the FAA authorization in 2011 and 23 short-term extensions from 2007 to 2012.

  • An End to the Diversion of Security Fees: Over the past year, GBTA has been one of the lone organizations supporting the FASTER Act, which would end the practice of diverting a portion of the 9-11 security fee charged on each air ticket toward the national deficit. GBTA argued that this money should go towards security and improving TSA’s efforts as it was intended. This bill ends the current practice of diverting 60 cents on every fee charged by 2027.

  • PreCheck is PreCheck: PreCheck is a win for all passengers, leading to increased traveler satisfaction and overall safety. This new bill mandates that only those prescreened passengers enrolled in trusted traveler programs can use the PreCheck lanes. It also enacts measures to increase marketing and enrollment capabilities through authorized third parties, which will ultimately continue to strengthen the benefits of PreCheck.

  • No Voice Calls on Planes: GBTA has long-advocated for #NoCallsOnPlanes as the vast majority of business travelers oppose voice calls on planes. This bill calls for a regulation prohibiting calls on planes. As we always say, sometimes silence really is golden.

  • Passenger Facility Charges (PFCs): The bill did not include an increase in the PFC, which is a tax on air travelers and essentially a tax on the cost of doing business. The bill also calls for the formation of an expert panel to investigate the need for infrastructure, resources and the impact of increasing the fee – specifically calling out for representation from the business travel industry to act as a stakeholder on the panel. This is the direct result of our efforts to demonstrate the diverse needs of the leisure and business travel industries and showcase the important economic impact of our industry.

  • Rental Car Taxation: This bill prohibits discriminatory taxes on rental cars at airport locations, meaning that state and local governments can no longer put a tax on a rental car that they wouldn’t put on any other purchase. For example, specific car rental taxes used to pay for new stadiums targeted at travelers renting cars who are not from their voting district would be prohibited.

  • Business Traveler Protections: Finally, the bill included some consumer protections that will look out for our business travelers including mandates to set new minimum requirements for seats on airplanes; a call to refund passengers for services they paid for but did not receive; and for regulators to determine if it is unfair or deceptive for airlines to tell passengers that a flight is delayed or canceled due to weather alone when other factors are involved.

Thank you to all of our members who have been a part of our advocacy efforts over the years. It was your collective voice that allowed our industry to achieve this tremendous milestone. The fight is never over though when it comes to advocacy as we must remain vigilant on these issues and stay on top of our next priorities. I encourage you all to attend our Legislative Summit next spring to make our voice even stronger. You can also stay up-to-date on GBTA’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C., Brussels and around the world by subscribing to GBTA’s bi-weekly Politics of Travel email from GBTA’s Vice President of Government Relations, Shane Downey.

I would also like to thank our long-time friends and colleagues at Cornerstone Government Affairs. Our partnership over the past eight years has been exceptional and your contributions to our success immeasurable.

In closing, it is worth again calling out the outstanding bi-partisan work in Congress and the White House to look past ideological differences and put the future of the business travel industry – and business travelers that drive our economy – first. We hope that this is a model for future success for the global business travel industry and our leaders in Washington.