24 January 2008

For all the hoopla - Railteam is a real dud

Trying to find a way to book travel around Europe is usually pretty straightforward.

But the much ballyhooed combination of high speed rail lines is a real waste of time.

www.railteam.eu is a completely useless site.

Lets just hope this is a Rail equivalent of a notice board telling you the train MIGHT be coming. Clearly on time is not a great train strength.



WIT teams up with ITB-Asia

After three successful years of running one of the best conferences anywhere, Siew Hoon Yeoh has added yet another partner to her roster.

Not content to be working just with the likes of PhocusWright, her conference WIT - Web in Travel - is teaming up to complement the ITB-Asia Trade Show which will run adjacent to and at the same time as WIT (October21-22 2008).The Expo starts on October 22 and runs for 3 days.

Asia is just different and Singapore is one of the main commercial hubs of the region so its location is perfect. Having attended and contributed at the first three conferences, I can tell you that this is a meeting that doesn't leave you unsatisfied.

For people like me who attend conferences worldwide mostly because we have to, every year the value of any onference (selfishly) is boiled down to 2 basic propositions:
1. the Content - am I going to learn something and will it benefit me later?
2. the people who attend – is this a good networking opportunity for existing and new clients?

Of course what makes it work is the secret ingredient of the organization.
This is where Siew Hoon shines. Managing to challenge both left and right brain simultaneously is no mean feat in the face of so many other conferences and as we know there are really way too many of them, many of little value. The content at WIT and its audiences are some of the best I have ever seen. The speakers are not the same old boring industry pundits. The conversations after the sessions always animated and energizing.

Adding in the ITB Asia for a trade show makes it really valuable to the audience. For ITB Asia goers it's a win too for networking and great content.

Go... even if you don't want to hear me speak ;-)
www.thetransitcafe.com/wit and www.itb-asia.com

23 January 2008

Little Trouble in Big China - the China Eastern Saga

Some of you (us) might be just a little confused in the shenanigans going on over at China Eastern. I know I am.

This doesn't make sense.

Singapore Airlines (SQ) made a play To take a minority stake in the Chinese airline (MU). It made sense. Bringing in Western Style discipline but with a distinctly Asian style that SQ has made all its own. Bringing MU up to World class standards wa very attractive to all concerned.

However not EVERYBODY agreed.

China's big fish airline Air China (CA) doesn't like too much competition. It is much happier if there is fractured and unaligned or weak competition. Oh yes and CA's parent China National Aviation Corp sits on MU's board. So just before the end of last year, China National Aviation Corp started making public noises about how it didn't like the merger and that it would offer a lot of money for a much larger stake in MU. Before you can say Kung Fu - they veto the Tamasek/SQ deal and then offer $1.9 Bn for 30% of China Eastern.

To nobody's surprise this was rejected by MU's management and board. At the same time Air China offered a tie up alliance with MU. Again rejected.

Now comes news that MU has jumped into the other side with an alliance with fellow struggler China Southern (CZ). Are you keeping up so far?

So let's see if we can sort out the alliance players here.

MU is not a member of any alliance.
SQ is in Star
CA just joined Star
CZ just joined Skyteam
CX (CA's partner and cross shareholding) is in OneWorld.

So what is the likely outcome?

For veteran China watchers like us... this is just another nice example of the convoluted arrangements in the Middle Kingdom. It will ultimately have a happy ending. Just don't expect one any time soon and the outcome will be a true example of face saving and complexity.

Got it?

And another thing... are alliances really that useful for consumers?

22 January 2008

So LH drops a rather large bomb on the German market

...and Austrian, Lichtenstein and Switzerland...

Having read the document and discussed the situation with a number of players inside and outside the Germanic markets - I believe that we are indeed achieving a tipping point of fundamental change in European distribution of airfares.

Here is the article and analysis from Michele MacDonald in her excellent newsletter TTU - Travel Technology Update and reprinted in ATW - Air Transport World.

Here is the public link where you can read the article.


Lufthansa is able to leverage its not inconsiderable market power within its home markets and those of its vassal carriers - Swiss Air Lines and Austria Airlines in their respective home markets.

This event is analogous to the expiration of the DCA contracts in the USA market. Clearly a lot of legal eagles have been working on this for some time!

For those of you who have been waiting for the other shoe to fall in Europe - folks this is it. Don't wait any longer. Go make sure you have an independent solution that allows GDS and non-GDS content to be combined in your own environment. Hopefully you can make a euro or two at it.



21 January 2008

Finally a Green Conference....

While it may almost seem to be an oxymoron to promote Green via a conference, it is indeed a subject that we need to take far more seriously.

Aviation is generally acknowledged as being only a relatively small contributor to Carbon based emissions. But that should not deter the entire air transportation system - from baggage handling all the way through to reservations systems - from getting behind the movement.

I highly encourage you - if you are able to check out at www.greenskies.com being organized for May 21-23 in that highly eco friendly place Orlando!

Think green and responsible in all that you do.


PS if you are interested - please ping me for a copy of our white paper. "It isn't easy being green or is it?"

Control? What is the definition of control?

According to an evaluation published by USA Today and the FT - the results of a merger between DL and UAL would be control of approx 25% of the US Domestic lift. If DL merges with NW the number falls to 22%. If UAL and CO merge then the number is closer to 23%. This could then force AA to merge with US which would be even higher. Thus creating a big 3 airlines group.

In any case such a consolidation would result in significant oligopoly power for the surviving companies.

I note that there has been a long held law that prevents foreign ownership control of ANY US carrier to exceed 24.9%. So if we apply such logic control is defined by this number.

The idea that a small number of airlines could hold the rest of the country to ransom remains a very real threat.

So again I will say - JUST SAY NO to this idea of the mergers. I hotly dispute Gordon Bethune's position - much though he is to be admired for turning around CO. IE that the mergers benefit the consumers of America.

Follow this wisely.

If you ever want to see the impact of consolidation - may I suggest you ask people who live in 2 communities: St Louis and Pittsburgh.