14 May 2009

Busy Week... Lots of Stories!

So this has been a busy few weeks. While I have been on the road - I have spent some time trying to understand the state of the travel "economy". There are some noticeable representative signs of the recession. Hotels have fewer staff. Whole floors have been shut off. Restaurants are noticeably less full. etc etc.

The big question for many remains are we there yet? There being the bottom of the curve. Even if we are "there" which a few people seem to believe - the next sequential question is what sort of recovery will we have and how long will it take to return to "normal" - whatever that is.

The general consensus seems to be that the general market is down around 12 points. Consistent with what I have been saying so far - this is the 15%. What we are seeing continues to confirm the position that the GDSs are suffering far worse than the overall market. This is due to the nature of the bulk of their business being dependent on the corporate market. Travelport's numbers this week are stark evidence of the depth of the downturn. Worldspan's numbers continue to plummet Galileo is not doing much better.

The retraction is affecting just about everyone. We do see some bright spots. Norwegian is a good example - they seem to be profiting from the re-trenchment of SAS. LAN is another example who is determined to face the recession by expanding. Despite some pretty awful numbers - Lufthansa seems determined to bulk up through acquisition of some smaller players in Europe.

So here are some other stories that have caught my eye and a few comments:

Ryanair continues its relentless push towards the automated airline. One major new charge - lose your automated boarding pass and you have to pay the equivalent of $55. To the relief of Americans coming to Europe, FR has announced that it will not be charging the fat tax - with a caveat. As soon as they figure out how to collect it without disrupting 25 minute turn arounds - then you can expect it to come back.

Air Jamaica has a new twist on the second bag price. Oh yes we make you pay and we dont guarantee delivery on this flight. Come back tomorrow was a headline in Travel Weekly. Not that JM's bag services have been anything to write home about of late!

Chris Rodrigues is relinquishing the CEO title to his deputy at Visit Britain. Looks like he wants a more political focus in the run up to the UK Olympics in 3 years.

ATM was great say the organizers. You know my opinion. It really was a lot less than last year. So far I have not seen official statistics other than the number of stands - I wonder of that quantity - how many of them were actually occupied.

Speaking of Dubai - this week's stupid vendor tricks award goes to FlyDubai.

Here is a snap shot of their announcements page.

As you can see - even though they dont start service until June they want to default the booking widget to today's date. Tsk Tsk. For a professional outfit like FZ, they (and their provider Radixx) should do better. Still I wish them all the best for their first flights that take off on June 1st. Air Arabia watch out - these guys are coming for your blood!

Also Emirates (no relation to FlyDubai) has concluded a deal with BT to consolidate their call centers into a single global comms entity. More power to them on this one - their 9 CCs and then various CTOs will now be linked by a new network provided by BT.

SITA announced one of the first deliverables in its next gen PSS - the Customer Journey CJ to replace the former passenger record we all know and love called the PNR. Best of luck to Jim Peters and his crew on this one.

And finally - latest to hold out the hand or more accurately point the nose into the stimulus trough is Sabre. They are raising dire warnings of hell fire and brimstone if the government doesnt do something to stimulate travel (and consequently improve Sabre's GDS bookings!).

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