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HILLS BALFOUR WEEKLY REPORT- 2ND AUGUST 2013

Amanda HillsPosted: 2 August 2013

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK TRAVEL INDUSTRY:

Thomas Cook swings back into profit as tour operator recovers under Harriet Green

Thomas Cook improved on a like-for-like basis to £1m for the three months to June 30 compared to losses of £45m during the same period in 2012. Chief Executive, Harriet Green has been simplifying and stripping costs through initiatives like merging its UK, Belgian and German airlines and selling off its Canadian division. Ms Green said: “Since the announcement of our half year results eleven weeks ago, we have again delivered improved operating results, stronger margins, further cost out benefits, improved cash conversion and a number of exciting new web and other product developments. However, this is just the start.” 

New owners for Luton airport

Spanish airport operator Aena has confirmed its £394 million acquisition of Luton airport as part of a consortium with Axa Private Equity. The transaction is subject to the authorisation of the competition authorities, Luton Borough Council and the Spanish government.

Aena operates 46 airports in Spain, including Madrid (45 million passengers a year) and Barcelona (35 million passengers). Jose Manuel Vargas, Aena’s executive chairman, said: “Aena intends to be an active player in the consolidation of the global airport sector and we are delighted to have Axa Private Equity, which is a key infrastructure investor in Europe, as our partner in this initial step we have taken with the acquisition of London Luton.” 

IAG reports profit on the back of Iberia improvement

The parent company of British Airways has swung to a second quarter profit as the restructuring of its Spanish airline Iberia started to bear fruit. International Airlines Group (IAG) posted an operating profit of €245 million for the three months up until the end of June, compared with a loss of €4 million for the same period last year. Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive said: “Several factors have contributed to this improvement. Firstly, the benefits of Iberia’s restructuring are beginning to show. Having reduced capacity at Iberia in the first quarter, costs began to be taken out in the second quarter following the implementation of the mediator’s proposal”.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK ECONOMY:

Lloyds Banking Group back in profit in first half

Lloyds announced a profit of £2.1bn in the six months to the end of June. It compares with a loss of £456 for the same period last year. The bank, which is 39% owned by the UK government, increased its lending by 1%, or £3bn, over the first half. Lloyds' chief executive, Antonio Horta-Osorio, said: "We are now well on track to create a bank with a leading cost position, lower risk, a lower cost of equity, and products and services focused on our customers' needs, to deliver strong, stable and sustainable returns to our shareholders."

House prices rise 3.9% in a year, says Nationwide

UK house prices recorded their biggest year-on-year increase for nearly three years in July, according to the Nationwide building society. Annual price growth hit 3.9%, the lender said, which meant the average home cost £170,825. Average prices rose by 0.8% compared with June, with the building society describing the increase as "robust". However, it said that housing remained in relatively short supply, as rental costs were still rising.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK PAPERS:

Edward Snowmen leaves Moscow Airport

Mr Snowden received papers allowing him to leave the Moscow airport where he has been stranded for more than a month, according to Russia's Interfax news agency. Anatoly Kucherena said Mr Snowden had received the necessary papers to enter Russian territory from the transit zone at Sheremetyevo Airport. Russia is currently considering his request for asylum. It comes a day after Lon Snowden, Mr Snowden's father, claimed the FBI had asked him to fly to Moscow and try to persuade his son to return to the US to face espionage charges.

Heatwave gives way to downpours and flood warnings

Heavy rain has fallen across parts of the UK as the hottest July in seven years ends on a wet note. Met Office yellow "be aware" warnings for rain are in place for northern England, Scotland, and the West and East Midlands. Overnight rain caused flooding in the High Street in Market Harborough, Leicestershire, and parts of Newcastle. Forecasters say there are likely to be periods of more showers at the start of next week, especially towards the north and west of the UK, with the best of any drier and warmer conditions in the south and east. Temperatures are expected to be close to the average for the time of year, with highs ranging between 18C in northern parts of the UK and 23C in the south.

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK MICE INDUSTRY:

Travel Prices to Increase Worldwide in 2014, According to CWT Forecast

Worldwide travel prices will increase moderately next year, according to research by travel and meetings management specialists Carlson Wagonlit Travel (CWT). The meetings and events section of the research indicate that delegate attendee numbers could reduce by as much as 3% in the Eurozone as planners continue to exercise restraint. Latin America will see the highest price increases for daily attendees, of 4-7%. As a result, group size in the region will fall by as much as 2%, and the region may see a switch to domestic instead of international meetings. In Asia Pacific, a booming meetings and events industry will see group size increase 3-5%, while daily costs per attendee rise 4-5%. Demand for meeting space continues to outstrip supply in North America, with group size increasing by up to 1.5%, leading to daily attendee costs rising as much as 5.5%. 

Besydney Accredited by Destination Marketing Association

Citywide convention bureau, Business Events Sydney (BESydney), says it is the first Australian organisation to be accredited by Destination Marketing Association International's (DMAI) Destination Marketing Accreditation Program (DMAP). DMAI is an independent body that protects and advances the success of destination marketing worldwide. DMAP accreditation is awarded to DMOs that meet or exceed industry standards set by the professional destination marketing community. BE Sydney will join a group of 172 accredited DMOs worldwide and will be one of just 12 organisations based outside of the US.

Istanbul Launches New International Congress Destination Istanbul Project

The Istanbul Convention & Visitors Bureau (ICVB) has highlighted its new ‘International Congress Destination Istanbul’ project, which will be officially launched in September 2013. The project is part of the Istanbul Development Agency 2012 Financial Support Program. In order to make Istanbul a leading destination in the field of congresses and meetings, the Tourism Development and Education Foundation, ICVB and Istanbul Chamber of Commerce started the €335,000 (US$445,000) project in October 2012. This was partly in response to the fact that Istanbul first broke into the Top 10 International Congress and Convention Association city rankings in 2010. 

ON A LIGHTER NOTE....

Prince George becomes new poster boy for Britain. VisitBritain has unveiled a poster featuring the now iconic photo of Will, Kate and their new son, George Alexander Louis on the steps of St Mary's hospital under the slogan 'Welcome to Britain'.

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