WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK TRAVEL INDUSTRY:
American Airways – US Airways merger gets the go-ahead
The two airlines have announced that they have been given the green light for the tie-up by the European Commission under the European merger regulations. The new American Airlines, based in Dallas/Fort Worth will offer over 6,700 daily flights to 336 destinations in 56 countries. The merged airlines will operate a mainline fleet of 950 aircraft and employ over 100,000 people worldwide.
IAG plans to take on easyJet and Ryanair
IAG is planning an aggressive expansion of its newly-acquired Vueling in a bid to take on easyJet and Ryanair. Barcelona-based Vueling, which currently operates a fleet of 70 aircraft to 111 destinations, is to expand by 25% this year through the addition of new routes and services. Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, told The Times: ‘We’re putting a lot of capacity into Germany and Scandinavia and a little into the UK and Portugal.’
Virgin Holidays to create 100 new jobs at Crawley headquarters
Following a strong start to the year for forward bookings, Virgin Holidays have made the decision to create 100 new jobs at their Crawley headquarters in West Sussex. In late September and early October, positions from IT projects to Sales Centre roles will begin to be filled. The company has already created over 250 full time jobs in its large network of shops over the past three years. The news comes almost a year after Virgin Holidays revealed plans to create 100 apprenticeships for 16-24 year-olds.
Mark Warner sees huge profits
Tour operator Mark Warner has seen profits jump 750% on the back of increased turnover from development and investment in new and existing products. Turnover also grew by 10.8% to £43 million as a result of the introduction of a new five-star hotel in Rhodes and further development and investment in its existing product offering.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK ECONOMY:
UK economy recovery gains pace in July
The UK's economic recovery gained pace in July, according to leading think-tank NIESR, as it determined that growth has picked up to 0.7pc in the last three months. It is an increase from the 0.6pc growth the economy saw in the second quarter of 2013. It is also a huge increase compared to the first quarter of the year which only saw the economy growing at 0.3pc. For the year as a whole, NIESR predicts growth of 1.2 pc, rising to 1.8pc cent in 2014. However, the think-tank does not expect the UK's economic output to pass its early-2008 peak until 2015.
UK trade gap shrinks as exports rise
The UK goods trade deficit shrank to its smallest in almost a year in June, official figures have shown. The gap between imports and exports narrowed from £8.7bn to £8.1bn from May to June this year. UK manufacturers have been urged to trade with countries outside Europe as they have been growing far more vigorously in recent years compared to eurozone countries. However, the UK still remains to have a stronghold in European trading as the majority still go through the eurozone. Although the UK typically imports more goods from other countries than it exports, it normally makes more from services sold abroad than it imports, and taking this into account the general trade gap, including both goods and services, was £1.55bn, the lowest since January.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK PAPERS:
Tension grows over Gibraltar row
Differences between Spain and the UK over Gibraltar will be resolved by political means not ‘disproportionate’ measures, according to a statement from the Foreign Office. The statement comes after Spanish authorities increased border checks at Gibraltar causing long delays. On Sunday, Spain said it was considering a new €50 fee to cross the border. While Gibraltar has been a British territory for 300 years, Spain disputes UK sovereignty over the island. Tensions have flared again by the ‘routine’ arrival of a British Navy warship in Gibraltar. There are ongoing talks between David Cameron and Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy.
Opposition to Mugabe launch legal challenge
Zimbabwe's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has filed a legal challenge to Robert Mugabe's victory in last week's presidential elections. The petition seeks to declare the recent elections as ‘null and void’ and a new election to be held within the next 60 days. Mr Mugabe, 89, won the elections with an estimated 61pc of the vote but controversy marred the results announced in Harare last week. Many of Mugabe’s listed voters have been revealed to be over 100 years old and it is widely expected that these ‘votes’ came from citizens who have already died. The court of Zimbabwe has 14 days to respond to the challenge.
British women attacked in Zanzibar
Two 18 year-old women from London were attacked with acid in a popular tourist area of Zanzibar this week. Katie Gee and Kirstie Trup were working as volunteer teachers in the country when they were attacked by two men on a moped at an Eid Mubarak celebration. Acid was splashed onto the faces, necks and hands of the girls as they attempted to protect themselves. Quick-thinking Trup and Gee ran to the sea to cleanse themselves after the attack which doctors say may have taken away the chances of scarring from the horrific attack. The police on Zanzibar were quick to point out that attacks to tourists are not commonplace on the island and that the incident will be investigated further.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN THE UK MICE INDUSTRY:
Destination SA Estimated to Generate $30M in Business Events
The Adelaide Convention Bureau’s annual Destination SA (South Australia) showcase and familiarisation tour with selected Australian, Southeast Asian and New Zealand buyers is estimated to generate AU$30m (US$27m) in future business events. The group of convention organisers were joined by journalists at the annual business event showcase held in Adelaide. Destination SA is designed to create B2B opportunities showcasing South Australia’s business event industry to fully qualified hosted guests.
IACC Trends Survey Identifies 14% rise in Centre Operating Profits
The International Association of Conference Centres (IACC)’s new 2013 edition of Trends in the Conference Centre Industry report shows clear signs of recovery in centres’ business “outperforming the broader hotel sector in relation to occupancies and profitability”. Demand for conference centres grew in 2012, according to the report, produced for IACC by PKF Hospitality Research, along with average rates. Executive style conference centres performed better than average, with an Average Delegate Rate increase of five per cent over the previous year. Operating profits increased 14.5 per cent during 2012, according to the survey, with the executive centres achieving the greatest increase in profit margin, increasing by 27.4 per cent.
ON A LIGHTER NOTE....
A female panda at Edinburgh Zoo is expected to have fallen pregnant this week. Changes in her hormones and behaviour suggest that Tian Tian is pregnant. Keepers will not know for sure that she is pregnant until closer to the birth which could happen within a month.
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