IN BRIEF: news from July 2019

ATG adds new three-star brand

The APT Travel Group is promising to take travellers “further for less” with the launch of TravelGlo, a new value-based touring brand targeting strong demand within the three star-market. All tours are inclusive of 3-4 star accommodation, all breakfasts, some dinners, “must-see sightseeing” and economy rail travel (plus some coach), along with a dedicated tour manager.

The new business is being overseen by Travelmarvel CEO David Cox, who said “this is simple, honest travel with all the essentials included. With TravelGlo, our expertise and our tour managers provide peace of mind across the board…all that’s left for our guests to do is enjoy their time away”. An initial program features eight European trips, operated in partnership with Rail Discoveries.

Helloworld sells Insider Journeys

There was another major shift within Helloworld Travel’s wholesale division last month, with confirmation of the sale of its long-time in-house Asian tour operating division, Insider Journeys. Formerly known as Travel Indochina, the business has been offloaded to a company called Eight at Work Holding Pty Limited, described as “a member of an international inbound tour operator group with multiple DMC operations in South East Asia”.

Helloworld Travel CEO Andrew Burnes said Insider Journeys was not core to the company’s future strategy, with a preferred supplier agreement in place with the purchasers. “Neither the purchase price or the business are material to HLO’s results,” he said. Insider Journeys was established in 1993 by Paul Hole and Mark Bowyer, and later sold to Helloworld’s forbear, Concorde International Travel.

Eight at Work spokesman Scott Busch told travelBulletin “we are very excited about this new opportunity with Insider Journeys. We look forward to bringing more unique, creative, competitively priced tours and excursions to the Australian market”.

Ignite touring concept

Ignite Travel Group looks set to disrupt another sector, with the launch an “all-new powerhouse touring division”.

The new operation will see fully packaged tour deals channelled through Ignite’s My Holiday Centre and Holiday Exclusive business units. Ignite CEO Ryan Thomas said the aim was to “fulfil unprecedented demand for affordable, bespoke packages that offer customers incredible savings, excellent booking flexibility and the opportunity to explore new and popular regions with curated tour experiences”.

The new division will be led by Raymond Han, ex-Nexus Travel, with Thomas noting the tailored deals would be packaged with full service airfares, quality accommodation, guided tours, daily meals and “signature bonus inclusions”.

Cruising is also on the agenda, with some deals to offer voyages alongside pre and post accommodation. “For over 13 years we have demonstrated how Ignite can put unknown destinations on the map,” he added.

Ignite will work closely with its network of corporate and tourism partners to “grow supplier channels and power exclusive holiday packages to the most popular destinations around the globe,” Thomas concluded.

Aer Lingus drops GSA

Irish carrier Aer Lingus — sister carrier to British Airways and Iberia under the common ownership of the International Airlines Group — last month announced a major shift in its support structures, which saw the cessation of all international General Sales Agency (GSA) agreements across the globe.

The carrier said the move followed a recent review of its sales operations.

“Aer Lingus is undergoing a period of ambitious growth as we expand our fleet and destinations,” the airline said. “A significant portion of passenger sales growth has been through direct distribution channels, therefore like many airlines we are adapting our sales model accordingly.”

Agents wanting to get in touch with the airline are now advised to call its Ireland-based contact centre, with locally owned World Aviation Systems no longer representing the carrier.

Tempo, Bentours BAU

It’s business as usual at the Australian operations of Cox & Kings, with the company insisting that its local brands Tempo Holidays and Bentours are unaffected by issues being experienced within its Indian parent operation.

Cox & Kings India revealed that it had missed several interest payment deadlines on commercial debts, with IATA subsequently suspending its participation in BSP India.

A spokesperson for the company said the Australian business was functioning under an independent IATA licence in the name of Tempo Holidays Pty Limited “and as such is not at all impacted with the current situation of Cox & Kings India”.

The company is experiencing continued strong demand for both Tempo and Bentours products, with 10% year-on-year growth. “Tempo Holidays and Bentours look forward to their ongoing success and would like to thank all trade partners for their past and continued support.”

VA, VS plot cooperation

Virgin Australia and Virgin Atlantic have been granted interim authorisation by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, allowing them to begin implementing a new cooperation agreement covering services between Australia and the United Kingdom. The carriers are seeking authorisation for five years to allow them to jointly manage pricing and inventory on the routes, as well as coordinate scheduling, network planning, frequencies, marketing, distribution and potential new services.

VA and VS said the pact would create a “compelling Virgin-to-Virgin brand proposition,” utilising each others’ home market strength to optimise airport operations in Hong Kong and Los Angeles.

“The proposed cooperation is fundamentally pro-competitve,” they said, assisting Virgin Australia to more sustainably operate its Australia-Hong Kong services in competition with Qantas and Cathay Pacific while optimising the “entirely complementary networks” of the Virgin airlines.

The ACCC is now considering its final decision, and has promised to issue a final determination by November this year.

QF, AA get DOT tick

Qantas is set to launch the first ever route directly connecting Australia and Chicago in April next year, after receiving approval for its long-anticipated joint business with American Airlines last month. It’s more than four years since the application was first lodged, with the pact initially rejected as anti-competitive under the US Obama Administration.

The agreement allows QF and AA to coordinate planning, pricing, sales and frequent flyer programs, with the airlines touting the immediate benefits of new Brisbane 787 flights to Chicago and San Francisco. They have estimated that the approval could stimulate “up to 180,000 new trips between the USA and Australia & New Zealand annually”.

Chicago has long been on the radar for Qantas, with the carrier going so far as to open up bookings on ORD flights as far back as 2004 as a tag-on from its Los Angeles services, before cancelling the route just before it was formally announced. Now the Qantas 787-9s will allow non-stop service to the mid-west US city, which will compete with Air New Zealand’s Auckland-Chicago direct flights that launched late last year.

Qantas and American Airlines said the newly approved pact would also see an expansion of codeshare cooperation within the coming days.

 

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