In brief: top stories from Aug 2021

TTC takes a travel pause

TTC takes a travel pause

The Travel Corporation last month took the decision to temporarily pause its Australian group touring departures until 1 December, as a response to the ongoing uncertainty around internal borders amid the current COVID-19 outbreaks in several states.

CEO David Hosking noted that the group continued to see strong bookings for 2022 and beyond, but “the current operating environment has meant that most of our tours have been impacted by cancellations due to lockdowns and restrictions, and we cannot deliver our usual high standard of guest experience”. Hosking also announced that when operations recommence, The Travel Corporation in Australia and New Zealand will require all eligible travellers and customer-facing staff to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with the move applying to Coniki, Trafalgar, Insight Vacations, Inspiring Journeys and AAT Kings guided holidays.

“Put simply, it is the right thing to do,” Hosking said, with the December restart based on the four-stage plan outlined by the Australian Government and the current rapid pace of vaccine rollouts.

Flight Centre poised

DESPITE a torrid 12 months and a $602 million annual loss, Flight Centre is upbeat about 2022, targeting a return to profitability “subject to vaccinations continuing to prove effective against all COVID-strains, domestic borders reopening and staying open, and further international travel resumptions”.

CEO Graham Turner said conditions were gradually starting to improve, noting that in key locations like the US, Canada and Europe, there was an “immediate and strong travel recovery” as soon as restrictions lift, with similar hopes for Australia as vaccinations accelerate.

Flight Centre also revealed a new deal to sell flights online via the Google Flights platform, while the US-based StudentUniverse youth business has teamed up with Amazon to offer discounted flights and hotels to Prime Student members.

Webjet future focus

WEBJET Limited appears to have made the most of the pandemic downtime, with expectations of market share growth and improved profitability as global borders begin to reopen.

In a market update CEO John Gucsic confirmed parts of the business had already returned to profitability in the June quarter (prior to the current lockdowns in Australia and NZ), with a strong booking trajectory seen in other markets as restrictions eased.

“We see a world of opportunity and are transforming the business to be ready for the recovery,” he said, with Webjet’s costs expected to be about 20% lower than previously once operations return to their former scale.

Consolidators roll out NDC offering

CONSOLIDATED Travel and CVFR Consolidation both last month announced enhancements to their platforms to allow travel agents to issue tickets via IATA’s New Distribution Capability (NDC) standards.

Consolidated Travel said its updated QuikTravel would feature a host of enhancements, developed in-house and based on the solid platform which had processed more than 20 million tickets over the years.

CVFR’s TravelTech allows agents to issue both traditional tickets and NDC in the same familiar workflow, and in a move targeting OTAs, also offers NDC Robotic Ticketing enabling rich content bookings to be issued without human intervention.

CT Partners grows

TWO more former Magellan Travel Group agencies joined the CT Partners buying network last month, continuing CT’s rapid growth this year as previous franchise contracts expire.

The latest additions are both based in NSW, and include Frontier Travel in North Sydney as well as Manly’s Landmark Travel, run by industry stalwart Gerd Wilmer. Both of the CT newbies cited the transparency and flexibility of the model offered by CT Partners, which has now grown to 25 of Australia’s largest independent corporate and premium leisure agencies.

Wilmer in particular could clearly barely contain his pleasure and relief at leaving behind the controversy of Helloworld’s Magellan takeover three years ago, commenting “I look forward to again being able to determine my own destiny with a group of like-minded agents”.

NSW seeks new TMC

IN WHAT has been described as 2021’s biggest travel tender, the NSW Government is now seeking submissions for a “quality, cost-effective and fully comprehensive travel management service”.

The successful provider will undertake the booking and ticketing of all domestic, trans-Tasman and international travel for all NSW Government bodies, along with responsibility for car hire, accommodation plus rail, coach and ferry travel.

The documents specify a range of policy and reporting requirements, including consolidated and agency-specific carbon emissions, as well as the provision of “robust, up-to-date and appropriate leading technology solutions”.

Existing supplier agreements will apply, with the NSW Government currently having deals in place with Qantas, Virgin Australia and Rex Airlines on domestic flights; car hire through Avis, Budget and Hertz; and international air contracts through Qantas, Virgin Australia, Air Canada, Cathay Pacific, British Airways, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways.

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