Virgin Holidays to deploy Amadeus technology

Virgin Holidays has announced that it will deploy technology from Amadeus to enhance fares and shopping services for holiday customers.

Amadeus is a travel technology partner and transaction processor for the global travel and tourism industry. Together with Virgin Holidays, it will offer services cemented by broad-ranging technology partnerships between the two firms. As part of the agreement, Virgin Holidays will migrate its online and call centre reservations to Amadeus. It will also introduce new fares and shopping solutions to boost sales conversions. A feature of the partnership will be what the companies call, best fare ‘findability and bookability.’

The system migration, which was completed in October, was the first phase of the technology agreement. The two companies are also planning to work to streamline data across multiple systems and to improve processes through increased automation.

Wayne Perks, product & commercial director at Virgin Holidays, said, ‘As a hugely popular brand with the travelling public, we wanted to ensure that the Virgin flair, which is so evident throughout our customers’ holiday experiences, is present in the trip planning and shopping stages. The only way to make this happen is by using best-in-class technology. Our aim is to make the pre-departure shopping and booking an enjoyable and stress-free precursor to enjoying the actual holiday. That’s why we are working with Amadeus to ensure that our customers will always be able to access the best fares on offer, and they will be able to do this effortlessly thanks to the advanced new technology we are installing.’


London Southend Airport Announces Terminal Expansion

London Southend Airport, an airport in the UK, has announced that it is in the process of expanding the terminal.

The expansion will include a new arrivals facility, which is expected to be complete by May 2013. The construction of all phases of the development is likely to be completed by the end of 2013.

The extension of the airport terminal, which will cost GBP10 million, means that passengers will have a maximum wait time of four-minutes for security check, and a 15 minutes transit time from aircraft to train for passengers that only have hand luggage, as the airport is located almost next to a railway station. The new extension will add 90 metres to the existing terminal building.

The expansion will also include a greater number of check-in desks and baggage drop off points, an increase in the size of the departure lounge, improved baggage reclaim facilities and a larger immigration area. The airport will also be offering more retail and catering facilities to passengers.

The project is expected to add around 300 new jobs to the economy, from additional operations at the terminal.

The managing director of the airport, Alastair Welch, said, ‘Our aim is to ensure that we deliver a very special level of customer service in Southend and this extension will allow us to ensure we can continue to deliver those high standards as the airport grows.

This is also further evidence of the role the redeveloped airport is playing in supporting the regeneration of the wider Essex economy.’


Virgin Rail Issues Update on West Coast Main Line

Virgin Rail Group, the UK based holding company for train company, Virgin Trains, has issued a statement regarding the West Coast Main Line franchise.

The company statement reads, ‘The interim report shows just how important our calls were in the summer to find out what went on behind closed doors when deciding the future operator of the West Coast franchise and that it should be opened up to proper detailed scrutiny.

As well as the technical errors the review has identified, it raises fundamental questions around why more favourable treatment was given to one bidder over another and the lack of a clear and consistent account of how and what decisions were made. All of this is a matter of serious concern and we hope these issues will be explored in greater detail in the final report by Sam Laidlaw.

Regardless of the catalogue of problems identified with the assessment process itself, we remain very clear that our own bid was robust and deliverable.

Lessons must be learned to prevent the process failures we saw with the West Coast competition from happening again and to protect the taxpayer and passengers from phoney bids that game the system.’

Virgin Trains had earlier commenced court proceedings against a decision by the UK’s Department of Transport to award the West Coast Main Line franchise to FirstGroup, a Scotland-based transport company. The UK government later scrapped the contract after an investigation by the Department for Transport discovered major flaws in the franchise process.

Virgin has been operating the railway service since 1997, but the Department for Transport had awarded the new franchise contract for December 2012 to 2026 to First Group. In protest at the decision, Virgin had collected around 150,000 signatures for a campaign to force a parliamentary discussion to examine the granting of the West Coast franchise to First Group.


Airports in Scotland Ask For Review of Air Passenger Duty

Airports in Scotland have united to demand that Air Passenger Duty (APD) is immediately revoked in the UK, following a recently published report warning of the loss of around two million passengers per year in Scotland.

The managing directors of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow airports have urged chancellor George Osborne to review APD and how it will affect air traffic in Scotland. The recent report also claims that by 2016 the country’s economy is likely to lose up to GBP210 million in tourism expenditure per annum, due to the implementation of APD.

Amanda McMillan, the managing director of Glasgow Airport, said, ‘Together with the wider aviation industry, we have made repeated representations to the UK Government on APD which, as this report confirms, will continue to damage Scottish aviation by making routes unviable and decimating Scotland’s links to the rest of the world.

Due to the size of the market in Scotland, we will always find it difficult to attain and sustain new routes and this situation is compounded even further by APD which simply serves to artificially depress demand and dissuade airlines from basing aircraft here.

Unless APD is reformed, people travelling to and from Scotland – who must fly due to the lack of feasible alternatives – will continue to face some of the highest levels of taxation in Europe which is clearly a disincentive to travel.’

Derek Provan, the managing director of Aberdeen Airport, said, ‘This report shows, quite simply, that APD is damaging Scotland. It is damaging our economy, our tourism potential and our ability as a nation to bounce back from the recession. It limits our opportunities for growth in the employment market, costing as much as GBP50 million in the process.

At Aberdeen Airport we run a real risk of losing around 200,000 passengers by 2016 through this damaging tax. Each recent increase in APD has had a dramatic impact upon what we, as airports, have achieved and could have achieved without APD.

It is imperative that the UK government undertake a detailed and comprehensive review into APD with the utmost urgency, and at the very least freeze APD whilst that is taking place.’