Mobile Devices Becoming More Popular For Booking Holidays

Many more people are using their mobile devices to book holidays online, according to a new study conducted by the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), a UK-based travel agency association.

When travellers were asked to comment on how they booked their holidays, around one in four, or 24 percent, reported using a mobile phone or tablet device, such as an iPad, and around 89 percent reported using a computer, rather than a travel agent or a tour operator.

Around 14 percent used their mobile phone to book a foreign holiday on-line, while 10 percent claimed to have used a tablet device. For domestic bookings online, 8 percent used a tablet device and 12 percent used their mobile phone. These results appear to indicate the importance to travel agents and tour operators of offering mobile apps compatible with such devices.

Victoria Bacon, the head of communications at ABTA, said, ‘When it comes to booking a holiday it’s clear that consumers want choice. Whether it’s booking face-to-face on the high street or booking on the go on a mobile phone. Travel agents and tour operators need to ensure that they have the right tools and technologies to market their products and offer consumers the option to book and browse, through a range of different methods.’

Around 47 percent of the younger generation, aged from 15 to 24 years, used mobile devices to book a holiday online in the last 12 months. By comparison, only 11 percent of travellers in the age group of 45 years and above used their mobile devices to book online.

The report also suggests that men are more likely to book using mobile devices, with 30 percent of them having done so in the last 12 months, compared to 17 percent of women.

Ryanair May Up Its Offer to Acquire Aer Lingus

Ryanair, an Ireland-based low cost airline, is aiming to up its offer to acquire its Irish rival airline, Aer Lingus.

Ryanair had previously offered €694 million for Aer Lingus, which was subsequently rejected by the Aer Lingus board as too low a price. However, the budget airline is now willing to offer around 40 routes from major airports in Ireland to other airlines in return for the acquisition.

The airline statement read, ‘This comprehensive remedies package includes a number of new airline bases in Dublin, new entrant competitors on over 40 routes to/from Dublin, Cork and Shannon, as well as specific competition solutions that guarantee increased price competition on routes to and from Ireland.

Ryanair expects that the commission will shortly market test this transformational remedies package, and remains confident that its offer for Aer Lingus will receive competition clearance following any fair assessment by the commission.’

The airline’s acquisition bid is currently being considered by the European Commission, which is expected to come to a decision by January 2013.

The acquisition of Aer Lingus is being reviewed against the backdrop of a volatile airline industry in the EU, with the restructuring of Iberia involving job losses of around 4,500 employees; a takeover of Vueling by IAG, in Spain; the restructuring of SAS with around 6,000 job losses; and the merger of Aegean and Olympic airlines in Greece.

Earlier, Ryanair chief executive officer, Michael O’Leary, said, ‘Consolidation is an essential part of making EU airlines more competitive. It has already taken place in core EU countries via IAG (Iberia and BMI merger), AF\KLM (including their investment in Alitalia) and Lufthansa (via takeovers of Austrian, Brussels Airlines and Swiss). That process is now spreading to peripheral countries as Aegean merges with Olympic in Greece, TAP is sold in Portugal and Ryanair bids again for Aer Lingus.

As part of the EU’s Phase 2 review, which began on August 29, Ryanair has submitted an unprecedented remedies package, under which multiple up-front buyers will commit to open new bases in Ireland, and enter all of the Ryanair/Aer Lingus crossover routes, which are not currently served by other substantial airline competitors. We believe this is the first EU airline merger where the remedies proposed delivers not one, but at least two up-front buyer remedies, and where all of the ‘merger to monopoly routes’ are remedied not just by passive slot divestments but by active up-front buyers and new market entrants.’

London Heathrow Capacity Overload Costing UK Economy

Lack of capacity at London Heathrow Airport is affecting the UK economy, according to a recent study commissioned by the airport owner, BAA Ltd.

The report, prepared by Frontier Economics, says that the lack of capacity is currently costing the country up to £14bn a year in lost trade, and the loss may increase to £26bn a year by 2030.

The report said, ‘Heathrow welcomes the growth of point-to-point and regional airports. But the expansion of point-to-point airports is not going to solve the UK’s connectivity problem. As the UK’s only hub airport, Heathrow serves 75 destinations that are not supported by any other UK airport. Only a hub airport can provide the range and frequency of long-haul direct services that UK air passengers want.’

London Heathrow currently operates at 99 percent capacity, with no extra capacity for new trade routes to new economies, affecting the growth of the UK’s economy. There are around 1,532 more flights to cities in mainland China from Paris and Frankfurt airports than from London Heathrow. Moreover, there are several growing cities in Asia that are still not served by direct flights from the UK, but are served by other European hubs.

Colin Matthews, the chief executive officer for BAA, said, ‘If anyone was still in doubt about the importance of aviation to the UK economy, today’s report should lay those doubts to rest. We’re already losing out on up to £14bn of trade a year – and that could almost double by 2030.

The new work we are publishing today shows that only a single hub airport can meet the UK’s connectivity needs, and the choice is therefore between adding capacity at Heathrow or closing Heathrow and replacing it with a new UK hub airport.’

Strong Pound Encourages Brits to Take a Winter Holiday

Travellers from the UK are being encouraged to take a winter holiday with the pound gaining strength over other European currencies.

With the value of Sterling edging higher and higher against the Euro over the last five weeks, indications are that the British economy is bouncing back by comparison with many of its European neighbours, and this will result in travellers having more spending power for winter vacations.

With British tourists benefiting from saving a few pounds thanks to the strength of Sterling, they will also be more likely to pre-book their other travel components, including car rentals.

A spokesperson for a car rental agency has said, ‘Jetting off for the winter holidays is something a lot of our customers admit they wish they had tried years before. It makes a nice change to get the family away for an end-of-year break and we know from customer feedback that renting a car works out as one of the best ways to get the most out of a holiday any time of the year.’

A report that was submitted at the World Travel market 2012, which was held in London recently, suggested that UK citizens have been taking more holidays in 2012 than in the past three years, having made around one billion trips globally. Around half of UK travellers, or 52 percent, have admitted to taking more than one holiday in 2012, compared to 41 percent in 2011, and barely 24 percent in 2010.

In 2012, 34 percent of travellers have taken two holidays, compared to only 28 percent that did so in 2011. Around 13 percent of UK holidaymakers have taken three trips in 2012, compared to 10 percent in 2011, while 5 percent have taken, or are planning to take, four or more holidays in 2012, compared to 4 percent in 2011.

Barrhead Travel Announces Summer Charter Flights from Glasgow

Barrhead Travel, a UK based holiday company, will be operating charter flights from Glasgow Airport, in Scotland, to a number of popular holiday destinations next summer.

The company intends to charter flights to Palma, Malaga, Alicante, Barcelona and Venice, offering a total of around 20,000 seats, between the May and October period in 2013.

The company has reported that seats are currently available on sale with a range of choices, including flight only reservations, as part of a traditional holiday package, or as a connection to cruise departure points in the Mediterranean and Adriatic seas.

Barrhead Travel is offering its charter flights with British Airways aircraft, with amenities that include more legroom for passengers and more luggage allowance.

Sharon Munro, the chief executive officer of Barrhead Travel, said, ‘We strive to give our customers greater choice and value and chartering more flights during the summer months to some of our most popular destinations and cruise ships enables us to give them the best prices possible.

2013 will see our most ambitious flight programme to date, including new routes from Aberdeen to Barcelona, Glasgow to Alicante and three flights per week due to public demand from Glasgow to Palma. The flights will give our agents more flexibility to tailor cost effective holiday options or are available for customers to book directly online.’

Amanda McMillan, the managing director of Glasgow Airport, said, ‘Barrhead Travel has always proved a popular choice for Scottish holidaymakers and we have worked closely with them over the last three summers to ensure their flight programme from Glasgow Airport has been successful.

It is great news for Scottish holidaymakers that Barrhead has expanded its Glasgow Airport programme every year since it began in 2010. With five popular destinations in 2013, we are confident that our partnership is on course for another successful summer.’