Thomas Cook Announces Losses Due To Increasing Fuel Costs

The UK-based travel company, Thomas Cook, has announced pre-tax losses of £485.3 million for the year ended September 30, 2012, from a loss of £398.2 million reported for the earlier year.

The company revenue has decreased to £9.5 billion for 2012, from £9.8 billion in the same period last year. The increasing annual losses have been explained as partly due to reduced capacity and higher fuel costs.

Harriet Green, the new chief executive officer of Thomas Cook, said, ‘In 2012 over 23 million customers enjoyed their holidays with us, 50 percent of whom went on an independent or flexible holiday. Through building on our core product strengths to further improve our proposition with new and different products, we have a significant opportunity to unlock the full potential of our brands and attract more customers.

As we develop our Business Transformation plans we will continue to place our customers and employees at the very centre of our business.

Through leveraging existing best practice and by focusing on efficiency, harnessing the power of technology and delivering on our commitments we are addressing the most immediate challenges facing the Group and creating a platform for future growth.

These results reflect the major issues that Thomas Cook faced last year, but they mask the material improvement that we made in the fourth quarter. Our brand has demonstrated its strength by recovering all the ground lost during last year’s difficulties and we have identified significant further efficiency improvements.

The year ahead is the initial stage in this recovery and as we embark upon our first year of Business Transformation, we are optimistic about the future and look forward to updating you on our full plans and additional financial benefits in the spring of 2013.’

Qatar Airways to Fly Dreamliner flights to London Heathrow

Qatar Airways, a Qatar based airline company, will be introducing its brand new Dreamliner aircraft on routes between Doha and London from December 13, 2012.

The airline has taken delivery of its initial Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft recently, and is expected to take delivery of around 60 Dreamliners that are on order, over the next few years.

Qatar Airways chief executive officer, Akbar Al Baker, said, ‘We are delighted at last with today’s announcement that in just over two weeks’ time, the UK market will see its first 787 on a regular full commercial service when it flies into London Heathrow.

Inaugurating our 787 on the London Heathrow route puts Qatar Airways firmly on the global aviation map as a carrier with a determination to continue its expansion drive and improve an already superior in-flight product.

Both new and existing customers in the UK and further afield on connecting flights will soon have an opportunity to fly on the most talked-about aircraft in the world in and out of London.

We have already received our second 787 with a further three to join our fleet by the end of the year. And we won’t stop there. With more 787s being inducted into the fleet next year, further route launches and our move to a brand new international airport in Doha during 2013, we continue to look forward to another year of exciting developments.

With our ever-expanding international network, more people from different parts of the world will have an opportunity to fly Qatar Airways and our new 787s to and from our Doha hub.’

The B787 aircraft will operate on flight QR075 from Doha to Heathrow. The new aircraft feature Wi-Fi Internet access, touch screen Android IFE systems, and two-class seating.

Network Rail Announces Performance Update

Network Rail, a company that operates the UK’s railway network, has reported on the railway companies’ performance for the period October 14, 2012, to November 10, 2012.

The rail company has reported an avearge punctuality of 88.9 percent during the period, compared to 89.3 percent for the same period last year. The moving annual average is now at 91.7 percent.

The measure of train punctuality is known as the PPM (public performance measure), which refers to trains arriving at their destinations within five minutes of scheduled time for commuter services, and within 10 minutes of their scheduled time for long distance services. Train punctuality, at national level, is measured for all trains of the network, and is inclusive of cancelled services and delays.

c2c, a train operator that is owned by National express, and which operates the London, Tilbury and Southend franchise, has reported the best punctuality in this period, with a figure of 98.4 percent.

In the six month ended September 30, 2012, Network Rail reported revenue of £3,167m, compared to £2,997m for the same period last year.

Patrick Butcher, Network Rail’s group finance director, said, ‘The railway continues to see strong traffic growth which provides us with the challenge of getting the balance right between capacity, reliability and efficiency. We have seen growth on the network of 5 percent a year for a decade, and this is set to continue. That means we continue to become more efficient so we can continue to invest to meet this growth.

This, combined with the traffic growth, allows us to sustain high levels of capital investment, delivering £2.1bn worth of capital work in the six months.

Network Rail continues to evolve. Last year we completed devolving authority to all ten of our routes and now we can make progress to moving to a group structure that reflects this. We have already set up our infrastructure projects division as a standalone business unit, launched Network Rail Consulting as our international business and we have plans to run our energy, telecoms and recycling operations each with their own profit and loss account. We believe this will generate greater efficiencies and unlock greater value to the business.’

Centro Bids for Control of Local Rail in West Midland

Centro, a UK based organisation that operates the bus, rail and the Midland Metro Tram transport in the West Midlands area, is bidding to take control of the West Midland rail services.

The company’s bid has recently received a boost from a Government consultation, which has reported extensive support for the proposal.

Those responding to the Department for Transport consultation on rail devolution said that passengers and local communities could achieve improved rail services and better value for taxpayers if they had more say on how their railways were run.

In June, Centro submitted a formal expression of interest to the Government to take over the commissioning and management of local rail services once the region’s current franchise, operated by London Midland, expires in September 2015.

The chief executive officer at Centro, Geoff Inskip, said, ‘The findings of the Government’s nationwide consultation shows a strong consensus is emerging around the benefits of putting decision making for local rail networks in local hands.

We certainly welcome these findings as we also believe that greater local control can result in better rail services focussed on the real needs of West Midland passengers.

That’s why, with the backing of the wider region, we have formally told the Government that we wish to have responsibility for the local rail franchise from 2015 onwards.

If we held control locally we would be in a far better position to make sure the local rail network dovetails with economic developments and the wider transport network.

We would also work to ensure it fully connects and feeds into the forthcoming high speed rail line, thereby maximising the significant economic benefits offered by HS2.’

As of now, only two areas, London and Merseyside, have control of their local rail networks, while the Department for Transport in London manages the rest.

Announcing the result of the consultation, UK rail minister, Simon Burns, said, ‘Ensuring decisions are taken by those best placed to make them – those who live and work in those areas – could make certain not only that services are planned to maximise value for money for taxpayers but that passengers get services they need and want.’

Iberia Employees May Go On Strike Before Christmas

Employees of Iberia, the Spain-based airline owned by International Airlines Group (IAG), are planning a strike over Christmas in protest against impending job cuts.

Union officials at the airline have warned of a strike action during Christmas, to protest against an earlier announcement made by IAG for a comprehensive plan to restructure the airline, which includes a reduction of 4,500 jobs, a reduction of network capacity by 15 percent in 2013, and the removal of around 25 aircraft from the fleet.

The strikes are likely to be held on December 14, and between December 17 and December 21, 2012.

A spokesperson for the UGT union, the second largest union in Spain, said, ‘All of the unions are in intense talks to fix dates for action against the plan to dismantle Iberia.’

Earlier, IAG said in a statement, ‘In the short term the transformation will focus on stemming the losses and creating a profitable route network. This will include suspending loss-making routes and frequencies and ensuring there is effective feed for profitable long haul flights.

As well as halting Iberia’s financial decline we will establish a viable business that can grow profitably in the long term. Short and medium haul operations will be transformed to compete effectively with low cost carriers who have successfully established themselves in Iberia’s home market. The plan will see comprehensive productivity improvements and the introduction of permanent salary adjustments to achieve a competitive and flexible cost base.’

In a counter statement, UGT said, ‘UGT, CCOO and SEPLA have indicated to the address of Iberia our absolute rejection of the terms of the proposed plan, reiterating our demand to develop and negotiate a real viability plan and, to achieve them, we are willing to take whatever actions are union accurate.

Said plan is based on the decrease of the company and the segregation of business, loading the failure of management workers

CCOO, UGT and SEPLA are willing to negotiate on the basis of good faith a viable plan for Iberia and return to the land of profitability.’