Skift Take

Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at the U.S. airlines-grounding glitch, Hilton’s new brand, and Travelport’s optimism.

Series: Skift Daily Briefing

Skift Daily Briefing Podcast

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Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, January 12, and here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.

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Episode Notes

A computer glitch in the Federal Aviation Administration’s system disrupted more than 10,000 U.S. flights on Wednesday. What caused the system issue? U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the Department of Transportation is looking into what led to the glitch temporarily halting all U.S. domestic flights, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.

Buttigieg said at the U.S. Transportation Research Board’s annual meeting that the glitch affected the system alerting pilots about hazards along their routes. Buttigieg stated there were issues communicating safety notices to pilots, which prompted a reboot of the system Wednesday. The ground stop halting all domestic flights was issued around 7 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, when the reboot wasn’t fully complete.

Buttigieg said his main priority is ensuring similar disruptions don’t occur again, adding the system outage gives the Transportation Department critical information regarding necessary funding for the Federal Aviation Administration. Russell writes the agency’s air control technology is known to be outdated.

Next, travel technology company Travelport, which primarily acts as a marketplace to connect airlines and travel agents, is roughly three-quarters of the way to a full recovery. And CEO Gregg Webb told Travel Technology Reporter Justin Dawes that he expects its rebound to continue in 2023.

Webb said in the exclusive interview with Skift that he expects to see a linear recovery going forward, largely driven by the airline industry’s rebound. He expressed optimism about a surge in international travel, with travel searches in China booming after Beijing recently eased its zero-Covid policy. Webb added he believes business travel is increasing now, citing booking patterns he’s observed this year.

Meanwhile, Dawes adds that Travelport has spent the last 18 months investing in its Travelport+ platform, which now provides travel agents more booking options for hotels and car rentals, among other features. Webb said that 80 percent of his company’s travel agent customers are currently using Travelport+.

Finally, Hilton is taking on its rivals in the emerging economy hotel market. The company just unveiled its first-ever economy brand, Spark by Hilton, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.

O’Neill writes Spark by Hilton is focused on providing basic amenities at a rate range of roughly $85 to $100 a night, which puts it in the premium economy segment. Matt Schuyler, Hilton’s chief brand officer, said roughly 80 percent of the travelers the company talked to said they had occasions they wanted to use an economy brand.

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Tags: faa, gds, hilton honors, skift podcast, spark by hilton, travelport

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