Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Travel Technology

Travelport Owners Inject $200 Million to Sustain Its Travel Tech Growth

4 hours ago

Travel technology company Travelport revealed on Friday it had received a $200 million investment from its owners, Siris Capital Group and Elliott Management. Based in Langley, UK, the privately held company didn’t disclose its financial performance other than to say it had achieved “a strong first-quarter performance.”

The investment may have partly helped Travelport to acquire Deem, the corporate travel player, as Skift reported earlier this month. Those companies didn’t disclose the price or terms of that transaction.

“The main advantage of private equity ownership is agility, which is crucial in a rapidly changing environment,” said CEO Greg Webb in a statement.

Skift recently published an interview with Webb about the company’s strategy. Travelport’s software supports travel bookings for more than 100,000 travel agents.

Online Travel

UK Travel Agency On the Beach Sets New CEO Start Date

7 hours ago

The UK’s On the Beach Group has now said chief financial officer Shaun Morton will take up his new position as CEO on June 30.

The confirmation follows the London Stock Exchange-listed company’s completion of its search for a new finance chief to replace him. Now Jon Wormald will be taking the role, the company announced on Friday.

On the Beach announced in December Simon Cooper was to step down, without specifying why.

Wormald joins On the Beach from e-commerce retailer THG, formerly The Hut Group. He also previously worked at the Co-operative Group Limited.

“Jon’s senior financial and operational roles will be invaluable to us at On the Beach as we continue to strengthen the brand and bring our leading customer proposition to a broader audience of beach holiday makers,” Morton said.

Cooper will move to a “founder director” role at the beach holiday specialist. Its Nomination Committee is also looking for an additional independent non-executive director.

“Once this position is filled, the board composition will remain in line with the requirements of the UK Corporate Governance Code,” the company said.

On the Beach is one of the UK’s largest online beach holidays retailers, and aims to become Europe’s leading beach holiday retailer.


Deutsche Bahn Pushes For More Rail Investment as Ridership Surges

20 hours ago

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn expects a very good year in 2023. Ridership on its long-distance trains is forecast to be “well over” 150 million passengers, exceeding the peak before the pandemic of 150.7 million riders, CEO Richard Lutz said Thursday.

But while that outlook shows the strong demand for travel and resilience of rail in the post-pandemic world, it also highlights the limits of Deutsche Bahn’s network — once a leader in Europe. On-time performance of its long-distance trains dropped to a historic low of 65 percent as travelers flooded back, the operator said. For comparison, 76 percent of Deutsche Bahn’s trains were on time in 2019 when they carried 12 percent more riders.

Lutz used the operational situation to call for Germany to “change course and approach the renovation and modernization of [rail] infrastructure in a completely different way.”

An ICE 3neo high-speed train
A new ICE 3neo train. (DB AG)

Last year, Deutsche Bahn carried 132 million travelers on its long-distance trains. While still below pre-pandemic levels, ridership hit records during the summer — when the so-called 9 euro ticket on local and regional trains attracted people in droves to the system — and over the Christmas holiday. The operator opened a new high-speed rail line on a section between Stuttgart and Munich, and introduced new high-spreed trains, dubbed the ICE 3neo, in December. Deutsche Bahn also signed on as the Star Alliance’s first intermodal partner, and saw an increase in the number of passengers connecting between trains and planes.

“Climate-friendly mobility is booming,” Lutz said. “The demand is right and is currently growing strongly. This spurs us on to become better for our customers as quickly as possible – because Germany deserves a railway that is more efficient and punctual.”

Short-Term Rentals

Airbnb Suspends Listings in Myanmar Amid Political Unrest

2 days ago

Airbnb has suspended hosting of all lodgings in Myanmar as the country has implemented strict laws prohibiting foreign tourists from staying at unregistered guesthouses or hotels.

February this year marked the two year anniversary after the military coup at the start of February 2021, when democratically elected members of the country’s ruling party, the National League for Democracy, were deposed by the Tatmadaw [Myanmar’s military] in a military junta. 

Airbnb suspends operations in Myanmar. Source: Airbnb

The military set a deadline in January for political parties to re-register under a new electoral law and dissolved 40 parties Tuesday, including Suu Kyi’s NLD, for failing to meet the registration deadline.  ”We want to see a return to democracy in Myanmar. We would like to see the release of Aung San Suu Kyi and other people who continue to be detained, and we will continue to work towards that,” said UN Spokesperson Stephane Dujarric. 

It is illegal to rent out private homes or offer short-term rentals to tourists in Myanmar – those failing to abide by the laws could face up to three years in prison. Only permanent residents and foreigners holding specific business visas are permitted to rent out apartments or houses on a short-term basis. 

Airbnb sent out email notices two weeks ago to hosts in Myanmar informing them their listings and reservations are no longer available. It told hosts that their listing would no longer show up on Airbnb.

Separately, on the other side of the world, Airbnb is also removing listings that haven’t received a permit from the government of Quebec following a fatal fire in Montreal in a building that was located in a section of the city where authorities barred short-term rentals.

Business Travel

Lyft Names Former Amazon Exec as Its New CEO

3 days ago

Ride-sharing firm Lyft has appointed David Risher, a former Amazon and Microsoft senior exec, as its new CEO.

Lyft’s co-founders Logan Green and John Zimmer are stepping down from their respective roles as CEO and president, and moving into non-executive roles, the company revealed on Tuesday.

Risher was employee number 37 at Amazon, and was the retailing giant’s first head of product and head of U.S. retail. He was also a general manager at Microsoft. He has been a member of Lyft’s board of directors since July 2021.

Lyft’s business division recently reported that managed bookings have grown 60 percent year-over-year, following the return of large events and conferences. For the 2022 fourth quarter it posted revenue of $1.2 billion, 21 percent up on the same quarter in 2021.

Ride-sharing and car-pooling are expected to increase this year after the pandemic all but wiped out the concept. Now as more companies look to cut carbon emissions, car-pooling is seen as effective way to travel more sustainably. Rival BlaBlaCar last month announced it was buying Klaxit to further expand.

“Logan and I were told we were crazy to think people would share a ride in another person’s car,” said Lyft’s Zimmer. “Over a decade later, Lyft is creating economic opportunity, building a sustainable future, and helping people make meaningful connections — with the support of millions of riders and drivers. I can’t wait for what’s next, and look forward to working with our deeply-capable successor, David, to improve people’s lives with the world’s best transportation.”

Meanwhile, Hertz’s chief financial officer effective Kenny Cheung is leaving the company. He will be replaced by chief accounting officer Alexandra Brooks on an interim basis, the company said on Tuesday.


Dutch Trade Bodies, Citizens Oppose Cap on Flights to Schiphol Airport

4 days ago

Businesses, community activists and trade bodies in the Netherlands have come together to launch campaign ‘Red Schiphol,’ in response to Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport’s move to set a cap on the number of flights going in and out of the airport.

In June last year, the Schiphol Airport set a cap on the number of passengers – 70,000 passengers a day, it can handle during the summer travel season due to labor shortages.

In February this year, the government proposed a cap of 440,000 flights a year in an effort to reduce noise pollution and to be environmentally-friendly. The move by one of Europe’s busiest airports means that airlines including KLM, the Dutch subsidiary of Air France-KLM , will have to cancel an unspecified number of flights.

Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. Source: Flickr

Now, a collaborative effort by Dutch businesses and citizens aims to reverse the decision with the reasoning that limiting the flights to Schiphol will simply divert the traffic to other airports, and do little to reduce aviation emissions. It will also potentially affect the 84,000 jobs that could be jeopardized if Dutch air travel was weakened. 

“Schiphol Airport is a national asset that helps the Netherlands to punch above its weight in terms of global business connectivity,” said George Chichester, Red Schiphol Campaign Manager. “The airport directly employs over 2,000 people and supports many more jobs throughout the wider economy.” 

For context, prior to the pandemic, the aviation industry contributed €22 billion ($23.6 billion) to the country’s GDP and in 2019 Amsterdam was the third-best internationally connected city in Europe.

Chichester added that the increase in ticket prices caused by competition would be hard on the Dutch population, which is already facing higher energy prices and cost of living.

“Rich travelers will be able to shoulder these costs, but ordinary families will have to cut back on travel,” Chichester added.

The organization has launched a signature petition to convince the government to reverse its decision. 

Tour Operators

TUI Raising $1.9 Billion to Settle Corona State Aid Debt

4 days ago

TUI is closer to settling the substantial financial aid it received from German authorities during the pandemic. 

TUI chief financial officer Mathias Kiep said the company made an important step back to profitability by launching its intended $1.9 billion capital raise in a LinkedIn post on Friday, 24 March.

“On the back of our strong operational recovery and following an intense journey of preparation — most recently our AGM in February and the 10:1 reverse stock split thereafter. With the proceeds of the capital increase, we intend to repay the Corona state aid in full.” 

Kiep initially announced the raise plans during the company’s 2023 first quarter interim results, stating it would take place under the right market conditions after the company’s Economic Stabilization Fund debt had been recalculated from some $775 million to just short of $1 billion.    

Germany’s Economic Stabilization Fund was instrumental in ensuring the survival of German-based travel companies, including Lufthansa, with its initial lifeline stoking claims of an unfair advantage. It saw a stricter framework applied to the financial aid received by TUI.

The airline announced towards the end of 2022 that it was set to repay the balance of its state-owned debt.


Copa Airlines Raises Global Distribution Surcharge to $18

6 days ago

Panama’s Copa Airlines is increasing its surcharge for tickets issued in Amadeus, Sabre and Travelport from $12 to $18 per direction.

The fee hike takes effect from April 3, 2023 — coinciding with when American Airlines removes 40 percent of its own airfares from these same retail channels

In both cases, the airlines are pushing travel agencies and other retailers to move towards so-called New Distribution Capability. This is a technology standard developed by the International Air Transport Association, and it aims to give airlines more control over their airfares, rather than rely on global distribution systems, such as Sabre, Amadeus and Travelport.

What’s interesting is that up until now, Europe’s airlines were the ones adding expensive fees to encourage adoption. Now it seems to be catching on in the Americas region.  

In March 2022, Copa Airlines said that Copa Connect would be the best way for travel agencies to access its fares, schedules, and other content. “Through Copa Connect, agencies will be able to provide their clients better offers in a more innovative and efficient way. Among the benefits are: access to better fares, exclusive sales promotions, access to ancillary products, and others,” it said.

Since September it has added a $12 Distribution Cost Recovery Surcharge. Reports on social media suggest the increase to $18 will apply April 3.

Copa Airlines’ website reflects that: “A fixed amount of $18 will be charged per direction (or each “one-way” of the trip) whenever Copa Airlines participates as the marketing carrier regardless of the operating or ticketing carrier,” says its FAQ document.

The American Society of Travel Advisors, which represents 160,000 travel agency workers, this month asked American Airlines to push back its move date to the end of the year. It argues that withholding such a substantial portion of its fares from “critical independent distribution channels” will have a negative impact on corporate travelers.

Copa Airlines recently expanded its direct connection partnership, through New Distribution Capability, with Envision Tecnologia, according to reports.

It’s currently one of the world’s most profitable carriers too, thanks in part to the location of its Panama City hub.

HomeExchange Buys Another Home Swap Company

1 week ago

Just weeks after buying Love Home Swap from Travel + Leisure Co., Paris-based HomeExchange acquired French competitor My weekend for you.

My weekend for you was founded in 2017 in southeast France. Its network of 1,200 hosts welcome travellers to their homes for free over a weekend to discover a particular region. The site claims to have over 20,000 members across 21 countries. The companies did not disclose any details of the deal.
The service is for those hosting. And for travelers to be able to contact other members and have their profiles verified, they must pay a fee.

HomeExchange claims it’s the first global home exchange community — facilitating one exchange every two minutes. The company stated that in 2022, guests booked 3.7 million exchange nights on its platform — 32 percent more than in the pre-Covid period. 

A Berlin flat listed on HomeExchange. Source: HomeExchange

Earlier this month, the Paris-based company bought British rival Love Home Swap from Travel+Leisure Group, formerly known as Wyndham Destinations.

The deal marked HomeExchange’s ambitions for market expansion into the UK, Australia, and the U.S.

HomeExchange CEO Emmanuel Arnaud and President Charles-Edouard Girard  founded GuesttoGuest, a Paris-based vacation exchange platform, in 2011. It  acquired Cambridge,Massachusetts-based HomeExchange in 2017 for $35 million — the combined entity then came to be called HomeExchange. 

Online Travel Became Major League Baseball’s Official Online Travel Partner

1 week ago, which has marketing relationships with the International Cricket Council and the Union of European Football Associations, is playing ball with Major League Baseball.

Pictured is a Spring Airlines A320 bedecked as as seen on July 7, 2018. Source: Kwok Ho Eddie Wong

The company will officially announce today that it has become Major League Baseball’s official online travel partner. Among travel-related services, the league also counts MGM Resorts and Capital One, which offers Capital One Travel, as official sponsors. Marriott has also been a partner. declined to release financial details of the marketing partnership, but said fans will begin to see branding in baseball stadiums across the U.S., and there will be a new media campaign getting under way in several weeks.

With the launch, the official schedule pages of Major League Baseball teams will feature icons that direct people to search and book accommodations near stadiums.

A recent survey found that 49 percent of U.S. baseball fans plan to travel to at least one game in 2023, and 61 percent would be open to traveling as far as 500 miles to see teams play., based in Amsterdam, has been making significant inroads in the U.S. market, trying to challenge Washington-based Expedia as the market leader.