Skift Travel News Blog

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

Airlines

Airline Ticket Prices Are Fairer Indicator of Passenger Carbon Emissions Than Seat Size — Study

3 days ago

Premium, business or first-class seat are regarded as more harmful to the environment, because the passenger is taking up more space on the aircraft. Most countries tax them more, too.

But according to a new study, allocating passenger aircraft emissions using airfares rather than travel class gives a more accurate idea of individual contributions, prompting calls for a tax rethink.

Researchers at the UK’s University College London describe how including airfares in calculations shows which passengers contribute the most revenue to the airline operating the aircraft, thereby allowing the plane to fly.

Although premium seats are more expensive than economy, they found many late bookings in economy class, often made for business trips or by high income travelers, cost as much as, or more than, premium seats.

“The paper shows we should follow the money when calculating emissions of individual travelers, as it is revenue that decides whether an airline can operate a plane or not,” said lead author Dr. Stijn van Ewijk.

“Someone who has paid twice as much as a fellow traveler contributes twice as much to the revenue of the airline and should be allocated twice the emissions. The seat size of each travel class, which is currently used to allocate emissions, is only a rough approximation of how much passengers pay,” he said.

Implementing a tax that is proportionate to the price of the ticket could make the total costs of flying fairer, the study suggests. People buying the most expensive tickets would pay the highest tax, encouraging them to seek alternatives. It could increase estimates of corporate emissions because it allocates more to expensive late bookings, which are often made for business purposes.

The study used data from the Airline Origin Survey database.

Estimating passenger emissions from airfares supports equitable climate action” was published on Wednesday.

Business Travel

Amex GBT Restructures to Focus on Smaller Companies

3 days ago

American Express Global Business Travel is restructuring to focus on small and medium-sized companies, with layoffs expected in the first half of the year.

Job losses are expected to be less than 2 percent.

Amex GBT announced the overhaul internally on Tuesday, and expects to incur restructuring and related charges of $20 million to $25 million, which represent future cash expenditures for the payment of severance and related benefits costs, it said in a filing with U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The overhaul comes as layoffs start to ripple through the travel industry. Vacasa on Tuesday said it was slashing 17 percent of its workforce, while Inspirato is reducing its number of staff by 12 percent as it struggles with lower-than-expected occupancy and disappointing sales.

Technology companies have also announced redundancies, including Google which last week said it was axing 12,000 roles.

Now Amex GBT, the world’s biggest corporate travel agency, will set up a new operating model to “intensify our entire organizational focus around meeting customers’ needs in our global and multinational, and small and medium-sized enterprises portfolios,” it said in the filing.

“We are taking our strategy to the next level,” said Martin Ferguson, the agency’s vice president of public affairs. “We are in a $1.4 trillion global industry and have a significant opportunity to grow our business and deliver unrivalled value to customers. Having market-leading solutions for each of the segments we serve has put us in a very strong position. To accelerate growth, drive consistency and deliver unrivalled value to customers, we are moving to a global, segment-driven model.”

The company has made several acquisitions of smaller agencies over the years, including Egencia and Ovation Travel, while in 2021 it launched a new booking and expense tool, Neo1, to target smaller companies.

During an investor day presentation in 2022, Amex GBT repeated its intent to pursue the small and medium-sized enterprise market, including companies without an official company travel program. That market is worth $675 billion in annual global travel spend, and at the time Amex GBT said it had just 6 percent of that particular slice.

The restructure, which will see Jason Geall become executive vice president, small and medium-sized enterprises, and David Reimer move to executive vice president of global, multinational, is due to be completed by the end of the second quarter this year.

Business Travel

Lyft’s New Emission Tracking Tool For Rideshare Business Travel

3 days ago

Lyft is introducing a new sustainability dashboard for companies in the Lyft Business Portal.

Lyft Business is the app’s travel management solution that streamlines ground transportation for organizations. Business customers starting Wednesday can access rideshare greenhouse gas emissions data for their company on the platform.

That information reflects the usage of Lyft Business solutions on the organizational level and can be broken down by several metrics.

Specifically, the dashboard will feature the following:

  1. Total Emissions (MTCO2e): This includes the volume of carbon emissions emitted across all business rides under the company in a particular time frame, measured in metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.
  2. Emissions by Fuel Type: Business partners can filter for ride emission data by gas, hybrid, or electric vehicles (EVs).
  3. Emissions by Program: Business partners can also filter for emission by different company rideshare initiatives. This includes different office locations, departments or customer transportation programs.
  4. Downloadable Data: Data from the portal can be downloaded in CSV format for companies’ sustainability analyses or reporting.

This new addition follows previous moves by the rideshare company to increase the platform’s integration of sustainability measures. Back in 2020, Lyft made a commitment to transition to 100% EVs by the end of 2030.

“The first step in helping our business partners achieve their climate goals is arming them with data to see their carbon footprint on Lyft,” said Lyft Director of Sustainability Paul Augustine, in its company blog announcing the dashboard debut. “The second is helping them reduce their emissions by transitioning to low-carbon forms of transportation.”

Scope 3 emissions, which capture effects from indirect activities from assets not owned or controlled by an organization, are increasingly becoming a part of companies’ ESG [environmental, social, and governance] reporting. Lyft’s new reporting tool for GHG emissions from employee rides contributes to helping its business partners more accurately track their impact.

Business Travel

Hertz, Uber Bringing 25,000 Electric Cars to European Cities

2 weeks ago

After renting out some 50,000 electric cars to Uber drivers across North America, Hertz is now taking its partnership with the ride hailing giant to Europe, where it will make 25,000 Tesla and Polestar vehicles available.

The European expansion begins in London this month, before it adds other European capitals including Paris and Amsterdam.

The expansion follows Hertz Global Holdings’ announcement it would order up to 175,000 General Motors electric vehicles over the next five years. It starts taking delivery of Chevrolet Bolt EVs and Bolt EUVs in the coming months.

“… We are moving in a very big way toward electric vehicles and Hertz has taken a rather aggressive strategic stance,” Hertz CEO Stephen Scherr recently told Skift.

Uber, meanwhile, wants to become a fully electric platform in Europe by 2030. “Expanding our partnership with Hertz into Europe will significantly boost our transition to zero-emissions, helping drivers reduce running costs and cleaning up urban transport,” said Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.

Hertz’s strategy is to build one of the largest fleets of rental electric vehicles in the world, and believes they are increasingly appealing to younger drivers.

Business Travel

TripActions Secures $400 Million in Credit Facilities

2 months ago

Corporate travel agency TripActions this week secured $400 million in credit facilities from Goldman Sachs and Silicon Valley Bank, which it said it will use to “accelerate the expansion of its customer base.”

The credit facilities consist of a warehouse debt facility from Goldman Sachs Bank USA, as the senior lender and administrative agent, with a $200 million commitment ($300M total program limit) and an asset-backed lending facility of $100 million led by Silicon Valley Bank.

TripActions said the warehouse facility will enable the continued growth of its corporate card and expense management solution, TripActions Liquid. “With this new warehouse facility from Goldman Sachs, TripActions Liquid is well positioned to support its customers while continuing to innovate at a rapid pace,” said executive vice president Michael Sindicich, head of TripActions Liquid, in a statement.

The corporate travel agency’s latest financial dealings follow October’s raising of more than $300 million. That involved a combination of $154 million in equity from new and existing financial investors, plus a $150 million structured capital transaction led by Coatue.

The company also last month bought Spain’s Atlanta Events & Corporate Travel Consultants, its fourth acquisition in 18 months.

Meanwhile, there’s still no news on a potential initial public offering to further fund the business.

Business Travel

Travelport Is Selling Off Its Corporate Hotel Booking Platform Hotelzon

2 months ago

Travelport is planning to sell its Hotelzon division to corporate travel agency startup TripStax, which was officially launched earlier this year — by two former execs at Travelport.

Hotelzon claims to offer 1.5 million properties from multiple content sources that include Booking.com and Expedia, and says it has 370,000 users, including travel agencies, corporations and event management companies.

It was established in 1972, but has been a wholly-owned subsidiary of Travelport since 2014.

TripStax signed the agreement to acquire Hotelzon as of Dec. 1 2022. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but TripStax said the agreement establishes a “long-term strategic relationship between TripStax and Travelport whereby Hotelzon will continue to generate hotel bookings on Travelport+.”

Travelport has been streamlining its technology since it announced Travelport+ in April last year.

Skift first revealed the development of TripStax as a spin-off from corporate travel agency ATPI in July 2021. TripStax’s investors include Intermediate Capital Group, which is one of ATPI Group’s owners. ATPI also made a significant investment, with ATPI CEO Ian Sinderson joining TripStax as a director.

Jack Ramsey, CEO of TripStax, was previously global sales director at Hotelzon.

The Unbundling Trend

TripStax said the acquisition will boost its technology offering of “connected proprietary business travel modules with a fully integrated hotel booking tool for agencies and corporates direct.”

The travel agency startup wants to stand out from the crowd by offering modules, such as analytics, content and traveler tracking, rather than a full service. Corporate travel agencies are under growing pressure to separate their bundled services as company travel managers look to cut costs and add flexibility.

Hotelzon will be integrated as an additional module.

It is the second acquisition made by TripStax, following its purchase of TapTrip earlier in the year. TapTrip also received investment from ATPI.

“Since its conception, TripStax has been on the look-out for acquisitions which add relevant and complementary tech to its already powerful stack of business travel management modules,” said Ramsay. “We are also excited to welcome the hugely experienced Hotelzon team to the TripStax business and plan to further invest in the team to strengthen existing customer and supplier relationships and realise the full potential of this joint opportunity.”

Airlines

African Airlines Take New Steps Towards Open Skies Vision

2 months ago

Momentum is building behind the Single African Air Transport Market, or SAATM, a flagship project designed to create a single unified air transport market in Africa, organized by the International Air Transport Association.

New routes should be easier to launch without the need for reciprocal services, and 17 African countries have now agreed to test the initiative, out of a total of 35 country signatories (which represents 80 percent of the existing aviation market in Africa.)

They are: Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, Cape Verde, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Ghana, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Zambia, Niger and Gabon,

The 17 airlines will now open their air transport markets to each other as part of a new “SAATM Project Implementation Pilot.” According to reports, Kenya Airways will target corporate travel in a new Ghana-Senegal route, starting December 11.

The pilot routes come as more steps are being taken to create a new continental airline following a pact between South African Airways and Kenya Airways. Earlier this month a long-term business proposal was struck, which includes migration policies and trading privileges.

The air transport plan could eventually generate $4.2 billion in additional gross domestic product), 600,000 new jobs, a 27 percent reduction in fares and make a contribution to United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, according to reports. For example, currently some routes between neigboring African countries involve connecting flights to nearby major international hubs.

The Single African Air Transport Market was established in 2018, and is considered as a step towards the full liberalization of the continent’s air transport market.

Business Travel

Amex GBT Partners With Dnata to Meet Middle East’s Growing Corporate Travel Demand

2 months ago

American Express Global Business Travel has partnered with Emirates Group-owned dnata to offer its global clients more local expertise in the Middle East region.

The agency has signed a “preferred travel partner agreement” with Dubai-based dnata Travel Management. It will provide full end-to-end travel and meetings management services to Amex GBT’s customers, the company said.

Dnata Travel Management is part of the dnata Travel Group, which is the travel division of dnata, a global air and travel services provider. Amex GBT, and other travel agencies, often establish these types of partnerships with “local travel partners” in countries where they do not have a proprietary operation.

The pair also have some history, as dnata acquired a 23 percent stake in corporate travel agency Hogg Robinson Group in 2008, which was bought by Amex GBT a decade later. Alongside investment firm Boron it was a significant minority shareholder at the time.

The tie-up comes as the Middle East embarks on a number of large scale projects, including Saudi Arabia’s Neom project. The country is eying a 100 million-visitor target per year by 2030. “Saudi has huge ambitions,” the tourism authority’s chief technology officer Choon Yang Quek said during Skift Global Forum earlier this year.

“We look forward to working with Amex GBT and its clients as the region sees strong growth in corporate travel, fuelled by mega-projects and companies that are seeking to expand,” said Rashid Al Awadhi, senior vice president – dnata Travel Group, Middle East and India.

Adnan Kazim, chief commercial officer at Emirates Airline, will be speaking at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai, which takes place December 13-15.

Business Travel

Soaring Travel Costs Put Lawyers Back on Zoom

2 months ago

Rising airfares and travel costs are prompting legal professionals involved in dispute resolutions to return to video conferencing.

That’s according to a National Law Review article, which has highlighted how virtual proceedings are coming back after being used during the pandemic. International arbitration centers and courts became comfortable with the virtual format during lockdowns, with protocols developed and vetted, the article said.

“Virtual hearings save money (and they’re here to stay,)” argues IMS Consulting & Expert Services, in its opinion piece titled “Global Dispute Resolution: The Future of Virtual Legal Proceedings Is Shaped by Soaring Travel Costs.”

“International travel is expensive, and the virtual option means that it is no longer necessary to count travel as a ‘cost of doing business’ when pursuing an international dispute,” it said.

It’s a compelling cost saver for all parties, it argues and the consultancy says it’s run the numbers.

TravelerNumberOrigin CityAirfareTravel TimeHotelFoodGroundTotal
U.S. Lawyer3Chicago$3,079$5,850$2,200$750$400$36,837
Paris Lawyer2Paris$325$1,950$2,200$750$400$11,250
Witness2London$0$0$1,500$350$250$4,200
Trial Consultant1New York$2,325$2,400$2,200$750$400$8,075
Trial Presenter1Los Angeles$3,944$3,300$2,200$750$400$10,594
Graphic Desiger1Dallas$3,079$3,000$2,200$750$400$9,429
Total$80,385

Source: National Law Review

It’s compared costs for in-person attendance, with the example of a business travel cost profile for an international arbitration hearing taking place in London and involving three U.S. attorneys, two Paris attorneys, two local witnesses, and three litigation support personnel.

The average business trip to London is 5.8 days, during which these travelers will require accommodations for 5 nights, food for 6 days, and ground transportation for 6 days.

“The cost of travel time can be as much or more than the cost of flights to attend an international arbitration or other legal hearing,” the articles states. “Spending many hours traveling to and returning from the various steps of an international proceeding is not only an expense for a client, but productivity is also lost for the legal professionals involved.”

How many other industries will be considering similar number-crunching exercises?

Business Travel

TripActions Buys Spanish Travel Agency and Meetings Planner Atlanta

3 months ago

If you’d thought Silicon Valley’s TripActions was running out of steam as we head towards the year’s end, after its acquisitions and extensive fundraising, think again.

On Tuesday the corp travel startup announced its fourth acquisition in 18 months, buying Spain’s Atlanta Events & Corporate Travel Consultants.

The rationale, according to the company, is because of an increase in demand for conferences, on-sites and offsites.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The purchase was made by TripActions’ premium-travel brand, Reed & Mackay, which it itself bought back in 2021. Atlanta was also a long-standing partner of Reed & Mackay.

Reed & Mackay’s meetings and events division’s employee base has grown fivefold, year-over-year, the company added.

This acquisition fills a gap in Europe, after it previously bought Comtravo in Germany and Resia in Sweden.

Atlanta has offices in Andalucia, Barcelona and Madrid, and all 70 employees will transfer over.

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