Skift Travel News Blog

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

Rail

France and Germany Promise Direct Paris-Berlin Trains From 2024

6 days ago

French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Sunday unveiled plans for a high-speed train route connecting their respective capitals, Paris and Berlin, beginning next year.

“As a tangible initiative illustrating our will to push forward on decarbonizing our economies and our societies, as well as our cross-border links, we support the deployment of the high-speed train route between Paris and Berlin, as well as the night train liaison, both announced for 2024,” they said in a joint statement. They did not provide additional details, for example which country’s rail operator — France’s SNCF or Germany’s Deutsche Bahn — would operate the planned service.

TGV and ICE trains at Munich station
A French TGV and German ICE train at the Munich station. (Deutsche Bahn)

A direct Paris-Berlin high-speed rail service would eliminate the need for travelers to change trains in either Cologne or Frankfurt. However, as rail blogger Alon Levy noted, without additional infrastructure improvements the new direct service will likely take about the 8 hours in travel, or about the same as the current connecting services.

Flights between Paris and Berlin take roughly 1 hour and 45 minutes, according to Diio by Cirium schedules.

Deutsche Bahn and SNCF operate 24 trains between France and Germany daily, according to the latter’s website. Trains directly connect Paris and other French cities with Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart and other German cities.

Rail

Germany to Open New Fast Rail Line Between Munich and Stuttgart

3 months ago

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn will reduce travel times between Munich and Stuttgart to under two hours when a new high-speed rail line opens in December.

The 37-mile (60 kilometer) Wendlingen–Ulm high-speed line will open on December 11, Deutsche Bahn said Thursday. The new line will reduce trip times between Munich and Stuttgart by about 15 minutes, or to as little as 1 hour and 57 minutes based on current schedules.

An ICE test train on the new Wendlingen–Ulm high-speed rail line. (Deutsche Bahn/Volker Emersleben)

The line opening comes as Germany and other European countries encourage rail travel as a way to reduce carbon emissions. Last summer, Germany’s “9 Euro ticket,” as it was called, proved a popular success getting more people to use trains and buses for local and regional journeys. The country will roll out a new $50 (€49) monthly pass in January in response to the popularity of the 9 Euro ticket.

Shifting travelers from planes to trains is another part of Europe’s effort to reduce carbon emissions. As part of that effort, Deutsche Bahn will become the first rail member of a global airline alliance, the Star Alliance, as well as expand its airline partnerships. In France, the government has gone as far as to ban flights on short routes where trains can make the journey in two-and-a-half-hours or less.

Tour Operators

Former Thomas Cook CEO Peter Fankhauser Returns to Travel

5 months ago

Peter Fankauser is marking his official return to travel after a three-year absence, as he takes on the role of chairman at Germany’s itravel Group.

He has also previously been an investor and consultant at the Cologne-based tour operator.

Fankauser was CEO of Thomas Cook Group from 2014 up until its collapse in September 2019. The travel giant’s bankruptcy left 600,000 tourists stranded, 21,000 employees without jobs and a financial black hole $12 billion.

Fankhauser was grilled by UK politicians afterwards, alongside other execs, as the government tried to figure out what went wrong. At the time much was made of the millions former leaders made, through salaries and bonuses, despite the company collapsing.

According to reports, Fankhauser received almost $10 million in salary and bonuses between 2014 and 2018.

Another former CEO, Manny Fontenla-Novoa, last year became president of a new joint venture formed by the merger of Logitravel and Spanish agency group Viajes El Corte Ingles.

Airlines

Only-Pay-When-You-Check-In Could Emerge As Alternative Amidst Flight Disruptions

5 months ago

If German lawmakers have their way, the advancement payment of air tickets could become a thing of the past, as a response to the huge disruptions of flights this summer across Europe, according to new proposed law in the German state of Lower Saxony. The local state minister renewed calls to introduce a “pay as you fly” (PAYF) model, where payment for plane tickets is processed upon check-in, reports BTN.

The German Business Travel Association (VDR), which has been advocating for a PAYF model since 2021, praised the move. VDR President Christoph Carnier said, “Advance payment for air travel is an outdated standard that should be replaced by timely electronic payment.”

Lufthansa launched a ‘Pay as you fly’ program for corporate customers in Europe in March 2021, where fares are typically more expensive and the booking process slightly different.

Tags: germany

Business Travel

Corporate Lodging Platform HRS Buys Expense Startup PayPense

6 months ago

Corporate hotel booking platform HRS has bought PayPense, as it pushes further into expense management.

Terms of the deal, announced on Thursday, weren’t disclosed, but the acquisition follows its purchase of billing company Itelya in 2021.

Staff at Germany’s PayPense will officially become HRS Pay employees when the acquisition formally closes in August.

Interestingly, HRS now describes itself as a “global corporate travel and payment technology platform.” HRS, which stands for Hotel Reservation Service, said buying PayPense enhances its “growing compilation of efficient corporate payment offerings.”

PayPense is used by companies to let employees use digital payment technology to pay for all work-related purchases. That helps ensure compliance to budgets while also capturing relevant data for auditing, steering and even sustainability metrics, the company said. Using supplier and localized data, PayPense can capture carbon emissions of individual expenses.

“With the full integration of PayPense, our complete end-to-end spend management platform provides unmatched visibility of level-3 data, multi-category invoice digitization, and superior VAT reclaim automation — all available globally via any payment provider,” said said Kurt Knackstedt, chief growth officer at HRS Pay.

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