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

2 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

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

Ashton Kutcher’s Venture Firm Leads $15 Million Investment in Climate Tech Startup

2 weeks ago

Actor (and travel tech investor) Ashton Kutcher is at it again, as his Sound Ventures venture capital firm has co-led a $15 million investment in climate tech company Chooose.

It’s the latest in a long chapter of travel investing for Kutcher, revealed on Friday, with previous deals including Affirm, Airbnb, Hipmunk and Citymaps, which was bought by TripAdvisor .

Norway-based Chooose, which offers climate solutions such as carbon offsetting, carbon removals and sustainable aviation fuel, already works with global companies and airlines including British Airways, Air Canada and Japan Airlines. It also works with Booking.com, Trip.com and SAP Concur.

Startups like this have fast emerged out of the need to give companies better insight into their carbon footprints when flying. This extra capital will go towards scaling up its platform, and further “embed climate action solutions into customer experiences.” It also plans to expand into new geographies, thanks to the funding provided by Soundwaves, which is the sustainability-focused vehicle of Kutcher’s fund.

GenZero, a decarbonisation-focused investment company owned by Singapore’s Temasek, also co-led the investment round. Existing investors Shell Ventures and Vinyl Capital also participated in the strategic capital round. Other current investors include travel technology giant Amadeus and Contrarian VC.

UPDATE: This article was amended to remove the series B mention, which had originally been provided.

Tourism

Hawaii Cancels U.S. Tourism Marketing Contract with Native Community Group

2 months ago

The Hawaiian government this week rescinded the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s U.S. tourism contract with the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, a community non-profit, providing a potential setback for the authority’s sustainable tourism efforts. The reason for the government’s rescission was that the contract needed to be separated into two, one for marketing and the other for visitor management and community relations.

The move is the latest roadblock to the Hawaii Tourism Authority’s attempts toward bringing a more sustainable approach to Hawaii, where communities have been frustrated by and more vocal about tourism’s negative impacts on their quality of life and ecosystem. The situation was an industry example of the 2022 Skift megatrend that communities are asserting themselves in travel.

Former Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism (DBEDT) Director Mike McCartney made the decision minutes before his term ended at noon on Monday. The Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) sits under the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism.

In a letter, McCartney said there needs to be one contract for marketing and another for destination brand management, communication, education, and community-based economic development. “A single contract would not only put us at a competitive disadvantage in the market but also in dealing with the community,” the former director wrote.

Diamond Head Crater in O‘ahu, United States. Photo by Chase O.
https://unsplash.com/photos/7yKgU0xemJw

In June, the Hawaii Tourism Authority awarded Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement (CNHA) the $34 million dollar contract to market the islands to the U.S. until December 2024. It was a historic shift because HTA didn’t go with its historic partner,  Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB), which has marketed Hawaii for over a century with strong support from the traditional tourism industry. 

The contract award also represented a significant step toward HTA implementing a “locals-first” approach. The authority wants to attract a more high-spending but mindful visitor, one that will embrace Hawaii’s cultural heritage and be respectful of sacred sites and the natural environment. 

Since the June contract award, HTA has repeatedly extended its current contract with the HVCB due to protests by the bureau. Its most recent extension was up to March 31, 2023.

With the June contracted canceled, HVCB could very well end up oversee marketing to the U.S. for the next few years. In a statement, CNHA CEO Kūhiō Lewis called McCartney’s recession “unlawful” and said his organization will protest it.

HTA President and CEO John De Fries said the organization is willing to work on a settlement with all the parties involved or start a new procurement process, according to Hawaii News Now.

Either way, the Hawaii Tourism Authority will have to get to work, starting with an upcoming emergency meeting. “My staff and I look forward to discussing this rescission and cancellation at our board meeting on Wednesday and we will work with our board, new DBEDT Director Chris Sadayasu, the State Procurement Office, and Governor Josh Green to explore viable options and align our direction going forward,” said De Fries.

Online Travel

Trip.com Group Taps $1.5 Billion Loan Tied to Green Targets

2 months ago

Trip.com Group said on Friday it had tapped a $1.5 billion sustainability-linked loan facility, meaning that the financing terms link the debt’s interest rates to the Chinese online travel giant’s performance against specific environmental targets.

The Shanghai-based company will use three-year dual-tranche term loan facility to refinance some of its debt, and the rest for general corporate purposes.

The move appeared to be the first time a major online travel player adopted green finance. Last year, a shareholder initiative prodded Booking Holdings to do a climate change report. The report came out this year. In October, the company said its Booking.com brand would add emissions estimates to bookings soon. Trip.com-owned Skyscanner has estimated flight emissions for consumers for a few years.

Climate-related risk is on investors’ minds as they look at their portfolios. For travel in general, the sustainability-linked bond may provide more flexibility for investors worried about this issue, said Leslie Samuelrich, president of Boston-based Green Century Capital Management. Sustainability-linked bonds are different from green bonds. They set macro targets for a company, while green bonds commit to specific projects.

The investment concept is growing fast, Samuelrich said. Last year, lenders issued $103 billion in sustainability-linked bonds to companies across various industries. The year before that, it was about $12 billion.

In April, Ascott Residence Trust issued a sustainability-linked bond — apparently the first in the hotel sector — worth about $143 million ($200 million Singaporean). Ascott Residence Trust has committed to a sustainability performance target of greening half of its total portfolio by 2025, and its interest rates would essentially rise on the loan facility if it fails to meet the target.

The process remains murky and slow burn, though. There’s a debate about measuring the greenhouse gas emissions contributing to the climate emergency. IFRS Foundation, the international accounting standards-setting body, has this year been working on setting standards for emissions-focused reporting. Their work, and the work of other organizations, will adjust how investors evaluate climate risk — a knotty task inviting skepticism from some critics.

Side note: Trip.com’s chief commercial officer Schubert Lou will talk about the international division of Trip.com Group at Skift Global Forum East in Dubai on Dec. 14.

Tourism

Movie Star Ed Norton Is Launching a Luxury Eco-Camp in Kenya With Former Six Senses President

2 months ago

Movie actor Ed Norton is working with the former president of Six Senses on developing a new eco-resort in Kenya.

“There’s going to be an announcement in the spring, about a new, global luxury brand,” he revealed on stage at the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Summit, held in Saudi Arabia this week.

“A good friend of mine who ran Six Senses from its inception, up to when InterContinental Group bought it, and my friends at the Discovery Land Development Corporation, they have a big announcement in the spring. And we’re working with them to build state-of-the-art sustainable camps in Kenya, that will come over the next couple of years.”

According to reports, Bernhard Bohnenberger, former president of Six Senses and now CEO of Discover Collection, has worked with Norton on selecting three safari lodges and one beach resort.

Norton shared the news while speaking with Fahd Hamidaddin, CEO of the Saudi Tourism Authority, about which resorts were taking sustainability seriously.

He revealed that the camps in Kenya would fully electrified and features electric vehicles, while water would be sustainably sourced and only locals would be employed. Norton said he wanted the camps to act as a model for what can be done.

The “Fight Club” actor, who has spent many years as an environmental activist and social entrepreneur, also acts as ambassador to the Kenya Tourism Board.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article stated the Six Senses founder was involved. This updated version includes a report on Bohnenberger.

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.

Tour Operators

G Adventures Invests in Restorative Tourism Platform Reforest

2 months ago

Adventure travel specialist G Adventures has made a “significant financial investment” in Reforest, a digital platform that connects travelers with local communities that are restoring their ecosystems using reforestation.

Reforest, which is based in Brisbane, Australia, said it enables travelers to give back by having their own trees planted in places where community tourism relies heavily on the preservation of the local environment.

The platform then provides travelers with tangible, visible, scientific data measuring the positive impact of the trees planted on their behalf — including drone-based footage and satellite imagery.

“I’ve never been a fan of carbon-offsetting,” said Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Adventures, who recently spoke at Skift Global Forum in New York. “The idea that you can have a negative impact in one place and do something positive somewhere else, and that somehow balances the scale, is not science to me, and most of all it doesn’t change people’s behaviour.”

The stake G Adventures has taken not been disclosed but Daniel Walsh, Reforest’s co-founder, said the investment gave the company the means to improve its technology, and expand its offering by marketing the platform more widely within the global travel industry.

“Together we will also create a showcase example of restorative tourism at work as we build the G Adventures’ tree-planting programme together over the coming month,” he said in a statement.

Airlines

Saudi Arabia’s National Carrier Signs Agreement to Buy 100 Lilium Air Taxis

3 months ago

Saudi Arabia’s national flag carrier Saudia announced on Wednesday that it has signed an agreement with German air taxi startup Lilium to purchase 100 jets.

With this purchase Saudia intends to launch new electric point-to-point connections as well as seamless feeder connections to Saudia’s hubs for business class guests, the airline said in a release.

Saudia also expects to support Lilium with the necessary regulatory approval processes in Saudi Arabia for certification of the Lilium jet.

With this Saudia will be the first airline in the Middle East and North Africa region to develop the all-electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) network in the region. The agreement will also help Lilium gain a foothold in the region.

The agreement with Lilium will contribute effectively to spurring sustainable tourism in Saudi using zero-emission aviation, said Ibrahim S Koshy, CEO of Saudia.

“Saudia intends to meet a growing demand for regional air mobility and offer guests a superior on-board experience. The potential for such an airborne transit network is limitless,” Koshy said.

While no timeline has been mentioned for the Saudia order, Lilium’s air taxi is scheduled to enter service in 2025, with production beginning as early as next year.

With orders worth approximately $2 billion, Lilium has already signed deals with Brazilian airline Azul, private jet company NetJets, as well as private jet company Globeair.

Online Travel

Expedia Group Launches a Startup Accelerator To Foster Innovation on Its Platform

4 months ago

Expedia Group announced the launch of a startup accelerator to empower innovation on its business to business platform.

Selected startups — and small businesses, as well — would get technology and business development support, mentorship from Expedia Group personnel as well as outside experts, a non-equity grant, and access to the Expedia Group platform and products.

Companies can apply to the Open World Accelerator program by October 21 here. To qualify they must be striving to make the travel industry “more open and accessible,” be less than a decade old, and already have at least a minimum viable product.

Archana Arunkumar, Senior Vice President of Platform. “Expedia Group’s mission is to power travel for everyone, everywhere,” said Archana Arunkumar, Expedia Group’s senior vice president of platform in a statement. “Open World Accelerator is specifically designed to drive innovation in the industry, remove barriers to travel, and enable startups and SMBs to build capabilities on Expedia’s Open World™ technology platform that significantly improve the experience for every traveler.”

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