Posts in category Gulliver


Business and financeGulliver

Alitalia is bankrupt again. This time perhaps it’s terminal

WHEN employees of Alitalia were offered the chance on April 25th to vote for pay cuts and redundancies to save the troubled airline, they spurned the opportunity. In some ways it is difficult to blame them. After all, in the past they have been able to rely on the Italian government to come to the rescue of the country’s flag carrier. 

That may not happen this time. Alitalia has lost billions of euros over the past decade. (Indeed, over its 70-year history its accountants have barely had need for a black pen.) The firm had pinned its hopes on a €2bn ($2.2bn) capatilisation plan. But that had been dependent workers accepting cuts that were negotiated by the government and agreed with trade unions. With the workers’ no vote, that cash is now off the table.

Alitalia has been here many times before. In 2008 it was placed into bankruptcy after the government blocked plans for a sell-off. In 2014, with the airline on the verge of failing yet again, the government helped broker a deal with Etihad, a Middle Eastern superconnector, which took a 49% stake. A plan to make Alitalia Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

An air marshal leaves her loaded gun in a plane toilet

PEOPLE often enter a public toilet with a sense of trepidation; after all, who knows what horror might await behind the cubicle door. Even so, a passenger on a service between Manchester, Britain, and New York got a nasty surprise. 

Earlier this month an American air marshal accidentally left her loaded gun in the loo of a Delta Air Lines plane bound for JFK. According to the New York Times, the weapon was found by a passenger, who handed it over the to the flight’s crew. The crew then returned it to the officer. The Times says that the air marshal did not report her oversight to authorities for several days, as is required, and had been assigned to other planes in the meantime. Using unimpeachable logic, one former air marshal explained to the paper: “You can’t have inept people leaving weapons in a lavatory. If someone with ill intent gets hold of that weapon on an aircraft, they are now armed.”

The idea of placing armed air marshals on commercial flights is a divisive one. We have discussed the issue on this blog…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Is Tom Stuker the world’s most frequent flyer?

“AFTER entering a competition a lucky punter wins first prize: a week’s holiday in Skegness. Second prize is two weeks there.”

For some reason this most ancient of British jokes came to Gulliver’s mind when he read about Tom Stuker in the International Business Times. Mr Stuker, it is claimed, is the world’s most frequent flyer. He is about to clock up his 18-millionth mile on United Airlines. And as the Boarding Area blog points out, 18m miles with United means just that:

United calculates million miler status based on your “butt in seat” revenue miles flown on United. That’s right, we’re not talking about 10 million award miles, or even 10 million miles taking into account elite bonuses for flying first or business class.

Mr Stuker is president of a firm that trains sales staff at car dealerships around the world. He has flown to Australia over 300 times for business and pleasure; he travels to Hawaii “three…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Emirates cuts services to America as Donald Trump’s actions bite

WHEN American officials announced last month that laptops and tablets would be banned from aeroplane cabins on flights from certain Muslim countries, many questioned the administration’s motive. Was it a proportionate response to specific intelligence about a terrorist threat? Or had the government taken the opportunity to clobber swanky foreign operators that compete with the country’s own woeful airlines?

If the latter view is too cynical, we can at least say that, for America’s carriers, it has been a serendipitous byproduct. On April 19th, Emirates announced that it is cutting its services to the United States by 20%. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), the airline’s home, was one of ten Muslim countries covered by the laptop ban. By happy coincidence, no American carriers served airports that were affected.

The restrictions on electronic devices are a particular problem for Emirates and the other Middle Eastern “superconnectors”, Etihad, also of the UAE, and Qatar Airways. Direct traffic between America and these airlines’ hubs is modest: most passengers use them to connect to or from other…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

New York may require Uber to provide an option to leave a tip

UBER has many virtues. The ride-hailing app has disrupted the cosy taxi cartels that care little for customers; it has made travel around cities cheaper, more convenient and reliable; and it has called into question the notion that taxi drivers must be tipped simply for doing their job. Sadly, a proposal in New York might pose a serious threat to the last of these qualities.

Currently, Uber’s smartphone app, which charges users automatically at the end of a journey, does not give the option of adding a tip. But Uber drivers in New York are petitioning officials to force the firm to change this. The chance to add a tip is already standard among many of the firm’s competitors, including Lyft. The city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission is hoping to write this approach into law. It will put forward a formal proposal in July.

Any such change in the rules would be a step back. The New York Times writes that there has “long been confusion” whether or not customers are supposed to tip Uber…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

America’s woeful image among travellers is self-perpetuating

WHAT sort of reception can travellers to America expect to receive? The answer is, overwhelmingly, a warm one. Americans are among the most helpful and friendly bunch on the planet. But unfortunately for this most hospitable of peoples, potential visitors must judge the country from a distance. And their impressions are coloured by reports of how its officials behave.

Hence, after watching the now-famous United Airlines video (see article), a Chinese person considering a trip to America might wonder why paying Asian passengers are dragged semi-conscious from planes to make way for off-duty airline staff. (They may also try—and fail—to imagine something similar happening on Cathay Pacific.) People of certain ethnicities will worry that travellers such as Juhel Miah, a British teacher supervising a school trip, are stopped from entering America simply because they have a foreign-sounding name or subscribe…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Connecting flights hold the key to low-cost long-haul success

IT IS a peculiarity of the airline business that a connecting flight is often cheaper than a shorter nonstop route to the same destination. Normally, paying less to receive more is economically preposterous. But in transportation, where the fastest conveyance from A to B is the main utility, it makes perfect sense. For passengers, sitting on a plane any longer than necessary can be an exasperating, even painful experience. For airlines, flying empty seats is no less harmful. This inverse relationship between a journey’s value and its cost is something that Europe’s new breed of long-haul budget carriers may be overlooking.

As Gulliver reported in March, International Airlines Group (IAG), the holding company of several airlines including British Airways, is the latest pretender in the low-cost long-haul market. Its new venture, Level, has begun offering rock-bottom airfares from Barcelona to the West Coast of America, the Dominican Republic and Argentina. Routes from other European cities are expected shortly. In Germany, Lufthansa already deploys its low-cost carrier, Eurowings to the Americas, Thailand and Mauritius. Air…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

America may demand the right to peruse visitors’ mobile phones on arrival

THE effect that Donald Trump is having on American tourism seems clear. Data from online travel agents, which analyse customers’ searches and are thus privy to the most timely information on travel trends, are unanimous in the bleakness of their assessments. Expedia, Cheapflights and Kayak are just some of the sites reporting that interest in travelling to the United States has fallen since Mr Trump’s inauguration and his attempted travel bans and drawbridge-up rhetoric. (The strong dollar hasn’t helped.) Economic forecasters are pessimistic, too. Oxford Economics, for example, reckons that as many as 6.7m fewer tourists will visit America this year; a fall of 8% compared to last year. 

Those working in the American tourism industry are desperate to see the drip-drip of negative…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Qatar Airways thinks it has found a way around America’s laptop ban

THE ban on taking large electronic devices into plane cabins, imposed on March 20th by United States on flights from ten Middle Eastern airports, is a particular headache for the four “superconnector” airlines. Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines, like many carriers, depend on premium travellers for their profits. Those in business-class cabins like to get work done on long journeys; that is difficult without a computer. But, as their epithet implies, these airlines are also unusually dependent on on connecting traffic. By one estimate, 60% of Emirates flyers use Dubai as a layover on the way to somewhere else. As of last week, travellers heading, for example, from New York to Mumbai, must now choose between a superconnecter flight on which they will be without their tablets and laptops, or connecting through Europe on a European or United States airline which is not affected by the ban. (Or, perhaps, an Emirates flight connecting in Milan, which would also be exempt.) It is a fair bet that many are choosing to avoid the Middle Eastern hubs.

It felt a…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

What gets left behind in an Uber

IN THEORY, leaving an item in an Uber car should induce less panic than leaving something in a cab. After all, you can just pull out your phone and look up the name and number of your driver. Unless, of course, the item you left behind is your phone.

This week, the ride-hailing company unveiled the “Uber Lost & Found Index”, which documents the things most commonly left behind in its cars. Topping the list is, inevitably, phones.

Rings are the second most frequently abandoned possessions, followed by keys, wallets and glasses. The firm says that the day of the week has a significant effect on what is lost. (In truth, many of the conclusions can probably be explained by the Texas sharpshooter fallacy, but why spoil a fun story?) Saturdays bring the biggest haul of lost plane tickets. Passengers are likeliest to leave their swimsuits behind on Tuesdays. And wedding dresses are most often forgotten on Sundays—presumably because they are left behind by tired and emotional couples who had tied the knot the day…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

How airlines are responding to America’s laptop ban

THE recently announced ban on laptops and other large electronic devices on direct flights from Middle Eastern airports to America is bad news for business travellers hoping to get work done on these long journeys. That, in turn, spells trouble for the airlines that fly these routes. Carriers like Emirates, Turkish, Qatar, and Etihad compete for long-haul flyers all over the world. They have just become a little bit less competitive. (Gulliver recently booked a flight from Manila to Washington, DC on Emirates, via Dubai; had he known what was coming, he might well have opted to fly via Tokyo or Beijing instead.)

Turkish Airlines stock tumbled more than 7% after the ban was announced in America. (Britain announced similar restrictions soon after, though crucially the superconnectors’ hubs in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Turkey were not included.) Rival airlines, meanwhile, are thrilled at the news. Emirates, Etihad and Qatar currently serve half the travellers flying between India and the United States, for example. Air India now Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts would have serious implications for travellers

THREE months into his presidency, Donald Trump has engendered little but despair among among travel-industry types. Restrictions announced today on taking laptops and iPads aboard airlines originating from eight Middle Eastern countries are probably reasonable (see Gulliver). But an ill-considered attempt in January to ban travellers from seven mostly-Muslim countries seems to have affected visitor numbers. When that order was shot down by the courts, and a revised one proposed, it turned out that it might cause longer waits for foreigners leaving the country. Then last week in his budget blueprint, Mr Trump proposed big cuts to domestic spending to help fund the military. Several of the programmes on the chopping block have implications for business travellers.

One such is a call to privatise the country’s air traffic control system. The budget outline says privatisation would make air traffic control “more efficient and innovative while…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

IAG enters the low-cost, long-haul market

WILLIE WALSH has spent much of the past few years stripping the frills from British Airways planes, at least on short-haul routes. The boss of IAG, BA’s parent firm, seems keen to ape the success of Europe’s low-cost carriers, such as Ryanair. Hence, everything that once distinguished it as a “full-service” carrier—whether a complimentary sandwich, a free checked bag or to the right to choose your seat—has been deplaned. The strategy has proved a success. Despite the weak pound, British Airways posted an operating profit of £1.5bn in 2016—about 80% of IAG’s total.

When it comes to long-haul flights, however, Mr Walsh has had to contain his cost-cutting zeal. On such routes, BA must compete against carriers that boast sparkling amenities, particularly at the front of the plane, such as Emirates and Singapore Airlines. So although BA has managed to skimp a bit in the premium cabins (by, for example, reducing the food options and downsizing the washbag) it is also investing £400m to upgrade its posh Club World service.

On transatlantic flights, however, the full-service carriers are facing a new threat to their business: low-cost long-haul operators….Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Free health cover for Britons in Europe is under threat

BUSINESS travellers face several uncertainties after Brexit. Will travelling to the European Union in future require a visa? Given the state of the pound, will companies start to crack down on expenses? And what happens if you get ill abroad?

This last question has perhaps been farthest from the front of road warriors’ minds—until this week. On March 15th, David Davis, the minister in charge of Brexit, told a parliamentary committee that it was “probably right” that once Britain leaves the EU British travellers would lose access to free or subsidised health care within the European Economic Area (EEA). Currently, British travellers are entitled to be treated as if they were a national of the EEA country (plus Switzerland) they are visiting if they have a European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC. Some 200,000 Brits received medical aid through the scheme while travelling last year, according to ABTA, a travel agents’ association. The card covers those who get ill or have an accident while abroad, or have a serious pre-existing condition that needs…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

The Middle East’s once fast-expanding airlines are coming under pressure

LAST April, Etihad Airways, the flag-carrier of the emirate of Abu Dhabi, claimed that 2015 had been its fifth consecutive year in the black, with net profits of $103m. James Hogan, the firm’s chief executive, hailed the result as proof that Etihad is a “sustainably profitable airline”. Yet less than one year on, both Mr Hogan and his chief financial officer, James Rigney, have been eased out amid a “company-wide strategic review” to “improve cost efficiency, productivity and revenue”; reforms ill-befitting a healthy business. Just across the sand, Emirates, the flag-carrier of Dubai, has deferred orders for 12 double-decker Airbus A380s in response to a 75% drop in profits. Qatar Airways, the region’s other super-connector airline, has abandoned plans for a subsidiary in Saudi Arabia. After years of uninterrupted and speedy growth, the Gulf carriers are hitting turbulence.

Taken in isolation, falling profits and waning sales should be of no great concern to these industry goliaths. Low oil prices and jitters about terrorism may have sapped demand for business and leisure travel—particularly in their neighbourhood—but overall the global economy is holding up…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Leaked travel advice for spooks from the CIA

AMONG the trove of American intelligence agency documents released by Wikileaks this week is one that instructs the country’s spies on protocols to follow while travelling abroad. Some of these are quite specific to the CIA’s needs. (“Talk to CCIE/Engineering about your planned TDY timeline,” the document begins, adding such tidbits as “Breeze through German Customs because you have your cover-for-action story down pat.”) But others are just good common-sense business travel tips—for spies and corporate sales managers alike.

The first universal advice in the document, which appears to be designed for spooks visiting an operations base in Frankfurt, is this: “If you are using a personal credit card, be sure to call your credit card company and notify them of your travel to Germany.” That seems like sound guidance. Even better is the pithy advice on which airline to fly with:

Flying Lufthansa: Booze is free so enjoy (within reason)!

Flying United: My condolences, but at least you are earning a United leg towards a status increase.

Hardly…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

A clause in Donald Trump's new travel ban could cause problems for everyone

IF YOU are an Iraqi, or a Syrian refugee, President Donald Trump’s new travel ban will seem like an improvement over the old one. But a little-noticed clause in the measure could make travelling to America a much greater hassle, even for people carrying passports that spare them the toughest restrictions, such as Europe and Asia.

The major provisions of the updated executive order, which Mr Trump signed on March 6th, have been well publicised. The decree will once again face swift legal challenges but, if it survives, citizens of six majority-Muslim countries will still be barred from entering America for the next three months. Iraqis, though, will now be exempt from the ban and the indefinite exclusion on Syrian refugees has also been lifted, once a 120-day period has expired.

However, the Daily Beast spotted a provision on the collection of biometric data. The issue is not actually new. After the 9/11 attacks, Congress passed a law mandating the collection of such things as fingerprints and photos from…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Why some airlines remove Israel from their online route maps

STARING at an airline’s route map can cause the heart to flutter. It seems to divide the world into two distinct groups, between memories and possibilities. But on some carriers’ maps, a third classification exists: the non-existent. 

Many airlines’ route maps show every country in the world, regardless of whether they fly there. Those that do not usually illustrate their network by showing only those cities and countries served by the airline. But a few are more selective still, omitting only a single country from their worldview: Israel.

A new paper*, which is currently under peer review, by Joel Waldfogel and Paul Vaaler, both of the University of Minnesota, looks into the phenomenon. The pair classified 111 of the world’s international airlines depending on how they treat Israel on their online route maps. Outside the Middle East, all dealt with it consistently: either Israel was shown as part of a comprehensive map, or it its inclusion was dependent on whether the airline served the country.

Not so for those based in the Middle East. Here, many airlines simply erase Israel’s name off otherwise comprehensive maps (this is often done by…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

The European Parliament votes to reintroduce visas for Americans

EUROPE and America have been slowly drifting apart for millions of years. Tectonic shift means that the physical distance between the continents grows by about an inch every year. If only the political divergence were so languid. From NATO to Donald Trump’s travel ban to accusations of currency manipulation, the gap between once-strong allies on either side of the Atlantic has rarely felt as chasmic.

Relations may get frostier yet. On March 2nd, the European Parliament voted temporarily to suspend visa-free travel for Americans visiting the EU. The vote is not binding—it will be up to the European Commission, the body’s executive arm, to decide whether to implement the recommendation. Nonetheless, the decision marks a sad state of affairs.

The main reason for the vote is the way that travellers from some EU countries are treated by America. While most citizens of EU countries can travel to the United States without a visa, those from Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania must still obtain one. Because the EU demands equal treatment of all its citizens in such matters, it says it is legally obliged to fight back. 

Some media outlets, including…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Air passengers rail against allowing mobile-phone calls on planes

ONE by one, airline passengers’ privileges have been taken away: free checked bags, free carry-ons, complimentary food and drink, on-board entertainment. Now, with the advent of “basic economy” class, some flyers are even losing the ability to choose their seats, sit with family members and accrue qualifying miles toward elite status. So it is rather interesting that when passengers are offered the chance of a new privilege, their response seems to be an overwhelmingly “no thank-you”.

The issue at hand is the use of cell phones on planes. The U.S. Transportation Department recently sought public comment on whether it should continue to ban calls from mobiles in the air. More than 8,000 people weighed in before the deadline in February. And in an era when it’s hard to achieve public consensus on just about anything, this issue seems to unite people to an uncommon degree.

Of the last 100 public comments submitted, for example, just one was in favour of calls on planes—and only if airlines agreed to strict regulations and imposed “no-call periods” during takeoff, landing…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Are airlines’ new “last class” fares just a bait-and-switch?

THIS week, United Airlines introduced the change that no flyers were eagerly awaiting: “basic economy” class. You might think that some budget-conscious travellers would welcome the arrival of the new no-frills designation, which offers the lowest fares but strips away flyers’ ability to select their seats, bring full-size carry-on bags onto the plane and earn elite qualifying miles. They might, except basic economy doesn’t actually bring lower fares than the ones already available.

Ben Schlappig was the first to note this on his popular “One Mile at a Time” blog. Mr Schlappig looked at fares on a Minneapolis-Denver route before and after the introduction of basic economy. (On February 22nd United began offering basic economy only between its seven American hubs and Minneapolis; other routes in the United States, Latin America, and the Caribbean will follow.) Prior to the rollout, he found that standard economy fares on this route started at $173. When the “new” fares became available, the basic economy seats began…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

What to drink at 30,000 feet

THERE exists a genre of information which might be termed “little-known facts that everyone knows”. It is the sort of tidbit you expect to amaze your friends at a dinner party, but which is greeted with rolled eyes. Casinos don’t have clocks or windows. Alanis Morissette’s song “Ironic” contains no example of irony. The body exerts more calories digesting celery than is contained within the vegetable. (Except the last of these facts—and everyone knows this—is in fact untrue.)

Then there is Bloody Marys and aeroplanes. Have you ever wondered why the only time most people fancy gulping down vodka, tomato juice and Worcestershire sauce is when strapped into the seat of a passenger jet? It is a little-known fact (that everyone knows) that our taste buds are dampened by the low pressure and humidity in the cabin, as well as the white noise of the engines. This particularly affects flavours that are sweet and salty. The umami taste, however, remains prominent. Tomato juice is high in umami. Worcestershire sauce, meanwhile, is what one cook…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

The busiest airports in Europe

ANYONE who has tried to hold a conversation in a West London garden will wonder how it is possible to squeeze any more more flights into Heathrow Airport. On average, a chinwag is interrupted every minute or so by a Boeing or an Airbus rumbling overhead. 

And yet each year more people manage to pass through. The latest figures from Airports Council International (ACI), an industry group, show that in 2016 passenger numbers grew by 1% at Europe’s busiest hub, to 75.7m. Charles de Gaulle in Paris, Europe’s second busiest airport, lags way behind (see chart).

Heathrow’s two runways are currently running at the very limit of their capacity. That will change once a third runway opens, perhaps in 2026. But in the meantime the only way for the airport to continue to grow is to service bigger planes. This year Korean Air became the ninth airline to fly A380 superjumbos into the airport….Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Dubai is to test passenger-carrying drones

AT TIMES it can feel like we are living in an episode of “Travel Futurama”. This week: flying drone taxis.

Dubai, a city that sometimes seems to inhabit a time zone five years ahead of the rest of the planet, has embraced another improbable travel innovation, to go alongside its enthusiasm for hyperloop trains and long driverless metro lines. This week, the Emirati metropolis announced it is to test passenger-carrying drones in its skies by July.

The unpiloted drone taxis won’t exactly replace the traditional earthbound sort, since they will be able to carry only one passenger, who together with luggage cannot weigh more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds). And it will have a range of just 50 kilometres (31 miles), or half an hour of flying time. But if it works, the long-term implications are huge not only for Dubai, which has among the world’s Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

International visitors are already turning their back on Trump-era America

WHEN President Donald Trump announced his travel ban last month, affecting people from seven majority-Muslim countries, this blog wondered what effect it would have on tourism and business travel to America. “The direct impact to tourism of a travel ban from these countries will be small,” a fellow Gulliver noted, since “each sends a piddling number of visitors to America.” But there was a bigger concern: “Will the decree—easily interpreted as a deep hostility to the world beyond America’s shores—put off global travellers?”

Two weeks later, it has become clear that the answer is yes.

Last week, the travel ban was blocked temporarily by a federal judge and the suspension upheld by a panel of appeals court judges. But that hasn’t stopped Mr Trump’s executive order from having an effect on travel to the United States.

Hopper, a market research firm, looked at online searches for flights into America, comparing the final weeks of the Obama administration with the…Continue reading

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Business and financeGulliver

Business travellers are keener on the sharing economy than their employers

RIDE-HAILING apps and home-rental sites are fast becoming mainstays of the corporate travel world—but perhaps not quite as fast as many business travellers would like.

Two recent reports shed light on the rapid changes taking place within the industry. One comes from the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA), which represents corporate travel managers. Its latest survey found that the number of businesses allowing their employees to use ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft has increased by nearly 15% since June. Over the same period, the share permitting workers to book lodging through Airbnb and similar services increased 20%. Yet despite that growth, half of corporate travel policies still don’t allow employees to use ride-hailing apps, and 70% prohibit home-rental services in favour of traditional hotels.

At first glance, those figures appear at odds with a survey released by Certify, which makes software that tracks business-travel expenses. It found…Continue reading

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Passengers like flying on planes not made by Boeing or Airbus

ONE statistic that never fails to amaze is the claim by Boeing that one of its 737-model planes lands or takes off somewhere in the world every two seconds. Airbus, the American planemaker’s bitter European rival, makes a similar assertion about its A320 series (although fewer have been built). So ubiquitous are these mid-sized, short-haul aircraft that if you are sat on a modern plane with 120-200 seats you are all but guaranteed to be on an A320 or a 737. That duopoly is nice for Boeing and Airbus, which have collectively delivered 16,800 of the two models. But, in Europe at least, passengers are getting a taste of what else might be.

Last July, Swiss International Air Lines became the first carrier in the world to fly the Bombardier CSeries on scheduled commercial operations. It currently deploys five CS100s (pictured) from Zurich to two dozen European cities. The 125-seat jets are borrowed from parent company Lufthansa, Germany’s flag-carrier, which has ordered 30 CSeries and expects to receive another 12 of the planes this year. More recently, Air Baltic, the flag-carrier of Latvia, became the first to fly the CS300, a larger variant which it has configured with 145…Continue reading

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Travel firms can afford to upset supporters of President Trump

WRITING a few weeks ago, Gulliver envisioned a close partnership between the then president-elect, Donald Trump, and the bosses of tech firms; one that could remove regulation and pave the way to a future of autonomous electric vehicles.

Since then politics has intervened. Specifically, Mr Trump signed an executive order barring citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from travelling to America. Upon the announcement of the order, the transportation industry sprang into action. New York taxicab drivers staged a boycott of sorts, refusing to pick up passengers from John F Kennedy Airport to show solidarity with those affected by the ban. In response, Uber, a ride-hailing firm, sensed a business opportunity and dropped surge pricing for JFK pickups, effectively cutting the cost of hailing an Uber from the airport.

That proved to be a mistake. Progressives across America accused the firm of breaking the strike. Some noted that Travis Kalanick, Uber’s boss, had joined Mr Trump’s economic advisory council in December. A #DeleteUber campaign was launched. More than…Continue reading

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