Movements in international business travel

Heathrow’s
owners BAA says business travellers have been the main contributor to August
2010 becoming its busiest month this year in terms of thoroughfare, and its
second busiest month on record. 

The London airport saw a 2.5 per cent increase
year-on-year with some 6.5m people
travelling through it, with European traffic increasing by 10.4 per cent. This
is compared to an overall drop in traffic for the whole group of BAA
UK airports, which saw a fall of 0.6
per cent in August with 10.6m passengers.

BAA said Heathrow benefited
from an improvement in the business
travel sector, but other airports in the group suffered due to a reliance to the
leisure sector.

In other global airport news, the world’s busiest
airport according to Airports Council International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta
International Airport’s plans for a US$1.3bn international terminal by 2012 will
be able to go ahead after its funding ran dry and it reached an
agreement with the airlines serving
it.

According to city Mayor Kasim Reed, the airlines, which include
Delta Air Lines and AirTran Airways, agreed to contribute an additional $30m
spread over four fiscal years to help the city of Atlanta finish the terminal by the scheduled
2012 completion date. “This agreement
is another key element in our effort
to ensure that Atlanta remains the [world’s] busiest passenger
airport,” he said.

Upon opening, the airport will then make contractual
repayments to the airlines involved
contingent upon the financial success of the new development.

Previously, Delta has requested the
airport cut $400m in the project’s budget and threatened to reduce its capacity
out of the city. The airline eventually conceded to the reduction in budget.

Over in Germany, the government has voted for an increase in air departure tax,
which has been protested against by German-based carrier Lufthansa, which
believes it will significantly weaken the country as an air traffic hub.

The tax, which will be put in place for 1 January 2011 and is part of an
€80m revenue-raising measure, has
been increased to €8 (US$10) for flights within Europe, €25 to medium-haul destinations and €45 to long-haul
destinations.

The government
has also been criticised for announcing it will immediately levy the tax on all post-31 December
bookings. Finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the move was to “avoid a rush
of bookings aimed at pre-empting the
tax”.

The German airline association BDF claims that the tax will cost
Germany five million passengers per
year and 10,000 jobs.

And in Asia, Japan’s All
Nippon Airways (ANA) is set to launch the country’s first low-cost carrier for
both international and domestic
short-haul routes.

The airline says it is anticipating a boom in Asian
travel demand and aims to begin services out of Kansai International Airport, Osaka, in the second half of 2011.

In Shanghai, China, the city opened a new
US$2.2bn terminal in
time for the World Expo, currently
being held in the city.

ANA’s new carrier, which is yet to be
named, will operate independently
from ANA and offer tickets at half the current fare levels. The airline says it
is looking to the Chinese market, which previously was deterred by the high
costs associated with flying to Japan. 

Paul Colston

Author

Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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