Carry On: News for business travellers
NZ improves travel competitiveness
New Zealand is one of the biggest improvers in the latest World Economic Report on Travel & Tourism Competitiveness. The climb to12th from 19th was matched among developed countries only by Japan, which moved up eight positions to 14th.
New Zealand now ranks third in the Asia Pacific behind Singapore and Australia, with a world ranking of third for the pristine natural environment and a second-place ranking for its policy rules and regulatory environment, which make it the easiest and cheapest place to start a business.
The biennial report, Reducing Barriers to Economic Growth and Job Creation, says emerging market economies show mixed levels of progress, with Brazil and India being the only BRIC nations to move up in the rankings. The rising stars include Panama, climbing from 56th to 37th, and the Philippines, which climbed from 94th to 82nd on the back of policy improvements supporting the industry.
Among the top 10 countries, France fell four places from third in 2011 to seventh, while Spain climbed to fourth from eighth. Also showing strong improvement are the UK – up two places to fifth – and Canada, up one place to eighth. Switzerland and Germany retain their first and second rankings, while Austria is up one place to third.
Airlines condemn UK’s high taxes
The UK has the highest air taxes and charges compared with relative travel costs in the developed world, according to the WEF report. It immediately brought a call for immediate action from airlines. Only Chad in central Africa is ranks below the UK in a ranking of 140 countries. (New Zealand comes in at 79th, while Switzerland is top.) IAG (owner of British Airways and Iberian), Easyjet, Ryanair and Virgin Atlantic have all called for the UK government to reduce taxes on aviation and particularly Air Passenger Duty. “It’s hard to find another comparable table on a key measure of international competitiveness which shows the UK to be trailing the rest of the world,” the airlines say in a joint announcement. (NBR ONLINE suggests travellers on trips to Europe arrange to land in the UK but leave from other European ports to avoid the APD.)
Korean pushes business jets
Korean Air plans to boost demand for its business jet service by focusing on the Hong Kong and Chinese markets. The airline has three VIP aircraft in its fleet – a Boeing Business Jet and a Bombardier Global Express XRS that it flies internationally, and a Sikorsky S-76C+ helicopter that it operates within South Korea. The private jets offer the equivalent of First Class service as well as a flexible travel schedule, exclusive terminals that allow access to more airports and award-winning in-flight cuisine, Korean says. Passengers earn First Class mileage points and have access to the airline's VIP lounges.
First all-female A380 flight
Air France marked International Women’s Day on Friday with a 100% female crew on board an Airbus 380 for a flight from Paris to Washington DC. “Air France is bringing together the largest exclusively female crew in its history: two pilots and 22 stewardesses” for the flight, the airline says. Air France has organised all-female crews to mark International Women’s Day, celebrated every year on March 8, since 2006 but this year will be the first time on an A380 superjumbo, which can carry up to 516 passengers. “Seeing an all-female crew makes an impression. I’m very excited about the idea of this flight,” says Christine Heitz, who piloted the flight.
KLM tests biofuels over Atlantic
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has launched a series of biofuel-powered intercontinental flights from New York-JFK Airport to Schiphol Amsterdam Airport on a Boeing 777. The initiative is in partnership with Schiphol Group, Delta Air Lines and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which operate the airports. The flight series will depart weekly from JFK for 25 weeks running partially on sustainable biofuel.