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■ Trade braces itself for more BA strikes The trade faces the prospect of rebooking thousands of British Airways passengers over the peak summer season if cabin crew vote for fresh strike action. The Unite union will ballot members on further walkouts, but no timetable has been set. The vote is likely to take about six weeks, so further strikes could coincide with the school holidays. The last five-day walkout ended on Wednesday.


■ Travelport Leisure offers new options Technology giant Travelport has launched a new product for agents, Travelport Leisure, offering content such as B&Bs, campsites, budget hotels and hostels. It is an upgrade of the former Galileo Leisure portal and Travelport has teamed up with hostelworld.com to offer more budget accommodation plus extra hotels from HotelClub and Kuoni Connect.


■ Emirates orders 32 more Airbus A380s Emirates has placed an order with Airbus for 32 Airbus A380s, valued at $11.5 billion. The order, placed during the Berlin Air Show, will expand the airline’s fleet to 90 superjumbos. It also has 48 A380s, 70 A350s, 18 Boeing 777-300ERs and seven Boeing air freighters on order, together worth more than $48 billion.


■ Top speakers at Aito Specialist conference About 40 agents are attending the Aito Specialist Travel Agents conference in Majorca. More than 20 tour operators are also at the event, which runs until Sunday at the Blau Porto Petro Beach Resort. Speakers include David Hester from Orient-Express and Microsoft’s Allister Frost.


■ Haji-Ioannou begins action against easyJet EasyJet founder Stelios Haji-Ioannou will start his legal action against the airline at London’s High Court on Monday. The dispute is over a licensing agreement on easyJet’s sales of ancillary products. Haji-Ioannou is looking to start an online travel agency and could use the easyJet name if the airline rebrands because of the dispute.


■ Biggs becomes director general of RHS Former Kuoni boss Sue Biggs has been appointed director general of the Royal Horticultural Society. Biggs left Kuoni in November 2007 to join Thomas Cook as managing director of scheduled business, but left in August 2009.


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news


New cruise body to help smaller agents


Sophie Griffiths. THE CRUISE director of Elite is planning to form a new specialist consortium for the sector to help smaller agents receive better commission. Robert Lines, owner of Knowle Travel and Midland Cruise Club, said the group would be a way of allowing the “smaller guys to compete with the big boys”.


The consortium, which is likely to be named


“The Cruise Lines Consortium”, would be similar to Elite; owned by members who would buy shares when they joined. However, Lines stressed that it would not be confined just to Elite members, and that agents would be invited to join from all consortia, including Advantage and Worldchoice. Lines said it would differ from other cruise


groups, such as Worldchoice Cruise Club, as mem- bers would come together under one Abta number. Commission from lines would be given in a lump


sum, which would then be divided among the members. It would be paid out provided members had performed in line with expectations. “Cruise lines give bonuses on turnover. Those that did the lion’s share of the turnover in the consortium would get the lion’s share of the bonus,” he said.


Lines said the biggest doubt in agents’ minds would be the prospect of giving up the marketing budget they received from cruise lines.


But he said: “Being members of a big-


ger group would lead to much more market- ing money coming into the group as a whole, which would then be shared out.” He believes the new consortium will also rekindle


interest in the sector from smaller agents who had been put off selling cruises due to low commission. “This would help get more interest in cruising


from high street agents who would like to sell cruising but feel squeezed out. It would allow them to compete with the bigger boys.” Agents backed the idea. Paul Dayson, managing


partner at Spa Travel said he did not focus on sell- ing cruises due to low commission, but the creation of a consortium such as this “would convince” him to enter the sector.


CruisingCoast2Coast direc- How the consortium will work


■ Member-owned. One Abta number ■ Commission to be divided among members proportionally


■ Members can maintain their affiliation to other consortia


■ Bookings made through a central office funded by the consortium


tor Tony Robinson said: “There has to be a workable way of allowing smaller agents to compete with larger firms. I would support this.” Lines aims to have the


consortium set up within 12 months.


■Elite Conference, p10-11


MODEL LAUNCH: Twiggy was the godmother for the launch of Seabourn Sojourn in Greenwich, London last week. Speaking to TTGon the 450-passenger ship, Twiggy said: “The list of women who have had this honour bestowed upon them is amazing, from Audrey Hepburn to the Queen, so I am in very illustrious company.”


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COVER STORY


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