Sector Focus

Business Travel

Airline adds new summer flights

TUI UK – formerly Thomson – has revealed ambitious growth plans by basing an additional aircraft at Birmingham Airport, which will create an 11 per cent increase in seat numbers and four new routes for summer 2019.

Holidaymakers flying from Birmingham will see an increase of almost 120,000 seats. From next summer, there will be more flights to Antalya and Dalaman in Turkey, Chania in Greece and Boa Vista in Cape Verde. Extra flights to Naples in

Italy have been added to support the new home port for Marella Explorer 2, a new ship from Marella Cruises. Meanwhile, new routes to

Split (Croatia), Agadir (Morocco), Halkidiki (Greece) and Izmir (Turkey) are also being introduced. TUI UK’s commercial

director, Richard Sofer, said: “Summer 2019 is the most ambitious programme we have ever introduced. “We are focusing firmly on

expanding access to our amazing range of holidays through an extended regional flying programming concentrated on the core destinations holidaymakers want to travel to, while offering the flexibility of holiday duration they want. “We’ve increased our

capacity by basing an additional aircraft in Birmingham, adding almost 120,000 additional seats and four new routes from Birmingham Airport for summer 2019. Tom Screen, acting aviation

director for Birmingham Airport, said: “It’s great to see TUI expanding at Birmingham Airport, offering our passengers more choice to popular summer beach and weekend break destinations. “Agadir in Morocco is

currently an unserved route from Birmingham so we are particularly delighted to have this addition to our schedule for summer 2019.”

58 CHAMBERLINK May 2018 Helping hand for job seekers

West Midlands Trains is backing efforts by the UK rail industry to encourage jobseekers, by taking part in a scheme allowing discounted travel to and from job interviews. As part of the new franchise,

West Midlands Trains will be offering jobseekers free travel on all of its London Northwestern and West Midlands Railway services. The scheme, due to be introduced

by the end of the year, will provide extra support for university graduates and those who have been unemployed for over six months. Under the new scheme,

university graduates or anyone graduating from a higher education equivalent, will be able to claim six free standard return tickets on West Midlands Trains services for travel to and from interviews. In addition, they will be eligible

for three months’ free travel to and from their place of work after securing a job. The same benefits will be available to any person in

‘The last thing anyone wants is to be worrying about organising travel to and from interviews’

long-term unemployment. The rail industry is currently

renewing efforts to help people find jobs, after research by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) revealed very low levels of use outside of London and the South East of the ‘Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card’. Issued by the Government, this

card is offered by all train operators in Britain and gives people claiming jobseekers allowance or universal credit a 50 per cent discount on rail journeys. However, less than a third of these discounted journeys are made outside London and the South East. Andy Camp, commercial director

at West Midlands Trains, said: “Finding a job can be a very

pressured process and the last thing anyone wants is to be worrying about organising travel to and from interviews. “Our aim with these schemes is

to help those who have been out of employment for some time to get back on their feet, and support graduates making their first steps into the world of work. “Rail travel is essential for a significant number of people travelling to interviews and commuting for work. “The breadth of our network and

fast links between towns and cities means that taking a train is often the most efficient way to travel. We’re hugely proud and excited about being able to support our customers in this way.” • West Midlands Railway has taken charge of Wolverhampton station, replacing previous operator Virgin Trains. The changeover forms part of a move throughout the West Midlands towards more devolved transport services.

Passengers get onboard with app

National Express West Midlands is celebrating innovation – after selling a million tickets on mobile phones. The bus operator started selling

tickets via mobiles in September 2016 and made its millionth sale in February this year. Customers are voting with their

fingers – one in 10 journeys are now using the app, and that figure is still growing. When surveyed, over half of the

people using the app said it had encouraged them to use the bus more, so boosting local economies and improving air quality by cutting congestion. Since single tickets were made

Fare deal: online ticket sales are booming at National Express

available on mobiles, in January this year, National Express West Midlands has sold nearly 100,000 of them.

Tom Stables, managing director

of National Express West Midlands, said: “We’re always looking for new ways to use innovation and technology to make it easier, quicker and cheaper for our customers to travel.” Since launching the app, National

Express West Midlands has been asking customers what they think of mobile ticketing: • They scored it over 80 per cent for satisfaction.

• 55 per cent said they were using the bus more since downloading the app.

• They said that was because it’s a) easier and b) cheaper.

Users also praised the simplicity of the app, as well as the convenience of the direct debit payment option.

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