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COMPILED BY MAT THEW PARSONS


IN FOCUS


FREQUENT FLYER GURU Rob Burgess Editor, Headforpoints.co.uk


1


THERE ARE SOME GOOD IDEAS in the Commit- tee on Climate Change’s report, but they undermine its other recommendations with some of their suggestions, such as imposing an air miles levy. The vast major- ity of UK flights each day are not earning miles in any loyalty scheme (such as easyJet, Ryanair, Jet2, Wizz and so on), and the 70 per cent of passengers on British Airways and Virgin Atlantic flying discounted economy are earning so few miles they cannot genuinely be a deciding factor. You need to have taken 37 one-way, discounted, economy flights on BA to Amsterdam to earn 4,500 Avios points and get a free flight. The core aim of frequent flyer schemes is to shift your choice about which airline you fly – except around the edges, they are not powerful enough to persuade people to fly for the sake of it.


SIGHT


THE CONSULTANT Chris Crowley partner, Nina & Pinta


3


THE COMMITTEE ON Climate Change’s report, Behaviour Change, Public Engagement and Net Zero, has brought up loyalty points – but their role in relation to the corporate travel industry has been an issue that’s been bubbling under the surface for a while. Aside from compliance issues relating to employee choice outside of company policy, loyalty programmes raise tricky questions of taxable benefits in kind and, it could be argued, they deepen the environmental impact of corporate travel by encouraging leisure usage, effectively increasing the carbon footprint of the original flown mile. The key question here is: who owns the loyalty point? If the corporation is respon- sible, then shouldn’t they own the benefit? If it’s the individual or the airline, then shouldn’t these points be counted in the offset calculations at the very least? n Points are now political, Legal, p113


buyingbusinesstravel.com


A new report from the Committee on Climate Change


suggests that an ‘air miles levy’ could dampen


demand for flying and cut carbon emissions. Is


targeting loyalty schemes the answer?


2 4


LOYALTY SCHEME SPECIALIST Nicky Kelvin director of content, thepointsguy.co.uk


TAXING AIRLINE LOYALTY programmes is unlikely to have environmental benefits, while it will negatively affect travellers. In my personal experience I am often driven to book flights with certain carriers based on the rewards I might receive for flying with that airline or alliance and, more importantly, how my loyalty status will be recognised by that airline. However, there is a huge difference between being guided in the choice of carrier and signifi- cantly increasing your travelling overall. There is a small niche group who travel simply to gain air miles or status, but the numbers of people doing this would not justify taxing or axing the schemes. The seats made available by the airlines for miles redemption would have otherwise flown empty. It is common practice for airlines to use these schemes to fill capacity.


CONSULTANCY HEAD Pascal Jungfer chief executive, Areka Consulting


POINTS ARE A CHALLENGE FOR ANY travel manager, with huge disparities in the way points are treated across organisations (traveller, corporate or client points). However, when it comes to reducing emissions, I don’t believe cutting points is the solution. Loyalty points were launched to build loyalty with business travellers, to switch-sell when multiple airlines offered the same route, rather than drive new traffic. That is what they do. If a business traveller needs to travel long haul, there are few alternatives and when time is of the essence, air travel is often the only option. Penalising loyalty points is not going to stop this travel. Re-education and giving travellers the choice to assess the need to travel, or look at alternative travel options, is the only way to drive different behaviour and cut carbon emissions.


2019 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 7


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