With the summer peak travel season in full swing, the warm yet wet weather arrived in August and brought with it a series of natural disasters, strikes and increased security checks, affecting travel around the globe. Meanwhile, Qatar relaxed its visa requirements and Hilton opened a new hotel in New York City. For further travel news, read on:
British Airways mixed fleet staff strike throughout August
From 2 to 30 August British Airways’ mixed fleet staff held a strike over pay. Although it took place in one of the airline’s peak travel months, Heathrow Airport merged a number of its services, preventing any serious disruption. All flights to and from London Gatwick, London City and London Stansted operated as normal.
Passengers delayed at European airports
At the start of the month, reinforced security checks at Schengen-area airports led to delays and frustration for passengers, some of whom reported four-hour long queues. Affected airports included Brussels Charleroi, Lisbon Portela, Lyon Brindas, Madrid Barajas, Milan Malpensa, Palma de Mallorca, and Paris Orly. Security has been increased across Europe due to a spate of terrorist attacks, with delays compounded by staff absences and high summer passenger volume.
Air Berlin files for administration
Air Berlin, Germany's second-largest carrier, has filed for administration after its main shareholder Etihad stopped offering financial support. For the time being, flights will continue as normal due to a €150million loan from the German government, while Lufthansa is in talks to buy part of the Air Berlin Group.
Typhoon Hato disrupts Hong Kong transport routes
Typhoon Hato, a category 10 storm, led to the cancellation of many flights in and out of Hong Kong on 23rd August, including Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong Airlines and Air New Zealand-operated services. Many ferry routes in and around Hong Kong were also cancelled due to high winds.
Tropical Storm Harvey causes major disruption in Texas
On 25th August, Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall in Texas, bringing heavy rainfall and catastrophic flooding across the state. As a result, George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston and William P Hobby Airport ceased operations, and remain closed at the time of going to press. British Airways are allowing customers booked on flights to Houston, Austin or New Orleans to reschedule, with American Airlines, United and Delta also waiving their date change fees. At the time of writing, floodwaters were still rising and more than 30,000 people had been displaced from their homes, with further rainfall forecast.
Hilton adds to New York hotel portfolio
On 30th August, Hilton Hotels & Resorts will add to New York City portfolio with the opening of the 439-room Millennium Hilton New York One UN Plaza, taking the number of Hilton hotels in the city to seven.
Virgin Atlantic ceases London Gatwick to Varadero route
Virgin Atlantic has announced that as of 3rd September 2017, it will no longer be operating flights on the London to Varadero route. Customers booked on services after this date will be automatically rebooked to Havana, with ground transport to Varadero provided by the airline.
Dubai World Central Airport sees record passenger numbers
Dubai World Central Airport reported 555,000 passengers using the airport in the first six months of 2017, compared with 410,000 for the same period in 2016, a rise of 35%. Although this still pales in comparison with the 43 million that used Dubai International Airport between January and June, the rise has been put down to increased flight occupancy, mostly from low-cost airlines Flydubai and Wizz Air.
Flight Centre increases global corporate travel sales
The Flight Centre Travel Group, which includes Corporate Traveller, increased its year on year global corporate travel sales by 9% in the financial year ending June 2017, with sales of around £4billion reported. Corporate travel now accounts for around a third of Flight Centre’s overall total transaction value (TTV) of around £12 billion per year across all of its global operations.
Qatar relaxes visa requirements
Qatar has waived visa requirements for citizens of 80 countries, including the UK. With immediate effect, passengers will require only a passport with six months validity to enter the country and will be entitled remain for 30 days, with extensions available. The aim of the rule change is to encourage more visitors to Qatar following the travel restrictions placed on the country by its neighbours earlier in the year.