Conference & Meetings World Supplements Airline Supplement - Page 8

Airline Supplement Passenger fees soars 18.8% The airline industry is pocketing more revenue than ever from passenger fees, according to a forecast on airline revenue by Wisconsin-based IdeaWorks Co. By the end of 2015, the world's airlines collected an estimated $59.2bn in passenger fees and other income besides airfares, which amounts to an 18.8% increase over last year, according to the report, which was based on financial records and analysis of 180 airlines. Many airlines now charge fees to check bags, board early and buy food, drinks and other extras including charges to connect to onboard Wi-Fi. The move accelerated during the recession as a means of boosting revenues. $22.5bn of the total comes from transactions such as the sale of frequent flier miles to credit card companies and commissions from bookings of hotel rooms and rental cars by airline passengers. The fees generate nearly 8% of the industry's total revenue, up from 6.7% in 2014. Grouping business with Virgin & Delta Virgin Atlantic and Delta Air Lines have combined group teams and define a group as 10 or more passengers travelling out and back together in Economy, or eight people in Premium Economy or Upper Class. Group tickets have a degree of flexibility and you can pre-assign group seating. If you have at least 20 passengers arriving at the airport with a group leader a dedicated group check in point can be provided. A deposit is required, £50 for Economy groups and £100 for Premium Economy. Upper Class is £200. Final commitment is due six weeks prior to departure. Agency views Randle Stonier is founder & CEO of UK-based event agency AddingValue and books direct with Virgin, Emirates and EasyJet although the agency works through Meon or Airpartner for the likes of BA because of smaller volume. “In terms of alliances; we don’t tend to book multi destination trips whereby you would tap into a Star or oneworld alliance. In case of two centres for instance whereby a regional flight is required, we would rely on the affiliated airline; for instance Singapore Airlines and Silk Air or Virgin and Delta. “Airlines are keen to ensure you approach them for groups but not all of them put their money where their mouth is. This tends to become clear once a group is booked and we discuss seating, special treats, group check in etc. Virgin tend to be better at this than most.” In terms of what can go wrong, Stonier says dealing with EasyJet is “a serious concern” due to having to deal only through the call centre and not through a dedicated person. “Changes in bookings can be very costly,” he says. “Emirates are great as they are able to offer you tons of regional departures to Dubai avoiding the need to route all guests through a London airport. “Ticketing with Virgin and Emirates is great with only 1 week prior to departure as their cut off.” Dave Ball, of the FMI Group agency says his clients prefer an agent to manage their flights and the only time people may book their own travel would be if the cost of the flights could be charged back through an in-housecostingsystemorviathetravelcompanythat manages the business travel. Photo Credit: J. Rofer 8 CONFERENCE & MEETINGS WORLD CMW-AIRLINE-SUPP_2.indd 8 23/12/2015 15:33