This is the first in a series of travel news posts that will point to some of the more useful, infuriating, or bizarre developments in the travel business. Don't expect a lot of explanation, that's what the links are for, but rather a quick introduction to what happened. I find that's usually all I need. As this is new, feedback in the comments is highly appreciated.
If you're doing a press release or in another way would like go get something mentioned, please email those to firstname.lastname@example.org. These posts should go up once a week, and I'm aiming for Fridays.
New rules for tarmac delays are likely to cause more delays (USA Today). As passengers now need to be let off the flight after 3 hours waiting in the plane or taxi stands, airlines are now anticipated to simply cancel the flights instead. This means they save fuel and won't pay massive fines for long delays. Paying passengers compensation is cheaper, especially as they've already paid for their flights in advance!
Ryanair is in the headlines again, this time for dropping passengers off on Fuerteventura rather than Lanzarote because of horrible weather. What only becomes apparent later in the news pieces is that they arranged a ferry for the passengers to get to their final destination. While this must have been quite inconvenient, it's common practice, and happens with every airline if weather gets bad enough. And, unusually for the budget airline, Ryanair will even refund hotel expenses. Another good reason to buy travel insurance.
Easing off on travel troubles is the new lifting some restrictions for HIV-positive travelers to the United States. It's gone from near impossible to simply a bit more difficult to get a visa if you're traveling with HIV.
Rough times for tourism
Tourism to the United Kingdom was depressed last year, with a -7% difference in numbers from 2008. I blame the horrible summer weather myself, seems like the entire world now knows about it. The drop in Brits traveling abroad was even larger, down 15% year on year.
On the upside for UK tourism, the weak GBP meant that the trade balance was a lot more favorable for the English, meaning that while foreigners there spent £16.5 billion in the UK, Brits spend £21.5 billion abroad, which is a much smaller difference than the year before, making the tax man happier with all the shopping trip tourists alighting in London.
European air travel passengers numbers were down as well in 2009, with 5.9% fewer trips taken in total. Freight went down even more, by 13.1%, meaning airlines of all sorts are really struggling with revenue.
Of course the US airlines are probably in the most trouble. According to Dallas News, the airlines have shed 25% of their workforce in the past decade, along with billions of dollars in revenue. The shining exception is Southwest Airlines, which grew by over 24% in the same time, and JetBlue went from launching in 2000, to more than 12,000 staff, and AirTran also grew a lot. This means that the march of budget airlines vs. legacy carriers is still going strong in the U.S. market.
Apparently, times are tough for tourism to Cuba as well, with traveler numbers down 4.9% in January 2010 according to Reuters. Guess with Castro no longer available to give 10-hour speeches, people are staying away.
Business travel bounces back. Well, a little. Figures from Marriott shows that occupancy rates are improving a bit from January 2010.
Video: The world's longest street
Fixinmytie walked the entirety of Yonge Street in Toronto, Canada and made a stop motion video of the (very long) day's walk: There's a video in this post, click through to the site if you can't see it
Yonge Street is a massive 26 miles long, the longest in the world, and the walk took 14 hours. This is the same distance as a marathon, so a very impressive day.
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