This week’s news in brief: ATP, STR on Heathrow’s hotels, Lufthansa CC and Sabre, Brussels Airport, Aer Lingus, the CIS’s IATA agreement, ITP and Rezidor in Brighton.

ATP buys Instone

ATP International Group which specialises in the marine and oil industries, has bought Instone International, a specialist marine fares agency.

The deal has been backed by Barclays Private Equity.

The combined agencies will have revenues of more than €750m with a network covering 20 countries.

The deal will also make ATP one of the biggest independent travel management companies in Europe.

Instone has been a specialist in the marine industry since 1919.

Graham Ramsey, ATP’s group ceo, said: “Instone is the perfect fit for us and for our company culture; both organisations are top players in their respective fields and both will benefit substantially from wider service opportunities and a substantially increased global footprint.

“The opportunities this creates for our clients, staff and suppliers will make this an exciting deal for ATP and for the industry.”


Heathrow hotels’ revPAR drops 24%

RevPAR (revenue per available room) in hotels around London Heathrow Airport dropped by 24.1% in March compared to the same period in 2008, according to research by STR Global.

Occupancy also fell by 16.3% while average room rate fell 5%, the research company said.

STR said that passenger traffic at the airport had dropped by 9.5% in February 2009 compared with the same month in 2008.

This was despite the Open Skies agreement between the US and the EU coming into force at the end of March 2008, the transfer of routes from Gatwick to Heathrow and the opening of Terminal Five.

STR said that revPAR started dropping in the second half of 2008.

But there was a “rapidly deteriorating performance trend” from September with both occupancy and room rates falling.

STR said this trend has continued into February.


Lufthansa City signs up with Sabre

Lufthansa City Center (LCC), a leading independent travel agency franchise in Germany, has signed a deal with Sabre Travel Network.

Under the agreement, LCC agents will be able to use the Sabre GDS in addition to their existing GDS.

The deal comes as Germany’s dominant GDS Amadeus is charging its agents fees for certain fares booked through them for flights on Lufthansa and SWISS.

Klaus Henschel, LCC’s managing director, said: “In today’s current economic climate, our customers are looking for ways to minimise costs and extract more value from their travel spend.

 Sabre helps us do this, providing significant cost and competitive advantages, and giving our LCC partners use of more than one GDS

“We are convinced we have found a good partner to further enhance the excellent position of the LCC network in Germany.”


Brussels Airport passengers drop 14.7%

The number of passengers using Brussels Airport in March fell by 14.7% to 1,262,200 in March compared with the same month in 2008.

The airport said the most significant drop was in passengers using short haul routes in Europe.

The year to date shows a 16.2% drop in passengers from 3,944,000 for January to March 2008 to 3,306,000 for the first three months of 2009.


Aer Lingus launches new flights from Gatwick

Aer Lingus launched three new European routes from its new hub at London Gatwick Airport.

The new destinations are Munich, Vienna and Nice.

The Irish national carrier has already launched services from Gatwick to Malaga and Knock earlier this month.

It plans to launch new routes to Faro and Zurich on April 28.


CIS expands aviation safety policy with IATA

The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) recently expanded its agreement with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) in efforts to improve aviation safety in the area.

The new agreement, signed in Moscow by Tatiana Anodina, chair of the Interstate Aviation Committee (IAC, also known by its Russian abbreviation MAK) and IATA director general and ceo Giovanni Bisignani, will include various initiatives like safety audits, a management system and infrastructure enhancements.

Specifically, the document will promote IATA’s Operational Safety Audits, Integrated-Airline Management System and Safety Audits for Ground Operations.  


ITP adds new Gulf partner

Majestic Travel & Tourism, a travel company based in Kuwait City, has joined International Travel Partnership (ITP).  

The agency is a subsidiary of KGL Holding Company KSCC which supplies travel solutions for both corporate and leisure travel.

Ian Epps, director of partnership relations, said ITP was happy to have a partner which had close to 40 years of experience in business travel.


Two Rezidor Hotels to open in Brighton

The Rezidor Hotel Group will rebrand two existing Brighton hotels by the end of April, the company announced.

The Park Inn Brighton, currently operating under the name of Lansdowne Place, will offer 84 guest rooms and seven meeting rooms, including a reception room fro 200 people.

The Radisson Blu Hotel, currently the Royal York Hotel, will have 59 guest rooms, including eight apartments with either one or two bedrooms and a kitchenette.

The hotel will also have three meeting rooms, with the largest room able to accommodate 50 people.

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