APD Ripple Effect: The decision by the UK government to abolish the Air Passenger Duty (APD) for children has led to immediate demands that the government go further. (Effective May 15, 2015, the UK will drop the APD for children under 12 years old traveling in economy class. And from May 1, 2016, the exemption will be extended to children under 16, reducing the flight cost by up to £71/$111 per child for the longest segments of travel covered by the APD.) Willie Walsh, chief executive of International Airlines Group, which includes British Airways, said: “Scrapping APD for children might be popular with some voters and will definitely be welcomed by hard-pressed families travelling on their summer holidays, but it will do nothing to improve the UK economy. APD must be axed in its entirety not just for children. The UK still has the highest flying tax in the world.” Similar comments came from other airline officials. Meanwhile, Thomas Cook has launched a price drop campaign highlighting the abolition of APD for under-12 children. The campaign, which will show savings for families in the summer of 2015, will run through its retail stores. Customers who have already booked a package with Thomas Cook or a flight only with Thomas Cook Airlines after May next year will receive a refund of any economy class APD paid for children under 12.
The Sun Launches Holiday Site: The second-largest circulation newspaper in the UK (just behind the Daily Mail), The Sun, has launched its own holiday deals site—TheSunHolidays.com—announcing that there is “still a gap in the market for another holiday deals platform.” The launch took place Jan. 5, following a four-week campaign by the tabloid publication, which is part of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp.
Everything You Wanted to Know about the UK and Irish Markets: Along with its UK public relations and communications firm, Black Diamond, Brand USA has made available information introduced at WTM in November via a 32-page guide to the markets of UK and Ireland. It contains a wealth of data on traveler profiles, booking channels, travel motivators, airline service, holiday periods of travel and more. The report can be downloaded at: https://gallery.mailchimp.com/8c8816e821d2e3e57e7124a36/files/Brand_USA_Market_Research_UK_IRE.pdf.
UK People: A new chief executive has been named for the Visit USA Association UK. She is Tracey Spuyman, previously founder and managing director of marketing agency Teamspirit. She brings experience with the U.S. travel market as associate editor of a number of Phoenix International Publishing’s consumer publications outside the UK. ++ Gary Byrne has joined Sunway Travel as product and groups manager. ++ John Donohue, who until recently represented both Las Vegas and New York City in Ireland passed away suddenly on Dec. 20 at the age of 53. Donohue was instrumental in putting Las Vegas and NYC on the map in the Irish trade. Donohue shuttered his PR firm last August to take the position of sales and relationship manager for CityJet airlines, which operates out of London City Airport. Tryphavana Cross had since been selected to by both NYC and Las Vegas to direct sales, marketing and public relations efforts in Ireland and Northern Ireland.