The number of international airline passengers flying in premium classes in February rose 4.1 percent year over year,
the smallest growth rate since September 2013, according to the International Air Transport Association. On North Atlantic and intra-North America routes, the increases were 3.8 percent and 2.6 percent, respectively, both down compared to growth reported for January. Regarding the North Atlantic, IATA noted performance "is consistent with improving business conditions in the U.S. and Europe," and added that "momentum in advanced economies has helped negate some of the slowdown in emerging market growth seen over recent months." Overall, the association said the outlook for premium travel "is broadly positive," although March data indicates that global economic growth has slowed.
The European Commission launched an investigation into holdings in European Union airlines by non-EU entities,
Etihad's stakes in Airberlin
(now at 29.21 percent) and Darwin Airline
(now Etihad Regional, in which a 33.3 percent stake is held), and
Delta Air Lines' 49 percent stake in Virgin Atlantic
. Also under investigation
are Korean Air Lines' 44 percent share of Czech Airlines and a Chinese
investment in a cargo carrier. Under EU law, EU citizens or governments not
only must own more than 50 percent of an EU airline, they must also
"effectively control" it, though there is no fixed definition for effective
control. The Commission asked relevant member states to explain how the investments
they cleared comply with EU rules on ownership and control. Separately, the
Commission indicated it is monitoring Etihad's potential acquisition
substantial shareholding in Alitalia.
Anglo-Dutch travel management and events company ATPI Group announced executive appointments in North America.
Industry veteran Eric Henderson will serve as sales director, continuing a career that has included positions at Rosenbluth, American Express, Continental Airlines and Travelocity. He's charged with "growing the portfolio of clients for ATPI in the U.S., particularly those with a multinational focus," according to the company announcement. Ettienne de Swardt moves from ATPI's U.K. operation to lead account management in North America, while Craig Estes is promoted to operations director for North America. Melissa Patterson joins as operations manager following roles managing meetings, incentives, conferences and events for such companies as Anheuser-Busch and Jim Beam, according to ATPI.
Partnership Travel Consulting announced a strategic partnership with France-based JK Associates Consulting
that aims to create "the industry's first truly global organizations focusing on outsourced procurement and travel management." The combination will provide "a much deeper penetration with European multinational corporations particularly in France, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland," according to PTC founder and CEO Andrew Menkes. JKAC founder and CEO Brigitte Jakubowski and employee Nathalie Marechal will serve as PTC consultants and assist in generating new business in Western Europe. PTC also announced that industry vet Tanya Racz joined as senior vice president, focused on Canada and the U.S. "Pacific Southwest" region, according to the firm. During a 25-year career, Racz held management positions at Delta Air Lines and BTI Canada, and served as the Global Business Travel Association's regional director in Canada.
BTN parent company Northstar Travel Media on Thursday announced the acquisition of Web In Travel,
"a multi-media platform content provider best known for its event series related to online travel distribution in the Asia/Pacific region." The acquisition includes "a news website, e-newsletters, blogs and video channels," according to Northstar. Noting last month's acquisitions of Travel Weekly Asia
, Travel Weekly China
and Events China
, the company said the new deal "provides Northstar with leading face-to-face events in Asia to complement the newly acquired publishing brands serving Asian travel trade markets." Terms of the acquisition were undisclosed.