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.
American Express for the first quarter reported a 1 percent increase in global corporate travel sales versus the same period last year,
to $4.7 billion. It marked a third consecutive quarter of growth. Including corporate travel and commercial cards, the company's Global Commercial Services unit posted quarterly net income of $184 million, down 4 percent. GCS revenue rose 3 percent to $1.2 billion, which "primarily reflected higher [cardholder] spending, partially offset by lower travel commissions and fees," according to Amex. GCS expenses also rose, up 2 percent primarily due to costs associated with the planned business travel joint venture
still expected to close during the current quarter. GCS billed business increased 6 percent to $45.5 billion, average cardholder spending grew 5 percent to $6,429 and total cards in force edged up 1 percent to 7.1 million. Across the full company, Amex net income jumped 12 percent to $1.4 billion.
Loews Hotels & Resorts has appointed three new executive sales directors on the East and West coasts.
Kerri Metcalf, formerly a key account director with InterContinental Hotels Group, now is Loews' executive director for Northern California and the Northwest. Former Dolce Hotels & Resorts global account director Ramel Kelly joined Loews as executive director for New York and Connecticut. Brigitte Lundrigan, formerly vice president of sales for Krisam Group and Global Event Partners, joined as executive director for Southern California and the Southwest. The appointments were designed "to provide laser focus on some of our most important, strategic points of sale," according to Loews senior vice president of sales David Wiener.
Direct Travel announced the acquisition of Caldwell Travel, a Nashville-area travel management company with '$33.5 million in annual air volume.'
Caldwell claims 140 corporate clients, including "several publicly traded health care companies, publishers, music industry record labels, manufacturers, as well as smaller companies in various industries." Direct Travel indicated that the acquisition through a stock purchase agreement "furthers its established growth strategy, which includes increased growth in the small and medium enterprise market and targeted acquisitions, along with sales to new and existing clients." Terms were not announced. Fifty Caldwell employees are joining Direct Travel. Previously called Directravel Intermediate Holdco, the company this month officially was renamed Direct Travel Inc. Its three brands—Directravel, CTS (acquired
in 2011) and Travel Management Corporation (acquired
in 2013)—will "begin operating under the company's new name, effective May 14, 2014," according to a statement.