Author Archive

Hertz announces solar power plans

Friday, February 11th, 2011

Hertz, one of the world’s best known car hire brands, has announced a new initiative to introduce solar power to selected locations across the US. The plans involve retrofitting facilities with photovoltaic panels similar to the ones installed at the company’s outlet at Denver International Airport in December last year.

Currently there are plans to upgrade 16 locations with the intention of growing the initiative into the future. Hertz senior vice president, Richard Broome, pointed out that the company was continually striving to implement environmentally friendly practices. He said that it had already made large savings on the amount of water being used as well as supplying customers with the option to hire low-emission and electric vehicles.

Hertz has already announced plans to offer its customers the Chevrolet Volt, an electric car designed for extended journeys. The firm will also roll out the Nissan Leaf at a number of locations across Europe and the US as the cars become available, and Californian customers will be able to get their hands on the Coda EV early next year.

Rival car hire giant Enterprise is also aiming to offer more electric solutions. The Chevrolet Volt is already available, and the company will be introducing the Leaf and the Coda EV to its forecourts as soon as they are released.

Enterprise, owner of the Enterprise, National and Alamo brands has also committed itself to reducing its energy bills by around 20 per cent over the next five years. To this end, the firm has announced a $150 million investment plan.

North African troubles could cost TUI £30 million

Friday, February 4th, 2011

Holiday cancellations and repatriation costs due to the political and civil strife in Tunisia and Egypt could cost travel operator Tui up to £30 million in revenues. The announcement for the second-quarter comes as the firm managed to reduce losses over the previous quarter. Tui Travel, owner of the Thomson Holiday brand, is still flying customers from the UK to the popular beach resorts on Egypt’s Red Sea coast.

However, it has cancelled trips from a number of other European countries and said if it can only continue holidays out of the UK it will lose £20 million through a combination of lost revenue due to cancellation and the cost of repatriating customers.

In the event that the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes an announcement that travel to the Red Sea is inadvisable an estimated £5 million will be wiped off the travel firm’s revenues. Tui estimates that cancellations to Tunisia and repatriation costs will be a further £5 million.

Tui chief executive, Peter Long, said the company was monitoring the situation in Tunisia and Egypt and that at present it looked like most travellers who have booked holidays in the countries were choosing to re-book to alternative destinations. He added that the operator was now working on trying to provide different programmes to meet the demand of its customers.

Improved figures for the first-quarter were caused by heightened demand and did much to mitigate the effects of increasing fuel prices and the disruption caused after the severe winter weather hit in December.

Java volcano disrupts air services

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Airline passengers bound for Bali are facing travel disruption as Mount Bromo in Java continues to throw volcanic ash into the skies. Qantas’ budget arm Jetstar has said it will be cancelling services to the region until it is safe to resume, as has Virgin Blue. Other airlines have also said they will not be flying into the area until experts say it is safe to do so.

However, passengers flying with Garuda Airlines to Denpasar from Melbourne were not disappointed as the carrier’s 11.00am scheduled flight left the runway. Air Asia has also said that it will be continuing to fly to the region.

Both Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific are being more cautious and have cancelled flights until they are told it is safe to fly to destinations affected by the eruption. Virgin said that it had decided to postpone its services after taking advice from the Darwin-based Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.

Jetstar is due to fly to the area from Melbourne, Sydney and Darwin later in the evening, but said it was monitoring the situation and would decide whether or not to carry passengers depending on advice from aviation experts.

Simon Westaway, a spokesman for the airline, said the number one concern had to be passenger safety. With this in mind the carrier will be closely monitoring the situation and will only fly customers when they are guaranteed there is no danger, he added. Last night, Virgin Blue customers flying out of Brisbane and Sydney spent the night in Darwin because of the eruption.

Police arrest 200 drink drivers each day in December

Friday, January 21st, 2011

Police forces across England and Wales have collated their drink drive statistics for the festive period. In December 2010, due to the extreme wintry weather conditions, officers stopped and tested 170,000 motorists. For the same period a year earlier they did the same with a total of 223,000 drivers.

On average arrests were slightly up last year at just below four per cent of all those stopped. However, police sources say this was not a dramatic increase. Association of Chief Police Officers’ road policing spokesperson, Chief Constable Mick Giannasi, said it was still unacceptable that in such poor weather conditions that there were drivers prepared to risk the lives of others as well as their own.

Of those subjected to drink and drug testing, 6,613 were placed under arrest. This works out at around 200 drivers being caught breaking the law each day during December. Giannasi explained that many of these motorists not only faced a driving ban, but time behind bars and potentially losing their jobs.

Police across the UK used various tactics to apprehend drivers who had either had too much to drink or had taken illegal substances. These included acting on tip-offs from the public and stopping vehicles at random.

Although officers can tell quickly if a driver is over the permitted alcohol limit by using a breathalyser, there is still no similar device to tell whether a motorist has taken illegal drugs. The Home Office is in talks with various firms about developing such a device to be used at the roadside as well as in police stations.

Government set for cash windfall as petrol price sky rockets

Friday, January 14th, 2011

As the wallet of the average driver continues to be hammered by the rising price of fuel, tensions are unlikely to be eased by the latest revelations that the Treasury is to rake in billions off the back of increasing oil prices. The latest estimates are that the government will earn close to £2 billion more than expected as the price of a barrel of crude approaches the $100 mark.

Last November, government estimates were that crude would hit $85 per barrel. Each additional dollar added increases tax revenue from North Sea oil by around £150 million throughout the year. North Sea crude now stands at $98 per barrel on the international market.

David Cameron is under increasing pressure to do something to halt the spiralling costs of a tank of petrol – now averaging £70 for a family saloon – but has still to make any firm commitment. Although one of his promises before he was granted power by the British public was to introduce a fuel price stabiliser, he has now admitted that it is not an easy thing to implement.

Motoring groups, such as the AA, are asking the government to use some of the additional revenue earned from the spiralling cost of oil to ease the pain of the driver. President of the AA, Edmund King, points out that a reduction of fuel prices will actually help drive consumer spending as well as placate the growing fury over fuel taxes.

A further rise in fuel duty, due at Easter, could push the price of a litre of petrol as high as £1.36.

BA concludes engine deal with Rolls Royce

Friday, January 7th, 2011

The conclusion of a deal with British Airways for new engines will help Rolls-Royce’s confidence after a rocky end to 2010. The deal is worth $5 billion and will see Rolls-built engines powering the airline’s new Dreamliners from Boeing and its fleet of A380 superjumbos from Airbus.

Safety concerns with the Rolls-Royce Trent 900, used to power a number of airlines’ A380s, were raised after one exploded on a Qantas superjumbo shortly after it had taken off from Singapore. Although the plane was able to land safely, Qantas made the decision to ground its fleet while investigations into what went wrong were undertaken.

Australian safety officials concluded that a manufacturing defect in one of the engine parts could lead to future catastrophic engine failure in the Trent 900 if not fixed. British Airways boss, Willie Walsh, said he was pleased that the deal with Rolls-Royce had been concluded adding that it put the airline in a strong position heading into the future.

The order consists of Trent 900s for 12 A380s, with an option for a further seven, and Trent 1000s for 24 Dreamliners, with options for a further 18. The Trent 1000 is already being tested on the 787 and will be the engine used to power the first to be flown by All Nippon Airlines.

Among the other airlines with which Rolls-Royce has agreements is Middle Eastern carrier Emirates, which placed an order worth $1.2 billion in November and Air China which has agreed an order worth $1.8 billion.

Qantas investigates turning rubbish into fuel

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011

Qantas has announced plans to construct a biofuel plant which would enable it to produce greener fuel for its fleet. The nation’s flag-carrier is currently in discussions about the project with Solena, a US based fuel supplier. According to reports, the plant would be built in Sydney and would create some 1200 jobs.

If construction goes ahead, the operation would be the second in the world to produce biofuel on a commercial scale. The plant would convert everyday rubbish, including household food scraps, tree cuttings, grass and industrial and agricultural waste into jet fuel.

A similar project is already underway in the UK. British Airways has teamed up with Solena to build a plant in London which, when up and running in 2014, will turn half-a-million tonnes of waste into over 70 million litres of jet fuel every year. BA claims this will be enough to run two per cent of the airline’s fleet out of Heathrow.

Airlines are coming under increasing pressure to reduce the amount of CO2 they currently pump into the atmosphere. Industry guidelines stipulate that a saving of 1.5 per cent on fuel efficiency be achieved by the end of the decade. The UN would like to see efficiency improve by two per cent.

By 2020 airlines are aiming to become carbon neutral and by 2050 carriers are aiming to have reduced emission levels to half those recorded in 2005. Spokeswoman for Qantas, Olivia Worth, said the agreement with Solena meant the carrier had committed itself to examining the feasibility of creating jet fuel from rubbish.

London travellers face ticket price hikes

Friday, December 31st, 2010

The price of travelling in London will skyrocket in the new year according to a travel watchdog. Fares on buses, trams and the underground are set to rise by an average of 6.8 per cent warned London TravelWatch. Some travelcards will disappear, meaning many passengers will be forced to pay out for costlier tickets.

Customers who used to pay £5.10 to travel within zones 2 and 6 will now have no other choice than to pay £8 for a zone 1 to 6 Travelcard. The zone 1 to 3 and 1 to 5 cards will also disappear meaning passengers travelling from the outskirts of the capital will be forced to pay more.

Jo deBank, a spokesperson for London TravelWatch advised passenger to look carefully at all the travel options pointing out that those who own an Oyster Card will often pay a lot less than those opting for a Travelcard when they get on a bus or on the tube.

Bus and tram tickets will also go up in price. Those paying with cash will have to spend an extra 20 pence on a single journey as the cost rises to £2.20. Those with an Oyster Card will pay £1.30, a price rise of 10 pence.

Passenger Focus has warned that the average price of a ticket on main line services will go up by 5.8 per cent. It added that in some cases this meant passengers would suffer from above average price hikes which could go into the double-digits.

Analysts predict that car rental prices will drop in the New Year

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Industry analysts are cautiously optimistic that the price of renting a car in the New Year will become cheaper. Signs are that as confidence returns to the financial sector, rental firms are now finding banks more willing to offer up the necessary capital they need to replace older vehicles and grow their fleets with newer models.

Following the financial crash, many institutions put a freeze on lending to rental firms. This meant that as older cars were taken out of service fleets were quickly being reduced. In many cases this meant companies had no other choice than to dramatically hike the price of remaining vehicles, sometimes by as much as 500 per cent.

Last summer, many turning up at popular holiday destinations expecting to pick up a car were left disappointed by a lack of availability or stunned by just how much it was costing them. Fleets were being reduced but demand from customers continued to remain high.

As firms begin to rebuild the number of cars on their forecourts competition will return, and this is always good news for the consumer. A greater range of makes and models will mean customers can once again pick and choose rather than accept the only vehicles remaining as had been the case for much of the last two years. Car hire firms will also begin to roll out special deals once more to wrestle customers from their rivals.

Industry experts are still advising customers to book as early as possible to obtain the best deals available.

Strikes to hit rail networks over festive season

Friday, December 17th, 2010

A raft of strikes across rail networks is likely to disrupt passengers intending to travel over Christmas and into the New Year. On 23 December the industrial action kicks off as Aslef members driving trains on London Midland have said they intend to walk out in protest over wages and working conditions. The misery continues for those who intend to travel in the capital on Boxing Day.

London Underground has refused demands that drivers be paid triple time for working on the bank holiday. This means that around half of the tube drivers have said they will not be turning up for work. The decision is likely to hinder those intending to seek out bargains in the central London sales as well as those looking forward to seeing a football match.

Disputes over job cuts are likely to affect the London network well into the New Year. Elsewhere, drivers on the Arriva Trains Wales network are due to strike over levels of pay. The results of a ballot by conductors on the Northern Rail network early next week could well see industrial action taking place just after Christmas

Passengers on Southeastern Trains might not be facing a happy New Year when the ballot is announced on whether or not to strike over the issue of staff levels.

Passenger Focus chief executive, Antony Smith, said it was not fair that the passenger should be punished by strike action. As well as urging all parties to find a solution, he added that passengers must be given adequate warning of strikes so they can make alternative plans.