Archive for August 23rd, 2007

Worldspan Joins Galileo and Apollo at Travelport

Worldspan by Travelport Logo

According to the news today, Travelport, the parent company of Galileo and Apollo GDS platforms has completed its $1.4 billion (!) acquisition of Worldspan yesterday after the deal was given regulatory clearance by the European Commission, which concluded that the reduction of GDSs operating in the European Economic Area from four to three would be “unlikely to result in coordinated behavior” between the remaining GDSs. “The Commission has therefore concluded that the proposed transaction would not significantly impede effective competition within the EEA or a significant part of it,” it said. Galileo and Worldspan are the second- and fourth-largest GDSs respectively operating in the EU.

This move makes Travelport a dominant player in the field, by controlling three major GDS platforms. While Travelport has talked of potential synergies between Galileo and Worldspan, it also has indicated that it won’t merge the platforms. Galileo said that even if it thought forced migration was a good idea, “attempts to do this in the past by some of our competitor GDSs have shown that such a strategy would be likely to fail.” According to ATW News, that is likely a reference to Amadeus, which experienced some rocky moments 10 years ago when it acquired System One and forced to migrate its users to the Amadeus system. We will have to sit back and wait for a few months/years to see if this will really be the case. It would be also a possible solution for bigger cost-cutting that the three Travelport controlled GDSs do actually merge in the background, but will keep three UI’s and brand-names to keep the travel agencies and suppliers happy and not to force a migration. Galileo and Apollo are strong with travel agencies, while Worldspan has the extra value of having airline customers and products, and very good online tools. Worldspan also cooperates with SITA on electronic ticketing and ET hub solution for airlines for example. In the world of always improving airline websites and booking engines, a GDS needs to keep up a good online presence (which allows travel agencies to become online travel agencies), which Worldspan has been very good in. In Hungary there has been a major travel agency that only made the move from Galileo to Worldspan to enable itself to enter the online travel market.

Galileo will be enhanced by Worldspan’s online distribution technology platform, while Worldspan will benefit from Galileo’s expanded supplier base and expansive content,” Travelport GDS President and CEO Gordon Wilson said. “The complementary strengths of both companies will bring improved offerings for our agency and supplier customers, and we are particularly excited about the technology innovations and breadth of services we will be able to bring our suppliers and subscribers in the future.

Galileo and Worldspan produced more than 379 million combined air bookings in 2006 while operating in 145 countries and processing as many as 15,000 transactions per sec., according to Travelport. The combined company will serve 750 travel suppliers and 63,000 travel agencies.

by balint01

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Elvis Presley and his private jets

Following the success of our previous post on celebrities’ private jets, here is the new opportunity to learn a little about another great star and his attraction to jets.

On 16 August 1977, 30 years ago Elvis Presley died. He has most probably been the biggest pop-rock star ever, he is still popular among millions of people. His house has become a shrine for pilgrims, his records are still sold and we still wonder his songs, his lifestyle, his career and I am sure that with his success story he is an idol for many young people.

So what do we know about his attraction to planes?

He owned 2 jets in his life.

  • a Convair 880 called Lisa Marie (named after her daughter Lisa Marie Presley)
  • a Lockheed Jetstar called Hound Dog II.

(the following pictures are not of Elvis Presley’s jets. They were taken from the manufacturer’s website and Wikipedia)
Convair 880

Convair 880The Convair 880 was a jet airliner produced by the Convair division of General Dynamics. It was designed to compete with the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 by being smaller, faster and safer, a niche that failed to create demand. Only 65 880s were produced over the lifetime of the production run from 1959 to 1962, and General Dynamics eventually withdrew from the airliner market after considering the 880 project a failure. Only 9 of these aircrafts are left in the world, none of them is airworthy and only one is preserved properly, Lisa Marie – the plane of Elvis Presley. It is parked in Graceland in Memphis and it is part of the Elvis museum.

Manufacturer: Convair
Maiden flight: January 27, 1959
Produced: 1959-1962
Number of aircrafts built: 65

Jetstar

JetstarThe JetStar originated as a private project within Lockheed, with an eye to winning a USAF requirement that was later dropped due to budget cuts. Lockheed decided to continue the project on their own for the business market. Noise regulations in the United States and high fuel consumption led to the development of the 731 JetStar, a modification program which added new Garrett AiResearch TFE731 turbofan engines and redesigned external fuel tanks to original JetStars. The 731 JetStar modification program was so successful that Lockheed produced 40 new JetStars, designated the JetStar II, from 1976 through 1979. The JetStar IIs were factory new aircraft with the turbofan engines and revised external fuel tanks. Both 731 JetStars and JetStar IIs have greatly increased range, reduced noise, and better runway performance compared to the original JetStars.
JetStar production totaled 204 aircraft by final delivery in 1978. Most original JetStars have been retired, but many 731 JetStars and JetStar IIs are still flying in various roles. A JetStar that was owned by Elvis Presley in his later years, named Hound Dog II, is on display at Graceland.

Maufacturer: Lockheed
Maiden flight: 4 September 1957
Produced: 1957 – 1978
Number of aircrafts built: 204

Both jets were sold by the family after the death of Elvis, but later they were bought back and parked in Graceland, Memphis and they serve as a part of the museum.

By Szafi

Airline websites – good or bad? I.

Following the press release of Iberia winning the best airline website award, we decided to take a deeper look at the website of major airlines. As there are many of those who should be examined, this will be a series of posts.

To be the most objective possible we followed the same path everywhere (we set up goals – things to find on the website) and we used the same ratings everywhere. Here is the parameter list:

Goals:
– finding special deals in English
– finding the phone number where I could claim damages
– finding the best price for a certain flight within a week’s time
– finding the list of lounges I can use as a frequent flier at different airports
– finding the subscription to the newsletter

Ratings:
– design
– navigation
– content
– ergonomy

And here are the results:

Iberia:

Goals: I could get to the English page in 2 steps. First I had to select country (I used the UK site everywhere, where I had to select). The special deals were there immediately (5 points), subscription to newsletter was immediately there (5 points), I never found the list of lounges (0 point), Claims and damages phone number can be found in 3 steps (2 points), I could easily get 7 x 7 price for the time period I checked (this is the feature of e-Travel’s Planitgo) – (5 points), so for the goals section Iberia gets 17 out of 25 points.

Ratings: design is always the most subjective part of such an analysis, but I tried to focus on browser optimization, icons used, colors used, letter sizes, special design elements. For me Iberia’s webdesign is worth 4 out of 5, navigation is clear, just sometimes it takes more steps to find things, so again 4 out of 5, content: I found almost everything necessary for the travel, except lounges, but nothing extra or nothing that would convince me to fly with them. 3 out of 5. Web ergonomy is clear, although for me the main page is a waste of space (I used 1280×1024). 4 out of 5.

Total points: 17 + 15 = 32 out of 45 (71%)

Lufthansa:

Goals: Here again the selection of the UK English version requires two steps (country+language). Country specific deals are immediately available and cover most of the space (5 points), Newsletter subscription is also available as one of the Quicklinks on the right side (5 points), together with a link to the Lounge finder (5 points) and to “Local Contacts”, where you can either use Baggage or Customer Relations to report any claims and damages, so it’s easy to find but not dedicated “Claims and Damages” number is available (3 points), when searching for flights I could get the 7×7 matrix very easily so another 5 points there for Lufthansa. A total of 23 out of 25 points there.

Ratings: The design is clear, icons used are easy to understand the grouping of links is straight forward. The design reflects the Lufthansa brand very well, and also shows the simple, clear German structure! 🙂 It is a bit too design-less in a way that it shows only a minimum of images, therefore it’s a little bit dry, but it gets 4 points out of 5, navigation is clear, it is worth 5 points for me, Content would also receive 5 points as they offer everything a traveller would need, grouped together for each travel period (before, onboard, at the airport, etc.). For ergonomy I would give 4 points. The total for ratings then: 18 points.

Total points: 23 + 18 = 41 out of 45 (91%)

British Airways:

Goals: well, BA has some advance here with the UK site. Finding special deals was supereasy (5 points). Finding the phone number was quite hard. The strategy is clear. Help yourself online. Still, if I am an angry business class passenger not loosing baggage, but having some problems with the flight attendants on board, it is very difficult for me to find a phone number (3 points). OK, pricing. I have to admit, BA was always a benchmark for me with their pricing module. I was surprised to see they changed it. They made it more simple and more low-cost-like. I could get into details, this is a fun part of airline e-commerce, but I could easily achieve my goal, so 5 points for this one. Next goal: lounges. again, very good. I really liked the way they put all information on their website. It’s just the navigation that made me confused. I was on the 3rd or 4th level of navigation depth and no navbar helped me to navigate back if I missed what I was looking for. 5 points for the lounges, but in the end, I will reduce the points for the navigation. Last goal – newsletter. Oops, total failure. I could not find it even with the help of Search. Guys, you should do something with it. I am quite an advanced user. How do others find it? Sorry, 1 point.

Ratings: design is clear, nice, usable, readable, although nothing special. They could work a little bit harder on that. 4 points. Navigation: on the first or even the second level it is usable. But no more levels are accessible easily, no navbar, no second level navigation on a site that has a very cmplex content. 2 points. Content: very high quality, well phrased, easy to read and apparently quite a number of pages. 5 points. Ergonomy: it is optimized for 800*600 in resolution, which is a little bit oldschool. I miss the concept of the main page. I am sure they are having hard times with it. 4 points, because other pages are good.

Total points: 19 + 15 = 34 out of 45 (75%)

to be continued…

by balint01 and Szafi

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