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The U.S. hotel industry saw year-over-year gains in both occupancy and average daily rate during May, according to STR, but rate growth was more modest than in recent months. Occupancy rose 0.7 percent to 68.2 percent, and ADR increased 2.6 percent to $129.90. "We had seen ADR increases of more than 3 percent in March and April," said STR SVP of operations Bobby Bowers. "So that same level of pricing power wasn?t there, but with demand accelerating and supply growth remaining moderate, the industry looks to be in great shape as we hit the busy summer season." May marked the 99th consecutive month of revenue per available room growth for the U.S. hotel industry.
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XL Airways CEO Laurent Magnin sees the heated competition among low-cost carriers on transatlantic routes as validation. "Everyone told me 10 years ago that long haul, low cost is impossible," he said. "Ten years after, low cost is continuing to grow." Over that decade, XL also has explored the other side of the spectrum, merging with all-business class La Compagnie in 2016. While the two still largely operate within their own realms, Magnin, who spoke with BTN transportation editor Michael B. Baker, sees opportunities for cooperation and to grow corporate business on the XL side.
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Virgin Atlantic EVP and chief commercial officer Shai Weiss will ascend to the CEO position next year, as Craig Kreeger plans to retire Dec. 31. Weiss joined Virgin Atlantic as a board member in 2012, became CFO in July 2014 and took his current role in January 2017. Kreeger was appointed CEO in February 2013.
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The consolidated dollar value of airline tickets sold by U.S.-based travel agencies totaled $8.8 billion in May, a 5.7 percent year-over-year rise, according to Airlines Reporting Corp. The average ticket price for a U.S. domestic round-trip was $496. U.S. domestic passenger trips?a passenger trip is defined as a trip from one airport to another within the U.S. using either direct or connecting flights?rose 3 percent, and international passenger trips rose 3.8 percent. The number of EMD transactions, which involve non-ticket airline services like seat upgrades and other miscellaneous services, declined 10.8 percent to 114,430 while the dollar amount of EMDs rose 18.7 percent. An ARC spokesperson said that owes to a jump in high-dollar EMDs like deposits toward group/tour bookings.  
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User's of SAP Concur's TripIt users now have access to safety ratings for nearly 30,000 neighborhoods around the world through a partnership with travel safety ratings firm GeoSure, and the itinerary app now can read confirmation emails in English, as before, but also in French, German and Japanese. The app parses such emails to extract travel details for the traveler's itinerary.
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British Airways parent company International Airlines Group and Ryanair are submitting a complaint to the European Commission regarding air traffic control strikes that "are destroying European air traffic and having a huge impact on consumers," according to IAG CEO Willie Walsh. The Airlines for Europe association said 2018 is on track to be one of the worst years ever for ATC strikes; due to such strikes, A4E members have canceled about 5,000 flights year to date, and they delayed 39,000 flights in May alone.
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On Wednesday, Brussels Airlines began selling an Economy Light fare on transatlantic routes to New York, Washington and Toronto. The fare does not allow changes or cancellations, though passengers will still get food and beverage service and for additional fees can purchase seat selection and checked luggage. This summer, Lufthansa Group will expand its Economy Light fares across its brands on transatlantic routes.  
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"I recall arguing with Mark that there wouldn't be an amount to get" back said HayNeil Consulting tax matters partner Barry Bloch. Global VaTax co-founder and CFO Mark Berger had approached HayNeil in June 2017 about helping the U.S.-based corporate finance and private equity firm recover value-added tax, and Bloch was sure there was nothing worthwhile to recover.
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Corporate traveler use of premium economy cabins has grown significantly on routes from Singapore over the past two years, according to research by Carlson Wagonlit Travel and Travelport. The research analyzed 1.3 million bookings departing from Singapore and made in 2015, 2016 and 2017. Premium economy bookings grew an average of 157 percent each year, the research indicated, while bookings in every other class declined, economy by the most.
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Carlson Wagonlit Travel president and CEO Kurt Ekert talked with BTN contributing editor Amon Cohen about the competitive landscape and the digital innovations his mega travel management company is working on for customers.
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