Millennials discount railcard for 26 to 30-year-olds to launch early next year

( via — Fri, 20 Oct 2017) London, Uk —

Millennials could soon be entitled to their own discount railcard offering 26 to 30-year-olds a third off all train journeys.

Train company Greater Anglia Railways will trial a new card for young people from December before the scheme is rolled out nationally early next year, a leaked staff briefing suggested.

A document circulated on a UK rail forum, which appears to have been sent to Rail Delivery Group (RDG) staff, says that the scheme will go national in early 2018.

Greater Anglia Railways will initially offer 10,000 cards, according to The briefing document adds that this will be increased in 2018.

The unverified document also said that the new pass will be based on the existing 16-26 railcard, which gives a third off most fares, the Telegraph reported.

There is likely to be a £12 minimum fare for tickets (other than advanced fares) between 4.30am and 10am Monday to Friday – excluding public holidays and dates in July and August.

The RDG, which represents train companies, has declined to comment on plans for the wider launch, according to the Telegraph.

Similar railcards cost around £30-a-year, with frequent discounts available.

Millennials, which are the first generation to earn less than their parents, are likely to welcome the announcement.

Research published earlier this year showed men born between 1981 and 2000 earn an average of £12,500 less by the time they are 30 than the previous generation.

Millennials are said to fare significantly worse than their parents during their first years of employment, according to research by the Resolution Foundation. Young Brits earned £8,000 less during their 20s than their parents.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said it will be trialling the railcard from December, and said passengers will be able to sign up for it via the Railcard app on Apple or Android.

She said: “We are delighted to be at the forefront of this innovative trial, bringing better value fares and more convenience to rail passengers in East Anglia.”

By Ella Wills

The Bubble Bros van tours the UK selling prosecco on tap


Bubble Bros bought a vintage Piaggio van and transformed it into a prosecco wagon, which serves bubbly on tap.

The three-wheeled vehicle tours the country together with the Bubble Bike, a motorbike with a sparkling wine bar in the sidecar. Stops include weddings, private partiers, and also festivals like Glastonbury.

Bubble Bros started catering in 2015 with 1 van. They now have 5 vans and 1 motorbike which are all road legal.

Their wine comes in barrels from the DOCG region of Italy, which stands for Controlled and Guaranteed Designation of Origin– a quality assurance label for Italian wines.

Meet the company where luxury and philanthropy go hand in hand

( via – – Sat, 14 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Want to spice up your next trip by making a contribution to the local population? You will return home with the best souvenir: the satisfaction of knowing you made a difference. An ever-growing group of socially engaged travelers has already changed thousands of people’s lives.

There is no better place to watch whales than the island where locals have strong cultural affinities with these beautiful marine creatures. In New Zeland, the indigenous Māori people have a long history with whales: local legend says that their ancestors arrived on the island on the back of a whale. The locals believe in a spiritual bond with the animals.

Today, this tribe happens to possess one of the most successful companies organizing whale watch tours, among other activities, in the local town of Kaikoura. In fact, the local community trust, founded in 1987 by four Maori families, has played a huge role in reviving the town’s declining economy. They have transformed Kaikoura into a leading eco-tourism destination and the Whale Watch Kaikoura became the largest employer of the season. The enterprise invests a huge part of their annual profit in supporting the community, education, employment, and protecting the environment.

The company offers up-close encounters with giant sperm whales and strives to minimise their impact on the environment. It also runs educational programmes on how to save the environment as well as eco-friendly activities for visitors, such as planting your own tree.

By Doloresz Katanich


Tourism booming in the UK with nearly 40 million overseas visitors

( via – – Tue,10 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Tourism is booming in the UK with nearly 40 million overseas people expected to have visited the country during 2017 – a record figure.

Tourist promotion agency VisitBritain forecasts overseas trips to the UK will increase 6% to 39.7 million with spending up 14% to £25.7bn this year.

Britons are also holidaying at home in record numbers.

British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway said tourism was worth £127bn annually to the economy.

He called the sector an “economic powerhouse” and a “job creator right across Britain”.

“Two-and-a-half times bigger than the automotive industry, employing three million, tourism is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally.”

The UK has become a cheaper place to visit for tourists from overseas following the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote last year.

But Mr Ridgway said: “Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency.

“We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers and we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip.”

Tourism Minister John Glen said: “Tourism contributes billions to the UK economy and supports millions of jobs.”

He added that the record figures for overseas and domestic holidaymakers were “testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry”.

During the first six months of the year there were a record 23.1 million overseas visits to the UK – up 8% on the same period in 2016 – and the figures for July topped four million for the first time, with only a slightly smaller number of visits made during August.

Britain’s beaches and attractions have also attracted more domestic users with “staycations” on the rise.

From January to June this year, domestic overnight holidays in England rose 7% to a record 20.4 million with visitors spending £4.6bn – a rise of 17% and another record.

On Monday, figures from trade body UK Finance showed UK tourists’ debit card spending when abroad was down sharply compared with last summer, providing more evidence of the trend towards holidaying at home.

Spending on UK debit cards overseas was down nearly 13% in August compared with the same month in 2016.


Airbnb paid less than £200,000 in UK corporation tax last year


( via – – Mon, 9 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Airbnb, the accommodation website, paid less than £200,000 in UK corporation tax last year despite collecting £657m of rental payments for property owners.

The commissions the company earns in the UK are booked by its Irish subsidiary, but it also has two UK subsidiaries.

One unit made a pre-tax profit, but the other did not incur UK corporation tax because deductions resulted in a loss.

Airbnb said in a statement: “We follow the rules and pay all the tax we owe.”

One of the British subsidiaries, Airbnb Payments UK, handles payments between landlords and travellers for countries other than the United States, China and India.

That unit made a pre-tax profit of £960,000 and paid £188,000 in UK corporation tax – £8,000 less than in 2015.

The other British subsidiary, Airbnb UK, markets the website and app to British consumers. It reported a £463,000 pre-tax profit last year but because it gave shares to staff, which are tax-deductable, there was no corporation tax bill.

Airbnb said: “Our UK office provides marketing services and pays all applicable taxes, including VAT. The Airbnb model is unique and boosted the UK economy by £3.46bn last year alone.”

The tax arrangements of other technology giants have come under under closer scrutiny in recent years.

One of the most vocal critics has been EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. She has taken aim at the likes of Apple, Amazon and others for where they book the revenues and profits of their European activities.

Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, has also asked why Airbnb paid tens of thousand of euros in French corporation tax despite a turnover in the millions.

The company, founded in San Francisco in 2008, has disrupted the hotel industry by linking travellers with landlords who generally want to rent out a spare room or an entire property for short-term stays.

It has become one of the most successful examples of the digital economy, with an estimated value of about $24bn.

However, Airbnb has faced a growing backlash in cities including Barcelona, Berlin and Paris, where politicians have taken steps to stop landlords renting properties to tourists rather than local residents.

While Airbnb has long been linked with a stock market listing, it remains privately owned.

It takes a 3% commission from landlords for each booking, and also charges fees to travellers.

In the UK last year Airbnb catered for 5.9m travellers and had 168,000 listings.


Monarch Airlines goes into administration launching UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation operation

( via – – Mon 2, Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation operation has been launched to bring home 110,000 holidaymakers after Monarch Airlines was placed into administration.

A total of 300,000 future bookings were cancelled as result of the firm’s collapse,  the largest to hit a UK airline, and Monarch passengers were told not to go to airports because there would be no more flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was working with the government to secure a fleet of more than 30 aircraft, flying to more than 30 airports, to bring the stranded tourists back to the UK.

“We know that Monarch’s decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees,” Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said.

“This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.”

The regulator said all Monarch customers who were overseas and due to return to the UK in the next fortnight would be flown home and they did not need to cut short their holiday.

He urged affected customer to check their dedicated website,, for more advice.

“We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK’s largest airlines to manage this task,” he added.

The Government warned passengers to expect disruption and delay as it works to ensure there are enough flights to return the “huge number” of passengers.

Commenting on the “extraordinary operation”, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad – and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK.

“That is why I have immediately ordered the country’s biggest ever peacetime repatriation to fly about 110,000 passengers who could otherwise have been left stranded abroad.”

The airline’s Air Travel Organiser’s Licence expired at one minute to midnight on 30 September. It was given a 24-hour extension but it has not been renewed.

Roughly 110,000 Monarch customers are currently abroad, with many facing uncertainty about their journey back to the UK. Of these, thousands are thought to be British.

Before the news was announced, scores of worried Monarch customers took to social media in a search for clarity and advice over the situation

One man due to fly with Monarch this week, Paul Heburn, wrote: “What is happening with Monarch airlines this morning. Will the airline survive? I fly Wednesday.”

Another, Joanne Roberts, said: “Monarch, when will you let passengers know if flights are cancelled?”

Another, Lee Hammond, said: “Love Monarch, great airline but would like confirmation that our holiday will go ahead.” Monarch replied: “Hi Lee, any changes to the forward schedule will be communicated to all customers.”

As the extended deadline passed on Sunday night, there had been no update on Monarch’s status. However, the final two outbound flights of the evening were cancelled. Neither the ZB418 from Birmingham to Ibiza nor the ZB298 from Gatwick to Ibiza departed, leaving passengers stuck at the airport.

Those who have bought Monarch flights as part of a package with an ATOL certificate have financial protection. But the majority of passengers, around 95 per cent, have bought flight-only deals, for which consumer protection is much more complex and uncertain.

The airline reported a loss of £291m for the year to October 2016, compared with a profit of £27m for the previous 12 months. Monarch, founded in 1968, is made up of a scheduled airline, tour operator and an engineering division. In total it employs about 2,500 people.

These potentially fatal conditions for the company have come amid “bloodbath” trading for short-haul airlines, the source said, as terrorism attacks and security concerns in traditionally strong sales areas such as Tunisia and Turkey have hit consumer demand.

International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, has expressed an interest in acquiring some of Monarch’s take-off and landing slots, fleet and crew, according to Sky News.

It raises hopes that some jobs could be saved. IAG declined to comment.

Scheme which could have helped stranded Monarch customers was rejected in 2011

In 2011 the aviation industry resisted plans for a scheme to protect those who book their flights directly with an airline.

As things stand the Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) scheme only provides security for those who bought package holidays.

In the case of Monarch this applies to only five per cent of their customers.

The rest would have had to fend for themselves, but the  Civil Aviation Authority has said those repatriated will not have to foot the bill.

David Cameron’s coalition government wanted to extend the protection to an estimated six million people who made their own travel arrangements online.

It proposed a £2.50 levy on all do-it-yourself internet holiday bookings to fund a scheme to get people home should any of the companies involved in a vacation went bust.

Independently the CAA had called for a £1 levy on all flights to to get people home when an airline collapsed. The move followed a wave of high-profile failures the depths of the recession which left thousands of people stranded abroad when carriers such as Zoom, Maxjet and XL ceased trading.

But leading carriers including British Airways and Ryanair opposed the initiative arguing that its passengers should not have to subsidise those who chose to fly on less well established airlines.

The scheme was never introduced.

By  Katie Morley

Ryanair facing legal action by CAA over flight cancellations

( via – – Thu, 28 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Ryanair is facing legal action from the UK’s aviation regulatory body for “persistently misleading passengers”.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced it had launched enforcement action against the Irish airline on Wednesday night, accusing the carrier of “failing to provide customers with the necessary and accurate information relating to their passenger rights, particularly around rerouting and care and assistance entitlements, which includes expenses”.

It believes that Ryanair has failed to tell affected passengers that they are legally obliged to be put on an alternate flight of any airline – not just those operated by Ryanair.

Ryanair yesterday said it would be cancelling a further 400,000 bookings on 18,000 flights between November this year and March 2018 as the carrier sought to alleviate some of the pressure on its packed schedule. It follows a swathe of some 315,000 cancellations announced last week, which CEO Michael O’Leary blamed on a mishandling of pilots’ holidays.

The airline said at the beginning of the week that refunds or alternative flights had been processed for 97 per cent of those affected by the initial cancellations, but the CAA has rounded on the carrier for how it handled passengers.

“There are clear laws in place, which are intended to assist passengers in the event of a cancellation, helping minimise both the frustration and inconvenience caused by circumstances completely out of their control,” said the CAA’s chief executive Andrew Haines.

“We have made this crystal clear to Ryanair, who are well aware of their legal obligations, which includes how and when they should reroute passengers, along with the level of information it provides its passengers. The information Ryanair published [yesterday] again fails to make this clear.

“In expediting our enforcement action we are seeking to ensure that Ryanair’s customers will receive the correct and necessary information, to make an informed choice about an alternative flight.”

The CAA has published a letter, which it sent to Ryanair in the wake of the cancellations, informing the airline that O’Leary had misled passengers when he said Ryanair was not obliged to re-route passengers on airlines other than Ryanair. The CAA also said the airline had “failed to make [a] correction”.

“It light of the information published by Ryanair, the CAA is concerned that Ryanair is not complying with the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008,” the letter said.

“In light of these urgent and continuing concerns, we are now commencing consultation under Section 214 EA02 to achieve cessation by Ryanair of the breaches of consumer protection legislation identified in this letter.”

The CAA has asked to meet with Ryanair to discuss the matter.

A spokesperson for Ryanair said: “We will be meeting with the CAA and will comply fully with whatever requirements they ask us to.”

The CAA has brought legal enforcement 22 times in its history, twice previously to Ryanair, the most recent of which was in October 2015.


May dissapointed Bombardier jobs at risk over Boeing’s dispute with a rival aerospace firm

( via – Wed, 27 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Boeing’s dispute with a rival aerospace firm that threatens thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland is “unjustified” and “damaging”, the British Government has said.

The US has hit Canadian firm Bombardier with a punitive import duty of nearly 220% on a new model of passenger jet, the wings for which are made in Northern Ireland.

Bombardier, which employs more than 4,000 people in Belfast and contributes an estimated £400m to the Northern Ireland economy, said the C-Series jet was “critical” to its operations there.

:: Bombardier ruling risks thousands of Belfast jobs

One union described the ruling as a “hammer blow”, while Prime Minister Theresa May said she was “bitterly disappointed”.

The dispute between the two rival companies centres around claims from US firm Boeing that Bombardier received unfair state subsidies from the UK and Canada, allowing it to sell airliners at below cost prices in the US.

Announcing the US Department of Commerce’s initial finding coming down on the side of Boeing, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the subsidisation of goods by foreign governments was something the Trump administration “takes very seriously”.

A final ruling is expected to be made in February.

:: How the battle for our skies landed in Belfast

A UK Government spokeswoman said the initial finding was “only the first step in the process”.

“As the Prime Minister said last week, we will continue to strongly defend UK interests in support of Bombardier at the very highest level because an adverse outcome risks jobs and livelihoods among the 4,200 skilled workers in Belfast,” she said.

“Boeing’s position in this case is unjustified and frankly not what we would expect of a long-term partner to the UK – as well as damaging the wider global aerospace industry.”

Mrs May has lobbied US President Donald Trump over the dispute, and raised it in talks with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on a visit there last week.

Bombardier labelled the decision “absurd” and said Boeing was guilty of hypocrisy.

But the US aerospace giant said the row “had nothing to do with limiting innovation or competition” but was about “maintaining a level playing field and ensuring that aerospace companies abide by trade agreements”.

Unions accused Mrs May of being “asleep at the wheel” on the dispute, saying the preliminary finding was “unlikely” to be overturned by Mr Trump.

Ross Murdoch, the GMB union’s national officer, said it was a “hammer blow” to Belfast and could have wider ramifications.

On top of the 4,000 people directly employed at Bombardier’s plant, Mr Murdoch warned another 9,400 supply chain jobs could be wiped out.

DUP leader Arlene Foster – whose 10 MPs are propping up Mrs May’s minority government – said the DoC’s determination was “very disappointing”.

By Alan McGuinness

Thomas Cook forms hotel joint venture with Swiss LMEY

( via — Tue, 26 Sept 2017) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Tour operator Thomas Cook has formed a strategic partnership with LMEY Investments to grow its own-brand hotel portfolio, as it confirmed its full-year outlook.

As part of the deal, Thomas Cook acquired a 42 percent stake in Aldiana, a German tour operator and hotel management firm, from the Swiss-based hotel development company.

Thomas Cook Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said the acquisition was a significant step in the firm’s strategy to expand its range of own-brand hotels.

“The development of a strong portfolio of own-brand hotels is absolutely key to our success,” Fankhauser said in a statement.

 “Our new strategic partnership with LMEY, with its proven track record of identifying and redeveloping highly successful properties in sun and beach locations, gives us the perfect launch pad to accelerate this critical part of our strategy.”

Thomas Cook operates or franchises over 180 hotels in 17 countries, with 11 new hotels added this summer.

Rival TUI is also investing more into its own hotel portfolio, including setting up its own brand TUI Blue.

The partnership follows an alliance with Expedia to make the online travel company its preferred provider of hotels for holiday sales that are not in Thomas Cook’s own-brand offering.

Thomas Cook also said that its Chief Financial Officer Michael Healy had decided to retire, and would be replaced by director of financial reporting Bill Scott.

The company said that summer trading was ending as expected and its full-year earnings outlook was unchanged.

Thomas Cook said its summer season was 91 percent sold, which is 2 percent more than the same time last year, and that sales to Spain remained level with last year despite a highly competitive market.

Shares were up 0.6 percent at 121.7 pence at 0745 GMT.

Thomas Cook also said its German airline Condor, with bookings up 12 percent, was benefitting from the uncertainty surrounding the fate of Air Berlin, which filed for insolvency in August.

Condor was among those interested in bidding for Air Berlin assets to shore up its position in Germany, but Air Berlin’s creditors have instead opted to hold talks with Lufthansa and easyJet.

By Alistair Smout; Additional reporting by Victoria Brya

Uber denied renewal of operating licence in London

( via – – Fri, 22 Sept, 2017) London, Uk – –

Uber will not be is sued a new private hire licence, Transport for London (TfL) has said.

TfL has concluded the ride-hailing app firm was not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence.

Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrated a lack of corporate responsibility which could have potential public safety and security implications, it said.

Uber has 21 days to appeal, during which it can continue to operate.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said in a statement: “I fully support TfL’s decision – it would be wrong if TfL continued to license Uber if there is any way that this could pose a threat to Londoners’ safety and security.”

Millions of bank and building society accounts to be subjected to illegal migrants checks

( via – – Fri, 22 Sept 2017) London, Uk – –

Millions of bank and building society accounts will be subjected to checks to ensure services are not being provided to illegal migrants, it is reported.

The checks form part of a three-pronged attack announced by Home Secretary Amber Rudd at the Conservative party conference last year, which also included actions against landlords and employers.

Financial institutions will be tasked with checking the details of account holders against a list of illegal migrants who are liable for removal or deportation.

The Guardian reported this will see 70 million accounts checked quarterly and will begin in January.

Satbir Singh, the chief executive of the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants, told the paper: “The government’s own record shows that it cannot be trusted even to implement this system properly.

“Immigration status is very complex, and the Home Office consistently gives out incorrect information and guidance.

“Migrants and ethnic minorities with every right to be here will be affected by the imposition of these new checks.”

Announcing the plans last year, Ms Rudd said: “Landlords that knowingly rent out property to people who have no right to be here will be committing a criminal offence. They could go to prison.

“Furthermore, from December, immigration checks will be a mandatory requirement for those wanting to get a licence to drive a taxi.

“And from next autumn, banks will have to do regular checks to ensure they are not providing essential banking services to illegal migrants.

“Money drives behaviour, and cutting off its supply will have an impact.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “We are developing an immigration system which is fair to people who are here legally, but firm with those who break the rules. Everyone in society can play their part in tackling illegal migration.

“As approved by Parliament in December 2016, from January banks and building societies will be required to carry out regular checks on the immigration status of all current account holders against the details of known illegal migrants to establish whether their customers are known to be in the UK unlawfully.

“This is part of our ongoing work to tackle illegal migration. People who are here legally will be unaffected.”


Adorable baby white giraffe and mother sighted in Kenya


A pair of rare white giraffes have been spotted in Kenya.

The rare animals — a mother and baby — were discovered by villagers near the Ishaqbini conservancy in Garissa, eastern Kenya.

The giraffes are this colour because of a condition called leucism.

It’s different from being albino, which prevents animals and humans from producing any kind of pigment, as can be seen in their white skin and pink eyes, according to the National Geographic.

The steepest funicular railway in Europe has a 106% incline


Gelmerbahn in the canton of Bern, Switzerland, is the steepest funicular in Europe.

It has an inclination of up to 106% and a 1,028m (3,373ft) long track.

It takes you to the Gelmer Valley 1860m (6,102ft) above sea level, where you can enjoy some spectacular views.

The funicular was originally built to transport heavy construction materials.

Ryanair loses legal battle with European Court on Cabin Crew Contracts


Low cost carrier, Ryanair has insisted that a ruling by the European Court of Justice will not change the current status of employment contracts for thousands of its staff.

The Luxembourg based ECJ said on Thursday that the airline was wrong to force cabin crew based outside Ireland to take their disputes with the company to Irish courts.

Despite losing the case, Ryanair chief Michael O’Leary remained defiant following the decision.

Ian King speaks to former aid worker Andrew MacLeod on rebuilding British Virgin Islands after Hurricane Irma


Andrew MacLeod is Non-Executive Chairman of Griffin Law and a former humanitarian aid worker, who was Chief of Operations of the UN Emergency Coordination Centre in Pakistan. He speaks to Ian King about what will be needed to help the British Virgin Islands rebuild after Hurricane Irma.

Sand artists built the world’s tallest sandcastle


An international team of sand artists have built the world’s tallest sandcastle in Germany.

Travel company Schauinsland-Reisen initiated the project, hoping to bring the world record to Duisburg after the city’s attempt failed last year.

After almost a month of construction, the finished sandcastle stood at 16.68 metres and was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the tallest sandcastle in the world.