Alitalia Uniforms Get Second Makeover in 2 Years Despite Being Broke

Alitalia

Pictured is an Alitalia agent on August 11, 2017. Don’t get used to the look because the airline’s uniforms will soon be redesigned — again. Alitalia

Skift Take: Alitalia claims that its second uniform redesign in the past two years will not cost the airline any money. Maybe this kind of thinking is among the myriad reasons it’s now insolvent? Just wondering.

— Dennis Schaal

Alitalia SpA, the bankrupt Italian airline searching for a rescuer, will get new uniforms designed by one of Italy’s most prominent stylists, the second re-branding in two years.

The airline, which is on state support, said Wednesday that Alberta Ferretti will renew the company’s look “to ensure that all personnel, both ground and flight staff, is comfortable in each working environment and throughout any season.” The design collaboration comes at no cost to Alitalia, the carrier said in a statement.

This is the second time in as many years that Italy’s main carrier is re-designing its clothing line. The previous collection, designed by Ettore Bilotta, was presented in June 2016 and inspired by 50s and 60s style.

The Rome-based airline company was declared insolvent May 11 after losing 205 million euros ($243 million) in the first two months of the year and is currently in talks with a number of foreign investors interested in acquiring parts of its business. The state last month extended the deadline for bids to April from November and agreed to pump an additional 300 million euros into the airline through a bridge loan to keep it afloat.

Deutsche Lufthansa AG, EasyJet Plc and Cerberus Capital Management LP are among the entities that have reportedly shown interest. This is the second time in a decade that Alitalia has sought to attract an international partner after filing for bankruptcy.

 

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Chiara Albanese from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Alaska Airlines Probes Sexual Harassment Complaint By Former Facebook Exec

Andy Kropa  / Invision via Associated Press

In this Oct. 17, 2017 file photo, Randi Zuckerberg, sister of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, participates in the BUILD Speaker Series Be Fierce tech panel in New York. Alaska Airlines says it’s investigating a claim that flight attendants allowed a passenger to sexually harass Zuckerberg on a flight. Andy Kropa / Invision via Associated Press

Skift Take: This alleged incident on Alaska Airlines should be a warning heard throughout the airline — and larger travel industry — that companies had better review and tighten their sexual harassment policies immediately. Other than at Uber, the travel industry has largely escaped the latest round of revelations, but rest assured there will be more headlines coming.

— Dennis Schaal

Alaska Airlines says it’s investigating a claim that flight attendants allowed a passenger to sexually harass a former Facebook executive on a flight.

Randi Zuckerberg, who is also Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, took to social media to detail her recent flight between Los Angeles and Mazatlan, Mexico.

She said she was extremely uncomfortable with the man sitting near her who constantly made sexually explicit and lewd comments to her and others in the First Class passenger area, all while being served several alcoholic drinks.

Zuckerberg said she reported it to flight attendants, who replied that the man was a regular flyer on the route and seemed to make light of the situation.

The airline said they’re revoking the man’s travel privileges while conducting a full investigation.

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Bridging the Funding Gap for Travel Startups

Skift Take: Research shows that there’s a significant gap between early, mid and later stage funding rounds—unfortunately, it makes sense. The very nature of early vs. middle-to-late stage funding makes it difficult for startups in the travel space to move beyond the beginning stages.

— Dawn Rzeznikiewicz

There are many challenges facing startups in the travel space when it comes to securing funding. However, the space is seeing a fair number of deals being made. As CB Insights explained, “With 244 deals so far, 2017 has already seen more travel tech funding rounds than both 2013 and 2014, and is on track to exceed the record 316 deals observed in 2016.”

But while travel startup funding in 2017 has been strong, more often than not, companies find it difficult to move beyond early stage funding rounds. CB Insights found that these investments represented over 60 percent of deals over the past four years.

Recent research from Skift conducted on behalf of Amadeus for Startups, a program which provides cutting-edge technology, expertise, industry contacts, and consultative support to emerging travel companies, confirms that travel startups often struggle to move beyond this early stage. The research surveyed 177 individuals who work at startups focused on the travel industry and the results were insightful:

● About 64 percent were self-funded, while another 20 percent had completed a Series A round of funding.
● Only 5 percent of those surveyed reported that they had gone through a Series B round or higher.
● Meanwhile, of those who have raised funding, nearly 39 percent had raised less than $1 million in funding, while just under 20 percent raised between $1 million and $10 million.

It’s not clear whether travel firms are rarely moving beyond this stage because they have sufficient capital or because they haven’t been able to attract investors. Either way, the gap between early, mid and later stage funding persists, meaning that startups with big dreams for growth must find a path across it.

The Nature of Early vs. Middle to Late Stage Funding

Personal cash reserves and resourceful networks of family and friends may be enough to get a back-of-the-napkin concept out into the world, but eventually, promising startups discover that growth and scale in a competitive industry like travel requires capital amounts that only a financial institution or venture capital firm can supply. Luckily, bootstrapping, seed and angel funding serve new companies well because these sources are fueled by the potential of the co-founders combined with the potential of a great idea.

There are major differences between how a bank or venture capital firm thinks about funding versus how an angel investor or family friend might. Unlike an angel investor or family friend, banks and venture capital firms are accountable to shareholders. To banks and venture capitalists, the value of a startup is weighed in the context of the industry and sector in which it operates. Venture capitalists and banks don’t just invest in great ideas and talented co-founders, they invest in industries and sectors. The travel industry in particular can pose a number of risks across many sectors that are magnified when looked at through the lens of a smaller, less mature company with significantly less resources.

For example, well established travel companies (like Priceline and Expedia) with deep pockets can hold onto market share by outspending challengers with smaller marketing budgets. Also, erratic consumer habits in the industry make forecasting revenue tough, and arguably more so with yet unproven products and services. Travel technology startups must demonstrate a clear path to profitability and scalability despite hurdles like these.

Additionally, startups in the travel space aren’t just competing for venture capital dollars in the travel sector—there’s a good chance they’re competing with other technology-driven companies as well. Technology companies that skew more general tend to scale quickly, making them more attractive to venture capitalists with their potential for high growth opportunities. Meanwhile, technology-based travel companies have overhead and other operating infrastructure needs that are specific to the travel industry. For instance, the quality of relationships with suppliers on the ground, in both the domestic market and abroad, can influence the profitability of a travel startups revenue model. A travel company may therefore take longer to achieve the growth needed to lure Series B investors or higher.

One other challenge that travel startups often overlook is the fact that for most people, travel is something that only takes place a few times a year. Therefore, creating a product that will likely only be used during these occasional instances is tough for venture capitalists and banks to see the value in, especially in an already crowded market.

The Missing Link

Early stage travel companies can better compete in the race for capital later on by effectively demonstrating a strong revenue model and scalability as early as possible. Early stage valuations typically set the basis and can influence access to capital, possibly even across future rounds. Co-founders looking for funding at middle and later stages can find themselves on a grueling path, even after building some tangible value.

Forming strategic relationships with investors and other applicable partners as early as possible can help as well. It may seem that industry giants such as Uber and Airbnb are drawing all the attention from funders in the travel space, but many established companies such as JetBlue and Marriott, are experimenting with startup incubators or making strategic investments in early-stage companies. But while plugging into incubators like these or a corporate startup support program like Amadeus for Startups can provide early access to the investor ecosystem, as well as essential tools for navigating the funding landscape, startups in the travel space don’t always take advantage of these initiatives. In Skift’s survey, 51 percent of respondents said they had never participated in a program that supports startup launches, growth or funding programs.

It’s evident that during the early stage, startups should be taking a long-term vision to continued funding for success. Clearly, there’s room for opportunity when it comes to how startups in the travel sector set their sights on investment options as well as take advantage of the support opportunities in the travel space.

“We certainly understand the key role of funding in the startup community, says Kerri Zeil, head of Amadeus for Startups. As part of the Amadeus for Startups program, we help startups get in touch with investors so they can work together on funding strategies essential for long-term success.”

Check out the Amadeus for Startups infographic below to learn more about how travel startups can cross the funding gap.

This content was created collaboratively by Amadeus and Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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New York’s Growing Economy Calls for Airport and Train Upgrades

Roman Kruglov  / Flickr

The 34th Street subway station in New York. The city will have to take another look at infrastructure to accommodate growth. Roman Kruglov / Flickr

Skift Take: People won’t like construction at JFK and Newark airports, nor will they like suspended late-night subway service, but guess what? New York has bigger sustainability problems on its hands.

— Sarah Enelow

New York’s economy has been on a roll, but that could all come to an end. The area, which has added more than 800,000 jobs in the past five years, may take 25 years to add that same number again unless some radical changes are made, according to the Regional Plan Association. Here are a few of the group’s 61 recommendations:

  • Phase out Teterboro Airport in northern New Jersey, which is prone to increased flooding due to rising sea levels, and add two more runways at John F. Kennedy International Airport and one more at Newark International Airport.
  • Evaluate shutting down New York City subways late on weeknights, when about 1.5 percent of riders use the system, to allow for longer periods of maintenance, and employ buses to make up for the lost service.
  • Further extend the 7 line, which serves Hudson Yards, and the Second Avenue Subway, and add new lines along Northern Boulevard and Jewel Avenue in Queens to serve Jackson Heights, north Flushing and such “transit deserts” as Pomonok and Fresh Meadows.

The group’s fourth regional plan is set for unveiling this morning at the New School in Manhattan, with officials including Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy and Ras Baraka, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, scheduled to speak. The 90-year-old nonprofit Regional Plan Association, whose chairman is RXR Realty LLC Chief Executive Officer Scott Rechler, advocates that leaders think of the metropolitan area as one region rather than an amalgam of clashing jurisdictions.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by David M. Levitt from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Amazon Wants More Hotels Using Alexa Voice-Powered Services

Alexis Hotel by Kimpton - Seattle

Guests will find a Volara-powered Amazon Echo Dot serving guests in every room at the Alexis Hotel by Kimpton – Seattle. Amazon aims to have Alexa handling guest requests in as many hotels as possible. Alexis Hotel by Kimpton – Seattle

Skift Take: “Siri: How will Apple respond to hotels adopting Amazon’s Alexa?” That’s the question.

— Sean O’Neill

Amazon has claimed at least two-thirds of the consumer market for voice-activated Internet devices. Now it wants to gain parallel market share dominance in enterprise use by pushing its Alexa service to companies.

On Thursday, the retailer’s pitch for hotels was highlighted by chief technology officer Werner Vogels in a presentation at Amazon Web Services (AWS) re:Invent conference in Las Vegas.

Vogels cited examples of Amazon Echo and Echo Dot devices in U.S. hotels, noting that the Wynn in Las Vegas is putting ones in every room so that guests can control the TV, lower the blinds, adjust the room temperature, and make front-desk requests without using a remote.

Amazon launched a new Amazon for Business initiative Thursday that formalizes, coordinates, and bolsters its effort to drive the use of Alexa in workplaces and service providers like hotels. Companies like Concur have integrated to enable workers to access itineraries by voice, Vogels said.

For hotels, the main news is that there will be more support for enabling voice services on their properties and back offices.

Dozens of Trials

Since January, properties franchised or belonging to nearly all of the major U.S. flagship brands have tested the Echo Dots, including Marriott and Wynn Resorts.

Best Western has experimented with the devices at about a dozen properties. At Best Western Plus Hawthorne Terrace, the Echo device greets guests on arrival in the room. Guests can ask it for services like more towels or ask it for the hotel’s recommendations on places to dine locally by cuisine and time of day.

Hotels work with third-party technology providers, not Amazon, to get in control of the replies, such as telling a guest the Wi-Fi password, and actions, such as opening a ticket in a third-party operations system.

Since the start of the year, 400,000 guests have been exposed to Alexa-powered rooms managed by Volara, a voice-technology company for hospitality companies.

Volara works with 25 U.S. hotels today — the largest install base among providers. Thompson Seattle is one. “Guests now get quick answers, while our staff spends less time on the phone,” said general manager Amanda Parsons by email.

This year its deployed systems have been automating an average of 240 item and service requests per 1,000 occupied room nights and fielding 700 guest questions about the property and neighborhood offering’s per 1,000 occupied room nights, said CEO David Berger.

Volara is the only hospitality tech provider certified as an Alexa Enterprise Agency. But companies don’t have to be certified by Amazon to manage voice-powered services for hotels. Runtriz, a guest engagement platform, is running Alexa at Best Western Plus Oceanside Palms in Oceanside, Calif.

Other technology companies, such as Voiceio, also offer to integrate voice-interactions into hotel systems.

Chicago’s Best Western Hawthorne Terrace is testing an iHome iAVS1 Echo Dot docking station by Hotel Technologies that encourages guests to use it by adding a charger for smartphones and other gadgets, a dimmable clock display, and better speakers than Amazon products have.

Best Western Hotel technologies iHome-iAVS1 amazon alexa echo dot volara

Back-of-the-House Integrations

Voice requests for services, such as needing more towels, need to go somewhere. Hotel operations software platforms are adapting their systems to handle voice-powered requests

Many systems say they either automatically dispatch voice-powered messages to the right worker or track requests and their resolution in the right part of a database, including Amadeus Hospitality’s HotSoS, Alice, Honeywell Inncom, Iris, Knowcross, Quore, TrustYou Messaging, and Whistle.

Exhibit A: Since the summer, Amadeus’s system lets a guest attending a conference at a hotel to ask for a group event agenda or list of events from the reservation organizer via its sales and event management tool.

Hotels don’t need to use Amazon hardware to enable voice-powered search, of course. Other hardware providers like Soundwall and Seura have incorporated Alexa. Volara has an Alexa-free option that it says can run on mirrors, lamps, clock radios, and even art.

Hotels also don’t need Alexa as a natural language processing platform.

Google touts its own voice-powered speakers as a personal assistant that can also answer consumer questions about travel. The company declined to comment on any efforts to drive enterprise adoption.

Apple also pushes its voice-enabled Internet service Siri for consumers. This year, Marriott has been testing using Apple’s Siri in guest rooms. Microsoft’s Cortana is another potential contender.

Some hotels have expressed an interest in having Alexa act like a panic button for housekeepers in case of a problem, and companies like React Mobile, an enterprise safety platform, have added Alexa integrations.

With today’s announcement of an Alexa for Business division, Amazon appears eager to speed up the momentum of adoption of its software and hardware in hotels.

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Tokyo Disney Is Reportedly Getting a $2.7 Billion Expansion

Bloomberg

Visitors walk around at Tokyo Disneyland. Reports say the park’s operator is planning a major expansion. Bloomberg

Skift Take: Tokyo Disney Resort is already a popular piece of the Disney empire, and spending billions to add attractions and make improvements will only help drive more attendance and spending. Castles need a little polish every now and then.

— Hannah Sampson

Shares of Oriental Land Co., the operator of Tokyo Disneyland, rose the most in a year after a report that it will expand its resort in Japan.

Shares of the company surged as much as 4.2 percent, touching a record high in Tokyo after the Nikkei reported it will invest more than 300 billion yen ($2.7 billion) to upgrade and expand the resort with new attractions that will open by 2023.

Oriental Land licenses the rights from Walt Disney Co. to operate the Tokyo resort that includes Disneyland, DisneySea, hotels and shopping malls. The Japanese company is in talks with the Burbank, California-based entertainment giant on the expansion, which may include an area dedicated to Disney’s hit movie “Frozen” and other attractions that are not featured at other Disney theme parks, according to the Nikkei.

Oriental Land said in a statement it was not the source of the news reports, and that it continues to consider all options to increase the value of its resort. Walt Disney did not respond to requests for comment.

The report comes as Japan is taking in a record numbers of foreign tourists. Oriental Land expects overseas visitors at its resort to double by 2020 on increased tourism and publicity generated from the newly-opened Disney theme park in Shanghai. Foreign visitors to Japan in 2017 is on track to beat last year’s record 24 million.

Meanwhile, Disney is continuing to expand its parks in Asia. Disney broke ground last year to build a new Toy Story Land attraction area at the Shanghai resort and is currently in the midst of a $1.4 billion expansion of its Hong Kong Disneyland resort.

–With assistance from Christopher Palmeri

 

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

 

This article was written by Lisa Du from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Tourists Avoid Catalonia During Separatist Crisis

Manu Fernandez  / Associated Press

Demonstrators holding banners that read in Catalan: “Freedom for the Political Prisoners”, gather during a protest against the decision of a judge to jail ex-members of the Catalan government at the University square in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. Manu Fernandez / Associated Press

Skift Take: Political turmoil is certainly one way to drive away tourists. One has to suspect that visitors will return to Spain’s most popular city once the crisis is resolved.

— Andrew Sheivachman

Visitor trips to Catalonia took a hit as the Spanish region’s separatist movement came to a head.

While all major holiday destinations in Spain saw a jump in visits in October from a year earlier, the Catalonia region posted a 4.7 percent decline following a turbulent month. The region was rocked by a eferendum for independence from Spain on Oct. 1 that resulted in police violence and mass demonstrations culminating in an ill-fated declaration of independence.

The move prompted the central government of Mariano Rajoy to sack the Catalan cabinet, take direct control of the wealthy region and call an election due next month. Meanwhile, industry figures show revenue per available room — a key indicator of occupancy and rates — also fell in October. An industry official said the disruptions added to other difficulties.

The hospitality industry has had a rough patch. Over the summer, local critics of massive tourism argued that Barcelona, Spain’s most visited city, was being overwhelmed. The Catalan capital became the target of a deadly terror attack in September. Despite the setbacks, Catalonia remains the most popular Spanish region for foreign tourists who come for its rich offerings in culture, monuments, architecture and Mediterranean coastline.

While the nation is on track to extend a four-year economic recovery with at least 3 percent growth this year, the Spanish government has warned the Catalan crisis could hurt output in 2018 if downside risks materialize.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Ainhoa Goyeneche and Maria Tadeo from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Three Ways Digital is Influencing Traveler Buying Behavior

Skift Take: It’s no secret that more accessible technology has changed the way travelers research, shop for and purchase travel. Expedia Media Solutions looked at three examples of how digital is changing traveler behavior and why this matters.

— Dawn Rzeznikiewicz

Regardless of current events, world politics or global issues, people continue to travel. They still want to explore new places, visit friends and family near and far, and immerse themselves in other cultures around the world—and we don’t expect this slow down anytime soon.

In fact, a new study from Expedia Media Solutions that surveyed travelers from eight countries found that not only are people still traveling, but they’re traveling a lot. On average, people are taking nearly four trips a year that span an average of eight days in duration, and nearly half are traveling outside of their respective countries.

What’s making it even easier for people to continue to travel is the rapid adoption and widespread usage of digital, as well as continued innovation. Digital is inspiring travelers by making places far and wide seem closer and more accessible. It’s helping people discover new experiences, and making booking a trip quicker and easier than ever before.

Here are three key examples of how digital is influencing the way travelers plan and purchase today.

Digital Inspires Exploration

Imagery can be a powerful tool for influencing a traveler, whether through social media or print—and when imagery is coupled with technology innovation, you’re hitting a sweet spot, especially in travel. Expedia Media Solutions recently partnered with Hawai’i Tourism Authority (HTA) to show how a video experience combined with personalized recommendations can inspire travelers to consider and book Hawaii as their next vacation destination. Viewers were shown drone footage of striking scenery of the Hawaiian Islands, while facial recognition technology was used to identify the most emotional responses from a viewer based on the scenes that evoked the most positive expressions. The viewer was then recommended their ideal Hawaiian vacation based on the imagery that drove their most emotional responses.

Digital Makes Planning Travel More Accessible

Virtual reality and first-person-style video are examples of how technology allows travelers to literally try before they buy. Some might think that virtual reality experiences could replace a person’s desire to travel, since they can experience it from the comfort of their own home, but this isn’t necessarily the case. Digital can potentially ease a person’s fear of the unknown, change their perception of a destination, and entice them to experience the real thing. Expedia Media Solutions’ campaign with The Gold Coast Tourism Corporation brought the popular Australian destination to life and showcased the variety of unique cultural activities within the region. By leveraging first-person video, Expedia Media Solutions created an immersive online experience where users on the microsite are able to experience different activities such as hiking, biking along the beach, as if they’re there in person.

Digital Makes the Research and Inspiration Phases Easier

comScore data shows that users spend an average of 69 percent of their media time on smartphones. As people become more mobile, dreaming about and planning travel can happen anytime, anywhere, whether one is browsing a social media feed or comparing prices of potential flights through an online booking engine. The rise in mobile usage means that researching, planning and booking a trip is literally accessible at one’s fingertips. The millennial generation has already shaken up the travel industry, largely due to how they invest in and interact with mobile—it’s ubiquitous in nearly every aspect of their lives. And while millennials have driven the rise in mobile usage, Generation Z is even more disruptive in how they consume media and mobile. Expedia Media Solutions’ research found that on average, Generation Z, or those between 18- and 23-years-old, are four times more likely to use a smartphone for inspiration, research or booking travel than baby boomers, meaning that mobile will soon be even more ubiquitous.

For more insights on how traveler behavior is changing, download the full study here.

This content was created by Expedia Media Solutions and published by Skift’s branded content studio, SkiftX.

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Air France-KLM Starts Operating Hipster-Focused Joon

Air France

Joon, the latest aviation brainchild of Air France-KLM Group, starts operating this week. Joon promises perks like baobab juice and organic quinoa salad. Air France

Skift Take: Spraying a hipster sheen onto a product isn’t necessarily an upgrade. We’re willing to bet most millennials want reliable flights before cool outfits on flight attendants.

— Sarah Enelow

What corporate France lacks in cost-cutting potential, it makes up for in style. That at least appears to be the recipe at Joon, the latest aviation brainchild of Air France-KLM Group, which starts operating this week.

The pitch goes like this: tech-savvy and fashion-conscious flight attendants serve de rigueur staples from baobab juice to organic quinoa salad as millennials jet from Paris to Barcelona and Brazil at discount rates, streaming videos above the clouds.

The reality, of course, is slightly less glamorous: the hipster pitch simply sugars the pill. Scratch beneath the surface and Joon, a riff on “jeune,” French for young, is the result of some hard-headed thinking at Europe’s biggest airline, designed to boost earnings by cutting costs more steeply than fares.

At stake is Air France’s ability to defend European routes against further incursions from no-frills specialists led by Ryanair Holdings Plc, while combating an emerging discount challenge in lucrative long-haul markets. Joon represents the group’s second recent bid to slash costs after the first was dropped amid protests that saw managers attacked by staff.

Analysts say the company must get the new attempt right before oil prices rebound — or put at risk a resurgence in its business that led operating profit to jump 44 percent in the first nine months and the share price to double as French visitor numbers recover from a spate of terrorist attacks.

Less Benign

“Air France needs to improve its cost performance relative to competitors in order to thrive in an environment that may not be as benign as the one we have today,” said Andrew Lobbenberg, an aviation analyst at HSBC Holdings Plc in London. “That’s what Joon is about.”

The new unit, Air France’s fourth brand alongside the mainline carrier, short-haul unit Transavia and regional arm Hop!, will be based at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport and is set to commence flights on Friday.

It will initially serve Barcelona, Berlin, Lisbon and Porto before next year adding more far-flung destinations including the Seychelles and Fortaleza in Brazil, and has applied for U.S. flights. Further routes will include Rome, Naples and Oslo, plus Istanbul, Cairo and Tehran in the Middle East, and Cape Town in South Africa, Joon chief Jean Michel Mathieu said at a press briefing Thursday.

The operation will start with Airbus SE A320 narrow-body jets sourced from Air France. The first inter-continental services will be introduced with A340 wide-body models, with more-advanced A350 planes to be deployed from 2019. Current union agreements would limit the fleet to 28 aircraft.

Joon was borne out of a compromise by Air France-KLM Chief Executive Officer Jean-Marc Janaillac, who chose to develop it while backing away from the more overtly cut-price Transavia, which became the focus of clashes that made global headlines and forced out predecessor Alexandre de Juniac.

Where the Transavia plan sought significant concessions from pilots, Joon will pay them as much as Air France does — instead securing savings of 40 percent on cabin crew costs versus the mainline brand. That will reduce expenses by up to 18 percent overall.

Ticket prices won’t be in the bargain-basement range, with a one-way trip to Lisbon on Jan. 8 priced from 50 euros ($59), according to Joon’s website.

That’s cheaper than previously charged by Air France, which will vacate routes that Joon takes up, but still 8.74 euros more than the same journey with EasyJet Plc, Europe’s second-biggest discount carrier and a major force in the French market, and 11 euros higher than charged by Transavia, which will duplicate some of the new carrier’s services.

Hence the focus on cool (cabin crew will wear electric-blue polo shirts and white sneakers that resemble Adidas AG’s popular Stan Smiths) as Joon seeks to woo a clientele that’s price sensitive but which also, it hopes, puts a high value on technology and lifestyle requirements.

Viceland

Passengers will be able to stream movies and shows on their own devices, playing to the always-connected crowd while saving on the cost of screens. All seats will feature USB ports for charging and, from next year, free Wi-Fi.

Other perks will come at a price, among them checked luggage, programs from the Viceland and RedBullTV channels viewed via virtual-reality headsets, and the baobab juice. Joon will also offer a business-class service featuring extra space, as well as a premium-economy class on long-haul routes.

Franck Terner, who heads Air France, describes the new carrier as a laboratory for experiments in marketing and pricing, comparing its launch to that of Richard Branson’s mold-breaking Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. in the 1980s. Yet the response to an ad campaign that likens Joon to a trendy rooftop bar and fashion designer — before adding that it’s “also an airline” — has been less than positive. Critics on social media and elsewhere have accused it of patronizing younger travelers and misinterpreting their basic needs.

“What we care about are the same things that old people care about: cheap, reliable flights that have got no hidden costs,” humorist Paul Taylor said on “What’s Up France,” his Canal Plus TV show. “Maybe instead of trying to create a new condescending airline, try to fix the ones you already got.”

The challenge facing Joon took on a new dimension on Tuesday, when British Airways owner IAG SA revealed that it had chosen Paris as the second base for its Level discount arm. The carrier, which focuses on long-haul routes, will offer flights between the French capital and New York for 129 euros each way, and to Montreal, Guadeloupe and Martinique for 99 euros.

IAG CEO Willie Walsh said Joon was a “hybrid” rather than “a very low-cost operation,” adding: “I’m not sure what Air France is doing there.”

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Ania Nussbaum from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Australian Tourists in Bali Stranded by Volcanic Smoke Seek Help

Ketut Nataan  / Associated Press

On Monday, Nov. 27, 2017, a flight information board shows canceled flights due to smoke from Mount Agung at the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Indonesia. Ketut Nataan / Associated Press

Skift Take: As volcano Mount Agung continues to spew ash into the atmosphere and winds change direction regularly, the situation remains a fluid one for stranded travelers. But the long-term impact on Balinese tourism will probably be small.

— Sean O’Neill

Australia’s prime minister said Wednesday that he was discussing with his government how to help thousands of Australians stranded by volcanic smoke on the popular Indonesian resort island of Bali.

Australians account for more than one in four of the international tourists who flock to Bali, so ash spewing from Mount Agung that has grounded local aircraft has also created chaos at Australian airports.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull urged Australians who cannot leave Bali’s airport to contact the local Australian Consulate.

“I’ll be talking to the foreign minister (Julie Bishop) about how we can best support Australians who are caught up in Bali right now,” Turnbull told reporters. “We provide extensive support to Australians who are in trouble of one kind or another overseas and they should be in touch with the consulate in Bali.”

Australian travelers heading to and from Bali on Wednesday faced at least another day of disruption as airlines continued to monitor the ash cloud from the volcano. More than 440 flights to and from Bali have been canceled as a result of the ash cloud, leaving nearly 60,000 travelers from across the globe stranded on the island.

Jayson Westbury, chief executive of the Australian Federation of Travel Agents, predicted that Australian tourists would return to Bali in large numbers as soon as the smoke cleared.

Australians largely abandoned Bali for almost two years after bomb blasts in 2002 killed 202 people, including 88 Australians.

But Westbury said Australian travelers treat natural disasters differently than terrorist acts.

“Natural disasters that have occurred around the world have never really put Australians off returning to those destinations, and there have been plenty of them,” Westbury said.

“We tend to be a traveling people that like to go back and support as best and as fast we can,” he added, citing as a recent example disastrous flooding in Fiji.

But Australians might make alternative vacation plans over the looming Christmas-New Year period, Westbury said.

Bali is among Australians’ top three vacation destinations because it’s relatively cheap and relaxed, Westbury said.

Yohei Okamoto, a lecturer in tourism at Australia’s Murdoch University, agreed that Australians would see a volcanic eruption differently than a terrorist attack and would likely return to Bali soon.

“We have a long history of Bali as a favorite tourist destination,” Okamoto said.

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Ryan Wolkov

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Author: Ryan Wolkov

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