Wednesday, December 30, 2009

China Says It Has World's Fastest Train

China has unveiled what it says is the world's fastest rail link in the world, a train connecting the cities of Guangzhou and Wuhan, with an average speed of 217 miles per hour. The super-high-speed train reduces the 1,069 km journey to a three hour ride and cuts the previous journey time by more than seven and a half hours. Work on the project began in 2005 as part of plans to expand a high-speed network aimed at eventually linking the business hub of Guangzhou with Beijing. Test runs for the service began earlier in December and the link officially went into service last Saturday. Beijing has an ambitious rail development program aimed at increasing the national network from the current 86,000 km to 120,000km, making it the most extensive rail system outside the US.
ARTA E-NEWS FOR December 29, 2009

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

USA: Internet travel agents sue New York City over hotel room occupancy tax

A group of major Internet travel firms as well as the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA) filed a law suit against New York City to stop the extension of a hotel tax on their clients. They allege that the law extending the city's hotel room occupancy tax to "third-party travel intermediaries" is "unconstitutional and illegal" as the city "has no inherent power to tax."

Source:, find article here>>.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

India faces protests against tigthened visa rules

Indian government in Delhi introduced rules barring tourists from returning to the country within two months of any visit. Both, U.K. and the US have lodged a diplomatic protest.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

USA: new DOT rule limits airline tarmac delays

Under a new rule the U.S. Department of Transportation will limit airline tarmac delays to three hours after which U.S. airlines must allow passengers to deplane. Airlines also must provide adequate food and water for passengers within two hours of a plane being delayed on a tarmac and maintain operable lavatories and must provide medical attention when necessary. .

The new rule will become effective in April and applies to domestic flights only. The rule may be obtained on the Internet at, docket DOT-OST-2007-0022.

Source: DOT press release; find full text here>>.

Monday, December 21, 2009

German Supreme Court: No exclusive "forum rei sitae" in dispute over membership in timesharing association

Plaintiff, an Austrian timesharing association, sued a German member for annual maintenance fees which were due according to the bylaws. Courts of first and second instance (AG Oranienburg/Brandenburgisches OLG) dismissed the claim because of lacking international jurisdiction of German courts.

Upon further appeal of plaintiff, BGH held that membership in a timesharing association was not closely enough connected to the use of real estate property to constitute exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of the Member State in which the property is situated as provided by Art. 22 of the Brussels I Regulation (44/2001/EC): the member's rights and obligations would go beyond the mere right to use of some real estate property. Membership in teh association therefore could not be compared with a tenancy contract. Supreme Court assigned the court of second instance with further proceedings and decision.

Source: BGH press release re case VII ZR 119/08, available in German here>>.

Germany: No Supreme Court decision on compensation for discontinued flight

Plaintiffs had booked a flight from Frankfurt to the Maldives with a stopover in the United Arab Emirates. When they landed in the Emirates the flight was discontinued and they were re-routed and arrived at the Maldives with a delay of more than 30 hrs. The claimed for compensation under Reg. 261/2004. As both first instance (AG Rüsselsheim) and second instance (LG Darmstadt) dismissed the claim they filed a further appeal to German Supreme Court (BGH) in which they explicitly referred to the ECJ's most recent decision in cases C-402/07 - Sturgeon/Condor and C-432/07 - Böck u. Lepuschitz/Air France (see related news item).

However, before scheduled date of Supreme Court's decison the claim was settled!

Source: BGH press release re cases Xa ZR 72/09 and 86/09; text available in German here>>.

Friday, December 18, 2009

UK: High Court blocks British Airways strike

The UK High Court has blocked a 12-day Christmas walkout by British Airways cabin crew after ruling that the strike ballot was illegal. The high court granted BA's request for an injunction against the strike after around 900 cabin crew were balloted despite taking voluntary redundancy. Mrs Justice Cox ruled that the balloting error breached the 1992 Trade Union Act.

The decision means nearly a million BA passengers can complete their journeys as planned over Christmas unless there are wildcat walkouts by the 12,700 cabin crew who supported industrial action.

Source: eTurboNews; find article here>>.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Scotland: airline bankruptcy leaves thousands of passengers stranded

The demise of Scottish carrier Flyglobespan leaves about 4,000 passengers stranded abroad. Around 1,300 people were due to fly tomorrow. The accounting firm brought in to take control of the failed airline, told passengers to stay at home and warned that the Civil Aviation Authority was only responsible for financially bailing out 1,000 people who have booked package holidays.

Source: The Guardian; find article here>>.

UNWTO: New Travel & Tourism Climate Initiative launched in Copenhagen

"Live the Deal", an innovative, global campaign to help travel companies and destinations respond to Climate Change, reduce their carbon footprint and move to the Green Economy, was launched this week during the Copenhagen Climate Summit. Announcing the new initiative, long time green tourism campaigner Geoffrey Lipman UNWTO Assistant Secretary-General said: “What Copenhagen represents is a new commitment by the world community towards sustainable low carbon growth patterns. The targets and mitigation actions that countries develop and negotiate through this process will be a new base for travel industry action. What we are providing is a very simple way to get behind the evolving government initiatives, to keep pace with changing patterns and to demonstrate that our sector is acting, not simply talking.” He added ”We should not be ashamed to promote the growth of smart travel – clean green, ethical and quality - it’s the lifeblood of trade, commerce and human connection”.

“Live the Deal” follows the pattern established in the UN led Copenhagen Seal the Deal campaign by its single minded focus, its simplicity and its broad based engagement goals. It will seek to encourage the sector directly and through representative organizations.

Source: UNWTO press release; find full text here>>.

Monday, December 07, 2009

ITB World Travel Trends Report predicts worldwide increase in airline ticket prices

According to the ITB World Travel Trends Report, commissioned by the world’s leading travel trade show and compiled by the consultancy IPK International, a short- to mid-term rise in the price of airline tickets is to be expected worldwide. The ITB World Travel Trends Report states that in order to become profitable again, airlines will have to significantly adjust their ticket prices. The findings are based on the assessments of 60 tourism experts from 30 countries.

Source:; find article here>>.

ITB World Travel Trends Report 2009 available for download as pdf here>>.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Caribbean: quiet hurricane season

The six-month hurricane season that ended Nov. 30 saw only nine named storms formed in the Atlantic and for the first time in three years, no hurricane struck the U.S. mainland or a Caribbean island.

Source: Travel Weekly; find article here>>.

USA: DOT ruling against airline pricing mistakes

British Airways last month published an unusually low fare from the United States to India. The base was $40 round trip. Although BA doesn't include its $370 fuel surcharge in that amount but passes it on as a "tax" rather than as part of the ticket price, and the actual taxes were an additional $150, the total $560 was still several hundred dollars less than a regular advance-purchase fare to India.

The fare stayed on the market only for one day, but that was enough time for hundreds of tickets to be purchased. Three days later, BA unilaterally canceled all those tickets because a mistake had been made.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) said it conducted a full investigation over the cause, magnitude and consequences of this incident and determined that BA's unilateral cancellation had caused financial harm to a large number of consumers.

The Department ruled that British Airways should compensate affected consumers - which BA agreed to do - but refused to force British Airways to restore the canceled tickets.

Sources: The Washington Times; DOT press release 183-09