Agents call for guidance in light of terror hiatus

Event agents are circumspect about the impact on the industry of August’s airline terror alerts, and have highlighted the need for clearer first-hand information and closer client management in the wake of new security restrictions. The anti-terror operation on 10 August resulted in the British Airports Authority (BAA) cancelling 900 out of more than 3,000 scheduled flights from its seven UK airports and implementing a ban on hand luggage that has since been lightened to one item per passenger. Kent-based agency Olliver York had a group of ten scientists flying from Gatwick to Bologna on 11 August. As well as marginal delays to their journey, luggage did not arrive in Italy for 24 hours and a delegate’s mobile phone was reported missing on arrival. “Ground staff seem to be making up the rules as they go along,” said managing director Jo Olliver. “It is likely to revert back to normal soon, but in the meantime there needs to be consistent information on check-in times and baggage restrictions so that we can advise clients and make plans.” Travel Impact account director Caroline Staveley took a group on a site visit to Malta four days after the security alert. “We had to adhere to the new check-in regulations and are working closely with clients and BAA to ensure we keep them up-to-date on the latest in check-in arrangements, particularly in view of a busy September schedule,” she said. Staveley added that the threats would have a very limited effect on group travel. “People won’t stop flying to new destinations, but transatlantic travel may suffer.” Daniel Bainbridge, new C&I account manager for British Airways concurred with this view. “People may be thinking more about travelling to the US, but the key thing was that nothing happened,” he said. “Had there been fallout from 10 August we could be seeing a far worse impact.”

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