Bits: British Airways is paid £125,000 per month to fly to Newquay, 400 Travelodge hotels likely to rebrand as Ibis

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News in brief:

British Airways is paid £125,000 per month to fly to Newquay

British Airways was recently awarded the UK Government-subsidised contract to operate flights between London and Cornwall Newquay Airport.  The service finally began last week after various delays.  It had previously been operated by Flybe until the airline went into receivership.

The details of the contract have now been publishedBritish Airways submitted the only compliant bid and, as such, has struck a great deal.

It is being paid £878,000 to operate flights for a seven month period.  Given that there are only three flights per week at present, increasing to seven per week from September, this is a very attractive deal.  Once at full capacity, British Airways is receiving (£878,000 / 7 / 31) £4,046 per return flight.  It gets to keep the money from ticket sales on top.

Given the short flight time and the reduced loads likely on other short haul routes once the Summer holiday period is over, it is possible that Newquay will become the most profitable British Airways short haul route this Winter.

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400 Travelodge hotels likely to be rebranded as Ibis

Last month we ran a long piece about the troubles at Travelodge.

You can read our story about the Travelodge rebranding and financial crisis here.  To summarise, the (hedge fund) owners of Travelodge had put the business through a Company Voluntary Arrangement to allow it to restructure its debts.  The complex way that CVAs are structured meant that the landlords of the hotels could not block it even though their rent was being cut without their consent.

The landlords did, however, force a break clause into their lease contracts.  The owners of 400 hotels formed the Travelodge Owners Action Group in an attempt to negotiate a bulk move to a new group.

According to The Caterer, Accor has been selected as their preferred partner going forward.  If a deal can be finalised, the 400 hotels will rebrand under Accor’s budget Ibis brand.  Accor will pay the costs of rebranding, whilst a new operating company – jointly owned by the hotel owners – will take over the hotel leases.  Landlords will be guaranteed, at a minimum, the rent they were receiving from Travelodge prior to the CVA taking place, as well as a share of the profits.  Other non-Travelodge hotel owners will be able to become part of the operating company if they wish.

Separately, The Times reported that the owners of 80 Travelodge hotels who are not part of the Travelodge Owners Action Group are planning to start a new brand called Goodnight Hotels.

If both of these moves comes to fruition, Travelodge will be left with under 100 UK hotels.  The owners may decide to throw in the towel at this stage, potentially pushing the rump into receivership.

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Comments

  1. Got £54 travelodge voucher – – need to use it up quickly. 🤔

  2. Do you mean ‘budget Ibis’ (as written) or ‘Ibis Budget’ (the brand)? Quite a difference in practice – I’d suggest a mix of the two would be most appropriate given the particular hotels concerned, but will be interesting to see how strict Accor is with the branding rules. I’m guessing you’re too snobby actually to have stayed at an Ibis Budget, but they’re actually not too bad – consistent family rooms, clever design of space, often decent price for French cities.

    • Worzel says:

      Forming an opinion on guesswork isn’t wise.

    • MattB says:

      Stayed in plenty of Ibis and Ibis Styles in 2016 travelling round France for the Euros. Always spotlessly clean, nice lounge areas and very well priced probably because they were everywhere. In Paris in particular seemed to be on every street.

      • Lady London says:

        IBIS Budget is considerably worse in quality than IBIS or IBIS Styles.

        Originally they were ETAP Hotels. This is basically Formule1 hotels with a molded plastic shower/loo cubicle in the room, instead of shared down the corridor.

        I have found my very few IBIS Budget stays to be depressing experiences. I doubt I will stay in them if they’re adding in the Travelodges with falling-apart buildings and poor maintenance. Possibly some newer Travelodges or Travelodge Plus might make it into IBIS/IBIS Styles territory but those are very, very few.

        I’m impressed with the organisation of the 400 hotels that got themselves out of Travelodge though.

        • Lady London says:

          PS IBIS Budget hotels also dont earn or spend Accor points, like Formula1 hotels they are excluded

    • Some reports are using the phrase “Ibis family” which suggests that they will be using a mix of the brands.

      Splitting the hotels between Ibis and Ibis Budget (with a few Styles) brands does make sense as it will avoid confusion between the vending and cafe bar sites.

  3. Alex W says:

    Uuugh Ibis, can’t think of a worse brand it could have been. Worse than Travelodge.

    • Matthew says:

      I don’t think there are many brands worse than travelodge, maybe Brittannia Hotels, but Travelodge are pretty dire. Zero customer service, poor quality everything. Stopped using them years ago. Also whilst many rave about Premier Inn, they too are too full of their own self Hype, and waiting for a fall too.

      • Chrisasaurus says:

        Wel crucially Premier Inn are full of paying guests, so….

      • We stayed in a Travelodge in Stowmarket who told us they were mostly full form the day hotels were allowed to reopen
        This implies many people are perfectly happy with the Cost/value ratio
        For what its worth our family stay quite often and have never experienced bad service

    • Peter K says:

      Britannia Hotels?

      • Alex W says:

        Fair one! I was hoping for more holiday inns or hamptons, perhaps even that was too optimistic.

    • ChrisC says:

      Sometimes hotel owners don’t have a choice and it was either muck in with Accor/All or fend for themselves.

    • Nick_C says:

      I’ve only once stayed at an Ibis, and that was in Hong Kong. Surprisingly good. Modern. Clean. Pleasant staff. Good breakfast. Perhaps that was not typical though!

      • We stayed at an Ibis in Milan – being Milan it was pretty chic though!

      • Doug M says:

        Stayed in lots of Ibis places in France, always clean and fine for what they are. The ones I’ve been to are identical once inside, you couldn’t tell which one you were in. The bathrooms look like they’re delivered complete and just fixed in. In my experience always well priced when events are on, unlike so many others. I think it’s Ibis (well Accor) that like dual properties? I remember a specific one in Caen that was an Ibis to the left and a Mercure to the right, the bar between them was called Bar Le Between. Being Caen they got a lot of UK/US visitors 🙂

  4. Scott says:

    I’ve stayed in the Ibis Budget at Salford Quays (Manchester) a few times (Marriott next door if that’s more your scene, and a HIX 250m away)
    Usually £29-£39 a night + parking (although can jump to nearer £80 on match / concert days), and a lot of the time it’s half the price of other hotels, and the location is good for the tram, city centre, Old Trafford, few shops up the road etc.

    It’s a bed for the night, shower and toilet and that pretty much is all I need. Pretty much a single hostel room.
    Generally clean and quiet, no power points next to the bed unfortunately, no kettle etc.
    Small TV with Freeview up to a point.
    Beds are comfy.

    I’ve stayed in everything from cheap hostels to posh hotels and they’ve all got their pros and cons.
    Just because something is cheap or expensive, doesn’t make it good or bad.
    Some hotels costing ££££ are soulless, charge £££ for everything under the sun, are nowhere near anything, 99% of their services I don’t need i.e. saunas, beauty parlours, restaurants, bars etc.

    Even survived the Travelodge at LHR (Hounslow). Basic, but I was in at 10pm, out by 5am, so wasn’t going to pay 2-3x more for a room in a hotel with features I was never going to use.
    No Hoppa bus either 🙂

    • Harry T says:

      Agree, the key discriminator is the value you derive from a hotel stay. I’ve been perfectly happy staying at Ibis or HIX when the location has been ideal, and my time in the hotel limited. Some of the newer HIX hotels are actually pretty sharp looking too – the new one on Flinders in Melbourne was surprisingly fresh.

      Sometimes you just need a bed and somewhere to store your stuff. Sometimes you want all the amenities of a truly luxury hotel – you are right in saying that some higher end hotels nickel and dime, representing poor value.

      • Harry T says:

        My only Ibis stay was courtesy of KLM, at Schiphol airport. Room the size of a shoe box but comfy bed and clean.

      • Andy Davies says:

        I’ll quite often choose HIX when away solo on business, in the UK many of the HIXs are in better shape than the local HI too

        They could improve the HIX breakfast though

    • Matthew says:

      Totally agree. On a long drive from say Madrid to Germany to UK, a simple clean room, bed shower etc. Job done, and you don’t need/have time for any of the extra services. If you are on holiday then it is different.

  5. What’s the reason for subsidising that route? If there were no flight option, would people otherwise not use the frequent trains (or sleeper train) and hence Cornish tourism would lose out?

  6. Any idea if the staff will transfer over as a going concern TUPE style or will they start from scratch, I have a friend who is a Travelodge Manager, looks ad though if he’s left with Travelodge he’s out of a job!

    • Sam G says:

      Hotel staff would transfer over. HQ would be impacted but I can imagine the OpCo would be looking to do something rather than have to start from scratch, especially if Travelodge did go into receivership

  7. Secret Squirrel says:

    BA are kidding themselves if they think the NQY will ever fly anywhere near full capacity. I used to frequent this route via Flybe and it was lucky to be half full on the busiest days. I can see this route folding after the contract finishes unfortunately.

    • Andrew says:

      With the Q400, surely that was good fortune indeed to have a half filled plane? You might get somewhere to put your 55x35x20 hand luggage (if it managed to squeeze into the 54x34x19 cage at the gate).

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Yes, you’ve been there and done that then. To be fair, at NQY Flybe desk they never checked my hand luggage size.

    • Chrisasaurus says:

      On which basis I would hazard the contract will be renewed…

      There’s be no need for the subsidy if it were commercially viable on it’s own ergo it must have strategic value to the south west – hence the contract…

      • Secret Squirrel says:

        Depends if the Govt have tightened the belt on spending by next year contract renewal.

  8. £2k per flight doesn’t seem much at all.

    • Remember that cash tickets sold include APD and landing charges – let’s say they add up to £25 each way.

      £2,000 per flight is therefore the same as selling 80 x £50 one-way seats for cash, as BA only sees £25 of that money.

      • ChrisC says:

        Newquay Is one of the APD exempt airports though.

        Just did a dummy return booking and APD not mentioned in the fare breakdown for the flights to/from LHR (but it is charged if you connect onto somewhere else)

  9. Colin says:

    I’ve never been to Newquay but my friend who worked on the beach for a few years in the summer selling spades etc said it was full of fat scousers wanting to fight each other. Can anyone confirm or refute that as that was just one person’s experience.

    • It does have that image. However, you need to remember that the airport is south of the town and not very far from lots of other places, even those on the south coast such as St Mawes.

    • Anglesey has been the new Newquay for the past few years!

      • I’ve been going there all my life but since Wills did his posting at RAF Valley we have noticed a distinct increase in visitors in Range Rovers and Hunter wellies, and also a Waitrose opened!

    • Secret Squirrel says:

      Newquay as a town is not so nice, however it has an amazing beach.
      Other very nice towns are within a short drive from NQY such as Padstow etc.
      Hire car stand at the airport in departures and an infrequent bus route.

      • Steve says:

        I presume the best idea is fly into Newquay but don’t visit the Newquay beach or town, and instead hire a car and explore other (quieter) beaches?

        If that was to be the plan…. What beaches / towns would people recommended, off the beaten path etc?
        (the irony of asking this on a public forum is not lost on me!)

        • We’re going down to St Mawes over the Bank Holiday, which just got voted best seaside resort in Britain – https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/jul/18/st-mawes-named-uks-top-seaside-resort-in-which-poll

          Modest drive from Newquay, potentially under 50 minutes out of hours despite being on the south coast.

          • Michael C says:

            Was there 2 weeks ago, Rob – fabulous.
            Also did mandatory trip to Hidden Hut up the road.

            Staying in Mousehole was a highlight: Cormorant Cruising fab cheap/easy boat-trip with kids if you fancy followed by great food at Fore Street.

        • Navara says:

          Try Carbis Bay stay at Whitesails apartment, nice walk or train into St Ives or a drive to Porthleven and a 5 mile walk on the beach to the Halzefron Inn at Gunwalloe then a Taxi back.

          • Paul Pogba says:

            That’s quite the walk. The Covid menu at the Hazelphron isn’t great at the moment, feels a bit microwaved.

          • Navara says:

            @Paul Pogba It is quite a walk that’s why I get a taxi back.I usually have the ploughman’s so hopefully that won’t be microwaved.

        • Steve says:

          Great ideas all, sounds like an itinerary is building!

        • Michael C says:

          As SS says, Newquay town is not lovely, but actually a good base as so near so many places.
          A good half dozen very good beaches, especially Tolcarne (dog-free, for those interested!).
          Best food found at Fistral Fish House – gorgeous setting, v reasonable prices, but DO book: even in July they were booked solid for next 13 days.

  10. Nate1309 says:

    I dispute all derogatory comments about Newquay. It’s my home town and it has really cleaned up it’s act the last few years.

    However I can here to say typing NQY into the BA search returns “sorry we do not recognise newquay cornwall airport”

  11. Lady London says:

    @Shoestring will be delighted if he’s still flying

    • I’m guessing the pussycat virus has had an impact on Shoestring’s life…

      • He’s probably still holed up in that villa he purchased off a tv personality? With bags of lockdown rice.

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