01 September 1998

BRITISH AIRWAYS-owned loyalty scheme Air Miles celebrated its tenth birthday in November and announced plans to expand into selling holidays via its website. Explained managing director Alan Deller: 'We already sell travel over the phone. For example, if someone wants to buy two seats on a flight and only has enough miles for one, we will take cash for the extra ticket. But we want to do more than just that. We want to be able to target customers who like Italy and tell them when we have special offers on flights to Rome.' The website already enables collectors to check their account balances and flight availability online, but from next May Air Miles will offer extra services, accepting bookings and payments online. The company is already recruiting staff with travel retailing experience but will face stiff competition from two US giants, both of which have launched UK online travel services in the last month or so - Microsoft’s Expedia and Sabre, the dominant force in global airline reservations. The latter claims to sell £600m-worth of travel every month via its US site, while Expedia’s Stateside site has a weekly turnover of £4.2m.