This week: Expect big discounts now that the Caribbean off season has begun; the new Canada 3000 gets off to a rough start; dead airlines live on the web; Qantas wants to buy out a low-fare Australian competitor; airlines continue shuffling their international routes; and much more.
COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: 'Tis the Season for Caribbean Discounting
The Caribbean's off season officially began on May 1 and that means discounts of 30-50 percent off the peak-season prices charged by the region's major hotels and resorts. Also popular in the low season: package rates that may offer excellent perks and useful amenities. How do you get the best rates? Negotiate hard--it's a buyers market in the summer--and inquire about the components of any value-added packages before booking any accommodations during the summer.
ALTERNATE ITINERARY: Our Weekly Look at America's Other Carriers
Canada 3000 got off to a rough start this week as it integrated its flights and schedules with CanJet and Royal, the two other low-fare carriers it purchased. Callers to the airline's reservation centers were kept on hold as long as 45 minutes on launch day, May 1. … Two alternate carriers have been unceremoniously booted from frequent-flyer alliances with major competitors. Midway Airlines was thrown out of American AAdvantage after the larger carrier got into a spat with its pilots. Beginning May 1, however, Midway is now a partner in Continental OnePass and Northwest WorldPerks. Meanwhile, the aforementioned Canada 3000 has signed up with American AAdvantage after Air Canada refused to allow the newly reconfigured carrier to remain in Aeroplan.
CONNECTIONS: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport last week opened its new Terminal One. At least four carriers--Continental, Northwest, America West and JetBlue--will use the $114 million facility, which offers a moving sidewalk to carry travelers to a new parking garage. … Hyatt has opened a hotel in Cleveland. The 293-room Hyatt Regency is located in the Old Cleveland Arcade, a 111-year-old downtown landmark that has been restored after decades of decay. … The United-US Airways merger remains in regulatory and financial limbo almost a year after it was announced last May 24. United now admits it does not expect regulatory approval before the beginning of summer. Perhaps even more ominous, US Airways stock is now selling at around $28 a share, near its 52-week low and less than half the $60 United agreed to pay.
CYBERTRAVELER: The Ghosts of Airlines Past
If you just can't shake the ghosts of the airlines you used to fly, then peck around the web. You'll be surprised at how many dead carriers live on in cyberspace. For example, the storied history of the original Pan Am is partially chronicled at the Pan American Heritage Site (http://www.panam.org). Pacific Southwest Airlines, the much-lamented West Coast carrier with the smiles painted on the nose of its aircraft, is memorialized at Catch Our Smile (http://www.catchoursmile.com). The original Ozark Airlines, which was swallowed up by TWA in the 1980s, is eulogized at an Ozark site (http://www.ozarkairlines.com).
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: It's Getting Nutty Down Under
The chaos in the Australia-New Zealand market we covered in last week's column has taken another nutty turn: Qantas has entered into an agreement to essentially buy out Impulse, one of its low-fare domestic competitors. According to the deal announced Tuesday, Impulse would stop flying under its own logo and begin operating as a low-fare subsidiary of Qantas. However, the deal requires regulatory approval and has already drawn fire from Virgin Blue, another low-fare competitor, and Ansett, which has gotten most of its fleet of 767s back in the skies. Ansett, in fact, said it would pursue its own discussions with Impulse. "We'll also be fighting the Qantas bid for [domestic] market dominance before the regulators and in the courts," said an agitated Gary Toomey, chief executive of Ansett.
INTERNATIONAL AGENDA: Flights Come, Go and Stay
Coming: Delta Air Lines beefs up its Middle East service next month with new flights from its New York/Kennedy hub to Tel Aviv, Cairo and Dubai. Tel Aviv flights begin June 1 and will be daily; the Cairo and Dubai flights will operate three times weekly beginning June 16. … Going: American Airlines says it will drop two routes--Los Angeles-Paris and Chicago-Rome--on November 1. … Staying: The retrenchment of El Al due to the decline of traffic to Israel will not affect the airline's American service after all. The carrier now says it will retain all of its North American routes, including flights to Tel Aviv from New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Toronto.
THE WEEKLY WONDER: Oh, to Be in England (or Scotland)
BMI British Midland (800-788-0555) launches transatlantic service this spring. Flights to Manchester from Washington/Dulles begin May 12 and Chicago/O'Hare service launches on June 8. The introductory roundtrip fare: as low as $399 a person. Better yet, that fare covers connecting flights from Manchester to three of British Midland's destinations in Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. The restrictions: Tickets must be purchased by May 21, travel must begin by June 30 and a Saturday-night stay is required.