The Tactical Traveler
JOE BRANCATELLI'S BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR JULY 1 - JULY 14, 2005
Once More Without Feeling
- Northwest Airlines Tries to Break the Fare Cap Again
- Southwest Airlines Will Add Fort Myers to the Route Map
- Forget the Claims About America West and US Airways
- United Flight Attendants Say They're Free to Strike
- A New Batch of Luxury Hotels Opens Around the World
- Desperate Promotions From the Frequent-Travel Plans
- Should a Supreme Court Justice's Home Become a Hotel?
Northwest Airlines is taking another run at breaking Delta Air Lines' $499 one-way fare cap and killing SimpliFares. For the second time this month, Northwest on Tuesday (June 28) raised walk-up fares by $50 each way and imposed two-day advance purchase restrictions on prices that had previously required a one-day advance purchase. This is exactly the same ploy Northwest tried several weeks ago, only to back down when Delta and American Airlines refused to match. "While unsuccessful in the past, it is incumbent upon Northwest to rigorously pursue changes that will improve its revenue," marketing chief Tim Griffin told employees this week. Which raises the obvious question: If Northwest thinks it's so important to break the fare cap and add more onerous restrictions on fares, why back off just because other airlines won't match? Expect Northwest to bail on this attempt after the long holiday weekend if even one of its Big Six competitors won't match. After all, there are things that are "incumbent" and then there are things that take the courage of your convictions.
Southwest Is Headed to Fort Myers This Fall
Southwest Airlines said this week that it would add Fort Myers to the route map beginning in October. Schedules and fares will be disclosed in July.
The announcement comes as Fort Myers is due to open its new terminal on July 20. The 800,000-square-foot facility will have 28 gates and room to expand to 65 gates. The $438 million facility also includes a three-story parking garage. The existing terminal will be closed when the new facility opens.
The new Terminal D at Dallas/Fort Worth will also open in July.
American Airlines has moved the Admirals Club at Honolulu into space it now shares with Qantas Airways. The club is located on Level Three above Gate 26.
Yeah, Well, That Was Then, This is Now
Reality is setting in at America West concerning the merger with bankrupt US Airways. America West chief executive Doug Parker has been pitching the merger as a miracle of cost-saving synergies. But in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing this week, the carriers backed off the rosy predictions made as part of the merger announcement. The $600 million in revenue savings and new revenue opportunities the carriers touted "may be inaccurate," they admitted. And integrating the two workforces will be "costly, complex and time-consuming." In other words, these fools are making it up as they go along--again.
Oh, one other thing: The outside investors that the two carriers are depending on to fund the merged entity will end up with control of the airline. The investors will get 49 percent of the new company, up from the 41 percent suggested in the merger announcement. America West's share of the new airline will be reduced to 39 percent; it was originally supposed to be 45 percent. US Airways creditors will get the remaining 12 percent.
The Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp. has officially assumed the pension plan of the flight attendants of bankrupt United Airlines. The flight attendants say the move breaches their contract and leaves them free to strike or engage in targeted work stoppages and flight disruptions. In other words, it could be another ugly summer for United Airlines passengers.
Varig, which has been hobbled by debt and management disarray for almost 20 years, has filed for the Brazilian equivalent of bankruptcy. The procedure gives the carrier six months of protection from its creditors.
Get Out Your Luxury-Hotel Scorecard
The hotel business is booming, so it should come as no surprise that hotels at the upper and deluxe levels are straining to get their new properties open. Here's what's new this week.
Conrad, the luxury division of Hilton, has opened a 290-room hotel in Tokyo. The hotel, in the Shiodome district adjacent to the Hamarikyu Garden, also houses the first Gordon Ramsey restaurant in Japan.
Crowne Plaza is now managing a 184-room hotel in Guatemala City. The property has a swimming pool and sports bar and all rooms feature WiFi Internet access.
Le Meridien has opened a 45-story hotel in the new Dubai Marina section of Dubai. The property has 217 guestrooms, 205 apartments and 11 floors of concierge-level lodgings.
InterContinental has opened a 332-room hotel in Beijing's Financial Street district.
After a $33 million renovation, the former Hilton hotel on Daytona Beach has reopened as The Shores Resort & Spa.
Hyatt says the Park Hyatt Washington will close on August 1 and reopen next year after a $24 millionrenovation.
Desperation Is the Mother of Invention
Locked in a brutal battle with United Airlines at their shared Denver hub and lacking glamour destinations like Hawaii and Europe in its frequent-flyer program, Frontier Airlines has a new angle: merchandise. The airline launched the MoreStore this week to allow elite members of the Frontier Early Returns program to use miles to bid on or buy merchandise, hotel stays, sports equipment and restaurant meals.
Jameson Inn, a chain of about 120 mid-level hotels in the South and Midwest, has cut through all the treacle and is launching the Jameson Stock Awards frequency program. In short, members of the program receive 10 percent of the room rate as a credit that can be used to purchase Jameson Inn stock.
American Airlines has been inventing all kinds of nickel-and-dime methods to beat a couple of extra bucks from its best customers. The newest ploy: a reactivation program to recover expired American AAdvantage miles. For the honor of retrieving miles that American took from you in the first place, you'll pay a penny a mile and a $30 processing fee.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Alaska Airlines will link Anchorage and Dallas/Fort Worth beginning July 19 with new flights that operate on the Anchorage-Seattle-DFW route. Two daily Boeing 737 flights will fly nonstop between Alaska's Seattle hub and DFW. A third daily flight will continue on to Anchorage.
Midwest Airlines launches service from its Milwaukee hub to Houston/Hobby on July 10 with two weekday roundtrips and three weekend roundtrips. Boeing 717s configured with 88 seats will be used on the route.
XM Satellite Radio will offer 55 hours of Live-8 coverage on July 2. It will dedicate a channel to each venue: London (XM41), Philadelphia (XM42), Berlin (XM43), Rome (XM44), Paris (XM45) and Toronto (XM46).
Chicago bans driving and using mobile phones without hands-free devices beginning on July 8.
How About a Motel 6 at Chief Justice Rehnquist's House?
Apparently the only people not shocked by the Supreme Court decision last week to allow "eminent domain" seizures for private developments were the Supreme Court Justices themselves. The decision has enraged liberals, conservatives, the rich, the poor and just about everyone else. And one right-wing media activist, Logan Darrow Clements, is bringing his ire to Weare, New Hampshire, where Justice David Souter owns a farmhouse. According to an Associated Press story, Clements has faxed officials in Weare a proposal to seize Souter's property and build the Lost Liberty Hotel. "The justification for such an eminent domain action is that our hotel will better serve the public interest as it will bring in economic development and higher tax revenue to Weare," Clements wrote.
Copyright © 1993-2005 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.