The Tactical Traveler
JOE BRANCATELLI'S BUSINESS-TRAVEL
BRIEFING FOR SEPTEMBER 8 - 22, 2005
Meanwhile, Through the Looking Glass…
- United Airlines Files a Fuelish Bankruptcy-Exit Plan
- Delta Air Lines Slashes Service 26% at its Cincinnati Hub
- Commercial Flights Resume at Gulfport/Biloxi
- Fort Myers Tries Again to Open Its New Terminal
- More Flights Are on Tap to India and the Middle East
- Another Round of Hotel Openings and Reflaggings
- Air Canada Cuts Its Free-Baggage Limit to 50 Pounds
After 33 months in bankruptcy, United Airlines finally filed it first actual plan of reorganization this week. The plan calls for the reconstituted carrier to emerge from bankruptcy on February 1, 2006. (The airline originally predicted its stay in Chapter 11 was going to be just 18 months.) After a $3.6 billion net loss this year, the airline claims it will earn an operating profit of $916 million in 2006, $1 billion in 2007 and $1.76 billion by 2010. (United has lost more than $10 billion since the second half of 2000.) Oh, one other thing: The whole plan is predicated on United buying oil at $50 a barrel. United's crack management team apparently hasn't noticed that oil prices spiked at about $71 a barrel last week and closed today at $64.49.
Delta Slashes and Burns in Cincinnati
Delta Air Lines has already turned its Cincinnati operation into the hub of the damned--oops, I mean, a primarily regional-jet (RJ) hub. But now even that is on the chopping block. Effective December 1, Delta is cutting capacity in Cincinnati by 26 percent, dropping to 442 daily flights from the current 599 daily flights. Only 94 of those remaining flights will actually be operated by Delta; the rest of the flights will be Delta Connection RJ service. Gone will be nonstop flights to Baton Rouge; Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama; Tallahassee, Pensacola, Fort Walton and Daytona, Florida; Moline, Illinois; and Islip, New York. … Commercial service has resumed at Gulfport-Biloxi, an airport that was hard hit by Hurricane Katrina. Northwest Airlines is now flying two daily flights from Memphis. Delta Connection flights resume Sunday (September 11). AirTran Airways restarts service from Atlanta on Tuesday. Continental Airlines and Delta flights are expected to resume on September 20. … If at first you don't succeed, reschedule the opening. The new terminal at Fort Myers is now supposed to open tomorrow (September 9). The mid-field facility failed to open on June 22 and then missed the July 20 fallback date. Check your airline to see where tomorrow's Fort Myers flights might be located.
Finally, More Service to India and the Middle East
Two areas that desperately need more direct flights from the United States, India and the Middle East, will actually get a nice service bump this fall. … Continental Airlines and American Airlines, for example, are both jumping into the India market for the first time. Continental's daily service to Delhi from its Newark hub begins on November 1. American's flights to Delhi from its Chicago/O'Hare hub begin 15 days later. Both carriers are offering introductory fares of $998-$1,098 roundtrip if you buy tickets by Monday. … Meanwhile, Northwest Airlines will add daily flights to Bangalore from Amsterdam. The service begins October 30. Northwest already flies from Amsterdam to Mumbai. And while Air Canada drops its nonstop Toronto-Delhi service on October 29, it launches Toronto-Zurich-Delhi flights the next day. … In the Middle East, Kuwait Airways is slated to add a second weekly nonstop between New York/Kennedy and Kuwait City on November 1. The carrier also operates four weekly New York-Kuwait City flights via Europe. … And Emirates will add a second daily JFK-Dubai nonstop on November 7. The carrier has shelved plans to fly nonstop to Dubai from San Francisco.
What's New, What's Closing and Who's Changing Flags
A 259-room Renaissance has opened in Birmingham, along the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The resort and the golf trail are owned by the Retirement System of Alabama (RSA), which is run by David Bronner. You'll remember that Bronner gambled about $250 million of RSA funds on US Airways. He got the title of chairman, but lost all of RSA's equity in the current US Airways bankruptcy. … The Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong will close on December 26 for the start of a $110 million renovation. The hotel will be closed until at least next April. But Mandarin has just opened the 113-room Landmark Mandarin Oriental around the corner from the existing hotel. The new property occupies 15 floors of a renovated office building. … The resurgent district around London's Paddington Station, the terminus of the high-speed Heathrow Airport Express, has a new hotel. The 85-room Quality Crown Hotel is a renovation of a down-market property that is just two blocks from the station. … The old Waikiki Parkside hotel on Ala Moana Boulevard, across from the Hilton Hawaiian Village, has reopened after a renovation as the 260-room Aqua Palms. And the Waikiki Beachcomber has become part of Ohana, a lower-priced brand operated by Outrigger of Hawaii. … The Holiday Inn on the Königsallee in Düsseldorf has been reflagged as the Intercontinental Düsseldorf.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Two small signs of normalcy after 9/11: Air Canada will begin using metal knives with rounded tips on transborder flights beginning September 15. And the Transportation Security Administration now allows ostomy scissors with pointed tips aboard planes if the scissors are less than four inches long and if they are part of an ostomate supply kit. … Speaking of Air Canada, it has joined several U.S. carriers in reducing its free-baggage allowance. The airline now caps bags at 50 pounds (23kg) each. Bags that weigh up to 70 pounds, the old free limit, will cost C$35 on North American flights and C$60 for international travel. The new limit goes into effect on October 12. … The Palmer House, the iconic but somewhat shabby landmark in Chicago, has been sold for $230 million. Hilton Hotels has sold it to an investment firm, which pledges to put more than $100 million into a renovation. Hilton will continue to manage the 130-year-old property.
Copyright © 1993-2005 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.