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 The Tactical Traveler

joe JOE BRANCATELLI'S
BUSINESS-TRAVEL BRIEFING
FOR JANUARY 18 TO FEBRUARY 1, 2007
So Long! Farewell! Auf Wiedersehen! Goodbye!
A convergence of bad ideas and bad execution is leading airlines to drop or scale back on a variety of important and notable routes. Over at United Airlines, for example, Florida flights are taking a big hit. Despite huge financial incentives and free rent from Daytona Beach airport, United is pulling commuter flights to its Chicago/O'Hare and Washington/Dulles hubs. The Daytona service ends on April 9 after only about a year of operation. United is likely to cut in Miami later in April, too. Most of the airline's Airbus flights to its Denver, Chicago and Dulles hubs will be converted to commuter service, effectively slashing capacity by about 50 percent. Meanwhile, American Airlines continues to, um, cut and run at Dallas/Love Field, where it has been fielding flights to harass Southwest Airlines. Beginning April 10, all of American's Love-based service will be commuter flights, thus ending American's ability to claim it offers a first-class alternative to Southwest's flights to San Antonio, Austin, St. Louis and Kansas City. Also notable: With no advance notice, Maxjet this week dumped its all-business-class flights from Washington to London/Stansted. Maxjet says the flights will return in late May, but don't hold your breath. Finally, this cutback: Thai Airways is dropping its nonstop Airbus A345 flights to Bangkok from both New York/Kennedy and Los Angeles. The ultra-long-haul nonstops end on April 2 and will be replaced with slower, one-stop service.

The Other Guys Continue to Fill in the Gaps
The nation's alternate carriers continue to fill in the gaps in their respective route networks with alacrity. At Frontier Airlines, for example, the carrier's Denver hub will get a batch of new service. There will be new service to Hartford beginning on March 2; new flights to Louisville beginning April 1; and new flights to Vancouver starting on May 5. … Meanwhile, on March 4, Midwest Airlines will begin 32-seat regional-jet service between its Milwaukee hub and Duluth. … Over at AirTran Airways, there will be new flights into Florida. Beginning February 4, there will be nonstops between Orlando and Charlotte followed by nonstop Orlando-Richmond, Virginia, service starting February 14. …JetBlue Airways adds nonstop Airbus A320 flights between Boston/Logan and Cancun on March 2.

Follow the Flag, Boys…
The overheated hotel market continues to cause well-known hotels around the world to switch their flags and brand affiliation. In Los Angeles, for example, the 363-room Park Hyatt in Century City has become an InterContinental hotel. In Dallas, the 83-year-old Melrose Hotel has been sold to Warwick International and rebranded with the Warwick name. Meanwhile, the Woodward Hotel and Conference Center in Austin is now the Wyndham Garden chain. And in Europe, the Hotel Lav, the best-known resort in Split, Croatia, has undergone a $150 million renovation and been rebranded as the LeMeridien Split. … Radisson says that its hotels in Latin America now offer free, in-room high-speed Internet access. Most Radisson properties elsewhere in the world already offer the perk.

Upheavals, Additions and Adjustments Around the World
It's nearly impossible to keep up with all the changes that are roiling the international market these days, but here's a handy summary of some of the major developments. Air Tahiti Nui and Air New Zealand have entered a code-sharing arrangement and the result is less Kiwi flying from Los Angeles and more Tahitian flights from LAX. Gone from the Air New Zealand schedule effective April 2 are the three weekly flights from Los Angeles to Papeete with onward service to Rarotonga. In its place will be a weekly flight between LAX and Rarotonga. To make up for the lost Papeete flights, Air New Zealand is slapping its code on Air Tahiti Nui's LAX-Papeete flights. … Over in Europe, Virgin Express will disappear on March 25 when it is officially merged into SN Brussels, the successor carrier to Sabena, the defunct Belgian airline. The merged carrier will change its name to Brussels Airlines. … American Airlines is shaking up its Ireland service again. Effective May 1, the carrier will fly nonstop daily flights to both Dublin and Shannon. … Also notable: a modest revival in service to Athens. Continental Airlines is adding a daily Boeing 767 flight from its Newark hub to the Greek capital beginning June 7. Down the road in Philadelphia, US Airways also plans to operate flights to Athens. Its service will be seasonal, however, beginning on May 25 and ending on October 6. US Airways will also operate summer flights from Philadelphia to Brussels and Zurich.

When Oil Prices Drop, Do Airlines Raise Fares? Sure!
Oil prices are dropping to the $50-a-barrel mark for the first time in several years, so what are the Big Six doing? Raising fares and blaming high fuel costs. Led by American Airlines, they pushed through a $3-to-$5 one-way increase on domestic airfares this week. A similar move to raise Canadian fares, led by Air Canada, has apparently failed, however. … On the flip side, British Airways is lowering fuel surcharges on about half of its long-haul routes, including several to and from U.S. destinations. … American Airlines and Expedia are squabbling over something or other. The result? Only domestic American coach tickets can be purchased on Expedia and its related sites. American's first- and business-class domestic tickets and all international tickets are gone. … The U.S. dollar remains in the tank against the euro (about $1.30) and the British pound (about $1.97), but it is rallying against the Japanese yen. A buck is currently buying about ¥121.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Qantas is out of the US Airways Dividend Miles program as of February 28 … LimoLiner, the luxury-bus service that operates between New York and Boston, has changed the location of its intermediate stop in Framingham, Massachusetts. LimoLiner now picks up and drops off its passengers at the Mass Pike Park and Ride lot. The bus previously stopped at the Sheraton Framingham. … It's back! United Airlines is resuming nonstop service between its Denver hub and Raleigh-Durham on April 24. But this time United will use a Boeing 737 on the route. Back in 2004, when United last flew the 1,436-mile nonstop, it was using regional jets.

Copyright © 1993-2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.