A BRIEFING FOR MAY 8 TO MAY 22, 2008
By Joe Brancatelli
· Say Goodbye to Some of Your Favorite Routes
· New Hotels and Reflaggings Keep on Coming
· JetBlue Won't Add Flights at LAX After All
· Air One Flies to Milan From Boston and Chicago
· TSA 'Self-Select' Lanes Expand to 12 Airports
· ExpressJet May Be the Next Airline to Go
· China Admits It Has Tightened Visa Rules
Start Saying Goodbye to Some Old Favorites--and Never-Weres
As the high price of oil starts to bite, airlines are planning huge cutbacks. Expect the Big Six to cut up to 5 percent of their worldwide networks and as much as 10 percent of their domestic capacity. Alternate carriers are going to cut, too, or at least put the breaks on their expansions. Want some examples? Here are two: American Airlines is cutting Oakland off its route map in September. Also going: American's nonstop flights from Austin to Raleigh/Durham (RDU), Seattle and John Wayne/Orange County; Los Angeles flights to Fort Lauderdale and San Antonio; and even traditional jet flights on the St. Louis-RDU, New York/LaGuardia-RDU and St. Louis-San Antonio routes. Meanwhile, JetBlue Airways has dumped plans to launch flights from Los Angeles. It had planned to begin flights to Boston and its New York/JFK hub on May 21.
The New Hotels--and the Reflagging--Keep on Coming
The lodging industry has not yet hit the same slump that is causing havoc with the airlines. Hotels continue to open and reflag at a near-record pace. Here is this week's news: Doubletree has put its flag on the 148-room Fayetteville Hotel and Conference Center. The property, a few minutes from Fort Bragg and 50 miles from Raleigh-Durham, has undergone an $8 million renovation. … Westin has opened a 195-room hotel in Prince George's County, Maryland. The property is part of the National Harbor development. … The first W Hotel has opened in Europe. The 134-room property is in Istanbul. Elsewhere in Turkey, Swissotel has opened a 402-room property in Izmir. The property includes a conference center that can handle 3,000 people. … Ritz-Carlton has opened a resort on Hainan Island off the coast of China. The property has 450 rooms, suites and pool villas and has eight dining venues.
Southwest Steps Up the Pressure on Frontier in Denver
Bankrupt and reorganizing Frontier Airlines will face even more pressure from Southwest Airlines at its home base of Denver. Beginning August 4, Southwest will launch two daily flights to Sacramento and a daily nonstop to Fort Lauderdale. Southwest will also add a flight to New Orleans. … Start the death watch for ExpressJet, a troubled commuter carrier that has been trying to launch its own branded service on secondary routes. By next month, it will slash branded flying to 166 daily flights from a high of 193 earlier this year. It is also being squeezed by Continental Airlines, for which ExpressJet still flies Continental Express commuter service, and SkyWest, which is trying to buy ExpressJet. Continental and SkyWest have signed a deal that will allow SkyWest to replace ExpressJet on the Continental Express routes. And just to add insult to ExpressJet's injury, the airline's credit card processor has increased its "holdbacks" to 100 percent. That means ExpressJet won't get payment for credit card purchases until the tickets are used, seriously crimping the airline's cash flow.
Air One Launches Flights Between the United States and Italy
Eternally troubled Alitalia has gutted service at its once-imposing hub at Milan's Malpensa Airport. That has opened a window for a well-run private Italian airline, Air One, to bulk up there. Among Air One's first new routes: nonstop flights to Boston/Logan and Chicago/O'Hare. The Boston flights launch June 14; Chicago service begins a week later. Air One will use two-class Airbus A330s on the routes, but other details haven't been announced. … United Airlines continues to delay the launch of its San Francisco-Guangzhou flights and now we know why. The Boeing 777 it was going to use on the China route is being diverted to launch flights between its Washington/Dulles hub and Dubai. The same day, October 26, it also wants to begin flying between Dulles and Moscow. Aircraft for that route will come from seasonal cuts on other routes. … Northwest Airlines says that it will begin daily flights between Seattle and Beijing on March 1 using Airbus A330s. Hainan Airlines will launch on that route next month.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The Transportation Security Administration has expanded its Self-Select Lanes to a dozen airports. The lanes began operation this week in Pittsburgh and Milwaukee. The program allows travelers to chose the "black diamond" expert line, a blue line for casual flyers who are less experienced or a green line for families. … The Federal Aviation Administration has failed to perform more than 100 safety reviews at eight airlines in recent years. According to information provided to a Senate committee by the FAA, 30 five-year reviews were skipped at US Airways and 26 at American Airlines. The reviews were also skipped at United (15); Alaska (13); Southwest (9); Delta (6); Continental (2); and Northwest (2). … Headed to the Olympics this summer? Planning a business trip to China soon? You've got troubles. After months of denials, Chinese officials admit they have tightened visa rules in the run-up to the Olympic Games. It has also sharply reduced the number of multiple-entry visas it will issue and virtually ended the practice of allowing overseas visitors to apply for Chinese entry visas in Hong Kong. … Hawaiian Airlines raised its lowest inter-island fares to $54 each way. Go!, which set fares at $39 when it launched two years ago, promptly matched.
ABOUT JOE BRANCATELLI Joe Brancatelli is a publication consultant, which means that he helps media companies start, fix and reposition newspapers, magazines and Web sites. He's also the former executive editor of Frequent Flyer and has been a consultant to or columnist for more business-travel and leisure-travel publishing operations than he can remember. He started his career as a business journalist and created JoeSentMe in the dark days after 9/11 while he was stranded in a hotel room in San Francisco. He lives on the Hudson River in the tourist town of Cold Spring.
THE FINE PRINT All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property and responsibility of Joe Brancatelli. This material may not be reproduced in any form without his express written permission.
This column is Copyright © 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.