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A BRIEFING FOR SEPTEMBER 11-25, 2008
By Joe Brancatelli

· Ready for Four Airport Projects in Six Weeks?
· New Hotels Just Keep Coming Out of the Pipeline
· Best Buy Opens Kiosks at a Dozen U.S. Airports
· Continental Dumps Its Flights to London/Gatwick
· US Airways to Launch Philadelphia-Tel Aviv Flights
· She Was for It Before She Was Against It
· Why I Never Listen to Airline Security Analysts


Are You Ready for Four New Airport Terminals in Six Weeks?
When Detroit Metro opens its long-awaited North Terminal next Wednesday (September 17), it will start a unique 45-day period of airport premieres. Two weeks later, on October 1, JetBlue Airways will open its Terminal 5 at its hub at New York/Kennedy. Raleigh-Durham will open Terminal 2 on October 26. Two days later, Indianapolis International will move the entire airport's terminal operation to a new building nestled between its primary runways. The first up, DTW's North Terminal, is designed for airlines that aren't members of Skyteam, which are housed in the 6-year-old McNamara Terminal, home of Northwest Airlines. When the North Terminal opens, the city will shutter the shabby Smith and Berry terminals. I'll have more details on all four facilities in next Tuesday's column at Portfolio.com and more specifics here as each terminal gets ready to handle passenger traffic.

New Hotels Just Keep Coming Out of the Pipeline
As hotel occupancy rates and room rates continue to slump, new hotels just keep leaking out of the pipeline. The newest hotel at Chicago/O'Hare Airport is the 446-room InterContinental O'Hare. The property is in Rosemont and houses a 275-seat venue for live musical and comedy acts. In Raleigh, the new, 400-room Marriott City Center is attached to the 500,000-square-foot Raleigh Convention Center. The 16-story property has about 30,000 square feet of meeting space. Hilton has opened its first hotel in Moscow, the 273-room Hilton Leningradskaya. The hotel is in a renovated Stalin-era building and now has an indoor swimming pool, a business center and 7,000 square feet of meeting space. The property is managed by Interstate Hotels, the large management firm that already handles several Moscow hotels for Marriott. And one conversion of note. The former Holiday Inn in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, has become the 166-room Doubletree Hotel Rocky Mount.

She Was For the Bridge to Nowhere Before She Was Against It
We've been following Alaska's now-notorious Bridges to Nowhere since they were part of 2005's controversial $286.5 billion transportation bill. We even noted a failed effort to kill it in October, 2005, when Nebraska Republican Tom Coburn led a Senate fight that was foiled by Alaska's Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Ted Stevens. Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, now the Republican vice presidential candidate, didn't even enter the picture until 2006. That's when she ran for the Alaska statehouse and enthusiastically supported the bridge and the hundreds of millions of dollars of earmarks it represented. After Congress was shamed into revoking the authorization in 2007, the newly elected Gov. Palin reversed herself and killed the program. But only very reluctantly. "We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmeisters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative," Palin was quoted as saying in an Associated Press report that's still available on the CNN Web site. And she kept the earmark money and used it for other projects in Alaska.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Continental Airlines is the latest U.S. carrier to dump flights to London's Gatwick Airport. Effective October 25, Continental will drop flights to Gatwick from its Newark and Heathrow hubs. In their place, it will now fly three times a day to Heathrow from Newark and twice a day from Houston/International. US Airways says it will launch a daily flight to Tel Aviv from its Philadelphia hub. The service is due to begin July 2. Best Buy, the big electronics retailer, has placed self-service product kiosks at 12 airports around the country. The kiosks look like gigantic vending machines and sell cellphone and computer accessories, MP3 players, gift cards and travel adapters and chargers. Qantas flyers take note: Effective October 1, the airline will fly from the Tom Bradley International terminal at Los Angeles airport.

This Is Why I Never Listen to Airline Security Analysts
Shares of United Airlines (UAUA) closed at $11.18 today (September 11), more than a dollar below where they were on Monday. That's when a 6-year-old Chicago Tribune story about United's 2002 bankruptcy was pulled off the South Florida Sun-Sentinel Web site by an investment-advisory research firm. The analyst apparently thought the story was current, never bothered to check with other news sources and distributed it to clients of Bloomberg's stock terminals. Within minutes, United's shares dropped as low as $3--Nasdaq voided a 1-cent-a-share sale--as the markets panicked. For all of the after-the-fact accusations between United, the Tribune and Google, whose search engine apparently flagged the story as a "most read," one villain is missing: The unnamed analyst who went off half-cocked. And now you know why I never listen to analysts when they talk about airlines. They never know what they're talking about, never seem to know the facts, don't seem interested in checking facts--and they never seem to actually fly the airlines they cover.
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.

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This column is Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.