E-MAIL JOE    PRINT    2009 COLUMNS    ARCHIVES    SEARCH ARCHIVES
A BRIEFING FOR APRIL 9-APRIL 23, 2009
By Joe Brancatelli

· Southwest Decides It Can Make It in New York
· The Worldwide Hotel Glut Continues to Grow
· Las Vegas Gets New Route, Hartford Loses One
· Recession Be Damned, More Flights Worldwide
· OpenSkies Completes Integration With L'Avion
· American Will Expand In-Flight Internet Service
· Hyatt Place Continues to Grow Its Hotel Network


Southwest Airlines Decides It Can Make It in New York
It's the reverse of that song New York, New York: Having already made it anywhere, Southwest Airlines is hoping to make it "there," meaning New York. The 800-pound gorilla of discounters and the nation's only consistently profitable airline, Southwest adds New York's LaGuardia Airport to its route map on June 28. The initial schedule includes five nonstops a day to Chicago/Midway and three nonstops to Baltimore/Washington. As you'd expect from Southwest, the fares are notable: as low as $89 one-way on the LGA-MDW run and $49 on the LGA-BWI flights. Although Southwest is trimming its total capacity this year, the LaGuardia launch is part of the carrier's push into big cities that it once shunned. Last month, Southwest began flying from Minneapolis-St. Paul; it began with flights to Midway and adds three MSP-Denver flights on May 26. The carrier also launches flights at Boston/Logan in the fall. About the only major metropolitan area still off the Southwest route map now is Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport.

The Worldwide Hotel Glut Continues to Grow
You have to wonder whether hotel owners wish they had a gigantic cork to stick into the lodging-development pipeline, which continues to spew forth new properties despite the global glut of rooms. Here's what's new this week: a 110-room Hampton Inn in Providence, Rhode Island, located in the historic Old Colony Bank building; a 150-room Aloft hotel in the National Harbor mixed-use complex on the Maryland side of the Potomac River; a 128-room Staybridge Suites in Newcastle, England; a 336-room Shangri-La in Tainan, Taiwan; and the ninth Marriott in Beijing, this one a 321-room property in the Chaoyang district. Hyatt Place, the impressive limited-service brand Hyatt is building from the old AmeriSuites chain, continues to expand. It has added new or renovated locations in Estero, West Palm Beach and Jacksonville, Florida; Lexington, Kentucky; and Herndon, Virginia. Speaking of conversions and reflaggings, here are this week's other changes: The 328-room Holiday Inn near the Republique metro station in Paris has changed to a Crowne Plaza. So has the 162-room Holiday Inn across from the Gloucester Road tube station in London. It received a $15 million renovation. Doubletree is putting its flag on the 120-room Arctic Hotel in Seattle's Arctic Club building. The Clarion Riverside Hotel in Rochester, New York, has gotten a $6 million renovation and emerged as a Radisson.

Las Vegas Gets a New Route, Hartford Loses One
With Las Vegas in the tank, brought low by its own hubris and the AIG Effect, the last thing you'd expect is an airline launching a new route into McCarren Airport. But apparently Alaska Airlines sees opportunity, so it is launching a Bellingham, Washington-Las Vegas nonstop. Flights begin June 25 and operate three times weekly. After more than two years without commercial service, Grant County Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, has flights again. Skywest, operating as United Express, now flies two daily nonstops to Seattle using 30-seat regional jets. Hartford, which briefly had nonstop flights to Amsterdam last year, won't get the service back. Despite earlier claims, Northwest Airlines says it won't revive the service this summer after all. Speaking of Northwest, the carrier's flights in Kansas City have moved to Terminal B as part of its consolidation with Delta Air Lines. The airport in Srinagar in war-torn Kashmir has reopened to international traffic.

Recession Be Damned, More (Niche) Service Worldwide
Many carriers are cutting back their international service due to the global recession and plummeting demand, but some new niche routes continue to find their way onto the schedule. Icelandair, for example, is launching service between Seattle-Tacoma and Reykjavik on July 22. There will be four weekly Boeing 757 flights. Continental Airlines is launching two weekly Boeing 737 flights this summer on a Guam-Fiji-Honolulu route. South African Airways is juggling its service on May 1. Its current service from New York's Kennedy Airport to Johannesburg will become a nonstop while its Washington flights will operate on a Dulles-Dakar-Johannesburg routing. Airbus A340s will be used on both routes. Royal Jordanian is adding another link to the Middle East by reviving its Brussels-Amman nonstops that were suspended in 2003. The airline uses an Airbus A319 on the route.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
OpenSkies, the boutique carrier of British Airways, has completed the integration of L'Avion, the French airline it purchased last year. The airline has also renamed its premium economy class the "Biz Seat" to differentiate it from the beds in its more traditional business class, which is now called--wait for it--the "Biz Bed." Continental Airlines has received tentative government approval to join the Star Alliance. American Airlines has been testing in-flight WiFi for almost eight months. Now the carrier says it will expand the service to as many as 300 jets in the next two years. Delta Air Lines currently has 88 planes wired and is promising 300 wired planes by the end of the year. LimoLiner, which runs luxury bus service between New York and Boston, adds a stop in Hartford, Connecticut, beginning April 16. Orbitz has joined the other major online travel agencies and dropped booking fees for flights. After grounding 60 of its regional jets for reinspection last week, Atlantic Southeast Airlines, which flies as Delta Connection, is back to its full schedule. Hertz is buying bankrupt Advantage Rent A Car for $33 million. It won the assets of the company in a bankruptcy-court auction and, at least for the moment, will continue to operate locations under the Advantage brand.
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 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2009 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.