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A BRIEFING FOR APRIL 22 - MAY 6, 2010
By Joe Brancatelli
· US Airways Bails on United. Woe Is Glenn Tilton.
· Hyatt Replaces Four Seasons at San Diego Resort
· Ashes to Ashes: Some New International Flights
· The Savoy's Reopening Has Been Delayed Again
· Alaska Airlines Adds Still More Hawaii Service · JetBlue Goes Suburban, Adds Hartford Flights
· Will Fuel Surcharges Return? Delta Is Trying.
US Airways Bails on United. Woe Is Glenn Tilton.
US Airways officially walked away from merger talks with United Airlines today (April 22), which is interesting for more than the fact that neither party ever officially confirmed they were talking about a merger again. It leaves Continental Airlines as the only potential candidate to fund the Glenn Tilton Retirement Fund. Oh, you thought a potential Continental-United merger could be justified as good for business or good for the airlines' respective shareholders or, heaven forfend, passengers. But we learned officially on Tuesday, via United's proxy statement, that any merger with United is intended to primarily benefit United chairman and chief executive Glenn Tilton. The proxy reveals that Tilton has changed his employment arrangements and the changes conveniently jack up his merger payouts. If there's a change of control of United, Tilton gets $9 million, almost four times the $2.4 million he would have gotten last year. If he gets canned within two years of a deal, he gets $14.33 million, up nearly 80 percent from last year. Of course, Tilton's latest machinations are small potatoes compared to Steve Wolf, the former boss at both United and US Airways. His final deal at US Airways would have paid him $70 million if he had been able to dump the carrier on United back in 2000. Which, of course, allows me to remind you of Rick's line to Ugarte in Casablanca: "I don't mind a parasite. I object to a cut-rate one."
Hyatt Will Replace Four Seasons at Aviara Near San Diego
Four Seasons is finally out as manager of Aviara, the fancy resort near San Diego. After almost a year of haggling, nasty public comments, roadblocks, accusations of fiscal turpitude and arbitration, the hotel's owners will pay Four Seasons an undisclosed sum to go away. Effective May 8, the 329-room resort will become the Park Hyatt Aviara. … Maybe the fourth time's the charm for the Savoy, London's legendary hostelry that has been closed for renovation since December, 2007. The re-opening is now scheduled for late this summer, the fourth delay. The renovation cost has soared beyond $300 million for the property, which will have 268 rooms when it reopens. … A 130-room Hilton Garden Inn has opened in Waldorf, Maryland.
Ashes to Ashes: A Mess of New International Flights
Never let it be said that airlines let a little thing like volcanic ash clouds stand in their way if they think they can find (or resume) a profitable international route to fly. So get out the scorecard, dust off the ash and take note: Alitalia is bringing back its Los Angeles-Rome nonstops on June 5. … Virgin America will launch its flights to Toronto on June 23. There'll be daily flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco. … Swiss International resumes an old Swissair route, San Francisco-Zurich, on June 2. … Air Canada adds flights from Toronto to Copenhagen on June 2.
Alaska Airlines Adds Still More Service to Hawaii
For an airline based in Seattle, Washington, and named after the 49th State, Alaska Airlines is doing an awful lot of flying to Hawaiian airports these days. About 10 percent of the carrier's service now operates to the 50th state and Alaska's newest flight additions are in Hawaii. Effective September 20, Alaska will fly daily nonstops between Portland, Oregon, and Honolulu. Daily flights between San Diego and Kahului, Maui, begin on October 1. There'll even be seasonal service between Portland and Kona on the Big Island beginning November 12. …. JetBlue Airways continues to flood the zone in the New York Metro area. On November 17, it will add Hartford, Connecticut, to its route map. There'll be daily flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. … Speaking of Orlando, Hertz has added in-terminal rental facilities in Terminal A and B. … Noted: the oldest (read: nasty and dirty) facility at Los Angeles, Terminal B, is closed. It opened in 1952 and it looks like it.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
There seems to be a movement by several airlines, led by Delta Air Lines, to raise fares via the re-imposition of fuel surcharges. It remains to be seen if the fare dodge will survive. … Irked by the decision of WestJet to talk with Delta Air Lines about a code-share, Southwest Airlines has terminated its plan to do a code-share with the discount Canadian carrier. Apparently, Southwest's feelings are hurt or something. … Alaska Airlines is going to a flat $20 per bag fee for each of the first three checked bags. Previously, the airline charged $15 for the first bag, $25 for the second and $50 for the third. … Spirit Airlines now operates at least two Airbus A-320s with just 28 inches of seat pitch in coach. The seats don't recline, either. That's three inches less than the U.S. industry standard, four inches less than Southwest and six inches less than JetBlue Airways.
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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 © 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.