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A BRIEFING FOR SEPTEMBER 2-16, 2010
By Joe Brancatelli

· Delta Makes a Run at Heathrow Airport
· A Slew of New Hotels Opens Worldwide
· Raleigh-Durham, a New Battleground
· US Airways Adds Weird Routes From LGA
· New Routes to Mexico After Mexicana Tanks
· Bangkok Opens Its City-to-Airport Rail Link
· Why We Hate the Airlines (Continued)


Delta Makes a Run at Heathrow Airport
American Airlines and British Airways were ordered to give up some precious take-off and landing slots at London/Heathrow Airport in order to get anti-trust immunity for their Oneworld Alliance. And guess who wants the slots? Delta Air Lines, part of SkyTeam, an also-ran at Heathrow. If Delta gets its way, it will launch twice-daily flights to Heathrow from Boston and daily flights from Miami. Delta says it wants to begin the new service next March in cooperation with its SkyTeam partner Air France. The third major airline group, Star Alliance, is the second-largest player at Heathrow. BMI, now a subsidiary of Lufthansa, has more operating assets at Heathrow than any carrier except British Airways. What's odd about Delta's request, however, is its lack of heft either at Boston or Miami. Neither is a hub for the nation's largest carrier. Delta claims it's the second-largest carrier at Boston, but it has been fading there in recent years. Delta also claims to be Number 2 in Miami, but it is dwarfed there by American Airlines.

Get The Hotel Scorecard Because a Slew of New Properties Opens The lodging industry, mired in the worst occupancy and nightly-rate slump in years, continues to exacerbate its problems by continuing to open hotels at a breathtaking pace. But that's good for us, since new properties at low rates are always something worth noting. So get out the lodging scorecard and follow this week's trail. From Starwood comes a 265-room Westin in the Park Plaza development in Mexico City. It also opened a 147-room Aloft in Brussels and a 136-room Aloft in South Tulsa, Oklahoma. From Hyatt comes a 129-room Hyatt Place in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, and a 126-room Hyatt Place in Columbus, near the campus of Ohio State University. From Marriott, there's a 128-room Fairfield Inn in the Briar Creek area of Raleigh, North Carolina, and a 456-room Courtyard in Shanghai's Puxi district. From InterContinental comes an 87-room Holiday Inn Express in North Houston. It has also converted the former Renaissance hotel in Syracuse, New York, to a Crowne Plaza, slapped the Holiday Inn brand name on the Waikiki Beachcomber in Honolulu and converted a former Ramada in Riverhead, New York, to a Hotel Indigo. From Hilton comes the 540-room Doubletree in the Golden Triangle district of Kuala Lumpur. It has also put the Doubletree name on the Park Vista hotel in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. A 240-room Radisson resort has opened in Split, Croatia. A 372-room Langham hotel has opened adjacent to Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital Airport. If that sounds somewhat familiar, it's because Hilton opened a hotel adjacent to Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital Airport last month.

The New Airport Battleground: Raleigh-Durham
American Airlines opened and abandoned a hub in Raleigh-Durham in the 1990s and it and Southwest Airlines have been fighting for control of North Carolina's second-busiest airport ever since. But now Delta is challenging the status quo with flights to five new cities and more service on three of its existing RDU routes. Beginning November 1, Delta and its commuter partners will launch two daily flights to Hartford, Connecticut; three daily flights to Orlando; two daily flights to Tampa; two daily flights to St. Louis and daily flights to Columbus, Ohio. Delta will also add one daily flight to three airports: its Minneapolis-St. Paul hub; its New York/Kennedy hub; and Boston/Logan. Southwest, American and JetBlue already fly on some or all of those routes, so this could be a battle to watch. The long-delayed rail line linking Bangkok to Suvarnabhumi Airport has now opened. The prosaically named Bangkok Airport Train takes either 15 minutes (express) or 30 minutes (commuter service) to reach the Phaya Thai station in central Bangkok.

'Cause the World Needed More Flights From LaGuardia
Remember that proposed Delta-US Airways deal where the two carriers would swap assets at New York/LaGuardia and Washington/National? After it was effectively killed by the Transportation Department earlier this summer, Delta announced a slew of new flights from the gates at National that it retained. And now US Airways is adding new flights from LaGuardia using the gates that it tried to trade to Delta. On October 31, US Airways begins commuter flights to seven cities from LGA. Only two routes--Hartford and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania--do not already have service from other airlines. Of course, you have to wonder what lunatic would fly from LaGuardia to Hartford or Harrisburg, two cities where it is easier and faster to drive.

Mexicana Tanks and Other Carriers Move to Fill the Gap
After weeks of whining about labor costs, reducing flights and then declaring bankruptcy, Mexicana stopped flying completely last week. Other carriers wasted no time announcing new routes into Mexico. Air Canada says it will relaunch flights between Montreal and Mexico City on November 1. It will also add twice-weekly flights from Vancouver on November 6. The service will go daily on December 1. Meanwhile, Virgin America, which had requested the right to fly to Mexico in June, says it will launch flights to both Cancun and San Jose del Cabo in Baja California. Effective December 16, there will be five weekly San Francisco-San Jose flights. On January 19, it launches five weekly Los Angeles-Cancun flights. The next day, it adds three weekly San Francisco-Cancun flights.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Alaska Airlines continues its push into the Hawaii market. It adds nonstop daily flights to Honolulu from Bellingham, Washington, on January 7. American Eagle, American Airlines' crummy regional carrier, will launch Miami-Cleveland flights on November 18. Enjoy your 1,080-mile RJ flight. Aeromar, a Mexican regional carrier, has joined the Continental OnePass program. The Department of Transportation fined AirTran Airways $500,000 for violating DOT rules about transporting passengers with disabilities. Luxury train rides in the national parks and the Napa Valley? Uh-uh. After announcing a rail service called American Railway Explorer, zillionaire Philip Anschutz has decided not to fund the venture. The service was due to launch next year and cars were already being refurbished in Denver. Here's a route you need: Munich-Luxembourg. A Lufthansa commuter carrier will fly the route three times daily beginning on October 31.

Why We Hate the Airlines, Part Three Million
This from a press release from the boobs now running the combined Frontier and Midwest airlines. Frontier "will move service between Milwaukee and Tampa International (TPA) to St Petersburg/Clearwater International (PIE) beginning November 18. Passengers already booked on flights between Milwaukee and Tampa will be moved to St. Petersburg/Clearwater and will be contacted with their new itineraries." Because, you know, passengers have no rights or anything and if an airline decides to move you from one airport to another, why do you think you have a choice?

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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.