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THE BRIEFING FOR APRIL 28-MAY 12, 2011
By Joe Brancatelli

· Mid-Market Hotel Brands Are Coming to India
· Anchorage Loses Its Last International Flight
· Delta Changes Its Mind On European Flights
· The Dollar Plunges Against Global Currencies
· Air Canada Devalues the Aeroplan Award Chart
· Legacy Carriers Push Through $10 Fare Increase
· The Greenbrier Will Auction Off Some Cool Junk


Mid-Market U.S. Hotel Brands Are Coming to India
As any U.S. business traveler working in India will tell you, the subcontinent is woefully short of hotel rooms, especially "focused-service," mid-market lodgings pioneered by American hotel chains. The U.S. chains, which until now have been primarily interested in opening full-service and luxury properties in India, have noticed the same thing and they're suddenly rushing to fill the gap. Marriott, for example, announced this month that it has signed a local joint-venture partner and will open 15 Fairfield Inns in India by 2015. InterContinental and its Indian partner have announced plans to open 19 Holiday Inn Express hotels by 2016. Carlson already has 11 Country Inns and Suites in India and wants to add 40 more. Starwood, which hopes to have three dozen properties in India by the end of the year, is beginning to introduce the Aloft and Four Points brands. Hyatt has 38 hotels in the Indian pipeline and at least 14 will be its mid-market Hyatt Place properties. Hilton and a partner plan to open 16 Hampton Inns around the country. There's at least one home-grown player, too. Ginger Hotels has opened two dozen properties around India and at least eight more are under construction. Ginger is part of Taj Hotels, the lodging division of the Tata empire, which alone accounts for about 2 percent of India's GDP.

End of an Era: Anchorage Loses Its Last International Flight
China Airlines is switching the intermediate stop on its New York/Kennedy to Taipei service. After Friday (April 29), the flights will operate via Osaka instead of Anchorage. That will quietly mark the end of an era. When China Air departs, Anchorage will have lost all of its regularly scheduled, year-round international flights. Once a popular stop on transpacific routes from the Lower 48 and Europe, Anchorage has become obsolete. Many routes that once called at Anchorage are now operated with aircraft that have longer range and don't need to make the refueling stop. The end of the Cold War meant other routes no longer needed to avoid Russian airspace. Anchorage's fate mirrors that of Gander, the Canadian airport that was once a popular refueling stop on transatlantic routes. A few seasonal international flights will still call at Anchorage in the summer, however.

Delta Changes Its Mind On Europe Flights…Again
Trying to keep track of the Delta Air Lines route map to Europe has been just this side of infuriating ever since the carrier began growing internationally about 20 years ago. It moves from bursts of expansions to fits of contraction without much notice. Its European trend line has been mostly upwards since its 2005 bankruptcy, but it has pulled down frequencies and eliminated cities with regularity. Now it seems poised to reverse many of this year's latest flight increases. After a first-quarter loss of $318 million, Delta says it will slash Europe service by 10 percent after Labor Day. (It attributed $150 million of its losses to transatlantic flights.) The airline didn't detail its Europe cutbacks, but it separately announced a downsizing in the Middle East. It won't resume the flights to Cairo that it "suspended" in February and it plans to drop service to Amman, Jordan, on June 1. … Singapore Airlines deferred plans to begin Airbus A380 flights from Los Angeles to Tokyo after the Japan earthquake, but it has now rescheduled the launch for July 1. … Austrian Airlines says it will launch flights to Baghdad. Three weekly flights from its Vienna hub begin on June 8. Austrian already flies to Erbil in Kurdish Northern Iraq. … Beginning May 9, Qatar Airways switches to Terminal 8 from Terminal 4 at New York/Kennedy Airport.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The legacy carriers managed to push through a $10 roundtrip fare increase last week. It's the seventh $10 increase since the beginning of the year. Four other attempts have failed. … The U.S. dollar continues to plunge on world markets. The euro now commands $1.48 and the British pound is back up to $1.67. The dollar is down to 81 Japanese yen. It's below parity in Canada (a U.S. dollar is now worth only 95 Canadian cents) and the Australian dollar is now worth 92 U.S. cents. … Aeroplan, the frequent flyer program of Air Canada, shuffles its reward charts on July 15 and the net effect is negative. Business- and first-class seats to Asia took the biggest hits with increases of as much as 55,000 miles. Award seats to the Middle East, North Africa and India were marginally reduced in price.

What Am I Bid for These Mint Julep Cups?
It'll come too late for this year's Kentucky Derby, but I've got a new source for mint julep cups: An auction of stuff from The Greenbrier, the revived, revered resort in West Virginia. The resort is having what it calls a spring cleaning sale and the rest of us call a yard sale. But the junk, being disposed by Woltz, seems interesting: the aforementioned julep cups, etched with the resort's name; highball glasses etched with the name of an insurance company; "several hundred" punch plates and punch glasses; furniture and display cases; cars and pianos; Greenbrier uniforms; and much more. The auction is Saturday, May 21. I've got my eyes on the green Greenbrier flip-flops.

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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 © 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.