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THE BRIEFING FOR JULY 19 - JULY 31, 2012
By Joe Brancatelli
· Wall Street Finally Gets That US Airways Is a Joke
· JetBlue Airways Launches Flights From Providence
· A Sheraton in Shandong, a DoubleTree in Hyannis
· Hawaiian Airlines Will Fly to Brisbane and Auckland
· Dreadful Month of Cancellations at United Airlines
· PreCheck Arrives at Charlotte and Tampa Airports
· And the (Jet)Blue May Inherit the Earth...
Wall Street Finally Understands That US Airways' Parker Is a Poseur
Credit where it's due: US Airways chief executive Doug Parker bamboozled Wall Street and the credulous mainstream news media for months with his fantasy of gaining control of bankrupt American Airlines in a reverse merger. But it all came crashing down Wednesday (July 18) and the cause of the collapse was Parker himself. At a relentlessly hyped speech at the National Press Club in Washington, Parker proclaimed US Airways "ready to get this done and there is no guarantee that will be the case forever." That apparently got the attention of investors, who finally realized that the blowhard Parker said equally absurd things during his quixotic earlier attempts to take over Delta Air Lines and merge with United Airlines. By the end of the day Wednesday, US Airways' stock had dropped 4.6 percent. Today (July 19) started with a breakfast meeting in Washington between Parker and American chief executive Tom Horton, who informed him that he wasn't in a rush to pick a merger partner. A few hours later in a New York bankruptcy court, Horton and American management won an extension of the exclusive right to reorganize the airline until December 28. Judge Sean Lane even refused to let a US Airways lawyer speak at the hearing. By the end of today, US Airways shares had plunged another 6.8 percent.
And the (Jet)Blue May Inherit the Earth...
Back in May, I told you about the growing list of international partners being assembled by JetBlue Airways. Last month, I told you that the airline had won approval to build an international arrivals facility at its spacious and pleasant Terminal 5 hub at New York's Kennedy Airport. Now the, um, third shoe drops in the carrier's plan to turn the world blue. The best-known green airline, Aer Lingus of Ireland, will relocate its flights to Dublin and Shannon into Terminal 5. The move to JetBlue's facilities will happen early next year, well before the international arrivals station will be ready. Aer Lingus can move early because its U.S.-bound passengers clear customs and immigrations formalities before departure in Shannon or Dublin. And just as Aer Lingus was JetBlue's first international partner, expect the Irish carrier to be the first of many overseas carriers to move into Terminal 5. The reasons? JetBlue offers arriving international passengers onward departures to many U.S. destinations and JetBlue's own customers are likely to purchase flights to overseas points if the departures are also in Terminal 5. Besides, with Delta Air Lines planning to move many of its international flight to Terminal 4, some of Delta's overseas competitors are looking for alternatives and JetBlue's T5 looks mighty attractive. The missing piece? A lounge for premium-class international passengers. But even that may be in the works since JetBlue executives long ago identified space that could be converted into a departure lounge.
Get Out That Hotel Scorecard 'Cause it's Been a Busy Week
Bored with your present hotel? Just wait a minute because new properties continue to open at a record pace and many more are being reflagged. So buckle up as we get through these:
Starwood has opened a 270-room Sheraton in the Jiaozhou district of Qingdao City in Shandong Province, China.
Hilton has converted a former Radisson in Hyannis into the 160-room DoubleTree Cape Cod. And Hilton's Hampton Inn division has opened four new outlets: a 177-room hotel on Jacksonville Beach in Florida; an 80-room hotel in Augusta, Maine; a 127-room property in Idaho Falls, Idaho; and a second hotel near Seattle-Tacoma Airport.
Carlson has opened a 108-room Country Inns & Suites in West Seneca, New York, a few miles from Buffalo. It also opened a 142-room Radisson Blu in the Banjara Hills near Hyderabad, India.
InterContinental has opened a 142-room Hotel Indigo in College Park, a few miles from Atlanta-Hartsfield Airport. It has also slapped the InterContinental name on the 111-room Presidente hotel in the Santa Fe district of Mexico City.
Look Out, Down Under! Hawaiian Will Fly to Brisbane and Auckland
Hawaiian Airlines continues to develop Honolulu into a well-connected hub for transpacific travel. Hawaiian is adding three weekly flights to Brisbane, Australia, beginning November 27, and will then add three weekly flights to Auckland, New Zealand, on March 13. The carrier previously announced that it would launch Honolulu-Sapporo, Japan, flights on October 30. In recent years, Hawaiian has also started flights from Honolulu to Tokyo, Fukuoka and Osaka, Japan; Seoul, South Korea; Manila; and Sydney. ... JetBlue Airways will fly from another New England city. Effective November 29, it will begin operations in Providence, Rhode Island. There'll be two daily flights to Orlando and a daily roundtrip to Fort Lauderdale. ... Southwest Airlines will start flights between Washington/National and St. Louis on September 6. Southwest got the space at slot-controlled DCA by purchasing take-off and landing positions from Spirit Airlines.
An Awful Week for United and a Dreadful Month of Cancellations
The ongoing deterioration of United Airlines has left tens of thousands of passengers high and dry in the last 30 days. According to figures compiled by FlightStats.com, United cancelled 1,044 flights in the 30 days ending on Tuesday (July 17). That is more than four times the cancellations (235) racked up by Delta Air Lines in the same 30-day period and more than twice the 499 cancellations recorded by American. Unfortunately, that was hardly the worst thing that hit United passengers this week. As you surely heard, United stranded 200 customers in Shanghai for three days when a series of snafus ended in repeated cancellation of the daily flight to its Newark hub. On Monday (July 16), a United Boeing 757 had to make an emergency landing in St. John's, Newfoundland, when one of the aircraft's two engines failed. Travelers on the flight, scheduled from Washington/Dulles to London, said that the plane bobbed around like a ferry on rough seas after the engine failure. Finally this week, the Transportation Department said that it would investigate United after the airline refused to honor a "mistake fare" to Hong Kong. The carrier's malfunctioning computers sold an unknown number of seats for just four MileagePlus miles plus taxes instead of normal award levels. DOT regulations imposed in January require airlines to honor any ticketed fares even if the price was obviously wrong.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The Transportation Security Administration says that its PreCheck security-bypass program is now available at two additional airports: Checkpoint B in Charlotte and the main checkpoint in Terminal E in Tampa. ...American Airlines has changed course on miles accrued in the original iteration of AAdvantage. Although American promised those miles, earned before July 1, 1989, would never expire, the carrier now says that they will be dumped into the current version of AAdvantage on November 1. You'll get a 25 percent bonus when the old miles transfer. ... There's no reported progress on the investigation into the discovery of sewing needles in turkey sandwiches boarded on four Delta Air Lines flights from Amsterdam. Delta says that it is now serving pizza as a snack to business-class passengers. ... The government of Uruguay has closed Pluna Airlines, the national flag carrier. Pluna lost $100 million since 2007 and the government took over the airline in mid-June when private investors refused to continue to fund the carrier.
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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 © 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright © 2012 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.