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THE BRIEFING FOR APRIL 4-APRIL 18, 2013
By Joe Brancatelli
· How Many Slots at DCA Will US Air/AA Cede?
· Hyatt Grows By Five Hotels Overnight in India
· Myrtle Beach Gets a New Terminal Building
· Alaska Commuter Carrier Opens a Boston Hub
· Air Canada Simplifies Cross-Border Luggage
· Atlantic City's $2.4 Billion Revel Goes Bust
· Marriott's Hidden-Hotel Trick in Cooperstown
How Many Washington/National Slots Will US Air/American Cede?
Didja know that Washington/National Airport is a US Airways hub? Much to the surprise of the airline industry, passengers and all of US Airways' own promotional and investor-relations collateral, chief executive Doug Parker dubbed DCA a hub during recent Congressional hearings about the American Airlines merger. Having claimed National as a hub, Parker then proceeded to insist that small cities only get US Airways Express service to National because flyers connect to other destinations. A combined US Air-AA would account for more than two-thirds of the take-off and landing positions at the slot-controlled National and Parker stunned the hearing by claiming he shouldn't be required to surrender slots to receive approval for the merger. Critics like Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) noted that US Airways agreed to cap its National presence at 55 percent of DCA's slots in order to gain approval for a 2011 asset swap with Delta Air Lines. (Delta got most of US Airways' New York/LaGuardia assets and US Airways got dozens of Delta's National slots.) At the time of the 2011 deal, US Airways surrendered 16 DCA slots to get down to the 55 percent cap. For all of Parker's bluster and declaration of "hub status" for National, rest assured that he'll eventually surrender some DCA slots to get the American merger done. The only question is how many slots and how fast Parker understands the political realities.
Hyatt Grows By Five Hotels Overnight in India
It's nearly impossible to build and open hotels in the land-scarce and uber-bureaucratic India market. Just this week, in fact, Reuters ran a story on the lodging nightmare at a 43-acre, 12-hotel purpose-built development at New Delhi Airport. So full marks to Hyatt for snaring five new properties overnight thanks to a branding and franchise deal with the Ista Hotel group. The Ista hotels--in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Amritsar and Ahmedabad--are now all reflagged as Hyatt properties. Hyatt already had 11 other properties in India. ... This week's other reflaggings: Starwood has slapped the Westin name on the 100-room Le Rivage on the riverfront in Sacramento. The former Renaissance Hotel in the Greenway Plaza area of Houston has become a DoubleTree by Hilton. The DoubleTree flag also flies above the former Marriott Downtown in Atlanta. The 312-room property at 160 Spring Street NW opened in 1962 as the American Motor Hotel. ... The 317-room W Guangzhou has opened in the Pearl River New Town District. The riverfront high-rise is the first W property in China.
Myrtle Beach Gets a Sleek New Terminal Building
Family beachgoers (and golfers) take note: Myrtle Beach has opened a new passenger terminal. The 240,000-square-foot operation has six gates. There's also a new car-rental facility and several new restaurants. More information is here. ... The long-overdue Terminal B South concourse at Houston/Intercontinental is due later this month. The 225,000-square-foot facility will be home to United Express regional flights and have a central lounge area and 17 retail and food outlets. Most notable: first-time airport restaurants by San Antonio chef Johnny Hernandez and Houston native Bran Caswell. ... Yeah, this will work: Alaska commuter airline PenAir has launched an East Coast operation from Boston/Logan. It already flies to Plattsburgh in northern New York state; Bar Harbor on the Maine coast; and Presque Isle on Maine's border with New Brunswick, Canada. And starting in July, PenAir says it will fly from Logan to Islip on Long Island, New York. The airline uses 30- and 34-seat Saab 340 turboprops.
Business-Travel News You Need to Know
Air Canada says it has simplified cross-border luggage handling at its hub at Toronto/Pearson airport. Flyers connecting at Pearson and headed to the United States no longer must retrieve checked bags for U.S. Customs inspections. ... Revel, the newest hotel in Atlantic City, has tumbled into bankruptcy after just a year of operations. The 1,400-room property cost $2.4 billion to build and is now worth $450 million, according to its bankruptcy filing. ... You've surely heard this already: Samoa Air has switched to a pay-by-weight fare structure. You pay about 25 cents a pound for the combined weight of you and your baggage on domestic flights and about 50 cents a pound for the carrier's international flights. What you don't know: Samoa Air has three planes. ... On June 10, Delta Air Lines will launch a daily regional-jet route from its Minneapolis-St. Paul hub to the North Dakota oil boomtown of Dickinson. Delta already flies to nearby Williston, where the Bakken oil reserves were first discovered. ... Raleigh-Durham is the nation's first airport with ClearVision, a competitor to CNN's Airport Channel. It is operated by Clear Channel, the gigantic billboard firm. The channel offers a mashup of programs and news broadcasts from sources other than CNN and its Time Warner parent.
Marriott's Hidden-Hotel Trick Near Cooperstown, New York
As anyone who has ever been to the Baseball Hall of Fame will tell you, beautiful, bucolic Cooperstown, New York, is no all-star when it comes to hotel accommodations. Except for the aging, stuffy, overpriced Otesaga Resort, Cooperstown has few decent lodging options. In fact, the best major-chain properties are a 30-45 minute drive away. But here's some Opening Day happiness: Marriott this week opened a Courtyard in nearby Oneonta, which usually boasts a minor-league baseball team, too. The newly built Oneonta Courtyard features 94 rooms, most outfitted with two queen beds, perfect for family trips to the baseball mecca 28 miles away. The problem? Unless you know the Oneonta Courtyard exists, Marriott.com can't find it. Go to the home page and type in Cooperstown and you're offered the Cooperstowns in Illinois, Kentucky or Pennsylvania. Resolutely type in Cooperstown, New York, and Marriott.com will tell you that there are no hotels within 50 miles. So until Marriott.com gets its act together, consider this the lodging equivalent of the hidden-ball trick.
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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.
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