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THE BRIEFING SEPTEMBER 4 TO 18, 2014
By Joe Brancatelli

· No Hubs for You! Ohio Loses All of Them.
· Westin Diplomat in Florida Dumps Starwood
· Virgin, Delta Shake Up Transatlantic Flights
· Frontier Bailing on Flights From Wilmington
· Hilton Opens Another Crop of New Hotels
· Dollar Reaches 14-Month High Against Euro
· Southwest Drops Atlanta-Caribbean Routes


No Hub for You! Ohio Loses Them All.
What's the largest state in the union without an airport hub? The answer will surprise you unless you remember the last major hub to close. Yup, Cleveland, which United Airlines killed earlier this year. That leaves Ohio, the nation's seventh most populous state, without an airline hub. It's also the only state among the nation's 15 most populous without a hub. Worst of all, Cleveland's demise isn't an isolated loss, but a trend for Ohio since the start of deregulation in 1978. Piedmont's Dayton hub was dumped after that carrier's 1987 merger with US Air. (Dayton also lost as a cargo hub when Emery Worldwide folded in 2001.) America West closed its Columbus hub in 2003. (Short-lived Skybus, which collapsed in 2008, also hubbed in Columbus.) Cincinnati once handled 600 daily flights as a hub for Delta Air Lines. But the closure of CVG-based Comair, a wholly owned Delta Connection carrier, and Delta's mainline pulldown after the 2008 Northwest merger ended Cincinnati's run. Akron-Canton was once an AirTran Airways focus city, but that has evaporated since Southwest purchased AirTran. Why the woes in Ohio despite its 11.5 million citizens and strong business communities? Being in the rust belt with virtually no growth in the last 15 years certainly hasn't helped. Nor has the state's lack of a central population core. Ohio's three largest cities are scattered along nearly 250 miles of Interstate 71 from the southwest (Cincinnati) to the northeast (Cleveland) with Columbus situated between them.

Diplomat in Florida Dumps Starwood, Southwest Dumps Caribbean
The 1,000-room Diplomat Spa Resort, one of the star Florida properties of Starwood Preferred Guest, is dumping its affiliation with Westin. The 12-year-old hotel, built in the site of the original Diplomat, is switching to the Curio Collection, the catch-all brand aligned with Hilton HHonors. The end of Westin's tenure at the Diplomat is October 27. The property, which changed owners last week, says it will honor any existing paid or award reservations. ... Hoping to use Southwest Rapid Rewards points for the Caribbean flights from Atlanta once operated by AirTran Airways? Better hurry. Effective March 15, Southwest is dropping three routes: Atlanta-Aruba, Atlanta-Montego Bay and Atlanta-San Juan. ... Marriott Rewards has a new option in the heart of Beijing. A 329-room Renaissance has opened on Wangfujing Road just steps from the Forbidden City. ... If you were inspired by the Winter Olympics in Sochi and aren't scared off by the current tensions between the United States and Russia, check your Hyatt Gold Passport balance. A 198-room Hyatt Regency opened in Sochi this week. ... Need to bring the kids to Orlando and want to use Hilton HHonors points? DoubleTree by Hilton has another property in the area, a 246-room hotel near the University of Central Florida. It's a remake of a former Holiday Inn. Meanwhile, if you want to use HHonors points in London, know that DoubleTree has also slapped its name on the former 229-room Jurys Inn on Pentonville Road in Islington.

Virgin Atlantic and Delta Shake Up Transatlantic Flights Again
Delta Air Lines has been remaking Virgin Atlantic in its own image ever since it took a 49 percent interest in the money-losing British carrier last year. Virgin will take Delta's service from its Detroit/Metro hub to London's Heathrow Airport. Delta has run the route seasonally, but Virgin will operate it year-round. Meanwhile, Delta will take over Virgin's existing morning departure from Newark to Heathrow and move it to an overnight flight. Virgin will also add additional flights to its Los Angeles-Heathrow and New York/JFK-Heathrow services as well as more seasonal service to Heathrow from San Francisco and Atlanta. There will also be changes in flights to Manchester, England. Virgin will run a daily flight from Delta's Atlanta hub to Manchester and Delta will revive its flights between Kennedy and Manchester. But all of this comes at a cost to Virgin, which has been losing money for years. The carrier will drop flights from Heathrow to Vancouver, Mumbai, Tokyo/Narita and Cape Town. For more details on the changes and effective dates, surf here.

Frontier Is Bailing on Most Flights From Wilmington, Delaware
Frontier Airlines spent last year building up flights at otherwise-abandoned New Castle Airport near Wilmington, Delaware. (See here and here.) Now reality is setting in. With Wilmington just 20 minutes from US Airways' hub in Philadelphia, Frontier has learned that there just isn't a market at ILG. Next month, it dumps flights to Detroit/Metro. Effective December 12, Frontier drops four more routes: Chicago, Atlanta, Fort Myers and even its Denver hub. Service to Tampa disappears from October 25 to December 15, but Frontier insists it'll return twice weekly after that. The only route from New Castle that seems to be working is Orlando, which will operate four or five times a week during the winter. ... Marriott has opened its first Moxy hotel--a joint venture with Ikea--and it's located at Milan/Malpensa. The 162-room hotel is within walking distance of Terminal 2 and offers a shuttle to Terminal 1. ... Britain's Airports Commission has rejected a proposal from London mayor Boris Johnson to build an airport in the Thames River. He floated the idea last year and it has been derisively called Boris Island ever since.

Devaluation Be Damned, Hilton Opens Another Crop of Hotels
If you thought repeated devaluations of Hilton HHonors were hurting Hilton Worldwide, guess again. Besides a successful IPO and record earnings in recent quarters, Hilton is opening new properties at a breathtaking pace. What's new this week? For the Hilton brand, there's a 299-room hotel in the Granite Park neighborhood of Plano, Texas. The Hilton Garden Inn brand has opened still another property in Midtown Manhattan, this one a 282-room hotel on West 42nd Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue. ... At Homewood Suites, there is a 110-room hotel in Billings, Montana. ... For Hampton Inn, there's a 99-room newbie in the Markham suburb of Toronto. ... There is also one notable conversion: The 150-acre Oak Brook Hills Resort in the Chicago suburbs is now flying the Hilton flag.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The U.S. dollar has reached a 14-month high against the euro. It closed today (September 4) at US$1.29 after an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank. ... This can't be good: An ISIS fighter killed in Syria has been identified as a Somali-American who once worked at Minneapolis-St. Paul airport. See a representative report here. ... Ryanair, Europe's largest no-frills carrier, has been trying to improve its image in recent months. Now it has done the unthinkable. In an attempt to woo more business travelers, the airline has introduced a fare package bundled with perks: free checked bags, free flight changes, fast-track security clearance and better seats. Information on the so-called Business Plus fares is here.

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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 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2014 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.