The Tactical Traveler



This week: TWA's latest survival plan; our weekly update on low-fare airlines; Marriott rolls out a new old hotel brand; Detroit/Metro and Dallas/Fort Worth airports begin new construction projects; and an elegant Sydney hotel readies its post-Olympics promotion.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: TWA Tries Another New Direction
TWA hasn't turned a profit in a decade, it is saddled with far too many flights at its hometown hub in St. Louis, and it's struggling with a shriveling international hub at New York/Kennedy. But the carrier keeps on trying. The airline's newest direction: more service at Los Angeles and new transcontinental flights. The airline is increasing capacity at LAX by 70 percent this year and loading up its JFK-California schedule. Among the JFK additions: a fifth daily flight to LAX, a third nonstop to San Francisco, and a daily nonstop to Orange County/John Wayne. It will also launch the nation's first-ever nonstop between LAX and Reagan National airport in Washington. To make room for the new service, TWA is eliminating money-losing routes between Kennedy and three Florida cities: West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. In recent months, TWA has also increased service in San Juan, but dropped flights from Kennedy to Rome, Madrid and Barcelona.

ALTERNATE AGENDA: Our Weekly Update on Low-Fare Carriers
Midway Airlines has launched a fare sale on its routes to, from and through its Raleigh-Durham hub. Prices start at $61 one-way for flights on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays through November 15. Roundtrip and 7- or 14-day advance purchase is required; tickets must be purchased by September 11. Spirit Airlines has expanded its schedule out of New York/LaGuardia airport. There are new roundtrips to Fort Myers, Orlando, Tampa and West Palm Beach. Virgin Blue started flying in Australia last week. Its initial schedule includes low-fare flights between Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. Vanguard Airlines is expanding at its Kansas City hub. Effective October 1, it launches two daily nonstops to New York/LaGuardia and a daily nonstop to Pittsburgh. On October 12, the carrier will add two daily nonstops to Los Angeles. Royal Airlines of Canada is switching to low-fare scheduled service from its current roster of mostly charter flights. Many of the new scheduled routes begin September 11 and the airline says it will launch a business-class service in November.

CYBERTRAVELER: Seen on the Web
Delta Air Lines has changed its web address to Diners Club now permits personal cardholders to view their monthly statements on its website. TWA has redesigned its website. Hotwire has launched its beta site. The operation, partially owned by six major airlines, is a competitor of Priceline. The major difference: Travelers do not bid for tickets. Instead, Hotwire offers a price in advance and requires travelers to book it within 30 minutes.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Still Another Brand from Marriott
Does the world need another hotel chain? Marriott sure hopes so, because the lodging giant is elevating the company's once-moribund JW Marriott concept into the big time. The first JW Marriott opened in 1984, but only nine more were added during the next 15 years. But now Marriott is moving full steam ahead: a big, slick, 462-room JW Marriott opened last month in Seoul; a 296-room property opens in Miami next month, and at least a half-dozen more are due next year. Where does JW Marriott fit in the Marriott empire, which already includes 2,000 properties and spans a dozen brands ranging from the swanky Ritz-Carlton to the budget-minded Fairfield Inn? "We want them grand, grandiose, spectacular," explains Ed Fuller, the executive spearheading the expansion. "We want people to walk into the lobby and say 'Wow!'" From the price and services side, JW Marriott hotels will be positioned between a Ritz-Carlton and a full-service Marriott hotel.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The on-the-ground crush at Detroit/Metro eased a bit last week after the opening of a temporary, long-term parking lot on the northeast side of the airport. Designated Green Lot No. 2, the lot has 1,000 spaces. Travelers who use London to access Africa take note: Virgin Atlantic adds a second weekly flight between London/Heathrow and Cape Town on October 29. Dallas/Fort Worth has launched its $2.5 billion, 6-year expansion. The airport broke ground on International Terminal D last week, but the $1 billion facility isn't scheduled for completion until 2005. If you're headed for the Summer Olympic Games in Sydney later this month, then bring a few extra bucks. The city's 4,500 cabbies have been permitted to impose a 10 percent surcharge on fares until October 4.

WEEKLY WONDER: After the Games, a Sydney Bargain
Speaking of Sydney, as soon as the Summer Olympics end on October 1, hotel operators will be bombarding us with promotions to help fill all those empty rooms. But the elegant Regent Sydney (800-545-5000), which overlooks the Opera House and the Harbor Bridge, has already published its offer. The "Sample Sydney" deal posts rates starting at A$305 (about US$180) including taxes. The fourth night is free after three paid nights. That rate is valid from October 3 through April 30--Sydney's summer and early fall--and then the price falls to A$240 (about US$144) beginning May 1.

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Copyright 1993-2007 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.