The Tactical Traveler

FOR SEPTEMBER 23 TO 30, 2004


Delta will shift Dallas regional-jet flights to its other hubs; London's airports face a weekend of chaos; a bad, bad week for the Big Six; American tries a fare increase; hotels' telephone revenues plummet; ATA and America West add ticket fees; Iraqi Airlines flies again; and much more.

COUNTER INTELLIGENCE: Where Will All Those Delta Dallas Flights Go?
Now that Delta Air Lines has announced it won't do Dallas anymore and will be closing its Dallas-Fort Worth hub, the airline has announced it will begin a raft of new flights at its remaining hubs (Cincinnati, Salt Lake City and Atlanta) and in Florida. Since most of the flights that Delta is pulling from Dallas are regional-jet (RJ) routes operated by its Delta Connection commuter carriers, most of the new service will also be operated with 50-seat aircraft. From Cincinnati, Delta will add RJ flights to Baton Rouge; Montgomery and Mobile, Alabama; and Pensacola and Fort Walton Beach, Florida. The flights launch January 31. On the same day, Delta will launch new RJ service from Salt Lake City to Austin, El Paso and San Antonio, Texas; Wichita, Kansas; and Little Rock and Fayetteville, Arkansas. In Atlanta, Delta will grow to 1,000 daily flights, including new hourly service to Baltimore/Washington, Newark and Boston. But wait, there's more. December 1 brings nonstop RJ flights from Orlando to five new cities in the south. On January 1, Delta regional jets will fly nonstop from Tampa to four new cities. Does anyone want all of this service? Probably not, but never underestimate the power of big airline executives to fool themselves.

AIRPORT REPORT: Prepare for Chaos in London This Weekend
It's likely to be an ugly weekend at London's two primary airports, Heathrow and Gatwick. Several hundred ground workers are prepared to strike beginning Friday, September 20. Check with your airline if you have a flight scheduled to operate to, from or through the airports. And you might want to reschedule or book elsewhere wherever possible. ... Swiss International, the successor airline to Swissair, has finished renovating the old Swissair first- and business-class lounges at Zurich Airport. The reopened facilities in Terminal 1 offer a variety of amenities, including what the airline claims is the world's longest airport bar. ... Five years after it closed and 14 months after renovations began, Terminal One at Beijing Capital Airport has reopened. The facility will be used by China Southern and its affiliates. ... Minneapolis/St. Paul would get 48 new gates and a hotel if an $860 million expansion plan announced this week is implemented. And airport officials have apparently bowed to the demands of Northwest Airlines that all non-SkyTeam Alliance carriers be moved from the Lindbergh Terminal to the smaller Humphrey Terminal.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: A Bad, Bad, Bad Week for the Big Six
If you needed any more evidence that the Big Six are in a very bad way, consider this week's rapid-fire headlines: Eighteen months into its bankruptcy, United Airlines reported that it lost $56 million in August. On Friday, the bankruptcy court will take up the request of the airline's unions for the appointment of a trustee to run the carrier. ... The precarious finances of Delta Air Lines led its caterer to cut off food deliveries this week, forcing the airline to offer passengers food vouchers and take the caterer to court. Although Delta won a court order to resume deliveries, it's unclear whether the company has resumed its service. ... American Airlines admitted it was trying to refinance an $834 million line of credit because its revenue is falling and its weak financial performance will violate the terms of the credit line. It also announced an across-the-board $5 fare increase on Wednesday, but no other airline had matched as of late this evening. ... And US Airways said it would go into its bankruptcy court on Friday and demand a hearing to impose unilateral pay cuts on its contract employees. The airline's chances of success are unclear since US Airways' filings last week admitted that its current labor costs are already below the management's own estimates when it exited bankruptcy last year. Moreover, the contracts US Airways wants to override are the very deals that it demanded the unions accept during the airline's first stay in bankruptcy. ... Finally, this related note: The Securities and Exchange Commission says that John Adams, the former chief executive of Hawaiian Airlines, will pay $2.5 million to settle claims that he made $17 million in stock sales by manipulating a share buyback. Hawaiian is currently in bankruptcy and a judge removed Adams and placed the carrier in the hands of a trustee. He's returned the airline to profit in recent months.

IN THE LOBBY: Hoteliers Reap What They Sow on High Phone Charges
Absurdly high fees for using guest-room phones and business travelers' increased usage of their own cell phones has hit the hotel industry in its bottom line. Revenues from telephone operations at U.S. hotels dropped 20 percent last year compared to 2002. That's on top of drops of about 22 percent in each of the two previous years. The figures were reported by the hospitality group of PKF Consulting, which also says telephones now contribute just 1.4 percent of total hotel revenue, down from 2.9 percent a decade ago. ... Hilton International has opened a 510-room hotel adjacent to Sentral Station in Kuala Lumpur. That station has a direct rail link to Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Separately, Hilton International says it is dumping its 88-room hotel in Inverness-shire, Scotland. The hotel had been a Stakis hotel until Hilton bought Stakis in 1999. ... Cendant, which owns several hotel brands, including Super 8, Wingate Inn and Howard Johnson, is taking over the Ramada International brand from Marriott. Cendant is already in control of the domestic arm of Ramada. ... Raffles, the growing group of a dozen hotels built on the iconic Raffles Hotel in Singapore, has forged an alliance with Taj Luxury Hotels, a division of Taj, the fast-growing Indian hotel company. The agreement between the two companies also envisions a later alliance between Swissotel, a Raffles brand, and Taj's so-called business-hotel division.

ON THE FLY: Business-Travel News You Need to Know
ATA Airlines and America West are now charging $5 for tickets purchased over the phone and $10 for tickets purchased at the airport. They join five of the Big Six; Delta Air Lines remains the major holdout. ... Aer Lingus said it will suspend its flights to Ireland from Baltimore/Washington this winter. Flights end December 1, but resume on May 9. ... The Environmental Protection Administration confirmed this week what we all know: drinking water from airline tanks probably isn't all that drinkable and may not be safe. The EPA tested water in 158 randomly selected aircraft at seven airports. The water from 20 of the planes tested positive for everything from the coliform bacteria to E coli. ... Air Canada has introduced so-called Fly City Passes in seven cities (Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax). The city passes offer ten flights for prices that start at C$249 each. The passes are valid for about a year. ... New Zealand's highest court says a planned alliance between Air New Zealand and Qantas cannot proceed. ... Iraqi Airways operated its first flights in 14 years last week when an Iraqi Airways jet flew to Baghdad from Amman, Jordan.

This column originally appeared at

Copyright 1993-2004 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.