By Joe Brancatelli

· Back to the Future (Haneda) for Travel to Tokyo
· Hilton, Growing in Italy, Gets Another Sicily Hotel
· Starwood Adds a New Le Meridien in Philadelphia
· Southwest Says It's Flying to South Carolina
· Delta Air Lines Bulks Up (Again) in New York
· Spirit and Its Pilots Are 30 Days From a Strike
· Keeping Up With the Ash Cloud and BA's Strike

Back to the Future for Travel to Tokyo
Business travelers headed to Tokyo have spent the last generation flying to distant and charmless Narita Airport. Closer-in (albeit equally charmless) Haneda Airport has been off-limits to virtually all international flights since 1978. But thanks to a recent open-skies agreement between the United States and Japan, Haneda will again be open for intercontinental flights beginning in the fall. After a brief period of consultation and petitioning, the U.S. Department of Transportation has awarded Haneda flights to American, Delta and Hawaiian airlines. American will get to launch a daily New York/Kennedy-Haneda flight, Delta gets daily flights from Los Angeles and its Detroit hub and Hawaiian Airlines will be permitted to launch daily service from Honolulu to Haneda. And that's not all: Bankrupt Japan Airlines will move its San Francisco flights to Haneda from Narita and launch its own Honolulu-Haneda service. For more information on Haneda, surf here. For those familiar with Tokyo's extensive rail network, Haneda is accessible via the Keikyu Airport Line. The travel time to Tokyo Station is about 30 minutes. Extensive bus service is also available; the travel time to central Tokyo hotels is about 50 minutes.

Hilton Gets Another Sicily Hotel; Starwood Grows in Philadelphia
Hilton has been bulking up all over Italy and once again has three hotels in Sicily. Besides its two properties in Palermo, Hilton has put its flag on the Russott Hotel in Giardini Naxos. Halfway between Messina and Catania, the 296-room beachfront Hilton Giardini Naxos has undergone a major renovation. Hilton also has a new 269-room outlet in Evanston, Illinois. The Hilton Orrington was formerly known as the Omni and the Hotel Orrington and it first opened in 1923. Le Meridien, a Starwood brand, has opened a 202-room hotel in a former YMCA building in central Philadelphia. The property is adjacent to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and a block from the Philadelphia Convention Center. Crowne Plaza, which specializes in hotel conversions, has two more: the 179-room hotel in Independence, Ohio, that was once known as the Skyline and the Sheraton; and a 194-room hotel in San Salvador, El Salvador, that was once known as the Hotel El Salvador.

Southwest Says It's Flying to South Carolina. But Why?
A very strange announcement this week from Southwest Airlines. The carrier says that it will begin flights from two South Carolina airports--Charleston and Greenville-Spartanburg--next year. What's odd about that? Well, Southwest didn't announce a launch date or routes from either airport. Moreover, it rarely opens up two airports at one time. And the carrier made a point to say its decision to fly to these new cities is "not dependent on pending legislation to provide air service subsidies." That last comment is extremely odd since the entire impetus for new service traces back to a bill in the South Carolina legislature that would offer as much as $15 million in grants to low-cost carriers. You'll want to watch this one carefully.

Delta Air Lines Bulks Up (Again) in New York
The four-way battle between Delta, Continental, American and JetBlue for control of the New York Metropolitan area continues apace. This week's attack comes from Delta. According to the carrier, it'll add capacity or launch routes to 30 cities from New York's major airports by the fall. Most notable in the next 30 days: nonstops from New York/Kennedy to Copenhagen and Stockholm beginning May 27; JFK-Grand Cayman flights starting on June 12; and the launch of a "shuttle" service between New York/LaGuardia and Chicago/O'Hare on June 14.

Business-Travel News You Need to Know
The long Chinese nightmare of American Airlines is over. After squabbling for weeks with Chinese officials over take-off and landing times, American's twice-delayed Chicago-Beijing flights will launch on May 25. There'll be four-times-weekly service until July 3, when flights go daily. After three years of negotiations, the National Mediation Board has released Spirit Airlines and its pilots into a legally mandated 30-day cooling-off period. The pilots say they'll strike on June 12 if there is no contract agreement. Lufthansa has raised its fuel surcharge to $150 each way on flights between the United States and Europe. Surcharges on flights to other destinations are now as much as $216 each way.

Where to Follow This Week's Breaking News
Interested in what's happening with the ash cloud hovering over Europe? Please surf here for my ongoing coverage. Want to know what's happening with the British Airways strike? Please surf here. We'll update each page as necessary in the days ahead. Or, of course, you could do what I suggested in my Portfolio.com column this week: Go somewhere else.

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 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2010 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.