The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
Business-Travel Briefing for August 11-25, 2016
The briefing in brief: No, you can't hide from politics in business travel. Delta pulls the plug on its Narita hub. JetBlue finds new market for its Mint service. Air Berlin takes another run at the U.S. market. Denver Airport adds power ports. United bails on Newcastle route. And more.

Politics Are Foul, Business Travel Division
Think you can hide from politics in business travel? Uh-uh. Everywhere you go, there it is. Let's start with Turkish Airlines. The state-controlled carrier has not been spared since the failed coup on July 15 against Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. More than 200 employees, including the chief financial officer, have been canned as Erdogan purges state institutions of supposed apostates. Meanwhile, the airline's club at its Istanbul hub has been renamed the "July 15 Heroes of Democracy Lounge." Here at home, politics intrude, too. The Congressman for the 9th District of Pennsylvania is Bill Shuster, whose main assignment is chairman of the House Transportation Committee. Yet Shuster thinks nothing of publicly shacking up with a lobbyist for the airline industry's trade group. That corrupt arrangement got Shuster primaried in April by a Tea Party challenger named Art Halvorson. A former Coast Guard officer, Halvorson nearly beat Shuster. That led Democrats in the 9th District to make him their candidate in the general election. Halvorson says he'll caucus with the Republicans if he beats Shuster in November. But, wait, there's still more. The Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) is seeking an investigation of Roger Williams, a big Texas car dealer who also happens to represent the state's 25th District. His offense? Pushing an amendment to exempt car dealers from a bill that would prohibit renting vehicles under safety recalls. (Promoting legislation that benefits you violates House ethics rules, but Shuster's affair with a lobbyist apparently doesn't.) And, yes, there's a Trump travel angle, too. Trump claims his companies offer child care to employees. But the Associated Press discovered this week that the programs Trump touts are only available to guests of Trump Hotels and golf courses, not employees.

So Much for the Spoils of War: Delta Essentially Kills Its Narita Hub
After World War II, America's airline industry was gifted two lucrative spoils of victory. In Europe, Lufthansa was forbidden to fly to Berlin, allowing Pan Am and TWA to operate all domestic West German flights from the then-divided city. And in the Pacific, Northwest was given the right to operate a hub in Tokyo. Pan Am and TWA shed their German operations well before they disappeared, but Northwest ran a major hub at Tokyo's Narita Airport until it merged with Delta in 2008. Delta has slowly chipped away at Narita in recent years, preferring instead to operate nonstop flights to Asia directly from the United States and opening a transpac hub at Seattle-Tacoma. Now Delta, citing a recent decision to allow U.S.-Tokyo flights from close-in Haneda Airport, is basically pulling the plug on Narita. It announced this week that it will end flights to Narita from New York/JFK, Bangkok and Osaka/Kansai. Delta already announced that it was dropping Narita routes to Los Angeles and Minneapolis-St. Paul, too, although they will be replaced with nonstops to Haneda. At least for now, Delta will continue to use Narita for point-to-point nonstops to Tokyo from its hubs in Detroit, Atlanta and Seattle as well as Portland, Oregon.
      United Airlines is restoring nonstop flights between its San Francisco hub and Miami. Effective December 15, there'll be one daily Boeing 737-800 flight. United last flew the route in 2004. The airline is also restoring seasonal service between its Washington/Dulles hub and Fort Lauderdale. There will be two daily Boeing 737-800 flights starting December 16.
      American Airlines is adding two Midwestern routes from its Charlotte hub. Effective November 4, there'll be two daily roundtrips to both Cedar Rapids and Peoria. Both runs will be served with CRJ-700s.

JetBlue Keeps Pushing the Envelope on Its Mint Service
Mint Service from JetBlue Airways, an international business class product at much lower prices, has been a success for the airline on traditional transcontinental routes from its New York/Kennedy hub to San Francisco and Los Angeles. But JetBlue needs to find new markets for the concept because it has a steady stream of Mint-configured Airbus A321s coming into the fleet. The flat beds and upmarket dining have already launched on some routes from its Boston hub and now JetBlue says it'll add Mint on flights between Los Angeles and its Fort Lauderdale hub. The first Mint flights launch March 20, followed by a second daily roundtrip on April 20. JetBlue is also adding Mint to a weekly flight between JFK and the island of Grenada during the height of the Caribbean travel season. That flight will operate from January 21 to April 29. Separately, JetBlue has announced it will launch a traditionally equipped weekly Airbus A320 flight between Newark and Bridgetown, Barbados, starting on November 19.
      Alaska Airlines is reviving daily flights between Portland, Oregon, and Orlando. Boeing 737 service resumes in March after being dormant since August, 2008. Alaska is also launching flights from its Seattle hub to San Luis Obispo, California. The daily flights begin April 13 using 76-seat E175s operated by SkyWest Airlines.

Air Berlin Tries Another Expansion in the U.S. Market
Air Berlin, a peculiar mash-up that includes the old LTU, is once again making a push in the U.S. market. After a gap of more than two years, Air Berlin is reviving its nonstops between Los Angeles and its hub at Berlin's Tegel Airport. The three weekly flights resume on May 2. New are four weekly flights between San Francisco and Tegel beginning May 1. The carrier is also making its three weekly flights to Miami a year-round service. Air Berlin will also take another crack at Orlando-Dusseldorf flights. Effective May 6, there'll be four weekly flights. Air Berlin hasn't served that route since 2006 when the flights were run by LTU. Air Berlin will use Airbus A330-200s configured with 19 business class beds, 46 extra-legroom coach seats (called XL Seats) and 225 coach seats. A note for American Airlines flyers: Air Berlin is part of the Oneworld Alliance and a partner in American AAdvantage. Better yet, you can claim award seats without surcharges.
      Meridiana, an Italian carrier that flies some routes from New York/Kennedy, is adding a nonstop between Milan and Miami. There'll be three weekly flights between October and March.
      United Airlines is dropping flights from its Newark hub to Newcastle, England. The seasonal flights will continue until September 6, but will not resume next summer.
      Marriott continues its international expansion. It has opened a 160-room Courtyard in Quebec City; a 176-room Moxy in Eschborn, a suburb of Frankfurt, and a 217-room Marriott in Minsk, capital of Belarus. Meanwhile, in the Netherlands, Marriott has slapped its name on the 230-room Manhattan Hotel across from Rotterdam's central train station.

Business Travel News You Need to Know
United Airlines has devalued MileagePlus again. Award fees have been raised marginally and fewer awards will qualify for free stopovers. Complete details are here.
      Denver Airport has installed 2,200 power hubs that include a pair of standard electrical plugs and two USB ports. The power hubs are spread out around Denver's three concourses.
      U.S. hoteliers continue to open properties throughout China. New this week: a 298-room Hyatt Regency in Xi'an and a 237-room DoubleTree by Hilton next to the convention center in Chongqing.

This column is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright © 2016 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved. 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.