The Tactical Traveler By Joe Brancatelli
The Business Travel Briefing for July 19-31, 2018
The briefing in brief: Cathay Pacific will launch nonstops to Sea-Tac. American adds flights in Miami and Charlotte. A small airline victory in Africa. Hilton adds one and loses one in Manhattan while Marriott loses three in Dubai. The "art of the deal," Air Force One division. And more.

Cathay Pacific Flies Into Seattle to Fill the Gap Delta Will Leave
It was only last month that Delta Air Lines said that it would drop Seattle-Hong Kong nonstops. When flights end in October, Delta will be the third U.S. carrier to bail on a route. Both United Airlines and Northwest Airlines have tried to make a go on Seattle-Hong Kong flights in decades past. But maybe fourth time's the charm: Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific Airways announced this week that it would launch Seattle nonstops on April 1. Four weekly flights will operate with Airbus A350-900 aircraft configured with business, premium economy and coach cabins. Why would Cathay try the Seattle run when Delta, which has a hub in Seattle, couldn't make a go of it? The answer goes to Cathay Pacific's recent losses as it tries to persevere as a traditional premium-service airline. It hopes to return to profitability by flying routes where there is no direct competition. Also working in Cathay's favor: It already plays in Seattle-based Alaska Airlines' frequent flyer plan and logic dictates that the two carriers will now strike a deeper alliance. After all, Alaska Air has a wide range of international partners thanks to its Switzerland strategy. Seattle will be Cathay's tenth North American gateway after its September launch of flights to Washington/Dulles.

American Expands in Charlotte and Miami, Delta Adds Non-Hub Route
Delta Air Lines will launch nonstops between Raleigh and Chicago/O'Hare beginning April 2. The three daily flights between the two Delta spokes will use Embraer E175 flights operated by regional carrier Skywest. Meanwhile, American Airlines will add service on December 19 at its Miami and Charlotte hubs. From Miami, there'll be a daily nonstop to Grand Rapids and one to Houston/Hobby. Both routes will be operated with E175 regional jets. Also launching is a daily nonstop to Providence using Airbus A319s. The new route from Charlotte is a nonstop to Champaign, Illinois, using an Embraer E140 regional jet.
      Seattle-Tacoma flyers take note: Effective September 1, Alaska Airlines pulls its three Sea-Tac clubs from Priority Pass. The lounges are often overcrowded and already bar Priority Pass entry at busy times, so not much of a loss.
      Dallas/Fort Worth travelers take note: American Express will close its Centurion Lounge between July 24 and August 14. The club is being expanded and don't be surprised if the closing extends beyond mid-August because, really, when is anything done on-time at an airport?

A Small Victory in Africa in an Otherwise Dreary Airline Scene
Airline service has resumed between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Ethiopia essentially annexed Eritrea in 1950, but Eritrea successfully broke away in 1993. Relations between the two countries on the Horn of Africa have been awful ever since. Besides occasional military skirmishes, the border was closed and families separated. Even telephone service between the two nations has been cut these past 25 years. But a recent thaw in relations has meant a restoration of diplomatic relations and even renewed flying between the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and Asmara, the capital of Eritrea. Ethiopian Airlines launched its first flight yesterday (July 18) and Eritrean Airlines is expected to start its service soon. It's a 436-mile flight. Both carriers are using Boeing 737s.
      Residence Inn continues the slow, steady European expansion of U.S. extended-stay hotels. Marriott has converted a former apartment hotel into a 319-room Residence Inn in London. The property in Kensington includes a mix of one- and two-bedroom units.
      Delta Air Lines will begin seasonal flights between its New York/Kennedy hub and the Caribbean island of Antigua. Weekly service begins December 22 using Boeing 737-800s.

Hilton Gains One, Loses One in New York. Marriott Loses Three in Dubai.
Hilton has picked up a new property in Manhattan for its Tapestry Collection of independent hotels. The newly built Bernic on East 47th Street is a 96-room property offering floor-to-ceiling windows in each room. A few blocks away, however, the former Tudor Hotel on East 42nd Street has once again gone independent. It had been trading in recent years as the Hilton Tudor City and is now called the Westgate.
      Marriott is losing its three hotels in Dubai's Al Habtoor City development. Effective July 31, the St. Regis, the W Hotel and the Westin will pull down the Marriott brand flags. The owner says the hotels will be managed independently, but expect new brand affiliations soon.
      Hyatt has added two new properties in China. A 348-room Hyatt Regency has opened in Wangjing, the Koreatown neighborhood of Beijing. In Jiangsu Province, a 318-room Hyatt Regency has opened in Zhenjiang, a 90-minute drive from Nanjing Airport.

Business Travel News You Need to Know
Four former Delta Air Lines employees are suing the carrier because they claim they were fired for reporting sexual harassment. They also say they were canned for speaking Korean with flyers. Delta disputes the charges and says the ticket-counter and gate agents were terminated "because the company determined they violated ticketing and fare rules." That's jargon for "operational" upgrades granted when coach is oversold and there are empty seats in premium cabins.
      CitiBusiness AAdvantages Platinum cardholders get two new perks on July 22. Cardholders will earn two points per dollar spent on cable and satellite-TV services and receive a 25 percent discount on in-flight WiFi on American flights.
      The new airline planned by JetBlue Airways founder David Neeleman this week ordered 60 Airbus A220 planes. The deliveries are due to start in 2021, so mark your calendar.

The Art of the Deal, Air Force One Division
A few weeks after his election victory, President-elect Trump went off on Boeing when he learned it would charge taxpayers $4 billion for a pair of specially configured 747s meant to become the new Air Force One fleet. "Cancel order!" he urged on Twitter. The Defense Department announced this week that a new deal has been struck with Boeing for the two aircraft, which will be painted in a new red-white-and-blue paint scheme requested by President Trump. Value of the new contract? A total of $3.9 billion.

This column is Copyright © 2018 by Joe Brancatelli. is Copyright © 2018 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.