The U.S. House has passed legislation that would extend by one year the October deadline for Visa Waiver Program countries to include biometric identifiers on passports. The bill was introduced by Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee; a similar bill is now pending in the Senate. The Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), which has been working vigilantly for the delay, applauded the House’s action, saying certain tourism trading partners are not ready to produce the passports. TIA President and CEO William Norman said on Monday, “Today’s House vote shows that Chairman Sensenbrenner and the Administration are sensitive to travel industry concerns. We appreciate their actions.” The National Business Travel Association (NBTA) also lauded the deadline. NBTA successfully lobbied that keeping in place the original October 2004 deadline requirement would hurt thousands of American businesses that depend on international travel and would be harmful to the American travel and tourism industry. The Association is now poised to tackle a similar measure before the Senate.
Aloha Airlines is increasing the number of passenger seats on its 10 Boeing 737-200 inter-island aircraft by replacing 12 first class seats with 21 coach seats. The airline expects to complete the conversion program by mid-July. This modification affects only the carrier?s flights within Hawaii; it retains first class seating and service on all its transpacific and West Coast flights provided on its long-range Boeing 737-700 fleet. In tandem with the seating switch, the carrier says it is boosting its inter-island schedule by 28 percent for the summer season, beginning June 10. As for inter-island first-class bookings, Aloha has stopped accepting such bookings for travel after June 30 and says passengers who?ve paid for first-class inter-island seats for travel after June 30 will be entitled to refunds. www.alohaairlines.com
American Airlines is adding flights to 50 cities this week in preparation for a busy summer season. AA also just began serving three new routes from Los Angeles to San Salvador, between Chicago and Sacramento, and between San Francisco and Maui. On July 3 2004, it will add seasonal weekend service from New York LaGuardia and Dallas/Fort Worth to Nassau. Most of the markets are seeing the addition of one or two new flights per week. But cities such as Cancun; San Pedro Sula, Honduras; Kingston, Jamaica; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; and Honolulu will see five or six new flights a week.
American Airlines has implemented a new low-fare structure in the Dallas/Fort Worth-Los Angeles market. Its new one-way, walkup coach fare to all five Los Angeles-area airports is $199, with fares going as low as $99 when purchased with a 14-day advance. There are no Saturday stay requirements. The fare is good to Los Angeles International, John Wayne Airport, Ontario, Long Beach and Bob Hope Airport in Burbank. American said the lowest fares would be hard to find during the summer on Fridays through Sundays, so customers should book early. “Travelers can use American’s Web site, AA.com, to search for the best bargains at the desired departure times,” said Dan Garton, executive VP of marketing.
American Airlines will begin offering nonstop flights from Miami to St. Kitts this November. It will initially operate three times a week, starting Nov. 3 2004, which will be expanded to five times per week on Feb. 2. Also in November, American is inaugurating service from Miami to St. Lucia. It is putting Boeing 737s on the St. Kitts route with 16 first class and 126 economy seats.
American Airlines cut fares on June 10 2004 between Dallas/Fort Worth and the greater Los Angeles area. American’s one-way, walk-up coach fare on nonstop flights between Dallas/Fort Worth and five Los Angeles-area airports will be priced from $199, with other one-way fares of $99 with a 14-day advance purchase and no Saturday-night stay requirements.
America West announced June 14 2004 that it is launching a fare sale to one of its newest Canadian destinations, Edmonton, Alberta for travel between June 21 and Oct. 31, 2004. Customers can take advantage of these low fares by purchasing roundtrip travel now through June 21, 2004. A seven-day advance purchase is required and a one-night minimum stay.
America West Airlines the nation’s second largest low-fare airline, initiated one daily, roundtrip, nonstop flight today between Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) and Vancouver, British Columbia; and Mazatlan, Mexico. With the addition of this new service, America West now offers 32 daily departures from LAX to nine destinations including Boston; Edmonton, Alberta; Las Vegas; Mazatlan, Mexico; New York/JFK; Phoenix; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico; Vancouver, British Columbia; and Washington, D.C.
Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) this month is marking its 25th anniversary of passenger service with customer and employee celebrations throughout the Southeast. The celebration begins Thursday with the delivery of a special-edition, 70-seat CRJ700 regional jet from Bombardier Aerospace in Montreal.
British Airways last week introduced a new improved food service in Club Europe. The move coincides with the completion of a refurbishment of the Heathrow T1 executive lounges including the addition of a premium class check-in area, self-service check-in kiosks, and an exclusive security channel. Whilst the full English breakfast will remain a popular choice the airline will introduce a new continental breakfast option and a hot panini on its midrange European flights to destinations such as Frankfurt, Geneva and Lyon. On longer short haul flights, including Stockholm, Barcelona and Lisbon, customers will be offered two hot meal choices for dinner and lunch, plus a further salad option for those wanting a healthier meal. As well as improved quality and choice, customers will also notice a change of presentation with menu cards, white linen tablecloths and new round china plates, replacing the existing ‘airline’ style dish. www.ba.com
China Southern Airlines www.cs-air.com/en has launched new Urumqi- Dushanbe and Urumqi-Kashi-Islamabad service. The new Boeing 757 service to Dushanbe, available every Monday, will promote the commercial exchange between Xinjiang and Tajikistan and the development of tourism industry of the two regions. It also symbolizes the continued bridge- building between Xinjiang and the global marketplace. Additionally, service to Islamabad is the first international route from Xinjiang which operates every Tuesday and Saturday with a flight time of approximately three hours.
China Southern Airlines www.cs-air.com/en is pleased to announce that its Sky Pearl Club is teaming up with Hertz to offer you more extra value and benefits. Starting 1 July 2004, China Southern Airlines and Hertz, the world’s No. 1 car rental company, have teamed up to provide new benefits to Sky Pearl Club members. Members of the Sky Pearl Club can earn award credits and extra savings when renting a car at any of Hertz’s 7,000 locations throughout more than 150 countries throughout the world. The Sky Pearl Cub is the largest frequent flyer program in China with more than 2 Million members worldwide.
Los Angeles-based Continental Journeys is offering four-day/three-night city stays for independent travelers in five German cities: Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Leipzig and Dresden and in Prague, the Czech capital. Through Dec. 31 2004, stays cost $199 per person double for tourist- class hotels, $239 to $299 in first-class hotels, and $325 to $539 at deluxe properties. The land-only packages include a centrally located hotel, buffet breakfast, hotel taxes and service charges, and a city sightseeing tour (except in Hamburg, where a three-day City Welcome Card is provided). For more information, visit www.continentaljourneys.com
Delta Air Lines announced on June 10 2004 it has enhanced its industry- leading, comprehensive solution to serve customers during flight delays and cancellations. Effective today, the airline added the capability of automatically printing amenity vouchers from its gate readers. When events warrant, customers will be able to use one of Delta’s more than 800 gate readers to retrieve itinerary receipts (which act as new boarding passes), plus vouchers for hotels and meals if needed. The result will be shorter lines and fewer of them, while allowing customers to remain in control of the travel experience.
Delta Air Lines is inviting customers to have major fun without a major investment when planning summer and fall travel. Sale fares are available from Delta’s Atlanta hub and other select cities in the United States. From now until June 25 2004, customers may purchase discount travel starting as low as $55 each way. Fares are valid for travel Monday through Thursday and Saturday through Nov. 2, 2004. Fares require a seven-day advance purchase with no minimum stay requirement. Some blackout dates apply. See below for details and other important restrictions.
Delta Air Lines will cut a fourth of flights on its low-cost Song carrier this September, raising questions about how well the budget airline is doing. Delta officials say the cutback is just temporary, with the full 144 daily flights returning in October 2004.
Delta Air Lines is turning the Atlanta to Washington-Dulles market into shuttle service, effectively, on Aug. 1 2004. It will fly one flight per hour, and add four new flights. The airline currently flies 16 flights into Washington’s Reagan National Airport, as well as 13 daily flights to Baltimore-Washington Airport. The new flights give Washingtonians a wider choice of airports for hourly service. The new flights to Dulles will depart at 15 minutes past the hour beginning at 7:15 a.m. from Atlanta, and 6 a.m. from Dulles. The flights will be a mix of Delta aircraft and regional jets flown by Delta Connection carrier Atlantic Southeast Airlines.
Eva Air of Taiwan, through a partnership with Expedia, now allows customers to book car rentals and hotels directly from its Web site. Eva is the first Asian airline to join Expedia’s WWTE program. The technology provided gives the airline’s clients access to Expedia’s inventory while maintaining the Eva Air brand and look and feel of www.evaair.com
Frontier Airlines which has served Mexico nonstop from Denver since December 2002 and is currently the largest carrier to Mexico from Denver, is now offering a once-in-a-lifetime low price to visit the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches of Mexico. For just *$89 each way you can visit Ixtapa/Zihuatanejo (ZIH) nonstop from Denver (DEN).
The Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (HVCB) has launched interactive maps online at www.meethawaii.com to help meeting and event planners who are researching and scheduling meetings in the islands. The site also provides information on pre and post-meeting activities in Hawaii. “Groups enjoy holding business meetings in the islands, but what they really want to do is experience Hawaii in their free time,” says Michael Murray, CMP, CMM, CASE, director of sales for HVCB?s corporate meetings and incentives division. “These maps are user-friendly and help planners make the most of their clients’ stay.”
Independence Air will begin low-fare service to Raleigh/Durham International Airport (RDU) tomorrow, June 16 2004 with nine daily, non- stop flights to Washington Dulles International Airport. The schedule quickly expands throughout June and July, growing to 14 daily non-stops by July 17th. In addition, Independence Air will be adding easy connections from Raleigh/Durham to 25 cities across the country.
When low-fare airline Independence Air begins service Wednesday, June 16th, passengers will experience a new onboard feature designed to make air travel more interesting, memorable and even safer: inflight announcements performed by celebrities. Independence Air flights will use a rotation of recorded announcements featuring comedian Dennis Miller, musician Chuck Berry, soccer star Mia Hamm and political commentary couple James Carville and Mary Matalin. As these celebrity recordings are being played onboard, Independence Air flight attendants will interact with the announcements and perform live safety demonstrations in the cabin.
Low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways launched on June 8 2004 its first international flight to the Dominican Republic. The New York-based airline, which already flies to the U.S. commonwealth of Puerto Rico, has begun service to Santiago in the Dominican Republic and plans to launch service to Santo Domingo,, the capital city, on June 17 2004.
Northwest Airlines today announced that it is expanding service at Lansing, Mich., with new non-stop jet service to Washington’s Dulles International Airport. Four weekday flights and three flights on Saturdays and Sundays will be offered beginning July 15 2004. The new service complements existing service between Lansing and Northwest’s hubs at Detroit and Minneapolis/St. Paul, providing connections to hundreds of destinations worldwide served by Northwest and its global travel partners.
Galileo International has begun deploying e-tickets with Spirit Airlines. The GDS system now offers electronic ticketing for 62 airlines in 48 countries. According to the carrier, this move is similar to many other airlines? similar decision in that it is an effort to reduce costs and offer greater efficiency to customer.
The Star Alliance has announced it will add its first regional airline member, Blue1 of Finland. To become a regional member, an airline must have close ties to an existing member. Blue1 is owned by alliance member SAS. The airline flies nine Avro RJs and five Saab 2000 airplanes. Blue1 joins South African Airways, which was just officially approved by the board for membership, and TAP Air Portugal as the newest members. SAA will join the alliance next year. TAP has not yet officially begun to operate as a Star Alliance member.
Swiss International will serve London City Airport from Basel from Aug. 30 2004. The flights to and from City Airport, which is conveniently close to London’s central business district, will be operated thrice daily on weekdays and daily at the weekend using Saab 2000 equipment. The current Basel – London (Heathrow) services will be withdrawn from the start of the 2004/05 winter schedules.
Swiss International has decided the first week of June 2004 not to proceed with the envisaged integration of its Swiss Travel Club frequent flyer program into the Executive Club, its counterpart at British Airways, under the present conditions. The sizable costs of such an integration and the drawbacks it would bring currently outweigh its projected mid- to long-term benefits. As the abandonment of the proposed integration also means that the bilateral agreement between SWISS and British Airways cannot be put into practice, Swiss is unable to join the oneworld alliance at the present time. Swiss and British Airways have reached an amicable agreement on how they now intend to proceed. Swiss’s bilateral commercial agreements with other oneworld members remain unaffected by these developments.
United Airlines unveiled June 15 2004 an exciting sweepstakes offering consumers a chance to win the world. Customers who book qualifying travel on United, United Express, Ted or Star Alliance from any of the three major Washington, D.C.-area airports automatically become eligible to win a trip around the world. To qualify, eligible travel must be booked by June 20, 2004.
United Airlines launched on June 10 2004 daily nonstop service between Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) and Osaka Kansai International Airport (KIX), strengthening its already comprehensive network in Japan and the Asia Pacific region. The flight is marketed in conjunction with All Nippon Airways, United’s Star Alliance partner in Japan. It is flown using a Boeing 777 aircraft fitted with 10 United First Suite seats, 45 United Business seats, and 198 United Economy seats.
US Airways is offering special fares, ranging from $138 -$198 roundtrip, for travel between most cities in the U.S. and Boston, New York- LaGuardia, and Washington, D.C. Under this sale, tickets must be purchased at least 14 days in advance of travel, within 24 hours of making the initial reservation and no later than June 17, 2004. Departing travel is valid Thursdays through Saturdays; returning travel is valid Sundays through Tuesdays. A minimum Saturday-night stay is required and a maximum five-day stay is allowed. All travel must be completed by Sept. 28, 2004.
US Airways unveiled on June 10 2004 its fifteenth GoFare market, introducing new simplified fares between Philadelphia and San Diego, available immediately. US Airways’ Philadelphia-San Diego GoFares start at as low as $94 each way in Coach Class. The one-way First Class fare is $699 each way and the new GoFirst fare is $698* roundtrip, with a seven day advance purchase and one-night minimum stay. Coach Class GoFares are never more than $499 each way on this route. The previous walkup fare on this route was $1286 each way.
Virgin Atlantic will give upper-class passengers the opportunity to travel to London Heathrow on the Thames to beat traffic late this summer. They will travel to the airport in a Gibbs Aquada amphibious vehicle that can slip in and out of the river, driving to and from a customer’s home and the airport. Virgin says it will cut up to 30 minutes off of the drive between the city and the airport. The Gibbs Aquada can travel at speeds of up to 100 mph on land and 30 mph in water. More information on the vehicle can be found at www.aquada.co.uk.
Fred Reid, who will lead the new Virgin-branded airline that hopes to launch service in the U.S., told the International Aviation Club in Washington Tuesday that the new airline will be branded Virgin America, and has placed an aircraft order. Virgin America, whose new Web site www.virginamerica.com is now operational, has placed a firm order with Airbus for 18 airplanes: 11 A319s and seven A320s and has an agreement to lease 15 new A320s from GE Capital. But the launch originally pegged before the end of 2004 now looks like it will be delayed until at least mid-2005. The airline is still searching for committed investors and adequate capitalization, Reid said. He would not reveal any information about routes, but did say that just because it has chosen San Francisco as its principal base of operations, that “sheds no light whatsoever” on its routes or its planned hub base. The airline has yet to apply at the DOT for certification, which in many cases can take longer than 12 months.
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