What to Know Now

There’s a war brewing between United States and Gulf air carriers that may be bigger than we originally thought.

At its root, the war has to do with competition. American carriers, long weighed down by bulky labor contracts and high prices have languished with age. Gulf carriers, on the other hand, are currently enjoying the high tide of cheaper home team oil and newer planes. Hungry for more, they’re now expanding into U.S. markets.

Since U.S. carriers can’t compete on operating costs, they’re throwing legislation in the way, a move both irritating and bad for competition. Gulf carriers, on the other hand, continue to innovate and are basically telling American carriers to grow up.

How will this affect us in the business travel community? While legislation is still in play and expansion from foreign carriers is stymied, we’ll continue to see less competition and innovation in our sector. That’s fewer lie-flat seats, older planes and crummier meals. I’ll let you decide who to be angry with.

Social Quote of the Day

Delta: Gulf carriers fly more passengers than their home market requires. (Really? A year of “investigations” and that’s your best line?)

@winglets 747 | Will Horton, Analyst at the center for Aviation



Emirates Chairman Says U.S. Airlines Should Stop Complaining and Improve Their Service: Emirates Chairman Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum has a simple message for airlines accusing his Dubai- based carrier of taking away their passengers: improve your offering and they’ll come back. Read more at Skift

The World’s Best Business Class Experiences Rated by Region: After trying to find the World’s Best Business Class cabins, we can honestly declare that we are exhausted and in need of a long flight to a pretty island somewhere—in a fully-flat bed. However, we’ll settle for sharing the fruits of our labor with you. Read more at Skift

American Airlines Announces First Routes For Boeing 787: Aviation geeks around the country have been anxiously waiting for American carriers to adopt the Boeing 787 or “Dreamliner” into their fleets. Read more at Forbes

Surf Air’s Ex-CEO Starts Rival Subscription Airline Service: Surf Air’s former CEO, who was edged out a year ago, is launching a rival subscription-based airline service, Beacon, on the East Coast. Read more at Skift

Delta Just Imposed Secret 3-Week Advance Purchase Requirement on Domestic Saver Awards: It seems that Delta no longer offers awards at the lowest saver level within 3 weeks of travel. Read more at View from the Wing



Interview: Dubai Airports CEO on Transforming a Travel Pain Point: Dubai’s main airport Dubai International made headlines last year when it surpassed London Heathow as the busiest international hub with 18.36 million international passengers in the first quarter of 2014. Read more at Skift

U.S. Airport Group Sides Against Airlines in Open Skies Battle: In a letter addressed to the Secretaries of the U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and the U.S. Department of Transportation, Kevin M. Burke, President and CEO of Airports Council International—North America, expressed strong support of existing Open Skies policy and urged the Secretaries to stand behind the 114 established Open Skies agreements signed over more than 20 years which, he says, have brought “billions of dollars in economic activity to communities throughout the US.” Read more at Skift

Korea’s Incheon Airport Desperately Wants to Lure the Gambling Chinese Middle Class: Incheon Airport, the gateway to Seoul, is planning a tourism project to emulate Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore that aims to lure Chinese with a new casino, shopping mall and hotels. Read more at Skift

U.S. Airport Tarmac Delays Were at Their Lowest Point on Record Last Year: There were no super-long tarmac delays for airlines in December, making 2014 the best year on record for fewest such incidents. Read more at Skift

jetblue apple pay


JetBlue Embraces Apple Pay for In-Flight Food and Upgrade Purchases: JetBlue will soon allow passengers to purchase food and beverages in-flight and even seat upgrades using Apple Pay. Read more at Skift

The First Film From Marriott’s In-House Studio Is About Bellhops and Parkour: Marriott International, which announced the creation of a global content studio in September, today released the first of its latest content initiative — a trailer for its first 15-minute short film. Read more at Skift

Hotel Startup Alice Raises $3 Million to Build Out Hospitality Mobile Tech: Hospitality startup Alice today announced a $3 million seed round led by Tishman Realty Principles, NeueHouse Founders, 645 Ventures, and the founders of Seamless. This is the startup’s first announced round of funding, but Skift reported on its partial $1.3 million raise in June. Read more at Skift



Hilton Spends the Money It Made on Waldorf Astoria to Buy 5 New Hotels: Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., the largest operator of lodging properties, agreed to buy San Francisco’s Parc 55 hotel and four other hotels for $1.76 billion. Read more at Skift

When Did Big Hotel Brands Fall in Love With User Reviews? When TripAdvisor launched in 2000, not many people cared about regular travelers’ thoughts about hotels, attractions, or travel in general. Read more at Skift

Starwood’s Planned Spinoff of Timeshare Unit Leads to Market Gains: Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., owner of the Sheraton and W brands, climbed the most in five years after announcing plans to spin off its timeshare business into a new publicly traded company. Read more at Skift

Loews’ New OE Collection Aspires To Be the Thinking Man’s Lifestyle Hotel: Loews Hotels officially launched its spunky new OE Collection last month, marrying the luxury and lifestyle hotel segments with what it called an independent spirit and culturally attuned mindset. Read more at Skift

Interview: Ritz-Carlton COO on Adapting to Luxury Travelers’ Expectations: The Ritz-Carlton is one of the most iconic luxury hotel brands available to travelers today. Founded in 1983, the brand quickly grew from one property in Boston to 24 properties when, in 1998, the brand was purchased by Marriott International. Read more at Skift 

Your Turn

Our friend Matt Gross is now the editorial director over at Realtor.com — and they’re hiring like crazy. Writers. Social People. Photo People. Data Editors. Go crazy.

Tips and Comments

Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin

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Photo Credit: James Hogan, Etihad's chief executive. Ben Job / Reuters