What to Know Now

It’s been a crazy week for airline CEOs. First, Ben Baldaza, the outspoken leader of Spirit Airlines was suddenly and unexpectedly replaced after leading the airline for a strong ten years. He’s followed by the former CEO of AirTran, who coincidentally has a strong background in mergers.

Then, late this week United announced that its CEO, who was in the process of recovering from a heart attack, has just undergone heart replacement surgery. That procedure will keep him out of pocket through the end of the first quarter, though it’s unclear whether he will be fit to resume his high-stress position at that time.

All this tumult plus the unstable global market has airline stocks suffering. All three legacy carriers are down this week and even Spirit, which got a bump after Baldaza left, has returned to late-2015 levels. If we keep this up, 2016 is going to be an interesting year.

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Oscar Munoz united

Airlines

Ryanair Grew Twice as Fast as EasyJet in 2015 as Low-Cost Flights Boom: Ryanair Holdings Plc grew at more than twice the pace of EasyJet Plc last year, taking its annual passenger tally above 100 million for the first time, as Europe’s two biggest low-cost carriers tapped a surge in leisure travel and stepped up efforts to win traffic from network rivals. Read more at Skift

United Airlines CEO Undergoes Heart Transplant Surgery: United Airlines said in a statement that CEO Oscar Munoz underwent a heart transplant surgery earlier today. Read more at Skift

How to Deal With Flight Delays and Other Travel Headaches: Travel in an age of uncertain climate means that at some point, your plans are likely to be upended by weather. Still, with a bit of preparation and the right attitude, it doesn’t have to proverbially rain on your vacation. Read more at The New York Times

The 3 Largest U.S. Airlines Just Raised Their Fares Across the Board: Three of the largest U.S. airlines have inched up fares in what could mark the first industry-wide hike since June. Read more at Skift
Anti Heathrow expansion activists at the 'Grow Heathrow' protest camp in the village of Sipson near to Heathrow Airport, west London

Airports

How Abu Dhabi Airport Prepares for 45 Million Passengers: Abu Dhabi Airport has planned major IT infrastructure and technology upgrades to accommodate its growth plans, increasing to a passenger capacity of 45 million by 2017. Read more at Skift

Tarmac Delay Rule Makes Delayed Flight Experience Worse According to Study: A study has found that the legislation intended to protect passengers from delays on the tarmac has actually made life worse for those unlucky enough to find themselves grounded. Read more at FlyerTalk

Life Inside the Anti-Runway Camp Outside Heathrow Airport: Near London’s Heathrow airport, object of an intense political debate over whether to expand, activists opposing its growth gather on the site of a former market garden. Read more at Skift

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Tech

This Week in Travel Startup Funding: Audi Invests in Silvercar: Silvercar raised a $28 million Series C round from new investor Audi and existing investors Austin Ventures and Eduardo Saverin bringing the Austin, Texas-based startup’s total funding to $59.5 million. Read more at Skift

Uber Pays Tiny Penalty for Privacy Violations in New York City: New York’s attorney general has announced a settlement with Uber requiring the car service app to protect riders’ personal information. Read more at Skift

The Austrian Company Ready to Replace the Passport With a Smartphone: An Austrian passport-maker in business for 200 years says it is ready to put vital identity documents on that most personal of devices – the smartphone. Read more at Skift

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Hotels

The Hotel In-Room Tablet Isn’t Dead, It May Even Be Evolving: Aria Resort & Casino is outfitting all of its 4,004 rooms this week with new tablets developed by UK-based Crave Interactive, designed to provide better guest messaging, streamlined in-room purchasing, and room management. Read more at Skift

Good Reasons for Hotel Guests to Think Small Before Checking in This Year: 2016 might be the year that frequent travelers re-think their hotel loyalty allegiances. Read more at Skift

The Inside Story of How Marriott Didn’t Want Starwood Until It Did: The Starwood sales process, which kicked off April 29 at the urging of some of the hotel chain’s shareholders, involved 30 U.S. or foreign hotels or investment groups that reached out or were contacted, while Marriott International ultimately took home the grand prize in November for $12.2 billion. Read more at Skift

What Smart Hotels Are Doing to Create Successful Restaurants Now: Hotel restaurants are notorious for being overpriced and underwhelming, often disappointing travelers looking for either a social atmosphere or touch of comfort while on the road. Read more at Skift

Your Turn

Vice just launched a surprisingly decent travel show called Streets. Skift has the profile here.

Tips and Comments

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

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Photo Credit: Former Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza, inset, and United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz. United Airlines/Spirit Airlines