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Consensus from the peanut gallery is that JetBlue is the best looking suitor, but if we’ve learned anything from the Starwood sale, anyone from Delta to the well-funded Skift Business Travel team could end up purchasing Virgin America. Expect the winner to be announced early next week.
Social Quote of the Day
True. I could probably fly Mint more often if they merge FF programs.
Virgin Australia’s Largest Shareholder Air New Zealand Considers Exit: Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd.’s largest shareholder said it’s considering exiting the airline, days after the Australian carrier tapped its biggest investors for fresh funds. Read more at Skift
Fates of JetBlue and Virgin America Were Intertwined From the Beginning: Back in the 1990s, airline entrepreneur David Neeleman was chafing under a five-year noncompete agreement Southwest Airlines Co. boss Herb Kelleher made him sign after buying his small, low-cost carrier, Morris Air. Some two decades later, the airline Neeleman did start, JetBlue Airways Corp., may swallow up the airline Branson went on to form without him, Virgin America Inc. Read more at Skift
The Shrinking Airline Seat Becomes an Issue for Hawaiian Lawmakers: A group of Hawaii lawmakers says the growing size of Americans and obesity issues should be taken into account when airlines determine the size of their seats. Read more at Skift
World’s Busiest International Airport Will Now Charge a Departure Fee: Dubai’s crown prince has approved a new airport fee for all passengers leaving this long-haul air travel hub to pay for improvements and expansions. Read more at Skift
TSA PreCheck Shortfalls Will Lead To Huge Security Lines This Summer: An expedited screening program called PreCheck was supposed to be the answer to maddeningly long security lines at the airport. But four years after its launch, the Transportation Security Administration is far short of enrolling enough travelers to make a difference, spelling trouble for summer travel season. Read more at Skift
Brussels Airport Will Reopen With Limited Services and Makeshift Hangars: People flying to Brussels Zaventem airport will be sent to a hangar to collect their bags, while departing passengers carrying hand luggage face three flights of stairs to reach the security barrier, according to the latest plans for the reopening of the Belgian hub after last week’s terrorist attacks. Read more at Skift
Atlanta’s Airport May Have Leverage to Force Better Uber Driver Screening: A battle over background checks for Uber drivers at the world’s busiest airport comes as cities like Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, consider more thorough screenings to prevent criminals from getting behind the wheel. Read more at Skift
Uber, Ola Face Off in Battle For India’s Booming Taxi Market: Aiming to wrest control of India’s booming taxi market, two cab-hailing smartphone apps — Uber and Ola — are promising hundreds of millions in new investment while also facing off with one another in court. Read more at Skift
Travel Rewards Programs You May Not Know About — but Should: Practically every major airline and hotel loyalty program has recently changed or is on the road to being upended, be it the new American Airlines award chart, which went into effect on March 22, or a potential merger of the Starwood Preferred Guest and Marriott Rewards programs. Yet the travel industry is rife with other rewards and membership programs — offerings that don’t get as much attention but can make a trip cheaper and easier. Read more at The New York Times
Hilton Deepens Its Uber Relationship in New Loyalty Push: Hilton may not have been the first hospitality company to partner with Uber — that distinct honor goes to Starwood — but it is the first hotel company that’s allowing its loyalty members to view their hotel stay information and be able to check-in from the Uber app, all while they travel to their hotel in the very Uber they were reminded to book from their Hilton HHonors app. Read more at Skift
IBM Watson Is Changing Travel in Ways Nobody’s Expecting: With most large companies today evolving into digital companies, cloud computing is a booming marketplace for the big four industry providers: IBM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. Google, for example, stated that cloud could overtake advertising revenue in five years. Read more at Skift
Corporate Travel CEO Series: The Brewing Conflict Between Hotels and Travel Managers: Booking a hotel room is ostensibly a simple task. Whether buying directly online, through a booking site, over the phone, or through a travel agent, consumers and business travelers are usually just happy to find a low rate. Hotels, however, are constantly adjusting room rates in order to create more revenue. This can happen several times a day, or even several times an hour. So how can a consumer or business traveler actually know they’ve booked the lowest available rate? Read more at Skift
Why $31 Luxury Hotel Rooms Aren’t Good News for Anyone in Turkey: Last month Israelis were up, Russians down, and the Dutch seemed unfazed. Yet total tourist arrivals to Turkey fell 10 percent compared with February 2015, a blow to an industry that owes $17 billion to the country’s banks. Read more at Skift
Hilton Wants to Give You Diamond Elite Status Through March 2018: Once again, Hilton is offering status matches. You just need to upload a file showing you have hotel status with a program now, and also that you have had a hotel stay within the last year. Free Marriott Gold for a United Gold elite or higher with a single stay should work for Hilton status. Read more at View from the Wing
This Is What Marriott Has to Do to Keep Starwood From Anbang: If you’re Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson, you have to imagine this is going to be a busy week filled with a lot of closed-door meetings. At stake is whether or not his company can hold onto its already tenuous acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts after a new, more attractive all-cash bid came in, yet again, from Anbang Insurance Group and its consortium. Read more at Skift
A nice tribute to the legacy of David Granger, the outgoing editor-in-chief of Esquire is over at a the Columbia Journalism Review. Give it a good read.
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Can be sent to gm[at]skift[dot]com or to @grantkmartin