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Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.

Airlines

JetBlue Fires Back at United Over Newark Airport

7 months ago

United Airlines should look in the “proverbial mirror” when it comes to its allegations that poor operations at Newark Liberty International Airport are the the fault of smaller competitors, JetBlue Airways said Monday.

“Instead of criticizing low-fare/low-cost carriers, United should look in the proverbial mirror first when seeking a carrier to blame for operational issues and congestion at [Newark]: United, with 72 percent of operations at [Newark], is far and away the leading carrier at [Newark] with the most responsibility for operations at the airport,” JetBlue Senior Vice President of Government Affairs Robert Land said in a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation officials.

The airline’s arguments mirror those made by Spirit Airlines, both of which United has blamed for a recent spike delays and cancellations at Newark. Spirit Vice President of Network Planning John Kirby recently told Airline Weekly that United was taking “liberties” in blaming its competitors when the mainline carrier so clearly dominates Newark.

JetBlue offers several proposals to improve operations at Newark. For one, the airline says officials should wait for the new Terminal A to open later this year, and see if the facility — plus the end of construction — improve operations. If that does not work, the Federal Aviation Administration should “convene a schedule reduction meeting” to ensure that there are no more than the recommended maximum of 79 flights per hour. Other recommendations include the approval of simultaneous dual approaches on Newark’s two main runways to increase throughput.

No matter what comes of the war of words between United, and JetBlue and Spirit one thing is clear: travelers best be prepared for flight delays and cancellations at Newark this summer.

Cruises

Norwegian Cruise Line Posts a $1 Billion First-Quarter Loss

7 months ago

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd has reported a net loss of $1 billion for the first quarter of this year, as the Omicron variant hit sailings.

The Russia-Ukraine conflict also resulted in the cancellation or modification of 60 sailings, which included all voyages with calls to ports in Russia.

However, the result is an improvement on the same quarter in 2021, when it racked up losses of $1.4 billion. Revenue also increased to $521.9 million, compared to $3.1 million in 2021, as cruise voyages restarted.

Total cruise operating expense increased 266.1 percent in the 2022 first quarter, compared to 2021, due to the resumption of sailings but also higher payroll, fuel, and “direct variable costs of fully operating ships.” Inflation also affected food, fuel and logistics costs.

While as of May 7 its entire fleet was back up and running, it was operating at just 48 percent capacity in the first three months of 2022.

“Last week we reached the biggest milestone yet in our Great Cruise Comeback as Norwegian Spirit, the last ship in our fleet to resume sailing, welcomed guests on board in Papeete, Tahiti,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO. “The herculean effort to restart our fleet would not have been possible without the incredible fortitude of the entire Norwegian team and the unwavering support of our key partners and stakeholders around the world.”

Looking ahead, its advance ticket sales balance increased $418 million in the quarter to $2.2 billion as of March 31, 2022. This includes $0.6 billion of future cruise credits, or 27 percent of the total deposit balance.

Gross advance ticket sales were $1.1 billion during the quarter, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.

The cruise line has removed all calls to ports in Russia from its itineraries in 2023.

Online Travel

Expedia CEO’s Total Compensation Pegged at $296 Million for 2021

7 months ago

Expedia Group Vice Chairman and CEO Peter Kern’s 2021 total compensation was $296 million.

That includes $157 million in stock awards and $137 million in option awards. His salary was around $850,000. The stock and option awards represent the fair value at the grant date, and won’t necessarily be the actual value when the awards vest.

Kern’s total compensation in 2021 compared with $53.9 million for Booking Holdings’ Glenn Fogel, $7.67 million for Tripadvisor’s Steve Kaufer, and $132,000 for Airbnb’s Brian Chesky.

Chesky had a nice pay day — on paper like Kern’s — for 2020, namely $120 million, and Kaufer’s total compensation announced in 2013 was $39 million.

Kern became Expedia Group CEO during the early days of the pandemic in April 2020. He has been vice chairman since 2018, and a board member since 2005.

When it comes to the ratio of the CEO’s salary to median employee compensation, excluding the CEO’s compensation, at each company, Expedia’s was 2,897 to 1; Booking’s was 931 to 1; Tripadvisor’s was 76 to 1; and Airbnb’s was .65 to 1.

The total compensation amounts were included in proxy statements last month.

Online Travel CEO Compensation 2021

CEOCompanyTotal CompensationRatio
Peter KernExpedia$296,000,0002,897 to 1
Glenn FogelBooking Holdings$53,900,000931 to 1
Stephen KauferTripadvisor$7,670,00076 to 1
Brian CheskyAirbnb$132,000.65 to 1

Hotels

Accor Takes Over Legendary QE2 Ship For Floating Hotel in Dubai

7 months ago

Well, never accuse Accor of not experimenting with new things, maybe to a fault: it has taken over the operations of the legendary cruise liner and ship Queen Elizabeth 2. The cruise ship will undergo further upgrades and renovations prior to joining the MGallery Hotel Collection. Situated in Dubai’s Port Rashid, It becomes Dubai’s first floating hotel.

Accor is working with the Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCFC) Investments LLC, a private equity firm working with Dubai government.

Once the renovation is completed, the new MGallery Queen Elizabeth 2 will feature 447 hotel rooms, nine food & beverage outlets, ten meeting rooms, 5,620sqm area for outdoor events, six retail outlets, a swimming pool and a gym.

Business Travel

Amtrak To Add More Trains As Demand Returns

7 months ago

Good news on travel demand, of the rail kind: Amtrak has announced its summer schedule with most Acela frequencies since the onset of the pandemic and Northeast Regional departures nearing 80% of pre-pandemic service levels. The new summer schedule also includes the restoration of four long-distance trains to daily service, the service said in an announcement.

Amtrak anticipates the announcement of additional service for summer travel later this spring.

Amtrak Announcement

Tags: amtrak

Airlines

Lufthansa Changes Boeing Order in Face of Manufacturing Delays

7 months ago

Lufthansa is mixing up its Boeing order as the manufacturer struggles with getting regulatory approval for its largest aircraft, the 777X. The German airline now is changing its order for that airplane to seven Boeing 787-9s, to be delivered in 2025-2026.

But that comes with its own risks. Boeing currently can’t deliver any 787s, as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has mandated more inspections on the aircraft. Boeing last month said it had provided the regulator with its plan for fixes on the 787. The FAA has not provided a timeline for when it will sign off on the plan and deliveries can resume. Air Lease Corp. has estimated the 787 delivery delays have cost it hundreds of millions of dollars.

The 777X, or 777-9, similarly has come under regulatory scrutiny, with its entry-into-service slipping from next year to 2025, although the final decision rests with the FAA and other regulators. Lufthansa’s order signals that the airline believes the schedule could slip again.

Lufthansa’s order also includes 10 freighters, as the airline said it believes surface cargo bottlenecks now will continue for the foreseeable future, and shippers will divert more cargo to air freight. The airline is ordering three 777Fs for delivery beginning this year, and seven 777-8Fs, to be delivered from 2027.

Meetings

U.S. Meetings & Events Recovery At About 70 Percent Compared to 2019

7 months ago

Latest data from events business intelligence vendor Knowland for the U.S. market is showing meetings and events data for April had a significant increase of 323 percent over April 2021, but of course an unfair comparison when last year vaccines were just starting to roll out. Some interesting recovery data:

— Attendees were ahead of 2019 levels for April with the average number of attendees per event at 118, compared to 63 in April 2021 and 74 in April 2019.

— The top five growth markets compared to March (in order) in April were Denver, Chicago, Minneapolis, Colorado Springs, and Kansas City.

— The corporate segment represents 63 percent of meeting and event business with Technology, Healthcare, and Training/Education taking the lead as the largest industry groups. From a recovery standpoint compared to April 2019 levels, Online Retailer, Tobacco, Charity Org/Social Services, and Biotechnology are the segments at the highest level of recovery capture in April.

— For April, the market was 66 percent recovered compared to April of 2019

Online Travel

Despegar to Buy Brazilian Online Travel Agency Viajanet for $15 Million

7 months ago

Online travel booking company Despegar signed a deal to buy Viajanet, a Brazil-based online travel agency, for US$15 million.

The deal must receive regulatory approval. It will close by June. The payments will come in phases.

“The acquisition of Viajanet, our third in the last two years in Brazil, is another step in our regional consolidation strategy that will enable us to deploy more of Despegar’s higher-margin non-air inventory through a new brand and its customer base while bolstering our team in the country,” Marcelo Grether, chief mergers and acquisitions and new business officer of Despegar, said in a press release on Friday. 

Tourism

Disney Makes Increased Investments in Theme Parks Despite Focus on Streaming

7 months ago

Disney isn’t neglecting its theme parks, considered crucial to the company’s bottom line, despite its increased focus on Disney+ and other streaming efforts during the last two years.

Disney will unveil its newest park expansion at the end of May — the Wonders of Xandar Pavilion at Disney World’s Epcot. The attraction is based on Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” film and it features the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster. The Wonders of Xandar Pavilion follows other recent additions to Disney theme parks, such as Avengers Campus, which opened in June 2021 and the opening of Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser. 

The company is working to complete Tron: Lightcycle Run rollercoaster and is expected to launch the Disney Wish, its newest cruise ship, this summer.

Disney will post its second fiscal quarter results on Wednesday. The company said in February that its domestic theme parks have not seen a significant return from international visitors, who prior to the pandemic, represented roughly 20 percent of its guests. Theme parks typically account for the majority of the revenue of Disney’s park division, which cruises and hotels. Disney’s shares are also down about 30 percent since January.

Hotels

Soho House to Launch Digital Membership

7 months ago

Private membership club Soho House aims to debut a digital membership for people to get to network and otherwise get to know one another before meeting at one of its properties.

Soho House founder Nick Jones confirmed that tidbit this week, according to Hospitality Insights.

“Lots of businesses, friendships, relationships have been created by a Soho House in a city. It’s only natural that we want to do that digitally as well. We want to become properly hybrid so members can digitally connect before physically meeting in one of the Houses,” said Jones, who spoke at the International Hospitality Investment Forum in Berlin on Thursday.

Jones also said Soho House would reverse its net losses into net profits in the near future.