Agent Issues News Briefs, Week of Jan. 26, 2009 January 26, 2009 Share 1 -- Aer Lingus to fly D.C.-Madrid route Aer Lingus reached an agreement with United to serve the Washington Dulles-Madrid route beginning in March 2010, offering seats under both carriers’ codes. The carriers said they expect to “equally share the commercial and operating benefits and risk” of the service, which will be available for sale in April. The arrangement is expected to expand to other U.S.-Europe routes in 2011. In-flight menu item: carbon offsetsWith a swipe of a credit card, Virgin America passengers can now buy carbon offsets in flight. Flyers can access the offset via the airline’s touch-screen seatback entertainment system. In December, the airline offered passengers the offset opportunity at the time of booking through the Virgin America website. Disney to cut staff, offers buyoutsThe Walt Disney Co. is offering the nearly 600 executives in its parks and resorts division a voluntary separation plan. A company statement said, “Given the continued uncertainty of the economic environment, we must manage our business even more productively.” Details of the buyout offers were not disclosed. Hilton to reflag three Pacific hotels Hilton reflagged three former Starwood properties in the South Pacific as the Hilton Hotel Tahiti, the Hilton Moorea Lagoon Resort & Spa and the Hilton Bora Bora Nui Resort & Spa. The hotels, commonly owned, will be managed by Tahiti-based South Pacific Management. New York to host NCL duet in 2010 Norwegian Cruise Line will homeport two ships in New York during the winter of 2010-2011, for the first time since 2006. The 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel will join the 2,380-passenger Gem, both offering 10-day eastern Caribbean cruises. It will be the Jewel’s first New York stint. Indigo jumps pond, London to get moreInterContinental Hotels Group opened the Hotel Indigo London Paddington, its first Indigo outside of North America, and disclosed plans to open three more of the boutique-brand properties in London by 2012. The 64-room hotel, owned by London Town Hotels, is a row of nine converted Georgian townhouses on London Street with views over Norfolk Gardens. Developer drops Mazatlan project The economy killed a development plan for Diamond Beach, a 1,300-acre oceanfront tract near Mazatlan, Mexico, owned since 1968 by Bibeau Construction of Nanuet, N.Y. Bibeau planned to build hotels, condos and polo fields but failed to get funding and is putting the site up for sale. Company President Peter Bibeau said he expects to sell to a corporation that can get financing and develop the site. Interstate adopts cost-cutting plan Interstate Hotels & Resorts has implemented a $13 million cost-cutting program that includes pay cuts and the elimination of 45 corporate jobs. Interstate has ownership interests in 57 hotels and manages 226 hotels of various brands. Friends & Colleagues Clem Bason has been promoted to president of the Hotwire Group, an Expedia-owned company with three business units. He takes over for Eric Grosse, who has been promoted to president of Expedia Worldwide. Bason joined Hotwire as vice president of hotel supplier relations in February 2006. Most recently, he was Hotwire’s vice president of merchandising. • • • Sonesta International Hotels Corp. announced that Peter J. Sonnabend has been elected executive chairman of the board of directors. He succeeds Roger Sonnabend, who died in December; Peter was the nephew of Roger Sonnabend. Sonnabend joined Sonesta in 1987. He most recently served as co-CEO and vice chairman of the board. • • • Jan Swartz was appointed Princess Cruises executive vice president of sales, marketing and customer service, as part of the line’s integration of its marketing division with its sales and customer service departments. Swartz has served as senior vice president of sales and customer service since 2004 and will now head the marketing division, as well. She joined Princess in 2001. • • • Travelport Ltd. announced that Eric J. Bock, currently executive vice president and general counsel, will assume the additional role of chief administrative officer. Bock joined Travelport in 2006. • • • Omni Hotels announced that Lesli Reynolds has been promoted to the newly created position of vice president, global distribution and revenue strategy. Reynolds has nearly 20 years of experience with Omni Hotels, starting as a front office manager and working her way up to the position of vice president of operations, which she had held since 2006.