Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: April 11, 2005

CONTINENTAL AIRLINES applied to the Department of Transportation (DOT) for approval to operate nonstop flights from Newark to Shanghai. If approved, the company intends to introduce flights in March 2007 using 283-seat Boeing 777 aircraft, with 48 BusinessFirst seats and 235 economy seats. Continental's nonstops between Newark and Beijing are scheduled to start June 15. 

IN ADDITION, the DOT granted American the authority to launch Chicago-Shanghai service as soon as March 25, 2006. The DOT already had authorized Continental to start Newark-Beijing service this year. The airlines will become the first new passenger carriers in the U.S.-China market since 1986, thanks to a new aviation agreement signed by the U.S. and China in July.

CONSTRUCTION BEGAN to widen the runway at the Melbourne Airport by 49 feet to accommodate the double-decker A380 Airbus in 2006. The renovation will make Melbourne the first Australian city that can accommodate the aircraft, which was unveiled in Toulouse, France, in January. Five of the airport's 23 international carriers have placed orders for A380s. The airport remains operational at all hours during construction.

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP (IHG) intends to sell 10 wholly owned properties in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji while retaining management agreements. IHG said the sale would not include its joint ventures in the region, such as the InterContinental Burswood Resort Perth, the Crowne Plaza Christchurch and InterContinental resorts in French Polynesia. The decision to sell the Pacific Asia assets is in keeping with IHG's strategy of growing its management and franchise businesses while reducing its asset ownership.

AUSTRALIAN PACIFIC TOURING (APT) and Qantas Airways are joining forces to conduct a series of travel agent seminars about Australia and New Zealand for U.S. travel agents. The shows will be held in eight American cities: Denver, April 12; Colorado Springs, Colo., April 14; Salt Lake City, April 19; Tucson, Ariz., April 21; New York, May 3; Boston, May 5; Cleveland, May 24; and Detroit, May 25. Light refreshments will be served at 6:30 and the seminars will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. A drawing for two tickets to Sydney will be held the end of the series; agents attending each event will be entered in the drawing. For information, call (888) 299-1428 or e-mail [email protected]. The Web site is www.aptouring.com.

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