Travel Weeklys Europe E-letter: Oct. 13, 2004

BIRTHDAY BONUS: Rail Europe and DER are celebrating Eurostars 10th anniversary with a limited-time offer of first-class travel between London and Paris and Brussels at standard-class rates. The birthday fares, which offer savings of up to 20%, can be booked through Nov. 30 for travel from Oct. 15 to Dec. 15. First-class fares range from $90 one-way for travel Monday through Thursday, between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., to  $150 for one-way travel at any time, on any day of the week. Agent commissions are 5% to 7%, depending on method of booking. To book or for more information, contact Rail Europe at or call (888) 382-7245; or DER at or (800) 838-3903.

SPEAKERS ON TAP: The European Travel Commission (ETC) tapped former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Richard Holbrooke as keynote speaker at its 2004 Europe Unlimited Transatlantic Conference in New York later this month. Other speakers lined up for this third annual conference -- set for Oct. 29 at Ciprianis restaurant in New York -- include: Lionel Barber, managing editor of the Financial Times; Roger Cohen, foreign editor at The New York Times; travel editor Peter Greenberg of NBCs Today Show; Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of low-fare U.K. airline EasyJet; and Michelle Peluso, chief executive of Travelocity. Interested attendees can register through Oct. 15, at a cost of $275 per person.  Contact Spring, OBrien & Co. at (212) 620-7100 or [email protected].  

ARRIVEDERCI: Longtime Chicago-area F.I.T. operator to Italy Touritalia is effectively out of business, now that new owner Private Label Travel shut down last week after the loss of its Amtrak Vacations contract. Private Label, based in Downers Grove, Ill., bought Tourtalia from owner Gino Di Nallo just last August. A recorded phone message at Touritalias headquarters does not mention the sale or shutdown, although the Web site was still up and running at press time. As Private Label Travel was not a member of the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA), its customers are not covered by USTOAs consumer protection plan.

TALLY HO: The British Incoming Tour Operators Association (BIATOA)  in London marked a full year of growth in overseas arrivals to the U.K. as of August, when BITOA tallied a 3.8% jump in leisure visitors. However, growth in visitor spending, continue to lag, in particular due to a sluggish U.S. dollar, according to the monthly BITOA Business Monitor. But the forecast for 2005 looks much better, with strong expectations of a revitalized North American market, said BITOA.

" Continental Airlines will launch daily nonstops from its Newark hub to Belfast, May 26, the first such scheduled service to operate from the U.S. to Northern Ireland. Frequency will drop to four flights a week during the winter.
" LTU International Airways will add New York as its fifth U.S. destination in May, operating six nonstops a week between Kennedy Airport and Dusseldorf, Germany. LTU -- celebrating its golden anniversary in 2005 -- now flies to Los Angeles and Fort Myers, Orlando and Miami, Fla. For more, call (866) 266-5588 or visit
" Delta Air Lines will stop code sharing with SNCF-French Rail on Dec. 1. The two companies began code-sharing in 2001 on rail service between Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris and 12 other destinations in France.
" Icelandair will open a sixth North American gateway May 18 with its first direct service from the West Coast, seasonal San Francisco-Reykjavik flights.
The service, bookable now, will operate twice-weekly from May 18 to June 1 and Sept. 1 to Oct. 15, and four times a week from June through August.
" Budget carrier Virgin Express will merge with SN Brussels Airlines in a stock-swap deal valued at $70 million. The Belgium-based airlines will operate separately but coordinate schedules, marketing and purchasing; the two have teamed to confront Ryanair, which is making inroads into the local market.
  " Estonian Air reported its passenger loads grew 36% in 2004. The carrier -- which ferries travelers to Estonian capital Tallinn from Copenhagen, London and 14 other European cities -- doesnt fly to the U.S., but maintains a sales office in Miami. Call (800) 397-1354 or e-mail [email protected].


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