Travel Weekly's Asia-Pacific E-letter: June 28, 2004

CHINA AND THE U.S. reached an air services agreement June 18 that could dramatically increase service between the two countries over the next six years. United and Northwest today are the only U.S. passenger carriers serving China; on the Chinese side, the carriers flying to the U.S. are China Southern and China Eastern. The agreement will let five additional airlines from each country serve the market. The U.S. can select an additional carrier to start service later this year, but it has to be an all-cargo airline; the remaining four can be either cargo or passenger, with one carrier entering the market in each of the years 2005, 2006, 2008 and 2010. Over a six-year phase-in period, the agreement also will increase each country's allotment of weekly passenger flights by 84. Fourteen of those flights will be available for new U.S. passenger services later this year. The U.S. and China also agreed to allow each country's carriers to serve any city in the other country, and permit unlimited code sharing between U.S. and Chinese airlines.

IN OTHER AIR NEWS
• Delta expanded its code-share agreement with China Airlines by placing its code on China Air flights between Seattle and Taipei, Taiwan, beginning June 22. Last month, Delta initially placed its code on China Air flights from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu and New York (JFK) to Taipei. China Air already places its code on Delta flights from Los Angeles and San Francisco to five U.S. destinations -- Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Salt Lake City, Honolulu and Cincinnati. Frequent flyer program reciprocity began in 2002.
• Qantas Airways inaugurated nonstop flights between Los Angeles and Brisbane, Australia, June 16 aboard Boeing 747-400 aircraft. Los Angeles-Brisbane service departs each week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays from Los Angeles at 11:20 p.m. and arrives in Brisbane at 6:20 a.m. The return flight departs Brisbane at 11:40 a.m. and arrives in Los Angeles at 7:30 a.m. the same day.

MGM MIRAGE, which last week negotiated a deal to acquire the Mandalay Resort Group, revealed that it entered into a joint-venture agreement with Pansy Ho Chiu-king to develop, build and operate a major hotel-casino resort in Macau. The resort, which could open as early as 2006, will be located on a waterfront site next to the planned Wynn Resorts facility and near the Lisboa hotel-casino. Pansy Ho Chiu-king is the managing director of a Hong Kong conglomerate, Sun Tak Holdings, with interests in hospitality and shipping. The Financial Times reported that the Ho family had a 40-year monopoly on Macau gambling licenses until 2001. The joint-venture pact is subject to regulatory approvals.

BEST WESTERN and China Southern Airlines are looking to develop synergies through a partnership that links their respective loyalty programs. The partnership permits China Southern Airlines' Sky Pearl Club members who sign up for Best Western's Gold Crown Club Int'l to earn 250 bonus miles when they stay at any of 4,100 Best Western participating hotels, including 12 in China. "As both Best Western and China Southern Airlines continue their steady expansion throughout Asia and the world, members of both guest loyalty programs will benefit from the synergies created by this partnership," said David Kong, Best Western's executive vp-international operations.

ISLANDS IN THE SUN introduced a snorkeling package to the Tahitian Islands, including Moorea, Rangiroa and the island of Tahiti -- "a first for first for Tahiti," according to a spokeswoman. The package includes four nights at the InterContinental Beachcomber Resort Moorea, three nights at the Hotel Kia Ora on Rangiroa, and a day room at the InterContinental Beachcomber Resort Tahiti on departure day. Also included are most meals, inter-island air, all transfers, a Tiki Village Theater show on Moorea and three snorkeling excursions. Departures are scheduled year-round. The price is $3,295 per person, double, including roundtrip air from Los Angeles; airport departure tax and security fees of about $72 are additional. Information is available at www.islandsinthesun.com.

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