The print issue of Travel Weekly includes a
recap of the major events of 2006 and snapshots of the year through
the lens of cartoonist Milt Priggee. All together, that may be more
or less than you want to remember of 2006, but after reviewing the
recent past, we think it fitting to end this year on notes of
For a benchmark, we
poked around in the archive, went back 25 years, and found that the
airline industry was in chaos in 1981. (Think of it --
That was the year
that Frank Lorenzo of tiny Texas International Airlines launched an
unprecedented hostile takeover of the much larger Continental. Such
bare-knuckled financial tactics were nothing new on Wall Street,
but in the gentlemanly world of the airlines where mergers were
like arranged marriages, it was shocking.
And giving the
applecart a good kick while it was down, President Reagan fired
thousands of striking air traffic controllers that summer,
crippling the air traffic control system and severely
restricting the ability of the airlines to use their new freedom to
expand and grow (deregulation was still a new thing).
We eventually got
over it, though.
We also peeked
ahead and found that 2007 will be the 25th anniversary of the first
Braniff bankruptcy (ouch!).
As for those notes
of optimism: Yes, there are still some airlines in bankruptcy, but
not as many as before. Also, US Airways' unwelcome offer to merge
with Delta has apparently given Delta's people a renewed sense of
purpose. That could be good.
There are other
takeovers afoot, and while they tend to breed uncertainty for a
time, we can at least take some comfort that the GDSs are not such
total dinosaurs that they can't attract buyers.
Carnival, NCL and
others are investing in new ships. We say this just about every
time a big ship order comes down the ramp, but it bears repeating:
When a publicly traded leisure travel company makes a
half-billion-dollar investment in a new ship, it's cause for joy.
You can take it as a sign that things are good.
In short, the world
of travel was not such a bad world in 2006.
would be unnatural to end the year with no unfinished business in
the nation's capital, and in this regard, the travel business has
more than its share.
We didn't get
immigration reform, and that means the business community,
including the hotel and restaurant sectors, did not get the guest
worker program that President Bush proposed. Here's hoping he has
better luck with the Democrats than he had with legislators from
his own party.
We didn't get a new
vision for Amtrak, a new agreement to open up aviation with the
European Union or a federal commitment to promote inbound
We've been waiting
too long for those, but those are mere matters of commerce. We also
have unfinished business on a broader scale, and this is a fitting
season to be mindful that we've been waiting too long for peace and
stability among nations.
History shows that
this is the great unfinished business of the human race but, and
this is our final note of optimism for this year, if we're serious
about the business of bringing people together, it's the one thing
we must keep on our list of things to wish and work for.