Qantas opts for new Boeing 787

Qantas placed a firm order for 65 of Boeings new 787 Dreamliner aircraft, with an option for 50 more, in what it called the cornerstone of its fleet renewal program. The order provides another boost to Boeing given its reliance on the popularity of the 787, which is being designed with composite materials for better fuel efficiency.

Qantas plans to introduce its first 787s in August 2008 on its low-fare brand, Jetstar, which expects to begin international routes in 2007. Qantas expects to receive the first 787 for mainline operations in July 2009.

Marlee Matlin to name Noordam

Academy Award-winning actress Marlee Matlin will be godmother to Holland America Lines new Vista-class ship, the Noordam, which will homeport in New York after its Feb. 22 christening.

Active in several charities, Matlin serves as national celebrity spokesperson for the American Red Cross.

Emirates carrier seeks double play

A second airline from the United Arab Emirates wants approval to offer service to the U.S., hoping to emulate the success of Dubai-based Emirates Airlines.

Etihad Airways told the Transportation Dept. it hopes to begin Abu Dhabi-Newark service in June on A340 aircraft and to expand its service to additional U.S. points shortly after.

Emirates launched its Dubai-New York (Kennedy) service in June 2004 with one daily flight and added a second last month.

OneTravel misses filing deadline

OneTravel Holdings, formerly known as RCG Cos., missed a Dec. 12 American Stock Exchange deadline to file its 10-K annual report with the SEC, and applied for additional time so OTV would not be de-listed.

The firm, which operates OneTravel.com, CheapSeats.com and SunTrips, reported a net loss of $39.3 million in the fiscal year that ended June 30. It attributed the tardy 10-K filing to complex acquisitions and financing transactions.

US Airways cuts Shuttle fares

In a rare move for the normally full-fare Shuttle services, US Airways restructured its Washington-New York-Boston shuttle fares by adding leisure rates now valid anytime from $69 each way for a roundtrip purchase via its Web site.

The lower-priced tickets require a 21-day advance purchase and an overnight stay.

US Airways did not give a reason for the restructuring, but JetBlue began using its new 100-seat Embraer 190 jets for Boston-New York service Nov. 8, albeit to Kennedy Airport rather than LaGuardia.

MaxJet to add Washington route

MaxJet, the new low-fare, all-business-class airline that launched New York-London (Stansted) service Nov. 1, said it will expand the service to daily and add new service to Stansted from its home base at Washington (Dulles) in February.

MaxJet also revealed plans for a frequent flyer or customer appreciation program it could begin to offer as early as February.

River line returns to New Orleans

RiverBarge Excursion Lines reopened its Algiers Point office in New Orleans after relocating reservations, sales, marketing and operations to Houston following Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans trips aboard the 198-passenger River Explorer will resume Dec. 19. A Big Easy-Style New Years excursion will operate from the city on Dec. 30.

Construction starts on Curacao Hyatt

Hyatt broke ground in Curacao on its 350-room luxury resort, which will be the largest on the island when it opens in 2007 and the first big resort to debut since the Sonesta (now a Marriott) in 1992.

Other projects are expected to follow by Renaissance, Westin and Four Points by Sheraton.

Delta gets deal, averts pilot strike

Delta averted a pilot strike, reaching an interim agreement on wage cuts pending talks on a comprehensive agreement with the union.

The tentative deal, subject to a ratification vote, would cut the pilots hourly wage by 14%.

That follows a five-year deal last year calling for pay cuts of 32.5%. Delta had been seeking an additional 19.4%.

Friends & Colleagues

Groople selected Michael Stacy, previously president of Cendants Cheap Tickets, as the new CEO of the online group travel specialist. David Loy, who held the CEO post and founded the company, will stay on as president. " " " Robert Jensch was named general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Rose Hall, Jamaica. Jensch formerly was general manager of the Lidra Marriott in Athens. " " " Holland America Line promoted Ken Devones to director, consumer programs and Steve Simao to director of sales, Western division. " " " NYC & Co. named Fred Dixon vice president of tourism development. Dixon was vice president of sales and marketing at Group Sales Box Office/Best- OfBroadway.com, a theater ticket brokerage firm. " " " Eugenio Magnani, director of the Italian Government Tourist Boards North American headquarters since 1998, has been appointed the Rome-based organizations director general for worldwide operations. " " " Parley Stock was named director of business development for Worldhotels Northeast region. Stock has held posts at Warwick International Hotels, Interstate Hotels and Doubletree Hotels.

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