News Briefs, Week of April 18, 2016

Cuban-born pax say Fathom violates rights


A lawsuit filed in Miami's U.S. District Court challenges Fathom's restricting of Cuban-born people from taking its Cuba cruises, which Fathom says is simply compliance with Cuban laws that bar anyone born on the island from arriving by ship. The suit, which seeks class action status, alleges that parent company Carnival Corp. violated the plaintiffs' civil rights by discriminating on the basis of national origin. Fathom's first Cuba cruise is scheduled to depart on May 1.

JetBlue to expand Mint to more cities
JetBlue will expand its premium Mint service with lie-flat seats to seven more routes and four new cities by the end of 2018, including the first Mint service on flights out of Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, San Diego and Seattle. JetBlue plans to take delivery of nine Mint-configured Airbus A321 aircraft in 2017.

Farelogix, Routehappy team up on content
Farelogix and Routehappy partnered to integrate Farelogix FLX Merchandise, which defines, creates and prices airline merchandising offers for flights and products, with Routehappy Hub, which manages and delivers targeted content. Farelogix offers will have Routehappy content including photos, videos and virtual tours, on both platforms starting later this year.

Hungary's first Ritz opened in Budapest
Ritz-Carlton opened a hotel in Budapest, its first property in Hungary, in a 102-year-old building adjacent to Elizabeth Square with views of St. Stephen's Basilica. The 200-room hotel has a restaurant, a lounge beneath a stained-glass cupola and a bar and a spa with a pool and three treatment rooms.

Avalon launches two ships in two weeks
Jill Ellis, head coach of the U.S. Women's National Soccer Team, named Avalon Waterways' 166-passenger Avalon Passion on April 13 in Linz, Austria, a week after the 128-passenger Avalon Imagery II launched. The two vessels bring to 12 the number of Suite Ships that Avalon has launched since 2010. The Passion will offer Danube cruises, while the Imagery II will sail the Rhine.

Hertz lowers revenue forecast for 2016
Hertz Global Holdings' 2016 revenue and earnings will be less than previously forecasted because "excess industry capacity" is pushing down car-rental pricing, it said. Hertz's Q1 U.S. revenue per available car day will fall about 3% from a year earlier. Full-year 2016 revenue per available car day is expected to range from being flat to up 1.5%. Hertz previously forecasted 2016 revenue per available car day growth at about 2%.

Southwest launches LAX to Costa Rica
Southwest Airlines launched its first international flight from Los Angeles, to Liberia, Costa Rica, last week. Southwest flies to Latin America and the Caribbean from 13 mainland U.S. airports, quickly expanding its international routes since 2014. The airline currently serves 11 destinations in Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Ponant ships to have underwater lounge
The four expedition ships Ponant ordered last month will feature an underwater lounge, with windows looking into the water. All 92 cabins on each vessel will each have balconies, and the ships will have an infinity pool.  The first of the four vessels is due for delivery in 2018.

Friends & Colleagues
Hans Birkholz resigned as CEO of Windstar Cruises. Birkholz was hired as CEO in 2010, brought on by then-owner Ambassadors International. Andrew Todd, the president and CEO of Xanterra, will serve as president of the cruise line until a successor to Birkholz is chosen. • • • CIE Tours International has appointed Elizabeth Crabill to serve as CEO, taking over for Brian Stack, who has retired after 25 years with the company. Stack will serve as president emeritus of the Ireland specialist tour operator. Crabill had served as president of Travel Bound and GTA North America. She also worked at Lindblad Expeditions and Travel Impressions. • • • Kempinski Hotels has tapped board member Markus Semer as its new CEO. Semer has been with the Geneva-based luxury-hotel operator since 2002 and has served as deputy CEO since October 2014. He succeeds Reto Wittwer, who stepped down in 2014. Kempinski and Wittwer last month reached an out-of-court settlement after the hotel company sued Wittwer, alleging fraud. Wittwer had headed Kempinski since 1995. • • • Kerzner International announced the appointment of two members to its regional sales team. Jennifer Guevara is the new director of leisure sales, North America for One&Only Resorts, Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai and Mazagan Beach & Golf Resort in Morocco. She most recently worked as director of sales with Rosewood Hotels & Resorts. Chris DeVito has been appointed director of group sales, North America. He comes to Kerzner from Leading Hotels of the World, where he served as director of group sales for the Western U.S. region.

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