Senate passes FAA reauthorization bill


The Senate last week overwhelmingly passed the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2016. Among other things, the legislation increases airport security and requires airlines to refund baggage fees if bags' arrivals are delayed. It does not privatize air traffic control or enable an increase of the Passenger Facility Charge for airport improvement. The bill will now be sent to the house.

Disney expands its river cruise offerings
Adventures by Disney will expand its river cruise program, and its partnership with AmaWaterways, to the Rhine River next year with six departures on the upcoming 158-passenger AmaKristina. The cruises will visit Germany, the Netherlands, France and Switzerland. Disney's first river cruises launch this summer on the Danube River; the ship it will use, the 170-passenger AmaViola, was launched last week.

First Warner Bros. hotel part of UAE park
A Warner Bros. theme park with the world's first Warner Bros. hotel is scheduled to open on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island by Miral in 2018. Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi will be located next to the first Ferrari-branded theme park and will feature Warner Bros.-owned characters such as Batman, Bugs Bunny and Scooby-Doo.

MSC reduces the cost of internet packages
MSC Cruises reduced the cost of its internet packages and will offer a choice of three plans based on usage, ranging from $4.50 a day to $22 a day. The plans are live on two ships and will roll out across the entire fleet over the coming months.

CTM continues growth with Travizon buy
Corporate Travel Management (CTM) will acquire Boston-based Travizon Travel for $21 million, making it one of the 10 largest travel-management companies in the United States, CTM said. With the acquisition, CTM operates in 20 U.S. cities, four years after the Australian company first entered the U.S. market. The acquisition is expected to take effect on July 1. CTM acquired Californi's Montrose Travel in December. CTM was founded in 1994.

Punta Cana airport will have preclearance
The Dominican Republic's Punta Cana airport will have pre-clearance facilities for U.S. travelers starting in May 2017, enabling them to avoid customs and immigration lines when they return to the U.S. Currently, Caribbean airports with preclearance facilities include Aruba, the Bahamas (Nassau and Freeport) and Bermuda. Punta Cana's airport welcomed 66% of the 5.6 million visitors to the Dominican Republic in 2016.

Le Meridien to open in Fort Lauderdale
Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Le Meridien brand will enter Fort Lauderdale next year with the reflagging and $30 million renovation of a former Sheraton property near Dania Beach. Le Meridien Fort Lauderdale Airport will have 245 rooms as well as two restaurants and a bar. The hotel, which will feature a renovated pool area and 20,000 square feet of meeting space, will be part of the 40-acre Design Center of the Americas campus.

Rosewood in, Capella out at D.C. property
Rosewood Hotels & Resorts debuted in Washington last week by reflagging the former Capella Washington D.C., in the city's Georgetown neighborhood, on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal. The 49-room hotel includes the Grill Room restaurant and the Rye Bar. Capella, headed by former Ritz-Carlton president Horst Schulze, opened the property in 2013.

Friends & Colleagues
Former Travelport executive Kurt Ekert has been named president and CEO at Carlson Wagonlit Travel, replacing Douglas Anderson. Ekert has served for the past five years as Travelport's executive vice president and chief commercial officer; before that he spent nine years at the company in various other executive roles. Prior to that, he spent six years at Continental Airlines. In a statement, Carlson Wagonlit said Anderson was leaving the company, ranked No. 4 on Travel Weekly's 2015 Power List, to pursue other opportunities. Anderson had served as president and CEO of Carlson Wagonlit since April 2008, replacing Hubert Joly. He had joined the company a year earlier as executive vice president and CFO. • • • Carnival Cruise Line hired Kathy Mayor as chief marketing officer. Mayor will be responsible for driving marketing strategy across a variety of platforms, including digital, e-commerce, advertising, guest loyalty and public relations. Mayor previously worked at Las Vegas Sands Corp., where she most recently served as global senior vice president of strategy, CRM and e-commerce. She had been with Las Vegas Sands since 2008. • • • Industry veteran and Virtuoso vice president of cruise sales Bill Smith will retire on July 1. Smith has been with Virtuoso since 2011 and has been working in the travel industry for 44 years. He has held executive positions with Crystal, Silversea, Costa, Princess and Eastern Airlines. Beth Butzlaff, the managing director of Virtuoso's cruise program, will take Smith's post. Butzlaff has been with Virtuoso for six years; Previously, she was vice president of sales for the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. • • • Former Hyatt Hotels exec John Cantele has been named COO at La Quinta Holdings. He succeeds Angelo Lombardi, who steps down after 10 years on the job. Cantele was previously global head, select hotels, at Hyatt Hotels Corp., where he helped oversee the Hyatt House, Hyatt Place and Summerfield Suites brands. • • • Kerzner International Holdings CEO Alan Leibman has stepped down. Leibman, who succeeded company founder Sol Kerzner as the resort operator's chief executive in 2012, worked for Kerzner International for 23 years. • • • Mary Ellen George has been named the senior vice president of sales, North America, at HRG North America. George held a global business development role at American Express and previously worked at BCD Travel and World Travel BTI.

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