News Briefs, Week of Dec. 15, 2014

All Nippon and United adding Houston routes


All Nippon Airways is launching a route from Tokyo to Houston on June 12 and is opening the books for reservations on Dec. 17 for a daily service that will operate nonstop with three-class 777-300ER aircraft, configured for 250 seats. Star Alliance partner United is also continuing to enhance the Houston hub as an international connect point and was slated to add nonstops to Santiago, Chile, over the weekend.

Delta opens lounge for Heathrow arrivals
Delta opened an exclusive Delta Arrivals Lounge for U.S.-London passengers in Heathrow's Terminal 3. The facility is open to Delta's BusinessElite passengers and high-mileage frequent flyers and offers private showers, on-site clothes press and shoe-shine service, breakfast, snacks, WiFi and a business center, plus assistance with onward travel.

JetBlue route map to add Cleveland
JetBlue is adding Cleveland to its system on April 30 with two daily nonstops to Boston, a route with few nonstops that JetBlue said is "currently suffering from extremely high fares." The carrier plans to use 100-seat Embraer 190 regional jets.

Norwegian Gem bound for San Juan in 2016
Norwegian Cruise Line published its deployments for 2016-17, which will move the 2,384-passenger Norwegian Gem to San Juan for the winter season, offering seven-day Southern Caribbean itineraries that include Barbados, Martinique, St. Maarten, St. Kitts and St. Thomas. Schedules open for general reservations on Dec. 18.

Fatal engine room fire disables Oceania ship
An engine room fire aboard the Oceania Insignia killed a crew member and two contractors while the ship was docked in St. Lucia. Two other crew members were hospitalized, but no guests on the 684-passenger ship were injured. Oceania said the fire broke out about 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 11 and was contained in the engine room and extinguished. Oceania sent a guest and crew support team to St. Lucia, where passengers were put up in local hotels pending arrangements for transport to Miami. The Insignia was in the middle of a 10-day cruise scheduled to arrive in Miami Dec. 17. The balance of the cruise was canceled. There was no immediate word on the Insignia's next scheduled cruise.  

D.C. Watergate Hotel eyes 2015 opening
Washington's Watergate Hotel, which has been closed since 2007, is set to reopen next summer as a 343-room luxury property, following a $125 million renovation. Developer Euro Capital Properties, which acquired the property in 2010, said the hotel will include 17,000 square feet of meetings space. The hotel is part of the condo/office complex that gave its name to the political scandal that led to President Nixon's resignation in 1974.

Hyatt Place Baltimore opens at Inner Harbor
Hyatt opened the Hyatt Place Baltimore/Inner Harbor, a 208-room newbuild hotel at Fleet Street and South Central Avenue, in the city's top entertainment district. The hotel offers free WiFi and a 24-hour gym.  

Friends & Colleagues
Travel Impressions President Tim Mullen will return to the presidency of Apple Vacations as part of the changes Apple Leisure Group (ALG) is making to its executive team on Jan. 1. Mullen, who previously served as co-president of Apple Vacations for more than 26 years, is replacing his brother, Jeff Mullen, the current president, who will become COO for ALG's distribution group. Jeff Clarke, who currently serves as executive vice president of Travel Impressions, will succeed Tim Mullen as president. • • • Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, U.S. and France, will retire on June 1 after 35 years with the Walt Disney Co. Crofton has served in her current role since 2011 and prior to that was the president of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida from 2006 to 2011. Prior to that, Crofton held several executive positions with Disney, including in hotel operations, convention sales and services, and human resources. She also played key leadership roles in the opening of Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, said that the company would name a successor at a later date. • • • Vacation.com has named Kevin Weisner senior vice president of sales, overseeing the recruitment of new members. Previously, Weisner was senior vice president of Cruise Holidays. Both Vacation.com and Cruise Holidays are part of Travel Leaders Group. • • • Allegiant Air tapped Steve Harfst to be its new COO, effective Jan. 1. Harfst brings more than 27 years industry experience to the post. He is a former COO for IndiGo Airlines based in New Delhi, India, where he oversaw the airline's transition from a startup to 23 A320 aircraft airline in its first three years. He has also served as the COO of North American Airlines and CEO and president of USA 3000.

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