Britain again softens APD air travel tax

U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne decided to abolish the air departure tax or Air Passenger Duty for children 12 and under in economy class, effective May 1, 2015. The policy will be extended to passengers 16 and under on May 1, 2016. The moves are expected to help stimulate family travel from the U.K. to the Americas. Caribbean tourism leaders have been especially critical of the mileage-based tax, and their repeated protests were a factor in a U.K. decision to place the Caribbean in the same mileage band as the U.S. beginning in April.  

Lufthansa to sprout new Eurowings
Lufthansa Group's board approved a major makeover of the firm's Eurowings unit, which will shed its 23 regional jets and upgrade to a fleet of 23 A320 aircraft for low-cost, short-haul service, while adding routes from a "new Eurowings base outside Germany." The plan also calls for Eurowings to take on intercontinental routes in a partnership with Sun Express, a Lufthansa/Turkish Airlines joint venture, operating up to A330 aircraft to Florida and destinations in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean.

Hawaii routes attract seasonal services
Delta said it will begin offering Minneapolis-Honolulu nonstops as a winter seasonal offering, starting Oct. 25, operating daily through March 26, 2016, with 225-seat 767-300 ER aircraft. Hawaiian, meanwhile, will begin its seasonal services linking Oakland and Los Angeles with Lihue, Kauai and Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii on May 21 and 22, putting 110,000 seats into the markets over the summer. It will also add a second daily Los Angeles-Maui flight on June 11.    

Virtuoso consortium adds European agents
Luxury travel consortium Virtuoso added its first European members by signing 16 travel agencies in France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K. The expansion gives the U.S.-based group a membership of more than 355 travel agencies with nearly 9,000 agents in 25 countries, generating some $12.5 billion in annual sales.  

Baltimore to be site of Red Lion's first RL
Red Lion Hotels, a familiar fixture in the Western U.S., will open its first East Coast property next summer in Baltimore's Inner Harbor district. The firm acquired a 10-story office building, the 1905 Keyser Building, and plans to repurpose it as 130-room hotel. It will be the first property under Red Lion's new Hotel RL lifestyle brand, a full-service brand for urban markets.

W Amsterdam grabs building next door
Starwood expanded the footprint of the W hotel under development in Amsterdam to include an adjacent building that will add 66 rooms and suites to the project. The W Amsterdam, slated to open next fall on Dam Square, will offer 238 guestrooms across the two buildings and will feature a rooftop bar and restaurant.  

Four Seasons debuts in Johannesburg
Four Seasons formally opened the 117-room Four Seasons Hotel the Westcliff Johannesburg, its first property in South Africa. The hotel comprises a complex of buildings situated on an eight-acre site with woodland views, and includes five restaurants and 16,000 square feet of meetings and function space.  

Friends & Colleagues
Kirk Kinsell is leaving InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) after nearly two decades with the company to become president and CEO of Loews Hotels & Resorts, effective March 2. Kinsell will replace current CEO Paul Whetsell, who will step down from that post in March to become vice chairman of Loews Hotels & Resorts. Kinsell most recently served as president of the Americas for IHG. IHG, in turn, has named Elie Maalouf to succeed Kinsell. Maalouf's title will be CEO of the Americas region. Maalouf is currently a senior adviser at management consulting firm McKinsey & Co. and was president and CEO of airport/highway concessionaire HMSHost Corp. from 2005 to 2011. • • • Hawaii's Island Air has promoted Cory Kohler to director of reservations, scheduling and interline. Kohler has been with the inter-island carrier since 2004 and previously served as senior manager of schedule planning. The airline also announced a pair of hirings. Frank Fenlon has been appointed Island Air's director of quality assurance and inspection. Fenlon spent six years implementing and managing the maintenance program for all fleets at Hawaiian Airlines prior to joining Island. William "Dee" Airman is Island Air's new director of safety and security. He most recently was director of the system operation center at Porter Airlines in Canada. • • • HRI Lodging has hired Michael Coolidge as its chief investment officer. Coolidge joins HRI from CSM Corp., where he served as senior vice president of real estate, acquisitions and lodging development. • • • Sergio Salmeron has been named secretary of tourism for the Mexican state of Guerrero, home to vacation destinations such as Acapulco and Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo. He is replacing Javier Aluni. Salmeron currently is vice president of the Mexican Marketing Association and the founder and vice president of the Hotel and Tourism Enterprises Association of Acapulco.

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