News Briefs, Week of Dec. 9, 2013

Britain to boost APD tax to $113

Despite pleas from the travel industry to freeze or reduce its air departure tax, the British government will increase the Air Passenger Duty from 67 to 69 British pounds (about $113) for economy seats on U.S.-bound flights, effective April 1. It will be the sixth increase in the tax in six years. For premium-class seats on U.S. flights, the tax will increase by four pounds, to about $225. For Caribbean flights, the tax will rise by 2 and 4 pounds, to 85 ($139) and 170 ($278) for economy- and premium-class seats, respectively.

Former Spirit boss closes on Frontier
Indigo Partners, a private equity group led by former Spirit Airlines chairman William Franke, completed the acquisition of Frontier Airlines from Republic Airways Holdings. Terms were not disclosed. The company has said it intends to operate Frontier as an "ultra low-cost carrier," and to keep the headquarters in Denver.

Hainan Airlines set for Boston-Beijing
China's Hainan Airlines set June 20 as the launch date for Boston-Beijing service. The carrier intends to operate four weekly flights with 787 Dreamliner aircraft in a two-class configuration.

Delta adds spokes to Seattle hub
To boost Seattle as an international hub, Delta is adding a seasonal daily 737 service to Fairbanks on May 29 and a pattern of five weekly Delta Connection flights year-round to Vancouver starting June 5.

Sandals to rebrand Antigua property
Sandals plans to rebrand its Grand Pineapple Beach Antigua, which it took over in 2008, as a Beaches resort. After $125 million in upgrades, the property is expected to offer guestrooms and suites ranging in size from one to four bedrooms, up to 12 restaurants, meeting facilities, a waterpark, cinema, Xbox Play Lounge and BMX off-road bicycle track.

Marriott brings JW flag to Hanoi
Marriott opened the JW Marriott Hotel Hanoi in the Vietnamese capital, a 450-room hotel in a building designed by the Carlos Zapata Studio and described as a "reverse skyscraper" that evokes "the characteristics of a dragon." The hotel also offers 38,750 square feet of meetings space, including two ballrooms.

Hyatt Times Square marks opening
Hyatt opened the 487-room Hyatt Times Square on West 45th street in New York, its seventh hotel in Manhattan and the third to open there this year.
Still to come for the 54-story tower is a rooftop lounge and 4,200-square-foot spa.

TSA PreCheck site open for business
The Transportation Security Administration launched the online application site for its PreCheck program and opened the first enrollment location at Indianapolis Airport, with others to follow by year end in New York, Washington and Los Angeles. PreCheck participants generally receive expedited screening at participating U.S. airports.

The Street View from the terminal
Google expanded its Street View feature to include the interiors of 16 global airports and about 60 train and subway stations (as well as a few museums), meaning that curious travelers can navigate the check-in halls, baggage claim areas and other points before setting foot in the terminal. In a blog post, Google called it "our first efforts to map global transit locations." The map, inset, shows that none of the mapped airports or stations are in the U.S. -- yet, presumably. To peruse the map, try Googling "street view transit locations."

Friends & Colleagues
Hertz Global Holdings has tapped Tom Kennedy as its new CFO, effective Dec. 9. Kennedy left Hilton Worldwide to take the job. Kennedy had been Hilton's CFO since 2008. He previously was CFO of Vanguard Car Rental Group (parent of National Car Rental and Alamo Rent-A-Car) from 2003 to 2007, when the company was acquired by Enterprise Holdings. He succeeds Elyse Douglas, who stepped down in September after almost six years on the job. David Rosenberg has served as interim CFO. • • • Former Navy Vice Adm. William Burke was named to the newly created position of chief maritime officer of Carnival Corp. Among other Navy roles, Burke served as deputy chief of naval operations for fleet readiness and logistics. • • • Pan Pacific Hotels Group has tapped longtime hotel executive Bernold Olaf Schroeder as its new CEO. Schroeder was formerly CEO of Jin Jiang International Hotel Management Co. and had previously served for 14 years as an executive with Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts. He takes the new position effective Jan. 2. • • • AMResorts promoted Erica Doyne to senior director of marketing. Doyne joined AMResorts in 2005 as a marketing coordinator and most recently served as director of marketing. • • • Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands named Gordon Overing executive managing director. Overing led guest activities and food and beverage operations at Bitter End for 16 years before leaving in 2006 to serve as villa services manager for the Mustique Co. in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, followed by a stint as general manager for Richard Branson's Necker Island retreat in the BVI. • • • Melia Hotels International appointed Jairo Torres as director of sales and marketing for its ME Cabo brand. Torres formerly was the travel trade consultant for Visit Oakland (Calif.). Prior to that he was in charge of sales at the Pacifica Host Hotels in Beverly Hills, Calif.


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