News Briefs, Week of Feb. 11, 2013

Delta, Starwood team up on loyalty


Delta and Starwood created a joint loyalty program called Crossover Rewards that will enable members of the Delta SkyMiles and Starwood Preferred Guest programs to link their accounts and earn additional points and benefits, beginning March 1. High-mileage Delta flyers, for example, will get priority check-in and late checkout at Starwood hotels, while Starwood guests will get a baggage fee waiver and priority check-in at Delta.

Virgin America adds San Jose
Virgin America is expanding in the California corridor on May 1 with four daily flights on the Los Angeles-San Jose route, a new market for the San Francisco-based carrier. The line said it will offer San Jose passengers connections at LAX to Las Vegas and points east, including, Chicago, Boston, New York and Orlando.

DOT cites airline in Direct Air case
The Transportation Department (DOT) said it will file a claim for a $500,000 civil penalty against Sky King, the bankrupt charter airline that had operated public charters for Direct Air, the trade name for the defunct Southern Sky Air & Tours of Myrtle Beach, S.C. The DOT said Sky King violated several provisions of the charter rules, such as failing to obtain full payment before operating a charter, canceling flights on less than 10 days' notice and failing to provide return transportation to passengers who were stranded by the demise of the program last March. The airline, which is in Chapter 11 reorganization, consented to the issuance of a cease-and-desist order but said it was the victim of fraud by Direct Air.

Royal cuts steel, names new ships
Royal Caribbean began cutting steel for the first of its new "Project Sunshine" ships and said they will be named the Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, arriving in fall 2014 and spring 2015, respectively. The ships, now dubbed the Quantum class, will be about the size of the Freedom-class ships, at some 160,000 gross tons, and will accommodate 4,100 guests.

Marriott to convert Tokyo hotel
Marriott will have a third hotel in Tokyo in December when it rebrands the 248-room Gotenyama Garden Hotel Laforet Tokyo as the Tokyo Marriott, in a deal with the hotel owner Mori Trust. Marriott has nine hotels in Japan, including a Ritz-Carlton and a Courtyard in Tokyo.

San Francisco eyes Moscone addition
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved a $500 million plan to expand the Moscone Center, adding 80,000 square feet to the convention venue's 700,000 square feet of exhibit space and boosting the overall complex by as much as 400,000 square feet. Construction is set to begin by the end of next year. The center opened in 1981 and has been expanded several times since.

Hyatt Union Square sets opening date
Hyatt's newest hotel in New York, the Hyatt Union Square, began accepting reservations for stays beginning April 30. The 178-room hotel is a newbuild that preserves a classic facade at 13th Street and Fourth Avenue.

Friends & Colleagues

Kathleen Taylor is stepping down as CEO of Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts. Taylor has served as chief executive since succeeding founder Isadore Sharp in the post in 2010. She had been with Four Seasons since 1989. During the search for Taylor's successor, Four Seasons' nine-member Executive Leadership Team will manage the company with oversight from the company's board. • • • Amtrak's chief marketing officer, David Lim, announced his early retirement, effective May 1. Lim has been with the rail line since 2000, when he was brought in as assistant vice president to launch the high-speed Acela Express. Prior to that, he had been vice president of business development for Stevens Travel Management and also served as a regional sales director for US Airways. Lim also serves on the board of Brand USA and is its vice chair of marketing. • • • Kate Hanni, founder and executive director of the Flyers Rights air passenger advocacy group, is stepping down from her post for personal and family reasons. Hanni was also an oft-quoted spokeswoman for the organization, which she started after she had been among the passengers stuck on an American Airlines flight for nine hours in Austin, Texas. Hanni will be succeeded by Paul Hudson, who currently serves on FlyersRights' executive board. Hudson was Hanni's attorney in the lawsuit against AA stemming from the tarmac delay. • • • Allen Chastanet has resumed the helm as managing director of the family-owned and managed Coco Palm resort in St. Lucia. Chastanet, who formerly served as minister of tourism for St. Lucia, had handed over the resort operation to his sister Feolla during his tenure in government. She will now focus on sales, marketing and public relations for the 100-room Coco Palm in Rodney Bay Village.

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