Group seeks DOT cap on airline change fees


The consumer organization founded by tarmac delay activist Kate Hanni petitioned the Transportation Department (DOT) to cap international airline change fees at $100, on the grounds that existing rates are "exorbitant." The group, FlyersRights.org, asked the DOT to reassert its jurisdiction over the "reasonableness" of international fares and rates and require that change fees be reasonably related to costs.

Alaska to transfer route to American
Alaska Airlines plans to transfer its Los Angeles-Mexico City route to code-share partner American Airlines, which plans to start flying the route with its own aircraft on June 4, subject to Transportation Department approval. Alaska will continue to display its code on the flights. The airlines described the move as a transfer rather than a purchase or trade.

Virgin America to add intra-Texas route
Virgin America set April 28 as the launch date for service to Austin, Texas, from Love Field in Dallas, which became its Dallas base when it vacated DFW last year. The five daily Austin flights will give the carrier 19 daily departures from its two gates at Love.  

Advantage to acquire E-Z Rent-A-Car
Advantage Rent A Car agreed to acquire rival economy brand, E-Z Rent-A-Car Group, for an undisclosed amount. Advantage said the combined company will have 85 locations, including 22 of the top 25 U.S. airports. Advantage and E-Z will continue to operate as separate brands. Advantage was acquired by Canadian private equity group Catalyst Capital last year.

New Carnival port to open in October
Carnival Corp.'s Amber Cove port facility on the north coast of the Dominican Republic will begin welcoming cruise ships with the inaugural visit of the Carnival Victory on Oct. 6. The $85 million facility, under construction since 2012, will offer two berths and is expected to give cruise lines new itinerary options while serving as a base for shore excursions to the Puerto Plata area. Carnival also said the port is strategically located to be incorporated into future itineraries serving Cuba.

Finest brand opens Playa Mujeres resort
Excellence Group opened its first Finest resort in Mexico, the all-inclusive Finest Playa Mujeres in Playa Mujeres, north of Cancun, where the company has resorts under its Excellence and Beloved brands. The 450-suite resort offers nine restaurants, 17 bars, 10 pools, a fitness center and spa.

New Bahamas ferry ready for launch
Bahamas Express this week plans to launch Bahama Mama, a 1,000-passenger ferry offering three-hour crossings from Fort Lauderdale to Freeport Harbour, Grand Bahama Island. The line's 463-passenger Pinar del Rio ferry also serves the route. The new vessel features economy and first-class seating, private suites, a pool, cafe, restaurant and lounges, a casino and duty-free shopping.

Hyatt finds a Place in downtown Tijuana
Hyatt opened a 145-room Hyatt Place hotel in Tijuana, the select-service brand's fourth location in Mexico. Situated on Agua Caliente Boulevard near the Zona Rio business district, the hotel offers free parking and free WiFi.

Friends & Colleagues
Charles Sylvia will be joining CLIA on March 2 as vice president of trade relations. Sylvia will work directly with travel agencies and agents, focused on CLIA member engagement and retention. He will be the primary liaison to CLIA's Diamond and Gold Premium travel agency members, which comprise the largest travel agencies, hosts and consortia, and the sales and trade relations executives at CLIA member cruise lines. He brings with him more than two decades of experience in cruise marketing and sales, including the role of a travel agent. Most recently, Sylvia held a leadership role in client services at Access TCA, a global exhibit, meetings and events agency headquartered in Boston. • • • Keytours Vacations International has named Nigel Osborne vice president, sales and business development. Osborne will be responsible for building the Keytours brand, expanding group business, building partnerships with consortia and increasing customer engagement. Before joining Keytours, Osborne was president of Virgin Vacations for five years and prior to that was president of the package division of Auto Europe. • • • Hilton Worldwide appointed Tom Potter senior vice president, Caribbean and Latin America, in charge of leading operations at close to 40 properties and overseeing the development pipeline in the region. Potter has been with Hilton for more than 35 years, most recently serving as area vice president, Central and South America. Prior to that post, he oversaw the opening of the Hilton Sao Paulo Morumbi in 2002 and served as general manager at the property until 2006. • • • Christie Hicks is stepping down as senior vice president of Starwood Hotels & Resorts' sales organization. Hicks, who has spent 15 years with the company, has agreed to stay in her current position until Starwood names a replacement. • • • Kristian Sonnier has been named the vice president of communications and public relations at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, effective Feb. 23. Sonnier formerly was with Peter A. Mayer Advertising, a New Orleans agency, served on the host committee of the Super Bowl in 2013 and worked on post-Katrina recovery efforts.

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