News Briefs, Week of Jan. 20, 2014

Etihad plans boost in New York service

Abu Dhabi's Etihad Airways is adding a second daily flight at New York Kennedy on March 1, using a three-class 777-300 ER aircraft leased from its Indian partner Jet Airways, which will take over operation of the flight on May 1. The flight will connect at Abu Dhabi to some 30 destinations. Etihad is adding Los Angeles service in July and a route to Dallas in December.

American Eagle to become Envoy
American's regional airline subsidiary, American Eagle Airlines, is changing its name to Envoy this spring to differentiate the company from the American Eagle umbrella brand that will soon be applied to all regional carriers operating codeshare connections for American. Some currently use the American Connection name, which is to be phased out.

Budget opens Bogota locations
Through Budget Colombia, an independent licensee, Budget Car Rental opened new airport and downtown car rental locations in Bogota, Colombia.

San Francisco set for newbuild hotel
San Francisco's first new full-service hotel since 2008 is slated to open in the city's South of Market district by the end of 2016. Stanford Hotels Group acquired a half-acre property about a block from AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants, and will break ground later this year on a 15-story, 250-room hotel, to be operated under a four-star, lifestyle brand, yet to be named.

Carnival planning return to Norfolk
Carnival Cruise Lines intends to return to Norfolk, Va., next year. Dates and itineraries as well as the name of the ship are expected to be published this spring. Carnival had been serving Norfolk since 2001 but pulled the Carnival Glory out of the market for 2014, citing the costs associated with the North American Emissions Control Area around East Coast ports. The news was announced to the state assembly by newly elected Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Deal is done for American Empress
The American Queen Steamboat Co. closed on the purchase of its second vessel, the 223-passenger American Empress, formerly the Empress of the North. The line plans a christening ceremony for April 5 in Portland, Ore., before the ship goes into service on the Columbia and Snake rivers. The company acquired the vessel and its larger sister, the 436-passenger American Queen, from the Maritime Administration, which took custody of the ships after the dissolution of Majestic America Line in 2008.

Marriott Edition eyes Times Square
Marriott and boutique hotelier Ian Schrager will open their second Manhattan hotel under their Edition badge in 2017. The 452-room property, on Seventh Avenue and 47th Street near Times Square, will include 100,000 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment space as well as an 18,000-square-foot, high-definition LED sign. New York's first Edition opens in near Madison Square Park next year.

Friends & ColleaguesProtravel founder Priscilla Alexander retires

Priscilla Alexander, founder and president of New York travel agency Protravel International, has retired. Alexander launched Protravel in 1984 as the U.S. branch of a larger operation in France, from which it split amicably six years later. Protravel grew to become one of the largest regional agencies in the U.S.

With ARC sales totaling $600 million, Protravel was No. 18 on Travel Weekly's Power List in 2012, its final year as standalone company. In late 2012, the company became part of Travel Leaders Group, merging with another New York agency, Tzell Travel.

"Over the course of the past year, Protravel has become an integral part of the Travel Leaders Group family," said Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben. "This could not have been accomplished without Priscilla's steadfast support. We thank her for her leadership as well as the tremendous legacy she leaves behind."

"As I stated at the time of our acquisition of the company, Protravel represents a crown jewel, not only within the New York City travel arena but also throughout the United States and internationally," Liben said. "They have established themselves as one of the industry's top travel companies. We remain committed to ensuring that Protravel retains its extraordinary and dynamic positioning in serving its corporate and luxury clientele with excellence. We look forward to further growing this business in the years to come."

Travel Leaders said that Protravel's senior leadership team remains in place, with COO Tony Shepherd now reporting directly to Liben.

Alexander, a New Jersey native, fell in love with travel while studying at the Sorbonne in Paris. After returning to New York, earning a master's degree at Columbia University and working in education, real estate and other fields, Alexander switched gears and became a travel agent.

Protravel was the first Premium Member of ASTA as well as a member of ASTA's Corporate Advisory Council. Over the years, Alexander has served on just about every advisory board established for the retail travel industry and is recognized year after year by Travel + Leisure in its A-List issue. She received a Travel Weekly Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.


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