News Briefs, Week of Jan. 30, 2006

ATA taps Oakland for Hawaii routes

Leveraging its codeshare with Southwest, ATA Airlines in late April will move its San Francisco-Hawaii service to Oakland, where Southwest has a big presence. Oakland flights will serve Honolulu, Maui and Hilo.

Southwest will codeshare on those flight and on new service linking Houston Hobby and New York LaGuardia. ATA also plans new daily service to Honolulu from Ontario, Calif.

U.N.: Global visits top 800 million

The number of international tourist arrivals recorded worldwide grew by 5.5% last year and exceeded the 800 million mark for the first time, according to preliminary data from the U.N. World Tourism Organization.

Barring negative factors such as terrorism or an avian flu scare, the UNWTO projects a 4% increase in 2006.

Delta plans route from N.Y. to Kiev

As part of its continuing international expansion into what the airline describes as the key business and leisure markets of Eastern Europe, Delta plans to begin five weekly flights June 5 between New York and Kiev, Ukraine, pending Ukrainian government approval.

Cruise ads mimic home movies

Royal Caribbean International kicked off an ad campaign in the style of home movies, designed to tell the vacation story from a customers point of view.

The four-spot Create Your Own Adventure ads first aired Jan. 23 on cable TV channels and in early, prime-time and late-night network time slots.

Calif. travel agent gets caught again

California suspended the registration for M&K Travel of Fairfield, Calif., after one of its owners was arrested for a second time and accused of theft.

Iqbal Paul Randhawa; his wife, Gurdev Debbie Randhawa; and their son Manjinder (Manny), who operated the three-office agency, were first arrested Nov. 7 and charged with stealing more than $50,000 from clients.

While on bail, according to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris, Paul Randhawa launched a scheme to steal more than $23,000 worth of air tickets from a consolidator. He was charged with eight counts of forgery and one count of grand theft. Bail was set at $750,000.

Blackstone closes on La Quinta deal

The Blackstone Group completed its acquisition of La Quinta Corp., whose lodging brands include La Quinta, Baymont Inn, Woodfield Suites and Budgetel.

Blackstone, a private investment firm, recently sold Summerfield Suites to Hyatt. Boca Resorts and Extended Stay America are among its other holdings.

Orbitz to travelers: We offer TLC

Orbitz introduced OrbitzTLC, an initiative to highlight its customer-service features, such as alerts informing travelers car services of delays or itinerary changes (if the car was booked on Orbitz).

We are repackaging what customers want but dont know we offer, said Randy Wagner, chief marketing officer for Cendants Consumer Travel Americas.

Orbitz will also emphasize consumer reviews in a Hotel Scorecard that also includes Frommers reviews.

Travelocity buys all of Asias Zuji

Travelocity acquired the shares of Asia-Pacific travel seller Zuji.com that it didnt already own for about $34 million. Travelocity had a 13.6% stake in the Zuji, which operates in Australia, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Singapore and Taiwan. The sellers were Abacus International and AGC Holdings.

The move was foreshadowed a year ago when Travelocitys parent, Sabre, negotiated a put option to take 100% ownership of Zuji.

Concur to acquire biz booking tool

Concur Technologies, a public company in Redmond, Wash., agreed to acquire Outtask, which offers the Cliqbook corporate self-booking tool, for $67 million to $88 million in cash and stock. (The amount depends on the satisfaction of certain conditions.) 

St. Lucia in line for its first Westin

The Westin St. Lucia will be the centerpiece of Le Paradis, a luxury condo resort opening in March 2007 at Vieux Fort on the islands southern tip. The 232-room facility, Westins first on St. Lucia, will have 92 two-bedroom and 16 three-bedroom units.

Friends & Colleagues

Kenneth Mead is resigning as the Transportation Dept.s inspector general Feb. 11 after nearly nine years of service. Deputy Inspector General Todd Zinser will serve as acting inspector general until a successor is appointed. " " " Peter Tauck resigned the chairmanship of the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA). Tauck has stepped back from an active role at Tauck World Discovery and thus is no longer eligible to serve as the firms USTOA representative. Tauck was succeeded as USTOA chairman by Nikos Tsakanikas, president of Homeric Tours. " " " Victor Lopez was promoted to senior vice president of development for Hyatt Hotels Corp. Most recently, Lopez was senior vice president, field operations for Hyatt, directing the operations of 23 Hyatt properties in Mexico, Latin America, Florida, and the Caribbean. " " " The Aladdin Resort & Casino in Las Vegas, future home of Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, has been doling out promotions. Donna Marcou-Stafford was promoted to vice president of leisure sales. For the past six years, Marcou-Stafford had been the director of leisure sales for the Aladdin. DAnna Malbrough also was promoted. She is the propertys new director of Internet partnership marketing. Malbrough has been with the Aladdin since 2002, most recently as senior leisure sales and marketing manager. " " " Fiona Jeffery was promoted from group exhibition director to managing director of World Travel Market in London. As part of her new role, Jeffery is looking to expand the World Travel Market brand.

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