News Briefs, Week of July 29, 2013

Airbus delivers A319 to American

American took delivery of its first Airbus A319 aircraft, the carrier's first Airbus narrowbody. American has 260 aircraft on order from the Airbus A320 family and is expected to begin phasing them into service at the Dallas hub in September.

Hertz fleet goes totally smoke-free
Hertz designated its entire car rental fleet as smoke-free and adopted a $100 cleaning fee to be assessed if vehicles are returned with evidence of smoking. The company's Dollar and Thrifty brands, acquired last year, went smoke-free in 2011.

Silversea retrains after food incident
Silversea said it is retraining its food service staff after the Silver Shadow failed a health inspection by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last month. Investigators found that the crew tried to hide 15 trolleys of food and utensils in crew cabins during the inspection, which occurred at the end of the breakfast service. The company said that no improperly stored food was served to guests.

El Salvador tourism plans travel mart
El Salvador's Ministry of Tourism will host its first travel market on Sept. 6 in San Salvador, targeting North American buyers with a view to positioning the Central American country as a leading international travel destination. More than 30 hotels, destination management companies, airlines and specialist operators have confirmed their participation so far, the ministry said.

Carnival names new ship Vista
Carnival named its next new ship the Carnival Vista. A new design ordered last fall, the ship is expected to accommodate 4,000 passengers when it enters service late in 2016. The name is in keeping with a design theme for the new ship that will maximize views of the ocean. It will be the 25th ship in the Carnival fleet and, at 135,000 tons, the line's largest.

Hyatt inks deal for Phuket resort
Hyatt agreed to manage a resort in Phuket, Thailand, under the Hyatt Regency brand, its first property at the destination. Opening late this year, the resort on Kamala Bay's "Millionaire's Mile" will offer 202 rooms and 4,300 square feet of meetings space.

Hilton plans hotel for Tallinn, Estonia
Hilton plans to open its first hotel in the Baltic states in Tallinn, Estonia, in 2016. The 202-room Hilton, near the historic old city, a Unesco World Heritage Site, will be built on the site of the Park Hotel & Casino, according to a statement by the developer, AS Merko Ehitus.

Meridien to reflag Santa Monica hotel
Starwood is bringing its Le Meridien brand to Southern California by renovating and rebranding the Sheraton Delfina Santa Monica. The 310-room hotel will continue to be managed by Viceroy Hotel Group and owned by Pebblebook Hotel Trust, which said it expects the conversion to be completed in the fourth quarter. The downtown hotel is within walking distance of the Santa Monica Pier.

Friends & Colleagues
Interstate Hotels & Resorts CEO Jim Abrahamson has been named the chair of the U.S. Travel Association, succeeding Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority CEO Rossi Ralenkotter. Abrahamson, who had been U.S. Travel's first vice chair, will serve as chair through December 2014. Abrahamson was promoted to Interstate's CEO from president in 2011. He had previously worked for InterContinental Hotels Group as president of its Americas region. • • • Shannon Knapp was named senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Leading Hotels of the World. Knapp will be responsible for leading brand marketing, interactive marketing, Web operations, customer relations, customer loyalty and public relations for the luxury hotel collection. She most recently served as vice president of marketing for American Express Travel. • • • Vinicio Alvarado has been appointed minister of tourism for Ecuador. Alvarado previously served as head of the National Secretariat of Public Administration. He succeeds Freddy Ehlers, who has been named secretary of the Presidential Initiative for Human Development. • • • Austin-Lehman Adventures announced the promotion of four employees in its Billings, Mont., headquarters. Kasey Austin was appointed vice president of operations for the adventure tour operator. She is the daughter of company founder Dan Austin. Christy Hamill, who has been with the firm for a dozen years, has been named general manager. Amy Weidlich was appointed sales manager, and Blake Eden is the new digital media marketing coordinator. • • • Roberto Cuesta Jr. has been appointed commercial director for Airberlin in the U.S. Cuesta joins the airline from ISS GMT, where he was general manager for regional sales and customer service.


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