News Briefs, Week of May 18, 2015

Disney adds two more river cruise sailings

Adventures by Disney added two more river cruise departures to its inaugural season in partnership with AmaWaterways. The company announced in April that it would offer four sailings along the Danube River in 2016, via a charter of the 170-passenger AmaViola, but last week it upped the number of departures to six by adding Aug. 4 and Dec. 15 cruises.

Sabre agrees to buy Asia/Pac GDS Abacus
Sabre agreed to buy out the consortium of 11 airlines that owns 65% of Abacus International, a GDS in the Asia-Pacific region. Sabre owns the other 35%. The acquisition includes new long-term distribution agreements between Sabre and the 11 airline owners. More than 100,000 travel agents use the Abacus GDS.

JetBlue to introduce Quito flights from Fla.
JetBlue plans to begin daily service between Fort Lauderdale and Quito, Ecuador, in the first quarter of 2016. Demand for travel to Ecuador has been growing, aided by the country's extensive promotional efforts, said Dave Clark, JetBlue's vice president of network planning. JetBlue will compete with Tame, Ecuador's flag carrier, on the route. American Airlines and its alliance partner LAN Ecuador fly to Quito from Miami.

El AL to start Boston service on June 28
EL AL Israel Airlines will launch direct service between Boston and Tel Aviv next month, making it the only nonstop flights between the two cities. Starting June 28, the airline will offer three weekly nonstop flights between the two cities. Tickets are open for booking.   

Royal to raise its suggested gratuities
Royal Caribbean International plans to raise suggested daily gratuities from $12 to $12.95 per person, amounts that are automatically posted to a passenger's shipboard account but can be adjusted upon request. The 8% increase on standard cabins is scheduled to go into effect June 1.

DC's Mayflower goes with Autograph
Washington's 90-year-old Mayflower became the city's first hotel under Marriott International's Autograph Collection. The 657-room property previously operated under Marriott's Renaissance brand. Opened in 1925, the Mayflower has hosted President John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill and Amelia Earhart, and recently underwent a $20 million renovation.

CroisiEurope ups its agent loyalty reward
French river cruise line CroisiEurope's travel agent loyalty program, Mon Ami Gold Club, added a higher loyalty club level that gives agents who sell five CroisiEurope cruises in a single year 17% commission on all future CroisiEurope sales. Any agent who registers for the loyalty program gets the standard 15% commission rate.

Washington area gets first AC Hotel
The Washington area's first hotel under Marriott International's AC Hotels chain opened on Maryland's National Harbor. The AC Hotel Washington, DC at National Harbor has 192 rooms and 3,700 square feet of meeting space. The eight-story property has artwork inspired by its location and a lounge that serves drinks and Spanish-style tapas.

Friends & Colleagues
Travel Leaders Franchise Group has named Ron Cerko senior vice president of franchise development and services. Cerko will be responsible for sales and for the regional franchise consultants who help individual agencies develop their business. He will also oversee the franchise group's education and training team. Cerko most recently was a vice president with Enterprise Holdings, responsible for travel industry development in the U.S. and Canada. • • • Frontier Airlines CEO Dave Siegel has resigned, citing personal reasons, according to the carrier's board of directors. In turn, the board has created an "office of the chief executive," consisting of Frontier Chairman Bill Franke, who will focus on strategy and financial matters, and President Barry Biffle, who will manage day-to-day operations, according to a statement from the board. Siegel had led Frontier since January 2012. • • • The Cruise Professionals appointed Jason Sarracini COO, a newly created position. Sarracini joins Cruise Professionals from Travelzoo Canada, where he was vice president and general manager. In 2004, he founded, a Canada-based online travel agency that specialized in last-minute deals. • • • Kay Kratky has been appointed CEO of Austrian Airlines. Kratky, currently COO of Lufthansa German Airlines, will assume his new role on Aug. 1, replacing Jaan Albrecht, who will depart on June 1. Chief Commercial Officer Andreas Otto will lead the airline in the two interim months. • • • Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants welcomed Joe Pagone as general manager and Jess Johnson as director of sales and marketing for its Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, Texas, which is set to open this summer. Pagone joins the Hotel Van Zandt team from the Hotel Monaco, a Kimpton Hotel in Baltimore, where he had served as G.M. since 2012. Prior to that he had been assistant G.M. at Kimpton's Hotel Palomar in Chicago. Johnson comes to the property from the nearby Horseshoe Bay Resort. His experience also included stints at a trio of Nashville properties: the Sheraton Nashville Downtown, the Marriott at Vanderbilt University and the Gaylord Opryland Resort, where he was director of national sales from 2009 to 2011.


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