News Briefs, Week of May 6, 2013

Frontier hikes fees on agency clients


Frontier Airlines disclosed plans to impose a fee for using the overhead bins but to waive the charge for passengers who book on the carrier's website. The fee will be $25 if paid in advance or $100 at the gate. The carrier said it will soon set an effective date. The carrier also further limited the rate at which agency and online travel agency clients earn mileage, from 50% to 25%, effective July 1. Bookings at FlyFrontier.com will continue to earn at 100% or more.

Southwest cited on complaint handling
The Transportation Department (DOT) cited Southwest for failing to make timely replies to "a large number" of disability-related and consumer complaints between June 2011 and January 2012. The delays stemmed from a website problem that went undiagnosed for seven months. The carrier corrected the problem, began addressing the complaints and issued $115,000 in refunds to all the affected passengers. The DOT ruled that the responses were still late and in some cases inadequate. It levied a $150,000 civil penalty and credited the carrier for the amount paid in refunds, resulting in a $35,000 fine.

Virgin Galactic passes flight test
Virgin Galactic completed the first rocket-powered test flight of its SpaceShipTwo six-passenger, sub-orbital space vehicle, achieving a speed of Mach 1.2 and an altitude of 55,000 feet during a 10-minute flight over the Mojave Desert. The company, owned by Virgin Group's Richard Branson and an Abu Dhabi investor, Aabar Investments, said it expects a powered test flight into space by the end of the year.

Ducks retire after Marriott takeover
Marriott reflagged the 418-room Peabody Hotel in Little Rock, Ark., which will be operated as a full-service Marriott by Davidson Hotels & Resorts. Guestrooms and public areas are slated for renovations next year. The rebranding triggered the retirement of the hotel's pet ducks, but the traditional duck walk to the lobby fountain continues at the original Peabody in Memphis and its sister property in Orlando.

Jamaica resort taps Aimbridge
Aimbridge Hospitality will rebrand and manage the former Hotel Decameron Club Caribbean in St. Ann's, Jamaica, as the Jewel Paradise Cove Resort & Spa. The 225-room all-inclusive, adults-only resort will be the third Jewel property in Jamaica, joining the flagship Jewel's Dunn's River Beach Resort & Spa in Ocho Rios and the Jewel Runaway Bay Golf Resort & Spa, also on the island's north coast. The Jewel Paradise Cove will welcome its first guests in late fall, following a renovation and expansion that includes three new restaurants, the Radiant Spa and more water sports activities.

Florida college eyes hotel opening
Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla., set an August opening for the Alfond Inn, a 112-room boutique hotel that it is building a few blocks north of the campus. Managed by Olympia Hotel Management and represented by the Preferred Boutique group, the hotel will feature a 5,000 square-foot ballroom and an additional 10,000 square feet of meetings space. Profits are to be earmarked for a scholarship endowment with a goal of $50 million.

Friends & Colleagues
Travelport Ltd. has promoted Douglas Steenland to chairman. Steenland has been vice chairman since August 2011. Steenland replaces Jeff Clarke, who had been chairman since February 2012. Clarke will continue to serve as a director and will chair the company's audit committee as well as serve on the compensation committee. Steenland was president of Northwest Airlines from 2004 to 2008, when Northwest merged with Delta. • • • Edyta Satchell has joined ARC as director of product management. Satchell, who was previously director of product management and business development at VAX VacationAccess, comes to ARC with more than 12 years of international experience in the travel industry. In her new position, she will have management responsibilities over ARC's nontraditional products including Agency List Pro, Helix, Agent's Choice and Market Locator. Satchell began her travel industry career as a product manager and strategist at Worldspan-Travelport in London. • • • Radius, a global network of corporate travel agencies, has promoted Shannon Hyland to CEO. Hyland joined Radius in 2008 as CFO. He is stepping in for the retiring Chris Vasiliou, who had served as chief executive since 2008. • • • AMResorts named Gabriel Felip its new COO, responsible for streamlining operations across the company's markets in the Caribbean and Mexico. Felip formerly served as managing director and COO of Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts' 24 properties in the Caribbean and Spain.

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