News Briefs, Week of Nov. 16, 2009

BA, Iberia agree on merger plan
British Airways and Iberia approved a preliminary merger pact to create an airline group called TopCo, with joint revenue of about $22.3 billion and 419 aircraft flying to 205 destinations. The two airlines would retain their individual brands for at least five years after the merger, expected to be completed in 2010. TopCo will be a Spanish-incorporated company with operating and financial headquarters in London. The TopCo board will have seven members from each airline. Iberia Chairman Antonio Vazquez will be group chairman, and BA CEO Willie Walsh will be group CEO.

RCCL brands adopt e-ticket as default
Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International will charge $35 for paper tickets in an effort to shift agents and clients to electronic cruise documents. Sister brand Azamara Cruises will waive the fee, but electronic documents will become the default option for all three RCCL brands on bookings made on or after Dec. 13. RCCL said travel agents can insert their agency name and contact information into the e-documents, and customers can email the cruise documents to others and have the option to print specific pages.

Cruise Night tally: $45 million in sales
CLIA's 2009 World's Largest Cruise Night promotion generated more than $45 million in actual and anticipated cruise sales, according to a CLIA survey of participating agents and agencies. The Oct. 14 promotion drew nearly 50,000 consumers to cruise events held by 1,309 agencies. In 2008, the event generated an estimated 43,020 bookings and $41.4 million in cruise sales, CLIA said.

Myrtle Beach gets Canadian air link
Canada's Porter Airlines plans to start twice-weekly roundtrips between Toronto City Centre Airport and Myrtle Beach, S.C., from Feb. 28 through May 30. It will be the only nonstop service from Canada to the resort area. The local airport offers incentives for new service, including the elimination of landing fees on non-U.S. routes.

TSA adjusts focus, ACLU drops suit
The American Civil Liberties Union dropped a suit against the Transportation Security Administration after the TSA stopped using air travel screening to search for evidence of unrelated illegal activity. A rule adopted in September states, "Screening may not be conducted to detect evidence of crimes unrelated to transportation security." The ACLU filed suit after TSA officers detained a GOP political aide at an airport carrying $4,700 in cash from a political fundraiser.

Republic commits to Milwaukee hub
Midwest Airlines' new owner Republic Airways Holdings reaffirmed its commitment to the airline's hometown of Milwaukee, saying it plans to add up to 800 full-time positions for maintenance, call center and technical support personnel. It also plans new routes for Midwest in the spring, adding Milwaukee-Raleigh-Durham service on April 1 and San Francisco service on April 19.

MSC Poesia debuts in Fort Lauderdale
MSC Cruises' 11th ship, the 3,000-passenger Poesia, kicked off its inaugural season in Fort Lauderdale, offering three-, five-, seven-, eight- and 10-day cruises to the Caribbean and Bermuda.

Friends & Colleagues

Tom Staggs, top right, senior executive vice president and CFO at the Walt Disney Co., and Jay Rasulo, chairman of Disney Parks and Resorts, will swap posts at the end of this year. Staggs joined Disney in 1990. He was appointed executive vice president and CFO in 1998 and assumed his current title in 2000. Rasulo has been with Disney for 23 years and was appointed president of the worldwide parks and resorts division in 2002; he became chairman in 2005. • • • Dolce Hotels and Resorts appointed Barry Goldstein chief revenue officer. Goldstein succeeds Peter Strebel, who the company said was leaving to become general manager of the Berkshire Omni Place in New York. For the past five years, Goldstein has been vice president of global sales strategy, technology and operations at Starwood Hotels and Resorts. • • • Millennium Hotels and Resorts expanded its North American team by appointing Anthony Faso the global account director of business travel and Jon Hodges the global account director of consortia sales. Faso joins Millennium after serving as area director of business travel sales for the Starwood Hotels and Resorts New York market. Hodges most recently served as global account director of retail sales for Starwood.

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