News Briefs, Week of Oct. 20, 2014

WiFi, entertainment coming to UA Express

United plans to install WiFi and entertainment programming for personal devices on some 200 regional jets operating in United Express service. The move is planned for 70-passenger Embraer and Canadair regional jets in two-cabin configurations, with installations to be completed by next summer. In addition to WiFi, the regional jets will offer a range of movies and TV shows to view on laptops and mobile devices.

Virgin Atlantic accepts first stretched 787
Virgin Atlantic accepted delivery of the first of 16 stretched Dreamliners it has on order, becoming the first European carrier to get the 787-9 version. The aircraft is 20 feet longer than the original and accommodates 40 more passengers and offers additional range.

Sabre deal with HRS adds hotel content
Sabre expanded its hotel inventory in a deal with European distributor HRS. Sabre said the addition of HRS content enables Sabre agents worldwide to book more than 50,000 HRS hotels within the Sabre travel marketplace, while giving travel management companies access to HRS corporate discounts.

Wyndham Worldwide cites inroads in India
Two Wyndham brands marked milestones in India with the opening of the first Ramada Encore and first Howard Johnson hotels in the country. The Ramada is the 90-room Ramada Encore Bangalore Domlur in Bangalore. The Howard Johnson is a 117-room property in Bangaluru Hebbal, part of a development deal that calls for the opening of 35 Howard Johnson properties in India by 2020.

Tauck beefs up in bid for U.K. market share
Tauck opened a reservations center in London, its first such facility overseas, as part of a new push into the U.K. source market. The company also deployed a local sales team, launched a new U.K. website and issued brochures priced in British pounds. Tauck is also offering U.K. agents the protections of licensing by Britain's Air Travel Organisers and Association of British Travel Agents, opening up Tauck product to British agents.

Hard Rock to open in indoor ski venue
The Hard Rock Hotel brand is coming to Texas as part of a $400 million indoor ski village planned for Grand Prairie, Texas, about 15 miles west of Dallas. Hard Rock Hotel Dallas-Fort Worth will have 300 rooms, including 86 that will overlook the indoor ski facility of the Grand Alps Village. The hotel, slated to open in early 2018, will also have 50,000 square feet of meetings space.

Hyatt Regency to get a House next door
Hyatt plans to open an extended-stay Hyatt House in a building next to the Hyatt Regency New Orleans. Expected to open in 2015, the 194-room hotel would occupy floors 11 to 17 of the 24-story structure, which is connected to the hotel at the second-floor level.

Radisson Red added to Shenyang project
Carlson Rezidor signed the first development agreement for its Radisson Red "lifestyle select" brand, calling for a 300-room hotel in Shenyang, the capital of Liaoning Province in northeast China. Opening in 2016, the hotel will be part of a mixed-use development that will also include a Radisson Blu.

Friends & Colleagues
Norwegian Cruise Line has named Drew Madsen president and COO; he will oversee the cruise line's day-to-day business. Madsen comes to Norwegian from Darden Restaurants, where he was COO. Darden's brands include Olive Garden and LongHorn Steakhouse. Madsen managed the Olive Garden brand for more than six years before being promoted to COO in 2004. He announced his retirement in September 2013. The Orlando-based restaurant operator has been under fire from activist investors because of sagging sales. Darden unloaded Red Lobster, its second-biggest chain after Olive Garden, in July for about $2.1 billion in cash. Last week, Darden stockholders voted to replace the entire board with a slate of directors proposed by hedge fund Starboard Value, Darden's second-biggest shareholder. Norwegian said Madsen has more than 30 years of leadership experience in hospitality and consumer products. In his career prior to working for Darden, Madsen was with General Mills among other companies. "Having delivered exceptional results during his tenure at Darden, Drew has a wealth of experience to draw upon as he joins Norwegian," said Kevin Sheehan, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings. "I am confident in Drew as a results-oriented, highly collaborative and thoughtful leader who will continue to propel Norwegian on our positive growth trajectory." • • • John Pistole, the longest-serving administrator at the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), is retiring from public service at year's end. He has been nominated to be the next president of Anderson University in Indiana, his alma mater. Pistole was nominated for the TSA position by President Obama in May 2010. He has spent more than 31 years in the federal government. • • • TravelClick appointed David Obstler CFO. Most recently, he served as CFO of OpenLink Financial, which provides software for the commodity, energy and financial services industries.


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