US Airways to take tour line in-house

US Airways, newly merged with America West Airlines, decided to phase out its 11-year relationship with the Mark Travel Corp. and bring all of its US Airways Vacations operation in-house, beginning Dec. 13.

Mark Travel will continue to operate US Airways Vacations in the Caribbean and Europe until late spring 2006, though both sides say the date is flexible.

American, Lan, get antitrust immunity

The Transportation Dept. granted antitrust immunity to a three-way alliance of American, Lan Peru and Chiles Lan Airlines.

The immunity allows for coordinated marketing and pricing, but the DOT excluded revenue pooling or pricing, inventory and yield-management coordination for Miami-Lima, where American and Lan Peru have the only nonstops.

Biz jets return to Reagan National

Business jets and other private aircraft resumed operating at Washingtons Reagan National Airport for the first time since the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

Under a long-planned phase-in, corporate and private aircraft are permitted to operate up to 48 flights per day. Congress passed a law in 2003 calling for a resumption of general aviation at the airport.

Continental all set for Buenos Aires

Continental set Dec. 14 as the inaugural date for daily nonstops on a new Houston-Buenos Aires route just authorized by the Transportation Dept.

AirTran milestone: Its 100th aircraft

AirTran Airways took delivery of its 100th aircraft, a Boeing 717, at a ceremony at its Atlanta hub.

The carrier continues its expansion with new services from Chicago (Midway) to both Boston and Minneapolis Dec. 6.

Hilton Garden Inn debuts in NYC

Hilton Garden Inn, a midprice brand, opened its first-ever property in New York, the 369-room Hilton Garden Inn Times Square.

Southwest plans a return to Denver

Southwest said it will begin service at Denver in early 2006, citing a dramatic reduction in costs at Denver Airport, growth in the community and aircraft availability created by hurricane-related schedule changes.

Southwest served Denver from 1983 to 1986 from the old delay-prone Stapleton Airport. CEO Gary Kelly said Southwest has been studying the possibility of a return for quite some time, noting that the new Denver airport was ranked No. 1 for on-time arrivals in 2004, a great fit for Southwests quick aircraft turn times.

Royal Jordanian to join Oneworld

Royal Jordanian agreed to join Oneworld, the airline alliance headlined by American and British Airways. The carrier said it is the first Arab and Middle Eastern airline to join any of the major airline alliances; its also Oneworlds first new member in five years.

Full membership is expected to be implemented late next year. Other Oneworld members include Aer Lingus, Cathay Pacific, Finnair, Iberia, Lan and Qantas.

Starwood closes another asset sale

Starwood Hotels and Resorts completed the $106 million sale of its 48.6% stake in the Westin OHare in Chicago.

The sale put Starwood over its goal of selling $500 million worth of assets by the end of the year.

Since 2003, Starwood has sold more than $1.1 billion worth of assets, and shareholders are about to get a piece of that action: Starwoods board gave the green light to repurchase another $1 billion of the companys stock.

AA Eagle, W Hotel coming to Vieques

American Eagle will launch daily service between San Juan and Vieques, Puerto Rico, on Dec. 16, using 64-passenger turboprops.

Under construction at Rivera Rodriguez Airport in Vieques is a lounge with baggage facilities and a car rental booth for American Eagle passengers. The  $800,000 building project is being funded by Reig Capital Puerto Rico, developer of the 156-room Martineau Bay Resort & Spa. Formerly a Wyndham, the resort will be converted to W Hotels first Caribbean property by December 2006.

Amtrak ends year with ridership gain

Amtrak ended its fiscal year with a 1.3% increase in overall ridership, despite hurricanes and the sidelining of its popular Acela Express service for several months. The passenger count for the 12 months ended Sept. 30 came to just under 25.4 million. Northeast Corridor ridership approached 9.5 million, a 1% gain.

Cendant closes on Wyndham deal

Cendant closed on its acquisition of Wyndhams management and franchise business from an affiliate of the Blackstone Group.

Europe operator ceases operations

ETM Travel Group, a Westport, Conn.-based operator of tours to Ireland, Britain, Europe and Australia, ceased operations.

The companys president, John Murray, said ETM was doing its best to accommodate customers who are in transit.

ETM was formerly a member of the U.S. Tour Operators Association but withdrew Sept. 8, 2003.

Friends & Colleagues

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino in Biloxi, Miss., announced the appointment of George Corchis as the resorts new president, responsible for all operations of the 1,740-room property, which is closed due to severe damage from Hurricane Katrina. Corchis appointment marks his return to MGM Mirage. He previously served in a financial capacity with the Mirage Resort & Casino in the early 1990s. Most recently, Corchis served in a dual role for Harrahs Entertainment as senior vice president and general manager of the Horseshoe Casino & Hotel and the Sheraton Casino & Hotel, both in Tunica, Miss. " " " Hickory Travel Systems, a consortium of corporate travel agencies, named Ann Albano vice president of hotel programs. This is Albanos second stint at Hickory. She was publisher of Hickorys hotel programs before becoming director of global agency sales for Accor Hotels. " " " The Los Angeles-based boutique hotel operator Kor Hotel Group promoted Tom Santora to senior vice president of sales and marketing. Other appointments include Azadeh Nashat, brand manager, and Jonathan Heath, corporate director of operations.

Submit your items and photos to: Jerry Limone, Travel Weekly senior copy editor, at [email protected].

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