News Briefs, Week of Oct. 24, 2011

AA adds a service, without a fee


American is expanding curbside check-in to all departing passengers bound for international destinations, including those that require a visa check. It claims to be the first airline to do so. The carrier said it has been expanding curbside check-in throughout the U.S. and will have the new services available at an additional 31 airports by the beginning of November. There is no fee for the service.

AA, Amadeus renew full content pact
American and Amadeus extended their full-content agreement, eliminating the risk that agents might become subject to segment surcharges. Calling it a "medium-term" agreement, Amadeus said the deal means subscribers will continue to have access to American fares and inventory without being subject to surcharges, with no change from the previous agreement. The companies' full-content agreement expired on Aug. 31.

Hard Rock to reflag Mexican resorts
Hard Rock International will enter the Mexico market with the rebranding of three all-inclusive Palace Resorts properties in Cancun, Puerto Vallarta and the Riviera Maya. The 601-room Cancun Palace will become the Hard Rock Cancun this winter, followed by the conversion of the 348-room Vallarta Palace to the Hard Rock Puerto Vallarta next spring. Hard Rock Riviera Maya will combine two adjacent Palace Resorts, the 489-room Aventura Cove Palace and the 777-room Aventura Spa Palace. The first phase of the combined resort will debut next fall.

Gatwick deploys iris scanners
London's Gatwick Airport became the first airport in Europe to deploy iris scanners as part of the screening process for departing passengers. Integrated to 34 automated "e-Gates" in its South Terminal, the system is designed to get all passengers through ID check and security in five minutes or less. The deployment is said to be the largest installation to date of "iris-at-a-distance" scanners for passenger screening.

Wyndham reflags Mazatlan resort
Wyndham Hotels and Resorts expanded its brand to Mazatlan with the addition of the 68-room Wyndham Las Villas Resort Mazatlan, its seventh resort in Mexico. The beachfront property, the former Las Villas Hotel & Spa, is located within Estrella del Mar, a master-planned community 20 miles from downtown Mazatlan. Facilities include four restaurants, three bars, a fitness center, spa and business center.

Travelport pairs up with Chinese firm
Travelport and TravelSky Technology, China's largest provider of travel technology solutions and GDS services, inked a joint product development agreement focused on advanced Passenger Service Systems technology for airlines worldwide. Their first collaboration will be for a "Master Seat Maps" module that applies marketing and customer value to aircraft seat characteristics. TravelSky called the deal a "major milestone" in its evolution, noting that it has never entered into a development partnership of this magnitude.

Friends & Colleagues

Geoff Freeman has been promoted to executive vice president and COO of the U.S. Travel Association. It marks the second promotion this year for Freeman; earlier this year, he was promoted to executive vice president. Also, Blain Rethmeier will join U.S. Travel as senior vice president of public affairs. Rethmeier will join U.S. Travel on Nov. 7. Prior to this appointment, he had been with the American Insurance Association and before that served under President George W. Bush as special assistant for communications. • • • Deloitte promoted Adam Weissenberg, head of the consultancy's U.S. travel, hospitality and leisure practice, to lead the division's global efforts. Weissenberg replaces Alex Kyriakidis, who is joining Marriott International to oversee its Middle East and Africa division. Weissenberg, pictured above, has worked for Deloitte for two decades and has helped lead its travel, hospitality and leisure practice for six years. • • • Hawaiian Airlines' executive vice president and CFO, Peter Ingram, will assume a new role at the airline, executive vice president and chief commercial officer, effective Nov. 1. Ingram has been with Hawaiian since 2005. Succeeding Ingram will be Scott Topping, who was named to the position of executive vice president, CFO and treasurer. Topping joins Hawaiian following 16 years at Southwest Airlines.

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