Sale of Gatwick fetches $2.5 billion
BAA Plc., Britain's principal airport operator, agreed to sell London's Gatwick Airport to Global Infrastructure Partners, the same consortium that owns London's City Airp0rt, for approximately $2.5 billion. The agreement followed a ruling from the U.K.'s Competition Commission that BAA, which operates Heathrow and six other U.K. airports, must divest three of its airport holdings. But BAA noted that it disclosed plans to relinquish Gatwick before that review was completed.

Hilton Garden Inn planned for Venice
Hilton signed a franchise agreement with an Italian firm, Venezia Capitol, to open a 136-room Hilton Garden Inn hotel in Venice. Opening in 2010, the Hilton Garden Inn Venice/Mestre San Giuliano will be Hilton's second Venice property; it already operates the Hilton Molino Stucky Venice on Giudecca Island.

IATA waives clause on E&O insurance
IATA implemented an agreement with the Travel Institute to waive its requirement for errors and omissions insurance for IATA accreditation if applicants have at least five years of recent full-time experience in the travel industry. In addition, all professionals who have completed the Travel Institute's certified travel associate program receive the same waiver, retroactive to Sept. 15. The IATA requirement for E&O coverage has been part of a package of alternative financial standards for non-ARC agencies seeking to sell air. It also has been a requirement for nonair sellers seeking IATA's travel sales intermediary designation.

Southwest expands in Denver, St. Louis
Southwest opened the books on five new nonstop markets out of Denver, with service beginning March 14 to Hartford, Conn.; Boise, Idaho; Ontario, Calif.; Detroit; and Washington Dulles. Counting planned capacity increases, Southwest said it will be operating 127 daily departures next May, making Denver the seventh-largest station in its system. Frontier, meanwhile, said it will start Louisville, Ky., service from its Denver hub in April, followed by New Orleans in June. Separately, Southwest disclosed plans to open six new nonstop routes from St. Louis next May, adding Los Angeles, Nashville, New Orleans, Seattle, San Diego and Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

Upgrades planned at Elbow Beach
The 101-year-old Elbow Beach Hotel in Bermuda will lay off 160 employees by Nov. 30 when it shutters 131 rooms in the main building for a major renovation. General Manager Frank Stocek said the resort was being repositioned as an "intimate luxury resort" that will feature the existing 98 garden cottages and suites during the renovation. Guests will have access to three restaurants and room service. Mandarin Oriental will continue to manage the property.

Peninsula Shanghai opens on the Bund
The 235-room Peninsula Shanghai opened on the Bund, marking the return of Peninsula's parent company to Shanghai after a 60-year absence. Hongkong and Shanghai Hotels, which once operated four properties in the city, described the hotel as "blending subtle Chinese influences with a modern interpretation of the art deco movement."

Friends & Colleagues

Tom Murray is the new CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, assuming the role that had been held by the company's founder, Sven Lindblad. The company said Lindblad is turning his full attention and efforts to building strategic partnerships and programs for conservation, education and community development. Before moving to Lindblad last month, Murray served as COO for the Americas at InterContinental Hotels Group. He has nearly three decades of experience in the hospitality industry. • • • Travelocity Global named Noreen Henry senior vice president of global partner marketing, replacing Paul Nelson, who plans to leave the company at the end of the year. Henry, who joined Travelocity in 2001, had been vice president of North America hotels and packaging. Lesley Harris, who currently leads Travelocity Business, will take over Henry's former position. Yannis Karmis, who currently heads Sabre Travel Network's global customer care, will take the helm of Travelocity Business. • • • Richard Bailey has been appointed chairman, president and CEO of Paul Gauguin Cruises, replacing acting president and CEO David Giersdorf. Bailey is the managing director of Pacific Beachcomber, which took ownership of Paul Gauguin Cruises in August. • • • Carnival Cruise Lines named Rob Huffman vice president of sales, Southeastern region. Huffman began at Carnival in 1993, serving as business development manager for Oklahoma and Kansas.

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