News Briefs, Week of Oct. 6, 2008

Southwest to serve Twin Cities in '09 
Southwest decided to enter the Minneapolis-St. Paul market in March 2009 with service to Chicago Midway. The carrier said it would begin with a "modest" operation, noting that it would likely grow its fleet next year by no more than 10 aircraft. Southwest has tended to avoid megacarrier hubs, shunning Atlanta, Minneapolis and, until recently, Denver. About Minneapolis, CEO Gary Kelly said, "We have studied and been interested in serving this very popular market for quite some time."

Injunction blocks Florida's Cuba law 
A U.S. District Court in Miami issued a preliminary injunction barring Florida from enforcing amendments to the state's travel sellers law that place new requirements on those who sell Cuba. Sixteen agencies authorized to sell Cuba earlier won a restraining order to block implementation of the amendments. Judge Alan Gold said the state's "extraordinarily expensive registration and bonding requirements ... constitute little more than an attempt to impose economic sanctions" on those who sell travel to Cuba. He said that was a federal rather than a state function. The plaintiffs' next step would be to seek a permanent injunction unless the state backs off.

American resumes service to Bolivia 
American resumed service from Miami to La Paz, Bolivia, on Oct. 2 after canceling all flights to the country because of civil unrest, the airline confirmed. The airline said it would resume its Santa Cruz-Miami service Oct. 10. The State Department last month issued a travel warning for Bolivia.

Buyer balks at Norwegian Dream
Star Cruises' plan to sell the Norwegian Dream to Louis Cruises for $218 million fell through after Cyprus-based Louis refused delivery, citing "technical issues relating to the vessel." Star, parent of NCL Corp., the operator of the 2,156-passenger Dream, told the Singapore and Hong Kong stock exchanges that Louis terminated the sale agreement. Louis had agreed in April to acquire the Dream and Norwegian Majesty, which was delivered.

Guangzhou to get Jumeirah Hotel 
Dubai's Jumeirah Group agreed to operate a 200-room hotel opening in 2011 in Guangzhou, China. The 200-room Jumeirah Guangzhou, to be located in a 50-story tower in the commercial center's New Pearl City Tianhe District, will be the firm's second in China, following the opening of a hotel in Shanghai later this year. 

Porter Airlines to add Chicago 
Toronto-based Porter Airlines plans to begin turboprop service Nov. 12 between Chicago Midway and Toronto City Centre airports, its second route to the U.S. It already serves Newark.

Second airline exec gets U.S. jail term 
Keith Packer, former commercial general manager for British Airways World Cargo, will serve eight months in jail and pay a fine of $20,000 in connection with the Justice Department's probe of price-fixing on cargo rates. Bruce McCaffrey, former Qantas chief of freight operations, received a similar sentence in the spring.


Ambassadors' credit cut
For the second time in two months, Bank of America has reduced the amount of money available to Ambassadors International under its line of credit. Ambassadors' line of credit was cut from $7.5 million to $6 million. The amendment also reduced the amount of restricted cash held by the bank. Ambassadors, which has cruise, marine management and event management businesses, saw Bank of America reduce its line of credit from $12.5 million to $7.5 million in late July.

Lindblad's new ship in New York
The view last week from the Observation Lounge atop Lindblad's newest vessel, the National Geographic Explorer, was downtown Manhattan. The 148-passenger vessel, which made its maiden call at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York, was built in partnership with National Geographic. It's stocked with kayaks, Zodiacs and a remotely operated vehicle that will beam images from the deepest trenches of the ocean into passengers' cabins.

Friends & Colleagues

Wyndham Hotel Group International has hired Andrew Dufty to be vice president of international marketing. Dufty comes from British Midland Airways in Derby, England, where he was responsible for global marketing strategy. • • • Auberge Resorts, operators of Calistoga Ranch, a resort and lodging club in the heart of California's Napa Valley, announced the appointment of Coni Thornburg as general manager. Thornburg most recently served as general manager of the Lodge at Pebble Beach on California's Monterey peninsula and before that was general manager at the Hotel Teatro, a boutique property in Denver. • • • Kirk Neal was named vice president of sales, eastern region for Carnival Cruise Lines. Neal's career began as a junior purser on a Carnival ship in 1987; he moved up to chief purser and then hotel director. Most recently, he has been in Tampa, where he was responsible for sales and marketing efforts in that territory as a business development director. • • • Online travel organizer TripIt has expanded its management team. Will Aldrich, previously a senior product director at Yahoo, has joined TripIt as vice president of product. Peter Harrison, formerly of Travelocity, has been named vice president of marketing. In addition, TripIt co-founder Scott Hintz has been named vice president of business development. TripIt has also announced that John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla Corp., has joined its board of directors.

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