News Briefs, Week of Sept. 28, 2015

JFK's first hotel to open in TWA terminal


Kennedy Airport will get a 505-room hotel in 2018 when its historic TWA Flight Center is redeveloped. MCR Development and JetBlue Airways will own 95% and 5% of the project, respectively, and have a 75-year lease with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey. The $265 million project will add two six-story hotel towers to the 53-year-old building, with 40,000 square feet of meeting space, restaurants and a spa.

More agents booking hotels in the GDSs
Travel agents are using GDSs more for hotel reservations, according to a TravelClick and Phoenix Marketing survey of more than 900 agents. Fifty-one percent are using GDSs more to book hotels now than the past two years. Nearly all said GDSs should offer rate parity, and 56% said they'd book away from hotels that offer better rates outside the GDS.

Fairmont to open in Nigerian capital in '19
Fairmont plans to open the 270-room Fairmont Abuja hotel in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, in 2019, located near the International Conference Centre, which is slated to open in 2018. It will have 26,000 square feet of meeting space, 9,000 square feet of spa and fitness facilities and 50 luxury residences.

Extended Stay to sell 53 properties
Extended Stay America reached an agreement to sell 47 Crossland Economy Studios properties and six "similarly positioned" Extended Stay America hotels for $285 million to Westmont Hospitality Group. The hotels account for 8% of the company's portfolio, on the lower end of its pricing scale.

Carnival finalizes a Mobile return in '16
Carnival Cruise Line's Carnival Fantasy will move to Mobile, Ala., after an extensive renovation for a yearlong series of four- and five-day Mexico cruises starting in November 2016. The move marks Carnival's return to Mobile, a market the line pioneered but left in 2011. The Fantasy will start itineraries visiting Cozumel and call at either Progreso or Costa Maya.

United applies to be first to fly to Xian
United hopes to become the first U.S. airline to serve Xian, China; it has applied to the Department of Transportation for authority to fly seasonally from San Francisco to the Chinese home of the famed Terracotta Warriors beginning in May. The flight would operate three times weekly using a Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

Silver Cloud to offer expedition cruises
Silversea Cruises' Silver Cloud will shift to expedition itineraries in November 2017 after the 296-passenger ship is converted into an ice-class vessel in August 2017. The Silver Cloud entered service in 1994 and is Silversea's oldest ship. The line now has three ships in expedition service and five in regular, ocean service.  

Alaska and Icelandair to enter partnership
Alaska Airlines and Icelandair entered into a frequent-flier partnership and codeshare agreement two years after letting a similar one expire. The agreement is effective Nov. 1, pending approval. Passengers on either airline can earn miles through Alaska's and Icelandair's loyalty programs.

Friends & Colleagues
Travel Impressions' Senior Sales Director Janet Heinz and Senior Director of Field Sales Sheri Pasternak together will head the wholesaler's sales operation on an interim basis following the departure of 16-year company veteran Theresa Gatta, who was vice president of sales. Heinz has been a Travel Impressions' mainstay since January 2000. Prior to joining Travel Impressions, she served as regional sales manager for Air Jamaica. Pasternak was brought onboard by Gatta in March after serving as director of sales for Celebrity Cruises. • • • Benchmark Hospitality International promoted COO Greg Champion to president of the hotel-management company. Champion has 25 years experience within the hotel sector. He joined Benchmark in 2009. Champion succeeds Benchmark CEO Alex Cabanas as the company's president. • • • Belmond CEO John Scott has resigned "by mutual agreement" with the company. He will be succeeded by board member Roeland Vos. Scott, formerly president and CEO of Rosewood Hotels & Resorts, joined the company previously known as Orient-Express as CEO in November 2012 and oversaw the company's name change last year. Vos, who was elected to Belmond's board last year, ran Starwood Hotels & Resorts' Europe, Africa and Middle East operations from 2001 to 2013.

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