ASTA Storms Capitol Hill

Also: New Mexican Low-Cost Airline; Regis and Kelly on NCL; More

The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) and the Sabre/Travel Network recently hosted a Legislative Day in Washington, D.C., where more than 70 participants met with federal officials to discuss issues that impact the travel industry.

“In a world and industry where change is a constant, the importance of remaining vigilant and protecting one’s interests cannot be underestimated,” said William A. Maloney, ASTA executive vice president and chief operating officer.

Travel professionals heard from panels focusing on homeland security, regulatory and tax issues and aviation issues topics discussed included Secure Flight, U.S.-Visit Program, Registered Travel Program and the new passport issue initiative for the Western Hemisphere.

Sabre awarded ASTA with a $5,000 check in recognition of the agency’s commitment to travel advocacy. After the half-day speaker sessions, travel agents went to Capitol Hill for meetings with their representatives.

Low-Cost Carrier to Take Off

Mexican airline Mexicana recently announced the launch of the country’s first low-cost carrier, with the initial flights taking off this summer.

Click Mexicana, a part of Grupo Mexicana, will start ticket sales in May and flights in July. The new airline will operate ten 100-seat Fokker-100 airplanes formerly flown by regional carrier AeroCaribe, serving nine cities from its Mexico City hub. Flights are planned initially for Huatulco, Merida, Nuevo Laredo, Oaxaca, Saltillo, San Luis Potosi, Tuxtla Gutierrez, Villahermosa and Zihuatanejo, all in Mexico.

Mexicana officials said the name Click was chosen because it’s easy to pronounce in any language, it “communicates” speed and technology and it refers to the company’s online Web site, where the carrier will offer its lowest fares.

Emilio Romano, CEO of Grupo Mexicana de Aviacion, said in a statement that Click “will significantly increase the volume of clients who will have the opportunity to travel by air.”

Regis and Kelly Set for NCL Pride’s Maiden Voyage

Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripa will cruise on the Pride of America’s maiden U.S. cruise this summer, along with 1,000 of their closest friends. The duo will broadcast “Live With Regis and Kelly” live during the June 18 cruise of NCL America’s flagship vessel as it sails from New York to Miami.

As part of the lead up to the cruise, Regis and Kelly will give away the cabins onboard the sailing to 1,000 contest winners and fans. Between May 16 and June 10, the show will give away a cruise to one winner each day for 20 days. Local contests will be held in the cities of the show’s affiliates.

After its inaugural ceremonies in New York, the Pride of America will sail the one-time cruise from New York to Miami via Boston, Philadelphia and Norfolk, Va. “Live with Regis and Kelly” telecasts will be done from each city, and one show will be done at sea.

Marriott Commissions Go Weekly

Marriott International announced the expansion of its weekly commission payments from hotels to travel agents by partnering with Pegasus Solutions.

Agency members of the Texas-based company, which processes about $41 million in hotel commissions a month, were previously paid commissions on a monthly basis.

“Pegasus’ new implementation of weekly commission payments will enhance our relationship with our most important distributors, travel agents, and will ensure that all travel agencies will now receive their Marriott commissions weekly whether they receive their commissions through Pegasus or Marriott’s Central Travel Agent Commission system,” said Fred Miller, vice president for global sales, Marriott International.

Royal Caribbean Ship Strikes Pier

The Grandeur of the Seas struck a pier in Costa Maya, Mexico, while performing a docking maneuver and suffered a 42-foot-long “football-shaped” gash in its bow. The puncture, on the bow’s starboard side, is about five feet wide at its widest point.

Royal Caribbean International said 15-knot winds and a 3-knot current contributed to the incident, which occurred April 20. None of the 2,030 passengers or 740 crew was hurt in the incident.

A team of technical experts and regulatory authorities arrived in Costa Maya, and Royal Caribbean said a “full evaluation of repairs” was expected.

The Grandeur of the Seas was operating a seven-day cruise from New Orleans that included stops in Cozumel, Grand Cayman and the Costa Maya.