Bankruptcies Hit Hawaii
Hawaii got a double whammy as Aloha Airlines and ATA Airlines suspended flight operations within three days of each other.
Aloha flew its last leg on March 31, ending 61 years of interisland and trans-Pacific service. Aloha president David Banmiller said there was “no choice but to take this action.”
ATA filed for Chapter 11 on April 2 and discontinued all service on April 3.
“The cancellation of a critical agreement for our military charter business undermined ATA’s plan to address the current conditions facing all scheduled service airlines, including the tremendous spike in the price of jet fuel in recent months,” said ATA chief Doug Yakola.
According to Hawaii government officials, the shutdowns left an estimated 9,000 visitors stranded in Hawaii and over 1,300 travelers waiting to fly to the Islands. To accommodate Aloha and ATA ticketholders, the Hawaii Tourism Authority approved $5 million in emergency funds to underwrite additional airline service.
Wholesalers, including Pleasant Holidays, Hawaii World, Classic Vacations, All About Hawaii, United Vacations and Funjet Vacations, are crediting the full value of tickets purchased through them toward new flights to Hawaii. Hawaiian Airlines and Go! have added more service, and trans-Pacific carriers have stepped forward to help clients caught off guard by the closures.
ASTA president Cheryl Hudak said the flight suspensions emphasize the importance of working through travel agents.
“We are there for clients, before, during and after a trip,” she said.
In the wake of these announcements, ASTA is highlighting its Travel Agent’s Guide to Airline Bankruptcies, located in the E-Library of their Web site. The guide summarizes applicable consequences of the process and offers suggestions on how agents can protect customers.
Delta Teams with Travel Impressions
Delta Air Lines has teamed with Travel Impressions to provide clients with customized travel packages to more than 150 destinations worldwide via Delta Vacations starting July 1.
“Travel Impressions offers proven in-depth experience and an expansive network, enabling Delta Vacations to offer our customers more options to Europe, the Caribbean and everywhere in between,” said Pam Elledge, Delta’s senior vice president of global sales and distribution.
Travel Impressions offers leisure travel packages to more than 1,800 resorts and hotels. Delta Vacations packages include roundtrip air transportation via Delta, the Delta Connection carriers or Delta Worldwide partners, hotel accommodations and more.
Sheraton Gets an Upgrade
Sheraton guestroom rendering
One of the most recognized hotel brands in the world is getting a makeover. Starwood’s Sheraton Hotels and Resorts will undergo a series of design changes. The brand has launched a comprehensive new design of its lobbies and guestrooms, significantly enhancing its portfolio. With an aggressive, multi-year strategy, Sheraton plans to improve the quality and consistency of the brand, including $3.1 billion in renovations, $400 million in brand initiatives and $2 billion in hotel openings. The global initiative to revitalize the brand includes upgrading 100 hotels in the U.S. half of its North American portfolio renovate 50,000 guestrooms and redesign 100 new lobbies.
Australia Targets America
Sir Richard Branson is helping Americans travel to Australia with the launch of V Australia Airlines, a new long-haul airline owned by Virgin Blue Holdings Limited. The new airline has been approved to operate up to 10 flights a week to the U.S. under the new Open Skies agreement signed this year.
Additionally, a codeshare agreement with Northwest Airlines will allow travelers to travel seamlessly from any of Northwest’s North American hubs to Sydney, Australia.