Business Travel Briefing
For June 24-July 8, 2021
The briefing in brief: Hilton opens two gigantic hotels on the Las Vegas Strip. LaCompagnie returns to the skies and adds nonstops to Tel Aviv and Milan. Delta won't fly to Cape Town after all. American Express reopens a larger lounge at LaGuardia Airport. The FAA levies more new fines on disruptive passengers. JetBlue abandons many routes added during the pandemic. And more, including the daily Coronavirus update.

The name--"Resorts World"--may be familiar, but the Las Vegas development is new, sort of. And it'll be more Hilton than Resorts World, sort of. Let me explain: The $4 billion Resorts World Las Vegas development opened today (June 24). It's got casinos, of course, and more than three dozen restaurants--and 3,500 guest rooms spread over three Hilton brands. Two opened today--a 1,774-room Hilton and a 1,496-room Conrad, now the largest property in that luxury chain. A third, the 236-room Crockfords, is aligned with Hilton's LXR Hotels flag and will open its doors next month. All this lodging and gaming is located on the north end of The Strip where the Stardust operated until 2006. Boyd Gaming, which owned the Stardust, once expected to redevelop the property as Echelon Place. But the Great Recession foiled that plan and Boyd sold off the development in 2013. Initially planned to open in 2016, the complex underwent a number of redesigns and survived a few lawsuits before finally opening today. It's the first new lodging on the Strip in more than a decade--The Cosmopolitan opened in 2010--and there's one other unique feature: Room service at the hotels will be provided by Grubhub.

All-business-class French carrier La Compagnie has resumed flights between Newark and Paris/Orly. There are now two weekly roundtrips, but that'll expand to four next month, five in August and go daily in September. But, wait, there's more. After shutting down at the beginning of the pandemic in March, 2020, seasonal nonstop flights between Newark and Nice resume on July 2. And here's a twist no one expected: The airline is adding nonstops to Milan and Tel Aviv. Three weekly flights on the TLV nonstop will operate between July 21 and October 30. The Milan/Malpensa service will run four times a week starting November 29. That'll make the New York-Milan market especially crowded. LaCompagnie will join three U.S. carriers (United, American and Delta), two Italian airlines (Alitalia and Neos) and Emirates, which operates the only first class cabin on the run.
        Delta Air Lines won't be flying to Cape Town, South Africa, after all. The airline will resume its Atlanta-Johannesburg run on August 1 with three weekly nonstops. The restored service will operate with Airbus A350-900 aircraft to replace Delta's now-retired Boeing 777s. But the tag flights to/from Cape Town, announced in May, 2020, won't happen. The South African government nixed the plans. The A350s will have to take a big weight penalty to make the ATL-JNB run nonstop so not every seat on the aircraft will be available for sale.
        WestJet says it will launch flights between Calgary and Amsterdam on August 5. There'll be two Boeing 787 nonstops a week and will increase to three in September. The carrier also says the Calgary-London/Gatwick route returns next month.

American Express has reopened a Centurion Lounge at New York/LaGuardia Airport. Now located airside on the fourth floor of the airport's new Terminal B, the 10,000-square-foot club is double the size of the former LGA club. The menu was created by Cedric Vongerichten, chef and co-owner of Wayan, a French-Indonesian restaurant in Manhattan. And, yes, Cedric is the son of Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
        Paine Field, the small airport just north of Seattle-Tacoma, gradually resumes its full schedule in the next few months. Alaska Airlines, which dominates the Everett airport, is flying to five cities: Las Vegas, John Wayne/Orange County, Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco. Flights to Spokane and Boise return on September, followed by seasonal service to Palm Springs in October. Alaska says it'll grow to 18 daily flights in November when it launches seasonal nonstops to Tucson.
        Aspire Lounges, part of Swissport, is replacing the No1 Lounges at three Australia airports: Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Two of those lounges were once operated by Etihad Airways before its global contraction. Aspire is also taking over the former Virgin Australia lounge in Perth.

The Federal Aviation Administration continues to scorch unruly flyers with huge fines. Nearly $125,000 in new penalties this week were levied on eight travelers who disrupted flights on SkyWest, Southwest, Allegiant and Alaska airlines. Most fines were levied for mask violations and subsequent disruptions after the mask rules were repeatedly ignored.
        Southwest Airlines says chairman and chief executive Gary Kelly is kicking himself upstairs to the largely ceremonial role of executive chairman. The new CEO beginning next year? Executive vice president Bob Jordan. He promptly announced that Southwest would never charge bag fees, but might again test assigned seating.
        Hilton says many properties now can confirm connecting rooms online during the reservation process. When booking, look for a check box offering connecting rooms when you are searching for a two-room reservation.

JetBlue Airways made headlines during the pandemic by unleashing dozens of new routes in an attempt to find potential leisure customers. But it was clearly just one of those things. According to an analysis of the 90 new routes JetBlue started between July and December last year, at least 23 have now been cut. Most of the flights added to/from Raleigh-Durham are gone, for example, as are transcon flights to Richmond, Virginia, from Los Angeles and Las Vegas. What is JetBlue doing with the aircraft pulled from the now cancelled new routes? Most are being redeployed to serve the JetBlue-American Airlines Northeast alliance and some are moving back to routes JetBlue suspended in the early days of the pandemic.