Business Travel Briefing
For December 10 to 24, 2023
The briefing in brief: Paris hotels plan to rip you off if you come for the 2024 Olympics. Europe's most contested route--New York-Milan--loses a competitor. Brazil imposes visa requirements and onerous financial disclosures on U.S. and Canadian visitors. Delta will try flying to Taipei again. British Airways' new uniforms are so sheer that the carrier warned flight attendants about their undergarments. And much more.

Planning to go to the 2024 Olympics in Paris? Then prepare to be swindled on accommodations. That's not me talking or criticism from some Francophobe observer. Parisian officials are the ones appalled by what hotels are hoping to charge during the Games, scheduled for July 26 to August 11. A report from the Paris tourist office released late last month predicted that July, 2024, room rates would rise by an eye-watering 314% over 2023 nightly prices. In real money, that means average prices would reach 699 euros in July 2024, up from 169 euros this past July. "We want popular Games and it can't be popular Games at 700 euro a night," fumes one Paris deputy mayor, Frederic Hocquard. Worse, Paris officials are unhappy that two-thirds of hotel rooms are not yet open for booking during the Olympic period. Worst of all, there seems little chance that Airbnb and other alternate lodgings will moderate hotel prices. Why? The French Parliament is considering new regulations that would limit--and tax--the number of Airbnbs in the country. Another Paris deputy mayor, Jacques Baudrier, says there are already 20,000 homes being illegally rented.

The most contested market between the United States and Europe? New York-Milan, which has six airlines vying for traffic between the most populous cities in their nations. What draws all three U.S. majors (American, United and Delta), two Italian carriers (ITA and Neos) and Emirates to compete? The chance for profit, of course. The route links the countries' financial capitals, which means high-yield bankers. There's also free-spending fashion types who frequently jet on the so-called Mima (Milan-Manhattan) run. Not to mention the tourism that Italy draws. But the competition has gotten too costly for ITA Airways, the emotional and practical successor to defunct Alitalia. ITA will drop its New York/JFK-Milan/Malpensa route on January 8. And even though it seems strange to imagine an Italian carrier dropping service between the largest markets in Italy and the United States, there's some logic to the move. Like Alitalia, ITA is gushing cash and needs to cut the unprofitable JFK-Malpensa run. And like Alitalia, ITA hubs in Rome, not Milan. But unlike Alitalia, ITA has abandoned Malpensa. JFK-Malpensa is its only flight at Milan's primary airport. All of ITA's other Milan routes operate from Linate, Milan's smaller but closer airport.
        Delta Air Lines is going to take another run at flying to Taiwan. Starting June 7, it'll launch daily Airbus A330-900 service between its Seattle hub and Taipei. Delta last served Taipei in 2017 from its former hub at Tokyo/Narita. It also flew to Taipei in the 1990s from Portland (Oregon) on a route that connected Seoul and Bangkok with the Taiwanese capital.

For years, Brazil has been unhappy with strict entry rules imposed on Brazilian tourists and business travelers. It responded by placing similar restrictions on visitors from the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia. After all, diplomatic reciprocity--or, in English, a bureaucratic eye for a bureaucratic eye--has always ruled entry requirements. Four years ago, however, Brazil unilaterally permitted visa-free travel for visitors from those countries. Brazil and Japan eventually agreed to new entry rules, but the United States, Canada and Australia refused to lift visa requirements. Now Brazil has responded: Effective January 10, visitors from the United States and Canada will be subject to new entry requirements. They'll be required to obtain an e-visa for about $80. You'll also be required to have two free pages in your passport--diplomatic reciprocity is paper-intensive, after all--and prove you have flight reservations to enter and depart the depart. Most onerous: Brazilian authorities will demand you produce a bank statement showing a balance of $2,000. The statement also must document the last 30 days of transactions. You can obtain the e-visa here. Word to the wise: Have a burner bank account to show Brazilian authorities. It's unwise to lay bare your financial dealings to any country, especially one as prone to hacking as Brazil. (By the way, Brazil originally planned to resume the visa requirement in October, but don't bet on another delay.)

British Airways has withdrawn fashion advice to flight attendants about their undergarments. The rather personal directives came because BA's new uniform blouses are too sheer and transparent. ... We didn't see this in Top Hat: Overeager Chinese tourists eager for selfies caused a gondola to overturn in a Venetian canal. The gondolier and tourists all ended up in the murky water. ... Speaking of tourists from mainland China, Hong Kong businesses are unhappy that hordes of visitors--speaking Mandarin, no less--have invaded parts of the Cantonese-speaking city.

British advertising authorities have cracked down on three airlines--Air France, Lufthansa and Etihad--for claims that the carriers were helping the environment. The UK Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) accused the airlines of "greenwashing" their practices and deceiving flyers into thinking that flying with them was somehow good for the environment.
        Russian commercial aviation seems to be coming apart at the metaphoric seams. Deprived of spare parts because of sanctions imposed immediately after Russia invaded Ukraine last year, Russian airlines have been cannibalizing parts from their Boeings and Airbuses to keep other aircraft flying. It isn't working well since there have been at least 11 serious incidents--in-flight fires, engine and rudder failures, cabin depressurizations--in recent days requiring emergency landings.