Business News first on FIR:
DALLAS–()–Luxury coach service Vonlane resuming all routes in Texas and Oklahoma on July 1st; introduces whole coach vacation charter and package delivery.
For the first time ever, travelers from the Denver area can take advantage of non-stop flights to Nassau, The Bahamas, just in time for spring 2020 travel. Beginning March 7, 2020, United Airlines will launch a Saturday-only nonstop service between Denver International Airport (DEN) and Lynden Pindling International Airport (NAS) in Nassau.
The new service, operated by a B737-800, offers 166 seats each week with the following flight times:
“We are thrilled that our partners at United Airlines are increasing service, giving Denver and surrounding-area residents a more accessible way of traveling to our beautiful country,” said Bahamas Minister of Tourism & Aviation, Dionisio D’Aguilar.
The service also allows for enhanced connectivity to the island nation’s capital city of Nassau for travelers departing from cities in the U.S. West Coast and Northwest region including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland; Boise, Idaho and Seattle, Washington.
The flight will suspend during the off-peak travel season beginning in August 2020 and commence again on October 21, 2020 on an annual basis.
Those wishing to fly away to the Out Islands from Nassau, including The Exumas, Eleuthera, Andros and more, can then take a local 20-minute hopper flight from Nassau to their final destination.
Travelers can now book flights to experience just why it’s “Better in The Bahamas” on United Airlines’ website. For more information, visit www.united.com.
For more news about The Bahama, please click here.
General Manager, Global Communications
Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation
“My personal hero today is Ms. Patricia Dzai. Patricia works for Swissport in Johannesburg, South Africa,” said eTN Publisher Juergen Steinmetz. Swissport is one of the largest aviation ground-handling agencies operating in countries around the world.
Major airlines hire Swissport to manage customer relations and logistics when it comes to baggage handling, including lost or misplaced items.
Lufthansa German Airlines’ ground handler in Johannesburg is Swissport. I recently traveled from Nice to Cape Town via Frankfurt and Johannesburg on Lufthansa German Airlines. I am a United Airlines Star Alliance Gold member and traveled on Lufthansa in Business class. Lufthansa is a member of Star Alliance.
When I arrived in Johannesburg, I heard my name called by Lufthansa’s lost baggage office handled by Swissport.
I was told my tube was still in Frankfurt, and they would put it on the next flight to Johannesburg. I explained it was of utmost importance to have the tube for an important trade show event, the World Travel Market in Cape Town, in the morning.
Patricia Dzai, the Swissport agent in Johannesburg, wanted to make sure this would be possible and sent an urgent message to Lufthansa in Frankfurt. The message said:
I was pleased to know my tube would go on LH 576 directly to Cape Town almost in time for the start of World Travel Market.
I went on to fly to Cape Town and received a text message in the evening saying my tube would be on the Lufthansa flight to Johannesburg, which was different from what Patricia had requested. Since it was late and the Swissport office in Johannesburg was closed, I was able to find a non-published phone number for Lufthansa baggage service in Frankfurt. Lufthansa, like most airlines, is hiding phone numbers to encourage passengers to communicate only by email.
I was told by Lufthansa Baggage Service in Frankfurt no such message to forward my tube to Cape Town was ever received by Swissport Johannesburg. The agent went on to say that passengers are often not told the truth by Swissport agents.
The Lufthansa agent in Frankfurt explained that his job was not to help me, since this was only handled in Johannesburg. I argued my tube is in Frankfurt and not Johannesburg, and the handling agent for Swissport in Johannesburg was closed.
The agent then said he was now doing a one-time exception for me and would reroute my tube on LH576 directly to Cape Town. He said there were 5 hours to get this done, still plenty of time according to him.
The next day I received another message telling me again the tube was on its way to Johannesburg instead of Cape Town.
I called Swissport in Johannesburg, and the news not could have been worse. They told me, apologizing, that my tube was still in Frankfurt for a second day, and they did not know why.
I again called the baggage-handling office in Frankfurt and was again told it’s all Swissport’s mistake for not telling them where to send it.
This time I was angry and called Swissport Johannesburg again. I asked Patricia why she was lying about this. I told her she never sent this request to Frankfurt, according to Lufthansa.
Ten minutes later, I received an email with a time-stamped screenshot from Patricia Dzai showing me exactly what was requested by her in the first place.
Patricia actually had gone out of her way originally to make sure I would be united with my tube on time and in Cape Town. I felt bad thinking she didn’t care and didn’t do anything, when in fact she did.
It shows that big companies like Lufthansa have a serious customer service issue. They hide behind a huge system and are trained to say it’s not their job and simply blame others for company shortcomings.
There was no way I could talk to anyone at Lufthansa about this, and my urgent email to them on the day I was trying to get the tube re-routed was just responded to 2 weeks after I was already back home in Hawaii. Lufthansa offered a 200 euro compensation.
No explanation was given and no apology for accusing Patricia Dzai and Swissport for not doing their job.
I finally received my tube on the last day after the trade show and took it back to the US unopened. When I changed planes in Frankfurt, I asked the agent working in the Senator Lounge to speak to a supervisor in baggage handling about this case and compensation. She told me I have to send an email, which I had already done days ago.
She gave me some chocolate and said they get customers’ complaints all the time and do their best to help and respond, but the back-up system by the airline is not there.
It’s all about a giant non-caring anonymous machine.
I extend my apologies to Patricia Dzai from Swissport, as I now understand she was also a victim of shortcomings created by Lufthansa German Airlines.
Patricia Dzai is the eTN Hero for today.
A 70-year-old tourist fell to her death yesterday, Tuesday, April 23, 2019, at the Grand Canyon in the US state of Arizona. She is the second person to die at this popular tourist destination this year. The Grand Canyon national park sees 6 million visitors every year.
A call went out to park rangers that someone needed help at the South Rim of the canyon, but by the time responders arrived, the person had fallen 200 feet below the rim. Her body was recovered using a helicopter. It is not known how the woman fell.
The Grand Canyon has designated trails and walkways as well as railings and fences at overlooks that will keep visitors at a safe distance from the rim’s edge. Anyone who chooses to venture beyond that is literally taking their lives into their own hands.
In 2015, 8 men were hopping from one rock to another or posing for pictures, including a 38-year-old father from Texas who was pretending to fall to scare his daughter, but then really did fall 400 feet to his death.
On March 14, 2017, 30-year-old Gom Dang, of Ankeny, Iowa, fell to his death off the rim west of Mather Point as he was posing for a photo when he lost his balance and fell backward to his death. His body was recovered approximately 280 feet below the rim.
In this day and age of the selfie, many people have lost their lives trying to get the perfect picture. A tourist from Hong Kong died falling into the canyon on the Hualapai reservation, just outside the park’s boundaries, on March 28, 2017. He was taking a photo at the time.
In that same year, 20 people fell to their death at the Grand Canyon. A 67-year-old man fell 400 feet from the South Rim and died on April 3. There were 290 search-and-rescues and 1,135 emergency medical service incidents.
Dying from heat or dehydration is more common than falling off the edge in the Grand Canyon, but it is still a major concern. On average, 2 to 3 deaths per year are from falls over the rim.
World’s biggest aerospace corporation was forced to pull its full financial forecast for the current year due to unresolved issues surrounding Boeing’s once best-selling 737 MAX aircraft.
Boeing also announced plans to pause share buybacks, citing “a challenging time for our customers, stakeholders and the company.”
“Across the company, we are focused on safety, returning the 737 MAX to service, and earning and re-earning the trust and confidence of customers, regulators and the flying public,” Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement.
The manufacturer had previously posted a report on the first-quarter earnings that managed to fall in line with analysts’ expectations, while its revenue was slightly less than projected. Boeing’s earning per share totaled the expected $3.16 from January through March, while the revenue amounted to $22.92 billion against $22.98 billion forecasted by London-based provider of financial markets data Refinitiv.
Boeing stressed that the previous guidance didn’t reflect the impact of two crashes of the company’s flagship planes, leading to the grounding of all 737 MAX 8 jets by global regulators, lawsuits from some air carriers and a decline in market value.
According to the producer, more than 135 test and production flights of updated software for the 737 MAX have been carried out so far.
Boeing’s bestseller crashed on March 10 not far from the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa six minutes after takeoff on the way to Nairobi, Kenya. The tragedy, which killed 157 people, marked the second crash involving the same jet model in less than six months. In October, the same type of aircraft, operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air, crashed in the Java Sea shortly after takeoff, claiming the lives of 189 people.
For the first three months of 2019, Hawaii hotels statewide reported flat average daily rate (ADR) and lower occupancy, which resulted in lower revenue per available room (RevPAR) compared to the first quarter of 2018.
According to the Hawaii Hotel Performance Report published by the Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA), statewide RevPAR declined to $236 (-3.3%), with ADR of $292 and occupancy of 80.8 percent (-2.7 percentage points) in the first quarter of 2019.
HTA’s Tourism Research Division issued the report’s findings utilizing data compiled by STR, Inc., which conducts the largest and most comprehensive survey of hotel properties in the Hawaiian Islands.
For the first quarter, Hawaii hotel room revenues fell by 4.7 percent to $1.13 billion compared to the $1.18 billion earned in the first quarter of 2018. There were more than 74,300 fewer available room nights (-1.5%) in the first quarter and approximately 190,500 fewer occupied room nights (-4.7%) compared to a year ago. Several hotel properties across the state were closed for renovation or had rooms out of service for renovation during the first quarter.
All classes of Hawaii hotel properties statewide reported RevPAR declines in the first quarter of 2019 except Upper Midscale Class properties ($134, +0.6%). Luxury Class properties reported RevPAR of $452 (-5.4%) with ADR of $594 (-1.2%) and occupancy of 76.1 percent (-3.3 percentage points). At the other end of the price scale, Midscale & Economy Class hotels reported RevPAR of $155 (-5.0%) with ADR of $187 (-0.5%) and occupancy of 83.1 percent (-3.9 percentage points).
Comparison to Top U.S. Markets
In comparison to top U.S. markets, the Hawaiian Islands earned the highest RevPAR at $236 in the first quarter, followed by the San Francisco/San Mateo market at $210 (+15.9%) and the Miami/Hialeah market at $208 (-3.5%). Hawaii also led the U.S. markets in ADR at $292 followed by San Francisco/San Mateo and Miami/Hialeah. The Hawaiian Islands ranked fifth for occupancy at 80.8 percent, with Miami/Hialeah topping the list at 83.0 percent (-2.1 percentage points).
Hotel Results for Hawaii’s Four Counties
Hotel properties in Hawaii’s four island counties all reported RevPAR decreases in the first quarter of 2019. Maui County hotels led the state overall in RevPAR at $337 (-2.7%), with ADR at $428 (-0.9%) and occupancy at 78.6 percent (-1.5 percentage points).
Kauai hotels earned RevPAR of $228 (-10.2%), with flat ADR at $305 (+0.2%) and lower occupancy of 74.8 percent (-8.7 percentage points).
Hotels on the island of Hawaii reported a decline in RevPAR to $225 (-9.7%), due to a combination of decreases in both ADR ($285, -2.0%) and occupancy (79.1%, -6.7 percentage points).
Oahu hotels earned slightly lower RevPAR at $196 (-0.9%), with ADR at $236 (+0.8%) and occupancy of 83.0 percent (-1.4 percentage points).
Comparison to International Markets
When compared to international “sun and sea” destinations, Hawaii’s counties were in the middle of the pack for RevPAR in the first quarter of 2019. Hotels in the Maldives ranked highest in RevPAR at $575 (+4.5%) followed by Aruba at $351 (+11.2%). Maui County ranked third, with Kauai, the island of Hawaii, and Oahu ranking sixth, seventh and eighth, respectively.
The Maldives also led in ADR at $737 (+5.2%) in the first quarter, followed by French Polynesia at $497 (-1.1%). Maui County ranked fifth, followed by Kauai and the island of Hawaii. Oahu ranked ninth .
Oahu trailed Phuket (84.5%, -6.3 percentage points) in occupancy for sun and sea destinations in the first quarter. The island of Hawaii, Maui County and Kauai ranked fourth, fifth and ninth, respectively.
March 2019 Hotel Performance
In March 2019, RevPAR for Hawaii hotels statewide declined to $227 (-4.3%), with ADR of $285 (-1.1%) and occupancy of 79.6 percent (-2.7 percentage points).
In March, Hawaii hotel room revenues fell by 5.9 percent to $373.3 million. There were more than 27,200 fewer available room nights (-1.6%) in March and approximately 66,850 fewer occupied room nights (-4.9%) compared to a year ago. Several hotel properties across the state were closed for renovation or had rooms out of service for renovation during March. However, the number of rooms out of service may be under-reported.
All classes of Hawaii hotel properties statewide reported RevPAR declines in March. Luxury Class properties reported RevPAR of $443 (-7.2%) with ADR of $583 (-3.1%) and occupancy of 75.9 percent (-3.4 percentage points). Midscale & Economy Class hotels reported RevPAR of $150 (-2.9%) with ADR of $182 (+0.8%) and occupancy of 82.0 percent (-3.1 percentage points).
Hotel properties in Hawaii’s four island counties all reported lower RevPAR for March. Maui County hotels reported the highest RevPAR in March at $336 (-1.4%) with ADR of $421 (-1.6%) and flat occupancy (79.8%, +0.2 percentage points).
Oahu hotels reported lower occupancy (80.4%, -2.3 percentage points) and flat ADR ($230, -0.2%) for March.
Hotels on the island of Hawaii continued to face challenges in March, with RevPAR dropping 11.2 percent to $216, ADR to $272 (-4.9%) and occupancy to 79.2 percent (-5.7 percentage points).
RevPAR for Kauai hotels fell to $213 (-14.6%) in March, with declines in both ADR to $286 (-4.5%) and occupancy to 74.4 percent (-8.8 percentage points).
Today, United Airlines is introducing customers and employees to a modernized aircraft livery, which will bring a refreshed look to its fleet. The design is a visual representation of United’s ongoing brand evolution while staying true to the history it has developed over the past 93 years of proudly serving customers around the world.
“As we improve and elevate our customer experience, we are changing the way people think and feel about United, and this branding captures that new spirit,” said Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines. “Each improvement we’ve added to our service advances our evolution as an airline, furthering our effort to elevate and redefine customer service in the sky. This modernized design, especially our iconic globe, enhances the very best of United’s image and values while pointing in the direction of where we intend to go next in serving our customers.”
The next iteration of United’s livery prominently features the color most connected to the airline’s core – blue. Three shades – Rhapsody Blue, United Blue and Sky Blue – are used throughout the design in a way that pays respect to United’s heritage while bringing a more modern energy. The airline is keeping its iconic globe logo on the aircraft tail, which represents the carrier’s expansive route network of reaching 355 destinations in nearly 60 countries. The tail will be updated with a gradient in the three shades of blue, while the logo will now appear predominantly in Sky Blue. The engines and wingtips are also being painted United Blue, and the swoop that customers and employees have expressed fondness for on United’s Dreamliner fleet will be added to all aircraft in Rhapsody Blue. United’s name will appear larger on the aircraft body and the lower half of the body will be painted Runway Gray. United’s mission of “Connecting people. Uniting the world.” will also be painted near the door of each aircraft.
The new design features core colors from United’s updated brand palette, which was introduced last year as a step toward updating the brand’s visual identity. Blue continues to be the airline’s primary color, with various tones creating more depth and reflecting the colors customers and employees see when they look out the plane window at the sky. The airline’s new color palette also includes shades of purple, which is most recognizable as the color of the new United Premium Plus seats are being added to the fleet. When combined, the purple and blue tones create a soothing environment and a more relaxed travel experience. In updating its colors, United is reducing the use of gold, which was added to the brand palette almost 30 years ago. United’s new color palette can also be seen in the accent colors of the new uniforms that are being created for more than 70,000 front-line employees.
On average, United aircraft receive new paint jobs every seven years. The first aircraft painted with the new design is a Boeing 737-800, which will be joined by a mix of narrowbody, widebody and regional aircraft with the updated livery throughout the year. For more information visit united.com/brandevolution.
With a view to capture major market share in Qatar’s hospitality sector, Dusit International, one of Thailand’s leading hotel and property development companies, is set to make its Qatar debut with the launch of Dusit Doha Hotel on 25 April 2019.
Located in the heart of Doha’s vibrant West Bay area, adjacent to the breezy Corniche, Dusit Doha Hotel is a five-star modern oasis only 20 minutes by car from Hamad International Airport, and just a five-minute walk from Doha Exhibition and Convention Centre, the City centre Mall and The Gate Mall, making it a perfect stopover for business and leisure travellers alike.
Designed to provide luxury experiences at excellent value, the full-service property comprises 261 well-appointed guestrooms and suites and 96 elegant apartments for short- and long-stay guests. Dusit’s unique brand of Thai-inspired gracious hospitality, honed and developed over more than 70 years, ensures guests can expect memorable, personalised service delivered with genuine care, warmth and respect. Rooms and suites at Dusit Doha Hotel are designed to provide the utmost in comfort and convenience, with expansive living areas ranging in size from 41 sq m for a Superior Room to 131 sq. m for a Suite. Apartments are available in one-to three-bedroom configurations and provide spacious living areas ranging from 95 to 193 sq. m.
Leisure and recreation facilities include a rooftop swimming pool, children’s pool, and a sundeck area offering panoramic views of West Bay. Guests will also find a wealth of dining outlets to choose from, including three restaurants, a classic French café, and a relaxing rooftop lounge.
Ready to welcome guests by the hotel’s opening date is Taste, a contemporary all-day dining restaurant serving tantalising dishes from around the globe and also hosting regular theme nights. This will soon be joined by Dusit’s signature Thai restaurant, Benjarong, which serves Royal Thai cuisine made using the finest local and imported ingredients.
Other upcoming outlets include Antoinette’s Café, bringing a taste of Europe to Doha via fresh French pastries and other baked treats, and The House, offering premium steaks and seafood.
Ideal for weddings, corporate meetings, and memorable social gatherings, the hotel also offers a versatile 574 sq. m ballroom which can accommodate up to 500 people. Spacious and bright with abundant natural light, this atmospheric venue features its own private terrace and can be divided into two smaller venues, each with a separate entrance.
Dusit’s signature Devarana Spa is also set to open at the hotel, offering a wide range of luxury massage therapies and wellness treatments conducted in elegant, private treatment rooms. Designed to promote maximum relaxation, the elegant spa will occupy the entire 29th floor of the hotel, offering separate male and female sections.
“A modern oasis for people to meet, dine, stay and relax, Dusit Doha Hotel delivers the ultimate in luxury and comfort for locals and international visitors alike,” said Mr Gerhard Stutz, Cluster General Manager, Dusit Doha Hotel. “Qatar is one of the fastest growing countries in terms of tourism, and its reputation as a destination of choice is only set to be cemented further when the FIFA World Cup is held here in 2022. As such, there could not have been a more opportune time to launch Dusit Doha Hotel. We now look forward to delighting guests with our unique brand of Thai-inspired gracious hospitality while positioning the hotel as the market leader in Doha.”