United Airlines in the second half of this year expects to outfit 13 transcontinental Boeing 757 aircraft with inflight wireless Internet capabilities through an agreement with Aircell, which furnishes inflight Internet for legacy competitors American Airlines and Delta Air Lines. American in August became the first domestic carrier to launch full wireless inflight Internet access, rolling out the service across its 15-plane Boeing 767-200 fleet, and said it would evaluate a further rollout contingent on usage. Delta is in the midst of its own domestic fleetwide Wi-Fi rollout, which eventually will extend to merger partner Northwest Airlines' fleet. Other carriers, including Alaska Airlines, Continental Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Virgin America, have advanced their own plans to bring Wi-Fi to the sky, using various technologies from a handful of connectivity suppliers (BTNonline, Sept. 2, 2008).Dnata Bumps On Van Vlissingen's Raise For HRG Stakes
United Arab Emirates-based Dnata this month purchased an additional 0.16 percent stake in travel management partner Hogg Robinson Group, raising its ownership to 20.15 percent. The stock buy came days after Beverweerd Investments, owned by BCD Travel owner John Fentener van Vlissingen, bought another 3 percent stake, raising its ownership to 19.05 percent. The latest share acquisitions by HRG's two largest investors are the first such actions since mid-2008. According to London Stock Exchange regulations, a formal takeover offer must come when an investor crosses the 30 percent ownership threshold.Lodging Econometrics: Hotel Openings To Peak
Hotel openings will crest in 2009 and 2010, even as the hotel construction pipeline constricts due to decreasing demand and financing challenges, according to the Global 2009 Hotel Pipeline Report that Lodging Econometrics released earlier this month. It expects hotel openings to be at peak levels in the next two years, with 2,804 hotels or 425,615 rooms opening this year and 2,664 hotels or 447,364 rooms opening in 2010, according to the report. "While at cyclical highs, new openings should not be viewed as excessive or the result of rebuilding," the report said. "They appear problematic, largely because room demand growth has trended negative, which is a rarity, and is causing room rates to decline." The development pipeline already has begun to react. From the last quarter of 2007 through the third quarter of 2008, construction starts and new project announcements have dropped by more than half while cancellations have doubled, the report said.MasterCard Buy To Enhance One-Time-Use Cards
MasterCard is poised to further develop its one-time-use card capabilities, following the acquisition of the payments solutions software provider with which it launched the product last year. The payment network earlier this month announced that it had acquired the Dublin, Ireland-based Orbiscom for $100 million. Partnering with Orbiscom, MasterCard already has created MasterCard InControl, which allows companies to generate card account numbers for one-time purchases within certain parameters and timeframes tailored to the company's need. Royal Bank of Scotland last year became the first issuer to use the platform (BTNonline, May 12, 2008).
MasterCard president and CEO Robert Selander said in a statement that the acquisition would allow the network to "further accelerate the development of new payment solutions for our customers."