JetBlue Plans GDS Return
In light of increasingly favorable economics offered to carriers by distributors, JetBlue Airways CEO David Neeleman this month during the carrier's second-quarter earnings call said it is in the "final stages of negotiations" with several global distribution systems. JetBlue weaned itself off GDS dependence when early last year it left Sabre in favor of direct channels. JetBlue in January 2000 began listing in Sabre, Galileo and Worldspan (BTN, Jan. 24, 2000),
a month before launching its first scheduled flight. Since that time, the airline reduced its GDS visibility—exiting Worldspan in November 2001 and Galileo in April 2002. The carrier did not say with which GDSs it is in discussions.UAL Boosts Asia Service, Sells London Route
United Airlines last week said it is adding 40 weekly flights to Asia/Pacific destinations during the next nine months from international gateways in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. The carrier also said it will sell its New York-London route authority to Delta Air Lines. Through the deal, which is subject to U.S. Department of Transportation approval, Delta for the first time would operate daily roundtrip flights between its New York-JFK hub and London's Gatwick Airport. "The first daily roundtrip flight would begin later this year with a second flight beginning in spring 2007," Delta said.Marriott Excises Smoking
Marriott International in September will become the first hotel chain to eradicate smoking chainwide in all domestic and Canadian properties, a move that could prompt more hotels to follow. Starwood Hotels & Resorts was the first to eliminate smoking in a single brand, when Westin turned smoke-free earlier this year (BTNonline, Dec. 5).
Marriott's announcement came a week prior to the release of a J.D. Power and Associates hotel guest satisfaction survey which found that 79 percent of 42,211 hotel guests polled preferred a total smoke-free environment. "What was once a differentiator is now expected by consumers," said Linda Hirneise, executive director of the travel practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "We saw this in the case of branded premium beds and online checkin and checkout, where one hotel introduced the concept and others followed suit. We could see the same kind of trend with the issue of smoking." While banning smoking may alienate some customers, Diane Holliday-Germain, general manager of The Westin Arlington Gateway in Virginia, said it had the opposite effect. "Losing guests was a concern," she said, "but we did some displacement analysis and it's been less than our estimates."Loews Hotels Lays Out Five-Year Plan
Upper upscale hotel operator Loews Hotels announced at the National Business Travel Association conference this month an ambitious plan to double its revenue and room count during the next five years through the addition of 13 new hotels—two to four per year—to its existing 17-property stable. Loews will concentrate on building 300-to-500-room properties, which will be located in central business districts. The company is targeting such locations as Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Atlanta, Toronto and Vancouver.Concur Readies End-To-End Tool
Redmond, Wash.-based Concur Technologies already has signed a few customers for its end-to-end travel management and expense reporting solution, which will be available by the end of September, Concur CEO Steve Singh said in the company's quarterly earnings conference call last week. The end-to-end solution, which combines Concur's expense tool with the Cliqbook online booking tool offered by Outtask—which Concur acquired in January (BTN, Feb. 6)
—is expected to automate the entire process from booking to reimbursement. At the same time, Singh reported a record quarter, and Concur expects to sign 1,600 new customers for 2006 by the end of the year.