Trump Slump Means U.S. Tourism Is Losing Visitors From Its Most Important Markets

Prayitno  / Flickr

A tour bus in Los Angeles. International travel to the U.S. is on the decline for the first time in years. Prayitno / Flickr

Skift Take: The Trump slump is not only real; it’s worse than anticipated. The much-coveted Chinese travelers, for instance, are looking to travel elsewhere for now.

— Andrew Sheivachman

U.S. travel companies are working to stay ahead of the competition with innovations like artificial intelligence, the sharing economy, and blockchain. Some brands and destinations, however, are struggling with a challenge that could derail the whole sector — getting international travelers to visit the United States in the age of President Donald Trump.

International arrivals to the U.S. dropped 3.9 percent during the first six months of 2017, compared to the year-earlier period, according to data released this week by the U.S. National Travel and Tourism Office and U.S. Department of Commerce.

The decline includes a 5.7 percent reduction in overseas arrivals (excluding Canada and Mexico), and a huge decrease of 9.4 percent from Mexico.

The largest regional drops were from the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, respectively.

This slump began in late 2016 — the first year that notched fewer international arrivals than the previous year since before the global recession of 2008  — and continued into the early months of 2017.

It coincides with the election of President Trump in November 2016, although it’s not clear how much of the decline this year can be attributed to the political uncertainty. Headlines about travel bans and building a border wall, however, as well as an actual tightening of visas for refugees, certainly played a role and didn’t portray the United States as an inviting place to vacation.

Overseas arrivals for June, the start of the busy summer travel season in the U.S., were down 7.6 percent. Arrivals from Australia, Brazil, and India took a significant hit.

U.S. Travel president and CEO Roger Dow said the decline in travel to the U.S. should concern anyone who cares about the U.S. economy.

“These numbers are an undeniable wake-up call, and correcting this troubling trend needs to become a national priority,” said Dow, in a statement. “The travel industry will turn over every stone looking for all available policy options to better promote the U.S. as an international destination, and we stand ready to partner with the federal government to grow travel, and American jobs and exports along with it.”

Taking the Hit

The UK is the largest overseas visitor market for the U.S., and arrivals fell 6.2 percent year-over-year from January through June.

Chinese arrivals, the country’s third-largest overseas market, declined 10.6 percent for June and 3.2 percent for January through June. The Chinese decline is particularly notable given that it’s the world’s largest outbound travel market and has shown momentum in the U.S. China is already the largest overseas market for Los Angeles, for example.

Chinese arrivals increased last year and were a beacon of hope for the U.S. while arrivals from other countries were dropping off. But it’s a different tune this year, and travel industry groups such as U.S. Travel continue to sound the alarm.

“It’s basically a continuation of a trend that’s been going on for about a year and a half,” said David Huether, senior vice president of economics and research at U.S. Travel. While the jury is still out on the reasons behind the China and India declines, Heuther said Canada was a real bright spot for U.S. tourism.

Despite a weaker exchange rate between the U.S. and Canadian dollars, Canada had 5 percent growth in arrivals for June, and January through June. Canada’s travel growth is contrary to that of other countries also facing weak or less favorable exchange rates against the U.S. dollar, such as Brazil and the UK. The decline in UK travel, for instance, drags down relatively flat results from Western European countries.

Here’s a breakdown of the numbers:

% % % % %
JANUARY 5,545,236 -0.6 1,475,040 8.8 1,484,676 -5.9 2,585,520 -2.3 770,221 -4.8
FEBRUARY 4,628,181 -6.0 1,290,766 4.9 1,176,017 -8.5 2,161,398 -10.2 826,863 -7.5
MARCH 5,610,019 -8.3 1,844,396 2.6 1,187,043 -16.6 2,578,580 -11.0 1,045,273 -15.5
1ST QUARTER 15,783,436 -5.0 4,610,202 5.2 3,847,736 -10.2 7,325,498 -7.8 2,642,357 -10.1
APRIL 6,437,990 6.9 1,848,538 14.9 1,536,508 1.3 3,052,944 5.4 1,420,035 16.2
MAY 5,921,333 -8.6 1,589,873 -6.0 1,396,037 -11.3 2,935,423 -8.7 1,194,460 -3.9
JUNE 5,721,658 -6.7 1,450,202 5.5 1,227,429 -16.1 3,044,027 -7.6 1,215,829 -2.2
2ND QUARTER 18,080,981 -3.0 4,888,613 4.6 4,159,974 -8.6 9,032,394 -3.9 3,830,324 3.3
YEAR-TO-DATE 33,864,417 -3.9 9,498,815 4.8 8,007,710 -9.4 16,357,892 -5.7 6,472,681 -2.6

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Skift Podcast: Finding Solutions for the Overtourism Dilemma

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Crowds are pictured in Venice, Italy. Roberto Trombetta / Flickr

Skift Take: We’ve got your overtourism coverage. And we have some ideas for how to address the problem. Tune in for a valuable conversation.

— Hannah Sampson

skift-podcast-logoSkift has been reporting extensively on overtourism for more than a year now, examining the impact on places like Iceland, Barcelona, and Amsterdam.

We’ve been writing about the issues associated with massive numbers of tourists, but we have also sought to find solutions. On the latest episode of the Skift podcast, we offer a conversation about the way destinations can start to address the problems of overtourism.

Our conversation first took the form of a Skift Call.

Our guest was Megan Epler Wood, director of the International Sustainable Tourism Initiative at the Center for Health and the Global Environment at the Harvard School of Public Health. Her latest book, Sustainable Tourism on a Finite Planet, was released earlier this year.

Epler Wood spoke with tourism experts Andrew Sheivachman and Dan Peltier and news editor Hannah Sampson.

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Southwest Takes Customer Service Seriously — Airline Innovation Report

Southwest Airlines

Southwest is working on its proactive customer service approach. Pictured is the new check-in lobby in Los Angeles. Southwest Airlines

Skift Take: When something goes wrong on a flight, Southwest tries to be proactive in communicating with customers. Is this the right approach? Or should Southwest wait until passengers complain?

— Brian Sumers

The Skift Airline Innovation Report is our weekly newsletter focused on the business of airline innovation. We will look closely at the technological, financial, and design trends at airlines and airports that are driving the next-gen aviation industry.

We provide insights on need-to-know developments in passenger experience, ancillary services, revenue management, loyalty, technology, marketing, airport innovation, the competitive landscape, startups, and changing passenger behavior. The newsletter, sent on Wednesdays, is written and curated by me. We will look closely at the technological, financial, and design trends at airlines and airports that are driving the next-generation aviation industry. You can find previous issues of the newsletter here.

On a Southwest flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta last week, the aircraft’s flaps malfunctioned, forcing the pilots to circle for about 20 minutes to decide how to proceed. Eventually, they landed faster than usual, causing the 737-700’s brakes to overheat.

It was the kind of minor mechanical issue that happens every day at every airline. Passengers were not in danger, and other than a slight delay on the ground while waiting for the brakes to cool, there was little inconvenience.

I was on that flight, and thought little of it until the next day, when I received an email from Southwest. It explained what happened in surprising detail, and said, “Thank you for your patience during this delay, and I hope you will accept my sincere apologies for any uneasy feelings you may have had about the overall situation.” The airline sent a $100 travel certificate.

It seemed odd the airline would send $100 to passengers for what amounted to a 45-minute delay. But it is standard practice, Southwest Chief Revenue Officer Andrew Watterson told me in a series of messages. He said airline travel is a repeat purchase business, and noted $100 isn’t much to keep a customer loyal — even if that passenger flies only once a year. “Keeping customers coming back is far cheaper than acquiring new ones,” he said. “But we do both.”

These emails come from what Southwest calls its proactive customer service team. Team members follow problems with flights, and try to keep passengers updated, Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said. After a medical emergency, he said, the team’s email might say, “We’re happy to let you know the gentleman paramedics transported via ambulance is doing well.”

Most airlines have teams handling customer service issues, but this group seems more engaged than most. And if agents are handing out vouchers daily to customers that might not even have complaints, it must get expensive quickly. With 143 seats on the plane, this standard mechanical problem might cost Southwest as much as $14,300 in future revenue.

What do you think? Should airlines reach out to customers so soon? Or is it better for an airline to wait until it receives complaints to send vouchers?

Send me an email at with your thoughts. Or tweet me. Or even send me an Instagram DM. 

Brian Sumers, Airline Business Reporter

Stories of the Week

IAG Is Bringing Discount Airline Level to Paris: Goodbye, Open Skies. In 2008, facing competition from all-business transatlantic airlines, International Airlines Group bought Paris-based L’Avion and changed its name to Open Skies. Now, the threat is low-cost carriers, and IAG no longer needs Open Skies. It said this week it will close the premium airline as it expands its new discount brand, Level, to Paris Orly, with flights to New York, Montreal, Guadeloupe and Martinique. Level is positioned to thwart expansion from Norwegian Air.

Lufthansa to Offer Revamped Business Class With Seats 7 Feet Long: Lufthansa has had an uncompetitive business class for more than a decade, but by 2020 when new Boeing 777s arrive, that will begin to change. Last week, it unveiled pictures of its new cabin, which eventually also will be used by other Lufthansa Group airlines. What’s interesting is that Lufthansa is not making all seats identical. Some will be longer, and some will be more spacious. Passengers can choose which they prefer, though if some seats end up being more desirable, Lufthansa likely will charge extra for them, or hold them for elite frequent flyers.

American Airlines Extremely Bullish on the Future: American President Robert Isom is not as quotable as his predecessor, Scott Kirby, but he knows how to stick to talking points. Here, Isom hits most of them, telling the Associated Press American’s plans for basic economy, premium economy and on-time performance are on-track. Also, he said, American will make money in good times and bad.

Best Airline and Hotel Innovators in 2017 From a Business Traveler’s Perspective: Colin Nagy, Skift’s business travel columnist, chooses his favorite travel brands, and he leans heavily toward brands he calls, “friction free.” They include Silvercar, the all-Audi car rental company, Trunk, a new boutique hotel in Tokyo, and Alaska Airlines.

Pilot Shortage? Airbus Explores Development of Single-Pilot Autonomous Plane: Someday this will probably happen, though pilot unions will do all they can to stop it. When might that be? Who knows.

A Good Night’s Sleep Is the Latest Front in Airlines’ Battle for Highest-Paying Customers: Why did it take so long for many airlines to understand what premium customers want most is a good night’s sleep? Most customers probably don’t fly in business for the food, which is often fatty and salty. Or even the wine, since it doesn’t taste the same as on the ground. Customers fly up front so they can arrive reasonably well-rested. Conor Shine of the Dallas Morning News explains how many carriers now make sleep and bedding a priority. Related: Read my September interview with a vendor who helped British Airways find its new premium class bedding

The CEO of the Oldest Airline in the World Explains the Major Mistake the Industry Made 20 Years Ago: KLM CEO Pieter Elbers shouldn’t feel bad. His mistake is the same one almost every executive in Europe made. He underestimated the threat from short-haul, low-cost carriers. “My personal view is that for especially the first decade of their existence, network carriers like ourselves sort of underestimated, ignored — almost arrogantly ignored — the rise of low-cost carriers,” he told Business Insider. For another perspective, read my interview with Elbers, published over the summer.

News and Notes

This and that: American Airlines is constructing five new gates at Chicago O’Hare, and American spokeswoman Leslie Scott toured the construction zone, saying the gates for regional jets will open in Spring 2018. They’re the first new gates for any airline at O’Hare since the “new” international terminal opened in 1993, according to American. … Air Canada is rewarding elite frequent flyers with free Gogo subscriptions, but let’s hope the systems have the bandwidth to support them. … United Airlines is asking flight attendants to improve hawking the airline’s credit cards, promising a $50 pre-tax bonus for each approved application. “It’s our goal to win against other airlines, and new credit card accounts is an area that is currently a competitive disadvantage for us,” United told flight attendants in a message. … Delta said it completed the five-day Thanksgiving period — Wednesday to Sunday — without canceling a mainline or Delta Connection flight. … Meanwhile, United said more flights departed on time or early on Nov. 24 than any day in its history. … Someone paid $3,800 on Ebay for a pair of business class seats removed from a United Boeing 747.

Radio Gig: I’m the new airline analyst for “The Opening Bell,” a morning radio program on WGN in Chicago. We’re taping 10-minute segments, airing Friday, about what’s new in the airline industry. You can listen live, or catch one of the segments on WGN’s website.


Skift Airline Business Reporter Brian Sumers [] curates the Skift Airline Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday. Have a story idea? Or a juicy news tip? Want to share a memo? Send me an email or tweet me.

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SkiftX Webinar Dec 12: Reimagining Industry Thought Leadership In an Age of Storytelling

Skift Take: Our upcoming SkiftX Webinar examines changing landscape of B2B content marketing and thought leadership, with actionable research-based insights provided by executives from SkiftX and Edelman.

— Natalie Bonacasa

Join us on Tuesday, December 12 for a webinar examining the future of B2B content marketing hosted by Skift’s Branded Content Studio, SkiftX, and our partners at Edelman, a leading global communications marketing firm that partners with many of the world’s largest and emerging businesses and organizations.

The topic for our upcoming session is “Reimagining Industry Thought Leadership In an Age of Storytelling,” offering a snapshot of the rapidly-changing landscape of today’s B2B content marketing landscape and sharing tips for how marketers can adapt.

Register Now For The Webinar

We’ll examine the issues marketers are facing and provide relevant real-world examples of what’s working as our SkiftX Webinar takes participants through the changing world of B2B marketing. We hope you’ll join the teams from SkiftX and Edelman as we investigate the opportunities and challenges facing the rapidly evolving discipline.


  • Marketing organizations of consumer travel brands to understand why strategic positioning in the industry matters.
  • Marketing organizations of B2B/enterprise companies selling to the travel industry.
  • Tech vendors, service providers and startups selling to the travel industry.

Secure Your Spot

Interested in working with SkiftX to bring your brand to a whole new level? Email for more information.


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Accessibility Is More Than Adding Tech Gadgetry — Meetings Innovation Report

Sozialhelden  / Flickr

A group on an accessibility mapping tour in Berlin. Meeting planners need to craft accessibility options at the earliest stage of the planning process. Sozialhelden / Flickr

Skift Take: Accessibility should become an integral part of the planning process for planners and event spaces alike. New technologies alone won’t fix these shortcomings.

— Andrew Sheivachman

Accessibility is vital to a successful event, but isn’t treated by many as a top concern.

There are a variety of technologies, ranging from beacons to conference apps, that can make attending an event easier for a disabled person. But until the meeting planning process integrates accessibility concerns from the start, experts say it will remain a challenge to produce truly accessible events. Check out our story below.

This week we also have the latest on WeWork buying popular meetings platform Meetup, and several takes on the future of messaging technology and branding in a digital age.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Business Travel Editor

The Future of Meetings Accessibility

Technology Alone Can’t Solve Accessibility Challenges Faced by Meetings and Events: People with disabilities are often overlooked by event spaces and meeting planners. A new wave of innovation and technology can help make meetings and events more accessible, but lasting change needs to start with a focus on increasing accessibility during the planning process.

Meetings and Event Innovation

WeWork Will Buy Meetup: Flush with cash from investors, WeWork has undertaken a major spending spree. Of their acquisitions so far, buying the popular Meetup platform makes the most sense and dovetails nicely with how the consumer of today wants to attend events.

Las Vegas Gambles It Can Attract Millennials With Instagram-Worthy Moments: Can the Vegas casinos attract millennials with zip lines and bunk beds? Some of them, sure. But the casinos may have to open their marketing toolboxes anew if they think retooling slot machines will attract this sought-after target market in droves.

Technology and Trends

Nobody’s Sure What They’re Doing With Messaging Apps: Everyone agrees that messaging is the future of marketing and sales. But for now, professionals are still divided on the best way to deploy chat capability.

Millennials Are Over, Gen-Z Forever: How are brands dealing with digital natives as they enter the workforce? The trick is to get interactive and stand for something besides shilling for your product or experience. Oh, and being active on Snapchat or Instagram helps too.

Tech Goes From Assistant to Companion: Could 2018 be the year that virtual assistants driven by chat and voice become genuinely useful? TrendWatching sure thinks so, but there is reason to be skeptical about technology replacing service from a real person.


Skift Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman [] curates the Skift Meetings Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Wednesday.

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American Airlines Potential Holiday Pilot Shortage, Explained

Brandon Wade  / American Airlines

American Airlines pilots confer in a Boeing 777. The airline might be facing a pilot shortage in December. Brandon Wade / American Airlines

Skift Take: Let’s hope American Airlines can find enough pilots working to fly extra in December. Otherwise, it will be a mess for customers.

— Brian Sumers

American Airlines admitted Wednesday it has a problem. By mistake, it gave too many pilots time off in December, and now it is scrambling to ensure it has enough pilots to fly during the busy holiday period.

American is saying it can fix the problem by coaxing more pilots to work, and that holiday travel likely will not be affected. The airline’s pilot union is more pessimistic, warning American may not find enough pilots. “This is a crisis right now,” a union spokesman told Bloomberg. 

Here’s where things stand.

What Happened?

Due to a computer glitch, American allowed too many pilots to take time off in December, according to Bloomberg’s Mary Schlangenstein, who first reported the story. The problem could affect as any as 17,000 flights between Dec. 17 and Dec. 31, Bloomberg reported, citing figures from American’s pilot union, the Allied Pilots Association.

That estimate, though, could be a little high. In a note to pilots posted Tuesday, the union said, “Thousands of flights currently do not have pilots assigned to fly them during the upcoming critical holiday period.”

Affected flights depart from Dallas-Fort Worth International, as well as airports in Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, Bloomberg reported.

According to Bloomberg, American’s computer system showed it had enough pilots to cover December flying, when it actually did not. The union said it was informed of the discrepancy on Nov. 24.

This is a much bigger issue than what happened in December 2016. Last year, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reported, American may have “unfairly” assigned 200 pilots to work on Christmas because of problems with the software that matches pilots to flights. At the time, American said it would pay those pilot forced to work Christmas twice their regular rate.

American also had a similar issue in December 2015 with about 400 of its flight attendants, The Street reported. Some flight attendants received as much as 300 percent of their usual pay for working flights, according to the publication.

Will American Cancel Flights?

In a statement Wednesday, American said passengers should not be concerned, saying it does not expect to cancel flights for the holiday season.

American will incentive pilots to work extra by paying them 150 percent of their hourly pay rate. According to American, that’s as much as the airline can pay them without violating the terms of their union contract.

Like all airlines, American also has back-up pilots scheduled to work, but they are not assigned to particular trips. Often, those pilots — called “reserve crews” — wait at or near the airport to step in if, say, another pilot calls in sick. 

What can customers do?

Customers with tickets on American have little recourse, at least for now. Airlines typically do not allow passengers to cancel or alter their itineraries for free until the airline actually starts canceling or delaying flights.

It’s probably best for passengers to take a wait-and-see approach. If all goes well, American will fix this problem, and all flights will go as scheduled.

Travelers who haven’t booked might consider another airline. Again, American probably will have enough pilots to fly, but why take the risk?

How is the Pilot Union Responding?

American management and its pilots union do not have the best relationship, and that’s apparent here. The union has blasted the company for overworking pilots, and criticized it for what it says are endemic culture problems. 

The union claims American is not handling the situation appropriately, and that the airline doesn’t have the right to pay pilots more money in hopes they will work more — at least without consulting the union. The Allied Pilots Association said Tuesday it has filed a grievance.

“Because management unilaterally created their solution in violation of the contract, neither APA nor the contract can guarantee the promised payment of the premium being offered,” the union told pilots.

The union slammed American management for failing to develop “collaborative solutions” to solve the problem.

“Management’s actions likewise jeopardize any collaborative effort to ensure our passengers have a pilot crew to take them to their important holiday events,” it told pilots.

Why Would Pilots Be Upset About Extra Pay?

Unionized pilots tend to be protective about their relations with management, and union leaders often don’t like it when an airline makes decisions without consulting them.

In July 2015, pilots at Republic Airways — now called Republic Airline — sued their employer after it started paying pilots extra for working on their days off, and began offering special bonuses for new pilots. The union, which was in the midst of negotiating a new contract with pilots, argued the extra pay was undercutting its efforts.

Have Other Airlines Faced Similar Issues?

Ryanair disclosed a similar problem in September, saying it had mistakenly permitted too many pilots to take vacations this fall. Unlike at American, Ryanair executives said they did not think they could fix the problem quickly, and instead canceled thousands of flights over several weeks.

Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary blamed “a failure within its pilot rostering function,” calling it a, “mess of our own making.”

It’s not likely American’s situation will be so bad. American may not have the best relations with its pilot union, but Ryanair historically has been far more antagonistic with its pilots, who are not represented by a traditional union. 

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eDreams Claims Being Transparent Is Actually Good Business

eDreams ODIGEO

An eDreams promotion on November 24, 2017. The company claims tweaks to make its pricing more transparent has helped its business. eDreams ODIGEO

Skift Take: Who’d have thought not annoying your customers was good for business? On the other hand, the supposed turnaround just happens to fit in nicely with a potential sales process.

— Patrick Whyte

For years, Spanish online travel agency eDreams has been notorious for its questionable pricing strategy.

The headline airline ticket price, used to lure in customers, was not always what it seemed. Consumers sometimes found that the site assessed service charges that would increase prices by 25 percent.  

The company’s tactics brought it into conflict with airlines like Ryanair and EasyJet, which took umbrage at this lack of transparency. The UK’s aviation watchdog eventually investigated eDreams.

The Civil Aviation Authority’s inquiry led to eDreams and Opodo (both part of the eDreams Odigeo Group) making changes to their websites.

The tweaks were expected to hurt the Barcelona-based company because fewer people would be drawn to its multiple websites by ultra-low airline ticket prices. But as it turns out, customers liked them.

Speaking on an earnings call after the company’s first-half results, CEO Dana Dunne said there had been a “short-term softening” of sales due to pricing changes, but it had been outweighed by other benefits.

“We can confirm today that the early data from the price transparency initiative shows that our assumptions were correct,” he said. “There is no long-term impact on the business and in fact there is good upside.”

Web traffic returned to previous levels after five months, and there was a double digit improvement in conversion rates, eDreams said. Also, the company’s trust pilot score increased 24 percent.

“All in all, we are delighted with the early results and based on this positive response we have taken the decision to gradually roll out the new model across most of our key markets,” Dunne said.

Strategic Review

During the call, there was no real update on the company’s previously announced strategic review, which could lead to a potential merger or acquisition.

“Everything we said at the beginning of the month stands,” Chief Financial Officer David Elizaga said. “We have, I think, a very professional process run by Morgan Stanley and I think it is imperative that we keep it going.”

“It has no effect on the day-to-day operations of the company and at the board and top management level there is a parallel process of evaluating those options and helping the board to take the best decision on behalf of all the stakeholders in the company.”

Net profit during the first half of its current financial year fell by 46 percent to $7.7 million (€6.5 million), mainly because of reorganization costs associated with its businesses in France and Italy.

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Trump Anti-Muslim Tweets Could Backfire in Travel Ban Cases

The White House  / Flickr

President Donald J. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence exiting Air Force One on August 22, 2017. Trump’s tweets are coming back to haunt the travel ban case. The White House / Flickr

Skift Take: Keep tweeting, Mr. President. Keep tweeting.

— Dennis Schaal

President Donald Trump’s retweet of a series of anti-Muslim videos posted by a leader of a far-right group in the UK risks undermining his travel-ban defense a week before two federal appeals courts are set to hear challenges to the directive.

Iranian Alliances Across Borders, one of the nonprofit groups suing Trump over the travel ban, will “almost certainly” use the president’s retweet to supports its case, attorney Sirine Shebaya said. Other plaintiffs will “absolutely” use them as evidence that the third version of the ban, which makes no reference to religion, is actually motivated by animus toward Muslims, said Peter Spiro, an immigration law professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.

“President Trump is just about the worst client one could have as a lawyer,” Spiro said. “He just doesn’t get it, in terms of how these kinds of public statements can come back to bite the administration in court.”

The federal appeals court in San Francisco is set to hear a challenge to the ban on Dec. 6, and the appeals court in Richmond, Virginia, will hear another case two days later. Both cases, filed by states and plaintiffs groups representing Muslims and immigrants, say the ban is unconstitutional because it targets a particular religion and violates federal immigration law.

A message left at the press office for Hawaii Attorney General Doug Chin, whose lawsuit over the ban will be heard in San Francisco, wasn’t immediately returned. A representative from the Justice Department didn’t immediately return a call.

May Rebukes Trump for Retweets

The videos retweeted by Trump were posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of Britain First, a nationalist group that campaigns against what it calls the Islamification of the UK. One purports to show a “Muslim migrant” assaulting a Dutch person on crutches, while another shows an “Islamist mob” pushing a teenage boy off a roof. A third purports to show a Muslim man destroying a statue of the Virgin Mary.

“The tweets reinforce and illustrate our point that the President’s actions are motivated by anti-Muslim animus,” Shebaya, a lawyer with Muslim Advocates, said in an email. “They are therefore highly relevant to the Muslim-ban cases.”

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah said Trump was focusing on national security with the tweets.

“It’s never the wrong time to talk about security and public safety for the American people,” Shah told reporters on Air Force One.

Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said Trump’s retweets won’t undermine the government’s careful analysis of which countries are failing to provide the U.S. with sufficient information to vet incoming aliens.

“The order goes into great detail of the thorough and extensive process the Department of Homeland Security engaged in to review the credibility and trustworthiness of the information we receive,” von Spakovsky said. “Tweets showing the heinous acts of some individuals is not going to change that.”

Legal Analysis

When Trump issued the third version of the travel ban, many legal experts said it had a solid national-security foundation that effectively insulated the directive from flaws found in the two earlier versions, which were struck down by appeals courts.

Ever since the first ban was issued in January, states and rights groups have claimed in lawsuits that it was an unconstitutional “Muslim ban” that singled out people based on their religion. One appeals court ruled it was “steeped in animus,” while another held it ran afoul of a federal law prohibiting nationality-based discrimination.

Trump’s comments about Muslims in the years before the election, including in a 2011 interview in which he declared “I don’t notice Swedish people knocking down the World Trade Center,” have been at the center of many of the complaints.

The ban limits travel from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, Venezuela and North Korea. The third iteration of the travel directive would almost surely pass muster if it had been offered by any other president, according to Spiro.

“The argument is that these actions are motivated by religious animus, and Trump’s statements and tweets supply the evidence for that, even though on their face the second and third travel bans are neutral as to religion,” Spiro said.

Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington-based think-tank that supports Trump’s immigration policies, said federal law grants the president broad authority to keep out aliens “for any reason he wants,” including anti-Islam views.

“There are all kinds of costs that a president could pay for what his critics are alleging, but there are no legal costs,” Krikorian said. The president’s retweet “has no bearing on his authority to issue these travel bans.”

–With assistance from Toluse Olorunnipa

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Erik Larson and Greg Sullivan from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

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Air France-KLM and Jet Airways Partner on India-Europe Flights

Jet Airways  / Facebook

A Jet Airways plane on the tarmac. Jet Airways / Facebook

Skift Take: India is rapidly becoming one of the largest air travel markets in the world, and Air France-KLM wants to be an even bigger part of it.

— Andrew Sheivachman

Air France-KLM Group and Jet Airways India Ltd. agreed to deepen an existing partnership with offerings on India-Europe routes together, giving the biggest European airline more seamless access to the world’s fastest growing major aviation market.

The latest deal will offer travel options for 44 cities in India and 106 destinations across Europe, Jean-Marc Janaillac, chairman of Air France-KLM said in a statement. In addition, another partnership between the European group and Delta Air Lines Inc. will help connect India to a trans-Atlantic network with hubs in Amsterdam and Paris.

Jet Airways passengers will be able to book a single ticket for a trip to the U.S. and Europe, and fly Delta, Air France-KLM or Virgin Atlantic for different legs of the journey, under the agreement. Flights will be “metal neutral,” meaning revenue will be shared regardless of whose aircraft is deployed.

The enhanced tie-up with Jet Airways, 24 percent owned by Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways PJSC, brings the European carrier closer to a market where passenger traffic is growing at more than 20 percent every year. Air France-KLM has significantly strengthened its links with other major carriers in recent months, with an agreement in July to buy 31 percent of Britain’s Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. while selling 10 percent stakes to SkyTeam alliance partners Delta Air Lines Inc. and China Eastern Airlines Corp.

Fading Fortunes

Etihad will stay invested and the Indian company has no plan to sell more stakes to any other airline, Jet Airways chairman Naresh Goyal told reporters in Mumbai. The latest deal will help the airline boost revenue by $1 billion, he said without elaborating.

Jet Airways and state-owned Air India Ltd. are among carriers whose fortunes have ebbed over the years after Gulf operators like Emirates Airline, Etihad and Qatar Airways Ltd. started offering cheap fares to fly passengers to their hubs in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha, before transferring them to other flights. On local routes, no-frills carriers like market leader IndiGo, operated by InterGlobe Aviation Ltd., and SpiceJet Ltd. have captured market share with on-time services and cheap fares.

Jet Airways, which was the first local airline to get investment from a foreign carrier, posted its first annual profit in seven years in the 12 months ended March 2016, mainly because of a drop in oil prices. Etihad’s other investments have done even worse. Three of its former units — Italy’s Alitalia SpA, Air Berlin Plc. and Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline SA — all collapsed in 2017.

The Indian carrier, which is not part of any airline alliance, is in talks with Air France-KLM, Delta and Virgin Atlantic for joint fuel purchases as well as to collaborate on engineering and maintenance, Goyal said. Jet Airways will connect Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai to the networks of Air France and Delta in Europe, CEO Vinay Dube said.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by P R Sanjai and Anurag Kotoky from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Ryan Wolkov

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Author: Ryan Wolkov

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American Airlines Pilot Scheduling Glitch May Affect Holiday Travel

American Airlines

Three American Airlines captains pose for pictures earlier in 2017 at American’s Miami hub. The airline may not have enough pilots to fly its December schedule. American Airlines

Skift Take: American’s pilot union says this a “crisis.” The airline says it has it under control. Which do you believe?

— Brian Sumers

American Airlines Group Inc. is working to resolve a scheduling fault that gave time off to too many pilots in December, leaving some flights without enough crew during the holiday rush.

The glitch is causing staffing shortages on thousands of flights next month, the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing the carrier’s aviators, said in a message to its members. American spokesman Matt Miller declined to quantify the potential number of flights involved, saying the airline expects to correct the problem and avoid cancellations.

“We are working through this to make sure we take care of our pilots and get our customers to where they need to go over the holidays,” he said.

American is offering pilots 150 percent of their normal hourly wage to pick up some of the flights, the top rate laid out in their contract, Miller said. The APA has filed a grievance, saying the proposed solution violates its labor contract. The union wants input with American to find a solution that will motivate pilots to give up vacation they’ve already been granted after years of working over the holidays, said Dennis Tajer, an APA spokesman.

“This is certainly not routine,” Tajer said. “This is a crisis right now, and in that crisis, they’ve gone solo.”

The glitch caused the scheduling system to show that American had ample staffing coverage for some planned flights when it actually didn’t, Miller said. American has made adjustments to the system and expects it to operate smoothly from now on.

Flights that are scheduled without a captain, first officer or both originate from Dallas-Fort Worth International, American’s largest hub, and airports in Boston, Miami, New York, Philadelphia, Salt Lake City and Charlotte, North Carolina, according to a company memo to the union, which was seen by Bloomberg News.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Mary Schlangenstein from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Ryan Wolkov

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Author: Ryan Wolkov

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