Travel in an Age of Permanxiety and 10 Other Tourism Trends This Week

Carlos Osorio  / Associated Press

Airport security is a real source of what we call Permanxiety, i.e. a near-constant state of worry. Nestle, a passenger-screening canine sniffs plumes of air coming off a person to determine if it is one of the many explosive odors she has been trained to detect, at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, February. 19, 2015, in Romulus, Michigan. Carlos Osorio / Associated Press

Skift Take: This week in tourism, amid the Cuba travel warning, we were preoccupied with what we call Permanxiety: the near-constant state of worry afflicting travelers in the current geopolitical climate.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines tourism.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>The U.S. travel warning might have been limited to visiting hotels in Cuba, where U.S. embassy employees have allegedly been targeted. But instead the Trump administration would prefer to close the door on all U.S. citizen travel to Cuba. As Marriott CEO Arne Sorenson said at the Skift Global Forum, U.S. policy toward Cuba has accomplished nothing over the last few decades: All-Encompassing Cuba Travel Warning Issued by Trump Administration

>>It’s hard to see how other airlines, hotels and cruise lines don’t follow JetBlue’s lead in issuing waivers on change fees and cancellations for itineraries to Cuba given the U.S. government’s ill-conceived warning for travel to the Caribbean island. The warning looks like it will help reverse the Obama administration’s loosening of restrictions on U.S. citizen travel to Cuba: Travel Brands React to New U.S. Travel Warning for Cuba

>>Generation Z prioritizes international travel and special events more than its older counterparts. Generation Z members also have the least amount of money to spend on travel, for now. When have we heard this all before? A decade ago, about Millennials: U.S. Millennials Travel the Most but Gen Z Is on the Rise

>>You may have missed out on this year’s Skift Global Forum, but you don’t have to miss out on one of the key parts of the conversation at the event and within the industry: Travel in an Age of Permanxiety: Download the New Magazine

>>No doubt destinations are hoping that visitors will return when islands have a chance to recover and clean up. Old habits and geography are in their favor: Luxury Travelers Seek Winter Alternatives to Hard-Hit Caribbean Destinations

>>When it comes to attending a meeting or event in the year ahead, it really is a seller’s market. Meanwhile, travel costs for attendees and planners are on the rise. Buckle up for increased spending: Meeting Planners Will Face Challenge of Rising Attendance Costs in 2018

>>The democratization of travel in the U.S. has led to a smaller share of spending on cars and transportation over the last 30 years. It’s disheartening, though, that transportation costs still account for the second largest spending bucket for U.S. residents: Transportation Spending Grabs Smaller Share of Household Income in Sharing Economy Era

>>The importance of face-to-face meetings and live events is more invaluable than ever: The Unshakeable Value of Live Events — Meetings Innovation Report

>>The upcoming 2017 Experiential Traveler Report will present a deep dive into the mind of the modern traveler. Here’s a sneak peek of our survey results: Skift Research Survey Preview: Travelers Value Activities More Than a Luxe Room

>>Executives from all corners of the travel industry spoke to Skift about how their companies are innovating; this week, we boil down some of the trends most relevant to corporate travel: Travel CEOs Want a Frictionless Future — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report

>>One new ship for most cruise lines wouldn’t make a world of difference, but for these niche brands, the expansion will be significant: Tiny Cruise Lines Azamara and Cunard Are Finally Growing

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Hawaii Residents Sue FAA Over Noisy Tour Helicopters

Caleb Jones  / Associated Press

Visitors look at lava from Kilauea, an active volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island. Residents are suing for flight plans to noisy helicopter tours. Caleb Jones / Associated Press

Skift Take: Once again, we see increased tourism ruining quality of life for residents of Hawaii. The battle over access to National Parks continues around the country.

— Andrew Sheivachman

Hawaii residents and an organization representing federal workers sued the Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday to force it to do something about tour helicopters buzzing their communities and national parks around the U.S.

The lawsuit filed by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and Hawaii Island Coalition Malama Pono asks the court to order the FAA to draft either air tour plans or voluntary agreements governing air tours for seven parks within two years.

Bob Ernst lives along the flight path of helicopters taking tourists to see lava inside Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The rancher and farmer said the helicopter noise starts before he eats breakfasts and lasts all day.

“It’s really nerve-rattling. It’s offensive. It makes your life miserable,” said Ernst, who is a founding board member of Hawaii Island Coalition Malama Pono.

FAA spokesman Ian Gregor said the agency doesn’t comment on pending litigation.

The lawsuit said the National Park Air Tour Management Act of 2000 requires the FAA to prepare an air tour plan, or develop voluntary agreements with air tour operators, whenever someone applies for permission to conduct a commercial air tour over park. A 2012 law created an exemption for parks with fewer than 50 flights per year.

But the complaint, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C, said the FAA hasn’t created plans for any park since the law was passed 17 years ago. It’s reached agreements for air tour companies to voluntarily follow rules at two parks.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park recorded 15,489 air tour flights in 2016.

Noisy Flights

Surveys found helicopter noise was audible in 98 percent of the wilderness areas of the park, said the park’s superintendent, Cindy Orlando. Many flights traverse nesting areas for endangered native birds like the nene, or Hawaiian goose, and io, or Hawaiian hawk.

The flights disrupt hula performers who come to the edge of Kilauea volcano’s summit crater to chant, dance and make offerings. They disturb Native Hawaiians, who in following traditional protocol ask permission when they enter the forest. The sounds of silence are considered a positive response to such a request; helicopter noise is interpreted as disapproval.

“There basically isn’t a single location in the park where a visitor can go and be guaranteed of hearing only natural sounds,” said Orlando, who is not part of the lawsuit.

Orlando said the Park Service doesn’t comment on pending legislation. But she said her agency’s long-held position is that it wants an air tour management plan.

Author and wildlife filmmaker Doug Peacock said flights have become more frequent at Glacier National Park in Montana over time.

He recalls flights overhead when he filming grizzlies in the park’s backcountry in the early 1980s. Flight operators increasingly cater to tourists during the park’s busy summer season, said Peacock, who is from Emigrant, Montana.

“There ought to be a few places in the world where you indeed can measure some silence in your own life, as it used to be everywhere,” said Peacock, who is not part of the lawsuit. “The interior of a large chunk of public lands, a national park, is your best shot at it. It’s rendered impossible by the noise of a single helicopter.”

In addition to Hawaii Volcanoes and Glacier, the plaintiffs are seeking air tour management plans or voluntary agreements for the following five parks: Haleakala National Park in Hawaii; Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona and Nevada, Muir Woods National Monument in California, Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah.

Jeff Ruch, executive director of PEER, said the lawsuit could be a template for other parks not part of complaint. The lawsuit said there are 26 parks with more than 50 overflights a year.

This article was written by Audrey McAvoy from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Google’s New Earbuds With Real-Time Translation and 11 Other Digital Trends This Week

Alexandre Meneghini  / Reuters

Google Pixel Buds could remove much of the language barrier between tourists and locals. A man who identifies himself as Classic Car Manager Mr. Sergio (center), offers a ride in a vintage car to tourists, in Havana, Cuba, May 4, 2016. Alexandre Meneghini / Reuters

Skift Take: This week in digital news, we reported that disruptor Airbnb was the most-installed travel app in September, but the real-time translation of Google Pixel Buds could transform travel just as fundamentally.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines digital trends.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>These winning tourism videos don’t use radical production elements to tell the stories of their countries. Instead, they let the landscapes and handshakes speak for themselves, and show why travel is such a beautiful and enlightening thing: Best Tourism Videos of 2017 Highlight the Art of Storytelling

>>Who needs middlemen distributors? TripAdvisor-backed Viator is hoping that travel agencies come directly to its new platform to find tours and activities to sell to consumers: TripAdvisor Tours and Activities Brand Viator Debuts a Booking Tool for Travel Agents

>>You may have missed out on this year’s Skift Global Forum, but you don’t have to miss out on one of the key parts of the conversation at the event and within the industry: Travel in an Age of Permanxiety: Download the New Magazine

>>Fashion luxury brands generally tend to be ahead of travel brands in terms of marketing innovation and sophistication. We’ll continue to watch this space: Luxury Brands Are Beating Mass-Market Brands Across Social Media

>>The travel space is rich with content, meaning it’s not “if” but “how” luggage brands craft their messages of exploration and sophistication that will ultimately resonate with the customer: Luxury Luggage Raises the Bar for Sophisticated Content Marketing

>>While this deal is small, it signals that the Expedia-backed hotel-search company wants to better identify the desires of its customers and become more sophisticated at proposing tailor-made offers that are relevant: Trivago Makes a Tech Acquisition That Bolsters an Industry Trend

>>Blockchain and China are both areas that investors find interesting, but blockchain requires a long-term view and China is really tough, especially domestically. Meanwhile, investors are pouring money into artificial intelligence and virtual reality, and are trying to sort out which travel startups working in these fields will make it to the finish line: Travel Startup Money Is Flowing But the Road to an Exit Is More Distant

>>Since 2016, the quiet wholesaler marketplaces for hotel supply have become noisy as private equity firms invested $2.9 billion to make Hotelbeds Group a market leader. Expect more consolidation: Hotelbeds Eyes a Viable Wholesaler Path in the Shadows of Priceline and Expedia

>>The first iteration of this technology could be glitchy, but the ability to translate your speech into 40 languages could turn out to be something of a true killer app for the travel industry: Google’s New Earbuds With Real-Time Translation Have Huge Implications for Travel

>>It looks like Airbnb is experiencing a huge upswing in mobile adoption. But traditional search engines and social networks are still driving consumers to travel sites on desktop, too: Airbnb Was Most-Installed Travel App in September

>>Groupon may have its struggles and many similar sites have gone out of business, but travel flash sales have a stubborn persistence — even if they would probably get additional traction in more perilous economic times: Secret Escapes Raises $111 Million in a Flash Sales Revival: Travel Startup Funding This Week

>>With this deal, the Madrid-based technology giant has scored another win in North America, after having finished moving Southwest Airlines to Amadeus’ reservations platform earlier this year: Amadeus Wins Air Canada Contract as It Digs In Deeper in North America

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New Air Link and Luxury Hotel Will Transform Tourism on Tiny, Remote St Helena

David Stanley  / Flickr

Jacob’s Ladder in St. Helena. The staircase is one of the island’s main tourist attractions. David Stanley / Flickr

Skift Take: While it will still be pretty hard to get to (unless you live in Namibia or South Africa), St Helena is likely to see a significant increase in the number of tourists, especially from those keen to go to a place that not many other people have visited.

— Patrick Whyte

One of the remotest islands in the world is about to enter the modern tourist age.

When the British exiled Napoléon Bonaparte to St. Helena in 1815, it took the conquered emperor a full 10 weeks to reach the island. Two centuries later, it’s still a five-day trip by mail boat—assuming you happen to be starting from somewhere as close as Cape Town, South Africa.

But on Oct. 14, the tiny British overseas territory will get its first-ever scheduled flights. Two weeks later, St. Helena’s first luxury hotel, a 30-room property in a trio of Georgian buildings, will open its doors.

Located about 1,200 miles off the western coast of Africa, St. Helena is best known (for those who know it at all) as the place where Napoleon was banished after being defeated at the Battle of Waterloo. The house where he lived—complete with the original furnishings— is one of the island’s main tourist attractions.

But it’s not the only draw. The 47-square-mile tropical island offers mountain biking, sportfishing, and scuba diving in waters where visibility is up to 100 feet. St. Helena is one of a handful of places in the world where humans can swim with massive (and passive) whale sharks. It’s home to a 185-year-old tortoise named Jonathan, the world’s longest straight staircase, and a double-hole golf course that players go around twice, trying not to hit any goats along the way.

Then there’s St. Helena distillery, said to be the world’s most remote. Its specialty is Tungi (TOON-jee), a white spirit made from prickly pear and bottled in a beveled glass flask shaped to evoke the island’s famous (-ish) staircase.

Because of the limited transportation options, only a couple of thousand tourists make it to the island each year. The Royal Mail Ship St. Helena, a combination cargo-passenger ship, makes the trip just a few times a month. And until now, the airport was able to accept only private flights.

“The world’s most useless airport,” as some have called it, cost 285 million British pounds [more than $400 million] and was meant to push St. Helena toward economic self-sufficiency. A month before it opened in 2016, test flights revealed dangerous wind conditions, and commercial flights were put on hold. The airport has been taking only private and medical evacuation flights.

But now, South African airline Airlink will run weekly from Johannesburg to Windhoek, Namibia, and on to St. Helena.

The Independent reported that Airlink won’t fill its Embraer jets to capacity. To keep the plane light enough to use less of the runway and avoid the spots with most dangerous winds, it will fill only 76 of the 99 seats. It’s hoping to bump that up to 87 in 2018.

Meanwhile, the new hotel by resort developer Mantis, which owns five-star safari lodges in Africa, Explora resorts in Chile, and other high-end properties, promises to be a game-changer. St. Helena’s official tourism website lists just two B&Bs and a half-dozen hotels and guest houses, most of which have no websites.

As relatively speedy as the flights may be, this might actually be the perfect time to reserve a berth to St. Helena. Not only is the island on its way to changes, but the mail ship will eventually be decommissioned. Book now, or permanently miss the boat.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Sara Clemence from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Las Vegas Casino Execs Talk Security and Recovery After Shooting

Christopher Palmeri and Lisa Du  / Bloomberg

The global casino industry is trying to get on with business against the backdrop of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. Christopher Palmeri and Lisa Du / Bloomberg

Skift Take: Las Vegas hotels and casinos aren’t sure what the future of hotel security will look like, but they do know they move forward with growth and event strategies in wake of the tragedy.

— Dan Peltier

The global casino industry is trying to get on with business against the backdrop of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.

In Las Vegas, casino managers and their suppliers are gathering this week for the annual Global Gaming Expo, a trade show that ends Thursday and attracts some 26,000 people from around the world. On the other side of the globe, Las Vegas Sands Corp. paraded stars like David Beckham as Japan moves toward introducing casino resorts.

The talk at both events was supposed to be exclusively about growth opportunities, but that changed after a man opened fire on an outdoor concert in Las Vegas that was sponsored by MGM Resorts International. Almost 60 people were killed and more than 500 others were injured.

Still, the floor at the Sands Expo Center, about 2.5 miles north of where Sunday’s massacre took place, was busy as tribal drum beats welcomed guests and underscored the growing importance of Indian casinos that rival commercial operators in revenue. Sands President Robert Goldstein opened the presentation in Tokyo on Wednesday saying “our hearts are heavy” for the tragic event in his home city of 25 years. But he doesn’t think there’ll be any significant financial impact from Sunday’s events.

“What happened is indescribably painful and sad, and Las Vegas has a long road back to recovery from this,” Goldstein said in an interview after the event. “Of course we’ll adapt to this environment.”

Security Measures

Even as Casinos tried to resume normal operations, they continued to adjust their security measures in the wake of Sunday’s shooting. The Wynn resort in Las Vegas initially scanned visitors with metal-detector wands, creating a 10-minute wait to get inside. Wynn Resorts Ltd. said late Tuesday it was trimming back those inspections as it became clear only one shooter was involved, though the company said Wynn was continuing with other enhanced security procedures. Goldstein said he’s “very comfortable” with security measures at Sands properties.

At the Sands Expo Center, slot-machine makers International Game Technology Plc and Scientific Games Corp. displayed new products including 4-D slot devices with seats that rumble and a “Lord of the Rings” game with a musical score recorded by live musicians in a studio. Next-generation manufacturers such as GameCo Inc. and Gamblit Gaming showed off their devices, aimed at millennials, that let bettors play against friends in games such as Pac-Man.

The spotlight this year was supposed to be on sports betting, which Geoff Freeman, chief executive officer of the American Gaming Association, said is closer than ever to becoming legal nationally, either through Congressional action or a favorable Supreme Court ruling.

e-Sports

Another big focus is e-sports, with at least eight panels about the business of professional competitors playing video games before audiences of fans. Events at casinos or betting on games themselves could draw in young fans, said Chris Grove, co-director of the Nevada Esports Alliance.

Growth in the tourism and gaming industries helps drive the economic development of Las Vegas. Last year, a record 42.9 million visitors came to the entertainment hub.

MGM Resorts, which owns the Mandalay Bay hotel and casino that the shooter used to target concert fans, said Tuesday it’s donating $3 million to help victims of the massacre.

“With this donation, we hope to make a difference to those who were harmed and those who are left behind,” Chief Executive Officer Jim Murren said in a statement.

This article was written by Christopher Palmeri and Lisa Du from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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Aggressive Salesmen Pitch Timeshares But Not Everyone Is Buying

Julio Cortez  / Associated Press

A couple enters the Flagship Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The resort offers timeshares for its guests.
Julio Cortez / Associated Press

Skift Take: Timeshares are still big business despite their sketchy reputation. People do buy-in after receiving the hard-sell from a salesperson, but a significant percentage realize later that the investment wasn’t a particularly prudent one.

— Brian Sumers

I had filled out a form to win a Whole Foods gift certificate. Instead I got a phone call from “Hannah” at FantaSea Resorts congratulating me on winning a travel package.

My gift sounded promising: Four airline tickets worth up to $4,500, a weekend at an East Coast resort and more. “All you have to do is come to Atlantic City to pick up your gift,” Hannah said.

The penny dropped. “This is a timeshare pitch, isn’t it?”

It was. I would have to show up at the Flagship resort with an ID, a credit card and sit through a 2½ hour presentation. “There’s no obligation to buy.”

I had zero interest in a timeshare, but my husband and I had never been to Atlantic City and the airline tickets sounded promising. We decided to go.

We told several friends what we were doing and without fail, they said, “Oh, my mother-in-law (or brother-in-law or…) has a timeshare. Watch out, she never intended to buy one either.”

I started to get nervous. What if I got sucked in, hypnotized, drugged on the sea air? What if the salesman and my credit card got on the same wavelength and cut me out? We registered on a Saturday morning and were seated at a conference room table surrounded by dozens of other couples at tables, all of us getting the pitch.

Our salesman asked us about our family, travel desires, annual travel expenses, where we like to go, what we like to do on vacation and where we’d like to go next. “Argentina. Venice. The Carolinas,” we said.

If we bought a timeshare in Atlantic City, he said, we could exchange it for timeshares around the world. He showed us their exchange stock in those places, along with Jamaica, Hawaii, Paris.

His pitch was periodically interrupted by a master of ceremonies — a manager with a microphone — noting the stars who’d be performing in Atlantic City in coming weeks: Smokey Robinson, Santana, Sting. Then he called out birthdays and anniversaries. And each time someone signed for a timeshare, he’d request “a round of applause for our newest members of the Flagship family” and the room would erupt.

We had coffee, water, bathroom breaks and a rundown of investments being made in Atlantic City to compensate for the shuttered Taj Mahal, Trump Plaza and Revel. More than two hours in, we were shown a one-bedroom suite that we’d be buying into. It had oceanfront views, a breezy balcony, marble countertops in the kitchenette and bathroom, king-sized bed and sofa bed.

I was getting antsy. There was no mention of money. I kept thinking of someone we’d met the night before, Theresa Clinton, 50, a dental hygienist from York, Pennsylvania, who’d bought a timeshare more than a decade before. “I never thought I’d buy one,” she said before rattling off a dozen places she’d vacationed. “I love it.”

More than 9 million U.S. households own timeshares. According to the American Resort Development Association, the vast majority are happy they do. But about 20 percent regret signing and want out.

Others may enjoy their timeshare for years but then want to get rid of it after their kids are grown, their finances have changed or they can no longer travel. Selling is not easy, giving rise to a timeshare exit industry. “There’s definitely a lot of people out there who want out,” said Timeshare Exit Team owner Brandon Reed.

We were approaching three hours at the Flagship Resort when our salesman finally pulled out the numbers: The one-bedroom timeshare would cost more than $23,000. We’d get to use it just one week a year. Paid over seven years, that would come to about $400 a month plus annual fees of about $1,000. (According to Consumer Reports, fees have risen 5 percent annually on average since 2010.)

We didn’t want the timeshare when we went into the sales meeting, and we definitely didn’t want it after we saw the price. When we said no, the salesman summoned a manager who just happened to have a timeshare resale for $10,000 less.

We could see the attraction for young families and for people looking at retirement with lots of travel. After seven years, the cost would be $1,000 a year for a week and reduced rates for extra weeks. The timeshare could be shared with family and bequeathed to offspring.

But it wasn’t for us. We don’t like to vacation in the same place twice. Even at the reduced price, the annual payments for each of the next seven years exceeded what we spend annually on travel accommodations. And we don’t have a hankering to own. We like Airbnb.

I thanked them for their efforts. Our poor salesman looked really dejected. One more manager came over to try to make a deal. Finally, they let us go and gave us our gift package.

The tickets are real enough, though they come with strings attached. You have to book a hotel through the same agency. Lots of advance notice. I’m betting they won’t be for the most direct flights when it comes time to book.

I was happy to get them, though I would have been just as happy with the Whole Foods gift coupon that I tried to win in the first place.

___

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What Monarch Air’s Bankruptcy Means for European Aviation and 6 Other Aviation Trends This Week

Monarch

Monarch Air recently declared bankruptcy. Monarch

Skift Take: This week in aviation, stateside we talked about perks like custom-designed bedding, but in Europe the market is in flux from several recent failures: Alitalia, Air Berlin, and Monarch Air.

— Sarah Enelow

Throughout the week we post dozens of original stories, connecting the dots across the travel industry, and every weekend we sum it all up. This weekend roundup examines aviation.

For all of our weekend roundups, go here.

>>American and Casper will soon be working together to bring custom-designed bedding to the airline’s long-haul flights. A hipper brand such as Casper may resonate better with younger flyers than legacy brands such as Westin or Saks: American Airlines Teams With Casper for In-Flight Bedding and a Hipper Appeal

>>It’s now going to be extremely difficult for some of Delta’s frequent flyers to earn top-tier elite status: Business of Loyalty: Delta Makes Top Elite Status Tougher to Reach for Credit Card Holders

>>You may have missed out on this year’s Skift Global Forum, but you don’t have to miss out on one of the key parts of the conversation at the event and within the industry: Travel in an Age of Permanxiety: Download the New Magazine

>>An airport lounge needs a lot of logistical heavy-lifting and finesse to get it right. But Amex has had some success executing on this mission, and is expanding internationally to Hong Kong: American Express Centurion Lounges Are a Differentiator in Credit Card Competition

>>While there might be too many European airlines, Monarch’s demise shouldn’t necessarily be seen as being symptomatic of wider industry problems. Like Alitalia and Air Berlin before it, the UK-based airline and tour operator had plenty of self-inflicted wounds that were exacerbated by external issues: What Monarch Air’s Bankruptcy Means for European Aviation

>>We like United President Scott Kirby because he says what’s on his mind. But something doesn’t add up here. Is this the real reason United hasn’t placed a new order for the A320 family of jets? United Complains Airbus Won’t Give It Competitive Prices

>>Don’t let recent news fool you. This is a promising development, but we’re still far from a world in which a substantial number of passengers fly on a hybrid-electric plane: JetBlue-Backed Zunum Plans to Produce a Small Hybrid-Electric Plane by 2022

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Ryanair Flight Cancellations Lead to Exit of Operations Boss

Ryanair

Ryanair passengers board a plane on the Spanish island of Tenerife on August 11, 2017. Ryanair

Skift Take: Heads had to roll over this flight-scheduling debacle at Ryanair. If Hickey retains his ties to the airline in an “advisory role,” it might be prudent not to take his advice.

— Dennis Schaal

The chief operations officer of Ryanair has announced plans to leave his post at the end of October following the cancellation of tens of thousands of flights scheduled for the coming months.

Company officials said Saturday that Michael Hickey will still have an “advisory role” after he steps down following decades with the airline.

He is the first senior executive to leave because of the damaging flight cancellations, which have disrupted travel plans for an estimated 700,000 passengers and undercut the company’s bid to improve its customer service reputation.

The flights were cancelled because of holiday staffing and scheduling errors.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary said Hickey had made an “enormous contribution” to the airline in the last 30 years.

This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

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HomeAway Addresses Questions About Its New Revenue Management Tool

Expedia-owned HomeAway recently launched its revenue management tool, MarketMaker, that allows vacation rental owners and managers to compare pricing with other homes listed on HomeAway’s sites and to accept pricing suggestions offered by the largest online marketplace for second home rentals. In response to the article, which introduced HomeAway’s new revenue management tool, “HomeAway’s New Revenue Management Platform […]

The post HomeAway Addresses Questions About Its New Revenue Management Tool appeared first on VRM Intel.

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Supersonic or Even Hypersonic Flights Could Be Aviation’s Next Frontier

Boom Technology

Hypersonic might not be viable soon, but Boom, a new company, hopes to have a supersonic jet flying by the next decade. Boom Technology

Skift Take: It’s fun to think about what the future might look like. And we could some day fly hypersonic. But just remember: There’s been little innovation in the airline industry since the 1960s. Things move slowly in the commericial aviation world.

— Brian Sumers

For years, Elon Musk has used the analogy of destroying a commercial jet after just one flight to explain his view that rockets must be reusable if humans are ever to afford space exploration.

Now, the founder of SpaceX has discovered a way he might profit off that dream. He’s forming an airline of sorts, one that pledges to transport people anywhere on Earth in minutes by launching them on a rocket at speeds up to 17,000 mph. This audacious, hypersonic goal currently lies somewhere between science fiction and sound physics, although nothing in SpaceX’s rudimentary plans appears to be technically impossible.

Long before Wall Street bigwigs get vaulted from New York to Asia in less than an hour, however, the significantly slower supersonic jet travel first popularized by the Concorde may return, sharply reducing flying times on many routes popular with business travelers. Several companies are working to develop new supersonic aircraft technologies, as is NASA. But it will still take you a few hours to get to New York from Paris.

The bigger hurdle for both hypersonic and supersonic may well be the financial underpinnings of these ventures—determining how to make the technology profitable and not just the tiniest of niche transport options for the 1 percent, according to several experts in the aerospace industry.

The challenges “won’t be around whether it’s technologically feasible, it will be around what the economics will need to be to make it a reasonable endeavor,” said Luigi Peluso, a managing director in the aerospace, defense, and airlines practice at consulting firm AlixPartners LLP.

Hypersonic speed would obviously revolutionize long-haul air travel, but could anyone but billionaires afford to fly above the atmosphere, zipping anywhere on the planet like an intercontinental ballistic missile with free peanuts? Musk says yes—for about the price of a full-fare economy ticket today. That’s certainly aspirational, said Peluso, and only possible after the technology is mature. SpaceX declined to comment beyond Elon Musk’s announcement of his plans last week.

“Hypersonic is going to be pretty incredible and I think that’s something that everybody is working for,” said Vik Kachoria, chief executive of Spike Aerospace Inc., a Boston startup that’s developing a supersonic business jet. Spike plans to fly its first SX-1.2 demonstrator aircraft this week, albeit at subsonic speeds. Supersonic test flights are set for 2019, with customer deliveries in 2023.

“A pretty major difference between supersonic flight and suborbital transportation is that the former can be done without major engineering leaps”

With currently available data, it’s impossible to draw conclusions about operating costs or ticket prices for hypersonic flight. And with the arrival of supersonic options, Musk’s bright, affordable skies may be more crowded and competitive.

One way an airline can set prices is to collect all of its costs to fly a route—expenses such as jet fuel, employee compensation, landing fees, airport charges and sometimes aircraft maintenance and depreciation—and then add the profit margin it wants. That’s the approach of many ultra low-cost carriers like Spirit Airlines Inc. Another is to use what Peluso called “a value-based model” of what the market would bear for a particular service. In the case of a supersonic London-New York flight—a route with plenty of price-insensitive corporate demand—the market is likely to bear quite a bit.

For example, an airline could decide that a 50 percent margin is appropriate for a three-hour supersonic trip, given that it cuts the flight time by more than half. Colorado-based Boom Supersonic, which says it has almost 80 orders from airlines for its 55-seat jet, has projected a one-way fare from New York to London of $2,500. That includes “healthy profitability for the operator” of the 3 hour, 15-minute flight, Boom spokesman Eli Dourado wrote in an email, declining to offer more specific cost details.

“A pretty major difference between supersonic flight and suborbital transportation is that the former can be done without major engineering leaps,” he said.

In the case of SpaceX, the company’s planned “BFR” rocket would be fully reusable. That would help cut launch costs. The question is how much can they fall? SpaceX has a list price of $90 million for launches with Falcon Heavy, its largest rocket, which is expected to fly for the first time by year’s end. Currently, SpaceX charges $62 million to launch Falcon 9, its workhorse rocket.

“If that cost continues to come down as they scale, can they get it to $30 million to launch?” Peluso asked. Flying humans, however, adds extra cost in terms of safety equipment, redundancies, regulatory oversight, and other protocols. All of those factors will add to the math problem.

This is where one of the unknowns that Musk and others are racing to test comes into play: How cheaply can you launch a large rocket? Reusability is essential and SpaceX has made leaps in terms of landing the first stage of its Falcon vehicle 16 times, most of them on a drone barge floating at sea. “Seven years ago it was still considered technically impossible to recover a first stage rocket,” Peluso said.

Lower a launch cost to $5 million, fly 50 people, sell the flight at cost and suddenly you have a fare that could be around $100,000. But that scenario involves relying heavily on numerous optimistic assumptions around cost savings, and a willingness to break even on the flights as a way to promote a nascent industry. “Never say never, but that’s a heavy lift,” Peluso said of the financial path toward affordable hypersonic fares.

Hypersonic will face other questions, too. Can a rocket work like an airplane? And can passengers handle it? Flying in a commercial aircraft is nothing like the physical forces a rocket’s acceleration exerts on the human body. Notes Peluso: “That is much more complicated than launching a satellite into orbit.”

In the case of supersonic flight, airlines will need to grapple with the issue of how to integrate a premium product into their existing, slow-poke fleets. A smaller supersonic aircraft probably can’t replace the premium cabins on long-haul jets because economy fares won’t cover costs, said Kachoria of Spike Aerospace.

Spike expects that its costs will be higher than a comparably sized business jet such as the Gulfstream G650, owing to greater engine maintenance, but not considerably higher, he said. Because of its speed, “you get to fly the aircraft twice as often as the Gulfstream” and reduce crew costs, Kachoria said.

Spike’s sales pitches have gotten “a very, very positive response” from airlines, although none has yet ordered the $100 million aircraft, Kachoria said. “The airlines know this is the future, they know there’s a demand from a certain segment of the population,” he said. “Now the question is how large is that market?”

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Justin Bachman from Bloomberg and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

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