Screening Company Clear Raises $15 Million: Travel Startup Funding This Week

Skift Take: Long-promised improvements to airport security screening and rebooking in the event of flight disruption may finally be in the offing, thanks to follow-on rounds of fundings to the startups Clear and Freebird.

— Sean O’Neill

Each week we round up travel startups that have recently received or announced funding. The total raised this week was more than $24 million.

Earlier this week we covered Freebird’s $5 million funding round, led by General Catalyst and Accomplice. The company, focusing on serving corporate travel with enterprise services, helps travelers rebook when their flights are disrupted.

clear funding skift travel startups

>>The biometric security company Clear has raised $15 million from T. Rowe Price’s New Horizon Fund. Clear says its traveler identity software is used in 21 of the largest airports in the U.S. and it expects to launch at Los Angeles International in the coming weeks.

The company will use the funding to add more locations and more technological functionalities, such as instant payments at retailers with just the tap of a finger.

The company started with a focus on airports but is now broadening its reach to other venues and payment points, such as stadiums.

Other investors include Delta Air Lines, Jeffery H. Boyd, chairman of the board of The Priceline Group, and Robert Mylod, the former CFO of The Priceline Group.

touristly

>>AirAsia Berhad ​is acquiring half of the equity of online travel planner Touristly, a trip-planner tool, through an asset injection and loan deal valued at $2.6 million (or 11.5 million Malaysian Ringgit).

AirAsia will stash its in-flight magazine into Touristly via AirAsia Investments Ltd and extend a convertible loan to Touristly for working capital and development.

Launched in June 2015, Touristly is an interactive trip planner that features more than 13,000 deals on tours, attractions, theme parks, and activities in 70 destinations around Asia Pacific.​ It is a recipient of investment funding from Netrove Ventures Group and Tune Labs.

dreamcheaper travel startup funding skift hotel rate

>>DreamCheaper, a Berlin-based travel company that helps consumers automatically rebook their hotel rooms if the rate drops, has received a $1.61 million (or 1.5 million euro) investment in a round led by Holtzbrinck Ventures and TruVenturo. The round brings its total financing to $2.7 million, to date.

The company offers its variation of a consumer service first pioneered by Yapta in the U.S. and that has been tried with mixed success by other companies, such as Tingo. DreamCheaper says it has helped rebook 5,000 hotel rooms for users so far since its launch in 2014.

Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Facebook and Google’s Travel Ad War — Digital Marketing News This Week

Noah Berger  / Associated Press

Google and Facebook are fighting to gain a greater share of the travel industry’s digital ad spending. Who will come out on top? Here, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at his company’s annual F8 developer conference, April 18, 2017, in San Jose, Calif.
Noah Berger / Associated Press

Skift Take: Facebook is challenging online advertising heavyweight Google by offering innovative products that target travel brands (and other sectors). Expect the social network to seize some market share but how much remains to be seen.

— Jeremy Kressmann

As more of travel marketers’ advertising budgets shift from traditional advertising into the digital realm, a growing “war” is brewing between two of the digital ad world’s top competitors, Google and Facebook.

Google may have the upper hand for now, with the company continuing to rake in huge search marketing deals from high spenders like the Priceline Group.

But Facebook is fighting back, thanks to an audience of more than 1.8 billion monthly users and a rapidly expanding range of ad products. The company’s growing suite of travel-specific ad products like Dynamic Ads for Travel, combined with improved measurement options, are leading more travel advertisers to give the ad platform a second look.

Which platform will ultimately be the best for travel advertisers? Who will win the lion’s share of travel industry online ad spending in the future? Google is clearly the top dog but never say never. Read on for more analysis, plus the rest of this week’s top marketing news.

Understanding Google and Facebook’s Travel Duopoly
If you’re a travel marketer planning to invest in online advertising, chances are that your ad dollars will travel through the hands of one of either two companies: Google, or Facebook. How is spending on these two online ad competitors evolving? And how is the travel industry’s perception of these two ad giants changing? Read more

Spending on Native Ads Grows in the Travel Sector
One side effect of the growing popularity of online advertising is that consumers are learning to ignore it. Thanks to tools like ad blockers and a growing distaste for intrusive ads, marketers have been looking for fresh ways to break through to consumers. It’s a fact that’s leading to more investment in native ads designed to blend into the content created by online publishers. Read more

Hotels Boost Digital Marketing Spend Amid Heavy Competition
It’s no surprise that competition is brutal in the hotel sector. Between online travel agencies that allegedly squeeze hotel profit margins, and the continued growth of upstarts like Airbnb, it’s sometimes difficult for traditional hotels to stay profitable and build awareness. This combustible stew is leading many hotel brands to increase their spending on digital and social marketing. Read more

Will Blockchain Transform the Travel Industry?
Blockchain, referring to the concept of a distributed database used to store transactions or records, is typically associated with the digital currency Bitcoin. But as some proponents now argue, the potential applications for blockchain tech extend far beyond the financial sector and could have applications in the travel industry. Read more

Tracking the Growth of Myanmar’s Growing Online Travel Sector
Not too long ago, Myanmar wasn’t even on the radar of most professionals in the travel industry. Between years of authoritarian rule, a lack of infrastructure, and concerning civil unrest in regions like Rakhine state, it’s often been difficult for the country’s tourism industry to grow. But one online travel businesses, Flymya, is doing its part to change that reality. Read more

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

United Airlines President: Leaving New York’s JFK ‘Was the Wrong Decision’

United Airlines

United Airlines flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Newark have a special name — p.s. New United President Scott Kirby said those flight should have probably stayed at JFK, not Newark. United Airlines

Skift Take: Is there a more honest airline executive than United’s Scott Kirby? Probably not. But that’s a good thing. United’s 2015 decision to leave New York JFK was a head-scratcher, and it’s nice to see new management calling it a mistake.

— Brian Sumers

In October 2015, United Airlines pulled out of New York JFK, moving all its flights from San Francisco and Los Angeles to Newark, where it has a hub. United’s public relations staff spent considerable effort spinning the move as a positive, promising “significant benefits” and an overall “overall higher-quality experience” for flyers.

But a year and a half later, United’s new president, Scott Kirby, says moving the flights from JFK was a mistake. Many of United’s most lucrative West Coast customers, he said, want to fly into Manhattan and not New Jersey. And United lost some of them when it switched the flights to Newark, Kirby told employees at a recent town hall meeting in Newark.

“I wish I could roll back the clock and change the decision,” Kirby said, according a recording of the event. “It was the wrong decision.”

At the time, United’s management team — led by former CEO Jeff Smisek – argued the carrier had no choice. The airline claimed it had lost money on the two routes for seven years, and it was having trouble competing with four other carriers flying the same routes with similar business class and economy products — JetBlue Airways, American Airlines, Virgin America and Delta Air Lines. United’s lease at JFK was also expiring, so executives said the timing was right.

Kirby, who until August 2016 was American’s president, said American’s team was pleased when United left.

“You can probably personally blame me, at least to some degree, for the fact that United pulled out,” he said. “When I was at American Airlines, we were consciously trying to push United out of JFK. That was our goal.”

In his response to the employee at the town hall meeting, Kirby suggested United executives did not think strategically before dropping the JFK flights. The routes may have been unprofitable alone, but the customers on them were unusually important.

“The real reason it was a mistake was it let American Airlines in particular go win a bunch of big corporate accounts,” he said. “People like Disney and Time Warner — two big examples — are corporate accounts that had been United exclusive corporate accounts and not only flew United on the transcon [routes] but flew United from L.A. to Heathrow and all across the country.”

Many of the corporate contracts were unusual because the companies cared less about pricing than typical businesses, Kirby said. Actors, for example, usually must fly in premium cabins — regardless of whether the fare is $1,000 or $10,000.

“Those are the kind of corporate accounts [where] on-air talent has contracts that say they fly first class,” he said. “They pay first class fares — it’s completely irrelevant what the price is. … We opened the door and let American in on contracts like that.”

May not return to JFK

Still, Kirby did not tell employees United will return to JFK, and he noted many of the lucrative customers United lost might not come back if it did. Instead, he said, United will bolster its Newark hub.

“We would never get all those customers back but one of the things we are going to focus on is making Newark the best airport, the best schedule, the best everything for New York,” he said.

Kirby’s goal is to get United back to the 30 percent market share it held in New York when Continental and United merged. Today, he said, United has about 26 percent share. “That’s a big, big drop,” he said.

He said it makes sense to grow in New York, as United executives estimate their carrier is the most profitable major airline in the region — by a substantial margin. United operates a much larger hub than American and Delta at JFK, and that additional scale usually makes flights more profitable, he said.

“We have about 15 percent margins here in Newark,” he told employees. “We estimate Delta in New York has a 4 percent profit margin, even when times are good. And American is somewhere in between.

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Canada’s Largest Low-Cost Carrier Is Starting an Even Cheaper Airline

Todd Korol  / Reuters

A WestJet Airlines Boeing 737-700 takes off in Calgary. WestJet plans to start an ultra low cost carrier to compete with several new entrants. Todd Korol / Reuters

Skift Take: This is an interesting move by WestJet, commonly considered the Southwest Airlines of Canada. It’s likely mostly defensive, as several ultra low cost carriers plan to start in Canada. But it’s also probably an opportunistic play that may improve revenues.

— Brian Sumers

Canadian discounter WestJet Airlines Ltd. is arming itself for more fare wars by planning to start an ultra-low-cost carrier to fend off domestic upstarts.

Service is expected to begin late this year with a fleet of 10 Boeing Co. 737-800s in “high density” configuration, Calgary-based WestJet said in a statement Thursday. The venture will aim to offer “no frills, lower-cost travel options,” Canada’s No. 2 carrier said.

Founded in 1996 to cater to leisure travelers, WestJet has been moving away from its original no-frills model — patterned after U.S.-based Southwest Airlines Co. — by adding premium economy seats, rolling out a short-haul unit and starting overseas flights to European destinations such as London. Its fleet, meanwhile, has expanded from single-aisle 737s to include turboprops and double-aisle jets.

“This makes a lot of sense,” said AltaCorp Capital analyst Chris Murray. “This ULCC lets them use existing aircraft, fly to routes they already know, densify their network, plus it spreads their overhead costs better. It’s a lower-risk proposition than going to a wide-body strategy.”

Canada Jetlines Ltd. and Enerjet Ltd. have announced plans to begin operating ultra-low-cost carriers to challenge WestJet and larger rival Air Canada. Jim Scott, chief executive officer of Canada Jetlines, dismissed WestJet’s plan as “nothing more than an ‘airline within an airline’ that will not increase competition and it remains to be seen whether it will be able to achieve the full benefits of a ULCC.”

Complicates Plans

WestJet’s new carrier “significantly complicates the plans of other participants,” Murray wrote in a note Thursday. The new service will also protect WestJet from “market erosion in the highly sensitive fare category of travelers.”

The decision to move ahead with the new unit came after years of studying the market, Bob Cummings, WestJet’s executive vice president, said in a telephone interview.

“The new entrants are a factor, but only one of five or six,” Cummings said. “We think the timing is right. Were the new entrants a tipping point? No.”

Cummings declined to provide details on fares, routes or seating configurations, saying they will be announced later “for competitive reasons.”

Not Available

Canada is the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized nations that doesn’t have access to an ultra-low-cost carrier, Murray wrote. While the country probably would support an ultra-low-cost market of about 50 aircraft and 10 million passengers a year, “significant stimulation” through lower prices is “required to be effective in the space.”

With its Encore short-haul unit and widebody jets to Europe, WestJet “already has a lot of initiatives underway and we question whether there are enough human resources to also launch an all-new ULCC,” Cameron Doerksen, a National Bank Financial analyst, said in a note.

WestJet is continuing to weigh whether to add widebody jets to its own fleet on a permanent basis, Cummings said. The carrier now flies some leased Boeing 767 aircraft that are more than 20 years old.

“We’re evaluating widebodies as a line of business,” Cummings said. “That includes being able to come to terms with a manufacturer on an order, but we’re not there yet. Widebody certainly isn’t on the shelf.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Frederic Tomesco in Montreal at tomesco@bloomberg.net.

©2017 Bloomberg L.P

This article was written by Frederic Tomesco 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

Powered by WPeMatico

Budget Airline VietJet Looks to Increase Foreign Ownership

VietJet

VietJet is ordering new planes to keep up with domestic demand. VietJet

Skift Take: After its stock market debut a couple of months ago, VietJet is attracting a lot more interest from foreign investors and the airline is looking to accommodate them. The airline won’t have much trouble securing a deal.

— Dennis Schaal

VietJet Aviation Joint Stock Co., which controls almost half of Vietnam’s domestic airline market after first taking flight six years ago, received shareholder approval to increase foreign ownership to meet investor demand in the nation’s soaring travel industry.

Shareholders meeting in Ho Chi Minh City agreed to raise the cap on foreign ownership to 49 percent from 30 percent as the budget carrier forecasts 2017 profit to rise 36 percent from $110 million (2.5 trillion dong) in 2016, the company said. Carrier’s higher foreign ownership now needs the approval of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc because aviation is considered a restricted industry with a 30 percent foreign ownership cap.

VietJet has 136 foreign investors who own 26 percent of the company, Chief Executive Officer Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao said in an interview. Raising the foreign investor limit is not aimed at attracting a strategic investor, though the company is be open to one, she said.

“I just want to create more investment opportunities to those who want to invest in VietJet and create better liquidity in the market,” she said.

Shares of VietJet have surged 56 percent since its trading debut on Feb. 28. The stock rose 0.2 percent to 131,600 dong at the close in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday. Shares dropped 1.1 percent at the midday break. The benchmark VN Index was down 0.6 percent.

“Vietnam’s aviation industry is very attractive to investors,” said Tran Thi Hai Yen, a Ho Chi Minh City-based analyst at ACB Securities JSC. “There are more and more foreign investors interested in this company now.”

VietJet began its service in late 2011 after being founded by billionaire Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao in 2007. The carrier competes with national carrier Vietnam Airlines, which owns 70 percent of budget carrier Jetstar Pacific Airlines Aviation JSC, with Qantas Airways Ltd. holding the remaining 30 percent. Vietnam Airlines also owns Vietnam Air Services Co., known as Vasco.

VietJet has a 42 percent share of the domestic aviation market, the same as Vietnam Airlines, said Brendan Sobie, Singapore-based chief analyst at CAPA Centre for Aviation. The rest of the market is controlled by Vietnam Air’s subsidiaries. VietJet could achieve 50 percent domestic market share within three years, Sobie added.

(Updates with remarks from VietJet chief executive officer in third paragraph.)

–With assistance from Nguyen Kieu Giang

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

This article was written by Luu Van Dat and Nguyen Dieu Tu Uyen 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

Powered by WPeMatico

The Innovators of Extended Stay — Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report

Rick Schwartz  / Flickr

Traditional hotel rooms are not always the best choice for business travelers; extended stay properties are evolving to meet the needs of modern customers and homesharing companies are working to appeal to road warriors. The lobby of a Residence Inn in Vancouver, B.C. is shown in this photo. Rick Schwartz / Flickr

Skift Take: As extended stay properties and homesharing companies seek to expand their markets, will more business travelers opt for the comfort of home-like amenities?

— Hannah Sampson

The Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report is our weekly newsletter focused on the future of corporate travel, the big fault lines of disruption for travel managers and buyers, the innovations emerging from the sector, and the changing business traveler habits that are upending how corporate travel is packaged, bought, and sold.

This week we found another reminder of the way that corporate travel is lagging behind leisure. A new study from the Global Business Travel Association shows that just 17 percent of travel policies allow travelers to use homesharing services such as Airbnb.

According to an earlier study, far more travelers — 37 percent — thought they were allowed to opt for homesharing. That discrepancy suggests business travelers might be breaking their own companies’ rules when it comes to staying at an Airbnb or similar properties.

The issue is complicated, the report points out: “For some road warriors, home shares likely feel more comfortable and less sterile than a nondescript hotel room. However, as attractive an alternative as homesharing is for many business travelers, it presents a number of considerations travel managers must take into account.”

Those include worries about safety, security, predictability, deposits, cancellation policies, and a lack of consistency.

Even as homesharing companies work to address the concerns of the corporate travel world, a longstanding business travel option is seeing increased demand. The lodging industry’s extended stay segment is evolving to appeal to younger travelers with more communal spaces and home-like environments.

How long will it take for homesharing to become widely accepted? Will Airbnb threaten extended stay, or will both see increased demand? And how will traditional hotels respond?

— Hannah Sampson, Skift 

Social Quote of the Day

hunting for a pet sitter to give my cat medicine 4x a day while I’m out of town for business travel is the most adult I’ve ever adulted.— @brickchip

Business of Buying

Alaska Air Overtakes American Airlines in Annual Loyalty Program Awards: Mileage Plan from Alaska Airlines just won as the best airline loyalty program in FlyerTalk’s annual survey — largely because of its distance-based earnings. Read more at Skift

How Extended Stay Hotels Are Pivoting Towards a New Generation of Travelers: The extended stay portion of the lodging business continues to see strong demand. But are extended stay brands doing enough to keep up with travelers’ evolving tastes and needs? And what about Airbnb? Read more at Skift

New Business Hotel in London To Test Whether Lifestyle Category Can Scale: The Ned Hotel in London wants to be known as an urban resort and not a traditional business hotel. The founders hope to define the business hotel — we mean, the urban resort — of the future. Read more at Skift

What Hotels Are Doing to Win Your Loyalty: 5 Podcast Takeaways: With so many hotel mergers in recent years, loyalty is being reimagined for bigger, broader, more diverse audiences. But can any one loyalty program appeal to all travelers? Our latest podcast dives into all the changes. Read more at Skift

Trump Travel Ban Prompts Emirates to Cut U.S. Capacity: President Trump’s travel ban was bound to have an impact on demand from the affected countries, so Emirates’ decision shouldn’t come as a shock. It will be interesting to see if there is any sort of reaction from the U.S. carriers that have been so critical of the Gulf airlines. Read more at Skift

Safety and Security

IHG Reveals Second Credit Card Data Breach Occurred in 2016: This is yet another reminder for the hotel industry about the crucial importance of cyber security. Read more at Skift

U.S. May Tighten Visa Waiver Program, Homeland Security Chief Says: Terrorism is a real concern, but if the U.S. rolls back the visa waiver program, it could have major repercussions for the tourism industry. And that’s a big potential problem. Read more at Skift

What Trump’s First 100 Days Tell Us About Travel’s Next Four Years: Confusion and uncertainty have become the new reality for the U.S. travel industry, and travelers around the world, following President Trump’s first 100 days in office. Only time will tell whether his policies will inflict lasting damage on U.S. travel companies and the image of the U.S. as a preeminent international destination. Read more at Skift

Disruption + Innovation

Corporate Travel Still Doesn’t Get Homesharing Despite Business Traveler Use: Business travelers and their employers want safety, quality, and consistency; if homesharing companies can provide those things, we expect more acceptance from travel policies. Read more at Skift

Uber’s Growth Is Stalling Among U.S. Business Travelers: Even if its growth has slowed gradually, Uber still has a huge advantage over its rivals in corporate travel. Its global scale, as well, bodes well for Uber continuing to grow as an option for international business travelers. Read more at Skift

Apple to Test Self-Driving Car Software on Public Streets: Apple’s taking tentative steps to join the self-driving car melee. It’s gridlock already: On the Left Coast in California 29 other companies already have permits to hit the streets to test self-driving cars. This will be the mother of all shakeouts when things get serious — and will force travel managers to pay attention. Read more at Skift

COMMENTS

Skift editors Hannah Sampson [hs@skift.com] and Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curate the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

Subscribe to Skift’s Free Corporate Travel Innovation Report

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Alitalia Staff Votes on Cost-Cutting To Avoid Bankruptcy

Antonio Calanni  / Associated Press

An Alitalia Airbus A320 at the Linate airport in Milan. The carrier is hoping to stave of the threat of bankruptcy. Antonio Calanni / Associated Press

Skift Take: Employees of Alitalia are being given a choice: accept a wage cut or prepare to find another job. They are paying a heavy price for years of mismanagement at the airline that has put it on the brink of bankruptcy.

— Patrick Whyte

Alitalia employees are voting on whether to accept a government-brokered deal to save Italy’s flagship airline from bankruptcy.

Some 12,500 Alitalia workers began voting Thursday on a package that eased steep cuts sought by parent Etihad Airways, and which will open 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) in investment to keep the airline afloat. Voting runs through Tuesday.

Italy’s economic development minister, Carlo Calenda, has excluded nationalizing the airline, putting pressure on workers to accept the deal that foresees wage cuts of about 8 percent, down from as much as 30 percent, and reduces the number of layoffs by about one-third to 1,700.

Calenda was quoted by the Turin daily La Stampa as saying a no vote would lead to a six-month period of extraordinary administration followed by bankruptcy.

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.

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

SeaWorld’s Last Captive Killer Whale Was Just Born

Chris Gotshall  / SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via Associated Press

A mother orca, Takara, guides her newborn to the water’s surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in this image provided by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. Chris Gotshall / SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via Associated Press

Skift Take: The birth of the last killer whale in SeaWorld’s care will bring a lot of fresh headlines about the company’s decision to end its captive orca breeding program — a narrative executives are trying to move away from with a renewed focus on non-animal attractions.

— Hannah Sampson

The last orca has been born in captivity at a SeaWorld park in San Antonio just over a year after the theme park decided to stop breeding orcas following animal rights protests and declining ticket sales.

The Orlando-based company said the orca — the last in a generation of whales bred in confinement — was born Wednesday afternoon. SeaWorld did not immediately name the calf because the park’s veterinarians had not yet determined whether it was male or female.

The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced in March 2016 that it had stopped breeding its orcas. The gestation period for orcas is about 18 months.

Preparing late last month for the moment, SeaWorld’s chief zoological officer, Chris Dold, told The Associated Press he expected the birth to be bittersweet, because it would be the last such event at any of the parks. But just hours after the calf was born about 3:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Dold said, SeaWorld staff only felt like celebrating. SeaWorld said mother and calf both appear healthy.

“These are extraordinary moments,” he said by phone while traveling to the U.S. from Abu Dhabi, where SeaWorld is developing its first new park without orcas. “It’s a tempered celebration only because we’re focused on the health of these guys.”

SeaWorld decided to stop breeding orcas, and phase out its world-famous killer whale performances by 2019, after public opinion turned against keeping orcas, dolphins and other animals in captivity for entertainment. The backlash intensified after the 2013 release of “Blackfish,” a documentary critical of SeaWorld’s orca care. It focused on the orca Tilikum, which killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando in 2010, dragging her into the pool before shocked visitors after a “Dine with Shamu” show.

Tilikum, which sired 14 calves over nearly 25 years in Orlando, died of bacterial pneumonia in January.

The newborn calf was sired by Kyuquot (pronounced ky YOO kit) at the San Antonio park by natural means. It brings SeaWorld’s orca population in the U.S. to 23. All the orcas are expected to remain on display and available for researchers for years to come in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio.

SeaWorld has said it plans to introduce new “natural orca encounters” in place of theatrical shows. This summer, the San Diego park will unveil a new, educational attraction in a revamped pool, and new orca attractions eventually will follow in San Antonio and Orlando.

The calf will be visible to visitors either in the orca stadium pool at the San Antonio park or in two adjacent pools. Observations about the calf and Takara by SeaWorld trainers will be provided from the moment of birth to researchers trying to fill gaps in their data about wild killer whales.

Dold said veterinarians at the San Antonio park told him the calf was born normally — tail first — after about an hour and a half of smooth labor. Both orcas were swimming calmly, including taking breaths at the water’s surface, and trainers would be watching for the calf to begin nursing.

“Mom generally will rest but she can’t rest too much …. mom’s not holding onto the calf, but it’s riding in her slipstream, and that’s how it gets around,” Dold said. “Our expectation is that all of this will go smoothly, but we take none of that for granted.”

Birth control and “social management” will prevent future orca pregnancies, said spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson Beasley. SeaWorld has not collected a wild orca in nearly 40 years, and most of its orcas were born in captivity.

Researchers have said they worry that SeaWorld’s decision to stop breeding orcas will slowly reduce their ability to study orca health, growth and behavior, limiting them in coming years to collecting data from a small pod of aging whales.

Heather Hill, a St. Mary’s University comparative psychologist who plans to monitor the sleeping habits of Takara and the calf over the coming year, said it was frustrating to see research opportunities at SeaWorld undermined by public opinion amid federal cuts to science funding.

“This will be one of the first times we’ll be able to see not just a mother with a newborn calf but also a newborn calf with siblings,” Hill said.

In a statement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Executive Vice President Tracy Reiman said the mother and her calf should be retired to a seaside sanctuary.

“Throughout her life, Takara the orca has been artificially inseminated many times, separated from her mother and two of her children, and shuffled from theme park to theme park at SeaWorld’s whim,” PETA’s statement said.

This is Takara’s fifth calf. Two of her other offspring remain at the San Antonio park, while one lives at SeaWorld Orlando and another has been loaned to a park in Tenerife, Spain. SeaWorld has no current plans to separate Takara and the newborn in the future, or to move any of its other orcas, Dold said.

In March, Dold said SeaWorld remains committed to orca research and conservation, calling the last orca birth in captivity “a solemn reminder of how things can change and how things can be lost.”

This article was written by Jennifer Kay from The Associated Press 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

Powered by WPeMatico

Free Report: Defining Conventions as Urban Innovation and Economic Accelerators

Skift Take: The meetings and conventions industry is evolving into a global innovation distribution channel. The challenge is mapping and measuring those long-term impacts.

— Jeremy Vargas

Get Your FREE Report!

The meetings and conventions industry is evolving into a global innovation distribution channel. Over the last decade, convention bureaus have been collaborating more strategically with their local and state governments, economic development agencies, academic and scientific institutions, and local business improvement districts to better leverage the value of conventions in their cities, especially those aligned with their regions’ high-priority growth sectors.

The collective goal among those private and public organizations is to attract more conventions in advanced and creative industries to help position their cities as economic and innovation accelerators, in an effort to attract outside corporate investment and talent more effectively in those industries.

The challenge is mapping and measuring those long-term impacts. Presently, most cities highlight the economic benefits of conventions based on the short-term hospitality and tourism spend during conventions, which are then extrapolated to show the overall impact on jobs and taxes in the region on an annual basis. However, in addition to that, there are many important long-term economic benefits, or “legacy impacts,” that conventions deliver to a city that are typically not included in traditional impact reports.

In this report you’ll learn: 

  • The rise of the Convergence Economy and its impact on meeting strategy
  • How convention bureaus are driving economic development
  • Evaluating the long-term impacts of conventions beyond the visitor spend

Get Your FREE Report!

This report was created collaboratively with our sponsor, Meetings Mean Business.

Ryan Wolkov

PRC Time Shares

Author: Ryan Wolkov

Powered by WPeMatico

Emirates President Insists Laptop Ban Will Not Crater Its U.S. Strategy

Kamran Jebreili  / Associated Press

Emirates president Tim Clark listens to a question during an interview about cutting flights with the Associated Press at his company’s headquarters, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on April 20, 2017.
Kamran Jebreili / Associated Press

Skift Take: Tim Clark, president of the Dubai government-owned airline, says the cuts to the number of flights to the U.S. is temporary. He’s wearing a brave face, as U.S. airlines will lobby hard to further hobble the company’s growth.

— Sean O’Neill

Emirates remains committed to the U.S. market despite plans to slash 20 percent of its flights in the wake of tougher security and visa measures put in place under the Trump administration, the airline’s president said Thursday.

In his first interview since announcing the cutbacks, Tim Clark told The Associated Press that the Mideast’s biggest carrier has no intention of pulling out of the 12 cities it currently flies to.

He said the decision to cut flights to five cities was a temporary response to a clear drop in demand, and does not signal a desire by Emirates to halt its expansion in the world’s largest aviation market.

“This is not a permanent arrangement. … I do not see this as a paradigm shift,” he said. “Obviously our plans remain in place and we are as bullish and as confident about the U.S. markets as we have been.”

Emirates said Wednesday it was cutting 25 of the 126 weekly flights it operates into the U.S. from its Dubai hub starting next month. It blamed the move on stiffer U.S. security measures and attempts to ban travelers from some Muslim-majority nations since President Donald Trump took office.

Clark declined to detail how much of a financial hit the Dubai government-backed carrier has taken over the past three months, but he described the falloff in passenger demand as “significant.”

“It is not something that Emirates does lightly when it starts pulling capacity out of markets that it’s spent millions of dollars developing and operating,” he said. “So when it gets to this, suffice to say they are falls which cause us to make those kinds of changes.”

Emirates does not provide financial details solely for its U.S. operations. The Americas region, which also includes routes to Canada and Latin America, generated $3.3 billion in revenue, or 14 percent of total sales, in the fiscal year ending March 2016, according to Emirates’ last annual report.

The cutbacks will mean twice daily Emirates flights to Boston, Los Angeles, and Seattle will fall to once a day. Daily flights to Fort Lauderdale and Orlando will be trimmed to five per week.
___

Copyright (2017) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This article was written by Adam Schreck from The Associated Press 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

Powered by WPeMatico