• Taiwan’s Starlux Airlines has revealed it is looking to Los Angeles as its first U.S. destination. In a recent filing with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Starlux is seeking to commence nonstop flights from Taipei to Los Angeles from 2022, using an Airbus A350-900. Starlux is one of the newest airlines in the world. Based in Taiwan, the carrier has been mostly flying East Asian routes and some flights to nowhere amid the ongoing COVID crisis. However, it has its sights set on broader international expansion. Starlux wants to fly from its hub at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). Starlux will face some intense competition as China Airlines and Taiwan-based EVA Airways both fly nonstop between LAX and TPE. EVA flies the route up to three times a day, while China Airlines flies up to two times a day.
• When TUI Speaks, the Tourism Industry Listens—From a recent statement by Fritz Joussen, CEO of the TUI Group: “The rapid measures to cut costs and secure liquidity are important for the Group. They are a stable foundation for the future. TUI was in perfect health before the crisis and we want to return to our former strength as quickly as possible. The market is intact, our business model is future-proof and customer demand is there. Holiday travel remains very relevant for people. At the same time, international tourism is strengthening the southern euro zone and North Africa in a special way. We are very well positioned to resume operations on a larger scale as soon as the lockdowns are lifted and destinations are reopened. Our business model with our own tour operators, the travel agencies, aircraft, hotels and ships under the TUI umbrella makes a resumption possible very quickly.” (Courtesy of Travel Daily News)
• The Apple Leisure Group, which is headquartered just outside of Philadelphia (its inventory of brands includes Apple Vacations, AMResorts, The Mark Travel Corporation, and Travel Impressions), is still on the prowl for a large tour operator, according to the Mexican trade journal, REPORTUR.mx. Alex Zozaya, the company’s executive chairman, said in an interview with another trade journal that it is seeking to purchase “a larger Latin American issuer.” He suggested that it made sense for Apple, which is possibly the largest U.S. operator to work the Latin American market, to find the right Latin America-based company, indicating that the reason for executing this option is to bring guests to their AMResorts hotels. “We would be very happy to see an issuing company that gives us regional clients for hotels in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Zozaya.
Another Apple Leisure Group executive, Javier Coll, group president, AMResorts global business development, told REPORTUR.mx “At first, we are open to any investment that involves an increase in the number of passengers to the destinations where we have our hotels. Any investment that is a priority in the United States. Our ideal investment would be a tour operator, either OTA or traditional that has passengers in the United States to the Caribbean.”
• Akbar Al Bakar, Qatar Airways Group CEO, announced the carrier’s next destination–Seattle. Starting on March 15th as an initial four-weekly, Seattle will become the carrier’s 13th airport in North America. Interviewed by BBC World Business, Al Bakar said that Alaska Airlines joining oneworld in 2021 was an important factor for Seattle. “Once we become an operator into Seattle, and with Alaska joining oneworld, it gives us a very good platform to expand Qatar Airways on the West Coast,” Al Bakar said. Qatar Airways’ Seattle service will join long-standing Los Angeles and San Francisco. “Alaska Airlines is a very large airline in the Western United States,” he added. “oneworld, although it has a very strong partner in the country with American Airlines, wasn’t very strong in the West. With the induction of Alaska, we’re filling that void.”
Brightline Trains, the private railroad venture that currently has service between Miami and West Palm Beach, Florida, recently announced that it had reached an agreement with Walt Disney World Resort to open a new train station at Disney Springs, an area located just outside Orlando’s four Disney parks and filled with restaurants and shops. Brightline also indicated that it plans to have service to Orlando International Airport by 2022. Additional plans call for extending the line to Florida’s west coast. “I view our job for Brightline is to get people from hub to hub,” Brightline’s president, Patrick Goddard, told a session of the Alliance for Regional Transportation Education Series, said. “We’re very excited to get the current system opened.”
• LATAM Airlines has announced that it will launch operations between Orlando and São Paulo/Guarulhos Airport on Feb.1, 2021. Also scheduled to get underway is flight service by Azul between Tampa and Belém.
• American Airlines last Thursday (December 17) resumed direct and daily operations between Rio de Janeiro and Miami. The flight will be operated by the Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, with three classes of service (Executive Flagship, Premium Economy and Economy). The flight is scheduled to arrive at Rio de Janeiro-Galeao International Airport at 7:55 am, with departures scheduled for Miami at 11:55 pm.
• Ctrip, China’s largest travel agency, had a weak third quarter compared to the same quarter in 2019, but it was better than the second quarter. Even though the company experienced a virtual crashing of outbound travel, it managed to perform better than it did in Q2 as a result of strong demand for domestic travel, as China sharply reduced the number of its people infected with the COVID-19 VIRUS. Net revenue for the third quarter of 2020 was $805 million), representing a 48 percent decrease from the same period in 2019 and a 73 percent increase from the previous quarter.
• For the Japanese travel trade, we guess that the familiar maxim, “No news is good news,” is now official policy for the Japanese travel trade, as the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) has now gone an entire year without publishing a quarterly survey regarding the trade’s outlook for the near term in which more than 600 tour operators and agencies are questioned and the answers are then analyzed in order to get a portrait of what they think for the current and net two quarters. The last quarterly report was issued in December 2019. In doing so, JATA makes a valid point: Why report news when there is nothing good to report?