WASHINGTON – Hoping to fix some of the airline industry’s thorniest problems, a federal panel is calling Wednesday for government aid to equip planes for a new air traffic control system and steps that could force parents to secure young children in separate seats when flying.
The panel is making 23 recommendations in all, according to a list distributed by the Transportation Department, and they include several items at the top of the airline industry’s wish list such as how companies are taxed.
It urges a permanent extension of tax credits linked to research and development to help accelerate aircraft technology development, and asks that Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood lobby for legislation to extend a tax break for airport improvement bonds.
The panel was created a year ago and is holding its last meeting Wednesday. It will formally deliver its recommendations to LaHood and Federal Aviation Administrator Randy Babbitt later in the day.
One politically sensitive proposal calls for a re-examination of subsidies to help airlines continues commercial air service to smaller destinations. The Essential Air Service program has strong support among lawmakers from rural states. It subsidizes service to 154 communities and had a budget of $200 million in the 12 months ending Sept. 30.
The program was created after airline deregulation in 1978 to ensure that airlines wouldn’t cancel less profitable service to small communities. Some rural communities would have no air service if not for the program. But critics contend the program hasn’t kept pace with changes in the industry in recent decades. They say many of the communities receiving subsidized service have other transportation alternatives, including access to airports within a reasonable driving distance that are served by low-cost air carriers.
Several recommendations relate to FAA’s NextGen program to replace the current air traffic control system, which is based on World War II-era radar, with a new system using satellite-based technology. The agency already has several pieces of the new system in place, but in order for it work effectively airlines and other aircraft owners must install expensive cockpit equipment to continually broadcast a plane’s position and receive the positions of other planes.
The panel wants government aid to help owners to install the equipment within the next four years. The recommendation suggests a menu of forms the support can take, including loans and grants. Planes with the equipment on board would get preference for the best takeoff and landing slots.
FAA has been working on a new air traffic control system for more than a decade. It anticipates spending $15 billion to $22 billion on the NextGen program before it’s completed some time after 2020. FAA’s plans also call for airlines to shell out an additional $14 billion to $20 billion to install equipment in their planes.
Another recommendation could lead to a requirement that young children be secured in child seats when flying, forcing parents to buy airline tickets for children under two years old instead of holding the children on laps during flight.
The panel is urging FAA to update its economic and safety data on families traveling with small children, including incidents and accidents involving injuries and deaths. It says LaHood should take action based on the findings.
Safety advocates say small children run a greater risk of being injured or killed in a crash or by air turbulence if they are held in parents’ laps than if they are secured in child seats, which on most airlines would require the purchase of an extra ticket. The National Transportation Safety Board recently held a forum on the issue.
FAA has resisted requiring the use of child seats or other means to secure children in their own seats. The agency says its research shows families will choose to drive instead of fly because of the expense of buying extra tickets. Agency officials say that increases the danger to children since a fatal accident is more likely to happen on the road than in the air. But some of the agency’s research dates back more than a decade and may not account for the availability of low-cost air carriers.
“Many parents don’t think about it or even know that they should think about it,” Nicole Piasecki, a Boeing executive on the committee, said in a statement.
Another recommendation urges greater transparency by airlines in informing passengers when buying tickets that one or more legs of the flight will be operated by another airline. These are often smaller, regional carriers. About half the U.S. domestic airline flights are operated by regional carriers, often names similar to their mainline airline partner.
The committee’s 19 members represented airlines, airports, labor, manufacturers, environment, finance, academia, consumer interests and non-airline aircraft owners and operators.
The Department of Transportation http://www.dot.gov
HEATHROW, Fla. – AAA said that holiday travel is expected to rise 3.1 percent during the Christmas-to-New Year’s period.
AAA said 92.3 million people are expected to travel 50 miles or more from home during that stretch, the group said on Wednesday.
The group said median spending is expected to rise 3.5 percent above last year.
Most travelers will drive to their destinations. AAA projected that almost 2.8 million people will travel by air, which is up by 2.8 percent from the same period last year.
AAA’s forecast is based on economic forecasts and research by Global Insight.
LAS VEGAS – The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas is opening to the public on the Las Vegas Strip, giving Sin City its last major casino-resort for at least a little while.
The resort owned by German lender Deutsche Bank was expected to open Wednesday night with bettors placing their first wager about 8 p.m. Casino executives plan an unveiling party with VIPs and hotel guests earlier in the night.
The celebration is expected to culminate with a pool-side concert with Brandon Flowers, the frontman for rock band The Killers.
The $3.9 billion resort is opening at a time when Nevada is attempting to rebound from a battered economy dependent on tourism. More visitors have come so far this year than in 2009 or 2008, but more casinos on the Strip have made competition much tougher.
Oregon AG Settles With DirecTV, Dannon Yogurt
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger announced Wednesday a $13.25 million multi-state agreement with DIRECTV, Inc., one of the nation’s largest providers of satellite television services. over alleged deceptive sales tactics and a $21 million multi-state agreement with The Dannon Company, Inc. over unproven yogurt health claims.
Article source: http://www.ktvz.com/news/26143551/detail.html
PHOENIX – When you think of winter, does a beach come to mind?
Now it can! Every week, ABC15.com will showcase some of the best travel deals for Arizonans, and this week, California is on our minds.
Get away for a quick trip next door to California this winter… and you’ll be humming holiday jingles in the sun.
San Diego with air from $226*
San Diego Bay, here we come.
Spend two nights at the Best Western Island Palms Hotel and Marina located on the beautiful Shelter Island.
This AAA three-diamond property is surrounded by six acres of tropical landscaping, overlooking a private yacht marina.
Palm Springs with air from $260*
From one desert to another, Palm Springs is a vacation destination for many.
Kick back and relax when you stay two nights at the Shilo Inn Palm Springs Suites, just a quick ride away from more than a hundred golf courses.
Hit the whirlpools, sauna, steam room, and fitness room at this AAA three-diamond hotel, and you will never get bored.
Santa Barbara with air from $330*
Feel like you’re taking a Mediterranean vacation without spending a boat-load of cash.
When you enjoy two nights at Hotel Oceana Santa Barbara, you will experience the Mediterranean charm of flowering courtyards, ocean view patios, and red tile rooftops.
Stay beachfront as this AAA three-diamond hotel sits on West Beach between Stearns Wharf and Santa Barbara Harbor.
For information and reservations, call 877.731.3938 or visit the website .
*Price is per person, based on double occupancy, for select travel dates and is subject to change, availability, and confirmation. Other conditions and restrictions apply.
Copyright 2010 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Plan next year’s weekend getaways now with a sale on thousands of hotels worldwide in the Hilton Hotels’ portfolio, which includes Hilton, Doubletree, Waldorf Astoria, Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites and more.
The deal: The Any Weekend, Anywhere Sale takes 20% to 50% off weekend room rates throughout 2011 at roughly 3,600 Hilton properties worldwide. That’s why I like this deal: You can opt for a high-end retreat at a Waldorf Astoria or stick to a budget stay at Homewood Suites. The sale also includes a full breakfast. The rate is nonrefundable and requires a seven-day advance reservation. Of course, rooms and rates are subject to availability.
When: Book by 11:59 p.m. PST Jan. 31 for stays Friday through the end of 2011.
Tested: Here are some sample sale rates (before taxes and fees) that I found during online checks at a number of Hilton hotels using the dates April 8-11:
Hilton San Francisco Union Square: $231 for a room with a king, two queens or two double beds. Without the deal, the best available rate with breakfast for the same room/same night was $289.
Doubletree, Downtown San Diego: $167 for a room with one king bed or two double beds. Best available rate with breakfast for the same room/same night was $239.
Fess Parker’s Doubletree Resort, Santa Barbara: $224 for a room with a king or two queen beds. Best available rate with breakfast for the same room/same night was $320.
Hampton Inn Suites Palm Desert: $119 for a room with a king or two queen beds. Best available rate for the same room/same night was $149.
Millennium Hilton Bangkok, Thailand, $150 for a room with a king bed. Best available rate with breakfast for the same room/same night was $200.
Hilton Luxor Resort Spa, Luxor, Egypt, $247 for a room with a king bed. Best available rate with breakfast for the same room/same night was $370.
Contact: Hilton Hotels, (800) 445-8667
Microsoft has long and openly been involved in opposing some of Google’s high-profile deals and acquisitions. It helped scuttle the proposed Google-Yahoo search deal that paved the way for its own deal with Yahoo. It unsuccessfully opposed the DoubleClick and AdMob acquisitions. It also owns Ciao, one of the complainants that helped launch the recent formal European anti-trust investigation against Google.
It’s no surprise then that Microsoft has joined FairSearch.org, a coalition of online travel companies opposing Google’s estimated $700 million deal for travel software provider ITA. The acquisition is currently under Department of Justice review. FairSearch includes many of the major travel sites online:
Beyond simply trying to thwart a rival, Microsoft has a very “personal” reason to join the group; Bing Travel (formerly Farecast) is partly powered by ITA software. FairSearch got off to a late start but has gained momentum and visibility in the past couple of months.
In addition to the group identified above, many airlines also use ITA software for scheduling (Virgin Atlantic, American, Continental, Southwest, others). However to my knowledge none of them have come forward in opposition at this point. If they were to come forward it might create a perception that the entire industry opposes the deal. But that’s not currently the case.
Yesterday in announcing Microsoft joining the group, FairSearch.org brought out the anti-trust buzzwords and concerns in its statement:
Acquiring ITA Software would give Google control over the software that powers most of its closest rivals in travel search and could enable Google to manipulate and dominate the online air travel marketplace. The end result could be higher travel prices, fewer travel choices for consumers and businesses, and less innovation in online travel search.
Choice, pricing, competition and innovation are the things that anti-trust regulations are intended to help protect. It’s quite unlikely, however, that a Google Travel site or enhanced search capability would have a direct impact on airline prices. It could over time make travel advertising and keywords on Google more expensive for airlines and others if Google were able to consolidate consumer travel search. But that’s not a concern about airline or travel pricing itself.
These sites are more directly concerned that Google would simply take their traffic and thus their revenues. And while we haven’t seen what Google might build that is a real possibility. That doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of anti-trust or regulatory concern. Anti-trust rules aren’t supposed to protect existing competitors vs. new ones.
On the other hand the potential elimination of competing travel destinations might have an adverse effect on consumer choice over the long term. That concern is somewhat abstract; and just because Google enters a segment doesn’t always mean it wins (e.g., Buzz, Knol, Checkout). I would however expect Google to build a fairly effective Travel site/search capability.
Apparently European regulators don’t have to approve the deal because, according to Google, ITA revenues in Europe are not large enough to justify European involvement. This is key for Google because the Europeans would probably try and block it given their growing and increasingly vocal concern over Google‘s size and power.
There are several potential scenarios and outcomes of the DOJ investigation: unconditional approval, a suit to block the deal or approval with negotiated conditions. Conditions might include restrictions or assurances that ITA will continue to serve other sites and Google competitors. Google has said it will honor all ITA’s formal relationships.
My guess is that we’ll either see approval with some conditions or an attempt to block it by the DOJ. The Federal Trade Commission was set to try and block the AdMob deal until Apple came along and bought Quattro Wireless, creating a seemingly formidable competitor in the mobile ad market.
Even though the DOJ review of Google-ITA is about the particular facts and potential impact of the acquisition on the travel industry I suspect there are people at the DOJ who would like “another go” at Google. The internal “predisposition” may be to oppose the deal but the agency may be assessing the strength of that position legally. It would have to win in a court action seeking to block the acquisition.
In an unrelated blog post, Google discusses its view of anti-trust law and argues that it should be permitted to continue making acquisitions — like ITA.
Perrysburg, OH, December 15, 2010 –(PR.com)– Holidaymakers can enjoy Christmas in summer through a selection of Australian tours on City-Discovery.com. The travel website has a range of city sightseeing and outdoor activities in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Alice Springs. Also offered are travel deals for popular activities and destinations in the Land Down Under.
“Our selection of travel deals and activities in Australia is in line with giving our customers a variety of options on how to spend the holidays,” says Emmanuel Issaurat, president of City-Discovery.com. “Activities were carefully selected for quality of service and reliability. Led by an experienced tour guide, tour groups will benefit from an organized itinerary including hotel pickups and drop-offs. All activities can be booked in advance on the website, which features 24-hour assistance on booking and other transactions.”
Adelaide offers 13 things to do offered at 20% less than the regular price until January 31, 2011. Considered the food and wine capital of Australia, Adelaide boasts a picturesque city landscape with sandstone cottages and sweeping gardens. Excursions to wilderness paradises and wildlife parks including Cleland Park, Kangaroo Island, and Coorong Wilderness are also available.
A special offer is offered for three city sightseeing tours in Brisbane. Customers may book for two persons for the price of one until end of December. Brisbane also offers outdoor activities such as a boat cruise along Nerang River and the Gold Coast hinterland; dramatic cliff drops of the coastal town of Byron Bay; and the eucalyptus forests and waterfalls on Mt. Tamborine.
For travelers seeking to get even more up close and personal with nature, Cairns is the place to be. City-Discovery.com has 15 outdoor tours and activities in the area, including the Outer Barrier Reef – Down Under Cruise and Dive, Kuranda Rainforest from Port Douglas, and Green Island on the Reef.
Melbourne’s 30 activities lets travelers enjoy up to 20% discount until January 31, 2011. Tours include the Best of Melbourne featuring a scenic cruise on the Yarra River; Penguin Parade to watch penguins and koalas in their natural habitats; and Puffing Billy with Australian Wildlife, a train ride along a narrow gauge railway going right through the spectacular Blue Dandenong Ranges.
Perth offers over 20 activities appealing to the adventurous traveler, including a sand-dune adventure in the Pinnacles Desert where strange limestone pillars rise through the sand. Other activities are trips to Wave Rock, a perfect surfer’s wave frozen in solid rock; wine-growing regions such as the Swine Valley and Margaret River region; and Rottnest Island for some snorkeling in crystal clear water.
Australia’s most iconic attractions such as the Opera House, Bondi Beach and Blue Mountains are found in Sydney. The Morning City Tour with Magistic Luncheon Cruise, consistently a bestseller, is marked down 20% until January 31, 2011. Other activities enjoying promo prices are excursions to the Blue Mountains and dolphin watching at Port Stephens.
There are 12 things to do from Alice Springs on City-Discovery.com. The highest-rated is an excursion to Uluru or Ayers Rock, a large sandstone rock formation south west of Alice Springs. Other notable activities include a visit to an Outback Cattle Station for a taste of life in the harsh remote bushes of Australia, and the eye-opening Outback Aboriginal Community for a better understanding of aboriginal culture in today’s world.
Visit City-Discovery.com and discover more things to do in Australia during the holidays. Travel gift certificates, available in four currencies (USD, GBD, EUR AUD) and denominations between 25 and 500, can be purchased on the site.
For featured travel experiences and photos by customers, read the City Discovery Travel Blog and follow City-Discovery.com on Facebook and Twitter. City-Discovery.com is holding a US$200 GC Giveaway on its Facebook Page and posting regular promo codes on Twitter.
About City Discovery
City Discovery is a leading provider of sightseeing tours, travel experiences and ground transportation worldwide. With over 5,000 carefully selected travel activities in 300 destinations and user-friendly features such as traveler reviews, wishbox, suggested itineraries and gift certificates, City Discovery sells directly to consumers through City-Discovery.com and a network of over 7,500 travel agencies and affiliates. City Discovery is available in 15 languages and has offices in USA, France, Greece, Italy, Brazil, and the Philippines.
Article source: http://www.pr.com/press-release/283877
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas — It’s a wannabe rocker star’s dream come true.
Rock and Roll Fantasy Camps at Atlantis, Paradise Island resort offer budding musicians a chance to learn and jam with 21 star “counsellors.” The next camp takes place Feb. 17-20 and features celebrity mentors Tommy Lee (Motley Crue), Ace Frehley (Kiss) and Lita Ford (Runaways).
During the four days, campers will learn the ins and outs of the music business, write and record an original song, participate in jam sessions and rehearsals with rock star band-mates, and perform with rock legends in a finale concert at the Atlantis theatre.
Packages for adult campers start at $4.999. The Young Rockers program — for teens aged 12-16 — is $2,999. Packages include master classes, lunch, a DVD of the final show and a swag bag of goodies. Campers under 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Accommodation is extra; packages are available. For more information, contact Rockcamp.com, atlantis.com or 1-800-atlantis.
Celebrate in style
Still thinking about getting out of town over the holidays?
For last minute planners, British Airways is offering discounts on Club World business class flights. Through Dec. 28, fares begin from $2,598 (plus fees and taxes) roundtrip from Toronto or Montreal to London ($3,198 from Vancouver or Calgary) for travel Dec. 16 to Jan. 8.
Simon Talling-Smith, executive v-p Americas, said “What better way to ring in the New Year than by travelling in style and luxury and relaxing in our lounges before flying over in a fully flat bed and watching the fireworks in London. These fares also make great last-minute holiday gifts for that someone special!”
Flights must be booked and purchased seven days in advance of travel and are nonrefundable. A Saturday night stay is required. For more, see ba.com/business-sale.
The hills come alive during the holidays at Silver Star Mountain Resort in Vernon, B.C.
Blanketed in feathery snow, Silver Star’s colourful Victorian-style Village is the perfect backdrop for Christmas fun. From carolling to fireworks, dining and dancing, guests will find plenty of holiday spirit. And with daytime temperatures averaging 5 C, you’ll want to ski and snowboard, too.
Holiday highlights include:
– A new 12 days of Christmas Celebration at Snowbird Lodge with nightly Christmas tales for children, hot chocolate and cookies by the fireplace, a family holiday movie and other activities.
– On Christmas and New Year’s Eve guests can watch or take part in the resort’s annual Torchlight Parade, which is followed by fireworks.
– On Dec. 31, the Wild Horseman’s New Year’s Eve Extravaganza provides a night of old fashioned fun. Guests snowshoe out to the Wild Horseman’s Cabin for games, snacks and chocolate fondue. After cheering in the New Year beside a bonfire, you return by horse-drawn sleigh to the Village, where you can join one of many parties. For bookings, contact Valhalla Pure at 250-558-4292. For information, see OutdoorDiscoveries.com.
– Silver Star has a Christmas special from Dec. 17-26. Those who book five nights’ accommodation and five days of skiing only pay for four. The deal is valid at FireLight Lodge, Silver Star Club Resort and select units at Pinnacles Hotel. Contact 1-800-663-4431 or skisilverstar.com.
Article source: http://www.torontosun.com/travel/2010/12/14/16546701.html
YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK, Calif. – Permits soon will be required to scale Half Dome in Yosemite National Park on all days, not just weekends and holidays.
The National Park Service on Monday announced it was expanding the permitting requirement first implemented earlier this year.
Park officials say they found a spike in the number of people scaling the granite monolith from Monday through Thursday after the weekend and holiday permit requirement was put in place earlier in 2010.
So they now also want to control the number of climbers on all weekdays.
The goal is to limit overcrowding on the trail that officials say has contributed to injuries and at least one fatality in recent years.
The Fresno Bee reports that permits will be available starting March 1 for climbs in May and June. A $1.50 processing fee will be charged for each one.