Vietnamese Agency Vntrip Raises $10 Million: Travel Startup Funding This Week

Vietnamese Agency Vntrip Raises $10 Million: Travel Startup Funding This Week

http://ift.tt/2Awg3Qm

Vntrip

A user tries to book travel on Vntrip. The startup’s fundraising in the past year makes it the third-most successful Vietnamese startup at fundraising after two non-travel companies Momo, which raised $28 million, and F88, which raised $10 million. Vntrip

Skift Take: After years of following startup funding trends, it’s tempting to move to a developing country to start an online travel agency or metasearch company. On the other hand, we can list dozens of reasons not to.

— 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 $22 million.

>>Vntrip, a Vietnamese online travel agency that is essentially a white-label affiliate of Booking.com, has raised $10 million in a Series B funding round. Hendale Capital, a Hong Kong-based firm, led the round.

Vntrip debuted for consumers in 2016, when it raised a $3 million Series A round led by former Alibaba chief technology officer John Wu.

The company wants to repeat the funding feat accomplished by Traveloka, an online travel agency in Indonesia that raised about $500 million in the past year.

Smaller Vietnamese competitors include Abay, Atadi, Tugo, and VietnamUniquetour, but foreign brands dominate the market.

There are Vietnamese businesses which were originally set up as tour operators but have shifted to become OTAs, such as.

>>Airside Mobile, an Arlington, Virginia-based maker of a mobile passport app, raised $6 million in Series A equity funding.

Blazar Ventures and Grotech Ventures led the round. Bain Capital Ventures and 8VC also pitched in.

The company, which launched in 2014 and is led by CEO Hans Miller, said that more than 2.5 million travelers have used its mobile passport, which gives expedited processing through U.S. passport control and customs at 24 major airports and Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The company intends to use the funds to add its service to additional airports and other locations and to create other identity-related products. U.S. Customs and Border Protection authorizes the app, and the Airports Council International-North America, the Boeing Co., and Port Everglades are sponsors.

>>Travlr, a travel marketing, trip curation, and booking platform, has raised a $3.7 million, or $5 million Australian, in Series A funding from private investors.

The company has been around for 2.5 years but is an outgrowth of The Bali Bible, a travel guide that emphasized the social sharing of recommendations. It draws more than 2 million monthly visits to its 290,000 pages of user-generated recommendations, it said.

The husband-and-wife co-founders have great marketing traction on Instagram. The hashtags #thebalibible and #balibible have been used 1.6 million times on the image-sharing site.

In January Travlr plans to enhance trip booking by accessing the data feeds of airlines and companies like Booking.com and Agoda. By selling placement of ads on its existing platform, it claims to earn revenue of $2.83, or $3.75 Australian, per user, on average.

>>FewoFerien, a vacation rental, hotel and flight metasearch company, received $2.1 million, or €1.8 million, in a convertible debt by undisclosed private investors.

The Frankfurt am Main startup has nine employees across its FewoFerien and U.S.-facing HolidayHomes brands.

Founded earlier this year, FewoFerien claims it has already become the second-largest platform in Germany by buying traffic and using feeds from providers like HomeToGo and Skyscanner for content. SimilarWeb reports 1.03 million visits for hometogo.de, 404,124 visits for fewoferien.de, 374,921 visits for holidayhomes.com, and 336,420 visits for holidu.de for the three-week period between October 23 and November 11.

Check out our previous startup funding roundups, here.

Travel

via Skift https://skift.com

December 1, 2017 at 07:07AM

Asian Activities Booking Platform Klook Heads to the Americas

Asian Activities Booking Platform Klook Heads to the Americas

http://ift.tt/2BpUmyb

Klook  / Facebook

Klook employees at a booth. Klook is targeting the U.S. for its first office outside Asia. Klook / Facebook

Skift Take: Hong Kong-based Klook has selected the Americas as its first stop for expansion outside Asia. To beat the deeply entrenched competition, it will have to find partners that can adapt to the needs of Asian travelers.

— Raini Hamdi

Editor’s Note: Gateway is a Skift series featuring first-hand, original stories from our correspondents embedded in cities around the world. The logo reflects where the correspondent is based and not necessarily the article’s focus. Read about the series here.

Travel activities booking platform Klook, which recently took on Goldman Sachs as a new investor, will open an office in the U.S. after sensing a rising tide of Asian independent travelers to the U.S., Canada, and Latin America.

Klook plans on having a U.S. team operational from January in either San Francisco or New York. The team will source travel activities in the Americas that fit Asian travelers’ interests, and ramp up outbound marketing.

Klook’s president and co-founder Eric Gnock Fah would not go into details on how big the team will be, only saying “the U.S. market is so dynamic, our local team will be moving rapidly and work in an agile way.”

“We hope to create a notable impact to both activity providers and travelers in the U.S. by the end of 2018,” he added. “Our [Asian] travelers will start to see more diverse offerings in the Americas from the end of Q1 in 2018.”

The company also aims to tap the U.S. market heading to Asia. Klook currently has offices in 13 cities including its headquarters in Hong Kong.

‘RIGHT TIMING FOR THE AMERICAS’

Klook is entering a market ruled by giants like TripAdvisor-owned Viator and Expedia, but Gnock Fah believes the timing is right for Klook to expand.

The Series C funding of nearly $60 million led by Goldman Sachs should help open doors for a U.S. expansion. After amassing over nine million visitors each month to its website and app since launching in 2014, Klook wants to open doors for U.S. travel providers to reach the fast-growing Asian market.

Klook’s success in Asia has hinged on helping Asian travelers book services at the last minute or upon arrival in destination. These include local transportation, Wi-Fi, single-day tours, outdoor excursions, and food and dining options. Other platforms often require users to book more than 24 hours in advance and don’t offer a best-price guarantee.

As Asia’s largest in-destination travel activities booking platform, Klook’s goal is to help U.S. travel providers tap into the fastest-growing travel markets in the world like Greater China, South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand.

BUT DON’T THE LIKES OF VIATOR and EXPEDIA DO THAT ALREADY?

There’s a gap where U.S. travel companies “are unable to effectively reach out to users in Asia-Pacific region,” according to Gnock Fah.

While the U.S. has vibrant resources in terms of travel partners, and many popular destinations for many Asian travelers, Gnock Fah said there is a lack of experiences tailored for the Asian market.

A deeper understanding of the home market is where he thinks Klook can make a difference for travelers.

“On the supply side, it will be our priority to find service providers who are able to adapt to the diverse Asian traveller interests,” said Gnock Fah of his strategy. “It will be our priority to find partners who are able to adapt to accommodate the varying languages, socio-economic levels, payment channels, and dietary restrictions of Asian travelers.”

At a glance, it may seem that Asia’s outbound travel market, estimated at over 180 million travelers per year, is distributed rather evenly, with mainland China taking up 37 percent, the rest of North Asia totalling 31 percent, and Southeast Asia and India at 32 percent. Gnock Fah points out, however, that Asia isn’t homogenous; it consists of numerous markets with their own distinctive languages, cultures, and religions.

“There isn’t one formula that fits all as each country comes with its unique travel preferences and purchasing behavior,” he said. “We foresee we may spend more time to help enhance U.S. operators’ understanding of Asia including knowing the priority of which market to target for their offerings.

“Since our launch in 2014, we’ve seen success in forming merchant partnerships in Asia. Our team has helped merchant partners to successfully tap into markets they knew little about by leveraging Klook’s expertise of Asian travelers. We hope to ensure that merchants in U.S. will also have the chance to take advantage of Klook’s market knowledge and tech solutions to diversify and optimize their revenue source.”

THE U.S. OUTBOUND OPPORTUNITY

Gnock Fah believes its strong supply network and exclusive benefits from direct partnerships will give it an edge for U.S. travelers headed to Asia. As of October 25, it claimed over 30,000 attractions, tours, activities, and essential travel services offered in more than 120 destinations, with over 3,000 industry partners.

Upcoming international events like Winter Olympics and Summer Olympics held in South Korea and Japan in 2018 and 2020, respectively, pose another opportunity.

“We are expecting a further influx of travelers from the Western countries into Asia,” said Gnock Fah. “As Asia’s largest in-destination travel activity booking platform, we hope to attract these travelers with our wide variety of activities in Asia and our user experience is also designed for native English speakers.”

Klook is also cementing its mobile-first and instant confirmation solutions, and creating personalized experiences through artificial intelligence tools since demand for spontaneous travel will keep growing. Its statistics show that 50 percent of users book Klook upon arrival, and 70 percent of those bookings are made via mobile.

The company is investing in voice search technology along with personalized experiences for users. Some of these features will likely be rolled out by mid-2018.

Travel

via Skift https://skift.com

December 1, 2017 at 06:32AM

Half of European Business Travelers Shun Their Corporate Booking Tools

Half of European Business Travelers Shun Their Corporate Booking Tools

http://ift.tt/2zTBsDL

Mark Fischer  / Flickr

Flyers walk in front of a mirror at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris. Mark Fischer / Flickr

Skift Take: Business travelers in Europe are completely divided on how they prefer to book their work travel. Travel management companies need to make their online booking tools more compelling and easier to use.

— Andrew Sheivachman

Safety and security have taken on a newfound importance in the corporate travel ecosystem as the world has become a more dangerous place.

For international business travelers in Europe, however, the benefits of travel management company safety measures don’t outweigh the ease of booking a trip how they want.

The Global Business Travel Association and Concur polled 735 business travelers in the UK, Germany, and France on their business travel booking habits and security concerns. The research found that business travelers will book outside of policy, even if travelers know it’s less safe for them.

This is bad news for travel management companies, which have introduced traveler tracking and safety tools in recent years. If traveler data isn’t in the system, they can’t be tracked and helped out if something goes wrong, which can pose legal and liability issues.

“During these times of global uncertainty, business leaders have a responsibility to know where employees are and keep them safe and informed,” said Scott Torrey, Concur’s chief revenue officer. “One of the most surprising results of the study is that half of business travelers know that not booking through company channels can affect their safety but a majority still book outside.”

In fact, corporate booking tool usage has decreased in some European countries despite technological advances in recent years. About half book using a company-approved tool.

Business Travelers With Access to an Online Booking Tool Who Used It Each Year
Germany UK France
2015 52% 51% 60%
2016 57% 59% 60%
2017 51% 51% 51%

“While the majority still book through an [online booking tools], the irony is that roughly 7 out of 10 travelers booked outside of company channels at least once in the past year, even when they had access to an [online booking tool],” states the report.

Travelers were totally mixed on their preferred booking channel. Online booking tools obviously don’t offer an attractive use case for business travelers rnow with so many other options out there.

If Business Travelers Had No Restrictions, How Would They Book?
Germany UK France
Supplier Direct 23% 27% 32%
Online Travel Agency 26% 31% 23%
Online Booking Tool 27% 24% 25%
Travel Management Company 23% 19% 18%

The research also provides more insight into the awareness gap between what travel programs offer and whether travelers know about all the services available to them.

“…. Access to various risk management services is far from universal. Roughly one-third or more do not have access to various basic risk management services. This could reflect that many travelers are not part of a fully managed program.

“However, even when travelers say their company uses a ‘travel management company for any product or service,’ more than one-fifth do not think they have access to various key services. These travelers may not be aware of services that are actually available to them or work for companies that use [travel management companies] in a limited way.”

More than half of those polled said their company provides travel safety training, for instance, but the content and quality of that training varies wildly between organizations.

Travel

via Skift https://skift.com

December 1, 2017 at 06:03AM

Lyft Begins Its Business Travel Journey — Corporate Travel Innovation Report

Lyft Begins Its Business Travel Journey — Corporate Travel Innovation Report

http://ift.tt/2j4O6oY

Lyft

A woman catches a Lyft in a Lyft promotional photo. Lyft

Skift Take: One should expect Lyft to officially partner with more big travel management companies over the next year. It’ll be interesting to see how the company’s corporate travel push lines up with its international expansion aspirations.

— Andrew Sheivachman

We took last Thursday off to gorge on turkey and stuffing, but we’re back today with the latest in corporate travel.

Lyft’s first major foray into corporate travel, through a partnership with Carlson Wagonlit Travel, has finally been unveiled. Travel managers will have access to better analytics about what their travelers are up to, so that’s good.

Uber has a commanding lead in popularity among business travelers, but when has Uber’s scale ever stopped Lyft from making pragmatic, useful upgrades to its service? We’ll see where Lyft goes from here as it gets ready for an IPO sometime in the future.

There’s a lot more below, ranging from a look at Hogg Robinson Group’s airline distribution aspirations to updates on how global airlines are (finally) making business class better for travelers again. Check it out.

— Andrew Sheivachman, Business Travel Editor

Business of Buying

Lyft Finally Goes Corporate With Carlson Wagonlit Travel Deal: Lyft is playing catch up in the corporate travel sector, and partnerships with the major global travel management companies are a good way to increase adoption. Uber’s lead, however, remains enormous.

IAG Is Bringing Discount Airline Level to Paris: IAG is obviously pleased with Level’s performance in Barcelona, but Paris is likely to be a bigger challenge given the strength of Air France-KLM in that market and its new millennial-focused airline Joon.

Lufthansa to Offer Revamped Business Class With Seats 7 Feet Long: Lufthansa had nothing approaching an on-time arrival when it came to introducing lie-flat seats in 2013, and now it hopes to get a leg or two up on the competition. We’ll leave it to the reviewers to give us the pros and cons once the new seats are airborne.

Delta Brings Back Complimentary Upgrades for Frequent Flyers: Delta is slowly restoring benefits once-lost to SkyMiles members, but it’s more of a competitive move against other carriers than an olive branch for passengers.

Airline Food Conundrum – Paid Meals Winning Out Over Freebies: Airline food isn’t always tasty, but passengers probably shouldn’t compare it to what they find in a restaurant. Delivering food to an aircraft is a logistical challenge, and it’s amazing the system works as well as it does.

Safety + Security

New Expensify Feature Raises Privacy Concerns: Maybe using a marketplace to scan receipts isn’t a good idea if any of its workers can access your customers’ data. Just a thought.

Disruption + Innovation

Blockchain for Hotel Distribution Will Come Down to the Economics: Decentralized applications for hotel distribution will soon live side-by-side with existing channels.

Onefinestay CEO Views Hyper Personalization as Next Stage of Luxury Rentals: In other words, don’t expect AccorHotels to be vying for Wyndham’s European vacation rental business anytime soon.

Hogg Robinson Thinks It Has a Technology Edge on Its Corporate Travel Competitors: IATA’s New Distribution Capability appears to finally be gaining traction in corporate travel. Airlines want it to succeed as much as travel management companies, which will have access to a greater amount of content like seat upgrades and other ancillary products.

Airbnb Will Finally Let You Split Payments Among Multiple People: Paying for Airbnb rentals just got easier for small-to-medium sized businesses.

SUBSCRIBE

Skift Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman [as@skift.com] curates the Skift Corporate Travel Innovation Report. Skift emails the newsletter every Thursday.

Subscribe to Skift’s Free Corporate Travel Innovation Report

Travel

via Skift https://skift.com

December 1, 2017 at 05:35AM

Uma Thurman Débuts on Broadway in Beau Willimon’s “The Parisian Woman”

Uma Thurman Débuts on Broadway in Beau Willimon’s “The Parisian Woman”

http://ift.tt/2zE2rPf

What does political theatre look like in the age of Trump? The
specimens, so far, have been scattershot. There were the eerily relevant
works that just happened to be ready to go: Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer
Prize-winning
Sweat,”
an empathetic look at the economic plight of the working class in
Pennsylvania; “1984,” a West End staging of the George Orwell novel that
became a timely
best-seller
the month of the Inauguration. There was the meta-theatre of
high-profile audience members in the hot seat: Mike
Pence
at “Hamilton,” Ivanka Trump at the anti-xenophobic musical “Come From
Away
.”
There was Michael Moore’s one-man theatrical
broadside
,
whose chief triumph was to bait the President into a Twitter
war
.
And, of course, there was the Public’s controversial “Julius
Caesar
,”
in Central Park—though whatever it had to say about democracy and
sedition got drowned out by the firestorm over the right to say it.

Now, a year and change after the election, we have “The Parisian Woman,”
at the Hudson Theatre, written during, pitched in response to, and set
on the outskirts of the Trump White House. Its author is Beau Willimon,
who has proved himself a jaundiced chronicler of Washington
horse-trading. His play “Farragut North,” inspired by his work on Howard
Dean’s 2004 Presidential campaign, became the George Clooney film “The
Ides of
March
.”
He created and was the showrunner for the American version of “House of
Cards” through its fourth season. On
Twitter, he’s an incisive critic of
the President. And now he’s teamed up with Uma Thurman, who seems, for
good reason, to be harboring her own stock of white-hot
rage
.

So why does the play have such trouble finding its angle on the enraging
political scene? Despite being self-knowingly au courant, “The Parisian
Woman” feels as creaky as an old boulevard entertainment; in fact, it’s
a loose adaptation of “La Parisienne,” an 1885 play by Henry Becque that
was the basis for a 1957 film starring Brigitte Bardot. The first
moments of Pam MacKinnon’s production fling us back to a bygone
theatrical era: lights come up on a well-appointed living room in a
Washington town house, complete with a sofa (where trysts will
inevitably unfold), a liquor cabinet (for conflict-greasing cocktails),
and upstage French doors (where the star can conveniently pause for
entrance applause). And there she is: Chloe (Thurman) is back from a
doctor’s appointment—or is she?—and home to meet Peter (the amusing
Marton Csokas), a British banker and big-money political donor. (It
takes a few minutes to sort out whether Chloe is also British, but
that’s just Thurman’s mid-Atlantic accent.) As Peter is begging Chloe to
remain faithful to him (“The day you start lying to me . . . ”), keys jingle
in the front door, and Chloe says, “It’s my husband.” The twist arrives
right on schedule.

Chloe’s husband, it turns out, is Tom (Josh Lucas), a tax lawyer who’s
up for a judgeship in the Fourth Circuit. The decider? Our very own
President Donald J. Trump, who doesn’t seem too worried about Tom’s
inexperience; the Donald just wants to pack the courts with loyalists.
Not that Tom and Chloe’s politics appear all that Trumpian. Chloe is a
Democrat, but one who knows how to use the chaos of the new
Administration to her benefit. At a soirée a few nights later, she
deploys soft influence on the hostess, Jeanette (the sturdy Blair
Brown), who is the nominee for the chair of the Federal Reserve. As they
share cigarettes on the balcony, Chloe is disbelieving that she and Tom
have been invited instead of more moneyed acquaintances. “Yes, but none
of them are as interesting,” Jeanette replies. “Or as real.”

And herein lies a central problem: while the play informs us of Chloe’s
allure, it’s not much in evidence. As written, she’s a sexual adventurer
with at least two lovers in her pocket, a romantic who lives for
“pleasure and beauty,” though cannier about the Washington game than she
lets on. (Her one pastime, besides infidelity, is reading bad vampire
novels.) In a late monologue, she reveals herself as the Parisian woman
of the title, having long ago pursued a decadent affair that seems
cribbed from every Gallic cliché, down to the chain-smoking. If people
are drawn to Chloe, it’s not because Thurman has injected her with
charisma. In her Broadway début, Thurman is a blank, swanning and
sighing as if impersonating the leading lady of an old drawing-room
comedy. You long for Quentin Tarantino to show up and supply her with a
scimitar and a kill list. (I’m guessing Harvey Weinstein would be No.
1.) As it is, she can’t seem to locate the mystique behind Chloe’s poker
face.

Compare Robin Wright, who has turned Claire Underwood, on “House of
Cards,” into Willimon’s most fascinating creation. Claire, too, is a
Washington operator who knows not to show her hand, but Wright is
brilliant at playing barbarism alongside grace: we’ll never get to the
bottom of Claire, but we know there is something there. This season of
“House of Cards” took me several months to finish. What seemed in the
Obama years like an escapist fantasy of a maniacal Commander-in-Chief
now hit too close to home—I had to stop watching after the
botched-election episode. Strangely enough, the sexual-misconduct
allegations
against Kevin Spacey (which resulted in his firing from the series) drew
me back in, the off-screen subtext somehow neutralizing the real-worldpolitical subtext. Willimon created a back-room universe so handsome and
sinister that it seemed plausible for a snake like Frank Underwood to
slither to the top, but it’s Claire who keeps us guessing whether these
people have souls. Willimon’s real eye, though, is for the machinery:
the press secretaries and cub reporters and solicitors general, each
playing a self-serving game and, more often than not, getting crushed on
the political train tracks.

“The Parisian Woman” is also concerned with the small fish who populate
the circles of the Beltway élite, and with the way that self-interest
opens the door to depraved tactics, including blackmail. But Chloe isn’t
playing three-dimensional chess so much as one-dimensional checkers,
with a single (surprising) move at her disposal. What does any of it say
about 2017? Aside from some pandering jokes about Ivanka and
“locker-room talk”—which get knowing laugh-grumbles from the
audience—“The Parisian Woman” could really be about any era in
Washington, harking back as far as Gore Vidal’s “The Best Man,” from
1960. There, too, favors were traded, threats issued, the public
interest disregarded. “The Parisian Woman” is cynical, but on the
grounds that this is all dirty Washington business as usual. What’s
happening now is worse than business as usual, even if hacks like Tom
and Chloe tell themselves otherwise. It may take dramatists, like the
rest of us, many more years to process this parlous political moment.

Travel

via Everything http://ift.tt/2i2hEWb

December 1, 2017 at 03:07AM

American Airlines Vows to Fight Racial Bias But Is It Enough?

American Airlines Vows to Fight Racial Bias But Is It Enough?

http://ift.tt/2AKvSDA

Tony Gutierrez  / Associated Press

American Airlines CEO Doug Parker met twice with NAACP officials to address complaints about racism at his airline. Tony Gutierrez / Associated Press

Skift Take: CEO Doug Parker clearly doesn’t want to see the airline take a brand hit on race relations. American Airlines is saying all the right things, but is its response to the NAACP complaints a crisis communications maneuver or a game-changing attempt to change its culture?

— Dennis Schaal

Under pressure from the NAACP, American Airlines is promising changes in the way it trains employees and handles passenger complaints about racially biased treatment.

The airline announced the steps Thursday after a meeting between CEO Doug Parker and NAACP President Derrick Johnson.

The civil rights organization issued a travel advisory in in October warning African-Americans they could face discrimination when flying on American. The alert followed several high-profile incidents including one involving an organizer of the Women’s March who was booted from a flight after a dispute over her seat.

American pledged to hire an outside firm to review its diversity in hiring and promotion, train all 120,000 employees to counteract so-called implicit bias, create a special team to review passengers’ discrimination complaints, and improve resolution of employee complaints about bias.

The NAACP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The airline’s promise followed the second meeting between Parker, Johnson, Women’s March organizer Tamika Mallory and others at American’s headquarters in Fort Worth, Texas.

In October, Mallory called an American Airlines pilot a racist after he ordered her off a flight in Miami. She posted an emotional video about the incident on Facebook, which has been viewed 530,000 times, and mulled whether to take legal action against American.

Two weeks later, the NAACP issued its warning to African-American travelers.

Parker’s initial response was to defend his airline’s diversity — about 15 percent of its employees are African-American, slightly more than the national average — but call the NAACP’s criticism an opportunity for the airline to improve and become a leader on issues of diversity and inclusion.

On Thursday, Parker said in a note to employees that the criticism has led to conversations with outside groups as well as the airline’s own employees “that we may not have otherwise had.”

Since the start of 2016 through September, American has been the subject of 29 racial-discrimination complaints by passengers, more than any other U.S. carrier although a tiny fraction of the airline’s passengers.

Paul Argenti, a professor of corporate communication at Dartmouth University who wrote about racism at the Denny’s restaurant chain in the 1990s, called American’s measures Thursday a good first step but inadequate to significantly change the airline’s culture.

“This is the kind of thing you do to get by. I don’t think it’s enough,” he said.

American should take bolder steps, including naming more minorities to senior executive positions and the board of directors, Argenti said.

However, David Margulies, president of a Dallas firm that advises companies on crisis communications, said American had handled the NAACP’s criticism well — in part by not being overly defensive or argumentative.

“This says, ‘We want to do better, we recognize there could be an issue, and here’s what we’re going to do,’” he said. “I think they’ve been smart and strategic about it.”

___

David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter

___

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

Travel

via Skift https://skift.com

December 1, 2017 at 03:06AM

Lawmakers Ask Transportation Department to Intervene in U.S.-Gulf Carrier Spat

Lawmakers Ask Transportation Department to Intervene in U.S.-Gulf Carrier Spat

http://ift.tt/2Almq6L

Carlos Delgado  / Wikimedia Commons

An Emirates Boeing 777-300ER on approach to Madrid. Some U.S. lawmakers would like the Department of Transportation to solve an ongoing dispute between U.S. and Gulf airlines. Carlos Delgado / Wikimedia Commons

Skift Take: This is more complicated than the trade group representing the three largest U.S. airlines likes to suggest. Yes, Gulf carriers probably steal business from U.S. airlines. But if the U.S. punishes them, there could be consequences for other American businesses. This saga requires a delicate solution.

— Brian Sumers

U.S. airlines have spent three years pleading for federal action to curb fast-growing Persian Gulf carriers, claiming their rivals benefit from billions of dollars in unfair government aid.

But now, a group of lawmakers is offering a more modest solution: vetting those claims through a decades-old Department of Transportation process created to prevent foreign governments from meddling in airline competition. Sending the dispute to DOT would be a way to diffuse the longstanding dispute, and preserve ties with the growing tourist and commercial hubs, they say.

Under the 1974 law, U.S. transportation officials have six months to decide whether a claim merits federal action. That is the proper channel to evaluate claims against Emirates, Etihad Airways PJSC and Qatar Airways Ltd., the lawmakers say in a letter they are circulating that will be sent to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

It’s the latest development in a more than two-year quest by Delta Air Lines Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and United Continental Holdings Inc., the three largest U.S.-based carriers, to combat what they say is tens of billions of dollars in subsidies that have flowed to the Gulf carriers from the governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

A decision reached under the law would allow Congress and the White House “to develop a fact-based response” to the allegations, “rather than responding to the politically-charged rhetoric,” said the letter, drafted by Tennessee Republican David Kustoff and so far signed by 13 other GOP lawmakers and two Democrats.

The U.S. airlines have lobbied both the Obama and Trump administrations to intervene on their behalf. They’ve asked to block the Gulf carriers from gaining access to new routes and want the U.S. to revamp Open Skies treaties with Qatar and the U.A.E.

President Donald Trump in March said he would help U.S. airlines compete with overseas players getting government help, saying, “It’s a very unfair situation.”

But other airline companies, including JetBlue Airways Corp. and FedEx Corp., and U.S. hotel and gaming businesses have contested the legacy carriers arguments, the lawmakers say in their letter. The letter, signed mostly by Republicans from Southern states, asks the Trump officials to resist those requests for a more-aggressive response.

The lawmakers cite concerns that meddling with the Gulf states’ Open Skies agreements would endanger other agreements with more than 100 other nations, putting billions of dollars at risk for smaller airlines, the tourism industry and manufacturers such as the Boeing Co.

“We understand that there are great American businesses on both sides of this issue,” Kustoff said in a statement. “That is why we are clarifying that there is a legal process in place to resolve this dispute, enacted by Congress in 1974, which has been used more than 75 times.”

–With assistance from Michael Sasso

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

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

Travel

via Skift https://skift.com

December 1, 2017 at 01:48AM

The 2017 Hurricane Season Is Finally Over

The 2017 Hurricane Season Is Finally Over

http://ift.tt/2BAz7eb

After what was an especially hellacious 2017 in terms of natural disasters, many are breathing a sigh of relief now that hurricane season is over: November 30 marks the official end of the most damaging hurricane season in recorded history.

11 of this year’s 17 hurricanes made landfall — touching mainly the US and Caribbean. 2017 is only the second year that’s recorded two Category five hurricanes that made landfall. September was especially crazy and will go down as the most powerful month for hurricane intensity on record.

In just a few short months, storms like Harvey, Irma and Maria caused over $200 billion in damage and took the lives of hundredsHarvey hit Texas and the Houston metro area hard, while Irma took a huge toll on the Caribbean and Maria ripped apart Puerto Rico’s infrastructure. The devastation in Puerto Rico was so bad the island is still largely without power and running water.

Tourism, the primary driver of many Caribbean nation’s economies, has also taken a particularly hard hit. The tiny island of Barbuda was completely evacuated and now has an official population of zero. Meanwhile, places like the British Virgin Islands and St. Martin are struggling to get their hotels — and airports — back to full capacity.

The affected areas have vowed to rebuild and to come back stronger than before, and massive efforts on part of the US government and nonprofits to aid in the process are underway.

Get the full report on how Caribbean tourism has bounced back so far.

Featured image by Jose Jimenez/Getty Images.

Travel

via The Points Guy http://ift.tt/26yIAN2

December 1, 2017 at 12:26AM