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July 2015
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News SpotlightUnited Airlines Takes Stake in Azul 
By Rochelle Broder-Singer

U.S.-based United Airlines will acquire a 5% stake in Azul Brazilian Airlines as part of a strategic partnership that will include codesharing and joint loyalty program participation.

Azul is Brazil’s third-largest airline, with 17% market share. United has lacked a strong Brazilian partner since TAM left the Star Alliance, of which it is a member, last year. TAM’s departure from the alliance paved the way for Avianca Brazil to join later this month, and other Brazilian airlines can be invited to join Star. However, Azul has not indicated an interest in joining the alliance.



Codesharing will be the first evidence travelers see of the partnership. Pending regulatory approval, United codes will begin appearing on Azul flights from Sao Paulo-Guarulhos to other cities in Brazil, as well as on Azul’s flights to Florida. Azul’s code would go on United flights throughout North America and the Caribbean.
 
An expanded frequent flier loyalty agreement will give United MileagePlus and Azul TodoAzul members the ability to earn and redeem miles on both airlines.
 
Industry watchers believe the codeshare will be the first step towards a deeper partnership in the future, especially after the full open skies agreement between Brazil and the United States takes effect in mid-October.
 
United will invest US$100 million in Azul; the deal also gives United a seat on Azul’s board. 

Azul Brazilian Airlines by Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz via Wikimedia Commons

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Travel News
New Airline Routes and Route Changes
South AmericaDynamic International Airways will begin daily nonstop service between Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (Florida, Miami area) and Caracas Simon Bolivar International Airport (Venezuela) on July 17.
 
TAM has launched daily service between Brasilia International Airport and Orlando International Airport (Florida).
 
Copa Airlines will reduce service between Panama City and several Brazilian cities between August and November. The affected cities are Belo Horizonte, Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Sao Paulo Guarulhos and Sao Paulo-Viracopos/Campinas.
 

TAM Airlines has added a twice-weekly nonstop flight between Sao Paulo and Punta del Este, Uruguay.
 
Azul has added seven new domestic routes, mainly between Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo.
 
Aerolineas Argentinas has added weekend seasonal service on its Buenos Aires Ezeiza – Porto Seguro, Bahia (Brazil) route.
 
Aerolineas Argentinas will add limited seasonal service in September and October between London Heathrow and Buenos Aires-Ezeiza airport. The route will operate four times per week with two services each via Barcelona and Rome.
 
Mexico and Central AmericaAlitalia plans to introduce nonstop service between Rome's Fiumicino Airport and Mexico City International Airport; it has not yet announced a timeframe.
 
American Airlines will launch twice-daily service between Los Angeles International Airport and Mexico City in September.
 
Volaris launched four weekly flights between Mexico’s Guanajuato International Airport and Los Angeles International Airport.
 
WestJet will increase service between Calgary (Alberta, Canada) and Mexico’s Loreto International Airport to twice-weekly and increase service between Toronto and Puerto Vallarta to three times weekly.
 
Volaris launched flights between Guatemala City and both Cancun International Airport and Guadalajara Jalisco in Mexico.
 
On September 10, Volaris will launch twice-weekly service between Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Juan, Costa Rica and the Mexican cities of Cancun and Guadalajara.
 
TACA Peru introduced thrice-weekly service between Lima’s Jorge Chávez International Airport and Cancún.
 
On September 17, Copa Airlines will add a daily nonstop flight between Tocumen International Airport in Panama City and San Francisco International Airport.
 
CaribbeanJetBlue has added twice-weekly service between Grenada’s Maurice Bishop International Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
 
WestJet will increase flights between Toronto and Puerto Plata to four weekly.
 
International ConnectionsTurkish Airlines will begin daily flights between Miami International Airport and Istanbul Atatürk Airport on October 25.
 
American Airlines will increase daily service between the U.S. cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles from nine to 11-to-12 and increase daily service between San Francisco and New York – JFK from five to six-to-seven.
 
JetBlue Airways will offer up to six daily Mint flights between New York – JFK and San Francisco International and up to 10 daily flights between JFK and Los Angeles International as of October 25.
 
United Airlines will cease service to New York – JFK as of October 25, moving all of its transcontinental service to Newark Liberty International in New Jersey.
 
Airline Alliance News

Panama’s Copa Airlines and TAP Portugal
began a codeshare partnership on flights between Colombia, Panama and Portugal.
 
Delta has expanded its codesharing partnership with GOL to flights between several city pairs, all via Punta Cana, Dominican Republic: Rio de Janeiro–Miami, Sao Paulo Guarulhos–Orlando (Florida) and Sao Paulo Viracopos/Campinas–Miami. The Delta code will also be placed on GOL’s Rio de Janeiro – Maceio, Alagoas (Brazil) route.
 
Other Airline News
Lufthansa is facing walkouts by its cabin crews because of union labor disputes.
 
Avianca Brazil will fully join the Star Alliance on July 22.
 
Virgin America has launched new higher-resolution touch monitors with more content, interactive games, surround-sound listening and more on select aircraft. The Red Beta will be available on 18 aircraft by the end of 2015, with rollout to the rest of the fleet expected in 2016.
 
Frontier has eliminated departure times from boarding passes, replacing them with listings for “boarding begins” and “door closes.”
 
JetBlue will begin charging for checked luggage. The airline introduced three new fare types: Blue fares, under which flyers pay US$20 for the first checked bag checked in online or via kiosk and US$25 for counter check-in; Blue Plus fares, which include one free checked bag; and Blue Flex, which includes two free checked bags.
 
JetBlue is testing a private check-in experience (with dedicated security area) for select Mint passengers and Mosaic members traveling from New York–JFK to either Los Angeles or San Francisco.
 
GOL will offer super-fast in-flight Wi-Fi Internet service throughout its entire fleet by mid-2016, through Gogo’s 2KU technology. The airline will also offer Gogo’s video-on-demand and Internet Protocol Television services; it is the first airline to order the Gogo TV service. 
 
Airport News

American Express has opened a Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport
. The lounge, which features a bar and dining area as well as high-speed internet, computers and printers, soundproof family room, spa facilities and more, is complimentary to holders of American Express Platinum consumer, business and corporate cards and to all Centurion members and their immediate family members. 
 
Delta unveiled its newly refurbished, US$229 million, Terminal 5 at Los Angeles International Airport, complete with 100 new seats, new showers, renovated bathrooms, an updated food area and new furnishings and fixtures. In addition, its Delta ONE customers and those who purchase VIP Select service will now benefit from a private check-in lounge with a dedicated security checkpoint.
 
JetBlue opened an outdoor, rooftop lounge on top of Terminal 5 at New York–JFK. The 4,064-square-foot space is open to all passengers and includes landscaped green spaces, a children’s play area, seating and a dog walk, in addition to free Wi-Fi and beverage and food carts.
 
Loyalty Program News
American Express has raised the annual fee of its Starwood Preferred Guest Credit Card to US$95 and has added new perks such as no foreign transaction fees, complimentary unlimited access to Boingo Wi-Fi, complimentary premium Wi-Fi access at Starwood hotels and access to Sheraton Club lounges for business card holders.
 
Hotel News
Marriott Hotels & Resorts are now offering guests in the U.S. access to their own Netflix accounts via a Netflix app on hotel room TVs. The feature will be available at one-third of U.S. hotels by year-end, with the rest upgraded by the end of 2016.
 
South AmericaThe Priceline Group and Hotel Urbano have entered into a strategic partnership that includes Priceline spending US$60 million for a minority interest in the Brazilian hotel brand. Priceline Group will provide Urbano bookers with access to accommodations outside of Latin America.
 

The 300-room Ramada Hotel & Suites Campos dos Goytacazes opened in Brazil. The property, in the largest oil-producing city in the country, is situated in the neighborhood of Pelinca, near shopping, financial centers, universities and the airport. The hotel includes a fitness center, business center, free Wi-Fi, on-site parking and complimentary hot breakfast, and has a meeting space that can accommodate up to 200 people.
 
The 91-room Wyndham Garden Barranquilla has opened in the Colombian city’s financial district, close to the airport, medical facilities, major corporations and shops and restaurants. The hotel offers business and fitness centers, an 800-square-foot event room with access to a sundeck, leisure facilities and on-site restaurant.
 
The Wyndham Costa del Sol Lima opened in Lima, Peru. The 144-room hotel is located within walking distance of shops and restaurants with access to the city’s financial district and dozens of embassies. A non-smoking hotel, the property includes more than 7,800 square feet of meeting and event space, an on-site casino and dining.
 
The Anselmo Buenos Aires, a 50-room property converted from a 109-year-old mansion, will open next month in the city’s historic San Telmo district. It will be the first hotel in South America that is part of the Hilton Worldwide Curio collection, and will include meeting/event space for up to 100 people, a fitness center and on-site restaurant.

The Carmelo Resort & Spa in southwestern Uruguay (a former Four Seasons property) has joined the Hyatt portfolio. The property includes 24 bi-level suites and 20 detached villas as well as four restaurants, a spa, pool with waterfall and Golf Club.
 
MexicoThe Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit in Nuevo Vallarta completed US$20 million in renovations, including enhancements to half of its 267 suites, two of its five restaurants and its spa.
 
The 316-room Grand Hyatt Playa del Carmen Resort opened in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico. The property has 15,000 square feet of flexible event space, including 18 meeting rooms, as well as 20 oceanfront “air suites” with swim-up access; two on-site restaurants; snack, juice, dessert and traditional bars; 6,000-square-foot spa and a children’s program.
 
Travel Services
Travelers will be able to book rooms at more than 4,200 Marriott hotels around the world via TripAdvisor thanks to a new partnership between the two companies. Marriott properties will be available on the site by late summer.
 
MasterCard Latin America and the Caribbean launched MasterCard Travel Services for Platinum and Black cardholders. The program offers personal travel planning and booking, preferential treatment and upgrades at more than 1,000 hotels and resorts, as well as revolving seasonal offers.
 
Travel booking website Orbitz is now offering top tier Orbitz Rewards members complimentary registration in the TSA PreCheck system.  
 
U.S.-Cuba Relations

After more than 50 years of diplomatic distance, the United States and Cuba will restore full diplomatic relations and open embassies on July 20.

Punta del Este, Uruguay by jikatu; Copa Airlines by berkuspic; Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport, courtesy of Centurion Lounge at Miami International Airport; Ramada Hotel & Suites Camps dos Goytacazes, courtesy of Ramada Hotel & Suites Camps dos Goytacazes; Carmelo Resort & Spa, courtesy of Carmelo Resort & Spa; Havana, Cuba by Krestavilis

Resources from Latin Trade Group