LaGuardia Set For “Long Overdue” Facelift

Originally published on Travel Market Report.LaGUARD.png

Two years after he called New York’s LaGuardia Airport a “third world facility,” Vice President Joe Biden was at the airport on Tuesday to break ground on a $4 billion renovation designed to finally bring LaGuardia into the 21st century.

“The greatest city in the world—and New York is—needs and deserves the greatest infrastructure in the world,” he said.

Biden joined N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo, Port Authority executive director Pat Foye, and representatives from American Airlines, JetBlue, United, Southwest, Air Canada, and Delta.

“This is not just going to be rebuilding of what was; it’s going to be a whole new airport—one unified, contiguous state-of-the-art airport,” Cuomo said.

Terminals A and B will be completely demolished and rebuilt as “state of the art” facilities, Cuomo said. The airport will be moved closer to the Grand Central Parkway, which will increase flight operations by 240%, and a new roadway network, a 3,000-space parking garage, AirTran and ferry service, and a central terminal building will be added.

Delta, which owns and operates terminals B and C, said it also is in advance discussions with the Port Authority to redevelop its terminals.

The project will also increase the passenger capacity of Terminal B from 14 million to 17.5 million.

Biden acknowledged his negative comments back in January 2014 were “not very popular with anyone,” and lauded Cuomo and the Port Authority for working to make things right.

The project, which will provide 18,000 direct and indirect jobs to New York, is the largest public-private partnership in the history of the United States. Two-thirds of the work will be financed by the private sector—lead by the LaGuardia Gateway Partners group.

First U.S. Commercial Flight To Cuba In Decades Lands

JetBLue12123Originally published on Travel Market Report.

JetBlue flight 387 took off from Terminal 3 of Fort Lauderdale’s Hollywood International Airport at 10:06 a.m. on Wednesday morning—and when its wheels touched the ground a little under an hour later, it officially made history. Flight 387 is the first direct U.S. commercial flight to touch down in Cuba in more than 50 years.

Backed by a salsa band, JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes and Cuban ambassador José Ramón Cabañas were on hand to mark the occasion. “Today is another historic day,” Cabañas said. “And we have been saying that phrase many times during the last months.”

In a statement, American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) president and CEO Zane Kerby congratulated all U.S. airlines making their inaugural flights to Cuba this week, calling the news “a significant step in the right direction that will benefit American consumers and the ASTA travel agents who serve them.”

ASTA’s travel agent members “believe that Americans ought to be allowed to travel across the globe without restriction, allowing them to act as ambassadors of freedom and American values abroad,” he said.

JetBlue will fly on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays through this month, and then change to a daily schedule on October 1. Soon, 10 other U.S. airlines will join it, with more than 100 flights per day.

Americans ought to be allowed to travel across the globe without restriction, allowing them to act as ambassadors of freedom and American values abroad.

Diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba were officially restored last year when Secretary of State John Kerry and a group that included ASTA’s Kerby and senior vice president of government and industry affairs Eben Peck attended the historic raising of an American flag over the embassy in Havana in September, 2015.

The countries then signed an agreement to restore scheduled airline service in February, 2016. Most major American airlines applied for Cuba slots; American Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue Airlines, Silver Airways, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines were approved to fly to nine Cuban cities, other than Havana, starting in the fall. The DOT later approved eight airlines to fly to Havana—JetBlue, American, Delta, Alaska, United, Frontier, Southwest and Spirit.

American travelers are required to get visas before traveling to Cuba, though all 10 airlines approved for travel provide them for a price.

Almost 150,000 Americans traveled to Cuba in 2015, a 60% increase over the 90,000 in 2014.