Home / 2006 / April (page 4)

Monthly Archives: April 2006

Seattle Becomes Major Cruise Hub For Alaska

Cruise_seattleThe  Seattle – Alaska Cruise season is about to begin, and from a modest start the region has turned into a major cruise hub feeding the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. Besides the hugely popular Alaska cruises the Port of Seattle offers many 3 day cruises to Vancouver and the local region.

What began small — with just six Alaska-bound sailings in 1999 and about 3,300 passengers — has mushroomed this year to almost 200 departures and an estimated 370,000 passengers.
Five major lines will base nine ships at Seattle’s two downtown cruise-ship docks: Holland America, Norwegian, Celebrity, Princess and Royal Caribbean.
The Alaska cruises go from May 5 until late September, but the first big cruise liner to sail into Elliott Bay will be Holland America’s Volendam on April 22, en route to Hawaii.
Cruises from Seattle and other United States ports have boomed, due to the ease of driving or flying to such ports and because of security concerns after the Sept. 11 attacks.

The Seattle Times: More cruises than ever from Seattle.

Disney Cruise Line To Travel The Mediterranean Sea in 2007

DisneycruiseIt looks tike Disney Cruise Line will be entering the European Market by offering cruises that will be visiting the Mediterranean Sea and visiting France, Italy, and Spain in the summer of 2007. This may be a great opportunity for those with small children to visit the Mediterranean ports.

The Disney Magic will offer eight alternating 10-night and 11-night Mediterranean cruises, departing from Barcelona, Spain, and stopping in eight European cities.

Traveling through Europe can be daunting, especially with small children, company President Tom McAlpin said. A Disney cruise takes the guesswork out of what cities to hit, where to eat and what shows to see, he said.

“The cruise takes care of all of that and people trust Disney. At the end of the day you know you’re coming back to the ship and having five-star dining, great entertainment and you know your kids are going to have a good time,” he said.

Disney is considering expanding beyond its two ships, which have been successful since they began operating Caribbean voyages in 1998. But “it’s not the right time now,” McAlpin said. via MSNBC.com.

Delta Pilots Strike Potential – Union President Says National Labor Relations Act Does Not Apply

In a previous post, I received a comment that stated that the National Labor Relations Act and the Railway Labor Act would stop a strike by the pilots at Delta. I was uncertain of how this would play out and it looks like we found the answer straight from the horses mouth, Lee Moak, ALPA Chairman and now sole person to call the strike. Yes, the pilots authorized him, but the future of Delta is in his hands now and he looks eager to call the strike by these statements.

In his letter to pilots, Moak echoes the Air Line Pilots Association international’s sentiment:
“In consultation with our legal counsel, we believe that a strike by Delta pilots would be legal and should be non-enjoinable,” he writes. “Not surprisingly, Delta management and its legal counsel assert otherwise. There is little precedent under the Railway Labor Act, the governing federal law. However, under the National Labor Relations Act, the federal labor law covering virtually every industry other than railroads and airlines, the law is well established that a union may strike if a labor contract is rejected in bankruptcy.
“We see no basis in law or policy to differentiate between the Railway Labor Act and the National Labor Relations Act with regard to contract rejection. Section 1113 of the Bankruptcy Code does provide a basis for overturning a negotiated agreement; it does not repeal the fundamental right to strike and the protection of that right under federal law.” via the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Delta Pilots Potential Strike – An Analysis

While I am in the camp that the  strike authorization by the Delta Pilots is a negotiating tactic, it also puts the future of the airline into the hands of the union management, not its members. And that  is very scary if you are associated or fly Delta.

The pilots have the best job they will ever have. In the face of 40 percent pay cuts, it still is the best job they will ever have. The combination of hours and pay is exceptional even with the reductions. They would be fools to give this up. Most of the young pilots have been furloughed and the rest are senior guys who are not going to start over in this tight marketplace.

The scary part is ALPA, the pilots union. They are a body that is not in this solely for Delta. The  lead negotiator, Lee Moak, is asking for the sole discretion to call a strike. This means that the strike authorization vote of the past week has now taken the decision to strike out of the rank and file pilots and put it in the hands of union management and potentially one man.

So we are looking at 50,000 or more jobs being held by a union leader as Delta is not in any position to survive a strike. This means that one man who thinks playing hardball could bring down an airline. The pilots gave up their input because the union leaders sold them it was a negotiating position. I wonder how many of them would have voted for this if they knew that 1 man held their future in their hands.

That is a very, very scary proposition.

Australia Issues Travel Warning For France

FrenchriotsThe Government of Australia today issued a travel warning for those planning on traveling to France in the near term. The riots and demonstrations by the French are  creating an unsafe environment and have forced the Australian government to issue this warning. I wonder how many other countries will have the good sense to warn  their citizens about France. The  country is becoming more and more unstable.

“Recent demonstrations in major cities against the French Government’s new employment law for young workers have attracted large numbers of protesters and some have turned violent,” DFAT said on its website.
“You should monitor the media and other local information sources for information about further planned demonstrations and avoid relevant areas.”
Between one and three million people have taken part in the fifth day of strikes across France, protesting against a controversial new youth employment law. via NEWS.com.au.

Delta Air Line Pilots Authorize Strike Vote

DeltaDelta Air Lines negotiations with their pilots have  taken a contentious  turn as the pilots have authorized a strike vote by a wide margin. An arbitration panel is looking at the airlines request to void the pilots contract, and if this happens the union has the power to call a strike.

The 94.7% vote in favor of authorizing a strike gives union leaders the authority to set a strike date. They didn’t set a date immediately and gave no indication exactly when they might act.
The results were announced in a memo to pilots from the chairman of the union’s executive committee.
An arbitration panel must decide by April 15 whether to void the pilots contract. The union has said it will strike if its contract is rejected.
The nation’s third largest carrier, which is operating under bankruptcy protection, has said a strike would put it out of business. via USATODAY.com

Carnival Fantasy and Sensation Changing Itineraries

FascinationStarting April 6th, Carnival Cruise Lines is switching itineraries for two of its ships, the Fantasy and the Sensation. The Sensation is having trouble with its propulsion system and can not complete the longer 5 day cruises that it has  scheduled. What makes this story interesting is that both ships have an identical layout, so except for the branding and name on the individual ships, the passengers will not notice a difference.

The ship is unable to operate at maximum cruising speed to complete five-day itineraries to the Bahamas and Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos, and will take over the Fantasy’s three- and four-day itineraries to the Bahamas. The Fantasy will take over the Sensation’s route.

The Fantasy and Sensation are sister ships with the same features, amenities, accommodations and layout, and passengers’ reservations will automatically change from one ship to the other; booking numbers and stateroom assignments will stay the same. Guests also can use their preexisting cruise documents.

via Travel Weekly

US Airways MidAtlantic Shutting Down

US Airways is shutting down its affiliate carrier MidAtlantic Airways on May 28th. This follows a growing trend with the major airlines going back to independent carriers for its feeder airlines. Delta has sold its ASA division to SkyWest and is in a very contentious negotiation with ComAir presently. With the MidAtlantic Airways shut down, 368 employees will be laid off.

MidAtlantic Airways will stop operating May 28, the company said Thursday. Seventy-eight workers will be laid off in Pittsburgh, with the rest of the cuts coming in Philadelphia.
The express service, intended as a feeder airline for US Airways, was launched with great promise in May 2002, when Potomac Air was revived and renamed. Based in Pittsburgh, the division flew Embraer 170 regional jets with 72 seats to six Eastern U.S. destinations.
The closing of the regional jet unit had been expected. US Airways sold the assets of MidAtlantic to Indianapolis commuter carrier Republic Airways during its last bankruptcy. via the AP Wire

Napa Wine Tasting Tours Experience Comes With a Price

Napa_winetastingBack in the Day,  touring Napa and tasting some of the premier wines of the country was an inexpensive day. Pack a picnic, stop at a couple Napa Vineyards, and you were in business. But the wineries have learned to weed out the freeloaders and the free tastings are history. Now bring your credit card if you want to tour and taste Napa’s finest. 

This is not  all bad though. It allows the  wineries to invest in their tours and do much more for the customer that is stepping up and paying for the Napa experience.

But today, many vintners are making it clear: There is no longer room at the inn for Bermuda-shorts tourists who drive from tasting room to tasting room with Aunt Betty and belly up to the bar for another swig of sauvignon blanc. Now, some wineries charge as much as $25 for tastings, offer pricey VIP packages, require appointments and credit-card numbers for visits. No-shows get charged if they fail to cancel 48 hours in advance.

Valet parking, intimate tours, wine-tasting with famous cheesemongers and elaborately set tables can all be part of the experience — for a price. “There was a time that the tastings were free because wineries were just so glad that people were taking an interest,” said Larry Stone, the general manager of Rubicon Estate in Rutherford, a winery known for its cabernet sauvignon-dominant wine. “Then wine got very popular. Now, we’re trying to be creative about how to attract the real wine enthusiasts and not the partygoers.”

About 10 years ago, some of the wineries began charging a nominal fee for pourings. These days, it’s hard to find a winery in Napa that doesn’t charge, and the custom is catching on in Sonoma, considered Napa’s casual cousin. But what is new is the trend toward selling a lifestyle of expensive wines, fine foods and luxury service. via The Columbus Dispatch

TSA Security Systems Still a Mess After 1 Billion Dollar Unisys Contract

TSAAn AP report on the 1 billion dollar contract to update the security systems at US Airports has shown itself to be an utter fiasco. There was not enough money to fulfill the requirements or allow the federal government to monitor  the contract properly. So what do we have when we decide to federalize a private function? An unmitigated mess, but is that surprising?

The TSA does not  even have  the basic telecommunication structure necessary to do its job, with some airports  having  20 dollar radio shack phones to communicate with while  Unisys would insist on making the company to provide the most basic services that TSA employees could do, such as installing software.

The TSA, which was created shortly after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, needed information technology and telecommunications for what it anticipated would be 65,000 employees at headquarters, 429 airports, 21 field offices and a command center, the report said.

Unisys was to have provided dial-up connections, laptops, pagers and cell phones by November 19, 2002. Six weeks later, the company was to have delivered high-speed connections, phones, encrypted radios and an electronic surveillance system. Eventually, Unisys was to provide command centers at airports, advanced wireless communications and inter operable radios.

The inspector general said that the company had only supplied the first phase by September 30, 2004. via CNN.com .