Branson: Bird flu pandemic would ground most planes — A human bird flu pandemic could ground up to 70% of aircraft, Virgin Group boss Richard Branson said on Thursday. (Reuters)


United to take Dulles gates
— United Airlines has a deal with defunct Independence Air to take over the 35 gates that Independence leased in Washington Dulles International Airport’s Concourse A, which is used for short commuter flights. (The Washington Post)

Alitalia workers agree to end strikes before Olympics — Workers at Italian airline Alitalia on Thursday ended a week of wildcat pickets that have forced the airline to cancel hundreds of flights and put the company’s future in question. (AP)

Washington lawmakers want to ban overseas sex tours — Travel agents wouldn’t be able to book or sell “sex tours” under a measure lawmakers are considering, following the lead of Hawaii, which signed a similar bill into law two years ago. (AP)

On a wing and a prayer — From Israel study tours and short-term volunteer missions in Central America to Colorado River rafting trips that describe the Grand Canyon from a creationist perspective, faith-based travel by many denominations is booming. (USA Today)

Developer envisions $4 billion sports resort near Vegas Strip — A California developer says he wants to build a $4 billion sports-themed resort on a plot of desert eight miles off the Las Vegas Strip. (AP)

Big Easy could see a ‘Mardi Gras for the ages’ — The duration of the celebration and parade routes have been shortened, but tourism leaders, who see the event as a sort of coming-out party for the city, say the tourist districts are ready. (USA Today)

Public toilets in Paris will soon be free — The land of “liberte, egalite, fraternite” is hoping to boast another civil liberty starting next week: the right to urinate for free. On Feb. 1, Paris plans to begin converting its more than 200 self-sanitizing public toilets to work for free. (AP)

JetBlue CEO cites hiccups in Embraer plane debut — JetBlue Airways’s chief executive Thursday said the discount carrier had experienced problems with its new Embraer 100-seat jets which have led it to slow their introduction into service. (Reuters)

Fighting germs at 35,000 feet — Dr. David Weber, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s schools of medicine and public health in Chapel Hill, urges travelers who are feverish and have upper-respiratory-tract infections to stay home. (CNN)

Man jailed for directing fireworks at airplanes — A man who sent fireworks into the path of landing passenger planes was jailed yesterday for two months. Peter Crane, 20, admitted reckless conduct and placing air crews and passengers in danger. (The Telegraph)


Carrie Charney, Christopher Elliott, John Frenaye, Charles Leocha, Marge Purnell, Valerie Schneider, Mary Staley, Stephanus Surjaputra, Richard Wong.