Qantas Airways downplays merger rumors


Qantas Airways downplays merger rumors — Australia’s largest airline, Qantas Airways Ltd, has played down merger suggestions but said it was likely to have an “association” with another airline in five to 10 years. Qantas chief executive Geoff Dixon said the Australian government would be reluctant to see Qantas disappear and any future merger would probably involve two brands and dual listing. (Reuters)

Hot topic on the forums: Seats in full recline — right or rude?

US version of Ryanair prepares for takeoff — A former senior Ryanair employee is setting up a domestic airline in the US, which he claims will have a cost-base substantially lower than the Irish airline. Dubliner Charlie Clifton was Ryanair’s director of ground and in-flight operations when he resigned in December 2002 after 16 years with the airline. Clifton, 42, is now taking his expertise to the US as vice-chairman of Skybus, a startup airline based in Columbus, Ohio. It hopes to be flying by the first quarter of next year. (Post)

United pensions: not dead yet? — In a surprise move, the House voted 219-185 on Friday to block a federal agency’s efforts to terminate United Airlines’ pension plans, raising new complications for a crucial part of the financial restructuring the carrier needs to get out of bankruptcy. While there was immediate confusion about the practical impact of the measure, the overwhelming House vote sent a strong message of congressional sympathy for United’s current and future retirees, who face a substantial reduction of their retirement benefits. (Crain’s)

Are higher airfares inevitable? — Airline officials and aviation industry experts are watching to see if a fare increase announced last week by some of the nation’s bigger airlines will stick, causing other carriers to hike their prices as well. Several of the nation’s largest carriers – including American, United and Delta – raised most one-way fares by $5 and most round-trip fares by $10, citing rising oil costs. But because of the dynamic pricing market and competitive pressures, the effort to establish higher price levels “could fall apart over the weekend,” said United spokeswoman Robin Urbanski. (Examiner)

Another woman missing from cruise ship — Maritime authorities were on alert today for a woman reported missing from a cruise ship off the Caribbean coast of Mexico, a Carnival Cruise Lines representative said. The woman was reported missing at 11 a.m. on Friday by her husband as the cruise ship Elation was returning to Galveston, Texas, after a stop in Belize, according to Jennifer de la Cruz, a representative for Carnival Cruise Lines. (AP)

UK train passenger smash windows after stop — Rail travelers smashed windows with emergency hammers to escape from overheated carriages yesterday after a power failure left them stranded between stations in baking heat. Nearly 300 passengers were trapped for two hours after the 2.55pm train from Newcastle to London Kings Cross, came to a halt near Sawtry in Cambridgeshire at around 5.30pm. (Independent)

Plane with knife makes U-turn — An American Airlines flight that had taken off on a flight to Rome returned to O’Hare International Airport because a passenger found a small knife on board, an airline spokeswoman said Sunday. American Airlines Flight 110 had been in the air for more than an hour Saturday when the passenger found the knife inside an airline-provided package containing a pillow and blanket, American spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan said. (AP)

Group urges antitrust immunity for Northwest — In a filing today with the U.S. Department of Transportation, area business and civic leaders urged the department to expeditiously approve an application for antitrust immunity filed by Northwest Airlines and its SkyTeam joint venture partners in September 2004. (dBusiness)

Life’s no beach for American travelers — Americans who include beaches and/or theme and amusement parks on their vacations are a lucrative market. These travelers tend to take longer vacations and spend more money per trip than overall travelers, according to data from the Travel Industry Association of America. (Press release via

Record Fourth of July weekend predicted — The number of Americans who will travel this holiday weekend could set a new record. A survey by AAA predicts that 40.3 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more from home over the Fourth of July holiday. That represents a 2.8 percent increase from the 39.2 million who traveled last year. The survey finds that 33.9 million people — 84 percent of holiday travelers — expect to travel by car, despite rising gas prices. (KTVU)

See you later, aggregators? Not if you want a deal — Search aggregators and supplier Web sites are continually changing the rules of online travel, and staying on top of these trends can help you make the most of your online reservations. “The major trend that characterizes everything in the travel Internet space is putting more and more current information at the fingertips of consumer,” said Charles Buchwalter, vice president of analytics at Nielsen//NetRatings. (CNN/Money)

Correspondents: Richard Wong, Carrie Charney, Leslie Friedman, John Frenaye, Mary Staley, Stephanus Surjaputra.