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JetBlue-Spirit merger shot down.
In one of the most important – not to say surprising – news stories of the week, a U.S. Federal District Judge blocked the proposed merger between JetBlue Airways and ultra-low cost Spirit Airlines on Tuesday. This is the first time in 20 years the federal government rejected an airline merger. The ruling against the $3.8 billion deal is a major loss for JetBlue, say industry commenters, as the airline had been looking for ways to become more competitive against the Big Four U.S. airlines. If approved, the merger would have created the fifth-largest airline in the U.S. The Justice Department argued a merger would lead to fewer seats and higher airfares. TMI will report on next developments as they are announced.
The leading story in this week’s issue of Travel Markets Insider reports on Global Blue’s monthly tax free shopping business update for December, which discusses the solid recovery being turned in across Continental Europe and Asia (outside of Mainland China). Interestingly, U.S. travelers are driving much of the spend in Europe. Global Blue is the tourism shopping tax refund company headquartered in Switzerland that is best known for tax-free shopping, a VAT/GST refund product and currency conversion. Page 1.
In another not completely unexpected development in the U.S. spirits industry, Uber announced that it will shut down the popular alcohol delivery service Drizly in March. See story on page 1.
PEOPLE & MILESTONES
Aerin Lauder takes on a new role as Style & Design Director of the Estée Lauder Re-Nutriv brand. Page 1.
TFWA is turning 40, and announces that a year-long series of activities to mark the momentous occasion will cumulate in a “spectacular” birthday party in Cannes! See more on page 2.
WiTR+–the Women in Travel Retailing networking group—has announced its designated charity for 2024: the FRASI Bike to School project in Sri Lanka, proposed by Miami’s own resident community activist, Patricia Bona of Essence Corp. See details on page 3 and stay tuned to see how you can help.
Avolta (formerly Dufry) and Corporación America Airports unite for strategic airport enhancement in Uruguay. The joint-venture agreement creates a master concession at Uruguay’s airports, using a new business model built around a “Trinity” concept. Page 2.
Brazil delays electronic visa requirement for citizens of USA, Australia and Canada. Page 5.
U.S. TRAVEL & TOURISM
The U.S. Travel Association issued two major reports this week, which together paint a very disturbing forecast for this country’s travel and tourism future. Its biannual forecast for travel to and within the U.S. through 2027 – prepared by Tourism Economics – reports that international inbound travel and domestic business travel will remain below pre-pandemic levels throughout 2024 (domestic travel has fully recovered), and that in these two categories the U.S. is trailing its global competitors. Page 3.
U.S. Travel also released its study prepared by Euromonitor that ranks the U.S. 17th out of 18th in global competitiveness when it comes to international travel. According to the report, the U.S. is still a top “desired” destination, but visitors are challenged by visa waits and requirements, safety concerns and customs regulations. The negative economic impact is significant. See details on page 7.
AIRPORTS & CONCESSIONS
O’Hare welcomes two favorite Chicago eateries to Terminal 5. Page 4
Golden Anniversary: Dallas Fort Worth International Airport marks 50 years of service. Page 4.
Duty Free Americas underscores specialty retail expertise with trio of “firsts” at DFW as the airport celebrates its 50th anniversary. Page 5.
SUPPLY SIDE: YEAR OF THE DRAGON
Courvoisier announces Travel Retail locations for Year of the Dragon collection. Page 6.
Diageo Global Travel collaborates with artist James Jean for Johnnie Walker Year of the Dragon limited edition. Page 6.