Delta Air Lines to Stop Blocking Middle Seats in May

Shannon Stapleton  / Reuters

Delta Air Lines pre-flight cleaning crew members use electrostatic disinfection devices to clean an aircraft at JFK International Airport in New York in August 2020. The carrier said on Wednesday it will stop blocking middle seats as of May 1, a move that will allow it to start selling more seats. Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Skift Take: Social distancing ends at 36,000 feet for most airlines now. Filling formerly empty seats will help Delta at a time when U.S. carriers are competing doggedly for travelers.

— Sean O’Neill

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Longtime Holdout Alaska Airlines Joining Oneworld Signals Renewed Importance of Alliances

yuki_alm_misa  / Flickr

Alaska Airlines joined the Oneworld alliance on Wednesday. yuki_alm_misa / Flickr

Skift Take: The airline industry was increasingly writing off global alliances before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Now, the tables appear to be turning with Alaska Airlines accelerating its membership into Oneworld despite the crisis and carriers increasingly depending on their partners for global reach.

— Edward Russell

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Spain Expects to Kickstart Tourism in June With EU Vaccine Certificates

Richard Penn/Flickr

Destinations like the pictured Al Hambra in Spain have been deserted since last year as local tourism faced the onslaught of the pandemic. Richard Penn/Flickr

Skift Take: Spain’s tourism minister previously said that the country is expecting 40 million tourists this year. With the summer travel season fast approaching, is this number realistic?

— Reem Abdellatif

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Embattled Delta CEO Refuses to Condemn Georgia Elections Law, Defends Earlier Statements

Skift Take: Delta CEO Ed Bastian faced immense blowback and calls to boycott the airline for his muted response to Georgia’s new elections law, a break from his usual vocal support for social justice issues. The airline and his PR-orchestrated statements will face growing scrutiny just as the travel recovery is taking hold.

— Madhu Unnikrishnan

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Sonesta Built a Hotel Empire During the Pandemic: Here’s What’s Missing

Sonesta International Hotels Corp.

Sonesta’s wild growth during the pandemic continues, but company leaders recognize they need to implement some kind of loyalty program to appeal to more customers. Sonesta International Hotels Corp.

Skift Take: Sonesta is now a major hotel company with hundreds of franchised properties and an eye toward further growth. But the big hurdle is expanding its loyalty program. Marriott’s takeover of Starwood showed the complexities of engineering loyalty across brands at a huge scale.

— Cameron Sperance

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Finding the Greenest Hotel Company: New Skift Research 🔒

Angela Benito  / Unsplash

Treetops seen from the ground Angela Benito / Unsplash

Skift Take: Hotels need to reduce their carbon emissions by 66 percent by 2030, and 90 percent by 2050 to comply with the Paris Agreement on climate change. While there is a lot of talk, not all companies are walking the walk. We have identified those that are talking, and those that are walking.

— Wouter Geerts

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Air France-KLM Joins Airlines Getting Ahead of Fare Wars by Mimicking Uber

Adobe

A view of the Eiffel Tower from an Air France plane. Air France-KLM Group said on Tuesday it would adopt continuous pricing with Accelya tech. It will calculate fares in real-time, like Uber. Adobe

Skift Take: Suddenly the phrase “continuous pricing” is on the lips of airline executives worldwide. The reason is that price competition will be fierce once international air travel rebounds. The new pricing method promises to help airlines extract the most money possible from passengers based on their willingness to pay.

— Sean O’Neill

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