Wednesday Briefing: Port Canaveral Evacuated Ahead of Hurricane Matthew, Etihad Talks With TUI

hurricane matthew
Storm surge from Hurricane Matthew // Photo by Eduardo Verdugo/AP/via Newscred

Hard to believe the week’s half over! Keep your momentum going with our roundup of the top three travel industry headlines to follow. 

Hurricane Matthew Nears Southeastern U.S.

Hurricane Matthew will turn northwest over the Bahamas today and could threaten the southeastern United States as a major hurricane later this week, according to the latest forecast from Accuweather.com. Expect deteriorating conditions from Florida into the Carolinas late this week and into the weekend. 

The storm has prompted the evacuation of Port Canaveral, according to a statement from port officials. The evacuation deadline is noon Wednesday. 

In addition to evacuating all land-side operations, the harbor will close by Wednesday afternoon, halting all traffic including cruise and cargo ships. This marks the first time Port Canaveral has shut down operations due to severe weather since the 2004 storms, which forced the harbor to close for 11 days. 

In the Caribbean, the Jamaica Tourist Board reports that the island sustained no major damage due to the hurricane. Norman Manley International Airport in Kingston and Sangster International Airport in Montego Bay are both operational, and no structural damage to hotels or resorts was reported. 

In terms of air travel, Southwest Airlines reports that operations at Nassau (NAS) may be disrupted through October 7. At Ft. Lauderdale (FLL), West Palm Beach (PBI), Orlando (MCO), Tampa (TPA), Ft. Myers (RSW), and Jacksonville (JAX) in Florida, and Charleston, South Carolina (CHS), Charlotte (CLT) and Raleigh-Durham (RDU), scheduled service may be disrupted through October 8. Customers traveling through the affected airports can rebook without charge in the original class of service or travel standby within 14 days of their original date of travel between the original city pairs. 

Delta has issued a travel waiver for flights through Kingston, Jamaica (KIN),  Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ), Georgetown, Bahamas (GGT), Nassau, Bahamas (NAS), Port-au-Prince, Haiti (PAP), Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS), for travel through October 6. Tickets must be reissued on or before October 9 for travel to begin no later than October 9. For travel through Daytona, FL (DAB), Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL), Jacksonville, FL (JAX), Key West, FL (EYW), Melbourne, FL (MLB), Miami, FL (MIA), Orlando, FL (MCO), and West Palm Beach, FL (PBI) through October 7, tickets must be reissued on or before October 12 for travel to begin no later than October 12. For travel through Brunswick, GA (BQK), Charleston, SC (CHS), Fayetteville, NC (FAY), Jacksonville, NC (OAJ), Myrtle Beach, SC (MYR), New Bern, NC (EWN), Raleigh, NC (RDU), Savannah, GA (SAV), and Wilmington, NC (ILM) through October 9, tickets must be reissued on or before October 14 for travel to begin no later than October 14. 

United Airlines is also offering travelers affected by the storm the chance to change their trip with no change fee. For affected airports in the Southeastern U.S., tickets must have been bought by October 4 for travel through October 8, with rescheduled travel to take place through October 12. For airports in Florida, tickets must have been bought by October 4 for travel through October 7, with rescheduled travel to take place through October 12. For airports in the central Caribbean, tickets must have been bought by October 1, with travel to take place through October 6 and rescheduled travel to take place through October 9. For airports in the Bahamas, tickets must have been bought by September 30 with travel to take place through October 7 and rescheduled travel to take place through October 11. In all cases customers cannot change their origin or destination city. 

Finally, JetBlue has announced it will waive cancellation and change fees and fare distances for customers traveling through Charleston, SC (CHS), Daytona Beach, FL (DAB), Fort Lauderdale, FL (FLL), Jacksonville, FL (JAX), Orlando, FL (MCO), Raleigh/Durham, NC (RDU), Savannah/Hilton Head, GA (SAV), West Palm Beach, FL (PBI) through October 9, with rebooking to take place through October 16. Original travel must have been booked on or before October 4. In the Caribbean, JetBlue customers traveling through Kingston, Jamaica (KIN), Montego Bay, Jamaica (MBJ), Nassau, Bahamas (NAS), Port-au-Prince, Haiti (PAP), Providenciales, Turks and Caicos (PLS), and Santa Clara, Cuba (SNU) through October 6 may rebook for travel through October 10 prior to the departure of their originally scheduled flight. The original travel must have been booked on or before September 30. Customers with cancelled flights may opt for a refund.

Etihad Airways in Talks With TUI Group

In air travel news, Etihad Aviation Group and TUI AG have confirmed that they are in discussions to create a European leisure airline group focused on point-to-point flying to connect key tourist markets, according to a statement from the airline. 

The proposal calls for contributing the operations of the airberlin group and the German TUIfly company, including the aircraft currently operated by TUIfly for airberlin under a wet-lease agreement, into a new airline group established by TUI AG and Etihad Aviation Group. This new airline group would serve a broad network of destinations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

TUI AG, Etihad Aviation Group and Air Berlin PLC said they intend to finalize an in-principle agreement in due course, which will be subject to all necessary corporate and regulatory approvals. 

Vail Resorts, Whistler Blackcomb Merger Moves Forward in Canada

In ski news, the merger between Vail Resorts and Whistler Blackcomb has received approval under the Investment Canada Act, marking another step forward for the combination. On September 23, the Canadian Competition Bureau had issued a no-action letter under the Competition Act (Canada) regarding the arrangement. No further regulatory approvals are required for the transaction to close, the two companies said, but the proposal remains subject to certain closing conditions, including approval by Whistler Blackcomb shareholders and the Supreme Court of British Columbia

The merger, announced back in August, would see Vail Resorts retaining the majority of Whistler Blackcomb employees, continued local Canadian leadership at Whistler Blackcomb and Vail Resorts investing in Whistler Blackcomb’s mountain infrastructure, according to a statement made at the time. Whistler Blackcomb will continue to honor the resort’s existing season pass products for the full 2016-2017 winter season. In the future, Vail Resorts is looking to integrate Whistler Blackcomb into its Epic Season Pass and other season pass products for the 2017-2018 winter season.

Subject to the remaining approvals, the merger is expected to close October 17, 2016. 

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