Wednesday Briefing: Taking Stock of Hurricane Newton, Guest Overboard on Carnival Ecstasy

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Today in the travel industry Mexico is digging out from Hurricane Newton as Lufthansa Group’s direct bookings solution gains two important customers. Here’s what you need to know. 

Update on Hurricane Newton in Mexico

Hurricane Newton, which made landfall at the southern tip of Baja California near Los Cabos yesterday, toppled palm trees and broke windows but spared the area the kind of damage seen during Hurricane Odile back in 2014, the Chicago Tribune reports. Newton was a category 1 storm when it struck land yesterday, while Odile was a stronger category 3. 

The storm passed over Baja California and is expected to move over the Sea of Cortez, according to the Tribune. As of early Tuesday night, it was 45 miles south-southeast of the town of Mulege on the coast of the Sea of Cortez, expected to make landfall in Sonora state still at hurricane strength. About 14,000 tourists were in Los Cabos at the time of the storm, and some had begun to venture out after it passed. 

According to the BBC, two people died as a result of the storm when a fishing boat capsized in the Gulf of California. Three of the people who were also onboard remain missing. 

Travel Agent has reached out to tourism officials in Mexico for a full report on the storm’s impact. We’ll update when we hear more. 

Guest Overboard on Carnival Ecstasy

In cruise news, early this morning a woman was witnessed jumping overboard from the Carnival Ecstasy, according to a statement from Carnival Cruise Line

The ship was approximately 15 miles off the coast of Grand Bahama island. Man overboard procedures were initiated immediately along with notification to the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), Carnival said. Personnel from the ship have been participating in a search and rescue operation all morning. At 9 a.m., the USCG released the Carnival Ecstasy to resume its course for Charleston while the USCG remained on site to continue he search. Carnival’s CareTeam is providing assistance and support to the guest’s family. 

Carnival Ecstasy is based year round in Charleston, SC and operates five to seven-day cruises to the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Corporate Travel: Lufthansa Group Signs Two Accounts to Direct Connect

Lufthansa Group (LHG) has signed two major customers to its direct connect bookings solution: Siemens and Volkswagen, Business Travel News reports. That means the two companies will bypass LHG’s controversial €16 fee for bookings made through GDS and other outside channels, which the airline group implemented last June. 

The move marks another milestone for LHG’s strategy of pushing direct bookings, which has sparked outcry in the travel industry. Groups such as the Business Travel Coalition (BTC), Travel Leaders Group and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) have at various times criticized the plan, arguing that the move would put travel agents at a disadvantage when selling tickets on LHG airlines. 

In March LHG had to sue Sabre over whether or not the charge violates its contract, with Sabre arguing that because two of LHG's distribution channels -- its direct connection and its agent.com Internet portal -- are operated by technology providers Farelogix and Travelfusion, they effectively act as GDSs and should also be subject to the surcharge. In June, three U.S. Senators urged the U.S. Department of Transportation and Attorney General to investigate whether or not the surcharge violated antitrust laws in light of comments made by Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr on the surcharge during an IATA conference. Lufthansa, for its part, has argued that those comments were intended to be humorous, and that the charge does not violate its contract with Sabre. 

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