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BACK TO WORK: American recalling flight attendants to handle travel crowds

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American Airlines is cancelling extended leaves for about 3,300 flight attendants and telling them to come back to work in time for the holiday season. And the carrier plans to hire 800 new flight attendants by next March, according to an airline executive.

The moves are the latest indication that leisure travel in the US is recovering more quickly from the pandemic than airlines expected.

“Increasing customer demand and new routes starting later this year mean we need more flight attendants to operate the airline,” Brady Byrnes, the airline’s vice president of flight service, told flight attendants in a memo Thursday.

Byrnes said cabin crews who are coming back from leave will return to flights in November or December.

Last year, American offered long-term leaves of absence to flight attendants and other employees to cut costs while it struggled with a steep drop in travel caused by the coronavirus outbreak. Other airlines did the same thing. Now they need people.

Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian said this week that his airline expects to hire between 4,000 and 5,000 workers this year. Delta plans to add 1,300 reservations agents by this fall to reduce long waits on hold for customers who call the airline. It’s also adding customer service, cargo and airport workers and plans to hire more than 1,000 pilots before next summer.

When the pandemic hit, the number of people flying in the US plunged below 100,000 on some days, a level not seen in decades. This year, it has climbed from less than 700,000 a day in early February to 2 million a day in July.

Help wanted

In other sectors of tourism and travel the issue of understaffing is looming large. Restaurants, hotels, and some travel companies wholesale and retail are having difficulties getting adequate numbers of staff as bookings increase and lockdown restrictions are lifted.

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

MOVING RIGHT ALONG: Porter expansion could significantly shake up Canada’s airline industry

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When Porter Airlines resumes operations on Sept. 8 after an 18-month pandemic pause, it plans to do so with a bang, not a whimper. The Toronto-based airline says it will spend billions to introduce up to 80 state-of-the-art Embraer E195-E2 aircraft into its fleet starting in the second half of 2022. Significantly, the planes have transcontinental range, which will enable Porter to reach potential markets coast to coast in Canada, along with destinations in the US, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

Porter is Embraer’s North American launch customer for the E2 with the total aircraft order valued at up to US$5.82 billion for 30 firm commitments and 50 purchase right options.

The agreement also includes the ability to convert purchase rights to smaller E190-E2, which would provide opportunities to introduce non-stop service in markets where connecting flights are often the only option today, as well as enabling higher-frequency service for routes with greater demand.

Porter intends to operate the E2s to popular destinations from Ottawa, Montreal, Halifax, and Toronto Pearson International Airport, with specific routes to be determined in advance of aircraft deliveries.

“We believe that now is the right time to make this investment as the pandemic resets the aviation landscape,” says Porter president and CEO Michael Deluce. “Adding a diverse selection of popular business and leisure destinations to our network means that we are better positioned to serve the needs of many more passengers.”

Despite establishing service from Pearson Airport for the first time, flights from Porter’s existing hub at downtown Toronto’s Billy Bishop Airport will remain core to its business and will continue with high-frequency regional service on turboprop aircraft. Service is confirmed to restart at Billy Bishop on Sept. 8, following a temporary shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic and associated travel restrictions.

Porter maintains that the Toronto island airport is essential to its immediate plans for re-establishing flights and developing future routes and that it will not operate E2s from there.

“Our commitment to Billy Bishop Airport is not changing,” says Robert Deluce, Porter’s founder and executive chairman. “Our corporate headquarters at Billy Bishop is being maintained and we will continue serving the same network of regional markets from downtown Toronto.”

He adds, “We are moving beyond this existing footprint to welcome more travellers across North America.”

Belonging to the most environmentally friendly single-aisle aircraft family, measured by sound and CO2 emissions, the E195-E2 is 65% quieter than previous generation types.

The aircraft accommodates between 120 and 146 passengers and fits Porter’s traditional service offering, with a passenger-focused design with an aisle or window seating for every passenger, large windows and overhead bins, and cabin mood lighting.

The airline is currently finalizing its preferred configuration and additional passenger experience details, such as in-flight entertainment and onboard service.

Combined with Porter’s existing De Havilland Dash 8-400s, Porter says it will have one of the world’s most environmentally sustainable commercial aircraft fleets. Funds for the purchase are being raised privately from shareholders, as well as through aircraft sale-leaseback agreements.

Airline analyst Robert Kokonis, president of airline consulting firm AirTrav Inc., says Porter’s expansion is a “bold move” that will surely illicit a strong response from Canada’s two largest airlines, especially as it prepares to land “in the jaws of the dragon at Pearson, which is Air Canada’s main base of operations and the second-largest base for WestJet Airlines.

“WestJet and Air Canada are not going to take this sitting down,” he says, adding, “They’re going to put a very robust response on the marketplace because everybody’s suffered through the pandemic.”

But Kokonis doesn’t believe Porter will try to become Sunwing, Transat, or Air Canada Rouge by appealing mainly to the leisure crowd. Instead, he expects it will continue to cater to business travellers who have taken advantage of the Toronto island airport’s quick access to the country’s largest city, in addition to leisure travellers.

Porter’s growth has always been limited by available slots at the island airport. Its effort to add jet service was quashed in 2015 when jets were barred.

The airline placed a conditional order in 2013 for Bombardier CSeries planes, now known as Airbus A220, but let that order lapse within the past year and switched to Embraer’s latest product after reviewing its expansion plans.

Kokonis says the Embraer plane is a great option for Porter, which has an extremely strong brand presence and customer base in Eastern Canada.

He adds: “It’s a very, very bold and decisive market action they’re taking… And I think they might just have a fighting chance to make it all work.”

Porter currently offers flights to Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Fredericton, Saint John, Moncton, Halifax, St. John’s, Thunder Bay, Sault Ste. Marie, Sudbury, Timmins, Windsor, New York (Newark), Chicago (Midway), Boston and Washington (Dulles), and has seasonal flights to Mt. Tremblant, Que., Muskoka, Ont., Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Stephenville, N.L.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

A TRUFFLE-HUNTING ADVENTURE IN UMBRIA: Unearthing the diamonds of the gourmet world

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I’m walking through Pettino’s truffle-rich forests and pastures at the base of a mountain. Leading the way are four specially trained dogs – Pucci, Pippo, Vespa and Enea – and hot on their heels are the truffle hunters Luciano and Bruno, armed with small picks and a leather bag for the loot.

Truffle hunting is a centuries-old daily tradition in Umbria. “It’s an everyday part of our lives,” says Bruno. “We go out almost every day. We are the caretakers of the truffle mountain and forests, and the keepers of many generations of recipes. We eat truffles, we produce condiments from them, we sell them. This is how we live.” It’s a beautiful and simple way of life – the secluded Umbrian mountains, the ancestral hamlet that’s been home to truffle hunters since the 15th century.

Today, next to the river, we’re in search of white truffles, the rare bulbous tuber that cannot be cultivated in the same way as its black counterpart. Pucci disappears into the undergrowth, quickly followed by Bruno, her handler. He produces his vanghino, a specialist excavation tool, and unearths an onion-size white truffle. This excites Pucci as she knows what’s coming – a treat in the form of some dried pasta.

Truffles exude a chemical that imitates the mammalian reproductive pheromones, so for an animal, just sniffing it is akin to being drugged. Initially, female pigs were used to find truffles, but when they latch onto its aroma, they’re driven wild and often end up eating their finds. This gave rise to the training and use of truffle-hunting dogs, usually traditional water breeds such as pointers, spaniels and setters, which by law must be highly trained. In theory, they can be of any age, although the best results are attained in three- to six-month-old pups.

Bruno has just started telling me about the price per kilo for black truffles – in excess of £250 – when he hears frantic digging among the trees and sets off in search of Pippo. Moments later, he emerges from beneath the undergrowth, holding an egg-size white truffle between his thumb and index finger. “This,” he says, “is ten times the value of black truffles.” He hands it to me, and I feel its weight in my palm, smell its luscious, slightly garlicky scent, which Bruno tells me is ideal for enhancing the flavour of any dish.

We find just a handful of truffles in our hour-long trek, so the dogs are transported to the nearby estate of San Pietro a Pettine, which is higher up the mountain. Here, we’ll set out to find black truffles, which are buried among roots in select patches of hillside oak and hazelnut groves.

Umbria is the single largest producer of truffles in Italy. In meeting the worldwide demand of international chefs, professional truffle hunters can earn up to £20,000 a season, passing their finds through a series of highly competitive and carefully guarded truffle-market channels before reaching their destinations abroad.

Today, however, our truffles are only going as far as the estate’s restaurant, La Cucina, where the chef Alicia Capuricci uses them to prepare a delicious lunch for us. We start with an egg that has been slow poached for 90 minutes, coated in panko, deep-fried, then served atop creamy mashed potato. This is accompanied by a parmigiana fondue and a heavy handful of white truffle shavings (the very ones we have just brought in from the woods), which taste oaky, nutty and a little earthy, with back notes of olives. “Black truffles’ spores smell stronger than the flavour, but even the strongest will never overpower other ingredients on the plate,” says Alicia, who uses the fungi like a vegetable, shaving it onto just about anything – including ice cream.

Later, at La Pintura, my farmhouse retreat near Trevi, Nonna Ciarletti is making dinner. I’m sitting at a battered 10-seater wooden table, beside a slow-burning log fire, in the company of Gianfranco Ciarletti, my host and a fourth-generation olive farmer. Together, we dine on a harmonious mix of brochettes of meat toasted on open coals, wafers of cured ham, topped off with lashings of home-grown olive oil. Then the soul food makes an appearance – a dense vegetable broth with a fistful of grated truffles and a liberal sprinkling of parmesan cheese, plus a good glug of olive oil. Silence descends on the farmhouse as we lose ourselves in truffle heaven… 

Umbria: the ultimate foodie guide

Where to make traditional pasta: In the picture-postcard village of Scheggino, clamber down a flight of narrow stone steps to Restaurant Osteria Baciafemmine, where the chef Elisa Valentini will demonstrate the pasta-making process to interested visitors. “The region’s typical pasta is umbrici, made from flour and water,” she explains. “After kneading the dough, it is rolled out, then hand-cut into a cord-like spaghetti strips. Of course, the ideal condiment for our umbricelli is truffles.”

Where to celebrate truffles: On 4 and 5 April, Scheggino plays host to the Diamante Nero festival. Browse stalls groaning under the weight of fresh truffles, buy truffle marmalades, oils and other condiments, sample local products such as cheese, lentils and saffron, and discover traditional crafts such as handwoven fabrics. There are also numerous cooking demonstrations and tastings, and hands-on activities for kids, but the highlight of the weekend is attempting to set a Guinness World Record for a giant truffle frittata.

Where to learn more about truffles: Visit the Museo del Tartufo Urbani in Scheggino to delve into the history surrounding its ‘black diamonds’; and while you’re there, stock up on all your truffle requirements in the excellent museum shop.
Where to stayCastello di Monticelli, near Perugia, is a preserved sixth-century fortress turned boutique hotel festooned with mediaeval characteristics in each of its 26 suites – expect fireplaces, terracotta floors, oak ceiling beams and chestnut windows that frame views of the valley and Perugia in the distance. It’s surrounded by two acres of gardens and terraces; six acres of forest and a large patch of land where organic produce is grown. Alternatively, for a more rustic experience, stay at La Pintura, which offers refined farmhouse-style accommodation on a working olive farm. On offer are four comfortable en-suite rooms, dressed in handmade bed linens and curtains.

How to get there: Get a flight to London Heathrow then a cheap connecting flight either via Ryanair, which flies to Perugia three times a week from London Stansted Airport; alternatively, later this summer, British Airways will launch a new route from Heathrow.

www.umbriatourism.it

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

ELLEN ROSEMOND

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If you were at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport in the eighties and nineties, working with the tour operators or the charter carriers you likely remember Ellen Rosemond. A small blonde firecracker who despite a beaming smile, simply didn’t suffer fools and who seldom had a thought she didn’t immediately voice. Ellen ruffled a lot of feathers, bruised some egos but could also be just as kind, considerate, caring and funny as she could be brash and brazen.

A thoughtful, intelligent woman with a degree in Art History and Slavic languages from the University of Toronto, Ellen steered her love of travel into a career as a travel agent, and then taught her favourite subject at Sheridan College, guiding the first class through the CTC course and taking the exam with her students, garnering the fourth highest mark in Ontario – which seriously annoyed her – fourth highest? Not good enough!

She left teaching to co-found Cygnet Travel Representatives Inc. a service for tour operators and corporations that offered dispatch, reception, concierge, general airport and liaison services with airlines and aviation operators for over 18 years at YYZ. Along the way she also concurrently co-founded Cygnet Tennis, working with the Women’s Tennis Association and Tennis Canada to manufacture and provide merchandise at Canadian tournaments. The final entrepreneurial venture for the company, and the one she perhaps loved most, was Cygnet Gallery, an art gallery in Toronto’s Yorkville district.

To meet Ellen was to remember her. Small in stature but with a huge temperament and a fiery temper which could dissolve in seconds into a radiant smile and a funny quip. Complicated and complex, she was both tough and tender, inflexible and lenient. Despite serious and painful back issues, she worked as hard or harder than anyone else and was on her feet (in Chanel pumps) for hours on end without a complaint. She had unlimited patience when teaching or explaining a problem, and none at all if she felt the listener was not concentrating on the issue at hand.

Ellen had a lively sense of humour, a quick wit and a keen intellect. She loved to travel and did so as often as she could.

A great joy was in rummaging around auction houses and art galleries, be it St. Ives, Edinburgh, Collingwood, or Toronto, or looking for treasures and unknown artists at The Royal Academy of Art’s Summer Exhibition in London.

She loved the theatre, was passionate about music, and for many years, had subscription seats to both the TSO and the Canadian Opera Company. Her taste however was eclectic, and she enjoyed all types of music including jazz, pop and rock. In art too, she had varied tastes ranging from abstract modern to old masters and could discuss them all with knowledge and intelligence.

Ellen Rosemond died suddenly this week. She was my business partner for almost twenty years and my friend for much longer. I will miss her as will the many friends and associates who remember this small woman with the huge personality.

 

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

RELAX. IT’S NOT WHAT IT SEEMS.

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The problem began with a piece in the Globe and Mail about a travel deal offered by Rocky Mountaineer that clearly stated, “you must book directly through Rocky Mountaineer (bookings through travel agents are not eligible) to take advantage of thee promotions.” Adding insult to injury, and stupidity to a seemingly dumb decision, Rocky Mountaineer is currently hosting agents and media on an inaugural train journey.

Well didn’t that cause a kerfuffle? Social media went nutso as agents and others tried to contact the company for an explanation.

Part of the deal also involved earning up to 20,000 Aeroplan points and one agent wrote on Facebook that, “We have already complained. Their response is that we have the option to buy Aeroplan points at our expense and match them. Clearly they do not value the retail trade.”

However, apparently things were not quite as bleak they seemed. Word soon came that travel agents could actually book Rocky Mountaineer’s Canadian Resident offer, but to do that they have to book it through the rail company’s call centre.

The Travel Press quoted Nicole Ford, director, communications and stakeholder relations for Rocky Mountaineer saying, “Travel agents are valued partners. Our call centre is experiencing higher than usual wait times, but we are prioritizing 2021 bookings.”

“If an agent is looking to book a client with this offer, they can do so by calling one of our in-house vacation consultants.”

Ford added that the Canadian Resident offer can also be combined with the Fairmont offer on eligible bookings. You can check them out HERE

It’s not the first time. It’s not a one-off

But this whole situation raised some issues. TripCentral president Richard Vanderlubbe, who has chaired ACTA in the past and sat on various Boards suggests there is a larger issue here that is worth exploring.

“ It’s classic in the domestic tourism industry.” Vanderlubbe told us in an email yesterday. “Our domestic industry is small and cottage like in many ways compared to other countries with more developed and full year infrastructure. The sophistication is limited. Hotels and other tourism businesses often do this – offer a local deal direct to consumers – and then they, and provincial tourism organizations and ministries – wonder why there is so little action by the travel industry in Canada selling Canada to Canadians.

“When you’re so often undercut, you just give up. If they fail to understand that by bundling their products with flights and working with tour operators and travel agencies to offer value without touching published prices, they can fill unsold rooms without being market disruptive.”

Vanderlubbe rightly points out that, “The classic marketing mistake ‘let’s cut price and fund it from not paying a distributor’ repeats over and over again. Trying to cut price for local rubber tire / direct market incremental business is just so stupid. They are counting on the fact that international travellers won’t notice the local / direct deal. Meanwhile the internet puts pressure even on foreign tour operators trying to promote the product.”

“It’s this idea that the promotion and distribution of their product and service can be done cheaper by themselves, or that the trade will do it for free, or that a consumer will knowingly pay more to buy it from a distributor.”

That path is ‘folly’ says Vanderlubbe, adding, “The airlines, cruise lines, large hotel chains all learned their lessons on this over many years, but it appears bit players and newbies fall into the trap or repeat the mistake.”

All true. This is a lesson that needs to be learned – and remembered.

Here’s the bit from the Globe and Mail.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

HOT STUFF: West coast bakes in record temperatures

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Record temperatures are baking the Pacific northwest on both sides of the border, melting power cables, causing blackouts, and producing notably warmer nighttime temperatures that a Canadian expert says are nothing less than a “fingerprint of climate change.”

Simon Donner, a professor in the University of British Columbia’s geography department, says average daytime highs for this time of the year in the province are usually around 22 degrees Celsius, but the mercury is expected to hit 34 this week. But, more important, are the unusually high night-time readings – two degrees higher than the usual 24-degree C average temperature in the province.

“That’s how unusual this is,” he says. “It’s going to be warmer overnight than it usually is in the middle of the day,” adding, warming nighttime temperatures are “like a fingerprint of climate change. (And) this is exactly a specific sort of prediction that scientists have been making. That we would have warmer nights.”

He calls the heat wave unprecedented because of its magnitude and duration.

Environment Canada has warned that the heat wave won’t lift for days, although parts of BC and Yukon could see some relief sooner. However, 60 temperature records fell on Sunday in BC, including in the village of Lytton, where the mercury reached 46.6 degrees C – breaking the all-time Canadian high of 45 C, set in Saskatchewan in 1937.

US

Meanwhile, the unprecedented Northwest US heat wave that has slammed Seattle and Portland, Oregon, moved inland Tuesday — prompting a electrical utility in Spokane, Washington, to warn that people will face more rolling blackouts amid heavy power demand.

The intense weather that gave Seattle and Portland consecutive days of record high temperatures far exceeding 100 degrees F (37.7 C) was expected to ease in those cities, but inland Spokane was likely to surpass Monday’s high temperature – a record-tying 105 F (40.6 C) – and reach 110 F (43.3C), which would be an all-time record.

Temperatures in other eastern Washington and Oregon communities were expected to reach about 115 degrees F (45.6 C) a day after Seattle and Portland shattered all-time heat records.

Seattle hit 108 degrees F (42 C) by Monday evening — well above Sunday’s all-time high of 104 F (40 C). Portland, Oregon, reached 116 F (46.6 C) after hitting records of 108 F (42 C) on Saturday and 112 F (44 C) on Sunday.

The temperatures have been unheard of in a region better known for rain, and where June has historically been referred to as “Juneuary” for its cool drizzle. Seattle’s average high temperature in June is around 70 F (21.1 C), and fewer than half of the city’s residents have air conditioning, according to US Census data.

The heat forced schools and businesses on Monday to close to protect workers and guests, including some places like outdoor pools and ice cream shops where people seek relief from the heat. COVID-19 testing sites and mobile vaccination units were out of service as well.

In Portland, light rail and streetcar service was suspended as power cables melted and electricity demand spiked.

Heat-related expansion caused road pavement to buckle or pop loose in many areas, including a Seattle highway. Workers in tanker trucks hosed down drawbridges with water twice daily prevent the steel from expanding in the heat and interfering with their opening and closing mechanisms.

The heat wave was caused by what meteorologists described as a dome of high pressure over the Northwest and worsened by human-caused climate change, which is making such extreme weather events more likely and more intense.

Zeke Hausfather, a scientist at the climate-data non-profit Berkeley Earth, said that the Pacific Northwest has warmed by about 3 degrees F (1.7 degrees C) in the past half-century.

That means a heat wave now is about 3 degrees warmer than it would have been before – and the difference between 111 degrees and 114 is significant, especially for vulnerable populations, he noted.

“In a world without climate change, this still would have been a really extreme heat wave,” Hausfather said. “This is worse than the same event would have been 50 years ago, and notably so.”

The blistering heat exposed a region with infrastructure not designed for it, hinting at the greater costs of climate change to come.

US Sen. Maria Cantwell said that the Northwest heat illustrated an urgent need for the upcoming federal infrastructure package to promote clean energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and protect people from extreme heat.

“Washington state was not built for triple digit temperatures,” she said.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

THE SEARCH CONTINUES: Many feared dead after Florida beachfront condo collapse

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It has been reported that the 12-story building that collapsed in Surfside, just north of Miami, on Thursday was sinking and possibly in dangerous condition before the horrifying event. At least one person was killed and others trapped in the tower. Dozens of survivors were pulled out, as rescuers keep up a desperate search for more.

The report from last year also opened questions as to whether recent construction work on the roof could have triggered the collapse – and revealed that the building was due to have its safety recertified in just months. However, authorities have not yet determined definitively what caused the building to collapse and Miami-Dade police have opened an investigation – though Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said “there has been no evidence found of foul play.”

Questions are now being asked whether the tragedy could have been prevented and how similar collapses can be prevented.

A wing of the 12-story building in the community of Surfside came down with a roar around 1:30 a.m. By late afternoon, nearly 100 people were still unaccounted for, authorities said, raising fears that the death toll could climb sharply. Officials did not know how many were in the tower when it fell.

“The building is literally pancaked,” Surfside Mayor Charles Burkett said. “That is heartbreaking because it doesn’t mean, to me, that we are going to be as successful as we wanted to be in finding people alive.”

Hours after the collapse, searchers were trying to reach a trapped child whose parents were believed to be dead. In another case, rescuers saved a mother and child, but the woman’s leg had to be amputated to remove her from the rubble, Frank Rollason, director of Miami-Dade emergency management, told the Miami Herald.

Video showed fire crews removing a boy from the wreckage, but it was not clear whether he was the same person mentioned by Rollason. Teams were trying to enter the building from a parking garage beneath the structure.

Gov. Ron DeSantis, who toured the scene, said television did not capture the scale of what happened.

Rescue crews are “doing everything they can to save lives. That is ongoing, and they’re not going to rest,” he said.

Teams of 10 to 12 rescuers at a time entered the rubble with dogs and other equipment, working until they grew tired from the heavy lifting, then making way for a new team, said Florida Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, the state’s fire marshal.

“They’re not going to stop just because of nightfall,” Patronis told Miami television station WPLG. “They just may have a different path they pursue.”

Patronis said he was deeply moved by the image of a bunk bed near the now-exposed top of the building.

“Somebody was probably sleeping in it,” he said. “There’s all those what-ifs.”

On video footage captured from nearby, the center of the building appeared to fall first, with a section nearest the ocean teetering and coming down seconds later as a huge dust cloud swallowed the neighborhood.

Work was being done on the building’s roof, but Burkett said he did not see how that could have been the cause.

President Joe Biden promised to provide federal aid if requested.

Hotels opened to some displaced residents, the mayor said, and deliveries of food, medicine and more were being hastily arranged.

About half of the building’s roughly 130 units were affected, the mayor told a news conference. Rescuers pulled at least 35 people from the rubble by mid-morning, and heavy equipment was being brought in to help stabilize the structure to provide more access,.

The tower has a mix of seasonal and year-round residents, and while the building keeps a log of guests, it does not keep track of when owners are in residence, Burkett said.

Nicholas Fernandez spent hours after the collapse trying to call two friends who were staying in the building with their young daughter. The family had come to the United States to avoid the COVID-19 outbreak in their home country of Argentina, said Fernandez, of Miami.

“The hope is that, perhaps, someone hears the call. I know there are dogs inside,” he said. “I know it may sound ridiculous what I’m saying but there’s always hope until we hear different.”

A total of 22 South Americans were missing in the collapse – nine from Argentina, six from Paraguay, four from Venezuela and three from Uruguay, according to officials in those countries.

The collapse, which appeared to affect one leg of the L-shaped tower, tore away walls and ripped open some homes in the still-standing part of the building. Television footage showed beds, tables and chairs inside. Air conditioners hung from some parts of the building, where wires dangled.

Barry Cohen, 63, said he and his wife were asleep in the building when he first heard what he thought was a crack of thunder. The couple went onto their balcony, then opened the door to the building’s hallway to find “a pile of rubble and dust and smoke billowing around.”

“I couldn’t walk out past my doorway,” said Cohen, the former vice mayor of Surfside.

Surfside City Commissioner Eliana Salzhauer told WPLG that the building’s county-mandated 40-year recertification process was ongoing. Salzhauer said the process was believed to be proceeding without difficulty. A building inspector was on-site Wednesday.

“I want to know why this happened,” Salzhauer said. “That’s really the only question. … And can it happen again? Are any other of our buildings in town in jeopardy?”

The seaside condo development was built in 1981. It had a few two-bedroom units on the market, with asking prices of $600,000 to $700,000. The area’s neighborhood feel offers a stark contrast to the glitz and bustle of nearby South Beach.

The area has a mix of new and old apartments, houses, condominiums and hotels, with restaurants and stores serving an international combination of residents and tourists. The main oceanside street is lined with glass-sided, luxury condominium buildings, but more modest houses are on the inland side. Among the neighborhood’s residents are snowbirds, Russian immigrants and Orthodox Jewish families.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

A RETURN TO NORMAL: Switzerland welcomes fully vaccinated Canadian guests

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The Swiss government has outlined a return to normality after the global pandemic including the complete opening to international guests and the full opening of tourist infrastructures (restaurants, events, leisure facilities).The  government announced that it is opening the country’s borders to fully vaccinated travellers from Canada from June 26, in time for the summer holidays.

Switzerland Tourism is already actively present in Toronto to provide information about existing protection measures and rules, as well as travel opportunities in Switzerland for the summer and autumn 2021.

“We are very happy to welcome fully vaccinated Canadian guests back in Switzerland. Our campaign with Vancouver-based photographer Callum Snape showcases why Canadians will love reconnecting with friends and family in the heart of Europe. Hike and bike in the Swiss Alps, explore our boutique towns, swim in our turquoise lakes, discover in our four language regions and ride our scenic trains along palm trees and stunning glaciers”, says Pascal Prinz, Director Canada for Switzerland Tourism.

Canadians, who can prove that they are fully vaccinated will be able to travel to Switzerland without quarantine or PCR tests starting tomorrow. Upon return to Canada local regulations apply.

Over 4,000 tourism businesses use the Swiss “Clean & Safe” label to document the application of comprehensive protection concepts. Information is available on the website.

Travellers appreciate – especially after the pandemic – Switzerland’s values such as reliability, cleanliness, safety and naturalness.

Image by Callum Snape

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

FLIGHT CREWS URGE ZERO TOLERANCE: As passengers return to air travel, bad behavior skyrockets

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Air travel can be difficult in the best of times, with cramped planes, screaming babies, flight delays and short tempers. Throw in a pandemic, and the anxiety level can rise quickly. That has led to confrontations with flight attendants and other unruly behavior, including occasional fights that get captured and replayed endlessly on social media.

Airlines have reported about 3,000 cases of disruptive passengers since Jan. 1, according to a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, which began tracking it this year. About 2,300 of those incidents involved passengers who refused to obey the federal requirement to wear a face mask.

Over the past decade, the FAA investigated about 140 cases a year for possible enforcement actions such as fines. This year, it was nearly 400 by late May.

Things have gotten so bad that the airlines and unions for flight attendants and pilots sent a letter to the US Justice Department on Monday urging “that more be done to deter egregious behavior.”

“The federal government should send a strong and consistent message through criminal enforcement that compliance with federal law and upholding aviation safety are of paramount importance,” the letter said, noting that the law calls for up to 20 years imprisonment for passengers who intimidate or interfere with crew members.

Trade group Airlines for America sent a separate letter to the Federal Aviation Administration acknowledging that the “vast majority of passengers” comply with the rules but “unfortunately, we continue to see onboard behavior deteriorating into heinous acts, including assaults, threats and intimidation of crewmembers that directly interfere with the performance of crewmember duties and jeopardize the safety and security of everyone onboard the aircraft.”

The FAA announced a “zero-tolerance” policy against disruptive behavior on flights back in January. The agency is attempting to levy fines that can top $30,000 against more than 50 passengers and has identified more than 400 other cases for possible enforcement.

US airlines have banned at least 3,000 passengers since May of last year, and that doesn’t include two of the largest, American and Southwest, which decline to provide figures.

Airlines have stripped some customers of frequent-flyer benefits, and in rare cases pilots have made unplanned landings to remove unruly passengers. Pilots and flight attendants now routinely make pre-flight announcements to remind passengers about federal regulations against interfering with crews.

“All of that is helpful, and if we didn’t have that I can only imagine how much worse it would be,” said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants, “but this is clearly not taking care of the whole problem. We have to do a lot more. I have never, ever seen an environment like this.”

Mike Oemichen has been a flight attendant for seven years and he, too, says he has never seen so much bad behavior on board. He recounted a recent incident in which he and other flight attendants had just completed the safety briefing for passengers and were preparing for takeoff when a fight broke out between two men and a woman accompanying one of them.

“After 20 or 30 seconds we were able to get the two male passengers away from each other, and we tried to calm everyone down,” Oemichen said. “Then we went back to the gate and had the passengers removed.”

Oemichen suffered a concussion when he hit his head against an overhead bin during the melee.

“We never figured out what they were fighting over,” said Oemichen, who spoke on condition that his airline not be named. He also handles grievances for union members at his airline.

The fear among flight attendants is that things will get worse this summer, as travel continues to increase and planes get more crowded. The airline industry passed a milestone earlier this month when the Transportation Security Administration announced that more than 2 million people streamed through US airport security checkpoints for the first time since early March 2020.

Airline bookings have been picking up since around February, as more Americans were vaccinated against COVID-19. Falling infection rates could, however, make it much harder for flight attendants to enforce the federal mask-wearing rule, which isn’t due to expire until mid-September.

Some security experts think lifting the mask requirement will remove a key source of tension – one with political overtones in a politically divided nation. But it could also raise the anxiety of people who worry about sharing space with strangers while we’re still in a pandemic.

“People on both sides of the issue are acting badly,” Nelson said.

Airline unions have asked for a variety of measures including more air marshals, limits on alcohol sales on planes and in airports, and more sharing of information among airlines about disruptive passengers. They are also floating the idea of a new government-maintained list of banned passengers – but one that would be less restrictive than the no-fly list for suspected terrorists.

It’s not clear why there is so much air rage. Airline employees and outside experts offer explanations including cramped flights, political polarization over wearing face masks, and the way pandemic lockdowns affect people’s mental health.

“We are all more traumatized than we realize, and that puts people on edge,” said Raymond Tafrate, a psychologist and criminology professor at Central Connecticut State University who has studied anger. “The pandemic isolated people and caused all sorts of stress and problems in their lives. People are in worse shape than they were before.”

Tafrate’s advice to travelers: “Accept that flights don’t always go the way you want, and accept there are going to be some rules that you don’t like.”

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News

THEY’RE BACK: Cozumel welcomes first cruise ship since pandemic

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The Mexican resort of Cozumel on Wednesday welcomed the first arrival of a cruise ship carrying passengers since the coronavirus pandemic essentially collapsed the industry.

Officials in the Caribbean coast state of Quintana Roo welcomed Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas as it arrived from Nassau in The Bahamas at the arrival at the world’s busiest stopover for cruise ships.

The cruise line requires all passengers 16 and over to be fully vaccinated. Those that aren’t have to get COVID-19 tests.

Gov. Carlos Joaquin said about 5% of passengers aboard the ship – about 150 youths or those with chronic health conditions – haven’t been vaccinated and would be subject to special rules. State and federal health officials were on hand to oversee the arrival.

“The company proposed that the non-vaccinated group can only disembark on excursion packages with sanitary “bubble” protocols, not just to any place,” Joaquin said. “As you can see, these cruise ships have very strict conditions.”

The cruise line touted the trip as “a chance to venture into Maya history during a visit to Cozumel.”

Quintana Roo is home to resorts like Cancun, Playa Del Carmen and Tulum. The state depends on tourism for 87% of its economic activity.

Alejandra Aguirre, the state health secretary, wrote of the cruise ship arrival, “We are working together for an orderly revival of economic activity.”
However, fate didn’t appear to be smiling on the return of the cruise ships; Wednesday’s weather started off fairly rainy, with significant amounts of sargasso seaweed at many of the state’s beaches.

Mexico has not instituted any testing requirement for incoming passengers, and anecdotal evidence suggests tourists are attracted to Mexico’s Caribbean resorts in part because there has been no lockdown and health precautions are largely voluntary. Many visitors shed their masks when they reach their hotels or beach clubs.

The state has seen a recent upsurge in COPVID-19 cases, in part linked to increased travel around Easter week, and partial reductions at businesses like hotels and restaurants have been implemented to stem the upsurge.

Mexico has never enforced a strict, European-style lockdown.

First published at Travel Industry Today

First published at TravelNewsHub.com – Global Travel News