Southwest Airlines is going to fill one of the obvious gaps in its route network next year when it adds service to Minneapolis-St. Paul. Although the airline hasn’t said where it will fly except for Chicago’s Midway Airport, it has targeted March as the launch month for its inaugural MSP flights. And if you think this move has something to do with the Northwest-Delta merger and the idea that maybe Northwest’s MSP hub might be somewhat more vulnerable, well, I won’t argue. … Porter Airlines, the Canadian carrier based at Toronto‘s City Center Airport, is expanding in Chicago, too. Its flights from City Center to Midway begin November 12. … Just in time for the ski season, Denver-based Frontier Airlines will launch commuter flights to Steamboat Springs on December 18. … AirTran Airways will add Cancun to its route network next year. Flights from its Atlanta hub and Baltimore/Washington launch on February 25.
HOTEL HOT SHEET
Doubletree extends its branches in Europe: When U.S.-based Hilton Hotels Corp. and London-based Hilton International merged back into one gigantic lodging firm several years ago after decades of corporate divorce, the company promised that its American brands would head overseas. Hilton Garden Inn has already opened several hotels in Europe, so it should come as no surprise that Doubletree is now expanding on the continent, too. This week brings the news that the mid-priced, full-service chain has added branches in Milan, Italy and Aberdeen, Scotland. The Milan hotel, a 240-room property, is newly built and located a block from the Viale Certosa in the northern reaches of the city. The Aberdeen hotel is a conversion from a British brand. The 168-room property, a few steps from the city’s beachfront, is undergoing a renovation, too. And unique for a Doubletree, it features a full-service spa, indoor pool spa and sauna. A third European Doubletree, a conversion of a Kempinski property in London, is due to open soon. Meanwhile, back at home, Doubletree has opened a 168-room property in Chattanooga, Tennessee. It was formerly a Clarion hotel and has undergone a $26 million renovation.
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Joe Brancatelli is editor and publisher of JoeSentMe.com, a non-commercial Web site for business travelers. Copyright 2008 by Joe Brancatelli. Licensed by contract for Orbitz use.