Business Briefs
Reported by Star-Bulletin staff & wire


Flight attendants approve concessions

ARLINGTON, Va. >> US Airways flight attendants ratified a contract with the ailing airline yesterday, giving up $75.8 million in annual wage and benefits concessions in exchange for job guarantees.

Seventy-three percent of flight attendants voted in favor of the new contract, according to the Association of Flight Attendants AFL-CIO. Eighty percent of eligible flight attendants took part in the vote.

In exchange for the concessions, the flight attendants have guarantees that they will be protected should the airline file for bankruptcy. The deal also gives the flight attendants incentives if the airline becomes profitable again.

US Airways has received conditional approval of a $900 million federal loan guarantee and is seeking an equal sum in concessions from its 35,000 employees. The restructuring plan is intended to keep the airline out of bankruptcy court.

Travel sites pressure lodging rates

PALO ALTO, Calif. >> The growing use of online travel sites to book lodging could drive down hotel rates, and may help keep them lower even after the economy recovers, a new research report by Bear Stearns suggests.

The report, by Bear Stearns lodging industry analyst Jason Ader, said that sites like Expedia Inc., Travelocity, Orbitz and are now doing for hotel rates what occurred they helped accomplish with air fares a few years ago -- giving consumers more options and making the market more transparent.

Ader said that online travel sites, once used mainly to book air travel, are increasingly being used to reserve hotels. He predicted that online lodging revenue in the year 2005 will have more than tripled from the $3.8 billion generated in 2000.

"This trend will cause continued pressure on hotel rates, even as the economy rebounds and demand for lodging increases," he said, adding profits and stock prices of hotel companies could suffer in upcoming quarters.

PT Cruisers recalled by DaimlerChrysler

DETROIT >> DaimlerChrysler AG on Friday recalled more than 450,000 of its popular, retro-styled PT Cruisers because of a fuel pump leak.

The PT Cruiser has been one of the most successful vehicles in the Chrysler Group's lineup since it was introduced two years ago.

Officials discovered the leak following a government crash test, the automaker said in a statement.

There are no known incidents or customer complaints related to the problem, DaimlerChrysler said. The company will install a secondary seal to the top of the fuel pump module.

Southwest discusses fat passenger policy

ATLANTA >> Sitting before a room of angry advocates for fat acceptance, officials from Southwest Airlines affirmed support yesterday for the company's policy requiring passengers who fill more than one seat to buy a second.

Critics of the policy pledged to continue their fight against the rule, which several called "discriminatory."

The National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance invited U.S. airlines to participate in a session at the group's national conference.

American and Delta Air Lines each sent a customer service representative; Southwest sent its general counsel, Richard K. Ketler, and Lisa Anderson, director of customer advocacy.

The 22-year-old policy drew national attention in June, when Southwest switched to a new boarding card system and reminded agents in an internal memo that large customers needed to buy two seats.

The policy is designed to make sure every Southwest customer has use of their entire seat, Anderson said.

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