September 29, 2004

Hurricane Jeanne hit the Stuart, Vero Beach and Port St. Lucie areas of Florida's eastern coast on Sept. 25, packing a punch but not forcing the closure of any major hotel or meeting facility, according to Visit Florida, the state's tourism organization. Meeting planners with events in the state still are advised to consult the state's official website -- -- for up-to-date news; Visit Florida's website also has updated information. Meanwhile, hotel closures in the Bahamas due to Hurricane Jeanne, which hit Abaco and Grand Bahama islands, have not been announced. A list of which hotels are closed in Jamaica, thanks to Hurricane Ivan, is available here.

US Airways Group Inc. might liquidate as early as mid-February unless the carrier is able temporarily to reduce employee wages by 23 percent, according to a bankruptcy court filing this past Friday. In order to stay alive, the airline is seeking interim relief from its collective bargaining agreements. "Over the next six months, we will be faced with significant aircraft lease payments, the traditional seasonal slowdown in both business and leisure travel, and the likely sustained impact of high fuel prices," said Bruce R. Lakefield, US Airways president and chief executive officer. "While I don't relish asking US Airways employees to make sacrifices, securing this short-term relief while we continue to negotiate new permanent labor agreements will allow us to complete an orderly restructuring and implementation of our Transformation Plan." A U.S. Bankruptcy judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on the issue on Oct. 7.

Los Angeles International Airport might receive $3 billion in "much needed" improvements, according to city officials. Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn and City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski have submitted a proposal to enhance Tom Bradley International Terminal, consolidate rental-car facilities, improve mass-transit links and improve overall safety at the airport. The Los Angeles City Council will discuss whether to approve the plan at a meeting on Oct. 19.

Peter Morton, chairman and founder of the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino chain, announced Sept. 23 plans to build a $1 billion, 1.5 million-square-foot hotel and condominium project on 24 acres of land adjacent to the 670-room Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. According to a spokesperson at the Las Vegas property, the new hotel will have approximately 1,500 guest rooms.

Plainfield, Conn., held its first public hearing last Thursday on a proposal to build an auto racetrack/convention center in the city. With an expected development cost of $400 million, the complex would feature a domed one-mile-length racetrack, as well as a 700-room headquarters hotel, all expected to be built within two years. The hearing adjourned until Oct. 14, when discussions on zoning variances will continue.

The 510-room Hilton Kuala Lumpur opened last week in a mixed-development site next to Malaysia's KL Sentral Station. The property offers more than 17,000 square feet of meeting space, a business center and nine restaurants.