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Orbitz says it will defend self against American suit

Orbitz Worldwide Inc. said Wednesday that it will vigorously defend itself against a lawsuit filed by American Airlines, which is in a dispute with the online travel company over commissions. Get the full story »

Disney begins work on Shanghai theme park

Dancers perform during the groundbreaking ceremony of Shanghai Disneyland. (Ally Song/Reuters)

Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert A. Iger was joined by Shanghai’s Communist Party chief and the city’s mayor Friday to officially commence construction of a long-awaited theme park that will give the Burbank company a critical beachhead in mainland China.

In a carefully staged groundbreaking ceremony interspersed with singing and dancing, Iger said the new park would feature a blend of East and West and underscored the importance of the $3.7-billion project for Disney. Get the full story »

Airlines may be easing up on fare hikes

Travelers check in at at O'Hare International Airport, Sept. 14, 2010. (William DeShazer/Chicago Tribune)

There are some signs that airlines are starting to take their foot off the pedal after pushing through more than six major fare increases in the first three months of the year.

March may have been a turning point. A $10 fare increase launched March 9 by American Airlines and two other $10 round-trip fare hikes launched by United Airlines were rolled back after some competitors declined to push their prices higher. And some ticket prices showed sharp price drops in the second half of the month. Get the full story »

Brunswick: Chinese yacht sales to grow 25% in ‘11

From Bloomberg News | Brunswick Corp., owner of the Boston Whaler and Sea Ray brands, forecasts sales growth of 25 percent in China this year as boating gains popularity, Chief Executive Officer Dustan McCoy said. Get the full story>>

Travel social network Gogobot partners with Orbitz

Gogobot, a Menlo Park, Calif,-based startup that culls travel recommendations from users’ online social networks, said Thursday it has integrated its service with Chicago-based Orbitz and four other booking sites. Get the full story »

Sahara, ‘Rat Pack’ haunt on Vegas Strip, to close

The Sahara hotel-casino, a Rat Pack-era jewel of the Las Vegas Strip that age and a prolonged recession had tarnished, will close in May, owner SBE Entertainment announced Friday.

Chief Executive Sam Nazarian, the Los Angeles nightclub impresario who bought the Moroccan-themed casino in 2007 and vowed to restore its hipness, said in a statement that running the property was “no longer economically viable.” Get the full story »

Airline profits expected to halve in 2011

Global airline net profits will halve this year as rising costs, especially oil prices, offset increasing demand, the industry body IATA said on Wednesday.

The result would be a net profit margin this year of only 1.4 percent — dismissed by IATA Director-General Giovanni Bisignani as more worthy of a charity than an industry — down from 2.9 percent in 2010. Get the full story »

Convention bureau snaps up another Indy exec

While Indiana is gunning for Illinois businesses, the Chicago Convention & Tourism Bureau poached a second key convention and tourism official from Indianapolis.

Warren Wilkinson, 51,  has been named senior vice president, marketing and communications, at the bureau, which is restructuring its management staff. Get the full story »

Tourism ads largely escaping states’ budget cuts

At a time when states are slashing spending to deal with staggering budget shortfalls, there’s one area they’re not cutting: tourism ads.

Think “Virginia is for Lovers,” “Connecticut: Closer than you think” and “Explore Minnesota.” Get the full story »

Six Flags to hire 3,200 seasonal workers

Six Flags Great America in Gurnee said it is planning to hire 3,200 seasonal workers this year for positions that can last up to six months. Get the full story »

Chicago a top-5 Valentine’s Day destination?

After shoveling 20 inches of snow last week, Chicagoans are dreaming of palm trees. But apparently the people with the palm trees are dreaming of…Chicago?

That’s right, The Windy City moved up Orbitz Worldwide’s list of top Valentine’s Day destinations this year to number five. Heck, Chicago even beat bookings to Oahu and Miami. Get the full story »

Chicago adding natural gas taxis

One of a dozen Yellow Cabs in Chicago that will run on compressed natural gas. (Yellow Cab)

Starting in March, if you stick out your hand to hail a cab in Chicago, the taxi you get might not run on gasoline.

That’s because Taxi Medallion Management, which operates Yellow Cabs in Chicago, is introducing 12 Ford Transit Connect taxi cabs into its fleet that run on compressed natural gas -– a fuel that emits 30 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions that traditional gasoline but requires special pumping stations. Get the full story »

2 more conventions to return to McCormick Place

Chicago has lined up two significant meetings at McCormick Place, the latest in a string of bookings in the wake of a new state law aimed at making the city more competitive with rivals.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists will return to Chicago for its 2016 convention, which is expected to draw 17,000 attendees and to generate $42 million in spending here. The organization last held its convention in Chicago in 2006 and will  hold its 2011 convention here in October. Get the full story »

American to sell tickets through Priceline

American Airlines, which is battling third-party ticket sellers over distribution costs and methods, Tuesday said it has reached a deal with to use American’s direct connect technology to access fares.

American, a unit of AMR Corp, said Priceline will begin issuing its tickets through the link in the near future. The companies did not disclose terms of the deal. Get the full story »

American-JAL ‘virtual merger’ to target Chicago

American Airlines and Japan Airlines plan to launch a new joint venture for trans-Pacific flying this spring, coordinating schedules to make it easier for travelers to catch international flights in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

The moves underscore Chicago’s importance as a gateway for travel to northern Asia and are intended to boost passenger loads for JAL’s flights as the carriers begin to divvy up costs and share revenues on trans-Pacific routes, executives said. Get the full story »