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Research

The price of travel’s going up

U.S. airfares are expected to rise 1.2 percent in 2014 and hotel rates could rise 4.9 percent nationally, according to new findings in the “2014 Travel Price Forecast” analysis by Carlson Wagonlit Travel.

Worldwide, travel prices are due to rise slightly in 2014. Other travel trends:

• Far more travelers will book travel or access reservations via mobile devices.

• Business travelers forced to pay more for airfare or hotels will try to shave costs of dining, taxis and parking, Internet connection fees and ancillary airline fees, the report found.

Airlines

A new carrier

in the wings?

Get ready for the takeoff of another super-cheap airline offering ultra-low fares with loads of passenger fees.

Industry insiders say the new super discount airline may soon be launched with the help of Indigo Partners, the Phoenix private equity firm that invested in Spirit Airlines in 2006 and helped convince the Florida airline’s chief executive, Ben Baldanza, to adopt dirt-cheap fares and abundant fees.

Indigo is reportedly negotiating to buy Frontier Airlines from the Denver carrier’s parent company, Republic Airways Holdings Inc. Meanwhile, Indigo has started to divest itself from Spirit, with Indigo owner William Franke and Indigo principal John Wilson resigning from the Spirit board of directors.

“They really are taking the Spirit Airlines playbook from Florida to Denver,” said Henry Harteveldt, a travel analyst with Hudson Crossing in New York.

Indigo officials did not respond to requests for comment, and Republic Airways representatives would only say that they expect to sell Frontier to a “third party purchaser” by September.

It would make sense for Indigo to transform Frontier from a typical low-cost carrier to an ultra-cheap airline because Spirit has been so profitable, said Fred Lowrance, vice president and senior research analyst at Avondale Partners in Nashville.

The airline reported a profit margin of 8.5 percent in the three-month period that ended June 30, more than twice the rate of many of its competitors, and shares of Spirit have nearly tripled in value since the company went public in 2011. “That business model has proven successful,” Lowrance said.

Airlines

New service

American Airlines will add a new nonstop route between Miami and Cozumel beginning Nov. 21. The flights will operate five times a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays through Sundays.

Miami Herald

wire services

Miami Herald

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