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Travel Roundup: JetBlue Fights Virgin, Royal Caribbean Drops Alaska, Starwood Loses Money and More

JetBlue plans to compete with Virgin -- JetBlue plans to compete head-on with Virgin America and launch service to Los Angeles International Airport from Boston and New York City beginning June 17. Virgin America will launch its Boston-San Francisco and Boston-Los Angeles routes Feb. 12. JetBlue previously planned the Los Angeles route last summer but canceled due to high fuel costs. JetBlue also plans to relaunch nonstop flights to San Francisco on May 1. [Source: Boston Globe]

Royal Caribbean pulls Alaskan cruises -- Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. will remove one of its ships, the Serenade of the Seas, from the Alaskan cruise market. The Vancouver, B.C.-based ship, which has a 2,500-passenger capacity, was scheduled for 20 cruises a year along southern Alaska. The ship will now be deployed elsewhere, the company said. A company spokesman said Alaska's high costs, including local taxes and fees, helped the company decide to cut the cruises. [Source: Seattle Times, Juneau Empire]

Starwood reports losses, blames recession -- Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., which operates several brands including W, Sheraton and St. Regis, reported a dramatic drop in revenues in the fourth quarter -- $146 million last year to $79 million this year -- and also predicted a sharp decline in revenue per available room in 2009. RevPAR fell 12.1 percent for all of Starwood's properties year-over-year. The company stated that although it predicted further drops, the current economy made it difficult to project losses and revenues. [Source: Reuters]

Air Jamaica leaves Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami -- Air Jamaica will quit flying to Atlanta, Los Angeles and Miami airports on Feb. 26 in order to pare down its fleet and operating costs. Also on that date the carrier will also stop flying to Grand Cayman and end its Jamaica-Barbados and Jamaica-Grenada services. Job losses are expected. The airline has lost about $1 billion in the past decade. [Source: Travel Weekly]

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