Jan/Feb 2009 Issue

Plan now to attend 2010 Winter Olympics

The 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, offer North American winter sports lovers an opportunity to experience the Olympics without overseas travel.

The Opening Ceremonies on Feb. 12, 2010, are the start of 17 days of Olympic Games with an anticipated 80 countries and 6,850 athletes and officials participating.

Event locations stretch from the shores of the city of Richmond north to the snow-covered mountain peaks framing the year-round recreational mecca of Whistler–a distance of about 75 miles. All sites are within a two-hour drive of downtown Vancouver.

The Opening and Closing Ceremonies for the Olympic Winter Games will be held at BC Place in downtown Vancouver. Competition venues are spread among four locations: Canada Hockey Place, downtown Vancouver; Pacific Coliseum, about three miles east of downtown; UBC Thunderbird Arena, on the University of British Columbia campus; and at the Vancouver Olympic/Paralympic Centre, south of downtown near Queen Elizabeth Park.

Your local AAA office can assist with travel arrangements. More information is also online at www.vancouver2010.com. The first round of individual event ticket requests has closed but will reopen early spring 2009. To create an account, visit www.cosport.com. Helpful AAA publications available include AAA Essential Canada West.

Vancouver’s BC Place, site of the opening and closing ceremonies. © VANOC/COVAN photo

Analyst forecasts a good year for airlines

An airline industry analyst based in Springfield, Mo., said 2009 will be a good year for airlines, predicting no major carriers will go under, although most will continue to cut capacity.

Michael Boyd, co-founder of The Boyd Group, an aviation research and analysis firm, told business leaders at a recent Springfield Chamber of Commerce meeting that airlines will focus on higher-yield business passengers rather than tourists looking for cheap seats. But reduced service and new fees for food and baggage checks also are a possibility.

Some airlines–including Delta and American–reported a decrease in traffic or plans to cut capacity, which is a reduction in available seats. Cutting capacity is done by either reducing the number of daily flights on a route or replacing a big plane with a smaller one.

Delta Airlines plans a systemwide capacity reduction of 6 to 8 percent that includes up to a 10-percent cut in domestic routes. Southwest Airlines and United Airlines also are planning cuts, and with traffic at American Airlines dropping almost 15 percent in November, will a reduction announcement be far off?

Consumers may wonder if the price of oil is dropping, why are airlines cutting service. Boyd said airlines can make money if oil is $60 a barrel or less, but prices this summer shot up to as much as $140 a barrel and airlines “were losing money almost with every passenger.” Some of these cuts are the result of a dismal summer.

And there’s the economy equation. Leisure travel is expected to decline by a modest 1.3 percent in 2009, and business travel by almost 4 percent, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Consumers who purchase travel are booking packaged deals in attempts to save money. But it’s a downturn airlines and the travel industry should be able to manage, experts say.

“By no means is the sky falling,” said Suzanne Cook, senior vice president of research for the U.S. Travel Association. “After years of growth, we’re now looking at modest declines.”

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