Ctrip.Com International Ltd (ADR) Acknowledges Short-Term “Pain Process”

For the past three years, the narrative surrounding Ctrip.com (NASDAQ: CTRP) -- China's largest online travel agency (OTA) -- has been simple: After years of pricing wars with the competition, Ctrip merged with its largest competitors to create a force to be reckoned with in the travel sector.As the only major player providing a one-stop shop to book air, train, bus, and hotel accommodations, Ctrip began to benefit heavily from network effects. Merchants knew the best way to get customers to see their services was by listing with Ctrip, so they flocked to it, which only attracted more customers -- and hence, more merchants. That virtuous cycle has put Ctrip in the driver's seat, and rewarded shareholders with returns of 660% since mid-2012.But the most recent quarterly results -- released this week -- show some cracks in the foundation.Image source: Getty Images.Ctrip.com earnings: The raw numbersLet's first look at the headline figures for the company.MetricQ4 2017Q4 2016GrowthRevenue6.4 billion RMB5.2 billion RMB23%EPS*1.56 RMB2.24 RMB(30%)Data source: Ctrip.com. *Presented on non-GAAP basis that excludes share-based compensation.At first blush, those results appear somewhat concerning. It's never good to see earnings dip while revenue soars. And while revenue grew at a healthy clip, 23% was a substantial slacking from the 39% growth rate the company sported just three months ago.On the earnings front, it's important to note that much of the decline was due largely to the performance of affiliates, plus a substantial increase in Ctrip's taxes. In fact, non-GAAP operating income (which ignores stock-based compensation) was actually up 14% -- thanks in large part to gross margins expanding by more than 500 basis points to 83%. That's evidence of Ctrip's enviable spot in the value chain.At the same time, however, operating expense growth far outpaced revenue growth -- even after backing out stock-based compensation. Spending on product development (35% growth), sales Continue Reading

Doctor delivers baby on international flight

This definitely wasn't what Dr. Sij Hemal was expecting when he booked a flight with Air France from India to the United States. Hemal was tired. The second-year urology resident at Cleveland Clinic's Glickman Urological and Kidney Institute had spent his entire day traveling. He started in New Delhi, stopped in Paris and was now headed to New York, where he would catch a connecting flight to Cleveland -- his final destination. He needed a nap. The 27-year-old had planned to watch the movie "Side Effects," enjoy a glass of champagne and fall asleep. But before he could have that drink, everything changed. A flight attendant was looking for any doctors on board. So Hemal got out of his seat and went to offer what help he could. It was then he discovered that 41-year-old Toyin Ogundipe had gone into labor as the plane skirted the southern coast of Greenland, 35,000 feet below. "She was complaining of back pain," Hemal told CNN. "At first, I thought it might be kidney stones, but after she told me she was pregnant, I knew she was going into labor." Over the course of an hour, Ogundipe's contractions accelerated. "Once they got to two minutes apart, that's when we knew we were going to deliver on the plane," Hemal said. An emergency landing would have required a two-hour diversion to a US military base in the Azores Islands. Instead, the crew moved Ogundipe to first class, which had fewer passengers and more space. They continued to head for JFK International Airport, a full four hours away. While Hemal practices urology, this wasn't his first delivery. Thanks to his training at Wake Forest School of Medicine, Hemal had delivered seven babies -- just not on the floor of a jet. "I was relaxed because I knew I was in safe hands," Ogundipe said in a statement. "They did everything a doctor or midwife would have done if I was in the labor room in the hospital. Even better, if you ask me." After about half an hour, Ogundipe gave birth to a boy named Jake. And Hemal was Continue Reading

American Airlines Flights Canceled, Waivers Issued Due To ‘Bomb Cyclone’

A number of airlines have already canceled and are still proactively canceling hundreds of flights Thursday and offering travel waivers as a powerful winter storm climbs up the East Coast. Winter Storm Grayson is expected to batter the Northeast, leading to widespread disruption of flights throughout the day. The storm is expected to lash the region with high winds, snow and consecutively record low temperatures. Tracking service FlightAware.com said Wednesday that over 1,700 flights scheduled for Thursday were canceled. Most cancellations were concentrated at airports in the Northeast — like Boston Logan International Airport, where more than half the flights scheduled for Thursday have been scrubbed. Nearly half the flights at New York's LaGuardia Airport also stood canceled. Two other New York-area airports, John F. Kennedy and Newark, were also hit hard by the cancellations along with other smaller airports in the Northeast. American Airlines said in a press release Wednesday evening that along with their regional partners, it had canceled over 300 flights Jan. 3 and 630 flights on Jan. 4 due to the storm. American Airlines spokesman Ross Feinstein said the Fort Worth-based carrier would be moving its aircraft out of Boston Logan Airport on Wednesday night ahead of the storm, with all Thursday departures at the airport already canceled. He added that depending on how the storm progressed, inbound flights could begin late Thursday with more service restarting Friday. The airline also canceled all flights of its regional carriers and the air shuttle operations at LaGuardia Airport for Thursday, Feinstein said. “We’re looking proactively so our customers aren’t in mid-journey when their flight could potentially be canceled,” Feinstein added, according to Dallas News. Feinstein added that American Airlines was not expecting the same scale of disruption to its operations in Washington or Philadelphia, but warned of Continue Reading

Utah sex offender uses stolen boarding pass to get through security and check in for flight

SALT LAKE CITY — A sex offender with a stolen boarding pass got through airport security in Salt Lake City and checked in at a gate for a flight to California before he was caught earlier this month, authorities have disclosed. Michael Salata, 61, was arrested on Nov. 5 after boarding the Southwest Airlines flight, according to jail records obtained Thursday. He had grabbed a boarding pass that a woman accidently left at a check-in kiosk and used it to get through a Transportation Security Administration checkpoint, said Craig Vargo, chief of airport police. BRIT PERV POSED AS GIRL TO TRICK BOYS INTO SENDING NUDES “He tried to make it seem like it was a mistake, that the boarding pass printed incorrectly, or that he grabbed the wrong boarding pass,” Vargo told the Deseret News, a Salt Lake City newspaper that first reported the story. It’s unclear why the incident was not disclosed by authorities until 20 days after it happened. The news surfaced during one of the busiest travel times of the year and while the country is on alert after recent terror attacks abroad. President Barack Obama has sought to reassure Americans by saying authorities are equipped to prevent attacks in the U.S. The day after the security breach in Utah, TSA officials in Washington announced enhanced security for certain inbound international flights in response to an explosion aboard a Russian passenger jet after takeoff from Egypt. Salata was detained after the woman who had left the pass at the kiosk checked in using a replacement ticket that had been uploaded to her phone, Vargo said. TSA spokeswoman Lori Dankers told the Deseret News that an agent made a mistake in identifying Salata, but the man was properly screened to determine if he was carrying anything dangerous. “There are multiple layers of security in place,” Dankers said in an email to the newspaper. She declined to say whether anyone has been disciplined Continue Reading

‘Sex and the City’ writer dishes on adjusting to married life in new book

Through countless cosmos, breakups, musings and pinings, we felt we knew her – well, the characters she helped craft anyway. As the Golden Globe and Emmy-award winning writer and producer of “Sex and the City,” Cindy Chupack was the poster single girl for the highs and lows on the quest for Mr. Right. So, now that she's married him, what does that mean for the rest of us ... No more comedy? Not a chance. In her latest book, “The Longest Date: Life as a Wife,” Chupack chronicles the vicissitudes of happily-ever-after-hood with the same brand of hysterical grit, love and heartache she brought to “Sex and the City.” In the show and elsewhere in her writing (she's also written for “Modern Family” and “Everybody Loves Raymond,” along with authoring a sex column for O, The Oprah Magazine), Chupack puts on display subjects that are rarely said, let alone celebrated. For example, in her previous book, “The Between Boyfriends Book,” she coins phrases like “sexual sorbet,” a palate-cleansing fling to remove the taste of the last relationship, and “premature ‘we’jaculation” — when one member of the couple uses the ‘we’ word too soon. In tackling taboo with humor, she's spawned a collective sigh of relief among those who recognize themselves in her stories. The same philosophy is deeply embedded in her new book, which is the basis for a forthcoming Fox TV pilot by the same name, though the characters have been renamed to provide a platform for fiction. Thanks, in part, to shows like “Sex and the City,” cultural taboos have been steadily removed from lots of topics. And yet, signing up for marriage, she's found, still comes with a gag clause. “All the girls that I used to talk to about everything — everyone kind of closed ranks when they got married,” Chupack told U.S. News. “There's a lot of reasons Continue Reading

Hurricane Sandy grounds thousands of flights

NEW YORK — Hurricane Sandy grounded thousands of flights in the U.S. northeast Monday and upended travel plans across the globe, stranding passengers from Hong Kong to Europe. The massive storm threatens to bring a near halt to air travel for at least two days in a key region for both domestic and international flights. Major carriers such as American Airlines, United and Delta cancelled all flights into and out of three area airports in New York, the nation's busiest airspace. According to the flight-tracking service FlightAware, nearly 7,500 flights had been canceled for Monday and Tuesday, almost all related to the storm.   Delays rippled across the U.S., affecting travelers in cities such as San Francisco to Chicago. Disruptions spread to Europe and Asia, where airlines canceled or delayed flights to New York and Washington from cities that are major travel hubs including London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong.   Businessman Alan Shrem was trying to return home to Boca Raton, Florida. His Monday morning Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to New York's Kennedy airport was canceled.   LIVE COVERAGE: CLICK HERE FOR UP-TO-THE-MINUTE HURRICANE SANDY UPDATES   He learned he could be stuck in Hong Kong for nearly a week because the next available seat was Nov. 4. He was put on a waiting list for seats that could become available earlier.   "They just say: Yeah, it's a pretty big waiting list," said Shrem, throwing up his hands. In the meantime, he'll have to fork out $400 a night to continue staying at a nearby hotel. The airline won't pay for accommodation for stranded passengers if delays are weather related.   Forecasters say Hurricane Sandy is about 310 miles (505 kilometers) southeast of New York City, and the center of the storm is expected to be near the mid-Atlantic coast on Monday night. The National Hurricane Center said early Monday that the storm has top sustained winds of 85 mph (140 kph), with higher gusts. Sandy is on Continue Reading

When is the best time to book a flight? 21 days is ideal for the best price, per travel site Kayak

According to a study carried out by travel website Kayak in the US the best time to book a flight is 21 days before departure. According to a study of millions of flights booked by Kayak users over a six-month period, the average fare for a domestic flight is $370; the fare drops to its lowest level, $342, when booked 21 days before departure date. However, when booking an international fare, the best rate can be booked 34 days before departure, when the average fare drops to $997 from $1,016. The study also shows that for short domestic trips in the US passengers can save up to 16 percent by departing on a Saturday and coming back on a Monday. For trips longer than a week, passengers can save up to 10 percent by traveling on a Tuesday and returning on a Wednesday. Short international flights are 21 percent less expensive leaving on a Tuesday and returning the following Wednesday. For longer trips, passengers cans save up to 9 percent if leaving on a Saturday and returning on a Sunday. A separate study released in the US in January by the Airline Reporting Corp (ARC), a company that handles ticketing transactions, says that the lowest domestic fares can be found six weeks before departure. The ARC carried out the research looking into the purchase price of airline tickets in 2011. The two studies agreed that airfares begin to increase by 30 percent or more seven days before the departure day. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Nashville flight to London launches in May with high expectations

In June 1995, American Airlines announced it would end its nonstop flight to London from Nashville, citing a lack of business and first-class travelers.City and state officials who had celebrated the flight’s launch as an economic jolt just 11 months earlier mourned its short-lived existence.“It was harmful to Nashville’s image, when you gain something and lose something like that,” said Nashville Chamber of Commerce CEO Ralph Schulz. “The question you have to ask is, was the market ready for the flight then?"As Nashville leaders announce the return of a nonstop flight to London, this time with British Airways, they say there is no question now that the city can sustain demand for the flight.Given the city and state’s thriving music industry, tourism sector and general business growth, passengers will be plentiful, a point Schulz and other Nashville leaders have stressed to British Airways and other airlines for four years.Gov. Bill Haslam, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry and British Airways Senior Vice President for North America Simon Brooks announced the flight Tuesday, after it was first reported last week by The Tennessean. The nonstop flight from Nashville to London is scheduled to begin May 4, 2018. ► More: Nashville airport to land nonstop flight to London ► More: Nonstop flight to London an economic boon for Nashville The flight is seen as a game changer for the Metro Nashville Airport Authority and for the region, strengthening cultural and economic ties between London and Music City.Pointing to Tennessee's top ranking in job creation from foreign direct investment in 2013 and 2015, Haslam said the international flight will lead to more Tennessee jobs.“This is a big day not just for Nashville but for all of Tennessee because London is a gateway to and from all of Europe,” Haslam said. “Having a direct connection to London and Continue Reading

Debut of Southwest’s international flying goes smoothly

ORANJESTAD, Aruba — The first full day of international flying is now in the books for Southwest, which made its debut outside the USA on Tuesday by launching six nonstop routes to three international destinations. A seventh international route will launch Saturday."It's a proud moment for Southwest," Teresa Laraba, Southwest's senior vice president of Customers, told Today in the Sky on Tuesday while over the Caribbean on board Flight 1804.The flight was Southwest's first international flight, departing Baltimore/Washington International (BWI) on time at 8:30 a.m. ET and landing in Aruba a few minutes before its scheduled 1 p.m. arrival. TODAY IN THE SKY: Southwest: You're now free to leave the country PHOTOS: Southwest goes international: Scenes from its Caribbean inauguralsSouthwest played up the occasion for passengers, placing complimentary snorkels at every seat and offering a free cocktail to those on the Aruba-bound flight. Customers cheered loudly to an attendant's PA announcement that they "were making history" by being on Southwest's inaugural flight outside the USA."It's probably going to be the most momentous day for me as a Southwest employee," Laraba adds, noting preparation for Southwest's international launch has been a companywide effort."There hasn't been a department (of Southwest) that hasn't been touched by this," she says. USA TODAY: Southwest Airlines finds itself at a crossroadsBoth Southwest and BWI airport staged celebrations ahead of the carrier's first international flights, the first three of which departed from BWI. The Maryland airport, already one of Southwest's three busiest airports, figures to be a big beneficiary as Southwest's international schedule grows."It is a huge day for us," Paul Wiedefeld, the CEO of Baltimore/Washington International, said from Southwest's BWI Concourse A moments before the Aruba-bound inaugural began boarding."They started here 20 years ago with two cities and six flights a day. Now Continue Reading

Now showing: What to expect for entertainment on your summer flights

Delta Air Lines made a big splash this month when it announced that in-flight movies, TV shows and other entertainment will be free beginning July 1.The airline, which offers entertainment on 90 percent of its planes, has been charging $6 for movies and $1 per episode of HBO and other television shows."The only thing better than operating the world's largest in-flight entertainment-equipped fleet is providing it free to all our guests,'' Tim Mapes, Delta's senior vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a statement announcing the news.RELATED: American Airlines making more frequent flier changes | 7 steps to help you avoid jet lagPassengers will still have to pay for Internet service but Wi-Fi isn't required to access the free entertainment.The entertainment options, outlined at delta.com/studio, vary by plane and route. More than 400 Delta planes have seat-back entertainment systems and another 1,000 offer streaming through passengers' laptops, smartphones and tablets.Delta says it's the only U.S. airline to offer all in-flight entertainment for free, but that doesn't mean passengers on other carriers have to pull out a credit card every time they want to watch something. Most major airlines offer some free content in addition to movies and shows for purchase. Flying overseas? Movies and shows are usually free on international flights.Here's a roundup of in-flight entertainment on the two carriers that dominate Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport as well as links to other airlines' offerings. Charge your devices (and bring backup power for longer flights) before you get to the airport so you're not scrambling to find a charging station.American:  The busiest carrier at Sky Harbor with 300 daily non-stop flights, it offers 40 free movies and 64 free TV shows plus music and games on domestic flights with seat-back screens. Additional movies and shows, including HBO and Showtime series, Continue Reading