Today’s edition of Skift’s daily podcast looks at Southwest’s recovery signal, Hertz CEO’s tech optimism, and Rosewood’s ambitions.
Good morning from Skift. It’s Thursday, December 8. Here’s what you need to know about the business of travel today.
Southwest Airlines has announced it will pay a dividend to its shareholders on January 31, 2023, making it the first U.S. airline to resume shareholder returns since the start of the pandemic, reports Edward Russell, editor of Airline Weekly, a Skift brand.
Airlines that accepted federal aid under the U.S. CARES Act in March 2020 had been barred from issuing shareholder returns, including dividends and stock buybacks, until this September. Southwest estimates it will pay out roughly $428 million in dividends. Its announcement comes after the Dallas-based carrier reported a $277 million net profit in the third quarter.
Russell notes that other U.S. airlines may not be far behind Southwest. Alaska Airlines Chief Financial Officer Shane Tackett revealed in October that its management would discuss possibly resuming shareholder returns with Alaska’s board.
Next, Hertz has made a massive recovery since the start of the pandemic, emerging from bankruptcy and posting record earnings with the demand for rental cars soaring. And CEO Stephen Scherr believes the surging interest in electric vehicles and emerging forms of artificial intelligence will help boost business, reports Skift founder and CEO Rafat Ali.
Scherr said, in an exclusive interview with Ali, that Hertz is moving aggressively in adding electric vehicles to its fleet, including buying 175,000 General Motors electric vehicles over the next five years. Scherr stated that Hertz aims for 25 percent of its fleet to be electric by the end of 2024, adding that consumers will be able to choose from a wide variety of models to rent.
Scherr also acknowledged that Hertz has used artificial intelligence to determine, among other tasks, whether one of its cars suffered damage. He added that Hertz can employ artificial intelligence to help the company run more efficiently, including utilizing it to understand consumer demand for its products.
We wrap up today looking at Rosewood Hotels & Resorts’ approach to doubling the 30 luxury hotels in its portfolio. The company is focusing on finding properties away from tourist epicenters where it believes it can provide consumers immersive experiences, reports Senior Hospitality Editor Sean O’Neill.
As Rosewood President Radha Arora said the days of building hotels in obvious fashion or shopping hubs are over, O’Neill writes part of its formula has been finding properties away from tourist epicenters that can be converted into hotels. O’Neill cites Italy’s Tuscany region and the Caribbean island Saint Barts as destinations where Rosewood transformed properties outside of central locations into luxury resorts.
Rosewood also acquired a London property in the city’s financial district instead of one in a prominent upscale neighborhood. Arora said it’s been able to make guests at the Rosewood London, located on the grounds of an early 20th century insurance office, feel like they’re entering a manor or estate. He stated that wasn’t possible elsewhere in central London.