Lantana airport fix difficult, PBC commissioner says

Slashing rents at the Lantana airport may not provide enough relief to overcoming the financial losses facing businesses there in the wake of President Donald Trump‘s frequent visits to the area,  Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner said this week.

Jonathan Miller (center), CEO of Stellar Aviation Group, speaks with Congresswoman Lois Frankel (left) and Palm Beach County Commissioner Dave Kerner (right) Monday, February 13, 2017 following a press briefing at Lantana Airport to discuss the impact on local aviation businesses during President Trump’s visits to Palm Beach County. Lantana Airport is listed the 10th busiest “general aviation” air facility in the nation. (Bruce R. Bennett / The Palm Beach Post)

Kerner, whose district includes the small general aviation airport, said that county-issued rent reductions for tenants at the airfield may not go far enough to keep those businesses afloat.

Flight restrictions have seriously impeded operations at the facility  on the four weekends President Trump has come to town since early February.

Business owners at the airport say they’re losing as much as a combined $15,000 a day every weekend when the president visits Mar-a-Lago.

On Monday, federal and county officials spent 1 1/2 hours meeting with U.S. Secret Service agents to discuss the financial toll the flight restrictions have had on businesses at the small airport off Lantana Road just west of Interstate 95.

“It was made very clear to us today that the Secret Service will not make any changes at this time to the flight restrictions,” U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach, said after Monday’s meeting. “So, unfortunately for Lantana, that means when the president is here, those aircraft will be grounded.”

To help offset the losses, Frankel said the county might have to consider rent reductions for businesses at the small general aviation airport.

The county then could try to seek reimbursement for those losses from the federal government, she said.

But Kerner said Tuesday that the rent reductions may not go far enough, adding that even with the discounts it would be difficult to keep airport tenants or attract new ones.

Kerner said it will be hard to convince businesses t0 make capital investments in their operations at the airport given the potential that flight restrictions could be imposed with very little notice.

“Who is going to want to rent there?” Kerner said.  “Who is going to be based there?…Businesses that are serious about business are going to look elsewhere. That is going to have a long-term effect on the airport for years to come.”

 

Hotel occupancy up 2 percent during Trump’s trip to Mar-a-Lago

Hotel occupancy in the central part of Palm Beach County climbed by 2 percent during President Donald Trump’s visit last weekend when compared with the same time period last year, tourism officials said Thursday.

The President of the United States of America, Donald J Trump The 60th International Red Cross Ball at Maralago February 4, 2017 photos by CAPEHART
The President of the United States of America, Donald J Trump
The 60th International Red Cross Ball at Maralago February 4, 2017 photos by CAPEHART

Glenn Jergensen, executive director of the county’s Tourist Development Council, said Trump’s stay likely accounted for a few hundred nightly hotel room bookings. Those guests were members of the media and other officials who travel with the president, and not necessarily tourists, Jergensen said.

Full Donald Trump coverage: Galleries, news, video

Trump is set to return to his Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach this weekend. The president will arrive in Palm Beach County on Friday, and will be accompanied by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Jergensen said the tourism group hopes to start tracking the number of hotel bookings linked to Trump’s visits. The trips could provide a boost to the local tourism industry if they consistently bring few hundred visitors who stay for several days at a time, Jergensen said.

“If he is here for five days at a time that is going to make an impact,” Jergensen said.

A peek inside President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago winter White House

Local tourism leaders have said that Trump’s visits will also help raise the county’s profile as an international vacation destination for travelers.

“It is a very positive thing for visibility,” Jergensen said.

Trump’s return to Mar-a-Lago this weekend comes as a winter cold snap blankets parts of the northeast.

Meanwhile, Trump has said he plans to play golf with the prime minister during their time in Palm Beach County this weekend. The local weather forecast calls for sunny skies with temperatures in the mid-to-upper 70s.

 

Publix hides National Enquirer covers after complaints

If you want to read The National Enquirer while you’re waiting online at Publix, you’ll have to hunt for it behind a plastic cover shielding its front page from public view.

The Regency Court at Woodfield is a Publix-anchored shopping center of 139,703 square feet. (contributed photo)
The Regency Court at Woodfield is a Publix-anchored shopping center of 139,703 square feet. (contributed photo)

After receiving continued complaints about the tabloid, Publix said it decided to add the Enquirer to the list of publications that it covers in its stores. In a statement posted on the grocer’s website, Publix officials said the decision was in response to numerous complaints not “particular cover or any political views.”

“Recently, due to continual complaints, Publix added The National Enquirer to the list of titles we permanently cover in our stores, the statement read. “Please know that this decision was based solely on a long history of customer complaints regarding offensive and objectionable material, not in response to a particular cover or any political views.”

But the move has drawn fire from some customers, who say the decision to cover the publication came after the tabloid ran a story about President-Elect Donald Trump. Some took to Twitter to sound off about the move.

 

Here is Publix’s full statement on the decision: “Recently, due to continual complaints, Publix added The National Enquirer to the list of titles we permanently cover in our stores. Please know that this decision was based solely on a long history of customer complaints regarding offensive and objectionable material, not in response to a particular cover or any political views.

Publix is a company that cares about its customers, and we work hard to create a pleasant shopping experience. It is our mission to do our very best to satisfy all Publix customers, but unfortunately in today’s complex world this is not always an easy task.

Occasionally, we receive customer concerns regarding certain materials that contain objectionable print or photographs. As a result, our stores have “blinders” which are used to conceal these types of covers. Some magazine titles have pushed the limits with pictures and occasional controversial, sexual and inflammatory words that result in significant customer concerns. When that occurs, we advise our stores to maintain a permanent cover over such publications. A blinder will continue to be placed over this magazine every week, regardless of cover content.”

Wanna go to Havana? Three airlines kick off flights from Fort Lauderdale

Just days after the first regularly scheduled commercial flight to Havana, Cuba, in five decades left the United States via Miami — and within a week of the death of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro — flights between Fort Lauderdale and island nation’s capital will begin.

The landmark flights follow a recent pledge by President-elect Donald Trump via Twitter to “terminate” the deal between the U.S. and Cuba if “Cuba is unwilling to make a better deal for the Cuban people, the Cuban/American people and the U.S. as a whole.”

Three airlines will launch direct flights to Havana from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport in coming days. JetBlue Airways’ flight took off at 11 a.m. today; Spirit Airlines’ flight leaves at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow; and Southwest Airlines’ flight departs at 11:55 a.m. Monday.

» RELATED: Fidel Castro dies: Music, dancing, parades fill Miami streets

Air travel between the U.S. and Cuba had been limited to charter flights until earlier this year when, as part of President Barack Obama’s plan to normalize relations between the two countries, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved several airlines to provide regular commercial air service.

JetBlue's first regularly scheduled flight to Cuba leaves Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Aug. 31, 2016. (Kristina Webb/The Palm Beach Post)
JetBlue’s first regularly scheduled flight to Cuba leaves Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport on Aug. 31, 2016. (Kristina Webb/The Palm Beach Post)

JetBlue held a lively celebration at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood airport at the end of August as one of its planes became the first regularly scheduled commercial flight in 50 years to go to Cuba. The flight, which took about an hour and landed in Santa Clara, was heralded as a milestone both for the airline and airport, as well as U.S.-Cuba relations, which Obama has worked to thaw in the past two years.

Among the changes ushered in by the Obama administration: more air travel, more business opportunities, and a lift on the restrictions barring the import of Cuban cigars and rum to the U.S.

But the administration’s actions have not been without controversy. Some politicians — including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, whose father fled Cuba for the U.S. — have said that despite Obama’s claim that his administration is helping the Cuban people, the shift in policy actually helps the Castro family and others in power in Cuba.

In a blog post, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation Victor Mendez said that by the end of the year, airlines estimate they will have conducted more than 500 round trip flights — equal to more than 90,000 passenger seats — between Havana and Fort Lauderdale, Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, Newark, New York City, Orlando and Tampa.

“The numbers themselves are impressive,” Mendez wrote, “and they underscore the significant benefits that President Obama’s policy of re-engagement is having for both the American and the Cuban people.”

Despite the current administration’s optimism, there is uncertainty among travelers and officials as to how Trump’s presidency will affect flights to Cuba.

Earlier this month, a federal official cautioned that it’s too soon to tell what effect a Trump presidency could have on how U.S. airlines operate to and from Cuba. Jenny Rosenberg, acting assistant secretary for aviation and international affairs at the U.S. Department of Transportation, said in a conference call with reporters that it’s too soon to “speculate on the current agreement that we have.”

 

Mark Gale, CEO and president of Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, told The Palm Beach Post in August that he’s proud of his team and JetBlue, whose flights account for about a fifth of all traffic at the airport.

“To have that very, very first flight come out of our airport is a great honor,” he said.

 

 

 

 

FAA: PBIA navigation points once named for Trump now equestrian-themed

A set of navigation points near Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach that once honored part-time Palm Beacher and President-elect Donald Trump now have more of an equestrian bent.

The Federal Aviation Administration — which announced it would change the names of the navigation points early in Trump’s presidential campaign — said the new so-called “fixes” are now in line with Palm Beach County’s role as a top equestrian destination. In July 2015, when the agency said the points would be renamed, new names had not yet been chosen.

President-elect Donald Trump (from left) stands with his son, Barron, wife, Melania, and daughter, Ivanka after delivering his acceptance speech early Wednesday morning in New York City. (Getty Images)
President-elect Donald Trump (from left) stands with his son, Barron, wife, Melania, and daughter, Ivanka after delivering his acceptance speech early Wednesday morning in New York City. (Getty Images)

» RELATED: How are divided Trump-Clinton local families reacting to election?

“In general, the FAA chooses names that are non-controversial and relate to the area in which the fixes are located,” the FAA said in announcing its decision. The Trump names had been in place since 2010, part of a batch of fixes named for prominent Palm Beachers including Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and musician Jimmy Buffett.

It’s common for the FAA to give navigation points five-letter code names, each with a local twist. For example, Orlando International Airport has several nearby points named for Disney characters.

The Trump points were UFIRD, short for “you’re fired,” Trump’s catchphrase on his reality TV show, “The Apprentice”; DONLD and TRUMP; and IVNKA.

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One point was not renamed with the western communities of Palm Beach County in mind: The FAA said UFIRD became CRRMN, in honor of an FAA employee named Carman.

Here are the other points formerly named for Trump, with their new names and meanings from the FAA:

• DONLD is now RIDRR, short for “rider,” because Palm Beach County is home to a large equestrian community.

• TRUMP is now RBACK, short for the “rollback” equestrian maneuver.

• IVNKA is now SLIDZ, after the sliding stop some horses are trained to do after a rundown maneuver.

» RELATED: Part-time Palm Beacher Trump’s campaign defied gravity

» RELATED: How a Donald Trump presidency could affect Palm Beach County