Philip Hampson “Buck” Knight(born February 24, 1938) is an American business magnate and philanthropist. A native of Oregon, he is the co-founder and current Chairman Emeritus of Nike, Inc., and previously served as chairman and CEO of the company. As of August 2018, Knight was ranked by Forbes as the 28th richest person in the world, with an estimated net worth of US$34.7 billion.[ He is also the owner of the stop motion film production company Laika.
Knight is a graduate of the University of Oregon and Stanford Graduate School of Business. He ran track under coach Bill Bowerman at the University of Oregon, with whom he would co-found Nike.
If there’s one place on Earth you can already get a glimpse of our robot-assisted future, it’s Japan. Routinely at the forefront of robotics research, the country has brought us some of the weirdest automatons, most lifelike androids, and cutest helper-bots.
Nowhere is this more evident than at Nagasaki’s Henn-na Hotel, a hotel run by robots that opened this year. Walk into reception and a mechanised dinosaur will guide you through check-in; go to your room and a luggage bot will wheel your suitcase along beside you; get ready for bed and your own robot companion will turn out the lights.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 21st March 2019) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – British retail sales unexpectedly kept up a robust pace of expansion last month, after unusually warm weather boosted sales, reinforcing the sector’s role as a bright spot for the economy ahead of Brexit.
Annual retail sales growth slowed only a fraction to 4.0 percent in February after sales volumes grew at their fastest in more than two years in January, the Office for National Statistics said on Thursday.
Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a slowdown in sales growth to 3.3 percent.
Consumer spending has been a source of strength for the British economy at a time when businesses say that Brexit uncertainty is forcing them to postpone investment and a slower global economy is hurting export demand.
On Wednesday Prime Minister Theresa May asked for a three-month delay to Brexit on Wednesday to buy time to get her twice-rejected departure deal though parliament, but the request faced immediate resistance from the European Commission.
Sales volumes in February alone rose by 0.4 percent versus a poll forecast of a decline, after jumping by 0.9 percent in January, while annual sales growth for the three months to February was its strongest in over two years at 3.7 percent.
Falling inflation, a steady rise in wages and the lowest unemployment since 1975 have all boosted household incomes over the past year, though after inflation wages are still below their peak before the financial crisis.
Last year overall British economic growth slowed to its weakest since 2012 and the Bank of England – which is predicted to keep rates on hold later on Thursday – forecasts the weakest growth for a decade this year.
The ONS said that unusually warm weather in February had boosted spending at garden centres and on sporting equipment, sales fell at supermarkets and in clothing stores due to an end of January’s seasonal promotions.
Earlier on Thursday, major British clothing chain Next reported a small fall in annual profit on Thursday, hurt by lower store sales, and forecast another decline for 2019-2020.
Figures from the British Retail Consortium at the start of the month had suggested that annual sales growth at bigger high-street stores slowed in February, with the trade association blaming Brexit.
Separate figures from the ONS on Thursday showed the government broadly on track to meet updated borrowing goals for the 2018/19 financial year, as the strong labour market boosted income tax revenue.
Public borrowing for February, the eleventh month of the tax year, fell to 0.2 billion pounds from 1.2 billion pounds a year earlier, below economists’ average forecast of 0.6 billion pounds in a Reuters poll.
BMW warns of significant profit fall in 2019, seeks 12 bln eur in cuts
With just one month remaining of the current financial year, government borrowing totals 23.1 billion pounds, down 44 percent from the same point in the 2017/18 tax year, though these figures are likely to be revised further.
Last week Britain’s official budget forecasters cut their 2018/19 borrowing forecast to 22.8 billion pounds or 1.1 percent of GDP from 25.5 billion pounds.
Finance minister Philip Hammond said at the time that if Brexit went smoothly there would be more money for public services in a major multi-year spending review due late this year.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 21st Mar 2019) London, Uk – –
Contracts will state that 1.5% of property value can be held back until problems resolved
One of Britain’s biggest housebuilders has responded to criticism about the quality of its homes by allowing homebuyers to withhold an average of £3,600 per home until all faults are fixed.
Persimmon has come under fire for paying out £500m in bonuses to 150 executives and making an annual profit of £1.1bn on the back of the government’s help to buy scheme, while doing little to improve customer care and the quality of its new-build homes. Many homebuyers have complained about finding numerous defects after moving in, including leaks and cracking windows.
The company said it would offer a homebuyer’s retention, by writing into its contracts that 1.5% of the property value – an average of £3,600 per home – could be withheld by the buyer’s solicitor until any faults identified were resolved. The policy is expected to be fully in place by the end of June.
Roger Devlin, the chair, said: “This is a first among the UK’s large housebuilders and I hope will lead the way in change across the sector. This move, and the urgency with which we will introduce it, is a clear and unambiguous signal of cultural and operational change at Persimmon, putting customer care at the very centre of the business.”
Dave Jenkinson, the new chief executive, said: “Persimmon is listening hard to all of its stakeholders and we hear the message that we need to continue to raise our game in customer care. We are determined that the experience is not overshadowed by teething problems and providing a homebuyer’s retention is an important step towards achieving this.”
He said the builder had also taken steps to improve its accuracy of anticipated moving-in dates. Other improvements include offering maintenance appointments at weekends and out-of-hours opening of customer care departments.
Jenkinson, the former group managing director, took over from Jeff Fairburn, who left in November after his huge bonus – which made him the UK’s highest-paid chief executive – caused outrage. The firm’s annual report recently showed that Fairburn was paid nearly £85m in the past two years, more than the £75m he was thought to have received. Jenkinson received £45m.
Persimmon’s huge gains from the help to buy scheme – nearly half its 16,449 home sales last year were made through the taxpayer-funded scheme – have prompted a review by the housing minister.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 20th March 2019) London, Uk – –
Veronique Laury is three years into a five-year turnaround but has come under pressure over falling profits and sales.
B&Q owner Kingfisher says it is looking for a new boss after reporting a 53% fall in profits and acknowledging that UK economic weakness and problems in France have hit turnaround plans.
The group confirmed it has launched a hunt to replace chief executive Veronique Laury, who has led the business since 2014.
It follows speculation that the board was preparing to sack her as the group suffered declining profits and sales.
A date for her departure has not yet been decided.
Kingfisher reported pre-tax profits of £322m for the year to the end of January compared to £682m the year before.
It was weighed down by weakness at its French Castorama brand as well as losses in Russia and Romania, plus a £111m charge for store closures in the UK, Ireland and Europe.
In the UK and Ireland, like-for-like sales at DIY chain B&Q fell 3%, partly because of a decision to scrap kitchen and bathroom installation services.
However, the Screwfix brand saw growth of 4.1% driven by trade sales to plumbers and electricians and will continue to grow its number of stores in the UK.
Sales at France's Castorama tumbled by 7.1% – blamed on weak footfall as well as “national demonstrations” at a time when gilets jaunes protests have been gripping the country.
Kingfisher said it was considering the sale of 15 loss-making Castorama stores. It is also closing all 19 of its Screwfix stores in Germany.
The group is three years into its “ONE Kingfisher” transformation plan led by Ms Laury which aims to boost profits by £500m by 2020-21.
Its overhaul has included the closure of 65 B&Q stores and about 3,000 job losses in the UK and Ireland.
Kingfisher said it was meeting its targets to deliver the shake-up but said it was “increasingly evident” that attempting to measure out the benefits of the transformation separately “no longer reflects how we manage the business”.
The group added that it had been hit by a combination of “internal factors” including transformation-related disruption and the performance of Castorama, and “external challenges” including weaker than expected growth and higher wage inflation in the UK.
It said that for the year ahead the outlook was “mixed”.
“The UK market remains uncertain and we are mindful of softer housing market activity in France,” the group said.
Departing chief executive Ms Laury said: “Leading the transformation has been so exciting but also very challenging. I believe it is right for someone else to lead the next phase.”
Chairman Andy Cosslett said she had been a “powerful leader of the business”.
He added: “We are now moving into a new phase where we can extract more of the benefits resulting from the hard work that has been put in, and it is therefore timely that we commence a succession process.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Tue, 19th Mar 2019) London, Uk – –
The unemployment rate has fallen below 4% for the first time since 1975, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate was 3.9% in the three months to January, down from 4% at the end of 2018.
Meanwhile wages excluding bonuses rose by 3.4%, unchanged on the previous month and still outpacing inflation.
Unemployment fell by 35,000 to 1.34 million and the number of people in work rose by 222,000 – the fastest pace of hiring in more than three years and nearly twice as strong as economists had expected.
The ONS said the employment rate had hit a new record high of 76.1% while the level of economic inactivity – covering people who are neither seeking work nor available for it – hit a record low.
ONS senior statistician Matt Hughes said: “The unemployment rate has also fallen below 4% for the first time since early 1975.”
But the ONS said that while the labour market had continued to perform strongly as it had in 2018, the general economic outlook was “more complex” with growth slowing and a number of companies shelving investments and some going into administration amid ongoing uncertainty.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 19th Mar 2019) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – British supermarket Sainsbury’s and its takeover target Asda have committed to deliver 1 billion pounds of lower prices annually by the third year after completion of their proposed 7.3 billion pounds deal, they said on Tuesday.
Sainsbury’s and Asda are attempting to overturn brutal provisional findings from Britain’s competition regulator, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), which is examining the deal.
The CMA said last month its initial view was that Sainsbury’s purchase of Walmart’s Asda should be blocked in the absence of the sale of a large number of stores, or even one of the brands.
The two groups said they would invest 300 million pounds in the first year after combining and a further 700 million over the following two years – reducing prices “by around 10 percent on everyday items”.
Sainsbury’s also said it would cap its fuel gross profit margin to no more than 3.5 pence per litre for five years, while Asda will guarantee its existing fuel pricing strategy.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 18th Mar 2019) London, Uk – –
A payment processing firm that used to be owned by Royal Bank of Scotland has been sold in a deal worth $43bn (£32bn).
WorldPay has been bought by Florida-based Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) for $35bn in cash and shares, plus WorldPay's debt.
FIS sells payment services and also software for the finance industry.
WorldPay was sold by RBS in 2010 as a condition of the bank's bailout following the financial crisis.
Since then WorldPay's value has risen dramatically and now matches the stock market value of its former owner RBS.
Demand for WorldPay services has surged as shoppers are using their cards more, either to buy products online, or using cards in shops.
FIS said buying WorldPay would help it sell more services to banks and other financial firms. The company's chief executive Gary Norcross said “scale matters in our rapidly changing industry”.
The rise of financial technology firms, known as fintech, has seen technology firms taking on banks in a race for control of the digital payments market.
“The need to invest, to continue to modernise both the technology and application layers, and continue to innovate so our customers can continue to be disrupters, will be important for us,” Mr Norcross told investors in a call on Monday.
Neil Wilson, from Markets.com, said the deal “signifies the very rapid shift in the payments industry and the amount of investment the businesses need”.
He expects more deals in the sector as companies look to get bigger.
WorldPay first started in 1989 as electronic payments system Streamline. It was owned by NatWest Bank, which was then acquired by RBS in 2002.
Streamline was renamed as RBS WorldPay. RBS expanded the service to other countries, including the US and the Netherlands.
In 2009 the European Commission said that RBS would have to sell WorldPay and other businesses, as a condition of approving state aid to the bank.
The next year, WorldPay was sold to private equity firms Advent International and Bain Capital for £2bn, with RBS retaining a 20% stake.
In 2013, RBS sold off its remaining stake. WorldPay went on to sell shares on the London Stock Exchange in 2015.
In January 2018, US payments processing technology firm Vantiv acquired WorldPay for $10.4bn. Vantiv renamed the combined firms WorldPay.
Last October, BT poached WorldPay's co-head Philip Jansen to replace Gavin Patterson as chief executive of the telecoms group.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 18th Mar 2019) London, Uk – –
Budget chain is to open 100 hotels in the next five years that will create 3,000 jobs
Travelodge wants to recruit parents returning to work to fill post-Brexit staffing gaps, as it pushes ahead with 100 hotel openings that will create 3,000 jobs over the next five years.
The company, one of Britain’s biggest hotel chains with 575 properties, hopes to fill 550 jobs immediately by attracting parents with hours that fit around the school run.
They include roles in reception, restaurants, housekeeping as well as some head office roles with flexible hours. Travelodge said it was targeting some of the UK’s 2 million-plus unemployed parents, citing YouGov research that 86% of them would like to return to work.
The majority of Travelodge’s hotel managers are female, and across the group almost three-quarters of its staff are women.
Like the rest of the hospitality sector, Travelodge is heavily reliant on EU staff, who account for 30% of its workforce. The industry has warned of the devastating impact the government’s plans to slash immigration from the EU by 80% after Brexit will have on the industry. The government wants to extend the £30,000-a-year minimum salary threshold that applies to non-EU workers to EU migrants.
The firm’s chief executive, Peter Gowers, said: “Travelodge is growing quickly and we want to unlock the potential of Britain’s mums and dads as they return to work. Hospitality can offer a great career for parents, with jobs close to home, hours that can match the school run, benefits that suit families and a path into management.
“We are preparing in earnest for post-Brexit Britain. With thousands of new jobs to fill, we need more new colleagues than ever. We see vast untapped potential in parents who want to return to work.”
Kerry Washington takes us on a tour of her beautiful New York City apartment, designed by RH, Restoration Hardware. From the unobstructed view of the Hudson River to her impressive crystal collection, Kerry shares it all! Kerry is wearing a Prada shirt and Dior skirt with Manolo Blahnik shoes, Mindi Mond earrings and a Movado watch.
In late February 2019, Gap Inc. announced plans to split into two separate publicly traded companies, sending its stock soaring on the hopes the new structure will help sharpen its focus and boost sales.
The retailer said it would spin off its most successful brand, Old Navy, into a separate, publicly-traded company. With its inexpensive basics, Old Navy has consistently accounted for more than 40 percent of the company’s total annual sales. Its other brands, Gap and Banana Republic, will join much its smaller brands, Intermix, Athleta, and Hill City, to form an as-yet unnamed company. Gap also plans to buy high-end children’s clothing line Janie and Jack and fold that into the new company.
Despite the sharp spike on the announcement, Gap shares, which have a market value of just under $10 billion, are up less than 1 percent since the start of the year, and have fallen 20 percent over the past year.
Gap CEO Art Peck, who will remain with the executive of “NewCo,” said both companies should benefit from “a sharpened strategic focus and tailored operating structure.”
In the late 19th century John Rockefeller used his quick wits and leadership skills to build an impressive oil refinery in Cleveland. In the early days of the oil industry technology was inefficient and bankruptcies were everywhere, but John optimized the refining process successfully. Over time, he bought out competitors until he had total control over the oil industry in Cleveland through his company: Standard Oil of Ohio.
In the decades afterwards Rockefeller purchased refineries across America and even negotiated backroom deals with the big railroad tycoons. At its peak Standard Oil was worth up to $1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion dollars) in today's money, with Rockefeller controlling over 90% of the oil industry in America.
Of course, eventually new oil deposits were uncovered in Asia and Russia, challenging Rockefeller's monopoly. Back at home concerned businessmen funded waves of media opposition to Standard Oil, which was eventually broken up in 1911. The numerous companies created during this split would eventually merge back together, bringing huge profits to Rockefeller in his final years.
Upon his death, Rockefeller's net worth was an estimated $400 billion in today's dollars, making him the wealthiest businessman to have ever lived by a wide margin.
Under the kind patronage of Nagabhushanam Peddi, Dan Supernault, Samuel Patterson, James Gallagher, Brett Gmoser & Roman Badalyan.
Amazon aims to compete with FedEx and UPS in the logistics and shipping industry. That's what analysts told CNBC after Amazon Air recently expanded to 50 planes and announced it will open a $1.5 billion air hub in Northern Kentucky in 2021. Amazon is handling up to 26% of its own shipping, meaning FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service are losing a portion of Amazon's business. FedEx says it's not worried, but Morgan Stanley reports the major shippers have already lost 2% revenue to Amazon Air.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Fri, 15th March 2019) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – The future of the troubled British outsourcer Interserve will be decided on Friday when investors vote on whether to accept a rescue deal or let the provider of key public services fall into administration.
The British company, which employs 68,000 people globally to clean schools and hospitals, run probation services and build roads and bridges, has been battling to avoid a collapse like peer Carillion after it hit trouble about three years ago.
On Friday, shareholders will vote on whether to accept a debt-for-equity swap which would see creditors take control in exchange for writing off 485 million pounds of debt and injecting 110 million pounds of new liquidity. Existing shareholders would be left with 5 percent of the group.
The outcome of the vote appears too close to call after the company’s biggest shareholder Coltrane Asset Management objected to the deal. It holds 28 percent of the stock.
“The company is in a critical financial situation,” the group said when explaining the deleveraging plan.
“Our plan preserves some value for shareholders. This will not be the case if the proposals are voted down.”
A person familiar with the situation has told Reuters that if the deal fails the company will go for a so-called pre-pack administration that will wipe out all existing shareholders but enable the company to keep operating by selling some assets.
Interserve, one of Britain’s biggest outsourcing and construction companies, has been thrust into a fight for survival after it made an ill-fated push into the energy-for-waste market.
Broader problems in the outsourcing market and high debt also rattled investors, driving its shares down from 500 pence in 2014 to 9.6 pence now.
Its former rival Carillion collapsed in January 2018 in Britain’s biggest corporate failure that hit the provision of school meals and the construction of hospitals.
The Interserve meeting will be held at 1100 GMT on Friday.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 15th March 2019) London, Uk – –
The US is suing Volkswagen, accusing the German carmaker of “massive fraud” over the diesel emissions scandal.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claims the firm misled investors by issuing billions of dollars worth of bonds and securities, without disclosing that it had cheated emissions tests.
Volkswagen's former chief executive Martin Winterkorn is also being sued.
The company said it would contest the SEC lawsuit vigorously.
VW first admitted in September 2015 that it had used illegal software to cheat US emissions tests. But between April 2014 and May 2015 the carmaker sold $13bn (£10bn) of bonds and securities to US investors, at a time when executives were already aware that illegal software had been installed to manipulate emissions tests, according to the SEC's suit.
The SEC said that as a result, Volkswagen “reaped hundreds of millions of dollars in benefit by issuing the securities at more attractive rates for the company”.
When the scandal was uncovered, VW's share price sank nearly 40%.
The firm “repeatedly lied to and misled United States investors, consumers, and regulators as part of an illegal scheme to sell its purportedly ‘clean diesel' cars and billions of dollars of corporate bonds and other securities in the United States,” the SEC added.
The suit seeks to bar Mr Winterkorn, who resigned when the scandal became public, from serving as an officer or director of a public US company. He has been charged in the US with conspiring to cover up the emissions cheating scandal. However Germany does not extradite its own citizens.
The suit also seeks to recover “ill-gotten gains” along with civil penalties and interest.
Theo Leggett, business reporter
“We're not yet through the diesel scandal, it will probably still take years… and it's a burden for us.” That is what VW's chief executive Herbert Diess had to say when I spoke to him at the Geneva Motor Show last week.
We were discussing the raft of legal cases which VW is still facing around the world – and to which it is still having to dedicate substantial resources
It has already paid out more than $30bn in the US alone, in fines and other penalties, and to buy back affected vehicles.
The SEC's lawsuit shows that the US authorities are not prepared to let the company off the hook just yet.
It remains under pressure in Europe too – where it is still facing a waveof consumer lawsuits over its refusal to pay compensation.
Ironically, as Mr Diess acknowledged, the scandal forced Volkswagen down a path which may help it become a leader in more environmentally-friendly technologies.
Volkswagen has already agreed to pay more than $25bn in the US over the emissions scandal including criminal and civil fines.
The firm said in a statement the SEC complaint was “legally and factually flawed”.
It said the securities in question had been sold “only to sophisticated investors who were not harmed and received all payments of interest and principal in full and on time” and said that Mr Winterkorn had played no part in the sales of those securities.
The carmaker is already defending its actions in court in Germany, where investors are pursuing €9.26bn (£8.2bn) in damages, arguing the company should have come clean earlier about the emissions tests cheating. That case is expected to last until later this year.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 14th March 2019) London, Uk – –
Sterling climbed by as much as three cents to reach a nine-month high against the US dollar and added two cents against the euro.
The pound is clinging on to gains of the past 24-hours following a big leap as MPs voted to rule out a no-deal Brexit.
In volatile trading, Sterling climbed by as much as three cents against the US dollar to nearly $1.34, a nine-month high, and was two cents up versus the euro to as high as €1.18 – a new 22-month peak.
That was after an amendment rejecting a no-deal Brexit in all circumstances was narrowly backed by the Commons.
It had given up some of those gains by Thursday morning – trading at €1.17 and $1.32 – as investors mulled the political reality that the vote was non-binding.
But the pound moved higher again later after Goldman Sachs put the chances of a no-deal Brexit at 5% – a shift from Wednesday's position of 10%.
There was a broad welcome for the MPs' no-deal vote from business groups but it was combined with continued frustration about the lack of a clear way forward, with the Commons due to vote on Thursday night on delaying the Brexit process.
A survey for the CBI suggested nearly 9 in 10 firms would back a delay but only if the alternative is to leave the EU with no deal.
Commenting on the task ahead Edwin Morgan, interim director general of the Institute of Directors, said: “If they vote for an extension there will still be the considerable task of convincing the EU that there is an exit deal the House of Commons can get behind.”
Miles Celic, chief executive of TheCityUK, noted: “Unless the withdrawal agreement or some other realistic course of action is agreed very soon, the UK will still crash out, regardless of MPs' wishes.”
Business anxiety has mirrored days of high drama over Brexit in Westminster while currency markets have see-sawed sharply.
Sterling had hit a previous 22-month high against the euro earlier in the week when Theresa May secured a revised transition deal with the European Union before falling back again when it proved too little to win over parliamentary opposition.
Mrs May's crushing Commons defeat on Tuesday paved the way for the vote on Wednesday that saw MPs reject a “no deal” Brexit – seen as likely to create major economic uncertainty.
Investors see the further vote on delaying Brexit as positive for the pound as it could increase the Prime Minister's chance of securing a deal or even lead towards a second referendum.
David Cheetham, chief market analyst at xtb online trading, said: “It appears that hardline Tories are now starting to fear that the game is up and are looking to change tack and throw their weight behind the PM.
“There is significant scope for a sizeable relief rally in the pound, with the path of least resistance for sterling now appearing to be higher – albeit with several potential potholes still lining the way.”
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 14 March 2019) London, Uk – –
FAA supported the grounding saying it had uncovered information in the Ethiopia crash that was similar to the Indonesia crash in October
Donald Trump grounded Boeing’s 737 Max fleet on Wednesday, days after the second fatal crash involving the plane in five months.
Issuing an emergency order, Trump said all 737 Max jets in the US would now be grounded. “Planes that are in the air will be grounded if they are the 737 Max. Will be grounded upon landing at their destination,” Trump told reporters at the White House.
Trump said the safety of the American people and others was of “paramount concern”. He said: “They [Boeing] have to find the problem … and they will find it.”
Ethiopian Airlines said on Thursday an Ethiopian delegation had sent the black boxes from crashed plane to Paris for investigation.
Boeing said it had “full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max” but “out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public” it had decided to temporarily suspend the entire fleet.
But a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) went further, saying that new information from the wreckage of a 737 crash in Ethiopia had uncovered similarities to an earlier crash of the same variant of 737 in Indonesia in October.
The FAA’s emergency order states that the similarities “warrant further investigation of the possibility of a shared cause for the two incidents that needs to be better understood and addressed”.
The United States had stood virtually alone in allowing the plane to keep flying. On Wednesday, Canada joined a growing list of countries that had grounded the aircraft involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people this week.
Boeing and US aviation safety officials at the FAA had resisted mounting pressure from Congress and labor unions to halt operation of the Boeing 737 Max while investigators work to find the cause of the crash. Regulators in the European Union, the United Kingdom, China, Australia and India have restricted the planes from flying. The latest bans came from Egypt, Thailand and Vietnam on Wednesday.
The grounding threatened chaos for US travelers. Dozens of the planes were still airborne at the time of the announcement and future flights will have to be rescheduled until the ban is lifted.
At New York’s LaGuardia airport, three flights to Miami on 737 Max 8s were cancelled, stranding hundreds of American Airlines passengers.
“I’d rather the inconvenience than be on a dangerous airplane,” said Marie Bellamota, a traveller from the Dominican Republic who had her flight cancelled. “I feel upset, and I have to change all my plans but what can I do.”
Other passengers said they were inconvenienced but relieved to not be taking the risk or suffering the anxiety of taking the troubled Boeing.
“I’m glad. I didn’t want to be on that plane anyway,” said Sharon Gentles, who was on her way to Jamaica for a funeral. “I’m happy they grounded them because at least I’m safe.”
A spokesman for American at LaGuardia said that over the past several days the airline had sought to allay customers’ increasing concerns about the 737 by switching them to other flights without imposing additional fees.
Following the planes’ grounding by US regulators, the airline switched passengers to a “special section” plane – a wide-bodied Boeing 777 leaving JFK at 10.30pm. “We’re happy to provide at least some relief by getting them to their destination tonight,” said American’s Justin Franco.
The Ethiopian crash comes just five months after the deadly crash of a new Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air in Indonesia, which left 189 people dead. No evidence has yet linked the crashes, but pilots on both planes reported problems moments after takeoff and asked to make emergency landings.
Canada’s transportation minister, Marc Garneau, said the decision to issue a “safety notice” was based on a review of newly available satellite tracking data, which identified similarities between the crash in Ethiopia and the one last year in Indonesia.
Garneau cautioned that the information was “not conclusive” but that “at this point we feel that threshold has been crossed”.
On Tuesday, Boeing CEO, Dennis Muilenburg reportedly spoke with Trump by phone to assure him the planes were safe. The call came after the president complained on Twitter that airplanes have become “far too complex to fly” and suggested that “pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT”.
But Trump and Boeing had faced mounting pressure to act. Senator Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican who leads a Senate subcommittee overseeing aviation, called on the FAA to ground the planes and promised to hold hearings on the cause of the crash.
“Further investigation may reveal that mechanical issues were not the cause, but until that time, our first priority must be the safety of the flying public,” he said on Tuesday.
Senator Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, and the Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential candidate, had called for the planes to be grounded. Warren said lawmakers should hold hearings “on whether an administration that famously refused to stand up to Saudi Arabia to protect Boeing arms sales has once again put lives at risk for the same reason”.
Boeing, one of the US’s largest manufactures, is a lobbying powerhouse with deep ties to the White House and Congress. According to OpenSecrets.org, a group that tracks lobbying data, Boeing spent more than $15m on Washington lobbying last year.
Trump’s acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, worked at the company for more than 30 years. On Wednesday, the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General alleging that Shanahan violated ethics rules “by promoting Boeing in the scope of his official duties” at the DOD.
The US airline carriers that fly the plane – Southwest, American Airlines and United – on Wednesday said they were complying with the new requirements.
In a statement, Southwest said the airline removed all of its 34 Max 8 aircraft from scheduled service. American, responding to customer questions on Twitter, said it had stopped operating all 24 of its planes of that type and United grounded its 14 737 Max 9 aircraft, which handle about 40 flights per day.
By Dominic Rushe in New York Lauren Gambino in Washington and Edward Helmore