(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 22nd Jan 2021) London, Uk – –
Japanese car maker Nissan has told the BBC its Sunderland plant is secure for the long term as a result of the trade deal reached between the UK and the EU.
It said it will move additional battery production close to the plant where it has 6,000 direct employees and supports nearly 70,000 jobs in the supply chain.
Currently, the batteries in its Leaf electric cars are imported from Japan.
Nissan would not confirm if this would mean additional jobs at Sunderland, which is the UK's largest car plant.
Manufacturing the more powerful batteries in the UK will ensure its cars comply with trade rules agreed with the EU requiring at least 55% of the car's value to be derived from either the UK or the EU to qualify for zero tariffs when exported to the EU.
Some 70% of the cars made in Sunderland are exported and the vast majority of them are sold in the EU.
Nissan had issued stark warnings last year that if the UK left the EU without a trade deal, the resulting tariffs on cars and components would make the Sunderland plant “unsustainable”.
Nissan's chief operating officer Ashwani Gupta told the BBC: “The Brexit deal is positive for Nissan. Being the largest automaker in the UK we are taking this opportunity to redefine auto-making in the UK.
“It has created a competitive environment for Sunderland, not just inside the UK but outside as well.
“We've decided to localise the manufacture of the 62kWh battery in Sunderland so that all our products qualify [for tariff-free export to the EU]. We are committed to Sunderland for the long term under the business conditions that have been agreed.”
It came as Nissan paused one of its two production lines in Sunderland on Friday as disruption at ports caused by the pandemic affected its supply chain.
The company said the move would affect the line which produces the Qashqai and Leaf, but work would resume next week.
‘Belief in Britain'
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng welcomed the firm's endorsement of Sunderland as a manufacturing base.
“Nissan's decision represents a genuine belief in Britain and a huge vote of confidence in our economy thanks to the certainty our trade deal with the EU delivers,” he said.
“For the dedicated and highly-skilled workforce in Sunderland, it means the city will be home to Nissan's latest models for years to come and positions the company to capitalise on the wealth of benefits that will flow from electric vehicle production.”
It's particularly welcome after the more guarded comments from the boss of Vauxhall's parent company last week.
Speaking as the tie-up between Fiat Chrsyler and Peugeot Citroen was christened with new umbrella name Stellantis, boss Carlos Tavares said that the future of its Ellesmere Port plant depended on the support the UK government was prepared to offer after its decision to ban sales of new petrol and diesel cars after 2030.
“If you change, brutally, the rules and if you restrict the rules for business then there is at one point in time a problem,” he said.
Looking forward, he said it would make more sense to locate an electric vehicle factory closer to the larger EU market.
Industry voices welcomed the news from Nissan but reinforced the message from Vauxhall's owners that the government needs to do more to secure the future of the car industry as it electrifies.
“This is obviously good news and will help the Nissan Leaf avoid any future tariffs, but we are going to need to see a lot more investment in battery production in the UK if we are to preserve the UK as a car manufacturer and exporter,” said Professor David Bailey of Warwick University.
The head of trade body the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders agreed.
“The battery plant in Sunderland may be enough for Nissan's near-term plans to build tens of thousands of electric cars but the UK made 1.5 million cars last year and all will be partly electric by 2030,” Mike Hawes said.
‘Jobs at risk'
Andy Palmer, former boss of Aston Martin and current chairman of electric bus maker Switch Mobility, has gone further. He says that 800,000 jobs are at risk if the UK government doesn't act now to foster battery investment.
“Without electric vehicle batteries made in the UK, the country's auto industry risks becoming an antiquated relic and overtaken by China, Japan, America and Europe.”
He urged the UK government to use every lever at its disposal to make the UK attractive.
UK car investment has fallen sharply since the UK voted to leave the EU.
In the five years to 2016 it averaged £3.5bn per year. In the four years since it has averaged around £1bn – a fall of 71% at a time when the technology and map of car production are going through their biggest revolution since the car was invented.
The Nissan decision is therefore a very welcome boost to the UK which is in an international scramble for the investment of the future which is happening right now.
By Simon Jack
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 19th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –
People high on list for jabs in UK ready to make 2021 and 2022 plans
Abta says is it is hearing from members that the over-50s represent a much higher proportion of early bookers than normal.
Holiday companies have reported an increase in bookings as the UK’s coronavirus vaccine rollout gives people hope that they will soon be able to travel overseas again.
Despite a series of negative travel announcements in recent days, including the closure of air corridors and words of caution from ministers over foreign holidays, there are signs that those among the first in line for the vaccinations are starting to plan trips, and that consumers are hopeful about taking a break later this year.
The travel association Abta said it was hearing from members that the over-50s represented a much higher proportion of early bookers than normal.Matt Hancock cautions against booking holidays abroad.
Saga, which specialises in holidays for the over-50s, reported rising numbers of bookings for this year and next. Traffic to its bookings website was up by 16% in the first two weeks of this year, compared with the first two weeks of December, while sales made through Saga had doubled over the same period. The interest comes despite the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, saying it was too early to plan for summer holidays this year because of travel restrictions and Matt Hancock, the health secretary, suggesting on Monday that holidays abroad may not be a given.
Bookings for long-haul trips for 2022 have also surged, suggesting an appetite for “once-in-a-lifetime holidays”, Saga said, while people are booking for longer even for short-haul destinations.
Saga said 70% of short-haul-stay bookings between November 2021 and January 2022 were for 21 nights or longer.
Chris Simmonds, the chief executive of Saga Holidays, said: “Many of our guests are hopeful that they will be able to travel again soon, with the vaccine providing them the optimism they need to start planning ahead.
“Of course, given we cater exclusively for people aged over 50, many of our customers are near the top of the queue for a vaccine, which is giving them the confidence to start thinking about travelling again, as well as returning to other parts of normal life.”
The tour operator Tui said older travellers were making up more of its bookings than usual.
A spokesperson said: “We’re seeing more interest in holidays from an age group that wasn’t coming through before, with the over-50s starting to book, we assume, on the back of the positive vaccine news.
“Since the end of last year, bookings from this group have accounted for 50% of all our web bookings, as customers long for a sunshine break later in summer, in particular in Greece, Turkey or the Balearics.”
It also reported customers booking longer breaks than previously, with many opting for 10, 11 or 14 nights instead of seven. It suggested this was to make up for not having had a holiday in 2020.
The airline easyJet said its holiday bookings for the summer were 250% higher than they had been at this point last year.
Its chief executive, Johan Lundgren, said: “We have seen easyJet holidays bookings from our over-50s customers increase over the last few weeks in comparison to pre-Christmas, which suggests a further confidence boost from the vaccine rollout.”
Lundgren said there was “pent-up demand”, adding: ”We have seen that every time restrictions have been relaxed and so we know that people want to go on holiday as soon as they can.”
Skyscanner, which offers flights and hotels via its website, said searches and bookings remained lower than normal for the time of year but there were signs that activity was picking up.
Searches were up by 12% over the week and bookings by 7%, with July 2021 the most searched for month.
Other firms reported bookings were higher for this September and October, suggesting consumers were hopeful that vaccines may have been delivered and travel restrictions lifted by the autumn.
On Monday, tough new testing rules came into effect that require all those arriving in the UK to show a negative Covid-19 test or face a potential £500 fine. The UK has also closed all its travel corridors, meaning people arriving will be required to quarantine.
Meanwhile, an official close to the Australian government has warned that tourists could face “substantial border restrictions” for most of 2021. Returning Australian travellers must pay about AU$3,000 (£1,700) to quarantine inside a hotel room for 14 days.
By Miles Brignall and Gwyn Topham
The electrification of the pickup truck, America's most beloved automobile, could finally jolt EVs fully into the U.S. mainstream. It also promises a huge payday for the companies that can make them affordable. The players in this potentially lucrative market aren't just the traditional, deep-pocketed automakers, mind you: there's a batch of well-funded startups going head-to-head in the coming fight
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 13th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –
People falling behind on credit payments for cars and other products may soon have their items seized by lenders, under the regulator's plans.
A ban on repossession of goods and vehicles is due to expire at the end of January.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said that extending the ban could leave people owing much more over time.
However, the FCA is proposing that no homes are repossessed before the start of April.
The coronavirus pandemic meant the ban on repossessions of homes, vehicles and other items in the UK was put in place and extended to the end of January
Normally, lenders can seize homes and goods if somebody falls too far behind on loan repayments.
Deferrals on payments are available for an agreed period of time, but the FCA is now proposing that repossessions of items bought on credit – such as cars – can resume from the start of February.
“This should only be as a last resort, and subject to complying with relevant government public health guidelines and regulations, for example on social distancing and shielding,” the FCA said.
“Firms will also be expected to consider the impact on customers who may be vulnerable, including because of the pandemic, when deciding whether repossession of goods or vehicles is appropriate.”
It argued that interest over a longer period, combined with the depreciating value of the goods or vehicles, would leave people with a potentially unsustainable bill.
The popularity of car finance has fallen amid the pandemic. New figures from the Finance and Leasing Association show a fall in new business volumes of 24% in November compared with the same month in 2019.
Home repossession ban
The picture for homes is different, owing to the government restrictions on movement and the transmission risks of coronavirus.
The FCA's repossession ban on properties is proposed to be extended to April.
Last week, governments in England, Wales and Scotland all extended their ban on bailiffs enforcing evictions of tenants who have fallen behind on rent.
The FCA's proposals for homeowners covers the whole of the UK, and is subject to consultation for the next five days.
There are no changes to the rules on mortgage holidays available to homeowners. Some two-and-a-half million homeowners have taken a mortgage holiday since the start of the pandemic.
That means they have deferred the payment, but will probably have to pay more each month when repayments resume.
Anyone can still request a mortgage holiday, unless they have already had one for six months, the FCA said. A new one can last for six months. An existing one can be extended to last for six months in total.
Applications can be made before the end of March 2020.
When the six month deferral has been used, lenders assess the borrower's circumstances and devise an arrangement that could include extending the mortgage term, accepting partial payments, or – only in the short-term – another deferral.
This will show up on their credit record.
By Kevin Peachey
Source: Chun Ming NgChangchun Ice and Snow World 2021 (or Changchun Ice and Snow Xintiandi 长春冰雪新天地) debuted with a new image this year. It is the world's biggest ice and snow festival, bigger than the Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival. It covers an area of 1.38 million square meters, and the amount of ice and snow used exceeds 200,000 cubic meters. It is a veritable “Ice Kingdom”. As the first million-square-meter “Ice Kingdom” in the country to light up, Changchun Ice and Snow Xintiandi have built 142 ice and snow buildings.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 7th Jan 2021) London, UK —
DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair plans to begin deploying its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in the United Kingdom following its first deliveries in the coming months, CEO Eddie Wilson said on Thursday.
The airline has said it expects to receive around 30 of the MAX aircraft, which were ungrounded in the United States late last year after a 20-month safety ban that followed two fatal crashes.
“We will deploying those probably initially in the UK,” Eddie Wilson told Newstalk radio.
Reporting by Conor Humphries
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 4th Jan 2021) London, Uk – –
PARIS (Reuters) -Shareholders in Peugeot owner PSA gave the green light on Monday to the French company’s merger with Fiat Chrysler (FCA), one of the last steps towards creating the world’s fourth largest automaker.
At a special shareholder meeting, the deal to form the new company called Stellantis was first backed by top investors with double voting rights, including the Peugeot family, China’s Dongfeng and the French state, via Bpifrance.
All other PSA shareholders backed the deal at a second meeting held online with a 99.85% approval rate among votes cast. FCA investors are due to give their verdict later on Monday.
“We are ready for this merger,” PSA Chief Executive Carlos Tavares said, adding that the date for the closure of the deal would be announced shortly if all shareholder approvals were granted. He said the deal had now passed all regulatory tests.
The shareholding structure will be altered as part of the merger, and existing double voting rights – which are accrued over time and give investors more weight in decisions – will not be carried over.
Tavares, who will take the helm of the merged group, will have to revive the carmaker’s fortunes in China, rationalise a sprawling global empire and address massive overcapacity, as well as focus like rivals on creating cleaner cars.
Stellantis will have 14 brands, from FCA’s Fiat, Maserati and U.S.-focused Jeep, Dodge and Ram to PSA’s Peugeot, Citroen, Opel and DS. PSA has traditionally been more focused on Europe.
Reporting by Gilles Guillaume and Sarah White
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 29th Dec 2020) London, UK —
DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ryanair on Tuesday confirmed it would restrict the voting rights of British shareholders from Jan. 1 in a bid to ensure it remains majority EU-owned and retain full licensing and flight rights in the bloc.
The plan to restrict British shareholders was approved by the airline last year, subject to the terms of a final agreement on Britain’s post-Brexit relationship with the European Union, which was agreed last week.
“Restricted Share Notices will be issued to the registered holder(s) of each Restricted Share in due course, specifying that the holder(s) of such shares shall not be entitled to attend, speak or vote at any general meeting of the Company,” Ryanair said in a statement.
“These resolutions will remain in place until the Board of the Company determines that the ownership and control of the Company is no longer such that there is any risk to the airline licences held by the Company’s subsidiaries,” the statement said.
UK nationals, like all other non-EU nationals, will not be permitted to acquire ordinary shares, the statement said.
Ryanair last February said that while the airline was 55% EU-owned, Britain-based shareholders at the time controlled around 20% of its stock.
Chief Financial Officer Neil Sorahan said at the time he expected half of those to re-domicile to the EU if Britain chose to make a sharp break with the EU.
Reporting by Conor Humphries
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 22nd Dec 2020) London, Uk – –
The Japanese carmaker said it was expecting shortages of parts as a result of transport delays, after France’s 48-hour ban on accompanied freight or cargo from Britain led to queues of lorries miles long stuck near Dover.
Toyota said it had decided to bring forward the “planned seasonal stop” at its engine plant in Deeside in north Wales and its factory at Burnaston in Derbyshire, where it makes the Corolla. About 3,000 people are employed at the two plants.
Its French site will also stop production two days earlier than planned.
The European factories would ordinarily have closed for an annual shutdown on Christmas Eve and remained shut until 4 January.
Toyota said it wanted to “help ensure the safety and security of our employees and all our stakeholders, particularly our logistics partners and in consideration of society’s wider needs”.
The car manufacturer said it had taken the decision “in light of the traffic bans that a growing number of countries have issued for travel from the UK and due to the uncertain nature of how long the borders will be closed for logistics activities”.
The extended shutdown caps a tumultuous year for the automotive industry, which halted production in the spring as the first wave of the pandemic took hold.
The French government is expected to make an announcement on Tuesday about reopening transport links with the UK.
Paris failed to lift its 48-hour ban on freight and passengers from Britain over fears about the new coronavirus strain, despite a phone call on Monday evening between Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron.
France is one of more than 40 countries that have suspended flights and trains from the UK, including Denmark, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Ireland, Turkey and Canada.
The plan to build a new runway was declared unlawful on environmental grounds by the Court of Appeal in February, but the country’s top court is set to overturn that earlier decision, said a lawyer involved in the campaign against the airport’s plans.
Heathrow, west of London, is Britain’s biggest airport and prior to the pandemic was the busiest hub in Europe. During the crisis it lost that crown to Paris but it still wants to expand, allowing it to benefit from the post-COVID-19 travel recovery.
The lawyer, Tim Crosland, said in a statement on Tuesday that the top court was due to rule in Heathrow’s favour and that he was acting in “contempt of court” by announcing the verdict before the court had officially handed it down.
“I am breaking the court embargo on Heathrow to protest against the injustice of the verdict, which is a betrayal of the younger generation and those on the frontline of the crisis in the UK and around the world,” Crosland told Reuters.
The judge in the ruling in February had said that a failure to take into account the British government’s commitments on climate change was “legally fatal” to the plans.
($1 = 0.7478 pounds)
Reporting by Matthew Green
The Concorde took its last flight in 2003, making commercial supersonic travel a thing of the past. In recent years, however, a number of companies have been laying the groundwork for a new supersonic era.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 26th Nov 2020) London, UK —
LONDON (Reuters) – British airline easyJet said domestic bookings for December had risen significantly this week compared to last week after news that some COVID-19 restrictions in its home market would be eased.
England’s current lockdown bans most international travel, but when it ends on Dec. 2 people will be free to go abroad. Over Christmas, COVID-19 restrictions across the UK will be relaxed to allow families to mix for five days.
The prospects for travel were also boosted after a rule change in England earlier this week which means from mid-December, arrivals in the UK can shorten their quarantine to five days from 14 if they test negative for coronavirus.
EasyJet said bookings for flights from London and Bristol to Belfast, and London to Edinburgh had risen, and it had seen a 200% increase in searches for both flights and holidays to beach destinations for next year.
“We know underlying demand is there, which we see every time travel restrictions are lifted,” easyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said in a statement on Thursday.
“We continue to closely review our flying programme to ensure we are aligning our schedule with customer demand.”
The pandemic has battered easyJet’s finances, forcing it to axe 4,500 staff, sell planes and take on new debt, and Lundgren has said a recovery depends upon travel restrictions being removed.
Reporting by Sarah Young
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 25th Nov 2020) London, Uk – –
The roadside recovery company's prospective new private equity owners plan to tackle its £2.6bn debt mountain.
By John-Paul Ford Rojas, business reporter
The AA has agreed to a £219m takeover with new owners pledging to inject extra cash after years of underinvestment – but warning of possible “limited” head office job cuts.
Private equity groups Towerbrook and Warburg Pincus will take control of the company in a deal likely to complete early in 2021.
The AA has more than three million members and in the last financial year reported revenues of nearly £1bn but is weighed down by a £2.6bn debt pile.
A statement on the deal said the consortium of new owners believed the company had been held back by underinvestment and they planned to inject funds to tackle the debt.
“This investment will safeguard the future of a much-loved business,” they said.
“The AA has a proud heritage but has struggled to reach its full growth potential in recent years.
“By deleveraging this fundamentally high-quality organisation, the business will be able to fully capitalise on its iconic brand, its market-leading positions, and its skilled and committed workforce – so that it can continue to deliver the exceptional levels of service it provides.
“We have no doubt that, on a stronger financial footing, the AA will go from strength to strength, to the benefit of all stakeholders.”
The consortium indicated an increased focus on the AA's insurance, driving school and financial services divisions.
After the planned takeover, it will no longer be listed on the London stock exchange meaning that a “limited number of central corporate and support functions… may be reduced in scope or become unnecessary” though the aim will be to reassign some to other roles in the company.
Its new owners will also conduct a “thorough evaluation of the strategy, operations and organisational structure of the AA” but do not expect to see “material headcount reductions”.
The AA, which employs more than 7,000 people, has a history dating back to 1905 but investment has been held back in recent years in order to service its mountain of debt.
In accepting the takeover offer, its directors said it would be “highly challenging” to try to raise the money it needs to address this debt through a cash-call with existing shareholders. Where jobs have been lost across the UK economy
Chairman John Leach said that having considered the options available it concluded “that the acquisition, which offers certain cash value to the AA's shareholders as well as a significant equity injection to reduce indebtedness, is in the best interests of the AA”.
The agreement comes two days after the AA board indicated that it was willing to accept the offer and entered “advanced discussions” with the bidders.
Shares rose nearly 7% in early trading.
In September, the AA reported a 38% fall in pre-tax profits to £26m for the six months to the end of July as membership numbers fell at a time when road usage dropped due to the COVID-19 lockdown.
Over the weekend, Sky News revealed that former Centrica chairman Rick Haythornthwaite had been approached about chairing the AA if the bid is successful.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 18th Nov 2020) London, Uk – –
US safety regulators have cleared Boeing's 737 Max plane to fly again, lifting grounding orders put in place in March 2019 after two deadly crashes.
The move marks a key milestone for the firm, which was thrust into crisis by the tragedies and investigations that blamed it for the accidents.
Its financial woes deepened this year as air travel slowed due to the virus.
Existing aircraft will need to be modified before going back into service, with changes to their design.
Safety regulator, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), said the clearance would not allow the plane to “return immediately” to the skies.
Alongside the software and wiring changes, pilots will also need training.
The FAA said the design changes it had required “have eliminated what caused these particular accidents”.
The boss of the FAA, said he was “100% confident” in the safety of the plane.
“We've done everything humanly possible to make sure” these types of crashes do not happen again,” Steve Dickson said.
The approval comes roughly a year after Boeing had first hoped but too soon for many of the victims' families.
Analysis: Theo Leggett
Will the 737 Max be safe?
Boeing and the FAA insist it will be – and certainly the direct cause of the accidents has now been fixed. Pilots and safety experts seem confident that the changes made to the plane will be effective.
But both Boeing and the regulator still have much to prove.
For Boeing, that the scathing criticisms of its corporate culture have been addressed, and that safety really is, as it often claims, its number one priority.
For the FAA, that it can stand up to the aerospace giant and recover from the failures that allowed a deeply flawed plane into service, resulting in tragedy.
The aircraft is coming back, but the world has changed. It was designed for a booming market, in which airlines desperately needed new planes and in which high fuel prices put a premium on efficiency.
Now, the aviation industry is on its knees thanks to the Covid crisis. It's no surprise then that some airlines have been cancelling orders.
However, the industry looks to the long term. Air traffic will ultimately recover, and pressure to keep costs down will return. Environmental pressures are only going to grow.
The 737 Max still has a role to play.
The US is the first to reverse the grounding orders, which hit the firm around the world in March 2019. European aviation officials have said they are close to making a similar decision.
The crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia came within five months of each other and together killed 346 people. They have been attributed to flaws in automated flight software called MCAS, which prompted the planes to nosedive shortly after take-off.
A US congressional report last month said Boeing's rush to production, a decision to ignore internal safety concerns and concealment of key changes to the plane, including pilot training needs, contributed to the accidents.
It also faulted the FAA for oversight lapses, including “excessive delegation to Boeing”.
Boeing has estimated the cost of the grounding at roughly $20bn.
Before the crashes, Boeing churned out more than 50 of the popular 737 Max per month. But airlines around the world have cancelled and delayed orders due in part to the pandemic.
Last month, Boeing said it did not expect its production rate to top 30 planes a month until 2022. It warned investors of a backlog of about 450 737 Max planes, of which only about half of which would be delivered by the end of next year.
To pump out its famous flavors like Half Baked and Cherry Garcia, Ben & Jerry's Vermont plants run 24-7, operated by hundreds of workers and flavor gurus. Business Insider visited the St. Albans factory back in 2019 to see how these iconic pints flip their way to our freezers.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Fri, 6th Nov 2020) London, Uk – –
The airline sells and leases back more of its aircraft as it scrambles for cash to help it ride out the coronavirus turbulence.
By James Sillars, business reporter
EasyJet has announced a boost to its coronavirus-hit finances – while revealing expectations of further cuts to services in the current Christmas quarter.
The low-cost carrier said renewed COVID-19 lockdowns in key markets of England, France and Germany had forced it to scale back expectations for flight schedules to 20% from 25% until the end of the year.
But the company insisted that should it witness a shift in demand, it could act to meet any surge in bookings.
“We remain focused on cash generative flying over the winter season in order to minimise losses during the first half and retain the flexibility to ramp capacity back up quickly when we see demand return,” easyJet said.
The airline, whose finances are under pressure due to the virus crisis disruption in the year to date, said additional sale and leaseback deals of its aircraft had raised £131m in cash – taking the total to date above £1bn.
It said the latest deal, covering 11 planes, meant that it now only fully-owned 41% of its fleet and a buoyant market meant that more such deals could be done.
The airline, like rivals, is scrambling to save cash at a time when the sector has been cutting jobs at a furious rate as ambitions are curtailed by continuing restrictions to curtail the disease.
Sky News revealed last month how easyJet had approached the government to warn it may need to access further financial state aid after taking £600m via the Bank of England's Coronavirus Corporate Financing Facility in the spring.Track the COVID-19 hit to the UK economy
It has also raised more than £400m from shareholders.
The air travel sector has pleaded for additional government help through an airport testing regime to help bolster passenger confidence and erase the need for quarantine restrictions.
EasyJet's capacity expectation of 20% is half that of rival Ryanair, which is expecting to fly 40% of usual services in the current winter season.
Sky News also revealed, on Thursday, that British Airways had scaled back its November flights and was to furlough more workers because of England's lockdown – stopping operations at Gatwick completely.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 23rd Oct 2020) London, Uk – –
Virgin Holidays has been ordered to meet refund deadlines following Covid-related cancellations or face court action by the regulator.
The company has agreed to pay refunds by 30 October for any holidays cancelled before September.
Those cancelled last month or this month will be refunded by 20 November.
By law, package holidays cancelled by an operator should be refunded within 14 days, but some people have waited three months to get their money back.
Virgin Holidays has received 53,000 refund requests since the start of March, totalling £203m – a situation which it said had put the company under “extraordinary pressure”. The company said it had 1,300 claims left to process.
The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it had received hundreds of complaints that people were not receiving refunds for holidays cancelled owing to the pandemic.
It said many customers had been forced to wait for an “unreasonably long time”, with some told the refunds would take three months.
If Virgin Holidays fails to hit its deadlines, the regulator said it was prepared to take the company to court. This included refunds for Virgin Holiday Cruises.
Your Virgin refund nightmares
Holidaymakers have spoken to the BBC in recent months over the stress of getting refunds from Virgin Holidays.
Newlyweds David and Natalie Rogers, from Dudley, saved for two years for their dream honeymoon safari trip in Kenya but coronavirus ruined their plans.
“We were quite angry about having to wait on hold [to Virgin Holidays] for over eight hours, and a message on the line saying that travellers should have already received a voucher for their missed holidays. It just felt like we'd been forgotten about,” they said.
Lynn and Martin Fox had remortgaged their home to pay for a holiday of a lifetime with their two children in Florida.
“If only they [Virgin Holidays] would have been honest with us and communicated with us, we would have been happy. If they put a date on the refund, we could have planned. But the phone cut off calls and emails were ignored,” Mrs Fox said.
Hannah Nash and her family paid nearly £7,000 for a holiday to Disney World in Florida but struggled to get a refund.
“The stress is making me ill. These are not small amounts for normal people,” she told the BBC in June.
Andrea Coscelli, chief executive at the CMA, said: “Our action means that Virgin Holidays customers should receive all their money back without further delay.
“We are continuing to investigate package holidays in relation to the coronavirus crisis. Should we find that any business is not complying with consumer protection law, we won't hesitate to take action.”
The regulator has issued similar warnings to other companies including Sykes Cottages and Vacation Rentals.
A spokesman for Virgin Holidays said: “We have gradually reduced refund timeframes and are now 98% through the refund queue.
“Our focus now is on rebuilding trust with our customers, recognising that it has regrettably taken much longer than normal to process their refunds. We thank them sincerely for their patience throughout.”
What are my rights?
If you have a package holiday cancelled by the provider, then a refund should be provided for the whole holiday within 14 days
If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days, although many airlines are struggling to meet that deadline. You can accept, or refuse, vouchers or a rebooking but a voucher will probably be invalid if the airline later goes bust
If you decide against going on a future flight, which is not yet cancelled, then there is no right to a refund. Different airlines have different rules over what you can do, but many are waiving any charges for changing to a later flight or having a voucher instead. Your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you
Regulation of holidays and flights is divided between the CMA and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The CAA has now announced that refund credit notes (RCNs) will have greater protection than normal until the end of the year.
RCNs were handed out by some companies instead of refunds early in the coronavirus crisis, as the businesses found themselves stretched by the level of claims. Customers must be given a cash refund if they ask for one.
RCNs can be used to book another holiday, or a refund is given when the note expires.
They have been temporarily protected under the Atol scheme, which is government-guaranteed and administered by the CAA.
Protection has been extended to cover any issued between 1 October and 31 December. It will apply to all relevant vouchers issued by Atol holders operating within the UK.
This means that the refund will be honoured, and can be drawn from a central pot, even if the provider goes bust.
By Kevin Peachey
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 20th Oct 2020) London, Uk – –
Grant Shapps hopeful over timeframe but critics say plan ‘not going to cut the mustard’
A ‘test-and-release system’ to cut the quarantine period for international arrivals to the UK should be in place by 1 December, the transport secretary has said.
Grant Shapps said he was “extremely hopeful” that the system, which would require a single coronavirus test to be taken about a week after arrival and paid for privately, would be ready in six weeks’ time, depending on sufficient tests being available through the private sector.
Speaking to the aviation industry Airlines 2050 summit, Shapps said the government travel taskforce he chairs had been “working extensively with health experts and the private testing sector on the practicalities” of such a regime, as well as discussing possible pre-departure test and isolation schemes with partner countries.
He said the taskforce was in contact with more than a dozen firms about different rapid tests. The taskforce is due to report to the prime minister at the start of November on a reformed entry regime.
Asked if the test-and-release system could be running by 1 December, Shapps said: “As long as the [testing] capacity is there through the private sector to do it, I’m extremely hopeful.”
However, the new boss of British Airways signalled that even a seven-day quarantine period would not do much to restart travel.
Sean Doyle, who replaced Álex Cruz as BA chief executive last week, said: “It’s our view that even if that quarantine period is reduced to seven days, people won’t travel here and the UK will get left behind.”
He said BA wanted to see pre-departure testing, particularly to restore major transatlantic routes. BA is now flying two planes a day between London and New York, instead of the normal 12, carrying just 200 passengers, Doyle said.
Doyle quoted recent research by the global airline body Iata that showed there had been only 44 confirmed cases of aircraft passengers contracting Covid-19 onboard, including in the period before wearing face masks was mandatory. He said: “I find that pretty reassuring. That’s one in 27 million, and mostly before people wore face masks.”
Speaking to the summit, Doyle said: “We do not believe quarantine is the solution. The best way to reassure people is to introduce a reliable and affordable test before flying.
“If we look abroad to our near neighbours, we see that business travel and indeed tourism is being prioritised by some countries. We need to get the economy moving again and this just isn’t possible when you’re asking people to quarantine for 14 days.”
The trade body Airlines UK also questioned the value of the proposed regime. Its chief executive, Tim Alderslade, said: “Eight days, plus one or two days to get the results, isn’t going to have the impact we want. If you look at the average number of days people stay in the UK, from the US it’s about four days. Eight days isn’t going to cut the mustard.”
Shapps said the taskforce was still pursuing an alternative pre-departure testing scheme, but he could give no guarantees of a timescale as it would require international cooperation through the International Civil Aviation Organization.
“We’re talking to the US homeland security and others. We’d like to get trials set up. That could involve a series of tests that could involve quarantine before and after flights – or ultimately no quarantine at all if the technology is there for a rapid tests. But that requires international cooperation.”
Shapps said that the Department for Transport was still working on a long-awaited aviation recovery plan for the sector, which he promised would arrive later in the autumn, setting out more measures to boost air travel.
By Gwyn Topham
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 19th Oct 2020) London, Uk – –
The new owners hope to relaunch services next year when the virus-damaged industry hopes to see some recovery in demand.
By James Sillars, business reporter
The first major corporate casualty of the coronavirus crisis in the UK, Flybe, could be back in the air next year.
It was announced that the company, which folded in March as a collapse in demand for air travel exacerbated already deep financial turbulence, had been effectively bought out of administration by a firm affiliated to a former shareholder.
Sky News revealed on Saturday how hedge fund Cyrus Capital had entered talks with the regional airline's administrators.
EY said it agreed to a sale of Flybe's business and assets, including the brand, intellectual property, stock and equipment, to Thyme Opco for an undisclosed sum.
The administrator's statement said: “While the transaction is still subject to certain confidential conditions, the deal is expected to allow the Flybe business to restart operations as a regional airline in the UK under the Flybe brand in early 2021.
“Following today's announcement, the administrators will work together with Thyme Opco, the Flybe management team and the UK Civil Aviation Authority to prepare for the relaunch of Flybe's airline operations.”
Flybe would be expected to emerge from the process a much leaner organisation – focusing on the most profitable routes.
That is because any restart of flying operations would be expected to only follow a recovery in demand as the aviation sector continues to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Analysis by Sky News of the employment landscape shows the industry has so far been worst affected by the disruption, with more than 34,000 jobs lost to date.
Flybe was Europe's largest regional airline, carrying around nine million passengers annually at its peak and accounting for 40% of domestic UK flights.
But a rescue deal early last year failed to stem mounting losses and talks over a £100m state loan floundered.
The collapse led to the loss of 2,400 jobs.
The pilots' union, BALPA, said of Monday's announcement: “A renewed Flybe would hopefully restore the vital air connections in the regions and nations of the UK and boost the economic recovery.
“Flybe staff were the first and most badly affected by the Coronavirus crisis which has gone on to ravage the entire industry.
“This news will give everyone a degree of confidence that recovery is coming soon, and that their skills and knowledge are still going to be vital.”