Ryanair report annual profits increase of 10% despite costly pilot schedule failure

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 21 May 2018) London, Uk – –

The no frills carrier says it is more cautious about its current financial year as a surge in costs could push profits lower.

Ryanair has reported a 10% rise in annual profits despite the impact of its costly pilot rota failure last autumn that hit the travel plans of 700,000 customers.

The no frills carrier said profits after tax came in at €1.45bn (£1.27bn) in the 12 months to 31 March aided, it said, by a 9% rise in passenger numbers to 130.3 million and its planes being 95% full on average.

However, its results statement showed the airline had become more cautious on the current financial year, with Ryanair cutting its profit guidance to between €1.25bn and €1.35bn as it prepared to book a surge in costs.

It warned they included a potential €400m rise in fuel bills as oil prices continue to climb despite the cost being 90% hedged.

Ryanair also pointed to rising staffing costs.

It has been forced to offer revised terms since its decision to cancel thousands of flights over the last winter schedule – blamed on a blunder over pilot rotas – that brought to the surface simmering tensions over pay.

Ryanair revealed the disruption alone had cost it €25m in compensation and another €25m in flight vouchers for those affected.

Ryanair has since started work on union recognition for the first time in its history – agreeing deals with pilots’ unions in the UK and Italy – and has agreed new five-year pay deals with pilots and cabin crew.

It said of the current financial year: “We expect staff costs to rise by almost €200m, half of which is higher pay for our front line people and half is additional headcount for growth.”

Chief executive Michael O’Leary said of the pressures ahead: “Our outlook for FY19 (full-year 2019) is on the pessimistic side of cautious.

“We expect to grow traffic by 7% to 139 million, at flat load factors of 95%.

“Unit costs this year will rise 9% due to higher staff and oil prices which will, when adjusted for volume growth, add more than €400m to our fuel bill.

“Ex-fuel unit cost will rise by up to 6% as we annualise pilot and cabin crew pay increases, and invest in our business and our systems to facilitate a six year growth plan to 600 aircraft and 200m guests per annum.”

He added: “Forward bookings are strong but pricing remains soft. Since only half of Easter fell in April, we expect a 5% fare decline in Q1 (quarter one) but a 4% rise in Q2 fares.

“While still too early to accurately forecast close-in summer bookings or H2 fares, we are cautiously guiding broadly flat average fares for FY19.”

Mr O’Leary said he expected revenue from passenger surcharges to continue growing but not by enough to offset higher costs.

Ahead of the market open Neil Wilson, chief markets analyst at Markets.com, said of thge results: ” Despite the impact of rostering-related cancellations and the grounding of aircraft, revenues rose 7% to more than €7bn on 9% higher traffic.

“Fares fell by 3% but costs were 1% and net margins remained steady at 20%.

“Great results but a very cautious outlook could weigh on the stock this morning.

“Ryanair has a habit of setting the bar rather low and then far exceeding it, so we must take this ‘pessimistic side of cautious’ outlook with a grain of salt.”

Shares fell on opening but soon recovered – up 1% in morning trade

By By James Sillars

 

 

Royal wedding 2018: Who’s footing the bill?

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sun, 20 May, 2018) London, Uk – –

From choosing the cake to the flowers and even the chair-covers, anyone who’s ever planned a wedding knows it can be eye-wateringly expensive.

But when it comes to royal weddings – with all the VIPs, security and extra extravagance – the bill runs into millions.

So what do we know about the expected cost of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding, and how much will the taxpayer be paying towards it?

Security cost

The wedding will be held in Windsor. And crowds in excess of 100,000 people are expected to descend on the town.

Invitations have been sent to 600 guests, with a further 200 invited to the couple’s evening reception

On top of that, 1,200 members of the public will attend the grounds of Windsor Castle.

Managing these sorts of numbers requires substantial planning.

And security will almost certainly be the biggest single cost.

The Home Office wouldn’t comment when Reality Check contacted it, saying revealing policing costs could compromise “national security”.

Likewise, when we rang Thames Valley Police, it said: “We aren’t going to give you any data I’m afraid – even though we know you love numbers.”

However, we do know £6.35m was spent by the Metropolitan Police (ie the taxpayer) on security for Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s wedding.

That’s based on a Freedom of Information request released to the Press Association.

But it’s difficult to draw a direct comparison with Prince Harry and Ms Markle’s wedding – the location and guest numbers are different.

Other costs

Kensington Palace hasn’t released any details of what it plans to spend on the wedding.

That’s not really a surprise given that the official cost of Prince William and Catherine’s wedding has never been revealed.

That leaves us with unofficial estimates and as such they need to be treated with some caution.

Bridebook.co.uk, a wedding planning service, says the total cost of the wedding could be £32m – including the cost of security.

It put the cost of the cake at £50,000, the florist at £110,000, the catering at £286,000, and so on and so on.

Reality Check contacted the company’s owner, Hamish Shephard, to ask about the methodology used to arrive at the estimate.

He said the £32m figure had been based on the assumption that the Royal Family had paid for everything at market rate.

But in the absence of any official data, this is still guesswork – however well informed.

For example, we don’t know if suppliers would offer a substantial discount for the privilege of providing their services for a royal wedding.

Who pays?

The cost of security for the wedding will be met by the taxpayer.

Initially, Thames Valley Police will have to absorb the cost itself.

But the force will be eligible to apply for special grant funding from the Home Office after the event in order to claim back some of the costs.

Special grant funding is a separate pool of money forces can apply for if they have to police events outside their usual remit.

As for the rest of the total, the Royal Family has said it will be paying for the private elements of the wedding.

Every year the Royal Family gets a chunk of money from the annual Sovereign Grant, paid directly by the Treasury.

The grant is calculated on a percentage of the profits from the Crown Estate portfolio, which includes much of London’s West End.

This year it’s worth £82m.

Some members of the Royal Family benefit from additional income.

For example, Prince Charles gets money from the Duchy of Cornwall estate, a portfolio of land, property and financial investments.

But it’s not clear which “pots” the palace will choose to fund the wedding from.

Republic, which campaigns for an elected head of state, and claims the overall cost of the monarchy is far higher than £82m, has submitted a petition against taxpayers’ money being spent on the wedding.

By Reality Check team

 

 

 

 

EasyJet to beef up loyalty scheme to boost customer numbers

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 15 May 2018) London, Uk – –

EasyJet is planning to beef up its loyalty scheme, package holidays business and services for business travellers in a bid to boost customer numbers.

The low-cost airline has appointed a new head of its holidays business, Garry Wilson, who will sit on the management board and report directly to chief executive Johan Lundgren as it attempts the increase the proportion of its customers who book a hotel through its website from its current level of just 2.5pc.

It also hopes to decrease the number of its customers who fly with it only once per year from 46pc by improving the “rewards and recognition” offered by its loyalty programme and bolster business passenger levels by making it easier for enterprise customers to book flights and generate invoices.

Mr Lundgren said: “All of these initiatives will provide higher profit per seat and higher returns for our shareholders.”

The news came alongside EasyJet’s half-year results, which revealed a 20pc surge in revenues to £2.2bn as passenger numbers grew 8.8pc and the airline’s load factor – an industry measure of how full its planes were – crept up 0.9 percentage points to 91.1pc.

That helped the company to narrow losses for the six months to March by 70pc to £68m.

Shares in EasyJet were up 2.6pc at £17.29 in early trade.

By Jack Torrance

 

 

 

Royal wedding sales: tourism and retail businesses most likely to benefit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 14 May 2018) London, Uk – –

Prince Harry’s wedding to Meghan Markle may have bells ringing but it won’t keep UK tills ringing, an economic forecasting group has found.

The overall benefits to the UK economy from the nuptials will be “limited”, says the EY ITEM Club.

It predicts tourism and retail businesses as the most likely to benefit from the occasion next weekend.

A Saturday ceremony means fewer workers may be distracted on the job, leaving productivity largely unchanged.

Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY ITEM Club, said it would be “wary of over-egging the potential impact or seeking to put a hard figure on the potential gains”.

“We suspect there will be a very limited, temporary boost to the economy focused on some sectors, notably retail, tourism and, possibly, catering and pubs.”

However, the economist also suggested that some celebrating the royal marriage will simply bring forward spending in shops, pubs and supermarkets or switch from spending on other items.

“The retail sector will benefit from people buying royal wedding souvenirs, such as plates, cups and magazines”.

Happy Brits holding festive street parties would also temporarily boost the retail and catering sectors, the economist suggested, as food and drink sales would rise.

“Pubs should also benefit as they have been given permission to stay open for longer. However, it should be kept in mind that some of the retail spending may just be switched from spending on other items,” Mr Archer said.

However the British Retail Consortium struck a more celebratory tone, predicting the day may bring a similar economic uplift as the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

Rachel Lund, head of retail insight at the BRC, said the combination of the royal wedding alongside an FA Cup final was likely to be positive for UK retailers.

“Clothing and footwear was a big winner from the marriage of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, setting a record for growth that month, as people sought to replicate the style of the newest addition to the royal family,” she said.

“With the country in the mood to celebrate, food and drink sales were also exceptional. We expect to see a similar pattern around 19 May.”

 

 

Midtown Manhattan where old New York charm joins Williamsburg cool

 

If when you think of Midtown Manhattan you think of traffic congestion and tourist traps, then it might be time for a re-visit. This part of New York has seen a boom in new restaurants and bars, especially from Brooklyn. Welcome to Midtown, where old New York charm is being joined by Williamsburg cool.

 

 

Heathrow expansion plan unveiled by hotel magnate Surinder Arora

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 3 May 2018) London, Uk – –

Hotel magnate Surinder Arora has revealed detailed designs of new terminal buildings he hopes to build and operate as part of his ongoing battle to steer Heathrow’s expansion.

Mr Arora, the largest landowner at the airport, launched his rival plan for an expanded Heathrow last year with the help of former British Airways boss Sir Rod Eddington but has now unveiled full details.

These include a new building to receive passengers, which will have access to the existing Terminal 5 as well as a new Terminal 6 to help deal with the 130m passengers a year that MPs want the enlarged transport hub to handle.

It will also boast a bridge that will house shops and restaurants and will link the terminals to new gate buildings.

The proposal has been designed by leading airport architect Corgan and Mr Arora reckoned his entire scheme would cost £14.4bn compared to the £31bn he claimed the Airports Commission had estimated Heathrow’s would cost.

Mr Arora said his previous estimate of £12.4bn for his scheme related to only one phase, which would have had capacity for 115m passengers, but the latest iteration can cope with 130m passengers.

Heathrow said last week it would be inviting outside companies and entrepreneurs to pitch to build parts of its scheme to help it reduce its expansion costs. But it stopped short of agreeing that if a third party built a terminal, that company would also be able to operate it.

This is likely to remain a point of friction between Mr Arora and Heathrow. The hotelier would only build his scheme if he was able to operate the terminal because this would entitle him to a portion of the £22.50 Heathrow currently receives per passenger through a mixture various things including landing charges, car parks and retail rents.

“We are behind the expansion of Heathrow but we cannot do it the old way,” Mr Arora told The Telegraph.

“We don’t want to delay the scheme and in fact have been looking at ways to move it on quicker but what we won’t do is let Heathrow railroad the government, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and airlines into letting them do it their own way.”

The subject of competition at Heathrow was touched upon several times by the Transport Select Committee before it published its report on the expansion proposals last month.

Mr Arora said there was currently a “difference of opinion” between the CAA, which does not think it has the powers to enforce competition at Heathrow, and the Department for Transport, which thinks existing legislation could be used to ensure a third party could run a terminal.

In a consultation document released by the CAA earlier this week, the regulator said it “welcomed the initiative” Heathrow had shown in collaborating with third parties.

The CAA has submitted a report to Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, which will “advise him on how well Heathrow is engaging with and responding to” outside parties on the scheme.

In a statement, Heathrow said: ““We welcome the fact that the Arora Group support a northwest runway at Heathrow, but we’re bemused that they have chosen now to release new plans which look a bit like the emperor’s new clothes – the more you look, the less there is to see.

“Not only do their proposals now cost more, but they show a complete lack of understanding of airport operations and disregard for those living closest to the airport. If these were serious plans, they should have been submitted for public scrutiny to the independent Airports Commission years ago, along with 50 other competitive proposals.”

By Bradley Gerrard

 

 

Inside Tommy Hilfiger’s Stunning $50 Million Penthouse in the Plaza Hotel

Iconic fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and his wife Dee take us on a home tour of their duplex penthouse apartment at the Plaza Hotel overlooking Central Park. Hilfiger’s NYC penthouse suite has been home to The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and Marilyn Monroe. His office even features an authentic New York Times sign

 

Could Bird Ride-share Electric Scooters be The Future of Urban Transport?

 

Bird Electric Scooters in Santa Monica
(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Sat, 28 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Scooters have taken over Santa Monica, caused fury in San Francisco and are spreading to other US cities and likely Britain. Are they fun and environmentally friendly – or a dangerous nuisance?

Electric share scooters have taken over Santa Monica, an affluent beachside city on the edge of Los Angeles, but as they swiftly spread across other cities in California and the US a backlash is already gathering force.

Download an app, scan a scooter’s barcode and away you go, zipping at up to 15mph to your destination. You leave the scooter on the pavement for the next rider.

Bird, a startup run by former Uber executives, launched the scooters in Santa Monica last September. Hundreds were deposited around the city overnight, the devices so ubiquitous people literally tripped over them.

They have thrilled, bemused and aggravated – feelings San Francisco, San Jose, Austin and Washington DC are now experiencing as scooters from Bird and two other startups, LimeBike and Spin, hit their streets, with dozens more cities due to receive them this year.

A full-scale backlash is under way in San Francisco, where some scooters have been tossed into trash cans and lakes. The city attorney has threatened to impound scooters, calling them dangerous, unlawful and examples of tech arrogance. City hall is exploring ways to regulate the devices.

With a global market in their sights, the scooter startups are pushing back.

Bird comes armed with $115m (£80.3m) in investment funding and seems to take the Uber-esque, hard-charging stance on regulation that it is better to seek forgiveness than permission. A tangle with Santa Monica officials earned a criminal complaint and hefty fine.

“The demand is huge. We’re looking to reach more than 50 markets this year and eventually have Birds all over the world,” says Stephen Schnell, the company’s vice president of operations, noting that Britain is on the company’s radar. “We try to pick cities that have bicycle lane infrastructure.”

Schnell, like Bird’s CEO Travis VanderZanden, previously worked at Lyft and Uber.

Ride sharing companies are shaking up urban transport but many commuters still have the “last mile” problem: a distance too far to walk and too short to drive, says Schnell. “This is a way to get people out of their vehicles.”

Marlon Boarnet, an urban planning and spatial analysis professor at the University of Southern California, says dockless scooters can facilitate short trips while being light on the environment and using minimal space.

“Traditionally we view this as walking or bicycling, but the concept can and should be extended to light and small powered vehicles like electric scooters. One could also include in this set small neighborhood electric vehicles or electric motor assisted bicycles. We should expand our idea of what an acceptable ‘short trip’ vehicle is.”

Boarnet hopes the companies and city authorities can resolve issues such as where the scooters are left. When clumped in the middle of a pavement scooters can seem more nuisance clutter than transport revolution.

The boom and bust of dockless bicycles in several markets – exemplified by a picture of a bicycle graveyard in China – act as a cautionary tale.

The Guardian scooted around Santa Monica for a week to try them out. The longest journey was from the city’s downtown to Bird’s headquarters in Venice, three miles away. It took 17 minutes and cost $3.55 – a $1 base fee plus 15 cents per minute.

The experience was positive. Scooters were easy to find with the app’s map pinpointing devices left by trees, parking meters, benches and doorways.

Once you’ve scanned and unlocked the barcode with your phone there’s a childlike glee in kicking off with your foot, pushing the handlebar’s throttle button and gliding down the street.

Not encased in a shell of metal and glass, you feel connected to your surroundings – both hands are needed to steer so it is difficult to text or fiddle with your phone.

Tootling down Main Street, the most striking impression was the response of pedestrians, cyclists, skateboarders and motorists: in most cases there wasn’t one. In September the scooters were a novelty and drew stares. Now they’re part of the streetscape and barely remarked upon – except by some tourists who gawk and take pictures.

Bird reports quick adoption; there are more than 50,000 regular riders in and around Santa Monica, and riders in San Francisco notched up more than 60,000 miles in just 17 days. “It’s kind of amazing,” says Schnell.

What’s amazing, say critics, is the irresponsibility of the scooter companies and many of their riders.

Few wear helmets in Santa Monica. It is common to see children riding scooters, two people on one scooter, parked scooters cluttering sidewalks and moving scooters scattering pedestrians on sidewalks. San Francisco residents have joined Santa Monicans in venting on social media.

Riders are supposed to be licensed drivers, helmeted and are meant to ride on streets, preferably in bicycle lanes. Users need a driver’s licence to download the app and upon request Bird sends free helmets. Still, improper use abounds. According to a city spokesperson, so far Santa Monica has recorded 11 accidents, some serious, 328 citations and 694 traffic stops.

Irked that Bird launched with little or no warning, city authorities filed a criminal complaint over lack of business licences and vendor permits. Both sides settled in February, with Bird promising to seek the licences and to pay more than $300,000 in fines.

“Even though they got off to a rocky start we didn’t move to kick them out because based on our values we’re really committed to this new model of mobility,” says Anuj Gupta, Santa Monica’s deputy city manager.

There has been no detectable impact on car congestion but scooters are now part of the transport mix, he says. “We honestly understand and share in the excitement about these devices.”

But there’s another concern. If Bird and rival startups plant scooters on every block won’t people have even less incentive to walk and exercise?

“You mean WALL-E world,” says Schnell, referencing the Pixar film in which future humans become obese gluttons ensconced in padded floating arm chairs. “Let’s hope not. With the scooters at least you have to stand.”

By Rory Carroll

 

 

Billionaire: Richard Branson work life balance in a day on Necker Island

 

People often ask how I spend my time on Necker Island – here’s a film that gives you a glimpse into a day on Necker. From playing tennis to working from home, seeing the lemurs to kitesurfing , join us for a taste of island life.

I’ve never had a desk in an office since I was a teenager. I prefer to work in a hammock, on a sofa or even in a bath. Now that’s flexible working!

It’s critical to get the balance between work and play right. Find time for yourself; work hard but also play hard. I think people work more effectively when they are given the freedom to make their own decisions — that is definitely something we practice on Necker.

I’ve embraced the social media revolution, and do a lot of posting from Necker Island (including this video!) You can be instantly connected to fascinating people everywhere — even if you’re in a remote corner of the world.

From The Elders to The Carbon War Room, Virgin Galactic to The B Team, Necker is a great place to think and a great place to conceive ideas. Take a look at where we get our inspiration. Where do you find yours?

 

The Øresund A Unique Modern Roadway Connecting Denmark And Sweden

 

This unique roadway connects the Danish capital of Copenhagen to the Swedish city of Malmö. The Øresund, designed by the Danish architect George K.S. Rotne, was opened on July 1, 2000. The bridge stretches about 8km before transitioning through an artificial island into a 4km tunnel under the Flint Channel.

 

 

De La Rue to withdraw challenge over British passport bid

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 18 Apr 2018) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – De La Rue (DLAR.L) abandoned its challenge to Britain’s decision to award the contract for new blue post-Brexit passports to a foreign firm and issued a profit warning on Wednesday.

Its shares fell 9 percent to a year low of 446 pence in early trading and were down 4 percent at 0851 GMT after De La Rue said it would write-off about 4 million pounds of costs associated with the failed bid.

Together with delays in some contracts in the last week of its financial year, this would result in it missing profit expectations, De La Rue said in a statement.

Prime Minister Theresa May said the decision to change British passports from the burgundy shade used by most European Union countries to the traditional dark blue was an expression of British independence and sovereignty.

But reports that Franco-Dutch firm Gemalto (GTO.AS) had won the tender to produce the new passport was criticised by some politicians and newspapers as unpatriotic, and De La Rue had said it would challenge the decision.

De La Rue, which prints 7 billion banknotes and 15 million passports a year, said that having considered all options it would not appeal the decision, which the British government said followed a “rigorous, fair and open competition”.

SURPRISED AND DISAPPOINTED
The existing contract to make British passports is worth 400 million pounds and the new contract starts in October 2019, after Britain leaves the EU in March that year.

De La Rue’s Chief Executive Martin Sutherland told BBC radio that he remained “surprised and disappointed”, but he had taken a pragmatic business decision not to appeal.

Underlying operating profit for the year to end-March would be in the low to mid 60s million pound range, it said.

Analysts at Investec, who were predicting 71 million pounds, said it was a “disappointing outcome”.

Revenue for the year had increased by about 6 percent, with growth across all product lines, it said, although it added that it was “cautious” about its current financial year.

It said it would assist with the transition to the new supplier, and was expecting no impact on its performance in the next 18 months.

Trade union Unite said news that De La Rue was abandoning its appeal would come as a bitter blow to workers in Gateshead, north east England, who now faced an uncertain future.

“Workers will feel let down that the company is not prepared to fight the government’s decision to ship the production of the new blue passport overseas,” Unite national officer Louisa Bull said.

By Paul Sandle

 

 

British Airways owner IAG considering bid for low cost Norwegian Air Shuttle

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 13 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

British Airways-owner IAG has taken a near-5pc stake in Norwegian Air Shuttle with a view to buying the budget carrier, paving the way to create one of the world’s largest airlines.

Shares in Norwegian surged almost 40pc on news of the move, before trading was halted in the company on the Oslo stock exchange. IAG shares slipped 1.2pc.

IAG’s investment was described as a “bolt from the blue” by one airline analyst, though he noted that the company – which owns BA along with Aer Lingus, Iberia, Level and Vueling – closely monitors the operations of all its competitors.

IAG said it had taken a 4.61pc holding in Scandinavian carrier, calling it an “attractive investment” that could lead to a bid for the entire airline.

“The minority investment is intended to establish a position from which to initiate discussions with Norwegian, including the possibility of a full offer,” IAG said in statement to the market. “No such discussions have taken place to date, [and] no decision has been taken to make an offer at this time and there is no certainty that any such decision will be made.”

However, taking such a large stake signals the seriousness of IAG’s intent. Norwegian had a market value of £630m before news of the holding emerged. It is estimated that a bid for all of Norwegian could value it at £2.5bn, including the budget carrier’s £2bn of debt.

IAG is the sixth-largest airline in the world and has almost 550 aircraft across its brands, which are made up of both “legacy” full-service airlines and budget carriers.

Last year IAG had revenues of of €22.9bn (£20.1bn) and pre-tax profits of €2.4bn, generated from the 105m passengers it carried.

Norwegian is much smaller, with a fleet of about 150 jets, and only established itself as an international player about 15 years ago, though has expanded rapidly since.

In 2012 it set up a Gatwick base on its way to becoming the sixth-largest low-cost airline in the world with an extensive European network. A year later it started long-haul flights, serving South America, South Africa and Asia.

Last year it entered the lucrative UK-US transatlantic market, offering bargain flights starting at £99 from Gatwick and other UK airports on routes dominated by traditional airlines.

In 2017, Norwegian had revenues of 31bn Norwegian krone (£2.8bn) and made a 298m krone loss on the 33m passengers it flew.

IAG’s move on Norwegian shows that the larger company is all too aware of the challenge it poses in the increasingly cut-throat and low-margin air travel industry, which has suffered a rash of collapses recently as costs rise.

“This shows IAG’s growing recognition that Norwegian is becoming a vast airline with a vast route network,” said independent aviation analyst Alex Macheras, adding that IAG launched budget airline Level to take on Norwegian directly.

“However, just because Norwegian has a lot of flights does not mean it is profitable – its financial results are not the best,” Mr Macheras added.

IAG may have chosen to swoop now precisely because of the financial strain Norwegian is under. The target airline is also buying new aircraft at a high rate, with more than 100 on order.

“IAG’s launch of Level shows it takes Norwegian seriously as a competitor,” said John Strickland of industry analysts JLS Consulting. “IAG may now see Norwegian as weak, and they see an opportunity – or they may not want it to fall into someone else’s hands.”

Michael O’Leary, chief executive of budget carrier Ryanair, Europe’s largest airline, has been a harsh critic of Norwegian, predicting it will fail.

Speaking in the autumn, the outspoken Ryanair boss said Norwegian had “huge aircraft orders it doesn’t have the cash to pay for” and said it was an “open secret” in the industry it was in trouble.

At the time Norwegian dismissed the claims as “nonsense” saying it had been profitable for a decade.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Norwegian said it had no prior knowledge of IAG buying the shares before it was reported in the media on Thursday morning. It said that IAG’s interest confirmed the sustainability of its business model.

By Alan Tovey

 

 

British holidaymakers to benefit under new EU rules when booking online

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 12 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

EU travel rules will give internet deals the same levels of financial cover as traditional packages

British holidaymakers will benefit from greater protection when booking online under new EU rules that come into force this summer.

Updated UK package travel regulations, part of an EU directive due to take effect for holidays booked from 1 July, aim to create a level playing field by making online retailers as responsible for consumer protection as traditional travel agents.

According to Abta, the travel agents’ trade body, the surge in consumers’ use of online booking sites has created a gap in consumer protection, with 50% of holidays not currently financially protected if a company fails.

An estimated 45m overseas holidays are taken each year by Britons, of which 20m are conventional package holidays with flights, coach or rail travel which are primarily protected by Abta.

But 3m so-called “flight-plus” arrangements which have until now had lesser protection will be brought into the safety net.

Flight-plus is a holiday booking where a flight departing the UK and accommodation and/or car hire are booked at the same time or within a day, but where the way in which it is sold means it is not a package holiday. These will no longer exist under the package travel regulations and instead could form part of a package or a linked travel arrangement.

According to government figures, UK families spend on average £22.10 per week on package travel abroad – over a third of household spending on recreation and culture. Internet booking has surged and last year 83% of Britons booked a holiday online.

“When we book a package holiday we expect it all to go according to plan, but if a company goes bust it can ruin more than just the holiday, leaving people out of pocket or even stranded,” said the consumer minister, Andrew Griffiths.

“These new rules mean that internet explorers can book their holidays online, secure in the knowledge they will be compensated in the same way as someone who booked their holidays through a travel agent if something does go wrong.”

Mark Tanzer, the chief executive of Abta, said: “More holiday travel arrangements will be classified as packages, meaning greater protection for these types of holiday.

“Package holidays offer the best form of protection; not only are you entitled to a refund or to be brought home should your travel company go out of business, but you also benefit from additional legal protection – for example, the right to a refund if bad weather means your holiday can’t be provided.”

By Rebecca Smithers

 

 

UK new car market shrank by 15.7% in March: Say industry body SMMT

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Thur, 5 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Car registrations plunged in March, according to figures from industry body the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Preliminary data shows the UK new car market shrank by 15.7% last month compared with 2017.

Demand for diesel vehicles fell 37%, but demand for petrol was flat and that for alternative fuel models rose 5.7%.

March 2017 was a record month as customers bought new vehicles ahead of a change in Vehicle Excise Duty.

New car sales fell for the first time in six years in 2017, with a 5.7% decrease to about 2.5 million vehicles.

Demand for diesel cars plunged by 17% last year, meaning the pace of decline for such vehicles in March has more than doubled.

Analysis: Theo Leggett, BBC business correspondent
At first glance, this looks like deeply worrying news for the automotive industry. But it it’s worth remembering that in March 2017, new car registrations hit a record high. Buyers were rushing to get hold of new vehicles ahead of big changes to the vehicle excise duty regime, which sharply increased the rates payable on some cars.

But we can say with certainty that registrations have now been falling steadily for a whole calendar year. The SMMT has consistently blamed economic uncertainty, which it links to Brexit and the collapse in diesel sales.

The latest figures show that the move away from diesel seems to have accelerated. That suggests that the industry’s attempts to convince consumers and politicians that modern diesels are clean and have a future are failing badly.

By historical standards, new car registrations are still at pretty high levels. The steep fall in March might be a glitch. However, the overall trend cannot be ignored – and that is what the industry will be worried about.

Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive, said: “March’s decline is not unexpected, given the huge surge in registrations in the same month last year.

“Despite this, the market itself is relatively high with the underlying factors in terms of consumer choice, finance availability and cost of ownership all highly competitive.

“Consumer and business confidence, however, has taken a knock in recent months and a thriving new car market is essential to the overall health of our economy.”

 

 

Vauxhall Luton Plant to Build New Vivaro Van

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 4 Apr, 2018) London, Uk – –

Vauxhall’s French parent company PSA has announced an investment in its Luton van-making plant which could eventually see Peugeot and Citroen-branded vans made in the UK.

PSA said it will increase production capacity at its Luton plant by a third “despite Brexit uncertainties”.

Peugeot said Vauxhall’s next Vivaro van would be built at the Luton plant.

Business minister Greg Clark said the decision was a “vote of confidence” in UK carmaking.

PSA said it had made the investment “despite Brexit uncertainties”.

The investment is thought to be in the tens of millions of pounds.

It was secured after a negotiation with the Unite union and a financial contribution from the government thought to be about £9m.

The investment secures 1,400 jobs beyond 2030, as the life-cycle of commercial vehicles is between 10 and 15 years.

Business Secretary Greg Clark said: “Today’s decision is a vote of confidence in Vauxhall’s high-skilled workforce and the UK’s world leading automotive sector.”

In 2017, the Luton plant produced 70,000 Vauxhall Vivaro-branded vans.

The next-generation model will be based on PSA’s Citroen and Peugeot technology, and the company hopes to produce up to 100,000 vans a year, which could include some under the Peugeot and Citroen brands.

If demand for the vehicles means that target is hit, then additional jobs will be created in Luton.

PSA bought General Motors’ European business last year, and there has been intense speculation about the future of both Luton and Ellesmere port, where the Vauxhall Astra is made.

Group chief executive Carlos Tavares said: “This is a major milestone for the future of the Luton plant and a key enabler to serve our ambitions in the commercial vehicle market.”

Peugeot and Citroen have made inroads into the light commercial vehicle market, and accounted for half the increase in the total van market in Europe, which is why the company is looking to increase production capacity.

Company officials said it had the choice of Germany or Poland to base the new plant, but neither of those plants are equipped with a paint facility suitable for vans, and installing one would come at enormous cost.

Vauxhall UK manufacturing

  • Vauxhall employs 1,400 people at its Luton plant, which produces Vivaro vans
  • There has been a plant at Luton building vehicles since 1905
  • The firm has 1,300 employees at its Ellesmere Port plant, where the Vauxhall Astra is built
  • The Ellesmere Port plant has been running since 1962
  • Vauxhall has 3,400 employees overall