How Amazon Air Expansion Is Giving Stiff Competition To FedEx And UPS

Source: CNBC

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.

US to sue Volkswagen and former boss over diesel emissions scandal

(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.

Analysis:

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.

Trump grounds Boeing 737 Max planes

(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


Tesla to increase car price and scale back store closure programme

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 11th March 2019) London, Uk – –

Tesla is increasing prices of its electric cars after scaling back a store closure programme.

The carmaker said the 3% price rise would not apply to the new mid-market Model 3.

Earlier this month Tesla said it would close an unspecified number of stores to fund a cut in the price of the Model 3 in the US to $35,000 (£26,400).

It will now close “about half as many” stores – making half the cost savings.

The carmaker, founded by Elon Musk, said that keeping more stores open would require a rise in vehicle prices by about 3% on average worldwide.

It has 378 stores and service locations but had not been specific about which ones would close.

“Over the past two weeks we have been closely evaluating every single Tesla retail location, and we have decided to keep significantly more stores open than previously announced as we continue to evaluate them over the course of several months,” the company said.

While it is pressing ahead with the price cut to the mid-market Model 3, prices will go up for more expensive variants of Model 3, as well as Model S and X cars, which can already cost up to £87,000. Customers can order at existing prices until 18 March.

It is still planning to conduct its sales online and said that buyers in stores will be shown how to order a Tesla on their phone, a process which Tesla says will take just a few minutes.

It had previously said that shifting sales online would allow it to cut prices by 6% on average – and cut the price of the Model 3.

The company says it has a “generous return policy” to avoid the need for test drives, as would-be buyers can return a car after 1,000 miles or seven days.

Tesla said that some stores in “high visibility locations” which have been closed will be reopened – albeit with smaller numbers of staff.

Stores will hold fewer cars for those customers who want to drive away with new vehicle immediately.

The company has been making efforts to cut costs after the “most challenging” year in its history. In January it announced 7% of its 45,000-strong workforce would be cut, indicating around 3,000 job cuts.

At the time Mr Musk had said the firm's cars were still “too expensive for most people”.

He has faced controversy over his tweets and last month the US regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission, asked the courts to hold him in contempt for violating a settlement month aimed at limiting his social media comments.

He has until today to formally respond but had already tweeted the the regulator's oversight system is “broken”.

The matter stems back to his tweets about the company's financial performance and tweets in August when he claimed he had secured funding to take the firm private.

New train timetables with 1,000 services to be added to ease over crowding

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 8th Mar 2019) London, Uk – –

New summer train timetables will come into force on 19 May, with 1,000 services added to relieve overcrowding.

Rail bosses will be hoping that the introduction will be more successful than last year's fiasco, when a similar exercise caused severe disruption on the country's train network.

The Rail Delivery Group said the industry had “learned the lessons” from 2018's timetable changes.

It said it had “high confidence” that services would be ready.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Many parts of the country are set to benefit this summer from a better service, but where introducing improvements puts reliability at risk, we are rightly taking a more cautious approach.”

The Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said the changes were part of a long-term plan to make trains more frequent and enable new journeys, while prioritising punctuality and reliability.

It added that by the early 2020s, there would be 6,400 more rail services than there had been in 2017.

Among the changes, South Western Railway says it will be offering more peak services in and out of London, while Northern will be adding direct services between Chester and Leeds, as well as faster services between Middlesbrough and Newcastle.

Following last summer's chaos on the railways, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) blamed a lack of “responsibility and accountability” and said passengers were “badly treated”.

This year, train companies say they will work together with Network Rail “to closely monitor the introduction of the new timetable and respond rapidly to any disruption”.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent rail passenger watchdog Transport Focus said: “Passengers will welcome new services, more choice, speeded up journeys and increased frequencies.

“However, passengers need the timetable to be a work of fact, not fiction, so they will want reassurance the new services can be introduced and operated without a repeat of last year's timetable crisis.

“Transport Focus will keep a close eye on performance. Reliability remains the key factor driving passenger satisfaction.”

Former Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn left Tokyo jail, on a $9 million bail

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Wed, 6th Mar 2019) London, UK —

TOKYO (Reuters) – Ousted Nissan boss Carlos Ghosn left prison on a $9 million bail on Wednesday, slipping past a throng of reporters in a blue cap and surgical mask, after vowing to mount a defence against financial misconduct charges that he has called “meritless”.

Surrounded by security guards and dressed in a workman’s uniform and glasses, Ghosn was virtually unrecognisable from his usual suited self as he left Tokyo Detention House, where he was confined to a small cell with no heating for more than 100 days.

The once-feted executive got into a small workvan parked just off the facility’s front entrance. Public broadcaster NHK later showed the vehicle exiting the facility grounds, where hundreds of journalists, photographers and TV crews have been camped, some even overnight.

Ghosn paid the 1 billion yen (£6.84 million) bail, among the highest ever in Japan, after the Tokyo District Court rejected a last-ditch appeal by prosecutors to keep him in jail.

Ghosn, also the former chairman of Renault and Mitsubishi Motors, has agreed to strict bail conditions and given assurances that he will remain in Tokyo, surrender his passport to his lawyer and submit to extensive surveillance.

He has agreed to set up cameras at the entrances and exits to his residence, and is prohibited from using the internet or sending and receiving text messages. Ghosn is also banned from communicating with parties involved in his case, and permitted computer access only at his lawyer’s office.

He faces charges of aggravated breach of trust and under-reporting his salary by about $82 million at Nissan for nearly a decade. If convicted on all charges, he faces a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, prosecutors have said.

“I am innocent and totally committed to vigorously defending myself in a fair trial against these meritless and unsubstantiated accusations,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

The finance minister of France welcomed Ghosn’s release, saying the executive would now be able to defend himself “with greater ease”. Ghosn holds a French citizenship.Slideshow (11 Images)

BUILDING DEFENCE

The release will allow Ghosn – the architect of Nissan’s automaking partnership with Renault and Mitsubishi – to meet his new legal team more frequently and build a defence ahead of trial, which could be several months away.

Last month Ghosn hired lawyer Junichiro Hironaka, nicknamed “the Razor” for his success at winning acquittals in several high-profile cases, to replace Motonari Otsuru who once ran the prosecutor’s office investigating him.

Hironaka’s appointment suggests a shift to a more aggressive defence strategy. He has already said that the charges against Ghosn should have been dealt as an internal company matter and that Japan was out of step with international norms by keeping his client in jail.

Ghosn granted bail after months in detention

The case has cast a harsh light on Japan’s criminal justice system, which allows suspects to be detained for long periods and prohibits defence lawyers from being present during interrogations that can last eight hours a day.

While the bail is a significant step, Ghosn still faces a criminal justice system with a conviction rate of 99.9 percent.

Credited with reviving Nissan in the early 2000s, Ghosn was one of the auto industry’s most powerful figures as head of the Nissan-Renault-Mitsubishi alliance, whose combined sales rank it as one of the world’s biggest automakers.

At the time of his arrest, he had been seeking a full merger of the companies, an idea opposed by many Nissan executives.

However, his arrest has since muddied the outlook for the alliance, which is based on a web of cross-shareholding and operational integration.

($1 = 111.7800 yen)

Reporting by Tim Kelly and Naomi Tajitsu; Writing by Naomi Tajitsu and Chang-Ran Kim

UK’s FCA warns Car buyers of dealers overcharging £1,000 for loans

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 4th March 2019) London, Uk – –

Some car buyers are being overcharged by more than £1,000 when they take out a loan to buy a car, the UK's financial watchdog has warned.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said the industry practice of allowing dealers to set their own interest rates was costing consumers £300m a year.

Dealers overcharge to boost their commission, the FCA concluded.

But the Finance and Leasing Association said the watchdog's survey was “based largely on out-of-date information”.

Conflicts of interest

The regulator launched its investigation into the car finance market in April 2017 after there was a rapid surge in consumer credit led by car dealership finance.

At the time, it said it was concerned about a lack of transparency and potential conflicts of interest.

In its final findings on motor finance, the FCA concluded that the widespread use of commission models, which allow brokers discretion to set the customer's interest rate and thus earn higher commission, can lead to conflicts of interest that are not controlled adequately by lenders.

It said the practice can lead to customers paying significantly more for their motor finance.

Jonathan Davidson of the FCA said: “We found that some motor dealers are overcharging unsuspecting customers over a thousand pounds in interest charges in order to obtain bigger commission payouts for themselves.

“We also have concerns that firms may be failing to meet their existing obligations in relation to pre-contract disclosure and explanations, and affordability assessments.

“This is simply not good enough and we expect firms to review their operations to address our concerns.”

Problem finance?

Four-fifths of new car finance deals are now what are known as Personal Contract Purchase, or PCP.

Instead of buying a car outright, a PCP allows consumers to rent a car over a three or four-year period.

At the end of the period consumers can buy the car for its residual value (known as a “balloon” payment), hand the car back, or roll over the residual value into a new PCP on a new vehicle.

But problems have arisen because lenders have allowed brokers to set interest rates on the PCP agreements.

The FCA estimated that on a typical motor finance agreement of £10,000, higher broker commission can result in the customer paying around £1,100 more in interest charges over a four-year term of an agreement.

‘Considerable progress'

The FCA said it was assessing the options for intervening in the market.

Options include strengthening existing rules or other steps such as banning certain types of commission model or limiting broker discretion.

In the meantime, the regulator said it would deal with individual firms where problems were identified, but it expects all lenders and brokers to review the way they do business to make sure they comply with the law and treat customers fairly.

The Finance and Leasing Association (FLA), a UK trade body for asset finance, consumer finance and motor finance, said that the FCA's survey work was “based largely on out-of-date information, and therefore does not reflect the very considerable progress the market has already made in moving away from such structures”.

The FCA analysed contracts between lenders and dealers from 2013 to 2016 and examined lenders' data from January 2017 to July 2018.

The FLA added: “We look forward to working with the FCA as it modernises its regulations in line with market best practice.”


Elon Musk’s $100K Roadster Sent To Space on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket

Source: Tech Insider

In February of 2018, Elon Musk launched his personal Tesla Roadster into space on SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket. A little more than a year later, the Roadster is still cruising around our solar system on its elliptical path around the Sun.

Government agree payment of £33m to Eurotunnel in the event of no-deal Brexit ferry case

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 1st Mar 2019) London, Uk – –

The government will pay £33m to Eurotunnel in an agreement to settle a lawsuit over extra ferry services in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In December, the Department for Transport (DfT) contracted three suppliers to provide additional freight capacity for lorries.

Eurotunnel said the contracts were handed out in a “secretive” way.

As part of the agreement, Eurotunnel has agreed to make some improvements to its terminal.

One of the firms awarded a contract, Seaborne Freight, has already had its deal cancelled after the Irish company backing it pulled out.

Shortly after it was awarded the contract, the BBC found out that Seaborne had no ships and had never run a ferry service.

‘Smooth supply'

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling has been heavily criticised for the Seaborne deal, which would have been worth £13.8m.

In January, Eurotunnel wrote to Mr Grayling to complain that it had not been considered when the contracts were awarded.

It argued that unlike Seaborne, it has actually run a cross-Channel ferry service (MyFerryLink, which closed in 2015) and should have been approached.

In a statement accompanying the agreement, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “While it is disappointing that Eurotunnel chose to take legal action on contracts in place to ensure the smooth supply of vital medicines, I am pleased that this agreement will ensure the Channel Tunnel is ready for a post-Brexit world.”

Tesla launches long-awaited $35,000 Model 3 as stores close and sales move online

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 1st Mar, 2019) London, Uk – –

Tesla has fulfilled its long awaited promise to start selling a $35,000 car, as it announced it would be closing stores and moving all sales online. 

The electric car company released a more affordable version of its Model 3 car for customers to order on its website last night, fulfilling a long-held commitment to make the car cheaper. 

Previously the most basic model available had cost $42,900 (£32,340), before factoring in tax incentives and fuel savings, but the company has said since the car's 2016 launch that it would eventually bring the price down to $35,000. 

“This is something we’ve been working on since we created the company, from the beginning this has been the goal,” said chief executive Elon Musk. “We’re incredibly excited to finally achieve this goal, it’s been insanely difficult.” 

The California-based firm also said it would be closing stores and moving to an online-only mode of sale, as well as extending the return policy to allow customers to keep the car for a week and drive up to 1,000 miles and still get a full refund. 

A limited number will stay open as customer information centres, galleries or showcases.

In the US it would be possible to buy a car on a mobile phone in one minute, said chief executive Elon Musk, adding: “It’s 2019, people want to buy things online”. 

He said some Tesla employees would lose their jobs as a result of the closures, adding that reducing the price of the car while keeping Tesla afloat had been “excruciatingly difficult”.

The company will also be “significantly increasing headcount” among service employees, he said, adding that the company's servicing department was reporting directly to him. 

US customers can order today and could get their car by  June, and it will be available for ordering outside the US in three to six months, Mr Musk added. Tesla recently launched the Model 3 in Europe and deliveries to the UK are due to start later this year.  

The cheapest available model will have a range of 220 miles, while an alternative $37,000 car will have 240 miles of range. 

Mr Musk said the company could release an even more affordable car in two to three years, but that the Model 3, Tesla's most affordable car, would not get any cheaper. 

Tesla turned a profit in the third and fourth quarters of last year, the first time it had done so in two years. Mr Musk said he did not expect the company to make a profit in the first quarter of this year. Shares fell 3.7pc in after-hours trading.

It began selling the Model S in 2012, followed by the Model X in 2015 and the Model 3 in 2017. 

The Models S and X will also get cheaper as a result of the shift online, Mr Musk said. 

By Olivia Rudgard

Victoria Beckham On The Road To Launch Her Latest Collection In New York

Source: Victoria Beckham

Join me as I travel to New York to launch my #ReebokxVictoriaBeckham collection, celebrate female artists at the Old Masters preview event at Sotheby’s and chat all things fashion on Live with Kelly and Ryan. Click the links below to shop my exclusive travel edit with items from my #VBSS19 collection!

Honda to close Swindon plant with the loss of about 3,500 jobs in 2022

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 19th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

Denials by the North Swindon Tory MP will not save May from the burden of this decision

We told you so. That will be the reaction of Britain’s leading business groups to the news that Honda is to close its Swindon plant with the loss of about 3,500 jobs in 2022.

For at least a year, bodies such as the CBI, the EEF and the British Chambers of Commerce have been telling ministers that the uncertainty caused by Brexit would have serious consequences. The Honda announcement – with its knock-on consequences for its UK supply chain – will make the employers organisations even more insistent that a no-deal outcome should be ruled out.

Brexit was not the only factor involved. Honda production in Swindon never fully recovered from the deep global recession of 2008-09. Before the financial crisis, the plant produced 230,000 cars a year, but that is now down to 161,000. Of the three models once made in Swindon, two – the Jazz and the CR-V – have been moved elsewhere, leaving just the Civic.

Global factors have not helped either. There has been a sharp decline in demand for diesel vehicles. Japanese companies have a tendency to pull production back home when the world economy looks shaky. What’s more, Donald Trump’s threat of import tariffs on European-made cars may make the export of Swindon’s Civics to the US more expensive.

Honda’s original investment in Swindon in 1985 was motivated by a desire to have a plant inside the EU and so avoid paying the tariff – currently 10% – on imported vehicles. But that tariff will be phased out as a result of a new free trade deal between the EU and Japan which came into force at the start of this month.

Justin Tomlinson, who as Conservative MP for North Swindon represents many of the Honda workforce, said he had been told by the company and the business secretary, Greg Clark, that the decision was down to global market trends and not related to Brexit.

This, though, is overegging things. The hit to global demand was far more severe in 2008-09 than it is at present. Trump may simply be sabre-rattling. The 10% tariff on cars imported into the EU will not be fully phased out until 2027, five years after the Swindon plant is due to close. In 2022 it will still be more than 6%.

So while Honda’s decision is not simply about Brexit, uncertainty caused by Brexit played its part. Japanese policy makers – from the prime minister, Shinzo Abe, down – have been pressing for a soft Brexit ever since the referendum, initially privately but recently more openly.

Politically, therefore, the Honda decision will add to the already considerable pressure on Theresa May.

“The threat of Brexit is already having a damaging impact on investment decisions in the UK,” said Rachel Reeves, the Labour chair of the Commons business committee. “The PM now needs to rule out no deal immediately and keep us in the single market and customs union rather than risk further fatal damage to our car industry.”

By Larry Elliott

The Rail Delivery Group expect some prices to rise and others to fall under ticketing reconstruction

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 18th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

The Rail Delivery Group says some prices would rise and others would fall under the plan to set fares “more flexibly”.

Train operators are calling for a major shake-up of fares that would throw out current rules governing peak and off-peak pricing and also end the need for so-called split-ticketing.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) says it wants to simplify the system under the principle that customers “only pay for what they need and are always charged the best value fare”.

It said some fares would go up and some would go down under the plan though claimed that overall it would be “revenue neutral”.

The RDG said updating regulations on peak and off-peak travel “would mean ticket prices could be set more flexibly, spreading demand for a better customer experience”.

It said current rules resulted in under-used and more expensive services at natural peak times and overcrowded trains at the “shoulder peak” – immediately before and after the peak time.

The body, which represents Britain's train operating companies, said however that it recognised concerns about protecting “affordable access to the walk-up railway” and was proposing for some services to have a cap on the overall level of revenue that can be raised.

It said its plan for passengers to always be charged the best value fare would also remove the need for “split ticketing”

That is where savvy travellers have worked out that they can save money by paying for multiple tickets for different sections of the same journey.

For example, the £150 cost of a journey from Manchester to Edinburgh would currently be reduced to £92.20 by buying two tickets: one from Manchester to York, and a second from York to Edinburgh.

Another part of the RDG plan would see commuters benefit from the kind of weekly capping system currently available for journeys within London.

Pay-as-you-go pricing and a “tap-in, tap-out” system would allow those who currently buy weekly season tickets to save money when they travel fewer than five days or are able to travel off-peak.

That could benefit the increasing numbers of people who work part-time.

RDG chief executive Paul Plummer said: “Reconfiguring a decades-old system originally designed in an analogue era isn't simple, but this plan offers a route to get there quickly.

“Ultimately, it is up to governments to pull the levers of change.

“So this report is a call on them to work with us to update the necessary regulations and subsequently the system of fares.”

The “easier fares for all” plan has been submitted to the government's Williams Review, which is evaluating all aspects of the rail network.

Lilian Greenwood MP, chair of the Commons transport select committee, said the proposals showed a “welcome recognition that things need to change”.

But she added: “The devil will be in the detail, and my committee… will be keeping a close eye on this work to ensure it develops in ways that are fair, transparent, recognise the needs of passengers, and take account of the vital contribution that the railway makes to our society and economy.

“In the meantime, passengers still require reassuring that enough trains will turn up – on time and fit to run – particularly after the timetabling chaos in May 2018.”

By John-Paul Ford Rojas


Ritz – The inventor behind the famous luxurious modern hotel business

Source: wocomoTRAVEL

This is the first and only filmed biography about Cesar Ritz, inventor of modern hotel business. It is the story of a peasant boy in a remote mountain area and thus starts there, in the place he grew up in, Niederwald. The film follows Ritz’ way to Paris, Cannes, Rome and London. Finally, the film ends in the clinic where Ritz spent his last days, back in Switzerland. The film features interviews with family, friends and experts: the directors of the Ritz in Paris and Rome, a follower of the chef Escoffier, and Jacques Tardi, an artist specializing in the “Commune de Paris” and thus knowing the Paris of the Ritz period particularly well.

Airbus to halt A380 production blaming weak sales

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Thur, 14th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

UK jobs are threatened as Airbus says there was too little love in the airline sector for the A380's future to be viable.

Airbus has blamed weak sales for its decision to scrap production of the A380 superjumbo – the world's largest airliner.

The European aerospace giant confirmed on Thursday it would deliver the final aircraft, with its two decks of cabins and room for 544 passengers, in 2021.

Following months of speculation over the plane's future, Airbus said it had taken the decision after Emirates scaled back an order for A380s – choosing instead to focus on smaller planes.

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said: “As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years.

“This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021. The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full-year results.”

They showed losses of £788m from the A380 programme, with the hugely delayed A400M military transporter plane also putting a dent in profits.

Nevertheless, Airbus said it made £2.7bn in overall net profits – a jump of 29% on the previous year.

Shares jumped by 6% in early deals following the announcements.

Mr Enders said the A380 decision marked “the end of the large four-engine aircraft” in global aviation.

The company said it planned talks with unions over the potential for harm to up to 3,500 jobs connected to the superjumbo, which is assembled in France.

The Unite union said it was seeking assurances over any impact on the UK workforce, which Mr Enders told reporters was yet to be evaluated.

Airbus makes wings for the A380 in the UK – employing 6,000 staff at Broughton and 3,000 at Filton.

The firm said an increase in production of its A320 model would offer “a significant number of internal mobility opportunities” – but Brexit could also form part of the decision-making process.

The chief executive warned last month in a company video it could move operations abroad in the event of hard Brexit “madness”.

The company later admitted to Sky News that Downing Street had asked it to make clear the impact of a no-deal scenario.

The A380 was first launched 14 years ago as a challenger to fierce rival Boeing's 747 jumbo jet but its popularity has struggled to take off.

Emirates said it was “disappointed” to give up its order – citing new plane and engine technology – leaving just 14 superjumbos in the production pipeline for the Middle East carrier as it opted to pick up a total of 70 of the smaller A350 and A330neo models instead.

The airline said it planned to keep flying the A380 well into the 2030s and Airbus confirmed the planes would continue to be supported.

Just one other airline has A380s on order, with Japan's ANA due to have three delivered.

Air industry expert, Professor Andreas Wittmer from the University of St. Gallen, commented: “From our research we know that A380 was well perceived by passengers.

“Furthermore, its fuel consumption per pax (person) was low.

“But based on its whole weight and the four engines it was not efficient enough.

“New engines and a lighter version of the A380 would have been needed. But the A380 was not break even taking into account the whole planning and production set up costs.”

By James Sillars, business reporter

Amazon moves to invest in US start-up Aurora self-driving cars

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 8th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

Amazon has made its most significant move into driverless cars to date by investing in a company led by the former head of Google's autonomous vehicle unit.

Silicon Valley start-up Aurora said on Thursday it had raised $530m (£408m) from a group of backers including the online retail giant and fund management giant T Rowe Price.

Amazon did not reveal how much it had invested but said it could use driverless car systems in package delivery or in its warehouses.

“Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive, whether it’s in a fulfillment center or on the road, and we’re excited about the possibilities,” a spokesman said.

T Rowe Price is the second largest shareholder in Tesla behind chief executive Elon Musk and shares in the electric car company fell by more than 4pc after the news was announced. Tesla has been developing its own self-driving technology, with an Autopilot feature which can change lanes and keep its distance in traffic already installed in cars on the road. 

Aurora, which has permission to test its cars in Pittsburgh and in California, has emerged as one of the most prominent self-driving startups in Silicon Valley, in part due to the background and experience of its management team. The deal values the company at $2.5bn.

Chief executive Chris Urmson helped to develop self-driving technology at Google's self-driving car project, now known as Waymo. 

The company's chief product officer Sterling Anderson previously worked at Tesla, leading its autopilot team, and chief technology officer Drew Bagnell was originally on Uber's advanced technologies team, which works on self-driving cars.  

In April 2017 Tesla and Aurora settled a lawsuit after Mr Musk's company accused Mr Anderson of poaching Tesla employees. 

Investors in this funding round also include venture capital firm Sequoia, whose partner Carl Eschenbach will join Aurora's board of directors. 

Mr Eschenbach described the three as the “‘dream team' of self-driving cars”, and said the company's independence – it has partnerships with firms including Hyundai and Volkswagen, but  has no exclusive deals with any corporation – was also a draw. 

“They’ve positioned themselves to work with a variety of partners, from ride-sharing companies to manufacturers to suppliers—which enables them to move more quickly than any one competitor can alone,” he added. 

“This funding and partnership will accelerate our mission of delivering the benefits of self-driving technology safely, quickly, and broadly,” Aurora said. 

“Amazon’s unique expertise, capabilities, and perspectives will be valuable for us as we drive towards our mission.”

By Olivia Rudgard, 

Thomas Cook willing to sell airline to raise cash

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 7th Feb 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Travel group Thomas Cook said it was willing to sell its profitable airline business to raise cash and fund its fight back from a torrid 2018 and signs of a tough year ahead.

The oldest travel company in the world stumbled badly last year when a heatwave in northern Europe deterred holiday makers from booking lucrative last minute deals, leading to two major profit warnings and talk of a need to raise funds.

The British group, which had a market valuation of 540 million pounds ($695 million) and net debt of 1.6 billion pounds, said rather than launch a rights issue it would consider all options for the most successful part of the business.

“Thomas Cook doesn’t need to own an airline outright to be a successful holiday company, so long as we retain a strong relationship to provide our customers with the… service they need for their journey,” Chief Executive Peter Fankhauser said.

A sale would enable the company to invest more in its own hotels, improve its digital sales offering and drive further cost savings.

Its airline, which fared much better last year than the tour operator business, consists of Germany’s Condor, and UK, Scandinavian and Spanish divisions. Operating 103 aircraft, it had 3.5 billion pounds of revenue and a 37 percent rise in operating profit to 129 million pounds in 2018.

The airline was insulated as the tour operator pledges to fill many of the airline’s seats and makes up the difference if prices have to be slashed to fill them.

It flies from airports such as Gatwick, Stansted and Manchester in Britain, and Frankfurt and Munich in Germany.

LONG, HOT SUMMER

Fankhauser said the review was at an early stage and would include all options. Its shares surged 12 percent.

Analysts at Credit Suisse said that easyJet could be interested in Thomas Cook’s airport slots in Britain and Germany, as well as its Airbus sub-fleet.

Credit Suisse said that Thomas Cook’s airline business could be worth between anything between 1.8 and 3.2 billion pounds, and that Lufthansa, IAG and Ryanair could all also be interested.

Thomas Cook said it had made progress in managing its cost base and cut capacity to prop up prices, but that summer bookings reflected consumer uncertainty, especially in Britain.

Last year’s winter trading was also affected by the long hot summer, with fewer customers willing to book holidays, meaning that average selling prices were down 10 percent. For this summer, tour operator bookings are down 12 percent although pricing was slightly higher.

The turmoil at Thomas Cook reflects wider problems in the industry. Rival TUI on Wednesday slashed its earnings guidance for its fiscal full year as it too suffered from last summer’s hot weather, while holiday airline Germania collapsed earlier this week.

Budget airline Ryanair this week reported its first quarterly loss since 2014, while Norwegian Air scaled back its capacity growth plans for this year.Slideshow (2 Images)

As well as the hangover from last year, Fankhauser said that uncertainty over Brexit was impacting British consumer confidence, saying that a page on Thomas Cook’s website addressing questions around Brexit had 800 hits a day.

Thomas Cook’s underlying loss from operations in the three months to the end of December expanded to 60 million pounds and it said it had met its bank covenant tests. It reiterated its full-year outlook.

($1 = 0.7754 pounds)

By Alistair Smout

Ryanair post first quarterly loss since March 2014

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 4th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

Ryanair posted a net loss of €19.6m (£17.2m) for the last three months of the year, its first quarterly loss since March 2014.

The airline carried 32.7 million passengers compared with 30.4 million for the same period a year earlier as revenue rose 9% to €1.53bn.

But the airline said “excess winter capacity in Europe” cut its profit.

Ryanair said chairman David Bonderman will leave in the summer of 2020.

While the company blamed too many airlines chasing too few passengers, costs may be the real problem, industry experts said.

The company's fuel bill leapt 32% and its staff costs rose 31%. In total, Ryanair's operating costs rose 20% to €1.54bn.

“The heart of the big drop in their profitability is that their fuel costs are very high this year,” HSBC transport analyst Andrew Lobbenberg told the Today programme.

Role shift

Chief Executive Michael O'Leary – who suggested last year that he could step down in the next five years – has agreed a new five-year contract, the firm said.

But his role will change slightly, in that Mr O'Leary will become group CEO and will manage chief executives for each airline brand: Ryanair, Laudamotion, Ryanair Sun and Ryanair UK.

In September, at the firm's annual meeting, almost 30% of shareholders voted against the re-election of Mr Bonderman as chairman after a summer of flight cancellations. He has spent 23 years in the job.


Who is Michael O'Leary?

Michael O'Leary, the outspoken boss of low-cost airline Ryanair, has been no stranger to controversy.

Mr O'Leary, who has agreed to stay on for another five years, is well-known for not being shy about expressing his views, famously excoriating his staff, his customers, competitors, regulators, governments, and groups such as environmentalists and scientists.

He once said of passengers looking for a refund: “We don't want to hear your sob stories. What part of ‘no refund' don't you understand?” and has said he doesn't believe in man-made climate change.


The new company structure is similar to that of IAG, the company that owns British Airways.

Mr O'Leary will oversee costs, aircraft purchases and buying rival airlines. It could be good for industrial relations after a series of strikes over the summer, said transport analyst Mr Lobbenberg.

“It puts more distance between him and the unions,” he said.

Mr O'Leary, who has been chief executive for 24 years, told September's annual meeting he had concerns about committing to a new five-year contract telling shareholders: “I'm not sure Mrs O'Leary would be happy.”

He said the airline's loss was “disappointing”, but “we take comfort that this was entirely due to weaker than expected air fares”.

While higher oil prices and lower fares reduced the firm's profitability, they were creating even bigger problems for rivals, Ryanair pointed out.

Firms like Wow, Flybe and Germania are seeking buyers.