How Maserati The Luxury Italian And Sports Car Brand Is Staging A Comeback

Source: CNBC

Maserati is an Italian luxury and sports car brand that doesn’t have the recognition that big names like BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, or even Ferrari have. For decades it was owned by Fiat Group, which later became Fiat Chrysler. Maserati gave it a presence in premium and luxury segments. But they've struggled in recent years, with falling sales and concerns among analysts that Fiat Chrysler did not make needed investments to update Maserati’s product lineup. Now that Fiat-Chrysler has merged with France’s Groupe PSA to form Stellantis, there is speculation over which brands in the stable will survive and succeed.

TUI boss Friedrich Joussen says summer holiday season can be saved

( via – – Fri, 16th April 2021) London, Uk – –

Successful vaccine programmes will prevent another washout for summer holidaymakers, the boss of Europe's largest tour company has told the BBC.

“We are optimistic about the summer,” said Friedrich Joussen, who runs TUI.

The firm – which owns a fleet of aircraft, cruise ships and a chain of travel agencies – said bookings in March alone had hit 2.8 million.

As a result, it expected to operate up to 75% of its normal schedule for the summer season.

“We are still confident that we will have a decent summer,” said Mr Joussen, pointing to coronavirus vaccination programmes in the UK, US and Europe.

The company, which sells holidays to 180 different countries, suffered heavy losses during the pandemic.

Across the industry, income slumped by almost $4.5 trillion last year, leaving more than 62 million people without work, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The industry body is pressing for international travel to resume in June to stem further job losses.

But Mr Joussen said he expected some countries to ask travellers to prove they had been vaccinated before they were allowed to cross the border. Although he thinks demonstrating a negative test result would be just as effective in preventing the spread of the virus.

However, for that strategy to be successful, he said the cost of those tests should be reduced.

“The cheaper it gets, the better it works and the less harmful it is for the general economy,” he said.

European countries have ramped up their vaccination programmes in recent weeks, as the continent experiences a third wave of infections in the face of new variants. Nevertheless, Mr Joussen is optimistic about the summer.

“All medical advice we are getting as a company says that existing vaccines are working with existing variants,” Mr Joussen said.

“Now they might be less efficient sometimes, but still it's much better than not being vaccinated.”

Borrowed billions

In the past year, TUI has been forced to borrow billions from the German government just to stay afloat. But analysts have warned that in the wake of the crisis, the part-nationalised firm may struggle to compete against leaner rivals, as the industry reels from more than 12 months of international travel bans.

Mr Joussen said the German state stepped in at a time of great uncertainty, when the firm was struggling to survive and could not raise money from private investors.

“Berlin is a very rational investor,” he said, adding: “Germany would want to exit the loan as soon as possible.”

By Chiyo Robertson
Business reporter

Heathrow says airport Covid checks are becoming ‘untenable’

( via – – Wed, 14th April 2021) London, Uk – –

Heathrow has said that long queues caused by extensive Covid checks at the airport are becoming “untenable”.

Chris Garton, chief solutions officer at Heathrow, told MPs on the transport committee that some travellers faced waits of up to six hours.

On more than one occasion police had had to intervene because queuing was “not something passengers want to do”, he added.

Foreign travel is only permitted for certain reasons at the moment.

Mr Garton said that all passengers, regardless of nationality, had to be thoroughly vetted before they left or entered the UK to ensure they complied with coronavirus legislation.

However, he said that the queues would become a “much bigger” problem if rules on foreign travel are relaxed on 17 May, as the government is planning.

Currently, he said about 10-15,000 people arrive at the airport each day, and “certainly more than half are having delays in excess of 2-3 hours each day”.

He said the current system is a “tremendous burden on officers at the border” and that the Home Office had not provided enough officers.

“We would like to see more resources at the border,” he told the MPs.

He said maintaining social distancing was hard as the airport was never built to “have so many people held up” in queues.

The BBC has contacted the Home Office for comment.

People in England can start thinking about booking foreign holidays again this summer, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said last week.

But he said the cost of the Covid tests required needed to be driven down, amid criticism from the travel industry.

Mr Shapps has gave more detail on the traffic light system which will see countries graded on their risk.

Passengers will have to take the tests before leaving and on returning – even from low-risk “green” countries.

By Simon Browning

Grant Shapps transport secretary: People can now think about booking foreign holidays

( via– Fri, 9th Apr 2021) London, Uk – –

The change in advice came as the government unveiled plans for a traffic light system to allow overseas leisure trips to resume.

People can “start to think” about booking foreign summer holidays, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has told Sky News.

The cabinet minister issued the change in advice, as the government unveiled plans for a traffic light system to allow overseas leisure trips to resume.

It comes just days after Downing Street published an official document that urged people “not to book summer holidays abroad until the picture is clearer”.

However, the government has refused to confirm whether foreign holidays will be permitted from 17 May – and where Britons will be able to travel without self-isolating on their return.

Mr Shapps also insisted he is trying to make foreign travel as affordable as possible amid criticism that a coronavirus testing requirement will drive up holiday costs

The traffic light “framework” includes making all UK arrivals take pre-departure and post-arrival COVID-19 tests.

Post-arrival tests must be the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) type which cost about £120, he said.

This has led to a backlash from the travel industry which has warned foreign holidays this year would be “just something for the wealthy”.

The sector wants travellers returning from low-risk countries to be allowed to take lateral flow tests, which are cheaper and quicker.

UK budget holiday airline Jet2 has suspended flights and holidays until late June due to uncertainty over government travel plans.

Asked on Sky News if people could start to book foreign holidays now, Mr Shapps said: “I'm not telling people that they shouldn't book summer holidays now, it's the first time that I've been able to say that for many months.”

He added: “For the first time people can start to think about visiting loved ones abroad or perhaps a summer holiday but we are doing it very, very cautiously as we don't want to see any return of coronavirus in this country.”

Mr Shapps said he was looking to “make it as affordable as possible to travel” and “drive down the costs” of tests.

He said: “Costs are definitely a concern. It is one of the factors this year. We have to accept we are still going through a global pandemic.

“We do have to be cautious and I am afraid that does involve having to have some tests and the like.

“But, I am undertaking today to drive down the costs of those tests and looking at some innovative things we could do.

“For example, whether we can help provide the lateral flow tests people need to take before they depart the country they are in to return to the UK and also drive down the costs of the tests when they get home if it is in the green category.

“We are trying to make it as practical as possible.”

Tim Alderslade, the chief executive of Airlines UK, said the framework “does not represent a reopening of travel as promised by ministers”.

He added: “The insistence on expensive and unnecessary PCR testing rather than rapid testing – even for low-risk countries – will pose an unsustainable burden on passengers, making travel unviable and unaffordable for many people.”Twice-weekly tests now available for free in England

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the plan was “a blow to all travellers” and risked “making flying only for the wealthy”.

He added: “As the rest of British society and the economy opens up, it makes no sense to treat travel, particularly to low-risk countries, differently.”

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye told Sky News' Ian King Live programme: “The main concern is about the cost of all of this testing, particularly for people who are looking to go on a family holiday or for small businesses, who are on a very tight budget.

“The cost of all these PCR tests could be enormous.

“The government risks shooting itself in the foot here. I think the prime minister needs to deliver on his commitment to make testing cheap and easy.”

Mark Tanzer, boss of travel trade organisation ABTA, said permitting the use of lateral flow tests would “make international travel more accessible and affordable whilst still providing an effective mitigation against reimportation of the virus”.

It has also been revealed the Civil Aviation Authority will be given additional enforcement powers to act on airlines that breach consumer rights, after many passengers struggled to obtain refunds when flights were grounded.

Saga to rehire 500 workers for holiday restart

( via– Wed, 7th April 2021) London, Uk – –

The company eyes a summer resumption for holidays after a year of disruption for the travel sector as a whole.

Saga, the provider of products and services to the over-50s, has revealed it is looking to rehire 500 workers cut from its holiday operations last year as the coronavirus pandemic gathered speed.

The company, which last month pushed back the planned resumption of its cruises from May until later in the summer, axed 1,400 jobs in its financial year to 31 January.

Saga said that 600 of the redundancies were directly a result of a lack of clarity on the future of post-COVID-19 travel. Retail and hospitality jobs pay highest COVID price

The majority of the losses, across the business, were linked to the disposal of other businesses as part of a wider shake-up undertaken by chief executive Euan Sutherland.

Saga told Sky News it was already advertising for 250 of the roles across its tours and cruise operations

It reported a pre-tax loss of £61.2m for the financial year compared to £301m a year earlier as its insurance arm offset the poor performance for travel.

Profits of £17.1m were recorded on an underlying basis thanks to earnings of £134.6m for insurance.

The travel segment recorded a loss of £78.5m.

Saga said it remained hopeful of a summer restart with big pent-up demand for holidays among its clients – a customer base that is being prioritised for vaccines on an age basis.

Most over-50s have now received their first jab under the rollout.

But clouds remain on the horizon for Saga, and the wider travel sector, as the government is yet to confirm whether holidays will be allowed to resume from 17 May under PM Boris Johnson's roadmap for lockdown-easing in England.

It is examining the merits of so-called vaccine passports and testing regimes amid fears a third wave of infections in Europe poses a significant risk.

In Saga's case, it said that while bookings for this year were down on the same period the year before, demand for next year was well ahead.

It hoped its Spirit of Discovery ship would be able to set sail again from June while it would be another month for its Spirit of Adventure.

Shares were more than 10% up in early deals.

Mr Sutherland told investors: “Looking ahead, while we are mindful of economic headwinds and the potential ongoing impacts of COVID-19, it is clear that there is significant pent-up demand among our customer base, the vast majority of whom have now been vaccinated and are ready to enjoy post-lockdown freedom.”

By James Sillars

Alex Cruz former BA boss among contenders to run Scandinavian airline SAS

( via– Mon 5th April 2021) London, Uk – –

Alex Cruz is among a number of contenders to replace Rickard Gustafson as SAS’s chief executive, Sky News learns.

Alex Cruz, the former British Airways (BA) boss, has been approached about becoming the new chief executive of SAS, Scandinavia’s biggest airline.

Sky News has learnt that Mr Cruz, who left BA last autumn, is among a small number of candidates identified by the partly state-owned carrier to succeed Rickard Gustafson.

The status of discussions between SAS and Mr Cruz was unclear on Monday, while the identity of any other contenders for the job could not be ascertained.

SAS did not respond to a request for comment, and Mr Cruz could not be reached.

If he does secure the role, it would mark a rapid comeback to the international airline industry for the Spaniard.

Mr Cruz spent four-and-a-half years as BA's chairman and chief executive, steering it through a period of unprecedented turbulence last year when Britain's flag-carrier found itself largely grounded during the coronavirus pandemic.

He was forced to defend a series of management mis-steps, and was the focal point of intense criticism over BA's fire-and-rehire policy as it scrambled to shore up its balance sheet.

Reporting to Willie Walsh, the then chief executive of BA's parent, International Airlines Group (IAG), Mr Cruz also took the flak for an IT meltdown in 2017 which caused thousands of passengers to miss their flights.

He insisted last year that BA was engaged in a “fight for survival” as it raised billions of pounds from the sale of new shares and debt.

According to Mr Cruz's LinkedIn profile, he is a board member and advisor at two technology companies, and Fetcherr.

Prior to taking the helm at BA, he was the founding chief executive at Clickair, which subsequently merged with Vueling.

Vueling is one of IAG's other subsidiaries.

SAS's search for a chief executive has been ongoing since January, when it announced that Mr Gustafson was leaving to run the Swedish industrial group SKF.

The airline, which is partly owned by the Danish and Swedish governments, recorded a loss last year of more than $1bn.

By Mark Kleinman

Suez Canal Ever Given ship refloated, traffic finally moving again

( via– Mon, 29th March 2021) London, Uk – –

The stranded container ship blocking the Suez Canal has been freed, allowing traffic in the channel to finally resume.

Egyptian authorities said other vessels were moving again after the gigantic Ever Given ship was refloated, which was seen by witnesses for the Reuters news agency.

The Ever Given has started heading towards the Bitter Lakes area, according to Egyptian television.

Efforts to get the ship moving again appeared to have been frustrated after high winds swung it back across the channel after its partial refloating earlier on Monday.

There had been intensive efforts to push and pull it with 10 tug boats and vacuum up sand with several dredgers at high tide.

Osama Rabei, the head of the Suez Canal Authority, confirmed the ship had responded successfully to “pull-and-push manoeuvres”.

Speaking earlier, he said workers had almost completely straightened the vessel's course and that the stern had moved 102 metres (334 feet) from the canal bank.

The oil price fell as news of developments in the canal emerged, with the price of Brent crude down by 2% to just over $63 (£46) a barrel.

It had been feared the Panama-flagged, Japanese-owned ship might be stuck for weeks.

Dredgers overnight shifted more than 27,000 cubic metres of sand – to a depth of 18m (59ft) – with work taking place around the clock.

The skyscraper-sized Ever Given became stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal last Tuesday and the resulting disruption to the vital waterway has held up £6.5bn in global trade each day.

Hundreds of other vessels had remained trapped in the canal waiting to pass, carrying everything from crude oil to cattle.

More than two dozen vessels opted for the alternative route between Asia and Europe around the Cape of Good Hope, adding around a fortnight to journeys and threatening delivery delays.

The 400m (1,312ft) long Ever Given became jammed diagonally across a southern section of the canal in high winds.

As of Saturday, 321 boats were waiting to get through the canal, including dozens of container ships, bulk carriers and liquefied natural gas (LNG) or liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) vessels.

US warns it could put tariffs up to 25% on UK exports in ‘tech tax’ row

( via – – Mon, 29thMarch 2021) London, Uk – –

The US has warned it could put tariffs of up to 25% on a host of UK exports in retaliation for a UK tax on tech firms.

Ceramics, make-up, overcoats, games consoles and furniture could all be hit, according to a list published by the Biden administration.

The duties are designed to raise $325m, the amount the US believes the UK tax will raise from US tech companies.

A UK government spokesperson said it wanted to “make sure tech firms pay their fair share of tax”.

They added: “Should the US proceed to implement these measures, we would consider all options to defend UK interests and industry.”

Washington is pressing ahead with the action, initiated under President Trump, and has scheduled hearings on the list.

It argues the recently introduced digital services tax – which taxes tech firms on their revenues – has “unreasonable, discriminatory, and burdensome attributes”.

Similar actions have proceeded against similar taxes in India, Austria and Spain, but action against the European Union as a whole was dropped.

The US Section 301 action is designed to apply domestic political pressure within the UK and other countries over the imposition of such taxes.

The UK and US held talks about the digital services tax on 4 December, and UK government sources stressed that the tariff list was being seen as procedural rather than an escalation.

The tariffs are now subject to a consultation in the US over the next few weeks.

At the Budget, the Office for Budget Responsibility calculated the digital services tax would raise £300m in the current financial year, and as much as £700m in future years.

‘Public frustration'

Brought in last April it taxes at 2% the revenues – not profits – of search engines, social media services and online marketplaces which derive value from UK users.

It followed years of claims in Europe and elsewhere that big tech firms do not pay enough tax in the countries where they operate.

Last August, Facebook agreed to pay the French government €106m (£95.7m) in back taxes to settle a dispute over revenues earned in the country.

Earlier that year, Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg said he recognised the public's frustration over the amount of tax paid by tech giants.


A UK government spokesperson said: “Like many countries around the world, we want to make sure tech firms pay their fair share of tax. Our digital services tax (DST) is reasonable, proportionate and non-discriminatory.

“It's also temporary. We're working positively with the US and other international partners to find a global solution to this problem and will remove the DST when that is in place.”

There are signs the Biden administration wants a more conciliatory relationship on trade with the UK than Donald Trump did.

Last month, Washington agreed to suspend tariffs on UK goods, including single malt whiskies, that were imposed in retaliation over subsidies to aircraft maker Airbus. However, the UK is still lobbying the US to drop duties on British steel brought in in 2018.

By Faisal Islam
Economics editor

Honda agrees sale of Swindon car plant with the promise of ‘thousands’ of jobs by new owner

( via– Fri, 26th March 2021) London, Uk – –

The Japanese firm had promised to leave a sustainable legacy behind when it decided to pull out of UK car production.

Honda has agreed a sale of its Swindon car plant, with the new owner promising “thousands” of jobs.

The Japanese company revealed two years ago that it intended to cease production at the site in July this year as sales across the industry continued to drag ahead of an all-electric future.

The move, which the company insisted then was not related to Brexit, will result in the loss of 3,500 jobs once the final Civic hatchback rolls off the production line.

But it was announced on Friday that US-based warehousing specialist Panattoni was to take on the sprawling site following the conclusion of decommissioning work by Honda, expected in spring next year.

The company said it was making a £700m investment in its logistics-related development.

Its UK managing director, Matthew Byrom, said: “The acquisition of the 370-acre Honda facility demonstrates our capabilities to work at scale.

“The re-development of this strategic employment site will deliver thousands of new opportunities in roles which underpin the operation of the local and regional economy.”

Honda said the sale delivered on its promise to leave a sustainable legacy behind.

UK director Jason Smith said: “We are pleased to have identified a capable new owner of the site. From our engagement with Panattoni and initial discussions with Swindon Borough Council, we are confident that the new owner can bring the development forward in a commercially timely fashion and generate exciting prospects for Swindon and the wider community.”

Honda, along with its UK rivals, have endured a torrid number of years culminating in COVID-19 disruption, as sales suffer globally.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders on Friday showed the number of cars built in the UK fell for the 18th month in a row in February.

It reported that production was 14% down compared with the same month a year ago, with just 105,008 cars leaving factory gates – the weakest February for a decade.

Honda, along with some rivals, have blamed COVID transport delays for some temporary production suspensions in recent months.

By James Sillars

Elon Musk: Tesla will accept Bitcoin from consumers wishing to purchase cars

( via– Wed, 24th March 2021) London, Uk – –

Tesla's chief executive Elon Musk has said that the company will now be directly accepting Bitcoin from consumers wishing to purchase cars.

The pay by Bitcoin system is currently only available in the US, but the billionaire has said the feature will be expanded to other countries later this year.

It follows the car company last month announcing that it had invested $1.5bn (£1.09bn) in the notoriously volatile cryptocurrency, sending it to a record high.

A single Bitcoin is currently trading at just over £41,000 – up from the £5,600 it was worth on this date last year.

Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as the cryptocurrency, Musk said, not converted to cash.

It is the latest vote of confidence in the cryptocurrency to come from the billionaire since he gave its price a boost by adding a “#bitcoin” tag to his Twitter profile page.

He removed the tag a few days later but has continued talking up Bitcoin, saying it was “on the verge” of being more widely accepted by investors.

Announcing the investment, Tesla said in its regulatory filing that its decision was part of a broad investment policy aimed at diversifying and maximising its returns on cash.

It said it had invested a total $1.5bn in the cryptocurrency and could “acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long-term”.

The disclosure comes after Tesla recently reported that it had made an annual profit for the first time after years of losses.

At the time analysts said the move by the car company – which last year overtook bigger-selling conventional rivals to become the largest by value as its share price surged – could prove a gamechanger for Bitcoin.

Eric Turner, vice president of market intelligence at cryptocurrency research firm Messari, said: “I think we will see an acceleration of companies looking to allocate to Bitcoin now that Tesla has made the first move.

“One of the largest companies in the world now owns Bitcoin and by extension, every investor that owns Tesla (or even just at S&P 500 fund) has exposure to it as well.”

Bitcoin has set new record highs at the start of this year after a bumpy ride for investors over the past decade, with major financial institutions starting to offer support.

Central banks such as the Bank of England have remained sceptical but some suggest that as it becomes more accepted it could become more attractive as a store of value.

Rolls-Royce reported a loss of £4bn for 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic

( via – – Thur, 11th Mar 2021) London, Uk – –

Air travel restrictions forced firm to burn through £4.2bn in cash to keep afloat as revenues collapsed

Rolls-Royce has reported a loss of £4bn for 2020 as the jet-engine manufacturer’s business was shaken by the coronavirus pandemic.

The FTSE 100 manufacturer revealed it burned through £4.2bn in cash during the year as revenues from servicing passenger aircraft collapsed. It expects to burn through a further £2bn this year.

Rolls-Royce’s revenues were among the most vulnerable to the pandemic because of its reliance on making and servicing jet engines for passenger aircraft. In the year before the pandemic its civil aerospace business brought in £8bn in revenues, compared with £5bn in 2020.

The underlying loss before tax of £4bn compared with a profit of £583m the year before. The underlying loss partly reflected charges related to financing foreign exchange as it adjusted to lower than expected dollar earnings.

Losses before tax for 2020 were £2.9bn, including £1.4bn in write-offs and nearly £500m in redundancy costs.

Rolls-Royce scrambled last year to cut costs and raise cash when the extent of the pandemic became clear. That included cutting 7,000 jobs out of 19,000 across its global civil aerospace division, in what it said was the largest restructuring in the venerable company’s recent history.

It has also negotiated two-week shutdowns of its engine factories this summer in an effort to save more cash.

The hours flown by planes with Rolls-Royce engines slumped to only 43% of 2019 levels. In 2021, hours flown are expected to improve only gradually, to 55% of 2019 levels.

Rolls-Royce said it expected earnings to accelerate in the second half of this year, but even during 2022 it expected flying hours to be a fifth lower than 2019 as the slow recovery in international travel continues, in part because of new variants of the virus.

Deliveries of new engines are not expected to recover significantly for a “few years”.

Warren East, Rolls-Royce’s chief executive, said the job losses were “regrettable, but unfortunately very necessary”. East added that the company had made a “good start” on raising more money through sales of parts of its business.

East said the company would try to continue investing in lower-carbon technologies. By 2023, Rolls-Royce plans to devote 20% of its research and development budget to small modular reactors, hybrid, hydrogen and electric power technologies, as part of its plans to reduce its carbon footprint, up from 7% now.

By Jasper Jolly

PM Boris Johnson promised to review vaccine passports as eager Britons book holidays

( via– Tue, 23rd Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The government's roadmap out of England's lockdown gives Britons confidence that there might be summer holidays after all.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised a review of so-called vaccine passports as eager Britons book holidays, excited by Monday's roadmap out of lockdown.

Mr Johnson said: “There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating all people to have something or indeed banning people from doing such a thing.”

He said senior minister Michael Gove would lead a review into the issue, although he added that some form of vaccine passport is “going to come on the international stage whatever” for foreign travel, as some other countries would insist on it.

“We need to thrash all this out, and we've got time,” he added.

It has been suggested that vaccine certificates or passports could be a way of opening up travel as the roadmap, which sets a path out of England's coronavirus lockdown, says foreign holidays could be allowed as early as 17 May. Currently non-essential travel is banned.Advertisement

Health Secretary Matt Hancock told Sky News that there would be a review published on 12 April into international travel before holidays could resume.He said: “That review will be informed by the evidence that we're currently collecting on the impact of the vaccine on these, the so-called South Africa and Brazil new variants.

“If the vaccine works well against them, then we can be much more relaxed about international travel.

“If the vaccine doesn't work against them, then that will be much, much more difficult.”

EasyJet said flight bookings jumped by more than 300% and holiday bookings surged by more than 600% week-on-week after the roadmap was announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday night.

Beach destinations such as Malaga, Alicante and Palma in Spain, the Algarve in Portugal, and Crete in Greece were the most popular as the country sought something to look forward to after a winter stuck at home.

Most bookings were made for August, but July and September were also popular.Travel industry calls for vaccine passports

EasyJet chief executive Johan Lundgren said the government's exit plans had “provided a much-needed boost in confidence for so many of our customers in the UK”.

He said: “We have consistently seen that there is pent-up demand for travel and this surge in bookings shows that this signal from the government that it plans to reopen travel has been what UK consumers have been waiting for.

“While the summer may be a little while off, we will be working around the clock to ensure we will be ready to ramp up our flights to reconnect friends and family or take them on a long-awaited holiday to remember.”

Andrew Flintham, managing director of TUI UK and Ireland, said they had seen a 500% jump in bookings overnight, with particular demand for Greece, Spain and Turkey from July onward.

He added: “The announcement from the prime minister on 22 February was positive and shows that by working with the travel industry on a risk-based framework our customers will have the opportunity to travel abroad this summer.

“We will continue to work closely with the government so people can look forward to a well-deserved break away, after what has been a very difficult year for many.”

A spokesman for Thomas Cook said they had seen similar numbers, adding that it was “easily our best day of sales for a long time and triple Sunday's”.

The popular destinations for their customers were Turkey, Cyprus and Greece but people are also booking well into 2022, he said, adding: “Clearly the pent-up demand is starting to be released and confidence is returning”.

Shares in airlines were on the rise in early Tuesday trading – IAG the owner of British Airways rose by 5.9%, TUI was up by 6.4%, easyJet was up by 8.3% and Ryanair rose by 4.1%.

The success of Britain's vaccination programme has also given the travel sector confidence that coronavirus restrictions can soon be lifted.

The industry has been one of the hardest-hit by the pandemic, with border closures, travel bans and other measures, such as pre-travel testing and quarantine, all diminishing the willingness of people to travel.

But even after 17 May, foreign governments will need to agree that Britons can visit.

France and Spain are not allowing visitors from Britain due to new variants of coronavirus and countries such as Australia and New Zealand have not been open to tourists for almost a year.

EasyJet and TUI both said they were offering flexibility for travellers in terms of changes that might need to be made to bookings.

But for those who are not ready to travel internationally, Patricia Yates, director of strategy and communications at VisitBritain, said there are still treasures to be enjoyed in our own backyard.

She told Sky News that “coast and countryside” are expected to be popular but city centres might be less so this year, with many people still cautious about public transport and attractions indoors.

“I think it's going to be a good summer,” she said, adding: “If you've got school-aged children and you need to go away for the peak summer, you're not going to see much discounting going on – I'd go for certainty and book.”

How Airlines Make Meals For Thousands Of Passengers

Source: CNBC

For many people economy class used to mean soggy pasta, rubbery eggs and dried-out chicken. For a time U.S airlines even stopped serving free meals altogether in economy class. But in 2019 U.S. airlines posted their tenth straight year of profitability and premium and economy cabins are seeing more food options than ever before.

Cazoo online car platform plotting moves to go public with a valuation of over £5bn

( via– Fri, 19th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The firm's founder, Alex Chesterman, is starting to explore a merger with a US-listed SPAC, Sky News learns.

Cazoo, the online car retailer founded by one of Britain's best-known technology entrepreneurs, is plotting a blockbuster move to go public with a valuation of well over £5bn.

Sky News has learnt that Cazoo, which was launched by Alex Chesterman just a year ago, is working with bankers at Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Numis on options for accelerating its growth prospects.

City sources said on Friday that this could involve a London listing, but that a merger with a New York-listed special purpose acquisition company was at least as likely an outcome.

Any move to go public would not take place until much later in the year, but would underscore the explosive growth of Mr Chesterman's latest venture.

Cazoo has already raised £450m from an array of blue-chip investors – a staggering sum for a British start-up founded just two years ago.

The London Stock Exchange is expected to push hard for Cazoo to list in its home market, but sources said that the company's founders had already been approaching potential investors about the idea of a SPAC deal in the US.

SPACs have raised tens of billions of dollars this year alone, persuading a spectrum of tech-enabled companies in clean energy, healthcare, urban mobility and space travel to take themselves onto the public markets.

Cazoo has built a workforce of around 2,000 people, partly through a number of acquisitions.

If it succeeded in securing a valuation as high as £6bn, it would potentially add another £1.8bn to Mr Chesterman's already-sizeable wealth by virtue of his 30% stake in the company.

In a statement issued to Sky News, a Cazoo spokesman said on Friday: “Cazoo is pioneering the shift to online car buying in the UK and, since our launch just over a year ago, we have already sold almost 20,000 cars to consumers across the UK who have embraced the selection, transparency and convenience of buying high quality used cars entirely online.

“As one of the UK's fastest growing businesses, with revenues of over £160m in our first year alone, it is not surprising that there is speculation around whether or when we might IPO but we do not comment on speculation and should we have an announcement to make on this or any other matter we shall do so at the appropriate time.”

Mr Chesterman, who founded successful start-ups Lovefilm and Zoopla, has raised money from backers such as Fidelity and D1 Capital Partners, which has also invested in the payments group TransferWise.

Cazoo, which sponsors Premier League teams Aston Villa and Everton, claims to be transforming the little-changed method of buying a used car by having it delivered to a customer's door within as little as 72 hours.

It claims to have become “the country's leading online car retailer” since its launch, even as the market for new cars has plummeted to sales levels not seen since the immediate aftermath of the Second World War.

Cazoo competes with rivals such as Cinch, which is owned by BCA Marketplace.

Investors in the sector say that on a relative basis, the business had become more attractive because of the prospective shift of consumers to digital channels once the pandemic abates.

Mr Chesterman came up with the idea for Cazoo soon after leaving the property portal Zoopla, which he sold in a deal worth more than £2bn to the tech-focused buyout firm Silver Lake in 2018.

“Used cars are one of the last remaining consumer markets yet to benefit from any digital transformation,” the entrepreneur said soon after its launch.

“Cazoo makes used car buying simple and convenient like buying any other product online today.

“We take away the need to travel, to haggle, to spend countless hours at a dealership and to risk any buyer's remorse.”

By Mark Kleinman

Uber drivers deemed as workers not self-employed by UK’s Supreme Court

( via – – Fri, 19th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

Uber drivers must be treated as workers rather than self-employed, the UK's Supreme Court has ruled.

The decision could mean thousands of Uber drivers are set to be entitled to minimum wage and holiday pay.

The ruling could leave the ride-hailing app facing a hefty compensation bill, and have wider consequences for the gig economy.

Uber said the ruling centred on a small number of drivers and it had since made changes to its business.

In a long-running legal battle, Uber had appealed to the Supreme Court after losing three earlier rounds.

Uber is being challenged by its drivers in multiple countries over whether they should be classed as workers or self-employed.

In the US, California voters passed a measure called Proposition 22 that will see freelance workers continue to be classified as independent contractors in November, overturning a landmark labour law passed in 2019.

‘Massive achievement'

Former Uber drivers James Farrar and Yaseen Aslam, who originally won an employment tribunal against the ride hailing app giant in October 2016, told the BBC they were “thrilled and relieved” by the ruling.

“I think it's a massive achievement in a way that we were able to stand up against a giant,” said Mr Aslam, president of the App Drivers & Couriers Union (ADCU).

“We didn't give up and we were consistent – no matter what we went through emotionally or physically or financially, we stood our ground.”

Uber appealed against the employment tribunal decision but the Employment Appeal Tribunal upheld the ruling in November 2017.

The company then took the case to the Court of Appeal, which upheld the ruling in December 2018.

The ruling on Friday was Uber's last appeal, as the Supreme Court is Britain's highest court, and it has the final say on legal matters.

Delivering his judgement, Lord Leggatt said that the Supreme Court unanimously dismissed Uber's appeal that it was an intermediary party and stated that drivers should be considered to be working not only when driving a passenger, but whenever logged in to the app.

The court considered several elements in its judgement:

  • Uber set the fare which meant that they dictated how much drivers could earn
  • Uber set the contract terms and drivers had no say in them
  • Request for rides is constrained by Uber who can penalise drivers if they reject too many rides
  • Uber monitors a driver's service through the star rating and has the capacity to terminate the relationship if after repeated warnings this does not improve

Looking at these and other factors, the court determined that drivers were in a position of subordination to Uber where the only way they could increase their earnings would be to work longer hours.

Jamie Heywood, Uber's Regional General Manager for Northern and Eastern Europe, said: “We respect the Court's decision which focussed on a small number of drivers who used the Uber app in 2016.

“Since then we have made some significant changes to our business, guided by drivers every step of the way. These include giving even more control over how they earn and providing new protections like free insurance in case of sickness or injury.

“We are committed to doing more and will now consult with every active driver across the UK to understand the changes they want to see.”

‘Drivers are struggling'

The Supreme Court's ruling that Uber has to consider its drivers “workers” from the time they log on to the app, until they log off is seen as a key point.

Uber drivers typically spend time waiting for people to book rides on the app. Previously, the firm had said that if drivers were found to be workers, then it would only count the time during journeys when a passenger is in the car.

“This is a win-win-win for drivers, passengers and cities. It means Uber now has the correct economic incentives not to oversupply the market with too many vehicles and too many drivers,” said James Farrar, ADCU's general secretary.

“The upshot of that oversupply has been poverty, pollution and congestion.”

However, questions still remain about how the new classification will work, and how it affects gig economy workers who work not only for Uber, but also for other competing apps.

Mr Aslam, who claims Uber's practices forced him to leave the trade as he couldn't make ends meet, is considering becoming a driver for the app again. But he is upset that it took so long.

“It took us six years to establish what we should have got in 2015. Someone somewhere, in the government or the regulator, massively let down these workers, many of whom are in a precarious position,” he said.

Mr Farrar points out that with fares down 80% due to the pandemic, many drivers have been struggling financially and feel trapped in Uber's system.

“We're seeing many of our members earning £30 gross a day right now,” he said, explaining that the self-employment grants issued by the government only cover 80% of a driver's profits, which isn't even enough to pay for their costs.

“If we had these rights today, those drivers could at least earn a minimum wage to live on.”

Impact on Uber

When Uber listed its shares in the US in 2019, its filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) included a section on risks to its business.

The company said in this section that if it had to classify drivers as workers, it would “incur significant additional expenses” in compensating the drivers for things such as the minimum wage and overtime.

“Further, any such reclassification would require us to fundamentally change our business model, and consequently have an adverse effect on our business and financial condition,” it added.

Uber also wrote in the filing that if Mr Farrar and Mr Aslam were to win their case, HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) would then classify the firm as a transport provider, and Uber would need to pay VAT on fares.

The company has long argued that it is a booking agent, which hires self-employed contractors that provide transport.

By Mary-Ann Russon

Ford motor plan all-electric passenger range in Europe by 2030

( via– Wed, 17th Feb 2021) London, Uk – –

The plans come as manufacturers worldwide seek to develop zero-emission vehicles in the face of strict emission targets and bans.

Ford has announced its entire passenger range in Europe will be all-electric by the end of the decade.

The motor giant also said its commercial models would be 100% zero-emissions capable, all-electric or plug-in hybrid by 2024.

The move comes after Ford reported a return to profit in Europe in the fourth quarter of 2020. How does the UK's new green drive compare to the rest of the world?

The firm said it was investing at least $22bn (£15.8bn) globally in electrification to 2025, nearly twice the company's previous investment plans.

Ford of Europe president Stuart Rowley said: “We successfully restructured Ford of Europe and returned to profitability in the fourth quarter of 2020.

“Now we are charging into an all-electric future in Europe with expressive new vehicles and a world-class connected customer experience.”

The company's plans include a $1bn cash boost to modernise its vehicle assembly facility in Cologne, Germany.

The investment will transform the existing operation for the manufacture of electric vehicles, Ford's first such facility in Europe.

Ford confirmed that its first European-built, volume all-electric passenger would be produced at the site from 2023.

Speaking to Sky News' Ian King Live programme, Mr Rowley said Ford's Dunton Technical Centre in Essex, which is responsible for the design and engineering of its commercial vehicles, would be “contributing strongly” and playing as leading role in the electrification of the range.

“So we don't produce vehicles, but it is a very important part of our overall operation,” he said.

Mr Rowley added: “The European region is really leading the way in the electrification of our industry and obviously as we invest heavily, not only Ford but the entire industry, as part of that we will be bringing down costs as we establish scale.”

But he indicated that further job losses could be in the pipeline with the shift to electrification.

He said: “It's obviously a huge transition for Ford and the entire industry as we move from conventional powertrains, engine transmissions to battery, so we have worked very closely with our social partners… to manage that transition in an appropriate way.”

He added: “We will continue to resize our operations. We would expect to see some continued descaling in our European operations as we make this transition.”Where the jobs have been lost during the COVID pandemic

Mr Rowley would not be drawn on a figure but pointed out that over the last two years Ford's workforce in Europe had been reduced by around 20% or 10,000 people.

Earlier this week, Jaguar Land Rover committed to keep all three of its British plants open in the drive for all its models to be fully electric by 2030.

The firm, owned by India's Tata Motors, said the Jaguar brand would lead the way with a complete electric vehicle range by 2025.

The plans come as car groups worldwide pursue zero-emission strategies to meet strict CO2 emission targets.

A number of countries have also announced bans on new fossil-fuel vehicle sales.

Boris Johnson, who welcomed the company's commitment in a tweet on Monday evening,confirmed last year that sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans would be phased out by 2030, as part of his 10-point plan for a “green industrial revolution”.

In November, luxury car brand Bentley Motors, owned by Germany's Volkswagen, said its model range would be fully electric by 2030.

Last month, General Motors Co said it aimed to have a zero-emission line-up by 2035.

Learjet fly into aviation history as production ends later this year

( via– Fri, 12th Feb, 2021) London, Uk – –

After decades as a fixture in the lives of the rich and famous, the Learjet is set to fly into aviation history.

Bombardier will stop making the Learjet later this year to focus on more profitable planes.

The decision means the loss of 1,600 jobs in Canada and the US at a time when both aviation and aircraft manufacturing are struggling due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Canada will bear the brunt of the losses, with at least 700 of those jobs in Quebec and 100 in Ontario.

Canadian firm Bombardier said it will continue to support the existing Learjet fleet, but its attention would shift to the more lucrative Challenger and Global aircraft, along with its services business.

The news came as the company reported an adjusted loss before interest and taxes of $165m (£119m) for the quarter ending 31 December, compared with a profit of $168m (£122m) a year earlier.Advertisement

It hopes the cuts will generate $400m in savings by 2023.

The aviation industry has been hit by travel restrictions and a fall in journeys due to fears of the coronavirus pandemic, which began to affect the industry in the early months of last year.

Bombardier chief executive Eric Martel said the “reductions are absolutely necessary for us to rebuild our company while we continue to navigate through the pandemic”.Where jobs have been lost across the UK economy

He added: “The pandemic has also brought new attention and customers to private air travel and the enhanced safety it provides.

“Nevertheless, we expect that a full market recovery will take several years.

“This harsh market reality, combined with the higher than expected debt load we are carrying due to the pandemic, requires immediate action in the coming months.”

It is a sad end for the Learjet, the private luxury plane that became a major part of the lifestyles of the rich and famous after it first flew in 1963.

More than 3,000 were made, but in recent years production was around just one a month.

Richard Aboulafia, an aerospace analyst for Teal Group, said: “It was sleek and it had almost a fighter-jet pedigree.

“For its time it symbolised personal executive transportation.”

It was also part of pop culture – appearing in Carly Simon's 1971 hit You're So Vain and in the TV show Mad Men.

TUI banking on vaccinated Brits taking holidays for a much-needed summer recovery

( via — Tue, 9th Feb 2021) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – TUI Group, the world’s biggest holiday company, needs a summer recovery to relieve pressure on its strained finances and is banking on vaccinated Britons going abroad in the peak months despite tightening travel restrictions.

Germany-based TUI, which before the pandemic took 23 million people on holiday annually, has secured multiple bailouts from the German government to survive. It said it currently had 2.1 billion euros ($2.5 billion) of financial resources.

“That should be enough until summer, until the business takes off in summer,” Chief Executive Fritz Joussen told reporters on a call.

But there is still great uncertainty over travel for the peak holiday months this year. TUI said progress with Britain’s advanced vaccination programme would help demand.

Asked how long its cash could last and whether more state aid would be needed, Joussen said: “I would say we are in a very good position.”

Jefferies analysts said TUI had liquidity to last about seven months if no holidays were cancelled and it did not have make refunds.


In Britain, TUI’s biggest market with Germany, the government has told people not to book trips abroad for the summer, as the country tightens controls with quarantine hotels and more testing.

Britain’s latest measures are designed to fight new variants of the virus, against which vaccines may not work.

Joussen shrugged off the risk from new variants. “This time (summer) we have vaccination and good testing on top so I’m very confident,” he said.

TUI is planning to operate 80% of 2019’s capacity this summer, saying it already had 2.8 million bookings. In the COVID-19 hit summer of 2020, it operated about 25% of capacity.

The company has cut costs during the pandemic. It said that, for the three months to the end of December, its monthly cash outflow was 300 million euros, down from an expected 400 million to 450 million euros.

That resulted in an adjusted earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) loss for the quarter of 699 million euros.

TUI’s net debt has ballooned to 7.2 billion euros during the pandemic and needs to start repayments in 2022. Joussen said selling assets or raising new equity would help, echoing his comments in December.

“It’s very clear that the math says we need, let’s say 1.5 maybe 2 billion (euros),” he said, adding that this could be achieved through divestments and more equity.

($1 = 0.8280 euros)

Reporting by Sarah Young and Ilona Wissenbach

Rolls-Royce to lower forecasts on how much its engines will fly in 2021 in light of travel restrictions

( via –Tue, 26th Jan 2021) London, UK —

By Sarah Young

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Rolls-Royce lowered forecasts for how much its engines will fly this year as tighter coronavirus travel restrictions inflict fresh pain on airlines, saying this would mean a cash outflow of some 2 billion pounds ($2.7 billion).percent of 2019 levels.

Countries around the world have tightened border controls over concerns that new COVID-19 variants are more transmissible, and that vaccines may not work against one from South African.

That has caused a further air traffic drop just as airlines and engine makers were hoping for a recovery, forcing Rolls to issue a trading update just six weeks after its last warning.

The Rolls forecast of a cash outflow of 2 billion pounds is higher than analyst estimates which range from Morgan Stanley’s 900 million pounds to 1.55 billion pounds forecast by Jefferies.

Flying hours, Rolls’ main revenue stream from airlines as they pay depending on how much they use its engines, are expected to be about 55% of 2019 levels, compared to a base forecast of 70% it gave in October.

“Enhanced restrictions are delaying the recovery of long-haul travel over the coming months compared to our prior expectations,” Rolls, whose engines power aircraft like Boeing 787s and Airbus A350s, said in a statement on Tuesday.

The downgrade came after Rolls said in December that 2020’s cash outflow would be worse than expected at 4.2 billion pounds and its shares fell 5% to 93 pence at 1125 GMT.

Negative travel news has erased some of the gains made since November when a vaccine was discovered, with Rolls down 18% in the last month.

“Challenging conditions in the broader industry mean there may be incremental disappointments in a number of other areas,” Morgan Stanley analysts said in a note.

Rolls said that liquidity of 9 billion pounds gave it confidence it was well-positioned for the future.

Last year, it raised 5 billion pounds from shareholders and in loans to buffer against the uncertain pace of recovery, after some analysts speculated it could be nationalised.

It also plans to sell assets worth 2 billion pounds and is cutting more than 1 billion pounds in costs by axing 9,000 jobs and closing factories.

Rolls stuck to its forecast to turn cash flow positive at some point during the second half of 2021, saying it expected the cash outflow mainly in the first half, and said it remained on track to meet its 2022 cash flow guidance contingent on the expected recovery in flying hours.

($1 = 0.7344 pounds)

Reporting by Sarah Young