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.

Nissan plans to build new X-Trail SUV at Sunderland scrapped due to Brexit uncertainty

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 4th Feb 2019) London, Uk – –

Carmaker will not build new X-Trail in UK, saying uncertainty about future is affecting firms

Nissan has confirmed it is abandoning plans to build a new model of one of its flagship vehicles at its Sunderland plant, as it warned that uncertainty over Brexit was affecting businesses.

The Japanese car manufacturer announced in 2016 it would be making the new version of the X-Trail SUV at the factory in north-east England after receiving assurances about Brexit from the government, but on Sunday it said it would be produced in Japan.

Nissan said it had taken the decision “for business reasons” but warned that Brexitwas having an impact, saying: “The continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future.”

It acknowledged in a letter to workers: “Today’s announcement will be interpreted by a lot of people as a decision related to Brexit.” The X-Trail is produced in Japan currently and Nissan said keeping production there would reduce “upfront investment costs”. The slump in the European diesel car market also played a role in the decision, with the Sunderland plant originally earmarked for the diesel version of the X-Trail.

Greg Clark, the business secretary, made no attempt to hide his disappointment at Nissan’s decision and said it was not surprising that business were holding back on spending decisions given the ongoing political impasse over Brexit.

“People are keen to invest but all motor companies and others across the economy point to the fact they don’t know what our trading relationship will be with our most important trading partner, and that is a source of uncertainty they want resolved and I want it resolved too, because it is hampering investment that would otherwise be made,” Clark said.

The minister hopes that Nissan’s announcement will help concentrate minds in cabinet and Westminster, and believes MPs in his own party and elsewhere will need to switch to supporting Theresa May’s Brexit deal to avoid similar decisions being taken by other multinational companies shortly.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said: “The Conservatives’ botched negotiations and threat of a no-deal Brexit is causing uncertainty and damaging Britain’s economy.” The party added it would press the government to spell out in detail what Brexit reassurances May had given the carmaker in 2016, when she met its former chief executive Carlos Ghosn before the original decision to manufacture the X-Trail in Sunderland. At the time the government said the assurances covered research and development, training and supporting the local supply chain.

Clark will give a statement about Nissan in the House of Commons on Monday, although a government insider added: “There’s no conspiracy about the reassurances; if they were any good, they’d have worked”.

Sunderland voted 61% to leave, although several of the MPs in the north-east want the UK to stay in the European Union. Phil Wilson, the Labour MP for nearby Sedgefield, said that Nissan had originally invested in the UK because “we were in the single market, the customs union and the EU”. He added: “If companies like this are starting to thing twice in investing in Sunderland and in the UK, it could have a significant downside for the economy on this area,” which he described as “the equivalent of when the collieries closed in the 1980s”.

Calling the decision “very disappointing news” for Sunderland and the north-east”,the Unite union said it blamed Brexit uncertainty for the decision, along with the government’s “mishandling” of the transition away from diesel. It expected the company “to work with us to ensure full preparations for Brexit in which jobs and investment are prioritised”.

Nissan said plans over other future models destined for the Sunderland plant – the next-generation Juke and Qashqai – were unaffected by the announcement.

The company’s decision will fuel concern about the economic impact of Brexit, particularly on deprived parts of the country – less than eight weeks before the UK is due to leave the European Union – with some global companies appearing reluctant to make further investment.

The announcement came days after figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) revealed that British car production had dropped to a five-year low in 2018, as manufacturers warned that fears of a no-deal Brexit had prompted a fall in new investment.

Nissan employs about 6,700 staff at the Sunderland site, producing 2,000 cars a day. It is Britain’s biggest car plant, making it one of the region’s key employers. The opening of the Nissan plant in the mid-1980s marked the revival of a UK car industry that makes some of the world’s most renowned brands, including Mini, Jaguar Land Rover, Toyota, Honda and Bentley.

Since the plans were linked to greater investment, the move is not expected to have a significant impact on jobs, although Unite’s assistant general secretary, Steve Turner, referred to hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeships being lost because of the move.

Labour’s Bridget Phillipson, the MP for Houghton and Sunderland South, said the announcement “is the clearest signal yet of the damage being caused to the UK car industry by the uncertainty around Brexit. I fear this announcement is only the beginning and it is working people who will suffer the consequences.”

The MP for Sunderland Central, Labour’s Julie Elliott, said tens of thousands of people depended on Nissan for their livelihoods – both directly and through the supply chain. She said: “The production of the X-Trail would have created hundreds of much-needed extra jobs in the future. Sadly, any loss of future production at the plant makes it less stable.”

Rebecca Long-Bailey, the shadow business secretary, said: “The government’s chaotic handling of Brexit has been the root cause of business uncertainty. There are serious questions that the government must now answer on Monday, not least what was in the secret Brexit deal it issued to Nissan and why this was no longer good enough.”

Nissan said the company had decided to “optimise its investments in Europe” by consolidating X-Trail production at its Kyushu plant in Japan, which is the model’s global production hub.

Hideyuki Sakamoto, Nissan’s executive vice-president for manufacturing and supply chain management, said: “A model like X-Trail is manufactured in multiple locations globally and can therefore be re-evaluated based on changes to the business environment. As always, Nissan has to make optimal use of its global investments for the benefits of its customers.”

Gianluca de Ficchy, Nissan Europe’s chairman, said that with the X-Trail already manufactured in Japan, “we can reduce our upfront investment costs”.Advertisement

He added: “We appreciate this will be disappointing for our UK team and partners. Our workforce in Sunderland has our full confidence and will continue to benefit from the investment planned for Juke and Qashqai.”

Other Nissan models built at the site include electric car the Leaf.



By Rupert Jones
 and Dan Sabbagh

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