Flybe rescued by Virgin and Stobart in £2.2m deal

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

Flybe is being bought for £2.2m by a consortium including Virgin Atlantic and Stobart Group.

It will operate under the Virgin Atlantic brand, marking a return by Virgin to domestic flights, following a failed attempt five years ago.

Based in Exeter, Flybe carries around eight million passengers a year from airports such as Southampton, Cardiff and Aberdeen, to the UK and Europe.

The sale comes after Flybe's profits warning in October .

Shareholders in Flybe will receive just 1p a share and the consortium, which also includes venture capital firm Cyrus, will inject £100m.

Christine Ourmières-Widener, Flybe's chief executive, said the industry has been suffering from higher fuel costs, currency fluctuations and “significant uncertainties” presented by Brexit.

“We have been affected by all of these factors which have put pressure on short-term financial performance,” she said.

To support the on-going operations of the airline, the consortium, known as Connect Airways, will initially lend £20m to Flybe.

A further £80m will be invested in Flybe, which describes itself as Europe's largest regional airline.

Connect Airways will also buy Stobart Group's regional airline and aircraft leasing business.

The group said it would “create a fully-fledged UK network carrier” – an opportunity for Virgin, which currently focuses on long-haul, to expand in the UK.

Virgin, founded by Sir Richard Branson, abandoned attempts to run domestic flights in 2014 through its Little Red airline.

Virgin Atlantic is now a joint venture with Delta Airlines.

Warwick Brady, chief executive of Stobart Group, said it would also be an opportunity to get more passengers to fly from Southend airport, which it owns, along with Carlisle airport.

John Strickland, director at JLS Consulting, said: “It's still a difficult part of the airline market to operate in. The regional segment is the hardest, because it is short flights where passengers are price sensitive and there's competition with rail and road.”

But getting a big cash injection should help the financial performance of Flybe and maintain routes, he said.

The 1p-a-share offer is well below the 295p at which they were floated in 2010 and the levels around 30p at which they were trading before October's profits warning.

Flybe's rescue comes after the collapse of Monarch Airlines and Primera Air.


Jaguar Land Rover UK’s biggest carmaker to axe thousands of jobs

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 10th Jan 2019) London, UK —

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s biggest carmaker Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) (TAMO.NS) is set to announce “substantial” job cuts in the thousands, a source told Reuters, as the company faces double-digit drops in demand in China and a slump in sales for diesel cars in Europe.

The company builds a higher proportion of its cars in Britain than any other major or medium-sized carmaker and has also spent millions of pounds preparing for Brexit, in case there are tariffs or customs checks.

JLR swung to a loss of 354-million pounds between April and September and had already in 2018 cut around 1,000 roles in Britain, shut its Solihull plant for two weeks and announced a three-day week at its Castle Bromwich site.

The Tata Motors-owned company has unveiled plans to cut costs and improve cash flows by 2.5 billion pounds including “reducing employment costs and employment levels.”

Those cuts will be “substantial” and run into the thousands, the source told Reuters.

“The announcement on job losses will be substantial, affecting managerial, research, sales, design,” said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Production-line staff will not be affected “at this stage,” said the source.

The company, which employs nearly 40,000 people in Britain and has been boosting its workforce at new plants in China and Slovakia in recent years, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters on Thursday.

JLR, which became Britain’s biggest carmaker in 2016, had been on course to build around 1 million vehicles by the turn of the decade, but output in 2018 looks set to have fallen as sales in the first eleven months dropped 4.4 percent.

Sales in China between July and September fell by 44 percent, the biggest slump of any market for the central England-based firm, turning the country from its biggest sales market to its smallest.

Its chief financial officer said in October that the firm’s Changshu plant in China “has basically been closed for most of October in order to allow the inventory of both our vehicles and dealer inventory to start to reduce.”

Diesel accounts for 90 percent of the firm’s British sales and 45 percent of global demand, the company said last year, as demand in the segment tumbles following new levies in the wake of the 2015 Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal.

Like fellow automakers, the company could see its three British car factories grind to a halt in fewer than 80 days if lawmakers next week reject a deal by Prime Minister Theresa May, leading to tariffs and customs checks after a no-deal outcome.

Reporting by Costas Pitas

Heathrow Airport wants to expand flights operations up to 5 per cent whether or not a third runway is built

(qlmbusinessnews.com via independent.co.uk – – Tue, 8th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Britain’s biggest airport could soon have an extra 68 flights a day squeezed in on the world’s busiest pair of runways.

Heathrow Airport hopes to expand operations by up to 5 per cent whether or not a third runway is built.

As the West London airport launched a consultation into the biggest changes to airspace patterns in 50 years, it also revealed plans for “a short-term change to the way aircraft arrive at Heathrow” that could increase resilience – and squeeze in almost 25,000 flights a year.

To do so would require the 480,000 annual cap on aircraft movements, imposed in 2002 as a condition for building Heathrow Terminal 5, to be lifted.

At present all but 5,000 of the permitted slots at Heathrow are used; the “spare” slots are at times such as late evenings, Saturday afternoons and Sunday mornings when demand is light.

The key proposal is for a move to “independent parallel approaches” (IPA) when both runways are being used for landings.

While the standard operation at Heathrow involves one runway being used for arrivals and the other for departures, at busy times for arrivals – particularly early mornings – both can be used for touchdowns. But strict rules on sequencing mean that simultaneous landings cannot happen.

A Heathrow Airport spokesperson said: “Because Heathrow operates at 98 per cent of its capacity,  disruption or delays during the day can have a knock-on effect to the punctuality of flights.

“To mitigate this, we are always looking to improve how we manage aircraft arriving at Heathrow during particularly busy periods, and one of the ways to do this is through the introduction of new technology such as Independent Parallel Approaches [IPA].

“IPA will not only be beneficial for our passengers by improving punctuality, and preventing flight cancellations and delays –  it will also help to reduce the number of late running flights into the night which are disruptive to local communities.”

But while initially the focus would be on increasing resilience, the move would also provide the opportunity to increase arrivals by 10 per cent – representing almost 25,000 additional movements.

The airport stressed: “We would like to introduce IPA even if we do not get approval to build a third runway.”

In the consultation document, Heathrow revealed that some of the flight paths used for IPA “could overfly areas that are not affected by Heathrow arrivals today”.

Forty-two months ago, the Davies Commission unanimously recommended a third runway at Heathrow. While no significant works have begun, the airport says the new runway is on track to open in 2026, with the project costing £14bn.

Radical changes to airspace will be necessary ahead of a new runway opening, and Heathrow is asking local residents for their preferences for a range of arrival and departure patterns.

John Stewart, chair of HACAN, representing residents under the Heathrow flight paths, said: “A lot of West London will be badly hit by these proposals but there will be many other communities who will be relieved at the prospect of all-day flying coming to an end.

“It amounts to a near-revolution to Heathrow’s flight paths.”

The Airspace & Future Operations consultation runs until 4 March.

By Simon Calder

Uk new car sales see biggest downturn since 2008

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 7th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Plummeting diesel sales, new emissions rules, and a Brexit-linked hit to consumer confidence were all blamed for the downturn.

New car sales fell by nearly 7% last year in the biggest annual drop since 2008, according to industry figures.

A slump in demand for diesel, stricter emissions rules, and falling consumer confidence ahead of Brexit were blamed for the decline.

Figures from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) showed 2.37 million new cars were sold in 2018, down more than 174,000 on the previous year.

The 6.8% fall was the second year in a row of decline and the largest drop since demand fell by 11.3% during the financial crisis a decade ago.

SMMT chief executive Mike Hawes described the challenges facing the industry as a “perfect storm”. The trade body is forecasting a further 2% decline in 2019.

Mr Hawes said: “A second year of substantial decline is a major concern, as falling consumer confidence, confusing fiscal and policy messages and shortages due to regulatory changes have combined to create a highly turbulent market.

“The industry is facing ever tougher environmental targets against a backdrop of political and economic uncertainty that is weakening demand so these figures should act as a wake-up call for policy makers.”

The key factor in the decline for last year was a 29.6% drop in diesel sales – with the SMMT blaming a “lingering sense of uncertainty” over how diesel cars will be taxed and treated after the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal in 2015.

Petrol car sales were up by 8.7% while alternatively-fuelled vehicles such as plug-in hybrids or electric cars were up 20.9%.

Another factor affecting car sales was the implementation of a new EU emissions testing procedure which came into force in September and was blamed for a supply shortage in the autumn.

Mr Hawes said it would be unfair to attribute too much significance to concerns over Brexit when explaining the fall in new car sales.

But he said that falling consumer confidence had reduced consumers' appetite for a “big ticket purchase”.

The SMMT, like other business bodies, is calling for MPs to back Theresa May's Brexit agreement and avoid a no-deal scenario.

It says that crashing out of the EU without an agreement risked destroying the car manufacturing industry, which employs more than 850,000 people in the UK.

Prosecco House the first bar in London dedicated to only serving the Italian bubbly

Source: BI

Prosecco House is the first bar in London that serves the Italian bubbly only.

They have 28 different types of Prosecco, which they get from five vineyards in Italy and three distributors in London.

“From every single brand, there are different types because we do Brut, Extra Brut, Dry, Extra Dry but as well crisp, delicate, fruity… You name it,” owner Kristina Issa told Business Insider.

“We can accommodate every different taste.” Drinks are sold by the glass or by the bottle.

Prices for a glass range from £7.50 to £13.50, while bottles start at £37. The Rivalta Nero is the only exception.

This Prosecco is sold by the bottle only, for £68. Prosecco House is located a few seconds walk away from Tower Bridge, in the luxury complex One Tower Bridge.

Sneakernomics: How Allbirds took a crazy leap of faith against the big players making sneakers

Source: CNN Business

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Sat, 5th Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Four years ago Joey Zwillinger was an executive at a “hot” biotech company and making good money.

So when he decided to leave to join a start-up making trainers out of wool, friends and family were bemused.

“They naturally said I was quite dumb,” he says. And that was among the more polite reactions.

Why would anyone want to go into an industry where giants like Nike and Adidas deploy vast marketing budgets and roll out thousands of designs a year?

But for Mr Zwillinger and his co-founder Tim Brown, the creation of Allbirds was not quite the crazy leap of faith that it seemed back in 2014.

The economics of making and selling trainers (or sneakers to many outside the UK) had been changing.

How much?

Making trainers is not as profitable as you might think.

Rahul Cee trained as a footwear designer and had a long career in the industry, working for Nike and Vans in India. He now runs his own website, Sole Review, which – as the name suggests – reviews running shoes.

Using publicly available data he estimated how the costs break down for a typical pair of trainers.

According to his calculations, the final sale price is made up of:

  • manufacturing costs: 22%
  • staff, warehousing, office rents and patents: 11%
  • marketing and advertising: 5%
  • freight and insurance: 5%
  • taxes: 2%
  • shoemaker's profit: 5%
  • retailer's share: 50%

Newcomers like Allbirds can skip the last part of the process.

“We decided early on that we were only going to do direct-to-consumer, not sell our shoes through the wholesale channel – through retailers,” says Mr Zwillinger. “We didn't quite realise how smart a move that was at the time.”

So Allbirds sold shoes online and has only recently opened its own stores.

“Other shoemakers are giving away so much margin to the stores that sell their shoes and they are not able to invest in quality material for their product.

“They're also on discount all the time. So then that forces them to go quick with speed and style changes.”

he big shoemakers are not blind to the cost of retailing their wares.

In 2017 Nike announced it was radically cutting back on the number of retailers it uses and set a target to generate 30% of its sales online by 2022.

Changing tastes

It is not just the way shoes are sold that has changed. Customers are demanding different sorts of shoes.

“Shoes that are meant for performance, like running or basketball, are really out of fashion and people are buying shoes that are athletically inspired but not intended for a particular sport,” says Matt Powell, senior industry adviser for sports at the NPD group, a retail consultancy firm.

Mr Powell dates the emergence of so-called athleisure shoes to mid-2015.

“Now that we are in this athleisure phase, where we're not really requiring that the shoes have technology in them for cushioning or whatever, it's easier for smaller brands to break into the market.”

Allbirds, which has just opened a store in London's Covent Garden, has been one of the companies that has benefitted from that trend.

“The fact that no-one's tethered to a desk means that their wardrobes are not tethered to an office environment and that's driven a change in wardrobe that makes everyone less formal,” Joey Zwillinger says.

“Shoes need to aesthetically work for a number of different activities – when you're at work and also at dinner. They also need to be comfortable for a longer period of time.”

Marketing

And that shift away from shoes used for sport to everyday activities has helped save money on marketing.

In 2015 Nike signed a lifetime endorsement deal with basketball superstar Lebron James, reported to be worth $1bn (£800m). But those big deals are becoming less important.

“Earlier, things like athletic endorsement were the focus – like signature shoe models based on basketball players,” says Rahul Cee.

“While that still exists today, this approach matters less to the consumers. Now marketing is more fragmented, targeting smaller segments of consumers more effectively. Brands now focus on data and also the consumer experience.”

Knitted shoes

If you are wearing trainers now, take a look at them. Are they made of several pieces of fabric stitched together? That's the traditional way of making the upper part of a shoe and it's labour-intensive.

Shoemakers have been introducing upper parts that can be knitted as one piece and then joined to the sole. Half of Allbirds' shoes are made this way.

The big shoemakers have also been moving in that direction. Nike introduced its Flyknit Racer in 2012 and has been automating more of its production.

And this year Adidas opened its second highly automated plant, in the US state of Georgia.

Despite the innovation, shoemakers should keep it simple, says Mr Cee.

His best-selling shoe while working in the Indian trainer business? A Nike-branded sandal.

By Ben Morris

The World’s Longest Zipline, Reaching Speeds Of 90mph

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.businessinsider.com – – Sat, 5th Jan 2019) London, UK – –

The world's longest zipline has opened in UAE. The “Jebel Jais Flight” measures over 1.7 miles long, beating the previous record holder “The Monster” which measures 1.5 miles. To put the length of the zipline into perspective, it's longer than the Golden Gate Bridge and the same length as 29 Big Bens stacked on top of each other.  The zipline will send users at travel speeds of up to 90 mph, making it the ultimate thrill seeker experience. 

Rail fare rise by 3.1% prompt UK wide demonstrations

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Wed, 2nd Jan 2019) London, Uk – –

Demonstrations held at more than 20 stations as fares rise by above-inflation average of 3.1%

Campaigners have staged demonstrations at railway stations across the country as the transport secretary, Chris Grayling, blamed trade unions for ticket price hikes.

Protests were held at about two dozen railway stations as fares rose by an above-inflation average of 3.1% on Wednesday morning.

The cost of many rail season tickets has risen by more than £100, while punctuality is at a 13-year low.

At Manchester Piccadilly station, union officials and Labour councillors handed out flyers titled “Cut fares not staff” as commuters began returning to work after the Christmas holiday.

One passenger, Lorraine Southon, 57, said all three of her daily trains were usually late and that she had been forced to change her route to work due to the introduction of new timetables, which caused months of disruption last year.

“In my experience it’s a very poor service,” she said outside Manchester Piccadilly station. “I don’t mind [fares] going up if they would improve the service, but they don’t improve the service – the service continues to be poor.”

Southon, a BT worker, added: “I can’t comprehend how the management continue to get these huge bonuses when the service is just so poor. Why are the bonuses not performance-based? Chris Grayling should be responsible.”

Another commuter, Phillip Shields, 32, added: “I’m definitely not happy with the rise. There’s no justification really for it at the moment.

“They keep promising every year that they’re going to improve services but it never seems to materialise. It’s the same statements they repeat over and over again, every year.”

The 3.1% average fare increase outpaces the 2.6% rise in the average wage in 2018 and will add hundreds of pounds to the cost of season tickets for some rail passengers.Advertisement

Costs will come down for 16- and 17-year-olds, who are to be given half-price travel on all trains from September – benefiting up to 1.2 million people – according to an announcement by the government in November, at the same time as the wider fare increase was revealed.

But the vast majority of passengers are to pay more despite poor service, prompting renewed calls from Labour and the Trades Union Congress for UK railways to be nationalised.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday morning, Grayling defended the fare rise by saying trade unions were to blame.

He said: “The reality is the fare increases are higher than they should be because the unions demand – with threats of national strikes, but they don’t get them – higher pay rises than anybody else.

“Typical pay rises are more than 3% and that’s what drives the increases. These are the same unions that fund that Labour party.”

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, joined protesters outside King’s Cross station in London as he described the rail fare increases as a “disgrace” that was driving people away from public transport.

Responding to Grayling’s insistence that the rise was needed to fund the upkeep of the network, Corbyn said Britain must “invest in our railways as a public investment”. He added: “If we don’t invest then people will have to suffer in their journeys, and we end up with more people using their cars and that’s far more dangerous for our environment than rail travel.”

Pressed whether it was fair to ask taxpayers to subsidise commuters, he replied: “All public transport is subsidised in one form or another, and there is a public good from it. No other country in the world has a transport system that sits completely alone.”

Outside Manchester Piccadilly, Michelle Rodgers, the RMT national president, said the fare increase followed an “abysmal” year for rail passengers.

She added: “We’ve had an absolutely fantastic response this morning. They’re all really angry and disgusted about the fare increase, especially in this region where we have seen the worst [service] in many, many years. I’ve been around 20 years and I’ve never seen it as bad as in the last 12 months.”

Handing out flyers branded “Tory rail rip off”, Adele Douglas, a Labour party councillor for the Piccadilly ward on Manchester city council, said the unreliable trains were “destroying people’s working lives”.

She added: “I’m not going to encourage anyone to civil disobedience that’s going to get them into serious trouble but I think there does come a line where the public will have to say: we don’t accept this – it’s too much money, too little in return and it’s not fair..”Topics

By Josh Halliday and Rob Davies

Africa’s Top 10 Most Expensive Homes

Source: Alux

In this video we'll try to answer the following questions: What's the most expensive home in Africa? Which are the most expensive homes in Africa? Which are the top 10 most expensive homes in Africa? How much is the most expensive home in Africa? How much are the top most expensive homes in Africa? How much is Aliko Dangote's home? How much is Mike Adenuga's home? How much is Folorunsho Alakija's home? Where are the most expensive homes in Africa?

France’s Vinci to pay 2.9 billion pounds for majority stake in Gatwick airport

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 27th Dec, 2018) London, UK —

(Reuters) – France’s Vinci (SGEF.PA) is paying about 2.9 billion pounds for a majority stake in Gatwick, adding the second busiest airport in Britain to its portfolio despite the shadow of Brexit.

Expected to close by June next year, the deal to acquire a 50.01 percent stake would make Gatwick the single largest asset in Vinci’s airport network, which would grow to 46 airports spanning 12 countries, the French company said on Thursday.

“The transaction represents a rare opportunity to acquire an airport of such size and quality,” it said in a statement.

Vinci has been expanding into faster growing and more profitable concessions such as airports and motorways, as well as in engineering projects for the energy industry, to counter signs of weakness elsewhere in the construction sector.

The French group is investing despite short-term uncertainty about the impact on travel of Britain’s departure from the European Union at the end of March.

Gatwick made unwelcome headlines last week after drone sightings caused 36 hours of travel chaos for more than 100,000 Christmas travellers.

Gatwick Chief Executive Stewart Wingate, who will remain in his role, said the airport was learning lessons to avoid a repeat of the disruption.

“While today's announcement marks an exciting moment in Gatwick's future, my team and I remain focused on doing everything we can to help ensure that travel runs as smoothly as possible for everyone over the rest of the festive period,” he said in a statement here.

SELLING DOWN

Vinci is buying the stake in Gatwick from existing shareholders, and the remaining 49.99 percent minority will be managed by investment group Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP), Vinci said.

After the deal, GIP will halve its stake to 21 percent and the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority will be left with 7.9 percent.

The California Public Employees’ Retirement System will retain 6.4 percent, the National Pension Service of Korea 6 percent and Australian sovereign wealth fund the Future Fund Board of Guardians will have 8.6 percent.

In the year to March 2018, Gatwick reported total revenue of 764 million pounds and handles around 46 million passengers annually.

The Gatwick deal follows Vinci’s acquisition earlier this year of the airports management portfolio of Airports Worldwide, which allowed it to enter the United States and expand in Europe.

Between 2014 and 2017, Vinci Airports’ revenue grew 196 percent, driving the concessions business up 19.3 percent, while Vinci Construction fell 9.5 percent in the same period.

Vinci shares were up 0.6 percent by 0945 GMT.

By Zuzanna Szymanska

Minicab and Uber drivers to pay London congestion charge from April

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Thur, 20th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –


Minicab and Uber drivers will no longer be exempt from the £11.50 congestion charge from April next year, Sadiq Khan announced today as part of his push to curb pollution levels.

TfL expects the changes to reduce the number of private hire vehicles entering the congestion zone each day by up to 8,000, a 44 per cent drop from current levels.

The congestion charge applies from Monday to Friday from 7am to 6pm and covers London’s central zone. The boundary stretches round King’s Cross, the city, the Imperial war museum and Buckingham palace.

Higher costs can be expected to hit operators as well as customers looking for a ride in the centre. Uber rival Addison Lee has previously come out with a prediction that the plans will cost it £4m a year.

“We need private hire vehicles and taxis to play their part and help us clean up our filthy air,” said Sadiq Khan, who argued that “tough decisions” needed to be made in order to “protect the health and wellbeing of London”.

Khan has also argued that scrapping the drivers' exemption is necessary to drive down congestion. TfL has said that the pace of the rise in private hire vehicles, which has been bolstered by ride-hailing apps such as Uber, had not been anticipated when the exemption was originally put in place 15 years ago.

The move can also be expected to generate some extra cash for TfL at a time when its revenues have been squeezed as a result of fare freezes and the continued delays hitting its Crossrail project.

The Licensed Private Hire Car Association set up a petition opposing the changes last month, which reached just under 10,000 signatures. Responding to the decision, the group said: “We will do everything we can to challenge this disappointing decision.”

“We do not agree that removing the congestion charge exemption for private hire drivers in London is indeed fair, nor going to reduce congestion.”

An exception will be made for vehicles that are wheelchair accessible, while those that meet certain requirements will be eligible for a new type of cleaner vehicle discount.

Richard Dilks, transport director at London First, said: “The congestion charge has cut traffic in the capital, but London’s roads are still grinding to a halt.

“While it’s right to address the impact of private hire cars, in isolation it is not enough. London is Europe’s second most congested city, and after 15 years of the charge it’s time to modernise the entire system to make sure it continues to work for the capital well in to the future. That includes looking at how to tackle congestion and emissions together, help freight be even more efficient, and make bus journeys faster and more reliable.”

By Kim Darrah

Petrol prices fall as Uk Inflation eases

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 19th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

The UK inflation rate fell slightly to 2.3% in November, from 2.4% the previous month, driven mainly by a big fall in petrol prices.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) figure for the month was the lowest since March 2017, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Video games prices also fell, but those declines were partly offset by a rise in tobacco prices.

The inflation figure was in line with analysts' expectations.

ONS head of inflation Mike Hardie said: “Inflation was little changed as falling petrol prices, thanks to a substantial drop in the cost of crude oil, were offset by rises in tobacco prices following the duty changes announced in the Budget.”

Apart from petrol, the biggest downward contribution to the inflation rate came from a variety of recreational and cultural goods and services, principally games, toys and hobbies, and cultural services.

In addition to tobacco products, upward pressure was seen in categories including accommodation services and passenger sea transport.

Separate ONS figures showed the average price of a house in the UK rising at its slowest rate since July 2013, up 2.7% on the year.

Mr Hardie said: “House price growth continued to slow with the smallest annual rise seen in over five years, led by price falls across London.”

The CEO Who Envisage One Day Sending People Into Space With High Altitude Balloons

Source: Bloomberg

Jane Poynter is CEO of World View Enterprises, a flight technology company which transports things to the stratosphere and back using high altitude balloons. One day soon, she'd like to send us all up there too. Video by Leila Hussain & David Nicholson

Brexit: Branson warns UK will be left “near-bankrupt” with hard Brexit

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 14th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Sir Richard Branson has warned that the UK will be left “near bankrupt” in the event of a hard Brexit.

He told the BBC he was “absolutely certain” that leaving the EU without a deal would lead to the closure of “quite a few British businesses”.

He said Prime Minister Theresa May had admitted that her version of Brexit was not as good as staying in the EU.

Meanwhile, a pro-Brexit business group has urged the government to adopt a “managed no-deal” approach.

‘Absolute disaster'

Sir Richard was speaking from the Mojave desert in California after attending the latest Virgin Galactic space launch.

“I think Theresa May needs to be 100% honest with the public,” Sir Richard said.

“She's admitted that a hard Brexit would be an absolute disaster for the British people.

“From our Virgin companies' point of view, a hard Brexit would torpedo some of our companies,” he said, adding that Virgin Holidays would be hit as the pound would drop to parity and fewer people would be able to afford to go abroad.

“If British business suffers, British people will suffer, and it's really really important that people realise that.”

‘Managed' departure

Sir Richard was speaking at the end of a week that saw Mrs May delay a Parliamentary vote on the Brexit withdrawal agreement, then win a vote of no confidence brought by MPs unhappy with it.

At the same time, a group of prominent Leave-supporting business leaders has called on the government to abandon Mrs May's provisional deal with the EU and focus instead on what it calls a “managed no-deal”.

John Mills, the chairman of multi-channel retailer JML, told the BBC that this would involve many small deals with the EU and others, instead of going for an overall agreement.

He said: “You need to start off having deals on aviation, and moving of drugs, and all this sort of thing, making sure the ports run as smoothly as possible, just to minimise the amount of disruption that takes place.”

This could then lead to a bigger “free-trade deal on a comprehensive basis”, he added.

Rolls-Royce to press ahead with plans to store parts in case of hard Brexit

QLm Image

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 13th Dec  2018) London, Uk – –

British aerospace firm Rolls-Royce is pressing ahead with plans to stockpile parts and move some regulatory approvals to Germany as it prepares for a possible hard Brexit.

Rolls-Royce on Wednesday said it is in talks with the European Aviation Safety Agency to transfer design regulatory approvals for large jet engines away from the UK. The company already deals with German regulators for business jet components.

Aerospace manufacturers in the UK face the prospect of their regulatory permissions on safety standards being invalidated in EU countries if there is no Brexit deal.

Rolls-Royce said the transfer was a “precautionary and reversible technical action”, and added that no jobs are expected to move as a result.

The manufacturer, which has its headquarters in London but has operations across the UK, said it had begun to “build inventory as a contingency measure”, in line with previously announced plans, in a trading update ahead of full-year results in February. Rolls-Royce said it had “the required capacity” to deal with a no-deal Brexit after speaking to suppliers and reviewing operations.

The company said: “We will continue to implement our contingency plans until we are certain that a deal and transition period has been agreed.”

Political uncertainty caused by Brexit has come as the FTSE 100 manufacturer carries out a restructuring of its business. Warren East, chief executive, seeks to cut layers of middle management in an effort to boost profitability and in June it announced 4,600 job cuts across its 55,000-strong global workforce.

East joined Rolls-Royce in 2015 from ARM, the British chipmaker, inheriting a company embroiled in scandals including a bribery charge covering six countries, which they settled for £671m.

On Wednesday Rolls-Royce reiterated earlier guidance that profits from core operations for the full financial year would be in the upper half of a range of £350m to £550m.

The guidance was in spite of disruption caused by “supply chain issues”, as well as problems with turbine blades on the new Trent 1000 engines that have grounded multiple Boeing 787 planes and that will cost Rolls-Royce billions of pounds.

Rolls-Royce’s share price rose by more than 4.5% on Wednesday after the trading update.Topics

By Jasper Jolly

The Civil Aviation Authority takes legal action against Ryanair over compensation claims

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 5th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

The Civil Aviation Authority has said it is taking legal action against Ryanair over its refusal to compensate thousands of UK-based customers.

Their flights were cancelled or delayed over the summer because of strikes by Ryanair pilots and cabin crew.

The CAA says they are entitled to compensation under EU law.

However, Ryanair argues the strike action amounts to “extraordinary circumstances” and that therefore, it does not have to pay.

More Ryanair passengers have put in compensation claims for cancellations or delays to arbitration this year than any other airline.

Figures from the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) service showed the airline accounted for the largest proportion – 30% – of all appeals.

In the first nine months of 2018, it received 22,159 complaints, but only processed 1,347 of 6,653 Ryanair cases.

According to the CAA, under EU legislation, passengers are allowed to make an EU261 claim when flights are delayed by three hours or more, cancelled or when they are denied boarding.

Ryanair, like other airlines, was signed up to abide by ADR decisions.

Ryanair has now told the CAA that it has terminated its agreement with ADR.

“As a result of Ryanair's action, passengers with an existing claim will now have to await the outcome of the Civil Aviation Authority's enforcement action,” the CAA said.

Hard-working families
In response to the CAA's announcement, a Ryanair spokesperson said: “Courts in Germany, Spain and Italy have already ruled that strikes are an ‘exceptional circumstance' and EU261 compensation does not apply. We expect the UK CAA and courts will follow this precedent.”

Consumer rights organisations have welcomed the CAA's move.

Rory Boland, Which? travel editor, said: “Customers would have been outraged that Ryanair attempted to shirk its responsibilities by refusing to pay out compensation for cancelling services during the summer – which left hard-working families stranded with holiday plans stalled.

“It is right that the CAA is now taking legal action against Ryanair on the basis that such strikes were not ‘extraordinary circumstances' and should not be exempt, to ensure that the airline must finally do the right thing by its customers and pay the compensation owed.”

Govia Thameslink to pay out £15m over timetable chaos

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Tue, 4th Dec 2018) London, Uk – –

Department for Transport also caps profit Go-Ahead Group can make from its contract

The introduction of new timetables in May led to cancellations and disruptions of of thousands of Thameslink services.

Govia Thameslink Railway will hold on to Britain’s biggest rail franchise but must spend £15m on passenger improvements after its “unacceptable performance” during the botched timetabling roll-out in May.

GTR will make no profit from the franchise in this financial year, and future profits will be capped until September 2021 when the franchise expires, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

By striking a deal with GTR, the DfT has ignored calls to remove the franchise after the chaotic introduction of new timetables on 20 May, which led to cancellations and disruptions of of thousands of train services.

In a statement on Tuesday, the department said “a termination of the franchise would cause further and undue disruption for passengers and is not an appropriate course of action”.

GTR, which includes Thameslink, Great Northern, Southern and Gatwick Express, will contribute £15m towards “tangible improvements for passengers”, on top of the £15m the operator has spent on compensation for passengers since the May timetable disruption.

The DfT said GTR had agreed to work with the rail user groups representing Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern passengers, who will determine what improvements the new package will fund.

The deal comes after a scathing report by MPs on the transport select committee, who are demanding rail fares should be frozen for those passengers who were most affected by the disruption. On the first working day of the new timetable there were 423 cancellations.

The transport department said it would continue to monitor GTR’s performance closely, particularly during the timetable changes due to be introduced next week. “These measures do not make GTR immune from further sanctions in the event of any subsequent failure to perform,” the department added.

The GTR chief executive, Charles Horton, quit over the timetable chaos, and Network Rail executives forfeited annual bonuses for their role in the fiasco.

By Julia Kollewe