Tourism booming in the UK with nearly 40 million overseas visitors

( via – – Tue,10 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Tourism is booming in the UK with nearly 40 million overseas people expected to have visited the country during 2017 – a record figure.

Tourist promotion agency VisitBritain forecasts overseas trips to the UK will increase 6% to 39.7 million with spending up 14% to £25.7bn this year.

Britons are also holidaying at home in record numbers.

British Tourist Authority chairman Steve Ridgway said tourism was worth £127bn annually to the economy.

He called the sector an “economic powerhouse” and a “job creator right across Britain”.

“Two-and-a-half times bigger than the automotive industry, employing three million, tourism is one of our most successful exports and needs no trade deals to compete globally.”

The UK has become a cheaper place to visit for tourists from overseas following the fall in the value of the pound since the Brexit vote last year.

But Mr Ridgway said: “Tourism is a fiercely competitive global industry and you cannot just build a strong, resilient industry on a weaker currency.

“We must continue to invest in developing world-class tourism products, getting Britain on the wish-list of international and domestic travellers and we must make it easy for visitors to make that trip.”

Tourism Minister John Glen said: “Tourism contributes billions to the UK economy and supports millions of jobs.”

He added that the record figures for overseas and domestic holidaymakers were “testament to our world-class attractions and the innovation of our tourism industry”.

During the first six months of the year there were a record 23.1 million overseas visits to the UK – up 8% on the same period in 2016 – and the figures for July topped four million for the first time, with only a slightly smaller number of visits made during August.

Britain's beaches and attractions have also attracted more domestic users with “staycations” on the rise.

From January to June this year, domestic overnight holidays in England rose 7% to a record 20.4 million with visitors spending £4.6bn – a rise of 17% and another record.

On Monday, figures from trade body UK Finance showed UK tourists' debit card spending when abroad was down sharply compared with last summer, providing more evidence of the trend towards holidaying at home.

Spending on UK debit cards overseas was down nearly 13% in August compared with the same month in 2016.


Sky take over bid face assessment by competition Watchdog

( via – – Tue, 10 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Competition and Markets Authority details scope of investigation into Murdochs’ potential to control editorial decisions

The competition watchdog has said it will assess whether Rupert Murdoch would be able to control or influence editorial decisions at Sky News as one of the key points of its investigation into his £11.7bn Sky takeover bid.

On Tuesday, the Competition and Markets Authority outlined the scope of its inquiry into how the deal would affect UK media plurality and broadcasting standards, and invited submissions for the six-month investigation.

Among the areas the CMA will look at is whether the Murdoch family’s ability to control or influence editorial and commercial decisions at Sky News will change, and how, if 21st Century Fox’s attempt to buy the 61% of Sky it does not own is successful.

The regulator will also assess their ability to “influence the political agenda” and how this could change after a takeover, alongside more general scrutiny of the potential effect on the number and variety of British media, including the “range of viewpoints”.

Fox and Sky’s broadcasting standards will be scrutinised, with the CMA saying it will look at whether the merged group would have a “genuine commitment” to the standards, while giving consideration to their track record.

Corporate governance and the treatment of employees in the UK and overseas are also to be assessed.

Karen Bradley, the culture secretary, referred Fox’s proposed takeover of Sky to the CMA last month for a full inquiry, after a three-month investigation by Ofcom.

While Ofcom raised concerns over media plurality, it found there was no reason to block the takeover bid on the grounds of broadcasting standards.

Anne Lambert, the CMA panel chair, said: “The CMA will use its extensive experience of investigating different issues in a wide range of sectors to thoroughly and impartially investigate the proposed takeover of Sky Plc by 21st Century Fox.

“Once the investigation is complete, we will report back to Karen Bradley for her to make a final decision.”

Bradley will appear at a select committee hearing on Wednesday, while Sky is to face shareholders for its annual general meeting on Thursday.


BAE Systems impending jobs losses to effect over 1000 Workers

( via – Mon, 9 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

BAE will announce the job cuts later this week, dealing a blow to the UK manufacturing sector, Sky News understands.

BAE Systems, Britain's biggest defence contractor, is to axe more than 1,000 jobs this week in a bitter blow for Britain's manufacturing industry.

Sky News has learnt that BAE will announce that many of the job cuts will affect its Warton plant in Preston, Lancashire, with the company's new chief executive, Charles Woodburn, also “trimming” its workforce at other locations.

Insiders said the number of jobs being axed would number “well over 1,000”, although the precise figure was unclear on Monday.

BAE employs 34,600 people in the UK, nearly half of its 83,000-strong global workforce.

The move is certain to ignite a furious political row because of the timing of the cuts, with heightened sensitivity over workforce reductions at major exporters amid uncertainty over the terms of Brexit.

The issue is nevertheless likely to be raised at a meeting that Theresa May is holding with business leaders – including the bosses of manufacturers and industrial groups such as Balfour Beatty, GlaxoSmithKline and JCB – later on Monday.

The Warton job cuts are understood to relate largely to a continued slowdown in production of the Eurofighter Typhoon fighter aircraft, with ongoing uncertainty about the timing of a potentially large order from Saudi Arabia.

BAE announced last month that it had secured an order for 24 of the combat aircraft from Qatar, a deal hailed by the Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon as “an important moment in our defence relationship and the basis for even closer defence co-operation between our two countries”.

The latest round of redundancies are expected to be made public on Tuesday – although a source suggested that they could be brought forward to later on Monday as a result of their early disclosure.

The news will come just three months after Mr Woodburn replaced Ian King as BAE's chief executive, and will reflect some of his initial thinking about the cost base of one of Britain's most important manufacturers, according to insiders.

“We obviously have to review our (Typhoon) production demand very carefully,” Mr Woodburn said in August.

“We are confident that we will win further Typhoon orders, what we can't be confident around is the timing.”

One defence industry source said it was conceivable that more than two-thirds of Warton's workforce could be at risk from future rounds of cuts.

The company said: “BAE Systems continually reviews its operations to make sure we are performing as effectively and efficiently as possible, delivering our commitments to existing customers and ensuring we are best placed to secure future business.

“If and when there are any changes proposed we are committed to communicating with our employees and their representatives first.”

By Mark Kleinman

Airbnb paid less than £200,000 in UK corporation tax last year


( via – – Mon, 9 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Airbnb, the accommodation website, paid less than £200,000 in UK corporation tax last year despite collecting £657m of rental payments for property owners.

The commissions the company earns in the UK are booked by its Irish subsidiary, but it also has two UK subsidiaries.

One unit made a pre-tax profit, but the other did not incur UK corporation tax because deductions resulted in a loss.

Airbnb said in a statement: “We follow the rules and pay all the tax we owe.”

One of the British subsidiaries, Airbnb Payments UK, handles payments between landlords and travellers for countries other than the United States, China and India.

That unit made a pre-tax profit of £960,000 and paid £188,000 in UK corporation tax – £8,000 less than in 2015.

The other British subsidiary, Airbnb UK, markets the website and app to British consumers. It reported a £463,000 pre-tax profit last year but because it gave shares to staff, which are tax-deductable, there was no corporation tax bill.

Airbnb said: “Our UK office provides marketing services and pays all applicable taxes, including VAT. The Airbnb model is unique and boosted the UK economy by £3.46bn last year alone.”

The tax arrangements of other technology giants have come under under closer scrutiny in recent years.

One of the most vocal critics has been EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager. She has taken aim at the likes of Apple, Amazon and others for where they book the revenues and profits of their European activities.

Bruno Le Maire, the French finance minister, has also asked why Airbnb paid tens of thousand of euros in French corporation tax despite a turnover in the millions.

The company, founded in San Francisco in 2008, has disrupted the hotel industry by linking travellers with landlords who generally want to rent out a spare room or an entire property for short-term stays.

It has become one of the most successful examples of the digital economy, with an estimated value of about $24bn.

However, Airbnb has faced a growing backlash in cities including Barcelona, Berlin and Paris, where politicians have taken steps to stop landlords renting properties to tourists rather than local residents.

While Airbnb has long been linked with a stock market listing, it remains privately owned.

It takes a 3% commission from landlords for each booking, and also charges fees to travellers.

In the UK last year Airbnb catered for 5.9m travellers and had 168,000 listings.


Bruce Lee’s Top 10 Rules For Success


He was a martial artist, actor, teacher, and philosopher. He is widely considered to be one of the most influential martial artists of all time. He is often credited with helping change the way Asians were presented in American films. He's Bruce Lee and here are his Top 10 Rules for success.

Physicist Robert Lang incredible origami journey


Twenty five years ago, physicist Robert Lang worked at NASA, where he researched lasers. He has also garnered 46 patents on optoelectronics and even wrote a Ph.D. thesis called “Semiconductor Lasers: New Geometries and Spectral Properties.” But in 2001, Lang left his job in order to pursue a passion he's had since childhood: origami. In the origami world, Lang is now a legend, and it's not just his eye-catching, intricate designs that have taken the craft by storm. Some of his work has helped pioneer new ways of applying origami principles to complex real-world engineering problems.

Blade Runner 2049 tracking to open domestically with between $45 million to $50 million


Blade Runner 2049 brought in $4 million last night at the North American box office. Variety reports over $800,000 came from IMAX screenings of the Denis Villeneuve-directed sequel, which stars Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford. Blade Runner 2049 is tracking to open domestically this weekend with between $45 million to $50 million.

The interactive ping pong table with a digital twist to traditional table tennis


Wonderball is an interactive ping pong table which adds a digital twist to traditional table tennis.

The hi-tech table uses digital projectors and sensors which track the movements of the ball, allowing many different games to be played on it.

Wonderball can be played by up to 20 people at a time, allowing friends and spectators to join in and play together.

You can find the table in London bar Bounce Ping Pong.

Productivity of UK workers lags behind world’s biggest economies

Tim Tabor/flickr

( via – – Fri, 6 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The productivity of UK workers fell in the three months to June, as new figures rank Britain well behind the world’s biggest economies.

Despite increasing numbers of hours put in by workers, labour productivity as measured by output per hour fell by 0.1% in the three months to June, up from a fall of 0.5% in the three months to April, according to the Office for National Statistics. The gap between British labour productivity and that of the rest of the G7 slightly improved from from 16.1% in 2015 to 15.4% last year.

Philip Wales of the ONS said: “UK labour productivity continued to lag behind our international partners in 2016. New, innovative analysis suggests that this lower level of productivity was evident across all industries, although the size of the gap varies considerably.”

Next week the Office for Budget Responsibility is expected to admit that its forecasts for improving productivity growth have proved to be consistently optimistic. The government’s independent forecaster will say that the trend for lower productivity growth since the 2008 crash is likely to persist for several more years, warranting a downgrade from its March forecast.

Without an improvement in productivity, the UK economy is expected to miss out on expected increases in wages and living standards, putting further pressure on the welfare system and depressing tax receipts.

Treasury officials are known to believe that the downgrade will wipe out about two-thirds of the government’s £26bn war chest, which the chancellor set aside in the last budget to spend in the event of a slowdown following a disorderly and damaging exit from the EU.

Philip Hammond was expected to use some of the money in the autumn budget on 22 November to boost public sector pay and alleviate a spending squeeze that is hitting schools, hospitals and the police service at a time when all three services are under strain.

But the loss of about £18bn over the next four years following a reduction in productivity growth will severly limit his room for maneouvre.

By Richard Partington and Phillip Inman

Netflix streaming online giant to raise prices for subscribers

( via — Fri, 6 Oct 2017) London, UK —

(Reuters) – Netflix Inc’s U.S. business announced the first rises in monthly fees in two years on Thursday, hiking costs for two of its three main subscription plans as it spends heavily on its own original content.

The company's mid-range plan, which allows streaming on two devices at the same time, was increased to $10.99 per month from $9.99.

The top-tier plan, which allows streaming on four screens in high definition, was raised to $13.99 per month from $11.99. The basic plan fee remained at $7.99.

Shares in the global streaming pioneer rose as much as 4.5 percent to a record high of $192.80.

“Most investors believe that Netflix is priced well below its value to consumers and want to see the management continue to increase monetization,” Rob Sanderson analyst at MKM Partners said.

In 2011, Netflix raised prices for some customers by as much as $6, causing more than 800,000 U.S. subscribers to desert the service.

A more gradual move in 2014 did not provoke the same outrage.

Netflix is cheaper than many of its competitors despite the current price hike. HBO Now, the standalone streaming service of HBO that offers access to shows such as “Game of Thrones” and “Veep”, is priced at $14.99 a month, while Hulu prices its service without commercials at $11.99 per month.

“This price increase will likely be a revenue growth catalyst for the company,” RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney wrote in a client note. “The content, not price, is the leading churn/churn-back factor amongst Netflix subs.”

The price hikes will only be in the United States and will start taking effect from mid-November, depending on users’ billing cycles.

Government to push energy regulator to impose price cap this winter

( via – – Thu, 5 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The Government will push the energy regulator to impose price caps as early as this winter to provide “early relief” to consumers paying over the odds for their gas and electricity, the business minister has said.

Greg Clark said that he wanted Ofgem to use its existing powers to impose caps on standard variable tariffs as soon as possible, to help customers “suffering a detriment” in their energy bills.

The move could affect up to 15 million households in the UK, who could be paying up to £1.4bn more than they need to.

“We’ve said it would be better and quicker if they [Ofgem] used these powers straightaway,” Mr Clark told the BBC's Today programme, admitting that such a move could spark a legal challenge from the industry.

He added that there was “strong consensus” in Parliament to introduce new legislation to give Ofgem a “legal backup” to impose caps.

The Government has a duty to act to stop energy companies taking advantage of their loyal customers by overcharging them, Mr Clark said.

He was speaking after the Government announced an energy price cap policy that was strongly criticised by energy firms whose share prices fell on the news.

“A lot of people see themselves as loyal customers and because the companies know that they're loyal … they are overcharging them,” Mr Clark told Sky News.


Rail strikes continue to disrupt services across England

( via – – Thur, 5 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Rail strikes across England are under way for the second time this week.

RMT union members at Southern, Merseyrail, Arriva Rail North and Greater Anglia have begun a 24-hour walkout.

The industrial action is over plans to make train doors driver-only operated.

Rail companies have said this means the guard's role will change but some workers believe safety procedures would be compromised.

Union members at South Western have also voted to strike, but any action first needs to be agreed with the executive body. The operator said it planned to increase numbers of drivers and guards and urged its staff to “avoid premature strike action”.

The strikes have coincided with a planned closure of Liverpool Lime Street for refurbishment, something the boss of Merseyrail, Jan Chaudhry-van der Velde, said “doubled up the inconvenience”.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “There is no safety issue, on Northern they haven't even set out in detail plans for how the new trains are going to work.

“Merseyrail have bought new trains in the wake of a safety investigation that recommended they take this approach.

“I'm afraid leading figures of the RMT have made it clear they are in a political battle with the government and the passengers are pawns, and I feel desperately sorry for the passengers.”

A Southern spokesman said: “Today will be the 36th day of RMT strikes and we, like our passengers and the vast majority of our colleagues, simply want an end to this unnecessary dispute.”

Passenger services director Angie Doll added: “The RMT is striking about changes we made almost a year ago as part of our modernisation programme.

“Nobody has lost their job over this, in fact we employ more on-board staff to help passengers than we did before, and we are providing a better service with fewer cancelled trains.”

Sharon Keith, regional director for Northern Rail, the operating name of Arriva Rail North, said she wanted to work with the unions.

“We're in the middle of a large modernisation agenda so we're investing in new trains [and] refurbished trains and what we want to do with our people is to modernise that role.”

RMT general secretary Mick Cash said union members “stand solid, united and determined this morning in the latest phase of strike action”.

“Political and public support is flooding in as our communities choose to stand by their guards against the financially and politically motivated drive to throw safety-critical staff off our trains,” he added.

“Again this morning I am calling on Theresa May and Chris Grayling to call off the centrally imposed blockade on serious talks in these disputes and allow us to get on with genuine negotiations with their contractors.”

Greater Anglia said a “full, normal service with no service alterations” was operating despite the industrial action.

Some routes operated by Southern will not run, and others will be a “limited service”, running only at peak times.

Arriva Rail North says it will run a reduced service, and warned passengers the trains that do run are likely to be very busy.

Merseyrail is running reduced services and some stations will be closed.

Industrial action by London Underground drivers that would have coincided with the rail strike was called off following talks between management and the ASLEF union.


Amazon to pay €250m (£221.5m) in back taxes to Luxembourg

( via – – Wed, 4 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Brussels has ordered Amazon to pay €250m (£221.5m) in back taxes to Luxembourg in its latest crackdown on US tech giants.

The European Commission had already said a deal between Amazon and Luxembourg over how much tax it pays amounted to state aid in preliminary ruling in 2015.

Now the competition chief Margrethe Vestager has ordered the tech company to repay millions.

It's the latest ruling from Brussels when it comes to the tax arrangements of tech companies. Last year it ordered Ireland to recoup a record €13bn from Apple as a so-called sweetheart deal was deemed to amount to state aid.

Both Apple and Ireland have challenged the ruling, but a legal tussle between the two could result in further action by the commission with the cash yet to be collected more than a year later.

EU member states last month signalled their intention for coordinated action on the taxes paid by tech companies. Led by French finance minister Bruno Le Maire, the plans are supported by eight other states, including Germany and Spain. The proposals are to tax the firms on turnover rather than profit.

The latest action is likely to inflame tensions between Europe and the US. Business groups and politicians across the pond have warned that such actions are detrimental to economic growth.

By Lynsey Barber

Royal Mail set for strike in dispute over pensions

( via – – Wed, 4 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Majority of Communication Workers Union members back first strike since the company was privatised four years ago

Postal workers are on the verge of a strike in a dispute over pensions, pay and conditions.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) announced on Tuesday that a majority of its 111,000 members in Royal Mail had voted for industrial action, the first since the company was privatised four years ago.

The union said 73.7% of its members had turned out to vote, with 89% of them backing a walkout. Its executive will meet this week to determine any potential strike dates, which are likely to come before the end of the year. Some reports suggested that they could be timed to coincide with the so-called “Black Friday” sales on November 24 and 25, when many people do their Christmas shopping online.

The vote was a major test for the union after the introduction of the government’s controversial Trade Union Act, which requires strike ballots to have a 50% turnout.

It comes amid a flurry of union activity this autumn as public sector and health workers discuss the possibilities of industrial action.

Dave Ward, the CWU general secretary, said: “This is an important moment and we can go forward into any action knowing we have secured the numbers required. We have seen an unprecedented response from our members, and we are taking a lot of confidence from this result.

“Our members are under attack. They are being asked to work faster, harder and cheaper while losing benefits. This has nothing to do with driving growth and innovation. It is all about a lack of forward thinking and asset stripping.”

Royal Mail said it was very disappointed by the ballot result, which did not necessarily mean a strike would take place.

“There are no grounds for industrial action. We want to reach agreement. Royal Mail is committed to further talks as a matter of urgency, to reach agreement with the CWU,” the company said.

Royal Mail said contractual dispute resolution procedures agreed to by the company and the CWU meant the dispute would be escalated to independent external mediation, “which we expect will take close to Christmas to be completed, and maybe longer”.

It added: “We believe these dispute resolution procedures must be followed. The union cannot take industrial action until they have been completed.”

The CWU announced last month that it would be balloting members who worked for Royal Mail group and claimed there were plans to worsen terms and conditions of existing employees and introduce a two-tier workforce.

However, it is the pensions row that is at the heart of the dispute, after Royal Mail announced it wanted to end the defined-benefit scheme.

In April, the company announced that the pension plan, which has 90,000 members and assets of £7.4bn, was in surplus, but said the scheme would soon become unaffordable.

The company, which was privatised in October 2013, pays £400m a year into the fund but it says this could rise to more than £1bn in 2018.

The scheme, which was closed to new members in 2008, guarantees a pension based on a postal worker’s average salary. Royal Mail is thought to have plans to replace it with a less generous defined-contribution scheme.

In a move that may be copied by other unions, the vote followed a campaign by the CWU called the “four pillars”, which calls for a decent wage in retirement, a shorter working week, a redesign of the company’s methods and an extension of current agreements.

The union has held a series of “gate meetings” outside sorting offices to gain support among members before the ballot.

Royal Mail argues it is operating in the most competitive delivery market in the world, with 16 major competitors including Amazon, which handles one in 10 parcel deliveries.

Letter volumes have declined 40% in the past 10 years as people increasingly prefer email. Royal Mail says it has spent £1.5bn on upgrading its IT systems to cope with the new world of technology. After 12 months in the job, postal workers earn £22,764 a year.

Royal Mail says under its proposed scheme, someone aged 50, earning £25,000 a year and retiring at 65 would retire on an annual pension of £12,300 and a tax-free lump sum of £81,800. It says this compares favourably with most other retirement deals.

By Rajeev Syal

Robinsons squash maker Britvic announced plans close factory after more than 90 years

( via – Tue, 3 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

Production is to be moved away from the Norwich site where the squash has been produced since 1925.

Robinsons squash maker Britvic has announced plans to close the factory where the drink has been produced for more than 90 years, putting 242 jobs at risk.

Britvic said it planned to transfer production of Robinsons and another drink, Fruit Shoot, away from Norwich to sites in east London, Leeds and Rugby.

Robinsons squash moved to its factory in the city in 1925. The popular brand is well known to tennis fans through its sponsorship of the Wimbledon Championships.

Chief executive Simon Litherland said: “Britvic is proud to be a British manufacturer and Norwich has been an important site for our business for many years.

“This is not a proposal that we make lightly and we know this is upsetting news for our colleagues.”

Britvic said the aim was to improve efficiency and productivity and the plans would see the site close towards the end of 2019.

Mr Litherland also said there would be environmental benefits and that it was part of wider changes to ensure the company had the “flexibility and capability” to respond to changing consumer trends.

The company said affected employees would be offered support including redeployment at other sites and services to find alternative employment.

Costs related to the closure will be detailed in Britvic's annual results in November.

The group said it remained committed to a three-year £240m investment in its British manufacturing operations, announced in 2015.

By John-Paul Ford Rojas


“Angry Birds” Finnish company’s shares got off to a flying start via — Tue, 3 Oct 2017) London, UK —

HELSINKI (Reuters) – Rovio (ROVIO.HE), the maker of hit mobile game “Angry Birds,” will look to buy up other players in the gaming industry following its listing on Friday, its main owner Kaj Hed said.

The Finnish company’s shares got off to a flying start on their stock market debut, trading up as much as 7 percent from their initial public offering price (IPO) of 11.50 euros.

Hed, who cut his stake from 69 percent to 37 percent in the IPO, said Rovio now had more muscle to do deals in a gaming sector he believes is ripe for consolidation.

“We have a clear will to be a consolidator, and we are in a very good position to do that,” he told Reuters at Rovio’s headquarters by the Baltic Sea.

“Many good (gaming industry) players face the question of whether they should go public, or whether they should consolidate. Going public is expensive and requires hard work, so finding a partner could be easier.”

Analysts have long urged Rovio to do more to reduce its reliance on the “Angry Birds” franchise.

Hed, the uncle of Rovio’s co-founder Niklas Hed, said he remained strongly committed to the company.

“The reason that I sold shares was to give the company the liquidity, because that is very important. My intention is to remain as a long-term investor in the company.”

Rovio saw rapid growth after the 2009 launch of the original “Angry Birds” game, but it plunged to an operating loss and cut a third of its staff in 2015 due to a pick up in competition and a shift among consumers to freely available games.

But the 2016 release of 3D Hollywood movie “Angry Birds”, together with new games, have revived the brand and helped sales recover.

In the first half of this year, Rovio’s sales almost doubled from a year earlier to 153 million euros, while core profit increased to 42 million euros from 11 million.

Rovio’s market valuation of around 950 million euros ($1.12 billion), looks high based on Rovio’s historical profit, said Atte Riikola, an analyst at research firm Inderes.

“There seems to be initial demand for (the stock). But given that the IPO was multiple times oversubscribed, the share price reaction is not too dramatic,” he added.

“Profit growth is priced in, so they need to keep up the good performance which they had in the first half of the year.”

At 1135 GMT, Rovio shares were trading at 11.77 euros, off a high of 12.34 euros/

By Jussi Rosendahl

Additional reporting by Tuomas Forsell

Monarch Airlines goes into administration launching UK’s biggest peacetime repatriation operation

( via – – Mon 2, Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

The UK's biggest peacetime repatriation operation has been launched to bring home 110,000 holidaymakers after Monarch Airlines was placed into administration.

A total of 300,000 future bookings were cancelled as result of the firm's collapse,  the largest to hit a UK airline, and Monarch passengers were told not to go to airports because there would be no more flights.

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said it was working with the government to secure a fleet of more than 30 aircraft, flying to more than 30 airports, to bring the stranded tourists back to the UK.

“We know that Monarch's decision to stop trading will be very distressing for all of its customers and employees,” Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of the CAA, said.

“This is the biggest UK airline ever to cease trading, so the Government has asked the CAA to support Monarch customers currently abroad to get back to the UK at the end of their holiday at no extra cost to them.”

The regulator said all Monarch customers who were overseas and due to return to the UK in the next fortnight would be flown home and they did not need to cut short their holiday.

He urged affected customer to check their dedicated website,, for more advice.

“We are putting together, at very short notice and for a period of two weeks, what is effectively one of the UK's largest airlines to manage this task,” he added.

The Government warned passengers to expect disruption and delay as it works to ensure there are enough flights to return the “huge number” of passengers.

Commenting on the “extraordinary operation”, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “This is a hugely distressing situation for British holidaymakers abroad – and my first priority is to help them get back to the UK.

“That is why I have immediately ordered the country's biggest ever peacetime repatriation to fly about 110,000 passengers who could otherwise have been left stranded abroad.”

The airline's Air Travel Organiser’s Licence expired at one minute to midnight on 30 September. It was given a 24-hour extension but it has not been renewed.

Roughly 110,000 Monarch customers are currently abroad, with many facing uncertainty about their journey back to the UK. Of these, thousands are thought to be British.

Before the news was announced, scores of worried Monarch customers took to social media in a search for clarity and advice over the situation

One man due to fly with Monarch this week, Paul Heburn, wrote: “What is happening with Monarch airlines this morning. Will the airline survive? I fly Wednesday.”

Another, Joanne Roberts, said: “Monarch, when will you let passengers know if flights are cancelled?”

Another, Lee Hammond, said: “Love Monarch, great airline but would like confirmation that our holiday will go ahead.” Monarch replied: “Hi Lee, any changes to the forward schedule will be communicated to all customers.”

As the extended deadline passed on Sunday night, there had been no update on Monarch's status. However, the final two outbound flights of the evening were cancelled. Neither the ZB418 from Birmingham to Ibiza nor the ZB298 from Gatwick to Ibiza departed, leaving passengers stuck at the airport.

Those who have bought Monarch flights as part of a package with an ATOL certificate have financial protection. But the majority of passengers, around 95 per cent, have bought flight-only deals, for which consumer protection is much more complex and uncertain.

The airline reported a loss of £291m for the year to October 2016, compared with a profit of £27m for the previous 12 months. Monarch, founded in 1968, is made up of a scheduled airline, tour operator and an engineering division. In total it employs about 2,500 people.

These potentially fatal conditions for the company have come amid “bloodbath” trading for short-haul airlines, the source said, as terrorism attacks and security concerns in traditionally strong sales areas such as Tunisia and Turkey have hit consumer demand.

International Airlines Group, which owns British Airways, has expressed an interest in acquiring some of Monarch's take-off and landing slots, fleet and crew, according to Sky News.

It raises hopes that some jobs could be saved. IAG declined to comment.

Scheme which could have helped stranded Monarch customers was rejected in 2011

In 2011 the aviation industry resisted plans for a scheme to protect those who book their flights directly with an airline.

As things stand the Air Travel Organisers Licensing (ATOL) scheme only provides security for those who bought package holidays.

In the case of Monarch this applies to only five per cent of their customers.

The rest would have had to fend for themselves, but the  Civil Aviation Authority has said those repatriated will not have to foot the bill.

David Cameron’s coalition government wanted to extend the protection to an estimated six million people who made their own travel arrangements online.

It proposed a £2.50 levy on all do-it-yourself internet holiday bookings to fund a scheme to get people home should any of the companies involved in a vacation went bust.

Independently the CAA had called for a £1 levy on all flights to to get people home when an airline collapsed. The move followed a wave of high-profile failures the depths of the recession which left thousands of people stranded abroad when carriers such as Zoom, Maxjet and XL ceased trading.

But leading carriers including British Airways and Ryanair opposed the initiative arguing that its passengers should not have to subsidise those who chose to fly on less well established airlines.

The scheme was never introduced.

By  Katie Morley

UK housebuilders hooked on the help to buy binge

( via – – Mon, 2 Oct 2017) London, Uk – –

It's been clear for some time that housebuilders are hooked on the help to buy drug.

Now it seems the government is, too.

In a bid to ensure that the Tory party conference has something to unveil, Theresa May has confirmed that an additional £10bn will be pumped into the scheme, helping (we are assured) another 135,000 people get on the housing ladder with as little as a five per cent mortgage.

The market movements this morning will likely tell you all you need to know about the housebuilders’ reaction to this news, but beneath that there’s an almighty political row rumbling on about the extent to which the government should be helping people buy homes with greater enthusiasm than it has for actually building them.

Help to supply, not help to buy – that’s the reaction of the free-market think-tanks, who are also joined by housing charity Shelter – whose chief executive said the scheme had increased house prices while propping up a system in need of reform.

When the PM is being criticised by the Adam Smith Institute and the charitable sector, alarm bells should ring. Clearly, there is a problem with housing policy in this country.

Twenty years ago, over 40 per cent of under 25s owned a property. Today that figure has fallen to just 20 per cent, and many people (regardless of age, and particularly in London and the south east) can see no route out of renting.

The scheme is bundled up with other government initiatives including the Help to buy Isa, the London Help to buy Isa and the equity loan scheme, all of which tinker with a market whose fundamental problem is a lack of supply – not demand. To compound matters, analysts warned recently that many using help to buy do not actually need it – adding weight to the argument that the whole process simply drives up prices of existing stock.

It’s hard to disagree with the Adam Smith Institute’s assessment over the weekend that the property market is “totally dysfunctional because supply is so tightly constrained by planning rules, and adding more demand without improving the supply of houses is just going to raise house prices and make homes more unaffordable for people who don't qualify for the help to buy subsidy.”

Rather than injecting more taxpayer cash into this monetary doping of the housing sector, the PM should loosen rules to allow the construction of more homes in high demand areas – including in her own green belt constituency.

By Christian May

25 Things You Didn’t Know About Money


We love money! We work hard to get it, spend it fast, always on the chase for more. As the famous lyrics say: money makes the world go round! But for something we use so frequently we know very little about. Let’s see how many of these you already knew!

1. 90% of the US dollar bills contain traces of cocaine!

2. The first Credit Card was created because of the embarrassment of a man who had to pay for dinner but forgot his wallet.

3. US Debt is 10 times larger than the US dollars in circulation.

4. All US$ coins and bills in circulation today are worth US$1.2 trillion.

5. Two thirds of that money is held overseas.

6. Paper money originated in China 1400 years ago.

7. Changing the $1 bill into a $1 coin would save the US 4.4 Billion in the next 30 years.

The hologram invented to fill the romantic void in Japanese lives


Meet Hikari, an anime virtual wife, and Eisuke, a virtual boyfriend who plays to a masochist fantasy, these are products of a multi-million dollar industry that's sprung up in response to Japan's relationship crisis. In episode three of the Bloomberg video series Love Disrupted, we look at the characters invented to fill the romantic void in Japanese lives.