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Chase Bank Limits Cash Withdrawals, Bans International... Before you read this report, remember to sign up to for 100% free stock alerts Chase Bank has moved to limit cash withdrawals while banning business customers from sending...

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Richemont chairman Johann Rupert to take 'grey gap... Billionaire 62-year-old to take 12 months off from Cartier and Montblanc luxury goods groupRichemont's chairman and founder Johann Rupert is to take a year off from September, leaving management of the...

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Cambodia: aftermath of fatal shoe factory collapse... Workers clear rubble following the collapse of a shoe factory in Kampong Speu, Cambodia, on Thursday

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Spate of recent shock departures by 50-something CEOs While the rising financial rewards of running a modern multinational have been well publicised, executive recruiters say the pressures of the job have also been ratcheted upOn approaching his 60th birthday...

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UK Uncut loses legal challenge over Goldman Sachs tax... While judge agreed the deal was 'not a glorious episode in the history of the Revenue', he ruled it was not unlawfulCampaign group UK Uncut Legal Action has lost its high court challenge over the legality...

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China agrees $8bn Airbus plane deal

Category : World News

China agrees to buy 60 planes from European firm Airbus, in a deal worth $8bn (£5.2bn) at list prices.

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Boeing starts Dreamliner battery fix

Category : Business, World News

Boeing starts replacing batteries on some of its grounded 787 Dreamliner fleet, moving a step closer to getting the planes flying again.

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US approves Dreamliner battery fix

Category : Business

US regulators approve a revamped battery design for Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner, paving the way for flights to resume, after problems grounded planes for months.

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Ryanair in new expansion drive

Category : Business

Ryanair is planning to increase its aircraft fleet by a third to 400 planes after ordering 175 planes from Boeing.

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Airbus wins record plane order

Category : Business, World News

European-owned planemaker Airbus has won a record order for 234 planes worth 18.4bn euros (£15.7bn, $24bn) from Indonesia’s Lion Air.

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Boeing gets 787 test flight approval

Category : World News

The US Federal Aviation Administration has granted permission for Boeing to carry out test flights of its 787 Dreamliner planes.

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Dreamliner probe result ‘weeks away’

Category : Business

A US regulator says it may take “weeks” for it to complete its probe into battery problems that hit two of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner planes.

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Stelios threatens to sell easyJet stake

Category : Business

Low-cost airline pioneer makes threat to sell 37% family stake in protest against directors’ plans to buy more new aircraft

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou has escalated his long-running confrontation with easyJet, the airline he founded, by threatening to sell his family’s dominant stake in the carrier if it orders more planes.

Stelios, who started the airline in 1995 when he was 28, said he sold 200,000 shares last week in a “token disposal” to send a “clear message” to easyJet’s board.

He warned in an open letter that if easyJet’s bosses “squander any more of our cash” on new aircraft, his family would sell more of their combined 37% in the carrier. The family’s stake is worth £1.3bn, with last week’s sale raising about £1.7m.

Stelios said ordering more planes would “screw up [easyJet's] financial success story”. “If the board places another order for aircraft, it will destroy shareholder value into the future. If they place such an order now, I will be looking to dispose more of my stake before this happens.”

EasyJet’s 214-strong fleet of Airbus aircraft could grow to as many as 287 if the carrier executes options for 73 new jets, which cost $91.5m (£57.9m) each at full price. The prospect of such an expansion has riled Stelios since November 2008, when he went public with his concerns and launched an on-off debate with successive management teams over easyJet’s ambitions.

Stelios reiterated his argument over shareholder value, saying the airline should be run as a “mature cash generative company” that returns money to investors rather than ploughing it into orders for new aircraft in order to keep up with arch-rival Ryanair and wrest market share from struggling competitors.

WarningHe warned that his family would sell more shares if there was a new aircraft order within five years. “The alternative does not bear thinking about,” he said. “A brief look back in aviation history shows a depressing trend of countless iconic airlines (once mighty names of the skies) going bust because their managements bought more aircraft than they had profitable routes to service.

“Let’s avoid this happening at easyJet. I will be a loyal shareholder for the long term provided management doesn’t squander any more of our cash on new aircraft for at least the next four to five years.”

Stelios said the only reason easyJet posted higher profits – up a quarter to £317m last year – was because customers were paying a third more than they did four years ago. “Such price rises are only possible with a slow growth in fleet numbers,” he said.

He said he was delighted the airline had started paying out a third of post-tax earnings in dividend payments and said a “more healthy 50% distribution” was not far away. Stelios and his family will earn about £32m from the airline’s latest dividend, after taking home £72m from a special dividend in 2011.

The airline declined to comment on Stelios’s open letter. Airline experts are expecting the company to report strong first-quarter figures on Thursday. It carried 4.3m passengers in December and said the average number of seats filled on its planes rose to 87.9% compared with 85.6% a year earlier.

Gatwick boss wants Heathrow to cut number of flights in winter months

Category : Business

Stewart Wingate has written to transport secretary in bid to avoid the chaos at UK’s biggest airport “due to small amounts of snow”

The boss of Gatwick airport has called for caps on the number of flights at Heathrow to avoid disruption to passengers in what he called “normal winter weather conditions” after hundreds of departures were cancelled at the UK’s major hub over the last four days.

Chief executive Stewart Wingate wrote to the transport secretary, Patrick McLoughlin, asking for a meeting to bring together London’s three main airports to work out how to avoid the chaos at Heathrow “due to small amounts of snow”.

Wingate said: “It just cannot be right that passengers are being asked to accept apologies for pre-emptive flight cancellations. Huge numbers of business meetings and holidays will have been impacted and misery caused to travellers. The over-scheduling of flights at Heathrow during the winter period should stop.

“I am proposing that for the key winter months of December, January and February Heathrow declares a level of capacity it can cope with in winter conditions. The additional flights then, for those three months, can move to Gatwick and Stansted.”

Thousands of passengers have seen their flights disrupted at Heathrow by the weather and there is some acknowledgement that flight cancellations came too late.

When winter bites at Heathrow it means one thing: a meeting of the damned. “They’re damned if they do, or damned if they don’t cancel hundreds of flights,” as one ex-airport insider put it.

Heathrow’s demand and capacity balancing group (Hadacab) decided last Thursday to press ahead without general cuts to flights which saw many passengers boarding planes on Friday that never took off, causing many hours of frustration. After that, a meeting on Saturday saw 20% of the following day’s flights cancelled, and about 120 of Monday’s flights were cancelled amid fears for visibility in forecast freezing fog.

At Monday’s midday meeting, with runways and taxiways clear, Hadacab decided against further cancellations for Tuesday.

Gatwick, with 5cm of snow, prides itself on not having cancelled any flights for its own operational reasons although airline troubles around Europe disrupted their schedules. London’s second airport puts this partly down to an £8m investment in snow-clearing machines that sweep the runway in 10 minutes, but mainly planning. A spokesperson said: “Snow is not an unexpected event. Everyone knows what their actions and responsibilities are and those plans went into place on Friday morning.”

Heathrow’s snow plans have been beefed up under an operations chief, Normand Boivin, headhunted in 2011 from Montreal airport, which sees over two metres of snowfall in an average winter. The airport also boasts £36m of new snow kit and claims to be the only one in the UK with a dedicated Met Office forecaster in residence.

But the overarching difference is that 10 minutes to sweep a runway is time that Heathrow does not have. Forced runway closures for clearance started the worst of Friday’s backlog: since, though, the runways and approaches have been clear. Visibility instead has been the bigger problem, with air traffic controllers requiring a bigger gap between planes landing or taking off. For an airport that operated last year at 99.2% capacity, a matter of seconds in each flight interval can cascade into long bottlenecks.

“Many airports have plenty of spare runway capacity so aircraft can be spaced out more during low visibility without causing delays and cancellations. Because Heathrow operates at almost full capacity, there is simply no room to reschedule the delayed flights,” a Heathrow spokesman said.

According to a boss of another UK airport, who once worked at the Heathrow coalface: “As soon as they say we’re clearing one runway, there is no resilience. You can close one of five runways at Amsterdam, but here, even for 20 minutes, it means they’ve gone bust. They’re in a very constrained environment, and to get these great big snow-clearing machines around the aircraft without hitting them or other units is a very tricky job. The de-icer will only last for half an hour or so and with gridlock on the taxiway, the whole thing becomes more and more complicated.”

Heathrow’s cancellation strategy is strongly dictated by British Airways, the largest carrier, which took much of the weekend flak. Early decisions to cancel have been compared favourably by some to the policy of London City airport, which only announced its decision to close altogether on Saturday in the afternoon.

Yet, most observers feel Heathrow has got its act together after its nadir in December 2010, when hundreds of thousands of passengers’ travel planes were disrupted by just one hour’s snowfall and more than 4,000 flights were cancelled over four days.But the fundamental problem is, as Heathrow admits, the sheer volume of planes. Given that snow is an annual winter event, has the airport taken on more than it can chew? The other airport boss sympathises: “Is it them being greedy or airlines wanting every ounce of capacity when they can? Either it turns away business every day, which would be crazy, or waits to deal with the problems that brings. It’s a tough call.”

Record year for Heathrow airport

Category : Business, World News

Heathrow says it handled 70 million passengers in 2012, the highest number on record, as the crowded airport saw bigger and fuller planes.

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