Carry On: News for business travellers

Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways: hive mentality

Heathrow strike hits Asian flights
Passengers using London Heathrow airport – the world’s busiest – next week be hit by another baggage handlers’ strike. Staff working for Swissport Cargo Services will begin the first of two three-day strikes on June 27. The Unite union, which represents 275 Swissport staff, warns that departing passengers could be “severely affected” by the walk-out, which begins at 6.30am and ends at 6.29am on June 30. The union says said flights tthat could be hit hardest,include Asiana Airlines, Korean Air,and Singapore Airlines.

Hong Kong cuts passenger fuel surcharge
The Civil Aviation Department of Hong Kong has approved a reduction in passenger fuel surcharges levied by airlines including All-Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines. The new maximum surcharges will be $HK237 ($171) for short-haul flights and $HK1043 ($171) for long-haul flights, representing reductions of 6% and 10% respectively from the current maximum levels.

Ryanair tilts for Irish airline
Ryanair Holdings has made a €694 million ($1.1 billion) bid to buy the shares it doesn't already own in rival carrier Aer Lingus Group in a push to create a single Irish airline. The offer comes after Ryanair bid unsuccessfully to acquire Aer Lingus in late 2006 and was blocked by the European Commission on antitrust grounds. Ryanair still holds 29% of Aer Lingus from that bid and has been fighting efforts by regulators to force it to dispose of the stake. UK competition authorities recently announced an inquiry into Ryanair's continued holding. Instead of selling down the stake, Ryanair says it now intends to make an all-cash offer of €1.30 ($xx) per Aer Lingus share. The offer price is a 38% premium over the closing price immediately before the bid and a 47% premium over the average closing price over the past six months.

JAL seeks early listing
Japan Airlines (JAL) is aiming to relist its shares in September. An application to the Tokyo Stock Exchange is likely within the next few weeks. JAL’s value is estimated at approximately ¥650 billion ($10.4 billion). According to a Nikkei business newspaper report, the 50% government-owned Enterprise Turnaround Initiative Corporation, which invested about ¥350 billion in JAL, plans to sell 96% of its stake by early next year. JAL declared bankruptcy in 2010 with debts of over ¥2 trillion but continued operating while it restructured. In April it announced a net profit of ¥186.6 billion for the previous 12 months.

PAL to join low-cost airline ranks
Philippines Airlines (PAL) is considering acquiring a regional carrier and purchasing another 100 aircraft as it restructures as a low cost brand, president Ramon Ang told the annual shareholders’ meeting. PAL’s long-haul plans depend on improving its safety standards, as it is blacklisted by the European Union and has a Category 2 rating from the US Federal Aviation Administration. Mr Ang is also president of San Miguel Corporation, who bought a 49% interest in PAL for $US500 million earlier this year.

Etihad raises hens, bees
Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has bought 200 hens and three beehives as part of the fight to win customers by appealing to their palates. The Gulf-based airline, which competes against Dubai-owned Emirates airline and Qatar Airways, says its new hens and bees will produce eggs and honey to be served exclusively to its passengers. The airline is also developing "a line of signature pickles," all grown at an organic farm in Abu Dhabi. "We are thrilled to be the only airline in the world offering organic eggs and honey directly from our own locally raised hens and bees," Etihad says. The eggs from the free-range hens will be used in first-class dishes, including "the hugely popular 'eggs any style' breakfast option," prepared by the airline's onboard chefs.

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