Connect with us

Business

Hundreds of flights axed as US kicks off long holiday weekend

Published

on

Travelers pick up their baggage while arriving at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, on July 2, 2022
Share this:

Airlines cancelled several hundred US flights Saturday at the start of a long and almost certainly messy holiday travel weekend as carriers struggled to staff their planes.

As of mid-day, with Americans gearing up for July 4 Independence Day celebrations, some 600 flights within, into or out of the United States had been cancelled and more than 2,500 were delayed, according to flight tracking service flightaware.com.

The numbers on Friday were awful as well, with 587 US flights scrapped among a global total of 3,060 cancellations, the site said.

For days, amid a surge in travel as summer rolls in and people sick of cooped up pandemic life look to go places again, horror stories have abounded as travelers got stranded at airports, enduring odysseys to get where they are going.

The airline industry was devastated in the early stages of the pandemic as people stayed close to home.

And although federal Covid-19 relief spared airlines from laying off staff, tens of thousands of workers left the industry after carriers urged early retirements.

Today’s industry has about 15 percent less staff compared with the pre-pandemic period to handle about 90 percent of pre-2020 passenger volume, analysts at Third Bridge consultancy estimated.

The travel chaos has drawn scrutiny from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and others in Washington.

On Saturday Buttigieg put out a series of tweets that were essentially consumer tips on what to do if one’s flight is cancelled, like whether to accept travel points or miles as compensation or demand a cash refund.

“You can often negotiate on this. That’s between you and the airline,” Buttigieg wrote.

Delta pilots walked informational picket lines at several airports Thursday to demand a new contract and complain of overwork, among other gripes.

“Quite frankly, it’s irresponsible scheduling, over scheduling. Coming out of the pandemic, we’re scheduling more flights than we have people to fly them,” Delta pilots association union leader Jason Ambrosi told CNN on Saturday.

“The pilots are getting fatigued, quite honestly,” Ambrosi said. They do not want to strand travelers or crew members, he said, “but it’s a safety issue.”

Pilots are the most acute issue in a broad airline industry labor crunch, said Third Bridge analyst Peter McNally.

“There’s no short-term fix,” McNally told AFP. “The issue becomes most pronounced during these seasonal peaks.”

Airlines say they’re working to address the situation, recruiting pilots and other staff and trimming summer seat capacity by 15 percent.

While acknowledging the pilot supply problem, airline industry officials point to other exacerbating factors, including turbulent weather, increased staff absences due to Covid and insufficient personnel at flight traffic control at some sites.

Share this:

Business

Natural disaster losses hit $72 bn in first half 2022: Swiss Re

Published

on

By

'Secondary' natural disasters like floods and storms -- as opposed to major disasters such as earthquakes -- are happening more frequently, according to Swiss Re.
Share this:

Total economic losses caused by natural disasters hit an estimated $72 billion in the first half of 2022, fuelled by storms and floods, Swiss reinsurance giant Swiss Re estimated Tuesday.

Though the figure is lower than the $91 billion estimate for the first six months of 2021, it is close to the 10-year average of $74 billion, and the weight is shifting towards weather-induced catastrophes.

“The effects of climate change are evident in increasingly extreme weather events, such as the unprecedented floods in Australia and South Africa,” said Martin Bertogg, Swiss Re’s head of catastrophe perils.

The Zurich-based group, which acts as an insurer for insurers, said the losses were also propelled by winter storms in Europe as well as heavy thunderstorms on the continent and in the United States.

So-called secondary natural disasters like floods and storms — as opposed to major disasters such as earthquakes — are happening more frequently, the reinsurer said.

“This confirms the trend we have observed over the last five years: that secondary perils are driving insured losses in every corner of the world,” Bertogg said.

“Unlike hurricanes or earthquakes, these perils are ubiquitous and exacerbated by rapid urbanisation in particularly vulnerable areas,” he said.

“Given the scale of the devastation across the globe, secondary perils require the same disciplined risk assessment as primary perils such as hurricanes.”

Swiss Re said floods in India, China and Bangladesh confirm the growing loss potential from flooding in urban areas.

Man-made catastrophes such as industrial accidents added on a further $3 billion of economic losses to the $72 billion from natural disasters, taking the total to $75 billion — which is down on the $95 billion total for the first half of 2021.

– Insured losses at $38 bn –

Total insured losses stood at $38 billion: $3 billion worth of man-made disasters and $35 billion worth of natural catastrophes — up 22 percent on the 10-year average, said the Swiss reinsurer, warning of the effects of climate change.

February’s storms in Europe cost insurers $3.5 billion, according to Swiss Re estimates.

Australia’s floods in February and March set a new record for insured flood losses in the country at so far close to $3.5 billion — one of the costliest natural catastrophes ever in the country.

Severe weather and hailstorms in France in the first six months of the year have so far caused an estimated four billion euros ($4.1 billion) of insured market losses.

The Swiss group also mentioned the summer heatwaves in Europe, which resulted in fires and drought-related damage, without providing estimates at this stage.

A warming climate is likely to exacerbate droughts and thereby the likelihood of wildfires, causing greater damage where urban sprawl grows into the countryside, Swiss Re said.

“Climate change is one of the biggest risks our society and the global economy is facing,” said the group’s chief economist Jerome Jean Haegeli.

“With 75 percent of all natural catastrophes still uninsured, we see large protection gaps globally exacerbated by today’s cost-of-living crisis.”

Share this:
Continue Reading

Business

Uber posts quarterly loss, but revenue exceeds expectations

Published

on

By

Revenue more than doubled to $8.1 billion in the three months through June
Share this:

Uber on Tuesday reported better-than-expected revenue in the second quarter, fueled by strong demand for the San Francisco-based company’s ride-hailing and food delivery services.

Revenue more than doubled to $8.1 billion in the three months through June — a 105 percent increase. Though it still posted a net loss of $2.6 billion, investors reacted positively: shares shot up more than 12 percent, to $27.58, in pre-market trading.

The company posted $1.8 billion in revenue from its freight operations. It also said the boost in revenue was partially explained by a change in how it accounts for its rides business in Britain. 

Uber notched gains in monthly active platform consumers, gross bookings and trips compared with a year ago, reflecting higher demand but also a higher number of drivers for its signature ride service and food delivery operations.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said both consumers and earners were at “all-time highs.”

“Last quarter I challenged our team to meet our profitability commitments even faster than planned — and they delivered,” Khosrowshahi said in a statement.

Uber primarily attributed its loss to the falling value of its investments in financially strapped companies such as Singapore’s VTC Grab, US self-driving vehicle start-up Aurora and Indian food delivery service Zomato.

Share this:
Continue Reading

Business

US manufacturing growth slows further in July: survey

Published

on

By

US factories are seeing slowing demand and ongoing supply issues, but continued to grow in July
Share this:

The US manufacturing sector continued to grow in July, but the pace was impacted by dimming demand while price increases have slowed dramatically, according to an industry survey released Monday.

And amid a tight American job market, hiring slowed for the third straight month, but firms are reporting less trouble filling open positions and no signs of layoffs, the Institute for Supply Management’s latest report showed.

But firms continue to have trouble filling orders due to ongoing problems getting materials.

ISM’s manufacturing index dipped to 52.8 percent, just two-tenths below the prior month, but the lowest level since June 2020 during the pandemic downturn.

However, that level was still above the 50-percent threshold indicating expansion for the 26th consecutive month.

“The U.S. manufacturing sector continues expanding — though slightly less so in July — as new order rates continue to contract, supplier deliveries improve and prices soften to acceptable levels,” ISM manufacturing survey chair Timothy Fiore said.

The new orders index fell 1.2 points, to 48 percent, signaling a slowdown, and production fell by slightly more but continues to grow.

“Lead times remain at elevated levels, and fundamental raw material prices continue to persuade buyers to remain on the sidelines,” Fiore said

The prices index fell a whopping 18.5 points — the fourth biggest decline on record — to 60 percent, with a much higher share of firms reporting falling prices, the survey showed. The index has been above 60 percent for nearly two years.

Covid-19 lockdowns in China and Russia’s war in Ukraine have been exacerbating shortages experienced, fueling the global inflation surge, especially for energy, and prompted the Federal Reserve to raise borrowing costs aggressively.

Survey respondents noted ongoing supply issues and the impact of rising prices, and several expressed concern about the future

“Our markets are still holding up; however, I believe a slowdown is coming,” one said. “I believe the general market is in the beginnings of a recession.”

Oren Klachkin of Oxford Economics said challenges are mounting for firms.

“Manufacturers will face many of the same challenges in the second half of 2022 that they did in H1,” he said in an analysis.

“The confluence of hot inflation, higher interest rates, ongoing supply chain issues and normalizing spending patterns will make demand more fragile.”

Share this:
Continue Reading

Featured