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Malaysia Airlines lifts check-in baggage ban on Europe flights

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Malaysia Airlines said Wednesday it has lifted a ban on check-in baggage on flights to Paris and Amsterdam, after the move angered many passengers who slammed the airline on social media. The U-turn came less than 24 hours after the airline announced that passengers cannot check-in baggage for Tuesday and Wednesday flights to the two European cities due to "unseasonably strong headwinds'' on a longer flight path it is taking. The airline said it recently had to operate a longer route to Europe, via Egyptian airspace, for safety reasons. It said strong headwinds over the past four days were in excess of 200 knots, which can add up to 15 percent to fuel burn on its Boeing 777 aircraft. "Based on its current risk assessment, done on a daily …

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Fresh concern for Schengen as Denmark, Sweden tighten borders

KRUSÅ, Denmark – Denmark implemented spot checks on its border with Germany on Monday, in a move that triggered fresh concern for Europe's cherished Schengen passport-free zone hours after Sweden imposed its own controls on travellers from Denmark. Alarmed by the restrictions, the latest in a spate of border controls imposed across Europe in the wake of a massive migrant influx to the continent, Berlin warned the 20-year-old Schengen zone was ''in danger.'' The new Swedish measures also mean travellers between Denmark and Sweden will have to show their ID cards for the first time since the late 1950s, when a Nordic agreement on passport-free travel came into force. Danish Prime Minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen cited the Swedish checks to justify his own country's immediate introduction of random border controls. ''We are simply reacting …

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Airline industry sees modest growth in profitability in 2016

The global airline industry outlook for 2016 sees an average net profit margin of 5.1% being generated with total net profits of $36.3 billion, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) projected. IATA also announced a revision to its airline industry outlook for 2015 upwards to a net profit of $33 billion (4.6% net profit margin) from $29.3 billion forecast in June. The strengthening industry performance is being driven by a combination of factors. Lower oil prices (forecast to be $55/barrel Brent in 2015 and averaging a lower $51/barrel in 2016) are giving airline profits a boost. However, this is strongly moderated in many markets by the appreciation of the US dollar. Strong demand for passenger travel (+6.7% growth in 2015 and +6.9% in 2016) is making up for disappointing cargo demand growth (+1.9% in …

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NTSB considers next steps in probe of cargo ship’s sinking

Jacksonville, Florida – Federal accident investigators are considering launching another search of the wreckage of a freighter that sank in October in an attempt to locate the ship's “black box.” Tom Roth-Roffy, the lead investigator for National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), told The Associated Press that a weeks-long search found one of the El Faro's missing decks, but not the mast where the ship's voyage data recorder was attached. The agency on Sunday released the first images of the ship in its final resting place. “There were no human remains found whatsoever, and no personal effects whatsoever,” Roth-Roffy said. “I think we found one boot.” The El Faro sank Oct. 1 after losing engine power and getting caught in a Category 4 hurricane while sailing from Jacksonville to San Juan, Puerto Rico. There …

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Britain to review airport shop sales as retailers pocket tax savings

London – Britain is to review airport retail sales after some businesses were found to be pocketing about half of tax savings meant for passengers, rather than passing on the discount, the government said on Thursday. Most retailers at British airports, who include WH Smith and Dixons Carphone, ask passengers to show boarding cards when paying for goods, typically citing security as the reason. A newspaper reported in August, however, that some use the information to avoid paying 20 percent value-added tax (VAT) on goods headed outside the European Union. The report prompted a backlash from consumers, with many refusing to show their boarding cards to retailers. Announcing the review on Thursday, the government said in a statement that some airport retailers were keeping up to an estimated 50 pence of every …

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2016 unhappy new year for Asian shipyards

For many Asian shipyards, 2015 was a brutal year. This year could be even worse. With oil prices forecast to fall as low as $15 a barrel and China’s growth slowing, orders for offshore projects and new vessels are hard to come by for Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co. and Samsung Heavy Industries Co., the world’s three biggest shipbuilders. As the industry struggles with overcapacity and low rates, customers have been pushing back delivery schedules or canceling orders outright, a trend likely to continue this year. "Nobody is ordering new rigs," said Lee Yue Jer, a Singapore-based analyst at RHB Securities Pte. “We’re still at the worst” point of the cycle. A troubled foray into building offshore rigs ballooned the debts of the Big Three, pushing them into …

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Sweden imposes ID checks at bridge link with Denmark to stem migrant influx

Copenhagen – All train, bus and ferry passengers travelling from Denmark to Sweden will from Monday be required to show photo identification before being allowed across the border in a drastic move by the Swedish government to stem an unprecedented migrant influx. Travellers have been warned to expect long queues and delays once the checks go into effect from midnight (2300 GMT) on the Danish side of the Oresund bridge-and-tunnel link, which has been a major entry point for migrants and refugees hoping to start a new life in Sweden. The measures are aimed at keeping out undocumented migrants and come after Sweden – which has taken in more asylum seekers per capita than any other European nation – said it could no longer cope with the unregulated flow of new arrivals. A …

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Shipowners reap windfall from crude oil glut

The most destructive oil crash in a generation is giving ship owners a billion-dollar windfall. With the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC)abandoning output limits in a drive for market share, ships that carry as much as 2 million barrels a trip are in demand to haul crude from the Middle East to Asia and North America. While oil prices fell about 35 percent in 2015, average earnings for these carriers jumped to $67,366 a day, the most since at least 2009, according to Clarkson Plc, the world’s largest shipbroker. “The stars are aligned for us right now,” Nikolas Tsakos, the chief executive officer of Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd., said in an interview at Bloomberg’s New York offices, adding that falling oil prices will likely stimulate demand and cargoes next year. Tanker analysts …

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Delta’s pilots seek big payday as airline’s earnings surge 40%

The union representing Delta Air Lines, Inc.’s pilots wants raises of almost 40 percent compounded over three years, attempting to reverse some of the pay and benefit cuts adopted in the early 2000s. The union cites the carrier’s surging profits in saying it had requested a 22 percent raise for 2016, followed by seven percent raises in the following two years, according to a memo from the Air Line Pilots Association. The union and Delta declined to comment on the memo. A Delta spokesman, Morgan Durrant, said the company looks forward to negotiating with the union to reach an agreement that’s beneficial to both parties. The memo suggests that the union is taking a more aggressive stance in negotiations with the Atlanta-based airline, which typically has had some of the the strongest …

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Japan’s ANA buying 3 Airbus 380s worth $1.23B

Tokyo  – Japan's All Nippon Airways is buying three Airbus A380s in a billion-dollar deal, business daily Nikkei said Friday, making it the first Japanese carrier to own the super-jumbo jet. The Japanese airline plans to introduce the double-decker planes on flights to Hawaii and other overseas destinations, in an effort to boost its international business. The company paid about 150 billion yen ($1.23 billion) for the three A380 planes, which have 500 seats, more than double the number of spots on ANA planes that currently fly to Hawaii, the business daily said. In 2014, ANA was ahead of its rival Japan Airlines (JAL) in terms of passenger count on international flights, but JAL served more people on the Tokyo to Hawaii route – 35 percent of all Hawaii-bound passengers compared to ANA's …

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