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    jet blue Airlines Competition Why Airlines Need Competition .
    by: James Post
    The airline holds a virtual monopoly for intra-Caribbean flights, and it shows. Once they canceled a flight because of "technical reasons". Most people realised that the real reason was economy as the flight was poorly booked. No apology, let alone compensation. Another time I almost missed a flight because it left half an hour early. Since I only had hand luggage it was so convenient to kick me out.
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    jet blue Jetlag Stop Jetlag .
    by: Chance Buckman
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    jet blue Cheap Flight Tickets How to Purchase Cheap Flight Tickets .
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Lufthansa Says it Wants to Keep Growing, By Itself if Necessary

Lufthansa Says it Wants to Keep Growing, By Itself if Necessary

FRANKFURT (AFP) — The German airline Lufthansa plans to keep growing alone if necessary, based on sustained demand combined with its pursuit of cost-cutting measures, the carrier said Wednesday. "2007 was not the summit" for Lufthansa, chief executive Wolfgang Mayrhuber told a press conference in Frankfurt.

The biggest German airline had a record year in 2007, with an operating profit of 1.38 billion euros (2.12 billion dollars) and net profit of 1.66 billion, helped in part by asset sales and a favourable German tax reform. In 2008, it wants to "renew, and if possible surpass the very good results of last year," Mayrhuber said, without providing detailed figures.

The airline faces several challenges however, as oil prices hit successive record highs, financial markets remain unstable and perspectives for the global economy are hard to clarify. Lufthansa expected its kerosene bill to grow to 4.9 billion euros this year, from 3.9 billion in 2007, financial director Stephan Gemkow told reporters. But the airline also saw sustained demand for air travel, and planned to keep cutting costs in a bid to underpin growth.

He did not comment on the airline's role in a consolidation of the European air sector, which was expected to include a takeover of the Italian carrier Alitalia by Air France-KLM this year.

A possible Lufthansa target however, is the British airline BMI, in which the German company already owns a holding of 30 percent minus one share. Lufthansa has an option of raising its stake to 50 percent plus one share via the purchase of equity owned by BMI founder and president Michael Bishop between December 2008 and June 2009.

The purchase option was included in Lufthansa's 2008 investment plan, but Mayrhuber declined to say whether it planned to exercise that option.

Lufthansa is also often named among potential buyers of the Spanish airline Iberia. Lufthansa has the financial means to expand, Gemkow confirmed. For now, surplus cash was being used to reinforce the airline's fleet, with orders for 175 aircraft on its books.

The company planned to invest 2.3 billion euros this year, and 2.5 billion in each of the two coming years.

Another growth target was the United States
Last year, Lufthansa bought 19 percent of the low-cost airline Jet Blue, becoming the first European airline to take advantage of an "open skies" agreement with the United States. The accord allows foreign companies to own up to 50 percent of the capital and 25 percent of the voting rights in US airlines.

Lufthansa is also seeking to reinforce low-cost offers elsewhere, and recently launched talks with the leading European travel and leisure group TUI about this.

Mayhruber was unable to say when the two sides might strike a deal.
The airline expected further results from its cost-savings plan, and on strong passenger data that represented some 60 percent of its operating profit. Lufthansa also earned money from its subsidiary Swiss, which it bought in 2005 and fully integrated in its accounts as of July.

The formerly troubled carrier posted an operating profit of 571 million Swiss francs (361 million euros, 555 million dollars) in 2007, more than double the previous year's figure.***



20% Of Valley Startups Can’t Get To Their Cash

he credit crisis is in full swing through most of the U.S. economy, but it has barely touched venture-fueled Silicon Valley. Until recently, that is. Up to 20% of venture backed startups may have been convinced by their financial advisors to put much of their spare cash into something called Auction Rate Securities, on the promise of money market-like liquidity with better returns. Now, that money is frozen, and startups are scrambling to find a way to free up the cash.

Auction Rate Securities, a $330 billion market, are rolled over periodically (every 7, 28 or 35 days) to allow quick liquidity for investors. In their 20 year existence the markets have never stalled. Until February, that is, when concerns over the health of the municipal bond market froze these auctions. Since then, anyone holding the securities has been unable to get any liquidity, and the end of the freeze is nowhere in sight. Venture capitalist and blogger Paul Kedrosky has been talking about the issue regularly on CNBC.

Some big companies have been hit. Jet Blue, for example, had $611 million, or a 72% of its cash and investment securities, tied up in ARSs. But in an informal survey, twelve out of sixty venture backed startups had some amount of cash in these securities, too. Often without the knowledge of the venture capitalists who financed them. A venture capitalist says that he believes 5-10% of total invested cash is frozen.

Those VCs are now scrambling to help their portfolio companies find alternate sources of cash to meet payroll and other obligations. The first call is often to Silicon Valley Bank, said one venture capitalist who has a number of portfolio companies in “deep cash flow trouble.” Another said that brokers are loaning money back to the companies at about the same rate that the frozen securities are paying, giving them some liquidity.

Comerica has been mentioned in many of the calls I’ve had venture capitalists, who say that the bank advised their clients to invest in ARSs as safe alternatives to money market funds, with a higher rate of return. “We just had no idea this was even a risk at all,” said another VC.

Update: One startup that specializes in illiquid securities, Restricted Stock Partners, is trading ARSs on its electronic market. So that might be an option for some cash-strapped startups.

Update 2: A February 21 note from Silicon Valley Bank enumerates the carnage: “Auction Rate Securities of all forms are failing at a daily rate between 70 to 80 percent or between $15 to 25 billion.” Gulp.
Crunch Network: CrunchBoard because it’s time for you to find a new Job2.0***


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