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Air Canada halts all direct flights to China as virus fears spread – Business News – Castanet.net

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UPDATE: 2:10 p.m.

Air Canada is halting all direct flights to China following the federal government’s advisory to avoid non-essential travel to the country due to the coronavirus epidemic.

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The abrupt suspension — effective Thursday and slated to last until Feb. 29 — threatens to dent revenues as the airline scrambles to regroup amid the disruption.

“It definitely will have a commercial impact. There’s no doubt about it. China is a major market for Air Canada,” said John Gradek, a lecturer at McGill University and head of its Global Aviation Leadership Program.

Canada’s largest airline, the carrier makes 33 flights a week to Beijing and Shanghai from Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. The potential for longer-term harm looms if travel demand stays near ground level into the spring.

More than 50 million people in 17 cities are now under under lockdown as China rolls out quarantine measures unprecedented in modern history.

Air Canada said Wednesday it had begun to cancel select flights as customers delayed trips and called off travel plans due to fears of the spreading epidemic.

“Three or four hours later, everything shut down,” Gradek said. “It kind of shows you the degree to which this is a very, very fluid situation.”

Affected customers will be notified and offered options that include travel on other carriers where available, or a full refund, Air Canada said.

The carrier is also waiving rebooking fees for flights that go through a partner airline to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, until March 29.

China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines, which fly into Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, have not announced plans to halt flights to Canada.


UPDATE: 6:50 a.m.

Air Canada is cancelling select flights to China as travellers shaken by the coronavirus epidemic delay or call off travel plans.

Canada’s largest airline runs 33 flights a week to China and says that the capacity reduction is relatively small.

Air Canada says affected customers will be notified and offered alternate travel options.

The cancellations come as the airline allows passengers to rebook direct flights to Beijing and Shanghai free of charge, if they’re scheduled for between late January and mid-February.

Air Canada is also waiving rebooking fees for flights that go through a partner airline to the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, until late March.


ORIGINAL: 6:40 a.m.

British Airways said Wednesday it is halting all flights to China, joining several Asian carriers that are either suspending or significantly cutting back service there as fears spread about a new virus that has killed more than 130 people.

Air India and South Korean budget carrier Seoul Air are also halting all flights to the country, and Indonesia’s Lion Air plans to do the same. Other carriers including Finnair, Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific, and Singapore-based Jetstar Asia are slashing service.

Beyond disrupting travel, the move will heighten concerns about the broader economic impact of the virus outbreak. Hotels, airlines, casinos and cruise operators are among the industries suffering the most immediate repercussions, especially in countries close to China.

BA said it was immediately suspending all flights to and from mainland China after the U.K. government warned against unnecessary travel to the country amid a virus outbreak.

The airline operates daily flights from London’s Heathrow Airport to Shanghai and Beijing. It took the measure a day after Britain’s Foreign Office updated its travel advice on China, warning against “all but essential travel” to the mainland, not including Hong Kong and Macao.

China has cut off access to the central city of Wuhan, epicenter of the outbreak, and 16 other cities to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. That has trapped more than 50 million people in the most far-reaching disease control measures ever imposed. The outbreak has infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad.

Online flight notice boards for the Beijing and Shanghai airports showed numerous cancellations for both domestic and foreign airlines on Wednesday.

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Musk: Apple wants to block Twitter from its app store – Al Jazeera English

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The billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said on Monday that Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands.

Elon Musk has accused Apple Inc of threatening to block Twitter Inc from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets that also said the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on the social media platform.

The billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said on Monday that Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands.

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The action, unconfirmed by Apple, would not be unusual as the company has routinely enforced its rules and previously removed apps such as Gab and Parler.

Parler, which is popular with conservatives in the United States, was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices, the companies said at the time.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” Musk, who took Twitter private for $44bn last month, said in a tweet.

He later tagged Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking, “What’s going on here?”

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It wasn’t clear to me how far up the Apple food chain that idea went internally and without knowing that, it isn’t clear how seriously to take any of this,” said Randal Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

The world’s most valuable firm spent an estimated $131,600 on Twitter ads between November 10 and November 16, down from $220,800 between October 16 and October 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48m and accounting for more than 4 percent of total revenue for the period, the Washington Post reported, citing an internal Twitter document.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a Reuters news agency request for comment on the report.

‘Go to war’

Among the list of grievances tweeted by Musk was the up to 30 percent fee Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases, with Musk posting a meme suggesting he was willing to “go to war” with Apple rather than paying the commission.

The fee has drawn criticism and lawsuits from companies such as Fortnite-maker Epic Games while attracting the scrutiny of regulators globally.

The commission could weigh on Musk’s attempts to boost subscription revenue at Twitter, in part to make up for the exodus of advertisers over content moderation concerns.

Companies from General Mills Inc to luxury automaker Audi of America have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition, and Musk said earlier this month that the company had seen a “massive” drop in revenue.

Advertisement sales account for about 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue.

The self-described free speech absolutist, whose company has in the past few days reinstated several Twitter accounts including that of former US President Donald Trump, has blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers.

Ben Bajarin, the head of consumer technologies at research firm Creative Strategies, said that Musk may be reading too much into a regular process Apple goes through for app reviews.

“App review from Apple is not perfect by any means and a consistently frustrating process for developers but from what I hear it is a two-way conversation,” he said.

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Oil: Why Goldman Sachs is still bullish despite headwinds

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Goldman Sachs strategists say the supply situation for oil will “inevitably” require “much higher prices.” (GETTY)
Goldman Sachs strategists say the supply situation for oil will “inevitably” require “much higher prices.” (GETTY)

Goldman Sachs is holding on to its bullish 2023 call on the global oil benchmark as prices test new year-to-date lows.

Strategists at the New York-based investment bank see Brent crude (BZ=F) averaging US$110 per barrel next year, due in large part to supply overshadowing headwinds for demand.

Oil prices danced around positive territory on Monday as investors responded to news of street protests in China over government efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 amid record case counts. At the same time, investors are awaiting final details of the G7 nations’ price ceiling on Russian oil, set to take effect on Dec. 5.

Brent crude was down 0.18 per cent to US$83.45 as at 1:09 p.m. ET on Monday, largely erasing 2022 gains fuelled by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained 1.25 per cent to US$77.23 per barrel, after trading near its lowest level of the year.

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Goldman Sachs predicts a strong U.S. dollar and weaker demand expectations will remain a “powerful headwind to prices.” However, the bank says the supply situation will “inevitably” require “much higher prices,” due to lack of investment in the industry, as well as low spare capacity and inventories.

“We are tactically cautious, structurally bullish,” Goldman Sachs strategists wrote in a wide-ranging outlook for next year. “We reiterate our bullish price view, and expect Brent crude oil prices to average US$110 per barrel in 2023.”

Goldman Sachs says seasonal demand from heating is likely to pick up as temperatures drop during the winter months. The strategists also note the impact of so-called gas-to-oil switching, where certain utilities and industrial consumers swap more expensive natural gas for refined oil products like diesel or gasoline.

“At the same time, we believe the EU embargo on Russian oil will demand an unachievable redirection of flows, causing Russian production to fall by 0.6 million barrels per day, at the same time as OPEC+ has agreed to an effective cut of 1.2 million barrels per day,” the strategists wrote.

They add that it would also take a “hard landing” for the U.S. economy to justify sustained lower prices.

Goldman Sachs’ structural bullishness echoes comments from RBC Capital Markets in June.

“The supply-side shock absorbers have been removed from the market,” analyst Micheal Tran wrote in a note to clients.

Tran described the oil market at the time as caught between “the strongest fundamental oil market set up in decades, maybe ever,” and a deteriorating macroeconomic backdrop threatening the outlook for demand.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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Apple threatening to pull Twitter from its app store, Elon Musk alleges

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Elon Musk accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter Inc. from its app store and says the iPhone maker has stopped advertising on the social media platform because it is afraid of free speech.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla accused the smartphone maker of no longer advertising on Twitter, insinuating it is because the company is trying to censor content on the internet.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” Musk said.

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Later in the day, he also said Apple is considering removing Twitter from its app store, without providing any evidence of that.

He later tagged Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking “What’s going on here?”

Although Apple has said nothing about any such plan, it would not be without precedent. The company routinely enforced its rules on to third-party apps in its app store, a policy that led to the removal of apps such as Gab and Parler, which is popular with U.S. conservatives.

Parler was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices, the companies said at the time.

War of words

Musk also said “yes” in response to a user question on whether Apple was threatening Twitter’s presence in the app store or making moderation demands.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The company spent an estimated $131,600 US on Twitter ads between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, down from $220,800 US between Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

A rising list of firms from General Mills Inc. to luxury automaker Audi of America have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition.

Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, said earlier this month that Twitter had seen a “massive” drop in revenue and blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers. Ad sales account for about 90 per cent of Twitter’s revenue.

The platform has in the past few days reinstated the account of former U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as comedian Kathy Griffin and U.S. House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Trump reinstatement prompted a coalition of civil rights activists to say last week that they were urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the platform.

At a presentation for advertisers in May, some ad agencies and brands were already skeptical on concerns that Musk would scale back content moderation and security protection on the platform.

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