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Cathay Pacific to cut 5,900 jobs, end Cathay Dragon brand due to pandemic – Reuters

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SYDNEY (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said on Wednesday it would slash 5,900 jobs and end its regional Cathay Dragon brand, joining peers in cutting costs as it grapples with a plunge in demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The airline would also seek changes in conditions in its contracts with cabin crew and pilots as part of a restructuring that would cost HK$2.2 billion ($283.9 million).

Overall, it will cut 8,500 positions, or 24% of its normal headcount, but that includes 2,600 roles currently unfilled due to cost reduction initiatives, Cathay said.

“The actions we have announced today, however unpalatable, are absolutely necessary to bring cash burn down to more sustainable levels,” Cathay Chairman Patrick Healy told reporters.

Cathay shares jumped almost 7% during early trading and closed 2.3% higher, with broker Jefferies saying the announcement removed a key overhang on the stock.

Singapore Airlines Ltd and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd have already announced similarly large payroll cuts, as the International Air Transport Association forecasts passenger traffic will not recover until 2024.

Cathay, which has stored around 40% of its fleet outside Hong Kong, said on Monday it planned to operate less than 50% of its pre-pandemic capacity in 2021.

After receiving a $5 billion rescue package led by the Hong Kong government in June, it had been conducting a strategic review.

The airline said it was bleeding HK$1.5 billion to HK$2 billion of cash a month and the restructuring would stem the outflow by HK$500 million a month in 2021, with executive pay cuts continuing throughout next year.

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BOCOM International analyst Luya You said she had expected more strategic insight from the airline on its fleet plans and route network as part of the restructuring.

“Had they revealed more on fleet planning for 2021-22, we would get a much better sense of their outlook,” she said.

Cathay will postpone the delivery of its 21 Boeing Co 777-9 jets on order beyond 2025, Healy said.

EXIT THE DRAGON

The decision to end regional brand Cathay Dragon is in line with rival Singapore Airlines’ pre-pandemic move to fold regional brand Silkair into its main brand, though in this case 2,500 Cathay Dragon pilots and cabin crew will lose their jobs.

Cathay Dragon, once known as Dragonair, operated most of the group’s flights to and from mainland China and had been hit by falling demand before the pandemic due to widespread anti-government protests in Hong Kong.

Plans to merge Cathay Dragon into Cathay’s main brand earlier this year hit roadblocks from China’s aviation regulator because of infractions during last year’s pro-democracy protests, two sources told Reuters in May.

Cathay said the airline would cease operating immediately and it would seek regulatory approval to fold the majority of Cathay Dragon’s routes in Cathay Pacific and low-cost arm HK Express.

Slideshow ( 5 images )

Healy said there would be “substantial savings” from combining Cathay Dragon’s narrowbody fleet with Cathay Pacific’s longhaul fleet and focusing on marketing of a single premium brand.

In the short-term, the closure of the Cathay Dragon brand will result in it being unable to carry cargo to Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Kuala Lumpur and Fukuoka, and it will only send dedicated freighters to Xiamen, Chengdu and Hanoi, it told cargo customers in a memo, indicating the routes were cut for now.

Like Singapore Airlines, Cathay lacks a domestic market to cushion it from the fall in international travel due to border closures.

In September, Cathay’s passenger numbers fell by 98.1% compared with a year earlier, though cargo carriage was down by a smaller 36.6%.

Cathay shares have fallen 41% since the start of January.

The airline’s share register is dominated by Swire Pacific Ltd, Air China Ltd, Qatar Airways and the Hong Kong government, with only a 12% free float.

Reporting by Jamie Freed; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Stephen Coates and Louise Heavens

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Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online – CTV News

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Black Friday, the one-day shopping bonanza known for its big bargains and large crowds, has arrived.

While rising COVID-19 cases and weeks of staggered deals have muted the usual fanfare of the shopping event, retailers are banking on today’s sales to bolster their bottom line.

Retail analysts say some bargain hunters are still expected to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where possible, in the hopes of snagging a doorbuster deal.

But they say the majority of this year’s Black Friday purchases are expected to be made online.

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

He says given ongoing lockdowns and in-store capacity limits, online sales are expected to be strong today and remain heightened over the holiday shopping season.

Indeed, big box stores, which often attract the largest lineups and crowds on Black Friday, have moved most promotions online.

Yet although Black Friday’s top sellers tend to be big-ticket electronics, some shoppers might be on the hunt for deals on more basic items.

Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, says some shoppers may take advantage of today’s sales to “stock up and hunker down for the winter.”

Black Friday, which started as a post-Thanksgiving sale in the United States, has gained in popularity in Canada in recent years.

It’s also become an increasingly important sales event for retailers, along with Cyber Monday, overshadowing Boxing Day.

Robin Sahota, managing director and Canadian retail lead for professional services firm Accenture, says retailers might be saving some special discounts for Cyber Monday.

“It’s going to be a day where retailers look to add some sweeteners to entice consumers, particularly with the pull forward of Black Friday,” he says. “I think folks will be seeking out something special on Cyber Monday.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.

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Black Friday shopping in a pandemic: COVID-19 closes some stores, sales move online – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Friday, November 27, 2020 5:52AM EST


Last Updated Friday, November 27, 2020 7:21AM EST

Black Friday, the one-day shopping bonanza known for its big bargains and large crowds, has arrived.

While rising COVID-19 cases and weeks of staggered deals have muted the usual fanfare of the shopping event, retailers are banking on today’s sales to bolster their bottom line.

Retail analysts say some bargain hunters are still expected to shop in brick-and-mortar stores, where possible, in the hopes of snagging a doorbuster deal.

But they say the majority of this year’s Black Friday purchases are expected to be made online.

Eric Morris, head of retail at Google Canada, says e-commerce in Canada has doubled during the pandemic.

He says given ongoing lockdowns and in-store capacity limits, online sales are expected to be strong today and remain heightened over the holiday shopping season.

Indeed, big box stores, which often attract the largest lineups and crowds on Black Friday, have moved most promotions online.

Yet although Black Friday’s top sellers tend to be big-ticket electronics, some shoppers might be on the hunt for deals on more basic items.

Lisa Hutcheson, managing partner at consulting firm J.C. Williams Group, says some shoppers may take advantage of today’s sales to “stock up and hunker down for the winter.”

Black Friday, which started as a post-Thanksgiving sale in the United States, has gained in popularity in Canada in recent years.

It’s also become an increasingly important sales event for retailers, along with Cyber Monday, overshadowing Boxing Day.

Robin Sahota, managing director and Canadian retail lead for professional services firm Accenture, says retailers might be saving some special discounts for Cyber Monday.

“It’s going to be a day where retailers look to add some sweeteners to entice consumers, particularly with the pull forward of Black Friday,” he says. “I think folks will be seeking out something special on Cyber Monday.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 27, 2020.

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Stocks hover near record high, oil skids on demand outlook – Reuters

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares stalled near record highs on Friday as investors weighed renewed doubts about a highly-anticipated coronavirus vaccine against hopes that some of the region’s economies will recovery quicker than their Western peers.

FILE PHOTO:The German share price index DAX graph is pictured at the stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Staff

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.04% but remained with striking distance of a life-time peak touched this week.

Australian shares ended down 0.53%. Treasury Wine Estates Ltd tumbled by 11.25% after China slapped tariffs on Australian wine, which is likely to worsen a diplomatic row between Beijing and Canberra.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.33% in choppy trade.

Shares in China rose 0.13% after data showed Chinese industrial profits surged at the fastest pace since early 2017. South Korean stocks also rose 0.27%.

U.S. S&P 500 e-mini stock futures fell 0.09%. U.S. financial markets were closed on Thursday for the Thanksgiving holiday and will trade on a partial schedule later on Friday.

Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 0.26%, German DAX futures fell 0.24%, and FTSE futures were down 0.22%, suggesting a soft start to the European session.

U.S. oil prices extended their declines from a seven-month high due to signs of oversupply.

British drugmaker AstraZeneca’s coronavirus drug was touted as a “vaccine for the world” due to its inexpensive cost, but the efficacy of the vaccine is now facing more intense scrutiny, which experts say could delay its approval.

Several scientists have raised doubts about the robustness of results showing the shot was 90% effective in a sub-group of trial participants who, by error initially, received a half dose followed by a full dose.

“With global case numbers having now topped 60 million… there is certainly some rough terrain ahead for the global recovery, and that can create economic scarring,” analysts at ANZ Bank wrote in a memo.

MSCI’s broadest gauge of world stocks was up 0.08% on Friday, sitting just below a record high reached in the previous session.

Concerns about the distribution of a coronavirus vaccine have placed renewed focus on the current state of the pandemic, which looks grim for many places.

U.S. hospitalizations for COVID-19 are at a record and experts warn that Thanksgiving gatherings could lead to further infections and deaths.

More than 20 million people across England will be forced to live under the toughest restrictions even after a national lockdown ends on Dec. 2. Partial lockdowns in some European countries have also raised concern about economic growth.

The European Central Bank’s chief economist highlighted these concerns in dovish comments on Thursday, which pushed European bond yields lower.

The euro, which last bought $1.1924, showed little reaction because currency traders have largely priced in expectations for additional ECB easing next month.

The dollar index fell toward its lowest in more than two months.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes fell to 0.8586% as some investors sought the safety of holding government debt.

U.S. crude dipped 1.82% to $44.88 a barrel. Brent crude fell 0.17% to $47.72 per barrel.

Fuel demand is falling due to renewed coronavirus lockdowns, but some oil producers are not complying with agreed production cuts, which raises concerns about oversupply.

Bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, edged up to $17,256 on Thursday, but it tumbled by 8.4% in the previous session after failing to take out its record high of $19,666.

The cryptocurrency showed little reaction to a report in the Financial Times that Facebook will launch its own Libra digital currency in limited format next year.

Bitcoin has rallied around 140% this year, fuelled by demand for riskier assets.

Reporting by Stanley White; editing by Richard Pullin, Lincoln Feast and Kim Coghill

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